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  • 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 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

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

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  • 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 12:01 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 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.

     
  • 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

    Ingredients

    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

    Directions:

    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

    Ingredients:
    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

    Directions:

    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.

    Ingredients:

    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

    Directions:
    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 January 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Bakers 46th Challenge: Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet 

    The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. I really waffled as to whether or not to make this dessert. On the heels of the Christmas season eat-a-thon, I didn’t really feel like creating, and eating, more sweets. But,  after seeing all the creations coming from Daring Bakers on the forum, I decided to go for it. The final result was a chocolate-flavoured Joconde biscuit, layered with a chocolate mint mousse and ladyfingers moistened with cacao liqueur. I only did half the recipe and used a 7-inch spring pan. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to show a photo of the inside of the cake until mid-February. This cake will be dessert for our Valentine’s day dinner. Stay tuned.

    Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet

    Equipment required:

    • Silpat
    • ½ baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)
    • Mixer (optional)
    • Bowls
    • Knives
    • Offset spatula
    • Regular spatula
    • Pastry comb (optional)
    • Rulers
    • Spring form pan
    • Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to use as a mold for individual desserts)
    • Torte/entremets mold/Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)
    • Cling wrap
    • Parchment paper
    • Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional)

    Joconde Sponge

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

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

    *Note: How to make cake flour: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/09/how-to-make-cake-flour/

    Directions:

    1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
    2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
    3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
    4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
    5. Fold in melted butter.
    6. Reserve batter to be used later.

    Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

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

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

    COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

    Directions:

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

    Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

    1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
    2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
    3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
    4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
    5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
    6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
    7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

    Preparing the MOLD for entremets:

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

    1. Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
    2. A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.
    3. Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.
    4. Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.

    Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:

    Video: MUST WATCH THIS. This is a very good demo of the joconde and filling the entremets:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca4eLDok-4Q

    1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
    2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
    3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)
    4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
    5. The mold is done, and ready to fill.

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

     
    • pragmaticattic 10:14 am on January 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Very cute idea to pipe hearts–nice!

  • pixeltheatre 4:24 pm on December 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: stollen   

    Daring Bakers 45th Challenge: Stollen 

    The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

    I was late in checking the new challenge this month. It goes live on the 17th of every month. Hilariously enough, I looked at it after coming back from the first German Christmas Market in Vancouver. A open-air market with vendors selling typical German-fare such as gluhwein and…stollen! I had bought one, as it is one of my favorite Christmas treat. I told my partner that it was something I always wanted to to make, but never got around to it. I had bought some marzipan a couple of years ago with the intention of making it, but it was still in my cupboard. No more excuses. I particularly liked this recipe, though it’s a multi-day affair. I made this a couple of times, adding marzipan both times. The first, despite reading the instructions over and over, I rolled the wrong side of the dough, ending with a very fat wreath. Still good, though. The second time around, rolled it the right way, but it took a lot longer to bake than the time indicated in the recipe. Still turned out right. This will become a staple of my Christmas baking. Thanks Penny for a great challenge!

    Stollen Wreath

    Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people

    Ingredients

    ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
    2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
    1 cup (240 ml) milk
    10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
    5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
    ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
    ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
    3 large eggs, lightly beaten
    Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
    2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
    ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
    1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
    3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
    12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
    1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
    Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
    Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

    Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

    Directions:

    Soak the raisins
    In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

    To make the dough

    Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

    In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

    Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

    In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

    Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

    Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

    Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

    Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
    Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

    Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

    1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
    2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
    3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
    4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

    Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

    Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

    This was before I pinched it together

    Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

    Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

    Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

    Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

    Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
    Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
    Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
    The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
    Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

    When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

    The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm

    Storage
    The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
    The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
    1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
    2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
    3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

     
    • Audax Artifex 5:00 pm on December 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I just love that first photo your stollen looks so perfect and rustic wonderful effort and the snow effect on you blog is so cute.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • Coz 7:37 pm on December 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I think your stollen looks like a snow topped mountain. I like how you did your cuts to make it look that way.

    • Erin 8:13 pm on January 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful job on the challenge this month!! Your stollen is beautiful and just looks so festive. I love that you made the recipe a couple of times during the month. Well done!

  • 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

    Ingredients
    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)

    Directions:

    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

    Ingredients
    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)

    Directions:

    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 September 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , sugar cookies   

    Daring Bakers 33rd Challenge: September themed decorated sugar cookies – Are you ready for some football!? 

    The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking. Further, we had to use September as our theme for these cookies. For me, this means the return of the National Football League on television. Never been a big fan of Canadian football, but American football, oh yes! So, followed the recipe for the basic sugar cookies, found some relevant cookie cutters at Gourmet Warehouse and tried some colour icing. Not the smoothest results, but it worked. Another one down.

    Basic Sugar Cookies:
    Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4″ Cookies

    200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
    400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
    200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
    1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
    5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

    Directions
    • Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
    creamy in texture.
    • Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
    baking, losing their shape.

    • Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
    • Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
    flour flying everywhere.

    • Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
    • Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
    • Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
    • Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
    hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
    then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

    • Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
    • Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
    • Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
    Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
    • Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
    • Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
    • Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
    • Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
    some cookies being baked before others are done.

    • Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
    • Leave to cool on cooling racks.
    • Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
    • Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
    cookies can last up to a month.

    Royal Icing:

    315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ – 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
    2 Large Egg Whites
    10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
    5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

    Directions

    • Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
    • Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
    grease free.

    • Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
    • Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
    • Beat on low until combined and smooth.
    • Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
    Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

     
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