Tags: chocolate, choux, eclair, pastry cream
The last time that I made choux (pronounced like shoe) pastry, was when I made a croquembouche for Shavuot a couple of years ago. It was a little bit involved as you had to make the cream puffs, the cream, dip them in chocolate or caramel and then stack them up carefully. It came out tasty, but I felt that the cream puff shells were not crispy enough, probably because I had filled them and stacked them the day before we ate the croquembouche. (Just as an aside, Rocker Dude thinks that the word corquembouche is too pretentious, so he calls is a crokey douche and that is what we really call it in our household. He also uses it as an example of a fancy dessert).
We were invited out to E. and A.’s for lunch this weekend, and when I asked E. what I should bring, she told me that she had just read the post about the Chocolate Silk Pie and would please like something decadent. But after indulging in the Chocolate Silk Pie, I was chocolated out. I needed something different. So I browsed around on Pinterest for other decadent desserts. Someone pinned a picture of an eclair pie and that started the eclair mindset.
I did a little research on different recipes and different fillings and came the Joy of Baking site. The site is wonderful and has a lot of instructional videos that show all the steps of a recipe so you can make sure that what you are making looks like it should. I watched the video for the eclairs, and though there were a few steps, it seemed relatively simple and straightforward.
i decided to make the pastry shells and the pastry cream and chocolate glaze on Friday, but only fill the eclairs on Saturday. That way they would not get soggy. The Little Rocker asked me if she could please help me and as I couldn’t refuse such a request, I told her that she needed to watch the video on the Joy of Baking site and tell me what to do. It worked out wonderfully. The Little Rocker updated me every few seconds with what was going on, though she didn’t allow for time lapses when the video cut to the next step while I was still mixing. We had to pause a few times :). Squeaker cooperated by sleeping and not needing to be held – and that is even more helpful than the Little Rocker wanting to mix the batter!
The shells baked up really nicely – nice and crispy on the outside and almost hollow on the inside. When they were cool I cut them in half and then dipped the tops in the chocolate glaze. I decided not to poke holes in the sides and force the cream in because as this was my first time making them and I was making them for friends, I didn’t want to take a chance that the filling would not fill the whole eclair and just settle on the side.
I felt that the glaze on the site was too thin. Adding corn syrup and vanilla I think was unnecessary and made the glaze harder to deal with. Next time I make these, I will use a regular ganache that will harden a bit. I had to keep these refrigerated in order to keep them from being sticky.
My plan for keeping the shells nice and crispy worked! I filled them shortly before lunch and then refrigerated the finished eclairs until dessert time. Success!
FYI I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #34: Choux Party (August 2013) hosted by Jasline of Foodie Baker.
Recipe (based on the Joy of Baking):
Choux Pastry:1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter/margarine, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole milk/soy milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 grams) white sugar
2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 scant tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces (55 grams) semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy/whipping cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. To make all the eclairs the same size, you can use a template. Take a piece of parchment paper and draw 12 – 3 1/2 inch (8.5 cm) lines, spacing the lines about 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7 cm) apart. Place the template under your parchment paper so you can use it as a guide.
In a bowl whisk the flour with the sugar and salt. Place the butter and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour mixture all at once, and stir until combined. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer (can do this by hand or with a hand mixer), and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about 1 minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe 12 oblongs of dough (about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide) onto the baking sheet (using template as a guide). If desired, with a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with a lightly beaten egg.
Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Continue to bake for a further 25 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. If they are not dry inside then poke two holes on the bottom of each eclair with a toothpick or a skewer. Turn off the oven and let the eclairs cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. This will help dry them out inside.
In a heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Whisk the flour with the cornstarch and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to a boil (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you did get a little curdling, then pour the mixture through a strainer.) Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, keep whisking constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until the pastry cream becomes thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. (For a chocolate pastry cream stir in 2 ounces (55 grams) finely chopped semi sweet chocolate. For a mocha flavor add 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder to the hot milk.) Pour the pastry cream into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until firm (can be made up to 3 days ahead). Whisk or stir before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream just until boiling and immediately pour it over the chocolate. Gently stir until the chocolate has melted.
Split the pastry shells in half, lengthwise. Take the top shell and dip into the chocolate glaze, letting the excess drip off. Place on a wire rack to dry. Fill the bottom half (can spoon or pipe) with the cream. Once the glaze is dry, gently place the top half of the pastry shell on the cream. Can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for two days.
Tags: birthday cake, cardamom, nectarine, peach, pie, vanilla, yelloe cake
Happy Birthday J.! To celebrate J. birthday, I was asked to make a fruit dessert. Well hello peaches. Or nectarines. Or apricots.
J. is kind of an old soul stuck in a young body. Or as he puts it, in an old body. What is it with men and feeling older than they are? Isn’t it better to feel young and spry? It’s a mental game people! J. is also a longtime fan of The Unappreciated Baker (thanks!) and a lover of all things fruity desserty. And so, for his birthday – fruit dessert! Coincidentally, I love fruit desserts as well :).
Going back to nectarines. I like to bake with nectarines as opposed to peaches because then I don’t have to worry about peeling them. While I don’t mind the fuzzy peach peel in my desserts, others do. So if I bake with them, I need to peel them. Due to the special occasion, I broke out my mini pie plates so that everyone could enjoy their very own peach pie.
I thought about going with my tried and true pie recipe, but then I thought about changing it up a bit – after all, isn’t that the point of this blog? To try new things. I found a recipe that flavored the peaches with vanilla and cardamom, not a combination I have used before with peaches. Testing time!
I did stick with my tried and true pie crust recipe, because, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. With my regular double crust recipe I had enough dough for eight crusts and seven lattices. One ended up being a snack on Friday afternoon :).
The Little Rocker and I snacked on the sample and we enjoyed it a lot. She was a little disappointed that she did not get her own pie to sample, but I told her that at the party she would have her own so it was okay to share this time.
On a related note, Squeaker just started eating solids and while she is not such a fan of the peas and sweet potatoes, she loves her some peaches. I mixed the peas and peaches and wham – at the whole bowl. Peach season for everyone!
I didn’t really feel the cardamom in the pie, maybe increase it next time?
We know what J.’s birthday means – Rocker Dude’s birthday! Amazing how close friends can have their birthdays so close together. Rocker Dude asked for a plain sheet cake for his birthday – can you see what I am working with?? A plain yellow cake??? With icing!! I hate working with icing. I am not talented in that way – drawing was never my forte, and the icing is always so sweet. It is always the part of the cake that I take off so that I can eat the actual cake.
So here is the cake that I made. My friend M. was kind enough to lend me a guitar shaped cake pan so that I didn’t have to try and cut out a guitar shape from a rectangular pan. That would have been disastrous. The Little Rocker had such a fun time watching the cake take shape, especially putting in the food coloring. I didn’t make the icing that bright as I hate putting in more than a few drops of food coloring. It may be weird but if I do then I feel like I am coloring my insides.
I have included the recipe for the cake because I thought that the cake was delicious on its own – with a bright citrus flavor. It’s perfect for birthday cakes and cupcakes.
And speaking of summer (weren’t we?), there are a few things that are ubiquitous to summer – baseball and ice pops. Here is a picture of Squeaker in an NY Yankees outfit that we originally got for the Little Rocker.
My father is a lifelong Yankees fan and if there is one thing I learned as a kid, it was that you root for the Yankees, or you’re not a real Schachter. Lucky for me, Rocker Dude is not into sports so I don’t have to keep up with his favorite team stats and stuff.
And ice pops! The Little Rocker remembered this picture of her “eating” my ice pop when she was a year old or so, and so she asked me to do it with Squeaker as well.
This time I just gave her a closed ice pop of her own, but she knew better. She still kept trying to grab my ice pop.
Nectarine Cardamom Vanilla Pie (makes 8 4-inch pies)
A double crust recipe of this recipe, prepared through
Filling (based on this recipe from The Pastry Affair):
6 large (7 medium or 8 small) fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 vanilla bean, halved with the seeds removed (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
2 tbsp. sugar for sprinkling
250g whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Prepare the dough through the refrigeration stage.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine all the ingredients for the filling and set aside while you roll out the dough. Roll out one disc of dough to a 1/8 inch thickness. You don’t want to leave the dough too thick as the pies are small. Cut out circles that are slightly larger than the circumference of the pie plates. Gently place each circle in the pie plates and trim the edges. Refrigerate the pie crusts as you make them to keep the dough cold. Then add filling into each of the pie plates and return to the refrigerator while you roll out the lattice top. Roll out the second disc to a 1/8 inch thickness. Slice into thin (about a finger’s width) strips with a very sharp knife or a pizza wheel. Carefully weave the lattice strips onto the tops of all the pies.
Brush egg white onto the tops of the pies and sprinkle with sugar. Place the pies in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is bubbling. Let cool on a rack.
To serve, beat the whipping cream with the confectioner’s sugar and dollop a generous spoonful on top of each pie.
Yellow Cake (From The Kosher Palette):
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the a large mixing bowl and stir until well blended.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the oil, orange juice, eggs and vanilla. Beat until lightened in color. Add the dry ingredients in one shot and mix until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
This cake also freezes well.
Millions of peaches, peaches for free. Millions of peaches, peaches for me. It’s stone fruit season! Woohoo!
Stone fruit season is the harbinger of summer. Let me tell you, I didn’t need a peach to tell me that the temperatures were going up and that the sun has come for good and doesn’t plan on giving us a rest until November. When the laundry dried in under five hours, it was kind of a giveaway. Also, if you go outside and it feels like someone has a blow dryer blowing on you – also kind of a giveaway. Though, I have to admit it is not unbearable yet. There are even some days when we don’t need to turn on the air conditioner. There is something about this weather that just calls out for a nice juicy peach. That has to be the reason why they ripen just at this time of year.
Last week’s special was peach pie… with a crumble topping. So peach crumble… in a pie crust. So peach pie crumble! (Actually I used nectarines, so Nectarine Pie Crumble if we want to get technical.) I was so excited to make the first stone fruit dessert of the season. I got a whole bunch of peaches and nectarines and then I didn’t know what to do with them. I spent Friday morning browsing through the cookbooks, thought about making peach dumplings, but wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to make a peach pie and I couldn’t find the recipe that I was “feeling”. Also, I didn’t have the energy to try and steal five minutes on the computer from Rocker Dude to browse online. In The Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer I found a list of easy fruit pie fillings. One was a peach pie. So this pie is inspired a bit from there, and a bit from what I had in the house.
The little bro came over for the weekend, and even though he is usually a fan of my baking, he decided to have babka for his dessert instead. (Granted, I made that as well, but apparently he wasn’t feeling the pie thing.) I was very disappointed in him. I guess if I had made a strawberry shortcake, he would have dug right in. At least this time, Rocker Dude liked the pie. Which is interesting, because I used almond extract in the filling and he hates almonds and almond extract. Don’t tell him that he liked something with almond in it – I have to win somewhere :).
I had some crumble topping in the freezer left over from an apple crumble that I made who-knows-when, and I am really attempting to clean up what is in the house and use what already exists before I go shopping for more. Ergo, use already made crumble topping on pie – great solution. I was worried that the crumble might get soggy in the peach juices but it totally stayed crunchy. I recently read somewhere that in restaurants, in order to keep the crumble crunchy, they bake the fruit and crumble topping separately and then right before serving, they reheat the fruit with the crumble topping to make a cohesive dish. Great trick!
I can’t wait to make more things with the new crop of peaches, nectarines and apricots! Stay tuned!
Crust:Half of this recipe, made until the chill step
1 egg white
6-7 medium sized peaches, peeled, or nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 stick butter or margarine
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
While your dough is chilling, mix together the ingredients for the filling. Let it macerate while you make the topping and roll out the dough.
Place all the topping ingredients into a bowl. With a pastry cutter, or your hands, gently incorporate the butter/margarine into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly and holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hands. Refrigerate until needed.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about an 1/8 inch thickness. Gently place in a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges decoratively. Using a pastry brush, brush egg white over the bottom of the crust to help prevent sogginess. Then add the filling, mounding it slightly in the center. Generously sprinkle the crumble on top of the filling and place the pie into the oven.
Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven, until the crust edges are slightly browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool on a cooling rack. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.
Tags: babka, brown sugar, chocolate, date, nut, yeast cake
The first time I ever made babka, I was in summer camp in the Catskills and we had a baking activity (because nice religious girls have to know how to bake for their husbands of course) and we learned how to make challah, chocolate cake and other traditional delicacies. One of the other things we learned was babka. Babka is a traditional Jewish yeast cake that is often served on Shabbat morning.
I used to make the babka recipe that I got from camp for a while, but it was a huge “patchke” (effort). The recipe also called for over a whole pound of butter/margarine which is a bit much for me, and you had to let the dough rise for six or seven hours total which basically takes up a whole day. Also, the recipe is on a paper inside the cover of one of my mom’s cookbooks, and not in Israel with me. I more or less forgot about it and that was that for many years. (That wasn’t much of a saga, was it? I guess in my mind, I added on all the years in between into the story.)
Last week was Shavuot and though the entire holiday is so dairy-centric, i was asked to make a non-dairy dessert for dinner. I had no idea what to make. Not even the slightest idea. So I pulled out one of my first cookbooks, The Perfect Cake, that was given to me by a classmate in high school. In high school I had a thing where I made a cake for everyone in my grade’s birthday. We are not talking about fancy cakes here, but basic yellow cakes, maybe with chocolate chips or something. In twelfth grade, one of my classmates gave the book to me as a present but it has not gotten as much use as it should have.
So during my dessert decision making I pulled out this cookbook so that it wouldn’t feel lonely. I was in the mood for a yeasted cake for some reason, and I had a package of yeast that needed to be used up before it expired. The Perfect Cake is basically a cookbook that provides basic recipes for various kinds of cakes – yeast, sponge, genoise, cheesecake, etc. and then a whole bunch of variations and flavorings. The recipe for the basic yeasted cake also came with a richer variation besides all the optional fillings. I went for the richer variation because I was worried that the dough might be dry, and as the cake was not going to be served with coffee, I wanted it on the moister side. What I most did not want was a recipe that would require more than two hours of total rising time because we had to leave to our friends’ by noon. (We ended up being a bit late anyway as Rocker Dude had to paint the Little Rocker’s nails – fingers and toes! She wanted alternating pink and purple on her fingers and alternating green and blue on her toes. It looked great!)
The dough was easy to mix up and did not have a whole pound of margarine, it rose really nicely and was easy to roll out. The filling was another decision. I like cinnamon babka best. This hearkens back to the days when I did not like chocolate at all (what?!?!?) and I would not eat chocolate cakes or anything. The only exception was Hershey’s and Reese’s. Since then my tastes have matured somewhat and my father can again claim me as his daughter (He is a chocolate person. One of his favorite ice creams is Death by Chocolate.) But for the babka I decided to go cinnamon anyway. I filled it the way I normally fill cinnamon buns, and rolled up the dough. In retrospect, I should have used more filling because it was kind of lost in the dough.
Instead of following the shaping instructions in the book, though, I followed the instructions on the back of the yeast package. I know, I am such a rebel. Basically, instead of just twisting two rolls together, I made one roll, and then cut it in half down the middle. This gave me two half rolls of many layers. Then I twisted these together and put them in the pan. I think it helps the filling get out and makes the cake a bit more appealing.
After this cake working out, but the filling not making me happy, I made the dough again and tried different fillings. I made a date nut filling for the Little Rocker’s friend’s birthday party, a brown sugar and cinnamon that is now in the freezer, and a chocolate (yes Abba, a chocolate) that has since been completely finished. I used a lot of margarine before putting on the fillings and that definitely helped make the cakes a bit gooey-er. Rocker Dude did not want to even try the date-nut babka as it had nuts, and he does not get nuts in food. He is just unclear why they have to be there in the first place. I loved it. We had organic barhi dates that I had ordered a few weeks ago from our csa and they were super-sweet. That version was a success. A bit messy, but a success.
I made the brown sugar one and I enjoyed that one a lot, so did Rocker Dude. A basic sweet dough with a sweet filling. The chocolate was an afterthought as after the two loaves I still had some extra dough. I didn’t want to just take chocolate spread and use that as a filling because I thought it was kind of a cop-out, so I mixed cocoa and sugar (you know, so it would be sweet), and sprinkled that over the melted margarine. Rocker Dude asked to use for filling. He said that there should be so much filling that he has to lick it off his fingers. He has a point.
While this is not a quick recipe, it is simple and just requires some rising time.
P.S. I just finished watching the first season of Nashville, and who knew that Hayden Panettiere could sing?? Also the two main characters keep doing the stupidest things – so frustrating!! Can’t wait for the next season :).
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 oz. active dry yeast, or 25 grams fresh yeast
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. salt
1 cup yogurt or soymilk with a little vinegar
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange zest
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 butter or margarine, melted and cooled to room temp.
4 to 6 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. water
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for five minutes until the mixture looks bubbly (if you are using fresh yeast, then you don’t have to wait). Add the other ingredients except for the flour. Whisk until blended. Add in the flour, one cup at a time until the dough forms a soft ball. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. When the dough feels smooth, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.
The dough can be refrigerated at this point overnight. Bring to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the dough is finished rising, divide into three parts. Roll the first piece of dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the dough with some melted butter. Sprinkle on the desired filling (recipes below). Roll up the dough lengthwise into a tight roll. Slice the roll down the middle with a sharp knife. Twist the two halves together, with the cut sides facing out. Place in a 9×5 inch loaf pan or in a 9×13 inch pan (with room for another one). Brush with egg wash.
Let rise again for forty minutes or so, until not quite doubled in bulk. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake sounds hollow when you tap on it. Cool on a wire rack.
Chocolate Filling:1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Date-Nut Filling:1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
8 dates (I used barhi dates), pitted and finely chopped
Tags: brownie, brownie cheesecake, cheesecake, chocolate, shavuot
Hello again to all my friends, I’m glad you came to play. Our fun and learning never ends, here’s what we did today! (Bonus points to anyone who remembers that show from childhood.)
Well we are back with another cheesecake recipe. Here is something for you chocolate lovers – brownie and cheesecake – together! Doesn’t get much better than that. In this version, we have a brownie layer and a cheesecake layer which are then swirled together – somewhat – and then chocolate chips are sprinkled on top. My version did not get so swirled as the brownie layer was much denser than the cheesecake layer (possibly because I used white cheese instead of cream cheese – but those are my limitations here). So it ended up more as a fudgy-brownie layer (the best kind) and a cheesecake layer.
I have to say that it was really easy to make. Only required one bowl (which I washed in the middle) and in the oven it went. I actually doubled the cheesecake part of it because I was making the cake in a 9×13 pan instead of an 8×8 as the recipe calls for. The recipe below is the original.
I was actually up to one am last night as one of my customers decided to have a conference call event at midnight Israel time, just to be sadistic, and I had to stay up for it. So if I was going to need to stay up anyway, might as well accomplish something. So I made this cheesecake to take to our friends at whom we will be staying for Shavuot, and a blueberry cheesecake for Rocker Dude, because it is his favorite.
Shavuot is kind of a crazy holiday because it is only one day long (or two outside of Israel) and there is so much preparation for it because everything has to be dairy. Most people I know cook primarily meat for holidays, so everyone tries to get in all the fancy dairy food that they have always wanted to make and it sometimes makes for some really heavy meals. I planned on practicing restraint this year, but now we are going away for the holiday, so I don’t have to do anything but provide dessert.
Shavuot is when we celebrate receiving the Bible. As a result, one of the customs on Shavuot is to learn Torah all night. Usually it’s the men who do it, but some women like to join in as well. Once you have kids it is harder because those kids will be up at 6:30 in the morning, so you better be functional at that time of day. Going to bed at 4 am – not so conducive. So Rocker Dude plans on being up all night, and he needs good food to keep him going – so, cheesecake!!!
Squeaker is squeaking, so I have to run. Here is the recipe.
Recipe (from Smitten Kitchen):
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened (or equivalent amount of white cheese – gevina levana)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
(You can use a butter knife because the tip of it is round enough that you can use it to fold bits of the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter for a more visibly marbled effect.)
Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.
Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Hello everyone. Here we are two days before Shavuot – the holiday during which we eat tons and tons of dairy to make up for all the other holidays in which we eat meat. Rocker Dude, being of a lactose intolerant nature, does not enjoy this holiday as much as other people, and this year, due to Squeaker’s sensitivities, I will be joining him in the non-dairy consuming club. But don’t worry, to make up for this, when I do stop nursing her, we will have a make-up Shavuot filled with all sorts of dairy delicacies.
In any case, at this time of year, the interwebs are filled with tons of cheesecake recipes of all varieties. As we were having a cheesecake celebration at work, I wanted to make something different, something new. I spent a morning exploring options for possible flavorings, and settled on two options – something caramely or a brownie cheesecake. I knew that I would only have a few hours to make the cake on Saturday night as I did not want to stay up past midnight, so I decided to go with the caramel cheesecake for work.
I bounced around possible versions in my head for a few days and finally on Saturday I finalized how I would go about making it. I had bought dulce de leche to mix into the cheese, but then I read on the container that it is not suitable for cooking in high temperatures, so I freaked. What was I supposed to do now??? Do I just make a standard cheesecake and put the dulce de leche on top? Do I scrap the idea completely? Major dilemma.
I wanted to get the caramel flavor into the cake itself, so in the end, as I was measuring the sugar to mix into the batter, I decided to caramelize it first. I threw the whole cup and a half straight into a pot and set it on the fire. I knew that it would be hard when it cooled, but that I could probably use the cheese to smooth the caramel out. When the caramel was ready, I put in half of the cheese because I didn’t want the consistency to change too much. After much stirring, the caramel smoothed out and became usable in the cheesecake. I mixed it with the rest of the ingredients and into the oven it went.
My one issue with this whole affair was that I would not be able to taste the cheesecake when it was done – how would I know if it even tasted good?? Well, we put our faith in God.
When the cheesecake cooled, I spread the dulce de leche on top so that this cake would have a double whammy of caramel flavor.
I brought the cake to work the next day and let me just say, God delivered. It was a hit all around, the consistency was perfect, and the caramel flavor was there. I even snuck a bite (hope it doesn’t come back to bite me later when Squeaker wakes up crying at night because her tummy hurts), and it was delicious.
If you need a cheesecake pick-me-up – here you go. Also, just because I am curious, do you say car-a-mel or car-mel?
50 g tea biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs
50 g butter or margarine, melted
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Cake:750 g white cheese (gevina levana) 5%, or equivalent amount of cream cheese
3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
400 g dulce de leche
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C/320 degrees F. Combine all the ingredients for the crust and press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan, or a 9×13 rectangular pan (the crust will just be a tad thinner). Bake the crust for ten minutes until it is lightly browned.
Place the sugar in a pot over medium-low heat. Without stirring, let the sugar heat up until it dissolves. You can use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pot from any sugar crystals that might creep up. When the sugar starts browning, take it off the fire to ensure that it doesn’t get too dark. It should stay a light amber color. The sugar will still cook after it is removed from the fire. Once you have reached the desired caramel color, add half of the cheese to the pot. The caramel will seize up and bubble, but keep stirring the mixture over the medium-low heat, and it will soften and mix into the cheese. Set aside to cool (or refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.
In a bowl, mix up the rest of the ingredients, being careful to not incorporate too much air. Add the caramel mixture and mix well. Bang the bowl firmly on the table or counter to pop any air bubbles that might have gotten in. Gently pour the batter over the crust and place the pan in the oven. Because I usually cook my cheesecakes in my toaster oven I don’t have space for a water bath, so I just undercook the cake slightly – it should still be jiggly in the middle, and usually that is enough to prevent cracking. Also, covering the cake with a topping helps.
When the cake is completely cool, spread the dulce de leche over the top of the cake. Slice and serve!
You can also melt some chocolate with some heavy cream and drizzle it on top of the cake and that would be delicious too. I just didn’t have time for it.
Tags: meringue, pavlova, strawberry
Okay, I know in Israel we are a little ahead in our growing season than the US, so this recipe might not be as useful for my Israeli compatriots as the strawberry season is almost over, but it is just starting in the US. On Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) we finally went strawberry picking. Well I went strawberry picking with the Little Rocker and Squeaker and with my friend E and her daughter S. I heard of this strawberry field that was only about 20 minutes away and they didn’t charge for picking, just for the actual strawberries themselves.
I was a little worried about going anywhere on Yom Haatzmaut because the whole country is out and in all the parks and recreation areas. I was warned by native Israelis to not try to go any more than 10 minutes from my house because otherwise the amount of traffic would just make the whole trip not worth it. I was also warned that if I wanted to barbecue in a park (the official Independence Day pastime), then I should stake out a spot and picnic table the night before and have someone stay in the park the whole night. Soooo, that was out.
We had already planned to get together with E and A on Yom Haatzmaut and I was just looking for something to do during the day before the barbecue. So I decided on strawberry picking before the season ended.
On the morning of the big day, all we saw were grey clouds and I was a little apprehensive. It was also really windy. I had heard that the rain was supposed to be spotty so we set out anyway in the hopes that it would be nice and sunny when we got there. As we drove to the field (and with a few wrong turns ;) ) the sun came out and the weather turned lovely. Bright and sunny, but a cool breeze too. We got to the field and picked the freshest strawberries I have had in this country. The Little Rocker did all the bending down for me which was awesome as I had Squeaker in a backpack on me. And we ended up with some really bright and sweet strawberries.
We got home and continued with our plans and had an amazing barbecue with great fresh fruit for dessert. But afterwards we still had all those strawberries. I made a strawberry pie with some of them, and it was great. But then I made these strawberry pavlovas and they were the bomb-dizzle.
I had a ton of egg whites saved up in the freezer from some time when I made lemon curd or something. I didn’t want to make more meringues, because they always took so long and then I always ate them because Rocker Dude doesn’t like them. So here is something to do with all those extra egg whites.
I ended up making individual pavlovas as opposed to one big one, because if I have a choice, I prefer to make individual desserts as opposed to family style, and this is one chance to do that without shaping individual pie crusts.
I wanted to really have the strawberry flavor pop, so I also made a strawberry sauce to be drizzled over the cream. The Little Rocker was really excited to try these and though she usually does not like the desserts I make (no taste that one, I don’t know what to do with her) she loved this one.
We had a bunch of people for dinner and these came out wonderfully, though in the future I might make the pavlovas themselves a little smaller as some felt that there was too much sweet on the plate.
This is a wonderful dessert for warm spring or summer days as it is sweet and refreshing.
Recipe (serves 12):
Pavlovas (from the Pastry Studio):
6 egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium-low speed. When they are foamy, add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until egg whites are opaque. Slowly dd the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until continue whipping until the egg whites are stiff and shiny.
Drop the meringue by spoonfuls onto the baking sheets, using about 1/3 cup per pavlova. Smooth the tops with the back of a spoon, leaving an indentation for the filling. Bake for about 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the meringues are dry and can be released easily from the baking paper. Remember to rotate the baking sheets halfway and if you have them on two racks then to switch the pans as well. When they are done, turn off the oven and let the meringues dry out for another 30 minutes in the oven. After 30 minutes, place the meringues on a wire rack to cool.
Vanilla Bean Cream:
250 ml whipping cream
2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
In a clean mixing bowl, begin whipping the cream. As the cream thickens, add the sugar and the vanilla. Continue beating until stiff. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.
15 strawberries, washed and hulled
2 tbsp.-1/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet the strawberries are
In a food processor or blender, combine the strawberries with the sugar until you have a uniform sauce.
Washed, hulled and sliced strawberries for garnish.
On each plate, place a meringue. Add a generous spoonful of cream on top, followed by some sliced strawberries. Then drizzle some strawberry sauce over the whole thing. Serve immediately.
Tags: self raising flour
A few weeks before Passover, I was home with Squeaker, trying to make the most of the last of my maternity leave. Apparently, 3 months is shorter when you are living it than when you think about it beforehand. One of my projects during my maternity leave was to clean the apartment for Passover – i.e. removing any and all crumbs and food droppings from anywhere in the house and cleaning all the appliances and other surfaces more extensively than is done all year. Usually, Rocker Dude does most of the cleaning as he has vacation for a week and a half before Passover starts (don’t hate, teachers work super hard!), so this year I decided to give him the year off. Part of this process is finishing up all the not-kosher-for-Passover food that is in the house.
So one day, while searching through the freezer and cabinets, I found 1 cup of frozen pumpkin puree and a few dates left over from Purim, and a ton of self-raising flour that needed to be finished up. I used the wonderful tool that is Google and I searched those ingredients and got to this recipe. At the time I even had a couple of bananas so I could have made the muffins as they were supposed to be made, but those bananas soon disappeared. I was super excited to make this recipe for breakfasts because due to Squeaker’s sensitivities, I can’t have dairy or coffee (!) as long as I nurse her, which has made breakfast a particular challenge for me.
In an amazing bit of foresight (totally by chance) I had asked my parents to bring a whole Cosco-sized box full of Quaker Instant Oatmeal. You know, the oatmeal that you just have to pour hot water on it and it comes in maple and brown sugar, apple and cinnamon, cinnamon and spice and original flavors? That stuff seriously made breakfasting much easier, especially as Squeaker usually fell asleep in the sling while I took the Little Rocker to nursery and I didn’t want to move her. So pour packet into a bowl, pour boiling water on top, cover and wait five minutes. Done. Healthy (mostly) breakfast. And, as it was the winter, warm and yummy. The best was one stormy morning when Squeaker was about a month old. It was the first day of a week long rainstorm. (Something that rarely happens in Israel, and contributed to a major rise in the level of water reserves in the country, ending a seven-year-long drought.) I had taken the Little Rocker to nursery and we got soaked on our way back home. Squeaker didn’t even notice and slept through it all. I walked home, made me some oatmeal, and oh did I enjoy it! So worth it.
Either way, back to muffins for breakfast. When I was ready to make these muffins, there were no more bananas, so we had to modify the recipe a bit. I also substituted ingredients that I had for the rice bran oil and oat milk. The batter is really quick to mix up (Imma this is for you) – just pour everything into a bowl and mix well. It also does not have a lot of sugar in it – a lot of the sweetness comes from the bananas (if you are using them) and the dates.
Unfortunately, these muffins are not so low calorie if you eat more than two in a day :(. Ooops. Well, in my defense, we had to finish all the flour before Passover started…
Recipe (based on the recipe on food.baby.life):
2 cups self-raising flour, regular or whole wheat
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk or soymilk
1/4 cup oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (optional)1/2 cup dried date
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Add the milk, oil and egg. Mix well until just combined. Fold through the pumpkin and dates being careful not to overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked. Let the muffins rest for 5 minutes before cooling them on a wire rack.
Tags: banana, chocolate tempering, dark chocolate, temper chocolate, truffle
Something new for me – tempering chocolate! Tempering chocolate has been always a bit intimidating, especially as I don’t have tons of counter space to start folding chocolate over and over on a marble slab. The reason that one would temper chocolate is that it allows the finished chocolate to set at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated in order to stay firm. It also gives the chocolate a nice snap when you bite into it.
This week I was asked to make something chocolatey for dessert at a friend’s house. I saw a recipe for banana truffles online and I decided to try it. It was meant to be a ganache mixed with mashed bananas which are then dipped in tempered chocolate to form a hard shell. In order to change it up, I caramelized the banana before I mashed it in with the chocolate ganache. I have to say that the banana flavor was not at all discernible. I was hoping that it would taste all bananas-foster-y but that didn’t happen. Oh well.
I decided to use a truffle mold that I had bought years ago. It has been sitting in a drawer since the day I bought it, except when the Little Rocker took it out to play with.
Then I searched the annals of Google for the best way to temper chocolate. I wanted to use the seed method which basically means that you melt half of the chocolate and then slowly add some of the non-melted chocolate in and mix really well. The non-melted chocolate helps the melted chocolate form a crystalline structure and reach proper temper.
Making the truffles was a pretty hands-on, and I learned a few things about the process. Here is what I should have done, instead of what I did. I should have used a paintbrush to brush the chocolate onto the sides and bottom of the truffle molds in order to leave a perfect thin layer of chocolate all around the edges. Then, when that chocolate hardened, put in the ganache filling and then pour more tempered chocolate over the ganache to fill in the mold. But I figured that people would not want chocolates flavored by the Little Rocker’s paints, so I had to improvise. Instead, I just dripped in chocolate from a spoon and used the ganache to kind of push the chocolate all around the edges. A lot of the truffles ended up with gaps along the sides and were not so beautiful looking.
I used really good 60 percent cacao dark chocolate to make the truffles because they always say to use quality chocolate when you want the flavor to stand out. So since I had been asked to make food for chocolate lovers, I wanted a strong tasting dark chocolate flavor. The one complaint that Rocker Dude had was that the chocolate flavor was too strong and rich, the irony.
Speaking of Rocker Dude, he just celebrated the fifth anniversary of his radio show last week. Yay Rocker Dude! Check out the show at http://www.rock4rookies.com.
The one thing about this recipe is that it is super time consuming. It was a good thing that I didn’t have too much else to make for Shabbat because I spent a lot of time on these chocolates. Rocker Dude was lucky that we had no guests for Friday night because I got to make him steak for dinner! It was the first time that I have ever made steak and it turned out really good. I personally don’t like steak that much (I usually order chicken at restaurants), but Rocker Dude loves steak. So I consulted the all-knowing Google once more to figure out how one actually cooks a steak. I went simple and just pan seared the steaks until they were almost medium, as I would have to keep them warm for a couple of hours before we would be able to eat them. It worked out really well, and the steaks were moist and juicy and went great with the mashed potatoes.
But back to the chocolate. Here is the recipe, based on the one from Love & Olive Oil.
6 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 ripe bananas, sliced
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
Warm the cream until it is steaming, and then pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts completely and the ganache is smooth. Melt the margarine in a frying pan and add the brown sugar. When the margarine is completely melted, lay the banana slices in the frying pan in a single layer. After two minutes, flip the banana slices over and caramelize the other side. When they are done, mash the bananas and place them, the ganache and the vanilla into a food processor and pulse until completely blended. Put the ganache in a container and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
You need to do the chocolate coating in two stages. To temper the chocolate, melt two ounces of the dark chocolate and half of the margarine. Then slowly add two ounces of the non-melted chocolate while mixing vigorously. Keep mixing until the chocolate cools slightly. Then take a paintbrush (one that has not been used for paint), and paint the cups of the truffle mold so that all the sides and bottom are completely covered with chocolate. When that has hardened, take some firm ganache and put it into the molds. Temper the rest of the chocolate the same way and fill the molds completely. Quickly take an offset spatula and scrape the tops of the molds so that they are smooth. After a few minutes, the chocolate will have hardened and you can remove them. If the chocolate has been properly tempered, then you won’t need to refrigerate the truffles. If they start getting soft, then the chocolate was not properly tempered and needs to be kept cold in order to stay firm. Enjoy!