Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream: A Daring Baker Challenge

There are a lot of steps in making the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream -- the recipe is almost as long as the name -- but it wasn't an overly difficult cake to make. (Though getting a cake to look beautiful is difficult, and I need a lot more practice before one of my cakes could be mistaken for a professional one.) I did cheat a bit by not splitting the cake into three layers, which made things easier. Instead, I baked 2/3rds of the batter in one pan, the remaining 1/3 in another, split the larger cake in half and then proceeded as outlined below. (I still managed to f**k up the layers. But, buttercream-as-spackle came to the rescue.)

I liked the cake soaked with the simple syrup and apricot glaze very much, but the buttercream – for which I found my own recipe – and the ganache didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t bad, and I certainly ate more than one slice. But this is not something that I’ve craved since baking it, unlike, say, Danish or sticky buns. Though, now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’m an over-the-top decadent cake kinda girl; I pine for simple classics: carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, yellow cake with chocolate buttercream, or maybe even a strawberry cake.

The hazelnut brittle and the subsequent praline, however, were to die for. I need to figure out more ways to incorporate those little goodies into desserts.

Many thanks to the lovely Chris of the lovely Mele Cotte, who is not just a Daring Baker and not just this month's host, but full-on Bakenista! Chris, you are always a pleasure to bake with and learn from.

For more DB goodness, please visit the blogroll and forum!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Gateau
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Gateau

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks form. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. (If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.)

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Cointreau

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste

Praline Buttercream (source)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature In a small heavy saucepan simmer milk, sugar, and vanilla bean if using, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. In a bowl whisk yolks and add milk mixture in a stream, whisking. Transfer mixture to pan and cook over low heat, stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 170°F. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl and cool completely. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat butter until light and fluffy and beat in custard, a little at a time, until smooth. Beat in 1/3 cup praline (reserving remaining praline for another use) and vanilla extract if using.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Cointreau
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp knife with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer's Best Blackberry Sorbet

If you live in or around Canandaigua, Pittsford, or Geneva, NY, sign up for the Fellenz Family Farm CSA next year. (In the meantime, stop by their roadside stand right now.) The quality of produce we get is phenomenal -- just last night, I toted home a large bag filled with just-picked spinach, green beans, mizzuna, swiss chard, early season sun gold tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers.

But if I hadn't already taken home so many, I would have also picked up some of Andy Fellenz's beautifully dark and flavorful blackberries too.

This is a recipe I developed to accompany an article I wrote on the Cayuga Lake Creamery for the current issue of Edible Finger Lakes. Due to space constraints, the recipe was cut (SIGH) but the article on the Creamery remains (the article is now online, click here for a pdf.).

The Creamery is another must-visit if you're in the Finger Lakes. The owners, J
eff Kostick and Judy Gonroff, are the nicest people you'll ever meet (as are their employees) and their ice cream is innovative, of superb quality and, most importantly, delicious.

I'll tease you a bit with the intro from my article:

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal ice cream flavor.
Is it a bright and flavorful raspberry, dotted with toothsome bits of icy fruit?
Does it taste of strongly-brewed iced coffee, mellowed with sugar and fresh cream?
Or do you crave a darkly decadent chocolate, lush with cocoa and studded with of homemade brownies and dark chocolate chunks?
Fulfill your ice cream dreams with these flavors--or one of many, many others--at Interlaken’s Cayuga Lake Creamery.

This sorbet will tide you over until you can make it to the Creamery yourself.

Summer's Best Blackberry Sorbet

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups fresh blackberries *
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp crème de cassis (optional**)

Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil one minute, then remove from heat and allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
Puree blackberries with lemon juice in a food processor. Remove seeds by forcing the puree through a fine strainer into a bowl. Add the syrup and crème de cassis to the strained puree and chill until very cold.

Process berry mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbet to an air-tight container, cover and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.

Yields three generous cups.

*frozen blackberries may be substituted. Measure while frozen, allow to thaw, and proceed as outlined above.
**omitting the liqueur will result in a firmer sorbet.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sugar Plums Dancing in My Head, Ed. #6 (UPDATED)

A recurring compendium of serious and (mostly) frivolous thoughts bouncing through my brain at any given moment.

Shane can be "First Gent"

If digtal altering can work for Iran, why can't it work for me?

Shane & I are flying to San Antonio on Tuesday to visit his parents and brother. Kian & Sadie have been down there already for quite some time, so it will be really nice to get everybody together for some summer fun.

We'll be going to Port Aransas and "The Hill Country" around Fredricksburg, I think (don't ask me: I'm a native New Yorker), in addition to hanging in San Antonio. I have (rather pushily) insisted that we go to Mac and Ernies; any other restaurant recommendations?

(Also on my agenda: Schlitterbahn.)

Loan Co. Woes
If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go under, could they take Sallie Mae with them, so all my grad school debt is erased? (Also, why would a loan company adopt a name that makes it sound like an extra on Hee-Haw?)

Pageant in Palmyra
The Hill Cumorah pageant starts this weekend! I've never been but have long wanted to check it out. It's a huge deal, as evinced by the introductory music on the website. I've refreshed the page a number of times just to keep listening to it; it's awesomely Ben-Hur.

C is for the New York Times' Cookie
Everyone is emailing this recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It takes Jacques Torres' basic recipe and throws in a couple of different suggestions -- chill in the fridge for 24+ hours, sprinkle dough with sea salt before baking -- to create an uber-cookie. Has anyone given it a try yet? (Oh, wait. Yes, you have.)

Ring of Pleasure
If I ever give birth, this is the kind I want to have (probably NSFW).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Oven-Roasted Maple Chicken 'n' Ribs

Someday, I will learn to photograph meat in a way that does not emulate a retro cookbook. Today is not the day.

I can say, however, that the recipe is fantastic. The mingling of cider, maple syrup, cinnamon, and star anise with the chicken and pork ribs is irresistible. While everything roasts, the most delicious perfume, sweet and exotic, wafts through the kitchen. By the time everything is cooked, it's no effort to dig in and enjoy.

The only "problem" is that a craving can't be immediately sated; the ribs and chicken must be marinated overnight, or up to 2 days ahead. Trust me, though: it's well worth the wait.

Oven-Roasted Maple Chicken 'n' Ribs (source: Nigella Lawson)

1 cup apple cider, as sharp as possible
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
8 pork spareribs
6 chicken thighs with skin and bone.

In a large freezer bag or bowl, blend apple cider, maple syrup, vegetable oil and soy sauce. Add star anise, cinnamon stick, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Add pork and chicken and seal bag or cover bowl. Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

Remove marinated mixture from refrigerator, and preheat oven to 400-degrees. Pour contents of bag or bowl (including liquid) into a large roasting pan. Turn chicken pieces skin side up.

Roast until chicken is opaque throughout and ribs are tender, about 1 1/4 hours; 35 to 40 minutes into roasting, turn ribs over, but leave chicken skin side up. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Salad Pizza

Shane is a person who can eat salad for dinner. As in, that's all he eats as his main -- some greens tossed with red onions and a few tomatoes, dressed with oil and vinegar and perhaps a few hunks of goat cheese.

I am not that kind of person. For me, a salad as an entree signifies someone who is hungry but on a diet and so tries to sate their hunger both for thinness and food with a few green leaves. It's depressing -- not a recipe for a good meal.

There are a few (very, very few) salads that I don't view this way, but this is one of them -- probably because it tops a grilled pizza crust. And pizza can redeem almost anything, even salad. I absolutely love the heat of a crispy yet chewy bread paired with the coolness of the greens. It doesn't hurt that it's all perked up by a balsamic vinaigrette and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

As much as I dislike salad, I could really go for one of these right now.

Salad Pizza

Salad, prepped anyway you like (the above is a romaine lettuce mix, with grape tomatoes and red onions tossed with Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette and topped with grated Parmesan)
prepared pizza dough (recipe below)

Oil the grill and preheat to medium.

Divide dough into four equal pieces and roll out thinly. Brush both sides lightly with extra virgin olive oil.

Lay the dough on the grill, close the lid and let cook for about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip crust over so that the grilled side is now facing up. Grill for another 5 - 7 minutes until the bottom is browned and crisp.

Remove crusts to plates and top with prepared salad.

Serves 4.


Basic Pizza Dough (source)
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. You might not need all of the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Instructables & Sweet Soy-Grilled Ribs

Instructables is featuring my recipe for Sweet Soy Grilled Short Ribs as part of its Top 10 BBQ Instructables round-up. Click here for the instructable or here for the recipe on this blog.

Red Meat, White Rolls, & Blue Cheese: Blue Cheese Burgers for the 4th of July

Mmmm ... grilled beef, stuffed with melted blue cheese, nestled on a toasted bun loaded with tomato, lettuce, red onion, ketchup and a squirt of Dijon mustard.

It's the most flavorful, satisfying burger I've had in a long, long time. Enjoy and happy Independence Day!

Grilled Blue Cheese Burgers (from Cooking Light)

2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 Tbsp. fat-free milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 pounds lean ground beef (90-percent lean)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

Grease grill with oil; preheat grill.

Grind bread in a food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl, add milk and toss mixture with a fork to moisten. Add salt, pepper, and beef to breadcrumb mixture, stirring just until combined. Divide meat mixture into 16 equal portions, shaping each into a patty. Spoon a tablespoon of blue cheese into the center one patty and top with another patty, pinching edges to seal. Repeat until you have 8 blue cheese stuffed patties.

Place patties on grill and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve patties on toasted rolls with desired toppings.

Yields 8 burgers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eating Around NY, Part 4: Saving The Best For Last

Last Friday was a good eating-in-NY day.

For lunch, my mom and I checked out the delicious Mingala Burmese. We started out with Golden Triangles: curried potatoes in a crispy shell served with a tangy sauce.

The triangles themselves were a bit bland but sauce was terrific!

I ordered the Classic Myanmar Phe-Htoke: dumplings (these were pork and shrimp) sauteed with basil leaves and lots of veggies in a basil sauce.

The Myanmar Phe-Htoke had a bright, fresh flavor; I couldn't believe how good it was.

My mom ordered the Chili Chicken with Broccoli. It wasn't as firey as we thought it would be -- more of a moderately spicy kick -- but it was also fantastic.

The Chili Chicken was especially good served over coconut rice -- the heat played off the rice's sweetness nicely.

But the good eating didn’t stop there. That night, I met Mary from The Sour Dough for dinner. (Let me repeat: I finally got to *meet* Mary – in the flesh– yay! ) If Mary will let you – and she’s a busy, successful woman so there’s a waiting list -- you should take the opportunity to spend an evening with her; it’s fabulous.

We started out with cocktails and appetizers at Tom Coliccho’s Craftbar. I ordered a Craftbar cocktail, which was delicious but, sadly, I can’t remember what was in it – prosecco and strawberry puree? Mary had a“Q,” a refreshing conconction of Lillet, Hendrick’s Gin, Lime, Cucumber, Prosecco.

We also ordered a White Bean and Garlic Crostini, topped with Capers and Anchovies (pictured above) and an amazing Pecorino Fondue, studded with pieces of pepperoncini and topped with Acacia Honey and Hazelnuts (pictured below).

The crostini was good but the Fondue -- a tantalizing combination of salty, sweet, spicy and nutty --was heavenly. If you go to Craftbar, do not miss the opportunity to order the fondue.

From there, we cabbed it over to Bar Q for dinner. Of course, that didn't stop me from ordering another appetizer.

Pictured above is Bar Q's Spit Roasted Pork Belly with Kimchee, Takuan and Steamed Buns. It was a damn fine appetizer, although I would have liked the pork belly to be a touch more moist. (The skin, however, was a crackly perfection.)

For dinner, I had the Grilled Eggplant with a Sweet Miso Glaze. It was slightly sweet and, somehow, creamy -- delicious.

Our final stop was dessert at Chikalicious ... details to come!