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Monday, May 31, 2010

White Chocolate Brownies - Tuesdays with Dorie

Looking good - I've just taken them out of the oven. Billows of lightly browned meringue are covering the brownies, which seem to have pulled nicely away from the sides. I made half quantities, except for the meringue, which I kept at the full quantity, and used an 8" square cheesecake pan with a removable base. This way I would not have any problem getting them out of the pan. I baked them for 35 minutes and used blueberries instead of raspberries.

The verdicts at work: Some raved, some said they were a bit too sweet. I think I would probably use only half the recommended sugar portion in the meringue next time. On the whole, a success - I liked them very much, being a sweet tooth. This posting will be a day late; all a matter of not being able to find my camera/computer connection due to an early summer cleaning frenzy in my apartment. I took a pic at work and will use that one.

Marthe of Culinary Delights selected these white chocolate brownies. Thanks Marthe - it's a keeper. Check out Marthe's blog for the recipe.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Piece Montee - Daring Bakers May Challenge

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I loved making the profiteroles and the creme patisserie; just seeing the profiteroles all puffed up and crunchy when taken out of the oven and tasting the silky pastry cream gave me a sense of achievement. I made the vanilla pastry cream so can't wait to make a dessert with the chocolate version. I used melted Callebaut white chocolate to drizzle over the profiteroles - it came out a bit chunky looking as I put my "work of art" in the fridge overnight.

I bought a 6-inch foam cone at an arts and crafts shop for a few dollars, so did not bother with making a cardboard cone, then I used toothpicks to attach the pastries to the cone. I did not enjoy this part so much - certainly need a lot of practice as it came out a bit wonky looking.

I took the filled pastries (without the cone!) to work - so true what the recipe says; this dessert must be eaten fresh; by the time we were ready to consume them they were a bit soggy. Next time I'll make them (or cream puffs) at home, for guests at home.

Here's the main recipe section:


For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Banana-Coconut Iceream (Custard) Pie - Tuesdays with Dorie

I want icecream but it's custard for this week - icecream won't survive a trip on the A Train to East New York, where I work, so custard it is. I am using the basic custard recipe Dorie gave us for our earlier TWD Banana Cream Pie, so I'm not deviating too far.

The coconut-butter-shortbread crumbs crust is a keeper. It's quite difficult for me not to eat it as it sits in the fridge, in fact, I have had a couple of crunches. It is delicious!

I've just eaten the props, for breakfast no less. Yum and crunch!

Thank you Spike of Spike Bakes
for this great pick. The recipe and a pic of a beautiful pie filled with chocolate icecream is on Spike's blog... I still want icecream!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Perfection Pound Cake - A TWD Catch-up

I've been browsing through my copy of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking From My Home to Yours - there are quite a few recipes from our TWD group that I want to catch up on, make-up on or re-try, so this Tuesday it's the Perfection Pound Cake. This was one of the first recipes the group made and it was before I joined; I'm feeling like a nice bit of pound cake, something secure and soothing and relaxing. My dessert catering for Ascension Day reception at my Church went very well last Thursday, but I sure am in need of de-stressing - I made over 200 mini desserts. Pound cake should do the trick.

Perfection Pound Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2-1/4 cups cake flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I also added 1 teaspoon almond extract)

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan or an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater and reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you’re working, scrape down the bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated – don’t overmix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top.

Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. If you’re using a 9×5 pan, you’ll need to bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes; the smaller pan needs about 90 minutes. The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes.

Run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

Wrapped well, the cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature (stale cake is great toasted) or up to 2 months in the freezer.

I baked my pound cake in an 8-1/2" x 4" loaf pan, for about one hour and 20 minutes. It looking quite neat, a bit overly brown for the crust - I should have used the tip about covering it with foil, but I think it will be fine for the office test tomorrow.

I'll whip up some cream and have a super jar of raspberry syrup, which tastes delicious, so I'll have these additions on the side for those who want their cake a bit fancier.