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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , petit four   

    Daring Bakers 32nd Challenge: Ice cream petit fours 

    The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

    This month’s challenge involved making ice cream once more. I was surprised by this ice cream recipe, mostly by the fact that the cream never gets cooked, but just mixed in at the end. Odd, I thought. But I was game to try it. I love the taste and smell of brown butter, so making the pound cake was simple enough. I followed the ice cream recipe, and it seemed to have come out ok. That’s where things got a little astray. I built this dessert over 4 days, due to a busy schedule that week. Which caused my cake to dry out a bit in the fridge. Which caused it to not stick properly to the ice cream, even after the requisite freezing time. Which caused the layers to fall apart when I tried to dip them into the warm chocolate ganache. The fact that I cut the squares too small (sorry, but where I come from, petit fours are, well, petit) didn’t help either. After a couple of attempts at dipping, I quickly realized a very frustrating time was ahead, and bailed by dumping the chocolate over the cut squares. There. Challenge completed. Sorta. (i had spent the week battling uncooperative tables and borders in Word at work, and my patience was running very thin.) I put everything back into the freezer and later broke off sections and stored in plastic containers. I confesss I threw out most it. The ice cream came out icy in the end, despite using my ice cream maker. This cream-at-the-end business still doesn’t feel right. Certainly didn’t taste right. So, conclusion: great recipe for the cake part, I’ll stick to my crème anglaise recipe for vanilla ice cream, and will try to do everything in one go next time.

    Ice cream petit fours

    Brown Butter Pound Cake – 2 hours (includes cooling time)

    Chocolate Glaze – 15 minutes

    Assembly of Ice Cream Petit Fours – Ice cream must be frozen ahead of time several hours, then the cake and ice cream freeze overnight. After dipping, the petit fours freeze for one hours.

    Equipment required:
    • Small and medium saucepans
    • Paring knife
    • 2 quart (2 litres) bowl
    • Electric mixer
    • Whisk
    • Spatula
    • Sieve
    • 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square baking pan
    • 10” (25 cm) skillet
    • Cake leveler/serrated knife
    • Cooling racks
    • Rimmed half sheets
    • Teacups
    • Plastic wrap
    • Piping bags (optional)
    • Ice cream maker (optional)
    • Cooking blow torch (optional)


    Vanilla Ice Cream

    1 cup (250ml) whole milk
    A pinch of salt
    3/4 cup (165g) sugar
    1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
    2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
    5 large egg yolks
    1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract

    1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)

    2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

    3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.

    4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

    5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007/07/making_ice_crea_1.html

    Brown Butter Pound Cake

    19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
    2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
    1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
    1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
    1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
    4 large eggs
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

    2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

    3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

    4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

    5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

    6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

    7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

    Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)

    9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
    1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
    1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
    2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

    Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

    Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours

    1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.

    2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.

    3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.

    4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)

    5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).

    6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.

    7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: pierogis, smoked salmon   

    Daring Cooks 16th Challenge: Pierogis 

    The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

    So, this month I got the privilege of co-hosting the Daring Cooks Challenge. I agreed to do this way back late last year. I chose pierogis after Hun gave me the recipe his mother used to make pierogis. His sister Sara then gave us a copy of the The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes. I thought this would make a nice versatile challenge, easy on the pocketbook. The additional challenge for our cooks was to come up with a fillings that reflected their locale. I was very lucky to have been teamed with Anula. Turns out Anula is Polish and an old hand at pierogis. She and her husband, who turns out to be a professional chef, provided wonderful pictures to illustrate the challenge for the Cooks. Thanks Anula!

    The fillings that came out of this challenge were amazing. Everything from sweet potato to mexican style to various fruit and seafood and haggis! For mine, I settled on a typical Northwest Coast ingredient: smoked salmon. I made a mash of smoked salmon bits, capers, red onions, dill and lemon rind. Added a bit of whipping cream to smooth everything out. I served it with a lemon and dill white wine sauce. Not bad at all. I bought some pierogi moulds to make a better seal. Never had a very consistent result when doing these by hand.

    Drop by The Daring Kitchen to see pictures of everyone’s pierogis.


    Equipment list

    • Measuring cups/spoons
    • Scale
    • Knives, utensils
    • Bowls to mix ingredients
    • Pans, pots to cook fillings and pierogi
    • Pierogi forms (really not necessary, you can get them easily in Polish or ethnic shops, they are very(!) cheap and handy too) if you don’t have these forms don’t worry! your hands and a fork will do.

    Cottage Cheese Wareneki (pierogi)

    ½ cup (125 ml) milk (can be whole milk, 2% or skim milk)
    ½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
    3 large egg whites
    1 tsp (5 ml) salt
    3 cups (450 gm) all-purpose flour

    1. Mix flour and salt, add other ingredients, and knead dough until you have a smooth dough. (I kneaded this dough quite a bit, and it yielded a nice, pliable dough).
    2. On a floured surface roll out fairly thin (1/8” or about 3 millimeters), cut into 2” (5 cm) squares, and fill with 1 tsp (5ml) cottage cheese filling (see below).

    1 lb (455 g) dry cottage cheese (this is usually found beside the “wet” cottage cheese in the supermarket’s dairy aisle. If you can’t find it, please see below for how to proceed with the “wet” cottage cheese.)
    3 large egg yolks
    Salt to taste

    1. Mix well all the ingredients for the filling.
    2. Put 1 rounded teaspoon (5 ml) of the filling in each square, fold corners to form a triangle, seal edges well using your fingers or a fork
    3. Cook in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.

    Boiled pierogi can also be fried after boiling for a nice crunchy dumpling.

    If you can’t find dry cottage cheese, simply drain normal cottage cheese by nesting the cottage  in a few layers of cheese cloth or a fine sieve over a bowl.

    Adapted from The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes

    • You can very easy make a sweet version of Warenki – just add some fruits and sugar to the cheese filling and mix well together (strawberries or blueberries are great idea!).

    Russian style pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
    (Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula’s family recipe)

    2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
    About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

    3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
    1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
    1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
    3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
    1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
    1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
    1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
    pinch of pepper to taste

    1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it’s best to use one’s hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

    2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

    3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi – this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

    4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

    5. Serve immediately preferably with creme fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried.  Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.

    Gluten-free pierogi recipe (from Recipezaar)

    Other types of fillings:

    Potato and cheese
    4 – 5 boiled potatoes
    4 table spoons butter (60 g) or olive oil (60 ml)
    50 ml (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) milk
    1 egg white (from medium egg)
    about 120 ml (½ cup) farmers’ cheese (any unripened cheese like Indian Paneer)
    salt and pepper

    Meat and cabbage
    200 g (7 oz) cooked meat (minced or cut very finely)
    500 g white cabbage (chopped and simmered in a little bit of water, until soft)
    1 onion (diced and fried)
    1 whole medium egg
    1 tablespoon (15g) butter
    dry breadcrumbs (add as much to hold the filling together, about 2 tablespoons)
    salt and pepper

    Soy bean filling
    350 g soy beans (canned, drained and minced)
    2 medium eggs
    1 onion (diced and fired)
    100 g (2/3 cup) dry breadcrumbs
    salt and pepper

    Sauerkraut filling
    2 cups (500 g)  sauerkraut
    1 big carrot, grated
    1 shallot, chopped and fried with a tablespoon of butter
    few (about 3) wild mushrooms (I used dry ones, you can use fresh but chop them and fry on some butter before adding to the sauerkraut cabbage)
    salt, pepper and cumin

    • Saute all the ingredients together until soft, cool before filling pierogi.

    You can also fill pierogi with whole seasonal fruits for example- strawberries, blueberries, morels, grated apples etc. To prevent the fruits from ‘sogging’ just add a little bit of potato flour inside with the fruit and sweeten them after the boiling on the plate rather than putting sugar inside.

    A little visual help:
    Video: How to make varenyky / pierogi (Youtube)
    Video: How to make pierogi (About.com)

    • sarah 5:27 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic challenge, thanks Liz! I really enjoyed making the little dumplings. I tried using a whole wheat dough, which was delicious, though maybe a bit hard to roll out thinly. Thanks for hosting this month!

    • Shelley 5:55 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for choosing such an awesome challenge. I love pierogis and had a blast coming up with something fun to fill mine with. This was really a great challenge. Thank you!!!

    • Ruth H. 6:18 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for such a great challenge! I love the creativity you inspired, and it was a lot of fun to re-familiarize myself with a favorite dish!!

    • Mary 7:01 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      This was a great challenge, Liz. Thank you! I think I’ll be making these again in the future.

    • Lindsay 7:37 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Liz! Thanks so much for a great challenge — the boyfriend has declared this a repeat recipe, so it will definitely be made again and again here!

      Thanks for all your work to challenge and educate us!

    • chef_d 9:17 am on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for co-hosting this month’s challenge. Your pierogis look yummy!

    • Heather Mulholland 1:12 pm on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you Liz for co-hosting this months challenge 🙂

    • Debbie 3:37 pm on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for hosting this months challenge! That was what I would have chosen if ever asked to host a challenge, so I think you made a perfect choice. Great Job!

    • Chantel 8:15 pm on August 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Great challenge! Thanks!

    • tariqata 6:36 am on August 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for the challenge! I had a great time, and I’ll definitely make them again!

    • Valérie 4:48 pm on August 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much for this challenge! It was a great idea, and lots of fun! Great job as hostess!

    • lisamichele 3:08 am on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Liz, thanks so much for a great challenge! Loved it and ate way too may of them LOL Beautiful job on your pierogis!

    • Margie 7:08 am on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Oh my goodness, your smoked salmon pierogis were a great idea and look amazing! I gotta get me one of those pierogi molds. Thanks so much for co-hosting such a wonderful challenge. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch today!

    • Suz 9:14 am on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for introducing me to pierogi. I think I’m hooked! Mmm, and your smoked salmon pierogi look divine.

      Great challenge!

    • Monkeyshines in the Kitchen 5:23 pm on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for hosting a great challenge Liz! We very much enjoyed the opportunity to make something new to us. Your local salmon and caper pierogi sound delicious too – it’s been a blast seeing how everyone has localized this versatile dish.

    • Kelly @ It's a Food Life 8:03 pm on August 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for a great challenge. I am so glad that I now know how to make perogies!

    • cuppy 3:48 pm on August 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I have had a great time making pierogi, and it’s the sort of thing that adds perfectly to my meal plan. Thank you for sharing your recipes and hosting this month’s challenge!

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