If you think that a marshmallow is one of those semi-stale, crackly, crusty things you get at the supermarket, then we need to have a talk. Ideally, they should be squishy and soft, not tough and dense….and oh-so importantly, they should taste fresh. You don’t have to buy them, you know…the marshmallow ideal can be your reality if you make them at home. It is sticky business, to be sure, but it isn’t that hard. And there’s a whole, sweet new book, Marshmallow Madness! by fellow blogger Shauna Server, to help you out. It has a puffy cover and everything! It starts with the classics…vanilla, chocolate…and moves on to some really inspired flavors like buttered rum and maple-bacon. Who would have thought marshmallows could be so adult and sophisticated? I’ve already made my caramel sauce for the sea salt caramel swirl ones.
I whipped up a batch of Shauna’s marshmallow crème this morning. It’s marshmallow minus the gelatin, and just like with marshies, if you’ve only ever had store-bought Fluff, you’ll be wowed by the way homemade tastes. Like real vanilla, for one thing. Guess what I’m gonna put this sticky stuff all over tonight?? Minds out of the gutter people, this is a PG blog– I’m talking about chocolate ice cream! And if I have any left next weekend, I’ll turn it into a giant Ho-Ho with the chocolate-marshmallow roulade recipe in the “Fluffy, Puffy Desserts” section at the back of the book.
The nice folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book, and now I want to send a copy to one of you, too. Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Thursday (March 8) and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you!
***Giveaway Winner Update: I now have two copies to give away, one from me and one from Quirk Books, who has very kindly offered to donate another. I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. It selected comments 7 and 10, so congratulations to Christy and Anne M. You should be getting your books soon!***
Homemade Marshmallow Crème- makes about 2 1/2 cups
from Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Server
Steph’s Note: I used golden syrup instead of corn syrup here, and it worked just fine (although the crème isn’t as blindingly white as it would be otherwise…it has the faintest tinge of gold).
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-Stir together the sugar, light corn syrup, water and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240°F.
-Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed. The goal is to have the egg whites whipped and ready, waiting for your syrup to be drizzled in. If they’re whipping faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer (or turn to lowest speed) until the syrup is ready.
-When the syrup reaches 240°F, set the mixer to low and slowly drizzle a tiny bit of syrup, a couple tablespoons’ worth, into the egg whites to warm them. (If you add too much syrup at once, the whites will scramble). Slowly drizzle in the rest of they syrup and then increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until the marshmallow crème is stiff and glossy, 7-9 minutes; towards the end of the beating, beat in the vanilla.
-Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.
Tags: baking, bundt, cake, chocolate, dessert
I had wanted this post to be a recipe for a citrus loaf cake, but something went amiss in the preparation…namely, my brain when I tried to do some “cake math” to downsize the recipe. I was a math major in college, too. Seriously, Wellesley should revoke my degree for not being able to handle basic fractions. Anyway, that greasy disaster used up all my blood oranges and a copious amount of olive oil, so that was that for that– time to get over it and move on with chocolate!
I’ve made this Double Chocolate Bundt Cake from Food & Wine twice, and R and I like it a lot. It’s a homey, old-fashioned, easy peasy, hand-whisked thing. It’s kind of cake I imagine making for my imaginary children. Also, I have a particular fondess for chocolate cakes made with oil (I use grapeseed). They have a dense/moist crumb that I’m really into and they keep for days. The first time I baked this cake, used Dutch-processed cocoa, but the second time I decided to give natural a go, seeing as how baking soda is used as the leavener. While I didn’t notice any difference in rise between the two, I think the one made with natural cocoa tasted better…a little more chocolatey, maybe, although that could just be a difference between the two particular brands.
The ganache glaze and sprinkles may be mandatory for me, but if you can do without, a simple sift of powdered sugar on top of the cake would look really great. Don’t forget a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.
There’s a little Bundt cake trick I’ve learned at the shop where I work. Sometimes even a well-greased and floured a Bundt can have trouble releasing from the pan and can get a bit torn up. Right after you take the Bundt out of the oven, using potholders, give the bottom of the pan a good, swift rap on your counter (only if it’s heatsafe, though!). This helps the cake to settle a bit and come away from the sides of the pan, especially around the tube area, where it can sometimes get caught. I would not do this with most types of layer or loaf cakes, but a sturdy Bundt can take it– as long as it’s baked all the way, of course.
Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze- makes 10-12 servings
adapted from Food & Wine (November 2006)
Steph’s Notes: I made half a recipe in my 6-cup Bundt pan, but still used the full egg (I just chose the smallest egg in my carton). Also, my smaller cake baked in about 35-40 minutes.
vegetable oil spray or softened butter for the Bundt pan
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup or golden syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Thouroughly grease a a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray or softened butter. (I did not, but if you’d like added insurance, you can flour the pan as well.)
-In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.
-In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Swiftly rap the pan on the counter once or twice right after pulling it from the oven…this will help the cake settle and release. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.
-In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup (or golden syrup) and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.
-Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.
Tags: baking, chocolate, dessert, tarts
It’s back to the sweets with this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, which I am excited to be co-hosting along with Spike, Jaime and Jessica. We’re doing David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Truffle Tartlets, and they are every bit as intense as the name sounds. A chocolate crust is the vessel for a dark chocolate filling loaded with milk and white chocolate bits and pieces of crunchy cookie (I used amaretti, but biscotti are suggested, too). The filling isn’t a straightforward ganache, but a baked chocolate filling made with whipped egg yolks. The ribbony yolks give the filling some lift and structure. They don’t bake up exactly cakey or moussey, but kind of somewhere in between. Although the recipe says they are best enjoyed day of, I thought the tartlets were fantastic eaten chilled the next day, when they were like candy bars.
These tartlets may be small, but they pack a chocolate punch. A tartlet may be uaually meant for one, but I think these are so rich that they are made for sharing. A couple of notes about my personal experience here– I used a 60% chocolate in my filling base…I thought it was a tad too sweet when combined with the extra chocolate and cookie bits. Next time I’d go with a 70-something% for a bit more balance. Also, while the chocolate tart dough in this recipe is almost exactly the same as the one in BFMHTY, that one (BFMHTY) uses powdered sugar instead of granulated, and I think it may be a bit easier to work with.
For the recipe, you should see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan, but I also have it below. My co-hosts Spike, Jaime and Jessica will have it as well. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
Chocolate Truffle Tartlets
recipe by David Ogonowski in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
for the chocolate dough
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp ice water
for the truffle filling
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
2 oz white chocolate, cut into small dice
2 oz milk chocolate, cut into small dice
4 biscotti, homemade or store-bought (you can use amaretti di Saronno), chopped
-To make the dough in a food processor: Put the metal blade in the processor and add the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Pulse just to blend. Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the pieces are about the size of small peas. With the machine running, add the yolk and ice water and pulse just until crumbly – don’t overwork it. Turn it out onto the work surface and, working with small portions, smear the dough across the surface with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough together and shape it into a rough square. Pat it down to compress it slightly, and wrap it in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes. The dough will hold in the refrigerator for 3 days, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it out.
-To make the dough by hand: Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt on a smooth work surface, preferably a cool surface such as marble. Toss the ingredients together lightly with your fingertips, then scatter the butter pieces across the dry ingredients. Use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms pieces the size of small peas. Then use a combination of techniques to work the butter further into the flour: Break it up with your fingertips, rub it lightly between your palms, and chop it with the flat edge of a plastic or metal dough scraper. Gather the mixture into a mound, make a volcano-like well in the center, and pour in the yolk and ice water. Use your fingers to break up the yolk and start moistening the dry ingredients. Then, just as you did with the flour and butter, toss the ingredients with your fingers and use the dough scraper to chop and blend it. The dough will be crumbly and not really cohesive. Bring it together by smearing small portions of it across the work surface with the heel of your hand. Gather into a square and chill as directed above.
-Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and keep at hand. Remove the bottoms from six 4 ½-inch fluted tartlet pans (or use pans with permanent bottoms and just plan to pop the tartlet out once they’re filled, baked, and cooled); spray the pans with vegetable oil or brush with melted butter.
-Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape the dough into a rough circle, then tamp it down with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and the top of the dough and roll it into a circle about 1/8 to ¼- inch thick. As you roll, lift the dough with the help of a dough scraper to keep it from sticking. If the dough breaks (as it sometimes does), press it back together and keep going-it will be fine once it’s baked. Fit the dough into a tartlet ring, pressing it into the fluted edges and cutting the top level with the edges of the pan. Again, patch as you go. Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour and place the lined tartlet ring on the prepared baking pan.
-When all of the shells are rolled out and formed, chill them for at least 20 minutes.
-Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottoms of the crusts all over with the tines of a fork and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crusts are dry, blistery, and firm. Transfer the baking pan to a rack so that the crusts can cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
-Bring an inch of water to the simmer in a saucepan. Put the butter and bittersweet chocolate in a large metal bowl and place the bowl over the saucepan-don’t let the metal bowl touch the water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly, stirring from time to time, as you work on the rest of the filling. Remove the chocolate from the heat when it is melted and allow it to cool until it is just slightly warmer than room temperature.
-Put the yolks and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk or a hand-held mixer, start beating the yolks at medium speed and them, when they are broken up, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the yolks and sugar until the yolks thicken and form a slowly dissolving ribbon when the beater is lifted.
-Spoon about one third of the yolks onto the cooled chocolate mixture and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Don’t worry about being too thorough. Pour the chocolate into the beaten yolks and gently fold the two mixtures together until they are almost completely blended. Add the cubed chocolates and biscotti, folding to incorporate the chunky pieces.
- Using an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measure, divide the filling evenly among the cooled shells. Smooth the filling with a small offset spatula, working it into the nooks and crannies as you circle the tops of the tarts. Bake the tarts for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops look dry and the filling is just set. Remove to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.
-Best the day they’re made, these are still terrific after they’ve been refrigerated—they lose their textual finesse, but the taste is still very much there. For longer keeping, wrap the tartlets airtight and freeze them for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.
Tags: dessert, holiday
I’ve never gotten super excited (or super upset, either) about Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of a non-event, but I do like to use it as an excuse to make my sweetie something luxe and a little girly for dessert….coeur à la crème seems quite appropriate, non?
If you’ve never had coeur à la crème, it’s kind of a cross between a mousse and a cheesecake filling. It’s a soft cheese and cream mixture that’s not cooked, so it’s very fresh…it’s also a little tangy and barley sweet. It belongs to that group of traditional French desserts that is so elegant yet so unfussy. Several years back, I found some individual coeur à la crème molds on the post-Valentine’s Day clearance shelf at a local kitchenware shop, and even though (or maybe especially becasue) they’re kind of uni-taskers, I’ve made it a point to use them many times since. Although they are cute, you don’t even need the molds to make this dessert…a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl will work fine (but you will give up the traditional heart-shape). Cheesecloth is important here, though, since the excess liquid needs to drain from the mixture so it’s as thick and creamy as it should be. That also means that resting time is necessary…you’ll need to chill and drain your cream hearts for several hours…I do it overnight.
I like to make my base with a soft, fresh cheese called fromage blanc. Vermont Butter & Cheese makes a nice (non-fat!) one that I can find at several shops, but if you don’t have access to fromage blanc, I think a combo of cream cheese and sour cream could approximate it. The creaminess and gentle tang of this dessert calls out for fresh fruit. Fresh berries or even a berry coulis would be great in summer, but here I used blood oranges, both becasue they are in season and becasue a heart with blood seemed fitting in a twisted sort of way.
Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo
Coeur à la Crème– makes four servings
Steph’s Note: If you don’t have individual coeur à la crème molds, you can use a larger mold or a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. You may, however, need to make a 1.5x or 2x batch of the coeur mixture, depending on the size. If you can’t find fromage blanc, try substituing with 6 oz of soft cream cheese plus 2 oz of sour cream.
8 oz fromage blanc
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
squeeze fresh lemon juice
seeds of a quarter of a vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 oz heavy cream
fresh fruit or fruit coulis to serve
-Cut four squares of cheesecloth (about 8-inch squares). Rinse each square of cheesecloth under water and squeeze until just damp. Line each of four 4-inch coeur à la crème molds with one square of cheesecloth.
-In a food processor (or with a whisk or hand-held mixer) process the fromage blanc, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until very smooth. In another bowl, whisk the cream until medium-soft peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the fromage blanc mixture until evenly combined.
-Place molds on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish. Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds and fold the corners of cheesecloth up and over the top.
-Chill for several hours or overnight to allow the mixture to drain.
-To serve, unwrap the molds and invert onto plates. Garnish with fruit.
Tags: breakfast, snacks
It was hard for me not to make this week’s FFWD recipe. It’s toast– heck, I can make time for that! Toast with yummy stuff on top, that is. This tartine is a thick slice of brioche with butter, marmalade, Nutella, nuts and salt. You could buy everything and simply assemble it, but I happened to have a couple of the components in homemade form (but already on hand). I still had some homemade brioche in the freezer, and over the holidays, my BFF and I made a big pot of mixed-citrus marmalade to give to family. A bit of sweet, a bit of sour and a bit of salt…this is toast at its finest. Dorie says this is a typical after-school snack for French children, but I ate mine for breakfast. Then I went to the dentist and he found no cavities. Breakfast of champions.
Tags: baking, dessert, tarts
When Kayte chose a Honey-Almond Fig Tart for TWD pick last month, I didn’t bake the recipe because figs were out of season and I was drawing a blank on a good sub. Then it dawned on me that prunes would be a delicious partner for a honey-almond cream tart…especially if those prunes were quickly poached in simmering red wine and that almond cream had a little orange zest in it. So that’s exactly what I did. And it was great. I’m a fan of frangipane tarts (here’s another good one), and I could really taste the honey in this almond cream. The prunes gave the tart a bit of sticky chewiness.
Tags: cake, dessert
Yowzer– it’s been ages since I’ve had an FFWD post. I happened to notice this week’s recipe, Quatre-Quarts, and it looked like good a point to jump back in. I guess quatre-quarts is most often compared to pound cake. I’m sure every grand-mère has her own version of quatre-quarts, but I thought this one was much lighter and springier than an American pound cake typically is. In fact, it seemed quite like a sponge cake, thanks to the beaten egg whites that are folded into the batter. I only made half a recipe, thinking a full would be too buttery and heavy for us to eat for more than a couple of days. I was wrong–we could have easily polished of the whole thing. Also, I flavored it with a glug of good Cognac, which made it pretty easy to enjoy!
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Baking with Julia!
Tags: baking, bread
Bread is definitely my favorite food group. I’m not sure why, then, I skipped Raisin Swirl Bread when Susan picked it for TWD over the summer. Maybe I was away…maybe it was too hot out for bread baking…I can’t remember. Anyway, now is prefect bread baking weather, so I thought I’d give it a try. Also, I wanted to brush up on my yeast skills before we get going on the white loaves from Baking with Julia in a couple of weeks.
This is just a straight-forward dough technique (no sponge or starter) with a couple of proofs. I used my mixer for it, so I didn’t even break a sweat. Scented with a little orange zest and of course a cinnamon-raisin swirl, it smelled really good baking. I was so proud of myself for waiting until the bread had cooled completely before cutting into it. I was even more proud of its perfect texture and beautifully hypnotic swirl. There was a time when I would have skipped the raisins altogether and this would just have been a cinnamon swirl bread, but raisins and I have gradually made peace over the last couple of years. We’re good now…I’m glad I gave them a second chance.
This makes fabulous toast (with a little salty butter, of course)! I could probably have downed the whole loaf that way, but I tried it out as French toast, too. Good stuff. Really, I can’t wait to make this again. For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Food Baby, as it was Susan’s pick from back in June.
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, don’t forget to enter my Baking with Julia BOOK GIVEAWAY!
By the time Wednesday rolls around, I’m usually thinking seriously about my weekend breakfast options. Geez, that sounds pretty lame, but I eat granola and yogurt every morning during the workweek, so I’m more than ready for a switch-up by the time Saturday arrives. Usually I’ll go with pancakes over French toast, but last weekend I couldn’t resist the photo of ”French toast sandwiches” in a great breakfast cookbook I have. This is a lot like stuffed French toast, except here you just sandwich together two slices of bread (I used homemade brioche that I had in the freezer) rather than making surgical-style incisions and injections into one fat slice. The filling is just a schmear of soft cream cheese and your favorite jam. I think a marmalade or a tart jam works best…I used my homemade plum jam here…especially if you plan to slosh it with maple syrup.
Cheese-and-Jam French Toast Sandwiches– makes four servings
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts by Rick Rodgers
1 cup milk
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 slices challah, brioche or other egg bread
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons jam or orange marmalade
canola oil or butter for cooking
unsalted butter, at room temperature, for serving
maple syrup for serving
-Preheat the oven to 350°F.
-In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Lay one bread slice on a work surface and spread with one-fourth each of the cream cheese and jam. Top with another bread slice. Repeat with the remaining bread, cream cheese and jam.
-Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly oil the griddle.
-One at a time, dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture and turn gently to coat evenly, keeping the sandwiches intact. Let stand until the bread has soaked up some of the egg mixture, about 30 seconds.
-Remove the sandwiches from the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, and place on the hot griddle. Cook until golden brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and cook until browned on the other sides, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
-When all four sandwiches are on the sheet, place the sheet in the oven and bake until the cream cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
-Serve the French toast sandwiches immediately with butter and maple syrup.