Tags: baking, citrus, tart
I only seem to get my hands on a few blood oranges each winter and when I do, I always think I should to do something special with them. That’s why last week I took Dorie’s Pink Grapefruit Tart and turned it into a blood orange one. This tart is a take on a favorite of hers called Pétale de Pamplemousse from Hugo & Victor, a swanky shop in Paris. It has a sweet tart shell with a layer of lemon-almond frangipane cream hidden under a rich citrusy crémeux. Frangipane we’ve done before, but crémeux is a pastry cream luxuriously enriched with heaps of butter and softly set with gelatin. These several steps each have their own wait times as well, so it’s best to spread the process out over two days.
OK, here’s where I ran into trouble on this one…I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat red meat so I try to avoid gelatin, too. I also try to not get too crazy about it, because I’ve worked in kitchens for years and I know that gelatin gets slipped into things one would never even suspect. But if I know it’s in there, I don’t go for it on a menu and I don’t make it at home. The word “crémeux” is a tip-off that gelatin is involved (although some chocolate ones don’t need it to set), so I wanted to find my way around that to make this tart. I tried agar-agar once, likely messed it up, and haven’t tried it again (although Zosia did and it looks great!). I tried fish gelatin another time, had good success, but have since decided that I’m creeped out by it. Poking around, I found that I had half a packet of a plant-based kosher gelatin in the cupboard. I have absolutely no clue what I did with the other half of the packet…I remember buying the stuff but have no memory of using it….but it was about equal in amount to half the gelatin called for in the recipe, so I made a half-batch of everything (for a 7-inch tart) and added that to my cremeux base. The next morning, however, my crémeux was still very loose, so either the setting ratio is different (the packet didn’t compare it to regular gelatin), or it was too old (I admit that I’d had it in the cupboard for quite a long time). I broke down and brought home a leaf of sheet gelatin from work that night, scraped the cremeux back into the mixer, blitzed in the bloomed gelatin leaf and poured it straight into the crust to set. Fine, that worked.
This tart was beautiful and perfectly delicious, and fresh citrus can certainly brighten up a frosty late Februaury day. Dorie says you could omit the almond cream to skip a step and keep it simpler, but I really think the flavor adds a lot to the tart. All that said, while I’m willing to tinker around with different gelatin alternatives (has anyone tried Natural Desserts Vegan Jel??), I’m not sure this will be a repeater for me. If I make something this butter-heavy, generally I want it to be because frosting is involved…yeah, yeah, I’m a cake person.
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Tags: baking, bundt, cake, chocolate, dessert
This Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt is the first, no second, no make that third Mary Bergin chiffon cake we’ve made. I’ve liked them all…I think I just really like the spongy, fluffy softness of chiffon cakes. And it also helps here that I love chocolate and Bundts. And crème brulée, too…who am I kidding? I knew this would be good.
If you watch the video of the BWJ episode, you’ll see that this chocolate chiffon Bundt gets its center stuffed with raspberries and then a big glug of vanilla crème brulée custard is poured over top of the whole shebang and torched. I figured that as soon as the brulée was poured on, the cake pretty much needed to be eaten up…This would be very dramatic and impressive for a crowd, but since I was just making it for two of us, I had to both reduce the recipe and settle for adding the custard to order. I made a half recipe of the cake (in my 6-cup Bundt pan) and a half recipe of the brulée cream, too. I was convinced, even though I’d sprayed the heck out of my Bundt pan and coated it well in cocoa (which I prefer to use instead of flour for a dark chocolate cake), that the cake would stick like crazy and rip when I tried to unmold it. It didn’t! I made sure to kind of gently nudge it from the sides with a little offset as it started to cool and shrink in a bit, and it released perfectly– phew!
I used my darkest cocoa powder (Valrhona) and my Bundt had great flavor. The chiffon was easy to make, too…in fact, I did the whole thing in my bathrobe (TMI??). I’d happily make it again on its own, just to have with ice cream or whipped cream. I liked the stovetop water bath method for thickening the crème brulée…that was new to me, and it came out nicely. After the better part of a day in the fridge, the brulée had thickened up well and I was able to pour it over a single slice without it looking a mess. All in all a winning dessert for Valentine’s Day weekend.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll! (Update: I see from the blogroll that some folks wound up with a thinner custard, in which case I’d just serve it as an anglaise sauce on the plate.)
Valentine’s Day calls for something super-chocolatey, right? Chocolate mousse, maybe? Or perhaps frozen chocolate mousse? Would it sound sexier if we said it in French? Mais bien sûr…Marquise au Chocolat it is.
This is a delicious and decadent dessert. Butter, dark chocolate, sugar, whipped cream– it’s all in there, baby. Oh, and raw egg yolks, too. This was a hot topic for our group, and if you’re concerned (I wasn’t really), some alternative ideas were floated around. I thought about making a whole recipe in a loaf pan because it can keep for a month in the freezer, but decided to just make a few servings worth and set them up in the little molds I use for coeur à la crème.
I think the deep chocolate flavor and the creamy texture are best enjoyed after the marquise has had several minutes to temper outside of the freezer. You’ll probably need to do that anyway to get your plastic wrap liner to easily release from the mold. If you make a larger loaf, Dorie says dental floss or a warm knife is the way to cut nice slices. This would be lovely with berries or crème anglaise or whipped cream. I had a can of coconut cream that I tried unsuccessfully to whip…it wouldn’t get anymore volume than a foamy sauce, so I just went with it.
Tags: baking, cake
A weekend cake- I love it! A good cake does make the weekend even better, if you ask me. (Hopefully it will make the nor’easter we’re about to get socked with better, too!) This one’s a simple loaf cake, but it’s flavored with brown butter, vanilla bean and rum. Simple but special.
I have a French blue steel loaf pan, and I thought it naturally appropriate to use for a French cake. I like that the pan has perfectly straight, not flared, sides. It’s longer and slimmer than the standard 9×5, so I was sure to check it in the oven plenty early.
The ingredients are lovely and fragrant, and the cake smells so good out of the oven, that it’s hard to wrap it up and let it sit overnight like Dorie suggests. It’s less buttery and heavy than a pound cake but has a similar delicious crust. This cake is good on it’s own or with a sauce. (I’m going to try it in early summer as a strawberry shortcake base.) If you can’t eat it all up over the weekend, don’t worry because it freezes nicely. Dorie also says stale slices are good toasted, although I don’t plan on testing that out this time.
Gale Gand’s Inside-Out, Upside-Down Tirami Sù is pretty different from the tiramisu I usually make. The flavors are all here, but this reinterprets the dessert into a mix of textures and temperatures. Instead of ladyfinger biscuits soaked and layered into something so soft you can glide a spoon through, here you get shatteringly crisp phyllo disks sandwiching a luxurious mascarpone sabayon and an icy-cold espresso granita.
I baked off my scrunched up phyllo disks in 4-inch ring molds, which worked really well. I left the ginger out of the sugar sprinkled on top of them, because I didn’t want that flavor here. I did, however, want a nice splash of Kahlúa in my sabayon, so I added that.
This is kind of a posh plated dessert, but you can get the three easy steps (phyllo disks, granita and sabayon) done earlier in the day and just assemble it all right before serving. You really can’t wait to eat it once you’ve put the granita on, because it starts to melt immediately! By the way, I have plenty of granita left in the freezer…I’m thinking of turning it into an espresso-frappe-milkshake-type concoction. Bonus.
Tags: baking, bread
Happy New Year! This time last year, I resolved to do a better job of using up odds and ends in the kitchen. I’ve done a pretty good job with that in 2014, and, in fact, this Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaf from Steve Sullivan used up some leftover pumpkin puree and cranberries I had hiding in the freezer. Of course, now I have half a loaf of bread in freezer instead, so maybe it’s actually a wash for the time being.
The group made this bread back in the fall of 2012, and two years later I don’t remember why I skipped out on it at the time. When I hear “pumpkin bread,” I usually think of a quick bread, but this is actually a yeasted loaf. It’s a bit like a lean brioche with a bit of pumpkin puree (I used canned) mixed in, along with fresh cranberries, walnuts and raisins. I imagine you could play around with those add-ins a bit.
I changed two things when I made this bread. First, the recipe calls for an overnight rest in the refrigerator, followed by a lengthy stay on the counter the next day to come back up to room temp. I, of course, did not properly familiarize myself with the recipe before I jumped in, so I was totally unprepared for that. Instead of the fridge rest, I gave it a second countertop rise (a little over an hour) in the bowl before shaping it and giving it it’s final proof. Second, the recipe divides the dough into three mini loaf pans. I don’t have those pans, so I cut the recipe in half and made a medium-sized loaf (8″x4″) instead. I got a nice, tall loaf so thankfully my changes didn’t do anything bad to the dough.
I like this bread! It doesn’t taste much of pumpkin, but the puree gives it a pretty golden-orange color. And the pops of cranberries, raisins and walnuts are nice. It makes good cinnamon toast, like we had it here, for breakfast.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaf week a couple of years ago!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, holiday
It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s time to get fancy in the kitchen! Something like a Gingerbread bûche de Noël sounds like the right way to celebrate. Way back in the early days of this space, I made another bûche. That one was all done up with stumps, meringue mushrooms and faux wood grain…this one’s easier in that it’s just a roulade but it’s still a showstopper and, of course, it still has several steps. In addition to a gently-spiced geniose-style gingerbread sponge cake, there’s a cream cheese filling, a marshmallow meringue frosting and, for crunch and sparkle, a pecan praline.
If you’re the organized type, you can actually break up the steps and knock out the praline and filling a day in advance, but I did it all start to finish in one afternoon, so I can tell you that it’s procrastinator-friendly, too. I did kind of goof up the cake a bit, and you can see it in the center of the spiral. I deflated the cake batter while mixing in the butter at the end. I was pretty annoyed with myself, and worried it would be like eating a rubber mat, but there’s a lot going on with this cake and we also had it with a scoop of eggnog ice cream, so it really wasn’t that noticeable. Next time, I’ll do better with that. Although the marshmallow makes a stunning, glossy, snow-white frosting, I had a lot left over…next time, I’ll also try cutting that amount in half. I’ll reduce the cream of tartar in the frosting a bit as well because I think it gave the marshmallow a slightly acidic taste. If you’re on the fence about gingerbread (I know not everyone is crazy about it), the flavoring here is very subtle…no molasses or cloves or other dark and mysterious flavors.