Sunday, December 28, 2008

Help! I ate my Christmas tree and I blame the Daring Bakers for it!

Hello people celebrating holidays! I hope you're all having wonderful moments and meals during this special time of the year. My Christmas was nice and sunny, cold and warm, with family, with friends, with a lot of food and even more text messages!

This year we had 2 Christmas trees: One to light up and decorate our dinning room and another one to... well... eat!

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux for the December Daring Bakers' Challenge: a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

They asked for a log I know, but I decided to do the whole tree!

I've been eating a lot of peanut butter and chocolate stuff that I brought back from the States and I'm not tired yet of that wonderful combo! I really love Peanut Butter Cups and I'm almost thankful that I can't get them here. I also really enjoyed the Peanut Butter M&ms that I got and I can't forget a wonderful chocolate & peanut butter chips cookie I bought at Levain Bakery.

So from all the "christmasy" flavours I could have chosen for this I was faithfull to my pb&choc love.

This dessert has 6 elements:
  1. Dacquoise Biscuit
  2. Mousse
  3. Ganache Insert
  4. Crisp Insert
  5. Creme Bruleé Insert
  6. Icing

Peanut Dacquoise Biscuit:

  • 2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) ground roasted peanuts
  • 1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
  • 3.5oz (100g / 100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
  • 1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

Finely mix the peanut meal and the confectioner's sugar. Sift the flour into the mix. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. Pour the peanut meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm). Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes until golden. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Milk Chocolate Mousse:

  • 2.5 sheets gelatine or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
  • 0.5 oz (15g) water
  • 50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
  • 6.2 oz (175g) milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

Soften the gelatine in cold water. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white), cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F /118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.

In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatine, mixing well. Let the gelatine and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of whipped cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Dark Chocolate – Peanut Butter Ganache Insert:

  • 1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
  • 4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream
  • 5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter

Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber colour (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge). While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate and peanut butter. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Peanut Butter – Milk Chocolate Feuilletine Crisp Insert:

  • 3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
  • 60 gr / 4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2.1oz (60g) lace crepes (gavottes- feuilletine)

Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler. Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Peanut Butter Crème Brulée Insert:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream
  • ½ cup (115g) whole milk
  • 4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
  • 0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 60 gr/ 4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter

Heat the milk, cream, and peanut butter to just boiling. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white). Pour the milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mould and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

White Chocolate Icing

  • 1.5 gelatine sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatine
  • 3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (90 g) whole milk
  • 1 2/3 Tbsp (30g) glucose or thick corn syrup
  • 1/ 4 tsp green food colouring

Red fondant circles and yellow starsSoften the gelatine in cold water for 15 minutes. Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together. Bring the milk and glucose syrup to a boil. Add the gelatine. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth and add the food colouring. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well, use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log as a Christmas Tree:

I’ve used ice cream glass cups, that have a slightly cone shape that I thought it would look like Christmas trees when inverted.

  • Line your moulds with foil and then plastic wrap.
  • Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mould.
  • Take the Creme Bruleé Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
  • Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
  • Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
  • Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
  • Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
  • Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
  • Close with the Dacquoise.
  • Freeze until the next day.
  • Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
  • Cover the cake with the icing and decorate with the foundat cirles to resemble Christmas balls and yellow stars on top.
  • Let set. Return to the freezer.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

I bet you would have eaten your Christmas tree as well, wouldn't you?!

You can check all the other Yule Logs here.

Have a wonderful 2009 wonderful people!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We're back!

Yes! We're back! Me and my new pounds! Yay!

I had a wonderful vacation in Philadelphia. I've lived there some years ago, so it's not like I needed to visit all the turistic sites, I just used my time to be with my friends and... eat.

What else did I do?

I went to a big Bar Mitzvah party!

I've walked arround town a LOT!

I ate tons of Kugel (love that stuff)!

I've visited a famous bakery in Philly and was allowed into the kitchen where they were baking cookies. The baker was so nice to give me a bag of freshly baked ones still warm from the oven. Oh lucky me!

I went to the Reading Terminal Market and ate soft pretzels.

I've spent a day in New York and I met and laughed with two crazy french food bloggers !

I've seen squirrels in Central Park and tried to take pictures of them.

I went to Levain Bakery...

... and ate a huge chocolate chip cookie!

I also had to try Jacques Torres famous cookie.

I've been followed by a group of piegons (maybe the smell of cookies?)...

I've bought (and ate) a lot of candy!

I've seen the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center!

And as if I hadn't have enough cookies I've baked some more with the kids!

Ok, back home: diet time. Oh no! There's Christmas arround the corner... Oh well...

Monday, December 1, 2008

I leave you with some books

Tomorrow morning I'll leave for a vacation! I really can't wait! Since I' won't be arround much, here are some books for you to read while I'm away!

My portuguese buddies Suzana and Leonor tagged me for a meme to share 3 books. I have more cookbooks than I would like to admit, but when I looked arround to choose just 3, these popped out of the shelf quickly. I love them! They're from Konemann and besides these 3 they have 1 about France, 1 for Greece, a double volume about the whole Europe and some smaller ones like Hungary (I also own that one). What I love about these huge books is that they are divided by the country's regions, they don't just give you traditional recipes of the but they tell you the story of the places thru its foods! They're really interesting! If you like food and traveling you'll love them.

Speaking of travelling, another tag came from FFichiban, to share 6 random facts. So here are 6 random facts about my vacation:

  • I'll be going to Philadelphia
  • I'll travel via London
  • I'll be away for 10 days
  • I'm going to a Bar Mitzvah
  • From the time I'll leave my house tomorrow morning until the time I'll arrive in "my" house in the US, about 20 hours will have passed
  • I'll spend a day in New York eating cookies

And before I go some awards: Thanks Yasmeen for the Inspiration and the Great Buddy awards and grazie Valentina for the Fantasia award!

See you soon! I'll try to keep you posted!