Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Celebration

Happy Easter everyone!!

It is a Greek tradition to say "Hristos anesti" for 40 days following Easter. This Easter was a busy one since I had two events to attend the same day, so I had to double-book. Which meant double-eat! Nevertheless, here are some sweets I prepared for this year:

Tsoureki is a Greek sweet bread prepared for Easter (but sometimes also during the year). My grandma usually makes it but this year I decided to give it a try using this recipe from Greek Gourmand. I was very pleased with the result and would keep this recipe for next year!

Cannolis were a spontaneous thing I decided to make with my sister and her boyfriend. We had a bit of trouble making the shells, but then got the hang of it and I must say, they turned out pretty good! You definitely need to use a thermometer to get the oil not more than 350-375 degrees F. Also, we strained the ricotta overnight to get it a thicker texture for the filling, but I think a few hours would had been enough.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coffee Ice Cream

Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate Madeleines

Just a few more weeks and I'll be off to France! We'll be spending some time in Paris, Lyon and we'll be visiting the Côte d'Azur... I can't wait!

Honestly, I really believe this trip will be mostly about food. My boyfriend and I are writing down places we want to visit: Pierre Hermé, LaDurée, Le Cordon Bleu, Poilane, Moet et Chardon. But isn't that what a trip to France is all about? (That and the beautiful French Riviera...)

The other day was my birthday. I really wanted to make a cake, a giant beautiful cake, but I couldn't find the time or energy to make it. My parents bought me an Opéra, and it was okay, but I really missed the homemade sweets. So around midnight, I decided to make one of the least time-consuming things I knew: madeleines. Not only are they quick to make (you do have to refrigerate them for about an hour), but they don't even require you to make a stop at the grocery store to pick up some chocolate!

So here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


Chocolate Madeleines
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes around 36 madeleines

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 cup vanilla sugar
12 tbsp (6 oz.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Butter to butter the madeleine tins (or Pam cooking spray)

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt.

Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until thick and lemon-colored. Fold in the flour mixture, then the melted butter.

Butter the madeleine pans (or use Pam), then spoon in the batter, filling each about 3/4's full. Refrigerate the madeleine pans and the remaining batter for about an hour.

About 15 minutes before removing the pans from the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake the madeleines until they are firm and puffed, around 7-9 minutes. Turn them immediately from the molds onto a cooling rack. When the pans have cooled off, wipe out the molds and respray them with Pam. Continue baking the madeleines until all the batter is used.

The madeleines are best eaten slightly warm the same day they are made.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meringue Filled Coffee Cake : March Daring Bakers Challenge

I have never experienced so much stress in school. My team and I have been working on a business plan and it literally has forced me to put everything else on hold. I kind of had to squeeze making this Daring Baker's Challenge between making financial statements! It took me a while to make because of the rising time, but honestly, it was very worth it!

I've been having an obsession for anything hazelnut, so I decided to add chopped toasted hazelnuts to the sugar, cinnamon and chocolate for the filling. I followed everything else according to the directions Jamie and Ria had posted and was very impressed with the result: a brioche-like coffee cake with chocolate and hazelnut filling, perfect for a breakfast, brunch or any other time of the day! This is a keeper :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake


Bottom Layer
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus more for greasing pan
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
  • 3/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1/3 cup packed (about 2-1/2 oz) light brown sugar, crumbled with fingers to remove lumps
Middle Layer
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 5 tbsp hot water
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
  • 1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
Top Layer
  • 3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 6 oz white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
  • 1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • Shaved chocolate or cocoa powder for serving (optional)
  • 1. FOR THE BOTTOM LAYER: Place oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter bottom and sides of 9-1/2-inch springform pan. Melt butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (double boiler), stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly, about 5 min. Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks and set aside.
  • 2. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 sec. Add half of the brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 sec. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 min. longer, scraping down sides halfway through. Using whisk, fold 1/3 of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Carefully transfer batter to prepared springform pan, gently smoothing top with offset spatula.
  • 3. Bake until cake has risen, is firm around edges, and center has just set but is still soft (center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), between 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely for about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse as it cools.) Do not remove cake from pan.
  • 4. FOR THE MIDDLE LAYER: Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl and set aside. Melt chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (double boiler), stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 min.
  • 5. In a clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 sec. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.
  • 6. Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Using whisk, fold 1/3 of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into springform pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.
  • 7. FOR THE TOP LAYER: In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand at least 5 min. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. Bring ½ cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly).
  • 8. In a clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 sec. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 sec. Using whisk, fold 1/3 of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Smooth top with offset spatula. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours (best chilled overnight)
  • 9. TO SERVE: If using, garnish top of cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa. Run thin knife between cake and side of spring form pan; remove side of pan. Run cleaned knife along outside of cake to smooth sides. Cut into slices and serve.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Strawberry Swirl

After making the marble cheesecake, I got into a cheesecake craze and decided to try that cheesecake recipe I've been wanting to make. The ingredients are exactly like in a real cheesecake, except you just freeze it! The only thing I would change is to use less lemon zest because I found that there was a pronounced lemon tastes that stood out, but it didn't really bother me. This ice cream didn't last so long and I would definitely remake this using David Lebovitz's suggested blueberry swirl!

Last week I first heard about Theicecreamists. I didn't know if I should be shocked or interested about their gaga breast milk ice cream... Being an ice cream fanatic, I decided to check out their Facebook page (which you can visit by clicking here) and looked through their pictures. There's also a lot of talk about the fact that Lady Gaga is suing them for calling one of flavors "Baby Gaga". It doesn't seem as their main goal is to sell ice cream, but more about their events, partying and publicity. What do you guys think? Have you heard about Theicecreamists?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake

Last week was our "Reading Week" from school. I did everything except read, isn't that was a week off from school is for?

A friend of mine and I were really looking forward to this week because we wanted to bake together. I usually bake alone, so it was fun to have someone to share my worries with! Like after we spent all night baking, cooling and trying to speed up the chilling process (by putting it in the freezer!) of this delicious-looking marble cheesecake, we had to have a tiny slice. But it was still warm and creamy inside, kind of like a mousse! We were a bit disappointed! I had a hunch though that it really needed to be overnight in the fridge, at the least. The next morning, I sneaked a bite and yes, it was an absolute success!

The original recipe asked for crushed graham cookies for the crust which we substituted for Oreo crumbs and also made a marble on the top for a chocolate twist to the New York-Style cheesecake!


Chocolate Marble Cheesecake
Adapted from Ricardo, Volume 8 Number 5

1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 sheets aluminium foil, 46-cm (18-inch) wide

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
4 containers (250 g/8 oz each) of cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of a 20-cm (8-inch) spring form pan with parchment paper.


1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crust. Press lightly into the bottom on the spring form pan and bake for about 12 minutes. Let it cool.

2. Brush in the inner sides of the spring form pan with some melted butter. Wrap the base and the outer sides of the spring form pan with the aluminium foil, making sure it's watertight. Double the aluminium foil.

3. Turn the oven's temperature down to 325 degrees F.


1. Place the sugar and flour in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling and pulse just until the mixture is smooth. Pour onto the crust, reserving about 1/4 cup of the filling.

2. Melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler and pour into the reserved filling. Mix well and with a teaspoon, dollop the chocolate mixture in a few dots on top of the filling in the spring form pan. Swirl the chocolate mixture into the filling with a knife.

3. Prepare a bain marie: place the spring form pan in a large baking dish. Fill the baking dish with boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.

4. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour and 50 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the middle of the cheesecake shows 150 degrees F. Remove the spring form pan from the bain marie as well as from the aluminium foil. Let cool for about 1 hour. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours, or until completely chilled (best left overnight). To remove the cheesecake from the pan, run a thin knife all around, between the spring form pan and the cheesecake.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My First Daring Bakers Challenge: White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Florentine Cookies

After debating for a long while if I was ready to participate in a baking group (since FFwD didn't really work out...), I decided to join the Daring Bakers! I was looking through the past challenges and they're all things on my baking wish list, so why not?

This February was my first Daring Bakers challenge and panna cotta was something I was not very familiar with. As I started making it, I realized it was a lot like making ice cream, except with some gelatine!

I decided to make a raspberry gelée and what better than a white chocolate panna cotta to go with it? There were a few things that weren't mentioned in the challenge that I would have found helpful:

If you want a layer of gelée in the panna cotta: first make half the panna cotta recipe, refrigerate it well, make the gelée and let it cool, pour some on top of the cooled panna cotta (equally dividing it between all the servings), refrigerate it, then make the second half of the panna cotta and pour it on top of the gelée.

Since I didn't realize this, I made all the panna cotta and gelée at the same time, refrigerated the panna cotta and then had to reheated the gelée in order to pour it at the very top! It still tasted great, but I would have rathered have the raspberry gelée inside. I would definitely try this again, maybe with dark chocolate next time? As for the cookies, I love this recipe because it was the first time I made oatmeal cookies and they actually spread! A bit too greasy in my opinion and I would make them a bit smaller next time. So here's the recipe for my February Daring Bakers challenge:

White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Florentine Cookies

White Chocolate Panna Cotta
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 6 servings

1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) (7 g) (1/4 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (145 g) (5 oz) white chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pour the milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top and set aside for 2-5 minutes.
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into the chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Fruit Gelée
Recipe by Mallory

1 cup (230 g) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberries, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi.
3 tbsp water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) (3.5 g) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin

1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
2. Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the raspberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temperature). If you're planning on layering by pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta.

Florentine Cookies
Adapted from Nestle
Makes 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies

2/3 cup (150 g) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups (250 g) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, 3 inches apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
4. While the cookies are cooling, melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1.5 minutes) or on the stove top (in a double boiler).
5. Peel the cookies from the Silpat or parchment and place face down or a wire rack set over a sheet of parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Macarons à la rose - Rose Macarons

Another great recipe from my Macarons book by Gaëlle and Johan Crop! It was my first time in a long time trying out the French meringue method again so I was preparing a few days in advance. I ground the almond powder and powdered sugar together and let them air dry for 3 days. I also left the egg whites out of the fridge for 3 days.

I ran into a few problems though: my macarons barely had any feet and some cracked right in the middle. As I piped the macaron mixture on parchment paper, there were peaks that didn't smooth out, leaving me with not-so-smooth-looking shells! I was a bit disappointed but I have to admit they tasted almost like the ones from the shop!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Ice Cream Sandwiches

I've been wanting to make ice cream sandwiches for the longest time, but I had no idea how to shape the ice cream like the cookie so they would fit perfectly. Won't the process of cutting ice cream with a cookie cutter, then getting it out and onto the cookies just make the ice cream all melted?

Wait, there's a solution! Heart-shaped silicone molds!

It just happened that I had a cookie cutter with the exact same shape as the silicone molds. We've had these molds at our house for the longest time but I've never used them once before this weekend! Just churn your ice cream and place it in these molds to freeze.

In order to remove the ice cream from the molds, run hot water under the molds, then carefully detach the ice cream from the molds, one heart at a time. Sandwich the ice cream between two cookies and voilà: beautiful ice cream cookies for your valentine!

Here's the chocolate cookie recipe I used (the dough is insanely addictive!!). Enjoy!


Chocolate Sablé Cookies
Adapted from Williams Sonoma
Makes about 40 cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp coarse sugar (optional)

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. Add the vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, beat until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Reduce the speed of your mixer to low and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until blended.

Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, pat each into a flat disk and wrap them separately with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks for at least one hour. (You can also store the disks for future use: store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month. If freezing, place the well-wrapped disks in heavy-duty sealable plastic bags and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.)

When ready to roll out the dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper (or silicone mats).

On a work surface, place the disks between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer them to prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart. Gather the scraps and cut out more cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar (optional, I didn't).

Bake the cookies until the edges are crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool briefly on the sheets. Transfer the cookies on the wire racks to cool completely.