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Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

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The infamous Viennese Sachertorte is taking center stage today. This is a very traditional cake that has been made famous by the argument of who originated the recipe. This is between the Sacher hotel and the Demel Bakery, and it has even gone before the courts to decide, with intense legal battles ensuing between 1954 and 1963. In the end, the Sacher hotel won the rights to call it’s cake the “original” sachertorte  and gave the Demel the rights to decorate its tortes with a triangular seal that reads Eduard-Sacher-Torte.

In the end, it is a chocolate sponge cake brushed with apricot glaze and covered in a chocolate glaze. Perfect after a night of music at the Vienna opera house. Better yet, at your house after a delicious meal with friends.

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This months Baker’s challenge is hosted by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. Korena is a crazy good baker, so I insist that you must visit her blog and show her lots of praise. She deserves it.

It has to be 15 years since I made a sachertorte, so this was a treat to bake. It really is a pretty dessert. Please visit Korena’s page to see her recipe for a 9 inch torte. Since I have don’t have a need for such a large cake, I made a 6 inch version, which will easily serve 6 people.

Overall, it is a pretty simple cake to bake if you break it down. You will need 2 bowls to make the cake; one to whip the egg whites, another for the eggs/butter/flour portion. I whipped my whites, then transferred them to a clean bowl while I then mixed up the remaining batter. The apricot glaze is just strained jam. The boiled chocolate glaze is traditional, but does require a candy thermometer. I am going to say that if you don’t have a candy thermometer that you could just use a chocolate ganache poured over it with the same results. It’s all about working recipes around what you have. So my friends, Bake On!

SACHERTORTE

Chocolate sponge:

3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup (2.2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4  cup (1 oz) almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz (3/4 stick ) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Apricot Filling/glaze:

2/3 cup apricot preserves (I actually used low sugar spread and I  eyeballed the amount)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon rum

strong>Boiled chocolate icing:

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (30 g)  cocoa powder
1/3 cup (80 ml) water

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease and flour (I prefer to use cocoa powder) a 6 inch springform pan.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until firm peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter and the remaining sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined, then gently fold in the beaten egg whites until no white streaks are left. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, level off the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tested with a clean toothpick. Let cool for 10 minutes then loosen the ring and let cool completely.

Invert the cake onto a cake board or plate (the bottom is now the top). Slice the cake horizontally in two.

Sept 26, 2014

make the filling/glaze

Put the preserves and the water in a bowl and heat until warm. Give it a good stir, mix in the rum, then strain to get out any big fruit bits.

Place the bottom layer of cake (on the cake board) onto a wire cooling rack  set over a piece of wax paper.This is to catch the drips; if you skip this step you will have a mess on your hands! Brush the top of the layer with some of the warm jam. Let it set up for 5 minutes before placing the top on. Remember, your top layer started out as the bottom of the cake. Brush the entire outside of the cake with the remaining jam mixture. Let this set while you make the chocolate icing.

October 27, 2014

make the boiled chocolate icing

Place the sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder and water into a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir until blended and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the sauce registers 220 F on a candy thermometer.

Pour the hot sauce (be careful!) into a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Stirring makes it thick and smooth.

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Pour the chocolate icing over the top of the cake and spread with a spatula to cover the cake completely. Work as quickly as possible as to get the smoothest surface. Let stand until the icing is set (about 20 minutes) Lift the cake with two flat spatulas onto a serving plate. ..

NOW… if you want to get fancy (and who doesn’t?) you can melt a little chocolate and pipe it over the top to write out “sachertorte” or some pretty designs. Feel free to thin the chocolate out a little with a pinch of coconut oil or shortening. I used semisweet chocolate for my writing so it would show up better against the dark chocolate glaze. It really looks just a pretty without it so don’t stress yourself out if you are afraid of piping on your now beautiful cake.

Serve with a large dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

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Happy New Year everyone. A very belated one but still sincere. I have taken some time off from blogging over the holidays so I can enjoy myself and live in the moment. My little girl and I were lucky enough to once again go to New York for 6 weeks to be with my mom for Christmas. This year was filled with many bonuses. Two of my sisters came home to spend Christmas with us as well ; it’s been 20+ years since any of my sisters spent Christmas morning with us. My sister Stacey brought her husband and 3 kids with her (it’s been 4 years since I have seen my beloved nephews and niece). Then 2 days before Christmas my husband calls to say he is flying in on x-mas eve, courtesy of his good brother! While my oldest sister flew back to Atlanta the day after Christmas, her daughter, who now lives in Toronto, called on the 30th to say she was driving down to spend New Years Eve with us. With her husband (who I had never met) and her new 6 month old baby boy! Seriously, when they talk about spending time with your loved ones during the holidays, this is what they meant. What a treat for us all.  New York Dec 2013

While I baked up some 16 varieties of cookies, 12 panettone, 4 cakes for church coffee hour, 2 birthday cakes, 2 stollen, and a buche de noel (whew!), I did not make time to write about it. It takes me hours to get a post up. I don’t know how people can post everyday. Truly I don’t.  I’m lucky if I do 2 or 3 a month. Or on this case, none. Maybe there is some secret I don’t know about…

Anyway, I have been back in Calgary for a week now  and already have loaded myself up with new cookbooks to look at. One of them is “The New Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This is a revised edition (30 new recipes) of their bestseller Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day and is perfect for anyone who is a.) afraid of baking bread, b.) doesn’t own a stand mixer, or c.) loves bread. Much to my delight, I then saw that Jamie of Life’s a Feast picked a recipe from this very book for the Bread Baking Babes. Being a bread buddy is a delight of mine so I started right away with giving this a go since I had some chopped prunes already in the closet. An overnight soak in brandy helped (doesn’t it always?) deepen their complex flavor.

I still don’t understand how the gluten develops without any kneading, but who am I to question this apparently successful method. The dough is high hydration, almost more cake batter like when you mix it up, which is why it can stay in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, making it possible to have fresh-baked bread within a 2 hours notice. That is, as long as you have some dough in the fridge. The only downside I see to this book is that you have to prepare the dough in advance  at least the day before.  I still love the traditional way of baking though, there is something so organic about kneading, proofing, shaping, waiting some more and then baking. Or feeding your sourdough starter that’s been sitting on the counter and lovingly been attended to for months (or years). That being said, this is pretty darn cool, and easy. I will be trying a few more recipes from this book just to confirm this. Poor me, having to eat fresh bread….

So, on to this very interesting bread. It is bread, as in real bread, not like banana bread, which is cake-like. It is also deep and dark in flavor, thanks to dark cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate, but it is not sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea (I tried both). I made three versions, one with prunes, one with dried cherries and hazelnuts and the last with just toasted hazelnuts. And more chocolate, of course, since bittersweet chocolate is good for you. so get your mixing bowls out and Bake On!

CHOCOLATE BREAD RECIPE (Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread)
Makes two 2-pound loaves. This recipe is easily doubled or halved.

2 ½ cups (565 ml) lukewarm water (100°F or below)
¾ cup (170 ml) vegetable oil
1 Tbs (0.35 oz / 10 g) granulated yeast
1 to 1 ½ Tbs (17 to 25 g) kosher salt – * use less if using fine table salt, more if using coarse salt
1 cup (7 ounces / 200 g) sugar
5 ½ cups (1 pound, 11 ½ ounces / 780 g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (3 ounces / 85 g) dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups (6 ounces / 170 g) bittersweet or sweet chocolate chips
Mixing and storing the dough:

Mix the oil, yeast, salt and sugar with the water in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and the chocolate chips without kneading, using a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you are not using the machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.DSC_3823-001

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle with cold. Refrigerate the container of dough and use over the next 5 days. Beyond the 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound (about 450 g) portions in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise time.DSC_3836-002

 

Chocolate Prune Bread:
Makes one 1 ½ pound loaf

1 ½ pounds (about 680 g – the size of a small cantaloupe) of the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread dough
Softened unsalted butter for greasing the pan
2 ounces (55 g) high-quality bittersweet chocolate – * use 6 ounces (170 g) if you did not add chocolate chips to the original Chocolate Bread Dough
¾ cup chopped pitted prunes
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbls water)
¼ cup (50 g) sugar for sprinkling over the top of the bread and preparing the pan

On baking day, generously grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ – inch (22 x 11 ½ cm approx) nonstick loaf pan with butter, sprinkle some sugar evenly over the butter and shake the pan to distribute. Besides making a regular loaf pan I also used 3 medium-sized panettone papers.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 ½ pound piece (for the smaller loaves I used 12 ounce pieces) Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a ½ – inch-thick (scant 1 ½ cm) rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry.

Sprinkle the chocolate and chopped prunes over the dough and roll up the dough jelly roll style to enclose them. Fold the dough over itself several times, turning and pressing it down with the heel of your hand after each turn. This will work the chocolate and prunes into the dough; some may poke through.

January 21, 2014

With very wet hands (I floured my hands instead), form the dough into a loaf shape and place it into the prepared pan. Allow to rest and rise for 90 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). A baking stone is not required and omitting it shortens the preheat.

Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (I used Swedish pearl sugar) . Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes until firm. Smaller or larger loaves with require adjustments to baking time.

Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before slicing and eating. Enjoy!

Please check out if and how the other Babes managed their own Chocolate Prune Bread:BBB jan 14

Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Lucullian Delights – Ilva
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien

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Oh My! These are to die for. When I first made them last month, my husband and mother-in-law ate almost the entire batch in one sitting. I mean, they really are good. Well, that’s if you like cookie dough, and really, who doesn’t?.  I had to actually hide the latest batch deep in the freezer from my husband since every time I turned around another 5 would be gone. He was not happy with me, but you will be after you try these.

Some time ago I  saw a recipe for cookie dough frosting over at the Cupcake Project that really intrigued me, and then over at the library I stumbled upon “The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook” and I knew I had to give some of these recipes a try. The concept is simple, just delete the eggs from the recipe and replace the lost moisture with a little cream or milk. You also don’t need any leavening since these are not going to be baked. This only takes minutes to mix up, but then the wait… at least an hour in the fridge so the dough can firm up. You then roll the chilled dough into bite sized balls, freeze for an hour, then dip into chocolate candy coating, such as Wiltons. Do not use regular melted chocolate such as chocolate chips or block chocolate unless you plan on tempering it first, which you can do, but for this recipe it is a pain and unnecessary .The flavor combinations are only limited to what you put into them. I promise these will be a huge hit with your family and friends during the holidays. Bake On! Oh wait, you don’t need to bake……

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First: The Basic

1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tablespoons cream (or half and half or whole milk)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon black walnut extract (optional, but adds a really nice depth)
1  1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt  (I prefer to use kosher)
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

8 oz dark chocolate candy coating

1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening (this is to help your coating be more fluid)

Beat the butter and sugars together in your mixer (using the paddle attachment), or by hand, for at least 3 minutes, or until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Mix in the extracts and cream. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until everything is incorporated. Finally, stir in the chips. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 3 days)

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls  and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Put the tray into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt the chocolate coating. This can easily be done in the microwave; just place the chocolate into a glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Let it sit for 30 seconds then cook for another minute. Stir in the vegetable shortening until it is completely combined and fluid . Drop in one ball at a time and lift out with the tines of a fork, gently tapping it against the bowl to remove excess; immediately transfer back to the parchment lined sheet. Since the cookie dough is now frozen the coating will set up really fast. If you want to put some sprinkles on them only do a few at time so the coating doesn’t firm up too fast.

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These will keep in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 1 month.

Second: The Reverse

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1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tablespoons cream (or half and half or whole milk)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (I like Barry Callebaut extra brute)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips

12 ounces (1 bag) white chocolate candy coating (you will need to double dip these so the dark chocolate filling doesn’t show through)
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

Beat the butter and sugars together in your mixer (using the paddle attachment), or by hand, for at least 3 minutes, or until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Mix in the extract and cream. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder and salt and mix just until everything is incorporated. Finally, stir in the chips. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 3 days).

Form into 1 inch balls and freeze for 30 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate candy coating. Follow the procedure above for dipping them, except for these when you get to the end start back at the beginning and dip them a second time so the dark filling doesn’t show. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Third: Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dough Studded With Roasted Cocoa Nibs

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1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cream (or half and half or whole milk)
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup roasted cocoa nibs

10 ounces dark chocolate candy coating
1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

Beat the butter and sugar together in your mixer (using the paddle attachment), or by hand, for at least 3 minutes, or until it becomes fluffy and light in color. Mix in the extract and vanilla seeds. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until everything is incorporated. Finally, stir in the cocoa nibs. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to 3 days).

For these I rolled the dough out between two pieces of parchment until it was about 1/3 inch. Then using a small 1 1/2 inch circle cutter I cut out 28 circles.

Dip into the melted chocolate as above (only one dipping required).

Hope you LOVE these!

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While I have not been writing on my blog, I have been accumulating large amounts of zucchini from my community garden plot. We  never tried this before and all I can say is , this is the plant to grow for people who want to do as little as possible in the garden and get amazing results. I might not be inspired to write about something, but I am always inspired to bake something.

This picture does not include the 5 other ones I have already baked bread with, or the countless smaller ones which got sliced and grilled on the BBQ, or diced and tossed with pasta, or baked into whoopie pies…..

This recipe is so simple and yet so tasty. It’s a nice change from the lightly spiced zucchini bread that we are all familiar with in one way or another.  The addition of cocoa powder takes this to a whole other level. That’s if you like chocolate.Which I do. This makes two loaves so you can be generous and give one to a friend, or freeze it for up to 3 months for a later date. If you know someone who shies away from veggies, just don’t tell them – they will never know!

Now, I hate sounding like a chocolate snob, but when using cocoa powder as your sole chocolate, it really is important to use the best cocoa powder that you get afford.  I personally like Cocoa Barry Extra Brute with a little black cocoa mixed in, but I also like the Rodelle gourmet cocoa powder (sold at Costco), Freys, and Hersheys Dark. With all that being said, use whatever you like or have on hand. If you only have a generic brand of cocoa powder then add a cup of mini chocolate chips to boost the chocolate flavor. Or add them even if you use the best cocoa powder….. I also add a little orange oil to my  batter since I love the flavor of orange. If you don’t own this, just skip it. Or add 2 Tablespoons of orange juice concentrate instead. What I’m trying to say is that you can always improvise. Don’t let little things stop you from baking something. Don’t have oranges? Okay, leave it out and fill your pans 1/3 the way with the chocolate batter. Scatter 1/2 cup frozen raspberries tossed with 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Put the remaining batter in the pans. Scatter another 1/2 cup of berries of the tops. That’s 1 cup berries total per loaf. Easy right? Let your imagination flow and work with what you have in your kitchen. Bake on!

CHOCOLATE ORANGE ZUCCHINI BREAD

Makes two loaves

4 eggs
2  1/4 Cups granulated  sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil  vegetable oil
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
3 cups flour (750 mL) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups zucchini , finely grated
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 Teaspoon orange oil (optional)

1/4 cup candied orange peel, divided  (optional, but really nice)

Raspberry loaf

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.
Beat eggs well, then add in sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add oil, then cocoa to the eggs and sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add into egg mixture. Mix in zucchini ,orange zest. and orange oil (if using)
Pour into two pans and sprinkle each loaf with some candied orange peel.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on racks before removing from pans. Thoroughly enjoy!

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So, did everyone have a nice Easter/Passover holiday? I know we did. Instead of staying home for dinner, we got in the car and went to two of our favorite places, Chico Hot Springs and Yellowstone National Park. They are both located in the magical states of Montana & Wyoming. It’s a long drive (900k/530 miles), but to us, soooo worth it. At this time of year the park is such a great place to visit. There is only one section open in the park in the winter, but it never fails to amaze us. Mammoth hot springs is a site to behold on its own, but we also saw tons of Bison, pronghorns, elk, and birds, including hawks, osprey, and a bald eagle! The highlight though were the wolves. We were lucky enough to see a park wolf patrol officer with his scope and got to view a male and pregnant female couple eating a kill (with the bald eagle trying to get at it). Amazing. Seriously. We never forget how lucky we are to live out West and love seeing all of the truly awe-inspiring  places around us.


The many colors of Mammoth Hot Springs

And a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure…


One of the best perks is that the place where we stay has no TV, telephones, or computers. Well, you get dial-up in the lobby but it’s sort of a pain, so why bother. You realize that you don’t need to be “connected” at all times. You realize that the best way to be “connected” is to spend time with your family and friends. With no outside distractions. Kids even soon forget that there is no TV or video when their parents are there with them. Swimming, playing board games, puzzles, reading. Sounds old-fashioned, but it really works. We always meet such interesting people just hanging out in the lobby sitting around the fireplace.So much so that when I got home, I didn’t even want to plug in my laptop for a few days or watch the boob tube. I highly recommend this for everyone every once in a while. I think you will be glad that you did. Okay- enough said on that!

With us missing Easter dinner at home, we just moved it a week. It was time for our monthly dinner supper club anyway, so we did everything a week later. It worked out better for everyone involved anyway. On the menu this month:

apricot apple-bourbon glazed ham (we also had apple-bourbon hot toddys to start)
carrot souffle
braised red cabbage with raisins and apples
shredded brussel sprouts with bacon
popovers
and for dessert……

Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake!!

equipment needed:  one 9″ springform pan, two 8″ inch cake pans, parchment paper and acetate (you can substitute parchment paper), and a 9″ cardboard cake circle or cake plate.

Before you begin, cut a length of acetate or parchment paper  3 1/2  inches high and 33 inches long. Take this and line the inside of your springform pan. Cut a 9 inch circle of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the pan. Set this aside until the final assembly. This step makes removing the cake from the springform pan a breeze

Cake:

This makes 2 cakes. If they bake perfectly even then you can cut one in half horizontally and freeze the other half for a later time. Since mine usually are domed, I just trim the tops off each one to even them out and use both layers, saving the leftover scraps for a later use (cake pops, sides of cakes, over ice cream…)

1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot, strongly brewed coffee

Preheat your  oven to 325 F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and  line the bottoms with parchment paper …

 Whisk the boiling water, chocolate and butter together until melted and set aside.Whip the egg, sugar and vanilla until the mixture doubles in volume (about 2 minutes on high-speed) and then fold in the chocolate mixture by hand. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over the batter and fold in, then stir in the hot coffee (this will thin the batter out). Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans.

 Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick  inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans.

Cherry Mousse:

* To make the puree, I boiled up about 3 large cups of frozen, pitted cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar, whirled it up in the blender then strained it through a fine sieve. Cool to room temp. I swear, it was easy. Do this while the cake is in the oven.

2 Cups (16 oz) sweetened cherry puree (see above)
3 Cups (24 oz) heavy cream (33-36%)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and either place in a small pan of simmering water and stir until dissolved or place the bowl in the microwave for about 15 -20 seconds (just do not let it boil). Let this cool down for about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the sweetened cherry puree. Stir in the gelatin, almond extract, and kirsch (if using). In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft, billowy peaks form; fold lightly into the cherry mixture.

Assembly:

Either cut one layer of cake horizontally or trim down the two layers so that you have 2 thin even layers.

Spoon half of the cherry mousse into the bottom of your prepared springform pan. Carefully place (drop, really) one layer of the cake into the center. You will have a border of mousse all around the cake. Gently press down. Spoon the remaining cherry mousse over this layer. Repeat with the second layer of cake, again gently pressing down so that the cake and mousse border are level.

Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to set up.

While the cake is setting up, make the glaze…

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Bring the water, sugar, and cream to a boil in a medium pan. Once boiling, whisk in the cocoa powder and simmer (reducing the heat if needed) for 4 minutes, stirring often, (the consistency will not change). Remove from heat. Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup of cold water and then whisk this into the hot cocoa mixture until dissolved. Cool the glaze to room temperature, then chill completely, at least 3 hours. It will set up like chocolate gelatin (and it tastes great)

To finish the cake:  Open up the springform pan and remove the cake. Gently peel away the acetate (or parchment) that is around the sides of the cake. Place the cardboard round (or cake plate) onto the top of the cake and invert it onto a cooling rack. If you don’t have an exact 9 inch round cake plate, then invert it directly onto the cooling rack. Place the cooling rack over a parchment lined baking sheet.  Warm the chilled glaze over low heat,while whisking occasionally, until just melted and smooth and pour this over the cake , spreading gently with a spatula to ensure that it covers the top and sides of the cake evenly. I poured half over, chilled it a bit, then put a second coat on it. Scoop up any leftover glaze  that dipped through onto the parchment paper and reuse. You can chill and reuse this glaze over and over. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes, then lift it onto your presentation plate and store chilled until ready to serve. This keeps in the fridge for up to four days.

This was a real visual show-stopper while also a light and  delicious way to end a big meal. Enjoy!


recipe adapted from here

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Chocolate Spiral Bread

Since I have been on a bread baking binge for the last few months, when I saw this post I knew that I wanted to take part in it. While I have never participated in this before, Lisa, of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives, is the host of this month’s  Bread Baking Day #47. I am a fan of Lisa and her site, so please go on over and read her witty stories ( I, on the other hand, am a very clumsy writer, so only read me for the recipes! ). The challenge? Yeast bread with chocolate. Not too hard to think of sweet recipes for this (povitica  anyone?), but I really wanted to try this non-sweet sandwich bread, and this was the perfect excuse. It comes from my new  favorite book of the moment, Bake!, by Nick Malgieri. If you have never read any of his baking books, I can’t urge you strongly enough to head over to your local library and pick one up. Currently, he directs the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School) and frequently serves as a guest teacher at many cooking schools. Since 1985, he has appeared at culinary events throughout North America, and at the Smithsonian Institution.

What I love about him is his easy-going baking style. I’m not saying that all of his recipes are simple, but he makes them approachable. In fact, I think in this book he really makes everything almost easy. If I could change one thing, it would be that he include weight measurements in his recipes. Recipes come out more consistent when weighed, but I also believe that bread baking is also about feeling, and changes in weather effect the moisture content. So, really, I guess I could go either way…I have been enjoying his section in the book on bread and have now made his perfect white pan bread recipe multiple times and really love it. I received a pullman loaf pan for Christmas and I have been all over it ever since. It makes perfectly square sandwich bread. Wait, I’m digressing here, because I did not use this pan for this particular chocolate swirl bread. Well, I did, but I didn’t put the top on it, so I don’t think that counts. Anyway, back to this bread. What a cool looking loaf this is. For a second you might think it’s a marble rye, but it’s not. It is a moist, slightly sweet and faintly chocolatey slice of deliciousness. My daughter has been enjoying this with peanut butter and jelly, I with cream cheese or a smear of sweet butter. My husband? with sliced turkey.

Bake on!

Chocolate Spiral Bread

This makes two  9x5x5 loaves

PART ONE:

6 1/2 Cups (28.66 oz/812.5 g) bread flour (I always use all-purpose flour with 1 Tbls vital wheat gluten)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
4 Tablespoons (2 oz/56.7 g) Unsalted butter, but into pieces
1 1/2 Cups (12 oz/96 g) milk, scalded
1 Cup (8 oz/64g) warm water (about 110F)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Stir the butter into the hot milk and let it cool to room temperature.
Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
Once the milk is cooled down, whisk the yeast into the warm water in the bowl of your standing mixer. Wait one minute then whisk again. Whisk in the milk and butter mixture.
Stir in half of the flour mixture, then stir in the balance in 2 additions until you have a rough, shaggy mixture. Place the bowl onto your mixer and using your dough hook, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 mixer. turn your mixer back on to medium and beat for another 2 minutes.

Part two:

1 batch perfect white bread (above)
1/4 cup (2 oz)milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used bittersweet), melted and slightly cooled
1/4 Cup bread flour (again, I used AP flour)
1 Tablespoon melted butter, for brushing on the tops when they are out of the oven

Turn the dough out and divide it into two pieces, one being twice as large as the others. I used my scale for this which made it very easy but don’t worry if you eye it; you basically want to end up with 2/3 and 1/3. Place the larger piece into a lightly oiled bowl (I just spray mine with PAM),turn the dough over, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour)

Return the smaller piece to the mixer.

Whisk together the chocolate, milk and cinnamon. Add it to the mixing bowl with the smaller piece of dough and the 1/4 cup flour and blend together on low-speed until the dough evenly absorbs the chocolate mixture. Turn off the machine and let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then mix again on low speed for another 2 minutes.  Place the dough into an oiled lined bowl, turn it over, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled (about 1 hour).

Roll the piece of white dough into a 16 inch square. Roll the chocolate dough into a 8×16 inch rectangle. Brush a little water over the white dough and place the chocolate dough on top of the dough, leaving a 1 inch space of white dough  closest to you. Fold over the 1 inch onto the chocolate dough and continue to roll the dough up, jelly roll style. You will now have one long piece of dough. Cut the dough in half, kind of pinch the open end together a little, then press each one into your  loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 F

When the loaves are fully risen, bake in your hot oven, about 45 minutes. they should be a deep, golden color with an internal temperature of 200F.  I have a little $5 stick thermometer that works perfect for this. If you don’t own one, just make sure that the bread has a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

Unmold the bread from the pans (this is when you would tap them if you don’t have a thermometer), brush the tops with the melted butter and let cool completely. Enjoy.

This was so good that I am going to submit it to yeastspotting this week!

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It was my better half’s birthday last  week, but being a weeknight, work night and school night, all we did was go out and enjoy a nice Indian meal. I don’t know if I mentioned anything about our monthly supper get together, but it fell on this past Sunday. We meet the 2nd sunday of the month for a dinner at my house with our friends Donna and Michael to ensure that we get to see each other no matter how busy the rest of the month is. Since I love to cook so much, this is really fun for me and our friends seem to enjoy it as well. Maybe it’s all the wine?… the menu this month was an arugula salad with shaved fennel and oranges finished with toasted pistachios and a meyer lemon vinaigrette. We followed this with saffron risotto with scallops and shrimp. To celebrate his birthday  and to have some chocolate for valentine’s day, I made this decadent hazelnut cake. Please note that I made a six-inch cake. I find this the perfect amount for 6-8 people. I love my six-inch cake pans (it’s a good idea to have two of them) and believe they are a worthwhile investment for every baker.An 8 inch cake feeds 10-12 people, which I normally don’t have over at one time, so who ends up eating all that leftover cake? hint.. look at my butt. Anyway, don’t be put off by the length of this recipe. It’s actually just a bunch of steps and can be made in an afternoon. Read through the entire recipe before making this and it will be a breeze for you. I promise. Bake on!

Makes 1 two-layer 6 inch cake

Cake:

3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 Tablespoon Kahlua or water
5 eggs
1 1/4 Cups  (225g) granulated sugar
1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons (250G) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (150G) all-purpose flour
1 Cup (100g) toasted, finely ground hazelnuts (or hazelnut meal if you can get it)
1/4 C (25g) Dutch cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 Cup (80g) sour cream

Chocolate Ganache:

1 Cup (8 oz/250ml) heavy whipping cream
10 ounces (1 1/2 Cup, 300 G) Dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Frangelico or Kahlua

Simple Syrup:

1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup (4 oz) granulated sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp pure vanilla or 1 tablespoon Kalhua

Preheat your oven to 325F

Line the bottoms of two 6 inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil (such as PAM).

Mix the coffee powder and Kahlua into a small bowl and mix well. Set Aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder;set aside.

Place the butter and 1 Cup sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) and beat until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, using a hand-held mixer, whip the eggs and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until pale, about 4 minutes.

Pour the eggs into the butter and add the flour mixture, the ground hazelnuts, the coffee mixture and the sour cream and beat until just combined. Evenly divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and smooth out gently with an offset spatula. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer or knife tip (check after 50 minutes depending on your oven)

While the cake is baking, prepare the ganache:

Place the chopped chocolate into a medium-sized glass bowl. Heat the cream (either on the stove or in the microwave) until very hot, but not boiling. Pour over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes. Whisk the chocolate and cream together until smooth and creamy (it will look curdled for a moment but just keep whisking). Stir in the Frangelico.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool, on the counter, until it is room temperature. Cooling it on the counter gives it time to set up properly. By the time the cake is out of the oven and cool your ganache will be ready to use.

Okay, now that your cake is in the oven and your ganache is made, let’s move onto the simple syrup. Are you ready to hear how hard it is to make? Well, here goes:

Place the equal amounts of sugar and water (1/2 cup each) into a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool.

Optional: stir in the seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whew!!! Aren’t you glad that part of the recipe is over? 🙂 Now seriously, the reason for a simple syrup is just to ensure a moist cake. Sometimes cakes made with nut flour can be a little dry and I like to brush them with simple syrup before frosting them. I also do this with wedding cakes. This is a good trick if you are making a cake 1 or 2 days before you are serving it and want to keep it moist. It can also impart more flavor. you can add all sorts of flavorings to your simple syrup. If you toss in a few slices of fresh ginger before you bring it to a boil you now have ginger syrup. This is excellent brushed onto gingerbread cake before a cream cheese frosting. You get the idea? Anyway, I love to have simple syrup on hand since it is also very useful when making yummy cocktails! It will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

Back to the cake.

When the cake is done, take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before taking them out of the pan and cooling completely. (Now would be a good time to make yourself a yummy cocktail using a splash of the simple syrup. I love ginger syrup with Grey Goose Pear vodka and a bit of club soda…)

After the cakes are cooled, trim the tops of each so they are level. A long serrated bread knife works well for this. Take the bit that you just cut off, place onto a baking sheet, and pop back into the oven at 200F for 10 minutes to toast them up a bit. Place into a mini processor and whirl for a few seconds to make crumbs (or just use your clean hands).Set aside.

Take one cake and place it on a cake stand. Brush the top with simple syrup (you just want a thin layer- you are not trying to drown it!). Place about 1/2 cup of the ganache in the middle and using an offset spatula, spread evenly onto the top of the cake. Repeat with the second layer of cake, except don’t frost the top yet.Frost the sides of the cake leaving yourself some ganache to frost the top.

Place the reserved cake crumbs onto a large plate. Pick up the cake, and holding it on the unfrosted top and bottom with your fingertips, roll the sides in the cake crumbs to evenly coat it all around. Carefully place back on the cake stand. Frost the top with the last of the ganache and sprinkle with the balance of the cake crumbs.

Stand back and pat yourself on the back. Enjoy with friends!


Adapted from Donna Hay issue 59

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