Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 2011 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Candylicious!

 The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

A fun challenge was proposed to the Daring Bakers in the month of August - playing around with sugar and chocolate and for some, the chance of winning an amazing prize.

 Our two hosts only stipulated that:-

You must make TWO candies
• The first candy must be ONE of the following CHOCOLATE candies:
a. A truffle, dipped or not dipped in chocolate OR
b. A cut (square) dipped chocolate/bonbon OR
c. A filled chocolate/bonbon using a chocolate mold
• The other candy can be any CHOCOLATE OR NON-CHOCOLATE candy you like.


I chose to make honeycomb also called buffalo sponge candy. Having made this years ago with a recipe that I felt was too strongly flavoured with golden syrup and honey I opted to use this recipe by Wilde in the Kitchen which was suggested by several Daring Bakers. Wilde in the Kitchen is a great blog and she has a wonderful private candy challenge going on.

 I have always loved the Australian favourite chocolate bar Violet Crumble consisting of honeycomb covered with milk chocolate. So naturally I dipped the honeycomb (sponge candy) in milk chocolate. Once I can get my hands on some couverture chocolate (unavailable in my local area) I will try my hand at tempering chocolate by the seeding method described by our host Lisa.

Something I have always wanted to try is Paté de Fruit and here was a perfect opportunity. With the backyard kumquat tree ladened with fruit (the only fruit to survive the cyclone earlier this year) I looked for a citrus recipe. A recipe Kumquat and Vanilla Pate caught my eye however many recipes require pectin which to my knowledge is unavailable in Australia. Instead I purchase several packets of Jamsetta from my local supermarket. Jamsetta is a pectin and sugar product used to assist the set of jams and jellies. I used one and a half packets Jamsetta for this recipe. Also, as I make many jams in the microwave oven I decided to give it a whirl. Once I had the juice and the sugar mixture I microwaved it for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes. Other than that I followed the recipe as given.  

As you can see this Paté de Fruit set beautifully and stayed firm and dry during storage.  I love the jewel-like colour!

Finally, I made some Milk Chocolate, Coffee & Hazelnut Praline Truffles. These were certainly a favourite. Some coated in the Hazelnut praline and other in cocoa. Here's the recipe:-

Milk Chocolate, Coffee & Hazelnut Praline Truffles

Servings: Makes +- 30 truffles, recipe easily doubled or halved
Adapted from the Cook’s Academy Curriculum, Dublin
Active Time: 1 - 2hrs
Ganache Setting Time: 2 - 4hrs or Overnight
Praline Ingredients:
½ cup (2 oz/60 gm) hazelnuts, shelled & skinned
½ cup (4 oz/115 gm) granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted (convection oven); 350°F / 320°F convection / Gas Mark 4
2. Place whole hazelnut on a non-stick baking tray and dry roast for 10mins
3. Allow to cool
4. Place hazelnuts in a clean dry kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins
5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat
6. Place the skinned hazelnuts onto the prepared tray
7. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
8. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil (do not stir), brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals
9. Boil until the mixture turns amber (160°C - 170°C / 320°F- 340°F on a candy thermometer)
10. Remove from heat immediately and pour the syrup over the hazelnuts
11. Allow to cool completely
12. Break into small pieces
13. Transfer pieces to a food processor and process until desired texture, either fine or rough
14. Set aside

Ganache Ingredients
1¾ cup (9 oz. / 255 g) Milk chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (4 oz. / 125 ml) Double/Heavy Cream (36% - 46% butterfat content)

2 Tablespoons instant coffee powder
2-3 Tablespoons (1-1 ½ oz. / 30ml – 45 ml) Frangelico Liqueur, optional

½ - 1 cup Crushed or Ground Roasted Hazelnuts for coating

1. Finely chop the milk chocolate
2. Place into a heatproof medium sized bowl
3. Heat cream and the coffee powder in a saucepan until just about to boil
4. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and melted
5. Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes
6. Stir in the praline and (optional) liqueur
7. Leave to cool and set overnight or for a few hours in the fridge
8. Bring to room temperature to use

Forming the truffles:
1. Using teaspoons or a melon baller, scoop round balls of ganache
2. Roll them between the palms of your hands to round them off
Tip: Handle them as little as possible to avoid melting
Tip: I suggest wearing food safe latex gloves, less messy and slightly less heat from your hands
3. Finish off by rolling the truffle in the crushed roasted hazelnuts
Tip: You can also roll them in hazelnut praline
4. Place on parchment paper and leave to set
Tip: They look great when put into small petit four cases and boxed up as a gift!

Thank you to our wonderful hosts Mandy and Lisa! It was a fun challenge and delicious to boot!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

White Chocolate Walnut Blondies with Maple Cream Sauce

I discovered this recipe at Tasty Kitchen. Apparently in the U.S. this is a particular favourite in a certain restaurant chain. In Australia I have no knowledge of this but various comments enticed me to try it. I am not actually a fan of white chocolate or blondies for that matter. Give me a dark luscious brownie any time!

 But these are sensational! 

Sightly adapted by reducing the flour the result is a dense, cakey and sweet blondie. Perfectly teamed with the Maple Cream Sauce and vanilla icecream.

Blondie Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
10 Tbsp's/140g butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips

Sauce Ingredients
2 Tbsp's unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 Tbsp's real maple syrup
2 Tbsp's light corn syrup

Blondie Directions
Preheat oven 180C/350F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or line with baking paper. Sift flour salt bkaing powder and baking soda.
In a large mixing bowl. combine butter and brown sugar, add in eggs and vanilla.
Slowly add in flour mixture. Stir slowly and don't overmix. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares.

Maple Cream Sauce Directions
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the cream, maple syrup and corn syrup. Lower heat slightly and allow mixture to come to a gently simmer. Be sure to stay close to the stove to monitor the heat as it can boil over. Once the mixture comes to a gentle simmer cook for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce reduces by 1/3 and has slightly thickened.

Now take a square of White Chocolate Walnut Blondie, top with good vanilla icecream and pour over a generous amount of Maple Cream Sauce.

Oh wow - HEAVENLY!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"A Baker's Odyssey" Personal Challenge # 2 - Greg Patent's Granny's Kahk

I have been wanting to try this recipe since buying "A Baker's Odyssey" almost a year ago. I have blogged about the Lebanese pita I made a while ago and am slowly working my way through this fantastic collection of recipes from America's rich immigrant heritage. "Granny" is Greg Patent Iraqi grandmother who did most of the cooking in the Patent household and Greg paints a warm picture of her. If these Kahks are anything to go by Granny was a marvellous cook and baker. These are crunchy and moreish. The simple ingredients don't hint at the wonderful taste and texture. It goes to show what can be done with basic ingredients. That's what I love about old traditional recipes. You don't need fancy expensive ingredients to bake great food.  

Granny's Kahk (Savory Bracelets)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons sugar
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1/2 cup water
fennel, cumin and/or caraway seeds to flavour (optional but delicious)
1 egg, beaten with a pinch salt for egg wash
sesame seeds for sprinkling

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulse 10 times or until the mixture is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. With the machine running, add the water in a steady stream, taking 10 seconds to do so. Process for 1 minute. It should gather into a ball. Feel the dough, it should be smooth soft and elastic and no longer sticky. If necessary adjust with small amounts of flour or droplets of water. At this point I divided the mixture into 3 portions and incorporated 1 teaspoon of fennel into one portion, 1 teaspoon cumin seed into the second portion and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds into the third portion.  Divide each third into 8 and forms balls. You should have 24 balls of varied flavours. Allow to rest for 20 minutes covered with a kitchen towel.

Heat the oven to 350F/180C and line two trays with silicone paper or liners. Roll each piece of dough beneath your palms into a log 7 inches long and 1/2 inch wide with tapered ends. Bring the ends together, overlapping them by about 1 inch and pinch tightly to seal. Each ring will be about 2 inches in diameter. Set the rings on the prepared sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Paint with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the kahk are golden brown. Rotate sheets to ensure even browning. Cool completely on baking sheets.
These will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks but I doubt they will last that long. They can also be frozen for up to a month but refresh in the oven preheated to 300F/150C for 10 minutes. 

Kahk could be made smaller and would be lovely served with drinks along with olives, cheese and salami. They also make a great after school snack or to pop into a lunch box.