Monday, August 31, 2009

Peach Ice Cream (Round Two: Me vs. Fruit Decay)

So I mentioned in an earlier post, and I was fighting mold on my fruit. Jacob salvaged the peaches, and I made a galette, and then I made ice cream.

This is my second time making ice cream, and let me tell you, I need to invest in an ice cream maker. I'm a terrible ice cream cooker, at least using the no machine way. I forget about the ice cream, and then it turns into ice crystals. And so instead of peach ice cream, we got a milky-ish peach icee.

I think I would have liked it a little better if I had skinned the peaches before putting them in the ice cream because I didn't really like the texture of the skin, although it did add a pretty color.

I tried to make it look creamier in the picture, but there's only so much I can do. Nevertheless, I bet this is a really great recipe. You can find the recipe here, along with some really appetizing pictures. You could probably whip this up in no time have a creamy luscious ice cream. Maybe I could too, with a little mechanical help.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DB: Dobos Torte (My first challenge!)

I joined Daring Bakers, and this is my first challenge. I was very excited to get into this group, but I must say, I was a little intimidated by the dessert we were to make. The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Let me tell ya, there is a reason why this is called a challenge. I don't think I've ever spent so much time to make a cake. There are a lot of steps.

You have to make the sponge cake mixture.
You have to individually bake the really thin sponge pieces.
You have to carefully peel the thin cakes off of the parchment paper.
You have to trim the cakes.
You have to make the buttercream.
You have to skin the hazelnuts. (I suppose this could have be
en avoided if I had bought the unpeeled ones, but that's beside the point.)
You have to toast the hazelnuts.
You have to make the caramel.
You have to struggle for ages trying to get the caramel/cake pieces apart.
You have to ice in between each layer.

You have to decorate the cake.
You have to wonder how in the world other people made it look so easy and look so nice. have to eat it.

After all of the struggles, the end result was really quite nice. Jacob said it was better than he thought it was going to be. He had sneaked some of my cake remains and thought the cake was going to be quite bland. But the combination of the cake with the buttercream really gave it depth. I have to say, though, my favorite bites included the chopped hazelnuts that I used to decorate the sides. I guess it reminds me of Nutella, but I felt the cake really came together in those bites. I would have liked to used the hazelnuts throughout the cake.

As for complaints, (I've got to vent somewhere) I did not really like this buttercream recipe. It was kinda melty at room temperature, and I felt like it could have been more chocolatey. Perhaps a ganache would have been nice. Or maybe add a few ounces more chocolate to the buttercream. But I didn't really like the method of making this buttercream, though. It was time consuming, and very hard to get smooth. And then there was the caramel. I cringed when I saw that it was part of this recipe, but wanting to be a good Daring Baker, I did it. And I found out a cringed for a reason. How is it that caramel made at home tastes so bitter. And it was sticky. And it was nearly impossible to get apart from the parchment paper. There has got to be a better way get pretty amber colored decorations than that.

So of the other Daring Bakers did some other flavor combinations, and I hope that someday, I'll get around to trying one or two.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD: Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

So this week, I'm at my parents house in Maryland. One thing you have to know about my father is that he looooves pies. So when I saw that this week's Tuesday with Dorie was the Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie, I knew it was a match made in heaven. So thank you Linda of Tender Crumb. And be sure to check out her site for the recipe, and check out the other bakers on the TWD blogroll.

So, I originally meant to make this last night, but being me, I didn't read the recipe all the way through and didn't realize it required a lot of time chilling. But I did get it finished today, although it is now waiting in the fridge until we have the pleasure of eating it.

Unfortunately, when I needed to brown the meringue, my mom had put some cornish hens in the oven for dinner, so I had to use the little portable oven they had. And unfortunately, it got a little darker than I had wanted, but you live and learn. This was my first meringue pie, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peach and Blueberry Galette (or My Battles with Fruit Decay)

So, I have a nasty habit. I buy fruit on sale without any idea what I'm going to use it for. My most common culprits are soft fruits of any kind like stone fruits and berries. And I don't just buy a small amount. It's a sale! I've got to take advantage of it, right?

Add to that, there are only two people in my household. Two people. So it's a race between me, my oven, our stomachs, and our furry friend, I mean fiend, mold. Well, all that being said, we throw a lot of fruit away.

Well, it was getting around that time when old fruit decay was creeping up on our fruit, so I had to act fast. I searched around, and found this recipe, and thought it would be a great candidate for the peaches and blueberries I had on my counter and in my fridge.

Unfortunately, I didn't quite move fast enough, so our fruit had started to go. But thankfully, after a mad dash away from the fruit after I saw the fiend, Jacob salvaged enough for this galette.

I've made a galette one time before, and I had the same trouble that I had this time.
  1. I didn't center the fruit well enough so I ended up with one doofus edge.
  2. The butter content of the crust causes it to melt in the oven.
I want to know how to make a pretty galette. How do I make sure I won't end up uneven? How do I not leak butter every time I try? Teach me! :)

I liked this crust pretty well, but I think it needed to be sweetened up a bit. The galette ended up tasting very fresh tasting (as in just tasting like the fruit) but it wasn't the dessert taste I was looking for. I might try to tweak it sometime to see if I can get that dessert feel I wanted.

Still, I was happy to have come out on top this round, but I guess I should mention, right before this, I threw away strawberries an raspberries.
Christina:1 Mold: 2

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

I decided to make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, chosen by Karen of Something Sweet (where you can go to find the recipe) for Jacob's work. Since they can never get enough of what I bake, I decided to double it. The recipe calls for walnuts, so I made one batch with the nuts and one batch without.

This came together pretty quickly, and the batter was so fragrant. It really makes you think of fall with cool, breezy nights. I love taking walks on nights like those. And the batter totally brings you there.

These bars are incredibly moist, and thus, incredibly hard to cut. But being hard to cut never made it hard to eat. Whether they ended up misshapen or otherwise, they were delicious.

Be sure to check out the creations made by the other TWD bakers.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Uber Chocolatey, Uber Delicious

The person that is directly over Jacob at his work is leaving the company today. He had a luncheon party yesterday, and I decided I wanted to make him a treat. Jacob asked what he would like, and he requested something chocolate.

So I set to work looking for a recipe. This is actually quite fun. There are so many places to look for recipes, and with pictures to boot.

Along my search, I found this recipe from Annie's Eats. They looked chocolatey; they looked moist; and most importantly, they looked delicious.

I decided to go with them because I had the ingredients on hand and they looked good.

In fact, they turned out good, too. They had the nice sheen that stayed long after it was baked, kinda like a good brownie.

And I should think so. There's three types of chocolate in these, including 16 ounces of melted chocolate. That's a lot of chocolate for some cookies!

But the result was well worth the chocolate and the effort.

And Jacob's boss loved them. So mission accomplished. (I so felt like Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove right there. I love that character. Especially when he does his own theme music.)

Chewy Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
as seen on Annie's Eats

2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
16 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used a mixture of semisweet and dark because it’s what I had on hand)
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 oz.) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together; set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until completely melted and smooth; remove from the heat. (Alternatively, microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, mixing thoroughly in between, until melted and smooth.) In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and instant coffee granules; stir well with a fork to dissolve; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Mix in the sugars until well combined, about 45 seconds – the mixture will look granular. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate to the bowl in a steady stream and continue beating until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, being careful not to overbeat. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a 1 ¾-inch cookie dough scoop, spacing the dough balls about 1 ½ inches apart.

Bake until the edges of the cookies have just began to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Cool the baking sheets before baking more batches with the remaining dough.

This says that it will make about 42 cookies, but I got 60 or so. More to enjoy...mmmm....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carrots Anyone?

On Monday night, I made a little carrot salad made out of shredded carrots, and Jacob decided he would like a carrot cake. So I thought, why not. I hadn't made one in a while, and I needed to make something for Jacob's work for Wednesday, so on Tuesday, I set to work.

I started looking for recipes, and I was greatly helped by my mom. We happened to talk that day, and she sent me a recipe she had found in a book and tried to good reviews. So I decided to use it, and it turned out well. This recipe uses only carrots, which I prefer. I'm not sure what I think about carrot cakes that include pineapple and coconut.

So it was time to make the cake. So I went to my garden and to pick some carrots.

Just kidding. I live in an apartment that I just moved to two months ago. It would be physically impossible for me to have a garden. This is what my garden really looks like.

Yup, those carrots are tiny. Once I decided to make carrot cake, I wanted to try my hand at making little carrot toppers.

I made them out of leftover fondant from making this cake. So dyed some orange and green, made little indentions to make it look authentic, and rolled it around in some cocoa to simulate dirt. I think they turned out quite cute.

And now for the carrot cake petit fours, for lack of a better name. I'm open to suggestions for a better name.

To make these, I made the carrot cake recipe found at the end of the post in my jelly roll pan. I poured about half of the batter in it, to make a really thin cake. Then, with a cookie cutter, I made little rounds.

It's a carrot cake, so I had to use cream cheese icing. This one is slightly lemon flavored for a fresh taste. I'll include the recipe at the end of the post.

Just a dollop of cream cheese between the layers and one on top. Finish with a carrot and voila!

And I made a lot of carrots. I ended up making about 60 little cakes and the little carrots to go on top. But the effect was worth it.

And here's the recipes. These will make 60 cakes, about an inch in diameter.

Carrot Cake
adapted from Kitchen Keepsakes and More Kitchen Keepsakes

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup oil
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrots
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and vanilla and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in grated carrots.

Pour about half of the batter into a jelly roll pan lined with parchment.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Repeat for other half of batter.

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef

2 8oz boxes of cream cheese, softened
4 tbl. butter, cold
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups confectioner's sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon

Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and combine very well. Add the cream cheese and combine very well. Add the lemon zest and combine thoroughly until light and fluffy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monkeying Around with Fondant and Cake

So just days after my first party cake, I had another cake to make. This time, it was for a 1 year old boy's birthday. And the request was a chocolate cake. Other than that, I received no other instruction. I was free to do what I wanted.

I liked this assignment.

I immediately thought I wanted to try fondant since I hadn't had the opportunity to make it or use it yet.Then I had to come up with what to decorate on the fondant, and for some reason, I got stuck on the idea of a monkey.

So I looked up cartoon monkeys, and found this adorable picture here.
And I knew I had to do a monkey.

I decided to not cover the whole cake in fondant, but to do just the monkey decoration, big on the top.

The order was a quarter sheet, so I did a double batch of the following chocolate cake recipe that I found here. I'll put it at the end of the post.

And I filled it with a chocolate mousse, which I also doubled, and found here. Recipe's at the end.

And then I covered it with a chocolate ganache that I made up. It wasn't the best because I didn't get it very smooth, but it tasted alright, and once the monkey face was on it, you didn't really care.

So, you might be asking, where's the monkey? There it is!

I thought this was pretty close to what it looked like. What do you think?

I also made a "smash cake" for the one-year old, which you can see in the upper left hand corner. I tried to take pictures of it, too, but I was rushed and they came out blurry.

The client came earlier than he had anticipated getting there, so I didn't have much time to take pictures or try to fix flaws. I noticed later than there was some cornstarch that needed to be wiped off on the edge. I rolled the fondant a little thick, I think. But I was unsure how thin it could be and still transfer easily to the cake.

If you are wanting to try to make your own fondant, I suggest the tutorial found here. It helped me a lot.

And now for the recipes.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
by Ina Garten

butter, for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 2 (8 inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, butter again and flour both pans.

Sift and combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With a mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. (In the quarter sheet pan, I believe it took about 40-50 for the double batch.)

Chocolate Mousse
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 cup (1/2 pt.) cold whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small cup; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool slightly.

2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended. Store in the refrigerator to set.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

Today's Tuesdays with Dorie was Brownie Buttons, chosen by Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen. Check her blog out for the recipe, and check out these for more creations.

These little things were a cinch to whip up, and I decided to go literal with the name. What do you think?

Brownie Buttons! I dabbed a little chocolate to make the button holes, and I think it turned out quite cute.

This recipe makes 16 little brownies, and it seems like it would be very easy to double or triple.

The hardest part was probably the dipping in the white chocolate because there isn't much to grip. Also, making a pretty swirl is not so easy either. But if you decorate with button holes, no one knows!

So take 15 minutes and make these!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My First Real Party Cake

So I've mentioned on a previous post that I got a job to make a birthday cake for a three-year old's birthday party. Well, I did it. And I'm finally getting around to posting about it.

So the parameters for the cake was this:
plain chiffon cake
whipped cream frosting
fresh fruit
princess themed

Having never done something like this before, I had to do a lot of research and experimenting. But I found some great recipes and experience to boot.

For the cake, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's Orange Chiffon Cake recipe. I some how found a pdf version of the recipe, but I cannot seem to open one again. But you can go here to watch videos of her making it. I'll also include the recipe at the bottom of the post.

For the frosting, I just whipped up some slightly sweetened whipped cream to stiff peaks and tried my best to make it as smooth as possible.

I learned that putting fresh fruit in the cake is a breeze: I layered some in between the layers with some pastry cream. However, decorating with fresh fruit should only be done right before serving. It looked okay when I did it, but after driving and some wait time, the strawberries were juicing so bad...I was disappointed.

And for the other decorations, I used chocolate and outlined some Disney Princesses. These were quite the hit with the little girls, for they were fighting over which princess they got.

So without further ado, here's the cake.

I was a little rushed for time, so I didn't get to take as many pictures as I would have liked, but here are some of the sides and a different angle.I made little flowers out of blueberries, and I read somewhere in my researching that whipped cream does not hold decorations well, except for maybe sprinkles, so I used sprinkles. I wished afterwords that I hadn't, but it looked okay, I suppose.
These are the strawberries that caused me so much grief on the ride over.And another angle.

The princess decorations were the things I was most proud of, so here are some close ups of them.
Princess Jasmine. The air bubbles happened when the chocolate cooled before I had time to fill it in. It was really important that I worked quickly and with warm chocolate.

Ariel's hair looks red in this picture, but really, it turned out a little more purply. It was really hard getting a red. I just started with white candy melts for all of these and then colored them accordingly with gel food colors. The most difficult part was getting the right color before the candy seized up on me....I didn't always win.

Princess Belle. She was my favorite princess when I was a girl. I could watch that movie over and over again.
Cinderella. The most annoying thing about making these figures was the Disney music that popped into my head inevitably every stinkin' time I worked on them. I don't know how many times I sung "Cinderelly, cinderelly..." And I don't even know many of those words. And neither does Jacob. (Yeah, he was singing, too.)

Vanilla Chiffon Cake
adapted from All-American Orange Chiffon Cake

(I used weight measurements, but I'll include the volume measurements, too.)

225 grams (2 1/4 cups) sifted cake flour (I actually used all-purpose and it worked out fine.)
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar (I used regular sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
7 large eggs separated plus 3 extra whites
grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup water (I used whey from making yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoonss cream of tartar

I used a quarter sheet pan and greased and parchment papered the bottom only.

In a large mixer bowl combine the flour, all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat for 1 minute to mix them well. (I did this by hand.) Make a well in the center and add the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon zest and extract and beat 1 minute or until smooth. (Again, I did this by hand.)

In another large mixer bowl, preferably with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites unitl frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form, when the beater is raised. Beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter with a large balloon wire whisk, slotted skimmer or large rubber spatula until just blended. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for40-55 minutes (I don't remember the exact time...sorry.) or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out cleam and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

So I finally get to break in my bundt cake pan. I asked for one for Christmas, but I haven't had the opportunity to use it yet. Now, thanks to Tuesdays with Dorie and The Food Librarian (that's where you can see the recipe), I can. Woo! Oh and guess what? I'm officially a part of the group. So I was determined to make the recipe this week and post today. So I'm gonna do it.

I had a little trouble with the cake sticking to the pan, but maybe it's because it way my first time using it.

The flavor was a lot like banana bread but, as Jacob said, smoother. I guess that's because it's a cake and not a quick bread.

I decided to keep it unfrosted and just eat it in nice thick, moist slices.

That way I could pretend it wasn't cake and eat it whenever I wanted, like right after I woke up!

I highly recommend this cake if you want the deliciousness of banana bread but want to jazz up the presentation a little. You could also try this with a lemon or brown butter icing or even a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Or just enjoy it plain like I did.