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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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I was just in the mood for a bundt cake. Baking is my form of relaxation therapy (though sometimes it seems so stressful…) and I had a container of sour cream just calling out to be put into a cake. A chocolatey cake. In a pretty pan. Yes, a bundt cake. Now all I can think of is, “why don’t I bake these more often”? What a showstopper to bring out at the end of a meal with friends – or how about as a gift to say “thank you” to someone special?

This one is rich and chocolatey, but not overly sweet at all. As I get older I like my chocolate to taste more like chocolate, and less like sugar.  The best part of this recipe is that is actually tastes better as the days go on. In fact, don’t eat it the day you make it. Bake it the day (or two) before you need it and  let the flavors really develop. The chocolate sauce enrobing the cake keeps it beautifully moist and flavorful. Bake On…

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

1 Cup (8 oz) unsalted butter
1/2 C + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I like to use a mix of black cocoa and dutch process)
3/4 Cup strong coffee
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 Cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 Cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan (I actually just use PAM)

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the cocoa powder. Whisk occasionally to get out any lumps. Take off the heat and whisk in the coffee, sour cream , eggs and vanilla. Stir in the sugar.  Transfer the liquid mixture to a mixing bowl. Sift in the flour, baking soda, corn starch and salt. Beat with a mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes (or by hand for 4 minutes) until smooth and shiny. Pour into your prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Now, whenever I read the recommended bake time on a cake I always set my timer for 5 minutes before (in this case 30 minutes) and test the cake by sticking it with a wooden skewer to see how done it is and then every 5 minutes after that so that I never overbake my cake.

Let the cake cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 25 minutes before inverting the cake out onto the cooling rack.

Make the Glaze:

* If you do not have Nutella on hand (or want to use it) just increase the bittersweet chocolate to 9oz)

1 Cup (8 oz) heavy cream
6 Ounces dark chocolate
3 oz Nutella

Finely chop the dark chocolate. Place in a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream over medium heat to a simmer. It should be hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate; let this sit for 3 minutes. Add the Nutella and whisk until everything comes together and makes a smooth, shiny sauce. It will look a little curdled at first but just keep whisking and suddenly it will be gorgeous.

Final Assembly:

Place a sheet of wax paper (or parchment) under the cooling rack. This is to catch the extra sauce as you are pouring it over the cake; it keeps your counter clean and makes it easy to pour back into your bowl.

Slowly start pouring the warm chocolate sauce over the cake. You can start in a zig zag pattern and just keep overlapping as you go around. Ultimately, in the end, you want the entire cake enrobed in a layer of chocolate sauce. Mmm… now doesn’t that sound good?  You will be glad about that sheet of wax paper catching the drippings at this point. Any leftover sauce (you should have about 1/2 cup left) is excellent on ice cream (or maybe just with a spoon?…).

Transfer the cake to a cake stand and sprinkle with some swedish sugar (totally optional, but pretty).

Enjoy!

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It was my husbands best friends birthday this past Saturday. He moved to BC last year, but travels for business quite frequently and luckily stays with us at our house every 6 weeks or so. My hubby is very happy when he has his bud to play with. Oh, and the weather here- wow- you would think it was still the middle of summer. They got to play golf together, which for them is like little girls getting to play Barbie’s. It also happened to be his birthday.  While he said he wanted to just lay low, I wanted to make a special birthday dinner. It started out with just us and morphed overnight into 7 people.

sweet corn ravioli

I saw a recipe for sweet corn ravioli on Lisa’s blog parsley, sage , dessert, and line drives that I kept meaning to try, and this was the perfect occasion. I added some saffron to my pasta dough, and instead of cherry tomatoes to finish, I slow roasted some plum tomatoes and then rehydrated them with water and balsamic vinegar then whirled it up in the mini processor. It was really super and I highly recommend you going over to her sight and getting the recipe.

Moving on the dessert…  Last month I was looking at another great site (I am always inspired by other people and their creativity), Barbara Bakes, and she posted the Hershey’s “perfectly chocolate” chocolate cake. I thought “really??”. I’m not such a big fan of Hershey’s, but Barb raved about it so it went on the ever-growing “to bake” list. When I realized I would be needing a birthday cake (and a celebration cake for my 100th post!!!!), I thought of this one. The one big change I made was that I didn’t use Hershey’s cocoa (sorry) …and adjusted a few other things… It is super easy to put together and reminded me very much of my favorite blackout cake. Looking at it I thought it could use a little color such as raspberries on top but one of our guests was allergic to fruit so I left it as an elegant black and white cake.
For the center  I chose a cream cheese cake filling and finally wrapped the whole thing in chocolate.
The cake is so moist it would be great served on its own.The cream cheese filling was light and not too sweet and played off nicely with the hard chocolate shell.
One word.
Divine.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 Cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup cocoa powder (I use 1/4 C black cocoa and 1/2 c Rodelle dutch dark cocoa)
1 1/2 tsp  baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 Cup flavorless oil (such as canola)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 Cup boiling water

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line three 6 inch cake pans (which is what I did) or two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.

Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and espresso powder; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or by hand for 4 minutes. Carefully stir in the boiling water (by hand) and mix until fully incorporated. The batter will be quite thin. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. cool for 15 minutes before removing from the cake pans. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Cream Cheesecake Filling

4 egg yolks
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup whole milk
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin or 7 gelatin leaves
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 Cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups heavy cream (32-36%)

Place the sugar, milk, vanilla bean seeds, and pods in heavy medium-sized pot. Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and it is steaming. Meanwhile, place the 4 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. When the milk is hot, pour some into the yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the egg yolks. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot and stir continuously over a low for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil or you will end up with scrambled eggs! Take out the vanilla bean pods (you can rinse these off, dry them, then add to your sugar bowl). Strain through a fine sieve. Set aside for the moment.

Add the powdered gelatin to 1/4 C warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the custard back over low heat, add the gelatin, stirring briskly, until all of the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Beat the cream cheese and cottage cheese until very smooth. Gradually add the warm gelatin/custard mixture, beating constantly, until smooth and creamy. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat the heavy cream until firm, Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture with wire wisk.

Line the inside of a springform pan with parchment paper or acetate. Place one layer of cake in the bottom of the pan. Pour a layer of the cheese mixture over top, about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat two more times. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set up.

Remove the  sides of the pan and slip out the cake. Peel off the parchment paper/acetate. Cut a separate piece of parchment/acetate, measuring the diameter and the height (I like to go 1/2 inch higher). Lay this down over a larger piece of paper or foil. Melt semi-sweet chocolate and carefully spread over the measured piece of paper. It’s okay if some goes over the edges. Pick up one corner and carefully pick up the whole measured piece and wrap it around the cake, pressing lightly to adhere. immediately place in the fridge to harden the chocolate.

When ready to serve, gently peel off the parchment paper/acetate to reveal a beautiful shiny coat of chocolate! Enjoy.

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Time for the monthly Bakers Challenge. Already?? !  Tempering chocolate AND candy?!!!

When I first saw what this months challenge was going to be I must admit I wasn’t all that excited. Who really wants to fooling around with melted chocolate and boiling sugars in the middle of the summer? Not me. So I kept putting it off, and putting got off, and then thinking about – and then putting it off some more. Man, am I mad at myself for that. It was really fun (and messy)  and produced some really tasty chocolate candy treats in the house. There were two components to this challenge- one had to be chocolate (preferably tempered) and one candy. I knew all along I wanted to make lollipops, though I had much grander visions in my head than I allowed myself time for. The chocolate part was another matter. I have made truffles before so I knew I wanted to try something different. I have also tempered chocolate before , but for dipping, so I ended up with making filled chocolates. While  La Maison du Chocolat has nothing to be worried about, I must admit they came out mighty tasty. I just wish now that I had given myself more time to make many more flavors. Oh well, I can’t cry over spilt chocolate now, can I? I’m sure my husband is happy this is all I got done  since I ended up with bits of splattered chocolate and lollipop bits everywhere.
Three flavors of filled chocolate  were completed; milk chocolate ganache and pistachio paste, white chocolate-cardamom ganache with cashew butter, and vanilla butter rum caramel. Wow… All three were insanely creamy and delicious.  I still need to work some more on coating my molds, as I found that the outside coating was a little on the thin side. I think I was worried  about it being to thick and went a little too far the other way.  That being said , all else was fine.  As far as the lollipops go, they are so super easy and fun! I went with the old window pane look. We used to do this in 4-H when I was a little kid with the inside of cookie cutouts, except we used broken bits of lifesavers instead of homemade lollies. When I read about this old technique in Sugar Baby I totally knew this was the way I was gonna go. While you can go crazy with flavors I just went with orange and lemon for summer. Come Halloween time though, I know I will be making anise, cinnamon and clove versions.

BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER, PLEASE NOTE: YOU NEED A CANDY THERMOMETER FOR BOTH LOLLIPOPS AND TEMPERING CHOCOLATE. Treat yourself to one, they come in very candy, err… I mean handy.

For this challenge, I am going to let Lisa and Mandy explain how to temper chocolate. I don’t think I could properly explain it without making it sound confusing. Just remember, it’s not that difficult.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage,Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two fine ladies challenged us to make candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy.

What is tempering?
“Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate in order to use it for coating or dipping.Proper tempering
gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish. Tempered chocolate will have a crispsnap and won’t melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate.Properly tempered chocolate is also great for molding candies because the candies will release out of the molds more easily and still retain a glossy finish.” – Ghirardelli

Why is it necessary?
If you simply melt chocolate and let it cool it will set with unattractive grey streaks or spots, called blooming. If
eaten, the texture will be grainy and it won’t melt smoothly in the mouth.
When you temper chocolate the end result is shiny, even colored, smooth melting and with a crisp snap.Basically,tempered chocolate is what you want because it’s better in every way.
The reason for the difference is a bit complicated, it has to do with different types of crystals forming in the cocoa butter at different times, to understand it fully you’d have to learn about the behavior of the chocolate
crystals at a molecular level.
For our purposes all that we need to know is that with tempered chocolate the crystals have formed in a uniform way which gives us great looking and tasting chocolate.

What is couverture chocolate?
“Couverture chocolate is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%). The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mellow flavor.
The total “percentage” cited on many brands of chocolate is based on some combination of cocoa butter in relation to cocoa solids (cacao). In order to be properly labeled as “couverture”, the percentage of cocoa butter must be between
32% and 39%, and the total percentage of the combined cocoa butter plus cocoa solids must be at least 54%. Sugar makes up the remainder, and up to 1% may be made up of vanilla, and sometimes soy lecithin.
Couverture is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing.

The term “couverture chocolate” should not be confused with “confectionery chocolate”, “compound chocolate” or “summer coating”: these products have a lower percentage of solids, and they may also contain vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats (“trans fats”), coconut and/or palm oil, and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring.
Some brands of couverture chocolate are packaged tempered, and others are packaged un-tempered. Subsequent tempering may or may not be required, depending on the usage and the desired characteristics of the final product.” –
Wikipedia

Why is it important to use couverture for chocolate
making?

It is by far a superior product to the average chocolate bar like Cadbury’s etc. which may also contain ingredients like vegetable/coconut/palm oil, hydrogenated fats and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring which can have unpredictable results when tempering and used to make your own chocolates.
As far as flavor, couverture chocolate is also superior in this regard as manufacturers like Valrhona, Callebaut etc. are very strict with sourcing their cocoa pods and only buy the best.
Make sure that if you’re using chocolate chips or callets that they are also couverture and specifically meant for chocolate making. For the above reasons as well as that normal chocolate chips have other additives in them that help them maintain their shape in baked goods like cookies. These additives stop the chocolate from tempering properly. If you’re not sure, rather buy your couverture in bars or slabs.
Basically, to get a great end result you need to use the best ingredients that you can get. That applies to all baking and cooking, and especially to chocolate making.
If you can’t get couverture or a higher end chocolate and would simply prefer to get your chocolate at the local market, choose brands like Lindt, Ghiradelli or Green & Blacks. Just remember, don’t get ordinary chocolate chips, they have additives in them that will hinder the tempering process. One thing, Ghiradelli does not liquefy as much as couverture chocolate when in temper, so you’ll have to do a lot of tapping off to get a thin, even coating.
There are other methods of tempering that don’t require a thermometer and can either be melted in a double boiler or in the microwave, but here are two  methods of tempering that use a thermometer for very accurate tempering.

I use Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate (72%). This is one of my favorite chocolates. It contains Cocoa, Sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithen and 72% cocoa solids. For the milk and white chocolate I used callebaut

Tempering Chocolate ——— Method 1
you will need a marble or granite slab, bench scraper, and chocolate thermometer

Tempering Ranges:

Celcius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C >
30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F >
80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. It is then poured onto a marble surface and moved around the surface with a scraper until it has thickened and cools to 27°C / 80.6°F. Once cooled it is then put back into the bowl and over heat to bring it back up to 32°C/30°C/29°C /89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re tempering. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Watch this excellent video on tempering your chocolate this way:
http://www.ghirardelli.com/bake/videos/temper.aspx

Method 2 – seeding with tempered chocolate

Tempering Ranges:

Celsius
Dark: 45°C-50°C > 27°C > 32°C
Milk: 45°C > 27°C >
30°C
White: 45°C > 27°C > 29°C

Fahrenheit
Dark: 113°F-122°F > 80.6°F > 89.6°F
Milk: 113°F >
80.6°F > 86°F
White: 113°F > 80.6°F > 84.2°F

Chocolate is melted and heated until it reaches 45°C / 113°F. Tempered un-melted chocolate is then stirred and melted in until it brings the temperature down to 27°C/80.6°F. It is then put back over heat and brought up to its working temperature of 32°C/30°C/29°C /// 89.6°F/86°F/84.2°F depending on the chocolate you’re using. It is now ready for using in molds, dipping and coating.

Now watch this video:
http://video.about.com/candy/How-to-Temper-Chocolate.htm

Tips:

• If you’re using the chocolate to dip a lot of truffles etc. which means the chocolate will be sitting off heat for a while it will naturally start to thicken as it cools. To keep it at an ideal viscosity for even coating, put the bowl over steam for 30sec – 1min every 10 – 15mins, just do not let the temperature go over the working temperature!
• Having the chocolate in a warmed glass bowl and wrapped in hot kitchen towel can also help keep the chocolate at its working temperature for longer
• It is also easier to keep the heat if you work with larger amounts of chocolate rather than small amounts. Any leftover chocolate can be kept to be used later and then re-tempered
-Remember, don’t let any water get into your chocolate at any stage of the tempering process!
• Unless you’ve been working with chocolate for a while and have developed a feel for the tempering process and can tell the chocolate’s temperature by touching it to your lower lip like a pro, it’s imperative that you use a thermometer to determine the temperature, as going a few degrees either way can ruin the temper.
• If at any stage you do make a mistake with the tempering process you can simply start again from the beginning.
• While a marble or granite top is ideal for cooling the chocolate in the first method, you can also cool it on a countertop that’s laminated, glass or steel. It will take longer to cool, but it’s possible! (but I definitely wouldn’t recommend a wood or rough textured counter top  )
• Any chocolate left over after making your molded or dipped chocolate can be stored away in a cool place and then re-tempered before using again. There’s no need to ever waste chocolate!
• Wooden spoons can retain moisture so it’s best to use a rubber spatula while tempering

How to fill the molds:

 Equipment:
A small brush,Chocolate molds,A Ladle, Bench or plastic scraper OR A small brush or spoon

Directions:

1. If using colored cocoa butter and plastic molds, paint designs at the  bottom of the wells in each mold. Let dry. You can also use lustre dusts mixed with a bit of extract or vodka, instead of colored cocoa butters for a nice sheen. Let painted molds dry.
2. When coating the molds with the tempered chocolate, I like to do it how the chocolate pro’s do it (much faster and a lot less tedious). While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could take a small brush and paint the tempered chocolate into each mold, or spoon it in if you’d like.
3. Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling of your choice. Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set.
4. When set, pop your beautiful filled chocolates out of each well and enjoy!

Ganache

you can use this for either filling your chocolates or for making truffles

Ingredients
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Dark/Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (5 oz / 160 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% -48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (4 oz / 120 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)
OR
1 ¾ cup (9 oz/250 gm) White Chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (2 oz / 60 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% – 48% butterfat)

Finely chop or grate the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl In a saucepan, heat cream until just about to boil (it will start bubbling around the
edges of the pot) Pour the cream over the chocolate and gently stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted and it is smooth
Stir in your desired flavorings. For my white  chocolate variation, I steeped the cream with 1/4 tsp cardamom.

Vanilla Butter Rum Caramel

3/4 C (150g)  granulated sugar
1/8 C (30 ml) water
squirt fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped (I know I sound like a broken record, but save your pods!)
1/2 C (120 ml) heavy cream
1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp dark rum
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium sauce  over medium heat, combine sugar, water, lemon juice, vanilla seeds and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves and then stop stirring. Bring to a boil and let it it go until it is a light-medium caramel color. DO NOT LET YOUR EYES WANDER- IT GOES FROM LIGHT TO BURNT VERY QUICKLY.

Remove from the heat and add the cream and rum. It will bubble up and spit like wild. When the volcano stops, clip on the candy thermometer, add the butter, and stir vigorously until everything is well blended. Place back on the heat . Boil the caramel until the temperature reaches 240 F(116C).

Pour into a bowl and let cool completely before filling the chocolates.

Whooooo… this is a long post…..

Onto the lollipops!   These were a big hit

2 C (400 g) granulated sugar
3/4 C (180 ml) light corn syruo
squirt of lemon juice
1/2 C (120 ml) water
food coloring
extract of your choice (I used orange and lemon oil

In a large saucepan (the heavier the better) over medium heat, add the the sugar, corn syrup lemon juice and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring. Increase the heat to high and heat the sugar syrup to 300F (149C). I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SUPER CAREFUL AROUND BOILING MOLTEN SUGAR!!!!!

For various colors, pour the molten candy into a few heatproof containers with spouts and add 1 or 2 drops of food coloring and 1/2 tsp extract. Give it a quick stir and pour into your lollipop molds with the sticks.

For just one color, just pour all of your hot syrup into large heatproof container and add your color and flavor. Stir and pour into your molds.

You need to work really quickly as this will start to set almost immediately. Do not under any circumstances be tempted to touch your candy- you will be severely burned!

To make the patchwork lollipops, Just pour the various colored syrups directly onto a parchment lined sheet, being careful not to have the colors touch each other. Let it sit overnight to set (it was nighttime when I made the syrup), then smash hell out of them with a covered hammer into  smallish sized bits.

Preheat the oven to 250F

Lightly spray cookie cutters with vegetable oil and lay on baking sheet lined with parchment. Lay down pieces of the colored candy inside the molds, trying not to overlap the pieces. Bake for 10 minutes or until the candy melts. Let cool and pop out. Take a few more pieces of broken candy and heat them up in the oven for about 5 minutes. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick  into one of the melted bits and stick onto the back of the lollipops. Let set.

Couverture Chocolate Supplies Online: UK
http://chocolatefalls-scotland.co.uk/choccart/index.php?main_page=index&…
http://www.squires-shop.com/ibf/index.php?p=product&id=530&parent=59
http://www.cakescookiesandcraftsshop.co.uk/acatalog/Chocolate-Making.htm…
https://www.vantagehouse.com/chocolate-ingredients

Couverture Chocolate Supplies Online: US
http://chocoley.com/
http://www.chocosphere.com/
http://www.worldwidechocolate.com/

Equipment & Moulds Online: UK
http://www.squires-shop.com/ibf/index.php?p=catalog&parent=76&pg=1
http://www.squires-shop.com/ibf/index.php?p=catalog&parent=74&pg=1

Equipment & Molds Online: US
Everything and anything you need
chocolate related:
http://chocoley.com/

More places to purchase:
Thermometers
http://www.amazon.com/CK-Products-81-178-Ateco-Dipping/dp/B0000E2OF1
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-k…

Molds
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%253Dgarden&field…

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