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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tastespotting Accepts!

I've been submitting a bunch of photos to FoodGawker and Tastespotting lately and one of them finally accepts!

Tastespotting picture No. 107809.

Tastespotting picture No. 107861.

YAY! Am over the moon. This feels totally encouraging and awesome. Happy happy happy day!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

HCB: Chocolate Genoise with Peanut Butter Whipped Ganache

I hadn't make cupcakes for a while, I realized. So when this cake came into rotation, I decided that's what I would do.

This cake is pretty easy to make. So easy that I had to add an extra challenge, and make 2/3 of the recipe. I figured 2/3 would yield me 8 cupcakes. I ended up with 12 (35 grams each). Math is not my strong suit, and yet I continued with the complex math :).

While the cake was easy, the ganache turned out to have a different story.

Continuing with 2/3 recipe, I made 2/3 of the ganache. Melted the chocolate, whisked the peanut butter and vanilla in. Then whisked the cold cream slowly. It took a while for the chocolate to completely melted. When it does, I whisked and whisked until soft peaks.

2/3 of ganache recipe turned out to frost 5 cupcakes only. As it was only 1 PM, I proceeded to make more ganache. It was easy anyway, so I thought by 2 PM I would be done and then I could go run some errands.

Well, as it turned out, the 2nd batch of ganache never reached soft peak, even after 10 minutes of whisking and what little arm muscles I have were sore at this point. Figuring it's not cold enough, I put the ganache in the refrigerator. After 10 minutes, I took it out and whisked again. Then the darn thing turned grainy.

Taking Rose's suggestion, I re-melted the whole thing, chilled it, and whisked. The darn thing now started breaking, turning shiny and oily.


By now it's 3 PM, I do not want to start over, but at the same time there are 7 un-frosted cupcakes and a bunch of chocolate hearts, and it's sad to left them unused.

Upon investigating the freezer, I found a small blob of something that looked like a ganache. Hm... upon trying it out, I confirmed it is indeed ganache. I melted it, added some cream since I was supposed to make whipped ganache.

I must have been overzealous in whisking this 3rd batch of ganache, because it turned grainy. Not about to start over again, I piped it on the rest of the cupcakes.
The grainyness did not affect the taste, it just doesn't look very nice. Oh well, that's what the piped hearts and chocolate flakes are for - to distract attention LOL.

Though it is a bit of  a bummer, as I was excited to use this "KB" lettering on one of the best cupcakes.
Oh well, it could have been worse. At least the texture didn't affect the taste.

Tasting impressions:
It is really really good. I couldn't decide which one I like better, the peanut butter ganache, or the de-frosted "mystery" ganache with Chambord. Both are really really good. The peanut butter is kinda interesting, with the flavor of peanut butter, Chambord, and chocolate altogether. Genoise usually taste better the next day, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow's tasting :).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TCB: Ethereal Pear Charlotte

This is a Special Edition Knitty Baker post, featuring The Ethereal Pear Charlotte from The Cake Bible. Why, you might ask, is it a special edition? Because, lovely readers, for once, I am going to post step-by-step pictures.

Before we get started, let me first say that I applaud you people out there who take step-by-step pictures. Man, it is time consuming to do this! Not only do I have to stop what I'm doing to take pictures, but also I had to wash my hand every single time. Maybe some of you don't necessarily wash your hands before you touch your camera. But my camera is 5 months old, it's my baby, and it's still pristine (I haven't even dropped it yet).

I thought you guys would like a peek of my messy work station. See on the corner the flours and cornstarch are sifted and thus ready to go.

Moving on to the actual posting, :). Here are the Red Bartlett pears. I am making 1/2 recipe so technically I only need 1 pear, but I like poached pears so I figured the more the merrier. We can always use extra poached pears for munching.

The pears are halved, peeled, and cored and are sitting (or laying) happily in their poaching liquid.

Next, I made the biscuit roulade. Here the yolks and eggs with sugar, ready to be whisked into submission.

My lovely red KA mixer in action!

Whisked eggs with sifted flour and cornstarch.

After the flour is folded, next up is egg whites.

The biscuit in the oven.

 The biscuit, measured and cut.
About 3 hours later, I took the stacked biscuit out from the freezer. 3 hours in the freezer is not enough to freeze the whole thing until solid - as prescribed by Rose - but at this point I was pressed for time.

The Charlotte mold ready for use.

And this is the part where the step-by-step picture ended. Why? Read on and you shall find out!

At this point I proceeded to make the custard for the Pear Bavarian Cream. I whisked the egg yolks, sugar, and gelatin together. Then whisked into it, the boiled poaching syrup from the pear. Next the whole thing is heated up until almost boiling and supposedly the mixture will thicken to be like heavy cream. Well, 10 minutes and counting, it is still liquid like mild. By the 15 minute mark, I gave up and strained it. And then I saw why it never thickened. I had a lot of egg yolks coagulation happening - so my whisking the poaching syrup into the egg yolks wasn't swift enough. SHIT (yes people I do curse sometimes. It takes a special event to have me curse, and this one totally qualifies!) At that time it was 5.30 PM, I still have loads to do in the kitchen and I do not want to start over!

While musing on what to do next, I whipped the cream and started on the Italian meringue - boiled the sugar syrup and whisked the egg whites.

And then an idea came to me. What if I added an extra yolk to the Bavarian cream, with some poaching syrup, and gelatin. It is risky, but technically it should work, and then at least I don't have to throw away all those egg yolks and it's not really starting over.

So dear readers, that's what I did. I took an egg yolk, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of poaching liquid. All these measurements are approximate. I didn't even bother to look at the recipe. In hindsight, that was pretty crazy and gutsy of me and I probably won't do it again. Anyway, I whisked the egg mixture real good. Heat up the liquid-y custard until hot then whisked it into the 1 egg yolk mixture. Next I heat everything up and in like 3 minutes, voila, the whole thing thickened like heavy cream. YAY!!! VICTORY!

And it was at this point that I realized I had forgotten to take pictures. Oops.. oh well, next time maybe :).

While the custard was cooling in the water bath, I did a victory dance around the kitchen area. And no, for those of you wondering, there is no picture or video of that one (and there will never be LOL).

The completed Bavarian cream, inside the Charlotte. To the fridge it went so the cream can set.

After 1/2 hour, it's time to slice the pears. The pears turned out a bit on a softer side, so it was a little hard to slice them evenly. This is when I was glad I had extra pears.

After two hours refrigeration, I un-molded the Charlotte for this photo shoot.

Tasting impressions:
Hmmmmm........... mmmmmmmmm.... mmhmmmm..... this is soooo goood! Again, my love for sponge cake is re-newed. I do like the Apple Caramel Charlotte better - because of the apples and the caramel-based Bavarian cream. But this one is really a close second. Now excuse me while I go have another piece.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HCB Free Choice: Black Chocolate Party Cake and White Velvet Butter Cake

Here are a couple of cakes I made 3 weeks ago: Black Chocolate Party Cake and White Velvet Butter Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache.

The Black Chocolate Party cake I was really curious about. Mainly because it used A LOT of cocoa powder. It is realy a lot, or more like a boatload. Not only it used a lot of cocoa powder in the batter, there's cocoa syrup that used - well you guessed it - more cocoa powder.

Since I made these cakes weeks ago, and just now blogging about it, I totally forgot how the cake was made. If there is ever a recipe memory contest, I would definitely lose LOL. I do, however, remember that both of these cakes were really easy.

As I don't remember how these cakes were made, we are going to skip ahead to tasting impressions. But before that, one note about the white velvet butter cake. I made 2/3 of the recipe and baked it in an 6 inch pan and a 4 inch pan. The cake didn't turn out as smooth as I wanted, so as you can see the ganache is not smooth as well. I was pretty bummed about that, and now looking back I realized I should have refrigerated the cake so it would firm up a bit and become easier to apply the ganache. Speaking of the ganache, I did not have milk chocolate at home, so I melted 3 oz of Green & Black's Dark Chocolate (70%) and 3 oz of Green & Black's White Chocolate (30%). I think the result is pretty close to milk chocolate.

Tasting impressions:
I do not like the Black Chocolate Party Cake. It smelled really good, very chocolate-y smell, but the texture was too dense and not very exciting. I am sad to say that this I think is the worst cake from RHC in my opinion (sorry, Rose!). I could barely finish a piece :(.

The White Velvet Butter cake is really good. The taste is pretty simple, like any white cake (but better). The ganache is a bit on a sweet side - so I was glad I only used a thin coating (I have 1/3 of it left in the freezer). This one, I am happy to report, will get made again :).

Friday, November 12, 2010

FFWD: Chicken for Les Parreseux

I have never made a whole roasted chicken before. I have made roasted turkey once for Thanksgiving, and have always had turkey for Thanksgiving that other people have made. I am never really a big fan of it though. It doesn't have a lot of taste and I ended up eating a lot more side dishes than the actual turkey :).

So when Laurie posted the Chicken for Les Parreseux as one of the 8 recipes to be voted for November menu, I did not vote for it. Roasted turkey, roasted chicken, they are both birds I figured, so if one is not very tasty, the other wouldn't be either. See how my method of deduction/conclusion went? :)

But alas, people voted for this one, maybe because November is Thanksgiving month? And so I thought, I might as well make it.

There is only 2 of us in the house, so I opted for getting a smaller chicken.

The good thing about a smaller bird is that it fits nice and snugly in my 5 qt Dutch oven.

Another good thing about getting a young chicken is the meat will be more tender.

I followed Dorie's instruction of roasting the chicken first for 40 minutes. Then added the vegetables.

As you can see, I did not follow her instruction of using just a couple of carrots and potatoes. Instead, I added a boatload of them. I think in total I used 8 carrots and 2 handful of fingerling potatoes.

I added dried rosemary and thyme all over the chicken, giving it a lot of seasoning. Once the chicken and veggies finished roasting, I made pan sauce by adding 2 cups of water and a teaspoon of chicken broth and scraping off all the burnt bits in the dutch oven. There wasn't any liquid left from the chicken, so I figured the chicken broth would be a good idea. Then I just let the liquid boil until it's slightly reduced.

You can see the potato gratin in the above picture. The tart on the left is Tart M....... which I will blog about when it comes to menu rotation.

Tasting impression:
This is so good! The chicken is very tasty and the sauce is delicious. The veggies goes along well with it and they are nice and soft. I am changing my mind now about roasted birds - well, at least roasted chicken. I am so going to make this again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

FFWD: Potato Gratin

This is Potato Gratin from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.

I made 1/2 recipe and ended up baking it in a small pyrex container. Making this made me realize that I need to get a pretty little baking container. Or it's just what I'm telling myself so I have an excuse to go shopping LOL.

Anyway, I digress...

This is so easy to put together, especially since I am only using 2 potatoes. First, chop some garlic then combined with cream and bring to a simmer over low heat. I added more garlic than the recipe called for as I thought it would make it more tasty.

Btw, it takes FOREVER to bring a cream to a simmer over low heat. I ended up cheating and played with the temperature a bit. First I do medium high, then medium, then low.

Next, peel the potatoes, then slice it pretty thin, about 1/8 inch. Then arrange the potatoes in the baking container, add salt and pepper, poured garlic cream, add some thyme, and finally my favorite step is to top it with a lot of shredded gruyere.

The gratin baked in about 1/2 an hour. When it's done, I turned the broiler on high for 5 minutes to get the top of it nicely browned.

Tasting impressions:
This is really really good. And super easy to make too. I made this with Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux (post coming next week) and they are perfect for each other. Totally meant to be!

Monday, November 1, 2010

HCB: The Amazing Bostini

This is the Great Bostini from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Cake No. 49.

Chocolate and orange is my absolute favorite combination. Every time I see a chocolate bar with orange, I buy it. I'm in constant lookout for the best chocolate bar with orange. My favorite right now is Newman's Own Organic Orange Dark Chocolate. It has, IMHO, the perfect balance of bittersweet chocolate and orange flavor. This is the only chocolate bar that I could eat the whole bar in 1 sitting.

What, you asked, has that anything to do with The Bostini? The Bostini is a combination of orange glow chiffon cupcake, pastry cream, and chocolate sauce. I got so excited when this cake comes into rotation. In fact, my buddy Monica and I are so excited that we are immediately on lookout for the same cappuccino cup that Rose used in the book. We both got ours on Amazon and we both tracked our packages - holding our breath in anticipation.

When the cups arrived, I jumped up and down and then I went to work making the cupcakes.

The cupcakes were really easy to put together. So easy that as I am writing this post on Monday morning, I forgot how it is made.

Another reason why I forgot is because I made another cake yesterday from RHC, so my head is all full with that recipe.

The cupcakes baked really nice and it rose high above the cupcake pan. They smelled really good coming out of the oven and are nice and spongy.

Next is the pastry cream. This one is also very easy to put together. I don't have vanilla beans and don't really feel like buying them as they are expensive. So I opted for the vanilla bean paste. I added it to the cream once I took it off the heat - right before straining it.

After the cream is strained, put the all in the individual cups, cover with plastic wrap, and cooled.

Once cooled, into the fridge it goes. 1/2 hour before serving time, I took one of the cups out, put 1 cupcake upside down over it. After the 1/2 hour mark - which felt like the longest time in the world, by the way, as I was dying to try this awesome-sounding dessert.

I managed to patiently waited, but only because I want the pastry cream to come a bit to room temperature first.
The chocolate glaze is super easy to put together. With equal amount of butter and chocolate, dividing the recipe into 8 is very easy. For those who are curious, it is 28 point something grams LOL. I just rounded it to 30 grams.

Once the chocolate glaze is poured, I took a quick snappy picture. Then hubby and I shared a glass.

Tasting impressions:
This one goes to the Top 5 Favorite Cakes from RHC list now. It is so good. The warm chocolate sauce with the orange-y cupcake and pastry cream is heaven in a cup! Hubby ate his half with gusto, then declared he was full for hours :). I was glad we shared a cup because the pastry cream is a bit much for me. I think for next time I will put less serving of pastry cream in each cup. Maybe less cream, more cupcake, and more chocolate sauce :).