Monday, May 31, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

Every single year my brother requested a German Chocolate Cake for his birthday.  Every single year I hoped he would chose something different.  The recipe my mother used was the on the back of a bar of Baker's Chocolate.  The cake always received rave reviews from everyone but me.  I was completely indifferent towards it.  Not any longer.  The German Chocolate Cake in Rose's Heavenly Cakes is utterly fantastic.

Rose uses dark chocolate for the cake batter.  Finally, a German Chocolate Cake that actually tastes like
chocolate.  The deep flavor balances perfectly against the coconut pecan frosting. The frosting, I have decided, is my new breakfast cereal.  I've named it "In Denial".

Rather than a two layer cake, as the recipe called for, I made a single layer and a dozen cupcakes.
I wanted to see if it made a difference baking in an aluminum cake pan verses stainless steel.  I have a theory
that my heavy, commercial grade Cuisinart cake pans are holding in so much heat after coming out of the oven  they are literally drying out Rose's delicate batters.  This cake came out incredibly moist, as did the cupcakes.  And then the most peculiar thing happened; they started disappearing.   No one wanted to wait for the frosting!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bernachon Palet d'Or

Bernachon Palet d'Or is a stunning chocolate cake.  Draped in ganache made with creme fraiche, it is not cloying sweet.  Rather than the famed chocolate lacquer glaze, this version is drizzled with red current jelly.  The combination plays well together.

I heeded Rose's advice and made the ganache first to give it sufficient time to cool.  Lindt did not have a 60% dark chocolate on the shelf so I opted for half 50% and half 70%.  I have no idea if that equals 60% in the world of chocolate math.

Mixing the cake batter was relatively easy.  The hardest part was smoothing the light and fluffy batter into the pan evenly!  The tricky part was deciding when to pull the cake out of the oven.  There seems to be a very fine line with this cake between done and burned.  I got this one out just in the nick of time and had to trim a few bits round the top edge.  Rather than have it cook further while cooling in the pan, I flipped it out immediately.   The parchment paper was still holding in a great deal of heat so I flipped it back over and removed it.  The cake then cooled quickly.

The texture is not dry but next time I will remove it from the oven sooner.  I had all the ingredients out for the lacquer glaze however red current jelly kept calling my name.  There was not one fresh red current in this town.  The fruit exchange said they are due to arrive on the twenty-fifth.  The garden nurseries sold every current bush in stock.  Had I not been the procrastinator I am, I could have planted one back in January and merrily picked my own red currents.

Everyone loves this cake.  Eldest granddaughter has nibbled three pieces.  For a kid, that is saying a lot.  I think children are the best taste testers when it comes to staples like chocolate cake.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I must share this amazing dad's site for pancakes !  He was on our local news show this morning.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baby Lemon Cheesecakes

These delightful miniature lemon cheesecakes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes are so light and fluffy they are very nearly a mousse.  The lemon filling rests upon a sponge cake base and is then topped with lemon curd.

Is there no baker out there who will kindly stage a spongecake intervention for me?  I had such high hopes with this one.

For the first time not one errant flour ball lurked in the batter.  A gorgeous golden hued cake emerged majestically from the oven only to reveal this charred disaster when the parchment paper was removed.   After a few surgical slices there was enough char free zone cake to cut out very thin bases.

The filling required one and half tablespoons of lemon juice.  I love a burst of lemon.  To accentuate the flavor three teaspoons of lemon zest plus double the amount of juice was added.

I absolutely love making any flavor curd with Rose's simple, foolproof method.  It makes me feel like a jam making earth mother.  My only difficulty is not stopping right then and there to slather it over toast, forgoing the dessert it was destined for.

Someone else had designs on the lemon curd as well. Every time I turned my back this little innocent thing jumped on the counter, stealthily stalking my warm bowl of curd.  It was either her or the curd so I put it in the refrigerator.  There was good reason Rose said to pour warm curd over the cheesecakes.  Lemon curd becomes quite thick when refrigerated.  I resorted to piping it over the top.

These were baked in eight ounce ramekins because I did not have enough four ounce, which would have been a better size, although no one is complaining!  It took nearly twice as long to bake. This recipe is easy and now in my "go to" file when a light cheesecake is called for.  Really, it is so deliciously flavored it could easily be served straight out of the ramekins, "flourless" as Rose indicated.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gateau Breton

Gateau Breton from Rose's Heavenly Cakes is a buttery treat that far exceeds the simple ingredients.  Almonds, sugar, cultured butter, eggs, vanilla, flour and optional kirsch or rum (I used water) baked together transform into a cake-like shortbread pound cake, with a flavor reminiscent of Madeleines.

Our veterinarian was selling an abundance of his own chickens' fresh eggs; perfect for the Gateau.

Organic Valley offers this seasonal butter between May and September.  It was on sale at Whole Foods.
Into the Gateau it went with a little Straus butter from my dream dairy. 

Ginger Elizabeth coincidentally offered a Pate Breton cake for Mother's Day, similar to a Gateau Breton.
It was described as "Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Custard Cream, local orange curd on a crispy Pate Breton crust.  This lovely tart features Valrhona's Tainori couverture-a wonderful 64% bittersweet chocolate from the Dominican Republic.  $38.00"

For fun, I mixed up a batch of orange curd via Rose's instructions and dark chocolate custard cream lightened with whipped cream, then brewed a cup of Earl Grey.  This cake needs nothing, it is simply stunning on its own.  Adorned with orange curd and Lindt dark chocolate custard cream, it is out of this world plus covered the San Andreas fault that ran through my little Gateau.  I brazenly thought flipping it without two cake racks would be easy and of course, it broke in half. This provided a perfect excuse to cut and trim and nibble the fault line.  Rose's recipe is a definite keeper.

Here's an interesting post on how to make butter.  I wonder if this could possibly qualify for European style high fat when it's hard to find or outrageously expensive?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Whipped Cream Biscuits

I never make biscuits simply because my grandmother made the most incredible biscuits.  She was a hard act to follow with her box of Bisquick.  The secret, she said, was to add more milk than the directions called for.  Those biscuits, along with strawberry freezer jam, were the stuff of dreams.

So when my eldest granddaughter asked for help making her mother a batch of "Mother's Day Eve" biscuits, I couldn't refuse and went looking for a recipe.  My first stop was Smitten Kitchen, an amazing blog.  She is meticulous to detail and tweaking, much like our Rose, until she gets a recipe just right.  When I saw the recipe for these biscuits, I remembered the Whipped Cream Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes and how much we all liked it.  Well, let me say, whipped cream in biscuits is it's equal.

These biscuits are incredibly light and fluffy.  They nearly fall apart slashed with butter and jam.  Easy to make really is an understatement.  Which leads me to believe, with the option of adding sugar, these would be great for berry shortcake. The only adaption I did was sifting the flour for more accurate measuring.  Rose is a good teacher!

Cream Biscuits

Adapted from James Beard’s American Cookery

The original recipe has you brush your baking sheet with melted butter (and increases the amount by two tablespoons) but for whatever reason, the butter not covered by biscuits just got smoky in my oven so I’m voting for you to just line your sheets with parchment. If you find dipping the biscuits in butter difficult (hard to grasp if the dough is soft), just brush them generously instead.
Made about 10 biscuits, perhaps a dozen if I had been stricter about the height and scrap-usage

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside. Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and (if using) sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using two additional tablespoons, or half the unused cream.)
Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use. [Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5.]

Monday, May 3, 2010

Saint-Honore Trifle

Saint-Honore Trifle brings to mind Buckingham Palace, the Queen's Annual Tea Party, big hats and flowery dresses.  This trifle is the essence of spring.  I realize the history is French but it just seems more fitting in an English garden.

That said I'm totally exhausted!  Ten hours in the making, this was.  The only adaption I made was substituting agar for gelatin.   Notice the final layer is strawberries.  I have no idea how that happened so decided to leave off the Whipped Cream Topping. 

Eldest granddaughter and I had quite a jolly time spinning sugar all over the kitchen.  "Grandma, you got a bullseye in the kitty crunchy bowl!"  Half the spun sugar broke off and was lost from my overlooking the vitally important step of oiling the wooden spoon handles.  This is the first time I've actually made a trifle in this thirty year old trifle bowl and used a real vanilla bean.  It's about time on both counts.

The different flavors complement each other very well.  The Chiboust Cream could easily stand on its own; delicious with fresh berries or stewed fruit.  Lo these many years ago, I was but a young college lass off on an adventure in the UK as an au pair.  It was there I had my first taste of rhubarb, gently stewed and ladled over a delicate, creamy custard.  I have wondered and wondered what it was.  The lady who made it was French.  And now I finally know!

Until I can make a decent genoise, one that doesn't conceal little criminal flour balls, I might use pound cake or Lady Fingers.  I adore trifles and can't wait to try Rose's Chocolate Raspberry trifle.  But the most hysterical trifle I know was mentioned in a cute television movie called "Bejeweled".  The trifle?  Trifle Onion Pudding....."They are trying to kill us with food!"