My Cake Decorating Gallery

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers at it Again! Chocolate Valentino with homemade ice cream!

The recipes for our challenge in February were too tantalizing to pass up. The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef, who said "We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge."

Flourless "chocolate valentino" cake, plus making our own creamy vanilla ice cream? Yummy! And a perfect dessert for Valentine's day. The Husband and I were very excited to be celebrating Valentine's day with his brother and wife so this Daring Baker's challenge was our plan for dessert.

Everything ended up very delicious. The cake only has three ingredients and comes together pretty quickly. I used the digital thermometer and even though it seemed softer than a normal cake, it turned out great by the time we served it. The consistency is hard to describe - rich and light and smooth? Very chocolatey but with the creamy ice cream, it was a perfect match.

I didn't have a heart shaped pan but planned on bringing "hearts" into the theme by use of raspberries on top, plus I melted some chocolate and made little squiggly hearts for decoration, so we each got one of those.

I have never made ice cream before and we don't have an ice cream maker, but I'm so glad I got to try it. It's far better than the typical grocery store variety, and it was fun to make. It was my first time using real vanilla beans - yum! I made the cake and the ice cream on the day of Valentine's so everything was freshly made! There were a few leftovers that I shared with my mum the next day and they also got a big thumbs up, so these items do keep.

The recipe doesn't make too much ice cream, I would say about 6 scoops. The cake served 6-8 pieces comfortably and it was well received by all. Thanks to Dharm and Wendy for choosing a delicious and fun challenge. I'd definitely make either of these items again.

Chocolate Valentino
(a flourless chocolate cake by Chef Wan's book "Sweet Treats")
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe - Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.

4 large egg yolks

75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}

5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}

300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat){you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuseLift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy.

3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time

4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.

5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)

By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Betty's Triple Berry Tart

I've recently been making several recipes out of my Betty Crocker cookbook. (Mostly because I need more cookbooks in my house!) This is a darn good little general cookbook. Everything has turned out pretty tasty. This is no exception, it is an awesome dessert and it was very simple. Store bought pie crust makes a solid and tasty bottom to hold a juicy mixture of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. A streusel topping (Ok, I lied... I upgraded the Betty topping to Martha Stewart's one for her blueberry buckle) adds a little spice and buttery crunch.

I made this little dessert as a peace offering for The Husband for our barbecue for The Germans. Andrea and Jan had friends visiting from Germany and we were happy to do an All-American barbecue (smoked pulled pork with the works) and The Husband had been pestering me to do an apple pie. Apple pie just sounded SO boring. I wanted to do key lime bars from my new cookie book (Thanks Mom!), and then a chocolatey bar also sounded good. Eventually I decided to make Chippy Gooey Butter Cake with chocolate chip (to die for... literally.. they may kill you), and The Husband was totally against that. So, to compromise, I decided on this Triple Berry Tart since Achatz Pie Company's "Michigan Four Berry Pie" is one of his favorites, a close second to Apple Pie. I think this is an excellent "do-it-yourself" recipe to compete with the Michigan Four Berry Pie, and I've since made this little tart two more times -- it's now a family favorite!
Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Triple Berry Crumble Tartadapted from Betty Crocker with a dash of Martha Stewart
1 store-bought pie crust of your choice (I think pillsbury is just fine and you have an extra crust for a pot pie or some other use later)
1 1/2 c sliced fresh strawberries
1 1/2 c fresh blueberries
1 c fresh raspberries
2/3 c sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Streusel topping (from Martha Stewart's blueberry buckle)
6 Tbsp room temp butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
optional: 1 tsp grated orange peel (I loved this addition but leave it out because The Husband didn't like it)
Preheat oven to 425. Fold pie crust into 10 or 11 inch tart pan (bonus if you have one with a false bottom like me!), press into bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge to be even with the top of the pan.

In a large bowl gently combine berries, sugar and cornstarch. Spoon into pastry.

Make streusel topping: Combine streusel ingredients and mix with hands until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of berries in pastry.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until fruit bubbles in the center. Let cool before releasing from your pan (if you have a false bottom tart pan like me), but serve warm with a little ice cream for some delicious berry goodness!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Turkey Parm Meatball Subs

I was working on another new recipe. and had Food Network on in the background and Rachel Ray was making meatball sub sandwiches, probably because it was Superbowl weekend. She was doing it with ground chicken and trying to keep it a little healthy, and I thought it would be a good Sunday meal in our house and went out to get the few ingredients.

I ended up using ground turkey breast (super lean) and skipped the breadcrumbs and just used additional parmesan, and this recipe was really good. I was a little skeptical leaving out the beef or pork, but the meatballs were juicy and had a good flavor - the montreal steak seasoning really gives them a kick!

I am sure they would still be very tasty if you follow her directions exactly. Try this one next time you want to make a different "manly" meal, but don't want to blow out your belt buckle. The Husband gave these a big thumbs up and I will definitely make them again. I think it would be a good recipe to make in advance and keep warm in a crock pot (if you doubled the recipe) for a game day celebration.

Turkey Parm Meatball Subs

1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
1 large egg
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Handful of chopped parsley leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling plus, plus 3 tablespoons, 3 turns of the pan
2 large cloves garlic, cracked from skin and split
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, a healthy couple of pinches
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)
1 cup chicken stock
8 to 10 leaves fresh basil, torn or shredded
4 (6 to 8-inch) crusty sub rolls
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place chicken in a bowl and season with grill seasoning. Add egg, half of the grated cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, and a serious drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to the bowl. Mix the meat and form 12 large meatballs. Squish the balls to flatten them a bit like mini oval meatloaves. Be careful not to form the balls wider than your bread. The flattened balls will stay put on your sub, no roll-aways! Bake the meatballs 15 minutes until golden and firm. Switch the broiler on.

While the meatballs bake, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and garlic and cook 5 minutes then remove the cloves. Add crushed red pepper flakes then tomatoes and stir in the chicken stock. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and simmer 10 minutes, adjust seasonings and stir in the basil. Reserve a extra sauce for dipping on dinner table.

Remove the meat from oven and loosen with a thin spatula. Turn meat balls in sauce.

Cut sub rolls making the bottom a little deeper than the top. Hollow out a little bread and lightly toast the sub rolls under broiler. Fill the bottoms of the breads with flattened balls and sauce.

Combine the provolone and remaining Parmigiano. Cover the subs with cheese and return to broiler to melt the cheese until golden

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poulet au Porto

Thanks to The Bad Girl's Kitchen that I happened upon, I found another new recipe to try over the weekend. Roasted chicken steeped in a port wine sauce with cream and mushrooms! This was alluring because besides sounding tasty, you get to light it on fire at the end of the recipe! I only have tried to flambe a quite long time ago and didn't quite know how to do it so I ended up with an alcohol-y Steak Diane... so I wanted to give it another shot. (Sorry that the pictures are so dark, but as usual during Michigan winters, most cooking happens while it's dark!)

These recipes are apparently from Julia Child and are classic French recipes for roasting chicken and steeping it in the port-wine sauce. It is a very tasty, rich and cream sauce. The port and brandy (or cognac) do not overpower the sauce and it is quite delicious!

Poulet au Porto
From Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking and highly recommended by The Bad Girl's Kitchen - check out her excellent account of making this recipe here

Ingredients and Directions

3-lb chicken, roasted
Salt the inside of the chicken with 1/4 tsp and smear with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Truss and dry the chicken. Smear another tablespoon of butter around the outside of the chicken. Chop 1 carrot and onion for flavoring the sauce. For basting, use 2 tbsp melted butter with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes (5 minutes on one side, 5 minutes breast up, and 5 minutes on the other side). Baste every time you flip the chicken. Reduce the oven temp to 250 and baste every 8-10 minutes, eventually using the juices in the pan once your basting sauce has run out. Halfway through (about 30 minutes) the roasting process, flip the chicken onto its other side (it was still on its side from before), and 15 minutes before you expect it to be done, flip the chicken onto its back so it is breast-side up. Check the thickest parts of the thigh and make sure they are done (170 degrees) before removing chicken to rest. When the chicken is done, remove it to a carving board and let it rest at room temperature while completing the sauce.

1 lb fresh mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed, quartered if large
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring the water to a boil in the saucepan with the butter, lemon and salt. Toss in the mushrooms, cover, and boil slowly for 8 minutes. Pour out and reserve the cooking liquid.
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch blended with 1 tablespoon of the cream
Salt and pepper
Pour the cream and the cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Correct seasoning, and set aside.

1/2 tablespoon minced shallot or green onions
1/3 cup medium-dry port
The mushroom cooking liquid
The mushrooms in cream
Salt and pepper
Drops of lemon juice
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. (Since maybe my oven was a little too hot, there were too many black bits in my chicken roasting pan so I used another pan and removed 2-3 tablespoons of drippings into the new pan. Stir in the shallots or onions and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the port and the mushroom juice, and boil down rapidly, scraping up coagulated roasting juices, until liquid has been reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer )for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken slightly. Correct seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a fireproof pan, smear the inside of the casserole or chafing dish with butter. Rapidly carve the chicken into serving pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and arrange in the casserole or chafing dish.
1/4 cup cognac (or Brandy)
Set fireproof pan over moderate heat or an alcohol flame until you hear the chicken begin to sizzle. Then pour the cognac over it. Avert your face, and ignite the cognac with a lighted match. (I had The Husband there to ensure nothing got out of control... sometimes it's handy havng your own personal firefighter!) Shake the casserole slowly until the flames have subsided. (Mine was on fire for a few minutes) Then pour in the mushroom mixture, tilting the casserole and basting the chicken. Cover and steep for 5 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Serve.

Prosciutto Wrapped Florentine Stuffed Chicken with Beurre Blanc Sauce

Okay, it was finally time to add some interest into our boring menus at home. Here is a new recipe I tried from Rachel Ray - and even though every time I try prosciutto, I end up not liking it, I thought I'd give it another go. The Husband likes it, anyway - and this time I made sure to get Boar's Head brand so that it was the best Kroger could offer, too.

This recipe turned out great - again I don't like prosciutto so I would not wrap my portion with it in the future, but the stuffing for the chicken breast is awesome! Very very tasty and it really dresses up a boring chicken breast - and you get some extra veggies in there, too. I loved the pine nuts and the prosciutto did crisp up in the oven.

Since we went to a fancy dinner in Chicago, I've been wondering about a beurre blanc sauce. I looked it up and found it was a standard rich buttery French white wine sauce and it sounded fun and delish to try. I ended up using an Alton Brown recipe since he's one of my favorite recipe sources - he seems to really know his stuff. The sauce turned out excellent, very rich and the white wine lent a subtle note but it matched the shallots perfectly. It was a nice accompaniment to the chicken, though the chicken would be fine on its own.

Prosciutto Wrapped Florentine Stuffed Chicken

1 box frozen spinach, defrosted
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few grates nutmeg
6 chicken breasts
6 slices prosciutto di Parma, 1/3 pound
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wring out defrosted spinach in clean kitchen towel.

Toast nuts and combine with spinach in a bowl, mix in cheeses, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Cut into and across but not all the way through the chicken breasts, opening them up like a book with a sharp knife. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill each with a small mound of stuffing. Flap chicken breasts back over stuffing and wrap each breast with prosciutto to seal them, carefully covering the whole breast. Brush chicken all over with some extra-virgin olive oil and roast 18 to 20 minutes until cooked through.

Raymond Beurre Blanc Sauce

1 to 2 shallots, chopped fine
8 ounces white wine
2 ounces lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Combine the shallots, white wine, and lemon juice in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons.
Add the cream to the reduction. Once the liquid bubbles, reduce the heat to low. Add the butter, one cube at a time, whisking first on the heat and then off the heat. Continue whisking butter into the reduction until the mixture is fully emulsified and has reached a rich sauce consistency.
Season with salt and white pepper. Store beurre blanc in a thermos until ready to serve.