DB Presents… The Bakewell Tarts

•June 30, 2009 • 5 Comments

Ok, so I totally missed the May challenge (which I plan to do at some other point in time because it looks delicious! Strudel mmmm). I had some health issues to deal with. But all is well now so no worries!

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

I really really enjoyed this months challenge!! I once again lost track of time and ended up baking my tart the day that the posts were due (oi!) and now I am only posting today a few days late. (Life just keeps getting busier… not complaining though :) I just wish I had a little more time to bake!). Thank you to the wonderful hosts. I received a number of compliments on this creation and I look forward to making it again soon!

For this challenge we had to make the sweet shortcrust pastry (delicious by the way!) and frangipane. We were given the freedom to choose a homemade jam or curd we wanted. We were encouraged to make our own jam, but since time was ticking on my baking time I simply chose to use the store bought brand I had in the fridge.

The Bakewell Tart

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability (I used E.D. Smiths Cranberry Cherry Manderine Orange Jam… mmm!)
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.

Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.

Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds (I didn’t exactly grind my almonds… I bought sliced almonds and I just mashed them up a little, there were still larger pieces in my frangipane, but I rather enjoyed having them there)
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Daring Bakers Present Cheese Cake

•April 27, 2009 • 8 Comments

Dear readers of my blog. I apologize for not posting very often these days… I don’t know where time goes. I have been so busy these past few months I haven’t been able to do much baking. I did manage to get this months Daring Bakers Challenge finished, but this post is a last minute thing and is being rushed since I have a bunch of other things to do before going to bed for the night… I promise next months post will be better and hopefully I will get at least one other post done in the meantime (fingers crossed!)

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

** I am having a hard time getting my pictures up… hubby recent switched operating systems and this one apparently hates me! So I will have to get him to help me out… and hopefully I will get some up soon!! Pictures have been added!! yay!! Thats sweetie!!

When I first read the challenge was cheese cake I had mixed feelings. I was hoping for something that would be a bit more daring and exciting. I had never made cheese cake before. I just never felt like it was something I wanted to make. I do love to eat cheesecake… but its not really my thing to make. But I figured I would give it a try.

We were given the green light to do any flavour combinations we wanted. After much though and consultation with my husband. I decided on a coffee flavoured cheese cake with a chocolate ganache topping. I stuck with the regular graham cracker crust. It was delicious! This cheese cake was not nearly as rich as I had expected, since all of the cheese cake I have ever eat had been quite rich.

I would make this cheese cake again (maybe try a different flavour combo.. a lot of the other Daring Bakers have absolutely scrumptious looking cheese cakes!), but its not on my list of things to make again in the near future. Making cheese cake just wasn’t really my thing… but if it is your I would highly recommend this recipe!!!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice (I left the lemon juice out)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (I also left this out)
I added about 3-4 tbsp of strong brewed coffee

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside. (Since I do not own a spring form pan, and I wanted my cheese cake to not be in a pan when I served it I had to build my own pan haha. I used the bottom of an aluminum pie plate and some tin foil… presto chango… a cheese cake pan lol!)


3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. (At this point I added the coffee)

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve. (I have mentioned before that my oven is possessed and no matter what I set the temperature to it always gives me a hard time baking… the tops of my cheese cakes ended up being golden… I’m not 100% sure but I don’t think that was what we were going for. Nonetheless, it tasted fine and with the chocolate on top no one knew!)

Topped off with some delicious chocolate ganache, this dessert was perfect!!


Quite Possibly the Best Lasange I Have Ever Had (DB’s March Challenge)

•March 26, 2009 • 4 Comments

I LOVE pasta! And I mean LOVE!!

So I was super excited (and quite frightened.. but I will get to that later) when the March Daring Bakers Challenge was announced…. Lasagne!!!

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larderand Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Tableby Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Now like I said, this challenge frightened me a little. One time a few years back I found a pasta maker in my parents basement which had been handed down to them by my grandparents. I thought it was really cool, figured pasta wouldn’t be hard to make and I took it home to give it a go. Well I’m not sure what went wrong but my pasta was far from delicious :S It was not very good. So I took the maker back home have hadn’t touched it since. So this challenge brought back painful memories of that time hahaa!!

But I am a Daring Baker so I rose to the challenge! For this challenge we were required to make all 3 parts.
1. Spinach Pasta
2. Bechamel Sauce
3. Country Style Ragu
I followed the given recipes to a “T” and was thrilled with the final product! I loved the taste of the pasta and I loved the sauces!!! We served this to friends of ours who came over and they gave me rave reviews. I will definitely make this again, in fact I have ordered the KitchenAid pasta make attachment (Thank you Visa Points!).  I want to thank the hosts of this months challenge for encouraging me to do something that was outside of my comfort zone as a cook/baker. Below is the recipe with my experiences added.. I began my day excited, then frustrated and angry, on the verge of throwing in the towel, but then ended quite pleased with myself and satisfied!! :)

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper 

1. Spinach Pasta 

Ingredients
2 jumbo eggs
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.


Ok well of flour with eggs….. so far so good….


“hopelessly rough and messy lump”? Somehow I don’t think my dough should look like this…. this would be the point of my anger/frustration/almost throwing in the towel lol…. and I think you might agree from the above picture I had good reason. I figured there was no way on earth this mound would ever come together to form a ball of dough. Think think think…. what to do… well I used 2 large eggs instead of 2 jumbo eggs…. maybe I’ll add one more to make it a bit moister… heck I had nothing to lose at this point…..

Kneading:
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Ok I was wrong adding an egg did not help me at all… once again about to throw in the towel when my KitchenAid mixer caught my eye. I whipped on the dough hook and scrapped my mess from the counter. I would just like to clarify though that I only used the KitchenAid to get the dough to come together, once it was formed into a ball I took over the kneading by hand… It was a lot of work but I felt like this challenge deserved it! Here is the results for mine and the KitchenAids handy work…

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). 

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag. (If you plan to cook the lasagna right away you do not need to dry it completely).

 

2. Bechamel Sauce (sorry kids, sadly I forgot to take pictures of this step)

Ingredients
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

3. Country Style Ragu

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained (This does actually mean 3 tomatoes from a can not 3 cans)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering:
Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling The Lasagne (I should have taken more pictures of this process but I was in a hurry to get this in the oven before our company arrived)

Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

Chocolate Valentino

•February 28, 2009 • 12 Comments

This months Daring Bakers Challenge, is all about chocolate…. and ice cream. But most importantly chocolate!! February is for Valentines Day. Love. Romance. Chocolate.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

I apologize for the wording in the above paragraph… please let me explain. In order to get credit for completing the Daring Bakers Challenges we have a nifty program that goes through every members blog and checks to see if their post is in fact there. The program checks for the above paragraph as confirmation. So any DBers blog that you go to for this recipe will have the above paragraph somewhere in their post. I think this program is fantastic! and certainly helps to keep the blogroll up to date. The host decide what that paragraph will say, and herein lies my issue. They write it from their perspective… really the paragraph should say: They have chosen. As if it were something that I wrote. It drives me nuts!! So that’s why the above paragraph says that… its not me. :) Ok end of rant…. moving on…

So this challenge was to make the Chocolate Valentino Cake and an ice cream of our choice (we could use one of the recipes provided or we could use our own). I decided to use dark chocolate. I LOVE dark chocolate. Definitely my weakness!!! I paired the dark chocolate with orange and it was to die for! Delicious! Mouth wateringly delicious!! I had never made ice cream before so I opted to use one of the recipes provided by the hosts and kept the flavour simple… vanilla.

The dark chocolate and orange cake was really really good and I will probably make it again. It had the texture of a brownie. The dark chocolate was very intense but worth it! My ice cream also turned out fairly well for my first attempt. It could have used an extra stir, but I made this in the evening and I couldn’t stay up any longer (after 4 stirs already!).  I would make my own ice cream again, but I would probably use another flavour and I would try a different recipe. I found a few days later when eating this ice cream it left a weird greasy feeling in my mouth…. almost like I had eaten Vaseline :S uck!! But the first day it was ok… maybe its only good for a short period of time… anyway…

My awesome husband made me the most scrumptious homemade blue cheese hamburgers ever for Valentines Day (we will make these again and I will be sure to take pictures and post them)!! And I made us dessert to top off the meal. It was one of the best valentines day dinners ever!! Anyone can pick up the bill at a restaurant, but when you cook for someone (even if you screw up) it shows a lot of effort and love!!

 
Chocolate Valentino
From Sweet Treats By Chef Wan

Ingredients

454 g of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I chose dark chocolate)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

Instructions

  1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often. (I added orange zest to my mixture)
  2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
  3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
  4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
  5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
  6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
  7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
  9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
    Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
  10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis

Ingredients

1 Vanilla Pod (I used vanilla extract)
1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk (I used whole milk)
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 ¼ cups Double Cream

Instructions

  1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways.  Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil.  Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
    Lift the vanilla pod up.  Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 
  3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
  4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl.  Cool it then chill.
  5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon.  Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container.  Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)

Tuiles a la Daring Bakers

•January 29, 2009 • 6 Comments

Its that time again ladies and gentlemen, that’s right… Daring Bakers Challenge Time! This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

A tuile is a very light, crisp cookie which can be molded into any shape and filled or drizzled with anything you would like! The tuiles may be shaped prior to baking using a stencil and then shaped while still warm. I made a circular stencil out of a piece of hard plastic, but sadly I was unsuccessful… I don’t know if my stencil was too thin (needed thicker plastic sheet?) or if my batter was too wet (therefore not spreading as well?) but I did not really enjoy this challenge. I became frustrated and ended up using a piping bag to pipe shapes onto the cookie sheet. Good… I thought… seemed to be working…. until I tried to mold them!?!?! ugh… I must have piped the dough too thick because when I tried to mold them using various things (spoon, measuring cup, large spoon handle) they would crack at a certain point (and they were still quite warm so I know that wasn’t the problem). So a few of my tuiles actually turned out well (and those are the ones that I am showing in my pictures hahaha!!). I paired them with some whipped cream and peaches. Hubby and I had them for dessert on night and I must admit I was not really impressed. Maybe because I looooove my sweets, but these just did not cut it for me! I found that they didn’t have much flavour. Disappointing… I thought about attempting these suckers in to see if I would have better luck (with the changes I discussed above) but since I didn’t really like the taste of them this time, I decided not to.

While I didn’t like making the tuiles, many other Daring Bakers were much more successful than I and have made some wonderful creations!!! And I strongly encourage you to check out their blogs here before you decide not to give these a try because I am definitely in the minority on this.

 

Tuiles
From The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeinck

Ingredients 

¼ cup softened butter (not melted but soft)
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
dash of vanilla extract
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice (if you want to add colour to your tuiles)
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not over mix.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template.
  5. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the tuiles.
  6. Bake tuiles in preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again or place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
  7. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Chocolate Peanut Butter Heaven

•January 19, 2009 • 4 Comments

OH MY GOSH….. I think I may have slipped into a cake induced coma for a few days…. wow…. chocolate… peanut butter and cream cheese… together… in one absolutely delicious cake!! Mmmmm Just writing up this post is making my mouth water. Hubby put in a request for this cake for his birthday. It was sooooo good that I made it again for my sister for her birthday and then yet again to bring to a potluck. Everyone loved it! This is a chocolate cake, with peanut butter cream cheese icing and chocolate peanut butter ganache! You have got to try it for yourself because I really can not describe all of its yummy goodness as accurately as it deserves! I will definitely be making this one again. One word of warning, this cake is very rich so make sure you only take a small piece at a time and have a nice big class of cold milk close by!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
(taken from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

(look really healthy eh? :S Try not to think of that haha!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter the bottoms of three 8″ cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and combine well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the egs and beat until well mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and divide the mix between the three cake pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the pans cool for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and cool completely (Deb, from smittenkitchen.com recommended putting the cakes into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm them up since the cakes are very soft. I took this advice and had a much easier time handling the cakes during assembly).
  4. To ice the cake (see recipe for Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing below), place one cake on platter or cake stand and spread 2/3 cups of icing over the top of the cake. Repeat for the next layer. Place the last cake on top and place a thin coat of icing on the top and sides of the entire cake (this is the crumb coat and is used when you are icing a cake to prevent crumbs from the cake getting into your icing, it makes the final product more attractive).  Put the cake in the fridge for about 10 – 15 minutes to firm up the crumb coat. Remove the cake from the fridge and finish icing the cake. Return to fridge while you make the ganache (see recipe below).
  5. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and spread it evenly with a spatula to the edges of the cake so that the extra ganache drips down over the sides. Return the cake to the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow the ganache to set.


Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
 

Ingredients

10 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

  1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache

Ingretdients

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsly chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half and half

  1. In the top of double boiler combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Almond and Apricot Biscotti

•January 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I had never made biscotti before… it always seemed like something that would be too hard and time consuming to bother making. But a few days ago I was feeling in the biscotti mood so I thought I would give it a shot.

I was suprised! They were really quite simple to make… and delicious! I made Almond and Apricot Biscotti from the MayoClinic. One word of warning… these suckers are addictive! Once I started eating them I couldn’t stop! Perfect with a nice cup of tea or coffee (especially on those snowy days!)

Almond and Apricot Biscotti
(makes about 24 biscotti)
Recipe from mayoclinic.com

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole-wheat  flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup 1 percent milk
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons dark honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 F

In a large bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar and baking powder. Mix well. Add the eggs, milk, canola oil, honey and almond extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to come together. Add the chopped apricots and almonds. With floured hands, mix until the dough is well blended. (I found that the dough would stick to my hands like crazy, floured or not… so I ended up mixing it all with the wooden spoon).

Place the dough on a long sheet of plastic wrap and shape by hand into a flattened log 12 inches long, 3 inches wide and about 1 inch high. Lift the plastic wrap to invert the dough onto a nonstick baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to another baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven set at 350 F.

Place the cooled log on a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut crosswise on the diagonal into 24 slices 1/2-inch wide. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. And enjoy!! :)

 
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