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Archive for June, 2010

Wow… what a week it’s been. I have been finishing up all of my toddler’s different playgroup activities for the summer break, trying to think of some books to suggest for my book club (we are meeting for our last brunch in the  morning until Sept), preparing for the annual general meeting of The Calgary Sugarcraft Guild (I’ve been the President for the past 2 years), AND 2 days ago my mom fell and tore her Achilles tendon! So I am off this week to New York to take care of her for at least a month. Oh, then I look at the calendar and see it’s time to post my challenge.  I knew what I wanted to do I just never got around to doing it!!!  When I see how prepared everyone else is it makes me wonder,” will ever be ahead of schedule?” Probably not, but it’s a nice thought. Anyway, I have been busy baking today in hope of getting this done in time. I didn’t want to skip this since I love making meringue it’s just so darn versatile!

This month’s bakers challenge was brought to you by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlova and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I made 2 versions for this. The first was her challenge of a chocolate meringue with a chocolate marscapone mousse. Since we learned to make homemade marscapone cheese for Tiramisu back in February, that component was easy.

Chocolate pavlova w/chocolate mascarpone mousse and toffee creme anglaise

It also consists of  creme anglaise, a custard cream used to accompany a number of desserts. It has a delicate taste, like a thin pudding. I was able to make this over the course of the day, except for the marscapone cheese, which must be made a day in advance (or you could use store-bought cheese). I added a little bit of black cocoa to my meringue (I am addicted to the stuff) so it would be extra dark, and added a touch of Frangelico to my mousse. If you would like to try this version, please go to Dawn’s site for the complete recipe.

For my second version I made a anise flavored meringue, filled it with a scoop of white chocolate marscapone mousse, and top it off with a fresh cherry sauce.  I was excited for this challenge since when I was younger my sisters and I were all in the 4-H club (a sort of girl scouts group) and I clearly remember my older sister Susan, who was a young teenager at the time,  making a Pavlova for a demonstration. If I remember correctly, the recipe was in my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook. She still has that cookbook, with masking tape holding it together. When I get there later this week I must remember to look this recipe up. Anyway… my sister made the meringue in a giant heart shape and then filled it with whipped cream and topped it with a can of cherry pie filling. So, this is my homage to my sister and to Betty Crocker.

ANISE MERINGUE
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pure anise extract or crushed anise seeds

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist) Add the anise extract and gently fold in.

trace the underside of the parchment paper for shapes

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 2 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days

WHITE CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE MOUSSE
1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) white  chocolate, chopped (try to get the best quality you can your hands on. I used Callebaut)
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone cheese
pinch of cardamom
2 Tbsp Pernod (or Sambuca)

Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the 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.

Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and cardamom in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Pernod and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (Gently baby, do not overbeat or the mascarpone will break.)

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova

CHERRY FILLING

1 1/2 C fresh or frozen cherries, pitted (reserve any cherry juice)
1/4  C granulated sugar
2 tsp corn starch, mixed with 2 Tbsp cherry juice or water
1/8 tsp almond extract
Put the cherries and the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Add the corn starch/cherry juice mixture and cook for another minute, stirring constantly until thickened. Take off the heat and add the almond extract.Let cool to room temperature and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

CREME ANGLAISE

1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar

If you have any cherry juice left, you can add it to the sauce after cooking.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
Pour about ½ 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 LET THIS BOIL OR YOU WILL END UP WITH SCRAMBLED EGGS.
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

To Assemble: Spoon a few tablespoons of the creme anglaise on a dish. Position the meringue on top of this and fill with a generous scoop of the mousse. Finish it off with some of the cherry filling. Bon appetite!

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Toasted Coconut Pancakes


Sunday means one thing in out house: pancakes. Every week my little one wakes up asking “Can I help mix the ingredients?” I must admit that at this point I don’t even measure anything when I make our usual pancakes, just add some flour, baking powder, eggs, milk… you get the idea. Every once in a while though, I like to shake things up and “go fancy”. This is a perfect recipe for this. There are a few simple rules for making great pancakes: only flip once, don’t flip too early, and separate your eggs, beating the whites before adding them to the batter. I completely admit that I hardly ever follow this last rule (I am usually quite lazy Sunday mornings), BUT, it does produce light ethereal pancakes. I did say I was making fancy pancakes so I went the extra step and whipped my whites.
So when you want something a little special, try this one out.

TOASTED COCONUT PANCAKES

use unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 C coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp dark rum (optional ,but tasty)
1/2 C unsweetened coconut, toasted until light golden brown

Place all of the ingredients except the eggs whites into a bowl and mix to combine. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then fold into the batter. Lightly grease a frying pan with butter over medium low heat. Cook about 1/4 cup of batter at a time, about 3 minutes per side. You want to see air bubbles al over the top of the pancake before flipping it. Keep them warm  in a 200 F oven while you finish  making the rest.

I went one step further with this and  made a tropical sauce for these babies but I am sure they would taste great with maple syrup as well.

don't flip until you see the air bubbles on top

TROPICAL SAUCE

1 Very ripe banana (I had one in the freezer)
1/4 C passionfruit concentrate (or you could use orange juice concentrate)
1/2 C coconut milk
1/2 C heavy cream (or half and half)
1/4 C toasted coconut
1/4 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp dark rum (optional, but again, tasty)

Puree the banana and mix it with the other ingredients. Heat over a low heat for about 15 minutes before serving.

they should be nice and golden after the flip

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Baguettes made with poolish

How good do these look?? After reading the recipe on Wild Yeast’s blog I set right out to make these.  The secret ingredient is diastic malt powder, which I luckily happened to have on hand. I bought some this past year from King Arthur Flour to use in other bread – it helps with the rise and taste. I made the poolish (starter)

my poolish...

on Thursday and baked these yesterday to have with dinner. What a winner!! The flavor is exceptional. The problem with buying store-bought bread is that you forget that bread actually has flavor. While I bake a lot of bread for this household, it’s usually sandwich bread, not baguettes. Well… I think I might have to readjust my way of doing things. This recipe makes 3 loaves of bread (believe me, you will eat the first loaf within minutes). The next day if it is a little soft, just lightly wet the outside of the loaf -I actually quickly run mine under the sink and shake off the excess- and bake in the oven at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. This will crisp it right up like brand new. So go get yourself some diastic malt powder and head on over here for the recipe.

fresh from the oven

now that's a beautiful crumb!

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Me and the little one had a picnic today with our friends – since it’s been over a week of snow (!) and rain and we finally had a nice day.  All of the moms bring something to share with everyone and since I can’t help but bake I decided on brownies topped with a layer of coconut. What a lovely combination. They got a round of approval from everyone there.
I broke out my trusty Joy Of Cooking and combined two recipes from the book. Gosh, I forgot how much I love this cookbook! I truly believe that if you could only own one cookbook, this should be it. I have made countless recipes from it with many pages worn and stained. Over the years I have kind of put this book aside and take out scores of other baking/cookbooks from the library always seeking something new, but this book is like a well-worn shoe- it just feels right. So, here are two classic recipes  mixed into one…

BROWNIES COCKAIGNE   (makes sixteen  2 1/4 x 2 1/4 or twenty-four 2 1/4 x 2 inch bars)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with greased aluminum foil (I use PAM), allowing it to hang over the narrow ends of the pans.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I prefer to use 72% bittersweet)
8 Tbsp (4 oz, 1/2 c) unsalted butter
2 C granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
4 large eggs
1 C flour

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt together the chocolate and butter(or melt in a glass bowl at 1 minute intervals in the microwave-watch carefully!). Let cool completely. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir until completely combined. Stir in the flour and mix until just combined. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread to the edges.

COCONUT MACAROON TOPPING
2/3 C sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
pinch salt
3 C unsweetened (desiccated) coconut (in the book they ask for 3 1/2 C sweetened coconut but I wanted it a little looser and not so sweet)
Mix the first 4 ingredients together until well combined. Stir in the coconut. Drop by tablespoons over the top the brownie batter and spread lightly with a spatula to evenly cover the top of the brownie mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes and then cover with a sheet of foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, but still moist. Let cool completely. Using the foil overhang as handles, left the brownie out onto a cutting board. Cut into bars

A happy customer!

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