Friday, December 31, 2010

Homemade Ferrero Rocher

I looove Ferrero Rocher truffles! Since I saw the recipe for homemade ones on Blue-Eyed Bakers, they've been on my ever-growing to do/bake list.


They don't taste exactly like Ferrero Rocher but they still are delicious! Next time I would put a toasted hazelnut in the centre of each truffle and would just make them a bit smaller. If you love the combination of hazelnut and chocolate (and Nutella!) you should definitely give these a try!

Oh and I almost forgot! Happy New Year!!! See you in 2011!

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Ferrero Rocher Truffles
Adapted from Blue-Eyed Bakers
Makes about 16-18 truffles

100 g hazelnut wafer biscuits, crushed
1 cup hazelnuts
2/3 cup Nutella
1-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the hazelnuts cool and remove the skins by rubbing them with a paper towel. Place them in a food processor and grind until they are finely chopped. In a bowl, add the crushed wafer biscuits, chopped hazelnuts and Nutella, and stir to combine. Refrigerate the mixture for about 20 minutes.

Onto a baking sheet lined with parchement paper, use a small scooper to scoop little balls of the cooled mixture. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and shape the balls with your hands to make round smoothe balls. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized saucepan halfway with water and heat until the water simmers. Place a heatproof bowl on top of the saucepan with water and place the semisweet chocolate chips in the bowl. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and turn the heat to very low. Coat the chilled truffles in the chocolate and place them on a banking sheet lined with parchement paper. Allow chocolate to set at room temperature for an hour. Truffles can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

If you have some melted chocolate left you can use it to dip 0ther things you have home. I dipped pretzels and pieces of clementine!



Monday, December 27, 2010

Panettone



Merry Christmas everyone!!

This year, I decided not to make gingerbread men like I always do and try something different. My boyfriend really loves panettone, especially the chocolate chip one, so I tried making orange chocolate chip panettone! And to tell you the truth, I don't really consider what I made panettone, since it's supposed to be sort of fluffy and light on the inside and mine turned out a bit dense. Kind of like a cake :(

I'm still posting the recipe in case any of you want to give it a try. I made a few changes since I didn't want to add dried fruit. But I'm sure I did something wrong mainly because after the 15 hours of rising, my dough hadn't rised! I searched online to see what can be the cause and there were a few alternatives:

1) The yeast is dead (or expired).

2) Proofing is done in a cool place.

3) The dough wasn't kneeded enough.

I thought maybe my oven was too cool for the rising, so I preheated it a bit, let it cool and placed the dough inside for another 5 hours (first rising). It did rise a bit, but not even close to triple the size. I still decided to continue with the recipe and bake it to see the ending result. It wasn't bad at all, just not a panettone!

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Slow Rise Panettone
Adapted from Andreas Recipes (Gourmet Magazine 2008)
Makes one 6x4-inch panettone

3-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
Zest of one orange
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp warm honey
12-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (10-1/2 tbsp softened and cut into tbsp, 1 tbsp melted, 1 tbsp chilled)
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

6x4-inch panettone mold

In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, orange zest and seeds of the vanilla bean and mix at low speed. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2/3 cup lukewarm water and the honey.

While the mixer runs at low speed, pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients slowly. Increase speed to medium-high and continue mixing. Add the softened butter, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing completely after adding each tbsp. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smoothe and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Melt the 1 tbsp of butter, let it cool and mix it into the mini chocolate chips. Stir the chocolate into the dough with a wooden spoon.

Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in a cold oven with the door closed for about 12 to 15 hours, until the dough has nearly tripled in volume.

Rub your hands with flour, sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and turn it onto a floured board. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough. Fold the edges into the centre and place seams side down into the panettone mold. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a draft-free spot at room temperature for about 3 to 5 hours, until the dough is just above the top of the mold.



Place the rack in the lower third of the oven (closer to the bottom than the top) and preheat it to 370 degrees F. Place the mold with the dough onto a baking sheet. Use a serrated knife to score an X across the entire surface of the dough and place the 1 tbsp chilled butter into the centre of the X.

Bake for about 1 to 1-1/4 hours, until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the panettone comes out moist but not wet. The top of the panettone will be dark (but not burnt). (I covered it with foil paper after 1 hour in the oven so the top won't burn.)



Pierce the skewers all the way through the panettone and through the papers. (This part I found weird!) Hang the panettone upside down over a large pot or between 2 objects of equal height. Cool completely, then slice into wedges for serving.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cupcakes for a Celebration!

My boyfriend's niece was baptized a few weeks ago and her mother had asked me to make some cupcakes for the reception. Me? Make cupcakes for a baptism? I was so honoured!!

She wanted vanilla cake with three types of icing. After a few hours of searching blogs and a bit of brainstorming I came up with these three:

Vanilla bean buttercream with heart-shaped fondant cutouts (S for Sofia)



Chocolate buttercream topped with purple flowers




You can click on the links under the photos to be directed to the recipes! I didn't follow all the buttercream recipes to the letter. When I made the strawberry one, I found that the strawberry purée didn't give the frosting a strong taste so I added some strawberry flavour. For the chocolate and vanilla bean, I added more milk or powdered sugar until I got the consistency I wanted.

Sofia and her family really loved the cupcakes. Ok maybe not Sofia, she still only has milk! But I have to admit my favorite was the one with chocolate buttercream!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Candycane Ice Cream



December: the best month for baking. And how better to start the holiday baking than with another ice cream? I am obsessed, I know. I don't really like flavoring ice creams with extract, but since I found this Candycane ice cream on Simply Recipes inspired by David Lebovitz, I had to give it a try!

It is simply a vanilla ice cream (a little different from how David Lebovitz makes it in his book but also very good) in which peppermint extract is added, and crushed candycanes as well in the last minute of churning. I also added two drops of pink food coloring to get a pink color. A perfect way to welcome Christmastime :)

Here is the recipe!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oatmeal and Raisin Ice Cream

Accounting projects, quizzes in finance, case reports in organizational behavior... it's been a long semester. I try to keep myself motivated by thinking of the pastry program I'll be attending after my accounting bachelor's. I bumped into one of my friends at Cupcake Camp 2010 event a few weeks ago who studied human relations and she told me that she had just started the Professional Pastry Making program at ITHQ! I'm so jealous!! I was asking her all sorts of questions about her classes, teachers and what she was learning now (crème anglaise). She even has her own KitchenAid in her practical classes!

I've been talking to a lot of people about my future plans and many have told me that baking for a hobby and baking for a job are completely different. Yes I won't be able to take my sweet time but how different can it be? Baking everyday and learning something new everyday? That would be awesome!

So I borrowed the book Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food with Advice from Top Culinary Professionals and it is an amazing book. It tells you everything about the culinary schools (in the US), how to make a resume and find your first job, the kinds of jobs in the culinary arts, etc. My favorite section is where some top culinary chefs are interviewed and answer questions like what their salary is like, advice for people who want to achieve a similar career, what they like most/least about their job, how many hours a week they work... These are things I've wondered. When I finish my pastry diploma, where will I work? Will I like it? David Lebovitz also mentioned in The Sweet Life in Paris and there is also a section in this book about it, that it is important to work in the field before going to culinary school. This way I know if I truly like working in pastry and that I will be committed to my program. I think this is a great idea, except I don't know who would be willing to hire (or accept a stagiaire) without any working experience or schooling in the industry! I think I will ask at a few large hotels in Montreal and maybe a few bakeries. There's no harm in trying!

Ok, now for this oatmeal and raisin ice cream. This is an ice cream that takes a bit of preparing since you have to make the oatmeal praline and whiskey-soaked raisins before preparing the custard, but it is worth every minute!



You basically follow the usual steps of making a custard except you place some brown sugar and cinnamon along with the cream in the bowl with a strainer (where you will add the custard before cooling it all over an ice bath). Then a few minutes before ending the churning, you add the oatmeal praline and raisins. I used a vanilla bean because I find it gives a richer taste than vanilla extract but it's a matter of preference.



This is one of my favorites and I would definitely make it again just as it's written in The Perfect Scoop. The only thing I changed was the amount of whiskey with the raisins (I used 1/2 tsp whiskey instead of 2 tsp).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cupcake Camp 2010

My first foodie event!! I really didn't expect there to be that many people at Cupcake Camp 2010! There was a huge lineup, starting outside, continuing down the halls of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and leading upstairs! I even bumped into a few friends there! I have never seen that many people go crazy over cupcakes... And the event turned out to be a huge success according to their website. Isn't that amazing? A completely volunteer run event that raised over 34,500$, shared 25,000 cupcakes with 2,500 people for the Kids Help Phone and La Tablée des Chefs!!



Two chefs from the Food Network: Nadia G. from Bitchin' Kitchen and Ricardo Larrivée from Ricardo and Friends. They were both really nice and let me take pictures!


There was also a cupcake competition. Take a look at these cupcakes! Amazing!



These are some of the cupcakes I got to take home. This one my friend made (yes, she donated over 200 cupcakes!!) and it was one of my favorite: white velvet with pomegranate filling and white chocolate frosting if I remember correctly!


This one I didn't get to try. I only had the fondant jalapeño and my sister decide to eat it cause she thought it was chocolate and got a nice surprise! Apparently it was quite hot!


I can't wait for next year's event! My friend and I really want to participate in the competition but we're going to have to work hard to come up with something creative. I'll make sure I post the cupcakes I donated soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls



It's increasingly difficult for me to find time to bake nowadays. Projects are due, finals are ahead and so is Cupcake Camp 2010!! I am so excited, I've been thinking of what cupcake to make for a long time. I can't wait to finally assemble it this weekend! By the way, Ricardo is supposed to be there... THE Ricardo from television! I think it's the first time I'll be seeing a celebrity chef in real life!

Ok enough excitement for now, let's keep some for Sunday! I made these cinnamon rolls out of the blue. I woke up early one morning, and as I updated myself in the blogging world, I fell upon some delicious looking Cinnamon Rolls. I always have this fear of working with yeast for some reason, but I thought, what the heck! They were supposed to be knock-off Cinnabons but I found them to have turned out 10 times better!


Cinnabon Knock-Off Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Tartelette
Makes 12 rolls

For the dough:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1/4 oz. size or 1 pkg.)
1 cup warm milk (105 to 110 degrees F)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix together the sugar, butter, salt and eggs in a mixer bowl. Then add the flour and milk (with yeast) and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball using your hands lightly dusted with flour. Put it in a clean bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size (I left it for about an hour and 20 minutes).

Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide, about 1/4 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and position rack in the middle of the oven.

For the filling:

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough (I didn't use it all) and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the surface.

Form the rolls:

Working carefully from the top (a 21-inch side), roll the dough down to the bottom edge. Cut the rolled dough into 12 slices of equal thickness (about 1 3/4 inches slices) and place 6 at a time, evenly spaced, in 2 lightly greased baking pans. Let the rolls rise again until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Bake for 10 minutes or until golden on top.

For the icing:
Adapted from Michael Smith

1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp cream (or more depending on the consistency you like, I added more to make it runny)
1 cup powdered sugar

Stir together all the ingredients for the icing and when the rolls have completely cooled, drizzle the icing over them.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I didn't make these cookies. My sister had never baked anything on her own before and wanted to make the best peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for her boyfriend. So I put myself to the task and searched for the recipe that had the best reviews!

I also want to share with you that I got a new camera!! Actually my boyfriend got it for me (he's the best!!) and now I can't stop taking pictures. Everything looks better through a DSLR!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from All recipes
Makes 24 addictive cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I used a pinch)
2 cups chopped semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup, water and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and stir into the peanut butter mixture in 3 parts. Fold in the chocolate chunks (or chips). Drop onto ungreased baking sheets using a tablespoon, 3 inches apart.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown (the more you bake, the less the cookies will be soft and chewy). Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet before removing them and placing them on a wire rack.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Rocky Road Ice Cream


Rich, french-style chocolate ice cream with toasted peanuts and mini marshmallows! Really, if you haven't added marshmallows to your just-churned ice cream, you've been missing out!

This is one of those recipes in The Perfect Scoop where I put a heart next to the title :)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Croissants


Croissants were one of those things that I've always wanted to make, but were afraid to. It's as if I didn't believe that even if I followed the steps in my copy of The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, they would never turn out like those flaky, light and buttery ones from the bakery.

The other day when I was about to buy the ingredients to make the Hachis Parmentier for last week's FFwD, I realized that I didn't really want to make it, but sort of felt like I had to because I had bought the book to participate in the FFwD. Instead, I really had the urge to make croissants! Plus I didn't have to buy all those ingredients; I already had everything I needed.

There are a few things that I would change next time I make these. First I found the croissants to taste great right out of the oven, but when at room temperature, they were too sweet so I would decrease the amount of sugar. Also I didn't roll out the dough thin enough before cutting it into triangles so I only ended up with half the amount of croissants than I was supposed to. This is probably the reason why they didn't end up as light as the store-bought ones.


Making croissants wasn't very difficult, it just demands a lot of time. There's a lot of rolling and putting the dough in the fridge, then taking it out from the fridge. But the final result makes it all worth it.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cran-Apple Crisps



It's cranberry season! We drink plenty of cranberry juice and dried cranberries can be found in our granola bars and cereals, but have any of you tried fresh cranberries? I just recently tried them for the first time and I have to say that... they're very sour! I stopped after one! But when combined with apples, dried cranberries, sugar and flour to make the filling, they taste sweet!

With all the members of TWD raving about this crisp and how easy it is to put together, it didn't take me long to decide to make it. I topped it with a scoop of Goat Cheese Ice Cream I made following David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop, and... Mmmm!

The Repressed Pastry Chef hosted that week's TWD so the recipe for the Cran-Apple Crisps can be found on her blog!

Friday, October 15, 2010

FFwD : Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


I made it! I was really debating if I should skip this week's FFwD since it's midterm time and all I've been doing is finance and accounting for the past week and a half... but no! It does feel good to take a break and cook up this delicious vietnamese soup! It reminded me very much of the one my boyfriend and I love having in Chinatown (except I don't think that one has any coconut milk).

I read some reviews this morning on the Dorie's group site and a couple had written that it wasn't very flavorful or spicy. I found it was a bit spicy, so I just added a bit of Sriracha (love that stuff!) and lots of lime juice and it was great! It wasn't very hard to make either... I think it took me longer to look for all the ingredients!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chocolate Matcha Cake


Matcha and chocolate in a cake! What's not to like? My only regret is that the chocolate taste took over the matcha one, so I could barely taste that. I would definitely add an extra tablespoon or so next time for a stronger taste and color!

Chocolate Matcha Cake
Adapted from Bakerella
Makes one bundt cake

Chocolate Mixture
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Matcha Mixture
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-3 tbsp matcha powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
3 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan and dust it with cocoa.

With a wire whisk, mix the dry ingredients for the chocolate mixture in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, do the same for the matcha mixture.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla, and mix until throughly combined. Divide the cream mixture evenly in two separate bowls.

Slowly add the chocolate mixture to 1/2 of the creamed mixture and mix throughly. Then add the matcha mixture to the other half of the creamed mixture and mix throughly.

Drop alternating spoonfuls of each mixture into the loaf pan and gently run a knife through the two batters in a swirling motion (for a marbled effect... mine failed!).

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
(I halved this recipe to make a loaf cake, the baking time still remains 1 hour and 15 minutes.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

FFwD: Gerard's Mustard Tart



When I was younger, I hated mustard! I was more of a ketchup fan. I would put ketchup on everything and anything! But as time is passing, my taste in food is changing and I now find myself eating things like Gerard's Mustard Tart!


The filling was easy to make: whip the eggs with the cream, add the mustards, whip and season with salt and pepper. It was the crust that I found a bit challenging.

The first time I made the pâte brisée by hand, the dough was very crumbly, I could hardly form a disk with it! It was impossible for me to roll it out, so I decided to remake it. The second time, I used the food processor method, that took me at most 5 minutes. The dough turned out soft and workable... Success!


This tart is something I would never had tried on my own, but I'm glad I gave it a try! It smells delicious out of the oven and I had to hold myself from cutting a slice right away. If you like mustard, you're sure to love this!

Friday, October 1, 2010

FFwD: Gougères

October 1rst has arrived and so has the first post for the French Fridays with Dorie! I am so happy that it has finally begun! Dorie Greenspan chose the recipes for the month of October from her new book Around My French Table and all members of the FFwD must post about the weekly recipe!


Before I talk about this week's recipe, Gougères, I must confess that I was debating if I should join this group mainly because I never cook anything! I've always done the baking at my house, never prepared anything that had to do with meat or fish (except that one time when I made an Italian Wedding Soup... yum!!). But then this is the perfect opportunity for me to learn! I mean, I have to learn how to cook someday, and why not start with some delicious French meals!?

Making Gougères is similar to making profiteroles except that you mix in some grated Gruyère cheese (or Cheddar) before piping/spooning the dough. This was the first time I made pâte à choux and it was a lot easier than I expected!



I decided to top the mounds of dough with the remaining Gruyère I had left so they ended up with a nice golden color. In the past, I found Gruyère to be a very strong cheese but when baked, it is unbelievably good (plus your kitchen will have a delicious aroma)!

The Gougères are best eaten warm out of the oven because they are crispy on the outside. I found that they got soft after being stored in a container, but they get crispy again when warmed up!



I am one of those weird people who don't like wine or Champagne, but I can assume that these ''cheese puffs'' would pair well with a nice glass...?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

My idea of a perfect madeleine: has a bump, is airy and springy, and must have nice seashell shape. And I finally found it thanks to David Lebovitz! I don't think I've ever made anything I regretted from him, everything always turns out delicious!




These madeleines didn't require much time to make. In fact, I left them in the refrigerator overnight and baked them in the morning. I used to use cooking spray for the pans but they would stick a bit and it would ruin the whole shape! Butter and flour is the way to go!

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Lemon-Glazed Madeleines
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 24 madeleines

Madeleines:
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 (130g) cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 (170g) cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of one small lemon
9 tbsp (120g) unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature

Lemon Glaze:
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp water

Brush the madeleine mold with the melted butter. Dust it with flour, tap off the excess flour, and place it in the refrigerator.

In a medium bowl, whip the eggs, granulated sugar and salt until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter and use a spatula to fold it in as you sift it over the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter and drizzle it into the batter a few spoonfuls at a time while folding the batter to incorporate it.

Cover and chill the dough for at least one hour (and at most 12 hours).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill the madeleine molds with about three quarters dough (don't spread it). Bake for 8-9 minutes.

While madeleines are baking, make the lemon glaze by stirring the lemon juice, powdered sugar and water together in a bowl until smoothe.

When madeleines are cool enough to be handled, dip one side of each into the glaze (the shell side) and rest them, glaze-side up, onto a cooling rack until glaze has cooled.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tarte aux pommes - Apple Tart

Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about my future. I had a hard time choosing my major in University and I sometimes wonder if I made the right choice. I still have some time ahead of me, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to motivate myself and devote myself 100 percent to studying Accountancy.

This past summer, an idea occurred to me and I am surprised I didn't think of it earlier: why don't I study pastry and do something that I actually enjoy? I do spend most of my time reading baking blogs, flipping through food magazines and baking books, watching the Food Network, baking and making ice cream...

So I've come to a big decision: I will apply to the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec for next Fall and meanwhile continue my studies in Accountancy! The only thing really motivating me is knowing that I will be able to attend the Professional Pastry Making Program. Until then, I have made it my objective to learn as much as I can about pastry arts! I own The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, the book used in the Classic Pastry Arts Program at the French Culinary Institute, and believe that I can learn a lot from it!


So here goes, the tart I've been meaning to make for a long time, the apple tart. I will not be posting the recipes from the book since I will be using it a lot and I don't think it would be right. I used a pâte sablé (shortbread) dough for the crust and made an apple compote with apples, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Thinly-cut apple slices were arranged on the top and the tart was baked for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. When cooled, I lightly brushed the top with a nappage made from apricot jam and a bit of water.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rainbow Cake

I am so obsessed with Whisk Kid, Kaitlin's blog! She always makes these truly amazing cakes and cupcakes and has really good photographing skills... like the grapefruit cupcakes she posted recently! I really want to learn how to make those buttercream roses!

Whisk Kid is one of the first blogs I discovered when I entered the food blogging world. Like many others, the famous Super Epic Rainbow Cake is what led me to it! I was so happy for her when she made her appearance on The Martha Stewart Show in June. That means that not only bloggers and people who bake for fun visit food blogs, but bigger companies (like even the Food Network) are constantly searching the web for ideas!

Last Saturday was my boyfriend's and friend's potluck birthday. Their birthday falls on the same date so they celebrate it together every year. I wanted to bring a cake but not just any cake. Not a simple buttercream layered one, but a huge colorful cake with lots of layers!


Making THE cake was pretty long, which is why I don't make cakes often! It is pretty simple if you think about it: make the cake batter, divide it into 6 bowls, put different colors in each, bake, cool, make swiss meringue buttercream and assemble. There was one problem: I only had 2 round cake pans so it made the process longer. And let's not forget all the dishes pilling up non-stop...

I only suggest you serve this cake at room temperature so leave it out for about an hour or so. I served it right out of the fridge and the swiss meringue buttercream tasted really buttery...

I have to admit though, I am quite pleased with the result and so was everyone else. The birthday boys were really surprised when they cut a slice and got to see the rainbow!

For the recipe, you can visit Whisk Kid here where she also put the link for you to watch her appearance on The Martha Stewart Show (I watched it before making the cake, it really helped).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Checkerboard Cookies

I first saw these cookies in The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts book and have avoided making them ever since because I found they looked really hard to make. In the book, there's a recipe for the chocolate and vanilla doughs, but no explanation on how to achieve the checkerboard! Luckily I found a diagram on Baking Obsession that Vera drew to help people like me :)




The doughs didn't require much time to make but I had to keep taking them in and out of the fridge. Cutting and assembling the dough (following the diagram from Baking Obsession) is easier when they are cold.


As long as the dough doesn't get too soft at room temperature (like the spritz cookie dough), any shortbread or sablé cookie dough recipe would do. I used the recipe from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts book for sablé cookies and was very pleased with the results!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mastic Ice Cream

The only producer of mastic, also called masticha, is the island Chios in Greece, but it is used in many other countries (Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco) for sweets and pastries as well as liqueurs and chewing gums.


I tried mastic ice cream for the first time last summer on my trip to Greece. There's this really good ice cream shop called To Pagoto in Glyfada (Athens) where they have very unique flavors, like Tsoureki, a Greek Easter bread! And now, since I've been making quite a lot of ice cream and stumbled upon some mastic resin crystals (ok... really I looked for them in every gourmet market), I simply had to give it a try!

But there was no mastic ice cream in The Perfect Scoop! No problem: I just used David Lebovitz's method of making vanilla bean ice cream (French-Style), left out the vanilla bean and substituted it for ground mastic! I found that Kevin from Closet Cooking had also made this ice cream and decided to use some vanilla sugar just like he did.


The result was a creamy ice cream, with a slightly gummy texture (which I liked) and a hint of mastic flavor. I liked that the mastic taste wasn't too overpowering and would definitely place this ice cream in my top 5. I did have a hard time getting all the mastic off my pot, mortar and pestle and spoons though... I think I could have prevented this by grinding the mastic with some of the sugar...


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Mastic Ice Cream
Adapted and modified David Lebovitz's
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Makes about 1/2 Liter (1/2 Quart)

1/2 cup whole milk
3/8 cup (75 g) vanilla sugar

1 cup heavy cream

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp mastic resin crystals

3 large egg yolks

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the mastic resin crystals. Warm the milk, sugar, ½ cup of the cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the ground mastic to the warm milk and stir. Remove from the heat and cover for about 30 minutes. There might be pieces of mastic that will have formed. (No worries, we will strain them out later!)

Pour the remaining ½ cup cream in a bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and slowly pour in the warm mixture (to temper eggs), whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan and constantly stir the mixture over low heat with a spatula, until mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly (even overnight) in the refrigerator. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.