Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ice Creams

I really wanted to try making an ice cream in the style of Jeni's Ice Cream of Columbus, OH. Her flavors are fascinating, but even more interesting to me is that, unlike every other ice cream recipe in the universe, these are thickened with corn starch instead of eggs. Using the vanilla recipe as a base, I did a cinnamon ice cream with a muscovado brown sugar swirl. Okay, I kind of made up the swirl part and it was really more brown sugar chunks than swirls, but whatever... it was a good ice cream. I brought it to a picnic at the park last week with some sugar cones and it disappeared in no time. Not sure if anyone got pictures, but I'll see what I can find. Incidentally, if you ever have $100 to blow on a birthday gift for someone, I can think of worse gifts than Jeni's Signature 9.

With the leftover milk and cream, I threw together a more traditional egg-thickened ice cream with chai latte mix, extra cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom, and chopped coffee beans. Also not bad, especially considering I just pulled it off the top of my head. I think next time I would try candying the coffee beans, to cut the bitterness a little further. Still have a pint of this left, if you can make it to my place in the next few days. :)

Chocolate Babka

This is one of the more successful recipes I've done in a while. People really responded well to it, and the final product looked kind of rustic and professional at the same time. This style of babka is basically an extra-buttery challah dough with a giant swirl of chocolate through it and a streusel topping. The filling was made of dark chocolate, cake crumbs (great way to reuse leftovers), and pureed apricot jam for kind of a mild sweet tanginess. Even though the recipe was kind of long, it came together very easily. Definitely a recipe I'd keep on hand to throw together for a potluck or brunch. It'd be fun to try other filling flavors, too, like cinnamon. Speaks well for the new book I got the recipe from, The Art of the Dessert.

Chocolate Babka - preparing yeast for dough Chocolate Babka - incorporating flour, eggs, yeast, milk, sugar, vanilla Chocolate Babka - mixing/kneading dough Chocolate Babka - setting dough up to rise Chocolate Babka - dough has doubled in size Chocolate Babka - preparing baking pans Chocolate Babka - filling layers Chocolate Babka - rolled up dough Chocolate Babka - ready for last rise Chocolate Babka Chocolate Babka

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Opera Cake

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was an Opera Cake, but with a slight twist. Traditionally made with coffee and lots of chocolate, this recipe was going for more of a springtime pastel look and taste. The birthday boy, my friend Michael, requested mint and chocolate. To kind of compromise this with the no-chocolate stipulation, I avoided using actual chocolate, but instead made the simple syrup component with a chocolate extract. The syrup was absorbed into the almond cake layers of the Opera Cake, imparting a hint of chocolateyness, but no dark color. I haven't used this extract much, so it was interesting to see the effect it had. For peppermint, I infused dry peppermint leaves into heavy cream, whipped the cream, and incorporated it into the white chocolate mousse layer. I had a really hard time whipping the cream, which should be really simple. I broke it twice and had to go out to buy more. Could some chemical in the peppermint interfere with whipping? I'll have to look it up. Also mixed just a bit of the mousse into the buttercream for a little extra flavor. All in all, pretty successful. I don't think anybody at the birthday party complained.

Opera Cake - ingredients Opera Cake - mixing batter Opera Cake - folding egg whites into batter Opera Cake - eggs for buttercream Opera Cake - cooking sugar for buttercream Opera Cake - infusing peppermint into cream for mousse and buttercream Opera Cake - buttercream Opera Cake - ingredients for ganache Opera Cake - assembling Opera Cake - assembling Opera Cake Opera Cake Birthday Cake Opera Cake Opera Cake

Monday, April 28, 2008

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops

The latest Daring Bakers challenge: Cheesecake Pops. Not my favorite cheesecake recipe of all time, but a really cute concept. Clever method to freeze the pops after forming and stabbing them to make them sturdy enough to handle for dipping/decorating. I opted to half-dip them in milk chocolate and half-dip them in dark chocolate. I used Guittard, courtesy of Eclipse. I also topped them with graham cracker crumbs, to better tie in with actual cheesecake. Did a few with Maldon sea salt, because why not? Took some to a picnic potluck and the rest into work, where they were hoarded jealously.

Cheesecake Pops - cheesecake ingredients Cheesecake Pops - mixing cream cheese Cheesecake Pops - beating in eggs Cheesecake Pops - baking in a water bath Cheesecake Pops - cheesecake Cheesecake Pops - shaping into balls Cheesecake Pops - freezing Cheesecake Pops - dark and milk chocolate Cheesecake Pops - two-tone chocolate Cheesecake Pops - dipping into chocolate Cheesecake Pops Cheesecake Pops michael eats a cheesecake pop at the park

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: Perfect Party Cake

This was my second challenge from the Daring Bakers site and, lo and behold, I already owned the book that the recipe was from. The Perfect Party Cake is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. The cake part was a very nice, basic white cake, with a tiny bit of a lemon flavor. The filling in the recipe is raspberry jam, but I had a random jar of sour cherry and rhubarb jam that worked out really well. The really new part for me was the buttercream, which I think was a Swiss buttercream, rather than the Italian style I usually make. With the Italian buttercream, you whip egg whites and gently pour in hot, melted sugar. With this recipe, the sugar and egg whites are stirred together over a double boiler and then whipped. For both methods, you finish it off with tons and tons of butter. I really liked this recipe. It was a bit less involved to execute and I thought the resulting buttercream was exceptionally creamy and non-greasy. I put the stripey pattern on the sides with my new cake comb and then Will helped me come up with the pink sugar (reduced cranberry juice tossed with sugar) to decorate the top. I took the cake into work the next day and it didn't take long for it to disappear.

Perfect Party Cake - cake ingredients Perfect Party Cake - blending sugar and lemon zest Perfect Party Cake - blending sugar and lemon zest Perfect Party Cake - blending sugar and lemon zest Perfect Party Cake - mixing batter Perfect Party Cake Perfect Party Cake Perfect Party Cake - buttercream ingredients Perfect Party Cake - whipping egg whites and sugar Perfect Party Cake - assembling layers Perfect Party Cake Perfect Party Cake Perfect Party Cake Perfect Party Cake