Updates from May, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • 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

    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)


    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

    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


    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.

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


    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

    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


    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

    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


    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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
    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
    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.
    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
    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 12:01 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!


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

    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.


    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.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on February 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Bakers 47th Challenge: Panna Cotta and Florentines 

    The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies. Two of my favorite treats. The florentines made with oats instead of shaved almonds was an interesting twist. The panna cotta is a smooth and refreshing dessert. I served it with mixed berries reduced in balsamic vinegar. That’s the way I first learned to do it in cooking school and it’s still my favorite way to balance the creaminess of this dessert. Thanks for reminding me the simplicity of this dessert.

    Giada’s Vanilla Panna Cotta


    1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
    1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
    3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
    1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½


    oz) granulated sugar
    pinch of salt


    1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
    2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
    3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
    5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

    Hope you love it!

    Chocolate Panna Cotta

    Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

    1 cup (240 ml) whole milk1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
    2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
    ½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
    ¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
    ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract


    1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
    2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
    3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
    4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
    5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

    Nestle Florentine Cookies

    Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.


    2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
    2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
    1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
    2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
    1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
    1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
    1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
    pinch of salt
    1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

    Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

    1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
    2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
    4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
    5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
    6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

    This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).



    • Mary 9:27 am on February 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I was really happy to be reminded of this dessert as well. I bet it was delicious with the berries.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: donoughts, donuts,   

    Daring Bakers 44th Challenge: Mmmmm…doughnuts! 

    The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. Doughnuts!? Oh yeah! Also a proud canuck, I knew where this host was coming from. Tim Horton’s is more than a doughnut shop, it’s an institution in this country. Hun and I often have our Saturday breakfast there, and no matter the location, it’s always busy with a spectrum of people.

    I’ve always wanted to make donuts, but for some reason, was a little worried. Not sure why. Especially after doing this challenge. I was on my way home from holidays when I looked at this month’s challenge and emailed Hun right away. Glee, all around! The debate about what we would stuff in some of them started in Orlando, and continued while I waited for my connection in Houston airport. We’ve been playing with mini snickers stuffed in wonton wraps or funnel cake batter and fried, and doughnuts seemed the next natural step.

    For good measure, I tried both recipe. I was pleased to see (or taste) how less sweet homemade doughnuts can be.  The recipes suggested were straightforward. We fried the doughnuts outside on the bbq burner. Cooking time was quite less than the one suggested. Also, we found that 375F was too hot, cooking the outside before the inside was properly done. Reducing the heat to 350F fixed that. We tried a couple of glazes (white and chocolate) found on the web, but we’ll need to revisit those. Too watery and didn’t coat very well. The snickers stuffed doughnuts, done with the yeast recipe, worked well enough, though I’ll have to use more dough next time, to make sure the dough really rises around and covers the half mini-snickers piece well, as we ended up with some chocolate canola oil.

    All in all, a great challenge. We came out with four dozen donuts (not including the holes). Thankfully, these freeze well. 🙂 Looking forward to making some fresh ones at Christmas time, when my mother visits. She adores them — as a treat, of course.

    Yeast Doughnuts:

    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
    Rising time – 1.5 hours total
    Cooking time – 12 minutes

    Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

    Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
    Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
    Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
    Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
    Eggs, Large, beaten 2
    White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
    Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
    Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
    All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
    Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)


    1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
    2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
    3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
    4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
    5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
    6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
    7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
    8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
    9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
    10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
    11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
    12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

    Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts:

    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
    Cooking time – 12 minutes

    Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size

    Sour Cream ¼ cup / 60 ml / 60 gm / 2 oz
    All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface
    White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
    Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
    Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
    Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
    Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
    Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
    Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
    Egg, Large 1
    Egg Yolk, Large 2
    Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
    Powdered (Icing) Sugar ¼ cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)


    1. In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm.
    2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
    3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
    4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
    5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
    6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
    7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.

    Sift powdered sugar over doughnuts and serve.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , swiss roll   

    Daring Bakers 31st Challenge: Swiss swirl ice cream cake 

    The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. With Summer finally underway in the BC Westcoast, this was a good recipe to do at this time. I split the parts over a few nights, doing the swiss roll on the first, lining the bowl and freezing the roll slices on the second, making the ice creams and and fudge on the third, and finalizing the layers on the fourth night. I only made half a recipe, but I could have easily fed eight people with it. The chocolate ice cream didn’t freeze as firmly as the vanilla one, but in the end, provided a nice sauce to go with the dessert. It’s a beautiful dessert. Great challenge. Thanks Sunita!

    Swiss roll ice cream cake

    Preparation time-

    For the 2 Swiss rolls

    30 mins each + cooling time (at least 30 minutes) before filling and rolling. The filling can be made while the cakes cool.

    -For the ice creams– 5+10 minutes + freezing time

    For the fudge topping– 5 minutes + cooling time

    Assembly– At least an hour of freezing time between each layer (I took much more)

    Equipment required

    • A large mixing bowl
    • Spatula/mixing spoon
    • Sieve
    • A small saucepan
    • Containers for ice creams
    • Cling film/plastic wrap
    • Greaseproof baking paper
    • Food processor/grinder
    • Electric/hand held beaters
    • Whisk
    • 2 Baking pans, 11 inches by 9 inches each
    • Kitchen towels
    • Cooling rack
    • A pudding bowl / any other bowl, pan in which you are going to set the dessert. I used a 2 litre capacity, 9 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep.
    • Freezer
    • Oven
    • Serving plate
    • Knife

    The Swiss rolls-

    Preparation time– 10 minutes

    Baking time– 10-12 minutes

    Rolling and cooling time– at least 30 minutes

    Filling-5-8 minutes

    Filling and rolling– 5-10 minutes


    6 medium sized eggs

    1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling

    6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together

    2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water

    a little oil for brushing the pans

    For the filling-

    2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream

    1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

    5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar


    1. Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
    3. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
    4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
    5. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
    6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.
    7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
    8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
    9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.

      Whipping Cream

      1. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.
      2. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
      3. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
      4. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
      5. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

        The vanilla ice cream-

        Preparation time-5 minutes+freezing

        I have made the ice cream without an ice cream maker.


        2 and ½ C / 625 ml / 20 fl oz of whipping cream

        1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp/ 5 ml/ .15 fl oz vanilla extract

        ½ C / 115gms/ 4 oz of granulated sugar


        Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.

        Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

        The Hot fudge sauce- I made this just after adding the layer of vanilla ice cream to the cake.

        Preparation time-2 minutes

        Cooking time-2 minutes


        1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar

        3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder

        2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch

        1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water

        1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter

        1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract


        1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
        2. Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
        3. Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool.

          The chocolate ice cream-

          Preparation time– 5 minutes + freezing


          2C/ 500 ml whipping cream

          1 C/230gms/8 oz caster sugar

          3 tblsp/ 24 gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder


          1. Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
          2. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
          3. Place thepan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.
          4. Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. If you are using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instruction, after the mixture has cooled completely.
          5. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.


            1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).
            2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.
            3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).
            4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)
            5. Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. ( at least an hour)
            6. often the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.
            7. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
            8. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.
              • Shirley 12:54 pm on August 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

                WOW! That’s incredible! Thanks for sharing!

            1. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on June 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , , pavlovas   

              Daring Bakers 30th Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse 

              The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. I nearly missed this one. I totally forgot to check the new challenge after it went live on June 1st. I clued in mid-month and got busy. I’m glad I got to make the mascarpone cheese from scratch, since I missed the Tiramisu challenge. A tub goes for $8 in the store. Quite the markup for curdled cream…:)  It took a little longer than expected, and I may have over cooked it a bit, but it all came together fine in the end. I spread this challenge over a couple of nights. I did not have any Grand Marnier or Sambucca, so used Limoncello and Crème de cacao instead. Despite the copious amounts of cream present in each component, the taste was quite light and not too rich. Time consuming dessert, for sure, but I can see the mousse in crepes down the road, and the mascarpone cream as a nice dressing for many types of desserts, from fresh fruit, to tarts and tortes. Very nice challenge.

              Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

              Mandatory items: The recipe is comprised of three parts, four if you include the crème anglaise. You must make the chocolate pavlovas, the mascarpone mousse and the mascarpone cream using the recipes provided.

              Variations allowed:

              • You can use orange juice for the Grand Marnier in the mousse if you don’t use alcohol
              • You can omit the sambuca from the mascarpone cream.
              • You may substitute any crème anglaise recipe you might already have in your arsenal.

              Preparation time: The recipe can be made in one day although there are several steps involved.

              • While the pavlovas are baking, the crème anglaise should be made which will take about 15 minutes.
              • While it is cooling, the chocolate mascarpone mousse can be made which will take about 15 minutes.
              • There will be a bit of a wait time for the mascarpone cream because of the cooling time for the Crème Anglaise.
              • If you make the Crème Anglaise the day before, the dessert should take about 2 hours including cooking time for the pavlovas.

              Equipment required:
              • Baking sheet(s) with parchment or silpat
              • Several bowls
              • Piping bag with pastry tip
              • Hand or stand mixer

              Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):

              3 large egg whites
              ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
              ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
              1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder


              1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
              2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
              3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
              4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)
              5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

              Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):

              1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
              grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
              9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
              1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
              pinch of nutmeg
              2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)


              1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
              2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
              3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

              Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):

              1 recipe crème anglaise
              ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
              2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
              ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream


              1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

              Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

              1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
              1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
              1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
              6 large egg yolks
              6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar


              1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
              2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
              3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
              4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

              Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

            2. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on May 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , croquenbouche,   

              Daring Bakers’ 29th Challenge: Pièce montée (Croquenbouche) 

              The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri. A nice dessert, components I had done before. Still, I always welcome a chance to get a technique, in this case choux paste, perfected. I think I can do that now. My piping still needs work, but I was happy with the results. I used a vanilla/peppermint pastry cream.


              Equipment required:
              • several baking sheets
              • parchment paper
              • a whisk
              • a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
              • a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
              • a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your piece montée
              • some of the items you may want to use to decorate your piece montée include ribbons, Jordan almonds, fresh flowers, sugar cookie cut-outs, chocolates, etc.


              Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
              ¾ cup (175 ml.) water
              6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
              ¼ Tsp. salt
              1 Tbsp. sugar
              1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
              4 large eggs

              For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

              Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

              Preparing batter:
              Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

              Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

              Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

              Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

              As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

              It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

              Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

              Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

              Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

              Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

              Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

              Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

              For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)

              1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
              2 Tbsp. cornstarch
              6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
              1 large egg
              2 large egg yolks
              2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
              1 Tsp. Vanilla

              Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

              Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

              Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

              Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

              Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.


              When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

              Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

              Chocolate Glaze:
              8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

              Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

              Hard Caramel Glaze:
              1 cup (225 g.) sugar
              ½ teaspoon lemon juice

              Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

              Assembly of your Piece Montée:
              You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

              Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

              When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

            3. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , oreos, pho, snickers, , wonton   

              Daring Cooks 6th Challenge: Chicken Pho 

              The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. A perfect recipe for Fall, this vietnamese staple was a welcome challenge. You can’t go wrong with soup at this time of the year. I had pho once before in a local restaurant and had made a mental note to return once the weather would turn to our typical northwestern rainy season. I’m glad to now have a straightforward recipe I can do at home. One  small change I would do, however, is a little less fish sauce. Aside from that, it was a great recipe.

              We had an optional challenge this month involving dessert wontons. The filling was left to our imagination. I chose “flavours of summer”. We had tried deep fried oreos, jelly beans and mars bars at the last PNE. The jelly beans and Mars TM bar weren’t very good, but the Oreos TM had definite potential. We had also had a deep fried Snickers TM before and quite liked it. So, our fillings for this challenge was a frozen mini Snickers and crushed Oreos. Well, the deep fried wonton, I think, proved an even better cover than the traditional funnel cake batter. We’ll be testing other similar fillings (hum…Reeses’ peanut butter cup…) in the chilly months to come. Thanks for a great pair of challenges!

              Chicken Pho

              Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

              Servings: Makes 4 servings


              For the Chicken Pho Broth:
              2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
              4 whole cloves
              2 whole star anise
              2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
              1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
              ½ onion
              1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
              1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
              1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

              1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


              2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
              Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
              ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
              ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
              Sriracha chili sauce
              Hoisin sauce
              Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


              1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
              2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
              3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
              4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
              5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
              6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
              7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
              8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

              Challenge #2: Chocolate Wontons


              • Small bowl
              • Pastry brush
              • Plastic wrap and/or damp paper towels
              • Wok or medium-sized pot
              • Frying thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping in a cube of bread … if it browns quickly, the oil is ready)

              Preparation time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time (for 12 wontons)

              Servings: Makes 12 wontons.


              1 large egg
              1 tbsp. water
              12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
              12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
              High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
              Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling


              1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
              2. On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.
              3. Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
              4. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
              5. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
              6. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
              7. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
              8. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
              9. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
              10. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.

              • Frenchie 3:32 pm on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Wonderful job! The fried oreo wontons sound unbelievable.

              • Heather B 3:54 pm on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Great job! I love your wontons!

              • Olive 7:55 am on October 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                great job with the challenges, love your wontons! 🙂

              • Lauren 3:02 pm on October 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Wow! Everything looks amazing =D.

              • lisamichele 1:03 am on October 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Your Pho is fantastic, but those oreo wontons have stolen my palate completely..and i love the presentation! A must try for me 🙂 Well done all around!

            4. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , , marshmallow   

              Daring Bakers 21st Challenge: Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies) 

              The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.  I was thrilled when I saw that marshmallow was part of the challenge. It is something I had wanted to try making for a while, but had never got around to it. This particular cookie also had a more personal appeal to me. I grew up with “whippets“, the name of this type of cookie produced by Viau in Québec. I have fond memories of the way my father taught sis and I to eat this cookie: eat the chocolate covering first, then “inhale” the marshmallow in one breath; a technique which horrified my mother (JP!!), and naturally delighted us. 🙂

              Last Sunday, I finally started on this recipe. We have had a very hot and dry spell, here in Vancouver, and I was worried it would affect the setting time for the marshmallow and chocolate. Nonetheless, time was running out and I went to work. The cookie base was as simple as can be. I was worried how wet and sticky it remained even after the refrigeration period, but it yielded a very nice base, almost a wringer for the original cookie. The marshmallow part turned out to be almost as simple as whipping up a meringue. Since I could not find light corn syrup, I opted for one of the options suggested in the forum, namely half glucose syrup and half normal corn syrup. It worked beautifully (but man, is that stuff sticky when you pipe it…). The ‘mallow setup quickly enough and I was off to the glazing part. Again, simple enough, using my potato masher as the holding and dunking tool. The heat didn’t help in this case at all. It was still soft come the next morning. After reading one of my DB colleague’s problem with chocolate blooming after she had refrigerated the cookies, I was hesitant to resort to that. So I took a couple to work that morning and stored it in the fridge. Not a problem. The chocolate kept its beautiful luster and I became addicted, once more, to this luscious cookie. It will definitely be part of my cookie roster.

              Thankfully we had the option of doing one or both of the cookies for the challenge. The weather being what it is right now, I stopped at this one.  A great challenge, it really piqued my curiosity in marshmallow making. It’s an area I’ll explore more come Fall and more suitable baking climate. Thanks for a great challenge, Nicole!

              Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)IMG_0786
              Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

              Prep Time: 10 min
              Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
              Cook Time: 10 min
              Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

              • 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
              • 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
              • 1/2 teaspoon salt
              • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
              • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
              • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
              • 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
              • 3 eggs, whisked together
              • Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
              • Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

              1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
              2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
              3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
              4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
              5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
              6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
              7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
              8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
              9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
              10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
              11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
              12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
              13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

              Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

              Homemade marshmallows:
              • 1/4 cup water
              • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
              • 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
              • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
              • 2 tablespoons cold water
              • 2 egg whites , room temperature
              • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

              1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
              2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
              3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
              4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
              5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
              6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

              Chocolate glaze:
              • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
              • 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

              1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

              • Lauren 10:57 am on July 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Yum!! Your mallows look amazing =D. My chocolate also didn’t want to set very much, and the fridge seemed to do the trick. Beautiful job on this challenge!!

              • suzon 3:12 pm on July 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Mon dieu, mon dieu, mon dieu. Moi qui est folle-dingue des Whippets. Tu me fais saliver la mère. Une chance qu’il y a tous ces fuseaux horaires entre nous parce qu’ils ne seraient pas restés longtemps dans ton frigo, tes Whippets-maison. They look absolutely and devinely delicious. Bravo !

              • pixeltheatre 2:57 pm on August 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Thanks Lauren! Merci la mère! 🙂

            5. pixeltheatre 12:02 am on February 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

              Daring Bakers 16th Challenge: Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino 

              The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

              The recipe was perfectly timed for Valentine’s day – can’t beat chocolate cake and ice cream. This was one of the most straightforward challenges in a while, so it took no time to put together. I did encounter some problems with my baking ware, however. While shopping at Michael’s I came across some heart-shaped silicone cupcake molds, half-priced. I’ve never really baked with silicone before, but my own cupcake pan is looking pretty ratty, so I decided to give them a try. Looking on the net, I found out that, on certain occasions, baking times must be adjusted with silicone pans. It seems to take longer. Which would make sense considering silicone is also used for a lot of heat resistant products. The recipe called for a 20-25 minutes baking period, but that was for a 10 inch cake. Since I was making cupcakes, I decided to aim for the 25 minutes. (My oven is not the hottest either — I have to set it at 25F higher than the called-for temperature). I checked the cupcakes at the half-way mark, and they were still very runny. As the 20-minute mark approached, my mom called… I remembered the cupcakes when the buzzer went off. They looked fine at first, a little scorched on the side. But, after one bite, I knew I had a over-baked them. Still, with the help of some Krispys Chocolate Mint Candy ice cream, they were quite palatable. I look forward to trying this recipe again and, most importantly, the March Daring Bakers challenge.

              • Amy 6:16 pm on February 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                This looks great – I was given some silicone molds and have been scared to use them. Thanks for the tip about letting things bake a little longer. Unfortunately I am notorious for forgetting things in the oven…

              • Birdie 10:40 pm on March 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

                5 Facts You MUST Understand if You Are Ever Going to Lose Your Belly Fat and Get Six Pack Abs

            Compose new post
            Next post/Next comment
            Previous post/Previous comment
            Show/Hide comments
            Go to top
            Go to login
            Show/Hide help
            shift + esc