Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lamington Curse #2 - Mt Lamington

I apologize now for the following incredibly bad story of how Super K saved Mt. Lamington from the big scary T-Rex in the Land of P.

To be honest, the blame is totally on the shoulders of Mr. P of Delicious, Delicious, Delicious. Please send  all complaint letters to him. This is the second year of his Lamington Challenge. You can read my entry from last year here.

This year my 4 year old wanted in on this challenge. We used our Christmas Tree Pop recipe to make this volcano but we added about 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut to the cake (short version of recipe is: bake a cake and pulse it up in a food processor; add a tub of icing; mould it into desired shape; freeze it; cover it in candy). It was his idea to use the dinosaur and thankfully, an Aussie friend gave me Super K just yesterday to bring it all together.

The volcano is simply covered in melted chocolate candy buttons and sprinkles were added before it dried. We also melted red candy for the "lava" shooting out of Mt Lamington.

Finally, please note no dinosaurs or koalas were hurt in the making of this story. My 4 yr old, on the other hand, tripped over a phone wire and bruised his chin...poor little guy. Luckily, a big piece of Mt Lamington will make him all better.

Without further ado, the story of how Super K saved the day!







Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daring Baker Challenge - Biscuit Joconde Imprime

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

The Daring Baker's Challenge was fantastic! I had never attempted to create a Biscuit Joconde Imprime before so it was truly a challenge and also lots of fun.

The kids chose the colours of the circles and the type of filling. Butterscotch pudding with whipped cream folded in was the choice and it worked perfectly. We kept it in the freezer and it was delicious each time we pulled it out for a taste.

I'll definitely be making this again and already have a few designs in mind.

Below you'll find the recipe we were given just in case you'd like to give it a try!





Joconde Sponge


YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients:

¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners' (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs - about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted


Directions:

1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.

2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)

3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )

4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.

5. Fold in melted butter.

6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients

14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites - about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

Directions:

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.

2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.

3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.

4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.

5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.

6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.

7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the MOLD for entremets

You can use any type of mold. I would suggest:

1. Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.

Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:

1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.

3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)

4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.

5. The mold is done, and ready to fill.

*Note: If not ready to use. Lay cake kept whole or already cut into strips, on a flat surface, wrap in parchment and several layers of cling wrap and freeze.

Entremet- Filling Options:

 
It is nice to have a completed dessert so you can unmold and see the Joconde working. Fill with anything you desire. Layers of different flavors and textures! However, it needs to be something cold that will not fall apart when unmolded.

Suggestions:

Mousses, pastry creams, Bavarian creams, cheesecakes, puddings, curds, jams, cookie bases, more cake (bake off the remaining sponge and cut to layer inside), nuts, Dacquoise, fresh fruit, chocolates, gelee.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chocolate Almond Bites


I love chocolate covered almonds...anytime any kid is selling them for school fundraising projects I am more than happy to help them out by buying a box or two.

Left over from a previous cooking project, I had a bag of almond flour (ground almonds) that I wanted to make use of ...but how? The answer struck when I was browsing other food blogs. Carolyn over at All Day I dream about Food created a great gluten free recipe for Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles that look delicious. And her recipe inspired me to try my own version. Instead of peanut butter, I used almond flour or meal and low fat cream cheese in place of the butter.

I loved the result. The mixture stays fairly soft and their small size means they can be popped in your mouth and sinfully enjoyed. The mix of almonds and chocolate simply can't be beat!

Inside:

5 tbsp low fat cream cheese
6 tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
1 cup almond flour/meal



Outside:
1-1/2 cups chocolate, melted
2 tsp vegetable shortening (optional)


What to do:
Line a baking sheet with a silpat or wax paper. Place a cooling rack on top.
Heat cream cheese and almond butter in microwave until creamy when stirred together (30 seconds - 1 minute).
 
Transfer to larger mixing bowl and add sugar and almond flour. Mix until well combined (by hand or with mixer).
 
Using a small 1-inch dough scoop (or a teaspoon) place balls on rack. Your mixture should yield 18- 22 balls depending on their size.
 
Place chocolate in heat prood bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Continue to repeat but for 20 seconds until chocolate is melted.
 
Carefully dip bottom of a ball (if using scoop they will be half a ball shaped) in chocolate and put back on rack. With a spoon pour chocolate over top of ball and coat completely. Repeat until all balls are coated. If desired, add a sprinkling of salt or drizzle contrasting coloured chocolate on dipped balls.
 
Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use (at least an hour).
 
Enjoy.
 
Notes:
I think they taste best when consumed within a day.
The vegetable shortening will add a nice sheen to the chocolate but I prefer it without.
If you spoon too much chocolate over balls they might form a thick layer of chocolate over the cooling rack wires - a pain to remove but still delicious!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Scones


Yet another scone recipe!!! What can I say except "I love scones!"  This one is loaded with mini-chocolate chips. Great out of the oven but these make a great grab-and-go snack for kids and adults alike. Enjoy!

Ingredients


1/4 cup berry or castor sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup aguave syrup
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup mini-chocolate chips

What to do:


Yield is between 18-24 scones depending on size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Whisk together.
  2. Add butter to flour bowl and using a pastry blender (or two knives) mix together until it resembles course crumbs.
  3. In another bowl, add egg, syrup, and buttermilk.
  4. Add chips to DRY ingredients.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add liquid bowl in one go.
  6. Combine gently with a fork until dough starts to come together.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 10 times.
  8. Roll or pat dough into a square that is approximately 1 cm thick.
  9. Cut into squares about 3 cm or so wide. Cut these squares in half to form triangles. (A pizza cutter works well.)
  10. Place triangles on an ungreased baking sheet.
  11. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden
  12. Cool and enjoy!





Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Make Ricotta Cheese


I love ricotta cheese - on bread, mixed with chocolate, sprinkled with herbs, in lasagna, in a lemon tart...ricotta is so versatile and delicious. But for most of us ricotta comes from a tub that we buy in our local grocery store. Some of us are lucky enough to buy fresh ricotta from specialty stores. But have you ever thought to make your own fresh ricotta at home? Why not? It's easy, fast and your taste buds will thank you.

You will need cheesecloth and colander.

Ingredients
4 cups 1% milk (or 2% or whole)
2 cups whipping or heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp white wine vinegar

What to do
  1. Dampen cheesecloth and line a colander with it.
  2. Place colander over a large bowl.
  3. In a large sauce pan, bring the milk, cream and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stirring often to prevent burning.
  4. Take off heat and add vinegar.
  5. Let rest 2 minutes while mixture separates.
  6. Pour mixture into colander.
  7. Wait 30 minutes while liquid drains into bowl. You may want to run a spoon through it a couple of times to let the liquid escape.
  8. Use immediately or place in air tight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oatmeal Kiss Cookies


About 10 years ago, I found the best oatmeal cookie recipe ever! They were soft and chewy and a little bit spicy. The first, and only, time I made them were as treats for a weekend boat trip to Nanaimo where we were watching the sinking of H.M.C.S. Saskatchewan - Nanaimo's first artificial reef. The weekend and the cookies were fantastic! But I lost the recipe. Like many underwater treasures, it has remained lost ever since.

Being the optimist that I am, I continue to create original and test others oatmeal cookie recipes in the hopes of finding something as good as those lost cookies. This recipe isn't as spicy as the elusive one but it is still delicious! For me, chocolate and oats are one of those perfect flavour combinations and the addition of cinnamon makes it even better. I used "mini-kisses" by Chipits. They are 1/3 the size of original chocolate "kisses" and perfect for these small cookies. 

Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-1/4 large flake rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package baking "kisses" or large chocolate chips

What to do
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in large bowl.
  3. Stir in oats.
  4. In another mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  5. Blend in water.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.
  7. Shape into small balls and place a "kiss" or chip in the centre.
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beet it: How to roast your own beets


I've met a few people recently who have never had the pleasure of eating roasted beets at home. Roasted beets, well any roasted root veggie really, is a simple and healthy side dish. And let's not they are DELICIOUS.

If beets aren't a frequent ingredient in your pantry you may not know what flavours compliment this veggie.

My favorite flavor pairings include:
  • blue cheese
  • chives
  • orange juice
  • tarragon
  • walnuts
  • honey
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • pepper
  • apples
  • cilantro
These are just a few of the great things you can think to add any beet recipe.


Nutrition
50 calories are in one cup (250 mL) of cooked diced beets.
Beets are a good source of potassium, folacin and Vitamin C.


History
Beets have been cultivated since pre-historic times in the Mediterranean area and were originally grown only for their leaves. In wasn't until the times of the Roman empire that people began to eat the roots as well.

Roast Your Own
To roast yor own beets follow these simple steps:
Note: You may want to wear gloves so as not to stain your hands.

Ingredients

2-3 lbs beets
3 tsp olive oil
dash of salt and peppler

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash beets.
  • Chop off both ends of your beets.
  • Cut each beet in quarters.
  • Place in a large bowl and add a few teaspoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix.
  • Spread beets on large cookie sheet.
  • Roast for 40-50 minutes depending on size of beets.
  • When fork can easily pierce the beets they are done.
  • Cool slightly and then peel off skins (again gloves might be useful here).
  • Eat like this or add to a salad or other recipe.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Buttery Cinnamon Buns


Cinnamon buns - what's not to love? Ooey, gooey goodness of cinnamon and butter all wrapped up in a warm, soft sweet bread roll. And when you are lucky enough to wake up to their aroma slowly making its way from the kitchen to your bedroom...well, you are lucky indeed.

These ones are especially delicious and believe it or not, you don't need cream cheese icing. I know, I know some of you have already flipped to another blog at that comment! But really, the butter that is placed in the bottom of the pan before baking give these little "sin"amon buns a buttery, caramel flavour that needs to be enjoyed on its own. If you don't believe me ask my family who managed to devour a pan of these in less than 24 hours!


Bun Ingredients


1 cup milk
3 tbsp water, room temperature
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp bread machine yeast


Filling
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon (note: I love cinnamon - if you don't reduce the amount)
1/3 cup melted butter, divided


What to do:


1. In order of what is recommended by your bread machine maker, add milk. water, egg, salt, sugar, flour and yeast into bread maker.
2. Select dough cycle.
3. When finished, remove dough and put on lightly foured surface.
4. It is a soft dough but if necessary knead in enough flour to make it easy to handle.
5. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Combine cinnamon and sugars in bowl.
7. Roll dough into 12 x 9 rectangle.
8. Generously brush with 1/2 of the  melted butter.
9. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
10. Roll dough tightly like a jelly roll starting on the long side.
11. Pinch the seam tight.
12. Shape back into 12 inch roll, if needed.
13.With a sharp knife cut into 1-inch slices.
14. Pour rest of melted butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan.
15. Arrange cut slices in pan in butter.
16. Cover loosely with waxed paper or kitchen towel and let rest for 20 - 30 minutes until doubled in size (resting place should be warm and free of drafts).
17. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
18. Enjoy!