Sunday, 30 January 2011

Kit Kat Cake


Yesterday I made a cake for my lovely housemate, Sylvia. She turned 21 over the Christmas holidays and we finally got everyone together to celebrate with add-your-own-toppings pizza and cake.

Sylvia loves Kit Kats and simple flavours so I made a vanilla sponge filled with vanilla cream cheese icing and surrounded in Kit Kat fingers and topped with a swirl of chocolate in the cream cheese icing. 


It was pretty awesome buying all these Kit Kats, though unfortunately I had exactly the right number so no nibbling for me. I had some plans for a fancier design but the fingers were too heavy and the icing too soft. 

We served the cake with homemade French vanilla ice cream (recipe here) and David Lebovitz's classic hot fudge sauce from The Perfect Scoop. Incredibly rich but delicious. 


I've finally sorted out a good place to photograph and bought some nice mounting card for a background. I like the thick Jersey cream colour of it. 

I'm not including a recipe as the vanilla cake is slightly adapted from this recipe. The cream cheese icing recipe isn't right yet - there's a flaw in the method that I'm going to change next time. Otherwise you just need to arrange the Kit Kats!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Alfajores

I made these the day before I left Switzerland, almost a month ago. I suppose that's testament to how hectic things are. I definitely wasn't wavering over the recipe - it's a keeper. 

I had to try these because the recipe is unusual - more cornflour than flour, brandy in a biscuit etc etc. I can't help myself with these things - I have to find out how it works and tastes. 


I used some of the dulce de leche I made for my banoffee pies to make these. The recipe is from David Lebovitz, here. It's a great recipe, especially if you don't like the idea of boiling tins.  I needed to cook mine for a little longer - I'd like it to be a deeper gold. 

Though the biscuits are delicious sandwiched, mum and I actually thought that they were very nice on their own. You lose quite a bit of the subtlety of the biscuit with the big flavour of the dulce. Either way, they're delicious!

They're also quite crumble and delicate. Don't do as I did and try and take a few on a trip in a bag - I ended up with a bag of (admittedly tasty) crumbs. 

Alfajores
(adapted from Lindsay Cooks)

95g cornflour
70g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
75g caster sugar
75g butter
1 1/2 tbsp brandy or cognac
1/4 of a lemon zested
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Sift together the cornstarch, flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the brandy and zest and beat in. Add yolks one by one, beating in between. Add the contents of the flour bowl and slowly beat in. Knead for a minute or two. Divide into two. Roll out into a 1/4" thickness. Cut out with a cookie cutter and place on lined baking sheet spaced 1" apart.  Roll out any scraps. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool. Fill with a heaped tsp of dulce de leche and sandwich. 

(Makes 10 when sandwiched)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Palmiers

I can't quite believe it has been fifteen days since my last post. I've been very busy but more than that I've been finding it hard to write. Usually this happens with essays rather than posts. With essays I just have to push through but this time it was nice that I could just step back for a few days. 

Some really exciting things have happened in this break. I can't explain everything, but suffice to say that  my baking has taken a step towards the professional.  Not only have I got some exciting new projects but a few days ago I was accepted onto the patisserie program at a culinary school I won't mention until everything is finalised...


Over the holidays I decided to make my own puff pastry. I loved the whole process - all the foldings, rolling out and resting. It does take time but it was a great learning process. Especially at the moment I don't have time to make it often, but I look forward to being able to once my finals are over.

I'm not going to type out the recipe I used for the puff below, but I used Tartelette's recipe here in conjunction with the pictures from her gluten free version. It worked wonderfully. 

The final push that got me to try making puff was how much my mum loves palmiers (or as our local bakery calls them, coeur de france). They're incredibly simple to make and really delicious. I think the best bit is how the sugar caramelises on the bottoms of each one.  It's not really a recipe - more of a technique. Have a look at Joy's comprehensive photos if you're confused at any point. 

Palmiers
(adapted from Joy the Baker, here)

1 block of all-butter puff pastry (I used about 300g)
plenty of granulated sugar (perhaps 200g or so)

Line a big tray or two with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle a work surface liberally with the granulated sugar. Place the puff into the middle and sprinkle the top with a little more. Start rolling it out into a rectangle with a thickness of about 3 - 4 mm. Keep adding sugar as you roll it out to stop it sticking. My rectangle was about the size of an A3 piece of paper. Starting from the short end of your rectangle, start rolling it up until it reaches the middle. Repeat for the other side. Wrap this roll in clingfilm and chill for an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Take the roll out of the fridge and slice up with a sharp knife into 1cm thick slices. Place onto the lined sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown, checking carefully. You may need to rotate the tray halfway through. If you've greased your pan, remove the palmiers to a wire rack after a few minutes. If lined then you can leave them to cool on the tray. 

(I made about 16 out of 1/4 of my puff)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Muscovado Truffles


I got Paul A. Young's chocolate book for my 21st last year from a good friend. It's one of my favourite recipe books - it's got truly gorgeous photos and styling and some really original recipes. This was the first recipe I tried from the book and it's wonderful. I've made it a few times since and every time it's just as delicious. They make wonderful presents. I like one or two for an after dinner flourish too. Definitely a recipe to keep. 

Also, I've joined twitter = poireschocolat. Still don't really know what I'm doing!

Muscavado Truffles
(adapted from Paul A Young's book Adventures with Chocolate)

100g muscovado sugar
pinch of sea salt
250g double cream
250g of 70% best quality dark chocolate

Chop up the chocolate into small pieces and put into a medium bowl. Weigh the cream out using a medium saucepan as the container (remember it's grams not a fluid measurement). Add the sugar and salt to the pan and mix in. Heat until it reaches a strong simmer. Pour over the chocolate, leave for a moment then whisk until glossy and smooth. Leave to cool on the side then put the ganache into the fridge. Leave for at least 2 hours. 

50g cocoa powder
50g muscovado sugar 

Sift the cocoa power and sugar into a shallow bowl. Take the ganache out of the fridge. Dip your fingers in the powder mixture then use a spoon to scoop out lumps of the mixture. Turn each out into the mixture and use your fingers to form each one into a sphere.  Roll around again in the mixture then pop on a plate. When you've finished put in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up before packaging. They keep in the fridge in airtight container (I've done a week, I reckon they'd be fine for longer too). 

(Makes about 30-40 truffles, depending on size)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Banoffee Pies

You know what's insanely delicious? Dulce de leche. 

If you can stop yourself eating it with a spoon out of the jar, I recommend making banoffee pies. 

If not, keep going. I don't blame you. 

As a little bit of fun, I decided to try and make my own digestive biscuits for the bases of these. I used a Constance Spry recipe. I love old recipe books. No temperature, no length of time (though I was told to not overbake them), you add sugar to taste... it's just wonderful. They came out tasting nice, but not really like the digestives I know. So I found some in the shops and used them for these instead. 

As I was melting the butter for the base, I had an idea. This idea often occurs when I'm melting butter for a baked item. Brown butter. Brown Butter. Brown Butter.  I had to try. Turns out it's delicious. Hello, cheesecake base!


Some people don't like banoffee pie. My housemate Sarah has it on her 'worst meal ever' list. This usually seems to be because of the bananas. I'm not the biggest banana fan in the world but that certainly doesn't mean I don't like banoffee. Oh no. 

Though, if I'm honest, I just tolerate the banana because it pulls together the utter gorgeousness that is brown-butter-biscuit-base, dulce de leche, whipped cream and chocolate. 

I didn't put strips of parchment around the sides of my dessert rings so the base kind of crumbled. Annoying, but it did mean that the dulce started escaping in a very food porn-esque manner: 


Banoffee Pies
(dulce recipe from David Lebovitz, here)

1 can condensed milk 
5 digestive biscuits 
40g butter
1 small-medium banana 
50ml double cream
dark chocolate curls to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200C. Empty the can of condensed milk into a pie dish or other type of shallow dish. Place into a bigger baking tray/roasting tin. Cover the pie dish tightly with foil. Fill the baking tray with hot water until it comes half way up the pie dish. Carefully place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes. Check the water level a few times to make sure it doesn't get low and add more water if needed.  Take out of the oven and remove the foil - the dulce should be thick and deep golden brown. Leave to cool then whisk until smooth. Transfer to a clean jar. This will keep in the fridge.

When you're ready to make the pies (or after your dulce has cooled), crush the digestives in a small plastic bag with a rolling pin. Line two dessert rings with strips of baking parchment and then place on squares of parchment on a tray. Melt the butter in a small pan, continuing until the butter has browned (it should foam up, start smelling delicious and then die down to a liquid with little brown flecks). Let cool for a minute then tip in the crumbs and mix well. Press into the dessert rings, going up the sides a bit.  Put in the fridge until firm.  

Spoon a few tablespoons of dulce into each mould. Top with half a banana, sliced. Put into the fridge. Meanwhile whip the cream until just past soft peak stage. Take the rings out of the fridge and top with the cream (you may need less than half). Place onto the serving plate. Loosen the bottom parchment and pull out. Lift the ring off then carefully peel off the strip of parchment (it may help to slide a knife around the top cream bit). Top with the chocolate curls and serve. Best eaten on the day. 

(Makes two with extra dulce de leche) 

ShareThis