Saturday, November 26, 2011

November Daring Bakers Challenge - Filipino Sans Rival

I always love trying something new!  It's one thing to try something new that catches my eye, and entirely another to make something new that is suggested by others.  This challenge is what led me to join the Daring Bakers years ago!  The Daring Bakers is a group of people across the world, united by the internet and a desire to come together for a monthly dessert challenge.  Each month, a different member comes forward and challenges the group to make something new, unusual, difficult or in some way "a challenge."  This month's Sans Rival perfectly embodies the spirit of the Daring Bakers.

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

The Sans Rival translated means "without rival."  This gluten-free cake has its origins in France, but is one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines.  In the 1920s and 30s there were many Filipinos who went abroad to study. Many went to France and, while there, learned French cooking techniques which they then brought home. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, which is a baked meringue that incorporates finely crushed nuts.  There is no flour in the cake, with the nuts completely taking the place of flour.  The recipe typically uses crushed cashews, and is layered with a rich, French buttercream. This cake nicely pairs the two, with the silkiness of the buttercream complimenting the nutty crunch of the dacquoise cake layers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Polish Pierogi

OK, so they are not really a dessert, but they sure are delicious and they do require a dough.  So, here goes...I got a hankering for my grandmother's pierogi.  I decided to make her dough and fill it with a bunch of different fillings using the stuff I happened to have on hand at the house.  I ended up making them one of the nights that Anna was here visiting me so she could help!  We made 3 kinds - sauerkraut ("kapusta" to which I also added finely chopped German brats and caramelized onions), sweet potato and butternut squash (with a little maple and cream) and a sweet variety using brie and strawberry preserves.

They were all delicious, but I have to say I liked the sauerkraut ones the best.  It might be the Polish in me!  Basically, you can stuff just about any food you want in these babies.  The recipe below is for my grandmother's pierogi dough, along with instructions on how to make it and fill and cook the pierogi.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Death by Chocolate...

I haven't been posting as much lately, since I've been spending a lot more time at DaisyCakes baking fantastic things on a daily basis!  I am, however, going to try to start snapping more photos of the things I'm making there, even though I can't share a recipe.  At least I can share some decorating tips and ideas and maybe hope to advertise a little for my new employer.  Tonight I'm starting on a "Death by Chocolate" cake that I'm making for my brother Tom's birthday this weekend.  The cake is a moist chocolate cake, made using melted chocolate and sour cream.  I'll cut the two cake layers in half (making four), then stripe each layer with a small amount of whipped ganache and fruit preserves.  I'll also squeeze some whipped cream in between each layer.  To top it off, I'll pour liquid chocolate ganache over the top, let it set and finish with an elegant chocolate design.  Then, everyone's favorite part, we will cut into it and eat it!!  Ahhhh...what a great way to go!

Heidi's Chocolate Cake
makes two 9" round cake layers

{Print this recipe!}

16 oz (2 cups) sugar
7 oz (1 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into ¼” pieces
8 fluid oz (1 cup) hot water
2 eggs, room temperature
4 fl oz vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sour cream
1 fl oz buttermilk

Butter and line two 9” cake pans (or spray with non-stick spray).  It is essential that you line these pans with parchment paper, otherwise your cake will stick and will not be able to be removed from the pan. (Trust me, I know this personally to be true...#canyousayeatingchocolatecakepiecesforweeks?)  Stir sugar, flour, salt, baking soda in mixing bowl. Put chocolate in another bowl and place hot water over it.  Whisk eggs in a third mixing bowl until liquid, then whisk in oil, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk, one at a time. Whisk chocolate and water mixture smooth, then scrape into egg mixture. Whisk smooth.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Divide between prepared pans and smooth tops. Bake at 325 for 30-40 min, until well-risen and toothpick is clean. Cool on racks for 5 min, then invert, peel paper and invert again to cool.

Basic Recipe for Chocolate Ganache  

Mix equal parts chopped chocolate and heavy cream by heating the cream to scald, then pour over chopped chocolate.  Let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk smooth.  Allow the ganache to cool to close to room temperature (so that it will not melt the icing on top of the cake).   Prepare the cake for ganache covering by icing smooth and bringing the cake close to room temperature.  (You don't want the cake to be too cool, or else it will give you less time to work with the ganache once it's been poured.)  Also, if you put some of this ganache in a metal bowl in the fridge or freezer for a few, and then, once it's solid, whip it up using a mixer, you'll have a nice whipped ganache that is of spreading consistency.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

This is a good recipe to have.  Everyone knows how to whip some cream.  Not everyone, however, knows how to stop.  Yes, you must STOP when you have whipped cream.  Or else you will get butter.  Seriously.  Stop when the cream is peaked.  To make a delicious sweetened whipped cream, simply add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to 2 cups cream and whip together in a bowl.  Adding a little softened gelatin will help to stabilize the whipped cream, great for if you want it to hold up during travel or overnight.  This part can be a little tricky, so pay attention.  Get yourself about 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin and sprinkle it over about 2 Tablespoons of cold water.  This will allow the gelatin to absorb the water, called "blooming."  Once the gelatin is softened, melt it into a liquid either by microwaving it in short bursts (5-10 seconds at a time) or by setting the bowl over a double boiler.  Once the gelatin is liquefied, set it aside and allow the liquid to cool (but not set back up).  You want the gelatin liquid to be sorta close in temperature to the whipped cream and if it's too hot it will solidify immediately when it hits the cold whipped cream.  This creates hard little gelatin chunks in your cream which is not what you were wanting, was it?  Once the gelatin liquid has cooled a little, pour it slowly into your mixer when the sweetened cream is at medium peaks.  Keep whipping until at stiff peaks.  This stabilized gelatin will be great for squeezing in between cake layers. 

Stop reading and make this cake.  Seriously, it will get you over any hump and make your day, week, month better.  Yummy!  Peace out -

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ice Cream Trio

I've never been a person who gets sick often, but this week started out bad.  I felt a little crummy when I got up on Monday, you know, a scratchy throat and some body aches.  I went to work, mostly forgot about it and went to bed that night without giving it another thought.  About 1:00 in the morning, I woke up, throat in flames, could not swallow, definitely could not sleep.  I took some ibuprofen, switched on the TV, made myself some hot tea and a salt-water gargle (2 separate things!) and tried to make myself feel better.  The hot tea felt good on my throat.  I made another cup of tea.  And another.  And another.  Pretty soon, another thing that was keeping me from sleeping -- I had to pee every 10 minutes!  The next morning, I went to the doctor and found out I had strep throat.  Do adults even get strep throat?  Well, I did.  The doctor sent me home with some penicillin and told me to get some rest and stay out of work for at least 24 hours.  I crashed on the couch and willed myself to feel better.  Two days passed in misery.

Now, today I am no longer contagious, the antibiotics have kicked in, and all that's left is that minor scratchy feeling in my throat, mostly a memory.  I bet some ice cream would make it feel 100% better!

Please enjoy this delightful ice cream trio, adapted from David Lebovitz' The Perfect Scoop. Tomorrow, it's getting plated up as a grown-up banana split...