Tags: Butter Pecan, Candy, Chocolate, Christmas, corn flakes, feuilletine, white chocolate
This morning I swore I wasn’t going to put this post up because the photos turned out awful. These babies do not mesh well with artificial light. But then I thought ‘This candy is so darn good, why would I hold back over photos?”
These are normal thoughts if you have a food blog.. and completely justified since photos are the most important aspect of a food blog. You eat with your eyes. This is why I groan so much about not having natural light. One more time...everyone has natural light, whyyy not meeee? :/
Remember the filling for my Butter Pecan Thumbprint cookies? Well, of course you do, since it was my last post…from like 5 days ago.
Tags: Baking with Julia, Candied Bacon, Chocolate, Croissants, Esther McManus, Homemade Croissants, Julia Child, Pain au Chocolat, Pepper Jack Cheese, Pistachio, Sea Salt, white chocolate
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.
Stretching 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.
Tags: Almonds, baking, Black Pearl Ganache, Black Sesame, Cake, Chocolate, Dessert Wars, Entremet, feuilletine, Genoise, Ginger, Green, Green Tea, Matcha, Matcha Mousse, Pistachio, recipes, Sesame Seeds, Sponge Cake, Wasabi, white chocolate
This should have been my St. Patrick’s Day entry.
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.
Win – Dessert 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)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
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.
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.