Merry Christmas everyone!  The atmosphere is certainly charged with the excitement that always comes before big holidays, and our annual Christmas eve party kept every surface in the kitchen covered some form of cooking project from stuffed mushrooms, to twice baked potatoes. I was able to weasel myself a few square feet of counter space though, to create my Sunday dessert.  




This Christmas I was looking for something different to make. I had already made Christmas cookies and bars and appetizers. So I decided to make something completely unrelated to Christmas just for kicks. So naturally strawberries were the first thing that popped in my head was strawberries. I looked at my favorite blog, tartlette for a recipe, and I decided on Pistachio Strawberry Mousse Mille Feuilles.  Click on the link to go to Tartlette, the blog where this recipe is from.

What I did in this recipe, was I simply cut the puff pastries in half instead of using two pastries for one Mille Feuilles. 

Pistachio and Strawberry Mousse Mille Feuilles: 

Makes: about 10
For the rough puff pastry, adapted from Michel Roux.
2 1/4 cups (300gr) all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup (300gr) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon (3gr) salt
1/2 cup (125ml) ice-cold water

Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the butter and salt right in the well and work them together with the flour, using your fingertips, gradually drawing in more flour into the center. When the butter pieces have reached pea sized pieces and the mixture appears grainy, gradually add the ice water and mix until it is all incorporated. Do not overwork the dough. Roll it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
On a lightly flour work area, roll the dough to an 8x4-inch rectangle. Fold it into three and give it a quarter turn. Roll it into another 8x4-inch rectangle again and fold it in three again. These are the first 2 turns. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
Give the chilled dough 2 more turns, rolling and folding as previously described. The pastry is ready then. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to use, roll the dough to a 1/8- inch (3 mm) thick rectangle and cut out 4x2 pieces. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Dock the dough with a fork to let the steam out while baking so your rectangles will be evenly puffed. Bake at 350F until golden brown. (This took me about 20 minutes). Let cool completely before filling with the mousses.

For the pistachio and strawberry mousse:
8 oz (240gr) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
1/4 cup (30gr) finely ground raw pistachios
1/2 cup pureed fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy cream, kept cold, divided

In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar until completely smooth. Take half the mixture and place it in another large bowl. Add the pistachios to one of them and mix until incorporated. Add the pureed strawberries to the other mascarpone mixture. In a mixer, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold half into the pistachio mascarpone mix and the other half with the strawberry one. The pistachio mousse is probably stiff enough to be used right away but you might have to refrigerate the strawberry one until the mascarpone hardens a bit otherwise it might be too soft to pipe easily. Divide the mixture into piping bags fitted with medium plain tips. Pipe dots of mousse onto half the puff pastry sheets, alternating the pistachio and strawberry. Top with another sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.





I also have my fingers crossed that I'm getting a camera to replace my cousins that I am currently borrowing, because you never know when she is going to want it back...



This weekend I had the ability to go with a friend on a bake shop tour around Minneapolis, and let me tell you this was an amazing experience. We went back into kitchens to learn how the bakeries work and how the operation is run. Not to mention all of the samples that were heaped up in front of us. Cupcakes, breads, macaroons, tarts, you name it, we tried it. The experience not only gave me so many creative ideas, but it opened my mind up to all the things that a pastry can be.


The first place we went was Salty Tart, home of the amazing macaroon. This tiny little shop was certainly not to be forgotten. It was amazing how all of the chefs could work in such a small space, but as they mentioned to us, "We are all a family, and we learn how to work around each other."



Second Stop: Cupcake
This was one of the shops I drew most of my inspirations from. The flavors of the cupcakes they had I knew I want to recreate soon, passion fruit chocolate being one that caught my eye as a different combination. The buttercream they used as well was one of the best I have had, so now I'm determined to recreate the perfect texture they seemed to have perfected at Cupcake.







This was my favorite stop on the tour, and it was Cupcake Carmel. This cute little shop was dedicated to the love of cupcakes and sugar arts. The cakes that graced the displays were amazing and every detail was poured over by dedicated pastry chefs. The use of techniques that I saw and learned about was incredible. I would highly recommend this bakery to everyone and anyone, because of the amazing food and the amazing people behind that food.


Patisserie 46 I will remember for the amazing breads they had. We got to sample three different kinds: a honey wheat, a baguette, and a chocolate orange bread. All of them were so differently delicious and you could tell this quaint little place worked hard to achieve these breads. Along with that, they dished out some pretty amazing mango carmels.


Overall, this was a great experience for me and I'm excited to get into the kitchen next weekend to try out something I learned from these great bakeries. 








What can I say, having to make 10 dozen Christmas cookies for the family cookie exchange was daunting me in the back of my mind these past to weeks. What to make, what to make? After looking through all the December Bon Appietit magazines that have a special place on the shelves in my basement, I had nothing. Until, I found this recipe online. It seemed very simple and with a lot of leeway for creativity I decided to use this recipe.



Cookies:
1/2 cup butter softened
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
food coloring (optional)
1 1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
dates, nuts, chocolate chips, or maraschino cherry's for cookie filling

Heat oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and few drops food coloring (optional) thoroughly in a standing mixer. Work in flour and salt until dough holds together. (If dough is dry, mix in 1 to 2 Tbl of light cream or milk.
Mold dough by Tbl around cherry (or whatever filling you choose). Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until set but not brown.
Cool; dip tops of cookies into icing. If desired, decorate with sprinkles, coconut, nuts, etc.



Icing:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon light cream or 1 1/2 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients until smooth. Add food coloring if desired. For chocolate icing, increase light cream to 3 Tbl or milk to 3 Tbl and stir in 1 ounce melted unsweetened chocolate.




These cookies were very good and simple enough that I could whip out 10 dozen in a little under three hours, and that includes decorating. For the cookies, I chose chocolate centers, and with the decorating, I did green and pink icing with wither pink and green coconut or ground chocolate and hazelnut. I think they ended up being very cute and I think they will be one of the favorites.








Hi all, I'm just here to say that this weekend I may not be posting due to the fact that I will be going to Waldsee, a German language camp for the weekend. I hope to give you pictures of the intriguing food of this culture, but I'm unaware if I can bring my camera along or not. So lets hope to have a good post on monday. Until then, Guten Tag!
So, when someone on a TV show or anywhere else in the American media attempts to make a souffle, it always comes out burnt. So as you can imagine I was eager to show them wrong. Ha! Like that worked out well. The souffle tasted great actually, the flavors of the orange and chocolate combined was amazing. It just, was a bit soupier than one might want. But on the bright side, you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully if you attempt this you wont have the same soupy fate as I did.

This recipe is from: the Cook's Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking*

*In my opinion, this book is a must have for any starting chef


Grand Marnier Souffle with Grated Chocolate


Here is the recipe:

3 Tablespoons butter

3/4 cups sugar (5 1/4 ounces)

5 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (I used a different orange lacquer)

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven 400 degrees. Grease 1 1/2 quart souffle dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cocoa on a small bowl and pour into prepared dish. Gently shake the mixture around to coat the sides and bottom of the dish evenly.
 Tap out excess mixture and set aside.

2. Whisk flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and slat together in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk, whisking until milk is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, until the thickened mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.

3. Using a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1 teaspoon sugar on medium low speed until foamy approx. 1 min. Increase to medium high speed and whip until whites are soft billowy mounds, approx. 1 min. Gradually add half of the remaining sugar whip until glossy, oft peaks form, about 30 sec. Add remaining sugar and whip until just combined approx. 10 seconds.

4. Using rubber spatula, immediately stir one quarter of the whipped whites into the souffle base to lighten until almost no white streaks remain. Scrape remaining whites into base and fold in whites, along with the grated chocolate., with whisk until mixture is just combined. Gently pour mixture into prepared pan and run your index finger about 12from side of dish, through mixture, tracing the circumference to help souffle rise properly. Bake until surface of souffle is deep brown, center jiggles slightly when shaken, and souffle has risen 2 to 2 1/2 inches above rim, 20 to 25 min. Serve immediately.


So as you can see, the souffle has not risen 2 1/2 inches over the souffle dish, but smelled the top burning, so we took it out fast. I believe that how much it has risen should be a first factor to see if you should take your souffle out. Also, notice that it says that the center should only jiggle slightly.




Little Confession: I'm only in ninth grade. See, I was thinking to hide behind the cover of the Internet, but then I thought, why blog if it isn't me? See, I can already see adult heads turning away now. "She's a freshman, what does she know?" Well you'd be surprised. So before I start with this weeks food I'd just like to say, I'm not some professional, amazing baker or pastry chef. I'm not some a amazing food photographer, and even though I wan't to be, let's get real, my pictures are sub-par. But I'm hoping I can connect with whoever is out there with nothing more than an equal love for deliciously amazing desserts.
This Sunday I went for some comfort food. Good old chocolate cake from the great blog Tartelette. After something called a med-med line in math, I was stressed. I ran right into the kitch, told my family to move out, and got out the blender. While making this cake I felt like I was doing everything wrong. Yolks got into my whites, I didn't set the oven, you know all the usual mistakes, I made them. But all in all this cake not only filled the house with an amazing aroma it took only an hour and came out tasting and looking great! The cake itself looks very dense and rich, but in actuality it is very light and moist. It was a perfect dessert as well as the perfect snack.

Here's the site:
http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2010/07/recipe-chocolate-hazelnut-meringue-cake.html

Here's the recipe:
Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Cake, adapted from Martha Stewart.

Makes one 9-inch cake

Notes:
- Now is not the time to use the cheap-o chocolate. Get the best quality bittersweet chocolate you can find as it is the star of the recipe. (Guittard, Callebaut, Valrhona, El Rey, Scharffen Berger, etc...)
- To toast the hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350F and spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
- To skin the nuts without driving yourself crazy, place them in a mesh bag (like a recycled orange or lemon bag) and rub the nuts between your hand over the sink. The skins will fall and only the "naked" nuts will remain in your bag.
- The cake at room temperature is excellent but served really cold, it becomes even fudgier and the meringue gives slightly under your tooth like a soft pavlova. Brilliant!


For the cake:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
6 large whole eggs, separated
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso (or vanilla)
1 1/2 tablespoons rum (optional)(not with us!)
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the meringue:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (1 cup)
1 cup hazelnuts (about 4 ounces), toasted and skinned (see notes)and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar

Prepare the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-3-inch springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter parchment and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and brown sugar until pale and smooth at medium speed, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bottom and sides of your bowl if necessary. Add the melted chocolate, espresso (or vanilla), rum, if using, and salt. Beat until combined. Transfer to a clean bowl and wash your mixing bowl thoroughly.
In a clean mixer bowl fitted the whisk attachment, beat the 6 egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites and pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 25 minutes.

Prepare the meringue:
Combine the chopped chocolate, nuts and cornstarch in a small bowl, and set aside. Place remaining 4 egg whites in a clean mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until frothy. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Fold in hazelnut mixture.

Assemble and Finish:
Remove cake from oven. Using a large offset spatula, spread meringue mixture on top of cake using as little strokes as possible not to deflate the meringue, and return to oven. Bake until meringue is lightly browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let stand 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, and release sides of pan. Let cool, about 30 minutes, before slicing and serving.



Enjoy!




Also, I'm hoping to get a thanksgiving post in, but we will se how it goes with the busy holiday.
Great way to start off a blog huh. Well one thing turned into the next and through I fought with time to be able to sit down at my computer, I couldn't until now. This week's dessert though, is one of my favorites, Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake. It comes from the amazing blog Pasterypal.


For the chocolate cake layer:


1 stick (112 g) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups (257 g) sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (56 g) cocoa powder
2 large eggs
2 oz (56 g) dark chocolate, melted
1 3/4 cups (210 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1 g) salt
1/2 cup (118 ml) water
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk

All cold ingredients should be at room temperature for better incorporation. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Melt the chocolate. I like to chop it up fine, and melt it in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Chocolate burns easily, so stir between every zap. Mine took about 60-90 seconds to melt. Keep it to the side for the moment. Using a tabletop or handheld electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder together on medium high speed until smooth, creamy and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until each one disappears into the mix. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. The dry, gritty stuff wants to collect at the bottom. Don’t let it win. Pour in the melted chocolate. Hopefully, by now your chocolate came down in temperature a little. It should feel like a warm bath. If it’s too hot, it might melt the butter, and that’s no good. If it’s too cold, it might re-solidify into little bits when it hits the cold bowl. So, warm. We want it warm.

 In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, which include flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir ‘em up good. Combine the milk and the water in a microwave-safe cup and microwave them until hot, about 45 seconds. Like a “too hot” bath.

Drop the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until MOSTLY combined, and then, with the machine still running, pour in the hot water/milk mixture. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl again. The dry ingredients tend to hide there. Pour the batter into a 18″ x 13″ sheet pan that’s been first sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and lined with parchment. (You can use any sized sheet pan with high sides — just pour in enough batter to come about halfway up the sides. If you have leftover batter, you can pour it into greased muffin tins, and bake mini cakes as well.) Spread it out evenly.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 18 minutes. Even though I specify a time amount, everyone’s ovens have a personality of their own, so it’s better to just pay attention to what the cake looks like. It shouldn’t look wet on top and will spring back when lightly pressed with your fingertips. Let it cool to room temperature. (Cake layer can be made a day ahead, if you’d like to break up the labor of this recipe. Wrap the whole thing, sheet pan and all, with plastic very well, and refrigerate.)

Cut a cake circle with each ring mold, regardless of which size you’ve decided to use. Place the molds on a parchment-lined sheet pan, one that will fit in your freezer.

For the dark chocolate mousse:

1 teaspoon (3 grams) powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (105 g) whole milk
6 oz (175 g) good quality dark chocolate (or use milk chocolate if you prefer), finely chopped
1 1/4 cup (280 g) heavy cream

Make sure your dark chocolate is finely chopped and waiting in a large bowl. Resist the urge to eat the shards.  First we’ll rehydrate the gelatin (otherwise known as “bloom” the gelatin.) Sprinkle it evenly over a small bowl with the water. In 5 minutes, it’ll have slurped up the liquid and will look, well, gelatinous. Next heat up the milk to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Stay close so it doesn’t boil all over. Turn OFF the heat (This is important. When subjected to high heat, gelatin deteriorates and turns grainy) and then scrape the gelatin blob into the hot milk. Swirl the pan around until it’s completely dissolved. It’ll look like there’s nothing more than milk.

Pour this milk/gelatin concoction over the finely chopped chocolate and let it rest for 2 minutes. The heat from the milk will melt down the chocolate. Whisk it up into a smooth pool of goodness. Set it aside and let it cool to lukewarm. Don’t let it reach room temperature or the gelatin may start to set up. Now, with a clean whisk, whip the cream to soft peaks. This texture is easiest to fold into the chocolate.

 Scoop about a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate and fold in. Since the chocolate is kind of dense and heavy, this will help lighten it up. When we fold in the rest of the cream, it won’t deflate as much. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you work, gently turning the mix in on itself. Then add the rest of the whipped cream, and gently fold that in. Pour the mousse into the waiting molds, filling them about halfway, without dripping on the insides of the molds. Otherwise when you’re ready to unmold the finished dessert, the sides will look messy. Put the whole tray in the freezer while you make the white chocolate mousse.


For the white chocolate mousse:
1/2 cup (105 g) whole milk
6 oz (175 g) good quality white chocolate
1 teaspoon (3 grams) powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup (180 g) heavy cream
Make the white chocolate mousse:

The ingredients and method are pretty much the same as the dark chocolate mousse, except there’s less cream to whip.

Make sure your white chocolate is finely chopped and waiting in a large bowl. First rehydrate the gelatin. Sprinkle it evenly over a small bowl with the water. In 5 minutes, it’ll have slurped up the liquid and will look, well, gelatinous. Next heat up the milk to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Stay close so it doesn’t boil all over. Turn OFF the heat (This is important. When subjected to high heat, gelatin deteriorates and turns grainy) and then scrape the gelatin blob into the hot milk. Swirl the pan around until it’s completely dissolved. It’ll look like there’s nothing more than milk.

Pour this milk/gelatin concoction over the finely chopped chocolate and let it rest for 2 minutes. The heat from the milk will melt down the chocolate. Whisk it up into a smooth pool of goodness. Set it aside and let it cool to lukewarm. Don’t let it reach room temperature or the gelatin may start to set up. Now, with a clean whisk, whip the cream to soft peaks. This texture is easiest to fold into the chocolate.

Scoop about a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate and fold in. Since the chocolate is kind of dense and heavy, this will help lighten it up. When we fold in the rest of the cream, it won’t deflate as much. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you work, gently turning the mix in on itself. Then add the rest of the whipped cream, and gently fold that in. It gets poured into the molds, most of the way up. Leave some space on top, about 1/8″ – 1/4″ for the chocolate glaze. Pop the tray back into the freezer while you make the glaze and garnish.


For the chocolate glaze and sauce:
4 oz (112g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (80g) heavy cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the heavy cream, corn syrup and oil into a microwave-proof cup and nuke until almost boiling (you might be able to see it gurgling in the cup), about 45 seconds. It will look curdled but pay it no mind. Stir it up to blend. Pour over the chocolate and allow to sit for a minute to melt it all. Whisk everything until completely smooth. Yup, it’s that easy. When it’s cold, it’s firm yet soft. When it’s warm, it’s liquid. Very versatile. (You can store this in the fridge for up to a week, but it will firm up. To bring it back to liquid, microwave it in 30-second intervals and stir between each nuking until it’s saucy.)

Wait until the sauce cools to lukewarm (so it doesn’t melt down the mousse), and carefully pour sauce onto the tops of your molds. It’s going to start setting almost immediately on contact from the cold, so work fast. Back into the freezer they go for at least 4 hours, to fully set. Once set, if you plan to keep them frozen for a while, be sure to wrap the tray very well to keep the cakes from absorbing strange freezer flavors.

For the chocolate crunch:
1 cup Rice Crispies cereal, or similar rice cereal
2 oz (56 g) dark chocolate

Melt the chocolate in a medium sized bowl by nuking it in a microwave. Start with 30 seconds, stir, then continue with 20 second intervals until it’s completely melted. Chocolate can scorch easily, so it’s best to do the melting in short spurts. Throw in the cereal, and work it around the bowl until it’s completely coated. There’s something very satisfying about doing this. If some of this mix makes it into your gullet, I’ll look the other way.

Spread it all out on a parchment-lined sheet pan, keeping it in little flat clusters. This way, the cereal bits touch each other, and can dry in chunks. Pop it in the fridge to set up. (This keeps in the fridge for weeks. Once the chocolate sets up, you can break this up and keep the pieces in a small plastic container.)


 To serve:

The day you want to serve them, you can unmold the number you need. They come out of the rings more cleanly when frozen. First, roll them around in the palms of your hands for a minutes. The heat helps release them.
Then treat them like a push-pop, and gently press them out. They have a tendency to slip out and land with a thud on your tray, so go slowly.

Keep them uncovered in the fridge while they defrost. It probably takes a couple of hours to defrost something of this size. If you made a big cake, you may need another hour or two. Don’t let them sit in the fridge for more than a day. The longer a gelatin-based dessert sits in the fridge, the more rubbery it becomes. Right when you’re ready to serve, warm the chocolate sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds, give it a stir and pour some in your dish.



And Here is the link: http://www.pastrypal.com/2011/07/triple-chocolate-mousse-cake/

This will be my second time making this, but I have to say, I'm not a fan of white chocolate mousse. So, I decided to make two batches of the dark chocolate mousse. This is one of my favorite mouse recipes, and I think that has to do with the gelatin and the way it helps everything come together. But be careful. Make sure to use a chocolate you really like, because that is exactly how the mouse is going to taste. Otherwise you can add sugar before you fold the chocolate mixture in.

Have fun with this one!





Hello, and welcome to the blog Sunday Desserts. Here I will make something every Sunday and post on Sunday or Monday. I will post the recipe, where I got it from, what I added, or any problems I come across along the way. So, today I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, but come back tomorrow and I will have something for you. Plus, if there is anything you would like me to try, please comment, because I am always up for a challenge.