Friday, January 28, 2011

chocolate pot de creme: this is a wonderful feeling


A love story. 

One day, long ago, chocolate and I met. It was love at first bite. We've been together ever since that first encounter, that I can no longer remember the details of. But it doesn't matter anyway because all I know is, I love chocolate. And chocolate loves me back.  And it also doesn't get jealous when it's shared with someone else. This time, in form of pots de creme. So simple, so creamy and so smooth. Chocolate and I, we're going to last a long time. I can just feel it. 



A short and sweet story. 

Oh and in other news, my classes are now over and I am on stage (internship, in french) at a beautiful new French pastry shop just minutes away from my house. There are only two people working in the lab and it's wonderful. I've already been allowed to do more things than at any of my other stages. The products are of really nice quality and the place is absolutely gorgeous. And the owners (a young French couple) are very sweet and we all sit down for lunch together at the end of the shift. I'm really lucky so far. But more on that at another time!


Chocolate Pots de Creme

Serves about 6, depending on size of ramekins

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups (340 ml) heavy cream
1 1/3 cups (340 ml) 2% milk
6 oz (185 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

Procedure

Preheat oven to 300F. In a small sauce pan, heat up the cream, milk and chopped chocolate over medium heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the yolks and sugar until paler in colour. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the yolks while constantly whisking to temper the yolks. Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a measuring jar. Try to remove the foam off the top with a spoon. Pour evenly into six (180 ml) ramekins and place the ramekins in a roasting pan. (refer back to the method for creme caramel). Pour very hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake until centers only wobble a little after 50-60 minutes. (If you give them a shake, they should only ripple back and forth once. If the ripple a lot they are not done yet). Remove from oven and let them cool completely in the pan. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours or preferably overnight. 

 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

roses and sugar: a wedding cake and more


It was a weekend of celebrations! 

It all started off with a friend's wedding on Saturday. It was a beautiful wedding and so much fun!  A couple who have been together for eight years and soon to have a family of their own. I got to see some people that I hadn't seen in a while and dance and chat the night away. I also got the opportunity to make my first ever wedding cake. The newlyweds asked for a chocolate and hazelnut filling and white buttercream exterior. Normally wedding cakes are covered in rolled fondant but they asked for only buttercream which meant that I had to make sure the cream was as perfect as possible. I think I did a pretty good job in the end. Everyone seemed to love it, so I guess I did something right. 


I must say that that was good practice for another friend's wedding in June. And I suppose all my other friends' future weddings. I'm really starting to enjoy cake decorating. Especially with the experience that I'm getting from my part-time work. I've learned so much in the past couple of months from this job that there's no way I would have been able to make this cake without that experience.

 

I also celebrated my birthday a few days ago. I may be getting older and just starting a new career but I think I'm headed toward the right path. I'm so lucky to have met some wonderful people from school. I really think I had one of the best birthdays in a long time. I never expected all that generosity from anybody. Maybe it's just because I've never made a big deal out of my birthday, so I was more than pleased with all the gifts and kindness from everyone.


And you know you've met some pretty cool people when they know that the way to your heart is with Oreos and store-bought candy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

angel food cake: back to basics

 

My favorite time of the year: Christmas. I can't tell you how much I love the holidays. There's something so wonderful about it. It's not just about the gifts (although I love receiving, I find it more enjoyable to give), but it's more about the time spent with family and friends. I love spending my days doing next to nothing. Just relaxing, playing games, reading or catching up on all the movies I've been wanting to watch.


What I don't like about the holidays? All the stress that comes with the work that has to be done before it. Don't get me wrong, I like to move around and work, but this year was a little too much. Between school, work #1 and work #2, there wasn't much time left for myself. I was working every day of the week then going to school at night and working weekends. Let me tell you, I'm glad that's over. I'm actually amazed I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done on time. 

I got some pretty great gifts this year actually. Some great baking and decorating books, kitchen accessories and an ice cream maker attachment for my mixer. I'm so excited to try it out! I must admit; I. Love. Ice Cream. I wouldn't say that I'm an ice cream-o-holic, but I'm not that far-off. All the different flavours, the creaminess...so good! I love gelato, sorbets and granitas too. 


As excited as I am to try it, I've been using most of my time off to hang out with my friends and family. Best friends from out of the country, best friends from in-town and new friends. I've had such a great time going out for breakfasts, late lunches/early dinners, drinks, karaoke, parties and definitely staying-in nights. I spent quite a bit of money over the last week or two but it was all worth it. I have to face the fact that I'm probably never going to have this much time off over the holidays again so I might as well enjoy it. 

My break also made me realize how much I love my dearest friends. There are some people in this world who, well, mean the world to me. Friends are easy to come by, but true friends don't come by as often. That's why it's so important to let them know how much you love them.


I also loved spending time with my family. We went up to a beautiful chalet in eastern Quebec for some fun in the snow and relaxing. And also some baby-sitting of my ridiculously adorable niece! The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and enchanting. Nature is the main focus along the fleuve St-Laurent. There's nothing but trees, snow-covered mountains and blue skies. We went out for a little walk one day to capture some of the beauty and get some fresh air. We also had a great time eating delicious food! For desert, we enjoyed a delicious angel food cake with poached strawberries and plums and whipped cream. So light and airy with the right amount of sweetness from the fruit. The fruit can be changed depending on the season.

For now, it's back to school and life as we know it.

This post is linked on Sweet as Sugar cookies: Sweet Treats for a Saturday
 


 Angel Food Cake

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Ingredients

1 cup (110g) cake flour
1 cup (100g) icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 large egg whites (360g)
3/4 cup (140g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt onto a large piece of parchment or waxed paper. 

In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk until foamy (it will sort of look like foamy soap). Start adding a 1/3 of the sugar in a slow stream (about a tablespoon at a time and wait about 10-15 seconds between each addition) and add cream of tartar and vanilla when the whites are more opaque. Increase speed to high and continue adding the rest of the sugar slowly until whites increase in volume and form soft peaks (when you lift up the whisk, the peak should fall back into a hook shape). Do not overbeat otherwise the meringue will be too stiff. Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully fold the flour mixture in batches into the whites with a large rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into a 10-inch UNGREASED angel food cake pan and smooth the top. Make sure there is no batter running around the inside walls of the pan. Bake until cake is lightly browned and springs back to the touch and a tooth-pick comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Once out of the oven, invert the cake onto a countertop and let it cool completely in the pan. To remove, tap the bottom of the pan and if needed, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge and invert cake onto a serving plate. Serve with fruit compote and whipped cream or even creme anglaise if desired.

Poached fruit

4 cups of cubed strawberries and plums
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup water

Put all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil and keep stirring. Lower heat and let simmer until fruit is soft and liquid has thickened. The time will depend on the ripeness of the fruit. The firmer the fruit, the longer it will take to soften.

Whipped cream

1/2 cup (or more) of heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar

Whip cream and sugar with a mixer until soft peaks form. Serve on side of cake with fruit.

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