Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

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Piece Montée or Croquembouche – May DBC

May 27, 2010

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Original Challenge recipe below!

Preparation time: You will want to use your puff pastry batter and chocolate glaze or caramel as soon as it has been prepared and as close to serving time as possible. This is not a dessert that stores well and it may be a bit temperamental in humid areas as the glaze needs to harden to hold the choux together. The crème patissiere can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patissiere should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.

Equipment required:
• several baking sheets
• parchment paper
• a whisk
• a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
• a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
• a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your piece montée
• some of the items you may want to use to decorate your piece montée include ribbons, Jordan almonds, fresh flowers, sugar cookie cut-outs, chocolates, etc.

Ingredients:

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (130 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.

For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe)
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

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Mallows and Milans and DBer’s! Oh My! – July Daring Baker’s Challenge

July 27, 2009

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

These were super fun to make!  Pic’s are on my friend’s camera, but I’ll add them as soon as he sends them to me!

*EDIT* Okay, between my hubby’s kidney stone and teething 5 month olds, I haven’t had a chance to update this post with more detail and pic’s. I’ll get it up soon! Keep checking!

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

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Peanut Butter Silk Cake

May 31, 2009

PB Cake close up

I am a peanut butter junkie.  No doubt about it.  There can be no questions regarding this fact.  The most difficult part of being pregnant was having to limit my peanut butter intake… I think I went through an entire jar in just a couple days after I delivered.

That being said, I am always on the look out for a good peanut butter cake recipe.  I’ve found that it is hard to get a good PB flavor once it’s spread through out a cake.  I’ve always used Jif before.  I’m a bit of a peanut butter snob when it comes to that.  It’s Jif or nothing for me.

Until I met P.B.Loco’s.  My first exposure to this nirvana was through a jar a friend brought back for me from NYC.  It was PB mixed with dark chocolate.  Pure. Heaven. I ate it out of the jar with a spoon… so did my hubby.

Needless to say the jar did not last long, so, being the internet junkie that I am, I promptly hit the net looking for a website, and naturally, they have one. I browsed around and signed up for their mailing list.  When I first went to their site, the chocolate variety was not available so I left empty handed.  A few weeks later, however, I got an email from them offering a free jar of their Dreamy Creamy when you I bought 3 other jars and this time they had the chocolate! Woohoo!

So, contrary to my usual snobbery, I’m going to try a cake I’ve made before with Jif (which had the previously mentioned small flavor) with P.B. Loco’s Dreamy Creamy!

Now before I go in to the differences between the cakes, I want to point out that when they are fresh out of the oven they both taste like a giant peanut butter cookie.  It’s when they’ve cooled that the Jif looses most of it’s flavor…

The P.B.Loco PB cake was divine.  I was, frankly, shocked at how much more PB you could taste.  I took this cake to a friend’s cookout on Saturday and stupidly forgot to take a picture before we left the house.

This is all that remained by the time we got home…

PB Cake aftermath Oh, the humanity! Such carnage!

It was a truly scrumptious cake, though, if I do say so myself.  I think I’m going to try a PB&J cake to take to work on Monday….

**note** the recipe calls for a box yellow cake mix, but I used the recipe here, instead.

Peanut Butter Silk Cake

Prep: 15 min       Bake: 38 min      Cool: 1 hr 10 min               Chill: 10 min        12 to 16 servings

1 pkg. Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix

1 ¼ c. water

½ c creamy peanut butter

1/3 c vegetable oil

3 eggs

¼ c butter or margarine

¼ c packed brown sugar

1 c heavy whipping cream

½ c creamy peanut butter

1 recipe Creamy Chocolate Frosting (see below)

1 c chopped peanuts, if desired

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease bottoms only of 2 round pans, 8 or 9 x 1 ½ inches, with shortening.
  2. Make cake mix as directed on package, using water, ½ cup peanut butter, the oil and eggs. Pour into pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around side of pans to loosen cakes; remove from pans to wire rack.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat; stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling; boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
  5. Beat whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form; set aside. Beat ½ cup peanut butter and the brown sugar mixture in another medium bowl on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture; beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Split each cake layer horizontally to make 2 layers. Fill each layer with about 2/3 cup peanut butter mixture to within ½ inch of edge. Frost side and top of cake with frosting. Press chopped peanuts into frosting on side of cake. Store covered in refrigerator.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Prep: 15 min       12 to 16 servings, about 2 cups

3 c powdered sugar

1/3 c butter or margarine, softened

2 tsp vanilla

3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

  1. Mix powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl with spoon or with electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
  2. Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.

* Generously frosts a 13×9-inch cake, or fills and frosts an 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake.

Recipe from Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook

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Easter Cake Pops!

April 26, 2009

Well, my first foray into baking post-babies was to try out the Cake Pops from Bake-rella‘s lovely blog.  You can find the recipe and lots of examples there. She creates the cutest little pops for all kinds of occasions and I (and Beth) thought we’d try out her Easter concoctions!

Strawberry and Chocolate cake balls

We started out rolling all the cake mixture into balls.  Boy was that messy, but tasty!

Cake ball close up

You have to rinse your hands periodically or the cake just sticks to you rather than forming a ball.

We neglected to read the part in the recipe ahead of time that mentioned the need for refrigeration… So we opted for the freezer method… Unfortunately, many of our pops cracked, we figure from the contrast of super cold inside versus warm dipping medium.

Some needed “stiches”…

Stiched chick

We dubbed him “Franken-chick”

We made chicks, bunnies, easter eggs, cup cakes, white sheep, and black sheep.

chicksbunnieseggs and cupcakessheep

Though I must say, I think our black sheep looked more like porcupines.  What do you think?

Black sheep

Well, pretty or not.  Cracked or not.  Black sheep or Porcupines.  They were fun to make and darn tasty too!  I’ve had requests for turkeys at Thanksgiving, so we’ll see how that goes!

Cake Pop gathering

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TWD – Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

August 26, 2008

This week’s recipe was chosen by Amy of Food, Family and Fun. And she chose the Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte on pages 288-289.

This recipe was simple to make, but time consuming, if you followed the time guidelines in the recipe.  I cheated a little on the “set up” times but had to let it freeze for a long time for the final freeze (probably b/c of the previous cheating, heh)

For the ganache, I used Ghiradelli’s Bittersweet 60% chocolate chips and regualar eggs.  If you are concerned with the fact that the eggs do not get cooked, you can either get pasturized eggs, heat the mixture to 140 degrees for 3 1/2 minutes, or leave the eggs out.  The eggs are there to help the texture of the ganache at the cold temperture of the freezer.

For the ice cream filling, I used Edy’s Double Vanilla and frozen strawberries in syrup.  I would have preferred to use raspberry (which is my favorite) as the recipe calls for, but frozen raspberries in syrup, apparantly, don’t exist around me.

The ganache came together very well.  By the end it was getting very thick and hard to whisk!  I need to work on my whisk muscles!  The ice cream and berries was very tempting in the food processor… looked like one huge strawberry milk shake, but I managed to only eat a little >.>

When putting the layers together, I left the ganache to chill for the full 30 minutes, but the ice cream was stiff enough after about 5-10, so I was able to shave a little time there.

The end result is very pretty but VERY rich.  Small pieces dear readers!  Small pieces! Phew!

So, in closing, very worth it!  It is very rich so you can get several pieces out of it, so very good for dinner parties or family gatherings!

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TWD – Chocolate Pudding

July 17, 2008

…or not.

This week’s recipe came from Melissa from Its Melissas Kitchen. She has picked… Chocolate pudding! You can find it on pg. 383.

I tried to make this pudding twice.  Once on Tuesday (I like to bake on Tuesday since it is Tuesdays with Dorie) and once on Wednesday.  But… the little bun in my oven did not appreciate the smell of boiling milk.  Rebelled both times.

I tried to persuade said bun with the information that the end product would be CHOCOLATE, but…

The bun would have none.

Better luck next week!

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TWD – French Chocolate Brownies

June 18, 2008

French Chocolate Brownies

I have to say, I was not thrilled with these brownies.  For starters, I don’t like raisins.  I know, I know, I could have left them out, but, originally, I was planning to send these into work with the hubby.  I even left out the cinnamon (that I love) because his boss is allergic.  But I didn’t get them made until Friday, and after I tried one, I didn’t want to send them in.  The actual brownie wasn’t *terrible* but the raisins were disgusting and the overall texture was a little mealy.  I think I may not have cooked them long enough.

Try them for yourself and see what you think! You can find the recipe at Di’s Kitchen Notebook, who had the honor of picking this recipe!

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David Lebovitz’s German’s Chocolate Cake

May 24, 2008

German\'s Chocolate Cake corner shot

I made this cake for my hubby’s work.  They had two people having a birthday and his boss asked me if I would make something.  It is, I must say a *very* healthy cake.  I mean, how can you go wrong? Rich chocolately cake… a custard based filling/icing… and a dark chocolate icing… very low fat.  yup.  not a heart attack on a platter or anything.

And the real bummer is that I didn’t even get to try it.  I’ve never made this recipe before and will all that wonderful butter and cream and eggs and coconut and pecans… sigh.  Ah well, hubby said it was very rich, but he’s not a fan of sweets (and yet he married a baker… foolish man).  I was worried that the super dark icing would overpower the rest of the cake but hubby thinks it helped to counter act some of the fillings sweetness.

Guess I’ll have to make it again so I can judge for myself!

German’s Chocolate Cake

One big, tall 9-inch cake; about 16 servings

For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum

For the chocolate icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

1. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
6. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.
7. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.
8. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

To make the filling:
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)
3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

To make the syrup:
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To make the icing:
1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

To assemble the cake:

Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.
Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

(It may seem like a lot of chocolate icing, but use it all. Trust me. You won’t be sorry.)

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Yay Chocolate!

May 9, 2008

My chocolate came today! (clap)

My chocolate came today! (clap, clap)

My chocolate came today! (clap)

My chocolate came today! (clap, clap)

I know it’s silly but that’s what was running through my head when I opened my box and found it was the Amano Chocolate from Blake Makes! If you’ve never heard of Blake Makes (where have you been hiding), it’s a wonderful blog that periodically has give-aways of new products. He (Blake) sends them out to fellow bloggers and we all use the item and blog about it. And this time it is Amano Chocolate.

The very generous folks at Amano sent three bars of chocolate.

Amano Cuyagua bar1) Cuyagua – Premium Dark Chocolate with a minimum of 70% Cocao with rich chocolate overtones and notes of spice.

Amano Ocumare Bar2) Ocumare – Grand Cru Dark Chocolate with a minimum of 70% Cocao with rich chocolate overtones and and a well balanced fruity component with hints of plums and other red fruit.

Amano Madagascar Bar3) Madagascar – Premium Dark Chocolate with a minimum of 70% Cocao with strong fruity flavors that include hints of citrus and berry.

About Amano: In 1996, Art Polard decided that there had to be better chocolate than what was available int the U.S. So began his quest for the “ultimate chocolate.” After much research and experimentation, Art developed a process that incorporated both modern and ancient chocolate-making techniques. When the chocolate began getting rave reviews from local chefs, Art’s business partner, Clark Goble, suggested that Art make his chocolate available commercially. Art continued to hone his skills by studying chocolate manufacturing in Europe and traveling throughout Mexico. Then, in 2006, when Art felt his chocolate was comparable to the very best European chocolate, he started Amano Artisan Chocolate.

Over the next week or so you will see some experiments with this fabulous chocolate! Stay tuned!

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Pastel de Tres Leches

April 14, 2008

tres leche close

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*

tres leche arm

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