CARIOCA CAKE, THE FINAL CHAPTER

(Missed the first chapter? click here)

This is the kick-ass cake by definition, although it could also be described as yet another cake that kicked my ass. But I won’t keep you curious for much longer. There was a happy ending to the epic saga, Phil was over the moon, told me it was the best cake I ever made!  I don’t care if he was embellishing the truth, let him. I need all the positive feedback I can get, because crossing the end of this marathon was no piece of cake. Forgive the lousy pun. Without further ado, here is the result of my ordeal adventure…

carioca-cake

FINALLY, MY CARIOCA CAKE!

What? Where is that herringbone pattern, you may ask?  It is not there. I went with swirls. Why? Because it is a much sexier name.  I see you are not buying it. Let me be honest instead. By the time I got to the ganache decoration, I was in such state of emotional turmoil, that the idea of manipulating a knife could prove dangerous to my physical integrity. Indeed, the herringbone pattern is best applied with a long serrated knife. Swirls are made with the back of a spoon. Has anyone ever been harmed by a spoon? Granted,  there is that gag me with a spoon saying,  but a spoon covered in luscious chocolate ganache would gag no one. I skipped the knife, and went with the spoon. Zero worries.

The coffee syrup. I did not have that much trouble with it. It is pretty straightforward, just spectacularly messy a bit messy. You simmer a huge amount of finely ground coffee (2 full cups) in a small amount of water and pass it through a double layer of cheesecloth, that may or may not spill over during the process. Essentially, you are making the strongest coffee ever, so strong that if you take a small sip you’ll get cross-eyed. The eyes will uncross after a few minutes, and the lips will also revert to their normal shape. Phew…

cofeesyrup

The chocolate mousse. That’s when things got chaotic. Mr. Hermé’s timing completely messed me up. You need to coordinate the beating of heavy cream with the making of a syrup that shall reach 257 F. According to the master, it would take 8 to 10 minutes. I was a bit involved with the melting of the chocolate, but kept track of my timer like a hawk. At 6 minutes, instant thermometer in hand, it already seemed too dark.  I let go a couple of highly colorful words, removed the syrup quickly from the burner, and poured it into a Pyrex bowl.  The whole thing solidified like a rock right in front of my eyes. Congratulations, Sally, you went pass the soft ball stage all the way into Titanium Land. You are now ready to start all over. My beloved entered the kitchen when he heard my screaming and once I explained the unfairness of what had just taken place, the man I married almost 17 years ago told me the following;

“My Grandma never left the side of the stove when she made sugar syrup.”

I will give you a moment to let this sink in. Without going into details, I’ll just say that he got a sharp lecture on how irrelevant, tactless, borderline cruel his remark was. “Maybe you’d like me to go ask for your Grandma’s advice right now in the after life?”  He denied. Profusely. Approached me to offer a hug, but added a don’t be silly that was definitely uncalled for. Hug aborted. Talk about a festive Christmas mood.

Now, have you ever had to wash hardened caramel from a Pyrex container? Oh, that is loads of fun, I highly recommend it when you need to redeem yourself of things like real nasty thoughts. For instance those I had going towards Mr. Hermé. Come to think of it, in a recent past I also directed dark thoughts to Thomas Keller for his fancy-schmancy macarons. But that’s another saga, left to another time.

So I was back to square one with the darn mousse, trying to re-negotiate the beating of the cream with the new syrup, and the melted Valrhona chocolate in waiting. This  time, I stood by the stove like a certain Grandma – although I will never ever admit, not even under torture, that her grandson had anything to do with my changed behavior. The mousse materialized with some imperfections. I detected a slightly grainy texture because I suppose the temperature of the melted chocolate was a little off after the whole drama. But what do I know? And at that point, did I even care?  Some could call it grainy, I would go with rustic.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-11-13-37-am

With all the components ready, I took another deep breath, grabbed a cake ring, and proceeded to slice the genoise, and assemble the final cake. I used toothpicks and dental floss to help me cut thin slices. Worked like a charm, I had to mentally pat myself on the back (hands were pretty messed up with chocolate stains). The Carioca calls for a bottom layer of cake soaked in coffee syrup, then mousse, then cake, then mousse on top. Straight to the freezer until the final step: coating with ganache, decorating it, and sticking the almonds on the side.

soaking

The making of the ganache. I’ve made ganache a gazillion times. I own it. I can make it in my sleep. For this particular coating, the ganache needs to sit at room temperature for a while until it sets. That’s when I got greedy. I decided that I had more than enough time to drive to a store in town that I heard was selling several kinds of bottled shrubs. I placed the cake and the ganache on top of the highest cabinet in the kitchen, which even if Bogey was part-dog, part-giraffe he could not reach. And off I went to get my shrub.  When I got to the store, it seemed closed. Through the glass window I noticed a couple of very agitated people inside, they came out briefly and said they were having computer issues. “Can you come back in 5 minutes?”  Sure, no problem. When they finally opened, 11 and a half minutes later, I picked one of their shrubs, Apple Ginger, and went to pay. The “computer troubles” were not over. The person working the cash register, a very nice German woman in her mid-fifties, was a nervous wreck, shaking a little as she could not get the machine to read my item, enter the price or do whatever it is that the machines must do these days. It was her second day on the job, in this tiny grocery connected to a big liquor store. The manager of the liquor store was the only one able to help, but he was busy with customers, so let’s say things were taking a sweet time to happen. The clock was ticking, I really needed to leave, almost told her to forget about my shrub, but she was in such distress, it would ruin her day further if I left. So I plastered a smile on my face, and said, in a performance worthy of Meryl Streep:  “I have all the time in the world, don’t worry about a thing” and stood there, like the Martyr Baker that I am.  By the time I got  home, the ganache was hard. Ready to be rolled as truffles (sigh). And I was fit to be tied.

Some very gentle microwaving, very gentle stirring, a little more waiting for the right magical temperature (114 F) when I finally poured the ganache all over my cake… But I could not, simply could not bring myself to attempt the herringbone. Long serrated knife? At THAT point of my life? Not wise. Honestly, I just wanted the cake to be on my rear view mirror. I went with swirls, then stuck the roasted almonds all over the sides, licked the spoon clean and collapsed on the sofa. Which, in retrospect, describes the end of almost every single cake I make. Except for the licking of the spoon. That was a first.

slice22

And now for what matters most: how did it taste? It was absolutely wonderful! The coffee flavor is quite pronounced, a perfect match for the chocolate mousse (delicate and light, with underlying notes of rustic) and the ganache coating (real intense chocolate flavor). The almonds on the side did not look particularly beautiful, but they added a pleasant texture. Maybe if they were crushed instead of kept in slices it would work better from a cosmetic point of view.  My only other modification of Hermé’s recipe would be topping the Carioca with a cake layer instead of mousse. That would make it a bit easier to slice and eat. The genoise component would easily give three slices for the final cake, so my advice would be to use a third, thin layer of genoise on the very top. Then cover it all with the chocolate ganache. If you are feeling brave, go for the herringbone. According to my friend Gary, Patissier-Extraordinaire, you can practice with Crisco. I cringe imagining what my kitchen (and my hair) would look like after the combination of Sally + thick layers of Crisco + cardboard circles + long serrated knife. I will allow your imagination to take over…

guilty

That’s all for now, folks. I survived the Carioca Cake,
and so did our marriage!

Isn’t life grand? 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

TWO YEARS AGO: Ken Forkish’s Warm Spot Sourdough 

THREE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Rainbows, and a wonderful surprise!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

SIX YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

THE UNBEARABLE UNFAIRNESS OF CAKE BAKING

A tale of cakes, dogs and tears

My beloved’s Birthday falls on December 27th. Since he was a child, he felt it was a bit unfair to have his special day buried in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, a day that was born to be ignored. But certain things do improve with age, and now he feels it’s perfect: the university is pretty much closed, he can work as much or as little as he wants, it is a Birthday in the middle of a small vacation break. A nice way to view it. This year we would be by ourselves on his big day. I told him I would cook a special dinner, and then had this crazy idea: offered to bake any cake he wanted. Did you get this? Sally, the cake-o-phobe offered her husband to bake ANY cake he fancied. I was reasonably confident he would choose one of his childhood cakes, like Chocolate Cake with Coconut Frosting, or his grandma’s legendary Angel Food Cake. I was wrong. He did not even blink, asked me where was “that book.” You know, that book…”  I knew, but pretended not to. “Of course you know, that book by the French guy.”  I seriously considered telling him the book was lost during our move to Kansas 5 years ago, but how could I lie to my perfect match about something as important as his Birthday cake? I couldn’t. Sheepishly, I went upstairs, grabbed the book,  gave him, and sat down, already with a cold feeling in the stomach. “That guy” is Pierre Hermé. “That book” is Desserts by Pierre Hermé.

41zkpoakd3l-_sx258_bo1204203200_
Before my blogging life, I made one cake from the book, also for Phil’s Birthday, a Chocolate Dome Cake that shaved at least 24 months from my life expectancy. It required three visits to the grocery store, the first to get the ingredients, the second to get a few more eggs, and the third (in complete distress) to get the final dozen. So, of course, I was beyond worried when I handed the book aka How To Kill Yourself in Your Own Kitchen. He opened it, and in two seconds flat screamed: I FOUND IT!  I WANT THIS ONE!  He managed to open the book at random on the page featuring Carioca Cake. Can you imagine the odds on that?  Mind you, I am not carioca, but paulista. Paulista Cake would have absolutely zero charm, which is a bit unfair. Cariocas get all the love, fame, attention. Would Tom Jobim ever make a song about The Girl from Vila Mariana? Not a chance. Oh, well. São Paulo is close enough to Rio, let’s not split hairs.

r1280x0

Now, ask yourself which other food blogger would give you a free lesson in geography? You are so very lucky. Anyway, as I was saying, I took a very deep breath and read the recipe. FIVE components. The first, a genoise cake. My heart missed four beats. My nemesis. My most feared cake in the universe of cakes, the cake that embarrassed me in front of special guests, the cake that made me swear off cake baking for years. I cringed anticipating the disaster ahead. Apart from the genoise, it also required a coffee syrup, almonds roasted in cocoa syrup, a chocolate mousse, and a chocolate ganache. As a bonus, you also need skills of an Iron Chef to make the authentic decoration on top. Can you spell unfair? This is what the finished product is supposed to look like.

photoherme11Can you spell doomed too?

I immediately texted my friend-patissier-guru-golfer extraordinaire Gary, and asked begged  for help. In fact, when he visited us a couple of years ago he was kind enough to make a genoise cake right in front of my eyes to help me exorcise my inner ghosts. Gary sent me a few emails with reminders, pointers, videos and basically told me “you can do this.”  And you know what? He was absolutely right. Look at my production!

ready11

GENOISE CAKE – RECIPE OVERVIEW

I will not publish the recipe, as I do not want to deal with the process of asking permission from Mr. Herme’ or the publisher. Obviously, all genoise recipes are very similar, the success of baking it is all in technique. His formula calls for

2 ounces of unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
6 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 + 1/2 cups flour, sifted

You will beat the eggs and sugar over simmering water until they reach a temperature of 130 to 140 F, then beat the living bejesus out of it until it triples in volume.  Once you get there – and the batter falls like a ribbon from the beater – you’ll add the flour and the butter, in specific ways described by Hermé, hoping not to deflate the batter too much. You’ll need to be delicate and assertive, quite a combination of skills. The batter is poured into a 9-inch springform pan, and baked in a 350 F oven.

If all goes well, you’ll be rewarded with a perfect starting point for your Carioca Cake.

composite
Comments: I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when I removed the cake from the pan and realized I had finally done it. I overcame my demons and managed to bake a perfectly gorgeous looking genoise cake! The extended version of the happy dance took place mid-afternoon on December 24th. The cake would wait until next day when I would proceed with the preparation, in plenty of time for the Bday celebration.

That evening we were going to cook our Christmas Eve meal together, so we put some music on, and let the fun start. I briefly mentioned to Phil that we should make sure to keep the sliding doors to the dining room closed because “I left the genoise over the table, and you never know with Bogey what could happen.”  Phil laughed, I laughed, and that was that.  Not sure how long after that innocent remark, I am in the kitchen and I hear Phil from the dining room, scream with intense pain in his voice… “Oh, no!”   I swear my first thought was “David Bowie is already dead, could it be Neil Young?”  I walked in, and realized no beloved singer had passed away. But a genoise cake had definitely passed to another dimension.

disaster

I confess, I sat down and cried. My perfect genoise. Gone. Instead, I had a dalmatian sleeping off his sugar coma, still with a smile on his face. Carioca Cake was brutally kidnapped from my life.

But, as the sun does every day, it rose again next morning. Phil had washed the cake pan for me, took care of the many crumbs left on the dining table and washed the table-cloth. All signs of the canine crime were gone, apart from that smile still on Bogey’s face, and his sudden obsession with the dining room table. I did the only sensible thing to do: started all over. And once more, I have the thrill to share my second – perfect – genoise, made 36 hours after the first.

genoise2

Thanks to Gary and a very mischievous dalmatian also known as The Fastest Mouth in the West, I can tell you I permanently erased the Curse of the Genoise from my life. Bring it, Pierre Hermé, bring it….

Unfortunately, he did bring it….

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

(to be continued) 

ONE YEAR AGO: Hermit Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Cremini Mushroom Meatloaf

THREE YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Roast Chicken with Clementines

FOUR YEARS AGO: Eight-Ball Zucchini: The Missing Files

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

SIX YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ossobuco Milanese: an Italian Classic

 

FESTIVE GLAZED CRANBERRY LEMON CAKE

christmas-card

Time to celebrate! And what could be better than a cake topped with bright red cranberries?  At this time of the year, I go through two phases of culinary fever. First the pumpkin. Then these tasty ruby-red babies. In my mind, both are mandatory part of the end of the year festivities. Typing that gives me a sense of nostalgia. 2016 went by way too fast.  Oh, well. Back to food. Cranberries are perfect in sweets, because they are tart. Yin and yang. In this cake, drizzled with a little powdered sugar icing, they shine. Make this festive cake and take it for holiday potlucks or simply share with your co-workers, neighbors, family, friends. A little coffee or tea will go well great with a slice. Or two. All credit goes to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, the moment I saw her blog post about it, I could not stop thinking about it.

cranberry-lemon-glazed-cake11
GLAZED CRANBERRY LEMON CAKE
(from Mel’s Kitchen)
.
for the cake:

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces), room temperature
1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
.
for the glaze:

1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
 .
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 10 or 12-inch bundt cake pan with butter – making sure to grease all the nooks and crannies really well. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan, then layer the cranberries evenly over the sugar.
 .
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the granulated sugar together with the zest from the lemons. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is infused with the lemon fragrance. Add the butter to the bowl with the lemon sugar and, using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
 .
Combine the buttermilk with the 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a measuring glass. To a large bowl, add one-third of the dry ingredients (eyeballing is fine). Mix until just combined and a few dry streaks remain. Add half of the buttermilk/lemon mixture. Mix again until just combined. Add another third of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, followed by the remaining half buttermilk/lemon juice mixture. Mix. Add the final third of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Spread the batter carefully into the prepared pan over the cranberries.
 .
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until lightly golden on top and just set. Transfer the bundt pan to a  wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter, tapping lightly so the cake falls out. Let the cake cool completely.
 .
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar with the 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Add additional lemon juice or milk for a thinner consistency, if needed. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and let set, 5-10 minutes, before slicing and serving.
.
ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

cranbcollage

Comments: Can you believe that I had zero issues with this cake? I know, how can it be possible? It is shocking. I loved the smell as it baked, and the way it un-molded so perfectly, maybe one or two cranberries stayed stuck at the bottom of the pan, but they were carefully picked up and placed on the correct spot. Plus, the icing takes care of eventual boo-boos. Very forgiving. My kind of cake. The crumb was moist and tender, the tartness of the cranberries  in perfect balance with the sweetness of the cake and icing. And, it looked pretty good too.

buck11

I wish all my readers a wonderful holiday season! 

glazed-cranberry-lemon-cake-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Have a Cran-Merry Christmas!

TWO YEARS AGO: Merry Christmas!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Avocado Mousse that Stole the Show

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Popovers

FIVE YEARS AGO: Merry Christmas!

SIX YEARS AGO:  Sourdough Focaccia, with a twist

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Merry Christmas!

PISTACHIO CREME BRULLEE

ÉA couple of months ago I invited you for a tour of our kitchen, and talked about a very special ingredient: pistachio paste. Pause for swoon. At the time I promised to share my first experiment with it, one that involved macarons, but I’m not quite ready to reveal that. Instead, I must tell you about my second adventure because I am feeling on top of the world about it. Pistachio Crème Brûllée.  It resulted in a heartfelt O.M.G., with a Happy Dance to boot!

pistachio-creme-brulle

 

PISTACHIO CRÈME BRûLLÉE
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 cups heavy cream (about 460 g)
2 tsp pistachio paste
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar (65 g)
1 tsp vanilla extract
turbinado sugar for the surface

Heat the cream in a saucepan until bubbles start to form at the edge. Add the pistachio paste, whisk to fully dissolve it. Heat in low heat for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat and cover the pan. Allow it to steep for 20 minutes.

Transfer the infused cream to a bowl, add the salt, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk to combine all ingredients. Add the sugar and mix until fully dissolved.  Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a large measuring glass, preferably with a spout.

Divide the mixture into four ramekins, 6-ounce size.

Pour 1 cup of water inside a crock pot. Place the ramekins inside, and turn it on low.  Cook for 2  to 3 hours, checking the temperature after 2 hours with an instant thermometer. It should read 185 F for perfect texture. If you don’t have a thermometer, stop cooking when the custard is still a bit jiggly in the very center.

Remove the ramekins to a drying rack. When fully cooled, transfer to the refrigerator, covered with aluminum foil. Before serving, sprinkle turbinado sugar over the surface and burn it with a torch.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

comp

Comments: Cooking the custard in the crock pot is simply brilliant. Granted, it takes longer than in a regular oven, but the texture turns out perfect. The instant thermometer is a must to get it exactly right, though. Your cooking time may vary a little. Mine hit 185 F after 2 hours and 20 minutes. Overcooked crème brûllée would be a shame, but the crock pot considerably reduces that risk.

detail

When serving this delicacy, you’ll have two options: burning the top right before serving, or doing it earlier and placing the custards back in the fridge. The former allows you to show your skills with the culinary torch in front of your guests, for that wow moment… The latter lacks the awe factor, but results in a homogeneously firmer texture. When you burn the top, the custard right beneath it will be a bit soft.  Honestly, it doesn’t bother me. So I always go for the awe factor.  I realize that pistachio paste is not a common ingredient, and pretty pricey, but a little bit goes a long way, and it freezes well, in small, teaspoon size portions. Of course, you could infuse your heavy cream with other ingredients, make a maple, coconut, chocolate version. Whatever you do, try the crock pot if you have a chance. I can only fit four ramekins in mine, but I rather not have too many brûllées around anyway.  Four is a perfect number…

pistachio-creme-brullee-from-bewitching-kitchen

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Fast and Furious Bison Chili

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2014

THREE YEARS AGO: Braised Fennel with Saffron and Tomato

FOUR YEARS AGO: Revenge of the Two Derelicts

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

SIX YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta

Save

PUMPKIN BROWNIES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

It’s that time of the year, everything pumpkin showing up to say hello… I shall add my humble contribution to the party with this batch of delicious brownies that I made for our department a few weeks ago.  The original recipe called them bars but in my mind, brownies fit them quite well.  They are moist, sweet, with all the mandatory spices that warm your body from the inside. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Perfect as a  little pick me up mid-morning. A shower of colorful sprinkles is optional. I found the recipe through a google search in the blog Sugar Apron. Such a cute name!

pumpkin-brownies-2

PUMPKIN BROWNIES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
(from Sugar Apron)

for the brownies:
1(15 oz) can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 cups flour (250 g)
1 cup sugar (225 g)
1/2 cup oil (112 g)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

for the frosting:
4 oz cream cheese (115 g)
3 tbsp butter,softened
1 tsp milk, if needed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar (110 g)
colorful sprinkles (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cloves and cinnamon. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs, vanilla, oil and pumpkin on medium speed until light and fluffy. Pour in the center of the dry ingredients, then stir gently, just until combined. Ladle the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. When completely cooled, frost.

Make the frosting by combining the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl beating an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low-speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. You may need to add a little milk to make it spreadable if your butter wasn’t soft enough. Spread frosting evenly on top of cake, add sprinkles if you like.  Cut the brownies into any size you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

inthepan

 

Comments:  These were another huge hit with our department, judging from the enthusiastic feedback and how fast they disappeared from the mail room. I of course loved them, with all those spices it could not be different. If you have homemade pumpkin puree, use it. I recently learned that most canned pumpkin products are actually made from types of squash. It doesn’t bother me at all, but if you are a serious pumpkin purist, consider making the veggie mash from scratch.  The frosting was a lot of fun to make, I did not need to include milk.  It doesn’t get hard, so I kept the whole pan in the fridge overnight, sliced and took to work early next morning.  Sprinkles of course make it very festive. My bottle of sprinkles is pretty big, so I need more reasons to use them before we get into the horrific, depressing, devastating, catastrophic dead of winter.

pumpkin-brownies-from-bewitching-kitchen

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Anne Burrell’s Focaccia

TWO YEARS AGO: Double Chocolate and Mint Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Cappuccino Panna Cotta

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

FIVE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

SIX YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

 

ZUCCHINI LEMON & WALNUT CAKE + COOKBOOK REVIEW

A while ago I was browsing cookbook suggestions in amazon.com and spotted one called “French Desserts“, by Hillary Davis. I simply had to investigate it further. C’mon, French Desserts, how could I possibly let that slide? The book was published just last month,  so not very many readers posted reviews yet. However, whereas all gave it 5 stars, one person ranked it with 2 stars only. Her criticism was the use of store-bought items like puff pastry to make some of the recipes. Hillary herself replied to that reviewer and she did so with such class and gentleness, it really impressed me. I browsed through the index, and ordered the Kindle version, which always makes me feel a bit less guilty. Very glad I did not let that review mess with me. The book is a delight, great photography, just the right amount of prose with the recipes. I bookmarked many to try, but the first one I made to share with you today was part of her chapter called Homey Cakes.

zucchini-lemon-loaf2
ZUCCHINI, LEMON & WALNUT CAKE
(ever so slightly modified from French Desserts)
printed with permission from Hillary Davis

for cake:
1-1/ 2 cups (192 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/ 4 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
1-1/ 2 cups (220 g) coarsely grated zucchini, squeezed very dry
(about 170 g after squeezing dry)
1 cup (135 g) chopped walnuts
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/ 2 cup (110 g) olive oil
3 large eggs
1/ 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract (I omitted)
1/ 4 cup (60 g) lemon juice

for icing:
1 + 1/2 cup  (188 g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
a little over 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9 x 5 inches loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the zucchini and walnuts and stir to coat. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, olive oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. Do not overwork the batter. Scoop batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate. If desired, make an icing with the powdered sugar and lemon juice, drizzle all over the cake. Cut in slices and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one delicious cake! The picture doesn’t do it justice, not even slightly. There is no obvious zucchini taste, it simply gives it moisture and a lovely texture even after sitting at room temperature overnight. It is very lemony and the flavor and crunch of the walnuts a perfect match for the citric tone. I did not have enough walnuts, so I added just a little bit of diced pecans to reach the required amount. I think the combination of nuts worked well too.  I made the loaf on a Sunday afternoon and took to our department next morning. I had tried a very small piece when the cake cooled (quality control), and hoped to get a slice mid-morning. That did not work, because around 10am, I found the platter clean. Oh, well. The best laid plans…

So lemony!
Not too sweet, just right!
Love the walnuts!
It made my Monday so much better! 
(some comments from our colleagues that made this baker very happy)

 

compositezucch

Now, let’s have a little tour of Hillary’s book. I will go straight to the recipes, although she does include a comprehensive section on Essentials of Baking. You can look at the full index in amazon.com, I will simply list the recipes from each chapter that made my heart miss a beat. Or two…

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-8-10-42-am

Homey Cakes: Great collection of cakes that are simple to prepare in a loaf type pan or as a single layer round cake. The one I featured comes from this chapter, but I was tempted by many others, like Plenty of Pears Salted Caramel Loaf Cake, described as invisible cake. Invisible cakes indicate that very little batter is used to hold the fruit together. I love this type of cake, very much like Doris Greenspan’s Apple Cake which happens to be the most popular recipe in my blog.  From this chapter I quickly bookmarked her Whole Wheat Nutella Loaf Cake (need I say anything more?), a Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Drizzle (O.M.G.), a Walnut Cake with Warm Honey Glaze, and a Fabulous Butter Cake from Brittany.

Cookies: Perfect for the season are Pumpkin Seed Tuiles, I must save some pumpkin seeds to try them, because tuiles have been on my list of culinary projects forever!  Sablés au Chocolat are her take on a classic, buttery cookie from Normandy. Another very tempting choice for me would be Orange Madeleines with Orange Glaze. Together with tuiles, madeleines are part of my list of projects (I even own a madeleine pan, feel guilty every time I look at it).

Baked: I cannot stop thinking of her Roasted Peaches in a Pool of Crème Anglaise… I will give you a moment to think about it. Wonderful, right? But how about Individual Berry Gratin with Yogurt Whipped Cream? Or maybe you would rather have Puffs with Warm Chocolate Sauce? I must also include a very exotic concoction (unknown to me) called Far Breton Prune Custard Cake, a specialty from Brittany. Made me think of the many things I could have tried while I lived in France, but had no idea existed. Such is life.

Verrines: I simply adore verrines. Stunning presentation, in small portions. Perfect. I can tell you one thing, there are 10 recipes in this chapter and I would love to make and enjoy each and every one of them.  Just to give you some examples, the first one is called quite simply A Cloud of Lemon Vermouth Mousse. I am officially in love. Chocolate Ginger Pots de Crème..  Grand Marnier Mousse…  Lemon Rice Pudding with Blackberry Caramel Sauce…  One tempting sweet after another….

Frozen or Refrigerated Desserts: Very interesting recipes in this chapter, starting with a child-friendly Vin Chaud Sorbet with Frosted Grapes. You cook the alcohol out, but the idea is to have the flavors of vin chaud, often served in Alsace during cold months. And in a nice parallel, back home in Brazil we have “vinho quente” traditionally served in the month of June, welcoming the first chill of the year. I would love to make her Strawberry Frozen Yogurt, with a touch of balsamic vinegar. Or her Peach Melba with Muddled Vanilla Ice Cream.  She closes the chapter with a stunning retro dessert: Vanilla, Raspberry and Chocolate Ice Cream Bombe. Imagine that to awe your guests at the end of a dinner party?

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-8-06-55-am

Vin Chaud Sorbet with Frosted Grapes

Waffles, Crêpes and Pancakes: Tempting chapter. The recipe that impressed me the most: Farz Buen Broken Crêpes. The name indicates exactly what it is. You start with a traditional crepe batter, then break them as they cook, as if making scrambled eggs. Her description of this delicacy from Brittany made my mouth water. Must. Make. It. Crêpes Suzette is in there too, how could it not be?  Such a classic!

Puff Pastry: Her recipes call for store-bought pastry. Now, I realize she was criticized for it, and I find it very unfair. I’ve lived in France several years and have never ever met a French woman who made her own puff pastry. Maybe they are out there, but in a very rare minority. Why would they make them when you can find excellent products at the store, many brands of pure butter puff pastry waiting for you? Sure, if you’d like to make it, go for it, but don’t twist your nose at the boxed product. I use it all the time, puff pastry and phyllo dough, thank you very much. Anyway, my favorite recipes in this group are Niflettes, a specialty from Provins, not only because they are impossibly cute but for the story behind them. Folklore says they were created to console orphans crying over the loss of their parents. Nowadays they are served in All Saints Day in that region of France. Alsatian Marzipan Apple Strudel would be amazing to try too. as well as – ready for this? – Sweet Vol-au-Vent with a Strawberry Tarragon Coulis. Just wow.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-8-09-22-am

Niflettes

Tarts: I rarely make them but find them quite fascinating. Many options tempted me, starting with her Rustic Plum Tart in a Sweet Fennel Crust. She follows with a very interesting Medieval Custard Tart in a Clove-Scented Crust. I adore spices and find their addition to pie crusts a strike of genius. I also have my heart set on her Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Cheesecake Tart.

Candies and Mignardises: Mignardise might be one of the cutest words in the French language. Fun to say, fun to enjoy… I would make every one of these recipes, starting with White Chocolate White Truffles with Dried Cherries, moving to Mini Pain d’Épices (I was basically addicted to those while living in Paris), and Nonnettes, a concoction made by nuns in the Middle Ages, little cakes with orange marmalade in the center. From the Middle Ages, can you wrap your mind around it?  Too cool!

Special Occasion Desserts: Chocolate Soufflé, a must-make!  White Chocolate Crème Brûlées with Salty PistachiosA Precious Pear Charlotte, Baba au Rhum closes the chapter.

Hillary, thank you for allowing me to publish the recipe from your beautiful cookbook!

zucchini-lemon-walnut-cake-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

ONE YEAR AGO: Paleo Energy Bars

TWO YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing

THREE YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

FIVE YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

SIX YEARS AGO: Panmarino

SEVEN YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

TWO IDEAS FOR HALLOWEEN

I made these treats for our Halloween party last year, and waited to blog now, so there’s plenty of time for you to make them in case you are hosting a party, or just feel like sharing something with friends on Halloween week. Very easy and fun. First, Screamingly Cute Chocolate-Covered Pretzels.

scary

They were fun to make, even if slightly messy. But that could very well be operator-error.  I am not that skilled when it comes to melted chocolate. You will need a bag of pretzels, melting chocolate (the best kind is this one, according to many sources), and eyeball candy. Sounds scary, right? Well, it’s for Halloween, it must be scary!

collage

Second, even simpler to put together: Witch Brooms. Peanut Butter Cups with a strategically placed Pretzel stick. The flavors all work well together too. Hardest part of making them, is unwrapping the peanut butter cups. Be Zen. And enjoy the moment.

halloween-brooms2

If you make the Screaming Pretzels, handle the eye-ball candy with impeccably clean hands. Any chocolate that gets to the white candy will be hard to clean once you place them on the pretzel. Tweezers help. It will be easier to glue them while the chocolate is not fully set, but then it’s best not to try to re-adjust their position. Work slowly and you’ll get the hang of it. I am sure it will surprise you that I had never had the combo of pretzel with chocolate. It works! It is really a delicious combination, a little crunch, a little salt, a lot of chocolate.

halloween-pretzels22

A call from the past… one of our favorite Halloween costumes, back in 2002.  John and Olivia…
Hey, who said scientists cannot be a little silly? 

johnolivia1

halloween-treats-from-bewitching-kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats 

THREE YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A Farewell to Summer

FOUR YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

SIX YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

SEVEN YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine