Chocolate

Malteser Cake

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Malteser Cake

After seeing a cake covered in maltesers, how could you NOT make it? And what better excuse than a birthday.

It looked lovely and tasted lovely – only very very rich. I couldn’t get through my piece, and neither could a number of other family members. The cake was rich and the icing, very sweet and there was lots of it.

I would definitely consider decorating another cake in maltesers, as it looks lovely – and I love maltesers…. but I wouldn’t make this recipe again unfortunately. Just too rich for me and my family.

If you would like to try it, I used this recipe from Taste.

Choc Top Extraordinaire

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Choc Top Extraordinaire
There have been many lovely dessert recipes on MasterChef this year (like most years). Some of the top chefs in Australia share some of their beautiful recipes, some which can be mastered at home, and others which are a bit more difficult to achieve at home (either due to equipment or accessibility to ingredients).

One of the recent recipes was by Nick Palumbo from Messina (an amazing gelato store and one of the best in Sydney), and it was a decadent looking choc-top. Having visited Messina many times to try both their gelato and magnificent desserts from their Creative Department, I knew this dessert was one I wanted to try.

I took two days to make the components (as I needed to organise my time around my bubs naps). The first day I made the almond meal, hazelnut paste, amaretti and gelato base (and left it in the fridge over night before churning), the second day I made the ice cream cones, Italian meringue, ganache and chocolate dip and assembled it.

Choc Top

My first cone didn’t turn out very well (shape-wise), which meant we got to try it! It was lovely and crunchy and a had wonderful flavour. I would love to make them again (even if they were time consuming). I think I may have also taken the caramel a little too far, as I ended up with a slight bitter taste in the gelato (although it still went well with all the other flavours.

The cone that made it into the pictures, was piped (using a piping bag) and placed in the freezer for a while (maybe 20 mins?) and then dipped into the chocolate, which had cooled a little, but was still warm. The choc-tops were very lovely, quite sweet (probably not helped by the melting gelato). I would love to make the cone mixture again, even if just in rounds to have with ice cream.

Choc Top

My notes to help the home cook:

    • I made 1/3 of the almond meal, hazelnut paste and gelato (this base was placed in my two ice cream makers). I made half the quantity of the amaretti, ganache, chocolate dip and cones (it made 7 cones – which only used about half the gelato and even less of the biscuits).
    • I used some cotton gloves handle the cones before setting.
    • I made my own templates for moulding the cones. Cut an A4 piece of cardboard in half. Twist the cardboard, making the middle of one of the long edges the point of the cone. When satisfied with the shape, staple in place and then cover in foil.

Homemade cone rollers

  • I found a skin formed on the top of my gelato base, as it was left in the fridge overnight (I just whisked it back in).
  • I made the ganache and Italian meringue 3 hours before serving, and this was fine (could have even gone longer).
  • I churned the gelato and placed it in the freezer 2 hours before serving, and it should have been in longer. Once I piped it into the cones it was already melting, although we didn’t have time or space to leave them to set in the freezer for longer – this made dipping them in the chocolate very hard.

Choc Top Extraordnaire

Recipe by Nick Palumbo (recipe seen on MasterChef season 6)

Ingredients
Almond Meal:
100 g almonds, skin on

Hazelnut Paste:
200 g hazelnuts
20 g vegetable oil (I needed a little more oil than this)

Gelato:
3000 g milk
200 g egg yolks
70 g maltodextrine (I used dextrose, as I didn’t find this in time)
300 g skim milk powder (I used normal milk powder, as that’s what I had available)
20 g Murray River salt
800 g caster sugar
1000 g cream

Amaretti Biscuit:
100 g egg white
100 g icing sugar
100 g sugar
5 grams bi-carb soda
pinch cream of tartar
5 g bitter almond extract (I used vanilla essence, as I don’t like almond essence)
30 g almond meal

Ganache:
50 g hazelnut paste
160 g cream
20 g dextrose (glucose powder)
40 g liquid glucose
160 g milk chocolate

Italian Meringue:
125 g egg whites, room temperature
200 g sugar
50 g liquid glucose

Sugar Cone:
4 egg whites
230 g caster sugar
80 g milk
2 g vanilla extract
pinch salt
170 g plain flour plus more for dusting
40 g unsalted butter, melted
cooking spray

Chocolate Dip:
320 g dark chocolate
40 g hazelnut paste
120 g cocoa butter

Method

Preheat one oven to 150C and a second oven to 195C.
To make the almond meal, place almonds on a baking tray and place in the 195C oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place in blast chiller to cool down. Transfer almonds to the thermomix and blend to make almond meal, being careful not to blend too much. Set aside to use in the amaretii biscuit.

To make the hazelnut paste, place hazelnuts and vegetable oil in a thermomix and blend until smooth. Pass through a drum sieve into a bowl and set aside to use in the ganache and chocolate dip.

To make the gelato, place milk in a 7 L saucepan, set over medium heat and heat to 40C.
Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk till pale.
Place malodextrine, skim milk powders and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.
Once the milk hits 40 C, add the powders and blend. Pour about ¼ of the mix slowly into the egg yolks and keep whisking. Then, pour the yolks with a ¼ mix, back into the saucepan with the rest of the mixture and bring up to 75 C. Take off the heat and let stand.
In a large saucepan, place the sugar with a little water and make a slurry and put on a stove on highest heat and let sugar caramelize till you get a dark amber colour.
At the same time, place the cream in a saucepan and heat to just before boiling, careful not to burn the cream.
Once sugar is dark amber colour, take off heat and very slowly pour the hot cream in, being careful that it doesn’t bubble over.
Once sugar and cream are combined, add to the reserved mixture. Blend with a stick blender and strain into shallow pans. Transfer to the blast chiller and cool until the mix gets to around 5 degrees.
Transfer mix to the soft serve machine and set to production mode.

To make the ganache, place hazelnut paste, cream, dextrose and glucose in a thermomix and heat to 80C, speed 3. Turn off thermomix and reset to 37C, speed 3. Slowly add chocolate until combined. Transfer to a shallow container and place in the fridge to cool.

To make the amaretti biscuits, place egg whites, icing sugar and sugar in mixer with whisk attachment and mix until meringue forms and sugar is dissolved. Add bi carb and cream of tartar while still whisking and then add the bitter almond extract. Fold in reserved 30 grams almond meal. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe small droplets the size of a 20 cent coin onto a paper lined tray.
Place in the 150C oven and bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 110 C and continue to bake until dry and crunchy, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Amaretti

To make the Italian meringue, place sugar, glucose and enough water to make a slurry in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat to 121C.
While the sugar is heating, place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until firm peaks form.
While the mixer is running, slowly pour in hot sugar syrup. Whisk until mixture is room temperature and thick and glossy. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and set aside in the freezer.

Italian Meringue

To make the sugar cone, place egg white, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt into a food processor and blend together for a few minutes. Add flour and butter and beat until fully incorporated and batter is smooth.
Lightly spray a 25cm crepe pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Pour 45gr of batter on to the cold pan and roll the pan around and tap it a little so you form what looks like a pancake about 18cm round, making sure it is even thickness all over.
Place pan in a preheated oven at 195 C until a nice tan colour around edges, about 9 minutes. Take out and flip and place back in oven for another 1-2 minutes.
Take pan out of oven and quickly lay sugar disc onto a clean towel and top with cone roller, leaving enough of the disc sitting off the edge of the roller to allow for a pointed cone base to form. Using towel and cone roller as a guide, roll sugar disc into a cone shape with a 6cm opening. Hold seam side down for 1 to 2 minutes or until cone cools, making sure to also pinch the bottom of the cone so there is no hole at the bottom.
Cool pan completely in an ice bath, wipe dry and repeat until all batter has been used. Set cones aside.

Rolling the cone

Cones

To make the chocolate dip, place chocolate, hazelnut paste and cocoa butter in a thermomix and set on time 10 minutes, temperature 50, speed 4. Set aside, keeping at 50C.

Transfer the ganache to a piping bag and return to the fridge.

To assemble the cone, take the ganache piping bag from the fridge and pipe a little into the base of the sugar cone. Using a small palette knife, work the ganache up the inside wall of the cone all the way up to the opening, making sure to have the same thickness lining the inside of the cone.
Piping
Ganache
Take the Italian meringue piping bag from the freezer, cut the tip and pipe a little into the cone. Using a small palette knife, work the meringue up the inside wall of the cone all the way up to the opening, making sure to have the same thickness of meringue lining the inside of the cone.
Meringue and Ganache

Crush amaretti biscuits finely and sprinkle inside the cone covering the meringue. Tip cone upside down to remove any excess crushed amaretti that didn’t stick to the meringue.
Meringue and Amaretti
Place the cone hard up to the gelato machine and ensure that the gelato packs firmly inside the cone. Once you have packed the cone level, slowly turn the cone around in a circular motion to achieve the classic soft serve cone. Place in the blast chiller to firm up for 1 minute.
Piped caramel gelato
Remove gelato from blast chiller and stab the gelato with the Italian meringue piping bag and pipe in 3 lots of meringue.
Stab the gelato with the ganache piping bag and pipe in 3 lots of ganache. Return the gelato to the blast chiller to firm 1-2 minutes.
Dip the cone in the chocolate topping ensuring that you cover the gelato and at least 2 cm of cone as well, ensure it doesn’t run down the cone by keeping it on an angle.
ChocTop
Sieve crushed amaretti biscuit and sprinkle the gelato with larger pieces of crushed amaretti biscuit.
Serve

Eve

Friday, February 14th, 2014

One of my biggest cooking challenges since giving birth, was this cake, but I had desperately wanted to make it for Valentines day (as I knew Nick would probably prefer a different cake for his birthday), so the next best excuse was today (even though we don’t normally celebrate the day).

Eve was made by Kirsten Tibballs from Savour Chocolate and Patessiere School on one of the MasterChef episodes in their “Love” week last year. Having been lucky enough to do a short course at Savour a while ago, and tasting their wonderful creations, I was looking forward to making this cake. I have also noticed Kirsten has a cookbook released recently which looks lovely and one day I would like to get my hands on it.

The cake turned out extremely well, and it was extremely rich (you only need a small slice). I was happy with all three components, although a number of people thought a little less cremeux would be good. It looked quite impressive once put together and I was super happy with the result.

My notes and troubleshooting:

I had trouble with the red colouring for the mushrooms. The powder I used wasn’t turning the chocolate red, more of a brown colour, so then I added some of my Wilton colouring gel, and although it turned it a maroon colour (and not vibrant red initially), it also seized the chocolate, meaning it was hard to pipe – I had to pipe it best I could and then use a spoon or knife to spread it into a shape.

For the stems of the mushrooms, I ended up seizing the chocolate too much, so couldn’t pipe it – it was so solid I ended up just moulding it with my hands (like fondant).

I cut the cake into two, as it was quite large and I thought the decorations wouldn’t look in proportion if the cake was left its original size.

I used less chocolate for many aspects (mushrooms and toppings), as I didn’t want much left over. I also just used what chocolate I had available, e.g. cooking chocolate that didn’t require tempering

For the hazelnut praline paste I halved this recipe from Sweet as Honey. I added a bit of water, but it didn’t really get as liquidy as the photos on that website. Therefore for the crispy almond layer I needed to add more melted chocolate and some hazelnut spread.

Eve Cake

Recipe by Kirsten Tibballs
*You will need a 33cm x 23cm cake pan for this recipe

Pistachio dacquoise
145g egg whites, at room temperature
2g cream of tartar
64g caster sugar
2 drops green food colouring
128g ground pistachios, sifted
100g icing sugar, sifted
24g plain flour, sifted
Good quality raspberry jam, for brushing

Crispy almond layer
70g Callebaut dark chocolate, broken into pieces
180g Hazelnut praline paste, or increase chocolate by 40g and add 1 tablespoon almond oil (I made my own hazelnut praline, but also added 50g more chocolate and 1 tablespoon Nutella)
172g slivered almonds, roasted
30g Callebaut cocoa nibs or almonds (I used the almonds)

Chocolate cremeux
690g thickened cream
156g egg yolks
76g caster sugar
265g Callebaut milk chocolate (33.6% cocoa), broken into pieces
265g Callebaut dark chocolate (60% cocoa), broken into pieces

Chocolate leaves and bark
100g good quality dark chocolate (57.8% cocoa) (I used only about 30-50g)
Assorted fresh leaves, washed and dried with paper towel

Chocolate mushrooms
150g Callebaut W2 white chocolate (28% cocoa) (I used only 50-100g)

Red chocolate heart tops
200g Callebaut velvet white chocolate (I used only 50-100g)
20g red soluble oil based powder

Edible pebbles
30g pistachios, roughly chopped
Edible green metallic (I used gold)

Pistachio dacquoise
1. For the pistachio dacquoise, preheat oven to 170C.
2. Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer to soft peaks, on medium speed.
3. Increase speed to high, then gradually add caster sugar while mixing continuously to allow sugar to dissolve. Add food colouring, whisking to combine.

4. Meanwhile, combine pistachios, icing sugar and flour in a bowl.

5. Gently fold meringue into bowl with pistachio mixture until just combined.

6. Using a palette knife, evenly spread mixture into a 35 x 25cm Flexipat or same-size tray lined with baking paper. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes, then remove, and set aside to cool completely.

7. Trim dacquoise to 33cm x 23cm rectangle.

Crispy almond layer
1. For the crispy almond layer, grease and line the cake pan with baking paper.

2. Melt chocolate to 36°C in a microwave in 30 second increments. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

3. Evenly press mixture into cake pan. Set aside until just before the almond layer sets, then place dacquoise layer on top.

4. Brush a thin layer of jam over the top of the pistachio dacquoise.

Chocolate cremeux
1. For the chocolate cremeux, bring cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Whisking constantly, slowly add half of the warm cream to bowl with egg yolk mixture until combined.

3. Pour egg yolk mixture into pan with remaining cream, and place over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until mixture reaches 80°C, and coats the back of the wooden spoon.

4. Meanwhile, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Strain cream mixture through a fine sieve over the chocolate, and stir until melted and combined.

5. Pour crémeux over the raspberry jam layer.

6. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. You can freeze for up to 1 month in the freezer.

Chocolate leaves and bark
1. For the chocolate leaves and bark, temper dark chocolate as per instructions below.

2. For the bark, brush a thin layer of chocolate onto a piece of baking paper and roll up and set aside.

3. For the leaves, brush a thin layer on each leaf, until you can’t see the leaf. Once the chocolate has set, carefully remove the leaf.

Chocolate mushrooms
1. For the chocolate mushrooms, temper chocolate as per instructions below. Add a few drops of water at a time, stirring until the chocolate thickens to a piping consistency. With a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle, pipe 3 mushroom bases onto a tray lined with baking paper. Set aside until firm.

Red chocolate heart tops
1. For the heart tops, temper chocolate as per instructions below. Sift the red powder into ¾ of the white chocolate and mix until combined. Transfer red chocolate to a piping bag made of baking paper. Pipe red chocolate into heart shapes, using a template as a guide underneath a sheet of baking paper. (see last page) Set the chocolate for 20-30 minutes before removing from the paper.

2. Use the remaining white chocolate to pipe white dots onto the mushroom tops, and to stick the tops and stems together.

Edible pebbles
1. Place pistachios in a bowl and add green metallic, tossing to coat.

To Assemble
1. To assemble, temper the dark chocolate as per instructions below. Brush a thin layer of chocolate onto the surface of the cake to create a rough texture. Brush with gold metallic once set.

2. Garnish with chocolate leaves, bark, chocolate mushrooms, pebbles, raspberries and hazelnuts.

Tempering chocolate
1. Place required chocolate in a plastic bowl (glass retains too much heat).

2. Melt chocolate in a microwave for no more than 30-second increments, stirring in between.

3. Melt chocolate until you have 50% solid chocolate and 50% melted chocolate. Continue stirring without applying any additional heat. It may take a few minutes for all of the solid chocolate to melt. Stir continuously during this time.

4. If the chocolate does not melt completely, apply gentle heat with a hair drier. Do a test by spreading a small amount of chocolate onto a piece of baking paper, in a room at a temperature no higher than 22C. The chocolate should set at room temperature in 5-10 minutes.

a. Dark couverture should set in approximately 5 minutes.

b. Milk couverture should set in approximately 7 minutes.

c. White chocolate should set in approximately 10 minutes.

5. It is necessary to maintain the chocolate in a liquid state by reheating if necessary. Be sure to take a new test every time you reheat.

6. To test if your chocolate is tempered correctly, dip a teaspoon or a square of acetate in the couverture and leave it to set. This should take around 5-10 minutes at room temperature. If the couverture does not set after 10 minutes, it is not tempered correctly. If it sets but there are streaks on the surface, you will need to continue stirring the couverture, then take another test.

Passion Fruit Caramel Chocolates – Daring Bakers Challenge July 2013

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

In a “celebration” of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we’d like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

I remember before I started the Daring Bakers, each month on some of my favourite food blogs I couldn’t wait to see what everyone had made. Seeing their wonderful creations and wishing I had made them was the reason I joined up to the Daring Bakers.

So when this challenge came up, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to try some of those dishes I had missed making. Some of the dishes I considered making were eclairs, a French Yule Log or tuiles. Although after I attended a chocolate tempering class last year (and received some silicone chocolate moulds for Christmas), I decided to go back to a challenge I had already done, although hadn’t made one of components I would have liked to make.

So, passion fruit caramel chocolates became my challenge for this month. The caramel just tasted divine, and some tips on chocolate tempering from the class came in handy too. When I handed out the chocolates I got a lot of great responses and comments that I could certainly make them again (which I will – because I loved them). They made quite a mess though, although to make yummy food, sometimes you need to spread chocolate over the counter and lots of utensils.

From Daring Bakers August 2011
Lisa’s Passion Fruit Caramel Bonbons was adapted from CandyBarLab.com

Passion Fruit Caramel Chocolates aka Bonbons

Servings: 16 large (1.5” – 2” molds) or 20 to 25 medium bonbons (would have made more than 30 small chocolates)

Painted passion fruit caramel filled bonbons
Ingredients, sans passion fruit, From CandyBarLab.com, with my revisions

Ingredients
Dark or milk chocolate melted, preferably tempered, about 1 lb / 450g
1 cup (225g / 8oz) Granulated White Sugar
1/2 cup (125ml / 4 fluid oz) Light Corn Syrup
1/2 cup (125ml / 4 fluid oz) Water
4 Tbsp (60g / 2 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp (30ml / 1 fluid oz) Heavy Cream
1/4 cup (60ml / 2 fluid oz) Passion Fruit Puree (I purchased frozen passionfruit pulp, then thawed it and removed the seeds)
1/2 Tbsp salt

Equipment
2 or 3 quart, heavy-bottomed pot
Candy thermometer
Whisk

Directions:
1. Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium saucepan.
2. Set over medium-high heat and stir to combine.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until dark amber in color 310°F-315°F / 155°C-158°C, about 5 minutes.
4. Use a pastry brush, dipped in water, to wash down sides of pan to prevent crystallization as the mixture boils.
5. Remove saucepan from the heat and gradually whisk in the passion fruit puree, heavy cream and butter.
6. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.
7. Transfer cooled caramel to a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip or a squeeze bottle.
8. Coat the molds with chocolate using the method mentioned above.
9. Fill chocolate coated molds with caramel. You can use a spoon too but it’s less messy and goes a lot quicker with either of the two aforementioned methods.
10. Finish off with a layer of chocolate as mentioned in the method above for making filled chocolates with molds
11. Once fully set, carefully knock the chocolates out of the mold

Tempering Methods

Method 1: On marble or granite

Marble slab, chocolate or bench scraper, dipping forks and chocolate thermometer

Tempering Ranges:

Celcius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C > 30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F > 80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. It is then poured onto a marble surface and moved around the surface with a scraper until it has thickened and cools to 27°C / 80.6°F. Once cooled it is then put back into the bowl and over heat to bring it back up to 32°C/30°C/29°C /// 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re tempering. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Tempering using a marble surface

• Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form.
• Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
• Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water).
Tip: Make sure that your bowl fits snuggly into the saucepan so that there’s no chance of steam forming droplets that
may fall into your chocolate. If water gets into your chocolate it will seize!
• Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly
• Once it’s melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 45°C / 113°F remove from heat (between 45°C-50°C / 113°F-122°F for dark chocolate)
• Pour ¾ of the melted chocolate onto a marble or granite slab or worktop
• Using a scraper or large palette knife move the chocolate around the surface to help it cool
Tip: Keep the motions neat and tidy, if you’re not working with a lot of chocolate you don’t want to spread it too far otherwise you may end up with chocolate that begins to cool too quickly and start to set as well as drops below
• the necessary temperature. Use a motion that folds the chocolate on itself
• Check temperature regularly with a thermometer
• Once it reaches 27°C / 80°F put the chocolate back into the heatproof bowl with the remaining chocolate
• Gently stir together with a rubber spatula
• Check the temperature to see if it’s risen back up to the working temperature of the chocolate (milk, dark or white) as seen in the above chart
• If the temperature has not risen to its working temperature, put the bowl back over the simmering water, stirring gently
• IMPORTANT: You really need to keep an eye on the temperature as it can rise quicker than you think, so as soon as it’s up to its working temperature, remove from heat
• It’s now tempered and ready to use
Tip: If you’re using the chocolate to dip a lot of truffles etc. which means the chocolate will be sitting off heat for a while it will naturally start to thicken as it cools. To keep it at an ideal viscosity for even coating, put the bowl over steam for 30sec-1min every 5-10mins, just do not let the temperature go over the working temperature!
Tip: Having the chocolate in a warmed glass bowl and wrapped in hot kitchen towel can also help keep the chocolate at its working temperature for longer
Tip: It is also easier to keep the heat if you work with larger amounts of chocolate rather than small amounts. Any leftover chocolate can be kept to be used later and then re-tempered
Tip: Remember, don’t let any water get into your chocolate at any stage of the tempering process!
Method 2: With tempered chocolate pieces, also called “seeding”

Tempering Ranges:

Celsius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C > 30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F > 80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. Tempered un-melted chocolate is then stirred and melted in until it brings the temperature down to 27°C/80.6°F. It is then put back over heat and brought up to its working temperature of 32°C/30°C/29°C /// 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re using. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Tempering using the seeding method with couverture callets

• Finely chop chocolate if in bar/slab form (about the size of almonds).
• Place about ⅔ of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl
• Set aside ⅓ of the chocolate pieces
• Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water)
Tip: Make sure that your bowl fits snuggly into the saucepan so that there’s no chance of steam forming droplets that may fall into your chocolate. If water gets into your chocolate it will seize!
• Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly
• Once it’s melted, keep an eye on the thermometer, as soon as it reaches 45°C / 113°F remove from heat (between 45°C-50°C / 113°F-122°F for dark chocolate)
• Add small amounts of the remaining ⅓ un-melted chocolate (seeds) and stir in to melt
• Continue to add small additions of chocolate until you’ve brought the chocolate down to 27°C/80.6°F (You can bring the dark chocolate down to between 80°F and 82°F)
• Put it back on the double boiler and bring the temperature back up until it reaches its working temperature of the chocolate (milk, dark or white) as seen in the above chart. (32°C/89.6°F for dark, 30°C/86°F for milk and 29°C/84.2°F for white)
• If you still have a few un-melted bits of chocolate, put the bowl back over the simmering water, stirring gently and watching the thermometer constantly.
• IMPORTANT: You really need to keep an eye on the temperature so that it doesn’t go over its working temperature

It’s now tempered and ready to use

Tip: Another way of adding the “seed” is by dropping in one large chunk of tempered chocolate (the seed). That way you only need to fish out one piece of unmelted chocoalte and don’t need to fish out several small bits of unmelted chocolate once the chocolate has reached temper.
Other Tips

• If you’re using the chocolate to dip a lot of truffles etc. which means the chocolate will be sitting off heat for a while it will naturally start to thicken as it cools. To keep it at an ideal viscosity for even coating, put the bowl over steam for 30sec – 1min every 10 – 15mins, just do not let the temperature go over the working temperature!
• Having the chocolate in a warmed glass bowl and wrapped in hot kitchen towel can also help keep the chocolate at its working temperature for longer
• It is also easier to keep the heat if you work with larger amounts of chocolate rather than small amounts. Any leftover chocolate can be kept to be used later and then re-tempered
• Remember, don’t let any water get into your chocolate at any stage of the tempering process!
• Unless you’ve been working with chocolate for a while and have developed a feel for the tempering process and can tell the chocolate’s temperature by touching it to your lower lip like a pro, it’s imperative that you use a thermometer to determine the temperature, as going a few degrees either way can ruin the temper.
• If at any stage you do make a mistake with the tempering process you can simply start again from the beginning.
• While a marble or granite top is ideal for cooling the chocolate in the first method, you can also cool it on a countertop that’s laminated, glass or steel. It will take longer to cool, but it’s possible! (but I definitely wouldn’t recommend a wood or rough textured counter top Wink )
• Any chocolate left over after making your molded or dipped chocolate can be stored away in a cool place and then re-tempered before using again. There’s no need to ever waste good chocolate! Smile
• Wooden spoons can retain moisture so it’s best to use a rubber spatula while tempering

How to make filled chocolate with molds

Tempered Chocolate
Various Colored Cocoa Butters (optional)
OR Food Grade Cocoa Butter colored with powdered food coloring

Other Equipment:
A small brush
Chocolate molds
A Ladle
Bench or plastic scraper
OR
A small brush or spoon

Directions:

1. If using colored cocoa butter and plastic molds, paint designs at the bottom of the wells in each mold. Let dry. You can also use lustre dusts mixed with a bit of extract or vodka, instead of colored cocoa butters for a nice sheen. Let painted molds dry.

2. When coating the molds with the tempered chocolate, I like to do it how the chocolate pro’s do it (much faster and a lot less tedious). While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could take a small brush and paint the tempered chocolate into each mold, or spoon it in if you’d like.

3. Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling of your choice. Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set.

4. When set, pop your beautiful filled chocolates out of each well and enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Salted Peanut Caramel

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Everyone has had the experience when they see a photo of food they just have to make. I started sending emails titled: “I want this” when I saw this cake. I only had to find time and an occasion. And what better occasion than a surprise morning tea for a wonderful friend who was off to get married.

Making the cake wasn’t difficult, each part was quite easy and didn’t take long, although you do need time for it to set between each layer.

I made the biscuit base and had that in the fridge while I made the caramel, then left this for most of the day, made the chocolate layer and whilst the chocolate was in the fridge I made the cream cheese part. I left this overnight and put the final touches on the cake after work. (If you want to do this at night, it will take 3 nights). I left off the Italian meringue due to someone having an egg allergy, and instead covered it in chocolate curls and bought sea shell chocolates.

The biggest difficulty with this cake was cutting it. I think I may have cooked my caramel too long, and when stored in the fridge it became very hard and difficult to cut (it was fine to eat though, and was not too hard to chew). This is something I would be a bit more careful about next time, although I am not sure how I would tell the right consistency, as the caramel was quite runny when warm. The cake is best served chilled, but the caramel is far easier to cut when at room temperature.

I would definitely make this cake again, the flavours worked so beautifully together, and you only need a very small serve (after I ate a piece, I could not eat anything else at the morning tea).

P.S. The photos of this cake were from the piece I managed to bring back home from work so Nick could try some of the cake. It was not cold anymore by this stage, and so was easy to cut.

Triple-choc cheesecake with salted peanut caramel

Australian Good Taste – April 2012 , Page 8
Original Recipe by Michelle Southan

This recipe is adapted, with the removal of the Italaian meringue

Melted butter, to grease
400g plain chocolate biscuits
150g butter, melted
5g butter, extra
260g Dark Cooking Chocolate, finely chopped
150g White Cooking Chocolate, finely chopped
375g cream cheese, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
310ml (11/4 cups) thickened cream
1 1/2 tbs hot water
3 tsp gelatine powder

Salted peanut caramel

315g (11/2 cups) caster sugar
185ml (3/4 cup) water
250ml (1 cup) double cream
120g (3/4 cup) salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Chocolate curls and sea shell chocolates for decoration

Release the base from a 6cm-deep, 22cm (base measurement) springform pan and invert. Brush with butter. Line the base with non-stick baking paper, allowing the edge to overhang. Secure the base back into the pan.

Process the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Transfer to the prepared pan. Use a straight-sided glass to spread and press the mixture firmly over the base and side. Place in the fridge to chill.

To make the salted peanut caramel, stir the sugar and water in a large saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high. Bring to the boil. Boil, without stirring, brushing down the side of the pan occasionally with a wet pastry brush, for 18-20 minutes or until deep golden. Remove from heat. Stir in the cream. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool. Stir in peanuts. Spoon over the biscuit base. Smooth the surface. Place in the fridge for 3 hours or until firm.

Place the extra butter and 60g of the dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cook, stirring every 30 seconds, on High/ 800watts/100% for 11/2 minutes or until melted and smooth. Spread over the caramel to cover. Set aside for 10 minutes to set.

Stir the white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water) until smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Process the cream cheese, sugar and 185ml (3/4 cup) of the cream in a food processor until smooth. Add the white chocolate and process until well combined.

Place the hot water in a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle with the gelatine. Place bowl in a slightly larger heatproof bowl filled with boiling water. Set aside, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the gelatine dissolves. Remove smaller bowl from larger bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. add to cream cheese mixture. Process until well combined. Pour cream cheese mixture over dark chocolate. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 4 hours to set.

Stir remaining dark chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Pour over cheesecake. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to set.

Decorate the top with chocolate curls or shavings, or patterns and sea shells.

Sans Rival – Daring Bakers Challenge November 2011

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

I can’t believe how close the Christmas and New Year holidays are. This year I was so sure I was going to make a fruit cake – not for myself, but for some of the special people in my life who do like or love fruit cake… I had grand plans of soaking the dried fruit in alcohol for weeks before making the cake and then allowing the taste to mature. I’m not even sure if this is the right way of going about making a fruit cake – so would love any tips from readers who can point me in the direction of some great (and maybe some that are also quick) tasty fruit cake recipes.

If I don’t get around to making fruit cake, I think there are already orders in for custard filled profiteroles with toffee. Hopefully a new Christmas tradition for our family – I know I love it.

I’m also hoping the next daring bakers challenge will be a non time consuming one, due to every weekend being filled with social activities, and days filled with work I want to get done before the quick break.

Luckily for this challenge, I decided to make it as soon as possible, and am glad I did, as the weekends filled up fast. I decided to make the chocolate Sans Rival, and found it to be lovely, but quite rich – it worked well with some vanilla ice cream to cut the richness.

The meringue was very difficult for me to get right, as I only have two spots for trays in the oven, and needed to make 4 layers – I did these on trays rather than cake pans, as I didn’t want to wash up between each bake. I also think I made the buttercream on a particularly hot day, causing a bit more of a butter taste than I would prefer.

You can also see in the background a bouquet I made from flowers from my garden, including a “red” hydrangea, sweet peas and some roses I planted back in July and have now been flowering beautifully.

Thanks to our host for this month, I understand how much effort must go into organising these challenges.

Sans Rival

Servings: 12

Ingredients
10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted cashews (about 2/3 finely ground, and 1/3 chopped for decorations)

Directions:
Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)

4. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

(Note the more finely ground for folding into meringue. The coarsely ground for is decoration of finished cake.)

5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.

7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream:

Ingredients
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like

Directions:
1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.

Assembly:
Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is easier to cut cold. May freeze.

Chocolate Truffles and Peanut Butter Fudge – Daring Bakers Challenge August 2011

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

I have just been away for a fabulous 2 week holiday, leaving the rainy Sydney weather and enjoying beautiful 25 degree days in Port Douglas and the sand under my feet. I hope to give a short post on a few of my recommendations of restaurants and activities for those who are going there on a holiday soon.

We came home to lawn that needed mowing and the destruction of the first tulips I have planted in our garden, some fresias, irises, jonquils and snowflakes. We think it was either cockatoos, rabbits or a dog that destroyed some of the flowers and plants, but I am so excited about the flowers that weren’t destroyed and hope to post some of those pics soon as well.

I should get started talking about this month’s challenge though, and I must admit my delight at the array of recipes we were given to choose from for this challenge. We needed to make a chocolate and non-chocolate sweet, and were given methods for tempering chocolate, making truffles, chocolate coated sweets, filled chocolate, jellies and fudge.

Two of the recipes that I really wanted to make required specialised equipment and/or ingredients, which I did not have time to source before the challenge was due, although I am thinking of looking on the internet to find the moulds and ingredients so I can make these in the future.

Due to time constraints, I decided to make some of the easier looking recipes, and I have never made fudge before, so this was also an exciting new recipe to try. I found the truffle recipe a lot easier than a previous truffle recipe I have tried, and the fudge was easy as well, not needing a thermometer.

I woke up this morning and thought perhaps I would just coat my truffles in crushed nuts, but decided to push past my troubles with tempering chocolate, and tried to temper some of the nicest chocolate I have ever bought, using my marble slab. Unfortunately I still have some way to go before I manage to temper chocolate correctly, although I guess practice makes perfect…

Thanks to this month’s hosts. Everyone who has tried these sweets has loved the challenge, and loved that I’m a member of the Daring Bakers! 🙂

Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Truffles

Servings: Makes +- 30 truffles, recipe easily doubled or halved
Adapted from the Cook’s Academy Curriculum, Dublin
Active Time: 1 – 2hrs
Ganache Setting Time: 2 – 4hrs or Overnight

Praline Ingredients:
½ cup (120 ml/2 oz/60 gm) hazelnuts, shelled & skinned (or a combination of nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios)
½ cup (120 ml/4 oz/115 gm) granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

Making the praline and ganache. Once set, making balls of the set ganache then rolling in crushed hazelnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted (convection oven); 350°F / 320°F convection / Gas Mark 4
2. Place whole hazelnut on a non-stick baking tray and dry roast for 10mins
3. Allow to cool
4. Place hazelnuts in a clean dry kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins
5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat
6. Place the skinned hazelnuts onto the prepared tray
7. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
8. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals
9. Boil until the mixture turns amber (160°C – 170°C / 320°F- 340°F on a candy thermometer)
10. Remove from heat immediately and pour the syrup over the hazelnuts
11. Allow to cool completely
12. Break into small pieces
13. Transfer pieces to a food processor and process until desired texture, either fine or rough
14. Set aside

Ganache Ingredients
1¾ cup (9 oz. / 255 g) Milk chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (4 oz. / 125 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 46% butterfat content)
2-3 Tablespoons (1-1 ½ oz. / 30ml – 45 ml) Frangelico Liqueur, optional

½ – 1 cup Crushed or Ground Roasted Hazelnuts for coating (I used pistachio and almonds)

Directions:
1. Finely chop the milk chocolate
2. Place into a heatproof medium sized bowl
3. Heat cream in a saucepan until just about to boil
4. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted
5. Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes
6. Stir in the praline and (optional) liqueur
7. Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge
8. Bring to room temperature to use

Forming the truffles:
1. Using teaspoons or a melon baller, scoop round balls of ganache
2. Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off
Tip: Handle them as little as possible to avoid melting
Tip: I suggest wearing food safe latex gloves, less messy and slightly less heat from your hands
3. Finish off by rolling the truffle in the crushed roasted hazelnuts
Tip: You can also roll them in hazelnut praline
4. Place on parchment paper and leave to set
Tip: They look great when put into small petit four cases and boxed up as a gift!

Peanut Butter Fudge

Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Yield: 64 squares

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (120ml/115g / 4oz.) Unsalted Butter
2 1/4 cups (540ml/450g / 16oz.) firmly packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) Milk
3/4 cup (180ml/200g / 7oz.) smooth Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon (5ml) Vanilla Extract
3 1/2 cups (840ml/425g / 15oz.) Confectioners’ (Icing) Sugar

Directions:
1. Place butter into a medium saucepan and melt it over medium heat.
2. Add brown sugar and milk, stirring.
3. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla.
6. Place confectioners’ sugar into a large mixing bowl.
7. Pour hot peanut butter mixture over confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.
8. Pour fudge into an 8 by 8 inch (20cm by 20cm) pan.
9. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
10. Cut into 1-inch (25 mm) squares.

Marquise on Meringue – Daring Bakers Challenge May 2011

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

This challenge looked very time consuming at first, which is the main reason I put off making it until the last weekend. I was able to make the chocolate marquise the night before, then quickly make all three other components in 30 minutes (all the while making a huge mess in the kitchen).

I thought I had a little trouble with the spiced nuts, although this was the component of the dessert that people liked most and commented on. (I had made the meringue and mixed in the nuts, poured and spread it on a lined tray, then halfway through thought the nuts wouldn’t crisp up, so I took to the meringue with a spoon to expose the almonds so they would brown) – sorry no pics – I couldn’t take photos as I needed one clean hand to feel the sugar dissolving for the torched meringue (check out the recipe below)… 🙂

I still have some of the chocolate marquise in the freezer, and look forward to serving it (although in smaller portions, and probably with more spiced almonds).

It was certainly a well liked challenge by all. Thanks Emma and Jenny!

Chocolate Marquise

Plated marquise
Servings: 18 2.5″x2.5″ cubes (I would say ~24-36)

11 large egg yolks at room temperature
4 large whole eggs
2/3 cup (150 grams/ 5.3 oz) sugar
1/3 cup (2⅔ fluid oz/ 80 ml.) water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
2 cups (16 fluid oz./ 500 ml.) heavy cream
2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark. Make sure it’s a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
Torched meringue (recipe follows)
Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
Cacao nibs (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 – 15 minutes. (It probably only took 5 minutes in my KitchenAid)

When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop (as seen in the following pictures).

With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.

When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you’ve whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.

Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn’t allow in any air).

Freeze until very firm, at least 2 – 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
When you’re ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it’s still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment ‘handles’ or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment. Unmold the frozen marquise

Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don’t do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.

Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they’ve softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you’ll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.

Chocolate Base

Servings: n/a – this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately

12 oz (340 grams/ 1½ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
12 oz (355 ml/ 1½ cups) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I left this out and used 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) tequila (I left this out)
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup (I used glucose syrup)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/ less than an ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I left this out)
1 oz unsalted butter (2 tbsps./30 grams), softened

Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.

In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.

Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

Torched Meringue

Servings: Makes about 4 – 5 cups of meringue. If you aren’t planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.

11 large egg whites
1 ¾ cups (14 oz or 395 gms) sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.

Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don’t feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.

Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.

When you’re ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.

Tequila Caramel

Servings: Makes about 1 cup of caramel

1 cup (8 oz.) sugar
1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) water
1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 240 ml.) heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tequila (I left this out and used 1 teaspoon vanilla)

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.

Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot.

Return the pot to the stove on low heat and whisk gently to break up any hardened sugar. Add any remaining cream and continue stirring. Gradually, the hard sugar will dissolve and the caramel sauce will continue to darken. When the caramel has darkened to the point you want it, remove it from the heat. Add the salt and tequila and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spiced Almonds

Servings: Makes about 1 cup of spiced almonds

1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.

In a larger mixing bowl whisk the egg white until it’s frothy and thick.

Add the spice mix to the egg white and whisk to combine completely.

Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and toss with a spoon.

Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake the nuts for 30 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely and they will get very crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake – Daring Bakers Challenge March 2011

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Another month, another Daring Bakers Challenge. I remember reading the title of this month’s challenge and thinking – well it must have coffee in it, I’m sure I’ll find a way of substituting something else (like chocolate) for the coffee. Lucky for me, it was actually perfect without alterations, as there was no coffee in the cake, rather it is meant to be eaten whilst drinking coffee – or hot chocolate (in my case).

When I told others what this month’s challenge was, I got a two responses – delight (if they were coffee drinkers) and upset (if they hated coffee) in both cases I had to clarify that there was no coffee in the coffee cake. In the end I ended up calling it a yeasted cake with chocolate and walnuts – as to not cause any more confusion.

Call it by any name you like, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the taste, and I had no complaints, with many people saying how lovely it was. I must agree, it was very delicious and fresh, even the day after, or toasted under the grill.

I unfortunately ran out of time whilst making it and decided to place it in the fridge overnight , once fully assembled (at the point where you need to let it rise for the last time then bake). My only thoughts were on the yeasted cake, that it should be fine in the fridge and that it would slowly rise and then I could cook it fresh in the morning. I forgot about the meringue mix inside, and it dissolved in the fridge, leaving a sticky sugary liquid coming out by the morning (the cake itself didn’t rise much either). I cooked it up and no one could not tell anything might have been wrong with it. I would love to try the original method, without putting it in the fridge, and see the effect of the meringue.

Thanks again to our hosts this month, and the team at the Daring Kitchen.

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

Ingredients
For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

10 strands saffron for Ria’s version (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg. Or simply leave it plain like Jamie’s version)

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

Jamie’s version: (I did this one)
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Ria’s version:
1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below – or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)
1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

**Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow.

4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll)
3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole
100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds
4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns
25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods

In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Directions:

Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Chocolate Panna cotta with Florentine Cookies – Daring Bakers Challenge February 2011

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Both the chocolate panna cotta and florentine cookies were a bit hit this month. I was grateful that both were very quick recipes, as I’ve said in previous posts – our garden has gone crazy this spring and summer and we have been spending much of our time trying to sort it out, and the rest of our time has been spent with family. The panna cotta has already been requested again, with some people saying it tasted like a chocolate mousse.

I tried to out-turn the panna cottas – like I have before, although they didn’t have enough gelatine for the tall ones to stand, and the ones from the glasses ended up looking a little naughty (some dark chocolate chocolate fell to the base of the glass – I’ll leave the imagery to your imagination).

Thanks again to the Daring Bakers and our hosts every month!

My notes: I found the panna cotta served 8-10 people. I accidentally made my florentine cookies a little big, so they look a little longer to cook and made a few less than expected. I also made some large rectangles of florentines, so they could be cut into clean rectangles after cooking.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract

Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.

Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.

Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.

Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

Nestle Florentine Cookies

Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.

To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.

Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).

Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).

Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

Related Posts with Thumbnails