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Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Tag


Nut your Typical Eclair

I still remember the day I stumbled upon the Daring Bakers. Do you? I thought it was odd. Why did everyone all of a sudden decide to blog about French bread? And why were they all using Julia Child’s recipe? I was sure I had found some sort of freaky food cult, but there was no way around it. Every blog, every comment, everyone was going on and on about these breads. It was like being the new kid in school all over again; only this time all the cool kids were talking about food & baking.

Orange Logo

This is my 6th month now as a Daring Baker and I got to cohost the August challenge with the amazing Meeta from What’s for Lunch Honey. She took me under her wing a few months ago and we immediately started scouring cookbooks for the ultimate recipe.

mise en place
mise en place

We began by brainstorming via e-mail and quickly settled upon an eclaire recipe from Meeta’s sugar daddy, and king of French pastries, Pierre Hermé. This was great since I had never made éclairs, but consider myself a professional éclair eater. Of course, the best part of any challenge is modifying the recipe and having the complete Culinary Freedom to bake whatever you want. I decided to make profiteroles (ie tiny, round éclairs), filled with an almond pastry cream, glazed with a hazelnut chocolate glaze and topped with finely chopped pistachios. Here is how it all went down: 

choux dough
choux dough

Choux dough is extremely easy to make, to my surprise. French pastries don’t exactly have the best reputations for being the ones you could whip up in no time. But for this dough there is no worrying about cold butter or overworking the gluten by stirring it for mere seconds. Nope, all this is left behind when entering choux paradise. Once these babies puff up in the oven, you’ve got yourself an empty canvas perfect for filling with whatever your foodie heart desires.

profiterole work flow
filling the profiteroles

I opted for an almond-infused pastry cream, and let me tell you: this pastry cream could be a dessert on its own. I had no problems eating it straight from a spoon as the profiteroles were baking away in the oven. Eventually, though, I had to exercise self control in risk of not having enough filling for the pastries. Next time, I’m doubling the the recipe for the cream – mark my words!

triple nut profiteroles
triple nut profiteroles

I’ve got to hand it to the French – they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to cuisine (especially pastries). I will definitely be making these again in the near future.

I want to send a big thank you to all the Daring Bakers who joined us this month in baking eclairs! Finally, I also want to send a big hug to Natalie of Gluten A Go Go and Helen of Tartelette for helping us tackle any choux questions and offering their pearls of wisdom on how to achieve eclair bliss. 

Triple Nut Profiteroles

makes approx. 35-40 profiteroles

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 900 g almond infused pastry cream
  • pâte à choux
  • 1 cup hazelnut chocolate glaze
  • finely chopped pistachios

Putting them all together

  1. Pipe choux dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and dry.
  2. With a serrated knife gently slice open each profiterole and pipe pastry cream into the bottom half.
  3. Replace cover, drizzle with hazelnut chocolate glaze and top with finely chopped pistachios.

notes: The individual recipes are posted under “Read more…”

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made to be eaten
a big bite

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Eliminating the Middle Stick

Special thanks to Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell for hosting this month’s cheesecake challenge from Jill O’Connor’s cookbook, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.

For me, cheesecakes fall under the small category of mystical foods. It might just be my over-indulging tendencies, but it seems like I can never say no to a slice of heavenly cheesecake, no matter how full I am. Of course, in order to make myself feel better before taking part in one of the seven deadly sins, I always preface my request by asking for a tiny slice (adding more and more diminutive adjectives relative to how stuffed I feel at the moment).

This is my second challenge for the Daring Bakers and, at first, I was ambivalent at the idea of making cheesecake. Upon reading the challenge, two annoying voices consumed my thoughts – one asked me to double the recipe while the other insisted that I halve it. Of course, there was no getting past the evil snicker behind the little devil persuading me to double it, so I fought my temptation and decided to half the recipe.

As a college student, I cut corners wherever I can. In fact, I’m the student who will buy used text books not to get extra booze money, but rather to buy myself Crate & Barrel’s hottest serving platters. By admitting to my (sad, but true) weakness, I hope you will all understand why I had to cut out the middle stick: buy me!

mise en place

When I was given the liberty to create my own flavor combination (so long as I preserved the basic recipe) I started imagining a whole range of possibilities and decided to go with the classic orange-chocolate duo. The chocolate, of course, is brought to you by yours truly, the ubiquitous Oreo cookie.

3-step mini Oreo crusts

Muffin tins are one of my favorite pans because they lend themselves perfectly for a variety of hors d’oeuvres (e.g. tapas), desserts or other tiny edibles. They also drastically cut down baking time, which I’m always a fan of. 

candied orange zest on top

After inverting them, I decided to garnish each cup with a basic cream cheese frosting (1 part cream cheese, 1 part powdered sugar, 1/4 part butter, dash of pure vanilla) and sugared orange zest. To make the sugared orange zest, all you have to do is rub the zest of an orange with some sugar until the sugar turns orange and the air around you begins to smell like an orange grove.

Cheesecake Cups

Cheesecake Cups

(adapted from Jill O’Connor’s recipe)

(yields approx. 24 cups)

Components

  • 2.5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 15 Oreo cookies
  • 4 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • Boiling water, as needed

Putting them all together

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and set aside to cool. Use some of this butter to butter your mini muffin tins.
  3. Crush Oreo cookies and mix with melted butter. Add one heaping teaspoon to each cup and compact with your favorite shot glass.
  4. Process all the ingredients (at room temperature) in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Fill each cup and bake in a water bath for 10-15 minutes. They should be slightly jiggly.
  6. Run a knife around the edges, cover with plastic wrap and store in your freezer until ready to decorate.
  7. Decorate with your favorite Cream Cheese Frosting and top with sugared orange zest.

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Perfect Party Cake gone Chocolate

This entry is dedicated to all Daring Bakers for making the challenges and the group itself lots of fun!! Special thanks to Morven for hosting this month’s challenge.

At first I was a bit skeptical about this cake challenge since it was pushing me far away from my culinary comfort zone. The horror stories I grew up around were terrifying enough – threatening all of us about how even granules of sugar in either direction can ruin the precise scientific integrity of a cake. However, when I got around to reading this month’s challenge in further detail I realized that the possibilities for executing the cake were literally endless; so I took on the daring baker attitude and approached the task with an open mind (and a chocolate heart).

mise en place

In order for the cake flavors to go well with the newly introduced chocolate, I made some minor changes in the flavor department by substituting the lemon zest with orange zest and the lemon extract for orange liquor. The chocolate-orange combo is a classic and was fantastic in the cake. Otherwise, I prepared the cake as intended and folded the chocolate additions towards the end.

and the chocolate makeover begins

Once the chocolate batter was complete, I baked the cake for only 8-10 minutes because I used a sheet pan rather than the 9” cake rounds (which I don’t own).
Since this was my first Daring Baker Challenge, I wanted to make these cakes extra special by decorating them with piped chocolate designs. They’re a lot easier to make than they seem and they add a nice touch to the finished product. All it is, is melted chocolate piped onto a chilled sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

pretty chocolate

I was not too happy with the way my buttercream turned out, but that may just be the psychological side effect of knowing that there were 3 sticks of butter in it. Once all the pieces were ready, I assembled everything into individual cakes and covered each with a thin layer of fondant for decoration.

Perfect Party Cake

modified from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe

For the Cake

Components

  • 2½ cups, cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • ½ tsp. orange liquor
  • 2.5 oz. cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger)
  • 3 oz. melted chocolate (Scharffen Berger)
  • ¼ cup hot water

Putting them all together

  1. Butter a 17in x 11in baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Beat egg whites and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix together sugar and orange zest in another bowl.
  4. Cream butter and sugar and add orange liquor.
  5. Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by ½ of the wet ingredients and continue adding in an alternating fashion until everything is incorporated.
  6. Mix together melted chocolate, cocoa powder and boiling water and fold into cake batter.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

For the Buttercream

Components

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 12 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Putting them all together

  1. Whisk sugar and egg whites over a double boiler for 3 minutes, until hot to the touch.
  2. Remove from double boiler and continue whisking until slightly cooled, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add butter one stick at a time, beating until smooth before adding the next.
  4. On medium speed slowly add the lemon juice and continue beating until glossy and well incorporated, approximately 6-10 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and set aside until ready to use.

For Finishing

Components

  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • melted chocolate for designs
  • fondant for covering

Putting them all together

  1. Stir raspberry preserves vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable.
  2. Make chocolate designs by piping melted chocolate onto a chilled baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Cover with ready-made rolled fondant.

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cakes are meant to be eaten