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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Milk Chocolate Tartlets

Firstly, let me rave about the book from which I got this recipe, "Baking for All Occasions," by Flo Braker. It's my reading relaxation at present, filled with delicious recipes for the sweet tooth, recipes that do not look too complicated to make but which have luscious fillings, toppings and sauces, and a great selection of styles and types of sweet-tooth baking. On my list after today's Milk Chocolate Tarts are treats such as, "Luscious Lime Bars with Milk Chocolate Glaze", "Strawberry-Mango Shortcakes with Basil Syrup","Peanut Butter Crunch Cake," "Cupid's Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream" and lots more. Most of the ingredients are quite easy to obtain and will not break the bank. I can see the beginning of a beautiful friendship with this book.

Milk Chocolate Tartlets

I used a pate sucree for the pastry shells, baked in 4-inch mini tartlet pans with removable bases; for the filling I used extra creamy Lindt milk chocolate and a sprinkling of toasted almond slices. Baking time was about 15 mins. at 375F for blind baking, then about 7 mins. for open baking.

The filling is a ganache consisting of 10 ozs. milk chocolate and 3/4 cup of cream, with the cream brought to the boil and poured over the chocolate, allowed to sit for a minute, then stirred to a nice, smooth soft consistency. The recipe in the book calls for meringue topping, which I will try the next time I make this treat - my apartment in Brooklyn offers a tropical climate in summer, not a good time for finer things such as meringue. I'll just take a picture and be on my way to the chocoholics at work.

Bench Notes: Next time use stronger flavored nuts, such as pecans. The almond flavor rather disappeared into the chocolate. Also add 1/4 tsp. gelatin sprinkled over 1 tsp. of water, allowed to get damp, then blitz in the microwave for 5 seconds - this makes the chocolate set more firmly.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fresh Blueberry and Raspberry Bavarian - Daring Bakers

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

I love this cake. It has been one of my most enjoyable Daring Bakers challenges so far and so very French! I chose the Basic Chiffon Cake recipe and baked it in a 9-inch springform pan which I later trimmed down to fit an 8-inch springform. Chiffons seem to shrink quite a bit in the baking. I also used blueberries and raspberries and am now looking forward to many remakes with variations. Mango would be marvellous; I might also try it with blackberries or yellow peaches or both.

The Recipe for Basic Chiffon Cake

Creme Patisserie

1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
2 TBS/ cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 tsp. gelatin
1/2 TBS. water
1 cup cream

Put milk, vanilla and salt into top pan of a double boiler (directly on the heat.) On medium high heat bring mixture to scalding point(near but not to boiling point). Stir occasionally during process.

In mixer, add cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add egg to sugar and cornstarch. Whisk(by hand whisk) until smooth.

Pour scalded milk mix gently and slowly down side of sugar and egg mix, whisking sugar and egg mix at the same time.

Bring water to boil in base of double boiler. Place hot top of double boiler on base and pour the custard mix back into the warm double boiler pot; cook until custard is thick, just about to boil and until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. (This prevents the custard from getting thick and gummy too quickly, which happened to mine but I smoothed it out through whisking with a hand beater.)

Remove from heat, pass custard through sieve into large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.Cut butter into 4 pieces, whisk into pastry cream one piece at a time until smooth.

Cover cream with plastic wrap to prevent it forming a skin. Chill in fridge overnight.

The Basic Chiffon Cake Recipe
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

The Method:
1.Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
2.Line the bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan with parchment paper - not 9 inch or 8 inch - they were too small to hold all the batter. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
3.In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
4.In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5.Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
6.Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
7.Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
8.Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 (it make take less with the 10 inch pan) to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9.Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
10.To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Simple Syrup:gluten free and vegan!
You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example: apple cider sugar, orange sugar, or vanilla sugar) or to stir in 1-2 teaspoons of flavored extract. You may also infuse with herbs or spices, if desired or add four tablespoons (60 ml) of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.

1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water


1.Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
2.Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
3.Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
4.Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.
1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste


1.Line the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap if you are going to use a 10-inch pan for baking, then assemble in a 9-inch pan to handle shrinking. Do not line the bottom of the pan. Use 2-1/2 inch high transparency film for the lining, cut up into about 3 sections then joined with scotch tape.
2.Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers. Using toothpick method to get an even cut, use long serrated knife and run it under piping hot water them cut gently.
3.Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
4.Prepare enough fruit to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the fruit against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
5.Pipe cream in-between fruit.
6.Prepare remaining fruit and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the fruit entirely with the pastry cream.
7.Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8.Spread whipped cream on the top.
9.Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
10.To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
11.Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Cookies for Our Troops

This weekend I made about 60 Oatmeal Raisin cookies to send overseas to our troops. I belong to the "Operation Baking GALS" group which has been sending packages overseas for well over two years now.

How it works is you are given some information on the baking teams that are entering, and a brief bio. on the troops you will be baking for. You select a team and then get busy. This month I chose to make the Oatmeal Raisin cookies from the recipe off the top of the the Quaker Oats box - quite frankly I have a soft spot for "back of the box" recipes, probably because they are often so darned good. My package will be going to a group of guys and gals fighting for us in Afghanistan.

I have a tremendous admiration for our military and am deeply grateful to them.

I also got some munchies at Duane Reade to send as well as the cookies - cheese popcorn, lifesavers, Werther's candy and so on. I'll probably do another mailing in September.

(I see little Phoebe has got herself into the picture, my little baby darling Angora whom I rescued from a shelter - she's a real little French princess.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Assorted Mini Cookies from "Kaff's" Bakery

Oops! my Big Boy, Ernest, seems to have slipped a pic in, flashing his bare tummy.
I stopped by this evening to get some bread rolls from Kaff's Bakery in Borough Park, Brooklyn and could not resist getting one of each of a selection of mini cookies. I think they look very cute - the mini shortbread hearts, with or without chocolate, a tiny rolled circle cookie, a tubular cookie with, I think, sesame seeds, a black and white cookie, and, if I had remembered to include it there would have been a pretty little flower cutout sandwich cookie with jam in the center, something like a linzer cookie.

We are already planning what to make for the next St. Mary's parish reception and I thought these would look really nice to copy, bake them ourselves and place on the cookie tray. Is that not a cute one looking like a bow tie with apricot jam!

Now I can enjoy the summer coasting around bakery shops (Citarella and other really upscale ones have exquisite little cookies), buying a couple of samples and getting ideas. Also eating the samples; that is one of the perks.