Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Celebrating the Cherries

Chocolate Cherry Ensemble Cake

For the cherry purée:

300 g stoned cherries
50 g sugar
30 g water
5 g lemon juice

Boil the water and the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan. Leave to cool. Process the cherries in a food processor. Add the sugar syrup and the lemon juice. Store in the fridge until needed.

For the cherry compote:

200 g stoned whole cherries
35 g sugar
100 g cherry purée

Combine the cherries and cherry purée in a pan and bring to the boil point. Stir in the sugar and cook over low temperature for 2-3 min. Cool. Take out the cherries from the purée and reserve separately.

For the chocolate ganache:

110 g dark chocolate
120 ml heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer and pour it over the chocolate. Let the mixture rest for 10 min.  With a handheld whisk, stir the chocolate cream mixture until smooth and shiny. Leave it to rest (preferably at room temperature, which means that it should be prepared hours in advance or the day before).

For the chocolate cherry cake:

have all the ingredients at room temperature

170 g unsalted butter 
130 g sugar
200 g eggs
4 g vanilla extract
300 g flour
6 g baking powder
110 g dark chocolate
110 g blanched hazelnuts
180 ml milk
100 g cherry purée

Have a nonstick cake form prepared. 
Prepare the hazelnuts: Toast them in a hot oven (160C) for 5-10 min or until the skin darkens a bit. Take them out of the oven and until very warm, remove the skin as much as possible. It is a very easy process and a bit massy but is also fast if a handful of hazelnuts are processed together. Leave them to cool and chop roughly.
Sift the flour and the baking powder in a bowl.
Melt the chocolate over bain marie. Leave to cool slightly. 
Beat the butter and the sugar until very light and pale. Add the eggs in small bathes. Mix in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate, mixing continuously. Stop the mixer. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts, cherry purée. Mix in the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk.
Bake at 170 C for about 40 min. Remove from the pan immediately and leave to cool on a wire rack. 

Note: This cake is better if mature for day or two, foiled and kept in the refrigerator. 

For the cream:

200 ml heavy cream
15 g sugar

Have a mixing bowl and the whisk used for beating the cream in the freezer for an hour. Beat the cream at low at first to aerate. Add the sugar and increase the mixing speed. Mix until soft peaks are formed. Reserve in the refrigerator until needed.

For the decoration:

10-12 fresh washed cherries


Pipe 10-12 ganache bases and secure the cherries on top of them. 

Decorate with the cherries reserved from the cherry compote. Sprinkle with the reserved cherry purée-syrup from the cherry compote. Use as much of it as you like.

Bon appétit. 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Caramelized Apple Tartelettes

for the tartelettes' shells
(using tartelettes pans with diameter 9 cm)

While the dough is chilled in the refrigerator, prepare the filling.

for the filling:

1 kg apples (about 5 medium sized apples)
140 g unsalted butter I
1 g ground cinnamon
200 g granulated sugar
50 ml cognac "Courvoisier
120 ml heavy cream
20 g unsalted butter II

Slice the cleaned and peeled apples, dripping few drops of fresh lemon juice after slicing each apple. This will prevent the fast oxidation of the fruit which could cause a unpleasant dark colouring.. Melt the 'butter I' in a wide pan. Add the apples and cook at medium for a few minutes. Add the mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Cook the apples just enough to  achieve the very light caramelizing flavour and colour. The fruit should stay firm. Add the cognac and cream and cook until the sauce thickens. Take off the heat and remove the apples from the sauce, let them cool. 

Take the dough out from the refrigerator. Roll it out to 3 mm thickness between two pieces of foil, avoiding sticking and adding an additional flour. Cut the rolled piece in half and reserve one half back in the refrigerator. Cut 5 circles with diameter 10 cm and line the pans, spreading the dough evenly, covering the forms completely. Chill the lined forms in the refrigerator.

Melt the butter II. Brush the bottom of the lined pans. Arrange the apple slices.

Cut the reserved half of the dough in thin strips. Follow the pictures to make the lattice top of the tartelettes.

Brush the remaining butter over the strips. Bake at 180C for about 40-45 min until golden. Serve warm with the reserved caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Strawberry Sensation

for 8 cupcakes:

have all the ingredients at room temperature

130 g flour
6 g baking powder
70 g unsalted butter
130 g sugar
65 g eggs
4 g vanilla extract
80 g milk
230 g strawberries chopped

Combine the flour and the baking powder in a bowl. Mix well. Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar beating continuously. Have the buttery mixture pale and light. This will aerate the batter enough for achieving light and melting cupcake texture at the end. Beat in the eggs into the butter. Add the vanilla. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add one third of the flour. After absorbed, add half of the milk, mixing on low, the second third of the flour and the last part of the milk. Fold the last third of the flour. Adding the flour and the milk shouldn't take longer than 2 min. Add the strawberries at the end mixing by hand. Divide the batter into eight cupcake liners. Fill them two thirds. (see the Note!). Bake at 170C for about 20-25 min or until a toothpick checking satisfies you. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Ice the cakes after completely cooled.

Note: The cups' shape used for these cupcakes does not allow filling them more than two thirds. The straight sides cause vigorous rising during baking. If other liner are used (common liners), they could be filled three quarters of their volume - the widening on top allows the batter to spread evenly and more freely without damaging the shape of the cupcake

for the icing:

Strawberry White Chocolate Cream

have all the ingredients at room temperature:

90 g white chocolate
60 g cream cheese
30 g unsalted butter
40 g confectioners sugar
80 g sour cream
140 g strawberries + 1 tbsp. sugar

Prepare the strawberry purée by cooking gently strawberries and sugar over medium heat. Do not over cook the fruit. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and reserve the purée. Chop the chocolate in small pieces and melt it over bain-marie. Set aside to cool. Combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat with the sugar until light and creamy. Combine the strawberry purée and the sour cream. Mix with the butter mixture. Add the melted chocolate. Allow to cool in the refrigerator and harden a little bit before piping on top of the cupcakes. 
Decorate with fresh strawberries.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Celebrating the Strawberries

Strawberry Meringue Torte with White Chocolate Mouse Topping

(makes one cake with diameter 17-20 cm, height - 9 cm)

For the bases:

240 g egg whites
160 g custard sugar
170 g confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Whip the egg whites and the custard sugar until stiff. Sift the confectioner's sugar and cornstarch into the meringue and fold gently. If you are using a cake ring with a certain diameter, draw three circles with that size on a parchment paper. Turn the paper with the drawings upside down and pipe the bases. 

A pastry bag with a plain circled tip could be used or just a cut bag. It is not necessary perfection to be achieved on that. However, the meringue batter will be more than enough for the bases. Attach a star tip to another pastry bag and pipe rosettes for the cake top decoration. If a different decoration is preferred and no need of small confections like the meringue rosettes, draw and pipe more circle bases. The last could be stored for up to three months and could be used as an addition to another recipes. 

Bake at 120C for at least one and a half hour. If the meringue is still soft and wet, dry for another half hour or more. Once the bases are almost cooled down, remove from the paper with care and save for the assembly.

For the strawberry filling:

240 g strawberries, ripen cut in small pieces + 5-6 whole strawberries
90 g custard sugar
7 g unflavoured gelatin
14 ml cold water
370 g heavy cream

Slice 3-4 of the whole strawberries and set aside.
Cook the strawberries with the sugar until they break down. Strain and cool the purée. Add 14 ml cold water to gelatin. Once the purée is cooled, dissolve the bloomed gelatin into it. Whip the cream until soft peaks. Fold into the strawberry mixture. Put the cake ring onto a cake base or a serving plate. Insert the first meringue disk. Cover with half of the strawberry filling. Arrange the sliced strawberries along the ring. The second meringue disk needs to be trimmed a little bit to fit the inside of the ring with the strawberries. Insert the trimmed ring and fill with second half of the filling. Top with the last meringue disk turning it upside down. Place the cake in the refrigerator. 

For the white chocolate strawberry mouse:

180 ml heavy cream
6 g unflavoured gelatin
12 ml cold water
60 g granulated sugar
3 egg whites
60 ml strawberry pureé
80 g white chocolate

Prepare the strawberry purée from 100g strawberries and one tablespoon sugar, as per the recipe for the filling. Whip the cream and place it in the refrigerator. Prepare the gelatin, adding the water. Set aside. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl of a mixer over bain-marie, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches temperature of 60C. If you do not use a thermometer, make sure that the tip of your finger feels uncomfortably hot touching the mixture. Remove from the heat and beat the meringue until cooled down. Use the bain-marie for melting the chocolate. Leave to cool until beating the meringue.  Dissolve the bloomed gelatin in the strawberry pureé. Add to the white chocolate. Manually combine the cream and meringue carefully in small portions. Fold in the white chocolate mixture. Ice the top of the cake. Using a palette knife, smooth from the centre outwards. Place in a freezer for 40 min than move it back in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. 
Decorate with the meringue rosettes and the rest of the whole strawberries. Use a strawberry leaves.

Note: if using fresh strawberries on the side of the cake, make sure that the cake will be served the same day. Fresh strawberries are juicy and this will ruin the cake appearance if stored for longer. If you will present and serve the cake the next day, avoid using the sliced strawberries. Use more fresh strawberries decorating the top of the cake, but make sure you do that just before serving.

The recipe for the Strawberry Cupcakes coming soon. Strawberry Celebration continues!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Pear Upside-Down Cake

Pear Upside-Down Cake

(for 21 cm/ 9" cake pan)

5 pears (about 1,5 kg)

170 g unsalted butter I
130 g light brown sugar

the following ingredients should be at room temperature:
100 g unsalted butter II
130 g granulated sugar
90 g eggs
7 ml/(1/2 Tsp) vanilla extract
230 g flour
12 g baking powder
110 ml milk
100 ml heavy cream

Poaching Syrup:

600 ml water
300 g granulated sugar
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
5 ml/ 1tsp vanilla extract

Poaching the pears: Combine all the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Peal the pears, cut in quarters and core. Each pear should be placed in a bowl and few drops lemon juice should be squeezed over. Depending on the pears used, poaching will continue in two different ways:

1. for firm and not well ripped pears: Add the pears to the boiling syrup and boil for 3-4 min. Reduce the heat and simmer slowly until the fruit becomes tender. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the syrup.

2. for softer fruit: Add the peaces to the boiling syrup and immediately lower the heat. Simmer slowly until tender without bringing to boil. Leave to cool in the syrup.

Melt the butter I. Add the brown sugar and stir continuously until paste is achieved. Pour it in the cake pan. Remove the pears from the syrup and arrange them in the pan round side down. Cream the butter II with the sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until homogenize completely. Combine the milk and the cream. Sift the flour and the baking powder together. Add into the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk-cream liquid. Spread the batter into the pan on top of the pears. Bake at 190C for about 30 min. Let it cool in the pan, out of the oven for 10 min and than invert the cake onto serving platter. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

Note: for decoration, small vanilla butter cream/whipped cream rosettes could be piped just for dividing the cake into pieces needed. Finish the rosettes with a chocolate drop. In every case, this cake deserves to shine in its own bare naked style - it is for sure an extreme delight.