July 2010

July 2010 – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

This month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Sunita of Sunita’s World – Live and Food. The challenge she chose for us was a Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake inspired from this recipe from Taste of Home.

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake
The components of this challenge consisted of:

The challenge was a bit time consuming but totally worth it, the cake was fabulous. I followed Sunita’s recipes as outlined below. The only thing I changed up a bit was the filling, I decided to add mini chocolate chips to the filling so it would provide a little crunch factor and contrast the creamy smoothness of the ice cream and the light and fluffiness of the cake.

Chocolate Swiss Roll
6 medium sized eggs
1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
6 tbsp/ 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tbsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans

2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about 1/2 cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar
(I added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the filling)

Preheat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.

Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.

Place a pan in the center of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the center is springy to the touch.

Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.

Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.

Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processor till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.

In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.

Chocolate Swiss Rolls filled with Vanilla Chocolate Chip Whipped Cream
Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of 1/2 an inch should be fine).

Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Chocolate Swiss Rolls

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.

Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Hot Fudge Sauce
1 cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and water.

Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).

Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.

To Assemble
Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices (approximately 2 cms each).

Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake
Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm (at least 1 hour)

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake
Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. (at least an hour)

Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp
knife, dipped in hot water.

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

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Coconut Sugar Cookies

Having worked for Buy.com over 6 years now I can honestly say it is by far the best company I have worked for, which is why I am so thrilled I get to be a part of a new and exciting chapter in Buy.com’s history.

It was officially announced this past Friday, Buy.com is no longer privately owned, we are now officially under the umbrella of Japan’s leading Internet Company Rakuten, Inc.. Talk about going from one extreme to another!

It is exciting to think of all the opportunities for growth and development that will no doubtingly present themselves as a result of this transaction.

So to celebrate the acquisition I thought it would be quite fitting to bring these into the office with me this morning.

Creamed butter and sugar

Roll cookies between parchment or wax paper

Coconut Sugar Cookies

Coconut Sugar Cookies

Coconut Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

Sift the flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder, and salt together.

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, approx 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and blend until completely incorporated.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and slowly mix until the dough has come together and formed a uniform mass.

Shape the dough into a square, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, roll into desired shapes, and place them onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the cookies in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, this will insure the cutout cookies retain their shape as much as possible.

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, cool cookies on a rack then transfer to a sealed container.

Coconut Sugar Cookies
Coconut Sugar Cookies
Coconut Sugar cookies


525,600 minutes measured in sweets

Well everyone, today my little blog is 525,600 minutes old +/- depending on what time you read this post. 😉

So, I thought it would be the perfect day to share with you how I measured this year:

“In daylights, in sunsets,
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measure in love.”

OK, enough with the mushy stuff… let’s celebrate!

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake
What better way to celebrate than with a slice of cake right? This cake was inspired by the little “TLC Cake Crew” image I proudly began displaying on my blog as of April.

Devil’s Food Cake
adapted from Baking Illustrated by the Editors Of Cook’s Illustrated

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plain cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate covered cocoa nibs (optional garnish)
9 large strawberries (optional garnish)

Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment, then dust with flour and knock out the excess or spray them with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over it and whisk until smooth. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until combined for about 3 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium; add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined, for about 10 seconds. On low speed start adding about 1/3 of the flour mixture then about 1/2 of the chocolate mixture, repeat and and with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined, about 15 seconds. Make sure you don’t over beat the batter.

Remove the bowl from the mixer; scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and stir gently to thoroughly combine.

Devils Food Cake Batter ready for the oven
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and smooth the batter to the edges of each pan with a rubber spatula. Place 2 pans on the lower middle rack and 1 on the upper-middle rack. bake the cakes until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-21 minutes.

Devil's Food Cake right out of the oven
Cool the cakes on a wire rack 15-20 minutes. Run a knife around each pan perimeter to loosen. Make sure the cakes have cooled off completely before you assemble the cake.

Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/4 cups Nutella
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and shortening. Whisk together the cocoa and sugar, and gradually add to the creamed mixture. Add one tablespoon of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached. Finally add the hazelnut spread and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crumb Coat
Devil's Food Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

In a medium saucepan heat up the heavy cream, make sure it doesn’t come to a boil. Stir in the chocolate chips and whisk to combine. It’s ready to use once it has cooled down to room temperature.

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake

To Assemble
Place a thick layer of Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting between each layer of devil’s food cake. Then coat the entire cake with a thin layer of the frosting and place in the refrigerator to harden. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and finish frosting the cake with a thick layer of frosting.

Place a ring of chocolate covered cocoa nibs on the base of the cake. Drizzle the cake with ganache starting from the center. Dip the strawberries in the ganache and place on top of the cake.

Snippit “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent, written and composed by Jonathan Larson


Today I’m going to share with you how this yummy white peach ice cream came to be.

It all started almost 3 years ago when I stopped by our local nursery while they happened to be having a buy 1 get 1 50% off sale. Being a sucker for a bargain I walked out of the nursery with a white peach tree, an avocado tree, a blood orange tree, and a one gallon pot of horsetail.

That same weekend we planted all three fruit trees, and I took the pot of horsetail and transplanted it to cover a long slim stretch of dirt that runs along our side fence.

Fast forward to present time… the blood orange tree is now about 2′ tall and it has bloomed twice. Unfortunately the gardeners haven’t been too careful while mowing around the tiny tree and have managed to knock off the baby oranges off it’s fragile branches two years in a row.

The avocado has yet to produce any fruit, the horsetail I planted against the side fence has spread nicely and is about 6 ft tall now, and the peach tree… well, this is how it looked Sunday afternoon.

White Peach Tree
I wish I had checked the tree sooner because most of the peaches were overripe.

From tree to kitchen counter
I was thinking of making a pie with them, however when I started cutting them up I decided to make ice cream instead. :)

White Peach Ice Cream
Adapted from Cafe Johnsonia

6 ripe white peaches (approx 3 cups chopped)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean

Peel and chop the peaches into large chunks. Save the skin and pits.

In a medium saucepan, place the peaches 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise to get to the seeds, then cut the vanilla bean in half. With a knife carefully remove the seeds from 1 half of the vanilla bean, and place them into the sauce pan along with the vanilla bean itself. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and cook for 20 minutes or until the peaches are tender, let it cool and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Peaches & Vanilla Bean
In another saucepan, place the whole milk, the seeds and 1/2 the remaining vanilla bean along with the reserved peach skin and pits. Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat and let it steep for at least 30 minutes or let it cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.

After the skin and pits have steeped in the milk long enough, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy.

Warm up the peach infused milk until very hot–be careful not to boil it. Slowly pour a ladle or two of the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture while stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Slowly pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan along with the peach infused milk. Cook the ice cream base over medium heat while stirring constantly until it thickens.

Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, stir in the heavy cream, for a chuncky texture remove the cooked peaches from the refrigerator and add them directly into the bowl, for a smoother consistency mash them through a sieve into the bowl then stir well to incorporate. Cool over an ice bath then finish chilling the ice cream base in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pour ice cream base into your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions. Pour ice cream into a sealable plastic container and place in the freezer until thoroughly frozen.

White Peach Ice Cream

White Peach Ice Cream
I ran out of peaches so I decided to garnish the ice cream with a couple of slices of nectarine.

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I have to say I’m still not quite comfortable working with yeast, I find it a bit intimidating… I’m not sure why.

This weekend however, feeling inspired from my recent trip to Mexico, I was determined to tackle my fear of yeast and make some Mexican sweet bread for you. I chose “Conchas” or Shells.

I also wanted to share with you something else, my mom sent me home with a few of her kitchen treasures from Mexico, here’s treasure number one:

Kitchen Treasures
Have you ever seen one of these before? Doesn’t it look like it just came out of the “Sales Resistance” episode of “I Love Lucy”? :)

Mexican Shells – Conchas

Makes 12 large or 24 small rolls

30 g yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 3/4 cups (600) g flour
1/4 cup (50 g) shortening
1/2 cup (100 g) butter
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup warm water
7 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place yeast and 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar in the warm water, stir to combine and let it rest until it blooms. Once the yeast has bloomed, combine it with 150 g of flour then kneed until a dough has form. Let dough rest for 10-15 minutes until it has doubled in size.

Chocolate Shells - Conchas de Chocolate
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine the dough, with the remaining ingredients, beat on medium-hight speed for 5-7 minutes until well combined.

Chocolate Shells - Conchas de Chocolate
Cover stand mixer with a plastic bag and let dough rest for 4-6 hours until dough has doubled in size. Once dough has rested you can form dough balls or place dough in refrigerator overnight.

Chocolate Shells - Conchas de Chocolate
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, (dough will be slightly sticky) form balls and place over 2 lined cookie sheets making sure to leave room between each one. Let the dough rest again until they have grown and have soften.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Shell Topping

3/4 cup (100) g flour
1/2 cup (100) g granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100 g) Shortening
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 egg yolks

Blend ingredients with a pastry blender until it forms a paste.

Chocolate Shells - Conchas de Chocolate
Roll out rounds into a “tortilla”, make slight cuts with a knife to form shells. Place over the dough balls. Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Chocolate Shells - Conchas de Chocolate
Place cookie sheets on lower rack and bake until a base has formed, transfer to 1 rack higher than the center of the oven until they have started to brown. Bake for 15-20 minutes

Chocolate Shells - Conchas de Chocolate
I couldn’t help not taking a couple of bites out of one as they came out of the oven…

Chocolate Mexican Shells - Conchas

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