Friday, July 30, 2010

Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

Pretty-in-Pink Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sifted cake flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pink food colouring gel (optional)

What to do for Sponge Cake:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and place oven rack in bottom third of oven. Using a silpat or greased and floured parchment paper cover a 17 inch  x 12 inch baking pan.

While eggs are still cold separate two of the eggs, placing the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another bowl. To the two yolks, add the additional yolk, and the two remaining eggs. Cover the two bowls with saran wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using - about 20minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the sifted cake flour and cornstarch.

Place the egg yolks, along with 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar, in your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes, or until thick, pale yellow, and fluffy. It will have tripled in volume. At this point beat in the vanilla extract.

Sift half the flour mixture over the egg yolk mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula, just until the flour is incorporated. Sift the remaining flour mixture into the batter and fold in gently.

In a clean mixing bowl (any fat in bowl will prevent stiff peaks from forming). With a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the remaining one tablespoon granulated white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the whites  until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, evenly spreading the cake batter with an offset spatula or knife. With a toothpick or two, swirl pink food colouring gel into batter very gently. If needed, gently smooth batter once more.
Bake for about 7 minutes or until golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean and the cake, when lightly pressed, will spring back.

Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven invert the sponge cake onto a clean dish towel that has been sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Carefully remove the parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, and roll up the sponge, with the towel, while it is still hot and pliable. Place on a wire rack to cool.

OR, if using the silpat, roll the cake in the sponge. Roll it along the long side of the cake. (i.e. the roll will be 17 inches long).

Filling for Roll
1 jar of lemon curd mixed with 2 cups of whipped cream or whipped topping.

Assembly of roll
Unroll the cake and spread with lemon curd mixture. Gently loosen cake (may want to use a knife or metal spatula to loosen) from silpat and re roll the cake.
Place in fridge until needed.

Ingredients for vanilla ice cream
2 and ½ C  of whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup of Castor sugar


1. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, vanilla and sugar and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.
2. Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely
Strawberry Ice Cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
3 cups half-and-half
1 heaping tsp. fresh lemon zest, grated
1 1/2 cup strawberries
1/4 cup brown sugar


1. Beat sugar and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy.
2. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla (if using liquid); set aside.
3. Dice strawberries and mash a few times with fork or potato masher.
4. Mix strawberries and brown sugar in small bowl; set aside.
5. Pour half-and-half into heavy saucepan.
6. If using vanilla bean, splice in half and scratch out inside of pod. Add to half and half.
7. Bring half and half to a low simmer.
8. Slowly mix the hot cream into the cheese mixture.
9. Pour mixture back into saucepan and heat over medium - low heat. Stir constantly until custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to boil or the egg may will scramble. About 5 minutes.
10. Remove from heat.
11.Allow mixture to cool for 20 minutes or so.
12. Add lemon zest.
13. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or longer.
14. Stir chilled custard; freeze in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
15. Add strawberries when ice cream is semi-frozen and allow machine to mix in.

Assembly of Swirl Ice Cream Cake

1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 30ish equal slices (approximately 1 cm each).

2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm (at least 1 hour)

5. Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. (at least an hour)

6. Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.

7. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

8. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

The cake is great! But to be honest, I would buy the ice cream and sauce pre-made. Next time I will use nutella as the cake filling with coffee and chocolate ice cream.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

I was looking for a light, and bright tasting salad to go with pulled pork sandwiches and beans. Finally I combined the best of a few recipes with corn, tomatoes and avocado. I added lime and rice vinegar to a simple vinegrette and I decided to roast the corn to bring out its sweetness. 

Simple, different and delicious!

2 avocados, chopped or use melon baller
2 cups cherry tomatos, halved or grape tomatoes, whole
6 corn on the cobs, grilled and corn niblets cut off (or can be boiled, or even 2 cups from a can but grilling them will add lots of flavour)
2 limes, juiced
3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vingar (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

How to grill corn:
Husk the corn and place directly on grill over medium heat. Turn often (every minute or so) until some niblets are slightly blackened and corn is heated through.

What to do:
Set aside 1/4 of chopped avocado.
Mix corn niblets, tomatoes and remaining avocado in large bowl.

In small bowl mash avocado that was set aside.
In another small bowl, juice the limes and add the oil and vinegar. Whisk until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the mashed avocado and dressing until creamy and smooth.

Dress Salad:
Add to vegetables.
Add parlsey and cilantro.
Mix and serve.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chocolate Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl & my first Give Away

UPDATE: And the winner is .... C&C Cakery!!! Congratulations! Thank you to everyone who entered my first, hopefully not last, give away.

THIS IS MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!! CSN Stores is a wonderful site that has 200+ online stores and over 1 million products. These products range from fully furnished bedrooms including platform beds to every item imaginable for the kitchen. Their sites are easy to navigate and they have great prices, products and service.

I am so happy to pass on this wonderful offer from CSN Stores. They offered one of my readers a $40.00 gift card towards any product at any of their sites. I am so happy that one lucky winner will benefit from this. All you need to do is follow the easy steps below to be entered to win.  I am not being compensated for this post. Tell everyone and don’t let this offer get away from you. 

I love their cookware site and will be ordering a Le Crueset dish (that is on sale) soon! So, to be entered into this draw all you have to do is become a "google friend" on the left and leave a comment telling me you did so and what you might choose if you are the lucky winner. For an extra entry, blog about this give away and leave the link in a separate comment here. Please note: Due to shipping restrictions, only entries from Canada and the US will be able to win :( AND if you already a google friend just leave me a comment saying that!

The deadline is Sunday, August 1st and I will announce the winner on Tuesday, August 3rd! Contest is now closed.

What better way to celebrate my first give away then with a cake! It's a chocolate pound cake adapted from Rose Levy Barenbaum's Cake Bible. I add kahlua to intensify the chocolate flavour and created a cream cheese swirl in the middle! It's so good. I've baked them in 6 mini bundt pans bit in can also be baked in a 8x4 loaf pan for 50-60 minutes.

Chocolate Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl

Ingredients - Cake
  • 3 tbsp + 1.5 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1.5  tbsp boiling water
  • 1.5 tbsp kahlua
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 13 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

 What to do:
  • In medium bowl whisk together cocoa, water and kahlua until smooth.
  • Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
  • In large bowl mix together the remaining dry ingredients for about 30 seconds.
  • Add half of the cocoa mixture.
  • Mix until just combined then, using medium speed, mix for 1 minute.
  • Add 1/2 of the remaining cocoa mixture and beat for 20 seconds.
  • Add the remaining chocolate mixture and mix for another 20 seconds.
  • Scrape down sides.

Cream Cheese Swirl
  • 1 package cream cheese (about 1 cup), room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar

To make cream cheese mixture:
  • Beat the ingredients together until smooth.

Putting it together
Butter and flour mini bundt pans. Fill pans 1/3 full with cake batter. Add layer of cream cheese, trying not to touch sides of pan with cream cheese mixture. Top with cake batter leaving about 1-1.5 cm space at top of bundt cavities.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.

Note: I find the easiest way to layer batter and cream cheese is to place batter and cheese mixture in separate ziploc bags. Just cut the bottom tips of each bag and squeeze each into the pans - easy, neat and you have complete control of what goes where!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Extreme Caffeine Mocha Brownies

As my work colleagues can attest, I used to be a 4 cups of java a day kinda girl. I think they may have been just a little scared the morning that I announced I had gone cold turkey and given up coffee. period. Too be honest I wasn't concerned about the caffeine but rather the cream that I was putting in my cup - in fact one co-worker once looked at me and said - wow, is that coffee with cream or cream with a drop of coffee? I tried skim milk once, but honestly it makes it look like dirty water. I love blending the cream until a soft, warm caramel colour develops...mmmmm. Anyways, I went cold turkey for about 8 weeks. Then I went on vacation and had a few cups - cause there is nothing better than sitting on the deck looking out across Okanagan Lake in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand. But once my vacation ended so did my relationship with my caramel coloured beverage. To be honest, I don't really miss it much...just a little. And this "little" bit of missing brought me to today's recipe.

My Mom has made the basic version of these brownies since I was a kid. They are chocolatey, dense and flavourful without being too heavy. I could eat a pan of them, if I could pry them out of the hands of my family. This time I added a couple hits of caffeine thanks to Starbucks instant coffee packets - they are sooo convenient for baking.

I also had a tub of mascarpone cheese in the fridge that I had to use up so I wanted to make an icing to accompany the brownies. Unfortunately the "icing" came out like a chocolate mousse - a very good mousse - but definitely not an icing. So I just piped the caffeine infused mousse onto the top and the side of the brownie (I admit, it is also good by the spoonful :)

Ingredients for brownies:

1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 packet Starbucks instant coffee
3/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Place butter in small sauce pan over low heat. Add cocoa and once butter is melted (just melted not bubbling) whisk until cocoa and butter are combined. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
2. In medium mixing bowl add eggs and bet until frothy.
3. Add vanilla, coffee, flour, salt. Do not stir!
4. Pour butter/cocoa mixture on top and then stir until combined.
5. Scrape batter into 8x8 baking pan.
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes.

1. Brownies should never be overcooked! You want to bring them out of the oven before the edges of the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan.
2. These brownies are delicious without any icing but everyone once in awhile everyone gets a craving for some so go ahead and indulge.

Caffeinated Mascarpone Mousse - definitely not icing!
1.5 cups mascarpone
1.5 cups whipping cream
1 packet Starbucks instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup castor/berry sugar
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted

What to do:
Combine cocoa, cream, coffee and vanilla in small sauce pan over low heat.
Whisk until combined and smooth. Bring to a light boil and remove from heat.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or more. It must be cold.
Transfer to large mixing bowl and add mascarpone.
Beat on low speed until blended and then increase speed to medium-high.
Beat until thick and medium-firm peaks form about 2 minutes. Be careful! If you beat it too much, it may curdle (still tastes good but doesn't look so great!).

Pipe mousse on each brownie when served.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Daring Kitchen Challenge - June

From pavlova

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I have to admit right here and now that I did not follow the recipes exactly...and it's not like I purposely went out of my way to screw them up! First, I forgot to flavour the pavlova with chocolate! I wanted to make the pavlova more like a traditional pav (i.e. soft and marshmallowy vs crispy) so I used directions from another recipe but left out the cocoa by mistake! Ugh!

I did manage to make the marscapone mousse as directed (YUM) but then I didn't have time, thanks to screaming, hungry, tired kids, to make the cream that was supposed to go on top so I just used some canned caramel sauce (gasp!! I know). I made it in a round spring form pan, but it looked rather unappetizing by the time the mousse went on top so I froze it and used cookie cutters to make a stackable version seen above.

To be honest, it tasted absolutely delicious and my kids and husband loved the results. In fact, my 5 year old daughter said it tasted just like marshmallow and declared it her fave dessert so far.

Below you will find my version of this lovely dessert that turned out nothing like the original challenge version!

Classic Australian Pavlova Adapted from this great site - check out his pavlovas and meringues - they are gorgeous!

Cooking time about 1¾ hours

(serves 8)

4 teaspoons cornstarch
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (or ½ teaspoon of salt)
1 1/3 cups caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C (~400°F). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon cornstarch on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat on a baking tray. Place a 8” springform cake tin without a bottom as a container to hold the whipped egg whites on the floured baking paper.

2. Beat, at highest setting, egg whites and cream of tartar (or salt) in a narrow deep bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Add remaining 3 teaspoons of cornstarch with the last tablespoon of sugar. Dissolving the caster sugar should take about 10-12 mins.  Fold in vanilla and vinegar.

3. Spoon meringue into the springform cake tin. Shape the uncooked meringue using the springform cake tin as a guide into one giant meringue. Remove the springform cake tin and place the uncooked meringue cake into the oven. Reduce oven to 200°F). Bake for 1½ to 2 hours or until dry and crisp, test by tasting a teaspoon of the meringue from the top if it doesn't taste of egg it is done don't worry about the small hole made by this testing it will be covered by the topping. Test at 1½ hours and then every 15 mins until ready. Turn off oven and cool completely in oven.

Mascarpone Cream

1 ½ cups heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1  lemon
9 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

What to do:
1. Put ½ cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Pipe mousse on top of the pavlova. 

Serve. Enjoy!

Yes, I did freeze my pavlova and cream. I then cut them with round cookie cutters and layered as in the picture.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I think the original version of this recipe came from Bon Appetit many years ago. To be honest, I was planning on making my grandmother's old fashioned peanut butter cookies today but I didn't have any flour and didn't feel like walking to the grocery store! So I made these delicious cookies instead.

They are quick and simple and great for those trying to avoid flour. You can add 1/2 cup of peanuts or use crunchy peanut butter if you want some extra crunch.
1 cup peanut butter (not natural)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Mix all 5 ingredients in a bowl until combined.
2. Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.
3. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.
4. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes approximately 20 cookies. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cinnamon Spice Kettle Corn

I came across this recipe thanks to Gwenyth Paltrow's blog, Goop. It looked so delicious that I had to try it!The original recipe turns out a popcorn that is neither too sweet not salty. It's definitely not your regular, summer fair kettle corn but more like a sophisticated, slightly restrained cousin.

Notes: On a kid factor scale it was semi successful - one liked it, one passed. The original recipe called for nutmeg but next time I would leave it out and add pumpkin spice instead. I also add a bit more salt.  I added a tablespoon of raw sugar for a little added sweetness but it is still not super sweet. |Also, because butter is used, watch your heat level and shake the pan often to avoid burning.Try it and let me know if you like it.

Yield: about 8 cups

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup corn kernels
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon raw sugar (courser sugar), optional
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, optional

What to do:
1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Once  melted, add the oil, kernels and sugar stirring to ensure everything is well mixed.
3. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on medium-low heat until kernels stop popping.
4. Be sure to shake the pot quite often to make sure the kernels are cooking evenly.
5. Remove from heat and immediately and pour into large bowl.
6. Add salt and spices, tossing to coat.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bars

I have been making these bars for quite a few years now. I think the original recipes came from Martha Stewart or maybe Gourmet but over the years I have made my own changes and additions. I often add pine nuts to the short bread crust and almond extract to the cream cheese filling. If you add pine nuts use up to 1/3 cup in the base. And don't feel bound to the blueberries - pretty much any jam or preserves you have will work in this decadent dessert bar.

Ingredients - Base
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

What to Do:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Cut butter into smaller pieces.
2. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until mixture begins to form small clumps.
3. Sprinkle mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and with a metal spatula or a flat bottom cup press evenly to flatten.
4. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes.

Note: While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

Ingredients - Topping
16 oz (2 packs) cream cheese
3/4 cup berry sugar (or regular granulated)
2 eggs, large
1 tsp almond extract (can substitute vanilla, if desired)
1 cup blueberry jam

What to Do:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. In a bowl whisk cream cheese until smooth.
2. Whisk in eggs, sugar, and almond extract into the cream cheese.
3. Evenly spread jam over hot shortbread base and pour cream cheese mixture over it.
4. Bake until slightly puffy, about 30 minutes.
5. Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars.

Bar cookies keep, covered and chilled, 3 days.