Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My favorite food quote:

This came out of the mouth of one of my 1st grade students with Autism who LOVES food:
"The grocery store is a glorious place!"

I can't agree more!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Goodbye, Sugar!

Well, not really, at least not completely.  I really need to make a lifestyle change, which includes scaling back on the baking.  I love to bake, but I also love to eat what I bake.  I just can't resist my products.  Sometimes, I manage to bring what I bake to work and shove off the calories on coworkers, but often I consume a significant amount before that even happens.  Plus, I just don't have money to give away tons of baked goods.  So, I think for a while, I am going to be limiting my baking to healthier baked goods, and The Daring Bakers.  I am going to have to take a break from TWD, as you may have already noticed.  So, to start off my lightened up version of my blog, try out this recipe, it's amazing!  We've been whittling it away for the past 4 breakfasts.  It's a great breakfast along with a piece of fruit or yogurt!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Daring Bakers -- Flourless Chocolate Cake

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.  We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

This was a great challenge, seeing as though I had always wanted to make and try a flourless chocolate cake!  It was actually very easy to make, and turned out well.  My husband LOVED it, because he's the chocolate freak.  I liked it, but preferred the ice cream that I made, which was amazing!  Instead of using the suggested ice cream recipes I went with a salted caramel ice cream.  I have been on a salted caramel kick for a while.  Especially since Europe, when I came across the cutest salted caramels in Paris.  The ice cream turned out to be a strange color in the photograph, but in real-life, the color is more subtle.  I think next time I try this recipe, I might try baking the cakes in a deeper container, to see what that does to the texture.  Check out the recipe and try some for yourself!  

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated

1.  Put chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2.  While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling, butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3.  Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4.  Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease-free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5.  With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together.
6.  Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7.  Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with the remaining 2/3.  Fold until no whites remain without deflating the batter.
8.  Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F
9.  Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F
Note-- if you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10.  Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
One generous quart (liter)

For the caramel praline (mix-in)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream custard
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  To make the caramel praline, spread the 1/2 cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan:  I use a 6 quart/liter pan.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.  (I just used parchment paper)
2.  Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt.  Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges toward the center, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved (or most of it -- there may be some lumps, which will melt later).  Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it's just about to burn.  It won't take long.
3.  Without hesitation, sprinkle in the 3/4 teaspoon salt without stirring (don't even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible.  Set aside to harden and cool.
4.  To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they're floating.  Nest a smaller bowl (at least 2 quarts) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.
5.  Spread 1 1/2 cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer.  Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in step # 2.
6.  Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.  The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted.  Stir in 1 cup of the milk.
7.  Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly.  Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens.  If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170F.
8.  Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk, set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
9.  Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
10.  While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about 1/2-inch, or 1 cm).  I use a mortar and pestle, although you can make your own kind of music using your hands or a rolling pin.
11.  Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.
Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they're intended to do.