Thursday, March 31, 2011

Layered Chocolate Tart

In my French class, we have a routine of bringing in food and wine to share.  So last week I was excited to find out that my teacher's favourite sweet is Tarte au Chocolat.  Instead of sticking with the traditional recipe, I decided to make up my own.  The chocolate filling is a no-bake recipe because I wanted it to be silky and smooth.  I also wanted to have something special inside the tart.  You see, when you cut into the mousse-like Tarte au Chocolat, there is a layer of white chocolate filling at the bottom.  It is seriously a delicious combination.  As my teacher announced, "it is 1000 calories but it is worth it, okay?"

Ingredients for Shortcrust Pastry

1 cup plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
90g unsalted butter, cubed
1 -2 tbsp iced water

Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and water. Mix to a dough with a flat-bladed knife, using a cutting action. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball. Press together until smooth, then roll out and cut to fit 1 tart dish. Regridgerate for 20 minutes; preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). Line the dishes with baking paper and spread some baking weights at the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the paper and then continue to bake for a further 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool before filling.

Ingredients for White Chocolate Filling
150g white chocolate, chopped
1 cup full fat thickened cream
2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 140 degrees (fan-forced).  Place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan and cook gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour this into the baked pastry tart and bake for 25 minutes or until the tart is just set.  While cooling, make milk chocolate filling.

Ingredients for Chocolate Filling

200g milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
200mL full fat thickened cream

Melt the chocolate  in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Remove from heat, stir until smooth, then allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and fold in the icing sugar. Whip cream until soft peaks form, then fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into tart dish, over the top of the already-baked and cooled white chocolate layer.  Allow chocolate layer to firm up in the fridge, at least 2 hours.  Keep tart chilled until you are about to eat.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bouquet of Roses

I've been practicing my fondant skills recently and I thought what better way to showcase it than to celebrate Spring.  I know that many of you are experiencing this lovely season in all its glory; yes, I am jealous of you Parisians and your flowers!  So today, I decided to make my own flowers.  A pink bouquet of roses!

1 vanilla sponge cake cut into 6cm wide circle and stacked 10cm high
1/2 cup buttercream
250g green fondant, rolled
200g pink fondant, rolled
1 tbsp royal icing
1/2 tsp pink edible glitter

Dirty ice the vanilla stacked sponge with the buttercream icing.  Taking approx 100g of the green fondant, drape it over the sponge and smooth out.  With the left over green rolled fondant, lay it on a cutting board.  Cut 1cm wide strips (which will act as the boquet's stems).  Take one strip at a time and smooth it against the fondant-covered-sponge.  Continue until all strips are against the cake; creating  a "bunch of stems" appearance.  Now roll any left over green fondant, say 25-30g worth, into a ball and place it on top, in the middle, of the cake.  This will enable you to place some roses around the ball shape, and then some roses sloping upwards to create a realistic 3D bouqet look.  Now make the roses.  Start off by making roughly 12 large roses.  Then roll smaller ones, then roll the smallest ones.  Effectively you should have 3 rows of roses in a ring.  To make a rose, you need to roll out the pink fondant and cut a stripe roughly 4cm wide.  The width and lenght of the fondant strip will determine the size of your rose.  Take the strip, and fold it gently in half horizontally.  Take one end of the strip and gently roll it up, ensuring that one end of the tip is higher than the end.  Place 12 large roses around the edge of the cake, another ringed-row of smaller roses, and then the final few roses which should be very very small.  Stick the roses on via royal icing.  Sprinkle the rose boquet with pink edible glitter.  Serve.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Malteser Slice

Eric Lanlard is a god.  This is his recipe. Need I say more?
No, but I will anyway because this is the most indulgent and delicious way to eat Maltesers and I absolutely love it. 
I may or may not have broken my philosophy of "1 sweet per week, on a Saturday" so that I could tuck into this surprisingly moreish slice.

100g unsalted butter
200g milk chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp golden syrup
225g plain digestive biscuits, finely crushed via processor
225g maltesers
+ 100g maltesers, extra, for topping
+ 50g white chocolate, melted, for topping

Grease a shallow 20cm square cake tin and line bases and sides with baking paper.  In a medium pan, melt together the butter, milk chocolate and syrup until smooth and combined.  Add crushed biscuits and stir until well coasted in the chocolate mix.  Add the maltesers and stir together quickly so tha thte chocolate covering on the outside of the Maltesers does not melt.  Tip into prepared tin, pree into an even layer, and before transferring to the fridge, sprinkle the final 100g of extra maltesers on top.  Set in fridge until set, say 2-3 hours.  Once set, drizzle the melted white chocolate on top of slice.  Cut into small squares to serve (should make 20 squares).  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creamy Lemon and Raspberry Filled Mini Paris Brests pour toi!

Today, I have made these mini Paris Brests for you.  Yes, you, dear reader!  I would like to say a big "thank you," or "merci," to my followers.  Yesterday, I noticed that I have over 200 followers.  I am blown-away by this number! I am so thankful for your support, your comments and your encouragements!  I am also grateful that I get to read your lovely blogs in return.  I have really made friends in the blogosphere.  In my mind, you all have your own specialities; be it French recipes, healthy food or American treats at their best.  On the other hand, at the core of my blog, is a love of France and the way French chefs present their food so well.  I try to uphold this importance of food presentation in every post.  
These Paris Brests are filled with Creamy Lemon and Raspberry Filling and topped with White Chocolate Ganache. 

Ingredients for Choux Pastry
200ml water
2g caster sugar
1g sea salt
100g unsalted butter
175g 00 [bakers] flour, or alternatively plain flour
4-5 eggs [approx 60-70g)

Method for Pastry
Place cold water, salt and sugar in a pot; bring to a gentle boil. Meanwhile cut the butter into 1cm dice cubes and add to pot so butter just melts as water approaches gentle boil (should be around 98 degrees). At that point add all of the sifted flour. Mix immediately over low heat with wooden spoon. Dough will come away from sides of pot and develop a gloss; cook in order to bind for about 2-3 minutes. You will know roughly when it is glossy, bound and steam is coming off mixture. Remove from heat, keep stirring for 2 minutes off the heat to let it cool slightly. A trick to test if it's cool enough is to touch with your fingers and if they don't hurt/burn then it's fine. This is important otherwise the eggs, which are now to be added, will simply scramble. Add 1 of the eggs, and incoroporate thoroughly. Then add another, and incorporate. Keep going until all eggs are in and the mixture is not to dry or stiff. A trick to testing if the choux pastry is going okay is to see if it slowly falls off the spoon when held up in the air over the bowl. The paste should ultimately be a piping consistency ie. hold up on the tray.   Use a 8-10mm straight nozzle in the piping bag and water to smooth any mishapen strips.  Line a tray and pipe small and even shaped circles on the tray.  Should be able to pipe rougly 6-8, depending on size.  Bake at 190 degrees in moist oven until fully risen, 8 or so minutes. When I say moist - spray your oven with some water from a bottle before poping the tray in. Alternatively pop a small stainless steel bowl full of water at the bottom tray of your oven. Now you need a dry oven to colour the pastry for another 6 minutes or until golden in colour then drop temperature to 140-150 degrees to dry out inside of pastry, another 10-15 minutes necessary baking time. Remove and place on cooling rack. 

Ingredients for Creamy Lemon and Raspberry Filling

120mL freshly whipped cream
250g mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup fresh raspberries, chopped roughly

In a bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, sugar and lemon juice until combined.  Stir through the raspberries until combined. 

Ingredients for White Chocolate Ganache

250g white chocolate, chopped
100mL full fat cream
1 drop of pink food colouring
40 edible petals


In a bain-marie set up, melt the white chocolate.  Just before the white chocolate is fully melted, and I mean just before (ie. very few lumps left), pour the cream in and mix together until completely combined.  Remove from heat.  Stir together so there are no lumps and the cream is incorporate.  Add 1 drop of pink food colouring and stir together until the ganache is now coloured pink.  Allow to cool slightly before using in assembly.

Method for Assembly

Place cooked and cooled paris brests on a chopping board. Carefully take a knife and slice the brests in half horizontally.  Using two teaspoons, place the Creamy Lemon and Raspberry Filling onto one of the halves of pastry.  Smooth out.  Top this filled half with the other pastry half.  Now drizzle the cooled White Chocolate Ganache on top of the Paris Brest.  Sprinkle each Paris Brest with 5 petals and serve!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Decorating Une Tarte aux Fruits

Yesterday I bought a new cookbook.  (Yes, I know we all struggle with cookbook addiction; so look away if this might trigger you to splurge again).  But when I saw French chef, Eric Lanlard's, new book, I just could not resist.  Who would want to? His images are beautiful, his recipes have a strong French influence; plus he has recipes I've never read before.  I immediately noticed his Fresh Fruit Tart recipe and was inspired by his perfect presentation of the fruits.  I should have expected this from a French chef.  I immediately wanted to imitate his bright and chic presentation but he had no instructions! However, today when I baked a custard tart for my French class at Alliançe Française, I gave it a go anyway! I was very happy with the results.  A big improvement from this style of decoration n'est-ce pas? Bon appetit!

My delicious recipe for a French Custard Tart
Click here! Ici!

1/2 punnet of strawberries, halved, hull still in tact
1//3 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 nectarine fruit, sliced in 6 thin pieces

For this to be effective, you need to be aware of colour and height.  These are the essential 2 components of the fruit arranging.  Take chilled custard tart from fridge; set aside.  Start laying some strawberries inside-down in a certain area (say the left side of the tart, ensuring some custard can still be seen).  Now prop some strawberries up against the lying-down strawberries; the pinker inside should be visible.  Scatter some bluberries on this strawberry pile.  Now place 3 strips of nectarine close to the strawberry pile.  Extend the strawberry "patch" of lying-down and propped-up strawberries.  Scatter more blueberries in the spaces.  Add your final 3 pieces of nectarine; fanning them out slightly.  Tweak some of the fruit to ensure there are some height differences.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie with Vanilla Bean Shortcrust

Last week my sister, Jessica, had an operation to get four wisdom teeth removed.  So for the past week, there she sat in bed, propped up by pillows, nursing her puffy cheeks.  Now that she's feeling better, she asked me for a lemon meringue tart and I was happy to give it a go. 

There were only two complications: I'd never made one before; and the added pressure was that she was impaitent.  And may I add, that my sister has absolutely no idea about cooking.  For example, when I was still rubbing butter into the shortcrust pastry, she came into the kitchen to ask whether I had "nearly finished yet." Yeah, Jess.  After 5 minutes of work, I'm done.  It actually took me 2 hours... but the result was astonishing.  The shortcrust pastry was definitely the highlight for me.  It had vanilla bean seeds throughout and was light and crisp.  Being a big fan of lemon curd, Jess loved it all.  Her only complaint was that there wasn't enough!  Next time, instead of individual tarts, I'll make it in a deep set tin for her.  Also, I only dolloped the lemon curd with a small amount of meringue; but of course, you can add more if you so desire.  Makes 8 individual tarts, or 1 normal size tart.

Ingredients for Vanilla Bean Shortcrust Pastry
1 1/2 cup plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 cup iced water
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Ingredients for Lemon Curd Filling
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (185mL)
3 tsp lemon zest, grated
40g unsalted butter, chopped
6 egg yolks

Ingredients for Meringue Topping
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl.  Use fingertips to rub the butter into flour until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add almost all water and mix with a flat-bladed knife.  Add vanilla bean paste and stir through.  Add more water if dough is too dry.  Turn onto a large piece of cling wrap (cling film).  Place another layer of cling film, the same size as the first, on top of the dough.  Roll out the dough, in between the cling film to prevent sticking, until you have a disc shape large enough to fit your size pastry tin.  Line pastry dish with pastry, trim edges and refridgerate for 20 - 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). 

Line the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and spread baking beads out over paper.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, then remove paper and beads.  Bake for a further 5 - 10 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden.  Leave to cool. 

To make the lemon curd filling, put the flours and sugar in a saucepan.  Whisk in the lemon juice, zest and water.  Whisk continually over medium until the mixture boils and thickens.  (Ensure you are whisking, not just stirring.) Reduce the heat and cook for 1 minutes, then whisk in the butter and egg yolks, one at a time.  Pour into to cooled pastry tart and leave to cool completely.

To make the meringue topping, preheat hte oven to 220 degrees (fan-forced).  Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl using electric beaters, until soft peaks form.  Add extra sugar gradually, beating constantly until the meringue is thick and glossy.  Beat in cornflour.  Pour meringue topping on top of lemon curd filling.  Shape peaks or soft swirls, as you desire.  Bake for 5 - 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Serve hot or cold.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First time with Fondant

I am so excited! My friend, Natalie, and I recently made a trip out to a baking warehouse where I bought many new exciting products. I finally, finally, got my hands on some fondant!

I also bought some embossed boards to roll out fondant on which creates a pattern on the fondant.  I was so pleased to find that they were easy to use and actually worked! I topped baby cupcakes off with buttercream icing, and then experimented with different flower shapes; the methods for which are below.  I also covered butter biscuits in the embossed fondant; the method for which is also below.

Ingredients for Flower Fondant Cupcakes

24 baby cupcakes
1 1/2 cups buttercream icing
300g fondant, colour of your choice
Fondant flower cutters, in different sizes

Chopping board
2 sheets of baking paper

Method for Flowers
It is best to work with fondant at the temperature of 21.5 (degrees).  Place 1 sheet of baking paper on the chopping board.  Place fondant on top of paper and then place the 2nd sheet on top of the fondant to create a 'sandwich'  effect.  Take the rolling pin, and roll the fondant out until it is roughly 3mm thick.  Now take the largest flower fondant cutter and cut a shape out from the fondant.  Place on top of buttercream. 

To make the roses, roll out the fondant.  Cut 1 strip from this rolled fondant, roughly 5cm long and 1cm wide (rectangle strip).  Now roll this strip up, ensuring that as you roll the center is at a lower angle.  Place on top of buttercream.


Ingredients for Butterfly Embossed Biscuits

30 butter biscuits, shape of your choice
300g fondant, colour of your choice
1/4 cup buttercream icing, to act as a "glue" for fondant

cookie cutter, shape the same as butter biscuit
Embossed Fondant Boards
2 sheets of baking paper
Chopping board

On a chopping board, place 1 sheet of baking paper; place fondant on top.  Now place 2nd sheet on top of fondant and roll out until it is roughly 5mm thick.  Using the cookie cutter, cut a shape out from the rolled fondant.  Place this shape on the embossed fondant board.  Cover with baking paper and gently roll a rolling pin over it to indent the embossed pattern.  Peel off from embossed board and stick ontop of a biscuit which has a light layer of buttercream spread on it.

I'm sharing this on Sweets for Sunday #8

Friday, March 11, 2011

Healthy Iced Coffee

I'm not really a morning person, and for that matter, I'm not a breakfast person either.  I usually have something quick and light like a coffee, banana or yoghurt.  Of course, oatmeal and museli are another delicious option for those hungry mornings.  This morning however, it was hot and I had gone for a run so I felt like something really cool like iced coffee.  I didn't want to splurge on an icecream ladden drink (saturday is my day for "naughtiness" I've decided! Cheesecake, here I come).  So instead, I decided to whip this drink up, with no sugar or icecream or cream, and surprisingly it worked really well.  I loved scooping the icy and coffee-bitter milk into my mouth with a slice of sweet banana.  Sprinkle it all with sliced almonds and let the deliciousness overflow...

1 handful of ice, ie. 1/2 cup of large icecubes
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 tsp coffee granules
1/2 banana, sliced diagonally
1 tbsp sliced almonds

In a blender, process the ice, milk and coffee together.  (Okay, go ahead and add some caster sugar if you want this drink to be sweet).  Add more milk if you want it to be runnier.  Pour into glass until it reaches the top.  Pop sliced banana on top of ice drink.  Sprinkle banana with silvered almonds.  Serve and eat with a spoon.  Serves 1

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