Monday, October 31, 2016

The Baking Bibile: Monkey Dunkey Bread

Mark said he never wants to forget this dessert, and that it may be his most favorite Baking Bible project ever. Despite being decadent you can find yourself wanting to eat handfuls of this bread at once.

Monkey bread is basically a bunch of balls of sweet bread dunked or tossed in a sweet buttery sauce, piled into a tube or bundt pan, baked until golden brown and then drizzled with icing or sauce or something. And then there's This Monkey Dunkey recipe: brioche is the bread, bittersweet chocolate is stuffed into each ball, the dunking sauce is a brown sugar-butter caramel, and the finished product is drizzled with more amber caramel. Crazy! Decadent! Amazing!

I made this for the test bake and the biggest problem I had back then was that all the dunking sauce leaked out the bottom of the angel food pan while baking. Sadness! So this time, I decided to use a bundt pan. I did not want to risk the leaking a second time, even though I now have a different angel food pan.

It can't leak if the pan is one piece!
 I took a few shortcuts with the making of the Monkey bread. It kept me sane.

The brioche (made the day before) chilled for 2+ hours so after degassing the dough I skipped the 1 hour chill and went straight to the business letter turns and overnight refrigeration.

When it came to make the balls, I skipped all the rolling out because I hate rolling anything out. I split the dough in two as per the recipe, and then simply used my bench scraper to cut portions of the dough that weighed 17 grams. Each little blob got lightly rolled together then I pressed it out into a circle with my fingers.

Using the silpat kept the need for flouring the work top to a minimum
 I couldn't find the Valrhona perls so I decided to use the 67% cacao chocolate chunks from Whole Foods. I only used 2 chunks per ball when 1 tsp of chocolate (as called for) was about 4 chunks. I was worried it would be too much chocolate--but it isn't and next time I'll go ahead and do 4.

Then I made the little balls as directed. The dunking sauce seemed broken--I think maybe I let it get too hot in the microwave. The sauce wouldn't stick to the balls at all so I just sort of spooned a bit into the tin with each little ball. Oh, and I only had dark muscovado so I used that instead of the prescribed light muscovado.

all assembled: before the final rise and bake
I overcooked the caramel in the drizzle glaze just a bit; it was a tad bitter so I added about 1/4 tsp sea salt and voila! Salty caramel drizzle glaze and not bitter anymore.  

Everything else went well, and when Eliot and I ate our caramelly, sweet monkey bread, he said, "we are eating cake." Brioche is like that: bread/cake, cake/bread. I realised that the Monkey Dunkey bread made all the Halloween candy obsolete. Why would I eat that junk when I could eat more of this?

I'm sure I will be making this for years to come.
before the caramel drizzle. the dark muscovado in the dunking sauce doesn't look that great.
caramel makes it all better

happy Eliot

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Baking Bible: The Araxi Lemon Cream Tart

When I think of a lemon tart I think of lemon curd in a cookie crust. Which means, I will probably think of other things to do than make it myself because I get impatient making lemon curd. I will probably just make this delicious lemon tart instead, since it is wonderfully creamy and lemony without making a lemon curd!

In fact, this is very simple tart to make. The cookie crust can be blended in the food processor in a snap. I decided to screw the rolling out of the dough and simply pressed it out in the pan. I didn't even refrigerate it first! This step took a bit of time but I much preferred it to chilling and rolling. Go figure.

After pressing the dough into the pan, I did chill it for a couple of hours before blind baking. And, after blind baking and sealing the crust with an egg white, I slid the whole 9 in tart pan into a ziploc bag and chilled it overnight.

The lemon filling is quite simple to make. Lemon juice, sugar, and eggs are whisked together in a bowl. Heavy cream is whipped until it mounds softly and then folded into the lemony stuff. Then some lemon zest is added. Now the fililng chills for 30 min, which will cause it to separate a bit, then it is poured into the tart lan and baked.

My tart shell shrunk a little so there was more filling than could fit reasonably into the pan. I didn't want to waste any filling so I poured the rest into a small custard cup and baked it alongside the tart in a water bath. We ate that one right away.

The tart filling did exactly what Rose said it would do: there's a thin spongy layer on top of a creamy lemon layer. This is a delightful dessert.         

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Baking Bible: Giant Jam Cookie

This giant cookie really does impress, and would be a fun way to finish a meal with a bunch of people. It is a bit fiddly with lots of refrigeration or freezer breaks, so you need to plan accordingly.

The cookie dough is a simple sugar cookie, whizzed up in the food processor. After a brief kneading, the dough is split in half and both parts get chilled for up to three days. I got back to the dough after a day or two.

Then here come the shenanigans. Half of the dough is rolled out big enough for a 12 inch circle to get cut; this gets inverted onto a cookie sheet and chilled for a bit. The other half of the dough gets rolled out the same, inverted and reinverted onto a cookie sheet and chilled for a bit. Then that second cookie gets scored lightly into 12 pie slices and little cutouts are made in every other slice. I scored with a heavy hand, as I cut all the way through a couple of times. The dough is supposed to be frozen until rigid to help get the cutouts out without mangling anything, but apparently 12 inches is too wide for my freezer. So I simply chilled the cookie in the refrigerator for a couple hours hoping that would be enough. Then I mangled out all the little cutouts--I chose gingerbread men as the only little cookie cutters I have are a little holiday set. The cutouts and the cookie went back into the refrigerator for several hours--it was supposed to go in the freezer until rigid.

I apparently had a difficult time making 12 even slices
 Then it was time to concentrate the raspberry jam for the filling. Except I didn't buy enough raspberry jam so had to pad it out with strawberry jam. It took awhile to cool down to room temperature, but it was a pretty easy step.

Once the jam cools down, you spread it on the other giant cookie. Then the top cookie, which should be frozen, should slide onto the top of the raspberry jam. Since my cookie wasn't frozen it kind of slid, and split where I had scored all the way through, and I sort of pieced it back together well enough. The outsides are crimped together with a fork, then the cookie, now a giant jam sandwich, goes back in the refrigerator for a chill. I chose to chill it overnight.

From here on out, the cookie just needs to be baked which was easy as pie. Or a cookie that looks like a pie.

I opted for a light powdered sugar dusting after the cookie was baked and cooled, then the cookie is cut all the way through and ready to serve. It is a delicious cookie, especially if you like jam. Mark kind of wanted blackberry jam or blueberry something but we are still enjoying it all the same.

Monday, October 03, 2016

The Baking Bible: Marble White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

What I baked wasn't exactly the Marble White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake, even though what I baked was a marble white and dark chocolate cheesecake. Despite not being the proper recipe, exactly, my parents and Mark loved the cheesecake. In fact, Mark has declared it the Perfect Cheesecake.

So, typically Rose cheesecakes are one pound of cream cheese and more than a pound and a half of sour cream. I failed to notice this cheesecake recipe called for two pounds of cream cheese and exactly zero pounds of sour cream. So I ended up buying two boxes of cream cheese instead of four, and a whole bunch of sour cream I technically did not need. So I decided to Franken-bake a marble chocolate cheesecake. I made the cheesecake base as written from the Cake Bible, which calls for three large eggs instead of 7-8 egg yolks, and added in the optional tablespoon of cornstarch. Once the (sour cream cheesecake) base was mixed, I went back to the proper recipe and followed the directions for splitting the batter, adding the chocolates, layering the batters into the pan and the marbling.

Also, I realised having to bake a chocolate biscuit to line the cake pan was holding me up. I just didn't want to do it. I saw the chocolate wafers on the counter that were waiting patiently for me to buy bourbon for last week's bourbon pecan balls, and decided to just make a cookie crust for the cheesecake. I can buy more wafers for the balls! The cookie crust did get soggy in the pan, and it is a bit messy. but oh well. Nobody was complaining!

So someday I'll bake the real recipe from beginning to end, and I'll let you know how it differs from my franken-bake. However we are calling this cake a success! We used it as Mark's early birthday cake while my parents are in town for a visit, so happy birthday my love! Enjoy your Perfect Cheesecake!