14 August 2016

Sfogliatelle

Despite my disappointment at the Petit Antoine, I was still riding high on inspiration from the Bakeoff: Creme de la Creme, and went for another technically difficult challenge, one that's tricky to pronounce even.

IMG_5089

But, I decided to cheat and use filo pastry, rather than make it from scratch. I wasn't able to find any information if this was a reasonable substitute or not. I'll need to try out the real dough as well to be able to comment, but in all, there was still a lot of work to do, even without making the dough from scratch, again for something that's not very impressive, tasty though as it was.

The base recipe I used can be found here. I only used the butter/lard mixture and the filling parts.

Ingredients
Makes 8

90 g unsalted butter at room temperature
90 g lard at room temperature
220 g ready made filo pastry
125 ml full milk
0.6 dl granulated sugar
0.4 dl coarse semolina
0.2 dl plain flour
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 dl ricotta cheese
1 ml cinnamon
zest from 1 small lemon
icing sugar for dusting
vanilla ice cream

Method

  1. Whisk together the butter and lard to a fluffy homogeneous mixture.
    IMG_5068
    IMG_5069
  2. Depending on the shape of the filo pastry, cut if necessary to get rectangles with the short side being about 20 cm. Stack the rectangles and cover with cling film.
  3. Starting with one sheet, spread some of the grease mixture over it, overlap with a second sheet about 2 - 3 cm along the longer side and grease it up as well.
    IMG_5073
  4. Roll up from the short side,trying to roll as tightly as possible without breaking the filo sheets, massaging any air bubbles gently from the middle and towards the edges.
  5. When you have about 5 cm left on the second sheet, overlap with a third sheet, grease up and roll up.
  6. IMG_5075
  7. Grease up the outside of the roll, again trying to push any air bubbles out to the edges. Then wrap in double layers of cling film and chill in the fridge at least overnight. Save the left-over grease.
  8. On the next day, place the milk and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to the boil and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  9. Turn the heat down to low, then slowly add the semolina and flour, stirring quickly and constantly to avoid lumps and continue until the mixture is thick like porridge, about 2 minutes.
  10. Pour out the porridge onto the prepared baking tray and spread out as evenly as possible, to speed up cooling.
    IMG_5076
  11. Once the porridge has cooled down, transfer it to a mixing bowl, it'll break up into pieces, that's OK.
  12. Add the egg, vanilla, ricotta and cinnamon and whisk to combine well.
  13. At the end, stir in the lemon zest and transfer the mixture into a piping bag. At this point it can be stored in the fridge until required (~ 3 days or so), but bring to room temperature before using.
  14. When ready to assemble and bake the sfogliatelle, line two baking trays with baking paper. Use trays with a lip preferably. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C (non-fan)
  15. Take out the filo roll from the fridge. Trim the edges to get them even, then cut the roll into 2 cm thick rounds. If you trimmed the edges thinly, they can be combined into one round as well.
    IMG_5080
  16. Take each round and holding it with the fingers of both hands, gently use your thumbs to push the inner layers so that a cone forms.
    IMG_5083
    IMG_5081
  17. Pipe ricotta-porridge into the cone to the point where the cone edges can be brought together, but without pinching together.
    IMG_5086
  18. Place on a baking tray and brush some more of the grease mixture on top.
    IMG_5087
    Make sure they have enough space to expand and bake for about 25 minutes until deep golden brown.
    IMG_5088
  19. Remove from the oven and allow to cool somewhat. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  20. Store in an air-tight container, however the pastries will go soft due to the filling.

From the amount of filo pastry, I got 8 sfogliatelle and had more than half of the ricotta porridge left over, I've frozen it and I think it would work nicely in filo pastry, but folded up like a samosa.

Lundulph thought they were way too crispy when we had them on the day of baking and said the second day was better, when the filo pastry had softened somewhat. I didn't mind either.

7 August 2016

Petit Antoine

The season for family birthdays is beginning, and since I'm still feeling inspired by the Bakeoff: Creme de la Creme, I decided to try my hand at one of the many miniature layered cakes that were made. Searching for the recipe, I was a bit sad that I couldn't find the ones used in the competition online. The explanation is that there is a book with every recipe out. Needless to say, it's on my Christmas list.

But I did find a recipe for this very pretty looking pastry. It's in French, so I ran it through Google translate, which was great fun and I heartily recommend it for a really good laugh. But by flicking between the translation and the original version, I worked out what should be done. There are a lot of parts to prepare, but several of them can be done well in advance. In particular the ganache needs to rest for 24 h at least, so some planning is called for.

Hazelnut Praline

200 g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
200 g blanched whole hazelnuts

  1. Place a sheet of baking paper (not wax) on a heat-proof surface.
  2. Starting with the hazelnut praline, place the sugar in a thick-bottomed saucepan with the water, stir through to mix only. Shake the saucepan once the sugar starts bubbling.
  3. When the sugar starts getting colour, add the hazelnuts and stir through to get them coated. You will need to be quick, so the hazelnuts don't burn.
  4. As soon as the hazelnuts start getting colour, pour them onto the baking paper and spread to help cool down quicker.
  5. Once cooled down, place in a blender and whizz until it's turned into powder.
  6. Transfer immediately to an airtight container. It makes more than is required for the pastry.
IMG_5049 IMG_5048

Milk Chocolate Ganache

90 g milk chocolate
250 g double cream

  1. Chop the milk chocolate finely and place in a heat-proof bowl
  2. Scald the double cream under constant stirring to prevent it from burning. Once it starts bubbling, pour over the chocolate and stir through to get fully mixed.
  3. Cover with cling film and allow to cool down to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for 24 h.

Hazelnut Dacquoise
100 g whole blanched hazelnuts
100 g icing sugar
125 g egg whites (about 3 whites from large eggs)
30 g caster sugar
50 g chopped blanched hazelnuts

  1. At this point, you need to decide what shape the cake should have. The original recipe suggests a rectangular form of 20 x 30 cm and the amounts are adjusted for this. I didn't have this, so decided to use my 8 small (7cm) food rings and my 2 large ones (15 cm) instead. I prepared two sheets with baking paper and drew circles of the rings on the underside, spaced about 2 cm apart.
  2. Place the whole hazelnuts in a food processor together with a couple of table spoons of the icing sugar and grind as finely as possilble.
  3. Sift the hazelnut flour, returning any remaining pieces to the food processor, adding some more icing sugar and blending again. If there's any icing sugar left, sift it into the mixture and set aside.
  4. Place the whites in a clean glass or metal bowl and whisk until stiff peaks, then add the caster sugar in three parts, so the meringue goes glossy.
  5. Carefully fold in the ground hazelnut mixture, followed by the chopped blanched hazelnuts.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C and prepare a piping bag with a wide round nozzle, transfer the meringue mixture into it and quickly pipe circles onto the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake each sheet for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before prising off the baking paper. If you're preparing these in advance, place all in an airtight container as soon as possible, so they don't start picking up moisture from the air. The dacquoise will be a bit sticky, so cut up the baking paper and use as spacer between each circle, to prevent them from sticking together.
IMG_5050 IMG_5051
IMG_5052

Chocolate custard

100 g milk chocolate
100 g dark chocolate
275 g whipping cream
60 g egg yolks (about 4 yolks from large eggs)
30 g caster sugar

  1. Chop finely both types of chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Place the whipping cream in a large saucepan and scald.
  3. While the cream is heating up, whip the yolks and sugar in another heat-proof bowl, until they are pale yellow and fluffy.
  4. As soon as the cream bubbles, pour over the chopped chocolates and stir through to melt them and incorporate into the custard.
  5. Cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool down to room temperature, then refrigerate until required.

Crunchy praline base

120 g dark chocolate at 62% cocoa solids
180 g hazelnut praline
85 g cornflakes

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and carefully melt it in the microwave, a few seconds at a time and stir through between each wizz.
  2. Mix in the praline, followed by the cornflakes.
IMG_5053 IMG_5054

Put everything together

  1. Spread the crunchy praline base mixture at the bottom of your chosen shapes and press down firmly. You should have about 0.5 - 0.8 cm thickness.
    IMG_5055
  2. Brush a thin layer of chocolate custard over the base.
    IMG_5056
  3. Trim the dacquoise to suitable size and gently press it down on top.
    IMG_5057
  4. Distribute the rest of the chocolate custard over each piece, it should be about 1 cm thick.
    IMG_5058
  5. Cover the pastries with cling film and freeze for 2 - 3 h at least.
  6. When ready to serve, remove the pastries from their shapes and place on plates.
    IMG_5064
  7. Put the chocolate ganache in a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe some swirls on each pastry.
    IMG_5065
IMG_5066

Well, gorblimey, so much effort for something not that successful, even if it was fairly tasty. I can only conclude that the amounts given have been badly scaled down from a more industrial level. There must have been typos for sure, in particular for the crunchy praline base, because there is no way I would have managed to get anything near a mixture that would stick together if I'd followed the given amounts. Besides, as it was the last thing I prepared, I was low on chocolate, so didn't have a choice in reducing the amounts of the other ingredients.

The custard was far from enough for the number of dacquoise rounds and I ended up with the two larger pastries uncovered. I also ended up freezing the whole pastries overnight, which I'm not sure was the idea originally, but I wouldn't have had time to put the pastries together on the day. The custard didn't set as I'd expected it either, so just as well and because there was so much sugar everywhere, nothing really froze very solid. The coldness took the edge off the sweetness too. Hopefully the recipes in the book are better than this one. The only thing I liked was the fact that this recipe stated the percentage of cocoa mass in the chocolates. I've read that professional recipes do that, as it can make quite a difference, but I'd never encountered this before.

The individual elements are interesting though - starting with the praline - I've had this on ice cream and cakes in patisseries and always wondered how they get the hazelnuts to taste like that. Now I know - they're coated in caramel. So a good thing to have for sprinkling on all sorts of desserts.

Next the milk chocolate ganache - I didn't expect it would work with these proportions and I think chilling for 24 h helped make it stiff enough to pipe. It was a good contrast colour-wise to the dark chocolate custard. But it's key that this is done with chocolate milk, dark chocolate won't work in the same way. I really should do a bit more experimentation with ganache and write up an entry about it, one for the types of chocolate I can get hold of in my local supermarket.

The custard I didn't like at all, I think the one I made the other week, was miles ahead, I shouldn't even make this comparison.

The dacquoise was really tasty and would have been fine on its own, as small soft/chewy cakes, dipped in dark chocolate possibly, so also a keeper. Would possibly also work as a cake base, as long as it's not built too high up and using light fillings inside.

The crunchy base is something I'll leave for now, I really don't know what it was supposed to be like. Admittedly the original recipe called for something called "Feuilletine", which appears to be caramel flavoured thin brittle flakes of some sort. Not something I'd come across, but a quick search on the internet seemed to indicate that cornflakes would be a reasonable swap.

Now the two large rounds without chocolate custard are residing in the freezer, waiting to be eaten...

31 July 2016

Courgette chips

As so many other times, when looking for recipes on the internet, I came across this one which seemed really promising and since I had some surplus courgettes, I decided to try them out.

IMG_5046

Ingredients

450 g dark green courgettes with good skin
2 tbsp olive oil
2.35 dl breadcrumbs
1.55 dl grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Wash the courgettes and trim the ends, then slice thinly on a mandolin and place in a large bowl.
  2. Pour over the olive oil, then carefully turn the courgettes until all have some olive oil on them and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper.
  4. Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 220 °C.
  5. Dip each courgette slice into the crumb mixture and place on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven for a few minutes, then take out, flip all slices over and bake for a further few minutes. Keep watch as they burn very easily when thin.

It seems I'd been quite successful in using up all various jars with breadcrumbs, so I had to open a packet of watercrackers and blend. The crumb mixture turned out to be way too much for the courgettes, I've put it in a bag and frozen for another day, though in hindsight, I might use it as a soup thickener or something.

These didn't end up as crispy as I'd expected them and not as cheesy either, which I would have liked. And I burned almost a whole tray of them too, which had to be thrown away.

But the concept was good, I'll just need to work on it a bit. Possibly I need larger proportion of parmesan in the mixture and also more coarsely grated too. Or perhaps mature cheddar or such, which isn't as dry, but might melt in the oven a little.

Finally, rather than turning the courgettes to get coated with the olive oil, I think I might brush them with it instead. Obviously Lundulph sniffed out the parmesan straight away, so didn't try them.

24 July 2016

Using Up Surplus Yolks

After making two batches of nut-free macarons in the past few days, I had 4 large yolks left and had no ideas of what to do with them, so a quick search on the internet resulted in this recipe for what turned out to be a really lovely chocolate pudding. I made some tweaks to the recipe - I rarely buy full milk which was the recommendation in the original recipe, so semi-skimmed milk had to do. To compensate, I had an extra yolk. This balanced out quite nicely, as it turned out.

IMG_5041

Ingredienser

8 portions
115 g dark chocolate
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp cornstarch
0.25 tsp salt
2.4 dl double cream
4 large egg yolks
6 dl semi-skimmed milk
1.2 dl granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
fresh raspberries and blueberries for decoration
possibly a little dessicated coconut

IMG_5042

Method

  1. If using a block of chocolate, chop fairly finely and set aside.
  2. Sieve together the cocoa, cornstarch and salt into a heat-proof bowl and stir through to mix them well.
  3. Slowly add the cream and stir in to form a thick paste.
    IMG_5038
  4. Whisk the yolks into the paste.
    IMG_5039
  5. Place the milk in a saucepan large enough to also take in the cocoa mixture. Add the sugar and heat on medium, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  6. Bring the milk almost to the boil, then pour some of it into the cocoa mixture to temper the yolks.
  7. Once well incorporated, pour the cocoa mixture back into the saucepan and bring to the boil, while stirring constantly and vigorously. It'll get thicker and thicker and feel like runny mud.
  8. Let simmer for 2 minutes, still stirring, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla
  9. Pour in all the chopped chocolate, let it melt for a minute or two, then stir in to incorporate well.
  10. Transfer to a shallow dish, cover the surface with cling film, then cover the dish with a second layer of cling film and let cool to room temperature.
    IMG_5040
  11. Chill the pudding in the fridge for a couple of hours at least.

I'd bought some lovely raspberries and blueberries the other day, so they definitely had to be involved in the final serving, and as a last decorating touch, I sprinkled a little dessicated coconut. Spot on, all of it! And it was so very smooth, rich and absolutely heavenly too. After chilling in the fridge for about 24 h, it had set quite nicely and was easy to pipe, keeping the shape from a star nozzle.

For the next serving, I wanted to see how it would work whipped. I wanted to get a lighter texture, like Angel Delight. However this didn't work out, the mixture just went runny and impossible to pipe prettily and it had big bubbles in it, which made Lundulph think it had gone lumpy and didn't approve at all. The flavour did change a little, and although it wasn't visually as attractive, I quite liked the fluffier result. Maybe as filling for profiteroles.

IMG_5043

For the last serving, I didn't whip and we were back at the good rich velvety texture. I'd also misjudged my previous portions, so we ended up with really huge ones, thus I recommend 8 portions out of the above amounts. What I really liked was the large blueberries I'd layered into the chocolate pudding. Their flavour was completely lost in all the dark velvety chocolate, but they provided a really nice texture and juiciness.

Lundulph's comment was that it reminded him of the rich chocolate ripple ice cream he had as a child - really chocolatey chocolate, rich and very smooth. Very nice indeed, and approved for repeats, but not as part of his calorie controlled diet.

16 July 2016

Whipped ganache

I've been racking my head for ages about a filling for French macarons - one that will not make them soggy within the hour, so that I can make some and give away as presents and I've come to the conclusion that it needs to be based on ganache or on marshmallow mixture. And as we were once again invited to a barbecue this week-end, I decided to make some macarons and try out my theory with a ganache.

I wasn't sure if there would be nut-intolerant people around, so I played it safe and made sesame-based macarons.For the cream, I decided to try out a ganache based on white chocolate and flavoured with raspberries, I thought it would work well with the sesame meringue of the macaron shells. The raspberry pureé is the raspberry liqueur pureé I discovered a few years ago, and remembering to sieve it this time.

The macarons were also a tried and tested recipe from way back as well, but with sesame seeds instead of almonds. So here comes the new bit.

IMG_5032 IMG_5034

Ingredients

155 g white chocolate
80 g double cream
120 g sieved raspberry pureé
pink food colouring if needed

Method

  1. Chop the white chocolate as finely as possible and place in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Scald the double cream and pour over the chocolate.
  3. Let stand for a minute, then stir through to mix the chocolate and cream.
  4. Stir in the raspberry pureé and some pink food colouring, if the mixture is too pale or too yellow-y.
  5. Leave to cool down and store in a cool place, but not the fridge.
  6. Before the ganache is required, whip with an electric whisk for a minute, it'll go a little lighter in colour. Do not over-do because it can go lumpy.
  7. Transfer to a piping bag with a small round nozzle and put the macarons together.

My theory for ganache filling worked - the macarons we kept for home use kept for several days without any sign of sogginess, nicely tucked away in an air-tight box.

And I also came up with a good way of transporting macarons as we took some with us to the barbecue. I cut the cardboard tube from a roll of kitchen paper in half length-wise. I then wrapped each half with aluminium foil and placed both halves in a plastic food box. I placed the macarons on their sides, I was able to fit 9 in each half. I covered with kitchen paper to cushion the macarons, in case of any bumps during transportation and put the lid on. The plastic box is one of Lundulph's old lunch boxes and I have a cooler lunch bag into which it fits, so I placed the box there and put a couple of small frozen cooler blocks on top as it was looking like it'd be quite a hot day. This all worked a treat, all macarons arrived uninjured.

Incidentally, I did find some suitable macaron boxes on the internet, but I've yet to buy some and try out. I'm not sure I'm keeping to the standard macaron size yet.

IMG_5035 IMG_5036

There was quite a lot of ganache left, so I made a second batch of macarons a few days later, this time from sunflower seeds. These had a more neutral flavour compared to the sesame version and didn't combine as nicely with the raspberry ganache. Besides, I made a mistake. The mixture was stiffer than I expected it and once I'd piped them, they wouldn't sink down, but kept the peaks from the piping nozzle. The mixture was sticky, so I used a greased up palette knife to level them out. This left some grease on each macaron and when they were baking, this heated up too much and caused almost all macarons to puff up on top, many looked like miniature volcanoes.

11 July 2016

Rum and Raisin Ice Cream

As per usual, the week before going on holiday, the fridge needs to be emptied. This time we'd both been so busy, that I hadn't planned things very well and had over half a can of dulce de leche left in the fridge from the Frozen Mojito Cake I made for Father's Day and I didn't want to leave it and definitely didn't want to throw it away. So, having also caught glimpses of Mary Berry's Knickerbocker Glory recipe on the telly, I decided to make ice cream.

Now Mary's recipe called for eggs and I'd used those up for the Frozen Mojito Cake, so I went back to the wonderful, no-churn, two ingredient basic ice cream recipe. And this time I decided to add some raisins soaked in rum.

Ingredients

100 g raisins
4 tbsp dark rum
200 g dulce de leche
200 ml whipping cream

Method

  1. Soak the raisins in the dark rum for 3 - 4 h before making the ice cream.
  2. Place the dulce de leche and the whipping cream in a large bowl and whip to soft peaks.
  3. Add the raisins along with whatever's left of the rum and stir into the ice cream mixture to distribute as evenly as possible.
  4. Transfer to a plastic tub and freeze overnight at least.

So it was a nice surprise for Lundulph after we came back home to have such a lovely dessert. We gobbled it up in the first few days after returning, it's such a nice texture and so creamy and I'm pleased that whipping cream worked just as well as the double cream I used in my original try. Not to mention that the dulce de leche added a very nice caramel touch to it. I think I'll try adding fruit purée next time.

No photos to show this time, I keep forgetting to get the camera out these days it seems.

18 June 2016

Frozen Mojito Cheesecake

Some time ago, my Sister discovered a recipe for frozen mojito cheesecake, which she made with great success among her friends. Recently she made it again, this time using up all the fresh spearmint my Mum had and as thanks,treated my parents to a small version of this cake. My parents did enjoy this very much and my Mum sent me the recipe once more. So as the English part of the family were gathering to celebrate Father's Day this week-end, I decided to make it, since we were going to have a barbecue and I thought an ice cream cake would fit nicely.

IMG_5026

The original recipe is in Swedish and can be found here. Reading through the recipe, the basis for the ice cream was very similar to the very smooth and rich non-churn ice cream I made last year. What also threw me a bit was that after making the ice cream mixture, it was to be poured straight into the springform tin. I had to read the instructions several times, until I realised that the biscuit base goes in at the end, on top of the ice cream mixture - the cake is made upside-down and turned onto a plate before serving.

Ingredients

Makes 10 portions

2 limes with good skin
25 g packet of mint
4 eggs
1.5 dl granulated sugar
200 g cream cheese
4 dl whipping cream
1 dl dulce de leche or caramelised condensed milk
½ dl dark rum or rum essence
200 g plain digestive biscuits
50 g butter

Method

  1. Grate the zest from the two limes and squeeze out the juice.
  2. Wash the mint, tear off the leaves and chop them finely - about 1 dl is required (not tightly packed though).
    IMG_5019
  3. Separate the egg whites and yolks. Place the whites in a large glass bowl, cover and set aside.
  4. Place the yolks in a different large bowl, add the sugar and whisk until pale and fluffy.
  5. At the end whisk in the creak cheese, the lime zest and juice and the chopped mint.
  6. In a third bowl, whip together the cream and the dulce de leche until stiff. Then fold into the egg mixture and follow with the rum or rum essence.
  7. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold into the rest of the mixture until fully incorporated.
    IMG_5020
  8. Pour into a 25 cm springform and smooth the surface so it's level.
  9. Break up the digestive biscuits in a food processor and melt the butter gently.
    IMG_5022
  10. Add the biscuit crumbs to the butter and stir through, then sprinkle over the ice cream, making sure it's level and push down on it gently.
  11. Cut out a circular piece of baking paper and cover the crumbs, then cover the springform with cling film and freeze for at least 8 h.

To be honest, I didn't like this one much. The mint was very overpowering and perhaps using spearmint works better, but it's not something that's easy to get hold of where I live, so I'll need to sow some and try again. Also possibly use more lime zest, although it looked like a lot from 2 limes.

I also wanted to make the cake pretty, so I buttered the bottom of the springform, and fixed large mint leaves in a circle, with the idea that the ice cream would freeze and they'd remain stuck to it.

IMG_5018
Sadly this was not to be, the leaves remained stuck in the butter.

IMG_5023 IMG_5024
My brother-in-law Roger and oldest niece Lou were very good and carefully peeled off each mint leaf and placed them on the cake again. It went quickly of course, even though we'd spent most of the day eating, there's always room for ice cream. But as I said, it didn't quite wow me, though the others said it was nice.

One good thing was that as Lundulph and I were preparing to leave for Roger's place, I caught sight of a new cookery show from Mary Berry, where she was demonstrating her favourite Knickerbocker Glory - which is an ice cream with fruits and the ice cream she made from scratch and it was very much the basic recipe as I've done here - eggs, sugar, whipping cream, so since I have some dulce de leche left, I'll make some ice cream next week, perhaps something with pistachios.