HALLOWEEN ENTREMET CAKE

Today I share with you a mousse cake that celebrates the season with the flavors of pumpkin and warm spices, plus the colors of Halloween. The spider effect on the mirror glaze is optional, but in my opinion, oh so very cool…  What do you think?

HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Kirsten Tibbals)

for the almond sponge:
65g powdered sugar
75g almond flour
65g whole eggs
40g egg yolks
140g egg whites
40g caster sugar
25g brown sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
60g all purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the icing sugar, almond flour, whole eggs and the egg yolks until thick and forming a nice ribbon as you allow the batter to fall from the paddle. This will take around 8 minutes.

In another bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the whites with the cream of tartar to medium peak. Gradually add in the caster sugar. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue with the almond base, add the brown sugar and flour then gently fold in the remaining meringue. Spread the sponge evenly into a half sheet pan covered with parchment paper, or use a Flexipat.

Bake for around 10 minutes at 350F.  Remove from the oven and place into the freezer for approximately 30 minutes. Once cool, remove from the Flexipat and use a cutter to cut a disc for the base of the entremet. You will have a little leftover cake that you can freeze for future adventures.

for the pumpkin chocolate insert:
75g canned pumpkin
40g whipping cream
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
65g milk chocolate, cut in small pieces
1.5g gold gelatin sheets
40g whipping cream, whipped to melted ice cream consistency

Pre-soak the gelatin in a bowl ofcold water. Heat the first amount of cream (40g) to simmering, almost boiling. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk.  Add in the pre-soaked gelatine and combine. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate cut in small pieces in a bowl. If necessary, use an immersion blender to make it smooth.  Place into a bowl and once it cools to 98F or below, fold through the whipped cream using a spatula.

Pour the  mixture inside a suitable ring (or silicone mold) smaller than the ring used for the entremet. If using a ring, cover the bottom with plastic film bringing it up to the sides. Freeze overnight.

for the caramel mousse:
7 g gelatine
37 ml water
150 g sugar
52 g glucose or corn syrup
67 ml water
¼ tsp salt
190 g  + 375 g heavy cream
2 egg yolks

In a small bowl, mix gelatin and water (37ml) together and leave for 5 to 10 minutes until set. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, mix together sugar, glucose (or corn syrup), water (67ml) and salt. Cook on medium high heat until you achieve a caramel syrup with deep amber color. Do not allow it to smoke or burn. Meanwhile, in another sauce pan, slightly the heat the 190 grams heavy cream, so when the caramel is done you can pour the cream right away. Carefully pour it in and mix well until fully combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Then add a third of the caramel to the beaten yolks and beat quickly together to temper the yolks. Pour the mixture back into the caramel and stir well to combine. Continue stirring until it reaches 180-182 °F. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 20 seconds until melted (do not boil it, if needed reduce the power of your microwave to 70% or so) and mix into the caramel cream. Pass the cream through a fine mesh strainer, and set it aside to cool to 113 F.  When cooled, whisk the remaining heavy cream (375 g) into a melted ice cream consistency. Then fold it in two additions into the caramel cream, until well combined.

Prepare a 20cm ring (7+3/4 to 8 inch) by covering the bottom with plastic film and lining the inside with acetate film. Pour 1/2 of the mousse inside, carefully drop the frozen pumpkin-chocolate insert and cover with mousse. Smooth the surface with an off-set spatula then cover with the reserved almond sponge.  Smooth the surface again and freeze overnight.

for the mirror glaze:
3 sheets of Platinum grade sheet gelatin
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
gel food coloring (orange and brown 4:1)

Put the water, sugar and liquid glucose in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze.  Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk and the gel colors (orange and brown 4:1)

Put the white chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

Leave the glaze uncovered for an hour at room temperature for the glaze to cooled and be slightly thickened: if it is too runny you will get too thin a layer on top, colours will not blend well and less glaze will cling to the sides of the cake. The ideal temperature to pour the glaze is 92 to 94 F. Once it is slightly above that (around 97 F), remove a small portion and add dark brown gel color to it, mixing well. Pour the un-dyed portion in a large measuring glass with a spout, add the dark brown mixture to it, mix with a chopstick just barely.  Make sure it is at the correct pouring temperature. Remove the cake from the freezer, place on a rack over a baking sheet. If you like to make it easier to save leftover glaze, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, so that you can lift it and pour easily into a container.

Pour the glaze in a circular motion, starting at the center, making sure it flows homogeneously on all sides. Tap the rack gently to settle the glaze, and very gently and quickly run an off-set spatula on top of the cake to force excess glaze to run down the sides. Do that just once, or you will ruin the marble effect.

for the spider web effect:
2 tablespoons neutral glaze
black food dye

Heat the neutral glaze to 150 F.  The easiest way to quickly reach 150F is to add 2 Tbs neutral glaze to a small bowl and microwave to boiling. Quickly add a small amount (2 tsp or so) of room temperature neutral glaze and the black dye. Mix well. Keep hot until needed, with a hot spatula ready to go. As soon as the mirror glaze is poured, add a small amount of black glaze at 150 F to the spatula and run over the surface. The contrast of temperature and composition (fat versus water based suspensions) will create a natural web effect. The less you mess with it, the better!

Place cake in fridge to defrost for 2 hours before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The idea for this cake started from a class online offered by the one and only Kirsten Tibbals. She made the most amazing Pumpkin Petit Gateau that included green stems shaped with chocolate. Way beyond my skill level, so from that idea I just borrowed the pumpkin-chocolate insert. Then I coupled it with one of my favorite mousses for entremet cakes, quite simple to prepare and with delicate flavor. The base of the cake was an almond sponge, and I used the traditional mirror glaze in the mandatory orange color to lock the spirit of the season. It had been a while since I last attempted a spider web effect, and Halloween quickly approaching seemed appropriate for another stroll in that territory.

My only issue with the cake was the size of the pumpkin-chocolate insert. I am giving you a slightly reduced amount than I used, because my insert was too heavy and it sunk to the bottom of the mousse. It still tasted very good and had the desired texture, but I was hoping for a centered insert surrounded by the caramel mousse. Instead, it turned out as a two layer cake. No major harm done, but not quite the way I planned.

I loved the texture of the almond sponge, and the way the mousse allowed the more assertive taste of the pumpkin-chocolate to shine. As to the spider effect, I am getting more confident about it, I remember my first attempt was quite nerve-wracking, but now I got a good system to get the temperature correctly.

Allow me to share one more picture of my Halloween cake, because I thought the effect of the light bulb shining on the glaze turned out pretty interesting…

Liked the post? Grab a pin and make Sally happy…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers

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THREE YEARS AGO: Impossibly Cute Bacon and Egg Cups

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pulling Under Pressure

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SIX YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

SEVEN YEARS AGO: On my desk

EIGHT YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

NINE YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

TEN YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

SOURDOUGH FOUR-PLAY

October 16th is World Bread Day!

Sourdough four-play… I should stop giggling now.  A sombrero, a butterfly, a flower and a flaming red loaf were recent playful adventures in our kitchen. The butterfly is still a work in progress, haven’t managed to do it like I imagined, but I have fun trying and a few less than ideal bakes here and there won’t stop me.  All breads were made with the same general technique, but slightly different flour composition.

BASIC SOURDOUGH LOAF METHOD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 3.5 to 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes or so. Ideally try to have 4 cycles of folding, if the dough seems a bit too “weak”, incorporate one more cycle of folding.

Let the dough relax for about 30 minutes, and proceed to shaping as a round loaf.

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.  Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and slash it or use a stencil.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

Below I give you the composition of each of the loaves.

SOMBRERO BREAD

This is a loaf that goes in the direction of a hearty Poilane type bread, but considerably simplified.

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
200g bread flour
50g rye flour
10g salt

After overnight in the fridge, the dough was slashed in a simple pattern.

 

BUTTERFLY BREAD

 

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
250g bread flour
10g salt

After overnight in the fridge, dough was slashed to form a butterfly design. Apologies to all beautiful Lepidoptera.

 

HIBISCUS FLOWER BREAD

150 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
585g water
675g bread flour
75g spelt flour
15g salt
cocoa powder and water to form a paste

After overnight in the fridge, loaf was brushed with cocoa paste, then a flower stencil placed on top, and a light dusting of white flour made the design.

FLAMING RED SOURDOUGH

150 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
475 g bread flour
25g rye flour
10g salt
powder red food dye + all-purpose flour

After overnight in the fridge, the top of the loaf was dusted with a mixture of flour and red food dye.  A simple scoring (similar to sombrero bread) was applied before baking.  The dough had a very impressive oven spring, probably because I fed the starter with rye flour a couple of times and also increased the amount of starter in the dough.

I loved all these loaves, but I guess my favorite is the Flaming Red Sourdough because it looked so impressive as the bread exploded through the scoring. The small amount of rye gave the bread enough complexity without making it heavy. The only issue is the food dye rubbing off in the fingers a bit.  I might consider other ways to dye the surface, but it’s hard to beat the intense red tone given by the powder.

This method of preparing the dough the day before is hard to beat. If you are spending your Saturday afternoon at home, it’s really no big deal to make it. No need to be precise with the timing for folding the dough, just make sure you give it a minimum of 3 and a half hours of bulk fermentation. Next morning, turn the oven on, plan your design, and don’t forget, no need to heat the pan you’ll use to bake the bread in.  Free yourself from those nasty oven burns… Into a cold pot the dough goes, and I promise you it will all be fine!

ONE YEAR AGO: World Bread Day 2018

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

THREE YEARS AGO: Spicy Cotija and Black Olive Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

SIX YEARS AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

SEVEN YEARS AGO: October 16: World Bread Day

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The US Listeria Outbreak 2011

NINE YEARS AGO: 36 Hour Sourdough Baguettes

TEN YEARS AGO: October 16 is World Bread Day

 

GIANT COOKIE MEETS MOUSSE

…and the Entremet Cookie is born! I cannot take credit for it, so before I even start talking about this delicious dessert, let me thank Maxime, from Empreintesucree.fr.  She is a professional pâtissière who shares very detailed recipes of her beautiful productions. If you are a bit intimidated by entremet type cakes, this one is an excellent starting point, especially if you simplify the decoration steps (see comments). I guarantee it will still impress your guests.

ENTREMET COOKIE
(slightly modified from Empreintesucree.fr)

for the cookie base:
80 g butter (at room temperature)
65 g muscovado sugar
a pinch of salt
1 egg (55 g)
120 g all purpose flour
2 g baking powder
90 g dark chocolate mini chips

for the chocolate cream:
1 egg yolk
10 g of sugar
100 g heavy whipping cream
38 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

for the dark chocolate buttercream:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
290 g confectioners’ sugar
90 g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the chocolate mousse:
180 g Caramelia chocolate (or milk chocolate of  your choice) of milk chocolate
250 g heavy whipping cream

for the chocolate velvet spray (optional)
120 g milk chocolate (I used Caramelia)
80 g of cocoa butter

for decoration:
golden stars
chocolate Crispearls

Suggested timeframe: make cookie two days before serving time and freeze it. The day before serving make the mousse, and the chocolate cream. Assemble the cake and save the cream in fridge until cake is un-molded.  On serving day make the chocolate buttercream, and the chocolate spray suspension (if using).

Make the cookie base. Heat the oven to 350 F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper  and place over it a 20 cm ring. Reserve.

In the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar and salt. Add the egg and mix again, then sift the flour with the baking powder and mix gently.  Add the mini chocolate chips, and spoon the batter inside the ring. (It is easier to just pour the batter over the parchment paper eye-balling the dimension, then sit the ring on top and use an off-set spatula to carefully spread it uniformly inside the ring).

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges start to get some color. Remove from the oven, and – using oven mitts – immediately make circles with the ring, which will make the cookie base shrink a little bit, as it is still hot. You just want to have the cookie a tiny bit smaller than the ring, so that the mousse will cover the edges fully.  Allow the cookie to cool completely before placing it in the freezer.

Make the chocolate cream.  Whisk the sugar and the egg yolk in a small bowl. In parallel, heat the cream in a small saucepan. Pour the cream over the sugar/yolk mixture to temper it, then transfer everything back to the saucepan. Cook the custard over low heat until 180 F.  Pour the cream over the chocolate until it is slightly melted and mix with a spatula.  Place a plastic film in contact with the cream and reserve it in the refrigerator. When ready to assemble, place in piping bag with a plastic adaptor and have two round piping tips ready, of different sizes.

Make the chocolate mousse. Melt the Caramelia chocolate gently in a double boiler.  Bring one third of the cream, about 80 g to a simmer in a saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the melted chocolate and mix with a spatula until fully smooth. Whip the remaining whipping cream until it gets the consistency of melted ice cream.  Pour half of the cream on your milk chocolate mixture and mix gently with a spatula. Add the remaining cream and mix again until you get a perfectly smooth chocolate whipped cream.

Assemble the dessert. Stretch a piece of plastic wrap on the 20cm circle ring, pulling it well to stretch it nicely.  Flip your circle over a baking dish that fits in your freezer and place a strip of acetate film on the inside to facilitate un-molding later. Pour all the mousse into the circle, then smooth roughly. Take the cookie out of the freezer and push it upside down into the foam (the smooth side of the cookie up). The mousse should be flush with the cookie, smooth over what is needed. Reserve the dessert in the freezer overnight.

Make the dark chocolate buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is smooth. Turn the speed to slow, add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Pour the milk and vanilla extract then add the salt and continue beating until well combined. Increase the speed to high and beat the frosting for a couple of minutes. Place in a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip or another star-shaped tip of your choice.

Make the chocolate suspension for velvet effect.  Melt milk chocolate and cocoa butter in a double-boiler. Filter and place the mixture into the tank of your sprayer. Temperature should be 98 F. Un-mold your dessert and immediately spray the chocolate on it. Ideally, do this inside a dishwasher with racks removed. Decorate the cake with the cream and buttercream, add sprinkles of your choice. Leave in the fridge to thaw for at least one hour before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Well, I do realize that it seems a bit of a stretch to post this recipe as simple and then come up with quite a few components to make it. As I mentioned, you can simplify it quite a bit. For instance, you can skip the two different types of piped decoration and do a drizzle of melted dark chocolate all over it. That would work well. A shower of golden sprinkles for fun and a bit of a dressed up look. The velvet spray is also optional. I find it fun to do, though, and it helps me deal with guilty feelings of having a sprayer sitting in the basement just for my patisserie adventures. It’s nice to put it to use.

On that note, three things are worth mentioning. First, you must strain the melted chocolate + cocoa butter before pouring it in the sprayer. If you look at my photo above, you’ll notice how much stuff gets retained in the sieve. That could conceivably clog the sprayer and you don’t want that at all. Second, if you are using a regular paint sprayer for chocolate work, the container is large, so what works very well is to place a much smaller plastic cup inside, so that you don’t need to make a huge amount of chocolate suspension. I used an empty Benecol container. And third, do the spraying inside an empty dishwasher, because it is a messy process and all you need to do after is turn the dishwasher on.

We took this cake to a dinner party at a friend’s home, so I snapped the pictures with my cell phone very quickly. I admit they are not prize-winning shots. At any rate, everybody raved about the dessert. The cookie component goes very well with the creamy mousse, and it had just the right thickness, don’t try to make it thinner because it won’t work the same way. I loved the contrast of the sharp cocoa buttercream with the milk chocolate cream and mousse, but the cake can shine with only one of the piped toppings.

Maxime, thanks for a lovely recipe, I am thinking of many variations in the future.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Brazilian Battenberg

TWO YEARS AGO: Salzburg Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: If I had One Hour

FOUR YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

SIX YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

NINE YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

TEN YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

 

MISO & SESAME ROAST CHICKEN WITH REVELATION QUINOA

It always fascinates me how little details, minor changes in dealing with an ingredient can change the outcome. In this post, the chicken goes from being roasted whole to flattened out – the famous “spatchcocking” method which sounds a lot naughtier than it is. It cooks faster and you get better browning of the skin . And the quinoa? First it is prepared as the instructions in the package tell you to, but then it gets roasted. I don’t call it revelation quinoa for nothing.

MISO & SESAME ROAST CHICKEN WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
4 tsp white miso
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely grated peeled ginger
1 chicken, butterflied
2 tsp sesame seeds
root vegetables of your choice, peeled and cut in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
salt and black pepper to taste

Combine vegetable oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, miso, soy sauce, lemon juice and ginger in a small bowl. Place butterflied chicken in a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Add oil mixture, turning chicken to coat. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate overnight. One hour before roasting chicken, remove chicken from refrigerator.

Heat oven to 375°F. Distribute the veggies around the chicken. Season the chicken and veggies with salt and pepper. Cover baking pan with foil. Roast for one hour. After 40  minutes, uncover and baste the chicken and veggies with the juices that form at the bottom of the pan. Cover again and roast for another 20 minutes, increasing the temperature to 400 F.  Remove chicken from oven; remove foil. Baste with pan juices, drizzle with remaining 1 tsp sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Roast, uncovered, 20 minutes or until skin is golden, chicken is done and juices have caramelized.  Cut in pieces and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ROASTED RED QUINOA
(adapted from Mostly Plants)

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water or chicken broth
salt to taste
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Rinse quinoa with cold running water.  Drain well. Heat a non-stick sauce pan and add the quinoa, stirring often until it starts to toast. Once it gets fragrant and  you can see some darkening of the seeds, add 2 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

Heat oven to 400 F.  When the quinoa is cooked, transfer to a quart size baking sheet spreading as a layer. Add the olive oil and mix well. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, moving the seeds around a few times during roasting. Serve, and amaze yourself.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve made this chicken three times already, tweaking the temperature and timing to suit our taste. In Nigella’s version the whole thing is done in about one hour at a higher temperature, but I prefer the method I shared with you today.  The quinoa is just wonderful. I doubt I will have it any other way from now on. Ok, it does take longer, but what I’m doing now is cooking it in water (or broth), cooling it down and saving it in the fridge. Then it is a 20-25 minute job, perfect to do while the main dish is being prepared. It is all about texture, a real game changer.

As the weather cools down, two things happen. My mood takes a deep dive, and this type of meal shows up more often in our menu. Such is life. Yin and yang.

ONE YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

TWO YEARS AGO: Parsnip, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

FOUR YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

NINE YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

TEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

STRAWBERRY MINI-CAKES FOR BAKE PINK PROJECT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am joining Chef Colette Christian in her Bake Pink Project. I don’t know how many dear friends and acquaintances of mine have been affected by breast (and other) cancers, but far too many.  In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime, with early detection being KEY to survival. In other words, get screened annually, and talk to all your friends to make sure they do the same.

I’ve never met Chef Colette in person. But I know for a fact she is one of the nicest human beings around. I will talk more about it in a few months, for reasons that will become clear by then. For now, let me just say she is a fantastic online instructor who is responsible for me finally conquering macarons a few years ago (check her 6 classes at Bluprint, all pretty amazing). Once I got addicted to baking macarons, my horizons were opened to other kinds of patisserie. In many ways, I think Colette is the person who helped me go from cake-o-phobe to passionate baker.  She is winning her own battle with breast cancer, and I am absolutely thrilled to join her BAKE PINK project. Today I share a recipe for a cake I recently enjoyed at Ottolenghi’s cafe in London.  It is pink, it is delicious, and quite simple to put together.

STRAWBERRY-VANILLA MINI-CAKES
(slightly modified from Ottolenghi’s Sweet)

recipe also available online here

for the cake:
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
120 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
140 g almond flour
15 oz fresh strawberries, hulled cut in half
1 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry icing:
55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
300 g icing sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla paste

to decorate:
whole strawberries
freeze-dried strawberries
sprinkles

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Start by making the roasted strawberries, preferably many hours in advance, or the day before.  Mix the strawberries with olive oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl, add to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until the edges start to get dark and the liquid gets thick. Do not let the strawberries burn or get too dry.  Reserve. Dice before using in the recipe. If there is excessive liquid, drain it.

Prepare four mini-loaf pans by coating them with butter and flour or using a baking spray.

Make the cake batter. Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time. Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond flour. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced roasted strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth. Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. Garnish and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: While in London, I really wanted to stop by Ottolenghi’s place, but since my schedule was quite tight, I was worried it would not happen. So one afternoon I was all by myself and realized I barely had the time to catch the tube and get to the cafe before closing time. When I got there, I could not sit down for an early dinner because they were just getting ready to call it a day, so I was a bit frantic trying to decide what to get. From the corner of my eye I saw some cute mini-loaf cakes, and that’s what I bought. My plan was to travel back to the hotel and have it as my dinner. But it could not hurt to take a test-bite as I walked back to the metro station, right?  Right. Problem is, I could not stop eating it. Moist, sweet, but also tangy with the strawberry taste. It was so so good… The sweetest walk ever through Notting Hill.

Of course, it is often problematic to try to match the great things we stumble upon like that. But I have to say, the ones I baked at home were pretty close to that level of goodness. I opted to roast the strawberries because at this time of the year they are not at their peak, and also because roasting will always intensify the flavor, so why not? It is just a small additional step that I think pays off big time here.

Chef Colette, thank you for Baking Pink, and for all the help and advice you’ve given me this past few months.  You are a sweet and bright person…

And for all my readers and fellow bloggers, let’s do all we can to raise awareness about breast cancer, it is a serious killer that can be tamed by early detection.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pea Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Naturally Sweet

THREE YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FOUR YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

NINE YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

TEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

 

IN MY KITCHEN (AND BEYOND): OCTOBER 2019


It is time to invite you all for a walk around our kitchen. In My Kitchen posts started many years ago with Celia and is now hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings.  In this version, we will go beyond the kitchen because we were away on a professional trip for the whole month of August, so I will include a few bits and pieces from our stay in London.

Starting with gifts…

While in London, we had the opportunity to meet a dear virtual friend of many years – Elaine – The Sourdough Queen. She had us over for lunch and we sat for hours chatting. Had amazing vegetarian spreads and of course the best sourdough loaves a person can wish for. Fresh from her oven. Knowing how much I love tea cups, she gave me this gorgeous cup, handmade by a pottery artist from the region.  I adore it! Thank you, Elaine!


From our dear friend Sarah who lives just a couple of miles away from us, these cute fabric wrappers that you can place under bowls and plates to go into the microwave. No more burning hands on hot bowls, plus they help retain the heat. She made those herself… how cool is that?

In our kitchen…

I’ve been using this for years, then the other day Phil asked me if I ever shared this tip on the blog because it works so well.  It turns out I did not. So here I am, late rather than never, to tell you that a pastry cutter works WONDERS to make guacamole. If you do it, you will never look back. You are welcome…

In our kitchen…

Great find by my beloved. Minced black truffles. Potent, very potent. A little bit goes a long way. We love to add it to regular mushrooms when sauteing them for a side dish, or make a little olive oil concoction to add to grilled steak.  I used some in little mushroom appetizers featured not too long ago.

In our kitchen…

White lentils… I first learned about them through Mimi, when she blogged about a salad. Stay tuned for a recipe showcasing them. Unfortunately I could not find them in our town, but I was so intrigued that I had to place an order online. I know, the sacrifices I make for the sake of food blogging…

In our kitchen…

It is that time of the year. Pumpkin rules!  This one from our farmer’s market, should turn into a dessert. No, not pumpkin pie. I have slightly more exotic plans for this baby…

In our kitchen…

Sometimes things get wild… Please, no questions.

In our kitchen…


Thanks to the efforts of my dear husband, I now have the perfect tool to make spun sugar. I am still at a stage of covering all countertops, most kitchen appliances, and 2/3 of our dogs with spun sugar on several levels of thickness. Practice makes perfect. Here’s to hoping for a long life for Sally.

In our kitchen…

While in London, I also had the opportunity of meeting another food blogger I’ve known and followed for years. The one and only Philip, who was a finalist in the show Britain’s Best Home Cook.  He made me an amazing lunch that was crowned by his homemade lemon pie (he even blogged about it, check it out). He also offered me delicious chocolate cookies called “Bourbons” and showed me the special cutters used to make them from scratch. I knew I had to have them. I already made two of the four kinds, and you will soon read all about them.

In our kitchen…

A few more items from London. I had heard nice things about Silverwood baking pans, and had to bring these home with me. They are beautiful, and work like a dream.

In our kitchen…


Pizza party for our lab members!  We love doing those, I make the dough early in the morning (using my default recipe), let the dough rise in the fridge the whole day, when guests arrive the toppings are ready to go, and we can have a pretty relaxed get together in which the hosts can have as much fun as the guests…

In our kitchen…


What is quickly becoming a routine for our Saturday lunch: Cobb Salad, in many different interpretations.  This one used salmon made in our own smoker, very mild flavor.

In our kitchen…

Mango pearls, made with agar-agar and mango pulp. Approved by the resident pup with a gourmet palate (yeah, right).

In our kitchen…

Icelandic yogurt (skyr). We eat a lot of non-fat yogurt, reserving the full-fat for cooking and baking. This one is simply the best.

And now it’s time for the pups to bark their story.

If he is going to be a complete jerk about what goes on in this house, he can talk to the tail…

Because I actually do some work around here, as this photo proves. 


Indeed, in a rare (cough, cough) moment of clumsiness, I had dumped a small container of yogurt, making considerable mess on the floor. Buck to the rescue, making clean-up a lot easier.

Speaking of clean-up, we go through this routine more often than we like to admit. Oscar is The Burr Magnet, and a complete Drama Boy when it’s time to get them pulled off, no matter how gently we do it.

Not sure what to write as a caption. Honestly, we have absolutely no idea how the remote ended up in there. It could be Bogey Quit That (™) unique way of disapproving our entertainment choices.

But unfortunately, they were forced to endure a full month of kennel due to our trip to the UK. It was hard for all of us…

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Indeed, we were in the UK for a little over 30 days. I share with you a few shots from the trip, mainly during weekends when we had a chance to explore the city a bit.

We had some days with nice weather…

Some days… not so much…

We visited magical Stonehenge….

We had amazing – truly amazing – fish and chips (with mandatory mushy peas).

I had a small dessert-macaron at Laduree (that place is a dream).

And by complete accident I stumbled upon a book signing by Nadiya Hussain, winner of Great British Bake Off a few years back. I told her how much we loved watching her, and that in fact I watched her season at least three times….

I fell in love but bravely walked away from the mixer of my dreams….

And had a special dinner with my forever husband at Rules Restaurant, where we had a romantic meal together 15 years ago…

 

But even long trips come to an end… and we were absolutely thrilled to go back to our routine…  Dogs sleeping nicely on the first evening back…

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Bewitching Kitchen and a few glimpses of London. I will have a bit more to share about the trip in future posts, as my dear friend Denise took me to some pretty special spots. But that’s another story, to be told another time…

Until my next In My Kitchen post…

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2018

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2017

THREE YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FOUR YEARS AGO: Coxinha de Galinha: A Brazilian Delicacy

FIVE YEARS AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

SIX YEARS AGO: A Simple Dinner

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

NINE YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

TEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

 

YOGURT TART

Not too long ago I was browsing the internet searching for entremet cakes, and stumbled on a site that was new to me: Cooking Me Softly, hosted by Arianna, a chef from Italy. All I can say is that I had a very hard time moving away from the computer. Her concoctions are things of complete beauty, her flavor combinations unique and her presentation style superb. Not only she shares detailed recipes, but also short videos with the crucial stages of preparation. Basically, her site is culinary gold for those into patisserie. She blogs in Italian, but I can follow most of it closely enough to get the important points. Or so I hope. I fell in love with her Yogurt Tart the moment I first saw it, and could not wait to try and make it. The use of semi-spheres of mousse on top of the tart? Genius.

YOGURT TART
(slightly modified from Cooking Me Softly)

for Sablé Breton:
80 g egg yolks
100 g granulated sugar
125 g very soft butter
125 g pastry flour
2 g salt
5 g baking powder
grated lemon peel (1 lemon)
MyCryo cocoa butter (optional)

for white chocolate ganache:
340 g Lindt white chocolate
85 g heavy cream

for yogurt mousse:
120 g full-fat Greek yogurt
30 g granulated sugar
15 g of lemon juice, sieved
240 g fresh cream
6 g gelatin, 200 bloom
18 g cold water for gelatine hydration

for decoration:
small meringues
Gold dust
sprinkles of choice

Make the cookie base. In a Kitchen Aid type mixer, whisk the yolks with sugar and lemon zest until pale. Replace the whisk with the leaf beater, add the sifted flour with baking powder, salt, and then the butter. Mix well until creamy.  Place in a piece of plastic wrap, form as a disc and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Roll between two sheets of parchment paper to 1 mm thickness an put in the fridge for another hour, as you heat the oven to 350 F.

Cut a disc of dough with a 20 cm ring (7 + 3/4 in), and bake inside the ring for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and while still hot sprinkle MyCryo over the surface. Allow it to cool completely. Before continuing with assembling, place the base inside the ring and add a band of acetate around it so that the ganache will be poured nicely on top. I like to use a ring that is adjustable, so that I can tighten it better around the base. Often the base shrinks a little during baking.

Make the chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate gently in the microwave or in a double boiler. Heat the cream to simmering (about 175 F). Add to the chocolate in three additions, whisking gently to fully incorporate the chocolate and the cream.  Reserve. Cool to about 90F before pouring into the cool base. Place in the fridge to cool completely and then in the freezer overnight.

Make the yogurt mousse. Hydrate the gelatin in the water indicated in the recipe. Heat part of the yogurt with the sugar to about 140 F.  Melt the gelatin heating gently for a few seconds in the microwave (do not boil it). Add the melted gelatin to the warm yogurt/sugar mixture.

Add the lemon juice, the remaining cold yogurt and mix. Whip the cream to the consistency of melted ice cream, and fold gently into the yogurt base. Spoon the mousse into a piping bag (no need for a piping tip) and fill half-sphere molds (3.4 and 5 cm in diameter), smoothing the surface well. Put in the fridge to cool and then freeze overnight.

Assemble the tart. Remove the base with chocolate ganache from the freezer, place in a serving tray and remove the acetate. Arrange the mousse spheres of different diameters over the ganache. Decorate with mini-meringues plain and painted with gold spray. Put in the fridge for about 6 hours to allow the ganache to soften and the mousse to thaw.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I truly enjoy making desserts that involve multiple components particularly because they can be made in advance and wait in the freezer or fridge. Finishing the dessert then is easy and fun (assuming it all worked well in the previous steps). For this preparation, Arianna’s video was very helpful, as the Sable Biscuit is quite a bit softer than I anticipated. Watching how she handled it was key to succeed. Also make sure you make the dough the day before you intend to bake it, it needs those 8 hours in the fridge. Another important point is the white chocolate ganache: you need it to be firm enough to slice and hold its shape. Arianna uses a specific brand of chocolate that would be a bit of a hassle for me to find. Using her proportions with the Lindt bar, the ganache ended up way too loose, so I made another batch using a 4:1 ratio chocolate to cream. You can probably get by with a 3.5:1, but not much less than that.

My schedule went like this: I made the biscuit dough on a Friday evening, baked it Saturday morning and made the mini-meringues, the chocolate ganache and the mousse on Saturday afternoon. Once the ganache cooled enough I spread it over the biscuit base and froze it. Sunday afternoon I un-molded the frozen mousse spheres, sprayed some of the meringues with edible gold color, and assembled the tart.

The only issue I had was the golden stars used for decoration. The ones in contact with the ganache held their shape well, but the yogurt mousse (probably due to its acidity) melted the stars within an hour or so.

The flavors were quite amazing, as the sweetness of the white chocolate ganache stood well to the bright flavor of the yogurt mousse. The biscuit base had excellent texture, even if I overbaked it slightly. It was hard to see it inside the ring, next time I’ll be more careful.

Arianna has a cookbook published online and I could not resist getting my copy. It is absolutely amazing, you can get it with a click here.  The name is just too clever: Aria di Dolci. Loved it! Keep in mind it is in Italian, so you need to have some level of understanding of the language.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pita Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Elderflower Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: A Duet of Sorbets

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

SIX YEARS AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

NINE YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

TEN YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye