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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Valentines Day!!!! As everyone is celebrating this day outside with a nice dinner and roses, I decided to celebrate at home baking for my friends and family. When one thinks of Valentines, the first impression that comes to mind are chocolates and roses. Well, I will let the rose giving and dinner treating to the guys out there but I will prepare dessert.
In light of this celebration, I decided to make something chocolatey since you can’t go wrong with chocolate. This time I am making a Chocolate Ganache Tart. While the dessert may be delectable and stunning, it is rather quite easy to make. To make the tart, I first made the pate sucre shell first. Next I made the ganache which goes into the shell. I heated up some cream and poured over the chocolate. I then whisked the cream and chocolate until creamy and homogenous after which I poured it into the cooled tart shells. Allow the ganache to cool and decorate with raspberries.
180g Dart Chocolate
130 ml Whipping Cream
Result: The dark chocolate gave the tart a rich, and deep chocolate taste. The ganache was silky smooth a stark contrast to the delicious tart shell. The raspberry complimented the rich chocolate with a sweetness and acidity. For chocolate lovers this is a recipe worthy to try.
Happy Valentines Day to All!!!!
New Years started off beautifully with the sun beaming down on frost laiden Vancouver. Brrrrrr…it certainly cold outside. I hate to be the one who has to scrape the ice of the car in order to go somewhere. Vancouver was back in New Years Eve tradition yesterday as it hosted a family New Years Eve Bash complete with Music and, at the stroke of midnight, fireworks. The beauty and sounds of the fireworks could been seen and heard at Boundary Road. The streets were filled with people honking their horns shouting, “Happy New Year!!!”
To mark this festive day, I decided to make macarons again. This time I am making Hazelnut Macarons. Unlike most macarons sold outside which uses ground almonds as a base, I am using freshly toasted ground hazelnuts to make the macarons.
Key to make Hazelnut Macarons
-use stale egg whites (fresh ones will do but older egg whites produce better results)
-when boiling the sugar syrup to pour over the meringue Pierre Herme suggests boil till 118C approx 240F then pour over the egg whites while beating and cool down to 50C.
-fold the italian meringue to the almond/egg white mixture
-let the pipped macarons develop a skin prior to baking them. (Tip to help the skin develop faster, preheat the oven and place the uncooked macaron sheets ontop of the warm oven for faster results)
-Bake at 285 F
The recipe could be found here and instead of using almonds substitute hazelnuts.
Results: The macarons were light and chewy on the inside. They have a distinct taste of hazelnuts. The recipe is a keeper.
Happy New Year!!!!
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.
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
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)
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!!!!