Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Valentino & Rose Gelato

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 get it, most people I've tried to encourage rose flavor on have said, no thanks, it just tastes like soap. So Americans aren't into rose as a tongue experience. But, rose flavor to me means Paris. La Vie en Rose, and all that aside (though I do love that song), the first time I had rose as a flavor was in Paris. We had just toured Sacre Coeur, and at the bottom of Montmartre we stopped to get lunch. Something "traditional" I think, but I don't remember. And then, just down the way was a gelateria. I got rose flavored thinking, well it couldn't hurt to try. It was perfect. Yes, it tasted like perfume, but not in a bad way. It tastes like summer, and small winding streets, and natural elegance. It tastes like a fabulous daydream. It makes you want to never go back to your paper pushing desk job again, but give it all up to become a painter. Well, I guess there are a lot of things that make us want that last one, but rose in particular.

We were asked to pair the cake with a homemade icecream of some sort. What would go better with a decadent, rich, flourless chocolate cake than rose gelato? And it was divine. The cake is best made the day before. Day one it is "egg-y", but day two it sets up so thick and fabulous. As our hosts directed, we have to use a high quality chocolate, because that's really all you're going to taste in the end. I bought a new bag of Callebaut dark chocolate. Though the bag didn't say, I think it must have been their lowest % cocoa solid chocolate, the Otovalo. So smooth and heavenly. I kept sticking my finger in the melted chocolate while it was cooling - I couldn't help myself. And I can normally help myself with chocolate. I don't like M&Ms, Hershey bars, or generic chocolate chips (ie, American chocolate). But good quality chocolate like this is a whole new story.

PS, Picasa is my new favorite toy. So much fun with picture collages!

Chocolate Valentino
from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

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.
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.

Rose Gelato
adapted from David Lebovitz

2 c whole milk
1/3 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 c Rose syrup

1. Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

2. Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar.

3. When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

5. Once chilled, whisk in the pistachio paste and just a few drops of citrus juice until smooth.

6. Freeze the gelato in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions

Monday, February 23, 2009

Red Velvet Starfruit Cupcakes and what the %#@!??

Ok, let's tackle this chocolate cake recipe thing again.
I went to the library and stocked up on cake books. I wanted to compare buttermilk chocolate cake recipes, see how everyone's are different. First off, they're all the same. Are your recipes really different when one calls for 8 oz chocolate and the other calls for 6 oz, but everything else is the same? Maybe, but seriously, I don't know how cook book writers don't deal with copy write problems more often.
In any case, this is the standard: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, flour, buttermilk. Ingredients vary slightly, but not enough to notice. Baking is more about the right texture, than about exact amounts most of the time. One day you'll need more flour or less because of a variety of reasons. So the recipes are really all the same. Except one I came across that wanted me to separate my eggs, and fold in the beaten egg white at the end. I thought, cool!, I'll try that. WRONG!!! Massive FAILURE. Someone with more egg chem. knowledge than me will have to explain why the cupcakes rose on the sides, but not in the middle. (Like they fell, but they actually never rose to begin with.) Also, all the recipes call for baking soda, which I used, and immediately regretted. Can you taste the baking soda in recipes? Nobody else seems to get what I'm talking about. But when you bake something that has baking soda in it, I'm telling you, it tastes awful, really sour.
Right, well. Back to the standard recipe, no separated eggs and baking powder instead this time. Seems to be going all right, and then this happens:

What the #&@%!?!?!?! Looks like I stuck my fingers in them, doesn't it. I didn't though! These cupcakes are from the last batch, where half turned out fine, and the other half did this. :P I'm blaming the oven - I cannot think of any other reason. Fortunately, most of the cupcakes turned out all right (not very domed, though. Any takers on reasons for that problem?) And they tasted amazing, and the frosting would have made up for anything. These are for you, Britt! Happy Bday through the nets. :D

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

8 oz chocolate, melted and cooled

2 sticks butter, at room temp
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 c buttermilk
1 T red food coloring
2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between. Add the vanilla. Add the melted, cooled chocolate and the food coloring, mix until combined. Combine the dry ingredients; add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in thirds to the batter.
Bake at 350 F for 20 min.

Starfruit Buttercream

1 starfruit, peeled and pureed
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
4 c confectioners sugar
4 oz cream cheese, softened

Beat the butter and shortening until very light (about 5 min). Add the sugar slowly. Add the starfruit and cream cheese, and continue beating until very whipped.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Les Chouquettes Canelle

Luigi Pirandello was an Italian playwright and author. At least that's what wikipedia's intro says about him. I think of him more as a philosopher, though. He believed that people are made up of layers upon layers with no solid core. We're made up of layers we give our selves, and layers others give us. It's a little too existential for me. I think we all have unique cores that tie us to God and to each other. But on top of that I think it is like Pirandello believed. We put on layers, personality traits, characteristics, habits, whatever you want to call them, that are labeled by ourselves and by others. I realized the other day that I've let go of one of my layers. I don't categorize myself as a scientist anymore, something that I've held onto for nearly a decade. It was particularly hard to let go of because it is a layer most everyone I know also puts on me. But when I think of my symbolic self, that word doesn't belong anymore. In my journey to define the self I'm happy to let go of this piece of fabric. Now, instead, I'm trying on a "baking layer" in a larger more influential way. Perhaps I'll discover at some point that baking should remain a smaller piece of fabric, but for now I'm enjoying knitting a bigger layer, which includes sharing it all with you on this blog.
Another thread to add to the square, chouquettes. Essentially cream-less cream puffs. Cream puffs are choux pastry, and if you've never thought to try the bread-y part of your cream puff without the cream, then you're not missing anything. Choux is rather bland, and I didn't really understand why there is a whole separate dessert dedicated just to the choux. But I added a bit of cinnamon (canelle) for flavor, and my opinion has completely changed. These little guys are ADDICTING! Everyone at work and home loved 'em. Definately a keeper.


3/4 water
1/4 c cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 T sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup flour
1 T cinnamon
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Combine water, cream, salt, sugar and butter in a medium sauce pan and cook until the butter has all melted. Add the flour and cinnamon all at once and stir over medium heat for another minute until the batter comes together and doesn't stick to the sides of the pot.
Transfer the batter to a bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes until it no longer steams.
Add the eggs one at a time mixing well with a hand mixer each time.
Pipe or spoon a teaspoon of the choux (batter) onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle pearl sugar (or crushed up sugar cubes because you can't really get pearl sugar in the US) on them. Bake at 400 F for 25 minutes, or until dry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Papaya Souffle and Macarons

Raindrops bang like rocks
On my windowpane
I thought they'd never stop
Never see the sun again

And I've been sleeping in
For way too long
Mmm, wake up, enough's enough
Yeah, those days are gone

I'm gonna throw out my raincoat
Mmm, I hope it's all right
Gonna go find me a rainbow
And hang it up in the sky
Blues pass me by

Kelly Sweet Raincoat

Papaya Souffle
adapted from Cannelle et Vanille

90 grams butter
110 grams flour
400 ml whole milk
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites

90 grams sugar
140 grams pureed papaya

Butter, room temperature

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the bread flour and cook for about 2 minutes to make a roux. Add the hot milk and whisk It will thicken to a paste. Transfer this mixture to a clean bowl. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, continue mixing the roux base to cool it down slightly before we add the egg yolkd. When steam stops coming off but it is still warm, add the egg yolks one a time and mix.

In the meantime, start whipping the egg whites. When they are medium peaks, start adding the sugar slowly. Whip to stiff peaks.

Add the papaya to the roux and egg yolk base. Fold in a third of the meringue to the base and mix to lighten it. Add the rest of the meringue and fold gently.

Brush inside of ramekins with room temperature butter and coat the sides with sugar. Fill the ramekins with souffle base almost to the top.

Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes depending on the size of the ramekin.

Papaya Buttercream Macarons
adapted from Veronica's Test Kitchen

300 g almond flour
300 g confectioner’s sugar
110 g egg whites
300 g sugar
75 g water
110 g egg whites

Mix TpT with the first 110g of egg whites. (TpT means equal parts almonds and confectioners sugar.)

Bring water and sugar to a boil until it reaches 245F(118C). When the syrup reaches 239F/115C start whipping your egg whites to soft peaks at high speed and then lower to 2nd speed. Once sugar syrup reaches 245F(118C), pour it on the whipped egg whites. Continue whipping the whites until the meringue reaches 122F (50C) and incorporate it with the almond mixture.

Preheat oven to 356F(180C).

Pipe macarons on a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes. Take them off the paper/silpat and pipe with the filling.


1/2 c softened butter

2 c confectioners sugar

4 T papaya puree

Beat the butter until smooth. Slowly add the sugar. Add the papaya and continue beating until completely incorporated.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chocolate Birthday Cake

The results from the cake mix poll are in: the majority of you are OK with box mixes. Again with my dilemma, though. I like the consistency and chocolate flavor of a box cake, and the real problem is, I've yet to make a from scratch chocolate cake that I'm completely happy with. The consistency is too thick, or too dry, or too egg-y. Or the flavor is dull, or you can taste the buttermilk. If you know of a great chocolate cake recipe let me know, but I'll warn you, I'm gonna be skeptical because I've tried dozens and haven't found one I like yet.

This is the latest attempt. My little brother just turned 18 (not so little anymore), and he wanted a dense chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate buttercream. After making the batter, I tested it first by making mini cupcakes, and was disappointed. I fiddled some with flour and chocolate amounts, and was happier with the density and flavor, but it's a little dry. The raspberry filling is just raspberry jam (I'd have done homemade there, too, but he just wanted from the jar, oh well!). The buttercream was the best part. I used the last of my dark chocolate Callebaut, and dang if that stuff wasn't so expensive I'd use if for everything. Mmm mmm!

And what's up with the pictures? Sorry, I was even using the good camera...

Chocolate Cake
adapted from Joy of Baking

4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
3 1/4 cups (465 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter, or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray, and line with parchment paper, two - 9 x 2 inch deep (23 x 5 cm) round baking pans. Set aside.

In a stainless steel or heatproof bowl place the chopped unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until they have melted. Set aside to cool while you make the batter.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy (this will take about 3-5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture and beat to combine.

Add the milk and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Butter or lightly spray a wire rack with Pam before inverting the cakes onto the rack to prevent the cakes from sticking. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
150 g chocolate, chopped
1 c butter, room temperature
4 c confectioners sugar

Melt the chocolate. Mix with the confectioners sugar. Beat the butter in 1 T at a time until fully incorporated. Beat at least 5 more minutes until completely mixed and fluffy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tiger Shortbread

I made these for a friend who had an operation the other day as a get better soon treat. They're really just a version of Millionaire Shortbread, but I think they look like tigers! And so in honor of tigers, I leave you with the scorned and un-pc Little Black Sambo, a favorite story in my family for a couple generations.

(Get better soon, Lena!)

"And by and by he met a Tiger. And the Tiger said to him, "Little Black Sambo, I'm going to eat you up!"


1 c softened butter
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c corn flour

Cream butter and sugar until you see the butter change color (aprx. 5 min). Add salt, and flours and mix by hand until the dough comes together. Press into a lined 7x11" (or whatever size you want) pan and bake for 25 min at 350 F. Let cool.

Salted Caramel Cream
from Cannelle et Vanille

360 grams heavy cream
1 t vanilla
90 grams sugar
120 grams egg yolks (about 6 yolks)
1 1/2 t gelatin softened over 2 T cold water
pinch fleur de sel

Bring the cream and the vanilla to a boil. Reserve.

In the meantime, make a dry caramel with the sugar. Deglaze the cooked sugar with the heated cream. Be careful because it will bubble over if all the cream is added at once. Whisk so all crystalized sugar has dissolved. Pour this caramel over the egg yolks and whisk. Return this to the pan and cook for 1 minute.

Add the softened gelatin and strain through a fine sieve.
Let cool and then poor on top of cooled shortbread. Let firm up (about 2 hours) and then cut. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate.