Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Baked Sweet & Salty Caramel Chocolate Cake

Oh this cake is good, really, really, really good, chocolate caramel soaked cake, with caramel chocolate ganache and more of that glorious caramel drizzled on top, this cake is epic.


You will notice the recipe says nothing about drizzling caramel on top of the cake but I wasn't letting a drop go to waste and since I had already eaten a good 3 tablespoonfuls and added extra in between the layers, I decided a drizzle would be just perfect.  This caramel is the best I have ever tasted, I was utterly floored by it's deliciousness.

I'm yet to find a recipe from the Baked boys that I'm not crazy for, this cake may sound over sweet but it is far from it, the dark chocolate, sweet and salty ratio is perfect and combines to create a delightfully adult sweet treat.  It is not the simplest cake but nor the most difficult and looks mightily impressive once sliced.  My ganache came out significantly darker than pictured, I'm assuming this is probably to do with the chocolate I used, which was of very high quality.


Sweet & Salty Caramel Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Makes one 8-inch 3-layer cake

For the Cake:

 3/4 cup cocoa powder
 2/3 cup sour cream
 2 2/3 cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
 1 cup dark brown sugar
 3 large eggs
 1 tablespoon pure vanilla

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter parchment paper and flour; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and it appears to create strings inside the bowl, about 7 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

5. Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the Caramel:
 1 cup sugar
 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1 teaspoon fleur de sel
 1/4 cup sour cream

Directions

1. Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Cool, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

For the Caramel Ganache
 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
 1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool

Directions

1. Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

2. In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to rest for 1 minute. Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes. Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Let sit 1 minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is melted.

4. Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.


To Assemble the Cake:
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Using about 1/4 cup of the caramel, spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing some of the caramel to soak into the cake. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache icing. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining ganache icing. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Buttercream Bakery Miniature Afternoon Tea Table Cake


Miniature Afternoon Tea Table Vanilla Layer Cake

This cake is tiny, with a diameter of just 11cm once iced and the little plates are just 3cm in diameter.


How cute is this cake?!

This little cake comes complete with plates of cucumber sandwiches, crust-less of course, gingerbread men, two plates of macarons, madeleines, Belgian waffles and pink wafer biscuits.


The cake is covered in light blue fondant, ruffled at the base to create the tablecloth, I think the little pink bows look gorgeous and really add to the overall look of the cake.


I honestly can't decide what plate is my favourite, the macarons and cucumber sandwiches are too sweet and I love the madeleines too, which even have that signature little hump.


Everyone who saw this cake was a little awe struck, including my client who utterly adored it and I'm really pleased with it, especially as it is my very first miniature afternoon tea table cake.  Something tells me I will be making many more, I'd like to do a larger cake that I could fit more plates on!


Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

x x x



Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Strawberry and Cream Ladyfinger Gateau



I wasn't entirely sure what to call this dessert, it is inspired by a Charlotte  but I didn't make it in a ring and it uses a lighter whipped cream crème patisserie rather than the traditional fruit puree and custard as a filling.


This is the first time I have made Ladyfingers or Biscuits à la Cuiller and they were utterly divine, I used the recipe from the stunning Laduree recipe book but adapted it slightly.  The original recipe calls for Potato Starch instead of Cornflour, unfortunately I can't find Potato Starch anywhere but I found many a recipe that uses Cornflour instead and I was really happy with the results.

I piped my ladyfinger batter into two 5 inch rounds as well as normal ladyfingers, I could have easily piped three rounds as I had plenty of ladyfingers left over after putting the cake together, (not that I'm complaining).

The two rounds were sandwiched together with whipped cream crème patisserie, ladyfingers fixed around the outside and I added another layer of whipped cream crème patisserie to the top before decorating with strawberries and a chocolate macaron, for good measure.  I decorated some of the strawberries with chocolate ganache and although I cut most of the strawberries in half I left a couple whole, as they look lovely on top. 


Obviously you don't need to be making a big fancy dessert to try this ladyfinger recipe, they are an utter joy to eat, they are dreamily light and fluffy and very simple to make.


I had no idea I liked ladyfingers so much, I've probably had one to many bad ones and didn't give them a second though.  I will definitely be making these again.



Biscuits à la Cuiller / Ladyfinger Recipe
Recipe adapted from: Laduree - Sucre

1/2 cup / 60g all purpose flour
1/3 cup / 60g cornflour
5 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp / 125g caster sugar
1/2 cup / 60g icing sugar, for dusting

1 x Piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch / 10mm plain tip

1. Preheat the oven to 170C / 340F. Sift together the flour and cornflour.  Separate the egg whites from the yolks.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until pale.  In another large dry bowl, with a clean whisk, bring the egg whites to a foam.  Once they are white and frothy, add the remaining half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm.

3.  Immediately fold the sugar and egg yolk mixture into the whipped egg whites with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle the sifted flours over the mixture.  Gently combine: start with the spatula in the centre of the bowl, work up the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture back down towards the centre, all the while turning the bowl regularly.  Continue until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.

4. Transfer the batter into the piping bag fitted with a plain tip.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pie strips 2 1/3 x 3/4 inch / 6 x 2 cm.


If you are making ladyfinger rounds: Draw two circles, your desired size onto parchment paper, turn over the paper and pipe in a spiral, working inwards and starting about 1cm from the circles edge, the mixture will spread.

5. Using a fine mesh sieve or sifter, sprinkle half the confectioners sugar over the piped batter.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes and dust the tops again with the remaining icing sugar.  Immediately place the sheet in the oven and bake for approx. 15 minutes, until the ladyfingers are lightly coloured.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

I baked my ladyfinger rounds for around 20 minutes but this will obviously depend on their size.


I halved the recipe below and folded the cooled Crème Pâtissière into equal amounts of whipped cream, before piping it onto my ladyfinger rounds.
Crème Pâtissière

6 medium egg yolks
125g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar
40g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
500ml (2 cups) milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
A little confectioners' sugar or butter


Step 1: Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar together in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.

Step 2: In a pan, heat the milk with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla bean. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go. Mix well, then return the mixture to the pan.

Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with the whisk. Let bubble for 2 minutes, then pour into a bowl.

Step 4: Dust the crème pâtissière with a veil of confectioners' sugar to prevent a skin forming as it cools, or dot small flakes of butter all over the surface. Once cold, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove the vanilla bean before using.

Makes about 1 lb. 10 oz. (750 g)

Here is a fantastic chocolate macaron recipe for the decoration: Chocolate Macarons

Not only does this dessert look lovely but it also tastes divine, it is actually really light, which is dangerous because I'm sure I could eat the entire thing.


Happy Baking

...and eating...

x x x


Monday, 14 March 2011

Perfect Mini Caramel & Chocolate Eclairs Recipe

I was absolutely over the moon with these little Eclairs, the caramel ones, in particular were utterly perfect.
This Crème Pâtissière is the best I have ever made, I always mix my Crème Pâtissière with equal amounts of whipped cream and use this to fill my Eclairs.  It is in my opinion, much less heavy and much more delicious.


This is only the second time I've made Eclairs but I doubt I'll divert from this recipe any time soon.  Mr. Perfect just gave me 'the look' after his first bite of one of these babies, he the proceeded to sit down on the sofa, taking the entire plate of Eclairs with him.  Needless to say they lasted all of five minutes.


 I had plenty of caramel left over after making my Sweet & Salty Brownies so decided to use this to top half of my Eclairs. The chocolate Eclairs were gorgeous but the caramel really stole the show, they were absolutely breathtaking. I've included the caramel recipe below so you don't need to go hunting for it.


Chocolate & Caramel Eclairs 
 Recipe from Michel Roux's Pastry: Savory & Sweet

Choux Paste

Ingredients:
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
125ml (1/2 cup water)
100g (8 tbsp butter) diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
150g  (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 medium eggs
Eggwash (1 medium egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)

Crème Pâtissière

6 medium egg yolks
125g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar
40g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
500ml (2 cups) milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
A little confectioners' sugar or butter

Instructions:

Choux Paste

Step 1: Combine the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar in a pan and set over low heat. Bring to a boil and immediately take the pan off the heat. Shower in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.

Step 2: Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute to dry out the paste, then tip it into a bowl.

Step 3: Add the eggs one at a time, beating with the wooden spoon.

Step 4: Once the eggs are all incorporated, the paste should be smooth and shiny with a thick ribbon consistency. It is now ready to use. (If you're not using it immediately, brush the surface lightly with a little beaten egg to prevent a crust forming.)
Makes 40-50 little choux buns


Crème Pâtissière

Step 1: Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar together in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.

Step 2: In a pan, heat the milk with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla bean. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go. Mix well, then return the mixture to the pan.

Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with the whisk. Let bubble for 2 minutes, then pour into a bowl.

Step 4: Dust the crème pâtissière with a veil of confectioners' sugar to prevent a skin forming as it cools, or dot small flakes of butter all over the surface. Once cold, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove the vanilla bean before using.

Makes about 1 lb. 10 oz. (750 g)

To Bake:

Preheat your oven to 200C.  Cut 2 large sheets of baking parchment and on each one draw 2 sets of 'track' lines with a 10cm gap - these will be your guidelines so your eclairs will all be roughly the same size.  Use the paper to line 2 large baking sheets - pen-side down.

Spoon your choux mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm wide nozzle, or into a disposable piping bag with a similar-size hole snipped off for piping. Pipe 2 rows of well-spaced, squashed 'S' shapes on each sheet between the guidelines 


 Bake, one tray at a time, on a high-ish shelf for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, poke a hole in the end of each bun, or using a small serrated knife or cake tester and return to the oven, upside-down, to dry out for 5 minutes until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

To Fill:

I like to mix my Crème Pâtissière with equal amounts of whipped cream, for a lighter filling.

To fill your Eclairs use a small nozzle if you're filling the buns through the holes you've pierced, or a large nozzle if you wish to split the buns in half. Carefully pipe the Crème Pâtissière or lightened Crème Pâtissière into each cooled bun - they should feel heavy once full. Arrange the buns on a wire rack and spread each with a little of your chosen icing (see below).


For the Caramel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350F (175 C), or until the mixture is dark amber in colour, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream (careful, it will bubble up) and then the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool, before dipping the tops of your Eclairs into the caramel.

If you are making this caramel purely for eclairs please note that you will have plenty left over but it does keep well.


Chocolate Ganache

Melt 100g plain chocolate and 25g butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in 75ml double cream and 1 tbsp sifted icing sugar. Once cooled a little, dip the tops of your buns in the chocolate and leave to cool.

I have decided to master the art of patisserie but can't decide what to try next...any ideas?


Friday, 11 March 2011

Sweet and Salty Caramel Brownies Recipe


Oh heaven help me that's a good brownie!

I'm a massive sweet and salty fan and I adore the amazing book Baked Explorations so I was bound to be crazy for these glorious caramel filled brownies.

This recipe is described in the book as follows:

'It is brownie as fetish.  The Sweet & Salty Brownie is the Baked brownie in extreme, a decadence on par with other, more well known (and perhaps more respected) desserts...The caramel taste is more of a hint and less of an explosion, befitting this elegant dessert; the result is a fudgey-chocolatey-caramely brownie.'



The Baked boys go on to say that this is their most requested recipe and that doesn't surprise me, this is brownie deliciousness on steroids.  The caramel is glorious and the actual brownie extremely chocolatey, I adore the salty topping but left some plain as I rightly assumed hubby wouldn't.  It was great to compare the two and the added salt definitely brings out the fantastic taste of the salted caramel filling. 

If you love brownies you have to try this recipe, this is brownies at their most epic!

Sweet and Salty Brownies
Recipe from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

For the caramel filling :

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream

For the brownie :

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
11 ounces (311g) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the filling :

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350F (175 C), or until the mixture is dark amber in colour, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream (careful, it will bubble up) and then the fleur de sel. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

For the brownie :

 Preheat the oven to 350F (175′C).

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light coloured metal 9 x 13 inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is a just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.

To assemble the brownie :

 Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, taking care to make sure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel and 1 teaspoon coarse sugar.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.


Enjoy!

This post has been added to Foodista's Best Brownies.

Best Brownies

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Gâteau Recipe


Words cannot describe the magnificence of this cake, it is truly one of the most scrumptious recipes I have ever come across.  Three layers of gloriously light and fluffy vanilla cake, double cream, strawberries, the most unbelievable cream cheese frosting and shortbread biscuit crumbs combine to utterly slay you.

Both Hubby and I decided this may well be the best cake ever...


This recipe is by the gorgeous Georgina Bragg and was featured in the Sep/Oct 2010 issue of Jamie Oliver's magazine, I have been meaning to make it ever since and I am so glad I finally got around to it.  

Strawberry Cheesecake Gâteau

Serves 12

230g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
230g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
230g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk

200ml double cream
300g strawberries,
 reserve a couple for decoration, hull and halve the rest
2 shortbread fingers, crumbled

Cream Cheese Icing

200g icing sugar
30g butter
80g cream cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.  Grease three 18cm- diameter cake tins and line the bases.
2.  In a large bowl or a food processor, beat the sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and milk into a smooth batter.  Divide between the tins and bake for about 18 minutes, until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Leave for 5-10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3.  Whip the cream and use to sandwich the layers together, adding strawberry halves to each cream layer.
4.  Combine the icing ingredients and pipe over the top of the sponge, or spread it over with a spatula.  Finish with crumbled shortbread and whole strawberries.


I am in love with this cream cheese icing and the shortbread crumble sets it off perfectly, I'll be making a cupcake version of this cake very soon.  I'm not a fan of the all in one method so I used the creaming method, creaming the butter and sugar, adding the egg and vanilla and beating well before adding the dry ingredients followed by the milk.  


x x x

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Ladurée Pâte Sablée Croustillante à Crumble - Ladurée Crisp Sweet Pastry for Crumbles


I have had my copy of Laduree Sucre the Recipes for a while now and although I have looked through the glorious little book more than once, eyes and mouth open wide in utter amazement at the glorious array of recipes, I have not yet actually made anything.  Admittedly most of these recipes involve at least two days of serious baking for a home baker but there are a few simpler and equally scrumptious recipes too, this is one of them.


Pâte Sablée Croustillante à Crumble or Crisp Sweet Pastry for Crumbles, features in the Basic Recipes section of the book, this I'm sure will be a section I visit often.

This crumble is quite simply amazing! I decided to use mine to make a quick Apple and Blueberry Crumble but I could literally eat this by its self. Apart from the refrigeration time which can be a little irksome this recipe was a breeze and I'm going to make another batch to store for impromptu use.  This crumble would be fantastic sprinkled over ice cream or peach halves and whipped cream.

Here is a snap of the Crumble before baking.


I baked my crumble for 10 minutes on a tray, as suggested in the recipe before removing and topping my prepared fruit, I then baked my apple and blueberry crumble as normal (about 40 minutes).  I didn't bake on a try for the suggested 15-20 minutes as I know hubby doesn't like his crumble too crunchy or crisp, the results were perfect with just the right amount of crispness without being crunchy.

Ladurée Pâte Sablée Croustillante à Crumble
Makes 7 oz /200g of dough

3 1/2 tbsp / 50g butter, very cold
1/2 cup / 50g all-purpose flour
+ 2 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour for work surface
1/4 cup / 50g granulated sugar
1/2 cup / 50g ground almonds (almond flour)
1 pinch of salt

1. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces.  Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the butter, sugar, ground almonds and salt.  Using the palms of your hands, work the ingredients until the dough comes together.

(You may add this point think the dough is too dry but it's not I promise, just carry on working until it starts coming together, it will still be crumbly).

2.  Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for a minimum of an hour before using.

3. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/5 inch / 5 mm.
Cut 1/3 inch / 1cm cubes.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes to harden.


4. Preheat the oven to 300 F / 150 C / Gas Mark 2
Place the pastry cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spread them out on the sheet, making sure to separate any pieces that stick together.

5. Place the sheet in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.  Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Chef's Tip: You can also prepare the dough one day ahead (steps 1 & 2) and bake the following day.


This crumble has the most beautiful flavour, I am not the biggest almond fan but although the almonds make this crumble incredibly flavourful, the flavour is not predominantly almond and this really does feel like a glorious Parisian crumble you would only find in the chicest patisserie in town.