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February 14, 2012
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and your choice for the gift card!
February 5, 2012
Hi All!!! Hope all my readers, friends and followers are keeping happy and healthy! After a very long and regretful break from blogging, I am back with a wonderful Yule-log creation from last year's Christmas meal. The break from blogging was not planned at all, it just got long as a combined result of a busy work schedule and no free time! But I am glad that I am back and I am excited to share this recipe and images with you all.
Also, I am excited to announce that in a week, my blog will turn 4 years old! Happy Birthday dear blog!! If you love my blog and is a regular reader, please leave me a message on this post, and I will be awarding two lucky winners a modest $15 gift card of your choice from Target/Home Goods/Michaels/Amazon as part of my blog's 4th Birthday celebrations. I will choose the winners on Feb 12th and the winners will be chosen in a random lucky draw. Please leave your email id as part of your comment.
This recipe for the assembled yule-log was compiled from two different websites. The raspberry chocolate sponge cake recipe was taken from joyofbaking, but the actual recipe is by Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'Cake Bible'. The website also had a recipe for yule-log, but I wanted to make a dressed up yule-log, with the textured bark look, completed with mushrooms and beautiful holly leaves and berries.
I found what I was looking for in this post. I loved how textured the surface looked, and also since it had directions of making marzipan mushrooms, rather than meringue mushrooms, I was ecstatic!!
Let me tell you that it makes for a very light and airy dessert!!! The actual sponge cake roll was very light, and not dense at all. The cake was the "melt-in-your-mouth" kind and using raspberry whipped cream as filling finished it off perfectly. It was not an extremely sweet dessert either. In the end, it left you feeling good, and satisfied. The chocolate ganache bark would give a little bit of sweetness to the log, but since I used bittersweet dark chocolate, it didn't add a lot of sweetness! The marzipan mushrooms added a fun look to the log, and the holly leaves and berries made from fondant, added a splash of color to the ultimate christmas dessert!!! It definitely was fun and easy to make this dessert and I enjoyed every single minute of it!
Try this yule log and you will be sure to impress your guests. I baked and filled the sponge cake the day before the party. I made the ganache on the day of the party, let it cool slightly in the fridge (keep a watchful eye, if its too think, it will be hard to spread). I spread the slightly thickened ganache on the cool log, and as it set a little bit, marked the surfaces (drag the tines of the fork along the length of the log) with a fork, to create the texture. The holly leaves were made from fondant, cut out with a petal cutter, and then the edges were cut using a piping tip to make it shaped like holly leaves. The berries were made out of fondant as well. Assemble the log and sprinkle some confectioner's sugar using a sieve to resemble freshly fallen snow to complete the look.
Hope you all enjoyed the post and the tips! Don't forget to leave a comment, to be one of the two lucky winners of my blog's 4th birthday giveaway!! I hope to keep writing and to receive the support of all my readers!!
Enjoy the superbowl, and have a great week ahead!
July 27, 2011
Now, coming back to the challenge, let me start by saying that this was one of the most fun challenges ever! Thanks, Jana! It was enjoyable every step of the way, with simple ingredients and techniques, but still with an oppurtunity for creativity and skills... Eventhough, I thought that I had made mistakes with the pastry cream and the cake, in the end it turned out beautiful, silky smooth, cool and refreshing. The entire cake was just amazing, not so sweet, not heavy and overwhelming, but really soothing, cool and really summer-y!! I am really happy with the outcome of my challenge, and would recommend this to everyone- it makes a great summer cake!
My cake did sink out of the oven, but it was still soft and airy, so I just leveled off the top and used as directed. My pastry cream did thicken a bit more than I would have liked, so I added more milk to thin it out. So I used gelatin accordingly to account for the extra cream. Like others mentioned, I think the hardest part was covering the springform ring with clingwrap! The wait after assembly was another agonizing step without knowing whether the cake assembly was perfect and whether the cream would hold up.
Needless to say, everything went well, and the cake held up beautifully. Even the slice was beautiful and held up without getting squished. In short, my family enjoyed it immensely and so did my friend. I also saved a slice for my coworker (Allison, thats you!) who enjoyed every bit of it, I was thrilled with her reaction! Anyways, its great to be back with a great challenge completed successfully..
Basic Chiffon Cake:
for gluten free and vegan options see the links at the end
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
1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
3. 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.
4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
10. 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.
Variations to the Basic Chiffon Cake:
Lemon Chiffon Cake
Reduce water to 1/4 cup (60 ml)
Add 1/8 cup (30 ml) lemon juice
Increase lemon zest to 1½ teaspoon (7½ ml) (5 gm)
Remove the vanilla from the recipe
Follow the directions, same as above, adding the lemon juice and zest to the oil, egg yolks and water in step 4.
Orange Chiffon Cake
Replace the full amount of water with orange juice
Replace lemon zest with the zest of one orange
Remove the vanilla from the recipe
Follow the directions, same as above, adding the orange juice and zest to the oil, and egg yolks in step 4.
Coconut Chiffon Cake
Add ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) freshly ground nutmeg
Reduce oil to 1/8 cup (1 fl oz/30ml)
Reduce water to 1/8 cup (1 fl oz/30ml)
Add 1/3 cup (2 ⅔ fl oz/80 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
Remove the vanilla from the recipe
Follow the directions, same as above, adding the nutmeg to the flour mixture in step 3, and the coconut
milk to the oil, water and egg yolks in step 4.
Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Reduce all-purpose flour to ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (195 ml) (4 oz/110 g)
Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) (3/4 oz/20 g) cocoa powder
Follow the directions, same as above, adding the cocoa to the flour mixture in step 3.
Pastry Cream Filling:
Gluten Free! Vegans see the links at the end!
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
1. 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.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine.
3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
8. 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.
9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
gluten free and vegan!
You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example:
apple cider sugar, orange 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.
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
1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not
necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
4. 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.
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
1. Line the sides of a 10-inch (25 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
6. 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.
7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8. 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.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
April 27, 2011
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/!
Oh yeah!!! I was soo excited to see that there was an award offered this month for the most creative edible container! But it turned to be one of my most uncreative months! Yeah, I did make some fun containers that I have never tried before, but I did not "wow" myself! We did get some very pretty pictures of the mousse and the edible containers, though!! I am very happy with this set of natural light photography! :-)
Now that the time for the challenge is over, I am getting new ideas (ofcourse!!). I think maple mousse truffles covered in tempered chocolate would have been nice! Maybe even a maple mousse cake pop covered in a myriad of colors... A chocolate cage, or a sugar cup.. Oh my! I should've done some of those..... But the best part of this challenge is that I have a new found love towards chocolate art! I am fearless of tempering chocolate and I have great interest in learning about chocolate art now!! The mousse was amazing, it showed me how better pure maple syrup is, how maple flavored syrup cannot capture even remotely the goodness of pure syrup! It was pure heaven in a chocolate cup. The recipe yielded enough mousse to cover dessert for more than a few days!! I am happy with the outcomes of the challenge. The challenge was YUMMMMMMYYY!!! :-)
24 thin slices good quality bacon
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.
1 1/2 cups crushed nuts of your choice such as almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
1 egg, beaten, at room temperature
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces
1. Use a food processor or a zip-lock back with a rolling pin to crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed. You want it somewhat coarse.
2. In a bowl mix the nuts with the beaten egg and the sugar.
3. Take 6 small ½ cup capacity Pyrex cups or a similar container and line the inside with aluminum foil. Spread ¼ cup of the mixture in the bowl, all the way up to the sides making sure you have a thin and even clean layer all around.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. until the nuts are golden and fragrant (about 15 minutes). Let cool completely before unmoulding.
5. Melt chocolate (either in the microwave or over a double boiler). Dip the rims of the cooled nut bowls in the chocolate. Place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened and is set.
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)
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.
Vegan Maple Mousse:
1 package (12 oz.) soft silken tofu
¾ cup (14 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup
2 teaspoon agar-agar
1. Let tofu come to room temperature. Using a food processor, blender, or hand mixer, blend tofu until just smooth.
2. Sprinkle agar-agar on the maple syrup and let it rest for 10 minutes. Heat maple syrup on the stove to a boil and then let it simmer 5 minutes until the agar-agar has dissolved.
3. In a food processor, blender, or a large bowl, blend the tofu with the maple syrup until creamy.
4. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from the fridge and divide among your edible containers.
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¾ cup (165 g./5.5 oz) sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C.
2. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer beat for a few minutes until the whites become stiff. Now add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking until the mixture is stiff and glossy. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and the mixture won’t fall out.
3. Place baking parchment on to a clean baking sheet. Using a spoon or a piping bag, dollop the meringue into circles that fit inside the rim of your edible cups. (See mine, I wanted height but they fell a bit...which is OK...freeform art)
4. Put the tray in the oven, then immediately turn the oven down to 250 degrees F/130 degrees C. and bake for 45 minutes.
5. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for a few hours.
6. Place meringues as decoration on your maple mousse which has already be spooned into your edible containers.
Chocolate Tulip cups:
Blow some balloons to the size of an orange or bigger, depending on the size of the desired tulips cups. Melt chocolate in 15s increments in the microwave until melted and smooth. Let the chocolate get to slightly warm temperature. Dip the balloon slightly slanted and overlapping so as to make the petals of the tulips. Hold the balloons vertically on a parchment lined sheet pan for a few seconds and let harden. Gently snip the upper tip of the balloon with scissors and let the air escape slowly. Remove the balloons and fill the chocolate containers with your desired filling and enjoy!
I used light chocolate candy melts (Michaels) and white chocolate chips (Hershey's) swirled together for my tulip cups.
Chocolate cups using cupcake liners:
Melt chocolate at 15s increments in the microwave until melted and smooth and at about 40C. Temper the chocolate using the microwave method (just google!!). Brush a layer of melted tempered chocolate onto the bottom and sides of a cupcake liner placed in a muffin pan. Tempered chocolate will dry quickly and will have a snap to it when broken. Enjoy with your favorite filling!
Sugar Brandy Snaps:
Check out this link for the recipe I used to make sugar brandy snaps. I didn't use brandy or ginger though! :-) I just kept them as flat snaps and I thought they looked stunning!! Follow steps 1-3 for sugar snaps!
The texture and taste of real tempered chocolate is much much better than candy melts. They seemed a bit chewy for my taste whereas the chocolate cups that I made with tempered semisweet chocolate were amazing!! Chocolate and maple mousse go very well together! YUMM!
Candy melts are convenient in that we do not need to go into the trouble of tempering them. They also set pretty quick. They are good in that we can make cut outs and/or mold them a bit easier (I felt) than real chocolate.
My chocolate tulip cups and chocolate cups were satisfying!! Maple mousse was just out of the world! It would have been fine if it was a little less sweet.
Thanks for visiting!! Enjoy your week! Couldn't stop myself from posting all these pictures.. Hope you enjoyed going through the pictures as much as I did presenting them!
March 28, 2011
I am also glad its a Friday (TGIF)! - been looking forward to this break ever since Monday ;-). I thought I would also share with you a dessert that I recently tried when we had some friends over at our home. This is one delicious, smooth, creamy and rich dessert! It's relatively easy and can be prepared ahead of time. The recipe isn't as complicated as its name "Chocolate Silk Raspberry Tart". I found the recipe on Betty Crocker website. Chocolate Silk Raspberry Tart
Ingredients: 20 creme-filled golden sandwich cookies, crushed (2 cups) 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 2 cups whipping (heavy) cream 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 1 cup fresh raspberries 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
Directions: Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs and butter. In 9- or 10-inch springform pan, press mixture in bottom and 1 inch up side. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, heat chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the whipping cream over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. In large bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Beat in chocolate mixture until creamy. Set aside. In another large bowl with electric mixer, beat remaining 1 1/2 cups whipping cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold half of whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until blended. Fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon into cooled baked crust. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. To serve, arrange raspberries around edge of tart. In small microwavable bowl, microwave jam on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted; lightly brush over raspberries. Remove side of pan. Cut tart into wedges. Store in refrigerator.
MY VARIATIONS: I layered the crushed cookies on the bottom only of a springform pan and baked until golden brown and set. I made the dessert the day before and refrigerated until serving. Instead of using raspberry jam, I bought a frozen bag of raspberries. Thawed it by immersing the puch in water for 10-15 minutes. Kept the thawed raspberries refrigerated. Unmolded the tart from the springform pan and just before serving, spooned the raspberries with the juice (not heavy syrup and hence not extremely sweetened) along the sides of the tart. A few sprigs of mint and some chocolate shavings completed the decor. It sure looked and tasted amazing!
VERDICT: We really enjoyed this dessert as did our guests! They gave me rave reviews! My lil girl who isn't much receptive even to desserts, enjoyed this immensely. With the cream cheese in it, it definitely tasted a lot like cheesecake which was amazing! It sure was pure creamy dreamy heaven! The slightly tart raspberries were amazing against the sweet smooth chocolate filling. The baked crushed golden cookies added a crunch and character to the tart. I am a fan, for sure! Please do try this out and I'm sure you'll looove it!