Monday, November 12, 2012

Peppermint Entremet

Pin It
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

Pin It
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. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hazelnut-Almond Dacquiose

Pin It
So it's been a while since I've put up a post... To my defense, AP testing and finals had me pretty busy for the past couple of weeks. Study, eat, study, sleep, study. That was my routine as the year came to its end. Worst, most stressful year of high school is over with though! Time to enjoy summer vacation! 
Piped meringue on my fantastic silpat mat!
I went fancy on this baking project this time. Dacquoise? I can attempt to pronounce that in a French accent and completely butcher it. I can also pronounce it with a mixture of my parents' accent and my regional accent to get a laugh out of my sisters. Either way, it's a delicious meringue dotted with nuts (almonds and hazelnuts in this case). 
Referring to the picture right above, this dessert is make of three layers of crispy dacquoise, one layer of creamy bittersweet ganache, one layer of espresso buttercream, and then drenched in even more ganache to finish it off. The epitome of decadence. 

On a side note, I'm tempted to make my own vanilla extract. The only problem is getting a hold of some vodka... Buying pure, quality vanilla extract is very expensive. A minimum of $7.00 a bottle is too much to handle. 
Good chocolate is key to luscious ganache! DO NOT use chocolate chips!
This cake had me tied up in the kitchen for a while. This is not necessarily because the technique utilized is inherently difficult, but because I'm a perfectionist. I did the meringue threes times. The first time I greased the silpat mat as directed in the directions, and the dacquoise just spread out too much. The second time the meringue got just a little too toasty, borderline burnt. Third time is definitely the charm. 
Because I'm quite certain it's illegal to redistribute the recipe I used, please check out the Flour Bakery cookbook by Joanne Chang. You can find it on amazon and probably your bookstore. It has a multitude of recipes with thorough instructions. My only complaint would be... not enough pictures! I am always on the hunt for good cookbooks that have pictures for every recipe. 

My few tips for this recipe:
  1. Try to use a silpat mat for the meringue and do not grease it. They layers peel off easier.
  2. The buttercream requires you to pour hot sugar into whipped eggs. I set my eggs over a pot of simmering water to bring them up to a lukewarm temperature. It your eggs are cold, the sugar will harden immediately and you'll be stuck with candied whisks and soupy eggs:( No good.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Island Escape

Pin It
♫ Put the lime in the coconut... 
Well actually, in this case, a mango. These mini cupcakes are bursting with coconut flavor in both the cake and fluffy frosting. I tried filling them with a mango mousse, but I didn't squeeze enough into the center for that component to stand out. Nonetheless, these are certainly tasty.
Okay, okay. The pineapple is only slightly random in these pictures. There is absolutely no pineapple in these cupcakes. I picked up this pineapple last week, but I guess I don't know how to select good fruit because my mother joked around that I have a fantastic eye for picking out the most unripe fruit out of the bunch. LOL. I grabbed the biggest one! It is almost ripe! Anyway, coconut just reminds me of the tropics and so does pineapple. I was going for a theme for these pictures. 
These pictures also came out with a very cool hue. I tried altering the white balance on the camera menu, but none of my pictures came out as bright or warm as I had intended. I hate cloudy days! All the cupcakes have already been eaten too, so there is no way to take more pictures!
The cake recipe I tried was delicious. Because it is made out of egg whites though, you risk over baking mini cupcakes. Once they spring back, take them out of the oven! The batch I baked until golden were quite dry unfortunately. I used Flour Bakery's recipe, but it is similar to Martha Stewart's recipe you can find online here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baking With The Sis: Neapolitan Cupcakes

Pin It
My sister is on her Spring break, so she is back in town! Mid April is an odd time to schedule break though, but I guess that's the way dental school rolls. None of my sisters' spring breaks coincided with mine. Sad.
When my sisters were younger, my dad used to buy neapolitan ice cream for them to eat. I however only remember him buying french vanilla ice cream. What made it special was sprinkling Rice Krispies on top to get that crunchy texture along with the silky smooth ice cream. Is that a weird combination? I just know it's one of my more vivid memories of my childhood. Of course what I remember the best deals with food. 
I have attempted to bake with my sister several times in the past. Yet, each project has gone terribly wrong. We made chocolate cookies that came out of the oven deformed, mangled, crunchy, and just bad. They looked like amoebas. We tried making buttercream together. Who knows what went wrong there. The frosting was curdled and lumpy. Today we made cupcakes and aside from this batch, they puffed up, sunk, and spread into amoebas in the cupcake tins. Come to think of it, whenever we need to refer to one of these baking endeavors, we just need to say one word: amoeba.
I must give her credit for the piping of the frosting on these cupcakes though. She did a fine job. She was able to utilize my brand new french piping tip. It is so pretty!
Below is the recipe for the buttercream frosting that literally tastes like strawberry ice cream. I ended up mashing the frozen strawberries with a fork instead of whipping out the food processor so that there were bright red speckles throughout. The cake itself is half chocolate cake, which you can find the recipe here, and the magnolia vanilla cake, which you can find a reference to here. I normally hate confectioner's sugar frostings because I find them grainy. However, I find that you just need to beat the frosting for a very long time so that it gets smoother, fluffier, and creamier. Enjoy!
Whipped Strawberry Frosting
From Sweetapolita
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry puree, made from frozen strawberries
  1. Beat the butter on medium speed of a mixer until pale and fluffy. Roughly 8 minutes.
  2. Turn down the speed to low and dump in the rest of the ingredients except for the strawberry puree. Beat for one minute, and then increase the speed to medium again for 6 minutes so that the frosting becomes very light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the strawberry puree and beat to thoroughly combine. Use immediately. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rose Cherry Pistachio Cake

Pin It
This week's inspiration was one of the new Quaker oatmeal flavors: cherry pistachio. Talk about yum. I also make a box shaped cake. Creative adjectives are not coming to mind. Though, I employ much effort to state that I do believe the structure gives this cake more elegance. Sharp, crisp, clean.
I initially wanted to post this cake last weekend, however catastrophe struck and the cake was a mess. Who knew you could ever have too fluffy of a cake? The layers I baked simply fell apart in my hands. Sad because it did taste good. Sad because I spent so much time whipping up the batter. Sad because the pistachios cost me $14.99 a pound... Back to the farmers market I went so I could post these pictures today. It's been a while since my last post about those strawberries and cream scones. I am determined to keep up with this blog!
I love the color green, perhaps that's why I love pistachios!
I also had to brainstorm what design I wanted to decorate the cake with. I ended up jet doodling sketches of this cake curing calculus. I kid you not, the guy to my right was just doodling memes while the guy to my left checked out into la la dreamland for the period. Within my vicinity I was the most productive. No worries, I will hop right onto calculus studying this weekend!
The funny thing about this cake was that I thought I would have saved money by buying pistachios and shelling them myself. I bought a jar for $5.00 and to my dismay the shelled pistachios fill up a quarter of the volume of the container. Talk about a moment of utter despair when I just stared at the bowl of shells and then the pathetic jar of pistachios. Words of advice, just buy unsalted shelled pistachios. Save yourself the anguish.
This cake has fine crumb almost like a chiffon, but it is also dense. The pistachio flavor came out well, and the green hue is simply delicate. The cherries added a bit of tartness and the rose added a hint of a floral note to tie it all together. I also used the delicious buttercream frosting from Cherry Choc Cupcake. I posted the scaled down version I used below using marscapone, but definitely check out her post. This was definitely a fun cake for me to make despite the bumps in the road. Enjoy!
Pistachio Chiffon
Yields one 20 x 16 inch jelly roll pan
  • 120 grams cake flour
  • 160 grams sugar
  • 50 grams finely ground pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, pistachios, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, water, and melted butter. Pour this liquid into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Put the cream of tartar into the egg whites. Beginning on low speed of a mixer, beat the egg whites. Increase the speed gradually to obtain soft peaks.
  4. Fold the egg whites into the batter in 3 additions. Pour into a parchment paper lined pan and bake until golden. Roughly 15 minutes for a 20x16 inch jelly roll pan.
Marscapone Buttercream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 oz marscapone
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 
  1. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and milk. Pour through a sieve to get any chunks out, and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until it becomes thick. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. On medium speed of a mixer, beat the cooked milk mixture for a few seconds, and then begin adding in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated, add in the marscapone.
  3. Beat the buttercream until fluffy, and then add in the vanilla. Use immediately.
  4. To get the cherry rose filling, add in some finely chopped dried cherries and a drop or two of rose essence depending on how you divvy up the frosting.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strawberries n' Cream Scones

Pin It

I woke up and decided to make strawberry scones. Usually my sister gives me ideas on what to bake. She saw a picture of animal cupcakes on Facebook which prompted me to make these earlier this week. To make the scones even more special, I added milk crumbs and opted for the all out usage of heavy cream instead of half and half or buttermilk. SO much cream. I do admit the dough was silky smooth because of it though.

These are amazing. They're tender, chock full of strawberries, and that crunchy milky bite from the milk crumbs ties all the flavors together. Sure there were a ton of dishes to clean, a few extra steps for the milk crumbs, but rest assure they are worth every tasty morsel. The scone recipe itself is actually quite simple.
Mmmm... milk crumbs
I promised my older sister I would make her mandu (Korean dumplings) this week, so I will hop right on that later today. That means I can use my nifty dumpling press I got from the Asian supermarket! It's so exciting to whip that contraption out. Perhaps I'll make a post about those dumplings, but they're not necessarily baked goods.
You can find the milk crumb recipe here. You may not need use all of the milk crumbs the recipe yields, but cutting the recipe down may result in some funky measurements.
...? Wart? 
If your strawberries are extra juicy, dice them up and spread them out on paper towel to soak up the moisture. They will be difficult to incorporate into the dough if they're too wet. Enjoy!
Strawberries n' Cream Scones
Yields 8 scones
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk crumbs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. Dump the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until all the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add in the cold butter and pulse for about 30 seconds until combined. 
  3. Dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Mix in by hand the strawberries and milk crumbs. Slowly add in the cream until a dough ball forms.
  4. Place dough onto a light floured surface and form into a rectangle so that you can cut out 8 wedges. 
  5. Place onto an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cute Critter Cupcakes

Pin It
Spring is officially here! It's been inexplicably warm lately. Scratch that, sweltering. Both Thursday and Friday emulated the heat of summer. Imagine two straight hours of class at high noon sitting under the beating sun... in jeans! Sweat fest much. Where are the drizzles of rain, the light breezes, the crisp air?
The panda freaks me out a bit... My mom though it was cute though!
On the bright side it is Spring break, which means plenty of time to relax, study a bit, and catch up with old friends. Of course I'm going to bake like a maniac. I'm thinking strawberries and cream scones tomorrow morning. Peaches and cream? We'll just see what flavor I am craving when I wake up.
This is NOT the cupcake recipe below, but the first recipe I tried had an interesting method of crumbling butter into the flour to make a sandy mixture. Unfortunately these cupcakes collapsed:(
I am obsessed with the Draw Something app for the iPod touch/iPhone. It is the new Words with Friends and it has swept the nation it seems. I think what makes it so entertaining is the fact that you can watch the process of the person drawing the word. My sister had to draw the word "pregnant". At first it looked like an alien parasite in someone's belly, and then it looked like a spider hugging a person. That sense of satisfaction when the epiphany strikes you makes the game worth while. It's worth it even if you get stuck staring at the screen, rotating the iPod because you think if you look at it from another angle the amoeba looking doodle will start to resemble something. HAHA. 
These cupcakes took forever. Surprisingly not as long as the cupcakes from my cupcake wars battle earlier this month. I bought gel food coloring and that made the colors very vivid without altering the texture of the buttercream one bit. Using fondant or modeling chocolate probably would have been the easier route to make the facial features, but unfortunately I had neither on hand. I just stood in the kitchen for two hours smoothing out the buttercream. It was well worth it. The little chuckle my dad gives me as he walks by my baking projects is the seal of approval of mission adorable/cute accomplished.
Pretty pink tissue paper flower I made
Try out the recipe below! The little chickadee would be perfect for Easter, the puppy for a birthday party, and well the panda is just random quite honestly. The cupcakes were absolutely delicious. One of the best yellow cake recipes I've made. Use any vanilla buttercream you desire, but I do recommend using one that does NOT crust, unless you are a lightning fast froster/decorator. The ears are simply sliced marshmallow pieces frosted in the buttercream. Enjoy!
Classic Yellow Cake
From The Smitten Kitchen
Yields 12 cupcakes
  • 240 grams cake flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200 grams sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  2. On medium speed of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the buttermilk and vanilla. It will look very curdled at this point.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time. 
  4. Mix in the flour on low speed in three parts. Be careful not to over mix. Spoon into cupcake liners until 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Fever Birthday

Pin It
The layers in this cake are the best looking ones I have ever made. So crisp!
I have yet to bake anything truly decadent. Something so sweet that it makes you feel guilty just looking at it. Chocolate and vanilla seemed like a fitting combination that would satisfy my craving for pastries. This can also serve as my one year anniversary celebration cake for Rummy Tum-Tum, though I am about one month late on that. How could I have possibly skimmed over such an important landmark!? Next year I'll be prepared to throw some confetti and blow up some balloons on the right day. The epiphany struck me as I was making the batter, so I took the initiative to decorate it. I also have terrible spring fever, so I went bold with the colors! Vibrant red was just calling me. I want to see the flowers bloom and warm weather to bathe in! Winter wasn't at all harsh this year, but I am antsy for the change of the seasons.
I initially wanted to have 8 layers in this cake, but there were so many crumbs after leveling the cakes off that I had enough of it. I despise crumbs. They're so pesky to wipe off the counter, and the world simply ends when they mix into the buttercream!
Surprisingly, this cake had me tied up in the kitchen for less time than the cupcakes last week. Check those out here! Basic cake and buttercream, with a little love and attention, can be transformed and molded into a slightly extravagant dessert. You literally dump all the cake components into a bowl, mix, and bake. Simple as that. 
The school club I'm in is very big on helping the community, so we handed out sandwiches to hobos near the school during this week's meeting. It's amazing how appreciative they were to receive organic, all-natural, whole grain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It seems as if everyone at school and the city are health nuts. There is a health food store on every block it seems. We not only gave the homeless people food, we gave them a nutritious and heart healthy supplement to their day. I also still can't believe I only have 3 months of school left. This year went by so fast! High school memories will soon be replaced with the experiences of college. Hurray!
I wish I could have blown out the candles on a cake like this when I was younger. So much nicer than those scary barbie cakes from Wal-mart. They're terrifying. Why kind of baker contrived this idea? Why kind of kid begs their mommy for a piece of cake with a plastic doll shoved into it? It's almost as creepy as those people who order custom cakes sculpted in the shape of their dogs. When you eat it, you have to cut into it, so essentially you're carving your dog up and consuming it with a sheepish grin because the cake tastes good. Or cakes that have family pictures printed on them. That's disturbing too. Imagine a little kid saying, "Look mommy, I'm eating Aunt Suzy's eye!" I shall not judge though. Eat whatever shape, size, or type of cake that floats your boat, but please just eat cake that tastes good! Enjoy!

Decorating Tutorial
  • You'll want to fill and dirty ice your cake. Then go back with another layer of buttercream to create a smooth surface.
  • Dye the remaining buttercream any color that your please, and then transfer to a piping bag with a round tip.

  • Starting from the edge, pipe dollops equal in size. Then take an off set spatula or a spoon, and with a sweeping motion, smooth the mounds of frosting. 
  • Continue piping concentric circles of frosting and repeating the process above until you reach the center. 
Rich Chocolate Cake
From Sweetapolita
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (can be hot)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  1. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients.
  2. Add all remaning ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. It will be liquidy.
  3. Pour batter in pans lined with parchment paper and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Easy Vanilla Buttercream

From Magnolia Bakery
  • 4.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk until smooth. Over medium heat, and whacking constantly, cook until the mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble. Cover surface with wax paper and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth and creamy on medium high speed. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add in the vanilla and beat well.
  3. Add in the milk mixture and continue to beat on medium high speed until smooth and whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Use immediately. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover