Friday, January 30, 2009

January 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge--Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
Happy new year to all Daring Bakers!! It's been such a busy month for me that I have to admit that I was procrastinating until the last minute and was shocked when I saw that *gasp* the others have already posted their challenges!! So this morning I woke up early and finally made my tuiles--which are deceptively simple but really hard to make (for me, at least). We were given choices to make but I stuck with the savory tuiles because I am still on a sugar rush from all the wonderful goodies and sweets I had for the Christmas holidays, but then I just realized that I didn't have sesame seeds so I made use of my poppy seeds. For my spread or dip I decided to make use of Queso de Bola (Edam Cheese) which is plentiful in Philippine households during Christmas.
Savory tuile/cornet recipe
From Thomas Keller "the French Laundry Cookbook"
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (65 grams/2.1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (= 2/3 teaspoon table salt)**
8 tablespoons (114 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornets. There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds. Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point. Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door.
*** This will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet. Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling. When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so. Gently remove the cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.
Queso de Bola Spread
1/4 cup Queso de Bola, scraped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cream, whipped
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients and hand whisk until thoroughly mixed. Use as desired

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Japanese Style Cheesecake

I've always wanted to try making Japanese-style cheesecake since the day I had the pleasure of eating a slice. The texture is unlike the usual because for one it's cotton-soft and melt-in-your-mouth, which I have always wondered about. I found this recipe and tried it, and now I know that the secret for the cottony-texture is the cornstarch and separated-egg procedure.
1 bar 8-ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup refined sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan, set aside. Beat creamcheese until soft and add milk. Add half of the sugar with the eggyolks and cornstarch, beat until well-combined. In another bowl, with whip attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar. Add sugar a little at a time being careful not to deflate the bubbles, whip until medium peak. Fold in beaten egg whites into creamcheese mixture and pour into pan. Bake in a bain-marie for 1 hour. Leave oven door ajar for one more hour before taking it out and unmolding.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shortbread + Caramel + Chocolate=Bliss

I found this great recipe in my favorite online recipe source for caramel shortbread squares, it looked good and was fairly easy to make plus I had all the ingredients on hand. Tweaked it a little by adding rice krispies to the caramel layer for added crunch. I baked the shortbread and then cooled it in the freezer, then cooked the caramel layer and poured it on the crust and chilled it for 8 hours before melting chocolate chips and spreading a very thin layer. I took one bite and gave the trimmings to my brother. Oh what bliss!!! The saltiness of the butter in the shortbread cuts through the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate--yummy!!!
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Line bottom and sides of a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil. In a stainless steel bowl, Mix together the ingredients until they are crumbly being careful not to overwork butter. Press evenly on the bottom of lined pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool and set aside, do not take out of baking pan.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup condensed milk
Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Do not leave pan--mixture has tendency to burn. Cook until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and pour in rice krispies. Mix well. Pour over cooled shortbread. Refrigerate to make it firm for at least 2 hours.
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Spread evenly on caramel layer. Cut into small squares.

Macarons from Cannes

While waiting for my yummy treat to finish baking (I'll post pics tomorrow) I took some sample pictures of these pretty things that were handcarried all the way from Cannes. Until the time when I can make perfect looking macarons as pretty as these, I will just be contented admiring these little beauties.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another New Year for Baking

Happy New Year! This post is a bit late owing to the fact that January is such a hectic month. First of all, I extended my stay in Beijing and then when I came home there was a flurry of activities because bestfriend I was going to get married. And then I had to go on a strict diet to fit into my bridesmaid dress...whew! Now that the dust has settled, bestfriend married-and off to her honeymoon-check, dress fitted and was suitably admired-check! I can now settle into my normal routine and bake to my heart's content. But after almost a month of not baking, I had to bake something that would jumpstart my interest. I found an old recipe of chocolate cupcakes, made a buttercream icing and then decorated the tops with leftover candy sprinkles, chopped mint chocolates, chopped almond roca, candy coated chocolate and voila! I am now very inspired to undertake another year of baking!! Happy new year everyone and happy baking!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thai Food In Beijing

I have to admit that more than anything--I've been food tripping here in Beijing. The Insider's Guide to Beijing is my bible here in looking up places to eat. My sisters and I wanted
to go to Solana mall in Chaoyang Park and feeling very adventurous, we braved the cold winds and -3 weather, took the subway and walked for a quarter of an hour to get there. We were feeling ravenous by the time we were in the vicinity and lo and behold--Lucky Street was there, lucky for us because I stumbled on Sukhothai which is an editor's pick as best Thai restaurant here in Beijing! It was nearly closing (we arrived a little past 1 pm) but they accomodated us. We orded tom yum kung (sour and swimming with shrimps and mushrooms) to drive away the winter cold. It was surprising to see kangkong (swamp cabbage)on the menu because I haven't seen this in any supermarket here. The beef curry was sooo good. It was a relief to eat the spices of Thailand after having a steady diet of taste-numbing Chinese spices. The fried croaker (crispy small fish) was okay but not fantastic. The prices were higher than usual--well it was authentic! And wonders of all wonders, they had forks and spoons. I would definitely go back to Sukhothai but next time I'll take the cab.