Thursday, December 31, 2009
I have been dying to try my hand at frangipane ever since I purchased almond meal from the Ferry Building in San Francisco in the middle of autumn. When I started planning my Christmas baking lineup I was faced with the difficulty of creating desserts that would not only satisfy my ambitions as a baker but would also be accessible to people of different ages, with tastes ranging from simple to adventurous. As suggestions started pouring in, I started to see that apple would have to make some sort of appearance. But I was determined to present it in a not so traditional way. That's when an apple frangipane tart came to mind and I was instantly sold on the idea, the days approaching Christmas Eve were filled with images and days dreams of a beautiful, seemingly intricate, yet deceptively simple tart in bloom. If dessert is my life, would it be appropriate to say that, in my opinion, dessert (life) should imitate art?
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almond
seeds from one vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, vanilla bean seeds and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Note: The recipe makes more schmear than you need, but it is difficult to make less. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, ready when you want to make another cake, or it can be frozen.
For pan schmear:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon dark rum
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
1 Gold (extra -sweet) pineapple
1 1/3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle, combine the butter, honey, rum, sugar, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and well blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch silicone cake pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (The remaining schmear can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before using.)
Cut top and bottom from pineapple, and cut away peel. Cut pineapple lengthwise into quarters, and cut off core from each section. Cut each piece crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Beginning at the perimeter of the pan, make an overlapping ring of pineapple slices with the curved side facing out. Make a second ring inside the first one, overlapping the slices in the opposite direction, working toward the center of the pan. Reserve any pineapple for another use.
Sift flour and baking powder together; set aside.
Put butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Mix in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding second and scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in milk. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating just until combined.
Pour batter into pan and spread over pineapple. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan for even browning and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter, and serve warm. (Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
From “Ad Hoc At Home”
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I love how my new camera can make even the most disappointing attempts look deliciously mouth-watering. The recipe for Millionaire's Shortbread seemed simple enough: buttery shortbread crust, creamy dulce de leche center, and smooth chocolate on top. Unfortunately for me, despite my many victories in much more complex areas of baking, these basic treats had me stumped. First, there was my use of an 8x8 inch pan instead of a 9x9 inch, which left me with a slightly too overwhelming shortbread base. Then my compulsive need to achieve a darker, more caramel colored dulce de leche, which required more cooking time, but ultimately left me with only a small amount of nearly unspreadable sauce. Finally, there was the fact that I couldn't find the kitchen scale amidst all the Christmas-prep chaos in order to properly measure the chocolate because the recipe I found gave the amount in only ounces and grams. So I eyeballed both the chocolate and the butter that I needed to melt into the topping and was left with a not so flawless finish. (However, this mishap I grew to overlook as the swirled chocolate on top looked so charmingly homemade)
I certainly would like to try it again, especially since I hate to leave such "defeats" unresolved. But for now, the end product is edible and really, I just wanted to take my new camera for a spin.
Millionaire's Shortbread recipe from Joy of Baking
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Chocolate Valentino Cake Recipe, adapted from Chef Wan.
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
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.
While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
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).
With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
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.
Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
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.
Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Those mornings when I wake up with a craving for something sweet and ample time to make something from scratch are the bane of my existence. The fact that I have a refrigerator full of fresh strawberries just waiting for new, yummy ways to be enjoyed only amplifies the danger. I'm catching up a little late with the discovery of lemon curd, but ever since I got my hands on some a few weeks ago, I can't get enough of the stuff. On crepes, on cake, there's no possible vessel for lemon curd that I won't try...so I thought to myself, why not a galette? I've always wanted to try my hand at the simple, free-form pastry and I finally found the perfect opportunity. The tart sweetness of the strawberries and lemon helped balance the soft, buttery crust.
Strawberry-Lemon Curd Galette
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter
2-4 tablespoons ice water
Mix the flour and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour.
1 pate sucree
Strawberries, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the strawberries, cornstarch, honey, and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.
Roll out the crust to about 1/4 inch thick and about 8 inches in diameter. Top with a few tablespoons of lemon curd. Placed the strawberries on top of the curd in an even layer, leaving a one inch ring around. Fold the edges of dough over the strawberries. Brush the dough with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is browned and the center is bubbling.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Yesterday, March 31, was the birthday of a very special boy. Yep, Mr. Simple turned twenty three. Back in January, he grumbled at how I always seemed to make treats for my friends and never for him...which, after giving a few examples, I easily argued was not true in the least. However, I explained to him that his time would come when it was his birthday for him to choose his special treat. His favorite dessert, which is saying a lot considering he tends to shun dessert and constantly warns against my weakness for it, is strawberry ice cream. So he decided that he would like an ice cream cake. After some consultation, we came upon the agreement that the perfect ratio for an ice cream cake 45% cake to 55% ice cream...roughly. At first, I ambitiously wanted to make my own ice cream, but considering the already hefty expense of his surprise gift (a Playstation 3), the added cost of an ice cream maker attachment for my new, and regrettably, little used Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer deterred me.
The process of making the cake itself was fun. The top of the cake that I sliced of to create a flat surface tasted delicious with lemon curd and became my snack as I finished the rest of the process. It was hard to resist licking my fingers as I spread the ice cream, and even the whipped cream was irresistible. Although it isn't included in the recipe, I garnished the top of the cake with fresh strawberries and shaved white chocolate with bittersweet strawberries, a product from Divine that I stumbled upon at Borders and thought would go perfectly with the cake. The finished product was everything I hoped it would be and the smile on Mr. Simple's face confirmed that he was, for once, in agreement with me.
A note before you read the recipe, I altered the recipe to make a 6" cake. I also apologize for the quality of the photos which I was forced to take inside in less than ideal lighting. Due to the sensitive nature of the cake it seemed ridiculous to attempt to take it out into the sun for a pho
Strawberry and Vanilla Ice Cream Cake
adapted from Joy the Baker
adapted from the “Confetti Cakes” cookbook via ButterCakesbyEvan
2 cups cake flour (8 ounces)
1 3/4 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (8 ounces) (yes, two types of flour)
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3 cups granulated sugar (21 ounces)
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (8 ounces; about 7 eggs)
1 1/2 cups milk, room temp (12 ounces)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter, flour, and line pans with parchment paper (optional) and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla to the eggs and then add the egg mixture, a little bit at a time, until fully incorporated. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Try to do this as quickly as possible so you don’t dry out the cake by over mixing. It is okay to add the milk immediately after adding the flour, and vice versa.
Divide the batter between your cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake 20-25 minutes.
Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
In a large bowl of an electric mixer add whipping cream and vanilla extract. Using the whip attachment, begin to beat the mixture on medium speed. Gradually add the powdered sugar, increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembling the Cake
Step One: Grease the two 8-inch round cake pans. Make the vanilla cake batter and add about 2 -2 1/2 cups of batter into each cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove cakes from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Once cooled, loosen the edges of the baked cake with a butter knife, flip the cake pans over onto a wire rack. Return 1 cake round to one of the 8-inch cakes pans and place the other cake round on a plate. Place both cake pan and plate in the freezer to begin to freeze the cake rounds.
Step Two: Freeze the cake rounds for 1 to 2 hours. You’ll need the cakes to be firm enough to spread fairly hard ice cream over them. Take the ice cream out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you’d like to use it, letting it rest on the counter.
Step Three: Remove the cake that’s in the cake pan from the freezer. Using the back of a stiff spatula, spoon the strawberry ice cream into the 8-inch cake round, on top of the first layer of vanilla cake. I used all but 1 cup of the half gallon of ice cream. Leave about 1-inch of space from the top of the 3-inch deep cake pan. At this point you’ve got a vanilla cake bottom layer topped with strawberry ice cream, leaving about 1 inch of empty space at the top of the pan.
Step Four: Remove the plated vanilla cake layer from the freezer. Place the second layer of vanilla cake inside the 8-inch round, on top of the strawberry ice cream. Return pan to the freezer to set for about an hour, depending on how soft your ice cream became while you were shaping the cake.
Step Five: Make Whipped Cream Frosting and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Step Six: After 1 to 2 hours in the freezer, remove the cake pan. Run a butter knife under hot water and run the knife along the cake, in between the cake pan and the ice cream cake to loosen the sides. Flip pan over onto a serving plate or cardboard cake round. Return cake to freezer if you find it too soft.
Step Seven: Quickly frost Ice Cream Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting. Return to the freezer to chill. Decorate the cake as you like. I used fondant to make a layered heart topper.
Friday, March 20, 2009
My, now ex-, roommate always seems to provide the perfect excuse for baking up treats that I could never justify baking simply on a whim--and with only myself responsible for consuming them all. Her recent birthday meant that it was her turn to choose her dessert of choice and she insisted on strawberries. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore strawberries, can't get enough of them. However, prior to her request I had just spent the past few weeks trying to exhaust the seemingly infinite amount of strawberries my mother brought me from Costco. Plus the fact that my boyfriend's birthday was also due at the end of the month and strawberries were also his favorite. Despite my desire to work with something new, I reluctantly adhered to her request and after the finished product was produced and consumed-very quickly, I might add-I can't say that I regret her choice one bit.
The cheesecakes themselves were simple; the graham cracker crust was to die for-I used cinnamon graham crackers from Trader Joes which lent a much richer taste to the crust than the standard graham cracker. Unfortunately, I'm posting this almost a week after the fact, and I've forgotten where I got the recipe for the strawberries. Let me assure you that you don't need it. These cheesecakes are delightful enough plain and any topping imaginable would suit them. I've tried them with balsamic strawberries and even bananas, whipped cream, and a drizzle of caramel sauce-reminiscent of the banana cream cheesecake that used to be my favorite at the Cheesecake Factory. With these cheesecakes, anything goes.
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese 3/4 cup white sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 8 tablespoons butter 8 tablesponns sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line miniature muffin tins (tassie pans) with miniature paper liners.
2. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar together with your hands or a fork, and place 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into each paper cup.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill each miniature muffin liner with this mixture, almost to the top.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool.
[The pictures are of my roommate and her boyfriend. The unfortunate drawback of always being the photographer is that I am always behind the camera. Haha. ]
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Time is short, so today I regretfully leave you with little more than this picture.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
While a week out of school means that I finally have time to relax at home, it also means that I must also face those inevitable, perilous hours of temptation trying to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible. Unfortunately, I was always a lover, not a fighter, and the irresistible calling of sweet possibilities always gets me. Being back in the kitchen felt so natural and so therapeutic and of course, the finished product was a reward in and of itself. My sweet tooth urge is my ever present companion, it's just up to me how I choose to express it in the kitchen.
Today, my sweet craving materialized in the form of an individual chocolate souffle. That's also a big factor in choosing a recipe for me, individual servings, which means no leftovers, no tempting extras waiting to be devoured. Just one little treat, just one time. Unfortunately, because I choose to bake this up in my small toaster oven in order to save electricity, the top came out slightly burned because even on the lowest rack, the souffle was too close to the top of the oven. Regardless of this minor flaw, the souffle was rich on flavor and light in texture; enjoyed with a side of vanilla bean ice cream and freshly sliced strawberries.
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup (1 oz.) confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur
1. Lightly butter two 6-ounce souffle dish and dust with granulated sugar, tapping out excess. Set the ramekins on a small baking sheet.Set aside.
2. In bowl over saucepan of hot water (not boiling)or in a microwave, melt chocolate with butter.Remove from the heat and whisk until glossy and smooth. Stir in the chocolate liqueur and the salt.
3. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, and beat in 3 tablespoon of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.
4. In another bowl, beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow. Beat in chocolate mixture until incorporated. Fold in one-quarter of the egg whites; gently fold in remaining whites. Divide into prepared container. (Can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 4 hours or freeze for up to two weeks.)
5. Place dish on baking sheet. Bake in lower third of 375 degrees F oven for 18 minutes or until puffed and the exterior is set but interior is still a bit loose and creamy and risen about 1 inch above the ramekin.Careful not to overbake. Dust souffles with powdered sugar and serve immediately as is or with vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise. (To bake straight from the freezer, unwrap the ramekins and set on a small baking sheet or jellyroll pan. Let them sit for 20 min. while heating the oven to 400°F. Bake on the baking sheet until puffed and risen about 1 inch above the ramekin, 18 min.)
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I've been a lousy blogger lately, I'm afraid. It's been over a month since I last had the time to write up a post. Even this post will probably be shorter than I would normally prefer, but something, anything, is better than nothing. Before school was let out for winter vacation I promised my roommate and her boyfriend cupcakes for his birthday once we met again in January. This was the perfect opportunity to use my brand new kitchen aid stand mixer, which is a beautiful dark gray shade, just like the new '09 Honda Civic I got in early December. It was also a good time to use my new, much more convenient and portable, digital camera. As much as I love my semi-pro looking Fujifilm, it's just not something I can carry around with me everywhere I go. So, in order to capture the unexpected, I bought a new compact Panasonic digital camera.
School work aside, another reason I've been so preoccupied is that I finally got a job! My first job ever at the California Pizza Kitchen in the Corte Madera Towne Center. This is as much as I have time to update everyone with for now. Until the next time, enjoy the recipe...my friends and I definitely did!
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop)
makes 8 regular cupcakes
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temp
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder like Valrhona brand
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2 Add egg and beat until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Strawberry Ganache Filling and Ganache Glaze
4.5 ounces (128 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup strawberries, diced
1. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.
5. Divide the ganache in two approximate equal portions. In the first portion, mix in the chopped strawberries. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
6. Leave the second portion on the counter to cool down. You want the filling to thicken up before the glaze. Once the filling is think, fill the cupcakes with it. Then glaze with the glaze. See assembly instructions below.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.
1. Fill the cupcakes with the strawberry ganache filling using the cone method.
2. Spoon a tablespoon of glaze on each filled cupcake and smooth.
3. Top with buttercream frosting and a strawberry.