Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Baker's: Challenge of Love

So last minute is the name of the game for me this month. I baked and photographed and blogged all today.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of and Dharm of .
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C.

9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream
By David Lebovitz

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Chai tea bags

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar and vanilla in a saucepan. Add tea bags. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Chocolate Chip Cookie heard round the World!

I don't know how long ago this recipe was posted in the New York Times but it's only now that I have gotten around to making it. I have seen countless posts about this CCC. Quotes like:
"This is the best CCC ever!" and "A must try!"

It sounds like I am talking more about an Oscar winning film as opposed to the humble chocolate chip cookie.
Ok, ok this I will agree to, this is no ordinary cookie. It's buttery, crispy, chewy and chocolate-y (sp?). I will also agree that you must use the best quality ingredients available.
With these cookies I used Callebaut chocolate chips, milk chocolate discs, Madagascar vanilla and organic free range eggs, oh and Fleur de Sel.

Let me just say I made 4 dozen of these an froze the rest for the protection of my family's waistlines.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie
By: Jacques Torres

2 c minus 2 tbsp cake flour

1 2/3 c bread flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp coarse salt

1 1/4 c unsalted butter

1 1/4 c light brown sugar

1 c plus 2 tbsp sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 lbs bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content

Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 12 rounded teaspoon mounds of dough onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 9 - 11 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Cupcake Weekend

I think sometimes I want to be 8 years old again. Maybe more often then most people should want to be.
Finally this past weekend I could deny myself no longer. I had to have just 1 day of pure kid-infused, messy, sticky goodness.I asked my son if he wanted to bake some cupcakes, more specifically cupcake cones. Remember those? Plain wafer ice cream cones with cupcakes baked right inside of them? Mmmmmm.

So to indulge my kid-esque request Dilan obviously agreed that it was a good idea.
Let me just say that we had such a fun morning. Baking, frosting, making a mess everywhere. I think sometimes when you are so meticulous with food and preparation, you need that "let go" attitude every once and a while. Who cares that the frosting is on the handle of the knife or being licked off all 10 fingers. Who cares that sprinkles have found their way to the table, the floor and maybe the cat's mouth.

We made 2 types of cupcakes, regular and cones. I found an amazing site called "" , which is now closed but still has some of the most amazing recipes I've seen for cupcakes. The recipe yields 24 but I got WAY more then that.
For the frosting we used "" favourite vanilla buttercream, which is an adaptation of Elizabeth Faulkner's recipe from Demolition Desserts. From there we also made a chocolate buttercream as well.

My son and I went to our favourite bulk store and bought a million different sprinkles and dragees. Brought them home and separated them into their own little bowls and proceeded to "go to town" on our freshly baked confections. Both of the recipes listed above are foolproof! The cupcakes are moist and rise an incredible amount. The buttercream is sweet, fluffy and shocking-ly white.

Cupcake Cones
makes 24 cupcake ice cream cones / 350 degree oven

2 c + 2 tbsp cake flour
2 c sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 c milk
1/2 c butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

1. Measure out everything but the eggs directly into your mixer bowl
2. Mix on low speed just until incorporated
3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes
4. Add eggs, beat on high speed again for 2 minutes
5. Transfer batter into a container with a pour spout (like a pyrex measuring cup)
6. Pour batter into ice cream cones, leave a good half inch between the batter and the top of the cone
7. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

Vanilla Buttercream:
Makes approx. 2 c

4 oz. unsalted softened butter
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter & salt for about 30 seconds.
2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined.
3. Scrape down the bowl.
4. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the lemon juice and beat until combined. 5. Scrape down the bowl again.
6. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.

*Make sure and stir the buttercream well though before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting. Do not refrigerate!!!! IF you are using the same day then just keep it on the counter. If you plan on using it in the next 3 days put in fridge and take it out about 30 mins before you want to use it. Mix it for 2 -3 mins just to get re-fluffed.