Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas Trifle


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Bull's Eye Cakes

Well - Amazing, but there were no MaryAnn pans among my arsenal. So, since I had admired other little cakes made by some of us in the past using that pan, I went to Amazon and acquired a sweet-looking MaryAnn by Nordic Ware that would produce six baskets. I considered how pretty the little basket-shaped cakes would be for all kinds tarts and short cakes in the future.

Although my finished little cakes showed the hatch-mark design, I thought, in retrospect, that I possibly should have filled the cups with more than 3/4 full of batter. In comparison to the other, plain, MaryAnn pans, these seemed somehow smaller. And then, I figured it out:

Of course, and more to the point, the answer just could be the faulty genoise batter-folding by me, causing them not to rise properly, fully, when filled to the 3/4-point specified. 
Yes, indeed, there was actually a huge problem for me with the genoise this time.


In the first place, I made it in my smaller lift-top KA. Now, I have a problem folding in the flour in this more narrow bowl, and I know that. Also, for some odd reason, I decided to use the slotted spatula instead of the whisk - Wrong decision! I began getting Wondra flour-egg-foam-gunk on the thing, and couldn't get it to fold without accumulating more thick stuff - 
Finally, I took the KA whip to fold with, and things got a little better; and then the beurre noisette and egg foam mixture lightened it up some more. But, I am certain this genoise didn't like that treatment one bit! Why should it do it's lovely job as genoise after being manhandled?!

Fortunately, these delicate little genoises didn't decide to totally punish me for my carelessness, and they managed to come forth with a small basket weave showing. They were very fragile, not plump and tall like those from other MaryAnn pans. Kind of adorable, in their own way, just sitting there, daring me to touch them lest they dissolve.  

When cool, and still hoping for the best, I carefully drenched the little cakes with the Grand Marnier syrup - no apricot eau de vie in the house, or Cognac; I do have some Armagnac, but decided against it. Then I glazed the outside of the cakes with the apricot glaze, also with a little more of the Grand Marnier in it [orange flavor of brandy of Grand Marnier must have some affinity with apricots]. I ran out of glaze; I think it was too thick.
It was only when I saw Marie's post with her beautifully glazed cake interiors, that I realized, sadly, I had entirely forgotten to glaze the interior bottoms of mine at all. I know that glazing would have given them an extra lilt of flavor from under the chocolate filling. Also, I had to make more chocolate filling.

I feel that next time it would only be prudent for me to double the batter recipe and make more cakes. Since I ran out of all apricot glaze, chocolate filling, and drizzle this time, I shall prepare double in case I come up short again. For me, it is too time consuming to make just six little cakes. And - I shall also revert to the Prince whisk, along with my larger KA standing for the folding.

Finally, I would like to acquire another MaryAnn pan. There is one by Chicago Metallic on Amazon with 12 cavities for $35. Hmm - 
After all, this is a marvelous dessert, and I do intend to prepare it again soon; this time can be considered a dress rehearsal, with great revues.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake

Once again, a luscious cake, and a chance to employ one of my batterie de cuisine of NordicWare beauty pans!

This one was not difficult and not time consuming. I took a few pictures just for fun, but there were no techniques that I thought needed to be discussed - except perhaps that I need to learn marzipan. Instead, I just dusted with confectioner's sugar and cocoa.

I gave this cake as a gift for an office party and it received rave revues, tender and fudgey!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Lemon Canadian Crown -

After deciding not to bake the ladyfingers myself, and finding only the crunchy Italian ones in the store, I was fortunate to recall our wonderful little Bistro Bakery up the street, where Madame was happy to bake divine ladyfingers for me.

I cut the bottoms off the ladyfingers and lined them around the sides of the sprayed 9" spring-form pan, using the balance to line the bottom of the pan. Then the pan was placed into the fridge.

 Next to make the curd - I used turbinado sugar
 with the eggs and lemon juice. This sugar leant a beautiful  amber, caramel color and flavor to the curd. The curd was then            cooled.

Next a cup of soft-peaked whipped cream was used to lighten the curd, and then the rest folded in, and placed into the frozen crown shell. This was frozen again, over night. This lemon, turbinado sugar, whipped cream mixture was so addictive that by the time I had licked it from everything in sight, there was barely enough to use for it's real purpose! Yum!
The next day, the meringue was prepared and put atop the crowned pan. Then placed under a broiler for less than a minute. A band of foil around the perimeter to protect the meringue, and back into the freezer after wrapping tightly after an hour. Then with heavy-duty plastic wrap for as much time as one needs it frozen up to 3 weeks. This do-ahead option is nice.

I really enjoy this torte. Even though there are periods of start-stop-wait, this was not bothersome because the overnight ones worked out well and the other cooling times were just time to do other things [lol that usually needed to be done anyway].
Everyone was captivated by the torte's appearance, and the frozen surprise inside!! My husband has fairly swooned.

For me, this is not a difficult torte; even with it's little starts and stops of cooling and freezing, it is definitely a keeper.