Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Daring Bakers caramelize everything, even my brain...

This month we had to do a Caramel cake, with a caramel syrup and caramelized butter frosting. With all this caramelization, my brain got in the spirit and got caramelized as well. I managed to delete all the step by step pictures, and could only save these ones. I was so mad at myself, it was a good thing that I had a sweet cake close-by, or in my case sweet Madeleines!

This was my version of Shuna Fish Lydon's of Eggbeater (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/) signature Caramel cake (as showed here) and Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. The responsibles for all this caramelization were hosts: Dolores(http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/), Alex (http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/) and Jenny (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/).

Triple caramel: Caramel madeleines and vanila & honey caramels sandwiched with caramelized butter & lavander frosting!

CARAMEL MADELEINES

· 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature · 1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar · 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt · 1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below) · 2 each eggs, at room temperature · 1 splash vanilla extract · 2 Cups all-purpose flour · 1/2 teaspoon baking powder · 1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform. Sift flour and baking powder. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.} Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan (in my case I’ve used Madeleine’s moulds). Place pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

CARAMEL SYRUP

· 2 cups sugar · 1/2 cup water · 1 cup water

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER & LAVENDER FROSTING

· 12 tablespoons unsalted butter · 1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted · 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream · 2 teaspoons vanilla extract · 2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup · Kosher or sea salt to taste · 1 tbsp lavender

Cook butter until brown, add the lavender after and let it cool. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl and discard the lavender. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

GOLDEN VANILLA & HONEY MADELEINE’S CARAMELS

· 1 cup golden syrup (I’ve used ½ cup glucose + ½ cup honey) · 2 cups sugar · 3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt · 2 cups heavy cream · 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract · 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

Combine the golden syrup (see note), sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into an aluminium lined greased pan (in my case the a madeleine’s silicone mould). Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. To unmould easily, pop them in the freezer for a while.

If you can handle the sweetness you can take a bite of mine or go check all the other caramel madness of my fellows Daring Bakers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hello Kittyed-out

Is the whole world obssesed with Hello Kitty, or is it just here?

I had to do a Hello Kitty birthday party during the weekend: cookies, cupcakes and cake, all Hello Kitty. Yes I was a bit Kittyed-out at the end of it, but the birthday girl was happy, and that's what it counts!

Let's start with the cookies. I don't have a Hello Kitty or even a cat cookie cutter, so I'll share with you what I did. You can use this technic to create cookie shapes when you don't have the proper cutters.

Start with a round cookie cutter and round cookies.

You should get a tear drop cookie cutter next.

With the rounded part of the tear drop cutter cut the round cookies where the cat ears would be.

Cut tons of tear drops shapes: 2 for each round cookie, unless you're planning to do 1 ear cats...

Place the tear drops shapes in the holes you had done before with the cutter. It's better to do this allready in the cookie sheet, so you don't have to move them. Don't worry about glueing, they'll glue as they bake.

So these strange cookies are what you'll get. They're ready for some frosting and decorantions.

Hello Kitty cookies done!

Basic butter cookie recipe here.

Let's move on to the cupcakes. Those are mini chocolate cupcakes with whipped white chocolate frosting and little fondant Hello Kittys.

PINK WHITE CHOCOLATE WHIPPED FROSTING

  • 200 gr/7 oz white chocolate
  • 300 ml cream
  • 3 drops red food coloring

Chop the chocolate. Boil the cream and poor it over the chopped chocolate. Leave it for 1-2 minutes and then mix with a spatula until all the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Add the food coloring and mix well, so you have an uniform color. Take it to the fridge and leave it for 24 hours or at least overnight. Whipp just before using.

And finally the cake! Even the birthday girl's dress has a Hello Kitty!

Ok, that was a lot of sugar. Aren't you a little Hello Kittyed out now?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I won't call it Inside-out Cheesecake

It's a Cheesecake Sphere, dressed up as a Christmas ball ornament.

Remember back in September when I made a layered Pannacotta for a new blog event called "Probocación", created by my Spanish friends from Blogolosas? If you don't know about this event, it's really fun. We are not challenged with a recipe, but with an image, and then have to make a creation based on it. This time we were invited to create something with a sphere shape, the idea came from this image.

These are made out of cooked cheesecake, thas is shaped inside a rounded cookie crust (with a previous coat of white chocolate) and with a little hole in the center where a bit of strawberry jam is placed. Two halfs are used to create 1 sphere glued in middle in a drop of white chocolate.

I guess you can think of it as an inside-out cheesecake, but since I've allready made some inside-out stuff before, I'm not going to be the one calling it that, or you might think I have some sort of inside-out paranoia. And that would be just weird...

Warning: These are not suited to play golf with!

CHEESECAKE SPHERES

Crust:

  • 140 gr/5 oz cookie crumbs (I've used oatmeal cookies)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Cheesecake:

  • 180 gr/6.5 oz cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Assembly:

  • White chocolate
  • Strawberry jam (or any other flavour)
  • Rolled fondant (optional)

Preparation: With a small brush pain a thin layer of white chocolate inside half sphere molds (I've used an ice plastic mold with that shape). Let it dry.

Crust: Mix the crumbs with the butter until you have a wet sand consistency. Shape inside the molds, puting the crust arround its walls. Take to the freezer to harden.

Filling: Beat the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix in the milk, sifted corn flour and salt. Beat until all blended. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325ºF (170ºC) for about 20 minutes, depending on the pan you'll use (I've used a small rounded pan). Let the cheesecake cool completely before handling. When cool, scoop tsps of it and place inside the molds, pressing slightly. Make a small hole with your finger or the back of a knife (to put the jam after). Take to the freezer for 10 m to harden a bit.

Assembly: Put the jam on the little hole you made in the cheesecake and again take to the frezzer. Carefully unmold, fliping the mold onto a table. If it's cold enough they will come out perfectly. You're now left with half spheres (2nd picture). Melt a little bit of white chocolate and put a drop in half the spheres, glue the other half on top and take back to the freezer (a few minutes are enough). You can eat them as such (3rd picture) or cover with a thin layer of fondant and decorate it. Since Christmas is arround the corner a Christmas ball seamed a good choice.

En Español: Otra Probocación! El reto este més era hacer esferas, y yo las hice de Tarta de Queso y además vestiditas de bola de árbol de Navidad!

ESFERAS DE TARTA DE QUESO

Masa de galleta:

  • 140gr de polvo de galletas (yo use galletas de avena)
  • 2 cucharadas de mantequilla derretida

Tarta de queso:

  • 180gr queso cremoso
  • 1 huevo
  • 1 cucharada leche
  • 1 cucharada amido de maiz
  • 1/3 taza azúcar

Montaje:

  • Chocolate blanco
  • Mermelada de fresa (o otro sabor)
  • Fondant (opcional)

En un molde de medias esferas (yo use uno de hacer hielo) se pinta una capa de chocolate blanco con una brochita. Llevar al congelador. Se hace la masa de galletas, mezclando el polvo con la mantequilla. presione la masa en las paredes del molde. Se lleva de nuevo al frio. Para la tarta: Se bate el queso con el azúcar, se añade el huevo y vanilla. Se añado por fin la sal, leche y el amido (tamizado). Batir un poco más y llevar al horno a 170ºC, más o menos 20 minutos. Dejar enfriar por completo y despues sacar cucharadas y moldearlas dentro del molde, haciendo un poco de presión. Hacer un huequito con el dedo para hacer espacio para la mermelada. Llevar de buevo al congelador por unos minutos. Sacar y rellenar los huequitos con la mermelada. Después de llevar al frio un poco más, desmoldar con cuidado y pegar las mitades (foto 2) con un poquito de chocolate blanco derretido. Llevar una ultima vez al congelador para que las esferas se queden bien pegadas. Se pueden forrar con fondant y decorar a gusto o comer asi mismo (foto 3).

Le quieres pegar un bocado, a mi probocado?

Do you care for a ball bite?

You can check the other spheres here, just follow the links on the comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Could this be the best in the world?

"The best chocolate cake in the world"

Do you think that's a bit pretentious? That's not me saying it, that's the name of a cake and of the small pastry shop that sells said cake in Lisbon. It's famous arround here but since I was living abroad for such a long time, I only tried it not long ago when I was lucky to meet 2 cool fellow bloggers. It was my first time meeting other bloggers AND eating "the best chocolate cake in the World". Too much emotion for one afternoon!

The cake was very good. The best in the world? Well, that's difficult to say because a) I have not tasted all the chocolate cakes in the world and b) This is not technically a cake, it's a stack of meringue disks filled with chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate ganache. Of course the name was a smart marketing strategy, but still, the cake is very good! I brought a piece for my mom who requested a clone for her birthday.

Her birthday was last week and this was my version:

THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER MADE (ACCORDING TO MY AUNT WHO IS ON A DIET)

Cocoa Meringue:
  • 280 gr/ 10 oz (6-7) egg whites
  • 500 gr/ 1lbs + 2 oz sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and add the sugar little by little, keep whipping the meringue until it's stiff and glossy. Sift the cocoa and add delicatelly to the meringue. Divide into 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and make disks with the help of a spatula. Bake for about 2 hours in a very low oven (110ºC/ 225º F). You can put all 3 baking sheets at the same time in the oven, making sure you rotate them twice so all 3 sheets are at the bottom, center and on the top shelf of the oven, so they bake evenly. Remove from the parchment paper and let cool completely on racks.

Chocolate Mousse:
  • 200 gr/ 7.1 oz good dark chocolate
  • 200 ml cream
  • 200 ml whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
This mousse has to be prepared the day before you are going to use it. Break the chocolate into small pieces and take to the microwave for 1m. Boil the 200ml of cream and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 1-2 minutes and then mix them together, making a ganache. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Let it cool before adding the whipped cream. When adding the whipped cream, fold it gently into the ganache and take to the fridge to use the next day.

Toblerone Ganache:
  • 1 small Toblerone (100 gr/3.5 oz)
  • 100 gr/ 3.5 oz cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Chopp the Toblerone into small pieces and take to the microwave for 1m. Boil the cream and pour over the Toblerone. Let stand for 1-2m and then mix until you have a shiny ganache cream. Cut the butter in tiny pieces and add together with the salt and mix until incorporated. If it's to thin to pour over the cake take to fridge for 20m or so. Or you can spread it instead pouring if you prefer, just leave it in the fridge until it's thick enough.

Topping/Decoration:
  • Melted white chocolate
  • Melted dar chocolate
  • Finelly chopped Toblerone

Melt the chocolates and put them in zip lock bags, pastry bags or use a spoon to drizzle over the cake.

Assembly:

  • On a serving plate put a meringue disk (it's a good idea to use a small dollop of ganache to glue it to the plate)
  • Spread half of the mousse
  • Top with the second disk of meringue
  • Spread the other half of mousse
  • Top with the last meringue disk
  • Pour or spread the Toblerone ganache
  • Decorate with the melted chocolates and chopped Toblerone

This meringue/mousse thing is not a new concept, there's a known cake named Concord Cake that is like that, also Pierre Hermé has an Autumn Meringue Cake that looks very much like the one from the pastry shop. In fact people say that the owner of "The best chocolate cake in the World" started making the cake after eating a similar one in Paris.

For my version I used my go-to recipes for meringue (just added cocoa) and rich egg-less chocolate mousse. I made my meringues much thicker for more crunch, and I've used Toblerone to make my ganache instead of regular chocolate because that's my mom's favourite. And also drizzled some more chocolate and sprinkled chopped Toblerone to make it more festive, it was for a birthday after all!

My mom said that mine was even better than the one from the pastry shop, but she's my mom, so of course she was going to say that. My aunt said that this was the best thing I have ever made (from the ones she tasted), but she's on a diet so I think anything she eats outside her diet must taste like it's the best in the world!

But really, it was quite good: crunchy and creamy and rich and chocolatey!... How could it not be good?

I'm sending this cake to Not Quite Nigella, for her fun event: The Ultimate Chocolate Cake Challenge!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So what do you want to know?

I'm not really the meme kind, but since I don't do one in ages I decided to give this one a go when Becky tagged me. So, short and simple, here it is:

7 Things I Did Before
  1. Studied in an acting/theatre school
  2. Worked as a recepcionist in an accountants firm
  3. Worked as an actress during 4 years
  4. Was an Aupair in the US
  5. Studied Pastry Arts for 3 years in Spain
  6. Did an internship in a restaurant and pastry shop in Italy
  7. Worked as a pastry chef in the UK
7 Things I Do Now
  1. Taste ice creams
  2. Twit
  3. Bake a lot of cakes
  4. Spend a lot of time on the computer
  5. Write recipes for a kid's magazine
  6. Create desserts for restaurants
  7. Obssess with chocolate chip cookies
7 Things I Want To Do
  1. Travel South America in a caravan
  2. Go to Japan
  3. Take my mom on a rally to Africa
  4. Visit all my friends spread out worldwide
  5. Have a dog
  6. Allways enjoy what I do
  7. Laugh, love and learn more and more
7 Things That Attract Me About the Opposite Sex
  1. Have all his teeth
  2. No strange body odors
  3. Have a nice and honest smile
  4. Have objectivs in life
  5. Makes me laugh
  6. Enjoys eating
  7. Enjoys eating what I cook/bake even more
7 Favorite Foods
  1. Ice-cream
  2. Chocolate
  3. Cookies
  4. Chips
  5. Bread with butter
  6. Nuts
  7. Cakes
7 Things I Say Most Often
  1. Taste this!
  2. Let's eat!
  3. Are you hungry?
  4. We need to buy sugar!
  5. I should go to the gym.
  6. Why me?
  7. I miss you.

Thank you Becky for the fun meme and for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you also to the Blonde Duck who gave me the same award (girls know that one good thing is never enough)! And thank you Yasmeen for the I'm a Chocoholic Award!