June 2010

June 2010 – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

This months Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. She challenged us to make Chocolate Pavlovas filled with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse based on a recipe from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

A challenge consisting of two chocolate based recipes? There was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity…

I hope you enjoy my version of this delicious dessert.

Chocolate Pavlova Shells

Chocolate Meringue

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

Cocoa Powder and Meringue
Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

Chocolate Meringue for Pavlovas

Pavlovas Base
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Chocolate Pavlova Shells
Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Pavlova Filling

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Chocolate Mousse
Warm heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once warm remove from stove and pour chocolate chips, whisk until chocolate chips have melted and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
Whip mascarpone on medium until soft peaks form, be carefull not to overwhip. Carefully fold the chilled heavy cream and chocolate mixture into the mascarpone.

Chocolate Pavlovas
Fill a pastry bag with the chocolate mousse and pipe onto the cooled pavlovas.

Chocolate Pavlovas topped with Kiwi Fruit
I topped my pavlovas with sliced kiwi fruit, and drizzled them with melted white chocolate. Deb’s version called for a mascarpone creme to be drizzled over the top of the pavlovas. But there was just too much craziness going around so shhh…I took a little shortcut.


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Before you run off thinking someone has hacked into my blog… stop, wait, don’t leave. I promise there will be dessert, in fact, two types of dessert.

A few weeks ago I submitted a proposal to Foodbuzz for their monthly 24×24 event which Showcases posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, highlighting 24 unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period, and guess what? It got accepted!!

I happen to have a few soccer fans at home, one even asked if he could miss school to stay home and watch the very first game! The answer of course was no, we did make sure and record it for him. His response “It’s just not the same mom….”

So, I gathered a few other soccer fans and invited them over to watch USA play against Ghana all while enjoying a buffet consisting of a variety of dishes from a few select countries. Each dish of a given country was matched up with it’s opposing team’s country.

Let’s start off with cocktails shall we?

Cocktails Winner
Italy Negroni X
New Zealand Kiwi Cocktail

Cocktails - Italy vs New Zealand
The Negroni is a very bold and traditional Italian apéritif traditionally made with Campari bitters. The Kiwi Cocktail was made with a traditional New Zealand favorite Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc infused with kiwi fruit and pears served with a splash of orange liqueur, lime juice, and club soda.

On to the appetizers…

Appetizers Winner
Argentina Empanadas X
Mexico Quesadillas

Argentina - Empanadas
This savory filled pastry proved to be stiff competition for the Mexican quesadilla.

Mexico - Quesadillas
Surprisingly gooey melted Oaxaca cheese with a touch of mayonnaise wrapped in lovely corn tortillas was not good enough to win this match up.

Appetizers - Argentina vs Mexico

Main Course Winner
Uruguay Churrasco w/ Chimichurri Sauce
South Korea Beef Galbi marinated in Bulgogi Sauce X

Main Course - Uruguay vs South Korea
Left - South Korea (Galbi) vs Right - Uruguay (Churrasco)
The bold flavors of the bulgogi marinade were no match for the Uruguayan churrasco.

As our first pair of side dishes we had two types of coleslaw, a traditional Dutch version and a Japanese version. Both were tasty, but the kimi zu dressing took these shredded vegies veggies to a whole new level.

Side Dish Winner
Japan Daikon root & cabbage salad X
Holland Koolsla

Japan - Daikon Root & Cabbage Salad
Holland - Koolsla (Coleslaw)
Our second side dish pair was made up of the All American Corn on the Cobb and some Fried Plantains… I’m sure you can guess which team won in this case. I suppose our team would have had better luck if I had made corn fritters instead. :(

Side Dish Winner
USA Corn on the Cobb
Ghana Kelewele (Fried Plantains) X

USA - Corn on the Cobb
Ghana - Fried Plantains
And finally we arrive to the last match of the day, dessert. Unfortunately as yummy as the Crema Catalana looks we had to sadly enforce the mercy rule because the Chocolate Fondue was way ahead of the game.

Dessert Winner
Spain Crema Catalana
Switzerland Dark Chocolate Fondue X

Spain - Crema Catalana

Switzerland - Dark Chocolate Fondue
I should have called foul play, because the melted dark chocolate, fresh fruit, and pound cake started scoring points before the game even started.

World Cup 2010 - Cuisine Head-to-Head Buffet

Crema Catalana
adapted from 1080 Recipes by Simone and Ines Ortega

4 cups milk
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons potato starch
demerara sugar, for caramelizing

Serves 6

Pour milk into a medium sauce pan with 4 tablespoons of sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a boil. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and the potato starch.

Temper the egg yolks by pouring a couple of small ladles (approx 1/4 cup) full of the hot milk into the bowl and whisking as it is being added. Gradually add the remaining hot milk into the bowl and whisk to combine.

Return contents of bowl back into the sauce pan and place over medium-low heat stir constantly until thickened, approx. 5 minutes.

Strain the custard before pouring it into the serving dish, or 6 individual dishes, let it cool, then place in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Once ready to serve sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top of the custard, and use a kitchen blow torch caramelize it.

Dark Chocolate Fondue
1 3.5 ounce toblerone
2 3.5 ounce hershey’s dark chocolate bar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 small sara lee pound cake
assorted fresh fruit (strawberries, grapes, pineapple)

Melt chocolate and heavy cream in a fondue pot, serve with assorted fruit and pound cake which has been cut into bite size pieces.


Chocolate Hazelnut Sandies

These yummy cookies are being brought to you today by Sam at Oh! Nuts. Well not literally, but in a sense.

A few weeks ago Sam contacted me and asked if I would would be interested in receiving a sampling of a few Oh! Nuts products. I wrote him back, thanked him for the offer, and sent him a list of a few of the items I was interested in trying out.

  • Almond Flour (I’ll be using it in my next batch of macarons)
  • Roasted Unsalted Hazelnuts (Hazelnuts w/o skin, yes please!)
  • Roasted Salted Turkish Antep Pistachios (These are by far the best tasting pistachios I’ve had, delicious.)
  • Dried Goji Berries (This was my first time trying goji berries and I loved them! Especially sprinkled over salad. I’ll be baking with them shortly as well.)

  • Not having to go through the process of skinning the hazelnuts was a huge time-saver. I’ve done my share of skinning to make this and this. Trust me when I tell you, it’s totally worth the extra cost when it comes to hazelnuts.

    I was completely impressed with the quality and taste of the Oh! Nuts products I received and I will definitely be a paying customer of theirs in the very near future.

    Goodies from Oh! Nuts

    Toasted Oh! Nuts Hazelnuts

    Chocolate Hazelnut Sandies

    Makes approx. 48 cookies

    1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted hazelnuts
    1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    1 large egg yolk
    1/2 cup hazelnut halves (optional garnish)

    Tip: To prevent ground powder from coming out of the food processor container cover it with a piece clear plastic wrap.

    Process roasted hazelnuts, confectioners sugar, light brown sugar, and cocoa powder in a food processor until nuts are ground, pulse for about 20 seconds.

    Add flour and salt, pulse for an additional 5 seconds to combine. Scrape down sides if necessary.

    Add the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse until dough resembles damp sand for about 18 seconds.

    While machine is running add the egg yolk and process until the dough comes together and forms a ball, approximately 20 seconds.

    Cut two sheets of parchment paper. Divide dough in half, form two 4-inch thick logs and wrap each with a sheet, and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

    When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat’s.

    Unwrap dough logs, with a sharp knife slice 1/4 inch thick cookies. Place cookies on baking sheets spaced about 3/4 inches apart. Press a piece of chopped hazelnut in the center of each cookie if desired.

    Bake for about 17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack until they have cooled completely.



    Chocolate Hazelnut Sandie Dough

    Chocolate Hazelnut Sandie Dough

    Chocolate Hazelnut Sandie Log

    Toasted OH! Nuts Hazelnuts

    Chocolate Hazelnut Sandie Sliced Log
    Chocolate Hazelnut Sandies

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    What are your thoughts on being “sweet-toothed”? Blessing or curse? I can’t decide…

    At home, everyone but my husband can go without dessert and not feel like they are missing out. He can take it or leave it, no problem.

    The boys and I on the other hand unless completely stuffed, find it hard to pass up on dessert.

    A few days ago we had company over and I decided to make these stuffed Medjool Dates to offer as an appetizer. After the company left there were a handful of dates left over so I put them away in the fridge.

    The following evening after dinner my husband asked if we had any of the stuffed dates leftover because he wanted to have one for dessert.

    This sweet & savory treat may not be the ideal dessert for those of us (blessed/cursed) with a “sweet-tooth”, but it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t enjoy them… after all they are quite tasty.

    Medjool Dates
    Blue Cheese-Walnut Stuffed Medjool Dates

    Blue Cheese-Walnut Stuffed Medjool Dates

    12 whole medjool dates
    2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
    1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

    Sliced Medjool Date
    With a paring knife carefully make a lengthwise slit across the top of each date.

    Medjool Date Seed
    Remove the seeds from the dates.

    Blue Cheese-Walnut Stuffed Medjool Dates
    Place approximately 1/2 a teaspoon of crumbled blue cheese in each of the dates and press it down to make room for the yummy walnuts.

    Fill the remainder of the date with chopped walnuts.


    Blue Cheese-Walnut Stuffed Medjool Dates

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    Peanut Butter filled Banana Whoopie Pies
    One quick glance through my blogs’ dream archive and you can see a particular baked good that month after month keeps making an appearance.

    Care to take a wild guess? Yes, Macarons…

    I know, I know, we’ll get to the whoopie pies in a sec. I just wanted to share with you something very exciting that took place two weekends ago.

    I actually held my very first Macaron Class! Can you believe that? I decided to start off with a small and manageable group of only two students since I would be teaching the class in my own kitchen.

    Macaron Class

    My two brave students were Julia from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body and Sara from Sliced Strawberries.

    Julia's Handy Work
    Sara's Handy Work
    Did you see those gorgeous macarons? Needless to say they both passed the class with flying colors! Julia & Sara you guys were amazing!!

    I’m so thankful to my two awesome students for being brave enough to let this newbie teacher share with them what I learned from the Queen of Macarons herself, Helen better known as Tartelette

    I also want to give a big shout out to my dear friend and fellow Macaron Class classmate Rachael from La Fuji Mama who stopped by to lend a hand and offer moral support!

    Back to the Whoopie Pies, well after a busy morning of teaching I managed to run over to my son’s elementary school and catch the tail end of a Carnival & Raffle they were having.

    The raffle prizes were arranged along a couple of tables and in front of each was a brown bag. If you liked the prize you would place as many raffle tickets as you wanted in hopes of winning that particular prize.

    Well my husband and boys had spent all morning at the carnival while I taught the macaron class and had placed $20 worth of raffle tickets among the prizes.

    Well, I got there right when they were about to announce the winners of the raffle prizes. They announced a few of the winners and then they got to this basket…

    Baking Lovers Basket
    I’m thinking they must have put most if not all twenty tickets in this bag because; I got to walk home with it.

    As you can see from the picture, there was a Wilton Whoopie Pan and the Whoopie Pie book. Of course I had to break in the pan, wouldn’t you?

    I had a couple of very ripe bananas sitting in my fruit bowl so I decided to make banana whoopie pies with a creamy peanut butter filling. They were a huge hit!

    Peanut Butter filled Banana Whoopie Pies
    Banana Whoopie
    adapted from whoopie pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup bread flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
    3/4 cups light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large eggs
    3 very ripe bananas, mashed

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

    In a small bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, baking soda, and salt.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, vegetable shortening, light brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy.

    Add the eggs one at a time, and stir just until combined.

    Alternate adding the flour mixture and the mashed bananas. Stir to combine between each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.


    Filled Whoopie Pan
    Whoopie Pie Pan Spoon two tablespoons of batter into each crevice and bake for about 9 minutes.

    Spoon Method Spoon one tablespoon of batter at a time onto a lined cookie sheet making sure they are at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes.

    Piped Banana Whoopies
    Piped Method Using an Ateco #807 tip pipe 2 inch whoopies onto a lined baking sheet, making sure they are at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes.

    The original recipe said it made about 48 two-inch cakes. I had enough batter to make 12 four-inch cakes and 44 two-inch cakes. I also used one large and two medium sized bananas.

    Banana Whoopies and peanut butter
    Salty Peanut Butter Woopie Filling
    adapted from whoopie pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

    3/4 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
    3/4 cup (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    In a small bowl beat together the peanut butter and unsalted butter on low speed until smooth and creamy.

    Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt, beat on low just until combined then increase speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes.

    Piped Whoopie Filling

    Banana Whoopie Pies filled with Peanut Butter

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