Sunday, February 10, 2013

Salted Caramel Turtle Heart Cookies

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You know, I initially wanted to make turtle cookies that looked like the actual animal. I had it all envisioned -- a fat head and plump little flippers. Well given the time of the year and my shabby sculpting skills, heart shaped turtle cookies seemed like the better choice. Maybe my turtles will take form in icebox cookies later this year. Oh, which reminds me, Happy Lunar New Year! I hope those on the east coast got to celebrate!
To make these special, I added a bit of sea salt to the caramel mixture and drizzled milk chocolate on top to finish them off. The chocolate cookies are soft, the caramel gooey, and I have eaten too many already. Make these yourself and give them all away before you feel guilty after stuffing your face.

My tips for these cookies:
  1. Freeze the hearts before baking so they can better retain their shape. Pop them in the freezer for 30 or so minutes until firm. (I ended up just watching the latest Big Bang Theory episode. Oh Sheldon is just too funny.)
  2. Use more or less cream for the center depending on how gooey you want the caramel. If you use the full amount, the caramel will not set very well, so it would be difficult to pack these to give away.
  3. I ended up baking these for 18 minutes instead of the 12 minutes recommended. 
  4. Not to be OCD or anything, but if you want to obtain the full yield each dough ball should weigh around 15-16 grams before you add the pecans. 

Here's a little tutorial!

(I resized these pictures to be smaller because they came out quite blurry. Sorry!!!)

Roll out all the cookies and coat them in the chopped pecans.

Plop a cookie into the center of a small heart shaped cookie cutter.

Gently press the dough into the shape of the cookie cutter.

Using a teaspoon, or your fingers, make an indentation in the center. Gently push the the heart out of the mold. 

Salted Caramel Turtle Heart Cookies

From America's Test Kitchen
Yields 2.5 dozen cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped fine
  • 14 soft caramel candies
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional addition to caramel)
  • milk chocolate to drizzle
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
  2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk 2 egg white until frothy. In a shallow bowl, place pecans for rolling. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough
  4. Using a teaspoon measure spoon, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until set, 10 to12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  5. While cookies are baking, microwave caramels and heavy cream in medium bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; set aside.
  6. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure. Fill each indentation with 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Peppermint Entremet

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Okay, so the pomegranate entremet didn't work out so well. I couldn't get the right flavor for the pomegranate mousse component, so I ended up tossing out the entire cake a week after it was just sadly sitting in the refrigerator. It's hard to part ways with a project you've worked so hard on! 
Looks like I've hopped on the Christmas bandwagon before Thanksgiving even rolled around. There's one layer of dark chocolate mousse, one layer of white chocolate mousse, and two layers of white chocolate peppermint mousse. I tried swirling the peppermint layer to look like a candy cane, but the combination of smoothing the layers and over-mixing in the first place simply resulted in a homogeneous pink. 
I made six snowflakes, and only one survived! I need to learn to temper chocolate properly.
The snowflake pattern joconde sponge that wraps around the mousses.
I had to try the white chocolate mousse twice. I initially thought I could fold in crushed peppermint candies to achieve a nice mint flavor with an added crunch from the candies. The more I folded, the more the candies dissolved and then disaster. The mousse started to curdle, so I'm assuming there was some sort of water soluble chemical in the peppermints that adversely reacted with the cream. I think I made a total of four trips for ingredients for this cake. Resilience is a trait all bakers need to have!

To make his cake a little less tedious, I recommend measuring out all the cream the mousse recipes call for and whip it all together in a very large bowl.. You can eyeball and allocate the whipped cream to the separate mousses.
Joconde Sponge
Refer to this link: Here!
For my entremet, I halved the chocolate paste, and doubled the sponge recipe component. You will end up with a lot of sponge left over, but I couldn't figure out how to resize the recipe for my particular needs.

White Chocolate and Peppermint Mousses
Refer to this link: Here!
Make the entire recipe, and then split it in half. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to one half. Add a bit of red food coloring if desired. If you don't want the peppermint layer to be as pink as mine, be sure to barely fold to maintain a swirled effect.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse
  • 4 oz dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
  1. Melt the chocolate, cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of cream, and sugar over a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir well until all is combined and smooth.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. After letting it sit for a minute, microwave until gelatin is melted. Roughly 20 seconds. Whisk into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Whip the remaining cream. Fold in half of it into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up, then fold in the remaining half until everything is evenly incorporated.
  1. Make the joconde and cut out strips to line a round cake pan to create the sides of your cake. Place a round piece of joconde in the center to make the base. Be sure to make the cake pieces fit as tightly as possible so mousse doesn't leak out. 
  2. Make the dark chocolate mousse. Spread it out on top of the base layer of cake. Freeze or refrigerate until set.
  3. Make the white chocolate mousse and divide as directed above. Spread half of the peppermint mousse on top of the dark chocolate mousse. 
  4. After the second layer of mousse is set, add all of the plain white chocolate mousse on top. After that is set, add the remaining peppermint mousse on top and smooth it out. Garnish with whip cream, chocolate decorations, or peppermint candies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Long Lost Fruit Tart

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I plan on making a pomegranate entremet this weekend, so be on the lookout for that post!

College applications are more stressful than I thought they were going to be. I figured that organization would protect me from any hectic mishaps. In a sense that's true, but I still have had many late nights of editing and revising essays. Dark eye circles have consumed my face, so hopefully once I am able to submit everything I will get a good night's sleep.
So this tart... was my dad's birthday "cake". A buttery shell with sweet vanilla pastry cream dolloped inside, and topped with a pattern of concentric circles of mixed berries. It is indeed fall where I live, so how did I find these ripe berries? That's where the "long lost" part of this blog post title comes in. My dad's birthday is in July. I found these pictures on my computer as I sweeping out my folders of any useless rubbish. I had uploaded them the day of my dad's birthday, but updating them to this blog must have completely escaped my mind. On a side note, these pictures bring up sad memories. My dad went fishing on his birthday! I starting preparing this tart, and then after completion, my mom told me the birthday boy wasn't going to be back for two days! Next year, we need better communication.

Please visit Gourmet or Gourmand for the recipe that I used. She has very thorough instructions to help you through the process of creating a beautiful tart.

A few tips:
  1. What I've learned from a little research is to brush the baked pastry shell with apricot jam to create a moisture barrier. The cream will not be able to seep through the crust, and you'll be left with a delicate dessert. 
  2. Make sure you eat this tart on the day you prepare it. If necessary, you can create the tart shell and cream ahead of time. However, do not slice or assemble the berries until you are ready to serve. 
  3. Add a little almond extract (or liqueur if you're of that age) to the pastry cream to add a different dimension for flavor. I also recommend using vanilla beans if you have any on hand, because it is both pretty and delicious.
  4. I absolutely despise blackberries, which is why they never came near this tart! The berries I ended up using were raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Use whatever fruit combinations that you like. 
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