Saturday, November 27, 2010
A timeless patisserie staple, Raspberry Mousse Gateau is a classic cake-and-mousse collaboration whose flavor can be easily manipulated to suit your taste: chocolate, blueberry, passionfruit... whatever strokes your Buddha, my good people.
We used a silpat with an indented pattern to create a decorative jaconde for the perimeter of said cake. Tulip paste colored with cocoa powder is layer into the indents, but any food color of your choice may be used if you prefer pastel to brown. If you haven't got one of them fancy $170(!) silpats you can go freehand with the designs, with pretty good results too.
Next, jaconde sponge is poured on to completely cover the tulip base. When baked it is turned over to reveal the patterns and cut into strips and discs to build the cake base.
Jaconde, Raspberry Mousse, Glaze
A cake ring is lined with the jaconde and filled with raspberry mousse. This will go into the chill chest to set, before a shiny glaze of raspberry puree and gelatin is poured on top. And Voila! You have made cake.
I'm pleased with my jaconde. Initially going for a retro purple-green-choco theme, I somehow ended up with with a funky 70's sweatshirt design, which is cool, it fits the overall look anyway. Check out the reflection of my white chocolate curls on the glaze!
The gateau was light on account of it being 90% mousse i.e. 80% air, the jaconde provided structure and a little sweetness, the glaze a slight tart and some kick, and finally white chocolate which I find to be the perfect pairing for berries. This is one gateau I can easily polish off on my own.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Fields Of Fudge & Truffles
Righty-O, a pleasantly straight-forward class it will be today, so let's get a move on, shall we?
Retrieve your fudge from room temperature storage, slice into desired shape and pipe with chocolate your chosen designs. Some recipes suggest coating the fudge in chocolate but before you do that, refer to my precious Campaign Against Fudge and you will note how alarmingly sweet these little nuggets already are, so any added sweetness will be strongly cautioned against.
Production Line, Minions Waiting To Line The Cone
Next dip the ganache-filled chocolate shells in melted chocolate (dark, milk and white) before coating them in a myriad of flavors (flaked almond, pistachios, desiccated coconut, cocoa powder, icing sugar or plain). This permutation of different ganache, shells, dips and coating with yield you...162 individual and unique truffles. Beautiful like the rainbow world we live in.
The truffles "glued" onto the cone structure with melted chocolate. Arranged in a cascading pattern or deliberate chaos, both will deliver stunning results.
Just In Time For Christmas
Rather then tie ribbons all over my croquembouche, I twirled it around for an elegant finish.
Fudged Up My Fudge
I should have come up with more elaborate designs but at times simplicity is best. Enjoy.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Orbs Of Chocolatey Goodness
A breezy mise en place for tomorrow's Croquembouche: a towering French celebration cake especially popular at weddings, traditionally made with profiteroles coated in caramel, which lends its resounding crunch to the name croque en bouche, 'crunch in the mouth'.
Croquembouche may be made with chocolate truffles, which keeps better than profiteroles and in my opinion a far wiser choice. Surely you're not getting hitched without chocolate?!?
Cooking & Settling Fudge
We also made fudge...ahh...erm...nah...I don't like fudge. *shakes head in disgust*. Not only do I find it way too sweet, it's so sticky that the overpowering sweetness lingers in your mouth and refuses to go away even after you've drowned 20 pints of water. Even then there will still be bits of it stuck on your teeth and you try to pry it out with your tongue for hours without success before it finally dissolve, but not without leaving you with a sore tongue and a mouthful rotten teeth. So...nah, I don't like fudge.
For those of youse who can not only stand the sweet confection but even enjoy it, here's what you do: boil sugar, glucose and cream until 117'C, add white chocolate and butter, mix and pour into moulds to set. Slice into tiny tiny portions before consuming, if you must.
We made 3 different ganache for the truffles: dark chocolate coffee, milk chocolate kirsch, and white chocolate orange cointreau. Needless to say, flavor with coffee, kirsch and cointreau to your liking, as did I.
The ganaches are then piped into ready-made chocolate shells (what did I tell ya, it doesn't get any easier than this), sealed with tampered chocolate and set aside for tomorrow.
For the base we made a cone of chocolate, a shell really, but I made mine out of solid chocolate. With chocolate, you can go the whole hog.
My Chocolate Blossoms
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Chef's Roundabout Strudel
After 2 intensive days of making Gateau Opéra & Tiramisu with brain-surgery precision, we caught a break with today's strudel and quiches, quick, easy-peasy throw-togethers with hardly any scales, speed or stress required - just the way I like to cook when I feel like unwinding in the kitchen.
Strudel is an Austrian dessert consisting of a light pastry dough wrapped around an assortment of fillings, most popular being apple and cinnamon, so popular in fact, some even consider it to be Austria's national dish.
Chef's Spinach & Lorraine: Grab 'Em While They're Hot!
Quiche is a French open-faced pie of sorts made with a rich egg-and-cream custard known as royale, and any filling of your choice. We made spinach and bacon-and-onion, aka Lorraine, but if you don't fancy spinach, try roasted pumpkin and pine nuts instead, or your favorite ham and cheese combo. Whatever strokes your Buddha.
Sweating Bacon & Spinach
We first sweat the onions and bacon for the Lorraine, and replaced the bacon with spinach leaves for the vegetarian version. I browned the bacon bits a little longer for the smokey flavor to come through, and seasoned with extra pepper and paprika for a spicy kick.
Straining Royale For A Smoother Custard
Pate Brisee, Filling, Royale
We rolled out the short crust dough we made yesterday, and added the fillings and royale. Last but not least, cheese. Not just any cheese, but the finest the Swiss has to offer: Gruyere. So fantastic is its signature mildly sweet and salty flavor that it prompted the French to rename any quiche with its inclusion quiche au gruyère or a quiche vosgienne.
Stretching Strudel Dough
You may take the easy way out and use filo pastry for the strudel, but the texture will be dry and flaky, not pillowy soft like only a proper strudel dough can be. The dough is unbelievably elastic as a result of the high gluten flour and olive oil used in the making, which makes the vigorous stretching exercise possible.
Rules of perfection would decree you stretch the dough out so thin that a love letter can be read through it, hence the paper test above.
Fillin' & Rollin'
Butter Up For The Oven
Into the strudel goes some bread crumbs, Granny Smiths, raisins, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, gently rolled into a log with the help of a tablecloth to keep it from tearing, brushed with melted butter and baked.
Oodles of Noodles
Had some time on my hands so I made pasta today. It's a wonderful thing, making food from scratch. Crossing this one off my list and I'm happy as a lark.
Sunny Quiches, Towering Strudels On Cloud 9
My quiches turned out pretty well, what with all the Gruyere and mozzarella I stuffed in. The strudel may look like a mess, but it didn't bother me: eaten warm from the oven with icing sugar and whipped cream, it was pure bliss.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Chef Gert's Tiramisu
Tiramisu was one of the first desserts I ever made back when I was a wee little girl with neither the skill nor dexterity for anything complicated: it was an easy yet decadent put-together treat that also introduced me to the wunderbar world of coffee and rum. Needless to say, I was hooked!
Like Baklava, Tiramisu's origin is marked with great debate: some say it is an old Italian version of the English trifle, others credit a chef whose maiden name was Tiramisu. One version even places its birth at an Italian brothel, hence the name Tiramisu, aka "pick me up".
Sponge Fingers Base
Sponge fingers form the trademark look of Tiramisu so a long strip of fingers alongside some discs were piped, sprinkled with sugar and baked quickly in a high temperature to retain its moisture. They are then lined around the outside and base of a cake ring.
Stars Of The Show: Mascarpone Filling & Coffee Punch
Mascapone and cream cheese is further enriched with egg yolks, sugar and Tia Maria (rum or Kahlua works beautifully too). Gelatin is added for stability and meringue to lighten the filling.
Strong coffee with a vanilla bean added for good measure makes the punch that is liberally applied onto the sponge for added moisture, color and flavor.
Building The Layers, Chocolate Overflow
A layer of cheese filling follows the sponge and the whole sponge-punch-cheese routine is repeated again. Finally a pool of chocolate ganache is poured on to finish the gateau.
By now you probably note some similarities between the Opéra and Tiramisu: the layers, flavors and technique. The former a dense cake meant to be savored in thin slices while the latter, light enough to be devoured in its entirety.
Like a Tom Cruise movie, the gateau looked great but tasted uninspiring and left me unsatisfied. I blame not the recipe, but the fact that the first Tiramisu I made and tasted remains to this day, the best I've ever had. ;p
Strudel Dough, Pate Brisee (Savory Short Paste)
Probably as exciting as watching a your hair turn gray, the doughs are mise en place for tomorrow's apple strudel and quiches.
I Did It My Way
Being a delinquent for the day, which I strongly advise against, I made a couple ofadjustments to my gateau. Like a real pick-me-up, the first date, first kiss and the eventual proposal, I'd like to have it done my way, if I can.
For the filling I omitted the meringue, enriched it with more egg yolk and sugar and gave it a kick-ass personality with a big hit of Tia Maria and rum. Ditto for the punch: more coffee and rum to deliver a real punch.
A thick coat of cocoa powder blankets each layer of cheese, and as I thought the ganache overpowered the delicate coffee and alcohol flavor, I replaced it with cocoa powder as well.
Woohoo! Kick Ass Crazy Good!
What a relief when my Opera turned out well! The glaze could have been warmed up for a darker and glossier finish, but I was so preoccupied with my Tiramisu that I forgot the time and had to wing it. I'll be sure not to repeat the folly come assessment day.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
Check it out! The layers were even, the buttercream could have been whipped longer for more volumn and the sponge soaked with more punch, but overall, I am very pleased with the result. Well done, me! :)