Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Baking Bible: Pecan Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwiches

Just in time for the heat wave, this week we are making ice cream sandwiches. Actually, the recipe is for the cookie and how to assemble the sandwiches; there's no ice cream recipes in this book. The cookie, as you may have guessed from the blog title, are Praline Pecan Meringues, and they are made with muscovado sugar and lightly toasted pecans.

The meringues are really easy to make. Basically egg whites and the muscovado sugar are whipped to stiff peaks then the pecans are folded in. There are chopped and whole pecans in the mix; I think I would have preferred all the nuts to be chopped. Also, I would have preferred a heavier toast on the nuts. I doubled the toasting time but it still wasn't toasty enough for my tastes.

The fidgety part comes when getting the meringues onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets. It took a bit of time to get each blob to specified weight, then I had to go back and spread each out into a disk-like shape. Everything was sticky and I didn't bother to measure the size of the blobs. (Rose gives a measurement so that all the cookies come out pretty much the same--easier for sandwiching.)

The cookies bake for about ten minutes then are left to cool on their pan. They were really fragile as I was putting them away in an airtight container so I wondered how they would work for sandwiching. One cookie just fell the fudge apart.

Then comes the sandwiching part. We chose coffee ice cream which paired nicely with the cookies. Maybe the ice cream wasn't soft enough even though it was melting around the edges, but most of the cookies crumbled as I pushed the sandwiches together. The cookies held together enough for me to freeze them and wrap them individually, but I only did the first batch. The second batch we are snacking on as just a crumbly, yummy cookie. Mark doesn't like these cookies as much as he did the Dattelkonfekts but I like them as much but for different reasons. The muscovado sugar brings an almost boozy note to the meringues which I enjoy. Like I said before, I just wish the nuts were more toasty.

crumbly sandwiches

I skipped the optional ganache drizzle glaze because I am lazy, and if something's optional, I will most likely take the option to not do it. :)

As an ice cream sandwich, they are hard to eat. The cookies practically dissolve as the ice cream softens which is a bummer. I would prefer to have them on the side of the bowl of ice cream instead of being the bowl itself.

All said, I am looking forward to trying the other ice cream sandwich in the book and I would make these Praline Pecan Meringues again, but just for cookies.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Baking Bible: Double Damage Oblivion

This is a super chocolate bomb. I "glued" the layers together with the optional raspberry jam instead of the ganache called for, and it is a chocolate bomb. I can't imagine how bombier this cake would be with three chocolate components! The Double Damage Oblivion is for all the chocolate lovers out there.

The cake is composed of the Chocolate Oblivion, a flourless chocolate cake, sandwiched between layers of the Deep Chocolate Passion Cake. This cake was one of the first RLB cakes I made. Super simple, super rich. The best chocolate gets melted with butter, eggs get beaten, everything gets folded together and baked to creamy, wonderful rich perfection. Interestingly and annoyingly, my cake took an extra 30 minutes to come up to temperature. WHY, stupid oven, WHY?

The Deep Chocolate Passion cake is from Rose's Heavenly Cakes and I've made this one a lot of times, too. It is light and spongy yet not a sponge cake. It is most like a box cake of all the homemade cakes I have made, so if you have one of those people in your life who only likes Betty Crocker and you're trying to get them off the crap cakes, this is the cake to start with. In an interesting twist, this cake only needed a couple of extra minutes to come to temperature.

Then the Deep Chocolate Passion cake gets cut in half. Like I said I opted for the raspberry jam to glue the cakes together and it took about 5 ounces total, heated and sieved to get rid of the seeds.

Then it was time to eat.

It is really amazingly delicious, and really rich and chocolaty. Now I know exactly what to make for those "death by chocolate" people.

For further reading, if you're interested:

Deep Chocolate Passion Cakes
Chocolate Oblivion

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Baking Bible: Red Velvet Bundt

People seem to either love or hate the Red Velvet cake. I blame it on the unnatural bright red color that can only come from a bunch of terrible chemicals that may or may not make you crazy. Some people don't like the fact that it is a light chocolate cake--neither a full bodied chocolate experience nor a vanilla cake but somewhere in between. In fact, now that I write this up, it is a wonder there are fans of the Red Velvet cake at all!

I hate the chemicals, but I don't mind the light chocolate flavor, if in fact there is flavor. The first time I made Rose's red velvet cake, was for the Heavenly Cakes bakethrough, and I found the cake to be lacking in chocolate flavor. Great texture, but that was all. So this time, I heeded the note that suggests increasing the cocoa powder for a more chocolaty flavor. It was a good note, as the cake was lightly chocolaty like one would expect.

The original recipe calls for the rose shaped bundt pan from NordicWare, but I recently acquired the Heritage bundt pan and was eager to use that. Plus, I do not need any more bundt pans.

The cake is super simple to mix. Only egg whites are used, which is nice because my egg white stash is growing yet again. There's a mixture of oil and butter for the fat, which keeps it moist a little longer yet there's still a little butteriness. Good things.

The recipe calls for glazing the cake in a raspberry sauce and serving with whipped cream. I just couldn't gather the energy to make a raspberry sauce so I skipped the glaze and served it White Ganache, aka White Chocolate Whipped Cream. This way those who insist on the traditional pairing of Red Velvet Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting wouldn't have to stretch their palates too much. The recipe is in The Cake Bible, and basically you melt about 3 oz of good white chocolate with some of the cream, then set aside to cool. The rest of the cream is whipped until beater marks show, then the chocolate-cream mixture is poured in and the whole thing beat to stiff peaks. I stopped before stiff peaks because we were impatiently waiting for cake.

The White Ganache almost stole the show, and we began dreaming of all the other uses Rose suggests for the stuff. Eating with fresh berries, turning into white chocolate mousse, filling a chocolate cake, just eating out of hand or on top of ice cream....     

Red is one of the hardest colors to photograph properly (especially with my amateur setup) so the colors in my pictures are all over the place. Despite the overall darkness, this photo gives a proper show of the fun house red color.

A delicious cake, but I will stick to Nigel Slater's chocolate-beet cake when I have a hankering for Red Velvet.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Baking Bible: Brioche

This is really a most spectacular loaf of bread. All told, it is also fairly simple to do. It just takes awhile, but when there is a toddler loose in the kitchen, lots of steps that can be broken up over hours and days is perfect.

I first made brioche during the Heavenly Cakes bakethrough, and I'll link there if you are interested in the play-by-play of how brioche is made.

Mark felt it was the best version of brioche he's had. I think it is the best loaf I've made so far. I did fudge the baking a little bit. It's been really hot here so I didn't turn on the oven until 11pm. After 20 minutes the child woke up crying so I checked the loaf and the internal temperature was about 160&degF. The bread is supposed to be at 190&degF when fully baked. So I turned off the oven and left the brioche inside to keep on baking. Twenty minutes after that, the child back in bed, I ran downstairs and checked the bread. The internal temperature was now 187&degF so I called it good and pulled the bread, turned it out onto a cooling rack, and went to bed.

This was the first time I tried to shape the dough in the traditional way. I just kind of made it up and didn't get too upset that the knot slid. I hear that happens.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Baking Bible: French Orange Cream Tart

Looking at the recipe, it seems really daunting to bake this custard tart. There's pages and pages of instructions, but really all the steps are pretty easy. And the results are really very delicious.

The cookie tart crust is pretty easy to make. There's an option to make it by hand or in the food processor. With the food processor, turbinado sugar is ground until fine and then the dough is made. By hand, the turbinado crystals are too big so you're supposed to use superfine white sugar. "Screw that," I declared and decided to use Golden Baker's sugar. The caramelly notes the turbinado brings are not to be missed. Then I remembered I have a magic bullet, so screw the golden baker's sugar and I used the bullet to grind the turbinado sugar to what turned out to be a fine powder. Take that, food processor!

The rest of the crust came together in minutes. Rose mentions there should be enough dough left over from rolling and fitting into the tart pan to make 6 hamantaschen, but "screw that" I declared yet again and made one giant sugar cookie. Mark and I split the cookie and ate it with ice cream.

The big deal about the custard is the myriad number of egg yolks it requires. Other than that, it is really simple and quick to assemble. Orange and lemon zest are ground fine with white sugar, technically in the food processor. And you guessed it, I said "screw that" and used the magic bullet. It worked in less than a minute. I love that thing. Then the yolks are beat with the sugary zest mixture in the mixer, the concentrated juices and cream are mixed in and then you're done. The liquidy custard mix gets poured into the prebaked tart shell and baked until the custard is set.

Mark and I sampled the tart this afternoon. Ideally, powdered sugar is bruleed atop the tart with a torch before serving, but I couldn't find either of my torches. So I just heavily dusted the top and called it ready to eat. Mark loved it. I felt that maybe the custard was just a wee bit underdone, and a wee bit too eggy for my taste. The former is probably the reason for the latter, but I also recall the tart had warmed up to room temperature by then. Would it be better chilled? We are going to try it chilled in a bit and see.

 UPDATE: SO much better when eaten chilled! The texture becomes perfectly creamy and there's no eggy flavor ruining everything. Eat your tart right from the refrigerator!