Oct 27, 2009

French Macaron

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I'm thoroughly disappointed in myself with these macarons. I didn't get the little cute macaron feet nor did I accomplish the beautiful smooth tops. I should really learn to trust my instincts. Before putting it in the oven, I told myself that I need to let the macarons rest in order for the smooth skin to develop..but I thought..I should follow the recipe...right?!

The results otherwise? I don't think I'm a good judge...I don't really like French macarons..*gasp*. I know...everyone seems to love them..but I find them way too sweet!! These are the same...they are toothachingly sweet. I chose to make hazelnut macarons with a chocolate ganache. Maybe that was my problem..I should've used almond. Here's the recipe with my adapation.

Hazelnut macaron

2 1/4 cups Confectioners’sugar
2 cups finely ground hazelnuts
2 tbsp granulated sugar
5 Egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Oct 21, 2009

White chocolate pomegranate cheesecake

I made this cheesecake for a friend's birthday party and his wife's baby shower. I always loved white chocolate raspberry cheesecake because the sweetness of the white chocolate complements the tart raspberries so well. I decided, however, to use pomegranate because I received a box of pomegranate juice from the very sweet people at POM Wonderful.

I couldn't find a white chocolate pomegranate cheesecake recipe, so I tweaked a White chocolate raspberry truffle recipe from dinner and dessert. As usual, I used the shortbread crust from Tartelette's Pillow cheesecake. Then I made a sauce using pomegranate juice and swirled it in my cheesecake.

The verdict? I thought it was a very good cheesecake. I think next time I would reduce the amount of pomegranate sauce in the cheesecake so it wouldn't be too tart. My friends all loved it and thought the pomegranate complemented the white chocolate very well. Here's the recipe.

White Chocolate Pomegranate Cheesecake
adapted from Dinner and Dessert and Tartelette

125 g butter, very cold, cubed small
42g sugar
125g flour
12g cacao powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Work the butter, sugar, flour and cacao with a food processor or your fingers to get a sandy mixture. Work the dough for a minute. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Pomegranate sauce
2 cups of pomegranate juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

Heat the pomegranate juice in a small pan until it’s boiling. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until the juice is reduced to about 1/2 cup. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water. Pour cornstarch mixture into the reduced pomegranate juice and cook until the juice thickens to a sauce consistency.

white chocolate filling
1/3 cup of pomegranate sauce (recipe above)
4 x 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
1 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs
4 oz white chocolate, chopped into chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. To prep the springform pan, wrap a large piece of foil around the pan to keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake in the water bath.

3. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Allow to cool slightly.

4. Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese with the sugar, white chocolate, and vanilla. Mix until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and fully incorporate each egg before adding the next egg. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs, do not over beat.

4. Pour the cream cheese filling into the crust. Drizzle the pomegranate sauce over the entire surface of the filling. Use a butter knife to swirl the sauce into the cream cheese filling.

5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the edges are firm, but the center still jiggles when tapped. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool. Once it’s completely cool, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

  • *I used to make a lot of cracked cheesecake, but I found out the reason why. There are a few reasons. If you over bake the cheesecake, it will crack. If you over beat the batter, it will crack. I also find that if you allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven with the door ajar for about an hour, and then take it out, it's less likely to crack.

Oct 13, 2009

Classic Fudgy Brownies

I'm sorry I've been MIA for awhile. I just got back from a month long trip to Virginia and D.C. It was in dc where I fell in love with the Dean and DeLuca brownie!!! It was so chocolately and fudgy and buttery!! What a great brownie...now here I am again, trying to find the perfect brownie. This one comes from the Art and Soul of Baking.

The verdict...this brownie is fudgy and chocolately. It would've been a wonderful brownie if the Dean and DeLuca brownie weren't always on my mind. But now, it doesn't really compare. I think I still like Alice Medrich's brownie better though. My quest will continue....till then..here's the recipe!

Classic Fudgy Brownies
From The Art & Soul of Baking

1 stick (4oz) butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 64% cacao), finely chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (7oz) sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (3 3/4 oz) chocolate chips or chunks (optional)
1/2 cup (2oz) nuts, chopped and toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and position an oven rack in the center. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper across the bottom and up two of the sides, then lightly coat with unflavored or high-heat canola oil spray.

2. Boil a saucepan of water. Place butter, semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. Turn off the heat and place the bowl over the saucepan. Stir occasionally with the spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

3. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, stirring well to incorporate each before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla extract. Whisk in the flour and salt. Continue to stir until the mixture changes from dull and broken-looking to smooth and shiny, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts, if any.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

5. Run a thin knife or flexible spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the brownies. To remove the brownies from the pan, grasp the foil or parchment paper extending up the sides and pull gently upward. Set the brownies on a cutting surface and use a serrated knife to cut into desired sizes. To store, tightly wrap the remaining brownies (if any) or place in an airtight container. They keep well at room temperature for 2 – 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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