Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

This months' Daring Bakers challenge was to make a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. If you don't know what that is, don't worry...neither did I. I decided to play with this recipe and make some mini-cakes instead of one large one. I also decided to flavor it a bit with bananas, figuring it'd pair well with the hazelnut and chocolate in the original recipe.

Filbert Genoise:
1 1/2 c. hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2/3 c. cake flour
2 T. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 c. sugar (1/4 c. and 3/4 c. divided)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. lemon zest
5 large egg whites
1/4 c. warm, clarified butter

To toast and skin the hazelnuts, toss them onto a baking sheet and put into a 350ºF oven for about 12 minutes. Don't wait until you smell them cooking - by that point, they'll be burnt. Pull them out and set them in a tea towel, then wrap them up and let them steam for about 10 more minutes. Rub the towel together and most of the skins should come off. Pick the remaining skins off - if some won't come off, it's fine to leave a few.

Put the hazelnuts into a food processor and add cake flour and cornstarch. Process for 30 seconds, then pulse until a fine powder is obtained. Don't over-process, or you'll pull too much oil out of the nuts and make it a paste instead of a powder. Whisk the egg yolks until light in color, then add 3/4 c. sugar over the course of 3 minutes. This should get a ribbony texture. Add the lemon zest and vanilla, then mix to combine. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 c. sugar, and whisk the eggs for 30 seconds. Add the egg yolks into the whites and fold until just combined. Add the hazelnut mixture into the egg mix, then add the clarified butter and fold until just combined. Pour into a mini-muffin pan, filling each mold about 2/3 of the way to the top. Bake for 10 minutes at 350ºF, or until the cakes are springy and coming away from the edges of the pan. Yields 48 mini cakes.

Simple syrup:
1 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. banana liqueur

Dissolve the sugar in water and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the liqueur, then allow to cool completely.

Swiss Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
3 sticks, butter
2 T. banana liqueur
1 T. vanilla extract

Whisk the egg whites together until they are nearly soft peaks. Move the egg whites into a double-broiler, and whisk in sugar 1 T. at a time, over the course of a minute. Continue to whisk the mixture until warm (about 120ºF) and becomes the consistency of thick marshmallows. With a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, beat these egg whites medium-high for 5-7 minutes or until a cool and thick meringue forms. Be careful not to over-beat the mix. Move this mixture to another bowl, and using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it becomes smooth and creamy. Using medium-low speed, add the meringue to the butter over the course of 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla, then mix until combined, thick, and creamy. Refrigerate this for at least 10-15 minutes before using so everything can set.

Praline paste:
1 c. hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2/3 c. sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with butter and parchment paper. Place the sugar into a heavy 10-inch skillet and heat medium-low for 10-20 minutes or until it begins to melt around the edges. Don't stir the mix, but swirl it to mix in parts that aren't melting. When the sugar is fully melted and caramel in color, add the nuts and stir with a wooden spoon. Separate any clusters that form, and continue heating until it begins to bubble. Make sure all the hazelnuts have been coated. Pour onto the parchment paper and spread evenly to cool. Once at room temperature, carefully break the praline into pieces and place it into a food processor. Pulse into a powder, then continue processing until a thick paste is formed.

Praline Buttercream:
Full recipe of Swiss Buttercream
1/3 c. Praline Paste
2 T. banana liqueur

Blend 1/2 c. of the buttercream into the praline paste, then add this into the remaining buttercream. Whip on medium-low speed until combined. Pour in the liqueur and mix in. Refrigerate this mixture before using.

Nutella Whipped Cream:
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 T. Nutella

Whisk the heavy cream until it forms whipped cream, then add the Nutella and continue to whisk until combined thoroughly.

Banana Jam:
2 large bananas, overripe, frozen, and then thawed
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. water

Boil the water and sugar together, then add the bananas and boil, mashing with a fork. Continue to cook until reduced and thick.

Ganache Glaze:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 c. cream
1 T. corn syrup
1 T. banana liqueur
3/4 t. vanilla extract

Chop the chocolate roughly and place into a bowl. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a pan over low heat until it forms a gentle boil. Pour the cream mixture over top of the chocolate, and let stand 1 minute before stirring with a fork. Blend in the vanilla and banana liqueur. If it appears oily, add a little hot water and it will begin to thicken.

Cut each of the mini-cakes in half, and brush with the simple syrup until all the syrup is used. On one half, spoon on some of the buttercream mixture, and add the nutella whipped cream on the other half. Place the halves together to form a cake and top with a bit of the banana jam. Top with the ganache glaze, and serve.

The cakes are extremely messy to eat, mainly because my buttercream didn't come together quite right. I don't blame the recipe, but rather my attempt at multi-tasking a bit too much. The mini-cakes are perfect for a large bite-sized treat, so it didn't matter too much that buttercream spreads all over the place. The banana, hazelnut, and chocolate flavors all play well together, making this dessert very tasty.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nectarine Galette

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection was to make a summer fruit galette. After a quick trip to the store, I grabbed some ripe nectarines and some apricot preserves and got to making a last-minute galette.

Using Dorie's trusty pie crust, I lined a pie dish with the dough. I cut an X into the bottom of each nectarine, then with the help of my friend Annie, we blanched the nectarines by putting them in boiling water for 15 seconds, then soaking them in ice water before carefully peeling the skin off. It took a few tries and smashed nectarines to get it down right, but a perfectly blanched nectarine did come out in the end.

There was a lot of excess dough hanging over the edges of the pie pan, so after pouring in some apricot preserves and placing the nectarines into the pie, the flaps were folded over. This was baked for 25 minutes before the custard mix was added. It overflowed a bit, but we decided to add all of it in for the extra sugar goodness.

The end result was sweet and packed with lots of nectarine and apricot flavor. The custard gave a nice consistency to the dessert, though it did come out pretty juicy and looked more like a cobbler once served.

This would have been great with some vanilla ice cream, but I never have it on hand at the right times. Having gotten the basic recipe down, there are sure to be more galettes to come in the near future using different fruits through the seasons.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 366-367

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mushroom Pastry Appetizer

This past weekend was our first family reunion, held at Mammoth here in California. That's about 6 hours away from where I live, and since I was cooking appetizers and a dinner, I planned out ahead of time so I could bring as few things as possible. Bringing something that can multi-task in that situation is great, so I made myself a big batch of puff pastry (see Butter Croissants - I doubled the recipe) and used it for a few different things.

First on the list was the appetizer. Using about 3/4 of the dough I brought, I made 3 dozen pastry...things. I still don't know what to call that shape. I rolled them out and shaped them the night I got there, and when I went to bake them the next morning they felt a bit dry. I was worried they might not rise, but they still puffed nicely in the oven.

1 1/2 Puff Pastry recipe
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
8 oz. mushrooms - whatever type you feel like
1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
Olive oil
Gruyere cheese, aged and shredded

Roll out the pastry dough and cut 36 squares. Folding over to make a triangle, make two cuts along the edges almost to the end of the dough, but not so close that it cuts through the edge or a previously made cut. This is similar to making snowflakes in elementary school - when you unfold it, you should have two points (top and bottom) that are still connected. Take the left and right sides, braid them so you get the shape shown above. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Once you have all the shapes made, lay them onto parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes in the lower third of the oven.

Throw the mushrooms into a dry pan and warm over medium heat. Once all the water has cooked off, add the onions and a little olive oil. Once everything is nicely browned, add the lemon zest and juice, then toss for a few seconds before setting aside.

Spoon this mix into the pocket of each of the risen pastries. This doesn't have to be pretty - you can have mushroom filling falling off the sides. Top with a pinch of Gruyere, and serve.

This can be easily adapted to use whatever filling you feel like. More items made in Mammoth will be posted later in the week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mixed Berry Cobbler

Has it really been a week since my last post? The last 7 days really flew by fast, and I haven't had all that much time to cook. The upcoming week is also going to be slow - I'm going to a family reunion for the first time in a couple days, and I'll be cooking a few things up there, but I won't really be able to write about them until I get back. I feel like this poor blog isn't getting enough attention from me. Anyways...this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was a cherry rhubarb cobbler.

But wait a second...the recipe was cherry rhubarb, and your title is mixed berry? Yep, I had to pull an audible. I was really looking forward to the cherry and rhubarb combination, but going to a few local grocery stores I couldn't find rhubarb. I remember it being around a few weeks ago, so I must have just missed the season. I ended up seeing some more today, but it didn't really look too appetizing. Instead, I bought some raspberries and blackberries (12 ounces, each) and followed the rest of Dorie's recipe. I love how the lime and raspberry flavors mix, so I also got some limes and zested them, using the zest in place of the ground ginger the recipe calls for.

I traveled up to Los Angeles this weekend to see some friends, and while I was there I spent the night at my aunt's house. I decided to bring the cobbler as a thank-you-for-the-hospitality gift. My mom also randomly stayed the same weekend, so she got to taste this as well. Everyone that had some for breakfast said they enjoyed it, though it was a bit too tart for my own taste.

I thought about adding more cornstarch to the recipe, since the berries were definitely going to be runnier than rhubarb and cherry, but decided against it. If I were to repeat the recipe, I definitely would have added it. Soupy filling isn't necessarily bad, but it's not great either. We just dug in with spoons to compensate.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan, p. 415

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chocolate Pudding

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chocolate pudding. I've never made pudding from scratch, so it was a fun experience, not to mention very simple. In the end, my pudding didn't taste much more amazing than the standard store-bought stuff, though it did have a better after-taste. I don't think that's a fault of the recipe, but rather the fact that I made it using relatively cheap chocolate. I absolutely intend to make this again, using some high-quality chocolate, just to see how much better it makes the pudding.

I didn't have too much time to take pictures of the pudding. I was rushed while making it, then when it was finally being served at a potluck, it was sort of forgotten until the end. I kept a bit of it and quickly threw it into a cup to take a couple pictures, but they're not pretty.

I took Dorie's suggestion and threw some unwhipped heavy cream on top, and I must say that made the pudding taste a bit better.

I might update this if I get around to making more of this pudding within a couple days, but as I said previously I'll splurge and get some high-quality chocolate. I really think it'll make a big difference.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, p. 383

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Buttermilk Biscuits

Whenever I have some extra buttermilk laying around, I love making these biscuits. This recipe has been tried several times, and delicious fluffy biscuits are always the end result.

2 c. all-purpose flour
4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
large pinch, salt
1 T. butter
3 T. shortening
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix dry ingredients together, then cut in fats with a pastry cutter, two butter knives, or just use your fingers like I do. There is no need to cut the fats until they are tiny, just make sure that there are no pieces larger than the size of a raisin left behind. Add the buttermilk and fold with a spoon until just combined - do not over-mix! Turn out onto a floured surface.

Roll into a 1"-thick round, then cut with a 3" round cookie cutter. Alternatively, you can scoop the dough into a baking sheet directly from mixing bowl (this is how I normally bake them, as it gives a nice texture on the tops of the biscuits). Cut 12 biscuits out of the dough - hopefully there won't be much left over, or your biscuits are going to come out short.

Position the biscuits on a baking sheet so they are just touching each other at the edge. This ensures that they rise straight up. Dent the top of the biscuit with your thumb (something I forgot to do until close to the end). If you are spooning the dough straight to the baking sheet, the biscuits do not need to be touching each other or dented. Bake for 20 minutes, then move directly to a cooling rack. Allow to cool a few minutes before eating. Yields 1 dozen biscuits.

If you want biscuits with more butter flavor, you can substitute add more butter and take out the shortening, though it will make the biscuits shorter and a little crispier. This basic buttermilk biscuit recipe is like an empty canvas when it comes to exploring other flavors. Using this recipe, I've adapted to make cheesy biscuits, rosemary biscuits, oregano biscuits - and it's easy to make all of them. Biscuits and gravy were always a favorite of mine when I was young, so I'm sure I'll get around to making a batch of that as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blueberry Ice Cream

Hmmm...leftover frozen blueberries from that blueberry pie...what to do. Hey, look at that! I have a bunch of cream left over in the fridge. Wait a second...blueberries, cream - sounds like blueberry ice cream time!

Not only is the ice cream an awesome color, but it also tastes delicious. It's very smooth, creamy, and has a good amount of blueberry flavor. Great when served by itself, but it'd probably go well with some pound cake or lemon cookies.

Recipe (adapted from Gourmet, August 1997):
12 oz. blueberries, frozen
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 c. fat free milk (stolen from a roommate, but it didn't seem to affect texture)
1 1/2 c. cream

Thaw blueberries, then place into a small pot, adding all liquid that may have been frozen with them. Add sugar and salt, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool slightly before adding into a food processor. While pulsing, add in the milk, followed by cream. Continue to pulse until the batter is fully blended. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before moving to the ice cream maker. Follow ice cream maker directions, and when the batter has turned to ice cream, store in freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Yields a little over 1 quart.

That's it - pretty simple stuff to make, and oh so good. I'm so glad I ended up buying that ice cream maker attachment. You could strain off the blueberry pieces left after the processing, but I like the rustic look it gives the ice cream and decided to leave them in. I'm sure more ice cream will be made sometime soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie

Beach party for the 4th of July...what to bring, what to bring. Oh, how about some blueberry pie? Convenient, because that's what was picked for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. It hit the spot perfectly after a lunch of burgers and hot dogs.

I figured that brand new camera + beach ≠ happy camera, so I left it behind (I don't have a case for it yet, and there was an incident with someone else dropping their camera in the sand, making me glad that I left mine at home). It wasn't until I was heading out the door as dawn was breaking that I realized I hadn't gotten any pictures of it - and wouldn't get a nice picture of the interior. I quickly pulled the foil off and snapped just a couple shots before I headed out, thus the poor quality of photos in this post.

Yep, that's a peach and some leftover sourdough at the bottom. Yum, breakfast.

The recipe came out well, though it's not one of my favorites out of Dorie's book. Everybody enjoyed it, and it was unanimously agreed upon that the crust was delicious. I plan on making more of this crust whenever I have a pie to bake now - it might have been my favorite part of the pie.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan, pp. 361-363

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Butter Croissants

Having the time to spare on this long weekend, I decided to make some more puff pastry dough and try my hand at making some homemade croissants. I only made 6 or so before I got bored with that shape and tried my hand at a couple others. I don't actually know the names for the other shapes, and google didn't help me, so if anyone can let me know what it is that I've made - please let me know!

I made sure to specify that these croissants came out tasting very buttery. Were I to make them again, I'd add some sugar or some other flavor to them. They're just a bit too strong on the butter side, so you have to eat them along with something sweet or savory.

Recipe for the puff pastry:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 T. salt
1/2 c. cold water
2 sticks butter, shredded and chilled

In a food processor, combine the flour and salt, then pulse to combine. Add the water all at once and pulse until the dough forms into a ball. Turn out and knead just to bring together any excess flour, the dough should not be over-worked. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then roll flat. Add the shredded butter to two-thirds of the dough and fold like an envelope (see Danish Braid for more specifics on turns). Chill 30 minutes between every two turns, or more frequently if your dough begins to warm, butter squirts, or you take a long time to roll the dough. I started with a double-turn, then added four more single turns for my puff pastry. Roll flat, then chill for an hour (I covered mine in plastic wrap and let it chill overnight).

To form the croissant shape, cut a right triangle about the length and width of your hand. Take the narrow end and face it to you. Begin rolling the far end, and as it comes closer begin to stretch the dough so it thins. This can take a bit of practice, and I'm sure there are instructional videos available for free online - those could explain it much better than words.

With the leftover puff pastry dough, I just made some other random shapes as I mentioned before. I'm positive that these have been made before and have names, so if anyone could tell me what they're called, again please let me know.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. When ready, throw it into the bottom third of the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. No matter how delicious they look right out of the oven, it is best to let these cool until nearly room temperature before devouring. Yields approximately 1 dozen croissants.

I enjoyed snacking on this delicious flaky buttery goodness. The recipe will definitely be repeated, though I'll switch up some shapes and find some fruits and/or preserves for fillings. Who couldn't love puff pastry?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Corn Ravioli

It's been a while since I was able to sit down and come up with a recipe on my own, so I was happy when I came across some frozen corn and thought, randomly, of corn ravioli. I've never heard of it, I've never seen it...and while I'm sure someone's done it in the past, I'd still like to consider it pretty innovative. It came out great, and I'll probably try it again both this way and with different fillings and sauces.

This was my first time making homemade ravioli, and I'm very happy with the outcome. I can foresee myself doing it again, when I have a lot of time to spare and make all the individual ravioli.


Pasta -
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3 T. water
1 t. olive oil
1/2 t. salt

I ended up using a stand mixer for this one - it was just wasn't coming together when I tried to do it by hand. Just add all of the ingredients together, and using a hook attachment, knead the dough until it forms a non-sticky ball. Mine ended up being pretty dry, so I took a spray bottle filled with water and added water spritz-wise while the hook was kneading until the dough came together. Allow the dough to rest 10 minutes, then cut in half and roll as thin as possible on a cutting board. I say to cut in half only because my cutting board could take half the dough at a time. With half the dough, I got about a 18"x12" rectangle. Don't worry about going thin on the dough, it's pretty hearty and shouldn't tear. Using a 2.25" diameter circular cookie cutter, cut the dough and twist at the end to make sure you've cut all the way through. You should get a LOT of circular pieces. With the leftover dough, you can re-roll and repeat.

Filling -
1/4 of a medium white onion
1 c. corn
2 cloves, garlic
1/2 c. mozarella

Throw all the ingredients together in a food processor and grind until it's a nice mix. Simple as that!

Now take each of your pasta circles and spoon on 1/2 t. of filling into each. It sounds like a small amount, but the raviolis end up being smaller than you expect, and it's just the right amount of filling. I tried more at first, but to dire ends. Take this circle and fold it over.

At this point, take a fork and use the tines to crimp the edge. On the first crimp, I make 4 indentations, but for the following crimps, I make only 3 - use the fourth tine to line up with the last mark that you made, that way the edge is even. Once done with the batch, boil in water until all the ravioli are floating.

Sauce -
3/4 c. cream
1 1/2 c. white sharp cheddar
generous pinch of pepper
pinch of salt
1 t. mustard powder

Heat the cream over medium heat. Once it begins to froth lightly, add shredded cheddar 1/8 c. at a time. Whisk in slowly and make sure the cheese is fully incorporated before adding another 1/8 c. Once all the cheese is added, throw in your pepper, salt, and mustard. Mix together and pour over the pasta.

This is a very cheddar-strong sauce, so feel free to use whatever other type of sauce you wish! I would however suggest remaining with a white sauce, maybe wine-based, because of the light flavor of the corn.

Apple Cheddar Scones

I've always been intrigued by ingredients that seemingly wouldn't work together, but really do. Blue cheese with a sweet jam on some nice sourdough, peanut butter and bologna sandwich (don't ask!), that sort of thing. When I saw this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe ended in scones made of cheddar and apples, I was excited. I had heard of this flavor combination before, but never tried it out for myself.

I have yet to find a recipe in this book that I haven't enjoyed, and this is no different. The tart/sweet dried granny smith apples pairs wonderfully with the white cheddar. Who can say no to a nicely browned scone for breakfast? Or two...or three, for that matter.

I've made biscuits on several occasions, but never scones...but they really were basically the same thing in my experience. Different ingredients, sure, but same mixing method and consistency of the final batter.

On a side note, this was my first time buying cheese from grass-fed animals. I don't know if it was the diet, or the fact it was from New Zealand, or it could well have just been the brand...but damn, I think it was the best cheddar cheese I've ever had.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, p. 32