Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Daring Bakers

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.

I had never heard of Tuiles before, so this was something completely new to me. For those who don't know, Tuiles are thin cookies that are molded while warm. Traditionally they are put over something round, such as a rolling pin. I used a small glass spice jar to shape mine.

To spread the batter, I made a template using a sheet of quilting template plastic. I just spread the batter as evenly as possible with an off-set spatula.

I topped them with fresh lemon curd, blue berries and a dolop of raspberry jam. It was very good.

Would I make them again? I'm not sure. It would be fun to experiment with different shapes and colors. I think if I had the time to really play with it, they could make adorable decoration for a cake.

Here is the recipe:

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Alternative Baking:
Either un-glutenize the batter given substituting the flour for any nut meal or oat flour, or as an alternative use one of the following batters below:

From Michel Roux: Finest Desserts

5.1/4 cups / 500 grams sliced almonds
(or 4.1/3 cups/500 grams slivered almonds)
3.1/3 cups / 660 grams sugar
4 tbs / 60 grams butter (optional)
2 tbs oil (vegetable, sunflower, peanut)

Makes 2.3/4 lbs/1.2 kgs! (This is the yield of the recipe given in the book, feel free to downsize!)
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Preheat oven: 180C/350F

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned. Cook the sugar in a heavy based saucepan over low heat, stirring gently and continuously with a spatula, until it melts to a light golden caramel. Add the almonds and stir over low heat for 1 minute, then stir in the butter until completely absorbed. (This is not essential, but will give the nougat an added sheen) Pour the nougatine onto an oiled baking sheet.

Shaping: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable. Work with one piece at a time, of a size appropriate to the shape you want. Roll out each piece on a warm, lightly oiled baking sheet or lightly oiled marbled surface. It is essential to work quickly, since the nougatine rapidly becomes brittle. Heat the nougatine in a microwave oven for a few seconds only to soften it if needed.

Roll the nougatine into the appropriate thickness for your desired shape, but never thicker than 1/8 inch or 3 mm. Quickly cut out your chosen shapes using cookie cutters, or the blade or heel of a chef’s knife. To mold the nougatine, drape it very rapidly over the mold so that it follows the shape and contours. Leave until completely cold before removing from the mold.
Or, cut out and using your fingers or a knife, push into folds or pleats… use as a basket, twirl round a knitting needle..

Nougatine based shapes can be made two or three days in advance, Keep them in a very dry place and do not fill with something like a mousse more than 2 hours prior to serving.

Chocolate Tuiles
Michel Roux’s Finest Desserts
Makes 30
Preparation time: 15 minutes!

9 oz/250 grams dark or white couverture or best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup/75 gr slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Temper the couverture, and stir in the toasted almonds. Place the template on a sheet of rodoïde (or use a clean sheet of sturdy plastic such as a folder) and fill with about 1 tbs of the mixture. Repeat the process a little distance away from the first one. As soon as you have 5 tuiles fit, slide them onto a mold or rolling pin (side of a glass) to curve. Let cool completely, lift tuiles off the plastic only after the chocolate has set and just before serving, so that they keep their shine.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes

The new Family Fun Magazine came the other day. In it was a recipe for Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes. So when Jade had a friend stay the night, I thought it was the perfect excuse to try it out.

They were a big hit. The only thing I would do different next time is to let them cool a bit longer than the recipe calls for. the cake really fell once I put the marshmallow creme on.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Organizational Progress

Well here I am half way though my third week of One Year To An Organized Life.  Is my kitchen looking all shiny and sparkly with perfectly organized cabinets and counters?  Well, not quite.  But it is improving.

Yes, when Ms. Leeds said that it was hard to get organized with young children she knew was she was talking about.  So even though my kitchen isn't the haven I was hoping for by this point, it has improved in many ways.  My dishes are now all on one side of the kitchen, above and below the counter with the most open space to prep meals and snacks.  My spices, seasonings and teas are on either side of the stove where they are within arms reach while I'm cooking or boiling water.

Will my kitchen be perfect after next week?  Not likely.  But it will be much better than when I started.  It will function in a way that will benefit my whole family.  My children will be able to help more in the kitchen because the organization will mean less work and thought in how to allow them to help.

I am so happy that I decided to finally crack open that book and really take it seriously.  It's not as impossible as I thought it would be.  It is, however, just hard enough to be satisfying.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting Organized

Anyone who is a part of my life knows that I am organizationally challenged in a huge way. I lose things regularly, even those things that I use every day. If it's not bolted down or too big and heavy to hide, I will lose it in my house.

So why am I telling you this? Because it's the beginning of a new year and I've decided that it's the perfect time to learn how to organize my house and my life. Almost a year ago I bought Regina Leeds book One Year To An Organized Life. I started to read it. I even planned to implement it. Yet here it is 2009 and I didn't do it.

Now I have really started. The book has you not only think about the way you keep your things, but also why you are the way you are. Why do I have issues with being on time? Why is my home in such disarray? And so on. I'm hoping that it will help me learn to think a bit differently.

January is the Kitchen. This week I'm analyzing my use of time, journaling and I made a page for my "dream book". Regina Leeds says to do a "dream board" to represent what you want to accomplish for the year. Somehow that seemed to overwhelming to me, so I started with one page for my kitchen. It represents all the things I can do if I manage my time better and keep my kitchen better organized and decluttered. My plan is to slowly make a scrap book of sorts with small dream boards to represent all the areas of my life so I can learn to tie them together.

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