Pistachio Rum Creme Brulee

3 Apr

Pistachio Rum Creme Brulee (recipe adapted from here)

6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream ( I think I will have a coronary here-substitute 1 cup milk less fat)
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided use
1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon rum
1/2 cup chopped pistachios (I used pistachio paste)

1. Preheat oven to 330F.
2. In a medium sauce pan, heat whipping cream and vanilla pulp scraped from the bean until almost boiling over medium heat.
3. While cream is heating, take a medium mixing bowl and beat egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and pistachio paste until light in color
4 . When cream is about to boil, remove from heat and pour 1/2 cup hot cream to eggs and mix quickly
5. Pour the rest of the cream mixture into the eggs until combined
6. Add rum
7. Pour into 6 ramekins and place onto baking tray
8. Pour warm water into pan to create hot water bath and bake for 30 minutes until slightly set
9. Take out from oven to cool.
10. Divide remaining sugar on top of each dish.
11. Brown sugar using a torch.

Result: Delicious, rich and lightly sweetened.

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Finding Equilibrium

24 Feb

It has been a week since Valentines past and has definitely been an interesting ride. To begin, I first started to promote my chocolate hobby again on facebook. Little did I know I would get enough orders to keep me on my toes for about two weeks. If there were two words that could describe how I felt, it would be exhilarating and exhaustion. Yes, I was happy to do the chocolates as I saw it as an creative outlet; however, it was also tiring on the same side to meet the orders, work, family and friendship all at once. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the4 experience as people liked them, a comforting thought. As an experience, next time I will stagger the production while keeping an eye on quality.

It is during this time, when I realized how much I really liked baking. It is comforting, peaceful, therapeutic and liberating. To me I see things like a blank canvass and I just go crazy in creativity. This may well be in terms of combinations of flavours or appearance wise. Just a thought for now, I may continue taking courses in Baking/Pastry Arts in the future to home in my skills but to find balance in my life. More importantly, I realized something and it includes focusing back on me…..equilibrium. Over the years I noticed that I have been focusing more on people, not that it’s a bad thing, but less on myself. I grew up looking towards certain individuals for approval. Does obedience ring a bell…. and consequently neglected myself. I felt an ant, toiling away with X amount of weight on its shoulders and as time rolled on, it strained my emotions and eventually relationships. I felt as if I was being torn apart in all directions. Stressed for lack of better word. A friend from church hinted that to me,“You don’t need others for approval”, in other words trust in oneself. I have drastically forgotten about that. I contemplated about it the last a few days and reflected on what is important in my life, peace and self-acceptance. The only thing I came up with was baking or nature,except with nature you can’t bake. Like an artist who uses the brush to make strokes to build a masterpiece, I use ingredients and utensils to bake the cake or product. It is something I am happy with. Friendship and family are also important but without me in the equation, it is unsuccessful. From now on I will try a new experiment by add new variables into the equation, me. I am hopeful it will lead to a positive resolution.

Which brings me to the next page. I had originally wanted to share a recipe from my chocolate making course. With chocolate making, temperature and tempering is the key in making a successful chocolate but that is for another post. Voila!!!

Salted Caramel Ganache

Cream 240 g
Glucose 120 g
Inverted Sugar 60 g
Sugar 220 g
Milk Chocolate 240 g
Coco Butter 40 g (optional)
Butter 120 g
Salt.

Results: Very Creamy and chocolatey.
~Bon Appetiti~

The sweet scent of Canele de Bordeaux-Bachour

4 Feb

Wow it is February now! Can’t believe its almost Valentines. Over the course of the last few weeks, my chocolate making hobby started about again. It is also known as Adventures in chocolate making. In this adventure, I take courses at pastry school or patisseries in order to perfect the craft. It was only last week that I went to chocolate making class at a patisserie. The experience was fascinating as I got to work with chocolate, cast chocolate, decorate chocolate and lastly make the ganache filling. A joyous moment indeed when I finally got to use the airbrush to coat the chocolate molds with coloured cocoa butter. Amazingly it was not as horrific as I thought; there were no accidents. When the class was done, students were given chocolates to bring home. I think I shall play with the airbrush and experiment but that will be the next adventure.

As the title had indicated, I made caneles recently. They are one of my favorite desserts. The first words that come to mind when describing the canele are custardy, rich, sweet and fragrant. If not mistaken, the canele pastry comes from the French region of Bordeaux. They are baked custard cakes flavoured with rum and vanilla; they are caramelized on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Keys:
-for optimal results and flavour, rest the batter in the fridge for 24 hours
-to achieve the desired caramelization on the outside of the cakes, butter the sides of the fluted molds.
-they will rise out of the molds during baking and when they do, use a knife and insert it in them to release the steam
-rotate them during baking

While the caneles are time consuming to make, they are well worth the effort. Voila.

Caneles Recipe
500 g whole milk (I used 2 percent milk)
30 g unsalted butter, diced
1 vanilla pod
105 g all purpose flour
180 g sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
75 g dark rum

Result: This was my first try at Antonio Bachour’s recipes. So far I am happy with the results.

~Bon Appetit!!!

Ringing in the New Year-Chestnut Chocolate Mousse Cake

20 Jan

Wow, I can’t believe it is 2018!!!! 2017 ended well with a wonderful white Christmas, a snowshoeing adventure at Cypress Mountain and time for reflection. It proved to be more and more of a desire to go back into my true passion. Baking and cooking.
With 2018 well in its way, I have started my new job and so far it’s okay. I have also done testing with the federal government in hopes of a job there. Most importantly, I found a new bakery that offers chocolate making courses. Excited is what describes me right now.

To ring in the New Year, I decided to make a twist to the classic chestnut cake. Inspired by Thomas Haas’ chestnut yule log which consisted of a chocolate mousse, chestnut cream and chiffon cake, I decided to make my own version. To make this cake, I first made the chestnut puree. The chiffon cake was the next step. The mousse was the last step in the process.

Voila!!

Chestnut Puree adapted from here
700 g fresh chesnuts
(I used milk to cover the chestnuts and simmer them until soft)
1/2 vanilla pod ( I used 1 vanilla pod)
87.5 ml water (for sugar syrup)
32.5 g sugar (for sugar syrup)
1 tablespoon brandy (opt. Cognac)
***Roast chestnut at 350F for 15 minutes. To make the paste smooth, simmer the chestnut and milk and vanilla until soft) The chestnuts will absorb all the milk when done. Add more milk if not soft enough to cut through. (Use judgement) Transfer over to the food processor and blend. Add the simple syrup gradually and blend until smooth as possible. Mix in the brandy.

Chocolate Mousse

200 g Milk Chocolate
2 eggs
40 g sugar
4 g gelatin ( I used 6 g)
240 ml cream

Results: Wonderful combination of flavours. Next time I will add a bavarois as well.

Bon Appetit!!!!

Holidays Baking-Cinnamon Morning Buns w/Orange Zest and Pecans

1 Jan

Happy New Year!!!!! What a way to ring it in. Dim sum with family. Actually today was rather quiet. New Year’s Eve was better. Why? I spent the last day of the year snow shoeing on Cypress Mountain. It would be my first time and I enjoyed it. There was something about the glistening snow covered trees and the crunching of snow underneath my feet that brought me smiles. Perhaps it was the serenity and peacefulness that only nature could bring. I didn’t even mind the cold. All that was missing was a cabin in this winter wonderland.

The night before the actual adventure, I was all in a tizzy. Being a beginner, my mind was racing in all directions. Would I cramp up and have an accident? My nerves were a bit calmer on the day of. I was excited as my friends and I started up the trail. It was absolutely spectacular being on the mountain. The air was crisp, clean and cold and I marveled at the beautiful surrounding. Up and down we went admiring nature’s wonder. When we reached the look out point, the view was breathtaking

Nothing could be complete than something to nibble on the way to re-energize. In this case, it was my favourite bread of all time, the cinnamon bun. I had remembered a recipe that captured my attention before and decided to make it. Unlike most cinnamon buns whose components were fresh brioche, cinnamon and sugar and cream cheese frosting. This recipe added a warmth to it. It called for orange zest and honey. The orange zest added complexity to the brioche’s flavor profile and honey made the brioche less sweet. One bite and I was in love.

Cinnamon Morning Buns w/ Orange Zest and Pecans (adapted from here)

2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup honey
4 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
4 cups flour (I used all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter

Filling
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 sticks butter
find sanding sugar for sprinkling

Notes: I had used a mug to measure the milk thus had a softer liquidy dough. As a result I increased the flour to approx 7 cups and by doing so, I approx. doubled the other ingredients with the exception of the eggs. For the filling, the butter was only softened and mixed with the honey, cinnamon, cardamon and sugar to make a creamy mixture in order spread onto the dough. Proofing required approx 3 hours. Results were fabulous. ***Make sure the dough is pliable and not sticky. A keeper of a recipe!

Christmas Cookie Project II-Pecan Turtle Cookies

26 Dec

I dream of a White Christmas!!! What a lovely Christmas it has been. I have been praying for a White Christmas over the last few years. I finally got my wish yesterday. Tired eyes opening from a hectic week filled with chocolate making, cookie baking, I was pleasantly surprised by the seeing little white flakes gently floating down. Clothed in a flash, I hurriedly made my way to the living room window. There I felt my heart scream with joy. The entire street almost white, YIPPPEEEE!!!! My prayers were answered. Weeks and weeks of praying finally paid off. I know I may sound looney but nothing thrills me more than a beautiful peaceful white landscape with Christmas trees and ornaments glistening. When I was young, my happiest days where celebrating Christmas with family and gift exchanging. I remember skating on the ice in Central Park. It was fabulous as those holidays were filled with love and laughter. Not that these days weren’t. White Christmas were also frequent. Nowadays, family get togethers are less frequent and with individuals getting older and passing away, it became a quiet Christmas. Not that it was bad but I still remember those Christmas days when spent throwing snow balls at each other. Now can you see why I love White Christmas? Ha ha.

This Christmas has indeed been a special one, I got to share it with friends and family. My friends and I went to events like the Singing Christmas Tree. This year marked its 50th Anniversary which made it especially worthwhile to go.

Broadway Singing Christmas Tree 014

A few friends and I also went to see Star Wars-“The Last Jedi.” To culminate it was the Christmas Party in which I made some chocolates and cookies to share.

Speaking of cookies, I made some Pecan Turtles.

Voila!!!

DSC_0004

Cookie Recipe:

1/2 cup toasted pecans (plus more for rolling in)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter (softened)
1 large egg

Caramel Recipe:

Sugar
Whipping Cream
Butter

Results: These are a fantastic addition to any cookie exchange. Buttery and crispy and gooey. A keeper.

~Happy Holidays~

Christmas Cookie Project-Chocolate, Cinnamon and Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

16 Dec

Christmas Season is in full swing. It all started with the Christmas Cookie Exchange organized by the Ladies Team Members at our church. Cookie making is always fun for me as it is the simplest way to enjoy a dessert. Sad to say I do not have the luxury to make them too often. When the idea of participating in a cookie exchange occurred, I literally jumped at it. The event was hosted by the church and 14 friends participated, cookies as well ha ha. We all had a great time socializing with each other. Sipping on tea, munching on cookies, playing games and sharing stories of Christ. The highlight of course was the exchange. I had brought 3 dozen cookies there to share and trade and came back satisfied with 2 dozen cookies.

For this cookie exchange I made chocolate cinnamon and hazelnut thumbprint cookies. They were fun to make and I enthusiastically shared them with everyone.

I first made the dough and then rolled it in sanding sugar and 1tsp. cinnamon.

Once the cookies were baked, a melon baller was used to create the indent on the cookies.

Ganache was filled in the indented cookies.  Ganache was made of chocolate and cream.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Chocolate Thumbprint Cookie Recipe (found Here)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of hazelnuts ( I toasted and ground them finely)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (I used 1 cup butter)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sanding sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
*** Instead of combining the chocolate with 1/4 cup butter. I opted to make a ganache instead using chocolate and cream.

Result:  This cookie was excellent.  It had the right balance of sweetness and bitterness from the cocoa.  The ground hazelnuts and cinnamon added complexity to the taste while the sanding sugar added a texture to the cookie.  It is a keeper and I would gladly be making this cookie again.  As a side suggestion, perhaps substitute the ganache with either caramel or caramel chocolate ganache.  Happy Holidays and Cookie Baking!!!!

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