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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~

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Christmas Chocolate Project- Caramelized Gianduja Hedgehogs-Curley

17 Dec

Brrrrrr it is freezing in Vancouver. The city has been hit with minus temperatures this week and to top it of more snow will be coming tonight and tomorrow. Yippee more snow to welcome the holiday season. With approx 1 week left to go, the city has gone into full swing with decorations and festivities. One of the rich traditions is the Gingerbread Town held at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver. Every year participants create wonderful masterpieces and display them in the hotel.

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During the holiday season, I tend to bake alot for friends and family. For the last couple of weeks or so, I have been flipping through recipes to see what I can make. Well I stopped at praline again. Nothing brings more joy to my heart than to see the perfectly coated glistening nuts. It makes my heart sing as friends and I munch on the sweet and crunchy morsel. A good accompaniment to chocolate. I decided to create caramelized parline hedgehogs.

To make the caralized Gianduja
First toast some nuts until golden. Note: do not over toast them as they will have a bitter taste. Then make the simple syrup by boiling the water with sugar. Once the sugar mixture comes to the rolling boil add the nuts and stir. Keep mixing. As the syrup boils the water will evaporate leaving the sugar coating the nuts. Eventually the water will boil off leaving the sugar crystals coating the nuts.

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It will look granular and coarse but not to worry, this is the process of making sugar coated nuts. Keep stirring and mixing until the left over sugar crystal caramelizes and have coated the nuts entirely. Remove from heat and spread out on silicone mat to cool.

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Once the praline has cooled a bit place into food processor to grind to a paste. In the beginning it will look like chopped nuts but eventually it will become a paste.

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Melt the milk chocolate and dark chocolate and add to mixture. Once the praline/chocolate has been mixed well. Pour onto silicone mould for setting.

To make the chocolates
First melt some milk chocolate, temper it and fill into chocolate hedgehog molds. Pipe the praline into the molds and set. Finally fill the chocolate.

Voila

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Caramelized Gianduja

150 g almonds lightly roasted
150 g hazelnuts lightly roasted
150 g caster sugar
50 ml water
150 bittersweet chcocolate
150 g milk chocolate

Results: This is a very good recipe for making hedgehogs. The praline although time consuming was excellent.

Happy Holidays!!!

Pierre Herme-Truffles au Chocolat au Lait et The Vert Matcha

3 Dec

Christmas is around the corner. The city gets prettier and prettier each coming year with Christmas decorations around every corner and in every department store there is Christmas songs playing. Christmas would not be Christmas without snow and we are blessed as snow is on the mountains.

It has been almost 4 months without posting and now is the time as never to post as it is Christmas time!!! I have been busy with work and school and now that I have finished my final mid-term I am free till the final exam. I recently bought a book, “Chocolate,” from my favourite pastry chef Pierre Herme and flipping through its mouth watering pages I stopped at some of his chocolate recipes. I have always loved the taste of pistachio and matcha but am curious how they would work together. IMHO, Pierre Herme used the flavour combination so it can’t be so bad heheheh. Off I went to make the recipe.

To make the ganache, I first measured the ingredients. Herme mentioned to combine the chocolate together with the matcha and then pour the hot cream on it the mixture; however, how will that melt (for lack of better word) the matcha? You would get granules of matcha. Instead, I combined the cream together with the matcha and heated it up. Once heated up pour onto the chocolate and whisk out from the middle. Cool and set the mixture when it is homogenized.

Pierre Hermes truffles called for roasted pistachios thankfully I had some in the fridge. The ganache was quite soft hence after I scooped it out I froze them for a firmer texture to be rolled into chocolate. Once they were more firm, they were rolled in melted chocolate twice and on the third time coated with roasted pistachios.

Viola

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Ingredients:

200 g whole pistachios skinned

Milk Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Ganache
95 g butter
610 g milk chocolate 45% cocoa ( I used Valhrona Jivara)
30 g matcha green tea power
600 g cream

Result: This is an interesting combination. The ganache is not that sweet and has a hint of bitterness. However when combined with the enrobbed chocolate it becomes sweet. To top it off one get the roasted pistachios flavouring with the matcha. I would suggest this recipe for matcha lovers.

Let the holiday baking begin.

White Chocolate and Almond Truffles

12 Sep

Summer is almost gone as the evenings are cooler and the sun sets at an earlier time. I am back from basking in the sun. Looking at my book pile, I finally realized that I have collected a huge pile of them. As I flipped the pages of recipes, I landed on the White Chocolate and Almond truffles by Will Torrent. As I was making them I realize the recipe called for butter. In the beginning I did not realize butter’s part in the recipe, then the obvious came out at me. The added butter increases the smoothness of the chocolate.

When baking or making with chocolate, do not put water in the ganache as it will seize up and nothing can be done with it. Making sure of that tip, I went ahead in making the ganache. Once they are all piped, I let them chill. While the middle was chilling, nuts were toasted and grounded. They were the coating for the chocolate. Making sure the almonds were toasted to the right level, I then took out the chilled ganache and dipped them in the tempered white chocolate and almond for decoration.

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White Chocolate and Almond Truffles (Adapted from Will Torrent)

100 ml/scant 1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
a pinch of salt
550 g white chocolate chopped
250 g almonds

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Result these were the best truffles I tasted; they were extraordinary. The texture was smooth and to be enhanced by the toasted almonds… wowwww. I am surely going to be keeping this for either birthdays or holidays. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Lovely Long Weekend and Truffles

5 Aug

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As one could see I had an amazing long weekend filled with festivities. Normally I would write about it but as they say, a pictures worth a thousand words.
To top it off, I made chocolates again. Being enamored with chocolate from the very beginning. I always sought out ways to better improve myself thus I decided to toast the nuts and sesame seeds for a even better pronounced flavor. I also grounded up some freeze dried berries as well. The ganache was white chocolate rolled with an assorted of nuts and berries. What did I get? A colourful flavourful array of white chocolate truffles. Yum. 🙂

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Ganache:
White Chocolate
Cream
Butter
Toppings: Black Sesame, Almond, Coconut, Pistachio, Strawberry and Raspberry.

Looking forward to the rest of this long weekend.

Sesame Nougatine

26 May

With the extra time this weekend, I decided to make another treat. My family had always loved crunchy nut pralines and since I had some extra sesame lying around, I decided to use it. As an extra bonus, I got to make it for future dessert decorations as well. I found the recipe from a french blog and was impressed by the other recipes the blog contained as well.

To make the nougatine, I first combined the sugar, water, honey and brought it to a rolling boil. Using a electronic thermometer, I took the mixture off the heat once the temperature reached 115C. I immediately added the butter and the sesames,by doing so, it stopped the cooking process. Once the mixture has cooled, I spooned the mixture into silicone molds and baked it at 350F or 180C for about 15-17 minutes. DSC_0348As a caution, position the rack to the lower half of the oven as I got burnt sesame nougatine for the 1st batch. When the nougatine was golden colour, I set it to cool. Bernard also suggested doing a gianduja filling for the sesame nougatine crisps but I opted out as I thought it would be too sweet; however, it gave me confident that should I need to make any nougatine chocolates in the future,I now have a foundation. As for the taste, it is basically the same as the sesame crisps you see outside but homemade instead.

Sesame Nougatine
(Recipe found here)DSC_0352

100 g of sugar
100 g of glucose syrup (I used honey)
25 g water
110 g white sesame
20 g of butter
As for the Gianduja
160 g hazelnut paste
55 g of dark chocolate
Note: I assume this recipe can also be used for ground almonds for almond nougatine. Enjoy, a light sweet snack or candy.

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