Cremes & Custards

Chocolate Pots de Crème

I know we are still a few weeks away from Valentine’s Day… and, if you, or your significant other are football fans you are probably more concerned about getting your Super Bowl menu planned out than you are about figuring out what to serve for Valentine’s day.

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Kentucky Bourbon Panna Cotta

A huge thanks to all who voted for me in challenge #3! I’m very happy to report I’ve made it to challenge #4 where I am to guide you through a recipe via step-by-step “drool-worthy” photos.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of volunteering for Pastry Chef Sherry Yard during The American Wine & Food Festival, a yearly event hosted by Wolfgang Puck which helps raise funds to support the Los Angeles Chapter of Meals on Wheels.

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One afternoon during my recent trip to Mexico, my mom went into the kitchen and pulled out a plastic bag from the pantry. She called me over and said: “Hijita… mira, ven. Esto es para ti.” (Little daughter… take a look, come here. This is for you.).

Inside the bag there was a wide assortment of clipped, handwritten, and typed recipes along with a notebook which contained recipes written by one of my aunts who used to run a hotel in the country, circa 1950. My aunt gave the notebook to my mom a few years after they decided to close the hotel and move to the city.

My mom later on added her own recipes to this notebook; she also tried to write down as many recipes as she could remember from dishes my grandmother used to prepare.

The plastic bag and it’s contents have now transferred ownership and although I have bittersweet feelings about said transaction I’m trying to embrace them.

This Prune Flan recipe didn’t make it into the famous notebook but I found it in the stack nonetheless, so I decided to give it a try.

Straight out of the archives

Ingredients

Prune Flan – Flan de Ciruelas

1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (100 g) pitted prunes
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

The flan will be baked in bain-marie (baño-maria) so you will need a 13 X 9 pan deep enough to hold your oven-proof flan dish.

Fancy Schmancy Mexican Copper Pot
In a heavy bottomed saucepan or cool Mexican Copper Pan melt sugar until it turns a golden amber color. Remove the pan from heat and pour caramel into the oven-proof flan dish, then quickly drizzle the vanilla over the caramel and swirl around in dish, as much as possible.

Caramel coated flan dish
Set the dish inside the 13 X 9 pan. Carefully add 2-3 cups of water to the pan making sure not to get any water onto the dish coated with caramel.

In a blender add the pitted prunes followed by the remaining ingredients. Blend on low speed for about 1 minute then increase speed to medium-high for an additional minute.

Prune Flan in baine-marie
Pour the flan base into the dish lined caramel and bake for 30 minutes or until the flan is set. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the baking dish from the pan. Let the flan rest for at least 20 minutes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prune Flan - Flan de Ciruela

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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.

Meringue
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.

DBmissmeasuresmall

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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
VS
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
VS
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
VS
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
VS
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
VS
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
VS
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.

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