Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

Mad about Raspberry Rose Vanilla Cream Cake

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

              Raspberry Rose Vanilla Cream Cake

I’ve been neglecting this blog for way longer than I’d have liked, but without the energy nor any pressing desire to bake the last few months, there’s really been nothing much to write about.

That was until last week when I decided to visit Tartelette, one of my favourite pastry/food blogs, and became completely inspired by Helen’s recent creations.

I was particularly taken by the idea of the raspberry rose vanilla cream cake. Just the thought of the delicate flavours of rose and vanilla, combined with a slightly tart raspberry jelly was enough to get me running through the larder in search of the necessary ingredients. The hubby, on the other hand, was sold alone on the bavarian cream.

              Raspberry Rose Vanilla Cream Cake

I’d long run out of almonds, given that it’s been 3 months since my last batch of macarons. As luck would have it, I still had a bag of hazelnuts. Frozen raspberries were certainly not a problem since the hubby loves his occasional rote grütze. And there was still a decent stash of vanilla pods in the fridge. I also substituted gelatin powder with gelatin sheets since I don’t quite care for the smell of the gelatin powder I’d bought previously.

The 3 main components - hazelnut rose dacquoise, raspberry jelly and vanilla bavarian cream were easily made and assembled in less than a day, although the next time I make this, I’d happily take on Helen’s suggestion to make the dacquoise and raspberry jelly the evening before.

              Raspberry Rose Vanilla Cream Cake

The raspberry jelly posed the greatest challenge, turning from frozen jelly to mushy jelly in the space of 10 minutes in our horribly hot climate. I had to work relatively fast to get the entire layer into the tin before it turned into an unmanageable layer of mush in my warm fingers. I was also initially concerned that the bavarian cream would not set since it seemed pretty fluid when I poured it into the tin, but in the end, everything turned out beautifully.

I was especially delighted by the pretty layers that revealed themselves when I cut the cake into individual servings.

Many thanks to the wonderfully talented Helen for sharing such a lovely recipe!

Mad about a Orange Hazelnut Praliné Bûche

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

              Orange Hazelnut Praline Bûche

Given that I hadn’t baked in a while, there was no way I was going to let a 3-day weekend go by without firing up my oven. A quick flip through a couple of newly acquired books and I settled on an orange hazelnut praliné bûche.

All right, so it’s not Christmas yet, but one shouldn’t need to wait till Christmas to bake a log cake, no? Especially not when said cake consists of orange compote and hazelnut praline, both made from scratch. I was sold just at the thought of these two components, although I did have some doubts about how the overall taste would be when eaten together in a cake.

Orange Hazelnut Praline Bûche

Orange Compote
The orange compote was made by simmering whole oranges (preferably organic, for obvious reasons) in water for 3 hours, cutting the boiled oranges in small pieces, sauteeing the orange pieces in butter and sugar and then reducing the entire concoction. The resulting compote was further chopped to achieve a chunky and thick jam consistency.

Hazelnut Praliné
The praliné looked simple enough to make: make a sugar syrup, pour toasted hazelnuts into the syrup and stir until hazelnuts are coated with crystallised sugar. Continue to cook hazelnuts and sugar until sugar melts and caramelizes to a dark brown colour. This deceptively simple process took me a good 45 minutes, so imagine my dismay when the caramelized nuts began to turn slightly sticky, courtesy of the lovely humid weather here in Singapore.

Fortunately, most of the praliné was to be ground and used as ingredients for the cake and buttercream. In the end, I was happy with how the bûche turned out (although I could have used a little less buttercream when covering the cake). Who’d have thought that hazelnuts and orange would go so well together?

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Tart with Cocoa Nib Croustillant


Emboldened by my sucess, I went on to try another recipe from the same book - a raspberry chocolate dessert built on a sturdy sable breton base. It was actually the almond croustillant decoration in the recipe that I was more interested in than the tart itself. But since I didn’t have almond nibs on hand, I decided to go with an alternative cocoa nib croustillant recipe I’d found in another book.

The end result was not bad, but again, the humidity wasn’t very suitable for croustillant making; the decorative pieces which had set firm at room temperature quickly softened when taken out of the refrigerator. I might try cutting down on the amount of butter the next time or go with almond nibs instead. My poor Silpat did not take kindly to the copious amount of butter in the crousillant!

Mad about Ice Cream

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

              Empty Glasses

This particular ice cream journey began with a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Island Creamery after a less-than-satisfactory dinner. I was particularly impressed by the burnt caramel and apple pie ice cream that my brother had chosen and wondered if I could reproduce those same delicious flavours at home.

I was a little apprehensive since I’d made ice cream only twice previously, both attempts which produced less-than-ideal results. My very first attempt was made without an ice cream maker. On top of that, I didn’t freeze-then-churn the custard sufficiently. resulting in a slightly icy texture and vanilla specks that sunk to the bottom of the tub. My second atttempt saw a custard recipe that called for double cream. While the ice cream wasn’t as icy as before, it wasn’t sweet enough and left an unpleasant coating on the tongue, presumably from too high a fat content. It was a pretty disappointing waste of very expensive dairy ingredients.

I was determined to make my third attempt a success.

Burnt Caramel Ice Cream

              Home Churned Burnt Caramel Ice Cream

I turned to Michael Recchiuti’s Chocolate Obsession for the burnt caramel ice cream recipe. Having read his instructions very carefully, especially the part about turning on a kitchen fan if I had one, I had this vision of my kitchen filling up with acrid smoke while caramel turned black in my pot. Fortunately, it was nothing like that. Yes, there was some smoking, but just a few wisps and the caramel wasn’t ebony black, but a very dark amber instead.

Burnt Caramel & Vanilla Pods

The truth be told, I began to have doubts about the chosen flavour when I tasted the burnt caramel base on its own; it was bitter and tasted … well, burnt. But once dissolved into the creamy custard, the taste was absolutely fantastic and even better after churning and ripening! The ice cream had a deep caramel taste with mild burnt overtones. The best part was that it was completely smooth and the vanilla specks stayed happily suspended in the frozen ice cream.

Cocoa Nib Ice Cream with Caramelised Cocoa Nibs

Cocoa Nibs

Emboldened by my success with this ice cream recipe, I moved on to another from the same book. The 1-kg bag of Valrhona cocoa nibs, delivered right to my doorstep a couple months ago, was still untouched. The second I’d cut the bag open, the most wonderful chocolate fragrance filled the air. It was just like opening up a bag of roasted coffee beans, except that the smell was that of pure chocolate heaven.

              Cocoa Nibs Caramelised

Oh, how I regret not having ripped open the package the moment it arrived! All this time a heavenly culinary moment was just sitting in a corner of my kitchen, waiting to happen! I had no idea that cocoa nibs smelt this good. I’m not entirely sure how to describe it; somehow I keep thinking the words “pure” and “clean”, certainly not adjectives one usually associates with chocolate, but that was exactly what I felt it was: a very pure and clean chocolate aroma.

Home Churned Cocoa Nibs Ice Cream

The cocoa nib ice cream reminded me very vaguely of Milo and Ovaltine, but there was something different about it. I don’t think it’s a taste I can describe acurately. You’ll just have to try it yourself to find out!

The caramelised nibs mixed into the churned custard tasted slightly bitter as I’d messed up the caramelising process and ended up with small chunks of unmelted sugar and some burnt nibs in the mix. I’ll probably leave the caramelised nibs out of the custard in the future and just sprinkle it over the ice cream.

I’m thinking apple pie ice cream next!

Old School Blackforest Cake

              Old School Blackforest Cake

The photograph here is of the blackforest cake I’d made for my brother’s 30th birthday. It was a little daunting to make since this was the most frequently requested cake in my mum’s cake business while we were growing up. Fortunately, I had my mum’s recipe on hand and some carefully written notes on the side. Still, I wasn’t sure if the cake I’d made would live up to our memories of what it’d tasted like before.

But I’m glad to report that the cake turned out well and mum actually thought it tasted fine, just that I’d been a little too generous cream-wise!

              Old School Blackforest Cake

After having the cake, my brother confessed that he’d never really liked blackforest cake (and I’d thought it was his favourite!) and to be completely honest, neither had I! But I was glad that I gave my mum’s recipe a shot because my dad and hubby thoroughly enjoyed it.