Monday, September 19, 2005

Martha and Me....

So did you see the new Martha Stewart show today?? If so.... I was on it. I didn't actually get to be there in person but they did use about 7 seconds of my video. I ended the beginning montage showing off what was supposed to be thick buttercream frosting that was the consistency of soup.
Pretty neat.... Although I really wanted to be on the show. Maybe they will do a desserts show and I can be on that!! Let's hope

Friday, September 16, 2005

General Custard

This month' s installment of Sugar High Friday is hosted by Simply Recipes and featured Custard as the theme. I have never done much with custard aside from the typical flan and even that was **gasp** from a box.... what can I say.... I am a cheater in the kitchen. At least I use to be... I make it all from scratch these days... down to the whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream is very very very delicious and sooooooo much better than the squirt can you get from the supermarket. And easy too... If I can make it anyone can! I had no idea what I wanted to do with custard this month. I scoured through all my cookbooks and found nothing I thought I could pull off. So as I type this I am wondering what sort of delirious state I was in when I decided on The Beehive Cake. This has definitely been the most challenging recipe thus far....

I have literally been working on this thing all afternoon/night long ( and edit: saturday morning, too!)!! I have had to make the cake dough THREE times in order to get it right. The custard part of it was pretty easy.. Although I did let it get too hot too quick and the bottom STARTED to burn so I have a few little brown burnt bits strewn throughout an otherwise beautiful (and quite tasty) vanilla custard. The cake is FINALLY in the oven with 3 minutes to go. I am going to go ahead and post this without pictures, which kills me. I am a highly visual person so I know it is hard to sometimes read through a cooking experience without pictures to connect to your minds eye. I promise I will post them in the morning after I assemble the cake....This has turned into a 2 day cake-a-thon.Take a look at the recipe.... You'll see why it took me so long.

Honey Almond Praline:
2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
2 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) honey
3/4 cup (2 ounces) almonds

Custard Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 envelope, plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Rich Yeast Dough
3-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg

In large mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Heat together milk, butter, sugar and salt just until warm (115-120 deg F), stirring occasionally to melt butter. Add to dry mixture in mixer bowl; add egg. Beat at low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, scraping
sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1-1/2 hours. Turn out on lightly floured surface. Divide in half and form each part into a ball. Use half the dough for Beehive Cake.

1/3 jar caramel or chocolate topping

To make the honey almond praline:
Melt the butter, add sugar and honey, cook until bubbly and ingredients marry. Remove from the heat and stir in the almonds. Let this mixture cool.

To make the custard filling:
First place the sugar and cornstarch in a small to medium pan. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and milk together. Whisk them into the sugar and starch mixture in the pan. Cook this over low heat and gradually increase to a medium heat bringing the mixture to a boil. The mixture will bubble slowly. Whisk this bubbling mixture for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat. Soak the gelatin in a 1/4 cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Add gelatin mixture to hot custard and whisk. Set aside to cool in a clean bowl. Cover with plastic to keep mixture from crusting and refrigerate until cool.
After mixture has cooled, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla to medium peaks. Fold whipped cream into cooled custard. Make sure to whisk custard to creamy stage before gradually folding in whipping cream. Refrigerate until ready to fill split cake layers. Pat out to fit bottom of 9” round cake pan. Prick dough all over. Spread cooled Almond Syrup over dough. Cover; let rise in warm place until almost double, about 1 hour. Bake in 375 deg F oven, 15-20 minutes. Almond Syrup should look caramelized and liquid, not crumbly.

To assemble the cake: Cut cooled cake in half to make 2 layers. Drizzle 1/3 jar caramel over bottom layer. Top with the custard mixture. Place the top layer over the custard and refrigerate or freeze for several hours to firm up custard before cutting.

This recipe can be doubled and made into a half sheet cake the size of a jellyroll pan, this is wonderful to serve for breakfast gatherings, this cake will not be too sweet. If baking in half sheet, use a piece of cardboard to lift off top half of cake, you can use a flattened paper plate on round cake layers.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Chocolate and Rum and Cheesecake

Wow. It has been a while. I have missed my kitchen terribly. I started a new job and have been working very hard. So by the time I get home and get Kathryn fed, bathed, read to and in the bed..... I crash. I think about baking all the time and am constantly on the lookout for new recipes and ideas.
I read
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl in about 2 days and have since fallen deeply in love with her and her writings. I started Comfort me with Apples a few days ago and am almost finished with it. I love the way she incorporates her life story in with the recipes. Her lifestory told with food. All cookbooks should be this way..... I found a recipe in Tender for ArtPark Brownies that called for fine chocolate and I cannot WAIT to make them. Those are on the agenda for tomorrow night.

Last night I made the Chocolate Rum cheesecake that I learned at my cooking class the other week. A good friend of ours is not a huge dessert guy but it was his birthday and I heard he really liked cheesecake and also had a thing for chocolate. I immedately thought of this recipe.

For the crust:
1 pkg Nabisco Famous Wafers, crushed
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
6 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup rum
1 lb. cream cheese
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
4 extra-large eggs

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 325 F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and cover the outside with aluminum foil, shiny side out.
In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate cookies crumbs and granulated sugar and stir to mix. Add the butter and stir until blended. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add the superfine sugar and continue beating until blended. Then beat in the sour cream,vanilla extract and the rum. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer and set it over a pan of simmering water but not touching the water. Warm the mixture, stirring constantly, until completely smooth and very creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the chocolate mixture to the batter and whisk until blended. Set the bowl back over the simmering water and stir until creamy and smooth. Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until the cake is set around the edges and the center is still a little loose, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature, remove the rim from the pan and refrigerate overnight. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook by Chuck Williams

This cheesecake was a huge hit. The birthday boy loved it!! I was really shocked that it turned out perfectly. There was not a crack in sight on this pretty baby. Baking in a water bath really does help in the crack department.
The texture was so wonderful. It was so creamy and dense without being heavy. The chocoalte married beautifully with the rum. I really tried to use the finest ingredients I could find. I had been using the Baker's chocolate that is sold at the supermarket until the chef at my class told about all the nasty stuff they put in that chocoalte to make it last on a store shelf. So, I decided to buy the Scharffen Berger chocolate and was enamoured with it as soon as I opened that little blue box. What is it about us food people that we get off on something like a bar of chocoalte?? It was like a little bar of black gold. I loved the heaviness of it and the silky texture. It's taste was rich and complex and lingered in my mouth for quite a while. It really did make the cheesecake. I am sold on the virtues of good chocoalte. I am beginning to learn the absolute importance of good quality ingredients.

While I was in Williams Sonoma lusting over all the kitchen candy, I found a neat little recipe for a Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake. It called for lady fingers (of course) and I have had 4 packages here in my pantry for a few weeks now... just waiting to be used. They met their beautiful fate late last night, as they became soaked in rum and arranged in a springform ready for the coffee ice cream. I had to kinda wing it on the recipe because I didnt want to buy the cookbook so I just tried to remember the vital parts. But come on..... it's an ice cream cake. How hard can it be......
Here is the recipe I used.

4 packages LadyFingers
Rum for soaking
2 pints good quality coffee ice cream
8 ozs Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Arrange the lady fingers in a 9" springform pan. Brush all fingers with rum...
Allow coffee ice cream to soften and spread into awaiting lady fingers. Cover ice cream with plastic wrap.
Freeze for at least 6 hours.
In mixing bowl of electric mixer whip the mascarpone cheese, vanilla, heavy cream and sugar until fluffy and smooth.
Remove the plastic wrap from the coffee ice cream and spread cheese mixture over the frozen ice cream. Place plastic wrap on cheese layer and freeze for at least 6 hours. Sprinkle with cocoa before serving.

This was DELICIOUS!! So good and it looks adorable. Great for an after dinner summer dessert. I was lucky and ran upon some Starbucks coffee ice cream that had chocolate chunks in it and it was soooooo very good. I had no idea Starbucks made ice cream!!
It was like a little slice of frozen frappaccino... mmmmmm.....