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Posts Tagged ‘impressive dessert’

As you may have figured out, the challenge this month was all about candy! How very exciting.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks athttp://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Candy is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try making but have been too scared. Having a reason to make it was the perfect motivator to give it the old college try.

And you know what? It wasn’t all that hard.

I did have a couple issues with the recipes. First, while I followed the recipe to a T, I think the Honeycomb candy had a bit too much baking soda (or maybe I didn’t mix it well enough?). In certain pieces of the finished product, it had a baking soda aftertaste that was not pleasant.

My main issue, however, was with melting the chocolate to the appropriate dipping consistency. I didn’t temper it, but tried the microwave method that many people had recommended. I think maybe I overcooked it? All I know is that it was more gloppy than silky smooth. This didn’t in any way affect the taste (they were amazing!), but it did make the process a whole lot messier and more frustrating.

By the time I finished, there was chocolate smeared on the refrigerator door handles, the microwave, all over the counter, on my face where I wiped my brow in frustration, and dripped all over the floor. I think I may have even seen a few drops on LC the cat. It’ll be a nice surprise for her the next time she decides to groom herself 😉

Filled Chocolates (made with molds)

Makes about 25 small chocolates

Ingredients:

Dark or milk chocolate melted, preferably tempered, about 14 oz
Powdered food coloring (lustre dust mixed with extract) for decoration (optional)

Other Equipment:
A small brush
Chocolate molds
A Ladle
Bench or plastic scraper
OR
A small brush or spoon

Preparation:

1. When coating the molds with the tempered chocolate, I like to do it how the chocolate pro’s do it (much faster and a lot less tedious). While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Alternatively, if you’d like (or if your chocolate wasn’t tempered correctly and didin’t allow for pouring!) you could take a small brush and paint the tempered chocolate into each mold, or spoon it in if you’d like.

3. Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling of your choice. With the mint filling I used, I rolled each into a small ball, put it in the chocolate filled mold, and flattened it.

4. Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set.

4. When set, pop your beautiful filled chocolates out of each well.

5. If decorating with lustre dust, put a small amount in a little bowl mixed with a drop or two of extract of choice. Mix well and paint in desired pattern on top of chocolates!

Sponge Candy (also called Honeycomb or Sea Foam candy)

Adapted from Christine Cushing’s Sponge Toffee Recipe

Full photo tutorial Here

Ingredients:

2½ cups (20oz/560gm) Granulated White Sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) Light corn syrup
6 tablespoons (90 ml) Water
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz/ 15g) Baking Soda
2 teaspoons (10 ml) Vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for greasing pan

Preparation:

1. Liberally grease a 10-inch round spring form cake pan with vegetable oil. Trace the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper circle. Line the sides of the pan with a parchment paper so that the parchment paper creates a collar that sits 1 to 2-inches above the pan. Liberally grease the parchment paper.
2. In a deep medium saucepan add sugar, corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil (without stirring) and cook until hard crack stage, i.e. until temperature reads 285°F / 140°C on a candy thermometer (if using light corn syrup, it will be light amber, if using dark corn syrup it will be the color of maple syrup). This should take about 10 minutes. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan during the cooking process, brush the sides of the pan with a clean pastry brush dipped in water.
3. Remove from heat. Working quickly, add the baking soda and quickly blend to incorporate the soda into the sugar mixture, about 5 seconds. The mixture will bubble up when you add the baking soda. Be very careful not to touch the hot mixture.
4. Immediately pour the hot toffee into the prepared pan. Let set completely before touching. Cut into pieces. It makes a huge mess. But the messy little crumbs can be saved to top ice cream. Leave candy as is and enjoy, or dip pieces in tempered chocolate and let set.


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As you all know (or maybe not if you’ve only recently joined me), but I am a member of the Daring Bakers. Each month they host a challenge composed of a very complicated dessert that you must bake and post on the 27th of the month.

Unfortunately, last month I was in the midst of packing up my kitchen, so I wasn’t able to complete it. It’s too bad because the challenge was something I’ve always wanted to make, baklava.

But I’m back in the game this month with my brand new, much larger kitchen! It’s so nice to be cooking on the huge counters. I don’t even know what to do with all the space. You should see the mess I made in the process of cooking this. I used 4 bowls and two pots…just because I could!

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

This recipe was randomly requested from someone at work who happens to be French, but I put off making it because I knew it would take a lot of time. Well who would have thought it would be the recipe for my Daring Bakers Challenge! At least it gave me a reason to dive in and conquer this many stepped recipe.

Me and Frenchie

Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and even kind of fun. I got real satisfaction seeing the finished product and knowing that I made that.

I brought it into work and it got compliments. Personally, I thought it was good but probably not worth all the effort I put into it. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of cream-based desserts. But if you are, and you have a spare weekend to bake/whip/assemble, then by all means give this a shot! 😉

These recipes have been adapted from the cook book Tartine by Elisabeth M Prueitt and Chad Robertson, the chefs and owners of Tartine, a beloved San Francisco bakery.

Basic Chiffon Cake:

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.

Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.

Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.

Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Simple Syrup

I chose to flavor by stirring in 1-2 teaspoons of almond extract.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water
1-2 tsp flavored extract (optional)

Combine the water,sugar, and extract in a medium saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.

Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.

Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Fraisier Assembly

Components:

1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste

Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.

Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.

Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.

Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.

Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake. DO NOT USE UP PASTRY CREAM HERE.

Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.

Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.

If desired, knead food gel into the almond paste to get desired color. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar and roll out the almond paste to an 8-inch round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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I’m always up for a challenge. I thrive on trying something I’ve never done before and seeing how good I can be. When the challenge involves taking a risk with large, potentially negative, consequences, I’m obviously not as likely to partake. But when it’s all in good fun, you can count me in!

Which brings me to today’s blog post. I feel like there are so many things I haven’t attempted to make in the kitchen. I’d be much more likely to make some of them if I had a larger working space, but regardless I definitely find myself sticking with what I know. And whenever I ask someone (ahem, Nate!) for suggestions to try something new, I always get boring request like chocolate chip cookies and scones.

It’s for this reason that I decided to become a member of a website known as The Daring Kitchen.  What began as two bloggers trying to challenge themselves to bake pretzels for the very first time using the same recipe, eventually catapulted into a huge blogging experience. Each month members are told the “secret” recipe they must each make and blog about exactly 27 days later.

I was a bit scared of what they could throw at me, but I was pretty confident I could handle anything that came my way. I took a look at some of the past recipes: Maple Mousse served in an Edible Container, Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake, Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies…nothing, I thought, that seemed too complex or time-consuming.

Little did I know that the first challenge for the month I decided to join was something so complicated! It figures, right?

I’m not sure if I did it all exactly as I was supposed to, but the results were amazing. Unless you’re as daring as I was in the kitchen, you probably won’t be making this dessert anytime soon, but as least you can enjoy the photos and picture me dripping sweat rushing to get all the pieces of this masterpiece together before it deflated, melted, or otherwise got destroyed.

Now comes the reveal: The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle. 

For further clarification, imagine “a cube of…creamy chocolate resting on a tuft of something that tastes like burnt marshmallow cream…”

The members were able to put their spin on any flavor additions to the chocolate, meringue or accompanying sauce. The one Emma and Jenny gave the recipe for had a tequila caramel and spiced nut addition, along with some pepper added to the chocolate. I, however, wanted something to cut the sweetness of the chocolate, so I made a Grand Marnier Cardamom Orange sauce and decorated with mandarin orange slices. I also added a tad of Grand Marnier to both the Chocolate Marquise and to the meringue, but I’m not sure if you could even taste it.

I brought this over to my friends’ apartment as a belated birthday celebration and it got two thumbs up. If anything, it was too rich and none of us could finish our whole servings (except the little pig named Amy), but wished we could. If you ever want to spend 8 hours prep to seriously impress your mom, dad, date, fiancé, cat, imaginary friend…then by all means give this recipe a shot!

*Note: All photos were taken with haste so as not to let the magnificent dessert melt before being tasted!

Chocolate Marquise

Servings: Nine- 2.5×2.5″ cubes

6 large egg yolks at room temperature
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (75 grams/ 2⅔ oz) sugar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (1⅓ fluid oz/ 40 ml.) water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 250 ml.) heavy cream
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: Make sure it’s a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
Torched meringue (recipe follows)
Orange Cardamom Sauce (recipe follows)
Mandarin orange segments, canned (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 – 15 minutes.

When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop (as seen in the following pictures).

With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.

When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you’ve whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.

Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn’t allow in any air).

Freeze until very firm, at least 2 – 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
When you’re ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it’s still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment ‘handles’ or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.

Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don’t do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, sauce, orange segments) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.

Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled orange sauce, and toss orange segments around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they’ve softened completely.

Chocolate Base

Not meant to be used on its own, only as part of the Chocolate Marquise.

6 oz (170 grams/ ¾ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
¾ cups (180 ml/6 fluid oz.) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
1/8 cup (30 ml/ 1 fluid oz.) Grand Marnier
1/8 cup (30 ml/ 1 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons/less than 1/2 ounce) cocoa powder (must be Dutch-processed cocoa, do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
1/2 oz unsalted butter (1 tablespoon/15 grams), softened

Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.

In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

Torched Meringue

Servings: Makes about 2 – 2½ cups of meringue. If you aren’t planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit. Excess can be frozen.

6 large egg whites
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (210 ml) (7 oz or 200 gms) sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Grand Marnier

Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.

Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don’t feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.

Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the Grand Marnier to the meringue and mix thoroughly.

When you’re ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil. If you don’t have a blowtorch, spoon the meringue into piles on a baking sheet and broil until tops are toasted. Remove carefully with a spatula to plate.

Orange Cardamom Sauce

Yield: 1/2 to 2/3 cup sauce

1 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 or 3 fresh oranges)
zest from 1 orange
6 tablespoons sugar
Seeds from 4 Cardamom pods
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1.5 tablespoon butter

Mix the orange juice, zest, sugar and cardamom seeds in a small saucepan.

Simmer the juice mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until a thick, syrupy sauce has formed. (At this point you should still be able to pour the sauce, but if you like, continue reducing the sauce to make it even thicker)

When the sauce is a consistency you like, stir in the butter and simmer the sauce for another 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Serve the orange sauce chilled, at room temperature or warm.

*Beware: It’s so good you’ll want to eat it with a spoon!

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