28.2.10

Sad news...

As of tomorrow, I'm back on points counting... 

That's right, weight loss. 

So the entries, while they will still be coming, won't be quite so frequent. 

I promise, though, I will MAKE the points for delicious things... Not just because I love food, but because this is what I want to do!!

Stay with me? 

27.2.10

Cake time!

 
And what could I be cooking with this, you ask?

Could is be... Carrot cake?

This is the first time I'd made a cake like this! Generally, the cakes I make are butter and sugar, creamed together... Eggs, vanilla... Flour, Milk... 

For this carrot cake, you start by whisking the eggs and sugar over hot water until a certain temperature, and then you take it off the heat and whisk, and whisk, and whisk... By the time I got to s l o w l y drizzling in the oil, my hand was a big bundle of cramps. I had no idea whether or not this whole thing was going to work. Did I whisk enough? Not enough? Beat the flour in too much?

I'd never made a successful genoise-style cake before, and I'd only ever made one attempt... And after my recent failure (and then only moderate success) with the Pots de Creme au Chocolat, I wasn't feeling very confident. 

Well, see for yourself!

 

And then... There was the cream cheese frosting... Oh yeah, baby!

 



25.2.10

Pots de Creme au Chocolat - Take 2!

 
Not perfect, but better!!
This time, I turned down the heat, and took a few other precautions... I think I'm still whisking the eggs too much at the beginning though. I might try by hand next time, actually!


 
BTW... I love the Porcelain Petites from Superstore... Not very expensive, fabulously cute and practical, and Oven, Microwave and Dishwasher safe!!

 
It's hard to see, but those marshmallows are EVER so slightly orange tinted. Why? Because they're creamsicle flavoured!! Lightly orange and vanilla, and yummy!!
Supplies were running low, and that just wouldn't do!


 
Mmm... Toasty! Also, it gave me an excuse to play with my new Butane torch. Is there anything more fun than playing with Fire in the kitchen?! 
I think not!


As you can see  from the spoon, the outside may be kind of frothy, but the inside is smoooth and rich. It's like... The "creme" part of a creme brulé. But with dark chocolate. Or like the smoothest, richest, creamiest chocolate pudding you've ever TASTED!

But I will certainly be practicing until it's perfect... Poor hubbins, having to help me eat all the rejects!

Not food - Just pretty

Because sometimes, you just need something beautiful.

24.2.10

The difference that temperature makes

 

On the left, the first batch of Marshmallows. Short, slumpy, and not so much bubblage in the internal structure. Because of their density, they end up sticking around on your tongue for a lot longer, and ending up being a little sickly sweet. 

On the right, the second batch of Marshmallows, using a proper candy thermometer. Tall, bubbly, nicely square. These melt way more readily, so you don't end up with vanilla sugar-slime in your mouth. 

Case in point: The marshmallows on the left got put back in their bag to be made into rice krispie squares or some such thing. 

The Marshmallows on the right? 

I ate them!

23.2.10

In the interests of honesty...

I suppose I should blog my failures too, for all my readers. (As in... Hi Abbey!!)

Tonight's recipe was "Pots de Creme au Chocolat", which is basically a dark chocolate baked custard. Not many ingredients, looks pretty simple...

What could go wrong, right?
Mise-en-Place in place! Mmm, dark, dark chocolate!!

 
You whip 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, a pinch of salt and 1 oz of sugar until it's a very pale yellow. I actually learned something from the book today! Apparently, if you leave the sugar sitting on the egg for too long without doing anything, it'll actually dehydrate the yolk, called "Burning" the egg!

 
3 oz of delicious, dark chocolate... It goes into some boiling cream and milk, and then stir until melted... Then you temper the egg mixture with the chocolate mix, and then add it all together. 

 
You strain the resulting custard... Yumm!! Smooth! Delicious! Choccccolatey goodness! What could possibly go wrong?!
Yeah:


 
This. 
I'm guessing this is a curdled custard. Which would probably mean that the heat was too high... It looks like it actually foamed up, because the cover had bits of the custard on it! 

What will I do differently next time? I'll DEFINITELY be turning down the heat!!

But it's still incredibly delicious, so I'll be practicing until perfect!!

22.2.10

Croissants...

are delicious. Seriously, seriously delicious. 

 

Basically, croissants are dough, and butter... I mean, of course they're yummy!! They're loaded with butter!


The Mise-en-Place - Flour, Sugar, Salt, Water, Milk, Yeast, Butter, and BUTTER! Yes, two butters. 

The smaller amount of butter (in the blue bowl) is make into something called Beurre en Pommade. Basically, you want the butter to be the consistancy of thick sour cream, while still being cool. This gets mixed in with the flour mixture. 

Then you want to roll the dough out, and then roll/pound the larger amount of butter, called the Beurrage, until it's 2/3 of the size of the détrempe, or the dough. Have you ever pounded butter into a 12"x12" square? It's challenging, and uses up a lot of plastic wrap!!

Then there's all the folding, rolling out, and chilling. I would suggest that you plan out your time for this, so you don't end up in bed at 1am like me. 

 
 After the 4th turn... That's what those 4 divots are for. I've cut the dough in half, because there's no way I'm going to need 24 croissants in one day. 

 
You actually make a small slit at the bottom of the triangle of dough, to help roll the ends out... I never knew that before!

 
Rolled, and ready to proof (heh, poof!)
And then... 


 




Wow! I can't say that this was an EASY recipe, but I thought it was a lot of fun! And something I'd never done before!

They turned out flaky and chewy on the inside, and light... I think that they need just a TINY bit more salt next time, because the flavor, though buttery and YUM, was just a teensy bit on the flat side. 

I can't believe that I made croissants from SCRATCH! I never thought I'd be this girl... But this feels so right! The feel of creating something delicious and nourishing... And I love that really, these are made with ingredients that most people keep at home anyway... No trips to the nether-regions of health-food stores or Asian supermarkets... You won't even need to ask which aisle the ingredients are in!!

Try this, people! Or, better yet, come up for a visit!!

21.2.10

Page 295...

Tonight's recipe is Page 295: Pate a Croissant. That's right, I'm going to make Croissants!!

It's 10pm, and so far, the détrempe is mixed and in the fridge, and the beurrage has been pounded, and is also back in the fridge.

Pounded, you ask?

Beurrage is butter (just butter) that you take and pound on with a rolling pin to soften, to the point that it can be rolled out. You want it still cold so it doesn't melt into the détrempe (A dough of flour, sugar, salt, beurre en pommade, water, milk and yeast), but not so cold and hard that it cracks when you're turning and rolling the package of dough and butter.

Pictures tomorrow morning, when I actually MAKE the croissants. What could be better than a fresh, hot croissant for a Monday morning breakfast?

19.2.10

Marshmallow Making, Part 3

Not actually coffee... Homemade Hot Chocolate!! 

The REAL DEAL hot chocolate

3/4 cup water
1 1/2 oz dark chocolate
2 tbsp sugar
tiny pinch of salt
1 1/2 milk, 1%

Heat water and chocolate over medium heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate is completely melted and mixed in. Add in sugar and salt, and turn the heat up to high. Bring the mixture to boiling, and boil for 4 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low.

Add milk, and stir to combine. Simmer until heated through, but don't let it boil or it'll get a skin.

You can drink it as is, or use a frother to, well, froth it!


 

Now, I'm not going to write out the recipe here. 
Okay, no, it's not because I want to capitalize on the market of 'amateurs making delicious homemade marshmallows and blogging about it'... It's because it's kind of long to write out. And someone has already done it FOR me!


The recipe is from my absolute favorite Cooking Show person out there... Alton Brown! I'd also suggest that you go on to youtube, and look up "Good Eats Marshmallows", and watch the episode... 
So, what did I learn? First, that probe thermometers, even if they SAY that they're candy thermometers, aren't the greatest... The sensors are just too high. 

Also, that marshmallow goo is very sticky. 

And that, frankly, homemade marshmallows with homemade hot chocolate? TOTALLY worth every minute of effort and batch of burnt sugar-syrup!!

More pictures later...

The finished pictures I took this morning, so I haven't had a chance to post them yet, but...

Very yummy...

Sadly, I was right about the gummy-ness, though. But I will keep trying until they're perfect!

18.2.10

Marshmallow Making, part 2

The marshmallows won't get cut up until tomorrow morning, and I'm grumpy about them, so I don't feel like writing... 

Okay fine. What went wrong? I think I need a better candy thermometer... Or to figure out a better way... *sigh* I kept over heating my sugar... Well, you'll see. 

 Mise-en-Place, in place!

 
Gelatin, Blooming.

 
Sugar, boiling.

 
See? I *DID* try the thermometer...

 
Yeah, that wasn't what I was looking for... My pan was too large, and so the syrup didn't come up to the sensor on the thermometer...

 
It was hot, and I was frustrated. 

 
Let's try this again... 


 
Does that not look like a sticky mess?

 
In the pan, to sit overnight before I can cut them. 

 
Seriously! Does that not look REALLY sticky?! 
I think these are going to turn out gummy, because the syrup was too hot even the second time around. But, from what I can taste, they'll still be very, very yummy. 

And once they go into hot chocolate, perfectly lovely, I'm sure.

Marshmallow Making, part 1

Well, so far I've learned that sugar syrup doesn't really boil very high, so you can put it in a relatively small pot.

I've also learned that the temperature sensor of a candy/probe thermometer isn't right at the bottom, and if you use too large a part, it'll be taking the temperature of the air, and not the sugar.

Thirdly, I've learned that if you put milk into hot caramel syrup to try and make something of it, the mixture looks and smells like vomit.

17.2.10

All day I dream about cake...

pastries, sweets, pies, petit fours, and tonight... Marshmallows!

As anyone who`s read my other blog knows, I challenged myself to go 3 weeks without chocolate... Tomorrow is day 21, my LAST CHOCOLATE FREE DAY!

Thank God!

And so to celebrate, friday night, I`m going to make my yummy, delicious homemade hot chocolate.

What would go better with hot chocolate than homemade Marshmallows?!

So tomorrow, after this week's many hours of googling (and a couple of viewings of the Marshmallow-centric episode of Good Eats), I will be breaking out my new candy thermometer (no, it's not my first... My last one went to thermometer heaven) and giving my mixer a workout...

Post to follow!!

16.2.10

Love at first site...

I've fallen in love... With a website!

Golda's Kitchen is Canadian, and has almost EVERYthing for baking, cake decorating and cooking! They're amazing!! I've been spending lots of my evenings perusing their site, and I want one of EVERYthing I think!

I get the feeling I'll be spending lots of money there!

14.2.10

Macaron-ery



Mmmmmmmmmm....

  
 The Macaron - So simple, and yet, so daunting... 


Getting my Mise-en-place, erm, en place! 

Left to right - Icing sugar, egg white, the piping bag, almond flour, more icing sugar, and some very yummy, rather pricy, seedless raspberry jam I picked up. 

 
The almond flour and icing sugar went for a spin together, so blend and make everything just a bit finer. 


I decided, after some deliberation, so put a little bit of food colouring into the mix. This is egg white and icing sugar, with a little red and a little orange, for some lovely colour. A lot of macarons I've seen are super bright and fabulous, but I thought that a pretty peach would go nicely with the dark red of the jam. 


I couldn't find a LARGE round piping tip, so I improvised, and just used a large coupler... Before I make these again, I'm defintely going to buy myself a large, round piping tip. I'm guessing it'll also come in handy for making eclairs and such!


Pre-baking. You let these rest an hour, so that they can develop a skin which will turn into a beautiful crust... 


Post-baking... They have the foot that they're supposed to have!! I don't think they're anywhere near perfect, but I think they're beautiful, and that makes me happy!


Yum. Just... Yum.
Would I make these again, even with the hassle of making my own almond flour?

Goodness, yes! In a heartbeat! These were worth every SECOND of time and effort... They're beautiful, and delicate, and rich... I think that next time, I might try some kind of citrus buttercream...

The combination of the almonds and raspberries, the crunch of the crust and the delicate chewiness of the inside... 

I can understand why these are so revered! They are amazing!

13.2.10

Macarons - Prep (Almond Flour)

These aren't mine... But aren't they gorgeous?

Tomorrow, we come to Project number one, page 459... Macarons Gerbet.

Macarons have rather become a sensation lately... A super-duper french cookie, they consist of two halves made of egg whites, confectioners' sugar, and almond flour. Now, egg whites and confectioners' sugar are easy, every day grocery store items, but the almond flour...

So, I thought, why not make it myself?! 

Yeah, it's not as easy as it sounds...

The issue is that almonds contain oil in fairly significant quantities, which means that you have to walk a fine line between almond MEAL (think corn meal, but almondy and slightly oily) and almond butter (like peanut butter, but... erm... Almondier).  

After doing some careful research (aka. Googling), I've found that apparently a coffee grinder is the best implement for the job, so in a few minutes, I will be putting that to the test, trying to finely grind some lovely, freshly made almond meal into a slightly more powdery substance. I know that it will never be as fine and powdery as wheat flour, but I think that for the fine macarons, I'll need something a bit finer than cornmeal!

Now that I think of it, these Macarons will be protein packed MARVELS! Egg white and almonds?! Basically, all protein. (Okay, and sugar... But is there a problem with that? I think not!) Maybe I could use cookies as a meat substitute? Ha!

Alright... Off to ground tiny quantities of almond meal into flour... or paste! 
Glory or Disaster!


Update: It's not perfect, but it's a heckuva lot better! If it turns out terribly in the macarons, well... Meh. I'm sure it'll be fine to make banana bread or squares or something.

11.2.10

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in Whitehorse, and she had a dream - To one day open a café/bakery/patisserie. The details were still fuzzy, but she felt like something was just RIGHT. 

Step number 1:

Learn how to bake. 

Now, she knew how to bake, but she felt her repertoire was sadly lacking. 

So on February 11th, 2010, she went a bought a very heavy, beautiful, rather expensive book. 

  It's prettier in real life...

And her plan? Bake. Learn.