June 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers' June 2010-Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse


Hooray, my first challenge as a daring baker! It included everything that I expected from this project and more. Several components would not have been on my 'to-bake'-list because e.g. I'm not too fond of meringue, too afraid of crème anglaise and too unknowing to realise that mascarpone can be made at home with only two ingredients.

Who would have thought that these three recipes worked perfectly, but not the chocolate mousse that I expected to be the easiest part of it all...

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.

Dawn's instructions can be found here. I followed them as closely as possible, the only change being that I substituted the Sambuca with Galliano, an Italian herb liquor, because I'm not very fond of aniseed liquor and also Galliano was readily available in my house bar. Homemade mascarpone was not part of the challenge, but since I read about it in a previous challenge, I wanted to try it.

An additional challenge that was not written directly into the recipe proved to be my gas oven. The meringues had to be baked at 95°C but my gas oven could not go lower than 130°C, so I decided to invade the kitchen of friends of mine for the weekend and do the complete challenge there (THANK YOU GUYS!). This approach had the additional advantage that I had somebody to help me eat the pavlovas.

I was surprised that making the chocolate meringues was easy and also the addition of chocolate greatly added to the taste. But what really surprised me was the crème anglaise. I always thought that vanilla curd was a bit boring, but the homemade stuff is amazing! I had to stop myself from eating it on the spot. So after more than three decades vanilla and I are finally friends.

What nearly drove me to the brink of despair was the chocolate mousse. When I added the chocolate to the hot cream, the mixture curdled immediately. I could save it by adding a few tablespoons of boiling water, but I guess it never completely recovered. Then, when preparing the mascarpone-cream-mix, it broke after only a few seconds of beating. I started again with a second batch of mascarpone (this time store bought because I did not have time to make another batch) and tried to be extra careful when adding the cream. It worked, but the mousse was never as moussy and stiff as I expected it to be. Also, the texture was a little grainy. The taste was exquisite, though :-)

Since this was my first challenge, I went a bit overboard with different platings...

This is my first try: crumbled up meringue, layered mousse and mascarpone-cream with raspberries.

Second plate: a meringue base with piped mousse (although it didn't keep it's form very well).

Third plate: again, a meringue base with a few spoonfuls of mousse and fresh fruit.

Fourth plate: I filled some of the mousse into a dessert ring, layered it with strawberries, and froze it for a couple of hours.

Fifth plate: same as before, but this time I layered the mousse with mango and passion fruit.

June 20, 2010


These muffins (or cupcakes - I still haven't decided on the terminology) were specially requested for a barbecue of a friend of mine so I wanted to make them look extra pretty.

While browsing through my various baking books I came across a muffin recipe that used white chocolate chips and immediately had a vision of a muffin as white as possible with the occasional pink spot. I decided to supplement the white chocolate with almond slices and raspberries for the pink.

For the icing I wanted to use a white chocolate glazing. Now, I'm not very experienced (yet) with icings, but I found simple instructions on how to make your own chocolate glazing on the internet. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as planned. I expected a thin fluid to dip my muffins. Instead I ended up with a paste which I applied to the muffins with a spatula.


250g flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp natron
100g white chocolate chips
100g almond slices

1 egg
100g sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
80ml sunflower oil
250g yoghurt
200g raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups (alternatively brush the tin with sunflower oil).

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and natron. Mix in the chocolate chips and the almond slices.

In a separate bowl scramble the egg and add the sugar, vanilla extract, sunflower oil and yoghurt.

Mix the dry and the wet ingredients. Carefully add the raspberries and fold them into the batter. Try not to brake the raspberries to prevent the batter from getting pink.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-25min.

For the frosting melt 200g of white chocolate over a water bath together with 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp powdered sugar. Apply to the cooled down muffins with a spatula and decorate with a sugar-covered almond.

June 15, 2010

Tiroler Cake

The Tiroler Cake is one of the most popular cakes in Switzerland. It's really easy to make and has a rich hazelnut flavour with the occasional chocolate chip.

 There's loads of recipes on the internet. I've used this one:

125g butter (room temperature)
4 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
150g sugar
120g flour
8g baking powder
200g ground hazelnuts
50g chopped hazelnuts
150g chocolate chips
4 beaten egg whites

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a big bowl beat the butter until it is lighter in colour and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at the time, then add salt and sugar. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add the ground hazelnuts, the chopped hazelnuts and the chocolate chips. Mix everything together. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites.

Pour into a buttered loaf pan (25-28cm length) and bake for 50-55min. After cooling, the cake can be easily stored for a few days.

June 09, 2010


Wellwellwell... who would have thought, but I have to report my first baking fail... Well, not my first in total, but my first since I started blogging. I decided to try another recipe from Not So Humble Pie. I like cocktails and the idea of transforming one (in this case Amaretto Sour) into baking appealed to me on several levels, so I decided to try Ms. Humble's Amaretto Lemon Squares. 

Since I didn't have fresh lemons at home, I decided to use limes which I had available. The other change (ultimately, the one of the decisions leading to the fail) was to substitute the normal sugar for brown sugar. At the time I thought it was a great idea, thinking about Caipirinhas and Mojitos et al., not about the brown colouring this will give my baked goods...

The other problem I had was my oven. Yes, yes, I know, you should never blame others for your own faults, but you have to understand that I work with an old gas oven, that adds a few complications to every baking process. The main disadvantage is, that the heat comes only from the bottom. Also, circulation of the hot air is inhibited if I don't push the baking tray completely to the back. The heat is very difficult to regulate (turning the switch a few millimeters leads to an increase of 20-30°C and it won't allow me to set a lower temperature than 130°C. Finally, the fact that the tray is not completely levelled, does not help either. Ok, I'll stop my rant here, but I really wish I had an oven that was a tad more modern.

So, I think that my second mistake was to leave my slices not long enough in the oven, because I was afraid that half of it might burn.

All in all, the taste was great (especially immediately after cooling down for a moment) but the look was questionable. Also, it was almost impossible to transport the soft slices. Fortunately, I didn't take pictures after I plated them at my office (along with a sign "does not taste as horrible as it looks"...).

170g flour
90g powdered sugar
0.5 tsp salt
190g butter (chilled)
50g almonds (toasted for a few minutes and ground in a food processor)

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Line a baking tray (about 25x35cm) with parchment paper and butter the sides.

In a big bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into little cubes and rub everything together between your fingers (preferably cold fingers) until everything is a fine mix (it looks a little like grated cheese). Pour the mix into the baking tray and press it down with your fingers. Bake for about 15-18min until light brown.

4 eggs
300g sugar (white sugar, NOT brown sugar...)
4 tbsp flour
1tsp corn starch
2 tbsp amaretto
180ml lime juice
0.5 tsp almond extract
60ml milk

Combine all the wet ingredients with the sugar. Sift in the flour and the corn starch and mix well. Pour onto the crust and bake for another 20min until the filling is set and does not jiggle anymore when you shake the tray a little.

Let everything cool down, remove from the pan, cut into slices and dust with powdered sugar.

As mentioned above, the slices are best eaten without any transportation in between (directly from the tray to the mouth?).

June 02, 2010

Bailey's Chocolate Muffins

A few days ago, I tried out a recipe for homemade whisky-cream-liquor. Instead of drinking it all by myself, I've searched the internet for other uses. I found this simple recipe for Bailey's-Muffins on kochbar.de:

260g flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
75g chocolate chips
50 g walnuts, roughly chopped

1 egg
80 ml sunflower oil
100 ml Bailey's (or homemade whisky-cream-liquor)
100g sugar
2 tbsp instant coffee powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients with the sugar and the coffee powder.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients, mix quickly and spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake immediately for about 25 min.

Actually, I tried something new with this recipe, because it was the first time that I froze the muffins before baking. Just make sure, that there's enough space in your freezer before starting and that you line the muffin tray with paper cups. After mixing everything together fill the batter into the paper cups and put the whole muffin tin into the freezer. After the muffins are frozen you can take them out of the tin and store them more conveniently in a plastic dish or bag or something similar. To bake just put the muffins back into the tin and put them into the preheated oven. Add about 5 min to the total baking time.