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Fran suggested I create a blog to document my culinary journey. This meander has no real direction, other than what we eat at a restaurant or see on a baking show, and say “Hey, that looks good. Let’s try it.”. (Header photo of Middlebury falls where we grew up is by my life long friend David Griggs. Please visit his website  www.djgriggsphoto.com.)

I don’t brew as much as I did before. Maybe once the summer heat lessens I will brew a little more. I am interested in trying a home brew lager, which requires cooler fermentation temperatures, something we have in the autumn/winter months. We’ll see.
Enjoy.

For anyone either interested in
Ancient Fiction or
with some time on their hands,
try my writer’s blog
toahotelsomeplace.com for samples.
The entire work is available
on Amazon and Kindle .

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A Remiss is as Good as a Re-mile

I was remiss in not documenting the baking I did for our synagogue’s Oneg (celebration of the joy of Shabbat after Friday night services) a couple of weeks ago. All of the recipes are posted elsewhere. Search this blog for the various key words for more detail.

We were one of three families providing pastries etc for the Oneg. I made Gooey Strawberry Brownies. (Previously I made raspberry brownies so tried strawberry this time.)  Due to the size of the strawberry jammy bits the brownies ended up very moist and “gooey,” which is not a bad thing. Somehow, only half of the brownies made it onto the serving tray, so sadly, the other half had to come home with me.

I also made sweet whipped cream filled, chocolate drizzled profiteroles. I find choux pastries easy to make and freeze well for a last minute snack when invited out, or if friends stop by. I actually saw them online a few weeks ago and decided they would be good to add to my Oneg selection.

There is nothing like a couple of dozen tartlets with cream patisserie filling and blueberry topping. Tartlets and cream patisserie are quick and easy to make, and again the tart shells freeze for future use, if necessary.  It wasn’t necessary to freeze any, they were decimated at the oneg. I like to glaze pastries with apple jelly to add that nice shine. Last year I could not find any apply jelly in the stores, or even anyone who had heard of it, so I made a couple of pints and am still using it.

And finally I decided to make some fig newtons with some of the huge store of figs I have in the cupboard prior to this year’s harvest.

Oh! I almost forgot.  I had some sugar cookies in the freezer so added them to the mix on a whim. A few months ago I froze them in cylinders so I could just cut them into disks and bake them. I used them all up so need to make another batch.

NOT Caramel by the Sea

I had some leftover caramel in the fridge. It was (almost) too soft to fill chocolates (see below) but too thick to top ice cream. What a dilemma! Over the weekend I re-heated it, being sure it was 248 degrees then poured it into a hemispherical silicone mold.

I have been practicing chocolate work so I figured this would be a good way to conserve caramel and increase tempering skills, and have some chocolates for quality control consumption.

As I said, I poured the 248F liquid caramel into a mold then tossed the mold into the fridge to set. I weighed and chopped 250 grams of semi-sweet dark chocolate. You want the chocolate to be very fine so it will melt easily during the tempering. Dark chocolate is tempered by melting about 2/3rds of the chopped chocolate in a bain-marie to 120F.
Remove Chocolate covered Caramel 1from the heat and add the remaining chocolate a little at a time waiting for each addition to melt. If after all the chocolate is added and melted the temperature is still above 82F stir until it cools to 82F. Then place it back on the barely simmering bain-marie until
it reaches 85-86F. Remove the pot containing the water and the bowl holding the melted chocolate and place it next to the caramel to be dipped. The temperature of the chocolate will continue to rise a few degrees and should hold at 88F to 90F. Dip each piece of caramel, or whatever you are coating, lift it out with a fork, drain and place on waxed paper. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

017e21b931fdb63ab976dd07c2d459f8dd8ed2ecfd

I had some leftover chocolate so put some in a piping bag and set it aside to cool slightly. The rest I poured in the cleaned silicone mold to make some nice hard chocolate candies, or to re-melt sometime in the future. Who knows, I may decide to make more caramel to use up the extra chocolate I have waiting in the fridge.

Chocolate covered Caramel 2

When the chocolate in the piping bag was cooler but not set I snipped the end off and drizzled the lines of chocolate over the dipped chocolate to add some character.

A week ago I tried to make some chocolates for Fran’s Mah Jongg group by using the still soft caramel. They looked pretty, but it was hit or miss if there was much caramel in the chocolate candy. I also used milk chocolate which is much harder to work than the dark semi-sweet. Next I think I should make some more caramel, or maybe nougat and practice with the milk chocolate.

Chocolate covered Caramel 3

 

Baking in Jammies?

No, not quite. Maybe it should read “Baking With Jammies,” or “Incorporating Fruit Jammies in Your Baking,” or in this case “How I Made Strawberry Jammies to Incorporate in Strawberry Brownies.”

Recently, meaning within the last 4 months, I bought some Raspberry Jammy Bits from KAF to use in making some Raspberry Brownies. They were soooo good and added extra moisture, chewiness and flavor to the brownies, I decided to make them myself. Short story shorter: it didn’t go well. They didn’t gel adequately to form into little sugar-coated bits which would retain some integrity during baking. I ended up storing them in the trash bin.

Even more recently, as in last week, I had some leftover strawberries and decided to give image1it another go. I pureed 2 cups of hulled strawberries and heated it to boiling in a medium saucepan, added 2 Tbl of fruit pectin and mixed until dissolved before adding 2 cups of sugar.  The mixture was cooked over medium-low heat (just boiling) and stirred very frequently. Once it reached 2250 F, I spread it ⅛” to ¼” thick on a caster sugar coated silicone sheet and placed it in the freezer.

After an hour I coated the top of the still tacky spread with more caster sugar. The mixture was still too sticky to cut easily. Using a pizza wheel, I managed, while using some very short words)  to cut half of the spread both lengthwise and crosswise into bits, which I then rolled in more sugar and placed back on the silicone sheet. The strawberry jammy bits were useable but not great.

image2Undeterred, I tossed the second half of the spread back in a small saucepan and cooked for another 10 minutes or so. My candy thermometer died so had to guess the temperature. One trick I remember is to note how long it takes for the stirring marks to disappear. When I first started the second cooking, after the jam started to boil, the marks would disappear in 5 seconds. After 10 min of a quiet boil they remained 7-10 seconds and the jam spun as a wh0le around the spatula. I spread the twice cooked jam back on the silicone and froze again.

An hour later the spread solidified to a crack. I let it warm at room temperature for a few minutes to soften and was able to cut it with the pizza wheel. Actually, this version was just about the correct viscosity (or jamminess) and I could cut it with a long knife, cleaning in hot water and drying between cuts. Roll in more sugar and store in a air tight container in the freezer. Checking a few days later they are still semi-soft and have not fused back into a blob.

image4

Adding the DIY Strawberry Jammy Bits and some chocolate chips to the brownie batter before baking (good alliteration, huh?) resulted in spectacular brownies (NOTE: Do NOT overbake!! The middle of the pan should feel very soft and the edges should look cooked. Don’t let the middle bake to firmness, the brownies will be over baked.)

Fruit Jammy Bit Brownies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Berries (I have now used Rasp and Straw Berries and will try others)
  • 2 TBL Fruit Pectin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Caster sugar (Extra Fine) for coating

METHOD

  1. Hull and puree strawberries
  2. Heat puree to barely boiling and add pectin
  3. Once pectin is incorporated add the sugar
  4. Continue boiling until mixing marks stay 7-10 seconds or about 235-2400F
  5. Spread mixture on caster sugar coated silicone mat and freeze
  6. Remove the sheet of fruit from the freezer and coat top with caster sugar
  7. Flip coated over onto a cutting board and coat the now top surface with more sugar
  8. When the fruit sheet is pliable cut into small squares (1/4” across) with a knife
  9. Toss the jammy bits into a bowl of sugar then store in an air-tight container in the freezer

Stairway to Raspberry Heaven

I saw a KAF recipe for Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Bars. If you are a regular reader, you know I am baking about 800 one and two bite desserts for a fundraiser in March. Since brownies are baked in a sheet pan and cut to bite size, these brownies become a relatively easy way to make 4 dozen desserts (or about 6%) at once.F677178C-384A-4527-AFD1-0640B7565AD4

Basically this is a brownie with both chocolate chips and raspberry jammy bits folded into the batter and coated with a heavy layer of ganache. Once baked, and still warm a thinned coating of seedless raspberry jam is spread over the brownies. (Don’t over bake the brownies!) I cooled the coated brownies in the fridge for a while as I made and cooled to thicken the ganache.

While not essential topping with a raspberry and dusted with confectioners sugar really set this dessert off. (Rats, just ended that sentence with a preposition.)

CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY BROWNIE BARS

INGREDIENTS

BROWNIES

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Raspberry Jammy Bits
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon  water

CHOCOLATE GANACHE GLAZE

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoons light corn syrup (20g)
  • 2 2/3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. To make very even bars, line the pan with aluminum foil before baking, leaving foil sticking up above the edges of the pan.
  2. Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the sugar and melted butter, stirring until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, chips, and Jammy Bits, again stirring well.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look moist, but not uncooked. Do not overbake! Remove them from the oven.
  7. Heat the seedless raspberry jam with the water, and stir until smooth. Brush over the warm brownies. Set aside to cool for an hour or longer before topping with the ganache.
  8. To make the ganache, heat the cream and corn syrup until they begin to steam. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes, add any flavorings, and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes or so.
  9. Pour ganache over the brownies while it’s still warm, but has begun to thicken — reheat if it thickens too much as you work. Allow several hours for the ganache to set up fully. You may refrigerate the brownies to hasten the setting of the ganache.
  10. Remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil sling. Heat a knife in hot water, wipe dry and use to cut the brownies. Repeat with each cut.
  11. Just before serving, garnish brownies with fresh raspberries and confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

 

Busy Bakery Day

Here are some samples of one and two bite pastries I am making for a party of about 200 people. We are meeting tonight for a party progress meeting. I decided to give the group a sample of some of the varieties of desserts I am baking for the event.

 

I have both lemon and mango curd filled profiteroles, cream patisserie filled eclairs and tartlets, vanilla cake with pink icing and raspberry drizzle and vanilla cake with chocolate drizzle. There are mini-raspberry cheesecakes, blueberry and apply mini pie bites, chocolate brownie cups with chocolate mousse and a raspberry drizzle. Some of these were made ahead and frozen until today. The tartlets, eclairs, profiteroles and all icings, drizzles and frostings were made this afternoon.

A productive bakery day!

Not My Waterloo

85C73474-EA5B-44BD-83C5-6C3FA75720CFNeapolitans, not Napoleons, one-bite Blueberry Pie and Caramel Sauce while sporting a new Ugandan Youth Center produced apron Neil picked up for me on his trip to Africa last month, made for a good week in the bakery (not to mention the sandwich and NY rye breads… which I did just mention, didn’t I? Sorry ’bout that.)

9E3D9EB7-31C6-4056-A2E2-EB98E5A96B0BThe Neapolitans are chocolate cookie based with a white cheesecake center and raspberry buttercream frosting, cut into 1” squares. Next time, I need to keep any skin from forming on the cheesecake. It kept the frosting from adhering properly.

F226223A-A147-4E15-B8F6-5E3FBAA9DA1AThe Blueberry Bites should be dusted with some coarse sugar after being egg washed to add some sweetness and shine.  The caramelized sugar should add both. I may add a little lemon zest for a little tang.

084CBE55-B2CD-4C2E-9F93-326140831A39The Caramel Sauce will be used later for a Peanut Butter/Caramel/Salted Chocolate petit four, but I had the time and it will keep in the fridge for a longtime so why not? The rest of the dessert will come later this week.

NEAPOLITAN CHEESECAKE COOKIES

https://www.frugalcouponliving.com/neapolitan-cheesecake-brownies/#_a5y_p=4163544

INGREDIENTS (Half Recipe)

COOKIE

  • 1 cup butter, softened (1/2)
  • 2 cups white sugar (1)
  • 2 eggs (1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (6 Tbl)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4)

VANILLA LAYER

  • 16 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sugar

STRAWBERRY LAYER

  • 1/2 cup softened Butter
  • 6 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Strawberry Preserves (optional)
  • 4-5 drops Red Food Coloring

METHOD

COOKIE

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a 13×15” pan and set aside. Be sure the paper extends over the sides of the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  5. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, until top of cookies are completely set.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

VANILLA LAYER

  1. Cream together cream cheese, sugar and eggs until well blended.
  2. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over brownie layer.
  3. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until cheesecake layer is set. 1st try took 25 min
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes until top is no longer warm to the touch.

STRAWBERRY LAYER

  1. Beat butter (and strawberry preserves if using) while slowly add in powdered sugar.
  2. Add in food coloring to achieve pink color, then whip to get uniform color.
  3. Frost cheesecake layer by spreading frosting with a spatula to completely cover.
  4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

BLUEBERRY PIE BITES

https://www.sugardishme.com/blueberry-pie-bites/

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • about 45 blueberries
  • 2 Tbl raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
  • Special Equipment Required:
  • 1½” biscuit cutter
  • pastry brush

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a pan with an edge so the pie bites don’t roll away when you place them in the oven.
  2. Lightly flour a clean work surface and unroll the refrigerated pie crust.
  3. Use a 1½” biscuit cutter to cut all your little pie bite circles out of the refrigerated pie crust.
  4. Place 1 blueberry in the center of each circle. Sprinkle each one with a little sugar (you probably won’t use all the sugar).
  5. Fold up two sides of one of the circles like a taco. The grab the adjacent sides and pinch the corners. This makes a little pocket for the blueberries. You can dip your fingers in egg wash to pinch the corners if you can’t get them to stick.
  6. Brush each bite with the egg wash. Place each bite on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle with a little more sugar and bake for about 10 minutes.

CARAMEL SAUCE

16 Servings, Prep Time: 10 Minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt

METHOD

  1. Bring the water, sugar, and butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved in the water. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the caramel has turned golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Carefully pour in a slow, steady stream of cream into the caramel while stirring constantly. The hot caramel will boil vigorously when the cream is added and solidify in areas. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Continue stirring over low heat until the caramel is smooth and creamy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Allow to cool for at least half an hour before using.

 

Which Way to Carnegie Hall?

Everyone knows how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? I am considering making bite size desserts for a gala at our temple with about 200 people expected to attend. Conventional wisdom indicated I will need 4-600 individual desserts. Perhaps you can see why I have not yet committed to this task. Allotting 2-3 desserts per person I should also have 5 or 6 dessert options, too many and it’s overwhelming (for the attendees and the baker!)

blueberry lemon and mango keylime profiteroles

So, back to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. For anyone who follows my blog you know mistakes to not leave the house, so I practice everything first. I also experiment with different flavors and combinations. For instance, I made profiteroles last week. One was to be a mango/key lime and the other a lemon/blueberry. They were fine, except the key lime overpowered the mango. I will have to try again. Practice, practice, practice. The lemon was fine, if a bit intense.

vanilla cake and swiss meringue buttercream frosting

A couple of days ago I made some vanilla cake bites with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. It was a new cake recipe, I was looking for something a bit lighter, plus a new buttercream. This one uses a Swiss meringue (egg whites and sugar whisked over simmering water in a bain marie. The frosting was delicious but a bit of a pain in the butt. I would use this if I could have  several desserts that use the same frosting. I may just divide it into aliquots and color them differently to make an easy differentiation.

chouxI make choux fairly often so don’t really need to practice, but the little choux pastries are a good way to try the different filling flavors and icings. I made these choux in an hour or two last week, used a dozen or so for experimenting and froze the other 4 dozen. If I decide to do this project I will take a day and make 200 or so. I just need enough freezer space.

This morning I decided to add two new pastries File Jan 10, 10 17 21 AMto my portfolio. The first, and easiest was the chocolate cookies with chocolate mousse filling. I decided to add some shaved milk chocolate and white chocolate over some of them and since I had some raspberry coulis in the fridge, I drizzled that over some to add more color.

pineapple upside down bites.jpeg

Once those were complete and I finished cleaning the kitchen, (yes, I clean everything up between each bake) I started the one bite Pineapple Upside Down cakes. I used the same vanilla cake recipe as last week. It was a little tricky miniaturizing everything and keeping them looking good. Next time I will reduce the amount of pineapple and use a quartered cherry so there will be more room for the cake.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 large (210 grams or 7 oz) egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt (we use non-iodized fine sea salt)

METHOD

  1. In a medium pot, add at least 1-inch of water and bring to simmer.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry the stainless-steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer* (you don’t want grease touching meringue). Add 7 egg whites and 2 cups sugar and whisk together.
  3. Place mixing bowl over pot of barely simmering water, creating a seal over the pot (bowl should be over the steam, not touching water). Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160˚F (takes about 3 min). Sugar should be fully dissolved (you should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing mixture between finger tips). Mixture will feel hot to the touch.
  4. Wipe water from bottom of mixing bowl and transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 15-20 min) and bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temp and not warm (important: warm meringue will melt the butter).
  5. Once bowl is at room temp, switch to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it is absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until it reaches a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquidy at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped.
  6. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and ¼ tsp salt and mix on med-high until incorporated (about 1 min).

Notes

*Butter should be softened at room temp about 1 hour (more or less depending on your room temperature). It should be slightly cool to the touch and not overly soft or warm. If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes at a time.

Vanilla Butter Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk Note: I use 1% milk and add the 2 Tbl as whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a cast-iron pan, and dust with all-purpose flour, tapping out excess. Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Fill pan halfway, and bake until golden around edges (time will vary depending on size of pan). Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes from pan to a wire rack. Let cool. Coat each with glaze just before serving.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS (Half Recipe)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (1/2)
  • 2 cups white sugar (1)
  • 2 eggs (1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (6 Tbl)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  5. Spray Baker’s Joy or similar product into mini cupcake pans and fill ½ full (about a level teaspoon).
  6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg yolks (2)
  • ¼ cup sugar (2 Tbl)
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream (1/2)
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) (1/2)
  • 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream (3/4)

METHOD

  1. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar.
  2. Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot. Gradually stir at least half of the hot whipping cream into egg yolk mixture; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.
  3. Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream. Pipe or spoon mixture into serving bowls. Immediately refrigerate any remaining dessert after serving.

Choux on This!

choux dough

I make a very nice choux pastry to be used in profiteroles and eclairs. These are usually filled with crème patisserie and iced with a shiny chocolate. I thought it would be a fun exercise to try some variations, so I made some Mango/Key Lime iced with white chocolate and blueberry iced Lemon Curd profiteroles. The recipe I found for the Mango/Key Lime was way too lime dominant. The recipe posted here is adjusted to what I hope will be more mango dominant. I guess it’s just a guess.

Mixing the choux dough is easy, provided you attain the proper viscosity before attempting to pipe it onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. This picture shows the characteristic “V” shape of the dough as it hangs off spatula. Too runny and it will flatten out, not runny enough it will be harder to pipe and may not have enough moisture to “puff” up while baking.

Mango Curd

Cook’s note” I made first with ½ cup lime juice as per the recipe. The lime overpowered the mango.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ripe large mango, peeled, flesh cut away from pit
  • 1/3 cup water (this is a guess to substitute for the ½ cup lime juice)
  • 1 Tbl fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

METHOD

  1. Process mango in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk in lime juice, salt, and ½ cup sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, egg, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a medium bowl until no longer grainy and slightly lightened in color, about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisking constantly, very gradually stream about half of hot mango mixture into eggs, then gradually whisk mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until curd thickens and whisk leaves a visible trail, 5–7 minutes (do not let it boil). Remove from heat and add butter a couple of pieces at a time, whisking until incorporated before adding more.
  4. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring glass bowl or nonreactive bowl and cover, pressing plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Cook’s note: Curd can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Lemon Curd

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into bits

METHOD

  1. Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes. Note: cook long enough to thicken.
  2. Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

Cooks’ note: Curd can be chilled up to 1 week.

Entrez Mon Ami

For Hanukkah Fran bought me a set of entremet cake pans, so of course, I had to try Zekner Ring Mold Setthem. As I had decided to make a clock face cake with mirror glaze for New Year’s eve I thought this would be a good chance to try both. I made a chocolate cake with chocolate mirror glaze for Kathy’s birthday and fresh strawberry entremet cakes for our Christmas celebration at Karen’s.

small Fresh Strawberry Cake 1

I added a little red food coloring to the strawberry cake and green to the whipped cream frosting to so they were looking a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go. I thought the texture of the strawberry cake was a little close. I may try a lighter cake and add chopped strawberries next time.

Choc cakes8

 

I crumb coated the chocolate entremet and probably wouldn’t do that again. The idea is to make the cake as smooth as possible so the mirror glaze will be smooth when completed. The buttercream crumb coat was too slippery for the glaze to adhere properly. Maybe next time, just two coats of mirror, if needed at all.

Fresh Strawberry Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 14 7/8 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half (equal parts heavy cream and milk to make ¾ cup)
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries (about 7 oz.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red liquid food coloring

METHOD

  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat sugar and butter with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat on low speed just until incorporated after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to sugar mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat on low speed just until combined after each addition. Fold in strawberries and red food coloring.
  3. Divide batter evenly among 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  4. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks to cool completely, about 1 hour.

 

Chocolate Mirror Glaze

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 g gelatin sheets
  • 125 g water = ¼ cup to bloom gelatin
  • 225 granulated sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 150 g chocolate
  • 65 g heavy cream

METHOD

  1. Bloom gelatin in ¼ cup cool water (about 10 minutes)
  2. Add and mix sugar and 125 g water in a large saucepan
  3. Heat to 104C (219F) remove from heat
  4. Add 150 g finely chopped chocolate and mix until dissolved
  5. Add 30g cocoa powder and whisk until dissolved
  6. 65 g heavy cream and mix
  7. Cool to 60C (140F) add gelatin, mix until dissolved
  8. Sieve to remove any remaining lumps
  9. Immersion blend to smooth
  10. Sieve to remove any bubbles
  11. Cool to 32C (90F)
  12. Pour over cake being sure to coat the sides thoroughly

Gelatin Conversions

  • 1 (0.25 oz.) envelope granulated gelatin = 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin = 3 sheets leaf gelatin.
  • One package (1 tablespoon) of powdered gelatin equals 4 sheets.
  • 4 sheets leaf gelatin = 1 (.25 oz) envelope granulated gelatin = 1 tablespoon granulated gelatin; Agar-Agar, which is an alga based jellifying agent

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

 

Honey, I Shrunk the Cake

completed cakeI asked Neil what kind of birthday cake he would like us to eat for him, as we will be unable to be with him on his actual birthday, yet what kind of birthday would it be without a cake, and why waste a cake if I am going to make one anyway? Whew!

He asked for an 8 Layer Honey Cake. After doing a (very) little research, I found a good recipe with instructions on Natshakitchen.com. The only modification I made was to reduce the size (diameter) of the cake as there will only be 3 or 4 people partaking. I didn’t reduce the size of the recipe so simply made two small (6″) cakes. (Please don’t ask about the disposition of the second cake.)layer with frosting

One mistake I made was to not roll the dough out to the specified 1/8″ thick. (Mine were closer to 1/4″.) I also found the frosting was too thin. Next time I would use less sour cream and more sugar, or let it set overnight in the refrigerator.

cakes1

8 Layer Honey Cake (Medovik)

INGREDIENTS

Cake Layers Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) honey
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached, organic)

Sour Cream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 32 oz sour cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

For the topping:

  • ½ lb Fresh Berries, optional

METHOD

How to Make the Cake Layers:

  1. Add ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup honey and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter to a medium sauce pan and melt them together over medium/low heat, whisking occasionally until sugar is melted (5-7 mins). Don’t put them over high heat or they may scorch to the bottom.
  2. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and while it’s still hot, add in your beaten eggs in a slow steady stream while whisking vigorously until all of your eggs are incorporated (whisk constantly so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs).
  3. Whisk in the baking soda until no lumps remain, then fold in your 3 cups flour ½ cup at a time with a spatula until the dough reaches a clay consistency and doesn’t stick to your hands. Mine took exactly 3 cups flour (measured precisely, scraping off the top of the cup).
  4. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and move on to the next step right away (these roll out best when the dough is still warm)
  5. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece out into a thin 9″ circle (about ⅛” thick). You can sprinkle the top with a little flour too to keep dough from sticking to your rolling pin. Place a 9″ plate or base from a springform mold over your rolled dough and trace around it with a pizza cutter to get a perfect circle. (I used a 6″ cake pan and “punched” out each disk. Be sure to use plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking.) Keep the scraps for later. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper and bake 2 at a time at 350˚F for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before stacking. Repeat with remaining layers.
  6. Finally bake the scraps separated evenly on a re-used sheet of parchment. Once the scraps are baked, cooled and firm, you can crush them with a rolling pin or pulse them in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.

How to make the frosting:

  1. Beat 1 cup heavy cream until fluffy and stiff peaks form (1-2 min on high speed).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together 32 oz sour cream with 2 cups powdered sugar.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream and you have your frosting.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use. I suggest overnight to firm up the frosting.

Assembling your Cake:

  1. Spread about ⅓ cup frosting on each cake layer (don’t skimp on it since the cake needs to absorb some of the cream to become ultra soft.
  2. Press the cake layers down gently as you go to keep the layers from having air gaps.
  3. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
  4. Dust the top and sides with your breadcrumbs, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. This cake needs time to absorb some of the cream and soften, so be patient. It’s worth the wait!