Pistachio Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Parlez-Vous Croissant?

September 27, 2011 at 10:41 am | Posted in Breads, Breakfast, Daring Bakers, Lunch, Pastry, Pork, Yeastspotting | 62 Comments
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The croissant has evolved…into a crescent roll.  Let me explain.  From the time I was in college until about 10 years ago, croissants were flaky, layered, buttery rolls of heaven.  No matter where I bought them, they were all of the above, even the supermarket bakeries.  I remember stopping at some a few mornings a week before work, and opening the plexiglass case, crumpled tissue in hand like a baseball mitt, ready to grab the freshest ones before anyone else could.  Even the BK ‘croissandwich’ was flaky, with buttery layers!

Then something happened..and I don’t know if some of these places got tired of making them the right way, and/or they decided to skimp on the butter, (cutting costs was obvious) because outside of the fancy patisseries, the croissants I was buying were slowly morphing into crescent rolls.  Limp crusts, no flake, and ‘gasp’ soft white bread like innards with maybe two layers, if you were lucky.  These were not the croissants that used to flake all over my lap with each bite.  These were not the croissants I could eat layer by layer, slowly unrolling, unraveling, deconstructing – holding thin, buttery, window panes  of baked dough up to the light, trying to make it last as long as possible.

I finally bid a sad adieu to any croissants made outside french patisseries.  I wasn’t being a food snob, I just didn’t feel like paying 2 bucks for a crescent roll when I could easily whip up a batch of those with lots of butter, right?

Then this day came..

The Daring Bakers go retro this month!  Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I was jubilant and a tad nervous at the same time.  I had always wanted to recreate those awesome croissants of yore at home, but kept putting it off.  Now I had a reason to.  However, what if I turned out doughy, crescent rolls?  I do very well with puff pastry, so how hard could it be?  Same method as puff pastry, but using a yeasted dough.  Piece of cake! Ha ha..NOT.

croissant-rolling1Stretching the triangle of dough to about 8-10 inches, then placing a ball of scrap dough in the middle of the wide end before rolling, gives you a fatter, multi-layered, higher croissant.

I decided to use the recipe from the challenge to make plain, rolled croissants, and a recipe by Esther McManus from my copy of Baking with Julia (one of my favorite baking books ever) I’d been planning on trying for some time, for some pain au chocolat (chocolate filled croissants) and other filled croissants.  I even have this episode of Baking with Julia saved on my DVR, and I think I’ve watched it about 2 dozen times since this challenge was announced, not counting the two dozen times I’d watched it before.

This is why I couldn’t stop talking like her as I made the dough –  ‘You make zee butter sit here and start beating from zee middle, kindly, but firmly.’  I  wasn’t kind, and this is probably why I ended up with gaping holes of butter in my dough during my turns.  Sheeet, what to do?

Let’s backtrack a bit.  Esther Mcmanus’ dough contains a lot of butter.  OK, that’s an understatement – try 1 lb 2 ounces of butter.  Ummmmmm..alright, maybe I shouldn’t have pounded it so hard to flatten the mountain of ice-cold butter.  No neat square in this recipe, just a big lump that you pound into the dough.  Then again, since I was already taking my aggressions out on this dough, I forced it to roll further than it was ready to go.  Esther says in the episode..

I’m not going to go any further than dees, cuz I feel it doesn’t want me to’ after the first vertical roll of the butter into the dough.


I’m the boss, and I want to get the first turn out of the way, so I don’t care what it wants or doesn’t want.  I don’t want to wait 2 hours for a first turn.  I knew I was screwing up, but my dough was so strong, I thought the gluten could take a little beating.  I let it sit for 15 minutes, then started to roll.  All went beautifully.  I folded it (like a letter, of course), wrapped it, stuck it in the fridge and went about my day, deciding to let the dough rest overnight to recuperate.

ROUND, errr..Turn Two.  This is when all hell, butter broke loose.  This was supposed to be a single and double turn at once, and then after another overnight rest, it would be ready for croissants!  As I rolled away to get it to the proper length and width for the second turn, I started to run into little bits of butter oozing here and there.  I’d patch these minor caveats up with flour and continue rolling.

As I kept lifting the dough after several rolls, adding flour beneath to keep it from sticking, I noticed butter on the marble slab.  Those tiny, little nuisances were now turning into gaping holes of Paula Deen.  With every crater of butter in my dough, I heard a ‘Hi Y’all!’.  I was up the creek without a paddle, I had completely ruined this dough.  Again, Esther’s voice echoed through my head…

If you tear eet, eeet’s no good – or something to that effect.  Little holes were fine, according to Esther, but torn, gaping holes, were death.  OH.NO.  There was no way I was wasting 1 lb 2 ounces of Plugra.  I had to think quick.  I folded up my half turned mess of dough, wrapped it tight in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, which was going to become its new home for a few days, because that’s how long it took me to come up with a solution.

Julia to the rescue!  I decided to make Julia’s dough from the challenge recipe, no longer for plain croissants, but to save my bruised, battered and buttered dough.  I was basically starting over.., my block of butter (beurrage) now a block of butter in dough, which in turn was wrapped in another dough, then all the turns all over again.  To my delight, it worked.  I had a beautiful, silky dough with not one peep from Paula.  One small problem, though.  The original butter battered dough had now sat for a little over a week in the fridge.  The yeast had certainly weakened considerably, and the amount of yeast in Julia’s dough would not be enough to carry the load.

I formed the croissants, egg-washed them, and sprinkled them with some sea salt (I read it makes a really pretty bubbly effect on the flaky crust).  I knew deep down I wasn’t going to get much oven spring, and I didn’t..but they were cute and tasty, albeit too dense.  How can anything with all that butter not taste good, regardless of the texture?  These are them below. ‘Feh’ comes to mind every time I look at this photo.

Naturally, I wasn’t satisfied, I wanted those big, flaky croissants I loved so much! I made another batch of Esther’s dough, this time using only 3 sticks of butter.  As you can see, success.  Beautiful, big, flaky seven rolled croissants, (See photo collage of croissant rolling, above – I numbered a rolled croissant to show you what I mean).  Tight rolls of each 8-10 inch pulled and stretched triangle gets you 7 ‘sections’ which equals more layers and prettier croissants.

WAIT, this has all got to sound so confusing, and my collages certainly aren’t clear and easy to understand.  You can see the full episode of Esther’s croissant making, with the lovely and wonderful Julia, HERE (part one) and HERE (part two).  You can also see a full episode of vintage Julia making croissants, HERE.

So, here’s what I made;

  • Accidental mini sea salt croissants
  • Plain, rolled, croissants, although I didn’t pull the ends long enough to curve them into a classic croissant shape.
  • Plain pain au chocolat
  • White and dark pain au chocolat
  • White chocolate – pistachio and Dark chocolate pistachio croissants (I used the almond filling recipe provided by Esther in Baking with Julia, substituting pistachios for the almonds)
  • Candied bacon - Pepper Jack cheese croissants.

Candied bacon – pepper jack??  Yes, and they were amazing.  Remember a while back when I told you about being a member of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s program?  They sent me and others a $25.00 gift card to purchase a variety of Sargento cheeses, American processed cheese singles, and any other fruits, crackers and whatnot to host a ‘tasting’, comparing Sargento cheeses, such as Havarti, Provolone, and the aforementioned Pepper Jack etc..to processed American cheese singles.

Umm..are you kidding?  It’s a no brainer – of course Sargento won out.  I keep American cheese singles on hand for one purpose only – childhood comfort grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.  I paired several of Sargento’s cheeses (they come in sticks…perfect for croissants, like the chocolate batons shown above) with candied bacon, deciding pepper jack was a phenomenal match.  And there you have it..candied bacon – pepper jack croissants!

Loved this challenge, loved how my croissants turned out (especially the second batch), but I think it’s going to be a while before I make croissants again.  I’m still wiping the flour off my face, the frustration off my frontal lobes, and the butter from my arteries.

To get Julia’s recipe for croissants, and see the challenge, click HERE.  To see the gorgeous croissants made by my fellow Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.

I’m submitting these croissants to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of all things bread baking, hosted by the extremely talented, Susan, of Wild Yeast.

 


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Green Tea – Pistachio – Chocolate – Sesame Mousse Cakes aka I Don’t Know What To Call These!

March 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Puddings | 59 Comments
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This should have been my St. Patrick’s Day entry.

Green Tea - Pistachio - Chocolate - Sesame Mousse Cakes aka I Don't Know What To Call These

 A few weeks ago I missed Valentine’s Day in the blogosphere, so the next post I put up, 2 weeks later, I proclaimed my official Valentine’s Day post because it was red and pink, why not?. As you can see, these cakes are mostly green, so wouldn’t they have been the most perfect Saint Patrick’s Day post?  What other time of the year does green food dominate (going down and coming up – after too many green beers)?  SO, today is my official Saint Patrick’s Day post, and even though I’m not Irish, I feel it’s my duty as a food blogger to recognize these holidays, especially the color coordinated ones. Yes, Lisa at Parsley, Sage, and Sweet has rearranged the holidays to suit her bloginess.

 

These cakes are not just an answer to my blank Saint Patrick’s Day, but they’re serving three other purposes.  Help, Win and Celebrate.

Help – After the disaster in Japan, outside of a few text donations, I felt like it wasn’t enough.  This entry is dedicated to the vicitims in Japan, so for every comment I receive, I will donate 1 dollar to the American Red Cross and Unicef, in addition to what I’m already donating, to continue to help the earthquake-tsunami victims recover from this awful disaster.

WinDessert Wars March challenge just so happens to be ‘Go Green!’ aka green desserts using two green ingredients.  How can I not enter these cakes?  I could win the below whopper of a prize package;

Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs
Beanilla Sampler Pack of Vanilla Beans
Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake
1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes
Organic Valley $50 Gift Certificate
Organic Prairie $50 Gift Certificate
Theme Kitchen $50 Gift Certificate
BEKA Cookware Crepe Pan

Celebrate -I have a new nephew, born last Thursday. What better way to celebrate this joyous occasion than with a side of delicious, pretty, mousse and chocolate filled cakes?  Meet Alex, isn’t he a cutie pie?

I got the idea for these cakes from one of my favorite ‘gawking’ blogs, Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings, and ‘idea’ is where it ends, since, 1) I added different components, and well, 2) mine do NOT even come close to hers aesthetically, or photographically for that matter. Regardless, it was another creation of hers I was dying to tackle.

I love matcha based desserts (matcha is a powdered Japanese green tea), so to be able to create my own take on her little entremet cakes, using matcha, of course, was a fun challenge. I used her recipe for matcha mousse, but made a pistachio – almond sponge, adding matcha to it. I only used one square layer of cake** (see note at end of entry), and lined the bottom with white chocolate – pistachio feuilletine.  I nixed the black sesame mousse and instead made a chocolate – black sesame truffle ganache with a bit of wasabi paste and ginger to liven it up a bit.  It’s a ganache based on a chocolate truffle from Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago, called a Black Pearl Truffle.  The sesame brittle is from a recipe I’ve used for years, so I decided to use that – partly to avoid having to convert the measurements.

Converting recipes from metric to US measurements is not something I relish, as some of you know.  Plus, my scale needs to be calibrated.

Having said all that..I kind of made a mess of this cake by not letting the mousse set completely before pouring on the ganache, plus, this cake is supposed to have two layers of sponge, one on the bottom also, beneath the feuilletine.  I was rushing, so as I was transferring the second layer, wrapped in plastic, to the fridge, I tripped over my own feet, the klutz that I am, and down it went..breaking into pieces.  This is why my bottom layer is the feuilletine only.

My cuts were also lopsided, so much so that my cakes leaned in odd positions.  They keeled in weird ways – especially since the mousse  and ganache could have set a little longer, and were still somewhat soft.  You would have to see a side view to understand, but careful positioning and angles for photographs made them look quasi-straight .  It may not be a clean cake, but it certainly tastes good!

Finally, there are some pastry chefs out there who name their entremet cake creations – like Hidemi Sugino’s ‘b-Caraibe’ and Sadaharu Aoki’s ‘Valencia’.  I decided to name these ‘Desordre Vert’ (Green Disorder).  I feel so special now.

Matcha – Pistachio Cakes aka Desordre Vert

White Chocolate – Pistachio Feuilletine
1/4 cup pistachio paste
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces good quality, chopped white chocolate
*1/2 cup paillete feuilletine (OR rice krispies, or corn flakes, or crushed sugar cones)
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pistachios

**Matcha – Pistachio Sponge (see note at bottom of entry)
adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe
3 large egg whites (room temperature)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup ground, shelled, skinned pistachios
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup icing sugar (sifted)
1 tablespoon matcha
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Matcha Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon matcha powder

Matcha Mousse
From Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon matcha powder
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Black Pearl Ganache
from Vosges Haut-Chocolat
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste or 1 teaspoon wasabi powder*
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds*
1 tablespoon corn syrup

* Available in some supermarkets and most Asian markets

Black and White Sesame Brittle
6 Tablespoons white sesame seeds
6 Tablespoons black sesame seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 Tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

MAKE THE WHITE  CHOCOLATE – PISTACHIO FEUILLETINE:
1. In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the pistachio paste with the butter and white chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and fold in pailette feuilletine and toasted pistachios.

MAKE MATCHA -PISTACHIO SPONGE:
1. Line a 12-inch by 17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment and grease it with butter.

2. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.

3. Beat the almonds, pistachios, icing sugar, matcha and eggs in another bowl until light and voluminous.

4. Fold in the flour, then beaten egg whites, then melted butter.

5. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in a preheated 425F oven until lightly browned and just springy to the touch, about 5-10 minute.  Run a knife along the edges to loosen the cake form the pan.

6. Cover the cake with parchment paper, flip and unmold the cake. Peel of the parchments paper flip and cover the cake while it cools

7. Cut out one 7 x 7 square of cake, using the 7-inch square cake pan as a guide.   Save the rest of the cake for other preparations (can be frozen), or just eat it.

8.  Wrap cake square in plastic wrap, and set aside until ready to assemble.

MAKE MATCHA SYRUP:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and mactha to a boil until sugar is dissolved.  Don’t let it caramelize.  Pour into a glass measuring cup to cool.

MAKE MATCHA MOUSSE:
1.  Sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water and let soften.

2.  Combine matcha powder and sugar in a bowl  In the mean time..heat milk to boiling.  Whisk boiled milk in with matcha and sugar.

3. Heat softened gelatin for 15 seconds in the microwave, then stir into matcha, sugar, and milk mixture.  Strain and let cool.

4.  Beat heavy cream to soft peaks, then fold into matcha mixture.

MAKE BLACK PEARL GANACHE:
1. Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream, ginger, and wasabi to boil in small pot.

2. Pour hot cream over chocolate; cover with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Whisk cream and chocolate until smooth.

3. Mix sesame seeds and corn syrup in small bowl to coat; stir into chocolate mixture. Let cool to lukewarm.

MAKE SESAME BRITTLE:
1. Place the sesame seeds in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, corn syrup, water and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

2. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes without stirring once the mixture has come to a boil until it reaches 300 degree F on a quick-read candy thermometer. Grease a parchment or silpat lined jelly roll pan with butter or cooking spray.

3. Remove the pan from the stove. Stir in the baking soda. Pour the hot mixture carefully onto the jelly roll pan and spread it to 1/4 inch thick with a metal spatula.  Let cool and harden.

4. Break the sesame brittle into pieces. Store in a covered, airtight container for several days.

ASSEMBLE:
1.  Line a 7-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap (you won’t need plastic wrap if you’re using a mousse ring or removeable bottom baking pan).

2.  Press the pistachio feuilletine into the bottom of the pan so it reaches all 4 corners.  Try to press it down evenly so there are no thicker or thinner areas. (I didn’t..lol)

3.  Pour half of matcha mousse on top of feuilletine, refrigerate until set.

4.  Pour all the chocolate ganache on top of set matcha mousse.  Top with reserved cake square.  Brush cake square with matcha syrup, then pour reamining matcha mousse on top, smoothing until even. Refrigerate cake until set.

5.  Using overlapping plastic wrap, lift cake out of baking pan.  Brush top of cake with a mixture of matcha powder and hot water, to make a pattern or design, if desired.  Let dry. Trim the edges of the cake evenly and cut into 6 or 7 1-inch slices.  Top each slice with shards of sesame brittle.

**You can use two 7-inch squares of cake, if desired (cut out TWO 7-inch squares from sheet of sponge).  Just line the bottom of the pan with one square of cake, brush with matcha syrup, then press feuilletine on top of it and continue as directed.  I didn’t use two layers because one of my cake squares hit the floor and broke, so I wrote out the recipe using only one cake square.

EnTICING Cupcakes and TWO GIVEAWAYS Giveaway Closed

December 11, 2010 at 11:56 am | Posted in Cupcakes, Dessert, Giveaway | 61 Comments
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I’m not a cupcake decorater.  In fact..I’m not really a cupcake baker either.  I think I can count on both hands the amount of times I’ve baked cupcakes.  I don’t know why, because they’re so simple, yummy and cute.  I just never get that cupcake fire burning inside of me – no major lust for cupcakes.

Come to think of it, I don’t eat them very often either.  I guess you could say cupcakes and I are merely acquaintances, acquaintances as in.., I see them every so often in the bakery case,  ‘How ya doin?…Any good bites lately?’.  I always felt haute couture cupcake decorating was a whole lot of hoopla over two,three or four (depending on size of your mouth) bites – kind of  like an 8 hour amuse bouche preparation.

When Lis – the co-founder of Daring Bakers/Kitchen, asked if I would review these icing cupcake appliques, I was initially at a loss.  If it involves some sort of incredible piping or transformation into hamburgers, lions, or cupcake cell phones that actually work (Trust me, some amazing cupcake blogger will figure it out) etc, I’m screwed.

If it onvolved ANYTHING crazy I’ve seen in some of those cupcake books, OR some kind of special, sticky stuff that’s radioactive when exposed to heat, I wasn’t sure if I could test them properly in order to give a fair review.

Since I tested the ticings by myself, I needed to pilfer this ‘how to’ photo from the ticings website.  See how easy?

When I received the samples in the mail, I let out a sigh..nahhh..more like a small breath, of relief.  These were easy!  All you had to do was frost your cupcake, peel the round icing sheet off the paper, and plop it on.  A little smoothing and blending here and there, and that’s it.  I opened up the samples and the sweet scent of light buttercream hit me.  I inhaled deep.  Buttercream should be something you wear, like perfume, seriously.  Eau de Buttercream.   Actually, I do think they make buttercream scents for the humans.  Darn, I was already thinking, PATENT!

With that said, starting the testing was the hardest part.  Definitely needed to taste them first.  I recruited my two year old nephew, Zach, to help me out.  Well, It’s a good thing I know the definition of restraint when there needs to be RESTRAINT….but that’s not set in stone.   With the light taste of buttercream, and the way they melt on your tongue, it’s kind of hard to stop.

Before I knew it, my little packets of samples were diminishing.  With Zach’s adorable toddler voice asking for “More, Isa”, his tiny, little hand reaching, and my own brain buzzing “MORE”, my big hand reaching, I knew I had to put them away until I had an actual frosted cupcake in front of me.

When I finally got to the task at hand, I could not believe how simple it was.  These ticings are for people like me, people who would love to present a pretty cupcake, but don’t always want to spend extra time piping frosting onto each cupcake – flawlessly – or turning it into something that doesn’t resemble a cupcake.  However, I won’t deny it, I got caught up and found myself sorta’  haute coutering my cupcakes.  Some edible gold flakes here, a little airbrush there.

This is what using ticings did to me.

It was so incredibly easy, and looked so cute, that I wanted to add to them!  I even trimmed a few of them (very gently, I might add) so I could fit several of the smaller ones together on one cupcake.  I really enjoyed combining the purses and shoes, well, uhhh..shoe.  I accidentally cut through the only other shoe, rendering it toeless.  Not something I felt would enhance this ‘material girl’ cupcake.

cupcake appliques

There are only two very tiny caveats for me.  One, you can’t pipe those mega swirly tops if you want to apply a ticing’s applique.  Well, you can, if you pipe the mega swirly then flatten and even out the top, since you need a flat surface to get a smooth cupcake ‘tattoo’.  Nothing wrong with a ring of swirly around a beautiful ticings icing decal, though! Two, you’re limited to white frostings and buttercreams if you want it to blend in.  I think they should make chocolate ticings to satiate those who prefer chocolate frostings and buttercreams.  Then again, chocolate shades vary, so that could be a little difficult.

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

I’ll tell you one thing – ticings are addicting – they made me want to bake more cupcakes.  I couldn’t stop until I used all the samples I had left.  I returned to Thanksgiving, threw in a birthday, and of course, couldn’t ignore those Xmas trees!

The First Giveaway 

Here’s the best part of all of the above for all of you.  When I was asked to do this review, I contacted Mia of ticings, and asked if she could send me a holiday set of ticings to give to away to one of my readers.  Well, she did, and I’m so excited!  She sent me a set of the cutest penguins, designed by artist Kevin Gordon, and the blue snowflakes you see at the top of this entry.  All you have to do is leave a comment and I’ll choose the winner randomly 1 week from today!

                   Photo courtesy ticings.com

While you’re all waiting, I urge you to go check out the ticings website.  They also offer custom cupcake icing sheets.  Just send them any design, saying, thought, your business or blog name etc,  and they can reproduce it on icing.  PLUS, you should see all the other beautiful ticings they have to offer, some of them designed by well known artists!  It gets even better.

They also have an array of sprinkles and sugars that are all natural, and will make your cupcakes, cakes, or anything you want to sprinkle them on, that much more delicious and pleasing on the eyes.  I especially love the idea of white chocolate sprinkles!  OK,  I’ll take take a breath.  I’m not NUTS, I’m just kind of NUTS for these ticings.  I highly recommend these to just about everyone or anyone, whether you like to bake or not.

                   Photo courtesy ticings.com

The Second Giveaway

Speaking of nuts, Sam Feferkorn of OhNuts.com offered me a $25.00 gift certificate to give away to one of my readers,  Is this not perfect for your holiday baking?  Nuts, dried fruits, chocolates..ad yummy infinitum!  To take part in this giveaway, follow the instructions below, but remember, I’ll be choosing the winners at random from the comments left here.  With one comment, you can win either of the giveaways.  Don’t forget to mention the ticings giveaway in your tweets!!

1. Go to the Oh Nuts Christmas gift baskets page. Choose your favorite Christmas Gift and leave a comment on my blog post with the name and url of the gift you like the most.

OR

Go to the Oh Nuts Hanukkah gifts page. Choose your favorite Hanukkah Gift and leave a comment on my blog post with the name and url of the gift tyou like the most.

2. Go to the Oh Nuts facebook page and post on the wall the url and name of your favorite Hanukkah Gift OR Christmas Gift. You should also write “I am here via “Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives”

3. Follow @ohnuts on Twitter and Tweet:

“Win a free Hanukkah Gift from http://bit.ly/6nIsCi Follow @ohnuts & Retweet to enter.”

OR

“Win a free Christmas Gift from http://bit.ly/dUpizt Follow @ohnuts & Retweet to enter.”

How about the actual cupcake under all that froo froo, Lisa?

Yes, the cupcake.  I couldn’t just make a plain, vanilla or chocolate cupcake.  I mean, if I’m going to make cupcakes, I’m going to take it up a level or two.  Olivari Olive Oil sent me a kit with a bottle of their Extra Virgin olive oil, a garlic press, and loads of coupons for free olive oils of all sorts – which would have been my third GIVEAWAY – had the person I gave them to to hold on to, had not LOST them!

In any event,  I have been extremely intrigued with olive oil cakes for a while now, and wanted to try one out.  I mean, olive oil is good for you, so if you could substitute it for butter in a cake recipe, and it still tasted amazing, that’s a pretty good deal, right?.

Orange Pistachio Olive Oil Cupcakes with Whipped White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I found a recipe for Lemon-Thyme Olive Oil Cupcakes at a blog called Cupcake Project.  I substituted orange zest and juice for the lemon, omitted the thyme, and added finely chopped pistachios, courtesy of OhNuts.com.  Voila, below is the recipe for  Orange-Pistachio Olive Oil cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting!

They are so moist and the flavor is just..just..*insert finger kissing* delightful.  The white chocolate – cream cheese frosting does not contain butter, it really doesn’t need it for these cupcakes.  Tangy, sweet…a perfect pairing with the fresh orange and pistachio bite.

Orange-Pistachio Olive Oil Cupcakes
Recipe from Cupcake Project, with my revisions

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 C granulated sugar
2/3 cup Olivari extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons orange zest
3 large eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:
1.Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.

2.In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and orange zest and rub together to extract the fragrant oil from the zest.

3.Add olive oil and mix on high speed until completely combined (preferably with the whisk attachment).

4.Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5.Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on slow speed.

6.Add half of the orange juice and continue mixing.

7.Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the lemon juice and the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined between each addition.

8.Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

9.Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until they bounce back when touched.

Makes about 12 cupcakes

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons milk or cream
Approximately 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, and melted white chocolate.

2.  Beat in vanilla and milk or cream, then add in the confectioners’ sugar, gradually, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.  Make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife.

3 .  Spread frosting onto cupcakes with a knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

SO, to sum it all up – I have two giveaways for two readers. You can mention one or both of the giveaways in your comment, if you’d like.  I will be announcing BOTH winners (as I mentioned above) exactly one week from today!


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Let’s Roll..WITH Ice Cream and Fudge. This Cake is the Bombe!

July 27, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Posted in Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Frozen, Fruit, Jams/Jellies | 93 Comments
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I just realized something.  All of my posts for the past several months have been Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges.  I’m a bad food blogger *slapping hand*.

Let me elaborate.  I love to cook and bake, and in fact, do both on a pretty consistent basis (I’m always experimenting).  I have lots of stuff in my freezer just waiting to be cooked/baked and blogged.  I also have lots of photos of non-challenge delicacies that I have yet to blog about – but somehow time escapes me, and the next thing I know, another challenge deadline is approaching, and I have to get that entry up.  My lone non-challenge affiliated goodies will just have to wait..for the hundredth time.

 Some of the vanilla ice cream melted and seeped into the cake swirls when I used a bowl of warm water and a towel to loosen the cake from the bowl and plastic wrap, leaving me with soggy looking cake, as you can see above (my rolls were sliced pretty thin – bad idea).

Do I ever post without complaining?

On to this months Daring Bakers Challenge, because it’s really cool, both literally and figuratively.

When I first saw a challenge for a swiss roll, I thought ‘Me likey swiss roll cakes’ – memories of those packaged, chocolate covered Swiss Rolls that our Moms packed in our lunch boxes came flooding back.  YES, I know..we’re talking REAL swiss rolls, as in baked from scratch and filled with some kind of cream or jam or whatever suits your palate.  I had one of those plastic covered swiss rolls a few months ago..and WOW, they shrunk- and not just by a little, but a lot.  SHRINKAGE is an understatement!  The ones I recall from childhood were huge!  Tsk Tsk to Drakes or whichever brand they are.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s World – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.-

I digress.  I always find a way to segue into every nook and cranny before getting to the point.  Back to the challenge.  SO, it’s a swiss roll, but not just any swiss roll.  You see, we are slicing this baby up, lining a plastic wrap covered bowl with the swiss roll slices, and filling it with ICE CREAM(S) and FUDGY SAUCE (or whatever creative juices..err sauces and ice cream we could squeeze out of our frontal lobes).

The first person I thought of was my father.  The man covets ice cream cakes like nobodies business , and he used to live at Carvel (A local ice cream establishment dating back to like 1850, or so it seems).  I don’t think I can recall a birthday where one of the cakes wasn’t a Carvel ice cream cake (Never Fudgy the Whale).  I don’t think I can even recall a summer where there wasn’t at least one pack of Flying Saucers in our freezer.

In any event, this recipe doesn’t contain those Carvel crunchies.  Here’s a little secret, though – they’re made of broken Flying Saucer shells that are drizzled with Magic Shell chocolate.  Aren’t you glad you know that now?

Herein lies the problem – the ideas running through my head were not the kind of ice cream cake dear old Dad would like.  I decided I wasn’t going to tell him what was in it word for word, and just present it to him and hope he bit.  I used Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Biscuit de Roulade (from The Cake Bible) because the challenge recipe called for 11×9 sheet pans.  I looked high and low, and could not find any sheet pan in this size.  Am I missing something here? (UPDATE – finally found one on Amazon).

Not being in the mood to try and figure out how much baking time and batter would sufficiently fill and bake the cake in a 10×15 or 12×17 pan, I stuck with Rosie’s sponge.  I wanted to make a funky swiss roll, one that was flavored and colorful, so when I saw some pink and green swiss rolls on Flickr, I decided to use some of the leftover pistachio butter, from the Daring Cooks nut butter challenge, in one half of the batter, and dried, ground strawberries in the other half.  A little green food color, a little pink food color, and voila, a pink and green swiss roll that really tastes like pink and green -well, pistachio and strawberry.  No ubiquitous, artificial extracts in this bombe!

Regarding the pistachios, here’s the really great part.  Sam Feferkorn from Ohnuts.com saw my last entry on nut butters.  He took sympathy on my poor, mutilated fingers and offered up a free pound of already shelled pistachios, plus a few other nuts and dried fruits of my choice.  How cool is that?  You’ve got to check out Ohnuts.com, they’re loaded with nuts, dried fruits, chocolates etc… and at reasonable prices!

Well, thanks to Sam, having these ‘ready to go’ pistachios on hand was what helped in my decision making.  Why not a vanilla bean ice cream with pistachio nougatine folded in? (AKA – the crunchies..well, my version).   I must admit, I cheated a bit.. I only made one ice cream, and used store bought strawberry ice cream.  Oh, the shame, but hey, I’ve made a strawberry ice cream for a Daring Bakers challenge before, so that affords me a pass, right?

Here’s a rundown on my swiss roll ice cream cake.  First off, as mentioned earlier in this entry, I split the genoise batter and folded some pistachio butter (loosened up with a little warm water) into one part, and dehydrated, ground strawberries into the other.  Then I added some food color (pink and green) to each part since neither ‘a little’ pistachio butter or dehydrated strawberries add much color to a batter.  After baking, rolling in a towel and cooling,  I spread the pistachio and strawberry genoise with a strawberry-chocolate ganache (strawberry jam melted in chocolate and hot cream, then cooled until spreadable) .

I rolled the filled genoise from the long side instead of the shorter side – which is the direction you usually roll a swiss roll from.  I did this because I wanted small, spiral slices of the roll, and the diameter of the roll from the long side is always much smaller.   My first ice cream was the vanilla bean – pistachio nougatine, and the second was my cheat..store bought strawberry.  I made the fudge sauce from the recipe provided to us by Sunita, except I added a little vodka to slightly halt the freezing process so the middle would remain fudgy and somewhat gooey, in lieu of frozen solid, upon cutting.

If you’d like the master challenge recipe for a chocolate swiss roll, the fudge sauce and extremely easy chocolate and vanilla ice creams..click HERE.  To see the beautiful swiss roll ice cream cakes other Daring Bakers created, click on the links to their blogs HERE.

Pistachio Nougatine
5 ounces shelled, skinned salted pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
4 T unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook the sugar, butter and corn syrup until light amber then add the pistachios.  Cook until golden brown.

2. Pour onto a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan (or just a buttered sheet pan) and let cool until hardened.

3.  Chop up the nougatine with a mallet or pulse in a food processor (for ice cream) or just break into pieces and eat or gift as candy.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!  Speaking of ice cream..keep checking back.  Next week I’m giving away a brand new ice cream maker!


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Fun with Risotto – The Sweet and The Savory

March 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Daring Cooks, Dessert, Dinner, Lunch, Puddings | 78 Comments
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Ahhh, Risotto..who doesn’t love a rich, creamy risotto?  Well, who doesn’t love a rich, creamy risotto outside the one who’s cooking it?   I think most agree that standing at the stove for 20 some odd minutes, adding simmering stock, stirring until the rice absorbs it, then adding more, ad infinitum, could be called tedious.  It’s like lather, rinse repeat over and over again until your head feels numb.

Let me make this clear..I’m not bashing risotto..I love it.  I just love when someone else cooks it for me.  It was fun the first 50 times I made it, but now it’s become somewhat of a ‘Ohhh..I really feel like risotto tonight, but the stock, the ladling, the stirring..my aching feet!’ dilemma.  However. you have to..I repeat HAVE TO do this if you want a perfectly silky, creamy risotto.  All that stirring releases the lovely starch in the arborio rice (Or whatever rice the risotto experts that be decide is NOW BETTER for risotto, but I’ll get to that later), resulting in a creamy risotto.  You can add cream and/or butter at the end to achieve that (sort of a cheat), but if done properly, you won’t need either – although it”s not like it’s a bad thing outside of adding to your waistline.  Butter and cream are two of the most beautiful words in the culinary/pastry world..IMhumbleO.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.


I had a lot of fun with this challenge.  I went off the beaten path, then stepped back onto it using the challenge recipe.  The first vision I had was some kind of parfait layered with a sweet risotto.  Basically a rice pudding made with arborio rice accompanied by the tedious ladling of simmering milk in lieu of savory stock.  As I was surfing around..I came across a sweet risotto recipe at Food & Wine in which you add flour, eggs and baking powder to make risotto fritters!  I made a few changes to the recipe, including several additions and increasing the sugar a bit.  This is a unique way to use risotto, since many take the Arancini aka rice ball route.  Nothing like a light, crispy fritter..similar to a zeppole, but filled with sweet, creamy rice.  I could eat these once day..seriously.

My parfaits or verrines, rather, were also a success.  Not only did they turn out beautiful, albeit the mango gelee spilling out a few times while setting on an angle, but the taste and texture of this cup ‘o surprise with every bite, is a rave party on the palate.  When you first stick your spoon in..breaking through the crunchy pistachios, shaved white chocolate and sweet mango cubes..it slides into creamy, white chocolate melty, silken, very slightly al dente risotto with crunchy, chopped pistachios – the tip of your spoon picking up the smooth mango gelee peppered with sweet mango cubes.  Each spoonful is an absolute delight.

After basking in luscious dessert risottos, I decided I really needed to make a nice, savory one..using the master recipe given to us, almost verbatim.  We were required to make our own stock from scratch, but I already had several quarts of homemade beef, chicken and roasted vegetable stock on hand.  I always have stock in the freezer…it’s almost become a must for me.  I usually spend one week in the Fall making stock to freeze and then repeat later on if necessary.  If there’s no homemade stock in my freezer – I sort of feel naked.  This is why there was no need to make a new stock for my risotto.  It was the simplest preparation – I just reached into the freezer and pulled out a quart of roasted veggie love.   Yay, part one – DONE.

I decided to keep it simple with a twist, even though while perusing through the Daring Cooks completed challenge forum, I nearly drowned in drool after seeing all the beautiful, creamy and sometimes very unique twists on savory risotto (You can check them out by clicking on the links to each Daring Cook’s blog, HERE).  The bell peppers at the supermarket were huge, vibrant, and well, calling to me.  I bought one of each color and then stood there stumped.  OK.. I could do a vegetarian risotto, maybe roasted tomato with these gorgeous peppers?  After mulling over that temporary decision, I stopped at an Italian market to pick up some fresh mozzarella.  Walking toward the cheese section, I was stopped in my tracks by a hunky looking log of sopressata that looked and smelled wonderful.  After the nice Italian mom and pop force fed (Ha..more like I kept begging for more)  me some of this beautiful dried sausage/salami..whichever you want to call it..the bells went off.  DING, DING, DING..why not a sausage and pepper risotto with a twist?  The twist being the sopressata.  I was set…well, after I threw in a couple handfuls of sweet petit peas, just because I happened to have them on hand.

Now to my risotto  ‘rice beef’.  I always use Arborio.  Arborio used to be (well, at least it seemed that way) THE rice you used for risotto.  It had the monopoly on risotto!  Then someone started telling me that Vialone Nano is even better – SO, I start using that.  Then someone else lets me know that Carnaroli rice is really the best rice for risotto, so I start using that.  OK, enough..Im going back to Arborio because Arborio is my old friend and it’s easier to find in the supermarket.  I fully expect a new ‘better for risotto’ rice to pop up any day now – but I’m not budging!  Hrmmph.

Well, that’s the end of my fun filled, month long love affair with risotto.  I just may call him again, but only if  he’s ok with someone else ladling and stirring up his starchy goodness.  Loved this challenge becasue it was so delicious.  For the Master risotto recipe and tips, click  HERE.

UPDATE:  I’ve received several inquiries as to how I got the cool design in my verrines.  It’s really simple.  Divide an even amount of gelee, about 1/3-1/2 cup in each of 4 glasses, then tilt each glass about 45 degrees in an egg carton and let set in the fridge.  When set, fill the empty space next to the gelee with the sweet risotto, even with the top of the gelee.  Pour another 1/3 – 1/2  cup of gelee and tilt again in the egg carton, in the opposite direction of the first layer of gelee, letting it set.  Take care to not let too much of the sweet risotto seep into the new gelee like mine did (notice the second layer of gelee is a little darker?).  When set, fill the rest of the glass with the sweet risotto and top with remaining gelee (just pour this layer over the top and let set upright) to seal everything in.  That’s it!

Creamy, Sweet Risotto with White Chocolate and Pistachios
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup orange muscat or Riesling
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 oz white chocolate, chopped and melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios

Special Equipment for Verrines – 4 6-8 oz clear glasses and 1 empty egg carton

DIRECTIONS FOR RISOTTO:
1.Heat the olive oil in a heavy, medium saucepan. Add the rice and stir over moderate heat until coated with the oil.

2. Add the orange muscat, white wine or Riesling and cook, stirring, until it is completely absorbed. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of the vanilla milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the milk is completely absorbed. Continue adding milk, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the risotto is creamy and porridgelike and the grains of rice are just tender.

3. Stir in the melted white chocolate, sugar, vanilla and orange zest.  Chill until ready to fill verrines or chill and serve as is.

Mango Gelee for Verrines - makes about 4 verrines
1 3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)
1/4 cup water
2 cups mango nectar or puree
1 medium mango, peeled and cubed, reserving some for topping

DIRECTIONS:
1. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small saucepan and let stand 1 minute to soften. Cook over low heat, stirring, until gelatin is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon mango nectar at a time until gelatin mixture is cool, then whisk in remaining nectar. Stir in cubed mango.

2. Transfer to a metal bowl and set bowl into a larger bowl half-filled with ice and cold water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until gelée is consistency of raw egg white, 15 to 25 minutes.

ASSEMBLE VERRINES:
1. Put egg carton in a shallow baking pan and arrange glasses in carton, then tilt glasses to a 45-degree angle. Divide gelee among glasses. Carefully transfer pan with glasses to refrigerator and chill until gelée is set, at least 1 hour.

2. Spoon white chocolate-pistachio risotto into glasses along side the set gelee.  Top with any leftover gelee, cubed mango, chopped white chocolate and chopped pistachios.

Sweet Vanilla Bean Risotto Fritters
1 recipe Creamy, Sweet Risotto minus the melted white chocolate, pistachios and vanilla extract
1 plump vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large egg whites
Peanut oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS:
1. Make the Risotto above…splitting and scraping the vanilla bean into the milk..placing the scraped pods in with the vanilla beans (Be careful not to get any of the pod into the risotto as you add the milk in increments and stir)  Omit the melted white chocolate, pistachios and vanilla extract.   When all the milk is absorbed and the rice slightly al dente, transfer to a bowl and let cool.

2. Stir in the beaten egg, then stir in the flour and baking powder.

3.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir half of the beaten egg whites into the risotto, then fold in the rest.

4.  In a large, heavy saucepan, heat 2 inches of peanut oil to 350°. Position a wire rack on a baking sheet and cover the rack with paper towels. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the rice into the hot oil without crowding and fry until golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to the rack to drain. Repeat to make the remaining fritters. Sprinkle the fritters with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm, with the strawberry compote and chocolate ganache.

Strawberry Compote
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups quartered strawberries (halved if small), divided
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon orange liqueur and/or orange zest (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat 1 cup quartered strawberries, sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer about 10 minutes, then remove from heat. .Give it a whir in the food processor, blender or with a stick blender until smooth.

2. Stir in orange liqueur and/or zest, if using..let cool.  Stir in remaining 1/2 cup quartered strawberries.  Chill or serve at room temperature.


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