Love and Confections: 2010

October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Just in time for your fall festivities... and who doesn't love cheesecake?

After making pumpkin cake and pumpkin pies at my internship, I decided to tackle pumpkin cheesecake on my day off. I really do bake 6-7 days out of the week. The difference is that I love baking at home, because I can make a variety of small things; as opposed to work, where I need to make sure I have enough to feed about 3,000 people per day. That, in and of itself, is not easy, and gourmet pastries, cakes, etc., in mass quantities with limited time and space is difficult.



Baking with family has always been some of my best memories. Being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother was a requirement for most holidays. With my grandmother gone, and my mother a few hundred miles away, I still try to do holiday baking, even though they're not with me - but they're always on my mind. Fall was always the start of the big baking season for us. Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and then Christmas, meant that we would spend a lot of time together in the kitchen. Because of them, there is no longer a "want" to bake for the holidays; now its a "need." I need to keep the family traditions. I need to keep the memories alive. I need to keep them close, and if baking and being in the kitchen helps, then that's what I need to do.



The smell of pumpkin and spices filled my apartment and it truly felt like Autumn - all we need is the cooler weather here in Florida. Yesterday it was 91 degrees! In October! I have a friend in Colorado that already shared a picture of the "first snow of the season" - can you say jealous. We are supposed to get a cold front next week. The temperature might make it down to the 50s!




Even with the warmer weather, I have been getting in the Fall spirit. I unpacked some Halloween/Autumn decorations, bought myself some mini pumpkins, and indulged in a bag of candy corn. I also bought myself some flowers, just because I wanted some, and to accentuate my Fall decorations. Sunflowers are one of my favorite types of flowers, and they look great next to the bright orange mini pumpkins.

This recipe is simple and delicious. It is creamy, rich, and perfect for any holiday gathering you plan to have this season. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
adapted from verybestbaking.com

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients:
Crust
- 1 & 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1/3 cup unsalted Butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated Sugar

Cheesecake
- 3-8 ounce packages Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 cup granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- 2 large Eggs
- 1-15 ounce can 100% Pure Pumpkin
- 1-5 fluid ounce can Evaporated Milk
- 2 tablespoons Corn Starch
- 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pumpkin Cheesecake Directions:
Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine Graham Cracker Crumbs, Butter, and granulated Sugar in a medium bowl.
3. Press into bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. A little trick I use do is use the bottom and sides of a solid measuring cup to press down and around the sides - much easier and more precise than using your hands.
4. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow it to brown)
5. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes

Cheesecake
1. Beat Cream Cheese, granulated Sugar, and Brown Sugar in a large mixing bowl, until fluffy.
2. Beat in Eggs, Pumpkin and Evaporated Milk.
3. Add Corn Starch and Pumpkin Pie Spice, and beat well.
4. Pour into crust
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes - the edge will be set, but the center will still move slightly
6. Cool on wire rack and then refrigerate overnight - keep springform pan sides on while cooling and refrigerating

You can serve this by itself, but it would also be great with some freshly whipped cream or homemade ice cream! Yum!

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

October 8, 2010

Apple Brown Betty! (FHC)

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It has definitely been a while since my last post. Job hunting, starting my internship, and a bunch of other things have stolen my time for baking and blogging. Hopefully I am able to bake and blog more regular, because I miss it so much - baking for fun, that is, not like what I do at work.

I decided what better way to start back up than with a Food Holiday Challenge - even though it is a few days late. The weather is getting cooler in parts of the country - we're still in the upper 80's right now, but hoping for cool weather to travel down - and the spirit of Fall is in the air. Pumpkin patches are popping up, Halloween costumes are in stores and chats about what families will be doing for Thanksgiving have started. If I lived up north, I would definitely go to an apple orchard and pick my own apples, like some of my friends have done in the past few weeks. I am extremely jealous that I am not able to pick them right off the tree, but I live in Florida - the "partly-cloudy" state - and can't travel much this Fall.



What better to bake with, at the start of Autumn, than apples? I enjoy apple pie, apple tarte tatin, etc., but have never had a Brown Betty and wanted to give it a try. It seemed simple enough. This recipe was not time consuming at all, and all the ingredients are extremely common in the kitchen.



Apple Brown Betty
adapted from Ellie Krieger

Apple Brown Betty Ingredients:
4 large Apples (about 2 pounds) peeled and diced - I used two Granny Smith & two Honeycrisp
1 cup Apple Cider
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
4 slices Honey Wheat Bread (crusts included), enough to make about 2 & 1/4 cups crumbs
1/4 cup chopped Pecans

Apple Brown Betty Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine the Apples, Apple Cider, 1 tablespoon of Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract, and 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, but still retain their shape, about 10 minues.
4. Stir in 1 tablespoon of Butter until melted, remove saucepan from the heat, and transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie plate or ceramic dish.
5. Toast Bread slices and place in a food processor and process until crumbs are formed.
6. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon Butter in the microwave for 20 seconds.
7. Toss the Bread Crumbs with the melted Butter, Pecans, remaining 2 tablespoons of Brown Sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon.
8. Scatter the crumb mixture on top of the apples and bake for 30 minutes, until the topping is crisped and lightly browned.

Since this was my first time making a Brown Betty, I followed the recipe with the exception of using apples I already had - Ellie's recipe calls for Golden Delicious - and Pecans - because I ran out of Walnuts - also in Ellie's recipe. I added one more slice of bread in mine, because I used a 9 x 13 baking dish. Next time I will definitely make some more changes and adapt this recipe further. This is a healthier recipe, but I did miss some sugar, or I will use more brown sugar. I will probably experiment with other kinds of apples as well - the Honeycrisp were great, but I did not like the Granny Smith in this recipe, because there was not that much sugar to balance out the tartness. All in all, this recipe is a good starting point.

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

July 30, 2010

Beautiful Blueberries & Jam

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This blog entry is a special treat with 2 Blueberry recipes!


While out in Texas, my two Aunts took me blueberry picking. I had never done this before - only strawberry picking - and was very excited. Even though the day was incredibly hot, and we traveled 2 hours to get the the "Blueberry Basket" - our hunting ground - the trip was well worth it! We each filled baskets of blueberries, all the while, thinking what we would create with our delicious finds.


The workers told us to pick in one specific section, and as usual, Aunt W has a mind of her own, and found us some great rows of blueberries further down the farm. Clusters of blueberries sprang out from the bushes, but we also had to reach far into the bushes to get some of our loot.


The berries were all sizes and colors, from pale green and reddish-purple to the ripe blueish-purple berries. We ate as we picked - which was deliciously fun - and chatted about what we would bake - after all, they had a pastry chef under their roofs for a week. The rows of blueberry plants seemed like they never ended. The warm sun beat down on us, as we sweat in the 95+ degree weather. I can't honestly tell you how many insects we encountered - my sister would not have like it. Our baskets quickly became full and we finished just before the hottest part of the day - yes, it got even hotter!

I have to admit that I was not a fan of blueberries before this trip. Yes, I have had blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes before, but never really just ate blueberries. These blueberries tasted different, very different from the ones we usually get in the store. They were sweeter and juicier. I probably won't eat blueberries from the store, but give me these any day - I even had a bowl of just blueberries, for breakfast one morning in Texas, along with an egg sandwich.


CRUMP-TOP BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

Muffin Batter Ingredients:
- 315 grams All Purpose Flour
- 60 grams Sugar
- 60 grams Light Brown Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 large Eggs
- 75 grams Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 8 fluid ounces Buttermilk
- 2 cups Blueberries

Crumb-Topping Ingredients:
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Light Brown Sugar, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold

Crumb-Top Blueberry Muffin Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a muffin tin.
2. To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the Flour, Sugars and Cinnamon. Cut the butter into pieces and using a pastry blender, cut it into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. To make the muffins, stir together the Flour, Sugars, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and salt in a bowl.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the Eggs, melted Butter, Vanilla Extract and Buttermilk.
5. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined. The batter should be lumpy. Fold the blueberries into the batter just until evenly distributed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
6. Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim of the cup. Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/2 tablespoon crumb topping
7. Bake until golden, dry and springy to the touch, 20-2 minutes. Serve warm.


I have never made jam and was extremely excited - I love learning new things. Our fresh blueberries were perfect for our jam adventure.

BLUEBERRY JAM
from Certo

Blueberry Jam ingredients:
- 1 & 1/2 quart fresh Blueberries, crushed to equal 4 & 1/2 cups
- 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 7 cups Sugar
- 2 pouches Certo Fruit Pectin
- 1 teaspoon Butter
- 12 -8 ounce- Jars or 20 -4 ounce- Jars with lids, sterilized


Blueberry Jam Directions:

1. Prepare Jam Jars by boiling them for 10 minutes
2. Crush Blueberries in large pan on stove.
3. Stir Sugar into Blueberries and mix well.
4. Add Butter to Blueberries and bring to a boil for 5 minutes over high heat while stirring constantly
5. Pour 2 Certo Fruit Pectin pouches into the Blueberries and continue to boil for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
6. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
7. Ladle into Jars and screw on lids. MAKE SURE YOU WIPE THE RIMS BEFORE PUTTING ON LID. EXCESS JAM WILL NOT ALLOW PROPER CANNING.
8. Turn jars upside down for 5 minutes, then turn upright. Let set for 1 hour. (Jars are sealed when "pop-top" center of lid is pushed completely down)
9. Refrigerate once opened.

July 18, 2010

A Taste of Summer - Cherry Clafoutis

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One of the best summer fruits are cherries! I remember sitting on the steps of our pool, as a kid, with a bowl full of cherries on the tile deck, and a bowl full of cherry pits right next to it. The sweet, and sometimes tart, fruit was always a welcomed treat. That was the life - a lazy summer day in the pool, a bowl full of cherries and lots of sunshine!

Unfortunately, when I recently purchased my cherries, they were not as good as I had hoped - and only discovered this at home. I had to use them rather quickly and decided to create a dish I had been thinking about for quite some time. I have never made a clafoutis and have always wanted to try one - it seemed so simple.




Clafoutis, or sometimes spelled Clafouti, is a baked French dessert with black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick, flan-like batter, dusted with powdered sugar and served warm. Clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France. Black cherries are the traditional ingredient, but other variations include: red cherries, plums, peaches, pears, apples and blackberries - when other types of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is called a Flaugnarde.

The traditional Limousin Clafoutis contains the pits of the cherries. Some bakers say, "the pits release a wonderful flavor when the dish is cooked. If the pits are removed prior to baking, the Clafoutis will be milder in flavor." I prefer to pit my cherries before baking, just in case. Many people opt for a cherry pitter, but I just did it by hand - with latex gloves on, of course - cherry-stained fingertips are not attractive.



Cherry Clafoutis
adapted from Joy of Baking

Cherry Clafoutis Ingredients:
- 65 grams All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 large Eggs
- 25 grams granulated Sugar
- 180 milliliters Milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 pound or 340-454 grams sweet Cherries, pitted
- 13 grams unsalted Butter
- 25 grams granulated Sugar
- Butter or Non-stick Cooking Spray
- Confectioner's Sugar for dusting

Cherry Clafoutis Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425F and place the rack in the center of the oven.
2. Prepare baking dish(es) by coating the bottom and sides with either Butter or Non-stick Cooking Spray
3. Wash the Cherries, remove the stems and pits
4. In your food processor or blender, place the Flour, Salt, Eggs, first measure of Sugar, Milk and Vanilla Extract.
5. Process for about 45-60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once the batter is completely smooth, let it rest while you prepare the fruit.
6. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
7. When the butter is bubbling, add the pitted Cherries and cook until they have softened a bit and are coated with butter (2-3 minutes).
8. Sprinkle the Cherries with the second measure of Sugar and cook until the Sugar dissolves and turns into a syrup (1-2 minutes).
9. Evenly divide the Cherries into the baking dish(es).
10. Pour the batter over the Cherries and bake for 20 minutes, or until the Clafoutis is puffed, set and golden brown around the edges. Do not open the oven door until the end of the baking time or it may collapse.
11. Serve immediately with a dusting of Confectioner's Sugar.


Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

July 12, 2010

Pâte à Choux

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Some of life's greatest pleasures are desserts and pastries. Whether you're a fan of cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, petit fours, pavlovas, etc., they are all delicious and appeal to everyone in their own way. My personal favorite are French Macaroons - but that's for another day.

Whenever I meet a new Pastry Chef, I try and ask them what their favorite dessert or pastry is. I think it is a great way of getting to know more about the chef and a little insight into their personality. Executive Pastry Chef Stephane Cheramy, at the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes likes Apple Almond Tarts. Executive Pastry Chef Steven Rujak, at the Hyatt Grand Cypress, likes Shortbread Cookies. Chef Erik Perez, from Boiron frozen Fruit Puree, likes tarts the best. These pastry chefs have been in the industry for years, create confectionary masterpieces daily, and still love these simple yet delicious pastries.

Cream Puffs are said to have originated in Renaissance France and Italy. Choux paste is different from other types of pastry because when baking, it uses the high moisture content to create steam to puff the pastry. When it rises, it produces a hollow center, which can have sweet or savory fillings. Pâte à Choux is a thick batter made from flour, milk, butter, and eggs. Choux paste is typically known for making profiteroles (cream puffs), croquembouches, eclairs, French crullers, beignets, and Gateau St. Honore. The shape resembles a cabbage, choux in French, hence the name Pâte à Choux.

I decided to make Cream Puffs today. They are relatively simple to make and extremely delicious! I filled my Cream Puffs alternating Pastry Cream and Chocolate Mousse. Both are suitable for Profiterole filling and easy to make. A Pastry Cream blog post will be coming soon, but for now, you can get the Chocolate Mousse recipe here. Enjoy!

Pâte à Choux Recipe:
from the Daring Baker's Challenge, May 2010

- 175 milliliters Water
- 85 grams Unsalted Butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 125 grams All-Purpose Flour
- 4 large Eggs

For Egg Wash:
- 1 Egg and a pinch of Salt

Pâte à Choux Directions: - Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
1. 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.
2. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
3. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
4. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
5. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
6. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.


Piping the Pâte à Choux Batter:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).


Baking the Pâte à Choux:
1. Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
2. 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 an airtight box overnight.

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

June 27, 2010

Chocolate Pavlova

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Daring Bakers Challenge The June 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers' to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I personally love Pavlovas. Meringue is a great light, sweet and tasty dessert. Paired with chocolate, and it is heaven. I also like to eat Pavlovas with fruit, for a lighter dessert. Pavlovas are easy to make and once you start, you'll be hooked. I piped a few simple designs with a medium size pastry tip. I piped a base and either "built" it up on the sides to create a little cup or piped little peaks around the outside.

This recipe is comprised of 4 parts:
1. Chocolate Meringue
2. Mascarpone Mousse
3. Creme Anglaise (used in the Mascarpone Cream)
4. Mascarpone Cream


Chocolate Meringue Recipe:
- 90 grams Egg Whites
- 110 grams Granulated Sugar
- 30 grams Confectioner's Sugar
- 30 grams Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder

Chocolate Meringue Directions:
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200F. Line one or two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment and set aside.
2. Put the Egg Whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
3. Sift the Confectioner's Sugar and Cocoa Powder over the Egg Whites and fold the dry ingredients into the whites. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could free form your shapes and level them with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse Recipe:
- 335 milliliters Heavy Cream
- Zest of 1 average sized Lemon
- 255 grams 72% Chocolate, chopped
- 390 milliliters Mascarpone
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- 30 milliliters Grand Marnier or Orange Juic

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse Directions:
1. Place 120 milliliters Heavy Cream and Lemon Zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
2. Place the Mascarpone, remaining cup of Cream and Nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the Mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (Do not overbeat as the Mascarpone will break)
3. Mix about 1/4 of the Mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining Mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse or free form mousse on top of Pavlova.


Mascarpone Cream Recipe:
- 1 recipe Creme Anglaise (recipe below)
- 120 milliliters mascarpone
- 30 milliliters Sambucca (optional)
- 120 milliliters Heavy Cream

Mascarpone Cream Directions:
1. Prepare the Creme Anglaise. Slowly whisk the Mascarpone and Sambucca into the Creme Anglaise and let the mixture cool. Putt the cream in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the Mascarpone mixture.


Creme Anglaise Recipe:
- 235 milliliters Whole Milk
- 235 milliliters Heavy Cream
- 1 Vanilla Bean, split or 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 6 large Egg Yolks
- 75 grams sugar

Creme Anglaise Directions:
1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
2. Combine the Milk, Cream and Vanilla in a saucepam over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
3. Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not overcook.
4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.


Pavlova Assembly:
- Pipe the Mousse onto the Meringues and drizzle with the Mascarpone Cream. Dust with confectioner's sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

I hope you try this recipe. It it very easy, delicious and great for summer!

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

MORE PICTURES TO COME... my computer is not liking me right now and I can't upload any more pictures...

June 11, 2010

German Chocolate Cake is not from Germany!

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First and foremost - I am NOT a coconut girl! For some unexplained reason, I just don't like the flavor or texture of coconut. Give me a Strawberry Daiquiri over a Piña Colada any day! Even though I do not like coconut, I refuse to make this recipe without the classic element. I suffer through it to enjoy to moist, delicious chocolate cake with creamy, gooey caramel frosting - and in the end, it is worth it!

Today is National German's Chocolate Cake day. Yes, you read that right. There is an " 's" in the title. The cake did not originate in Germany, like many believe. It is named after Englishman Samuel German, who created "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate" in 1852 for the "Baker's Chocolate" brand.

The first published recipe for German Chocolate Cake was submitted to a local newspaper by a Dallas, Texas homemaker in 1957. The cake became popular and "Baker's Chocolate" sales increased. The possessive form - 's - was dropped in later publications of the recipe and the name still stands as we know today - German Chocolate Cake.

Now on to the good stuff...

German Chocolate Cake is a layered chocolate cake filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. Sweet Baking Chocolate is traditionally used in the actual cake, although some recipes today do not call for it. The Coconut-Pecan topping is a caramel made with egg yolks and evaporated milk, with coconut and pecans stirred in.

I first made this cake in my "Basic and Classical Cakes and Pastries" class in culinary school, and fell in love! This recipe is one of my favorites and a definite go-to cake for any occasion.

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting
adapted from a culinary school recipe

German Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
- 240 grams Sweet Baking Chocolate
- 120 milliliters Boiling Water
- 240 grams Unsalted Butter, softened
- 480 grams Granulated Sugar
- 80 grams Egg Yolks
- 5 milliliters Vanilla Extract
- 300 grams Cake Flour
- 4 grams Baking Soda
- 3 grams Salt
- 240 milliliters Buttermilk
- 120 grams Egg Whites

German Chocolate Cake Directions:
- Chop Chocolate and melt in a bain marie over Boiling Water
- In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the Butter and Sugar
- Add Egg Yolks one at a time, then Vanilla and Chocolate
- Sift Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt and add alternating with Buttermilk
- In a separate bowl, whip Egg Whites to stiff peaks and then fold into the batter
- Divide into 3 9-inch round pans lined with parchment
- Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes

Coconut-Pecan Frosting Ingredients:
- 240 milliliters Evaporated Milk
- 240 grams Granulated Sugar
- 60 grams Egg Yolks
- 120 grams Unsalted Butter
- 5 milliliters Vanilla Extract
- 120 grams Coconut, flaked
- 120 grams Pecans, Chopped

Coconut-Pecan Frosting Directions:
- Combine Milk, Sugar, Egg Yolks and Butter in saucepan on medium heat
- Cook until it thickens
- Remove from heat and add Vanilla Extract, Coconut and Pecans
- Beat in electric mixer until cool and spreadable

Assembly:
- Make sure cakes are level, after cooling
- Place 1/4 of the frosting in between each layer and stack
- Frost the top with 1/4 of the frosting
- Frosting the outside of the cake with the last 1/4 of frosting
- Buttercream, Coconut and Chocolate decorations are optional
- Enjoy!



Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

April 15, 2010

Pecan Bars

2 comments:
However you choose to pronounce it, it is still just as delicious and good!

Many people will automatically thing of Pecan Pie for National Pecan Day. Pecan Pie is okay in my book, but it is sometimes too much filling for the amount of crust. Depending on the recipe, it might also be too sweet - I know, me with the insatiable sweet tooth, but yes, it can happen. Anyway, I know I am a day late, but I was not able to blog this yesterday - even though I baked it two days ago - life got in the way.


For today's FHC, I chose one of my favorite pecan recipes from a class in culinary school. It not only is my favorite pecan recipe, it is also one of my favorite recipes of all time. Don't laugh - the ratio of pecans to "crust" is good, it is not too sweet, just buttery enough, and has such a great flavor. I bet any die-hard pecan pie fanatic will love this recipe just as much. Another plus, it is INCREDIBLY easy to make!


Pecan Pie Bars
Adapted from culinary school recipe
Yields 48 bars from one 1/2 sheet pan

Crust Ingredients:
- 10 ounces Unsalted Butter
- 8 ounces Cream Cheese
- 3.5 ounces Granulated Sugar
- 14.5 ounces All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Crust Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit
2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the Butter and Cream Cheese together until smooth.
3. Add the Sugar, Flour, Salt and Baking Powder and stir until the dough is cohesive; it will be crumbly, but hold together when squeezed.
4. Press dough into and up the sides of a prepared - I use nonstick cooking spray, you can also use parchment on the bottom as well - sheet pan
5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit


Filling Ingredients:
- 4 large Eggs
- 3/4 cup Corn Syrup
- 7 ounces Granulated Sugar
- 2 ounces Unsalted Butter, melted
- 2 ounces Heavy Cream
- 2 tablespoons Rum
- 4 drops Butter Rum Flavor
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 8 ounces Pecans, chopped

Filling Directions:
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the filling ingredients together. I used my stand mixer. I also did not have Butter Rum flavor this time. I recommend getting it, but if you cannot, it is fine without
2. Pour the filling over the crust.
3. Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until the filling looks puffy and deep golden brown. Mine took 20-25 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.

Look at that delicious pecan filling!

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

April 13, 2010

Peach Cobbler (FHC)

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For my second FHC I am baking Peach Cobbler. I have never made peach cobbler, nor have I ever eaten peach cobbler either. I love peaches, but normally eat them as is. Honestly, warm peaches have never been appealing, until now. My Food Holiday Challenge is to not only to bake items I like, but also to take a chance and make something I either do not like, or have never made before.



Unfortunately, peaches aren't available here - Florida - because they aren't "in season". I had to make do and use canned peaches - I opted not to buy frozen peaches because they were a little outside my budget. For all the cobbler purists out there, the recipe I chose was the easiest for me to make at this point - or so I thought. Next year, I will probably make one with a dough to compare and see which I personally like better.



A little cobbler history:
- A cobbler is a type of deep-dish fruit dessert with a thick biscuit or pie dough crust that is prepared and then served warm to guests. It is very similar to a pie, except that the crust is thicker and it is traditionally placed only on top. However, over the years, ingredients and preparation methods have been created that bake the cobbler crust on the top for some recipes and on the bottom for others - like mine today.
- In the US, a cobbler is typically made with fruit or berries, but in the UK, it is typically a meat dish.
- Peach, apple, blueberry and cherry cobblers are among the most popular US varieties.
- The American Cobbler, which is different from a Crisp or Crumble - future blog posts - has nicknames like the Betty, Buckle, Sonker, Grunt, and Slump. New Englanders make Slumps and Grunts in a stove-top iron skillet, topping the fruit with dumplings. Buckles are made with yellow batter that is mixed with the filling. The Brown Betty is made with layers of fruit and bread or graham cracker crumbs, almost like a fruity bread pudding. Sonkers are deep-dish cobblers from North Carolina - my personal favorite nickname, not only because it sounds hilarious, but because my parents now call NC home, and it holds a special place in my heart.


Grandma's Peach Cobbler
adapted from texascooking.com

Ingredients:
- 1 stick Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup Flour
- 1+1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Milk
- 1-15 ounce can Sliced Peaches, with juice

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
- Slice butter into pats and place in 9x13 baking dish and put the dish in the preheating oven. The recipe above is a single batch. I doubled the recipe and used both an 11x13 dish and 8x8 dish. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same size, just make recipe accordingly.
- While the butter is melting, mix up the batter by combining the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Sugar and Milk.
- When the butter is completely melted, remove the pan and pour the batter into the melted butter.
- Carefully spoon the peaches and juice evenly over the batter. Since I used canned peaches, I did not use all the juice, because the batter would be too watery. The extra juice will be saved for another day.
- return the dish to the oven and bake for X minutes. The original recipe says to bake for 30, but that was not even close to what it needed in my oven, which usually runs hot, so I left it in longer - an extra 40 minutes.
- As the cobbler cooks, the batter will rise up around the peaches.





The extra bake time totalled an hour and ten minutes! Now you know why this recipe might not have been the best choice today - thank goodness I didn't have any other pressing matters or time constraints.



I still might tweak it a bit. Ease of preparation - wonderful, bake time - doable, end product - DELICIOUS! It is especially good with homemade vanilla ice cream - but that will be another Blog day. I am now a fan of peach cobbler.

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

April 11, 2010

Conversions & Equivalents

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Measurements and conversions for everyone - Baking & Pastry or Culinary. Keep these handy!

Conversions & Equivalents from Smitten Kitchen

Temperature Conversions
275°F = 140°C = gas mark 1
300°F = 150°C = gas mark 2
325°F = 165°C = gas mark 3
350°F = 180°C = gas mark 4
375°F = 190°C = gas mark 5
400°F = 200°C = gas mark 6
425°F = 220°C = gas mark 7
450°F = 230°C = gas mark 9
475°F = 240°C = gas mark 10

Volume Equivalents
60 drops = 1 teaspoon
1 dash = 1/16 teaspoon
1 pinch = 1/8 teaspoon
1 teaspoon = 1/3 tablespoon = 1/6 ounce
2 teaspoons = 2/3 tablespoon = 1/3 ounce
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup = 1 ounce = 1 standard coffee scoop
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup = 2 ounces
5 1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup = 2 2/3 ounces
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 4 ounces = 1 gill
16 tablespoons = 1 cup = 8 ounces
2 cups =1 pint = 1/2 quart = 16 ounces
4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 ounces
16 cups = 8 pints = 4 quarts = 1 gallon

Ingredient-Specific Equivalents
Butter
1 stick = 4 ounces = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
4 sticks = 16 ounces = 32 tablespoons = 2 cups
Chocolate
1 ounce = 1/4 cup grated
6 ounces chips = 1 cup chips
1 pound cocoa = 4 cups cocoa
Creams
Half and half = 1/2 milk + 1/2 cream = 10.5 to 18 percent butterfat
Light cream = 18 percent butterfat
Light whipping cream = 30 to 26 percent butterfat
Heavy cream = whipping cream = 36 percent or more butterfat
Double cream = extra-thick double cream = clotted or Devonshire cream = 42 percent butterfat
Eggs
1 large egg (approximately) = 1 tablespoon yolk + 2 tablespoons white
1 cup = 4 jumbo = 4 to 5 extra-large = 5 large = 5 to 6 medium = 7 small
Flour
1 pound = 4 cups all-purpose or bread flours = 4 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sifted cake flour = 7/8 cup sifted all-purpose
1+ cup self-rising flour = 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt
Lemon
1 lemon = 1 to 3 tablespoons juice, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest
4 large lemons = 1 cup juice = 1/4 cup grated zest
Onion
1 pound = 2 1/2 cups sliced or chopped
Sugars
1 pound white = 2 cups white = 454 grams
1 pound packed brown = 2 1/4 cups packed brown
1 cup packed brown = 1 cup white
1 pound superfine sugar = 1 cup white sugar = 190 grams
1 pound powdered sugar = 3 1/2 to 4 cups
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar = 1 cup white sugar
1 cup powdered sugar = 80 grams
100 grams white sugar = 1/2 cup
Yeast
1 cake = 3/5 ounce = 1 packet dry = 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 teaspoons dry

Until next time,
Love & Confections

April 9, 2010

Dry Milk (FHC)

1 comment:


Over the Christmas holidays, I decided to make Semolina Bread, which used instant Nonfat Dry Milk (iNDM or NFDM). The only iNDM I could find came in a large, 32 ounce can. I only needed 1/4 cup per batch, but figured since I was given 30 pounds of Semolina - we'll leave that story for another time - I would end up using it, since I was going to be making a lot of Semolina Bread. As it turns out, I haven't made any more bread, and the giant can of dry milk has been sitting in my pantry. What better way to use some of the dry milk than in my first Food Holiday Challenge.


Now for the info - gathered from various sources:
Instant Nonfat Dry Milk is regular cow's milk that has had the water and fat removed. It still has all the calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals of fresh milk and is low in cholesterol, too.

You can purchase powdered milk that isn't nonfat, but it tends to be more difficult to reconstitute because of the fat content. NFDM is usually the easiest to mix, but some people have difficulty getting the milk solids to blend with the water.

Nonfat Dry Milk will not taste the same as fresh milk, especially if you're used to milk from the carton, but the taste is negligible when it is used as an additive in baked goods or smoothies. One of many advantages of NFDM is the long storage time. If stored in a cool, dry place, it will usually last 18 months.

Dry Milk

Dry Milk Biscuits
from Mountain Maid recipe website

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
1/2 cup Shortening
3/4 cups Water

Mix the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and iNDM.

Mash in the shortening with a fork, until the mixture is crumbly.

Stir in the water, a little at a time, to make a dough that is soft, but not sticky.

Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured board or counter-top.

Roll or pat the dough to 1/2 or 3/4 inch thickness; cut it with a knife, or a small glass or cutter that has been dipped in flour.

Place the biscuits about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Dough before kneading

Despite the fact that my oven cooks unevenly, the biscuits turned out good. I love watching butter melt away on a warm, right-out-of-the-oven biscuit. Pair melted butter on a warm biscuit with strawberry jam and I am in Heaven - it's my Kryptonite! Unfortunately, I am out of strawberry jam, so raspberry preserves it is.

Butter melting... yum!




OTHER DRY MILK RECIPES: 1 Quart of Fluid Milk
- put 3+3/4 cups cold water in a container
- add 1+1/3 cups iNDM
- mix thoroughly
- cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving
- store in refrigerator and use within 3 to 5 days

1 Cup of Fluid Milk
- 1 cup water
- add 1/3 cup iNDM to water
- mix thoroughly
- cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving

Evaporated Milk
- whisk together 1/2 cup water and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons iNDM

I found a good amount of recipes for iNDM and will use them in some of my future Food Holiday Challenges. I am now more open-minded about using dry milk in recipes.


Until next time,
Love & Confections

April 3, 2010

Buona Pasqua 2010

2 comments:



Happy Easter... or Buona Pasqua in Italian!

I'm doing the family Easter traditions on my own this year, because we can't all be together.

I still love dying Easter eggs. The $2 kit is a bargain for the joy of pulling out a dozen or more brightly colored eggs. When we were little, we only used vinegar with the color tablets. Now they now have choices for coloring methods...

For pastel colored eggs use only water with the colored tablet.
For traditional colored eggs use lemon juice and water with the colored tablet.
For ultra-vibrant colored eggs use vinegar and water with the colored tablet.

This year I decided to go with my family's "traditional" method and used vinegar. The little matching cups make dying eggs so easy, unless you can't figure out which tablet is which. I had to guess the colors 3 out of the 5 tablets and hoped I put them in the correct corresponding colored cup - which I did. Yellow, orange and green - yes, green! - look way too similar.




Another family tradition is baking and decorating sugar cookies. My mom, along with other family members, decorated cookies and dyed eggs today. I love picture text messages! My mom text messaged some pictures of her Easter cookies this year and of the table decorated for her Easter Brunch.



Another Tradition is Easter Bread. My grandmother, Grace, made it every year. She taught my mom how to make and and they both taught me when I was younger. I remember the first time I was taught how to make Easter Bread, in my mom's kitchen. I watched them make the dough and waited patiently for it to rise. I loved when the dough had to double in size, because I was the one to either put it on a table in the garage - when it was warm enough, or on top of the running clothes dryer - which always made me laugh inside. The smell of Easter Bread baking is one of my favorite smells in the whole world. I don't use anise seeds because I don't like the taste. Instead, I make the recipe without and put colored sprinkles on top.

After my grandmother passed away, making Easter Bread became more meaningful. Easter Bread is not only a way to remember her, but also to keep a tradition alive that has been passed down through our family.

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

March 24, 2010

Cupcake Overload!

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It has been a while... Sorry it has been so long since the last post - lots of things have happened/are happening. I was really sick for a few weeks and my husband and I are in the process of moving. Long story short, the neighborhood has gotten worse and we want to live someplace we actually like... so I will try to post more, but packing and moving is obviously priority.

Here are some pictures of cupcakes I made for my husband's birthday. He wanted some for a dinner with friends - I made beef wellington, roasted potatoes and green beans, yum! - and some for people at the two places he works. I miscalculated the amount made and ended up with a lot more than planned. These aren't from scratch, but I added to them. *Disclaimer - I never said I was going to bake everything on my blog from scratch - time constraints and funds are to blame. When I have the available time and funds, I will gladly make everything from scratch, well, almost from scratch. "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe," -Carl Sagan.

Some people might cringe or criticize and say, "You used a box mix? You call yourself a baker?" To answer, yes I used a box mix. Duncan Hines "Devil's Food", "French Vanilla," and "Yellow Cake, " to be exact. They're the best and only cake mixes I use. Even one of my professors in culinary school, who is an Executive Pastry Chef at a Hyatt hotel said he uses Duncan Hines at home, "because when you make things from scratch, the last thing you want to do is go home and make more cakes, and besides, it's the best."

I have actually always used Duncan Hines my entire life. So back to the actual cupcakes - I miscalculated because I normally get 25 cupcakes out of the box mixes, but the husband requested mini cupcakes, so people could try all the varieties and not have to eat whole, big ones. I was perfectly fine with that, except for the fact that instead of 2 mini cupcakes per one regular, it ended up being 3 mini cupcakes per regular, and with only 1 mini cupcake tin of 24 cups, it took a while. (I searched at a place I thought would have another tin, but they didn't, and didn't have enough time to actually find one).

So, 200 mini cupcakes later - and a few bigger cupcakes because I only had 200 mini wrappers - I had 3 different flavor cupcakes and was ready to decorate.

The Devil's Food cupcake was made into a S'more cupcake. The first picture is what I originally did for the S'more cupcakes - crushed graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, followed by the Devil's Food batter, then a mini marshmallow in the center. I had decided against hollowing the cupcake out and filling it with melted marshmallow, and experimented this way.


Needless to say, thank goodness for the experiment, because they did not turn out how I would have liked them.


The second time around I decided to ditch the graham crackers on the bottom - they got lost and you couldn't taste them - and the marshmallows in the middle - they kind of melted into the batter and you couldn't taste it either. Instead I melted the marshmallows with a little bit of milk, in a pot on the stove, and once cooled, mixed into the French Buttercream I had been planning on using. It turned out delicious, and I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on top.


The next are the Boston Cream cupcakes. I hollowed out the center of the French Vanilla cupcakes and used Jell-O pudding - yes, Jell-O pudding. Like the aforementioned disclaimer said, no time to make pastry cream, especially when I had a whole dinner to put together as well. Then I topped it with the French Buttercream and chocolate sauce. As far as the chocolate sauce goes, I didn't want to use it but had little time in between dinner and dessert to temper chocolate. I'll leave the discussion about tempering chocolate for another day.

The last were the Key Lime cupcakes. I used the yellow cake cupcakes and hollowed them out as well. I used some vanilla Jell-O pudding mixed with a little bit of Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice and lime zest for the filling. The French Buttercream also got some lime zest and was topped with lime slice jelly candy. The individual Key Lime cupcake picture didn't turn out well, but you can still see them in the picture below. The Boston Cream cupcakes turned out to be the biggest hit.



French Buttercream
(the "from scratch" element)
from About Professional Baking by Gail Sokol

200 grams Granulated Sugar
60 milliliters Light Corn Syrup (4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup)
60 milliliters Water (2 fluid ouces or 1/4 cup)
114 grams Egg Yolk
450 grams Unsalted Butter - very soft, but not melted
10 milliliters Vanilla Extract (2 teaspoons)

In saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water and bring mixture to a rolling boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves.*

While sugar syrup is cooking, beat the egg yolks on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment, until the color lightens to a pale yellow.

On high speed, slowly add the hot syrup tot he egg yolks, pouring it down the sides of the mixing bowl and not directly onto the whip. Keep beating until the bowl feels cool to the touch.

Gradually add the softened butter**, a few tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated, blending in each addition of butter thoroughly. The buttercream may appear curdled until all the butter has been incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and blend well.

* cook to 250°F – firm ball stage
** Can use colder butter if sugar is slightly warmer – balances out temperature



Until next time,

Love & Confections!

March 2, 2010

Mocha Roulade

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Chocolate and coffee - what a combination! Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate, so combining the two works great.

It feels like I have been going nonstop these past few days. I am prepping everything for surgery tomorrow. I will be having my 2nd Carpal Tunnel surgery - this time on my right hand. I needed to clean everything in the house, do laundry, many, many dishes, and everything else I won't be able to do for a little while. Luckily, I have the greatest husband in the world, who is able to take care of me while I'm recovering. He cleans, He cooks - and most of the time he doesn't burn anything - He is the best.

I'm not as nervous as I was before my first CT surgery, but I still have worries. No one ever likes going to the hospital, getting IVs and anesthesia, and the recovery period. I am worried for one major reason. This will be the surgery on my dominant hand - my right hand. With the last surgery - you can read about it here - I was able to function a good deal, because I could still use my right hand. I am hoping that everything will go as smooth as the last surgery and that my fears are not necessary. Well, we'll find out.



I have been doing a lot of baking this past week and weekend, so I will be able to have blog posts while I'm recovering, and you won't wonder if I've fallen off the face of the Earth. This recipe is always great for presentation, and it tastes pretty darn good too! It seems complicated, with the amount of ingredients and instructions, but it is pretty simple once you get started. This cake is a lot thicker than other roulades I have done. I might tweak it later in another recipe. Enjoy!

Here are a few secrets for the best buttercream:
- use room temperature eggs
- when the eggs/sugar are hot, wrap the mixer in foil. warm eggs whip better
- make sure you get stiff peaks from the meringue

Mocha Roulade
Buttercream adapted from Chef Steven Rujak at Sweet and Savory Seasons

Cake Ingredients Part 1:
- 80 grams Egg Yolks (about 4 egg yolks), room temperature
- 6 ounces granulated Sugar
- 6 ounces Vegetable Oil
- 4 ounces Water
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 tablespoon Espresso or Coffee

Cake Ingredients Part 2:
- 180 grams Egg Whites (about 6 egg whites), room temperature
- 6 ounces granulated Sugar

Cake Ingredients Part 3:
- 5 ounces All-Purpose Flour
- 3 ounces Cocoa Powder (I used Dutch-Processed Cocoa, but you can use whatever you have)
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Cake Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Whip Egg Yolks with sugar until light in color (part 1)
3. Add Oil, Water, Vanilla and Espresso (part 1)
4. Sift all the dry ingredients together (part 3)
5. Add the sifted dry ingredients into the Egg Yolk mixture
6. Whip Egg Whites and Sugar in a separate bowl. Start with just the whites and once they become foamy, slowly add in all the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. (part 2)
7. Fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk/chocolate mixture. Mix the egg whites in 3rds. Start with 1/3 of the whites and mix to lighten the egg yolk/chocolate mixture. Take another 1/3 of the egg whites and gently fold into the batter. When the whites are almost all combined, add the last 1/3 of egg whites and fold into batter. Make sure you do not deflate the egg whites while folding them in the mixture.
8. Lightly grease a Half-Sheet Pan/Jelly-Roll Pan (9x16). Place a piece of parchment on the bottom and lightly grease that as well
9. Gently spread the batter into the pan. Level the mixture with an off-set spatula
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the center springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean
11. Let it cool completely in the pan.

Buttercream Ingredients:
- 6 Egg Whites, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated Sugar
- 1 pound unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 15 ounces Powdered Sugar
- 1 ounce Cocoa Powder
- Vanilla Extract to taste
- Coffee Extract to taste

Buttercream Directions:
- For those of you familiar with types of buttercream, this is a Swiss Meringue recipe.
1. In a bowl of your stand mixer, add the Egg Whites and granulated Sugar
2. Whisk together and place over a pot of simmering water - while being careful the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl!
3. Continue to whisk until the egg and sugar mixture are warm, and the sugar is dissolved. You can use your fingers to tell the temperature and to see if the mixture is still gritty with sugar, while making sure you don't cook the egg whites too much. It should be warmer than room temperature.
4. Place bowl on stand mixer, attach whip and whip it on high.
5. Place a piece of foil completely around the bowl and your mixer. The warmer the egg whites are, the better they whip. The foil keeps them warm.
6. Remove the foil after the whites reach room temperature (feel the bottom of the mixing bowl. If it is cool to the touch, then you are okay to proceed.
7. Add in the Butter and mix on high speed until incorporated
8. Add the Powdered Sugar and flavorings and mix on high for 3 minutes.
9. Transfer to a bowl and reserve until you are ready to use.

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

February 8, 2010

Hazelnut Mocha Macaroons

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Macaroons are small confections made from egg whites, sugar and ground almonds. It has a crisp exterior and a soft, chewy interior. It can be flavored with other ingredients such as citrus, coffee, chocolate or coconut. Other ground nuts can be substituted for the almonds (which I did in this recipe). In France, macaroons are sandwiched together with a thin layer of ganache or raspberry or apricot jam. Their origin dates back to 14th century Venice and its name is derived from the Venetian word "macarone" which means "fine paste."
The best known macaroons come from Paris. The most famous are Laduree and Pierre Herme and can sell 15,000 a day. Macaroons have remained relatively unknown in the United States and are often confused with coconut macaroons. They have recently become a novel dessert for weddings and a growing addition to specialty pastry and bakery shops. Classic flavors include vanilla, chocolate, coffee, almond pistachio, lemon and raspberry. Newer flavors can include pumpkin, cinnamon, passion fruit, peanut butter and jelly, green tea, truffles, olives, and many more.
I love macaroons! They are DELICIOUS! If you've never had one - try it. They are light and chewy and crispy - you can't have just one.
I decided to use some hazelnut flour I had and use that instead of almond flour. Hazelnuts and chocolate - a great combination. I still need to practice more. I've only made them two or three times in school - mine have some peaks and a little too much volume. Like my mom says, "Good, Better, Best - Never, never rest until your Good gets Better, and your Better gets Best!"

Macaroons after resting 1 hour

Hazelnut Mocha Macaroons
adapted from Tartelette
90 grams Egg Whites
2 tablespoons Sugar
110 grams Hazelnut Flour
200 grams Powdered Sugar
The egg whites need to age at room temperature for at least 24 hours, loosely covered.
Whip the egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons granulated Sugar until you have a glossy meringue. Don't overbeat.
place 110 grams of Hazelnut Flour and 200 grams Powdered Sugar in a large bowl.
Add the whipped egg whites and fold. You don't have to fold too gently, but you don't want to over fold either. If you want to color them, add powdered food color halfway through folding.
When the batter is ready, pour into a large pastry bag with #807 tip (I just used the largest tip I had). It will ooze out the end, so keep the bag folded or crimp the bottom until you are ready to pipe.
Make small piped circles on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
Once the tray is filled, let it sit for an hour to harden the outer shell before baking.
Bake at 300F for 18-20 minutes and then let cool.

Mocha Ganache
from Food Network Kitchens
4 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder
Put Chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream, with espresso powder mixed in, to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate and shake bowl gently so cream settles around the chocolate. Set mixture aside until the chocolate is soft, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, taking care not to incorporate too many air bubbles. Cool at room temperature until set up.


Until next time,
Love & Confections!

February 6, 2010

Mmm Bananas

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I love baking. I love to mix ingredients that aren't always appealing on their own, but when combined with others, they create something delicious. Magic and science working together in an oven.

I baked Banana Bread yesterday. I bought bananas a while bac
k and, like a lot of people, they ripened before I could eat them all - so I put them in the freezer. The answer to all your banana problems: stick it in the freezer. And I forgot about them. Well, sort of. It isn't that hard to forget about a few, frozen solid, beyond-brown bananas, because they're staring at you every time you open the freezer door. I just kept putting it off, saying, "I'll make them soon".


I finally got tired of looking at them and decided to make Banana Bread, and I'm so glad I did. I love the smell of Banana Bread baking. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother's house. She introduced me to Banana Bread years ago. She showed me how she liked eating it - making it warm in the toaster oven and spreading cream cheese on it - simply divine. I'll eat it without cream cheese, of course, but it isn't the same. Every time I make or eat Banana Bread, I think of her. I'll have to make an extra loaf soon and send it to her.
Anyway… the picture is bad, but the Banana Bread was delicious!
Until next time,
Love & Confections


Banana Bread

from Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michael Suas
Makes 1 - 8 inch x 4 inch loaf

Ingredients:5 1/8 ounces Bananas
1/2 ounce Buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon Vanilla Extract3 1/4 ounces Sugar
1 5/8 ounces Brown Sugar
2 ounces Eggs
2 ounces Canola Oil
4 7/8 ounces Bread Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 ounces Walnuts (optional)
Process:
  1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, premix the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla extract until broken up. Reserve.
  2. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and canola oil int he bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients and mix until 50% incorporation.
  4. Add the banana buttermilk mixture and then add the walnuts and mix to incorporate.
  5. Deposit into sprayed pan three-fourths up the pan.
  6. Score along the length of the loaf, 1/4 inch deep with a scraper dipped in vegetable oil.
  7. Bake at 335F for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and the surface bounces back to the touch.

Do What You Love & Love What You Do...

2 comments:
My name is Terri and I'm studying to become a Pastry Chef.

Professional chefs don't run in the family. I didn't grow up knowing I would make a career out of it. I just have a love of food. My family is Italian. We all love to cook and the kitchen really is the center of activity in the house - it might even be the biggest room, too. The kitchen is home. It is honestly where most of my favorite memories originate.

"When someone shares something of value with you, and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others."


I honestly believe in this quote. I've learned so much from being in my family's kitchen, the kitchen at school, and various other kitchens I've visited, that I want to be able to share what I have benefited from.

I like making people happy, and if I can make at least one person happy from something I've created as a chef, then it's all worth it.

Until next time,
Love & Confections