About dave1y

Dave Oney was born mid last century in Middlebury, Vermont. He received his BS in Chemistry and worked as a polymer chemist in Massachusetts and New Jersey. He became a microscopist (someone who studies little bitty things using a microscope) and photomicrographer (someone who photographs little bitty things) before settling into a 35-year career in technical sales of scientific imaging equipment (the science of digitally recording itty bitty things, sending the image to a computer for analysis.) He designed and created a number of products contributing to this field. He is (was) proficient in several computer languages and is currently working on mastering English. After making a few more paradigm shift career changes Dave and his wife, Fran, retired and moved closer to their children and granddaughters and now live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

Good for the Soul

Some people say confession is good for the soul. They may be right but there is no question chocolate is. However, I do have a confession to make. Actually, I have two (at least two) confessions to make.

Fran, my wife of nearly, well let’s just say many, years, frequently tells me due to my New England heritage and upbringing I am a frugal person. Actually, she uses another word, frugal is mine. I acknowledge she is correct, but I contend that’s not a bad thing. For example, I found three 6 ounce bags of Scharffen Berger bittersweet (70% cacao) chocolate that bloomed while stored in the cupboard. As everyone knows chocolate bloom can be repaired by melting the chocolate and allowing it to re-crystallize.

Now I confess (#1) it seemed a waste for me to spend the time and energy, meaning expensive natural gas, to melt and re-crystallize the chocolate with nothing to show for the effort. Not only would it be wasteful, according to Fran, it would be contrary to my nature. Luckily, I recently acquired a new chocolate mold and had all the ingredients in the cupboard to make some peppermint cream filling. This allowed me to finish up the chocolate and test the new mold.

New Bullet Shaped Poly Carbonate Mold

After golf this morning I frugally decided to make some filled chocolates. I tempered and thereby repaired, all 18 ounces and made some peppermint cream filled candies.

The round candy is peppermint from the new mold. The cubes are caramels.

Unfortunately, there was too much tempered chocolate left over, but with my lucky streak intact I had some extra caramel from another batch of candies I made a couple of weeks ago. I dipped 20 caramel cubes in the remaining chocolate and set them aside to cure.

At this point there was barely enough tempered chocolate to fill and seal the new mold to make one more batch. I now have peppermint and previously made vanilla and raspberry. I also confess (#2) what I never tried, but wanted to, was chocolate coated marshmallow creams. While “fluff” is very sweet, the bittersweet chocolate provides a nice balance, plus I have only made marshmallow at home once before and I like to practice. Unfortunately, I only needed a few ounces and the recipe I have makes almost 2 pints, most of which is now sealed and sitting on the counter.

The marshmallow filled chocolates didn’t cut well but the texture is evident

I was pleasantly surprised I could hold the chocolate in temper for the 30 minutes or so it took to make and cool the marshmallow. The chocolate temperature varied between 85 and 95 degrees as it sat on a double boiler. I checked the temperature frequently and turned the burner on briefly from time to time to keep the temperature fairly constant.

Marshmallow Recipe

INGREDIENTS
• 1/3 cup water
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup corn syrup or honey
• 3 large egg whites room temperature
• 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD
1. Place water, sugar, and corn syrup (or honey) in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine.
2. Insert a candy thermometer into the pot and heat over medium-high. Do not stir from this point on as crystals will form.
3. Ensure mixer bowl and whisk are completely grease free.
4. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
5. When the sugar syrup reaches about 225°F, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. Approx 3-4mins.
6. When the whites are ready, the sugar syrup should be at 240°F. Remove from the heat, turn mixer to medium and very slowly and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin, steady stream.
7. Once all of the syrup is in, set mixer to medium/high and continue whipping. The whites will deflate at first, but they will thicken and fluff up.
8. Continue to whip for 7-8 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and glossy.
9. Add in vanilla and whip until the fluff has cooled.
10. Pour into an airtight container and store for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.

Boston Cream Pie

My friend Maggie asked if I would make a Boston Cream Pie using the same recipe she used. While her dessert was reportedly delicious, (I didn’t have any) the cake did not rise to her satisfaction. So, today I made the same cake (Betty Crocker’s recipe) with nearly identical results. The recipe called for a 9” pan sprayed on the bottom only, not the sides. Some cakes, like a angel food require dry sides for the cake to “grow” up the sides so I made sure the sides were dry. It didn’t help. The cake was just over an inch thick. Cutting it in half would result in two tortilla-thick disks rather than layers of cake.

I did a search for another recipe with significantly different ingredients and method. I chose one from Martha Stewarts Everyday Living. Following the recipe as written, Martha’s cake was nearly twice as high as Betty’s

Betty’s on the left – Martha’s on the right.

As I am inept at slicing a cake in half, this challenge provided the opportunity to use the “floss” technique. A butter knife was about half the height of the cake, so I used it to position tooth pics every few inches around the cake. I then laid the floss across the toothpicks and pulled it taut cutting cleanly through the cake, exactly where I wanted, resulting in two even, level layers of cake. THAT is a beautiful trick!

(Make a note for yourself – if you are making something that uses cream-pat and ganache be sure you have some frozen eclairs on hand. They are easy to thaw out, fill and dip in the extra ganache.)

The cake was moist, the cream-pat smooth and chocolate, well you know my opinion of chocolate. Incidentally, I used the cream-pat and ganache from my eclair post elsewhere in this blog.

Re-No Knead

After my childhood Neighbor and still friend, Martha read my No Knead bread post she messaged me her go-to no knead bread recipe, which I tried and thought was both easy and excellent. I subscribe to the Washington Post weekly Voraciously Baking Basics Newsletter and last week was their no knead bread.

There is no question this is the best no knead bread I have made. Full disclosure I used Martha’s short rise version which only requires a 4 hour rise. I should go back and try the over night 14 hour rise to be a fair comparison to WashPo’s, which did undergo a 14 hour rise.

Voraciously Baking Basics No Knead Bread

INGREDIENTS

Makes one 8-inch round loaf (8 to 10 slices)
Prep time: 20 mins, plus 14 hours rising time
Bake time: 55 to 60 mins

  • 3 cups (375 grams) flour, plus more for kneading the dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons uncooked grits (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds (optional) 
  • 1 1/3 cups (319 milliliters) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt, plus grits and flaxseeds (if using). Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the water and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a shaggy, wet and sticky dough forms.
  2. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap — greased side facing inside the bowl — and leave at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 14 hours. The dough will rise and bubble and flatten across the top. 
  3. Toward the end of the rising time, place a 6-quart Dutch oven and lid on a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Generously flour a clean work surface and, using a rubber bench scraper or lightly greased silicone spatula, scoop the dough out of the bowl onto the counter. The dough will still be very wet and sticky, but there’s no need to knead it — just flour the top and sides to keep the outside of the dough dry enough to shape it into a roundish ball by pulling the edges to the center of the dough. You can use the bench scraper to assist in the folding.
  5. Flour a 14- to 16-inch piece of parchment paper. Cupping your hands around opposite sides of the dough, gently but decisively transfer the dough to the paper, fold-side down. Dust with more flour wherever sticky dough becomes exposed and loosely cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. The dough will have risen slightly and should bounce back when gently poked.
  6. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and set the lid aside. (I like to keep pot holders on the lid and handle of the Dutch oven to remind myself it’s very hot.) 
  7. Lift the towel off the bread and, using a serrated knife, slash two vents into the surface of the dough to make a big “X.”
  8. Holding two sides of the parchment paper, lower the paper and dough into the hot Dutch oven. Re-cover the pot and place in the oven. 
  9. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is golden brown across the top and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and let cool in the Dutch oven for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving. 
  10. The bread is best within 2 days of baking but will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

There’s Chocolate, Then There’s Chocolate

Sigh, there are many, many varieties of chocolate, and so little time.

I am a fan of dark chocolate, (not intense 85%+ cacoa but a nice 52-70%.) I find the flavor more intense than milk chocolate (34%) and of course there are the currently purported health benefits of dark chocolate. Not only do I have to contend with percent cacao but also many different manufacturers. I should probably create a spreadsheet for them all.

I am also experimenting with fillings for chocolate candies, a tough job, but someone really should do it. Last month I made two new fillings, buttercream and fresh raspberry/chocolate ganache. Both were excellent, but I wanted some candies with a soft gooey filling.

This morning I made a batch with some Guittard 46% semi-sweet baking chips I picked up at the grocery story a couple of weeks ago. I thought these might be a good compromise between the dark that I like and the milk chocolate that Fran prefers.

I tempered the chocolate, coated the inside of a heart shaped silicone mold and let it cure. This morning I made a batch of cream filling and divided it into two. One was flavored with peppermint to make some gooey peppermint patties, the other with vanilla for plain vanilla chocolates.

I want to make this same recipe but flavor with fresh strawberry or raspberry or orange ganache. I am experimenting with fillings as much as I am with different chocolates.

Homemade Peppermint or Vanilla Patties

INGREDIENTS

• ½ – ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk (amount depends on desired consistency)

• 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract (optional)

• 339g (3 cups) powdered sugar

Optional Dipping Chocolate or use tempered chocolate in mold

• 8 ounces dark chocolate chopped

• 2 teaspoons oil

METHOD

1. In a medium size bowl mix the sweetened condensed milk, peppermint extract, and powdered sugar together. Add more sweetened condensed milk until mixed to viscosity desired.

2. Divide dough into number of flavors desired and place each portion in a small bowl

3. Add flavorings and mix well.

4. Pipe filling to fill each chocolate well to within 1/8” of the top of the well

5. Let set for 10 minutes

6. Add enough tempered chocolate to each well to seal the filling inside.

7. Scape bottom of mold to remove excess chocolate

8. Store the peppermint patties in the fridge until ready to be served! Enjoy!

Yes, Need Bread

While traveling last week I saw a recipe for no-knead bread and today was my first chance to try it. Actually, I started it last night and finished it in time for a sandwich for lunch today. That seemed appropriate as the recipe described it as sandwich bread.

Rather than kneading the dough, once mixed into a wet sticky mess, it is rested, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning shape it into an 8” long log and place into a lightly greased bread pan. Allow the dough to warm to room temperature and rise under a clean, flour dusted kitchen towel for two hours.

This recipe makes an enriched Pullman loaf, although I don’t actually have a Pullman Loaf Pan (a square bread pan with lid.) While the shape was off, the buttery flavor was excellent and it had the fine crumb a Pullman Loaf should exhibit. It made a wonderful turkey, tomato and home grown lettuce sandwich.

Bake at 375 deg F for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 200 deg F. Place on a cooling rack and coat the top with butter. Make your sandwich and sit back to watch the Tennessee vs Kansas City playoff game.

No Knead Sandwich Bread

INGREDIENTS
• 31⁄3 cups bread flour, plus more for work surface
• 11⁄2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
• 21⁄2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 11⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 1 1⁄4-oz. envelope)
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
• 13⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
• Cooking spray

METHOD
Stir together flour, milk, sugar, yeast, and 5 tablespoons of the melted butter in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until no dry spots remain. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let stand 20 minutes. Add salt and stir until dough is sticky and elastic, about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator; chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Lightly coat an 81⁄2-by-41⁄2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Turn chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using lightly floured hands, shape dough into a rough oval. (Dough may be difficult to shape.) Fold short ends of oval in toward the center, pressing gently to seal. Working in the same direction as the previous fold, fold dough in half over itself, pressing gently to seal and form an 8-inch-long log.

Transfer dough, seam side down, to prepared loaf pan, gently encouraging it into the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Let rest in a warm place (like the top of the refrigerator) until dough has risen just over the lip of the pan, about 2 hours. During the final 30 minutes of resting, preheat oven to 375°F with oven rack in lower third.

Bake until bread is golden brown and a thermometer inserted in center of loaf registers 200°F, 40 to 45 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil after 30 minutes if bread is browning too quickly. Invert loaf onto a wire rack; turn right-side up and brush top with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Let cool completely before slicing.

A Truffle Trifle

After I finished the caramels and before the chocolate lost its temper (and had a hissy fit) I coated the inside of a silicone candy mold with the leftover chocolate. I left it in the fridge until today. (I should have taken a picture before filling. Dang!)

Beyond what I used to coat the mold I had some chocolate left over from making the chocolate coated caramels and thought, “Hmmm… I also have some raspberries in the fridge that I need to use soon.” Well, one thing led to another so I made some chocolate covered raspberry/chocolate truffles.

I made the raspberry ganache using the recipe below, filled each well of the mold leaving some room at the top to cover with more chocolate. I didn’t bother re-tempering the tops of the chocolates and they seem fine. Actually, the tops become the bottoms of the chocolates once they are removed from the mold.

The ganache stays nice and soft and the raspberry/chocolate flavor was excellent. I may try less chocolate in the ganache next time to make the flavor a bit more raspberry forward.

I also want a nice chocolate covered vanilla cream center, and maybe a nice peppermint filling too.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles Recipe
INGREDIENTS
• 1 package (10 oz.) fresh raspberries
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1 lb. semisweet chocolate chips – try with 1⁄2 lb. chocolate chips
• 3/4 cup cream
• 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
• One candy mold coated with tempered chocolate
OR Alternatively
• 1 lb. chocolate candy coating (for dipping)


METHOD

  1. Blend or food process the raspberries until they are liquid. Sieve the raspberry puree into a small saucepan.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the raspberry puree and heat it over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is thick and syrupy and reduced by about half. Remove the puree from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl and heat the cream (I microwave in 30 sec intervals) until bubbles start to form around the edges, but do not allow it to come to a full boil. Once simmering, pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for a minute or two to soften and melt the chocolate before whisking the chocolate and cream together gently, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and homogenous.
  4. Add the corn syrup and raspberry puree to the chocolate mixture, and whisk it all together. Cover the surface of the raspberry ganache with cling wrap, and refrigerate until it is thickened.
  5. Add enough raspberry ganache to each tempered chocolate coated mold to within 1/8” of the top. Cover the top of each mold well with melted chocolate. It doesn’t appear to need to be tempered at this point. Chill and when nearly softened scape the bottom of the mold to remove excess chocolate.
    If you are going to dip the raspberry ganache in chocolate chill until it can be formed in small balls (1” or less diameter) and placed on a lined cookie sheet
  6. Alternative coating method:
  7. Using dipping tools or a fork, dip a truffle into the chocolate. Bring it out of the chocolate and allow the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place the coated truffle back onto the baking sheet and repeat with remaining truffles and chocolate.
  8. Place the truffles in the refrigerator to set the candy coating for about 30 minutes. If desired, you can melt red candy coating (or tint white coating with red candy coloring) and drizzle a small amount over the truffles decoratively.
  9. Place the candy coating in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in one-minute increments until melted, stirring after every minute to prevent overheating. Stir until the coating is completely smooth. Allow the coating to cool until it is barely warm. Do not let it start setting up, but let it cool down so that it does not melt the truffle fillings.
  10. Chocolate raspberry truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Chewy Caramel Center

I love the holiday season! It’s one of the times of the year I can bake and experiment—nearly guilt free. Of course, I will pay for it starting after  the New Year.

2A39C5BC-5D6C-4215-B679-9A18FB58A700Last week I made hard caramels and embedded them them in tempered dark chocolate. They were fine, but what I really wanted were the soft caramel center and chocolate that melts in your mouth. I ticked all the boxes this morning.

 

I actually made the caramels last night and left them out to firm up overnight. This morning, they were pliable but firm enough to to hold their shape when cut. I ended up with about 80 one inch square, 1/4” thick squares of caramel.

Be sure to only cook the caramel to 237 degrees F, not 235 or 239, otherwise they will be too soft and not hold their shape, or to hard and chewy.

I used 67% cacao dark chocolate. I am going to try 52% semi sweet next time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Stick (½ cup) Butter
  • 1 Cup (288g) White Corn Syrup
  • ½ Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 12 oz can Evaporated Milk

METHOD

  1. Put the ingredients into a thick bottomed pot and heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 237 deg.
  2. Pour the molten caramel into a parchment paper lined 8”x8” pan. (Smaller pan for thicker caramels) DO NOT use waxed paper. Hot caramel sticks to waxed paper.
  3. There is some discussion about adding the evaporated milk. Some people say add slowly (I did) and others say it doesn’t matter. I added about an oz every minute for 12 minutes. It required about 30 min for the caramel to reach the 237 deg.