Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge - July 2010 - Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

*** 01/08/2010 - added some more informative text! ***

I didn't really factor in what the final product would look like with the colour combinations, I was thinking purely about the flavours, so it was a delightfully gruesome and amusing surprise when I released the cake from its frosty prison to discover ... Brains!

Recipe source: Inspired by the Swiss swirl ice cream cake from the Taste of Home website.
The recipes for the cake, filling, eggless ice creams and the fudge topping have been developed by myself.

Blog checking lines: The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

    The Master challenge recipe can be found here.

    The original challenge called for a triple chocolate hit but after last month's extremely rich monstrosity and because I had made double chocolate cookies twice in the last 2 weeks, I wanted to go for something a little less rich and a little more delicate.

    I split this challenge up over two weekends as there seemed to be a lot of waiting around to be done amongst all the components! I made the ice-cream one Saturday and the cakeage and assemblage was completed the next Saturday. The ice-cream flavours I made were green tea and black sesame. The cake was green tea with red bean cream filling and I substituted the fudge sauce with an ad hoc red bean "sauce".

    Ice-cream Ingredients
    $12.50 buys you a whole buttload of matcha powder. I'm envisaging a lot of green tea flavoured treats in the next couple of months. Also, because I don't have a mortar and pestle (one day *sigh*) I went with some dodgy leftover packets of "Instant Sesame Paste" instead of roasting and grinding some black sesame seeds as I wasn't sure if my stick blender could process seeds into powder.

    Making the custard for the ice-creams
    Having never made ice-cream before, I did what any ignoramus does and Googled around to find the simplest possible recipe and decided to improvise with this one. I made the custard component as instructed then ...
    ... halved the custard into two Ikea containers and added my flavourings: a respectable amount of matcha powder (about 1 tablespoon dissolved in a small amount of hot water) and a substantial amount of "instant black sesame" powder (2 packets! I tried one but after tasting the mixture it was rather underwhelming so I added the another packet).

    I then started the wonderful process of freezing and stick blending the crap out of them every hour until I got bored (about 2 hours in ...) and left them to freeze overnight before blending them a final time. (I ♥ my stick blender! 800W of power baby!)
    In the end, the flavours were totally there but the texture was not perfect, no big ice chunks but definitely a little on the crunchy rather than creamy side. After a couple of minutes in the open air, the ice-cream did soften up a little but I would definitely try to improve the texture in the future.

    In retrospect, some things I should have found out/not ignored before making the ice-creams:
    • David Lebowitz is the go-to guy in such matters and has many good tips for noobs. He suggests blending the mixtures every 30 minutes for 2-3 hours.
    • I should have let the mixures cool before sticking them in the freezer.
    • I should have cooled the containers before putting the mixtures in them. (Haven't found any resources to suggest that plastic containers are the wrong thing to use but in case they are, someone please let me know!)
    • I should learn the Art of Zen and not open the freezer every 15 minutes and be disappointed when the mixture is still 'soupy'
    • I used skim milk which probably upped the water content which I totally did not consider at the time. Boo to me.
    Swiss roll making
    I used the recipe as laid out in the Master recipe but had to do some elementary maths to figure out the dry ingredients as I have heard that matcha powder is extremely intense in flavour and I didn't want the sponge  to overpower everything else (ice-cream is king in my house!). In the end, I halved the whole cake recipe and instead of 5.5 tbsp of flour + cocoa, I used 4.5 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp matcha. 
    Red bean sauce and cream filling
    More shortcuts! (c'mon! there were like 5 components to this beast!). I'm guessing there's a more traditional way to make red bean paste than buying a packet of red bean paste but ... meh! And because I thought there just wasn't enough Asian-ness going on in the dish, I forked out $1.95 for a block of palm sugar while I was at it.
    I think at this stage there was just too much oven watching (baking a thin-ass cake is stressful people!) and blending and gas stove flame-age going on so I didn't take any photos but I heated up a little bit of cream and mixed in about half the packet of red bean to it to make the filling for the cake (yes, I am entirely precise in my measurements :P). The store bought paste already contained sugar so I skipped adding anymore sugar to the cream filling. I then rinsed out the saucepan and melted together some red bean paste and a healthy dose of palm sugar to make the red bean sauce. I was really starting to wing it here ... I had no idea what would happen by chucking the paste and sugar in the saucepan but luckily I was spared any smoke alarms going off (flashback to my first attempt at making caramel ...). However, it looked a bit gluggy so I splashed a bit of water in there for good measure. Mmmm ... saucy ...

    Not happy! I wasn't too concerned about the burny bits (all the better to tide me over until the dessert is ready!) but as I was releasing it from the baking paper bits kept sticking and one bit just REALLY didn't want to come off. Guess which bit. Greaseproof my ass.
    Rolling, rolling, rolling ....
    I knew there was too much cream filling but I just really REALLY hate wasting food so I chucked it all in there anyway.
    Cake kebab!
    Into the fridge for an hour and then slicing. Success! Huzzah! A little on the 'flattened' side but nothing a firm, loving hand won't fix.
    With all components complete it was time to unite! I made one cereal bowl sized version for my main cake and two single serves in a couple of ramekins as I reasoned that they would be ready for consumption that night rather than having to wait til the next day for the big one to be frozen through. Patient one aren't I?
    Black sesame ice-cream. Then an hour in the fridge. Then red bean sauce. Then an hour in the fridge. Oh no, wait. I was too impatient! I put the green tea on straight after the sauce! And then I didn't take a photo because I didn't want you to know! Oh well, my cover's blown and now you know why in the innards shot at the end of this post the sauce is all raggedy (because it was still liquid when I smooshed the green tea ice-cream over it!)

    To me the single serves looked nicer but obviously the brain sized one looks more impressive just for sheer size and brain-likeness.
    What's my favourite kind of challenge? Why a tasty, tasty challenge of course!

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Daring Bakers Challenge - June 2010 - Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse


    Recipe Source: Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

    Blog-checking lines: The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

    My first Daring Bakers challenge and also the birth of the FRANKENMONSTER!

    Some amendments I made to the recipe:
    • I added up all the ingredients for the Creme Anglaise/Mascarpone Creme and it came up to over one litre of the stuff for "drizzling" ... hmmm, overkill anyone? So I halved the recipe (which also meant I had no extra egg whites as I used the yolks leftover from the meringue) and "drizzled" with a controlled and dainty pouring action (results as above) but still ended up with a good bowlful of creme which lasted for a week and was used on the remaining meringues, ice cream sundaes and Saturday morning pancakes.
    • I used orange rind as I forgot to buy a lemon ...
    • I added berries because I found the mousse and meringue just *that* much too sweet (yes, I have a low sweetness threshold).
    • I used cinnamon instead of nutmeg (only because I had cinnamon and didn't want to buy nutmeg).

    Organisation plus! Why is the rest of my life not like this?
    That distressed looking orange had the other part of its rind used to replace lime zest in a fish cake recipe earlier in the week ... which was ... interesting ...

    Meringues s l o w l y drying out in the oven.
    As you can see, I got tired of filling my old-school piping syringe and went freeform. It was at about this point that the 'burger-style' presentation popped into my head ...
    I read in the forums that some people found their meringues were done after 30 minutes or even less. However, mine took 2.5 hours or thereabouts and the 2 largest ones were still soft on the insides when I couldn't wait any longer to taste them.

    Straining the creme anglaise
    I had never made creme anglaise before and was quite anxious about the "do not overcook" part of the recipe. I had to get extra hands to help me pour the hot creme into the eggs as I shouted with more than a hint of paranoia "Slowly! No SLOWLY! SLOWER!!! What part of SLOW do you not understand???"
    Happily, there was very little scrambled egg when I strained it. *PHEW*

    My chocolate! My poor chocolate! Hands up who thinks some water may have gotten into the saucepan? (Possibly my hash job of rinsing washing the pot after making the creme anglaise would be to blame ...)

    ... but no harm done to the chocolate mousse
    Another crisis averted, another sigh of relief ... perhaps this recipe could have been halved as well as we had enough mousse for some rather debaucherous eating habits for the next few days. Although completely smooth on the first day of consumption, the consistency of the mousse after being in the fridge became more like gelato (which is really neither here nor there when you're talking about chocolate I suppose).

    Frankenmonster's Innards
    Hopefully as the challenges progress I'll get better at presentation. (These were frozen berries that had been microwaved for maybe 20 seconds.)


    Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):
    • 3 large egg whites
    • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
    • ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
    • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
    Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

    Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

    Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

    Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)

    Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

    Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):
    • 1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
    • grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
    • 9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
    • 1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
    • pinch of nutmeg
    • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)
    Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

    Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

    Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

    Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):
    • 1 recipe crème anglaise
    • ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
    • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
    • ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream
    Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

    Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):
    • 1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
    • 1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
    • 1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 6 large egg yolks
    • 6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
    In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
    Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

    Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

    Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Lemon and Ginger Cookies

    Recipe from Coconut and Lime.
    I used minced ginger (wet) instead of ground (dry) and also honey instead of golden syrup.

    Since we aren't buying snackeries, I cracked and made some cookies. I'm not sure if this is any healthier than eating store bought cookies but damned if I'm cutting cookies from my life!!!
    When in Sydney, Juan mentioned he liked this Lemon Ginger tea we had at home one night (after another giant blowout holiday dinner!!!) and then I saw this recipe for Lemon Ginger cookies on foodblog Coconut and Lime and what with the cookie cravings I was having, well, their existence in my flat was assured.

    I loved the colour of the mixture. So innocent and baby chick yellow! As you can see from the baked photo on the right, I would totally fail the uniformity exam if I went to culinary school but then this gives us the option of selecting small, medium or large cookies depending on the size of our munchie attack.

    Snuggling pork cookies on the right ;)

    After 10 minutes, the cookies came out quite soft and more browned than the photos on Coconut and Lime but after a short period of cooling, the outside was slight crispy and the inside chewy as described. For some reason I couldn't really taste the ginger until the next day. I don't know if smelling three batches of cookies baking dulled my senses slightly or what but the next day they were much tastier! Also, after one night in the cookie container they were rather soggy and no longer crisp on the outside :(
    Tastewise, I really like them! Not too sweet and incorporating two of my favourite flavours of the moment. And without a choc chip in sight, an achievement indeeed!

    Back to the Smoothies

    I've totally regressed and started making smoothies for tastiness which for me means fruit, dairy and no greenery!
    I justify this to myself as we are having a month of not buying chips, biscuits and other processed snackery leading us to attack grapes, apples and other fruit when the munchies inevitably occur. We've also been making good use of our NEW BICYCLES (hurrah!) on weekends so in my head, this balances out the lessening of sludgy drinks in my life.

    I've also discovered the joy of making ice cubes from the lemon juice. This means less mess (I don't have lemon juice all over my hands everytime I make a smoothie), slightly colder drinks and I've read that ice helps the blending process and makes a smoothie errr .... smoother. The ice cubes are also great to dump into glasses of water (or cranberry juice!) for an extra freshener and makes adding lemon juice to dinner recipes extremely easy and mess free.

    1 x Banana
    1 x Pear
    1 x Granny Smith Apple
    Couple of dollops of Ski D'Lite Berry Basket Yoghurt per cup
    3 small Lemon ice cubes per cup
    Some water
    VERDICT: This recipe was split in two as roping the Boy into the New Year's health kick hasn't been difficult in the slightest since smoothies magically appear before him! Splitting the recipe in two also meant the smoothie was much more drinkable (thinner) than when I try to cram in 3 whole pieces of fruit into one cup ... Tasty and fresh! But the pears still seem to add more 'grit' than I would prefer ...

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Happy Holidays!

    It's not that I meant to disappear from the virtual world, but 2 weeks in Sydney with parental care, endless gorging with friends and fam and shiny new toys does distract one somewhat. However, I am back in Melbourne now and will post some photos of my little Xmas sojourn soon.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Mornington Penninsula Getaway

    Juan and I drove down to the Mornington Penninsula for a little Anniversary Getaway. It's a lot closer than I thought it was, only about 1.5 hours of pleasant driving. On the way down we stopped by Tully's Market to get supplies for our in-room dinner spread and they had some really good produce! The prosciutto was to die for and we returned the next day on our way back to Melbourne for some more (and another pepperoni stick as well which we had mistaken thought was a cabana previously).

    Day 1 was very rainy unfortunately (hello summer? when did you say you were gonna come around?) but I was determined to go strawberry picking at Sunny Ridge and so after a quick afternoon nap in our room at Seahaze B&B (we had the Lotus Room and it was a really nice stay! Big bed, DVD library and jacuzzi *double thumbs up*) we drove the whole 10 minutes to the farm. You pay $8 for the U-Pick option and get empty punnets which hold around 500g of strawberries. They also gave us plastic bags for our feet due to the mud - totally stylish! Just as we got into the field of strawberries designated for picking ("please follow the orange cones") the rain decided to get heavier and heavier so we raced through the rows looking for lush red strawberries most of which were the size of my palm! We also bought some boysenberry jam and strawberry Pinot (OMG so strawberrilicious and not toooo sweet at all).

    Due to the weather (and our almost frostbitten hands), we decided to retire for the day and make the best of our warm, dry room! Our dinner spread was made up of mozzarella, double brie and sweet chilli cream cheese, 100g of San Merino prosciutto (super delish), a pepperoni stick, pumpkin dip, antipasto mix (olives, artichoke, sundried tomatoes, pickled onions, and ... carrots? what the? unexpected and not very popular with us!), turkish bread, white nectarines and super fresh, just picked strawberries that were the most SWEETEST, TASTIEST, STRAWBERRIEST strawberries I've ever eaten. I totally recommend the U-Pick'ing option (if it's not raining ... or even if it is!).
    A steaming hot, bubbly jacuzzi later and we were totally done for the day, soft, warm and full of good, fresh produce!

    Day 2 the weather was perfecto! After a breakfast of croissants and deliciouso boysenberry jam (jam bought from Sunny Ridge the day before) on the deck, we made our way up to the Arthur's Seat lookout (ho hum) and pretty soon were on our way to Ashcombe Maze and gardens. Boasting the biggest hedge maze in Australia we couldn't resist! The whole complex is quite pretty but smaller than I thought 25 Acres sounds like. The maze was totally fun even if we managed to solve them pretty fast, running like little children never hurt nobody! There were rose gardens, mini-woodlands, a lake and lavender gardens to boot (purple! so much purple!). Touristy yes, but totally worth it.
    Before driving back to Melby city, we drove about 30 minutes further to Sorrento just for a looksee and some fish and chips. Not as touristy as I thought but I don't think we made it to the main beach, just the suburb! The waterfront was pretty peaceful but due to the extreme windchill factor, we polished off our lunch and drove straight home (via the aforementioned prosciutto stop) all relaxed and happy and ready for our Christmas holiday to Sydney lol

    Mornington Pennisula: Highly recommended!!!

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Illustration Friday - Balloon

    Today is Juan and I's 2 Year Anniversary. On a rooftop 2 years ago we had our first real conversation and as they say, the rest is history :)

    This year (well mostly the last half of) has been exciting and scary and amazing. I feel we are on the verge of something special and its going to be spectacular.

    Black Rollerball and Photoshop

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Daily Smoothie - Day 11

    1 x Banana
    1 handful of Strawberries
    1 x Granny Smith Apple
    1 x Pear
    Small squeeze of lime juice on top.
    VERDICT: Totally leaf-less! Sorry Dr Oz but I bought this giant punnet of strawberries today (for $3!!!) and could think of anything better to do with them. Oh it was so tasty, so sweet ... and I even added a bit of milk ... oh dear ...

    We bought a lot of vegies this week and I really liked all the different colours on our breakfast bar hence the second photo. And I also had another big giant salad (see HERE) to accompany this so I still managed to have my fill of greens for the afternoon!

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Daily Smoothie - Day 9

    Some deadlines took priority over the smoothie experiment so this was actually made on Friday and I haven't had a smoothie since :(

    Small handfuls of:
    *Cos lettuce
    Juice of 1/2 Lemon
    1 x Royal Gala Apple
    Itty bitty teeny weeny slivers of ginger
    Some water
    VERDICT: I quite like this one although it's still verging on the grassy side. I would say this would be celery flavoured with a twist of apple. Definitely much more drinkable than the last one!

    We don't really have any glasses in our rental apartment hence the constant photos of the blue plastic tumblers. Doesn't really make for appetizing photos I must admit! Or is this just a case of the photographer blaming the props???

    As you can see I basically halved the green to apple ratio from last time making a much more drinkable smoothie. I must admit I do miss my berries though, at this point I won't be converting to all green smoothies just yet! I'm still hooked on fruit smoothies for sure (banana, apple and berry = my idea of heaven).
    From a comment on my previous post, I am also keen to try some beets (I'm Aussie and I LOVE beetroot) and more citrus in the near future.

    To accompany my smoothie on that particular Friday, I was procrastinating about deadlines and decided to make a salad as I knew it would consume a respectable amount of time. All up, I think making the smoothie and the salad took about 20 minutes! I had cos lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, corn, parsley, celery and cucumber mixed with some lemon juice, orange vinegar, salt and pepper and topped with 2 x poached eggs. Thinking about how healthy it all was, I almost made myself sick. Might tasty and filling without that 'heavy' feeling (which will soon be experienced as I am heading up to Sydney in a couple of weeks for the holiday season :D - looking forward to gorging at all the new chocolate cafes and dumpling houses that have opened up in the last year!).

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Daily Smoothie - Day 6

    Handful of cucumber
    Handful of celery
    Fistful of parsley
    1 x Granny Smith Apple
    Itty bitty bit of ginger
    Juice of 1/2 Lemon
    5 leaves Cos Lettuce
    Some water
    VERDICT: Chunk-a-rama! Tastes like ginger with ginger overtones, ginger and lemon undertones and a hint of ginger and celery.

    Okay, so I jumped a little ahead of myself rather than ease myself into more and more greenery into my smoothies, today I went ahead and made Dr Oz's green drink from Oprah (substituting cos lettuce instead of spinach) with fairly random quantities of ingredients. I mean, how am I supposed to know how big a 'medium' cucumber is? Could be a cultural thing cos when I went to Colombia, the so-called large avocados in Australia were in fact extremely undersized midgets compared to their South American cousins.

    Back to the smoothie: It is EXTREMELY chunky, not 'juicy' at all, more like - and although I don't like to use this word to describe something that is going into my mouth - SLUDGY. (Bet ya'll are dying to try this now!) Theoretically if I had a better blender it would be smooth and liquidy but as it is, I don't and it isn't and I think straining it would remove 99% of the healthiness of the 'drink' so I will be finishing this off with a spoon.
    Also, see how that small amount of ginger on the plate under the lemon? Apparently that is too much ginger (for me anyways).
    All in all, it doesn't taste all that bad (but I probably wouldn't drink it if I wasn't the one who made it ... who KNOWS what anyone could have put in there???) but I will be tweaking the recipe something severe when I make the next smoothie. Unfortunately, the quantity of ingredients yielded 2 cups of this and I can't convince Juan to finish the second cup ...

    Also, in preparedness, I chopped up a large container of cucumber and celery. Bring on the smoothie experiments!!! Motivation PLUS +++ :D