Archive for August, 2007

Daring Bakers: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Milk chocolate and caramel tart decorated with caramel containing ground hazelnuts

This is my second month as a member of the amazing Daring Bakers. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 29th of August. This month’s challenge was a Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart consisting of a pastry with hazelnuts, cocoa and cinnamon which was filled with caramel mixture and then milk chocolate mousse topped with pieces of caramel. The recipe was picked by Veronica and Patricia.

How it all went:
I love the beginning of every month as that is when the new Daring Bakers challenge is presented. I always get enthusiastic, thinking a lot about the recipe. This time I was looking forward to bake the tart, as always, but the days passed by and I baked all sorts of cakes and cookies instead of the challenge. Eventually the month end was getting closer and last Sunday evening I finally made the dough. On Monday evening after work I made the caramel filling, which started really fine using the dry method when melting the caster sugar. I was pretty scared though, as I got a really nasty burn when making sugar candies many years ago. When I added the room temperatured cream to the melted sugar I instantly got a hard sugar layer on top of the cream. I was sure that everything would just explode in my face as the cream beneath the sugar started to simmer. I tried to calm down and started stirring the hard sugar and cream on a low temperature until I finally managed the sugar to melt again. After baking the filling in the oven I noticed that the filling was way too loose, so I had it in the oven for an additional 8 or even 10 minutes. It was still very wobbly when I took it out but I thought that it would set fine after being refrigerated (but it didn’t set completely. I still don’t know if it’s the fan ovens fault or what I did wrong). As the caramel filling was cooling, I made the caramel for the decoration. Anne had mentioned that hazelnuts made the creation less sweet so I added some ground hazelnuts and the sugar came out very well and I managed not to burn myself. Then I started on the chocolate mousse. I melted my chocolate in the micro wave and let it cool a bit. I stirred it every now and then when I suddenly noticed that it was starting to stiffen even though it was still quite warm. So I took the stupid decision to combine it with the whipped cream, which of course kind of separated from the heat. Maybe separated it the wrong word, but it looked a bit weird. I had no problems with putting the mousse on top of the caramel filling and left the cake in the fridge until Tuesday evening when I decorated the cake with the burnt sugar and finally served it to Fredrik and a friend. And today Wednesday I’m writing the post :-)

The tart is absolutely too sweet. Although my “jury” agreed on that the tart would be pretty good if cut in really small pieces and served with strong coffee.The milk chocolate mousse set very nicely but was way too sweet even if I tried hard with finding a not too sweet and yet not over priced milk chocolate. And also as I wrote earlier it kind of separated. I thought that the caramel filling would get firmer after spending almost 24 hours in the fridge, but it was quite loose and you definetly can’t hold up a piece of the cake with a fork in the caramel filling, like on the original photo which was provided when the Daring Bakers received the recipe.

Lessons learned (nb that some of these lessons should have been learned already last month):
1. Don’t start baking too late in the evening.
2. Bake the cake on a weekend and not in the evening after work.
3. Make sure to use milk chocolate that isn’t too sweet.
4. Don’t be cocky and think that it’s easy peasy, there are always things that can go wrong when baking a cake with so many parts.
5. Sometimes room temperatured ingredients just are not enough. In the case with the caramel filling I should have heated the cream before pouring it on the melted sugar.
6. You can’t always succeed :-)

Will I do this tart again?
Probably some day in the future, with a few modifications though; at least a less sweet chocolate and less cinnamon.

To see how the other Daring Bakers managed the challenge, check out our blog roll.

    Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
    (The August challenge for the Daring Bakers. Source: Sweet and Savory tarts by Eric Kayser)

    Preparation time: 40 minutes
    Baking Time: 30 minutes
    Refrigeration time: 1 hour
    One 9-inch(24-cm) square pan; 1 10-inch (26-cm) round baking pan

    ½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe below)
    1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
    1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
    ¼ cup (50 g) butter
    2 whole eggs
    1 egg yolk
    2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour
    1 ¼ cups (300 g) whipping cream
    ½ lb (250 g) milk chocolate

    1. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
    2. Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan, caramelize 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar using the dry method until it turns a golden caramel color. Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
    4. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour.
    5. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.
    6. Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
    7. Prepare the milk chocolate mousse: beat the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream.
    8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

    To decorate: melt ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color. Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface. Leave to cool. Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart.

    Chocolate Shortbread Pastry

    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Refrigeration :overnight
    To make 3 tarts, 9 ½ inches (24 cm) square
    or 10 inches (26 cm round)

    1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
    ½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
    2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
    2 eggs
    4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
    2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
    1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder

    A day ahead
    1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter.
    2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together
    3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly
    4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.
    5. Form a ball with the dough, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

Lemon brownies

Monday, August 20th, 2007

If you don’t like chocolate, then close this post immediately as this won’t be of any interest for you. We’re talking heavy and rich brownies with an enormous amount of chocolate, but with the refreshing accompliment of lemon! I have to admit that these brownies were almost too chocolaty for my taste as I’m not especially into chocolate, but everyone else loved these gooey brownies. Thanks to the tangy lemon the brownies don’t cause any chocolate death and adds a nice touch.

I found the recipe on La Mia Cucina by Lis, but it’s originally from Recipezaar. I’ve modified the recipe and changed the amounts, I especially cut down a lot on the sugar as they sounded too sweet. The original name in lemon mousse brownies, but the mousse isn’t really a mousse but a kind of custard.

Lemon brownies
(Adapted from Recipezaar. Recipe converted into metric system and then the amounts were changed).

370 gram semi-sweet chocolate
55 gram butter
230 gram cream cheese
350 gram sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
170 gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Lemon layer:
110 gram cream cheese
100 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
50 gram sugar
3 eggs

170 gram semi-sweet chocolate
150 ml whipping cream

Melt 370 gram semi-sweet chocolate and butter together in double boiler. Remove from heat.

In mixing bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar and eggs. Beat until well mixed.

Add vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into greased 22 cm x 30cm pan (the height must be at least 5 cm).

Lemon layer:
Beat 110 gram cream cheese, lemon juice and sugar until creamy and smooth. Continue beating while adding eggs one at a time. When well blended, pour over first layer. The mixture will be quite thin.

Place 170 gram chocolate and cream together and melt in double boiler. Stir until chocolate melts. Drizzle over lemon layer.

Bake at 175º C for about 45-55 minutes. Serve chilled.

Kalafior z bułką tartą (cauliflower with browned butter and bread crumbs)

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Sometimes the simple things in life are among the best, like this very easy and tasty cauliflower dish. Cauliflower with browned butter and bread crumbs is THE way to eat cauliflower in Poland, or at least in my family. To my pleasant surprise Pille wrote about the same dish some time ago as they also eat cauliflower in the same way in Estonia. In Sweden it’s often served gratinated in cheese sauce which doesn’t appeal to me at all.

This dish is one of those comfort dishes that I love to eat and the simplicity makes it a perfect snack or dinner when I’m very tired and hungry. When I was growing up we very often had it as a condiment or just ate it plain, nowadays I eat it more seldom as my dear husband dislikes cauliflower and I can’t eat a whole califlower by myself. But last week I found very small cauliflowers in the grocery store, perfect for one person and then I knew immediately what I would cook. This isn’t really a recipe, you just cook some cauliflower and then you take some butter and bread crumbs for the “sauce”.

    Kalafior z bułką tartą (cauliflower with browned butter and bread crumbs)
    (serves one)

    1 small cauliflower (300 gram)
    1.5 tbsp butter
    1.5 tbsp fine dry bread crumbs

    Boil the whole cauliflower in salted water for about 12 minuter, until soft enough but not too soft. You want it kind of al dente. If you’re using a large cauliflower then cut it in florets before boiling, and also boil it shorter. Drain the cauliflower and put it on a serving plate. Melt the butter in a pan, add the bread crumbs. Stir the mixture while it browns, this will take a couple of minutes. Pour/sprinkle the butter/crumb mixture over the cauliflower and serve.

Queen’s gâteau

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Gâteau with 3 cake layers and 2 fillings; queen’s crème and vanilla custard.

During my childhood my mother always made beautiful gâteaus for all family members birthdays. The particular gâteau with berries and jelly on top is a standard in her baking repertoire and people were always amazed of the proffessional taste and look of the cake. My gâteaus are not as beautiful as my mother’s, but I’m working on it :-) I made the cake on the above photo for a friend of my Fredrik’s and mine. Fredrik surprised him on his birthday last week in the morning as they work at the same place, and he was very happy and surprised when he received the cake. Anyway, the cake is super easy to do. I promise!

In Sweden we call the combination of bilberries and raspberries queen. So a rasberry and bilberry jam is called queen’s jam (drottningsylt). As one of the fillings in this variant consist of bilberry and raspberry I’ve choosen to call the cake it Queen’s gâteau. But you can easily change the fillings as you wish.

Queen’s gâteau

1 ready made three layered sponge cake (I usually buy one that’s already baked and ment to use for gâteaus as I find it hard to cut a cake in even layers)

Custard and jam layer:
around 5 tbsp of queen’s jam (bilberry and raspberry jam)
100 ml whipping cream
thick ready made vanilla custard based on 200 ml of milk (I use Swedish snabb-mársan which you just whip with cold milk; 5 tbsp mix + 200 ml milk. Add some extra vanilla if the taste is too bland).

Queen’s crème:
200 ml whipping cream
250 gram bilberries and raspberries
around 3 tsp of caster sugar

For each cake layer:
raspberry vodka to sprinkle over each cake layer

250 gram blackberries
jelly (either use a flavoured mix or do it yourself by mixing gelatin, water and some berry cordial. Read more about it in the text below)

For decoration:
500 ml whipping cream

First cream layer:
Carefully take the first cake layer and put it on a serving plate. Sprinkle with vodka. Spread a thin layer of jam evenly over the cake. Whip the 100 ml of cream and fold in the thick vanilla custard. Spread the mixture evenly over the cake. Place the second cake layer on top, sprinkle with vodka and put the cake in the fridge.

Second cream layer:
Combine berries with caster sugar. Whip the 200 ml of whipping cream with a electric mixer until it’s hard and fluffy. Carefully combine with the berry mixture. Add more sugar if needed. I also always add 1 tsp of the same custard powder which I used for the vanilla custard, just so the crème will hold it’s shape. I know that there is also gelatin for cold mixtures which you can use. Take out the cake from the fridge and spread the berry mixture evenly. Put the last cake layer on top and sprinkle with vodka.

Whip the last 500 ml of cream until it’s fluffy and can hold it’s shape. Spread a thin layer on top the gâteau. Now place the blackberries on top of the cake, start in the middle and stop when you have 3 cm to the edge of the cake. Now decorate the whipped cream around the berries, use a piping bag with a star shaped tip. Don’t decorate anything on the the sides, that will be done after the jelly is put on top, in case it leaks. Put the cake and the rest of the whipped cream in the fridge.

Mirror and final decoration:
Now prepare the jelly. I either use a bag with flavoured gelatine, which can be bought it Polish stores. It’s called “galaretka”. Or when I don’t have it at home I make my own jelly with gelatine, water and a suitable cordial. I think, but don’t remember, that you need 2 gelatine leaves to 150 ml of liquid. But please check that. Anyway, which ever method you’re using, heat the water and mix everthing. Let it cool and when it starts to thicken (resembles of thick cordial or syrup) you carefully spoon it over the berries. Now decorate the sides with the rest of the whipping cream and then put the gâteau in the fridge until it’s time to serve it.

Salad with feta cheese and watermelon

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

It’s very warm and sunny in Stockholm this week, but unfortunately I’m back at work again. I would much rather be having picknicks in a park with nice books to read and yummy snacks. But you can’t get it all so I have to make the best of the evenings instead. For warm summer days or evenings this salad is a winner. I’m sure that many of you have already tried the combination of feta cheese and watermelon; the saltiness of the feta cheese goes perfect with the refreshing and sweet watermelon. Serve the salad with some spicy grilled chicken and fresh bread, and you have a perfect dinner for sunny evening that makes you forget all about going to work again the next day. You don’t really need a recipe for this, but for reference here’s what I put in yesterday’s salad:

    Salad with feta cheese and watermelon
    (serves 4)

    around 1 kg watermelon, rinsed and sliced (and “peeled”)
    200 gram feta cheese, sliced
    a big handful of black olives
    1 small red onion, thinly sliced
    2 tsp extra vergine olive oil
    Fresh basil leaves

    Combine the ingredients on a serving plate. Drizzle some olive oil over the salad. Decorate with fresh basil.

Chocolate hippos, moomins and butterflies

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

A hippo parade!
The moomins are back, this time in chocolate flavour, and Moomin mama has a brand new bag!
Cut-out cookies makes me think of Christmas and as it’s still 6 months left it’s too early to bake ginger cookies, so I decided to bake chocolate cookies instead. I started searching on the internet and finally found theese very chocolaty cookies by Martha Stewart. I have to admit that I’ve never tried any of her recipes before, she’s not that big in Sweden even though they sell her magazines and send her show on TV (daytime though, which means that I only watch it when I’m ill or have vacation). The cookies have a very strong flavour of chocolate and slightly reminds me of oreo cookies. There is also cinnamon in the dough, but the flavour is very vague even though I increased the amount. The cookies were a success at my husband’s office and I had great fun baking and decorating them.

I’ve received a lot of questions regarding the cutters. The moomin cutters were bought in a small shop in Gothenburg for about 2-3 years ago. I havn’t seen them anywhere since then, not even in that store. The hippo and the butterfly cutter were bought in Verner & Verner, a kitchen utensil shop.

Chocolate butterflies in different colours

    Chocolate cookies
    (Source: Martha Stewart. I’ve only converted the recipe to the metric system and increased the amount of cinnamon. I ended up with 4 or 5 baking sheets of cookies – much larger sheets than the ones on the photos.)

    330 gram sifted all-purpose flour
    155 gram unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    340 gram unsalted butter
    280 gram sifted confectioners’ sugar
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon. Set mixture aside.

    Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

    Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Divide dough in half; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour (I chilled my dough overnight).

    Heat oven to 175 degrees C. Take out the dough from the fridge, by now it will be very hard but it will get soft after you’ve rolled it a few minutes. On a floured surface, roll dough to about 4 mm thick (Myself I roll on my tupperware “mat” and then a put a large piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough, in that way the dough doesn’t stick). Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.

    Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp but not darkened. Cool on wire racks; decorate as desired

    How to decorate eyes on the hippos and moomins
    (source: My own idea and recipe)

    120 gram (=200 ml) confectioners’ sugar
    3 tsp water
    a squeeze of fresh lemon

    A piping bag with a small tip.
    Round silver candies for decorating (unfortunately I believe that I’ve read that they are not allowed in the US).

    Mix the ingredients. Fill a piping bag with the mixture. Squeeze out a small amount that will be the eye white and then press a silver candy in the center.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

The strawberry season is slowly ending or has ended in many countries, but thanks to this year’s cold summer there are still plenty of strawberries to buy here in Sweden. Regardless if your only making one strawberry recipe this summer or if the strawberry season is near it’s end or if you’re baking all sorts of strawberry recipes all the time, you really must try this recipe from David Lebovitz’s amazing ice cream book The Perfect Scoop. I know that a lot of food bloggers are cheering and writing super positive posts about the book but it is really that good. Buy it now, you won’t regret it. I don’t think that I’ve ever made so many recipes from the same cookbook and furthermore they are all delicious.

When I first saw this recipe I was slightly uncertain of the sour cream and thought that it couldn’t possibly go well with the strawberries. But it did and does. The flavours marry wonderfully and result in the very best strawberry ice cream ever. The alcohol prevents the ice cream from freezing to a hard ice block if you keep it in the freezer, that is if you’ll have anything left after tasting and eating the freshly churned ice cream.

    Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
    (David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop. Makes about 1.2 litres of perfect tasting ice cream)

    450 gram fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
    150 gram sugar
    1 tablespoon vodka or kirsch
    240 gram sour cream (almost a whole package of gräddfil)
    250 ml heavy cream
    1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

    Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth but still slightly chunky.

    Refrigerate for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.