Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake w/ Caramelized Butter Frosting - Daring Bakers November Challenge

This month's Daring Bakers November host was Dolores and the co hosts included Alex and Jenny. They picked Shuna Fish Lydon's signature caramel cake for the challenge. Three main components of the this cake are: the caramel syrup, the cake and the frosting. I decided to break the work down between three days. I made the caramel syrup first.

Caramel syrup in this case, is the end result of cooking sugar with water. This may seem easy, but I have messed up this process by crystallizing the sugar when I had to cramelize sugar for Creme Caramel. I learned my lession and this time around, I did not mess with the sugar and let it cook until it reached a dark amber color. Both the cake and the frosting calls for the use of this syrup. Once I got the syrup done, everything else was easy. Now that I've made the cake, I can say that I wished I would've cooked the syrup further to give it a more richer amber color. I made the Caramel Syrup on Monday of the week of Thanksgiving and finished the cake on Tuesday before work. I didn't think I'd be done until Thursday, I guess the motivation to try the cake got me to finish early. I took it to work so that I can try it with my co-workers. I was hoping that I'd save it for Thanksgiving day, but the cake was long gone. My first insticts were the frosting was too sweet...but then I had a taste of it with the cake and I was like not bad, then I had another bite and I was like..hmm..good and then after a few more bites I was sold on this cake. This cake is definitely worth all the mess caramel syrup leaves for me to clean up. I loved the flavor caramel brought to the cake and as for the frosting, the caramelized butter frosting added further to the richness of the cake and made it one of the most unique tasting frosting I've had on a cake. I LOVED the cake and can't wait to make it again.
If you are interested in the recipe source, you can refer to this link and to learn more about the author - Shuna Fish Lydon and see more of her wonderful creations, please check out her blog at eggbeater.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chocolate Souffle

Souffle is truly a baking marvel - to watch the little ramekin filled batter rise above it's capacity in a completely neat upward manner is trully amazing to me. Souffles are served hot. The end result is suppose to be a moist (not dry) center that is not too sweet in flavor. When I dug into one of them, my reaction was just of a meh..maybe I had higher expectations or maybe I wanted it to be more sweeter. In any case, it's worth making it over again for its looks and the Pumpkin Souffle recipe in the latest Gourmet issue looks quite mouth watering...yumm!

Black Currant Mousse Cake

I love the different shades of purple presented in this cake, but it is pretty involved process to make this cake. I don't think I will be making this again. But while I made, I thought I'd do a post on it so you can enjoy the pleasing shades of purple as much as I did :)

Three Chocolate Bavarian

This cake was fun to make. It's another one of those gelatin set custard cakes that gets completed magically sitting in the freezer. I love the idea of bringing together the dark chocolate, milk chocolate and the white chocolate and then topping it off with more chocolate. My sister took this cake to work and she seems to have enjoyed it along with her co-worker who raved about it.

Charlotte Royale

This by far is the prettiest looking dessert I have created in class. Charlotte Royale is a gelatin set custard cake. Two main components of a Charlotte include the Vanilla Bavarian Cream and the sponge cake (it's the sponge cake roulade here in case of Charlotte Royale).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Bread

I love most everything pumpkin. I happened to pick up a newsletter by mayo clinic and to my delight I came across this recipe on Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread. Next I looked the list of ingredients and the more I read, the more I knew it was the recipe that I cannot just forego without baking it atleast once. What sold me on this recipe was Buttermilk. I had my first memorable experience with buttermilk when I made this cake. It is my absolute favorite cake and I was convinced that buttermilk did the trick in giving it that moistness. So I baked the pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe. I was the checkout counter with my pumpkin puree and the lady at the register assumed I was making pumpkin pie. I told her that yes, pumpkin pie, but first the pumpkin bread and she was like oh..great..with walnuts! And she that's when she put that ingredient into my mind and I thought, hmm...what if I added the walnuts to the chocolate will that turn out. Well..I experimented with adding a 1/4 cup of walnuts to the recipe and it did not disappoint me. The bread came out absolutely great and perfectly moist...just how I like it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Bread
Adapted from Mayo Clinic Newsletter

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1and1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 T canola oil
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and coat with flour. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin puree, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil together. Add the flour to the pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moistened (do not overmix). Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix until evenly distributed throughout the batter. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 mins and turn out onto a cooling rack. Serves 16.

In case you were curious, I happened to also have the nutrional analysis for this recipe.

Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 130, fat 2.5 g, saturated fat 1 g, trans fat 0 g, carbohydrate 26g, cholesterol 15 mg, sodium 190 mg, fiber 2g

Paris Brest

Paris Brest is a French pastry created to commemorate the bicycle race from the city of Paris, France to the city of Brest, France. This was definitely a memorable and fun pastry I've baked so far. The idea is to create a pastry that resembles the shape of a bicycle tire. There are three components to making it - 1) pate a choux, 2) praline pastry cream, 3) creme chantilly. The pate a choux is baked first. Once it is cooled, the top 1/3 or of it cut off and the bottom creates a cavity where the praline pastry cream is piped first and then the chantily creme is piped on top of the praline. The top 1/3 of the pate a choux is sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with chocolate swirls, which is then cut into equal pieces which gets put on top of the creams. It tastes great and definitely very fun to make.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pana Cotta

We made Pana Cotta in class the other day. The best part is it's easy to make and fun to setup and decorate. This dessert hardly leaves any room for you to mess it up. I look at this dessert as a creamier version of the american Jell-O. It's made by simmering milk and cream together with sugar and mixing gelatin into the mixture. It's then put into the Dariole moulds and chilled to allow the gelatin to set the custard. I didn't get to try the dessert since I am not a fan of gelatin. But I'm sure it's yummy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Food

I love the fall season for many reason - one being the cooler weather and second is halloween. We were having a Halloween party at my co-worker's place and I decided to make the Pumpkin Cheesecake bars. My coworker had emailed me the recipe for them awhile back when I didn't bake. Now that I have started baking, I thought it would make a perfect addition to the Halloween food table. I made my version with a Gingerbreak Cake and Baking mix instead of the pound cake mix and I used chopped almonds to garnish with on top. I can actually post the recipe for this dessert, yay!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
by Jacki Brown

1 (160z) pound cake mix
3 eggs
2 tbs. melted butter
4 tsp pumpkin spice (or nutmeg, cloves and ground ginger)
1 (8 0z) cream cheese, softened
1(14 oz) can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
1(160z) can pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chooped nuts (or sliced almonds)
Grease bottom of a 10x13 pan. Combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter, 2 tsp spice on low speed only until crumbly. Press on bottom of pan.
Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk, 2 eggs, pumpkin, 2 tsp spice and salt. Mix well. Pour over crust. Sprinkle nuts over the top. Bake 30-35 mins at 350. Cool. Chill. Cut into bars.

Our main course dish included a Roasted Butternut squash pastina served in a pumpkin. This recipe is great to make - once a year. I find it very involved and time consuming and every time I have made it, I have done it with help of one other person. In the end, the efforts are well worth it. So if you are interested, you can check out the recipe here.

Creme Brulee with Pot de Creme

I started my fifth module which is on International Patisserie, Custards, Fillings and Creams. The class started out with us making the Creme Brulee, Pot de Creme au chocolat and Creme Caramel. On the right is the picture of creme brulee and pot de creme right out of the oven. The creme caramel was still baking in the oven while I took this picture. They were cooling on the rack to be reached to room tempreture, and then they went into the fridge to be chilled and allow the custard time to set overnight. We torched the Brulee the next day. This was my second time making creme brulee and it still remains one of my favorite custards. It was my first time tasting the pot de creme au chocolate and they did not cease to please me. Its a nice rich creamy chocolate flavor with a hint of coffee flavor that was infused while making them.