Tag Archives: Caramel

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 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.

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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!!!

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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~

Pear and Chocolate Vanilla Caramel Mousse Entremet-Michalak Inspired

21 Nov

Boy it’s getting chilly these days. Yes it is an indication that Christmas is just around the corner. As I strolled and shopped in downtown Vancouver yesterday, I noticed that all the stores were already decked out in their Christmas decorations. A sight to see!!! All it was missing was Santa Clause and gingerbread cookies. It really is a festive time of year where people are in good spirits.

I am baking again as a way to relieve stress and be at peace to myself. I have not made an entremet for a while thus thought of making it again. After flipping through the pages of various cook books, I settled on a Michalak recipe. Known for his modern take on desserts most of his creations are avant garde. The recipe I chose this time was a combination of lemon scented pears and a chocolate vanilla caramel mousse based dessert. Because I did not have lemons, I opted out to make that step and proceeded to make the chocolate vanilla caramel mousse. Instead of lemons scented pears, I did have pear puree in the fridge and decided to make a pear mousse which will compliment the chocolate vanilla caramel mousse.

The chocolate chiffon cake was the first step I did when making the entremet. It was basically a chiffon cake recipe plus 2 tablespoons of cocoa. The cake turned out quite nice. Next I made the vanilla chocolate caramel mousse.

Method:

1. I first measured the ingredients and split the cream into 200 ml and 50 ml measurements.
2. Melt the chocolate in the baine marie until melted. At the same time soak the gelatin in cold water until soften.
3. In another bowl Whip up the egg yolks. Add vanilla bean seeds in.
4. Create a light brown coloured dry caramel with the sugar. Once achieved, combine the 50 ml of the whipped cream to the caramel to deglaze it. The caramel will crystallize but keep stirring the cream with the caramel until the caramel becomes liquid form
5. Pour the liquid over the beaten eggs and return to heat and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. * Make sure not to cook the eggs.
6. Wring the excess water from the gelatin and place into custard. Stir until fully incorporated and then incorporate the custard into the melted chocolate. Cool. * Don’t excessively cool the chocolate mixture with the gelatin already in it as it will set. If set warm up again.
7. Whisk up some cream. Fold and work quickly. Pour onto cake.

Next I made the pear and white chocolate mousse. To make the mousse, I melted some white chocolate. Once melted I soaked the gelatin. Heated up some pear puree and whipped up some cream. Combine the white chocolate with the pear puree. Add the gelatin and fold in the cream. Spread onto cake
Voila!!!!

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Chocolate Caramel Vanilla Mousse (Michalak)
100 g milk chocolate
1/2 vanilla bean
1 sheet 2 g gelatin
30 g sugar
2 egg yolks
250 ml whipping cream divided in 50 ml (deglazing caramel) and 200 ml (folding)

Pear Mousse
1/2 cup white chocolate
3/4 cup pear puree
3/4 whipped cream

Result: It was a stunning entremet. The pear complimented the caramel. This recipe is a keeper. Enjoy making it!!!!

Christmas and Dessert: Pear, Caramel Entremet

7 Jan

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As one could see Vancouver really prettied itself up for Christmas. Yes I know I am late in posting this but hey….it was a depication of what Christmas meant to Vancouverites.

To top off the Season, I made another entremet. This time I chose to make a pear, caramel and chocolate entremet. I first made the caramel mousse first. A dry caramel was made first and cream was added to the caramel to stop the cooking process. The mixture boiled and cooled again. While the caramel was cooling, add the softened gelatin and pour into the milk chocolate. This mixture would become the basis of the caramel mousse. Whip up some cream and gently fold into the mixture until fully incorporated. Pour into silicone molds and set in the fridge.

The chocolate mousse was the next step. I first created a sabayon and then added the melted chocolate into the mixture. While the mixture was still warm, I included the gelatin making sure it does not set. Next whipped cream was folded into the mixture. Fold quickly, as the gelatin quickly sets at this stage. Nothing could be more disappointing to have half set mousse.

To assemble, placed the sponge cake at the bottom, and then inserted the caramel mousse. Diced up some pear and lightly sautee them and add them to the mousse. Lastly pipe in the chocolate mousse. For glazing, the cake, I chose to make a caramel glaze. The key to making the glaze and ensuring it sets without melting the cake is temperature. Make sure the temperature was around 35 degrees celsius so that it was pourable but not hot to the touch.

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Chocolate Mousse

Whipped Cream
Eggs
Gelatin
Milk Chocolate

Now that Christmas, has gone and past, I hope all readers had a memorable Christmas. Here’s to a even better New Year!!!

Bye Bye Summer, Hello Fall and Macarons.

10 Oct

Sigh :(.  Summer has come and gone finally.  Gone were the warm days filled with bright sunshine, high temperatures, fireworks,  long line ups for ice cream and in their place are the shorter sun filled days, crisper air and lower temperatures at night.  Brrrrr.    The beauty of it was that Vancouver remained beautiful as it transitioned from a sunlit warm bright blue sky to a multitude of colours ranging from golden yellows, to oranges, red and dark red.  Fall was here alas.  Soon there would be kids jumping around on piles of raked leaves and having a marvelous time.  A sight that will be!!

I was in Steveston last weekend to gorge myself on food while market hopping at the last outdoor Farmer’s Market in Steveston; another sign that the seasons are changing.   Steveston has always been an attraction for me as everything was centralized.  All the fresh seafood, pastry shops, coffee bars, restaurants, parks and condos were located within a 10-15 minute walk and because of the convenience, Steveston attracted hundreds of locals almost every day or weekend for that matter.  What made it even more appealing was the Farmer’s Market that happened every two weeks.  It  was a gathering of artisan vendors stemming from jewellery, bakery and farmers showcasing what they had to offer to attract dollar signs from the public. 🙂   I got some really nice peaches for the road and boy were they plump and juicy.   Next up was walking down to Gary Point Park for a nice stroll around the seawall.

Gary Point Park was another favorite destination amongst locals, besides Pajos Fish and Chips, as evident by the number of people strolling  side by side chattering away, families lounging on the lush green grassy turf and kite fliers flying their kites while relaxing in the distant.  It was a place where individuals and I went to unwind in quiet solitude.   There was nothing more calming than to look out at the glistening water while listening to the sound of waves crashing softly onto the shoreline.  The experience was quite tranquil and serene.  As always, all good things come to an end.  I had to work that evening sniff sniff.

On the other hand once I got off work, I used what was left of my time to make more goodies.  A good way to end the week on a high note don’t you think?  I have been flipping through pages of my pastry book by Laduree recently and have been salivating at some of the morsels again.  Even worst, I found myself surfing the net looking at macaron pictures and drooling.  I think if anybody looked any closer they would see me salivating.  Pretty horrible wasn’t it?  I was like the puppy in Pavlov’s experiment, all that was missing was the bell 🙂  I guess it was time for me to make macarons again.  Well…that’s not really true, I made it for friends as well.

This time I decided to half the recipe so that I could make two types of macarons.  As a fan of caramel and chocolate, I decided to make a dark chocolate macaron with a dark chocolate caramel ganache.  Tips on making macarons could be found here https://evasbakingpassion.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/summerbiking-beaches-berry-picking-and-baking/.   The chocolate macaron batter was made  first by adding cocoa power to the almond meal and icing sugar.   Through observation, I found the batter quite thick and dry after adding the cocoa hence will reduce the cocoa next time.  The batter had to be smooth and flowing.  Nonetheless, the macarons developed feet when baking and didn’t  crack; I had somewhat succeeded.  The caramel for the dark chocolate ganache was first prepared, then combined with the ganache and piped  onto the chocolate macarons. 

For the other half of the recipe, I decided to make my favorite flavour pistachio.  I have recently been craving the aroma of fresh roasted coconut thus I made a roasted coconut ganache to go with the pistachio macaron.  In preparing to make the ganache, I first toasted the coconut, then boiled some cream and infused the coconut with the cream.  I then combined the coconut mixture to the chocolate to make the ganache.  Once the pistachio macarons where ready, I simply piped the coconut ganache onto the macarons and garnished them with raspberries.  Not bad for a weekends worth of market hopping, relaxing and baking ehh….

Chocolate Macarons adapted from Laduree

260 g ground almonds (I roasted and ground my almonds; finer texture)

2 50 g icing sugar (I sifted the icing sugar)

15 g cocoa power (I used 3.5 tablespoons)

6 egg whites

210 g granulated sugar

Enjoy!!!

Picturesque West Vancouver, Doughnuts, Caramel and Choux Paste 2

27 Aug

Went for a stroll this weekend on my never ending quest for fresh baked goods and beautiful nature.  First stop was doughnuts.  Yes…I know I have an obsession with doughnuts especially, when they are fresh, but I can’t help that right 🙂  A friend had posted some photos of a recent addition to the Vancouver scene for doughnuts, Lucky’s Doughnuts on 2902 Main St.  Here is their website for those doughnut lovers http://www.luckysdoughnuts.com/  No it’s not mini donuts nor your typical chain produced donuts places like….well I think you all know 🙂

This place sells fresh daily baked doughnuts.  Right off the bat when I walked into this joint, I saw a line formed by customers already all waiting to get their little paws on them.  As if the shelves filled will scrumptious doughnuts don’t tease one’s taste buds, they also have a in store production facility complete with a viewing area.  What a sight it was as I saw the staff decorating the doughnuts in front of my eyes.  It made me want to declare, “let me help as well.”

Next stop Ambleside Park in West Vancouver.  West Vancouver has developed much ever since I was young.   The streets were now littered with condos, which overlook the inlet, boutiques and restaurants.  It is the place  for folks who reside in North Vancouver and West Vancouver to go to but it also drew crowds from surrounding areas alike.   People congregated there, including me, for strolls around the beach, build sand castles, hang out with friends or walk along the 2 km seawall to the Dundadrave Pier. 

It is a good location for picnics, gatherings, sailing and fishing.   In terms of scenery, Ambleside is both peaceful and beautiful because you get the view of Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, UBC and the mountains.   As an added bonus to attract locals to visit the beach, the Vancouver Metropolitan band played at Ambleside.  The band performs plays at Ambleside once very year and I could tell it was well appreciated by the crowd gathering to listen.  The serenity of it all when one pieces together the beach, sand, water, moutains and a band playing all at once; definitely takes one away from the city life.  Quite charming I would say.  I must remind myself more often to take strolls in West Vancouver.

I decided to make choux paste again since it well received by family members as a light dessert.  Taking in what I absorbed from class, I tried the recipe at home; using what materials I had at the time.

Choux Paste-Paris Brest and Eclairs

This was my first try attempting the Paris Brest at home ever since making at Pastry school.  The recipe for the Choux Paste could be found here https://evasbakingpassion.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/cream-puffs-and-cakes-on-a-summer-day/.   I wanted to try the recipe I learned from school and see if it is successful at home.  This time  I substituted water for milk.

After making the paste, I pipped out six Paris Brest and then placed some water in the middle of the pipped brest.  Water prevents the choux paste from closing during the baking process.   Almonds were then added on top.  They resembled like little bagels don’t they lol 🙂  As the our instructor preached during our baking session that our ovens may not be calibrated the same as his, I paid extra attention to the oven temperature and baking time.  Eclairs were the next thing on the list.  By referring to my notes, I then pipped my eclairs.  I found that good results come from pipping carefully and slowly as it was obviously visible in the quality of the end product.After baking the products at a high temperature first, I then lowered the oven temperature for the choux puffs to dry out.    As I found out on my first batch at home, the key really was  the oven temperature.   This is how mined looked when baked.  Not bad ehh?

Next came the decoration of the puffs and eclairs.  For me I like my desserts quite light hence I decided to make a light custard.   Once the custard was done, I pipped the custard on the bottom half of the Paris Brest.  Next came the  strawberries and pipped rosettes. Finishing touches was icing sugar on top of the Paris Brests.

The eclairs were filled with custard as well then coated with chocolate.  Making the caramel was the next step in decorating.   I made the caramel using the dry caramel method.  I stirred the sugar until golden brown colour was achieved.  Cream was then added to the caramelized sugar to stop the cooking process.  As mentioned the eclairs were dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled pistachio.  Cooled caramel was then drizzled over the eclairs and cooled in the fridge.    This was how it looked like….well,  only a bit caramel but enough to make it gooey looking.  I was also proud of the outcome of the Paris Brest as well and thus have included a photo of how it looked like when the Paris Brest was finished.  Not bad for at home experience 🙂 I guess success does come to those who wait and have patience. 🙂

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