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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!!!

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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.

Christmas!!!

25 Dec

Christmas is finally here. Vancouver is beautiful with the snow capped mountains. I am typing this while I munch on dimsum. Been baking up a storm in anticipation of the holidays this year. I made chocolates and cookies for gifts and finally hosted my first chrismtas cookie exchange. A memorable Christmas to remember with all the work involved.

First off, I made some roasted pistachio truffles

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Pistachio Truffles
Pistachios
Cream
White Chocolate
Butter

Coconut Truffles
Toasted Coconut
White Chocolate
Cream
Butter

To make truffles, first chop the chocolate into pieces. Next boil the cream and when the cream has boiled pour into the chocolate. Stir until the cream and chocolate become mixed together and develops a sheen. Add the butter and cool to set. Once set use a spoon or mellon baller to scoop out ball sized ganache. Dip into melted chocolate and set. Once set dip the chocolates again and into the toasted pistachio or coconut.

Next I made some Chocolate Kisses or Baci di cioccolato. To make these cookies, hazelnuts were toasted and ground finley. The dry ingredients were next measured and set aside. I then creamed the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Once fluffy, the rum and vanilla was added in and mixed. Finally the dry ingredients, such as flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, nuts were added in. At first the cookie batter seemed dry but once some kneeding and squeezing the ball of dough came together. Using a spoon, spoon out the dough and roll into spheres. Roll into granulated sugar. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

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Chocolate Kisses (Baci Di Cioccolato)

1/2 cup whole blanced almonds ( I used hazelnuts)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar plus more for rolling
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teasp. baking powder
1/2 teasp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter softened
1 cup icing sugar
2 teasp. vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum

The truffles and cookies came out well. The Chocolate kisses had a subtle hazelnut flavour to them and is a keeper. I definitely chose the right cookies to give as gifts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice-Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

8 Jul

You know Summer has arrived when the mercury reaches high twenties, the birds are chipping and people basking under the sun. The city has come alive when individuals ride along the sea walls, play beach volleyball, swim and lining up for a decadent ice cream scoop. In light of the recent heat, I decided to make some ice cream again. As mentioned before, ice cream starts off with a good custard first. I can’t emphasize on the temperature enough as the custard was the key to the ice cream. Heat the custard till 82 C and immediately take off the heat. If one doesn’t the eggs will curdle. Aside from the egg yolks curdling, rest the custard overnight as it mellows out.

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Chocolate Ice Cream

400 ml milk
80 milk
4 egg yolks
75 trimoline (I used honey)
100 g sugar
200 g dark chocolate
18 g cocoa powder
240 ml whipping cream

Results, the recipe was smooth and had a prominent chocolate taste. A baked alaska would be my next project. Bon Appetit.

Hedgehogs

5 Jul

Time for another treat. I have always been fascinated with Hedgehogs. Now that I got the appropriate chocolate mold, I made some.

Keys:
a good chocolate mold
temperature of the chocolate
to prevent large grainy pieces, ground the nuts to a fine texture.

Making the praline was the time consuming part. First one needs to toast the hazelnuts and then grind them into a paste like consistency. Next came the molds, make sure the mold is covered by a thin layer of chocolate. Once the chocolate was set, fill the chocolate with the praline filling. Place in the fridge for setting. Finally cover the top with more filling. ***Temperature was crucial in setting the chocolate.

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Gianduja

250 g hazelnuts
100 g milk chocolate
30 g cocoa butter
250 g confectioners’ sugar

OMG, nothing taste better than homemade gianduja filling. This recipe is a keeper. I certainly hope readers will make some too as they are of better quality.

Sicilian-Frederic Bau

24 Nov

I have always wanted to make truffles again. Christmas would be the best excuse as everyone enjoys little box of chocolates right :). For me, my favorites were the European kind, in particular french pastries and chocolates. European chocolates contained a higher percentage of cocoa mass contributing to a higher quality chocolate. Naturally when I decided to make some chocolates, I gravitated towards French chocolate recipes. I came across a recipe book at VCC a while ago and was blown away by the mouthing watering photographs and recipes. Ironically, the book also included recipes from Valhrona. Valhrona have established themselves to be a high end quality chocolate. Imagine my surprise when the book called Au Coeur des Saveurs was written by Frederic Bau. Bau apparently is one of the best pastry chefs in the world and one of the founders of Valhrona Pastry School. While my skills are far in comparison to Bau, I am paying homage to his talent by making his Sicilian. Hopefully he approves 🙂

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Method:
First boil the cream and then add the pistachio paste into the hot cream. Add in the cinnamon stick and let the mixture of cream, paste, and cinnamon infuse a few minutes and then pour the hot mixture onto the white chocolate. Add the butter and whip the mixture until fulling emulsified and creamy. Once cool, scoop into balls and coat with milk chocolate.

Sicilian Ingredients:

Pistachio Paste
Cinnamon
Whipping Cream
White Chocolate
Unsalted Butter

As an option to this marvelous tasting recipe of Bau’s, I opted to toast some pistachios and ground them for topping. Happy Chocolate Making.

Images of Fall, Festivities and Food

19 Oct

Fall is season full of colours stemming from golden yellows to vivid oranges and finally to stunning red. I always got a fiendish delight I visit Langley and its farms and nature. Admiration…doesn’t do much justice when it came to fresh air, food and nature. Because it was gobble gobble weekend, there were a number of festivities running. The Cranberry Festival would be one. Hundreds gathered in Fort Langley to see paddlers paddle down the Fraser River while others enjoyed a warm walk in the main hub, the festival. What was the theme of this festival? Well, kind of a no brainer since the title says it all. Up and down the main strip, one could see the little pinkish red berries show up everywhere. Yummmm..they were sweet.

I first hit Krause Berry Farms to bask in nature’s bounties….well…let the photographs show Fall in its finest form!!! 🙂

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The Long Weekend wasn’t complete without baking so here we go…..Molten Lava Cake. Enamored by its rich, dense and chocolatey texture, I itched and scratched until I finally succumbed to making the deliciously rich cake. A typical question may be, “Why did it take so long?” Answer: Family not chocoholics. The molten lava cake in actuality is slightly under baked thus the oozing batter. While attending pastry school, we were taught an alternative method. Instead of underbaking the cake, a truffle was inserted into the cake. Emphasis was placed on leaving the batter overnight for the flavour to mature.

To make the cake, I first measured the ingredients and then whipped up the sugar and eggs until very light in colour. Next I melted the dark chocolate and butter together and then folded the chocolate mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. The final step was folding in the sifted flour. Leave overnight and spoon the batter into ramkins the next day. Bake at 360F for 15 mins.

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Note: The cakes will puff up during baking but will come back down when cooled. For decoration, a scoop of raspberry and strawberry sorbet was placed on top of the cake. Pistachios were also used as garnish. Serve Warm.

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There were virtually lots of recipes found on the internet. These were the ingredients I used to make mine.

Molten Lava Cake
Eggs
Sugar
Dark Chocolate
Butter
Flour

Happy Fall Baking.

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