Tea Panna Cotta

/ Monday, January 26, 2015

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So how have I been? Very busy, being the short answer. At my school, I'm on the Prostart Culinary Team. Prostart is a program for high school students, and they host a cooking competition every year. So everyday after school, I've been working on our menu and trying out new cooking techniques. I am in charge of creating the dessert... shockingly.
 The hard part is, we don't have access to electricity, just propane burners and metal campfire ovens. That and a one hour time limit put up many roadblocks to what can be made. But we are still working on it, and the competition is in about a month so we have plenty of time!

For people that have been reading this blog, you may know one of my favorite desserts in panna cotta. I made a salted caramel panna cotta a while back that was amazing! Panna cotta can be flavored in so many ways, so I decided that a would use all the extra tea I had stockpiled in my cupboards to taste test some tea flavored panna cotta.

I tried four different kinds of tea using the same panna cotta recipe. I found the best two (in my opinion of course) was the chai and the jasmine. They both had great flavor and were not too strong.

Tea Panna Cotta

Adapted from: Hummingbird High

4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup loose leaf tea or 2 tea bags (I recommend Chai or Jasmine)
2 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Infuse the cream by combining 4 cups heavy whipping cream and tea in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once the mixture has simmered, turn off the heat and cover the pan with aluminum foil, poking a few holes into the top to allow steam to release. Let steep for 1 hour.
When the cream has finished steeping for an hour, bloom the gelatin. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin into the surface of a small cup or ramekin filled with 3 tablespoons cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes, until the gelatin softens.
As the gelatin is blooming, strain the infused cream through a cheese cloth into a bowl, pressing on the tea leaves/tea bag with the back of a spoon to release all the liquid. Discard the tea leaves/bags. Transfer the cream beck into the saucepan and add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the bloomed gelatin, stirring over medium-low heat until the sugar and gelatin is melted. DO NOT boil the mixture.

Once the sugar and gelatin are fully integrated into the cream, divide the cream amongst eight 4-ounce ramekins. Chill overnight. Once set, the panna cotta can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

So that's it! It doesn't take that long to put together, and its a really fun time finding different flavors of tea to use.

 Until next week!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Tart

/ Sunday, January 11, 2015

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We are well into January and not only am I going crazy with my over-booked schedule, I'm starting to resent the -3 degree weather. However, it does give me a good excuse to turn on the oven and start whipping up whatever recipes my Pinterest home feed decides to show me!

This weekend was also my moms 50th birthday! So, I decided to make one of her favorites: creme brulee. It ended up not being baked long enough, (but thank god for microwaves!) In the end I got it to be completely cooked and very good, even if the consistency was a bit off from going to the oven to the refrigerator to the microwave to the freezer!

I'm currently eating the other thing I made this weekend, and it turned out amazing! I adapted the original recipe to include more of the staple ingredients regularly found in kitchens to save you all a trip to a specialty supermarket.

The idea of avocados and chocolate was not one I had heard of before, but I'm all up for trying new things so I decided to put it to the test! I'm super pleased with the results and its super simple to make!


Chocolate Avocado Mousse Tart

Adapted from: Le Passe Vite
Makes one 9 inch tart

For the Crust:
175 g grated sweetened coconut
250 g roasted salted cashews
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9 inch round tart pan. Place the grated coconut and cashews in a food processor and grind into a coarse flour.
Add cacao, cinnamon and salt and pulse to combine. Scrape the bowl before adding the coconut oil, sugar, and water, and pulse to combine. Press the dough into the bottom of then pan as evenly as possible. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
Let cool completely before filling with mousse.

For the Mousse:
2 medium avocados
4 tsp cacao powder
75g semisweet chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla paste, or extract
1 pinch of sea salt
Cut the avocados in half, and remove the pulp with a spoon. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until a smooth cream.

For Assembly:
slightly toasted pistachios
sweetened shredded coconut

Fill the tart with mousse, even with a spatula, and sprinkle with pistachios and coconut.
The tart should be eaten the day it was made. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Until next week!

Cabin Trip and Cake Decorating

/ Sunday, January 4, 2015

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Happy New Year everyone!

I'm really excited for another year of baking, photography, and writing.

I got to spend New Years up at my cabin with some friends and family, and we had a great time in the below zero weather.

My fingers almost froze off trying to take some landscape photos, but I was able to get in some pretty good shots. I kept trying to switch setting which just made matters worse, and I ended up not being able to feel my fingers long after I got back inside.

Also, I got The Contemporary Buttercream Bible as a gift this holiday season. I've been leafing through the pages and am really enjoying the book. It's very informational for beginners like myself, and the cakes all have amazing design. So, if you are interested in cake design I would for sure check out this book.

Today I tried making the buttercream from the book, however I completely over mixed it and it was too dense. So when I tried to frost the cake, the whole thing completely fell apart.
Therefore, I don't have much of a picture this week, but I will be enjoying a very yummy, ugly cake.

So I leave you with a nice sunset picture, a book recommendation, and a promise of an amazing recipe next week. Until then.

Pistachio Dried Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate

/ Sunday, December 21, 2014

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If you are like me, these past few days have been a blur of stores and sugar. My kitchen is always busy with someone making a new Christmas cookie for out family's annual Christmas Eve party. In between the cookies, I'm trying to navigate awful mall parking lots in an attempt to find just a few more gifts. I've figured out that if you don't really know what to get for them, something handmade is probably the best way to go.

Well I had a ton of options for recipes this week, considering the amount of cookies that have been made in the last two days. Hands down my favorite one was the biscotti. It's pretty easy and makes for a great breakfast or dessert item.

Pistachio Dried Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate

Adapted from: Bon Appetit
Makes approx. 25

For the biscotti:

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
 3 large eggs
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat sugar, eggs, oil, and almond extract until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in cherries and pistachios.
Scoop dough into two rough looking logs on the prepared baking sheet. Using wet fingers, shape each dough half into a 13" long,  3" wide log. Bake 30 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°.  Transfer biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip horizontally into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange slices,  standing upright, on a pan with a different piece of parchment. Bake biscotti 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For the Chocolate:  
8 oz. white chocolate

Melt white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stirring occasionally. Dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate. Place on a baking sheet fitted with wax paper and allow the chocolate to set in the fridge.

I seriously have eaten so many of these over the past few days! They have amazing flavor, and are some of the best biscotti I have ever had!

Until next week!

Chocolate Covered Toffee

/ Sunday, December 14, 2014

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It's getting closer to the holidays, and I went out and bought an ugly sweater to wear just for kicks.
So, the Christmas season is all about cookies. However, sometimes people spend hours and hours making them. Trust me I have been in this position many times! So, that got me thinking, whats a great holiday substitute for cookies that don't take up an entire day or two? Toffee is for sure the answer. This recipe is super easy, and one batch makes about 30 servings!

Chocolate Covered Toffee

From with edits to: Allrecipes

For the Toffee:
2 cups butter, cut into 1 tbs cubes
2 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Line a cookie sheet with a Silipat mat. (You can use parchment, however, the toffee may stick).
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, (285 degrees F) (You really should go by color, not temperature. Do not burn the mixture). Stir occasionally.
As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. With an offset spatula spread the toffee out to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.
Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

That's it! It's a super easy recipe, however be very careful not to burn the butter. It is better to take it off early than too late.
Also, while you are making this everyone will stop by the kitchen and comment on how good it smells!

Hope you all have a great holiday season!

Buche De Noel

/ Friday, November 28, 2014

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Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I just quickly wanted to say how thankful I am for all the opportunities that this blog has given me! I also want to thank all my readers and those who give me great feedback from the recipes they have tried from this blog. Sunday has become a great highlight of my week as I get to explore so many new recipes and styles of baking.

To kick off the holiday spirit, I'm bringing you a buche de noel. It's a bit labor intensive-ish, but it is well worth it. The meringue mushrooms can be made a few days ahead, or left out entirely, to make the workload a bit less.

For the Icing:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2⁄3 cup heavy cream

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium-low heat, whisking often. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until icing thickens, about 4 hours. Don't refrigerate.

For the Meringue:
10 tbsp. sugar
2 large egg whites
2 pinches cream of tartar
Pinch salt
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 200°. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Uncover pan and continue to boil until syrup reaches softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes more. Put egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in sugar syrup while continuing to beat until whites cool to room temperature and become thick and shiny, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4" plain pastry tip. To make meringue mushrooms, hold pastry tip perpendicular to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pipe meringue into the shapes of mushroom caps and stems of various sizes, then set aside for 5 minutes. Lightly moisten a fingertip in cold water and smooth out any "tails" left behind on mushroom caps. Bake meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest in oven until dry and crisp, about 1 hour. Bore a small, shallow hole in center of underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of a paring knife. "Glue" stems to caps by dipping tips of stems into icing, then sticking into holes in caps. Sift a little cocoa powder on tops of caps. Meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

For the Roulade:
2 tbsp. softened butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
7 egg whites
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. dark rum

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 16 1/2" × 12" heavy baking pan with buttered parchment paper, cut large enough to hang over sides of the pan by about 1". Put chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, then pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on medium speed until frothy; increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar, beating constantly, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 30-40 seconds more. (Don't overbeat.) Mix one-third of the whites into chocolate using a rubber spatula, then gently fold in remaining whites in two batches, taking care not to deflate batter. Spread in prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 10–12 minutes. Set aside to cool in the pan.

For the Filling:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
6 tbsp. sugar
3 egg yolks
12 tbsp. unsalted butter

 Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp. water in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium heat. Stir to combine, then set aside to cool. Combine sugar and 3 tbsp. water in a small heavy saucepan; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches the softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, beat yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually pour in hot syrup. Beat constantly until mixture cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Allow butter to soften, then beat into egg mixture 1 tbsp. at a time, waiting until it's completely incorporated before adding more; continue beating until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes total. Stir in cooled chocolate and set aside.

Hope you enjoy this great recipe to kick off the holiday season! Until next week!

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