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Archive for April, 2011

So the Bakers Challenge this month was very interesting…. Maple mousse, bacon, edible containers?….  Love it!

This months challenge was brought to us by Evelyne of  Cheap Ethnic Eatz. The really cool part is that challenge was teamed up with the Cooks Challenge,  so there will be a slew of ideas, both savory and sweet.  I think it was a really fantastic idea and pushed people s creativity to think outside the box- oh wait- I meant ” inside” the box.  I am so impressed (and jealous) of how creative my fellow bakers are.

I made two versions over the course of the month. The first one was a chocolate shortbread/bacon-chocolate ganache/maple mousse concoction. The combination of chocolate, bacon, and maple mousse was soooo tasty. The second version was a maple-walnut pizzelle bowl filled with a vanilla-cream cheese-maple ripple ice cream, topped with bacon-chocolate bark. I served this at a dinner party and while the ice cream got rave reviews, the bacon-chocolate combo is not for everyone . I think it is a great combination, but while I loved it with the chocolate shortbread, I would leave it off the ice cream next time (at least for the company). The maple mousse was fantastic but sweet- I guess that is why the bacon works so well with it. I made 1/2 of this recipe as it makes too much for my small household.

VERSION ONE

Maple Mousse:

Ingredients:
• 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
• 1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Directions:
1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour

Chocolate Brittany Shortbread:
– this recipe is from  Alain Ducasse. I used my digital scale to 1/4 the recipe

1 1/2 +  1/3C (225g) All purpose flour
1 Tablespoon + 2 tsp  (12 g) cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/2 C (125 g) unsalted butter
1/2 C (100 g) granulated sugar

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the dry ingredients together and slowly add them to the butter sugar mixture until well combined. Divide the dough in half. Roll the dough out between 2 pieces of parchment paper until 1/8 inch thick. Place the entire sheet on a baking sheet and place  in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut into desired shapes. I used  the bottom of a large piping tip to cut out my circles and then placed them into the bottom of a wilton brownie pop mold to make a small cup shape. I then cut out triangle shapes and placed them over a round mold to bake, then used a 3 inch round crimped cutter for the bases.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.

Bacon-Chocolate Ganache:

Note- make this as bark, leave out the cream and butter. just melt the chocolate and then add the bacon


4 slices good quality bacon, cooked crisp.
6 ounces (150 g) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c (150 ml) heavy cream
1 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons maple sugar and 1 tsp course fleur de sel for sprinkling

Prepare a baking sheet with a  or parchment

Finely mince the bacon; set aside. Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes. Whisk this until smooth and then add the butter and keep whisking until it is fully incorporated and velvety in texture. Stir in the bacon.  Immediately pour out onto the silpat and spread into a thin layer. After 15 minutes sprinkle with the maple sugar and salt.  Place in the fridge to set, about 1 hour.

The sauce on the plate is 1/4 C pure maple syrup, reduce it by a third, take off the heat and add 1 Tablespoon Creme de Cacoa. Stir briskly.

Assembly: Cut out a piece of ganache the same size or smaller than your cookie base. Place this on top of the cookie.  Your “container” cookie should have the edges dipped in chocolate then rim them with some bacon powder (grind your bacon super fine). Adhere this cookie to the bottom cookie with a dab of melted chocolate. Pipe in the maple mousse.

VERSION TWO

 

Pizzelle cookies do require a pizzelle maker. Mine was given to me by a dear friend who never once used it.You can buy one new but I would check garage sales or ask some of your friends. People have the strangest things… To shape them I used small bowls. As soon as the pizzelle comes off the press I placed it on an upside down bowl and immediately placed another bowl right over it. It only takes about 10 seconds to cool completely. You need to work fast so don’t have any anything else going on while making these. These cookie edges were dipped in some warm dulce de leche and then some ground walnuts. Perfect.

Maple Walnut Pizzelle:

This makes about 20 cookies

3 eggs
1/2  C white sugar
1/4 c maple sugar
1/2 C butter, melted and cooled
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 3/4 C (250g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 C finely ground walnuts

Beat eggs and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the melted butter and maple syrup. Combine the flour, baking powder, and walnuts; stir in gradually. Dough will be sticky.

Preheat your pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls onto the iron. Close and cook for about 90 seconds, or until steam stops coming out of the iron. Carefully remove and cool. Store in an airtight tin at room temperature

Vanilla Cream Cheese Maple Ripple Ice Cream:

 While eggless ice cream is nothing new, this version contains corn starch as a thickener. It make the creamiest ice cream ever.

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 C pure maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 C pure maple syrup
In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.

In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the salt Place in the fridge overnight to thoroughly chill OR set the bowl in an ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the 1/2 cup of maple syrup into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and let it reduce a little, boiling it for 3 minutes. take off the heat and cool.

Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container.When The ice is done, place half in a container, pour half of the reduced maple syrup over it, repeat. Take a butter knife and swirl it through the ice cream, marbeling the maple syrup throughout.Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

Ice Cream recipe source:http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/vanilla-bean-ice-cream. Great article

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It’s been a very busy here baking and decorating cookies. We have had 2 Easter parties this past week and we just got home from an Easter egg hunt/brunch this afternoon.

This is a wonderful method for making sugar cookies. Instead of flouring your work surface, you roll out the dough right after mixing between 2 sheets of parchment paper, then you chill it. When you cut out your cookies they are ready to go right into the oven and since you don’t use any extra flour you can reroll the scraps as many times as you like without it toughening the cookie dough.  

SUGAR COOKIES

3 C  all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar
1 egg, large
1/2 tsp maple extract
seeds from 1 large vanilla bean (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add the egg, extract and vanilla bean and mix well. Gradually add the flour until everything is thoroughly combined.

Divide the dough in half and pat into a disk shape. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper until it is 1/4 inch. Place the entire sheet onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator until chilled, about 30 minutes. Cut into desired shapes. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes at 350 or until they turn ever so slighty golden.Reroll the scraps between the parchment sheets.

Recipe adapted from Cookie Craft

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Okay, something is just not right. I mean, it’s April 16th, and its SNOWING!! Wait…. I mean, snowing again! We just got 10 inches of snow 2 days ago and now it is coming down again. Am I supposed to find some sort of comfort in the fact that it’s not supposed to really accumulate? Wait again, my hubby is now telling me that we are going to get another 5 to 10 inches. I mean, really! We had the little bicycle and the scooter out last week when it was 15C, only to have to put them back into the shed. Aahh, springtime in the rockies…. So, to help move spring along a little I am making lemon  poppy-seed cupcakes today. Well, I also had a little inspiration for the theme. Today is my friend Daisy’s birthday. She was one of  my very best friend’s during my formative years. At the tender age of 13 we attended my first concert, Neil Young (the Rust Never Sleeps Tour) at Nassau Coliseum together. That surely was a night to remember on many levels.Many games of SPIT, handball, partying, summer singing class, music theory, the list goes on and on. So, here is to you to you, my dear old friend. Happy Birthday. I’m in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo, Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

LEMON POPPY SEED CUPCAKES

7  Tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter, room temp
3 oz  (90 g) cream cheese, room temp
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
2/3 C (150 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 1/4 C (125 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup  muffin tin with paper cases.

Cream the butter and cream cheese together for 2 minutes then add the sugar and zest; continue to beat until light and fluffy.Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Beat in the Lemon juice and sout cream.Sift the dry ingredients together then add to the bowl, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the poppy seeds.

Divide among the paper cases and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing.

SEVEN MINUTE FROSTING

This fluffy marshmallow frosting is best eaten within a few hours after being made. Be generous when frosting and pile it high like a fluffy cloud.

1 1/2 C granulated frosting
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Blend the sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup and salt in the top of a double boiler. Cook this mixture over boiling water, beating constantly with a hand-held beater on high-speed, for about 7 minutes, or until the frosting stands up in stiff peaks (It took me 9 minutes today). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Immediately spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes.

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What luck….

Last week, the day after my last post exactly, my computer froze. Just like that. I couldn’t even turn it off. I had no other choice but to unplug it, let the battery wear out, and try to reboot it in the morning. Sometimes this works, really, though I have no idea why. I am one of the least computer savvy people left on the planet, so when I still had no luck the next afternoon I was left with no choice but to call a “geek” to come to the house. The look on his face was quite somber as he said to me “it’s not good, not good at all” and informed me that my hardrive was shot. He asked me if I had backed up all of my files, which I replied “no, is that bad?” (I said I  wasn’t savvy…) After hearing that I would probably lose all of my files, most importantly, all of my pictures(!) I started to fight back tears. How would I ever be able to tell my little girl when she grows up that I don’t have a single picture of her from 3 to 5 years old???  My very smart “geek” would do his very best to try to save my files but he wouldn’t know for sure. I quickly ran out to the store and bought an external hard drive, keeping my fingers crossed that luck would be on my side that day. After doing “whatever they do”, he told me he could put the computer in a safe mode and copy all of my files, but that was it- after that he could do no more to save my computer. At the moment, I couldn’t care less about anything but my picture files. What a sigh of relief.

 I will never not have everything backed up again. I have learned my lesson, believe me.

It wasn’t until that night that I fully realized that I didn’t have a computer anymore. Funny how you get so attached to these things. While we had no money in our budget for such a thing, we also realized that in this day and age, it’s really not an option anymore. So after a few days of searching, here I am again, new computer in hand….

My very nice “geek” even took off a 1/2 hour from the bill, so to say thank you, I packed up a bag of these cookies and sent him on his way.

ALMOND WAFER THINS

Makes about 90 cookies

5 Tablespoons + 1 tsp water (80 ml) water
1/2 C (110 g)  unsalted butter
1 tsp cinnamon (if you can use freshly ground, do so)
1 1/2 C (300 g) Demerara sugar, packed  (widely available in supermarkets)
5 oz (160 g) slivered almonds
2 C+ 2 Tablespoons (300 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fleur de sal (or kosher salt)
1 egg yolk

Warm the water, butter and cinnamon in a small saucepan until the butter is fully dissolved. Take off the heat and let cool.

In a separate bowl, add the sugar and almond slices. Pour in the cooled water/butter mixture  and the almonds; stir just to combine. Add the egg yolk, followed by the flour, baking soda and the salt. Stir to form a stiff dough. Shape into 2 rectangular blocks, 5 x 12 x 3/4, OR, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and press into the pan to make it as even and flat as possible. Cover with wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. At this point you can freeze the dough for up to 2 months.

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Slice the dough into thin slices. You want them as thin as a coin, if not thinner. My husband loves the thinnest ones he can find in the batch. If you have trouble cutting them super thin, put the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm it up even more. Place them 1/2 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Biscotti. So many great recipes…

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