May 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' May 2011 Challenge - Chocolate Marquise

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

Doesn't it look great when all components come together?
And what a challenge this was! Each single part was not too difficult to master, but the complete dessert consisted of several components and handling the frozen chocolate mousse was no easy task. But it was all worth it for such a plate of dessert.

I was very excited that this month's challenge included torched meringue because this was an excellent opportunity to break in my brand new blowtorch. Yay! :-)

The chocolate mousse obviously was the star of this plate. It tasted great and while preparing it, I realised how easy it is to modify it with different spices. And while I cut it into classical cube shapes for this challenge, it would be a cute idea to use cookie cutters to serve it in other shapes. As far as I could see, some of my fellow Daring Bakers already did this. The taste and consistency of the mousse was simply delicious: rich, dark and not too sweet - just the way I like my chocolate mousse.

The caramel sauce was maybe my favourite part of this challenge. I'm not very experienced with caramel and was amazed at how easy this recipe was. I love the slight bitter taste (maybe I burnt the caramel a bit?) together with the salt and rum (which I substituted for the tequila). There's still some sauce left in my fridge and I'm already planning on what to do with it. Maybe I could use it to bake some special cupcakes? Or I'll just eat it with a spoon…

My first plating. Well, the first that was worthy to be photographed, anyway...
Loved the spiced almonds! This is also a great snack that can be varied with all different kinds of spices and flavors. Unfortunately, I misunderstood the recipe (memo to self: "whisk egg white until frothy and thick" does not equal "whisk until stiff") and overbeat the egg white. After baking the almonds, I had to break them out of the egg white casing. The taste was still great, although I suspect that some of that spicy flavour  was lost in the discarded egg white… I'll definitely try this recipe again!

Plating was no easy feat. The cubes were quite difficult to handle if they should stay neat and the cocoa powder seemed to go everywhere. On the pictures you can see two different platings, but I used up several more plates until I was satisfied with the result. Also, I cheated and put the chocolate mousse on the plate while it was still frozen, because obviously for the picture it did not have to be thawed. Until I was finished with taking pictures and started eating my plate, the mousse had the exact right temperature and consistency :-)

Details of the recipes can be found here. I made only half of the chocolate mousse and used rum instead of tequila and maple sirup instead of light corn sirup. In the caramel sauce I also substituted the tequila with rum. For the spiced almonds I picked several spices from my spice cupboard (coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, clove and salt).

My favourite plating
Thanks for a great challenge Emma and Jenny!

May 17, 2011

White Chocolate Tart with Raspberries

Basically, this is a simple tart with very straightforward flavours. But I was intrigued by the idea of subtly changing these flavours with the use of differently flavoured chocolates. The original recipe uses pears and a chocolate flavoured with pears. I decided to use raspberries as fruit and cranberry flavoured chocolate. You could use many different combinations of fruit and flavours. You could even start to play with flavoured yoghurt.

A word on the dough: I was confused at first that there was no sugar added according to the recipe. But it turned out that the filling with all the chocolate is quite sweet, so the neutral dough gives a nice contrast.

The recipe is quite easy. It requires a lot of cooling time, though. But the result is worth it. The combination of flaky dough, creamy filling and fruit is great!

White Chocolate Tart with Raspberries
Original recipe found on the webpage of Saisonk├╝che, one of my favourite food magazines. Here's a translation:

250g flour
2 pinches of salt
150g cold butter
1 egg

40g dark chocolate (I used Cranberry Intense of the Excellence line of Lindt

3 leaves of gelatin
250g white chocolate (I used the Crema Catalana of the Supreme line of Chocolat Frey
2dl cream
150g non-flavoured yoghurt
300g raspberries

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into little cubes and add to the flour. Using your fingers, rub the butter and the flour together until you get a coarse mix resembling grated cheese. Work quickly to avoid the butter melting. Add the lightly beaten egg and assemble everything into a firm dough. Leave it to cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a round baking tray (roughly 28cm in diameter) with a sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thickness. Place the dough into the baking tray, cut off the excess dough and punch some holes into the dough using a fork. Cover the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and add some baking weights to blind-bake the dough (I usually use dry beans). Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the baking weights and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes, then let it cool completely.

Melt the dark chocolate over a water bath and apply a thin layer to the cooled and baked dough. This will insulate the dough from the moist filling and keep it nice and crispy.

Soak the gelatin in some cold water. Heat the cream in a pan (it does not need to cook). Remove from the stove and add the roughly chopped white chocolate. Squeeze the water from the gelatin and add it to the cream as well. Stir until the gelatin and the chocolate have melted completely, then add the yoghurt. Cool in the fridge for a few minutes until the mix starts to set around the edge. In the meantime sprinkle the raspberries on the dough, then add the cream-chocolate mix. Let the tart set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

May 03, 2011

Williams Crown and My First Blogging-Anniversary

Wow - it has already been a year since I started this blog! Time really does fly…

I've decided to celebrate this anniversary by pouring myself a cocktail. And not just any cocktail, but the Williams Crown!

Great cocktail - even without foam...
A few weeks ago I spent a weekend with a friend in the beautiful Hotel Post in Tyrol. Apart from enjoying some relaxing SPA-treatments, we also discovered a great new cocktail. While chatting to the Chef de Bar Oliver, he mentioned he had created his own cocktail recently. Obviously, we had to try it, especially since it contained Williams, one of my favourite spirits. The cocktail was delicious with an intense fruity smell and taste despite being light in texture - very drinkable (read "dangerous")!

Oliver was kind enough to share the recipe with us, so I can share it with you. It contains to the Fizz-family. To accommodate modern restaurant hygiene regulations it is made with soda water only, leaving out the raw egg white that would traditionally be included. The raw egg white does not alter the taste of the drink, but makes sure that there is a nice foam on top of the drink. To be honest, Oliver's version had a nice foam layer on top even without the egg white, unlike mine - maybe the soda water I used did not contain enough carbon dioxide. But enough moaning about no-foams, here is the recipe:

4cl Williams (since this component gives the main flavour, it is advisable to use a decent brand)
2.5cl Pear Juice
dash Soda Water (I used ca. 4cl)
dash Sugar Sirup (recipe can be found here, I used ca. 2cl)
dash Lemon Juice (I used ca. 2cl)

Shake everything hard for about 30s in your shaker with ice and strain into nice glass decorated with a slice of pear. To get all the flavour into the drink, pour some additional soda water (I used ca. 4cl again) into the shaker to rinse it and to get the rest of the aroma into the glass.

Cheers! To another year of blogging!