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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chocolate Truffles and Blackberry Pates de Fruits - Daring Bakers August Challenge

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 sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Firstly, the truffles. They turned out most imperfect but they taste good. I used a half-pound each of Callebaut white chocolate and Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate to make the actual truffles. It was not a large enough quantity to temper so I just used it for the truffle centers, boiling cream and then pouring it over chopped up bits of chocolate. This is the recipe I used, from Epicurious, slightly adapted from Trio of Chocolate Truffles.

Semisweet Chocolate Truffles
1/3 cup whipping cream
6 oz. of Callebaut semisweet chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. Grand Marnier
Finely ground pistachio nuts (about 4 ozs).

Bring cream to boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in vanilla and Grand Marnier. Pour into medium bowl. Let cool on counter top then cover with foil and chill until firm, about 3 hours. (A good alternative would be to pipe the chocolate into a pomponette pan so it will keep a roundish shape.) Remove when they are just firm enough to shape and roll by hand, then replace in fridge to cool again.

While the chocolate is cooling in the fridge, prepare the Bada Bing Bada Boom enrobing candy melts, which does not require full tempering. However, some temperature changes are necessary to get it to the right state.

The Bada Bing Bada Boom Enrobing Chocolate

Heat water in bottom pan of double boiler to 130 - 15o degrees F. Turn off heat.
Place candy melts in top pan, and fit over bottom pan. Stir frequently with rubber spatula, until temperature is reduced to 100 - 105 degrees F.
Remove top pan. Let melts cool and hold temperature at 96 - 98 degrees F.
Dip prepared, rolled truffles into candy melt mixture (a slotted spoon is quite helpful). Place back in fridge for about 5 minutes, then remove and dip into the ground pistachio nut mixture.
Refrigerate truffles until set up, then keep at room temperature. (I have stored mine in a cake box covered lightly with a plastic bag).

White Chocolate Truffles
Repeat process with white Callebaut chocolate and white candy melts. (I found white chocolate much trickier than the dark chocolate, it kept on melting). Just keep putting in fridge to firm up as necessary.

Bench Notes: Practice, Practice, Practice - not easy to temper chocolate. For Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping and Enrobing Chocolate, "temper" as described above. For full tempering of couveture chocolate I have in the past used the recipe in (once succesful and once unsuccesful - got streaks). Two good videos are on the sites: and

Blackberry Pate de Fruits

These pretty sweets were incredibly easy to make - compared to the Truffles which I found rather difficult. I bought a 14 oz. of Goya frozen Blackberry pulp from the local supermarket and used a recipe in (somewhat adapted):

14 oz. blackberry pulp (the recipe was for mango pulp)
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs. butter
6 fl. oz. liquid pectin
sugar for sprinkling

Prepare an 8x8 inch square pan by lining it with aluminum foil or parchment paper and greasing it with Crisco.
Cook blackberry pulp and sugar together in a medium saucepan over low heat until they form a very thick syrup, for about an hour. The syrup should thickly coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Add butter and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and stir in the pectin while hot. Pour immediately into the prepared pan.
Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight until set.
Cut the candies into into small squares with a knife dipped in water. Roll in granulated sugar.

They can be stored in the refigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Well, my truffles are really wonky, quite embarrassing in fact. My aim: work on making them so that they come out beautifully rounded and glossy. I did not like the fruit at all, possibly because the brand was not of the best. On the other hand, I have never been one to reach for fruit jellies in a box so I don't think I will make the jellies again.

All in all, a great learning experience with the hope of perfect truffles in the future.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

These delicious little cookies are from a recipe in "Joy of Baking." I have made them for two occasions, the first for a reception and the second for a treat at the Office. They vanish in a minute.

Easy, just right in texture, and sweet but not cloyingly sweet. Egg whites, sugar and sweetened coconut comprise the main ingredients and some wait time in the refrigerator is required. "Joy of Baking" also has a video on making these macaroons (which I can't seem to access now on my computer! - however, it is good) .

Coconut Macaroons:
4 large (120 grams) egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60 grams) cake flour, sifted
3 cups (300 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut Macaroons: In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt. When this mixture is warm to the touch, and nice and creamy, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, flour, and coconut. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours, or until firm.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place small mounds (heaping tablespoons) of the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing several inches apart. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 2 dozen Macaroons.

Bench Notes: Egg whites must be room temperature. When mixture is over pan of simmering water, whisk only until warm to the touch and nice and creamy - don't keep over water too long or it will start to make egg whites. Bake for about 21 mins. - just until there are a few dots of pale brown on some of the pieces of coconut.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Capt'n Jerry's Browned Butter Cookies

Makes over 60 cookies with 2 batches of dough.

I made these for a reception at my Church on August 15. They have come out excellently and look so pretty with the different colors of sugar. I feel like making these again and again as they are stress free and the given baking time is perfect. Basically they are a fairly rich sugar cookie, a bit like a Danish butter cookie.

The source is Land O' Lakes - if there were but world enough and time I would love to go through the whole selection of their cookies marked with 4 or 5 stars. This is the recipe, slightly adapted:

Capt'n Jerry's Brown Butter Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
colored sugars


Melt butter over medium-high heat in heavy saucepan. Continue cooking until butter foams and just turns a delicate golden color (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat immediately. Put in fridge for 30 minutes. Set oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Take cooled butter out of fridge. Combined browned butter, sugar, egg (lightly whisked) and vanilla in bowl. Beat at medium speed with Kitchen Aid, scraping sides of bowl often (1-2 minutes).

Reduce speed to low. Add flour gradually and mix slowly for about 102 minutes.

Place in fridge to firm up, then roll dough with rounded teaspoon scoop, pressing dough down lightly. Form into balls, roll them in colored sugar and press down on cookies with the tines of a fork. Bake for 12 minutes. Let stand one minute on baking sheet then remove and place on wire rack.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ina Garten's Fresh Peach Cake

I have just baked the Fresh Fruit Cake by Ina Garten, which I found on "Food Network." Even though I have been pretty good with my diet (since starting three weeks ago) I have to confess that I broke down here and ate a good slice of this wonderful breakfast-coffee type cake. It has fresh yellow peaches, sprinkled in cinnamon sugar and pecans, nestling in the midst of a delicious dough combination that contains sour cream.

Ina's recipe can be found on the Food Network site - just check out Fresh Peach Cake. The peaches are lovely this year so it would be just the right time to try this cake.