Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte.....

So far all the recipes have been interesting and fun to prepare, and this one was no exception. I used one of the optional ice cream flavors and since there are just two of us, I decided to make individual servings instead of one large torte. I made the Burnt Sugar Ice Cream (page 432) and added 1/2 cup of Skor Toffee Bits 5 minutes before the ice cream was done churning. The toffee bits gave a bit of texture to the ice cream and tasted very good! I did not have small individual molds and when I priced them at the restaurant supply they were $4 each, so off to Home Depot I went and found large PVC slip fittings the size I needed for 95 cents, LOL. I lined the fittings with parchment paper; the only problem with these molds was I had to put them in a sandwich bag and then into HOT water to loosen them enough to push out of the mold. Not really a big deal but something you need to think about if you were to do several for a dessert course; maybe unmold them ahead of time and just leave in the freezer until serving time. I then plated them in a pool of homemade caramel sauce and sprinkled them with coarse sea salt! I found the ganache to be a bit firm and I think my layers were too thick, I might make this again but with thinner layers of ganache and more of the ice cream layers. This was the first time I have made ganache, it was easy and tasted yummy! I will use the leftover ganache to make chocolate truffles, leftovers are good!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Granola grabbers...

At first I wasn't thrilled about these cookies, they just didn't sound like my kind of cookie! Boy was I wrong, these are really good and they were gone before I knew what happened. I can usually tell how good a cookie will be by how the raw dough tastes (yes I taste, more like eat, the dough), well.....I am suprised there was any dough to bake, LOL. The only change I made was to use macadamia nuts instead of peanuts because that is what I had on hand and since they were not salted I added 1/8 of a teaspoon more of salt to the recipe. I always use a #40 disher to make evenly sized cookies and got 40 cookies.

The baking time was accurate if I used my oven on convection mode and even with convection I rotated the sheets. My final sheet I used the regular baking mode and they needed about 4 more minutes. You don't want to over cook these (one cookie in the back corner was slightly over done) or they will become a bit crisp, which was not bad but I prefered the more chewy texture.
I let them cool for 2 minutes and then moved them to the cooling rack, hopeing they didn't take too long because they smelled sooooooo good!

Finally cool and my DH can't wait to try one; OK, we both want to try one or two or more.............. Thank you to Michelle of Bad Girl Baking for picking a winner!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream...

I couldn't wait to try this recipe, I love blueberries and Trader Joe's had 2 pounds of fresh berries for a great price! From the get go I decided to double the recipe because there is nothing worse than really liking something and then it's ALL gone! I used 2 cups of berries and then placed the rest on wax paper on a sheet pan and froze them; I now have enough for another double batch. Have any of you tried the Handi-Vac by Reynolds? This is really a great vacuum sealer for the price. We have used the Food Saver vacuum sealer for many years and it is great for the freezer, but if I open a bag, use part of the contents then try to reseal it can be a pain in the you know what. The Handi-Vac uses resealable plastic bags, like the Glad storage bags, so when you take something out and need to reseal, it is very easy. The first week I got mine I sealed everything, bulk nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, and my extra frozen berries; anyway I have digressed, back to the ice cream. I have used my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker for many years and it works very well and you can't beat the price; I have two freezer bowls and that helps when making large or double batches. Directions were straight forward and I did not make any changes or additions. My blender made a very smooth mixture (even though Dorie indicated it would not be completely smooth). When it came out of the blender I tasted it and felt it needed a bit more lemon juice. I don't care for overly sweet anything, so next time I may cut the sugar to a 1/4 cup, taste and adjust accordingly. My berries were quite sweet and I should have just reduced the sugar in the beginning. I liked the sweet/sour combination with the sour cream and my DH said it tasted very good and he is not a big blueberry lover. I think this recipe would work well with almost any berry and since DH loves raspberries that is what I will use next time; I will however use my food mill to remove the seeds. Perfect recipe for this time of year, thank you to Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Black and White Banana Loaf ...

This recipe recipe turned out as expected, a nice moist banana loaf! I try to follow a new recipe exactly as written, but since I only had light rum on had that is what I used. I feel it was not a significant change and everything turned out fine. I read all the comments before I made the loaf and did not encounter any of the problems many of the members mentioned. My batter was fine, the chocolate batter was more dense than the light batter but that did not present any difficulties in marbling the loaf. I baked my loaf for the full time, tenting with foil for the last 20 minutes. Cooled in the pan for 15 minutes, then unmolded and let cool to room temp. The texture of the chocolate marble was a tight, moist crumb with a slight rum taste. The light marble was a loose crumb and I felt the banana flavor was more pronounced in this batter. Marbling was the fun part and perhaps it is my slight OCD that made it turn out so well, LOL. I made 3 layers in the loaf pan, alternating the batters in each layer, similar to a checker board (3 spoonfuls light with 3 spoonfuls of dark), next layer the opposite. I then zig zaged a knife through all layers.

Ready for the oven..... Cooling, can't wait!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Died and gone to heaven.....

I am constantly looking for great ingredients on the Internet only to find the shipping costs would be prohibitive. A recipe, from Cannelle et Vanille, for pate de fruits, sounded yummy but the fruit puree required a $50 shipping charge because they were frozen. And, in Dorie's book she suggested using Defours puff pastry if you could find it, again it was frozen and required insulated shipping. Well, two weekends ago, I was in Culver City (Los Angeles) for my competition, and during the afternoon break my future DIL suggested we go to a wonderful gourmet/restaurant supply store, Surfas, she knew I would like. OMG!!!!! They have EVERYTHING you could possible want, yes, they had the fruit puree, yes, they had several items from Defours, yes, I did some damage within my time constraints. I did not have a cooler with me so I decided to go back ASAP. Unbelievable selection of honeys, preserves, chocolates, pastas and so much more. The cooking supply area is like being in a candy store; I finally bought a Madeline pan and they have the muffin pans I have coveted for a few months. So, I am going back this Saturday, cooler in back of car; DH will be out of town and won't see what comes back, not that he cares, he knows how much I love to bake. Fortunately it's only 40 minutes away and Penzeys Spices just happens to be on the way to Surfas, imagine that!