Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baking Final

I got a perfect score for my plated dessert; I'm so happy.  I wasn't anxious during the test at all; we got to get our ingredients ready a day in advance.  I also practiced on my in-laws during Thanksgiving, so I'd done it once before.  In fact, the spice cake recipe comes from an old Fanny Farmer cookbook my mother-in-law had.  To go with the spice cake, I made cinnamon ice cream, caramel sauce, and sauteed apples.  We also had to temper chocolate and make a tuile.  I wish I had done something cuter with my chocolate, like piping it into a shape.  I was going to make chocolate curls or shavings, but I had to go with something larger because I didn't have too many tuiles I could use.  This is still a good start to making pretty desserts though.  Just a few tweaks, and I could be a pastry chef at a restaurant!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Oh, what to do with leftover pastry cream from gourmet class?  Make eclairs of course.  It's been awhile since I've made pâte à choux dough at home, using TSOB.  I've been making it at school, using a slightly different recipe and cooking method.  These ones turned out a little bit soggier than the ones at school, because the TSOB way is to put a pan of hot water in the oven with the dough.  I prefer a crunchy bite instead, so in the future I'll just bake it without the pot of water.

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

I had a big craving for brownies the other day and knew I'd saved a brownie recipe from Food and Wine magazine to make "someday."  The picture in the magazine is incredible, mine not so much.  They are gluten-free; flour is replaced with ground-up hazelnuts.  They were wonderfully rich and gooey and perfect with vanilla ice cream!

Chocolate Financier Cake

I've finally moved on to another chapter in TSOB, the financier cakes!  I don't remember much about how this tasted (other than good of course) because I did it awhile ago.  The book says it's moister than other cakes because only egg whites are used (no foaming the egg whites) and melted butter is added (instead of creaming butter and sugar.)  I'll have to make a gingerbread one for Christmas or a carrot cake for my husband just because to remind me of how good it is!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Torta Sabbiosa

Torta sabbiosa means "sand cake" in Italian.  It's quite dry, like sand, but it's light and airy like angel food cake and melts in the mouth.  It's made with potato flour and I think that's what makes it dry.  The last time I made an Italian cake, I used almond meal and it was also dry.  Wonder if there's something to that?

Since I had two layers, I had to come up with a filling, and what's better than Nutella?  It still needed something for the dryness; in TSOB, Ms. Yard suggests serving it with sweetened mascarpone.  I decided to buy coffee gelato.  It was good, but the gelato almost overpowered the cake.  Next time, I think I'll try the suggestion of the queen of Italian-American cooking, Lidia Bastianich, and douse the cake with amaretto or limoncello and a topping of cream and/or fruit and berries! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lemon Cake

This cake is the second thing I've made for friends and gotten paid for!  This person wanted cake with a lemon curd filling and lemon italian meringue buttercream frosting.  I've done the lemon curd before, but have never made the italian meringue frosting.  And, like all things lately, I had to take a second shot at the frosting.  Meringue is very temperamental, and when I added the butter the first time around, it broke the perfect peaks I had going on the meringue.  I'm told that if I would have kept the mixer going, it would have come back together, but I wanted to start over and get it right the first time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vanilla Pound Cake

I have finally stopped procrastinating and moved on to the next chapter in TSOB; pound cakes and genoise cakes.  I had to repeat the basic pound cake recipe because I messed up the first time.  My first cake was  dense and dry.  My mistakes were starting with cold butter and weighing out 8 oz of cake flour versus weighing out how much a cup of flour weighs (7 oz).  Pound cake has no baking soda or baking powder, so the rise comes from whipping air into the butter while creaming it with the sugar.  That works better with softer butter.  The difference between the two cakes was incredible.  See how moist the good cake turned out?

I topped it with some farmer's market strawberries that were cooked in orange juice and a bit of sugar and some (kind of old) homemade whipped cream.  So good!  Now to try genoise cakes.

Blueberry Cobbler

One of my all-time favorite summer desserts is blueberry cobbler.  I use a tried and true recipe from Real Simple magazine.  I made this for our July 4th barbecue, since it's so pretty and patriotic with all that blue.  I bought greek yogurt ice cream for the first time to go with it, and it was pretty yummy.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chocolate Orange Macarons

I've been wanting to make macarons for a while now.  If I ever go into business, I want to make cheesecakes, macarons and biscotti.  So it's about time I start practicing the macarons since I have the other two almost memorized.  I am so excited that my first batch turned out so well!  My filling is a little gooey from being in the sun in this picture though. Otherwise, they were almost identical to the ones my husband and I were lucky enough to enjoy on our honeymoon:

One of my missions in Paris was to get to Laduree and get their famous macarons.  After running up and down the Champs-Elysees with only half an hour until it's closing time, Joe and I asked any Parisian we could to help get us there.  We made it and were rewarded with some awesome macarons.

I can't wait to start making other flavors and perfecting the skill of making these wonderful cookies.
Recipe from Bon Appetit.

Turtle Cheesecake

I made this glorious cheesecake back in April for my mom's birthday.  I love making cheesecakes more than any other dessert.  I've made this before and have no idea where I got the recipe from.  In the past though, I used store bought caramel.  This time I made my own and it was so much better.  I didn't even think that was possible!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Crème Brûlée

Happy belated Easter/Passover and Happy Spring to you all!  I had a wonderful dinner yesterday with good friends and for dessert I made crème brûlée.

I wish I would have picked up one of those small blowtorches.  Instead I tried to broil the sugar.  It didn't turn out like it would have with the blowtorch, but it was still really tasty.

This was another vanilla sauce recipe from TSOB.  I think I have a good grasp on vanilla sauce now and will be moving on at some point to another chapter.  But next up, I have to decide on a flavor for my mom's birthday cheesecake.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pastry Cream Cookies

I am back to TSOB! Finally! My new job I'm starting in April at a certain high-end grocery chain's bakery was the inspiration. I don't think I've covered the vanilla sauce (aka creme anglaise) chapter on this blog yet. I attempted to first make it at school and accidentally broke it. But in my familiar surroundings at home, I quickly knocked out a version of the vanilla sauce, making it into pastry cream.

I always thought pastry cream, the stuff inside eclairs and cream puffs, was white. Mine turned out a bit yellow, probably from the eggs, so I'm not sure if I did it 100% right. But the cookies I made from it worked out just fine. To make them, I combined the cream with crumbs from a piece of the unfrosted St. Patrick's day cake. Throw in some nuts and voila, yummy cookies.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day

My first post of the year! This is the first special dessert I've made so far. It's called the Irish Car Bomb cake, since it has all three Irish liquors in it: Guinness cake, whiskey ganache, and Bailey's frosting. I don't think I would ever be able to drink an actual Irish car bomb, it just doesn't sound too good. But throw it all on some cake and it sounds fabulous.

This cake is just as rich as my birthday cake was. Moist from sour cream and rich from the ganache and frosting. I'd choose this over corned beef and cabbage any day.

Recipe found here.