March 2010

Where has this month gone? I just cannot grasp the fact that one quarter of 2010 has now come and gone.

There are so many things I want to get done in Q2, and since I’m a bit of a procrastinator . I’m going to write a list of what I want to accomplish figure out a way to hold myself accountable.

It’s gotten so bad that as of today March 31st, I have yet to start the March Daring Bakers’ challenge an Orange Tian. I still plan on making it because I came up with a really good twist.

I wonder how “late” can a “late” post be?

See what I mean?

Hopefully I’ll get it started within the next few days. Sigh…

Well, I’ll leave you with these yummy Mini Coconut Rum Butter Cakes while I go sort out my thoughts.

First thought – Perhaps I have too much on my plate? Nahhh…

Coconut Rum Butter Cakes
adapted from Petite Sweets by Beatrice Ojakangas

Coconut Rum Butter Cake
Makes 6 Cakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 oz buttermilk
1 teaspoon coconut rum
3.5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
toasted coconut, sliced strawberries, or powdered sugar (optional for garnish)

Coconut Rum Butter Cake Ingredients
Preheat oven to 325 F.

Silicone Mini Bundt Pan
Spray the mini-bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle a little desiccated coconut powder if desired.

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Combine the buttermilk and coconut rum in a small measuring up and set aside.

In a medium bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

Coconut Rum Butter Cake Batter
Stir in the buttermilk mixture, then the flour and beat on low speed until the batter is smooth.

Silicone Mini Bundt Pan
Divide the batter equally between each mini-bundt. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until the cakes feel firm when touched.

Coconut Rum Sauce
adapted from Petite Sweets by Beatrice Ojakangas

Coconut Rum Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons coconut rum

Combine the water, sugar and butter over medium-high heat.

Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the rum.

While cakes are still warm pierce several times with bamboo skewers or a fork, and pour half of the rum sauce over them.

Remove from pans after cakes have cooled and spoon remaining sauce over cakes.

Before serving garnish with toasted coconut, sliced strawberries, or lightly dust with powdered sugar.

Coconut Rum Butter Cake


This weekend I’ll be going over to my nieces house to celebrate her birthday and I will be bringing along this little baby.

Actually I’m going to have to drop it off Saturday morning on my to the “Build Your Best Blog” Seminar in Los Angeles.

Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White On Rice Couple and Jaden and Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen will be leading presentations on topics that will help optimize our blogs and take advantage of current tools and resources to do so. I’m all for “optimizing”!

I’m sorry I don’t have a yummy drool worthy photo of a big nice slice of the cheesecake. I’ll try to take a picture of a slice on Saturday and update this post with it.

I’ll be sure and leave a little note attached to the cheesecake box that says “Save a slice for Josie, or else!” when I drop it off Saturday morning!

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake
adapted from The New York Times Dessert Cookbook
Mango Cheesecake by Nigella Lawson

8 oz animal crackers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 oz unsalted butter softened and cut into pieces

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Ingredients

Cheesecake batter
8 oz fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
8 oz fresh or frozen mango chunks
3 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice
2 teaspoons pineapple rum
2 teaspoons coconut rum

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake Crust
Ground animal crackers in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Crumbs
Add dark brown sugar and butter. Pulse until mixture clumps together like damp sand.
Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Crust
Press mixture evenly into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and refrigerate while preparing filling.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Frozen Fruit
Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Pineapple Mango Puree
In a food processor or with an immersion blender puree the pineapple and mango. If using frozen fruit, bring to room temperature by heating the puree in a small saucepan over low heat.

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Cream Cheese
In a food processor or stand mixer blend the puree with the cream cheese until smooth.

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Eggs
Add sugar and continue mixing, slowly add eggs one at a time until well combined. Finally add the lemon juice, pineapple rum, and coconut rum, mix well.

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake - Batter
Place springform pan on a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Crimp edges up around pan to make a waterproof casing. Place foil-covered pan in a deep roasting pan. Pour filling into pan and pour boiling water into roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of cake pan, but not higher than foil.

Pineapple Mango Cheesecake
Bake until filling is set and wobbles slightly in the center, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove pan from water bath. Discard foil and place pan on a cooling rack.

When cool, refrigerate overnight.

To serve, remove sides from pan and place on a serving platter.

Time: 2 hours, plus overnight chilling
Yields: 8 to 10 servings

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It was such a shame… I had plan on taking this fabulous flourless chocolate cake to a combined birthday party this weekend, but unfortunately this amazingly tasty cake didn’t quite make it there.

At the moment it patiently sits in my freezer waiting and hoping for chocolate craving stragglers to open the freezer door and slice of a piece off the chopping block on which it rests.

Flourless chocolate cake is not my friend… this is my second attempt at making it, and I just cannot get it right. Instead of cake it turned out more like a mousse.

Can someone please shed some light as to what you think I might be doing wrong? Since I apparently have no clue.

Thank you!

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake
from The Modern Cafe by Francisco J. Migoya

200g egg yolks (approx 10 large eggs)
150g sugar
450g dark chocolate (64%)coins
225g butter
300g egg whites

500g dark chocolate (55%), melted

Grease a sheet pan with a coat of nonstick oil spray.

Preheat a convection oven to 160C/320F (I baked my cake at 350F in non-convection oven)

Egg yolks and sugar
Whip the egg yolks with 120g sugar until thick and and pale yellow in color ( the ribbon stage) with a mixer on high speed. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with the butter over a hot water bath.

Meringue and melted chocolate
Once the chocolate and butter are melted, combine them with the ribboned egg yolks, using a whisk to obtain a homogeneous mass.

Whipping egg whites
Whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar on high speed until the meringue achieves a medium-stiff peak.

Meringue and melted chocolate
Melted chocolate and creamed egg yolks
Fold the whipped whites into the chocolate-egg mixture in 2 additions.

Chocolate Flourless Cake
Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and even it out using an offset spatula.

Chocolate Flourless Cake
Bake until firm, 7 to 9 minutes. The cake will bubble while it bakes because there is no flour to keep the structure of the cake from doing so. Do not test the doneness with a toothpick; when it is done, there will be no wet spots on the surface.

Once the cake is baked, cool it to room temperature, and then freeze it.

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Mmm mmm good...
Oh yeah… it’s that good!

Chocolate Flourless Cake
Once frozen, pass the back of a paring knife around the border of the cake and remove the cake from the sheet pan. Flip it over onto a cutting board, peel the silicone paper off, and quickly spread the melted chocolate evenly in a thin coat all over the cake using an offset spatula. The chocolate will set on contact with the frozen cake.

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Chocolate Flourless Cake
Cut the cake into 15-cm/6-in discs using a ring cutter. Reserve the cakes, individually wrapped in a freezer. Keep them flat; do not stack them because they will lose their shape easily. The cakes will keep for up to 2 months frozen.

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Or in my case store flourless chocolate cake (mousse) on cutting board in the freezer and slice off as needed.

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Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes, it was so interesting to learn what everyone’s favorite birthday dessert was, as expected there were a wide variety of treats mentioned.

I had a great birthday yesterday. Oh, but the festivities haven’t ended there is more planned for today… I guess I’m still a little spoiled.

I’m working on tabulating the results to share with you on Monday when I post the winner of the Daydreamer Birthday Giveaway who will win a beautiful copy of “The Modern Cafe” by Francisco J. Migoya one of the fabulous professors at the Culinary Institute of America.

But, today we are here to celebrate the Beautiful Macaron, for today is Le Jour du Macaron!

I chose to make Choclate Caramel Macarons…

Chocolate Macaron Shells

Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Chocolate Caramel Macarons
Chocolate Caramel Macaron stairway to heaven
Chocolate Caramel Macarons
Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Adapted from Tartelette’s basic recipe

Chocolate Macaron Shells
90 grams egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites)
25 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
94 grams blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Prepare the eggs:
48 hrs in advance, separate the whites from the yolks and place the whites in a super clean bowl. Leave at room temp, uncovered or loosely covered with a towel at least 24 hrs. Refrigerate after that if desired. You can use eggs that have been “aging” for up to 5 days.

Prepare the macarons:
Place the powdered sugar, almonds, and cocoa powder in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Sift a couple of time to remove bits and pieces. Regrind if necessary. You can also use a coffee grinder for the nuts.

Once your nuts and powdered sugar are mixed together, rub them in between your fingertips to break the bigger pieces.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry.

Add the nut, powdered sugar, and cocoa mix to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.

If using convection: preheat the oven to 280F. If using regular electric or gas, preheat the oven to 300F.

When ready, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool.

My initial intention was to make these chocolate caramel macarons as a chocolate macaron shell filled with fleur de sel caramel sauce.

But after my taste test, I felt they needed a little kick, so I decided to whip up a little dark chocolate ganache. The result… think Rolo in macaron form. Yumm!

Here is the recipe for the Fleur De Sel Caramel sauce.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup bittersweet (60% cocoa) chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and the heavy cream. Microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power until the chocolate has melted making sure to stir the ganache in between each interval.

Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Chocolate Caramel Macarons

Chocolate Caramel Macarons

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Due to a tool/instrument “malfunction”, this recipe turned out to be caramel sauce instead of “Caramels”.

Once I purchase a new Candy Thermometer I will re-attempt to make these, and not to worry… I still have plenty of the homemade salt that Salty Seattle gave me during the foodie gift exchange on my recent trip to New York for “Kelly’s Cake-off for a Cause”.

Homemade salt

Hmm… on second thought I hope it wasn’t because I switched out the glucose for blue agave sweetener? Anyone?

Fleur de sel Caramels
adapted from The Modern Cafe by Francisco J. Migoya

61g Blue Agave Sweetener
411g sugar
5g fleur de sel (In my case Salty Seattle homemade salt)
328g butter
194g heavy cream

Fleur de sel caramel
Combine the blue agave sweetener, sugar and salt in a heavy pot. Cook until it reaches 293 F. (This is done as a dry caramel with no water, so it will need to be stirred frequently).

Fleur de sel caramel

Meanwhile, combine the butter and cream in a sauce pot and bring it up to a boil.

Once the sugar mixture reaches 293 F., slowly and carefully pour the cream and butter into the pot with the sugar, whisking constantly.

Bring the mixture up to 252F, stirring constantly. Pour into the prepared steel frame.

I think this is the reason why my caramels didn’t set, it looked as if though the candy thermometer had reached 252F but there were several lines and not one solid line reaching the 252F mark. I’m now guessing the actual temperature was somewhere between 240F, so if you want to make caramel sauce instead of caramel candy make sure your thermometer stays under 250F.

Let the caramel cool to room temperature.

Once cooled cut into squares using the guitar or by hand with a thin sharp knife.

Wrap each piece with cellophane squares.

Reserve in a dry, cool place, in an airtight container or package. Discard after 6 months.

If you happen to have an instrument/tool malfunction during your Fleur De Sel Caramel making too… this a good recipe you can use your caramel sauce in.

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