Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

Mad about Chocolate

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

              Shaved Valrhona Chocolate

When KJ suggested a potluck get-together for us ex-RJC classmates at JY’s place, I was excited for two reasons. The first being the prospect of having tea with old friends at JY’s swanky apartment, the second being an excuse to bake something before I run completely out of energy.

I was certain that my contribution would be some sort of dessert. Macarons would be too much work and muffins, cupcakes or brownies would be too boring, so I settled on a chocolate cake recipe that I’d already tried out on several occasions.

              Valrhona 55% Equatorial Blocks

The devil’s food cake was easily baked in the evening before. I was pretty sure that making the chocolate ganache would be a breeze to and I left it to the morning before the tea party. That was until I weighed the chocolate on my trusty digital kitchen scales and realised just how much 24 oz of chocolate was.

Chopping chocolate to a degree fine enough for ganache has never been an activity that I look forward to and 24 oz of chocolate was daunting. After the 2nd block of chocolate, I threw in the towel and decided to just cut the chocolate into smaller blocks, melt the blocks in a bain-marie and add the hot cream.

              Devil's Food Cake with Valrhona 55% Whipped Chocolate Ganache

The ganache turned out fine and I’ll probably be using this method for larger quantities of chocolate in the future. I was slightly concerned that the whipped ganache would be difficult to use given the really hot weather on that day, but everything went well.

Most importantly, my friends enjoyed the cake (at least I hope they weren’t just being polite :) ) and we had a great time catching up.

The recipe for this cake, courtesy of MarthaStewart.com, can be found here. Note: I only covered the cake with the whipped ganache and left out the last layer of ganache glaze. 2/3 of the ganache recipe is more than sufficient for the entire cake, including the ganache glaze.

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

Tarts

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!