Daring Bakers Challenges



The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Now the posting date was yesterday.  I don’t know where the month flew, but between a good friend coming in town for another friends wedding, vacations, busy times at work, I blinked and the challenge post date had come and gone… oops!  So here we are.  Posting about baking cookies on quite possibly the hottest day of the year here in Vancouver.  I really liked the simplicity of the Milan Cookies and opted to just make them as I didn’t need all of them in our house of two.   My piping was not the best it could have been nor did I follow the recipe to a tee.  In fact I didn’t have the lemon extract in the cupboard, so I looked at my options, coconut, pineapple, rum, and pepermint.  If it was Christmas time, I think pepermint might have been the choice, but given the tropical nature of our “historic heatwave” I thought coconut and chocolate might be a nice combo.

So here they are:  Dainty, and super simple to make.  And a great treat with a cup of tea or a tasty coffee…though neither of those appeals to me right now in this +30C weather!  Thank you to Nicole for this fun recipe. Check out the other Daring Baker’s Milan and Mallow creations.

milan cookies


The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.
I was looking forward to this challenge because it was simple… and something new for me.  Apparently these little tarts or puddings, or whatever you want to call them are quite popular in the UK.  One of my favourite things is when a recipe’s ingredients can all be found in my cupboard… no shopping needed!

The optional elements of this challenge were the sizes of the tarts: individual, medium or one big tart and then the fruit/curd filling…we could use whatever we had, homemade or store bought.  I have just returned from a visit with my grandmother in the Okanagan, and on the way home picked up 10 lbs of perfectly fresh cherries.  So I have opted to make a quick stove-top cherry compote to accompany these.  Served with deliciously creamy icecream – a great summer treat!

bakewell tart

Tart Ingredients:

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Flour for dusting
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Ingredients

225g (8oz) all purpose flour – I used Whole Wheat AP flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Directions:

  1. Sift together flour, sugar and salt.
  2. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. (this part was brillant)
  3. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
  4. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture.
  5. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
  6. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minute

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Frangipane Ingredients
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Directions

  1. Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.
  2. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle.  Really. It’ll be fine.
  3. After all three eggs are in, pour in the vanilla extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.
  4. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Assembling the Tart

  1. Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.
  2. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.
  3. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits.
  4. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  6. Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.
  7. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart.
  8. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish.
  10. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust (unlike mine with the almost black edges – still tasted good though!) and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.  Check out many more fantastically delicious tarts…puddings (?) from the fantastically talented Daring Bakers!


cheecake-wrappedThe April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Funnily enough, the April 2008 challenge was also Cheesecake…cheesecake pops!  This month we had pretty much free reign to do what we liked with the cake: savoury, sweet, fruity, decadent etc…yum, have I mentioned I love cheesecake? I decided to take it in the sweet and fruity direction, however I still have mini Camembert cheesecakes with frizzled prosciutto as a savoury creation for the next time I need to bring an appy somewhere! (even served warm they sound delish!).

Back to the challenge at hand.  As I mentioned over the Easter weekend, I was charged with a dessert.  What better way to use the Daring Bakers Cheesecake – less in the house for the two of us!  I was trying to think of pastel colours, came up with pink, yellow and green.  Wanting to use my mini cheesecake pan, I thought this would work out wonderfully.   From there I matched up fruit combos.  The colours however didn’t come out as vibrant as I had wanted, but I didn’t want to use food colouring, so alas, they all kind of look the same.  The combinations were:mini-cheesecakes1

  • Pink = cherry
  • Green = lime and vanilla
  • Yellow = coconut and pineapple

The recipe below made 12 mini cheesecakes (2 inches or so), 4 of each flavour and a 6 inch cake, layerd flavours…starting with cherry, then lime, finally pineapple.

I topped the cheesecakes with whipped cream, and the little marshmallow bunnies I posted a few weeks back, a little coloured sugar and little Easter eggs.  Simple.  What it needed though was some sort of sauce, so I whipped up a pineapple/cherry coulis.


layered-cheesecake

Ingredients:

crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
  2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.
  3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
  5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

My changes: I did not add any lemon juice.  I divided the batter into three equal parts.  To one, I added the juice and zest of two limes, and 1 extra Tbsp vanilla pure clear extract.   To a second, 1/3 cup chopped up pineapple, 1/8 cup pineapple juice and 1 Tbsp coconut extract.  To the final, 1/4 cup chopped up canned cherries, and 1/8 cup cherry juice.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!


baked-lasagne The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of   
Beans and Caviar
, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Ever since I got my pasta machine for my birthday, I have been wanting to make lasagne. And look… here it is as a Daring Baker’s challenge!  I was very excited.  Now, TB doesn’t much care for lasagne.  Mainly because he isn’t a lover of ricotta cheese or cream sauces for the most part.  What appealed to me with this recipe is the spinach pasta!  I have only ever made plain pasta, and have been waiting to venture into the flavoured variety.   And the efforts have paid off… he said, and I quote “this is the best lasagne I have ever had.”

While the recipe below is extensive and a little daunting, don’t despair, you can make it over a few different days.    I made the ragu sauce the evening before, the bechemel sauce and pasta the morning of the day I baked the lasange…and then it was just to throw it together.  Yum!  Imagine the rich, sweet, tangy flavours all melding together.

I have a few pieces of feedback for this recipe:

1. I felt the ragu sauce needed a little more of a tomato kick, so I added about half a can of tomato sauce.

2. The pasta needed more moisture, I ended up using large eggs, not jumbo, so I used three of those and about a quarter cup of water.

3. The Bechamel sauce was fabulous.  Probably one of the best I have made…

…all in all…perfect for a rainy wet Spring night!  And here it is…before it went into the oven:

lasagne-not-baked

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)

(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method
Working Ahead:
The ragu  and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if  it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking and barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)

Preparation: 45 minutes

Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)
10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)

Working by Hand:

Equipment

A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches (60cm to 77cm deep by 60cm to 92cm). Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.

A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.

A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick (89cm long and 5cm thick). The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.
Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough:
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.

Kneading:
With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching and Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down and push it. Shape it into a ball and begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center and stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, and repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch and even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat three more times, turning the dough a quarter turn each time.

Repeat the two processes as the disc becomes larger and thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it and see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4 by 8 inches (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta and the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature and store in a sealed container or bag.

#2 Bechamel

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/60g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2&2/3 cups (approx 570ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, and then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg.

#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)

Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes and Cooking time 2 hours

Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL)
2 ounces/60g pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces/125g boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces/125g pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces/125g mild Italian sausage (made without fennel)
8 ounces/250g beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference)
1 ounce/30g thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup (5 ounces/160ml) dry red wine
1 &1/2 cups (12 ounces/375ml) chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible)
2 cups (16 ounces/500ml) milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch (30cm) skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid and turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.

Reducing and Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

All recipes below from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow and Company Inc., 1992).


The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE‘s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.  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.

I am posting a day late and without a picture (for now – the camera is still packed…somewhere…).  We just got home late yesterday from our ski vacation and it totally slipped my mind to post my challenge.   The cake is delicious!  The recipe says to select a chocolate you really like, as the cake will turn out just like it.  I couldn’t agree more – hazelnut milk chocolate was what we had in the cupboard…and as such I opted to use that up…so good!

Dharm and Wendy both provided a vanilla icecream recipe that you could prepare with this challenge…however I opted for a blackberry sorbet from the Joy of Cooking.  Looking back at many of my posts over the last few months I have really used a lot of blackberries.  A little shot of summer during this dismal wet winter I suppose.

The picture below is a slice with whip cream and homemade Dulce de leche (yummmmmmmmmmmm).

Anyways, a great challenge and as always I encourage everyone to try out the recipe and check out the amazing results of the other very talented Daring Bakers here.

flourless-chocolate-cake

Ingredients:
453 grams of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used hazelnut
chocolate)
140 grams butter
5 eggs separated


Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Cool
  2. Grease a 22cm spring form pan. (I used a rectangular tart pan, and still had enough batter for a 6″ round spring pan)
  3. Beat egg yolks and stir into cooled chocolate
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold on quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites
  5. Pour batter into a pan and bake for 25 minutes at 190C/375F or till done. Cool.


Chocolate Valentino by Chef Wan from his book, Sweet Treats

Chef’s note: The Valentino is a heart-shaped version of this cake. Bake a Valentino in a heart-shaped pan. This is a very dense chocolate cake.


This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm.  I loved the idea of making these for several reasons, many of which Karen mentions in her blog:   everything was in all my cupboard already…it didn’t break the bank…the final product did not result in enough to feed a small army, just perfect for two!

There was a second piece to the challenge: to pair the tuiles with a light dessert of your choice.  Suggestions were along the lines of mousse, sorbet or whipped topping…I was up for crème brûlée, light normally, no.  But this recipe is surprisingly light, tasty…and simple.  Plus, I wanted to use my new crème brûlée torch and new ramekins (thanks R&R!).

db-challenge-tuile2

Tuile Recipe:
Yields: 10+ rolled cigar shaped cookies
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

¼ cup softened butter (not melted but soft)
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
a dash of vanilla extract
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
1/2 cup flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Directions:

  1. Oven: 180C / 350F
  2. Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste.
  3. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites.
  4. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. (This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly.  <<< I  wish I had paid attention to this, i tried the stencil of a butterfly method, and it didn’t work! I missed this direction!
  7. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes.
  8. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored.
  9. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
  10. Bake cookies in preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.
  11. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape.
  12. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again.  Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable. If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Crème Brûlée Ingredients:

1 cup fresh blackberries, plus more for garnish,(optional)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs.+2 tsp. cornstarch
2 cups low-fat milk(1%)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup egg substitute, thawed if frozen
2 Tbsp. nonfat sour cream
8 tsp. packed light-brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Divide 1 cup of the raspberries equally among 4 (1/2 cup) ramekins or custard cups.
  2. In small saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch and milk to blend. With tip of small knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into mixture; add bean pod.
  3. Over medium-low heat, slowly bring to boil, whisking constantly. Boil one minute. While whisking, gradually add egg substitute. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, whisking until thickened and bubbling.
  4. Strain custard through wire-mesh sieve into medium bowl; discard bean pod.
  5. Whisk in sour cream until smooth and well blended. Spoon into ramekins, dividing equally; using rubber spatulas, smooth and level tops.
  6. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours or until very cold.
  7. Preheat broiler. Place 1 of the ramekins on small baking sheet. (can skip this step if you have a kitchen torch)
  8. Place 2 tsp of the brown sugar into small wire-mesh sieve. with fingertip, rub sugar against sieve to sift evenly over top of custard, covering completely.
  9. Broil 4-inches from heat source, rotating baking sheet, for about 1 minute or until sugar is melted and carmelized.
  10. Repeat with remaining ramekins and brown sugar. Garnish tops with whole blackberries, if desired. Serve custard, in ramekins, immediately.

Makes 4 x 1/2 cup servings. Per serving: 208 calories, 9 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 126 mg sodium



NB: I tripled this recipe and made 12 x 1/3 cup servings – you’ll have to the math for the nutritional info…not my strong point 🙂


After a few savoury recipes as part of the Daring Baker’s monthly challenges, this month we were introduced to sugar…This would have been a hit with Pete, but since I left the challenge right up to the last possible minute (again!) he doesn’t get to enjoy it as he is away for the weekend. So since it was just going to be me, I halfed the recipe. It will be a nice treat after dinner with my parents tonight.

Thank you to Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater for providing this month’s cake recipe*. The challenge was hosted by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity this month. She was also joined by a small team of folks, adding extra bits, whether it was homemade caramel candies**, or alternative recipe options, the group comprised of:

The whole recipe can be found here.

caramel-cake

The cake took a little longer to bake for me than the recipe had suggested. And because of that I left it in the oven…and forgot about it! Ooops… oh well, the icing helps with the little bit of dried outness. A super easy cake to make. My only flag is the home made caramel. If I hadn’t left it to the last possible minute, I would have redone it. I think I over thickened.

Here’s to December and the Christmas challenge, last year was Yule Logs (which I have never made!) Looking forward to seeing this years 🙂

*as published on Bay Area Bites
** Pure Dessert, by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111

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