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  • pixeltheatre 1:26 pm on February 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cupcake throw down   

    Cupcake Throw Down: Mini Southern Hogs Cupcakes 

    I was invited to participate in the 3rd edition of the Vancouver Cupcake Throw Down held last week at The Chapel, in the Downtown East Side. It was a benefit bake-off for H.A.V.E. Culinary Training Society. With plenty of time to develop a recipe, I readily accepted. I’ve wanted to have fun with bacon in a dessert recipe for quite a while. Here was my chance. An episode of Eat St. set my own wheels turning with bacon pralines. My love of salted caramel set the tone for the rest of the recipe. I tried a couple of bases, a brown sugar base and a blue corn meal base.I brought samples of both to my office and some of my co-workers provided some good feedback. Personally, I liked the corn meal-based one better. It had a bit of a tang to it, and some crunch, but the majority of my colleagues opted for the brown sugar one. So, brown sugar it was in the end.

    The event had a great turnout. Some 22 bakers were there and the flavours were quite something to see and taste. Great venue too. It was nice to see so many young families there — nothing like young kids hopped up on sugar. :)

    Mini Southern Hogs Cupcakes

    Bacon Pralines

    1 pound thick-cut bacon
    2-1/4 cups light brown sugar
    2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 1/4 cups toasted pecans, roughly chopped
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 tablespoon bourbon
    1/4 teaspoon table salt

    Special equipment: candy thermometer

    Toast pecans in a preheat 350F oven for 10 minutes.

    Cook bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, then line bacon on a parchment-covered pan.

    Place 2 cups brown sugar into a 3-quart heavy saucepan, being careful to not get sugar on the sides of the pan. Add the cream, the 2 tablespoons butter and cook over very low heat (do not let simmer), stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until the sugar is dissolved, 10 to 15 minutes. Wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Clamp on a candy thermometer to the saucepan and boil the syrup over moderately-high heat until it registers 236 degrees F.

    Remove the pan from the heat, leaving the thermometer in place, and let cool until the syrup registers 220 degrees F, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour mixture over lined bacon and let cool and then place in fridge to harden. Once harden, chop into small pieces.

    Salted caramel fudge
    1 cup white sugar
    1/4 cup water
    1 stick (1/2 cup) fresh unsalted butter
    1/2 cup fresh heavy cream
    1 1/2 teaspoon bacon salt (available at Edible BC on Granville Island)

    Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper.

    This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you’ve burned it and you’ll have to start over.

    Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream – the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam – be cautious as the sugar will be very hot.

    Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the bacon salt. Cool in fridge overnight.

    Cupcakes
    1 1/2 cups (188 gms) flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    115 gms unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup packed (125 gms) + 2 tbsp brown or raw sugar
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    1 tsp bourbon
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    2 tbsp milk

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and line the muffin trays with paper cups.

    Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

    Cream the butter, vanilla and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated into the above butter and sugar mixture.  Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating it with two additions of buttermilk and milk.  Beat until well combined.

    Spoon batter into the lined muffin tray cups, filling each to about half. Bake for about 25 minutes (20 if you make the small cupcakes).

    When cooked, let them cool down in the tray for 10 minutes, then put them on a wire rack to cool down completely.

    Cream Cheese Frosting
    300 g Icing sugar, sifted
    50 g Unsalted butter, room temp
    125 g Cream Cheese, slightly softened
    5 ml vanilla
    Buttermilk to taste and texture

    In a food processor or electric mixer, beat the icing sugar and butter until well mixed.

    Dice the cream cheese into smaller cubes then add to the mix, beating until completely combined.

    On medium-high speed, add vanilla and continue beating the frosting until it becomes light and fluffy. This takes around five minutes.  Add buttermilk if you want a creamier frosting.

    Assembly

    When the cupcakes are cool, scoop a small chunk of each cupcake (small melon scooper works well), and spread a small dab of the salted caramel fudge. Replace the cupcake chunk on top of the fudge. Pipe the cream cheese frosting on cupcake and sprinkle bacon praline on top. Refrigerate.

    Sources:
    Cupcake recipe adapted from: Manu’s menu website: http://www.manusmenu.com/triple-salted-caramel-cupcakes

    Salted caramel recipe from: Cooking Channel’s Four Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple Pie recipe: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/four-and-twenty-blackbirds-salted-caramel-apple-pie-recipe/index.html

    Bacon praline recipe adapted from: Food Network – New Orleans Bacon Pralines: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/new-orleans-bacon-pralines-recipe/index.html

    Cream cheese frosting recipe adapted from Good to Know Recipes: http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/475341/Red-velvet-cupcakes

     
    • Jenna Conover 7:38 pm on March 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I was just looking for an amazing cupcake recipe!

    • Cheryl Andrews 11:56 am on June 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Everything looks wonderful! Just found you online. Would love to hear from you.
      -Cheryl

      • Cheryl Andrews 11:56 am on June 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Cheryl Spargo from NH, went to Cambridge

    • TeseHealley 12:17 pm on June 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      а мне лично вкатило :)

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fraise, pastry cream,   

    Daring Bakers 52nd Challenge: Fresh fraisier 

    Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine. With a family BBQ coming up just before this challenge was due, I was glad I could finally serve a DB challenge to a crowd. Usually, I bake for two. This time, I could plan for 12.

    I made the chiffon cake on the Thursday night, and finished the cake on the Friday. This gave it a chance to firm up overnight for the Saturday BBQ. Although the recipe called for an 8-inch springform pan, which I didn’t have, my 10-inch one worked just as well. I just missed the local strawberry season, but plenty were still available from California. Since this dessert was for a special occasion, I used Avalon‘s whole milk and cream (higher fat content than regular supermarket brands) and it paid off. The pastry cream was smooth and silky. I also added a couple of teaspoons of limoncello to the simple syrup. The frosting on the marzipan layer did not stay very nicely when I removed the plastic film before serving, but hey, it still tasted very good. I appreciated that this dessert was not very sweet, allowing the strawberries to fully come through. Very nice recipe.

    Basic Chiffon Cake:

    Ingredients:
    1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
    3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
    1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
    1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
    3 large egg yolks
    ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
    5 large egg whites
    ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

    Directions:

    • Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
    • Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
    • In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
    • In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
    • Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
    • Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
    • Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    • Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
    • To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

    Pastry Cream Filling:

    Ingredients:
    1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
    1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
    1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
    1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
    3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
    1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
    1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream

    Directions:

    • Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
    • Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
    • Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
    • When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
    • Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
    • Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
    • Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
    • Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
    • In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
    • Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
    • Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
    • Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
    • In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

    Simple Syrup:

    You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example: apple cider sugarorange sugar, or vanilla sugar) or to stir in 1-2 teaspoons of flavored extract. You may also infuse with herbs or spices, if desired or add four tablespoons (60 ml) of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.

    Ingredients:
    1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
    1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water

    Directions:

    • Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
    • Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
    • Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
    • Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

    Fraisier Assembly:

    Components:
    1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
    1 recipe pastry cream filling
    ⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
    2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
    confectioners’ sugar for dusting
    ½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste

    Directions:

    • Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
    • Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
    • Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
    • Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
    • Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
    • Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
    • Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
    • Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
    • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
    • To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
    • Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
     
  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Spätzle   

    Daring Cooks 27th challenge: German Spätzle 

    Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with! Well, Steph had me at spätzle. I love the stuff. I hadn’t made it in ages, though I had bought it a couple of times pre-made. Again, this Daring Cooks challenge was a timely reminder of how quick and easy making pasta dough can be. As a bonus, I got to use the spätzle grater I bought eons ago, that has been dutifully sitting in the bottom of one of my kitchen drawers. I added some garlic salt and cayenne to the dough. My honey gave me a hand with the “grating”, and we served it with the suggested recipe for butter and bread crumb sauce. It accompanied a simple meal of bbq sliders. An unusual combination, perhaps, the result of a “OMG, the Daring Cooks challenge is due next week!” realization on Saturday morning. ;) I had the leftovers the night after, heated up in a pan, with a bit of butter. Hmmm….

    German Spätzle

    Ingredients:

    2 large eggs
    ½ cup (120 ml) milk (any style of milk you what, but I believe buttermilk may be traditional. I’ve always used 1 or 2%.)
    1½ cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (approximately – have more on hand, in case)
    up to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of herbs and spices (optional – I added some cayenne and herbes de provence)
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3 gm) fresh parsley, chopped (optional – I added this for color mostly)

    Directions:

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and any herbs and spices that you want to incorporate into the spätzle.
    2. Incorporate the flour in small batches, by sifting in a small amount at a time and mixing until the flour is completely integrated. Keep adding flour until the dough becomes elastic, smooth and very hard to stir.
    3. Boil a large pot of water. Dip a table spoon into the boiling water to wet it. To form the spätzle, fill the tablespoon about half way with dough, and release into the boiling water.
    4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
    5. Drain the water from the spätzle. Because it’s full of fun craters where water can hide, you will need to drain it especially well. Toss with the chopped parsley.
    6. Plate, and dab a bit of the sauce on each spätzle. Don’t add too much – it’s really more of a light dressing than a sauce.

    Butter and Breadcrumb Sauce (for Spätzle):

    Ingredients:

    ½ cup (120 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) fresh breadcrumbs OR ½ cup (120 gm) (60 gm) (2 oz) dry breadcrumbs (either variety can be used)
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions:

    1. Melt the butter… this can be done in the microwave, or on the stove.
    2. Mix in the breadcrumbs. If needed, gently heat further (especially if you store breadcrumbs in the fridge or freezer).
    3. Season to your taste
     
  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on June 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: baklava, phyllo dough   

    Daring Bakers 51st Challenge: From phyllo dough to baklava 

    Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava. I had made baklava a couple of times before, with store- bought phyllo. I was a little leery of having to having the dough from scratch. Actually, making the dough was not the issue. The rolling and stretching was. My hunch was right. The recipe yielded a very nice and pliable dough. Unfortunately that’s where it ended for me. As I started rolling the first sheet (I needed 18 in all), it became clear an exercise in frustration was ahead. Words of one of my chef instructors came to mind: “Liz, you have to pick your battles.” Though this originally related to my hopelessness in turning vegetables, as well as not very good knife skills in general, I knew this was another battle I would not pick. After failing to stretch properly a couple of sheets, I gave up. I ended up using the dough to make a “pets de soeurs” (“nuns’ farts”), a common way in Quebec to use up pastry dough. Spread some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, roll up and cut pin wheels. Bake at 350F until dough is cooked through. The next day I bought some phyllo sheets and completed the challenge. Very nice and incredibly sweet recipe. I highly recommend buying pre-made phyllo sheets. Life is too short. ;)

    Pets de soeurs

    Baklava

    Phyllo Dough:

    *Note 1: To have enough to fill my 9” x 9” baking dish with 18 layers of phyllo I doubled this recipe.

    *Note 2: Single recipe will fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.

    *Note 3: Dough can be made a head of time and froze. Just remove from freezer and allow to thaw and continue making your baklava

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
    • 1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt 1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
    • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)

    Directions:

    • In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt
    • Mix with paddle attachment
    • Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
    • Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water (I had to add a tablespoon more)
    • Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.
    • Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.
    • Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil
    • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best ( I let mine rest 2 hours and it was perfect)

    Rolling your Phyllo

    ** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough** Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can.

    • Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
    • Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.
    • Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
    • Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel
    • Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel (see attached video for a visual, its much easier then it sounds. Nope, not for me, it wasn’t.)
    • Remove; notice how much bigger it is!
    • Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.
    • When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine
    • Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.

    Baklava Recipe

    Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network 30 servings Ingredients For the syrup:

    • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
    • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
    • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
    • a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled

    Directions

    • Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved
    • Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.
    • Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks

    Ingredients for the Filling:

    • 1 (5-inch/125mm piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon
    • 15 to 20 whole allspice berries ( I just used a few pinches)
    • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
    • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
    • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
    • 2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
    • phyllo dough (see recipe above)
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter ** I did not need this much, less then half**

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
    • Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside
    • Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan
    • Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet
    • Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it’s not needed)
    • Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top
    • Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times
    • Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top
    • Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times
    • Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top
    • Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better.
    • Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.
    • With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can’t cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9×9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge
    • Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)
    • When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!
    • Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.
    • Serve at room temperature

    Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips:

    There are a few ways to store your Baklava. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container. Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks. You will notice as the days pass it will get a little juicier and chewier. You may choose to store it in the fridge; this will make it a little harder and chewy, but does increase the shelf life. You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw.

     
    • Cyrus 7:22 pm on February 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Great info. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon).
      I’ve book-marked it for later!

    • understand 8:32 pm on April 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on June 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: capers, grilled, potato salad, red pepper   

    Daring Cooks 26th Challenge: Healthy potato salad 

    Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

    After the gumbo recipe, this was a nice and simple challenge. Easy on the pocketbook too.

    Better yet, I checked this challenge prior to the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., meaning, grilling recipes flooded my inbox that week, many with great potato salad suggestions. I opted for the grilled potato salad recipe that came in the America’s Test Kitchen Friday e-newsletter. What I liked about it was that a) it was grilled, b) involved a vinaigrette instead of the usualmayonnaise/sour cream dressing, and c) had my favorite garnish: capers.

    I’m not sure if I’m allowed to copy the recipe from the ATK’s site, so I erred on the safe side and provided the link above. I don’t know how long it will be valid. The recipe is simple, pre-boil red potatoes, cut in 3/4″ planks, until soft on the perimeter but still firm in the middle, cool and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut a yellow onion in four, keeping the skin on. Cut and devein a red pepper in thick slices. Season and toss both onion and pepper in olive oil. Grilled the vegetables until done. Remove skin from onions, chop vegetable in chunks. Toss while still warm with a marinade made with a classic 3-1 ratio of oil and vinegar, minced garlic and chopped fresh parley. The recipe called for white vinegar. I will use red wine vinegar next time I make this recipe. Add one to two tablespoons of capers. Serve at room temperature.

     
  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on May 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chocolate marquise, , tequila   

    Daring Bakers 50th Challenge (!): Chocolate Marquise 

    The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

    I had never heard of this dessert before, but judging from the ingredients, it was not for the faint of heart: a combination of eggs (lots of them), heavy cream (lots of that too), sugar, dark chocolate and… tequila! Couldn’t pass on this dessert. It was nice that you could do it in sections. So I made the base on Sunday and froze it, as required, made the caramel sauce and spicy nuts on the following Friday night and we made and torched the meringue and plated the whole thing on Saturday night for dessert. It was incredibly smooth and decadent, with a nice mix of silky texture, and sweet, balanced with the tequila flavour and the spiciness and crunchiness of the nuts. Though quite involved, this makes an impressive dessert for special company. It truly was a great way to celebrate my 50th Daring Bakers challenge. Looking forward to the next 50!

    PS. Shout out to Audax for converting this massive recipe into half and quarter yields, for those of us who don’t bake for a crowd.  :) Conversions included below.

    Chocolate Marquise


    Servings: 18 2.5″x2.5″ cubes

    Ingredients
    11 large egg yolks at room temperature
    4 large whole eggs
    2/3 cup (150 grams/ 5.3 oz) sugar
    1/3 cup (2⅔ fluid oz/ 80 ml.) water
    Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
    2 cups (16 fluid oz./ 500 ml.) heavy cream
    2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark. Make sure it’s a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
    Torched meringue (recipe follows)
    Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
    Cacao nibs (optional)

    Directions:

    In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 – 15 minutes.

    When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop (as seen in the following pictures).

    With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.

    When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.

    In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.

    When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you’ve whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.

    Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

    Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn’t allow in any air).

    Freeze until very firm, at least 2 – 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).

    When you’re ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it’s still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment ‘handles’ or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.

    Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don’t do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.

    Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they’ve softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you’ll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.

    Chocolate Base


    Servings: n/a – this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately

    Ingredients
    12 oz (340 grams/ 1½ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
    12 oz (355 ml/ 1½ cups) heavy cream
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) tequila
    1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
    3/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/ less than an ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 oz unsalted butter (2 tbsps./30 grams), softened

    Directions:

    1. Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
    2. In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
    3. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
    4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
    5. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

    Torched Meringue

    Servings: Makes about 4 – 5 cups of meringue. If you aren’t planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.

    Ingredients
    11 large egg whites
    1 ¾ cups (14 oz or 395 gms) sugar
    Splash of apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    Directions:

    Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.

    Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don’t feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.

    Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.

    When you’re ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.

    Tequila Caramel


    Servings: Makes about 1 cup of caramel

    Ingredients
    1 cup (8 oz.) sugar
    1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) water
    1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 240 ml.) heavy cream
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons tequila

    Directions:

    In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.

    Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot.

    Return the pot to the stove on low heat and whisk gently to break up any hardened sugar. Add any remaining cream and continue stirring. Gradually, the hard sugar will dissolve and the caramel sauce will continue to darken. When the caramel has darkened to the point you want it, remove it from the heat. Add the salt and tequila and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

    Spiced Almonds


    Servings: Makes about 1 cup of spiced almonds

    Ingredients
    1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 large egg white
    1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.
    3. In a larger mixing bowl whisk the egg white until it’s frothy and thick.
    4. Add the spice mix to the egg white and whisk to combine completely.
    5. Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and toss with a spoon.
    6. Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
    7. Bake the nuts for 30 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely and they will get very crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.


    Half Recipe Variations:

    Half and quarter-batch recipes were provided by Audax Artifex, who’s done a fantastic job of reinterpreting the challenge into more reasonably-sized portions!
    He said: I rounded up 5½ egg yolks to 6 egg yolks in the marquise recipe also I rounded up 5½ egg whites to 6 egg whites in the torched meringue this will not make a difference.

    Chocolate Marquise


    Servings: 9 2.5″x2.5″ (6⅓cm x 6⅓cm) cubes
    Ingredients
    6 large egg yolks at room temperature
    2 large eggs
    1/3 cup (75 grams/ 2⅔ oz) sugar
    2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (1⅓ fluid oz/ 40 ml.) water
    Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
    1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 250 ml.) heavy cream
    1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark. Make sure it’s a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
    Torched meringue (recipe follows)
    Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
    Cacao nibs (optional)

    Chocolate Base


    Servings: n/a – this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
    Ingredients
    6 oz (170 grams/ ¾ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
    ¾ cups (180 ml/6 fluid oz.) heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    1/8 cup (30 ml/ 1 fluid oz.) tequila
    1/8 cup (30 ml/ 1 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/8 cup (2 tablespoons/less than 1/2 ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
    1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 oz unsalted butter (1 tablespoon/15 grams), softened

    Torched Meringue


    Servings: Makes about 2 – 2½ cups of meringue. If you aren’t planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.
    Ingredients
    6 large egg whites
    ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (210 ml) (7 oz or 200 gms) sugar
    Splash of apple cider vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla

    Tequila Caramel


    Servings: Makes about 1/2 cup of caramel
    Ingredients
    1/2 cup (120 ml/4 fluid oz) (4 oz/115 gm) sugar
    1/4 cup (2 fluid oz./60 ml) water
    1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./120 ml) heavy cream
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon tequila

    Quarter Recipe Variations:

    Chocolate Marquise


    Servings: 6 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) cubes
    Ingredients
    3 large egg yolks at room temperature
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) (40 grams/ 1½ oz) sugar
    1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (2/3 fluid oz/ 20 ml.) water
    Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
    ½ cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) heavy cream
    ½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark. Make sure it’s a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
    Torched meringue (recipe follows)
    Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
    Cacao nibs (optional)

    Chocolate Base


    Servings: n/a – this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
    Ingredients
    3 oz (85 grams/ 6 tablespoons) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
    1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons (90 ml/3 fluid oz.) heavy cream
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/16 teaspoon cayenne
    1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) tequila
    1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1 tablespoon/(less than 1/4 ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey’s Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
    dash freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 oz unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon/8 grams), softened

    Torched Meringue


    Servings: Makes about 1 cup of meringue.
    Ingredients
    3 large egg whites
    1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) (3½ oz or 100 gms) sugar
    Splash of apple cider vinegar
    1/8 teaspoon vanilla

    Tequila Caramel
    Servings: Makes about 1/4 cup of caramel
    Ingredients
    1/4 cup (60 ml/2 fluid oz) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
    2 tablespoons (1 fluid oz./ 30 ml.) water
    1/4 cup (2 fluid oz./ 60 ml.) heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 tablespoon tequila

     
    • Crumbs of Love 6:11 pm on May 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Wow- 50 challenges!Cheers to you
      Best, Sandie

  • pixeltheatre 12:05 am on May 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , gumbo   

    Daring Cooks 25th Challenge: Chicken gumbo – Laissez les bons temps rouler! 

    20110501-114533.jpgOur May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. I had often heard of gumbo but never tried it. There were plenty of nice spicy sausage in this recipe, and it can only get better when you start frying everything in duck fat. Though heavy on the prep work, this recipe went smoothly. The aroma as it simmered for an hour and a half was just sublime. This will be a nice repeat in a colder time of the year, with perhaps an extra dash or two of Tabasco for extra heat. Very nice challenge.

    Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

    Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
    Serves 10-12

    Ingredients

    1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
    1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
    2 large onions, diced
    1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
    2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
    2 stalks celery, diced
    2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
    1 tomato, seeded and chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
    3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
    2 bay leaves
    6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
    2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
    Salt, to taste
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Filé powder, to taste
    Tabasco, to taste
    4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)

    Directions:

    1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below).
    2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).
    3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

    4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

    5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

    6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

    7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

    8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

    9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
    10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
    11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
    12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
    13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

    Basic Louisiana White Rice

    Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
    Servings: About 4 cups

    Ingredients

    1 tablespoon (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
    1 small onion, minced
    1½ cups (360 m) ((280 gm) (10 oz) Louisiana (or another long-grain white rice)
    3 cups (750 ml) Basic Chicken Stock
    1 bay leaf
    1-2 pinches salt

    Directions:

    1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
    3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
    4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
    5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
    6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

     
    • Audax Artifex 5:12 am on May 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Your gumbo is s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g I love the photo it looks so delicious well done.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on April 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: birch syrup, maple, mousse   

    Daring Bakers 49th Challenge: Maple Mousse served in an edible container 

    The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com! Firstly, this challenge was a cooking trip back to my home province of Québec. Born and raised there, Spring always meant sugar shack time, so maple syrup is definitely part of my heritage. Secondly, the container suggested for this mousse was none other than bacon! Bacon? Yes, oh yes…Glorious bacon. :)

    We got this challenge underway in no time. I enlisted my honey in this challenge, because I wanted the cups to be perfectly shaped, and I knew he had the skill and patience to make these work (patience, I confess, I don’t have a lot of when it comes to stuff like that ;( ). As the results show, the cups were perfectly executed (thanks hun!)

    This challenge gave me an opportunity to try a product I tasted at Edible BC in the Granville Island Market: Birch syrup. I had first tried it as part of a limited edition salted caramel birch syrup chocolate made by our favorite chocolate artisan, Chocolatas. The story, according to the salesperson, was that Edible BC approached Chocolatas and asked them to experiment with the birch syrup. The result was that divine piece of chocolate perfection. I thought it was great that merchants in the market interacted this way. A few months later, we came across that syrup while browsing at Edible BC. We got to taste it, and found the taste not quite as sweet as maple syrup, but interesting nonetheless. I couldn’t think of what to use it for to justify paying the somewhat steep price, but kept it in the back of my mind.

    When I read this challenge, I thought, here’s my opportunity. So I split this recipe into two, one half was maple mousse, and the other half became birch mousse. Although I think the quantity of gelatine in the recipe was a bit too much, the two syrups/eggs mixtures really congealed, the whipped cream managed to bring everything together. As for the birch mousse, the lesson learned is that this syrup should be mostly used as a flavouring agent instead of an actual ingredient. I used the same quantity of syrup (1/2 cup) as I did for the maple. The birch syrup is not as “syrupy” as the maple is. The mousse tasted more like molasses, and reminded me of the homemade molasses taffy I used to make with my grandma. However, when eaten/combined with the bacon cup, the taste became much more subtle. We topped both desserts with some walnuts and grated dark chocolate.

    This challenge really got our imagination going into other ways we could use bacon cups.  You just can’t beat the taste and aroma of bacon. Thanks for a great challenge, Evelyne!

    Bacon Cups:

    Ingredients:
    • 24 thin slices good quality bacon

    Directions:
    1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.

    2. Take a muffin pan or 6 small ½ cup capacity heat-proof bowls, turn upside down and carefully form aluminum foil covers on the back of 6 muffin cups or the bowls.

    3. Taking 2 strips of bacon at a time crisscross the strips over the backs of the muffin cups and cut to size a tad longer then the bottom part of the cup. Now use 1 to 2 more strips to cover the sides of the muffin cups in a weaving fashion. You want a full tight weave because bacon shrinks a lot. For smaller cups I used a shot glass with a square of bacon for the bottom and I wrapped 1 strip around the side.

    4. Tuck the ends of the bacon strips inside otherwise they will curl while cooking. A good idea is to insert 4 toothpicks where the crisscrossed bacon meets in the weave.

    5. Place muffin pan in a cookie tray to catch drippings. Bake in oven for about 25 to 40 minutes, or until the bacon is golden and crisp but not burned.

    6. Cool completely, a good hour, before removing your cups delicately from the foil.

    Maple Mousse:

    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
    • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

    Directions:
    1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

    3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.

    4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

    5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

    6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

    7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

    8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

     
    • Crumbs of Love 4:23 pm on April 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Do you think birch beer is made with birch syrup? just a thought. Anyway, very impressed that you did both challenges. You did a great job!

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on April 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: noodles, ramen   

    Daring Cooks 24th Challenge: Edible Container – Savoury 

    Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com! A big fan of ramen, I decided to try the noodle bowl. Unfortunately, after a couple of tries, I just couldn’t get the bowls off their forms, and they all broke. So, ultimately I ended up with a baked noodle nest as my container. Not as striking as a bowl would have been, but edible nonetheless. Turns out baked ramen noodles actually make a pretty tasty snack. Thanks for the challenge, Renata!

    NOODLE BASKET FOR SALADS

    Servings: 6 baskets

    Ingredients

    1 package ramen noodles (120gm) (4¼ oz)
    boiling water (enough to completely cover the noodles)

    Directions:

    1. Place the dry noodles in a baking dish.

    2. Pour boiling water over noodles until completely immersed.

    3. When noodles are soft and start separating (about 5 minutes), drain and rinse with cold water.

    4. Drain again, and set it aside until it starts getting sticky.

    5. Use olive oil to grease the outside of baking cups and arrange them upside down on parchment paper.

    6. Arrange noodles as shown in the photos. The sticky noodles will help the strings stay together making it easier to form the basket. 3 or 4 strings across, 3 or 4 strings down, and some strings around the bowl. Push all the excess strings close to the cup to form a lip. Don’t overlap too many noodles, or they won’t get crispy.

    7. Bake at 230°C (450°F) (gas mark 8) preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

    8. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before trying to remove the noodle baskets from the cups.

    9. Let cool completely.

    10. Handle with care, the baskets are fragile!

    11. You can make the baskets the day before using, they will keep fresh in an airtight container. On the third day it stars losing its crispiness.

    12. Fill baskets with your favorite salad. If you’re using a dressing, serve it aside or mix it to your veggies just before serving.
     

     
    • Audax Artifex 5:36 am on April 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yes Ramen noodles are very tasty, and the filling of prawns is excellent well done on this challenge.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • Renata 12:38 am on April 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I like how you made your noodle basket work out, the nest idea was just amazing, and as delicious. Love your choice of filling. Thanks for joining in :)

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on March 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: coffee cake   

    Daring Bakers 48th Challenge: Mets la main à la pâte! Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake 

    The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake. I’m always happy when a recipe calls for kneading. Can’t think of a more therapeutic action than kneading. Always brings a smile to my face. Then again, I might be influenced by the regular sight of my cats kneading and the purring that always accompanies that action. Total bliss. :)

    This  recipe, which I halved, produced a very nice bread. We had the option of using one of a couple of suggested fillings, or come up with our own. I went with Jamie’s, a combination of pecans and chocolate chips. Add cinnamon to that mix and you have one very tasty bread. This recipe is a definite keeper. Thanks ladies!

    FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE

    Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
    The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

    Ingredients
    For the yeast coffee cake dough:

    4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
    ¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
    ¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
    1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
    ¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
    ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
    ½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
    2 large eggs at room temperature

    10 strands saffron for Ria’s version (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg. Or simply leave it plain like Jamie’s version)

    For the meringue:

    3 large egg whites at room temperature
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon vanilla
    ½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

    For the filling:

    Jamie’s version:
    1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
    2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
    ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

    Ria’s version:
    1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts
    2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
    ½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below – or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)
    1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)

    Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
    Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

    **Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow.

    4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll)
    3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole
    100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds
    4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds
    1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns
    25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods

    In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

    Directions:

    Prepare the dough:

    In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

    In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.

    With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

    Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

    Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

    Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

    Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

    In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

    Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

    Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

    Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

    Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

    Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

    Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

    Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
    Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosenthe coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

    Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

     
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