Archive for April 14th, 2008

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TWD Marshmallows

April 14, 2008

Yummy Marshmallows

These were made on a chilly evening in the Smokey Mountains and then enjoyed in cocoa and roasted over a fire. Pure bliss…

Marshmallows

Including marshmallows as a spoon dessert may seem like cheating — after all, they’re eaten with fingers (or, by campers, from sticks picked up in the forest) — but making them at home is too much fun to miss. And in fact this dessert is related to others in this chapter: the base is meringue — sweetened and strengthened by a cooked sugar syrup and fortified by gelatin.

There’s nothing difficult about making the marshmallows, but the meringue does need a long beating. While you can use a hand mixer, a stand mixer makes the job easier.

I’m giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.

Makes about 1 pound marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet — choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high — with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table — it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don’t cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week — they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they’ll still be very good.

Playing Around

RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.

For raspberry marshmallows, you’ll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.

CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.

LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.

PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

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Pastel de Tres Leches

April 14, 2008

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Well, at least that is what it was supposed to be. I have to say, that I count this among one of my true failures in the baking world. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted good, but it was not what it was supposed to be.

You see it all started many years ago when they opened a Bahama Breeze restaurant in Louisville… Loving restaurants the way we do, my friends and I immediately went to try the new place. And there we discovered something wonderful. Something sinful. Something truly truly scrumptious. Jose’s Tres Leches. It is a Tres Leches in that it has the 3 milk soaking, but it is chocolate. An absolutely wonderful addition. And the icing? Regular meringue? Ooooh no. Chocolate mousse. This soon became my friend Becky’s favorite dessert. We would go there for dinner just for the dessert. Heck, there were times we’d go somewhere else for dinner and go to Bahama Breeze just for dessert.

But alas, our Bahama Breeze left us last year. We have no idea why. The place was always packed. As a result, Becky lost her beloved dessert. Being the true friend and fellow Jose’s fan, I promised Becky a replacement. I found several recipes online. Becky is all set to be my guinea pig on all the variations. This was the first. I don’t know where I found this recipe online, forgot to note it. (if it’s your recipe, please let me know and I’ll credit you.) I changed it only slightly by reducing the flour by 1/3 cup and replacing it with 1/3 cup of cocoa powder. The cake came together beautifully. It was airy and full. Just like it should be (basically a sponge). I baked it for 35 minutes. My toothpick came out clean. It was all puffed up and filled the pan. I set it on a cooling rack and five minutes later. When I came back. *sunk* It was shriveled up and sunken in like a big brown raisin. It was so depressing. I know with a regular sponge, like angel food cake, you hang the pan to cool so the cake doesn’t fall, but how do I do that with a 9 x 13 pan?!? Sigh. It was sooo not pretty.

Then I tried my hand at the chocolate mousse. Sigh. Again. Everything kind of… seized… when I added the chocolate. After adding the whipped cream it loosened up a bit, but it lost most of its *fluff*. The color was much darker than it should have been.

All in all the flavor was very close, but I’m just very disappointed in the result from a visual result perspective. I’m always very tough on myself. I never like my wedding cakes. But I was so proud of how it looked when I took it out of the oven… *sniffle*

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Maybe you’ll have better results…

Pastel de Tres Leches

This version serves 10 generous portions.

CAKE:1 cup sugar

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

MILK SYRUP:

  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp dark Cuban rum

GARNISHES:

  • Fresh whipped cream or good quality vanilla ice cream
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sliced fresh mango (or the fruit of your choice- tropical fruits pair nicely with this cake)
  • METHOD: Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  • CAKE: Beat 3/4 cup sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the milk, vanilla, flour and baking powder. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, adding the cream of tartar after 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour this batter into the buttered baking dish. Bake the cake until it feels firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30-45 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in baking dish. Pierce the cake all over with a fork, taking care to not tear it up.
  • MILK SYRUP: Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, vanilla and rum in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended. Pour the syrup over the cake, spooning the overflow back on top, until it is all absorbed.
  • When ready to serve, cut a slice and plate it. Top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a side of ice cream, dust cake and cream with some fresh cocoa powder and place a slice or two of fresh mango on the side. This cake is addictive- you’ve been warned! Enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse:

6 ounces (175 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream

3 large egg yolks

1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) water

Chocolate Mousse: In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Set aside but keep the bowl over the warm water so the chocolate will stay slightly warm.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Refrigerate, covered, until needed.

Place the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Boil until the sugar dissolves, a minute or two. This produces a sugar syrup. Then, whisking constantly, pour the boiling syrup over the egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly (can use a hand mixer on low speed) until the mixture is thick and light in color. This mixture should be hot to the touch. (About 10 minutes)

Remove the bowl from the heat and, working quickly, scrape the egg mixture into a clean large bowl of your electric mixer. On medium speed (or with a hand mixer) beat until the volume has doubled and the bottom of the bowl is completely cool to the touch. Turn speed to low, and beat in the warm melted chocolate until well combined. Fold in half the reserved whipped cream and then fold in the remaining cream. The mixture should resemble softly whipped cream. This can be used immediately or refrigerated, covered, until needed. If the mixture seems a little runny, the chocolate may have been too warm, but after refrigerating for an hour or so, it will firm up. Can be made and refrigerate a day ahead of time.

Makes about 3 cups.

Makes 4 – 6 servings or it is enough to fill one 9-inch (23 cm) layer cake.

From http://www.joyofbaking.com/ChocolateMousse.html