Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
And the winner is.... Topher, who's inspired to cook for his family at the holidays. Happy baking Topher, I'll send you an email to get your address. Meanwhile, I really encourage everyone to read My Life in France, and if that's not enough Julia for you, the Julie and Julia dvd is out now too!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
These meringue mushrooms might just be the cutest little treat I've ever made! I'll be making them again and again - they were definitely easier than I'd anticipated.
If you don't have time for the full Buche de Noel, make just the meringue mushrooms (the kids will love them), or just the cake without all the fixin's (you can do just the roulade without shaping it into a yule log and without mushrooms or other decorations; it still looks elegant).
There are some great videos on the Food Network site of Malgieri rolling up the cake and making the marzipan decorations (I ran out of time for the marzipan). I strongly recommend watching them, at least the one where he rolls up the cake!
And remember, leave a post by tomorrow night on the Chocolate Bombes post for a chance to win Julia Child's book, My Life in France.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Ed wanted chocolate bombes for his birthday, and this is what we came up with. I'm warning you, this is an intense dessert. One hemisphere is plenty, and the whipped cream really helps to cut the heavy chocolate. It's a chocolate meringue hemispherical shell, filled with dark chocolate mousse, sealed with a chocolate meringue disk, enrobed in a milk chocolate glaze. I think next time I'd do a milk chocolate mousse with a semisweet chocolate glaze to cut down the intensity just a bit.
There are a few components for these chocolate bombes, but you can easily spread the work over a few days if necessary. And they were great! If you need a little pep talk first before attempting something a little more complicated, then I highly recommend Julia Child's book, My Life in France. I read it a month or so ago, and it was truly inspirational. Julia was in her late 30's when she began taking culinary classes at the Cordon Bleu in France; she was almost 50 when her masterpiece Mastering the Art of French Cooking was finally published after 10 years of hard work. She was meticulous in her research and with her recipes, really makes you believe that you can do anything with enough practice.
This book meant so much to me that I really want you to read it too (plus I really want to meet some of you, my stats counter keeps telling me you're really out there, now's your chance to prove it!). So I'm giving away a brand new copy! I hope that reading about her experiences inspires you too, or at least gets you in the kitchen. Just leave a comment below between now and Monday December 21st at 11:59pm EST, and tell me what inspires you these days - in the kitchen, at work, or maybe just in your daydreams... (sorry, only open to North American residents.) Tweet about the giveaway and leave a link in the comments for a second entry. Or leave a comment on a previous blog post for another entry.
You'll need hemisphere molds to make the bombes as pictured. I have these. If you don't have molds, you could try making meringue/mousse stacks or sandwiches (make the meringue disks as indicated, and pipe layers of mousse between meringue disks; glaze).
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
It's good fashion sense to own a few quality pieces. You can put them together to create lots of great outfits. I feel the same way about food. This chocolate mousse and chocolate cake (almost closer to a brownie than a cake really) should be staples in your recipe box. The possibilities are endless. I use the same cake for the base of my Coffee Nutella Cheesecake, and my chocolate peanut butter stacks.
I've used this mousse in chocolate mousse pie, as a filling in a chocolate mousse cake, and as a filling for cupcakes.
This particular combination of mousse and cake is definitely a winner. It can be made ahead of time, it's very elegant, and it is fantastically delicious. I've made the 10" version shown here for a crowd. I've made a 4" version several times for a very large individual birthday cake, and I've also made 2" individuals. I don't have 4" or 2" spring form pans. I use a 4" cake pan to make the cake (fill the batter up about half way). Once the cake is cool, make a parchment paper collar, about 4" - 6" above the cake (tape the parchment paper securely so the parchment paper remains vertical. Fill the collar with mousse layers as you would the spring form pan; after chilling, remove the parchment paper, and top with chocolate shavings. This is a great dessert to impress.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I know, I know, what's with all the pumpkin recipes? I don't know, I'm on a pumpkin kick apparently. I didn't realize I was even that big a fan of pumpkin! But this dessert will be great for any holiday parties in your future. It's delicious and elegant, and cheesecakes always impress people for some reason.
I always thought cheesecakes were hard to make - before I made one, that is. Turns out, they're not! Well, yeah, there's the whole cracking issue, but there are things you can do to avoid cracks, and the cheesecake still tastes great with the crack. And other than that, a cheesecake is usually a lot quicker to make than, say, a layer cake or a complicated pastry. The other great thing is that cheesecake is so rich, one cheesecake feeds a crowd. And you can make them 1-2 days ahead of time. I almost always include cheesecake at all my dessert parties. And there are so many options for flavors, crusts, and toppings, it's a great opportunity to be creative!
In January, I'm teaching a baking course for winter study. They're letting me use the college bakeshop! I'm totally excited, but I've never baked with commercial equipment before, so I'll be doing a lot of practicing with all the equipment in the next month. Did you know there was such a thing as a walk in oven?? Scary. I baked this cheesecake in one of the convection ovens there, which I'd never used before, and I didn't lower the temperature enough to compensate, so there's a crack in this one. I had planned on piping some chocolate ganache rosettes around the edge to hide it, but I ran out of time. Hey, the chocolate swirl hides it a little anyway!