Christmas Cookie Project: Linzer Cookies

23 Dec

With 2 more days till Christmas, I decided to switch gears and make some cookies.  There are lots of cookies outside and I wanted to make some traditional cookies for Christmas.  This time I decided to make some Linzer cookies.

To make the linzer cookies, I first toasted up some hazelnuts and grounded them.  I then creamed the butter and sugar.  Once the butter/sugar mixture was nice fluffy and incorporated, the eggs and vanilla were added.  Continue mixing and add the salt.  Next came the dry ingredients.  Add the cake flour, cinnamon, bread crumbs, baking powder and hazelnuts.   Mix and form ball with the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll out the dough and cut with cookie cutters.

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Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.  Spoon jam onto the cookies without the holes and coat with icing sugar on the cookies with holes.

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Linzer Cookie Ingredients  (Culinary Institute of America)

3 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

2 eggs

3 cups cake flour

2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups bread crumbs

2 1/2 cups hazelnuts

Confectioner’s sugar for coating

Raspberry jam for filling

Result:  These cookies were light and crispy.  Delicious and beautiful.  Perfect for gift giving.

Happy Holidays!!!

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.

Traveling to the Wine Country

22 Sep

I have not been writing in a while as I have been too busy with work and school; however recently we went on a mini excursion to the Okanagan during Labour day weekend. I have not traveled for a while so this was a treat for me.

When traveling I find that I am at peace with myself as it allows me to recuperate from any stressful events in my life. It enables me to grow, reflect,reminisce and find back myself which sometimes I loose in the city life. I can’t think of a better place to go and visit.

The Okanagan was very scenic and picturesque in its own right. In comparison to Vancouver, it was much less commercialized and has maintained much of its natural beauty. Surrounded by glistening lakes, one can enjoy a quiet stroll underneath the clear blue sky while admiring the serenity of the place.  There was less congestion, dirt and noise which was quite a stark contrast to city life. Instead of a concrete jungle,  beautiful orchards filled with ripening fruit and wineries occupy the valley. Life slows down to a crawl and people are much more pleasant there. During our 3 day stay there this was what we experienced and saw.

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Switching gears to baking, I have not baked for a while hence baked up a mousse cake.  This time I made a white chocolate mousse cake.

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White Chocolate Mousse

200 g White Chocolate

2 Eggs

40 g  Sugar

4 g gelatin sheet

240 ml cream

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

White Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake

8 Aug

Summer is in full swing now and it is gorgeous. I will always enjoy the beautiful sunsets around English Bay. Been taking a break from baking. Reasons for this break are primarily relatives visiting, working and relaxing. Been to Porteau Cove, Whistler and back this past long weekend with some friends. Porteau Cove was quite serene and beautiful. Life just slowed down as I soak in the beauty and peacefulness while listening to the tides crash upon the shore. Toss in a stone ahhhh….pure bliss. Whistler? Well Whistler will always be beautiful however this time I enjoyed the peacefulness and quiet beauty of nature more. porteau_0314-00hqld0005

This summer would the next milestone in my life as I embark on a journey back to school to finish up my degree in accounting. I have deliberated on this decision for a while and ultimately made the choice to go back. While it may be a hard and long journey, I am extremely happy that everything came together, both work and school.

As a baking project from the break, I decided to come back and make an entremet again. This time I made a white chocolate mousse cake.

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The key for me was the mousse.
To Make the mousse:
1. Soak the gelatin in cold water
2. Melt in a baine marie some white chocolate.
3. Puree some fresh strawberries
4. Combine the strawberry purree with white chocolate
7. Add in the gelatin
8. Fold in the whipped cream

To make the jelly:
1. Puree some fresh strawberries
2. Add sugar
3. Add gelatin

Voila

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Bon Appetit. Have a womderful summer!!!

Chinese Walnut Cookies

2 Jul

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Chinese Walnut Crackers
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten and divided in half
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts, plus 12 raw walnut halves

Fresh Strawberry Eclair

2 Jun

Summer is almost here. With that being said, the market is full of seasonal delicious fruit again. What are those beauties you may ask? Well none other than fresh succulent and sweet strawberries. Yes I am a strawberry fan as it livens up any dessert with a beautiful red colour.

Today I am making the eclair again. Nothing can go wrong with fresh strawberry eclairs. I am using Keller’s eclair recipe and pairing it up with fresh pastry cream and strawberries.

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Ingredients

Thomas Keller Eclair

All purpose flour 175 g
Granulated sugar 33 g
Water 240 g ( I used a combination of water and milk)
Unsalted butter 120 g
Kosher salt 2.5 g
Eggs 250 g (approx 5 eggs)

Pastry Cream
500 ml milk
100 g sugar
40 g corn starch
2 egg yolks
1/2 a vanilla bean

Rsaults: Yum!!!! Bon Appeptit

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