Have you ever felt your adrenalin rise when you are baking? That's what I felt in the previous GB chocolate class. We have made a flourless hazelnut torte wrapped in chocolate and garnished with candied hazelnut. Every step is guarantee to keep you on the toes the entire time.
This class was one of the many reasons I wanted to go to this chocolate class. I have been wanting to learn how to make a thin layer of chocolate, bend and mold it around a cake. Every time I walked by the patisseries with cakes wrapped in chocolate I would definitely stop by and appraise of the effortless beauty.
This skill is something that cannot be explained by a recipe. I read through the recipe before class again and again but couldn't figure out how. That made me more curious of the process!
Now that I know how this is done, I am absolutely fallen in love with it! Precision, speed and determination play an important part of this process. That's why this is so exciting! I really and definitely need to do this again very soon, which led to a very heavy purchase hours after class. I can't wait to put my new toy to work! Hey, it was on sale after all!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Here it is, chocolate dipped strawberries #2. Strawberries aren't in season though so I am not betting on big flavour. Anyhow it is a good exercise to practice tempering chocolate at home.
This is also a good opportunity to test out a new setup for a photo shoot. Aren't the strawberries cute?
Sunday, October 24, 2010
"Should I or should I not?"
That was what I was thinking at the liquor store in front of a wall of shelves with alcohol. I have been eyeing on this recipe for a few years and this is the time to do it! All I am missing is 5 ml of good raspberry liquor. And out of all the different types - from bacadi rum to vodka infused with gold, and even champagne sell in mini bottles - the only raspberry liquor available only comes in big bottles. The price is not cheap either. So should I, or should I not.
And as the photo has given you the answer.
I could not believe I just spent 40 dollars on a bottle of alcohol that I can make over 200 of the same cake of. You can buy some really good cake out of the 40 bucks already. I must be insane. This recipe has to be good.
So what did I make? A 3 layer chocolate sponge cake with raspberry butter cream and dark chocolate ganache. That was some intense flavour I put together. Besides the raspberry liquor, I have added pureed frozen raspberries that I have sieved by myself into a egg yolk based butter cream. That was some intense flavour and colour I've got there! If I didn't mix the concoction myself, I swear the mixture looked like the butter cream had been contaminated by artificial food colouring.
With the intense butter cream, I have paired it with a dense chocolate sponge cake. The initial batch was much thinner than I have anticipated and the colour wasn't as dark as hoped, so I scraped the first batch and edited the recipe on hand. Unlike regular chocolate sponge cake, or cacao sponge cake I should say, this recipe is darker, denser and much heavier thanks to the addition of melted chocolate. And this recipe only calls for egg whites, which in some way you feel less guilty eating it because of the absence of cholesterol intensified yolks. So should we move on to the recipe?
Intense Chocolate Sponge Cake
inspired by The Sweet Trick by Susumu Koyama
recipe doubled to make 8" round cake
320g egg whites
160g bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces (I have used 72% for this recipe)
90g whipping cream
10g cacao powder ( I have used Ghirardelli)
80g cake flour with a pinch of salt
- Boil whipping cream and add to the bittersweet chocolate placed in a heat proof bowl. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Slightly warm up in a double boiler if there is not enough heat to melt the chocolate. Add butter until completely dissolved.
- Whisk egg whites until soft peaks. Gradually add sugar while whisking until stiff peaks formed.
- Add half of egg whites to the chocolate ganache in step 1. Fold it in. Add sieved flour and cacao powder and fold until just incorporated. Add the remaining egg whites.
- Put the mixture in an 8" round cake pan and bake at 325F for 50 to 60 minutes. There should be a slightly crusty top and toothpick comes out clean.
- Invert cake pan on a wiring rack and let cool.
36g egg yolk
180g unsalted butter
120g raspberry puree
5g raspberry liquor (I have used Chambord)
5g lemon juice
- Boil sugar and water in a small pot to soft ball stage (118C).
- Slightly whisk egg yolks, the slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup while whisking. Whisk until thick and ribbon stage. (The recipe calls for whisking the mixture over a double boiler until 82C, which mine refused to heat up after reaching 62C. I have done some research online and saw other similar recipes without this stage. Next time I would try to omit the double boiler step.)
- Beat softened butter until smooth. Add the egg yolk mixture to the butter and stir.
- Stir in puree, liquor and lemon juice. Refridgerate until use.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Today it started off wrong.
I keep waking up in the middle of the night feeling horrified. I think I had a few dreams but couldn't remember what they were about, just the sad, horrified, troubled feeling remained and I couldn't go back to sleep until dawn.
Okay, time to cheer up.
I made these toffee apple mousse cake on the weekend but I was too full to eat them last night. Tonight's dessert it is!
This is actually the second time I tried this recipe but there are still glitches that I would like to iron out.
For say, the slices of apples are quite pretty lined up in the gel, but they made digging in difficult without collapsing the cake. Boo. The recipe of that layer needs to be refined as well as I found the alcohol taste a bit too strong. This is one part of the cake that I had to improvise as the original recipe does not have amounts or much description of how it was made. Although I keep tasting it during the process and liked it on its own, the flavour changes when it was paired with the other parts of the cake.
I was actually surprised by the mousse portion. The original recipe called for apple puree. Being too lazy and not having the right equipment to puree apples, I turned to store-bought unsweetened apple sauce. Could have been better if the texture is smoother but it saved me a lot of time! Maybe next time I would substitute with a vanilla bean bavarian cream if I opt for a more refined version. Still, I wouldn't mind exchanging a bit of fibre for some texture.
There was also a sour cream layer in this cake which I absolutely adore. I would use it again for other fruit cakes in the future. The slight creaminess and tang lightens up the cake.
The best part of this cake was the bottom cookie layer. It was just too good. It had a wonderful butter taste and fell apart in the mouth. I had doubt when putting together the recipe but very surprised on the result.
Translated from 創意蛋糕50款 published by Super Chef Book
softened butter 225g
2 egg yolks
cake flour 190g
bread flour 20g
ground almond 30g
- Soften butter at room temperature.
- Add salt and sugar to incorporate.
- Mix in egg yolks, then add rum.
- Sieve flour and ground almond to the above mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Wrap the mixture in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge overnight. (Note: the mixture is very soft and difficult to work at room temperature. Keep it in the fridge until ready to roll.)
- Roll into 1.5cm thick. Cut into desired shape. Put it on a parchment lined tray and return to the fridge until the oven is ready.
- Preheat the oven to 160 C. Brush dough with egg wash and bake in the container for 45 minutes. (Note: since this cookie spreads a lot and doesn't cut easily without breaking, it is necessary to bake them in the container to retain it's final shape.)
- Cool on a wire rack.
Apple puree/apple sauce 150g
egg yolk 20g
whipping cream 80g
Calvados apple brandy 10ml (Note: optional to enrich flavour)
- Warm up apple puree on a double boiler.
- Bloom gelatin and add to the warmed puree. Add apple brandy and stir.
- Make egg yolk and sugar mixture. (Note: I whisked the yolk and sugar over a double boiler until ribbon stage.)
- Add #2 to #3 and mix well. Cool down
- Whisk cream to stiff peaks and fold into #4.
Cream cheese 150g
Sour cream 30g
whipping cream 100g
- Mix the first 3 mixture until smooth.
- Whisk cream and fold into the above mixture.
(Note: Recipe still needs to be adjusted because of the ingredient availability in North America. Basically you need to melt some butter to fry the sugar to make a toffee sauce. Add the apple slices and fry at high heat. This recipe should take 4 big apples from my experience.)
Align apple slices at the bottom of the mold. Pour in apple mousse. Refridgerate.
Smooth a (3mm) thick cream cheese mixture over the cookie. Invert the cookie onto the mousse. Invert the assembled cake and brush with glaze.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
When I started baking, apple pie was almost the first thing I began with. I love pies, and the recipe doesn't seem too difficult. Or is it? Soon I realized that even though the recipes seemed easy, they don't necessarily described the skill involved. and I always ended up with leaky pies with juice spilling andsoggy pie crust. No matter how many times I tried - from apple pies to strawberry pies - the result would be similar. Soon enough I gave up the idea of pie.
And then the beginning of this year I went to George Brown to take the basic baking course, and the first thing we made was apple pie. So there are tricks to make pies leak proof and aren't written in the recipes. No more leaky pies!
This time I made the pies smaller at about 6" in diameter. It should feed 3 to 4 people or makes a hearty dessert for 2.
There are a few things to make pies leak proof:
- Your fruit has to be really dry. This is just too obvious right?
- Pectin is crucial in solidifying liquid in fruits. Make sure when preparing apple pies, retain as much as pectin as possible. Using a vegetable peeler than a knife to peel the apples is a good start as most of the pectin can be found directly under the skin.
- Use modified corn starch for the filling. Modified corn starch is mainly for commercial use and not easy to find in small portions, making it difficult to use for home baking. Or,
- Activate the starch before putting into the pie. This could be done by cooking the starch with the natural fruit juice then mix it in the fruit before putting the filling in the pie shells. This method can be easily done at home if modified starch is not accessible. This method has been used in my recipe of apple brioche recipe.
Monday, October 4, 2010
We practiced chocolate tempering and piping of strawberry dipping this past Saturday at class. Aren't they cute?
Besides some white chocolate ghosts to prepare for the Halloween, there are also the bride and groom.