Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers: February

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.

We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
I was down in Santa Clara over the valentine's holiday, so my friend Jeana and I (being the single gals that we are) made a day of it. We went to Casa de Fruta, drank fruit wines, baked the challenge, made the ice cream, watched Fight Club, made sweet potatoe falafels, and beet ravioli! (both of those recipes can also be found on this blog just look under february)

Here are the recipes:

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker

My Notes:

So I followed both recipes very closely. For the Valentino cake, I used all semi-sweet chocolate because I do not like chocolate that is very very sweet (like cadbury milk chocolate)...This complemented the ice cream well, but next time I would use dark chocolate, for part if not all of the chocolate called for.

"B"s birthday Cake

Red Velvet Cake

So I have no idea who "B" is, but I made her a cake..haha...Ok so here's the real story:

A girl who I went to highschool with recently contacted me and asked if I would do a cake for her friend, "B"'s, birthday...which of course i said "heck yeah!" to...I have a really hard time saying no to a cake...Anyways...She requested a red velvet cake. Never having made a red velvet cake before, I looked to my fellow bloggers. Thank goodness for Art of Dessert.

Red Velvet Cake

Allergy note: contains eggs, wheat and dairy
1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt1 ounce red food coloring (liquid or gel)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups flour
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans or line three muffin pans with cupcake liners.In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Combine yogurt, red food coloring and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Alternate adding the yogurt mixture and flour mixture into the large bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans or lined muffin pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes (15-20 minutes for cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely

Cream Cheese Frosting
Alllergy Note: contains dairy ingredients16 oz. (two 8 oz. bars) cream cheese, cold

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
7 cups powdered sugar, measure then sift

With the mixer on a low speed, beat the cream cheese and butter till blended. Mix in vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase to a higher speed to whip up the frosting till light and fluffy.
I followed both recipes almost completely. The only real change I made was I used Greek style vanilla yogurt for part of the yogurt, just to get a bit more of that "buttermilk" tang...who knows if it actually changed the taste at all
Also: Here are some shots of making the bows. I had never made very good fondant bows before so I went on Youtube and watched some videos of their tips. They suggested how to crimp the bows and to use cotton balls. I did it the first time and found that setting them on the table to dry made them to FLAT. So I used the cake ring to curve the bows and it worked great. I used extra cotton balls to support the bow while it dried. Also, the last shot is my new tool: iridescent Lustre dust!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a little pretty eye candy

Can I just say...I LOVE THIS CAKE...


(or if you can't see it: )

It's by the Pink Cake Box

So Impressive and something to aspire to

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Cupcakes PART 2!!!!
So, for this weekends recipe it came from "Gluten-Free Baking". Below is a picture of the book from Amazon.comHere are the photos of the cupcakes. Right now we are really just trying to choose the flavors so I was really just procrastinating on my homework...oh well....
Here they are:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beet Ravioli

Beets are SO deliscious! Especially as a ravioli :-) has the best revioli recipe.
Although I am not a huge fan of the pasta dough they use, if you make these with spinach pasta dough they are amazing and look beautiful. OF COURSE when I made them sunday night I forgot to take a photo... Oh well... Here is the recipe and I highly reccomend trying them. SO easy and worth it.
Here is the recipe:
2 large red or golden beets (about 14 ounces)
1/2 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1 1/4 pounds Fresh Egg Pasta
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon poppy seedsFreshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wrap beets individually in foil; place on baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Open foil carefully (steam will escape). Cool. Peel beets; finely grate into medium bowl. Add ricotta cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in breadcrumbs.
Roll Fresh Egg Pasta dough into sheets according to recipe.
Place 1 dough sheet on work surface. Using 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut sheet into 7 rounds. Transfer rounds to lightly floured baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough for total of 56 rounds
Sprinkle 2 smooth kitchen towels with flour. Place 8 pasta rounds on work surface, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic. Place small bowl of water next to work surface. Spoon 1 teaspoon beet filling onto half of each round. Dip fingertip into water and dampen edge of 1 round. Fold dough over filling, pushing out as much air as possible and pressing edges firmly to seal. Transfer to prepared towels. Repeat with remaining rounds. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer until frozen solid, about 6 hours. Transfer ravioli to resealable plastic bags.)
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat and stir in poppy seeds; keep warm. Working in batches, cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water until cooked through, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to skillet with melted butter; toss to coat. Divide ravioli among 8 plates; sprinkle with Parmesan.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

sweet potato falafel

Ok! One last post tonight! -The recipe was SO worth it!

So I spent the other night down in Santa clara with my friend Jeana, who happens to be a vegetarian...

So of course we were doing some cooking and decided to make her new favorite recipe!
It came from the blog FatFreeVegan:

And her site is totally deliscious!

1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 2 tbsp hot water
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 18 ounces, total)
2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced parsleyjuice of
1 lemon
1 cup chickpea flour or besan
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
sesame seeds (optional)

Mix the flax seeds with two tablespoons hot water and set aside to thicken.

Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork and place on paper towels in microwave.

Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turn over, and then cook for another 2 minutes.

Check for tenderness, and if not cooked all the way through, cook in increments of 30 seconds until tender. Set aside to cool until easy to handle; peel and place in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 400F. Mash sweet potatoes well with a masher or a fork. Add the flax mixture, seasonings (including parsley), and lemon juice and stir well. Mix the chickpea flour with the baking powder and add it a little at a time to the sweet potato mixture. Stir until well-combined. Batter should be stiff; if not, add chickpea flour a tablespoon at a time until batter is thick. (If the batter is too stiff to blend in all the flour, add water a tablespoon at a time.)

Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Use a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon to make about 20-22 little mounds of dough on the baking sheet (dipping the scoop in water every now and then will help prevent the dough from sticking to it). Flatten the balls to about 1/2-inch thick and 1 1/2-inches wide. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are medium brown.

Serve hot with yogurt-tahini sauce. These keep well and can be reheated briefly in the microwave.

(NOTES: You can skip the flax and just add a tablespoon or two of water, nothing goes horribly wrong.
-Don't skip on spices, they are totally worth it!
-Also, I did NOT like her sauce, and therefore did not post it. Although Jeana did so I'm sure it is just my tastes
-Lastly, I would make sure the sweet potatoes are very well mashed, we did not have a masher at the apartment and therefore had clumpy falafel -not so great since nothing mixed very well)

We Served our Falafel with pita and a simple green salad. TOTALLY DELISH!


Ok, so my very good friend is about to get married..well "about to"..and I am SO honored to be doing her wedding (cup)cake!!!
The thing is, there are some challenges here:
1. Deciding on flavors (They've agreed to be my test subjects and are willing to try anything I send to them as long as challenge two is followed)
2. Wheat free (i.e. no "flour" as most bakers know it -instead we're talking oat flour, coconut flour, almond flour, etc.) for some of the cupcakes (the bride is alergic, the families and finace are not)

SO what this means is lots of posts about cupcakes....many of which will probably be "alternative" recipes due to the wheat challenge.

So to start off I found this recipe at
I only used the cake recipe and not the filling or frosting recipes.

For coconut layer cake
1 3/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
10 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 tablespoon coconut or golden rum
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line bottoms of cake pans with parchment paper.
In large bowl, whisk together almond and coconut flours.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks at high speed until pale yellow and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to moderately low and beat in rum and all but 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar. Scrape down bowl, then increase speed to high and beat until pale and thick, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and gradually add almond and coconut flour mixture, scraping down bowl and folding in last of flour by hand. Set aside.
In clean dry bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites on moderate speed until very foamy, about 1 minute. Beat in cream of tartar, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar. Increase speed to moderately high and beat until whites hold stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Fold 1 cup beaten egg whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whites.
Divide batter between pans, smoothing tops, and bake until layers are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Invert pans onto wire racks and cool completely, at least 1 hour. Run knife around cake layers to loosen, invert onto rack, and peel off the parchment.
(NOTE: as cupcakes they still seemed to take almsot twenty minutes long. I just watched to make sure they didn't burn...If you are not used to egg based cake batter I would cook one as a test to see how it works. They will burn in a second if they get the chance!)

For the frosting I used Martha Stewart's buttercream recipe...which was 'ok' to say the least. It is very basic and to be quite honest, not great plain.

(I have used this recipe before and flavored it with concentrated espresso and it is fantastic!!! especially with chocolate cake and ganache filling)
The cupcakes were the dipped top-down in fine shredded coconut. Which is cute, but a little bit of a strange texture to eat...

Monday, February 2, 2009


This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choiceButter/

spray to grease baking sheet
Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly.
Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape.
These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….