Sunday, August 31, 2008

Éclair Nightmare: Daring Bakers’ August Challenge

The selected challenge for August was Éclairs, specifically a recipe by Pierre Hermé from a cookbook written by Dorie Greenspan called Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé. Initially I was excited for this challenge. I have never made an éclair and I thought it would be fun. My schedule has been completely crazy with the return of law school classes two weeks ago. So, I do not have time to try multiple batches.

I made a raspberry pastry cream with fresh raspberry puree and folded in a little whipped cream to lighten it up. I glazed the top of the éclair with a white chocolate ganache. (I was going to make semi-sweet chocolate ganache, but with all the disappointment, I did not want to open a new package of chocolate to use such a small amount. I used white chocolate from a package already opened.) Also, if you have been paying attention you realize that I have been using éclair in the singular. That was deliberate and on purpose. Out of the two batches of chox pastry dough that I made, I only had ONE éclair shell that did not deflate. So, I filled and glazed that one shell and claimed completion of the challenge on a technicality.

Challenge #2 technically complete. I give my self a C+ for completion, but always an A for effort!

Photos of both batches of deflated shells.

One successful shell full and sliced in half.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Butter Milk that Wouldn’t Die (or The Bottomless Buttermilk)

I bought buttermilk to make the red velvet cupcakes. Buttermilk does not come in small sizes. The smallest I could find was 1 quart. I hate to let anything go to waste, so I decided to make something else using buttermilk. I know the obvious are buttermilk biscuits, but I wanted to make something sweet, not savory. Next, I used buttermilk and made a fabulous Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake. But wait, even after using it twice it still was not near empty. I was reaching the sell by date, and to be honest I past the sell by date. It still smelled and appeared okay, so I was determined to use the rest of the buttermilk. To make a long story short, I combined buttermilk in a recipe that I wanted to try for a while and ended up with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes. But the kicker, I still had buttermilk left! I was too through with trying to make buttermilk laden recipes and tossed the rest down the drain.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Cookie Dough (click for recipe)

After cookie dough is prepared, roll the dough into balls. The larger the muffin tin, the larger your balls can be. Freeze the cookie dough balls.

Once you have made enough balls for the cupcakes. Bake the extra dough to use for cookies in the frosting and garnish.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes
3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup margarine (melted)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Beat together the margarine, sugar, water, vanilla, and vinegar. Add in half of the dry flour mixture. Add in the buttermilk. Add in the last half of dry flour mixture. Lastly beat in the egg.

File each cupcake liner half full. Place a frozen cookie dough ball in the center of each cupcake. Spoon over the cookie ball a little cake batter. Use the back of the spoon to spread batter out evenly. Cupcake line should be 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Using a Texas sized muffin pan, I baked mine about 40-45 minutes. This recipe yielded 14 cupcakes.
Cookies and Cream Frosting
6 tbs margarine (room temperature)
2 tbs shortening
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
dash of salt
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Baked chocolate chip cookies

In the food processor chop the baked and cooled cookies. Set aside. Cream together butter and shorten. Beat in powder sugar, vanilla, and salt. If he icing is too stiff pour a little bit of the heavy cream (NOT whipped) into the batter. Beat until smooth and good icing consistency. After icing is smooth, beat in chocolate chip cookie previously chopped in food processor. Fold in whipped cream until combined.

Place icing on top of completely cooled cupcakes.

Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cup + 4 tbs cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup margarine
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon juice and zest
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare one tube or bundt pan. (For me this recipe yielded an entire bundt pan and two mini tube pans).

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat margarine with sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon and the vanilla extracts, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk; Start and finish with the flour.

Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes.
Lastly, to kick in some tart lemon test- mix in powdered sugar with lemon juice concentrate to taste. Pour glaze over the cake.