Saturday, March 16, 2013

Guinness Cake for St Patrick's (or whenever)

Guinness Chocolate Bundt Cake 
makes one 10-inch bundt cake

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon Guinness beer
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup grapeseed oil  
2 Tablespoons natural applesauce 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan and set aside.
To make the cake batter:  Put Guinness and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugars, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.
Add the flours and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  The batter will be very loose.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

Whiskey Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup Jameson whiskey
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
Stir sugar and water together in a saucepan and heat on stovetop over medium-high heat. Keep an eye on it and remove from heat once it turns a dark amber color. Immediately add the whiskey then use a long kitchen match to light the pan. When flame is gone, stir well and add in the cream.  Once it's stirred well, return to the heat and bring to a boil.  Let it reduce down to 2/3. remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir well.  Let cool before topping the bundt.

Bailey's Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar (or extra fine baking sugar)
2 tablespoons Bailey's irish cream

Using a standing mixer and the whisk attachment, whip the cream to a whipped cream-like consistency then add the sugar and irish cream and whip to incorporate. Keep chilled, serve with cake.    

Friday, November 5, 2010

Crème Brulée à la Citrouille (Pumpkin Crème Brulée)

I know that it has been several months, but I decided to make crème brulée for some foodie friends who are coming for dinner.  Being that it is November and I have an entire case of canned pumpkin, I scoured the internet to find the perfect Pumpkin Crème Brulée recipe.  The one I chose is from Food Network star, Emeril LaGasse.  Find the recipe here. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am sure that most of you have had a soufflé before.  Light and airy yet rish in flavor, these egg-based desserts are like a slice of heaven.  Although chocolate is by far the most popular soufflé flavor worldwide, there are several options when it comes to which kind of soufflé to make.  Like crepes, soufflés can be either savory or sweet, the latter being the more common of the two types.

In honor of some special dinner guests, I attempted a Soufflé au café (Coffee soufflé) accompanied by a dark chocolate sauce. I had a brilliant idea to bake them in individual serving dishes using coffee mugs.  It would have been pretty cute as the puffed up soufflé would ressemble a foamy latte.  HOWEVER, I grossly miscalculated the baking time adjustment (the recipe was to bake in a 6 serving soufflé dish) and took them out of the overn very prematurely.  The soufflés immediately deflated to ressemble a pancake and were slightly undercooked.  Needless to say, they were not edible!

So, I started over. Yes, right there while our guests chatted with us! I was bound and determined to have a WOW factor to the evening.  This time around, I used my 6 serving soufflé dish and it came out quite beautiful. The dark chocolate sauce was sinfully delicious and rich as a backdrop to the light magic of the coffee soufflé.

The coffee soufflé recipe can be found in Julia Child's Mastering the Artof French Cooking. As for the chocolate sauce, I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream and simply melted them together and added 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

French baguettes

I have read many articles that speak of the impossibility of replicating authentic French bread in America, let alone in a home kitchen, but I was feeling daring and I went ahead and tried it!  :) I used this recipe from my favorite cooking site, and it had several positive reviews from people who'd traveled to or lived in France. 

Since I was making the baguettes for my Petite Parisienne party, I wanted them too to be miniature so my baguettes more closely resembled breadsticks.  I must say that the most challenging part for me was getting the dough to rise enough because it is supposed to rise somewhere very warm (80-85 degrees) and I baked on a cold winter day. My solution (took me a failed attempt to figure it out) was to use my space heater in our laundry room (the smallest, unused space in our home). It seemed to yield better results.

Here is a shot of the finished product:

Monday, February 15, 2010


Macarons (mah-kah-ROH) are a great little French treat.  For all of you trying to be both dairy and gluten-free, this is perfect for you.  They are made of almond flour, eggs and powdered sugar. The ganache, however, does have heavy cream in it. Tartelette is a well-renowned French pastry chef who lives and works here in the US.  Click here to check out a blog post about learning how to make Macarons with Tartelette.

I set out to make these little guys about a month ago and the technique was too tricky for this amateur!  However, I finally found this recipe which claims to be fool proof and I tried again.

I made French chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache filling for the first batch (doubled the recipe). Upon achieving success, I just had to make another flavor (and use up some of the leftover chocolate ganache) so I made Martha Stewart's recipe  here  for French vanilla macarons (used food coloring to make them pink) and then added high quality raspberry preserves to the ganache to get a raspberry-chocolate ganache filling.  I sampled the final result and they were très bien!

Overall assessment: Very simple to make once you get the technique down. You truly do have to use the extra large plain pastry tip to get the right shape.  Also, you don't need to let them sit out for a while after piping them onto parchment paper.  Simply wrap the cookie sheets onto the countertop a few times and you will get the same effect.  Oh yeah, you do need to use egg whites at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again?

The task: Mini sugar pastry crusts.
The challenge: Getting them to retain their shape while cooking, as they are extremely delicate.

Well, it would seem that Julia Child only gives recipes for a regular sized fruit tart, which also means a regular pastry crust.  In her recipe, she recommends either placing a piece of buttered foil with uncooked beans or another pie tin over the top of the pie tin in order to set the shape of the shell. I thought that since I have two muffin pans that bake 12 muffis each I could simply use one to cook the crusts in ans the other to lightly set on the top.  This idea may have even worked had I not made my crusts too think to where the bottoms were thick and bubbly and my overlay pan didn't flatten them enough. Also, it seems that I didn't grease the overlay pan enough because when I went to remove it, the entire pastry shells came with.

Much to my dismay, only 2 of the 10 survived in tact, and even they look a little funky if you look at the bottoms, which are about 1/3 inch think and warped looking.

Here's a picture of the best ones:

And here are the rest of them:

So, what does that mean for my poor American guests who truly need to experience the amazing goodness of une tarte française?  It means I had better dust the flour off and try again.  This time I will try a different strategy and double the recipe so that I can make 20-24 in one batch. Wish me luck as I am losing my energy to tackle such a feat.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bouchons "Chocolate Corks"

Thomas Keller is a "world renowned" French pastry chef who has made these all the rage in the upper foodie circles here in the US with his bakeries in Napa and NYC.  Evidently, his are just to die for.  The photo above are his Bouchons. 
I went ahead and shelled out the $29.95 to buy a silicone bouchon mold from Williams & Sonoma (pictured below). It was ever so cute and promised to make amazing chocolate treats.  
I followed the recipe on the back of the mold box and my bouchons turned out super fluffy and not at all dense, which is one of their primary characteristics. They were quite delicious, but nearly impossible to release from the silicone pan. Now, I will go ahead and admit guilt where it is due here: I may have over mixed it a bit and I have no previous experience with silicone baking pans.  
And thus. my search for delicious amazing and totally reproducible French pastries and baked goods continues. If I endeavor to make Bouchons again, I will purchase different molds (often referred to as Baba molds or Timbale molds) as I plan to return this one tomorrow.
Thanks for following me in this wacky journey.