Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcakes

Only one day late this week. Getting better, right? Right.
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Cathy of The Tortefeasor. She chose Tender Shortcakes. I liked this pick, because we had a lot of options for fillings (fill with berries and whipped cream, eat like biscuits, etc....).
The shortcakes were really quick to make. I heard people say that theirs came out huge, so I made 4 cakes out of 1/3 of the recipe. I could have made five, because mine were still really big. The dough was very crumbly, so I sort of patted it together on the baking sheet, but once they came out of the oven they held together well.
It was easier than I thought to cut them in half. For the filling, I defrosted some frozen mixed berries (we didn't have any fresh and I didn't want to go out and get them :D ). I sprinkled on some sugar and let them sit for a while. I then put the berries on the bottom half of the shortcakes (with plenty of their juice) and topped them with sweetened whipped cream and the top of the shortcakes.
These were quick and easy to make, and I will make them again. They were so delicious! These would be great for a BBQ/ other summer party. If you want the recipe, you can find it here or in THE BOOK. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm Back!

And so sorry. I have been super busy these past few weeks. I've been baking, but just haven't had time to post. I'll be back on time next week! Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Apple Apple Bread Pudding, a TWD pick from several weeks ago. This was quite easy and fun to make, and so delicious! Thanks to Elizabeth at Cake or Death for this great pick! You can find the recipe here.

The next TWD pick was Banana Coconut Ice Cream Pie. I didn't have time to make this one, but I have a rewind for you: Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread! These were so yummy and flaky (in a good way). They have a unique but delicious taste. You can find the recipe here.

Next up: THIS week's TWD. It was white chocolate brownies, which I have been looking forward to for a long time. I think it was due to my egg whites still being cold and maybe my not beating them enough (?), but the meringue sort of melted into the brownies. So there is a very thin layer of meringue. The brownies are sort of dense but they are delicious and I will definitely be trying them again! Thanks to Marthe of Culinary Delights for this yummy pick. You can find the recipe here.

Finally, May's Daring Bakers challenge, a few days late.
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
Croquembouche is basically a tower of cream puffs, held together by either chocolate or caramel. I chose to do chocolate. This was my first time making cream puffs, and I am so happy with the result. The tower was delicious! I will post the recipe below, but beware that the recipe for cream will not fill all of the puffs. Please make these - they are not as time-consuming as they look!

Croquembouche (May 2010 DB challenge)

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.
Can be stored in an air-tight container overnight.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!