Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers: French Yule Log

This isn't the Yule Log of which you're thinking (can't end in a preposition). No little mushrooms and holly berries. This is a complicated, time consuming masterpiece of a dessert. It was awesome! It took me all day Christmas Eve, and then some of Christmas morning after needing to be frozen over night. But I'm getting ahead of myself. A French Yule log has these components, all of which had to be homemade: Dacquoise, Mousse, Ganache, Feuillete, Creme Brulee, and Icing. Look at all those fabulous French words! Yay! This is everything a dessert should be. It was like doing a puzzle, this challenge was fabulous.
Kristinepoe (a new Daring Baker, no blog posted yet), posted some pictures on the Daring Baker's website that inspired me to do it her way instead of the way the recipe was originally writen. My log has a White Chocolate Mousse instead of chocolate, and a Chocolate Creme Brulee instead of vanilla. She mentions, and I agree, the chocolate creme brulee tastes odd with cocoa powder; next time I'll put in chocolate instead of cocoa. I also had a really hard time getting the creme brulee to set up. It took turing up the oven a full 100 F higher and baking almost 2 hours extra. Perhaps this is a problem similar to what I've had with the cheesecakes?
The rest of the Yule log layers are to die for, though. The white chocolate mousse, heavenly. The whipped chocolate caramel ganache, divine. Ahhh. Those two in particular I'll have to use in other recipes. For the Feuillete I used gingerbread crisp cookies instead of the gavottes; the ginger added a nice note.

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Iron Cupcake Earth: Chocolate with a Twist

This months Iron Cupcake Earth challenge is Chocolate with a Twist. So, as a continuation of my last post with the Chcolate Truffles, I decided my twist would be more chocolate! Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes. I placed one truffle inside the cake batter and baked it inside. I wasn't sure if it would melt away completely and make a weird gooey cupcake, but it worked! The truffle stayed together in the middle of the cupcake and the flavor difused throughout the cupcake. Mmm. Then I frosted the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream (not chocolate buttercream, that would be toooooo much), dipped them in cocoa powder and decorated them like my truffles. I wish I had a better way of photographing, these pictures don't really do the cupcakes, or the truffles, justice. But they did look pretty cute!
Voting begins 8PM December 29, you can vote for me (Tranquilitea Party) here. :D

As always, this months prizes and sponsors:

as well as a pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES at
PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY,, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!As an added bonus for December we have adorable cupcake pincushions complements of SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY, and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; the CUPCAKE COURIER; TASTE OF HOME books, Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chocolate Truffles

After I started college and first moved away from home, returning home for breaks was when my mom and I would go on adventures around SLC. Granted, SLC is not that big a place and I'd lived there my whole life, but for whatever reason that was when we started exploring the "off the beaten path" areas around the valley. One of the first shops we came across is called Xocolate. I'd never had chocolates fancier than See's before that (the cheap stuff you see during Valentine's). The truffles at Xocolate are exoctic flavors and are art work unto themselves. Not your everyday chocolate covered peanut glob. We would go every time I came home to get a handfull of their fancy truffles.
Skip forward a few years and we first heard of Lavender Days, a festival at the lavender farms in the middle of Utah. They have baking, aroma therapy, gardening, a western village, a medieval village (including a very real jousting tournament!), and dozens of essential oils. We bought a packet that included lavender essential oil. (An essential essential oil!) And that's when it finally dawned on me to make my own truffles, starting with the Xocolate inspired lavender truffle.
So now it is tradition to make chocolate truffles for Christmas gifts. (Ok, this is only the second Christmas I've made them, but in true Bryn Mawr style, anything done more than once is a tradition!) Along with the essential oil flavors, I've moved onto flavored syrups by Monin. Though meant for cocktails, they work very well for baking, too. I wish I had more time, I would do dozens more flavors, but these have taken me all week and it's almost Christmas already, so these will do for this year. Buon Natale!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rose Macarons (4th time's the charm!)

Yes, you read that right. Macaron, not macaroon. Macaroon = coconut cookie. Macaron (one 'o') = French meringue cookie. After a dozen wasted egg whites and three wasted evenings, I have beat the meringue. (Ha ha, get it!? I 'beat' the meringue ... sorry ;) )
I had never even heard of these cookies before a few months ago when I started blogging and suddenly they were everywhere! These beautiful little sandwich cookies of all variety of couleurs and parfums. I tried a few flavors and colors the previous failing times. Recently I got some flavored syrups (for this years chocolate truffles, post coming soon); one of the syrups is Rose, and it is absolutely divine. I wanted to make cookies for the ladies I get together with each month, and what would be better than pink rose flavored happiness?
Except for proof that my oven bakes horribly unevenly (I tried to hide that the cookies are lopsided in the pictures), they came out perfectly, little feet and all! I used an Italian meringue because it is supposed to be a more stable meringue, and I wanted to make an Italian buttercream filling. Like I said, I've never actually had macarons before. I know these look right, hopefully they taste right too! Here is my version of My Food Geek's macaron recipe.


90 g egg whites
35 g sugar
75 g (ground) almonds
75 g confectioners sugar

150 g sugar
50 g water

Combine the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and heat to 230 F.

Divide egg whites into 30 g and 60 g. (Eggwhites should be left to sit for a day so they are room temperature. I never plan that far ahead, though. I lightly whisk my eggwhites in a bowl set in hot water until they are room temp. Not the best, but it seems to be good enough.)

Whip 60 g eggwhite and 35 g sugar to soft peaks. Add the sugar syrup. Beat for another 10 - 15 minutes until the meringue is completely cooled an
d shiny.

Grind almonds in a food processor if they are not already ground. Add the confectioners sugar. Combine the remaining 30 eggwhites with the almond mixture. (This is also a good time to add food coloring.) Divide the meringue in half; add one half to the almond mixture. Fold together (Helen from Tartlette says not to use more than 50 strokes. An over mixed batter will yield flat cookies.)

Pipe onto a silicon mat or parchement paper. Bake at 320 F for about 10 minutes, or until the
dome of the cookie barely slides against the feet.

Christi's Rose Italian Buttercream
The other half of the meringue from the macarons
4 T shortening
3/4 c confectioners sugar
4 T rose syrup

Combine all the ingredients and whip until combined. (As the name implies, Italian Buttercream should have butter in it. But everytime I make i
t I think it tastes awful. Maybe that's just me. But I like it better with only shortening.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Done is Good

In college at Bryn Mawr there is a tradition called "Done is Good". Everybody on your hall gets together one evening a couple weeks before finals for a Done is Good Tea. (Note, this is where the idea of tea parties came from. Not that we ever drank tea or ate scones, but I'm sure they did in the past and Bryn Mawr is obsessive about traditions.) We would eat candy and pizza and makes lists on construction paper of what needs to be done before you leave for break.
It's really just the old checking off technique. Check. Done. Yay! And every time you check something off you get a piece of candy!
My list this holiday season is mostly food (hence the reason I'm posting about it here) and is mostly fun stuff, so I'm calling it my Done is Fun list! Merry Christmas!