Dec 27, 2010

Chubble wreaths

This marks my first entry into a baking group called Aspiring Bakers. I'm so excited about this baking group. This group was started by Small Small Baker. What I like about this group is that the theme is so broad, you can really choose what you want to bake.

For the month of December, the challenge is to make something to do with Christmas. I feel like everything I have been baking this month has been for Christmas, but I decided to submit this very special Chubble Wreath. I've made chubble breads many times before because it's so delicious and everyone loves it. This wreath I made for my friend who is visiting from out of town. I know she prefers savory to sweet, so I decided to make this bread for her.

I made some changes to the "stuffs" in the chubble bread, adding bacon to the mix. I like the addition of bacon, and I think I might try adding jalapeno bits next time. If you would like to make your bread into a wreath, use a tube pan and line the edges of the pan with the bread bubbles. I've changed the recipe for hand mixed method for Miss W. If you would like the mixer method, it's here.

This is my entry for Aspiring Bakers #2 and December's Aspiring bakers is hosted by Jane at Passionate about baking.

Chubble Wreaths
adapted from Mrs Marv's
makes 2 wreaths
total time: 4.5 hours

1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water (105°f to 115°f)
3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Sprinkle yeast over the warm water in a large bowl, whisk it in, and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until very bubbly and doubled, about 45 minutes.

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105°f to 115°f)
3 tsp olive oil
Sponge, above
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt

1. Sprinkle yeast over the warm water in a small bowl, whisk it in, and let stand until creamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the dissolved yeast and the olive oil to the sponge in the bowl; whisk until it's incorporated. Add in salt. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until a rough dough starts to form.

2. Turn the dough out onto a well floured board. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Adding flour a little at a time as needed to prevent sticking. It took me approximately 30 minutes to get the dough to be smooth and elastic. The end results should be a slightly sticky dough that's smooth.

3. Transfer to a bowl lightly coated with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled 1 1/2 hours, or so.

8 – 10 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (about 10 stalks)
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into bits
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic power
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp olive oil

1. Prep and toss together all stuffs ingredients in a large bowl. Coat the mixture with oil. Set aside.

2. Put a coating of stuffs in an empty wide bowl. Empty out bread on a non-sick surface. Shape into an flat rectangle, approximately 1/2″ - 1″ thick. Using a pizza wheel, cut loaf into inch wide strips. They do not need to be uniform. Then cut off one inch ends and put them into the stuffs bowl. Toss dough cubes into the stuffs mixture and gently coat them. Add in more stuffs periodically so that they stay separate.

3. Divide mixture into two tube pans. Be sure you grease each pan thoroughly to prevent sticking. The melted cheese sticks to the pan like crazy! Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 400°f. Brush top with olive oil and bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Dec 24, 2010

Macadamia nut cornflake cookies

Merry Christmas everyone!! Today, I bring you a treat, a yummy cookie recipe that is easy to make!! I have a friend that's a cookie connoisseur. She makes the best cookies and she will keep making the cookies until they're perfect. She tweaks the ingredients and techniques to make a wonderful cookie. A few months ago, she gave me these Macadamia nut cornflake cookies and they were so delicious!!! I, of course, asked for her recipe.

I have been slowly accumulated all the ingredients getting ready to make these cookies and finally decided to make these cookies for Mr. G's coworkers for Christmas. The funny thing is these are probably one of the easiest cookies I have ever made. They're so simple, yet so delicious. I didn't make any changes to the recipe. Who dares change a recipe from the cookie master? Her recipe comes with very simple directions, I've written it up to include more extensive directions.

Before I share the recipe with you, I wanted to share this photograph with you. It's the most amazing gingerbread display I have ever seen. The pastry chefs at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotel created this massive gingerbread display. Mr. G and I went to look at it last night and it was AMAZING!! This picture doesn't do it justice. If you're in Hawaii, go check it out. =)

Macadamia nut cornflake cookies
from Mrs. T
makes 26 cookies

1 1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 5/8 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup cornflakes
3/4 cup macadamia nuts

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Fold in cornflakes and macadamia nuts with a spatula.

2. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons (I used a 1 1/2 tbsp ice cream scoop) onto prepared baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie and bake cookies for 15 to 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Dec 16, 2010

Pina Colada Cake

This Pina Colada cake comes from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes. I've been eying this book for awhile after reading all these posts about the book from the Cake Slice Bakers. I finally gave in and bought it. Ever since then, I've been trying to decide which cake to make first. In the end, I decided to make this Pina Colada cake for my friend's birthday.

Since you can't see the inside of the cake, let me describe it to you. It's a brown sugar butter cake layered with pineapple jam and a coconut buttercream on the outside. Prior to the birthday get together, I didn't get to taste the cake as a whole..but I did get to taste each part. The brown sugar butter cake is a very nice cake. It's buttery, not too sweet (I cut down the sugar). The jam is nice, slightly tart, but overall sweet. My favorite part is the coconut buttercream, it's made with coconut milk!! I find I love anything that contains coconut milk! Yum.

When I finally taste the cake as a whole, I didn't quite like it. Everyone else liked it, but I'm never certain if people are just being polite. Mr. G says it's not quite right and I felt the same. I kept trying to figure out why..each part was so good on its own?!! Finally, I think I figured out what was wrong with it. There's too much cake (three layers) and not enough filling, making the overall cake dry.

If I decide to make this again, I will put the coconut buttercream in between each layer along with the pineapple jam. This might add some more smoothness to the filling instead of just the jam. Plus the buttercream is so good, why not?! Here's the recipe with my adjustments.

Pina Colada Cake
adapted from Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cake

Brown Sugar Cake
3 3/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar (see note)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line the base of three 9inch cake pans.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Add the brown sugar, butter and 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Whisk the eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and beating only long enough to incorporate between additions. Divide the batter between the 3 pans.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.

  • *I cut down the sugar by 1/2 cup. The original recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of brown sugar.

Pineapple Filling
1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple in juice (no added sugar)
1/2 cup sugar (see note)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 one-inch piece of vanilla bean split in half

1. Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a pan. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan too. Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Raise the het to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and its turned jam-like in consistency (This took us about 10 minutes). Let the filling cool completely before using. (Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated)

  • *I cut down the sugar to 1/2 cup. The original recipe calls for 1 cup.

Coconut Buttercream
3 eggs whites
3/4 cup sugar (see note)
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (We reduced this to 2 sticks)
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract

1. Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment so they are all ready to go.

2. Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft boil stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

3. Beat the egg whites briefly at medium speed using the whisk attachment in a stand mixer. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the beaters. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.

4. Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.

5. Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth.

  • *I cut down the sugar to 3/4 cups. The original recipe calls for 1 cup.

To assemble
9 tbsp rum – light, amber or dark
Coconut flakes and thin slices of pineapple

1. Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand. Sprinkle a generous 3 tbsp rum over the cake. Spread half of the pineapple filling over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edge. (see note)

2. Add the second layer, sprinkle with more rum and cover with the remaining pineapple filling. Top with the third layer and sprinkle with the remaining rum. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the coconut buttercream.

3. Decorate with some thin shreds of coconut and slices of pineapple if wished. (see note)

  • *I would suggest adding some of the coconut buttercream in between the layers with the pineapple filling.
  • *If you want to toast the shredded coconuts, you can heat it in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also heat it on the stove top, medium heat. I've also tried heating them up in a microwave. You have to be very careful, they burn really quickly in a microwave. Microwave in 20 to 30 seconds increments and keep tossing it.

Dec 9, 2010

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

I made this for my friend for her birthday. It's three layers of chocolate and it's really decadent! The bottom layer is a flourless chocolate cake. The middle is a bittersweet chocolate mousse and the top layer is a white chocolate mousse. Each layer is delicious on its own and overall it's a wonderful dessert with dramatic results.

This cake is not hard to make, just a bit time consuming. Each layers need to be made on its own and there's rest time between each layer. This recipe is originally from Cook's Illustrated, but I was inspired to make it because of this post from Annie's Eats. Annie had this problem where the bottom layer retracted from the cake once it cooled. I had the same problem. Instead of keeping the cake in a 9" springform pan, I trimmed the edges slightly and used a 8" springform pan. As for the decorations, I used a really beautiful old fashion doily my mom had as a template for the cocoa powder. If you plan to use cocoa powder as your decoration, don't cover the cake with plastic wrap, the static cling will ruin your design!! Here's the recipe, enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
from Cook's Illustrated via Annie's Eats

For the bottom layer:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (plus extra for greasing the pan)
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

For the middle layer:
2 tbsp. cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
5 tbsp. hot water
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

For the top layer:
3/4 tsp. powdered gelatin
1 tbsp. water
6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For garnish:
Chocolate curls or cocoa powder

1. To make the bottom layer, butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325˚ F. Combine the butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Stir occasionally until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks. Set aside.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Crumble half of the brown sugar into the mixing bowl with your fingers to remove any lumps. Beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining brown sugar and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more. Using a whisk, mix one-third of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

3. Bake until the cake has risen, is firm around the edges and the center has just set but is still soft (should spring back after pressing gently with a finger), about 14-18 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour. Do not remove the cake from the pan. (If not making the second layer right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)

4. To make the second layer, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl; set aside. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 2-5 minutes.

6. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 30-60 seconds. Whisk in the cocoa powder mixture until smooth. Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Pour the mousse into the springform pan over the cooled cake and tap gently on the counter 3 times to remove air bubbles. Gently smooth the top with a spatula. Wipe the inside edge of the pan to remove any drips. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the top layer.

7. To make the top layer, sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand at least 5 minutes to soften. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour the hot cream mixture over the white chocolate and let stand about 1 minute. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 30-60 seconds. Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the white chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the middle layer. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2 1/2 hours.

Dec 2, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

As promised, this was the dessert for our Thanksgiving dinner. I decided not to make a pumpkin pie because I'm not really a big fan of pies. I hate working with pie crust and I wanted something special for our Thanksgiving dinner.

This recipe comes from the wonderful people at Cooks Illustrated. The cheesecake is pretty straight forward, but the handling of the pumpkin is unusual. You spread the puree pumpkin between six layers of paper towel and allow the excess water to be soaked by the paper towel. The result is a stronger pumpkin flavor with less water. I think that's such a great idea!!! I want to do it for all my pumpkin recipes.

The result is a wonderful creamy pumpkin cheesecake!! The pumpkin flavor is just right and I loved the texture of the cheesecake. I changed the crust to a shortbread crust instead of a graham cracker crust..but other than that, everything stayed the same. Try it!! It's wonderful!!

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
from Cooks Illustrated Nov 2003 Issue

Crust (see note):
5 ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (10 1/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese , cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs , left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

2. FOR THE FILLING: Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside. To dry pumpkin (see illustrations below): Line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet; discard towel.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours (see note). Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

5. TO SERVE: Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

  • *For my crust recipe, go here. To the flour, I also added 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
  • To get a beautiful cut, run your knife in hot water, dry the knife and you will get a smooth cut. Clean your knife each time for perfectly smooth edges.

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