Thursday, January 29, 2009

The world is yours... with tuiles!!

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

I was overjoyed when I saw that the new DB challenge for this month was a one-step, one-day recipe. Very straight forward but oh so tasty! And the world is yours with tuiles cookies, you can make ANYTHING you want. It's a genius little thing really.

I'm going to be rather short today, feeling a little under the weather... metaphorically and literally after receiving 30 cm of snow yesterday. I decided I was going to officially declare myself snowed in today.

Making tuiles was really fun and very educational. I think tuiles are one of the basics in the pastry world and it's an essential really. I shaped the tuiles into a spoon and paired them with a chocolate cup of strawberry mousse prepared following last month’s challenge recipe. I still have to work on my chocolate cup making skills but I'll get there. To get the spoon shape, I used a spoon template and once they were baked, I gently pressed them in between two little spoons until they held there shape. They cool down very quickly so you have to move fast.

Here are all the recipes you need to create this sea of deliciousness. Ok, back to bed... I think I’ll watch a movie. I think I’ll go for Sex and the City...

¼ cup softened butter (not melted but soft)
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powderor food coloring of choice to decorate (optional, I didn't use)
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Preheat oven at 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter or spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template. Press the stencil of your choice on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on your tuile if desired.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again or place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

Strawberry Mousse
2 medium-sized egg yolks
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup whipping cream
200g strawberry puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
36g water
2.5 gelatin leaves or 2+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
3 medium-sized egg whites

Beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch until thick, white and fluffy.
Heat the cream in a medium saucepan and once hot, pour a small amount over the egg yolks while whisking vigorously.

Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cream in the saucepan; add the strawberry puree and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens considerably, at least 3-5 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm temperature.

Make an Italian Meringue: Cook the sugar and water on medium heat until temperature reaches 244°F (118°C) when measured with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, test the temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water. If it forms a soft ball, you’ve reached the proper temperature.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin stream while continuing to whisk vigorously (preferably with a mixer for sufficient speed). Whisk/beat until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The meringue should be thick and glossy.

Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil).
Put the melted gelatin in a mixing bowl and, while whisking vigorously, pour the lukewarm strawberry cream over the gelatin.

Carefully blend the Italian meringue into the strawberry mixture. I also added a few drops of pink food coloring to get a nicer, brighter shade of pink. Spoon into chocolate cups and serve.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Phyllo Apple Strudels and not a great satisfaction

I believe that blogging shouldn't be only to show off you're successes but also to share your not so good baking experiences and discuss about them so you can improve... So here I am...

I had envisioned these amazing mini strudels, hand-pie style, made out of phyllo dough because I had some in my freezer and was fed up of seeing it sitting there. Although the apple filling was delicious, I was really pleased with the aspect of the strudels. The phyllo dough just ended up breaking all over the place and it was just hell to take them off of the baking sheet. But here I think it was my mistake, I think I let them sit too long on the sheet and the juices that came out of them had the time to solidy, gluing the strudels on the sheet. When I tried to take them off a few just totally fell apart, others left their bellies on the sheet... This is how you learn from your mistakes right? I am learning...

Taste wise, it was really really good! Especially dunked into the creme anglaise which is simply and absolutely delicious... it was like a grandma's apple pie and vanilla ice cream all in one!

I divided 6 huge sheets (placed one of top of the other) of phyllo dough into 12 squares to make mini individual portions, using the quantities shown below which are originally meant for one big strudel.

Apple Strudel
(yields big strudel for 8 servings)

4 apples, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp grated lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup butter, melted (approx)
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs

Finely slice the apple quarters crosswise. Place them in a bowl and toss them with the sugar, the nuts, raisins, lemon juice and cinnamon; set aside for about 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to mingle togather.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a damp tea towel. Cover remaining phyllo with another damp cloth and brush the sheet with some of the butter; sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the bread crumbs.

Layer remaining phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter and sprinkling with remaining bread crumbs.

About 2 inches (5 cm) from one of the long edge of the phyllo, spoon the apple mixture lengthwise down the dough in a 3-inch (8 cm) wide strip, leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) border of pastry at each short end.

Starting at long edge nearest the filling, carefully begin to roll the phyllo over filling, rolling up the strudel jelly roll-style and folding in the edges as you roll.

Roll up firmly but allow a little slack for expansion while it bakes. Carefully place the strudel seam side down on a greased baking sheet and brush it with butter.

Cut 7 slits in the top and bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until crisp and golden. Transfer to rack or serving platter.

Creme anglaise (from Joy of Baking)
(yields about 2 cups)

2 cups light cream or half and half (12%-18% butterfat)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks

In a stainless steel bowl stir with a wooden spoon, the sugar and yolks until well blended.

In a small saucepan heat the cream and vanilla bean (if using the extract, it will be added at the end) just to the boiling point. Remove from heat and whisk a few tablespoons of the cream into the yolk mixture. Then, gradually add the remaining cream, whisking constantly.

Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and, over medium heat, gently heat the mixture to just below the boiling point. You will notice that steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle. Check to see if it is the right consistency by holding a wooden spoon sideways that is covered with the custard and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak, it is ready.

Immediately remove from the heat and pour through a strainer, scraping up any thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until seeds separate. For maximum flavor, return the pod to the sauce until serving time. *If you are using pure vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean, add it to the cream now.

The creme anglaise can be refrigerated covered with plastic wrap for a couple of days.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ICE January: Chocolate Champagne cupcakes with a white chocolate strawberry truffle center and strawberry whipped cream

The January Iron Cupcake Earth challenge was wine, any kind of wine and since I had some Champagne left from New Years... Why not?!

These rich and dense chocolate brownie-like cupcakes have a white chocolate truffle heart which hides a little piece of fresh strawberry. The strawberries were also used in the whipped cream frosting. What's more tempting than champagne with chocolate and fresh strawberries?!

Plus, aren't chocolate, champagne and strawberries aphrodisiacs or something? Well, here you have all three in one... kinda like a love making cupcake! Perfect for Valentine's Day or a special dinner! AND there's whipped cream... now really, what can we ask more?? Make sure you don't eat the truffles before putting them in the cupcakes... half of mine were left "truffle-less": they are AMAZING even on their own, maybe even more so!

If you liked my cupcakes, please vote for me!! To cast your vote go to No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner!! Voting starts on January 29th at 8pm and ends on February 4th at noon.

Chocolate Champagne cupcakes (original recipe from Krishna Brown)
yields 12

8 ounces 70% dark chocolate
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
6 tbsp flour
1/2 cup champagne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a double boiler.
Beat the salt, baking powder, vanilla and sugar into the melted chocolate.
Add the eggs into the chocolate mixture, beating them in one at the time. Add the flour to the mixture and mix until blended.
At this point, add the champagne and beat on high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is shiny.
Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tin and bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with crumbs stuck to it if you want a moister cupcake, or else bake a bit longer.

Let the cupcakes cool completely and then make a whole in their center, going half way down the cupcake. Insert the white chocolate truffle in the hole and cover with the cupcake piece that was removed. It is very important that the cupcakes aren't warm anymore or else the truffles will melt. Set them in the fridge while preparing the frosting.

White Chocolate Strawberry Truffles
yields about 15

4 ounces white chocolate
2 tbsp + 2 tsp heavy cream
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
fresh strawberries (I used the tips cut off)

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Add the butter and stir until melted. Pour the cream over the white chocolate, let sit for a few seconds and then stir until completely melted and smooth. Cool, cover, and refrigerate the mixture until firm, at least 2 hours.
Using a melon baller or small spoon, roll the mixture into little balls. Press down the middle with your thumb and nestle a piece of strawberry inside, roll the truffle back into a ball and put back into the fridge for about 1 hour or until ready to use.

Strawberry Whipped Cream
yields about 2 cups

1 cup heavy whipped cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly sweetened strawberry puree

In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until soft peaks form.
Then add the strawberry puree a little at a time, and beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. Taste and fold in more sugar or puree, if required.


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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nutella-Almond Papillotes

Before I do anything else, I'd like to wish you all a happy New Year and may it bring you lots of joy and happiness, but mostly love and yummy moments!

Speaking of yummy, I just had to share this recipe with you! These papillote cookies became a Christmas tradition in our family. But beware: they are HIGHLY addictive and you won't be able to stop just at one or two. After the first one your hand will go take another and another and another without you even noticing; and by the time you realize it, you'll have eaten at least a dozen of them!!

The recipe is for "industrial quantities" as I need to bake a lot of them to get through the holidays without running out, but you can cut it in half or more if needed.

Nutella-Almond Papillotes
(yields approx. 150 cookies)

For the dough
1 cup milk, lukewarm
1 tbsp active dry yeast
4-5 cups flour
450 gr of Tenderflake lard
6 eggs
1 tsp of baking powder

For the filling
1,5 kg Nutella (2 jars of 750 gr each)
680 gr toasted almonds (approx. 4 cups)

Warm up the milk until lukewarm and dissolve the yeast in it. In a bowl cut in the flour with the lard using a food processor. Add in milk and yeast mixture.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and add them to the dough batter with the baking powder. Incorporate them well and proceed to knead the dough by hand until it is medium soft, adding some flour if needed.

Sprinkle a bit of flour at the bottow of a bowl and place the ball of dough in it. Refrigerate overnight covered with a plate.

The day after roast the almonds and crush them into small pieces. Mix the almonds well into the Nutella. Mix a cup of flour and a cup of sugar in bowl that you will use to roll your dough with a rolling pin.

Roll your dough to about 1/8 in. (3 mm) of thickness and cut out disc shapes of approx. 10-12 cm in diameter. In the center of each circle place one teaspoon of the nutella mixture and fold the disc over it, pinching the ends to form a candy-like shaped cookie.

Place you cookies on a greased baking tray and bake at 350F/175C for 12-15 mins or until golden.