Sunday, February 27, 2011

Self layering coffee panna cotta for the Daring Bakers February 2011

Your not going to believe it.....this is not a time consuming layered dessert, it is a mix and pour panna cotta which settled into the 3 layers you see in the picture whilst it was setting in the fridge.

Crazy huh! I could not believe my luck when I unmolded the panna cotta and saw the beautiful dessert which looked like I had spent hours slaving away but in reality spent only minutes creating.

The picture for the original recipe did not look like this at all so I am unsure if it was my recipe tinkering that resulted in the layers or it was just luck. I did notice that the tall mini serve glasses did not layer quite as well and wonder if that is because they set faster due to their small size. 

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I had previously made a recipe similar to the one provided before so decided to be a little daring and try out this recipe from the Cuisine Magazine site here. 

But then being even more daring as I am (only where cooking is involved mind you) I modified it a bit as I only have leaf geletine and I hate measuring liquids in anything other than cup increments so I weighed it.

The changes worked well and the finished product resulted in a lovely tasting panna cotta which had a gorgeous wobbly breast effect (which incidentally is what I always think of now when I see panna cotta thanks to one of my favourite blogs Not Quite Nigella)

Then I made the florentine cookies using the recipe provided but substituting golden syrup for the dark corn syrup and omitting the chocolate. They were ok on their own, certainly not something I would rush out and make. To me they seemed more like an ANZAC biscuit I have always thought florentines to be lovely large cookies with cherries, almonds and other treats held together barely by the mixture.

The florentine did however work well with the panna cotta, the crisp and buttery biscuit was a lovely contrast.

Thank you Mallory I enjoyed this challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing all the other Daring Bakers results.

Recipe after jump

Coffee Panna Cotta (recipe modified from Cuisine Magazine) serves 6 and make sure you read all the notes at the bottom of the recipe before you attempt it.

55g caster sugar (1 7/8 ounce)
20g (3/4 ounce) freshly ground coffee (mine was ground for espresso machine)
270gm (9 1/2 ounce) full cream milk
2 and a half leaves gelatin
270gm (9 1/2 ounce) unthickened pouring cream

Place gelatine into a bowl and cover with cold water whilst you heat the milk (I usually ripe the sheets into 2 or 3 pieces so they are smaller and fit into a small bowl).

Pop sugar, milk and coffee into a saucepan and bring to a simmer stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to the milk mixture and immediately remove from heat. Stir to dissolve all gelatin.

Add cream and stir well.

Get a large jug with a handle and place a sieve over the top lined with 4 layers of muslin. If you do not have muslin you may use clean unused chux type dishcloths or even a coffee filter or paper towels. Pass the coffee mixture through the lined sieve into the jug. Ensure as much of the mixture as possible gets through, you may need to replace the top layer if it becomes clogged.

Half fill  6 X 150ml capacity plastic dariole molds stirring the mixture in the jug between each pour. If you do not have dariole molds you can use glasses or what ever you have at hand. Then carefully add the remaining mixture to fill each mold to the same height.

Allow to set in the fridge overnight (but covered with plastic or in an airtight container).

When ready to serve I ran a knife carefully around the edge as recommended in the challenge and then gently warmed the top with a dishcloth soaked in warm water before placing the plate on top of the mold and then turning both over. When I lifted the mold the panna cotta slid out perfectly.

Notes for recipe - the weights for the liquids are actually weights on a set of scales I use electric scales that can convert between ounce and gram which I love.

Use unthickened cream - in Australia Thickened cream has added gelatin so you are changing the ratios and may end up with a panna cotta that is harder and more set than you intend. I use the blue carton Pauls brand.

The gelatin brand I used says on the front Rheingold schnell-losliche Blatt-Gelatine it is light blue on the front and white with lots of darker blue writing on the back. I believe it is a normal strength gelatin sheet.  If you use a different strength gelatin it will effect how the panna cotta sets but not the taste.

Dariole molds are available in kitchen and baking stores. The ones I use are small single plastic molds, so pretty much it is a fancy way of saying little plastic cups.

When filling the moulds I did it in 2 parts which I think assisted distributing the mixture for the layers.

Nestle Florentine recipe can be found by clicking here

I made half a batch and substituted golden syrup for corn syrup.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peanut Butter choc chip Whoopie pies

You can probably tell by the pictures that these Whoopie Pies were a valentine treat made with lots of sweet love.

Yup in the lead up to Feb 14th I really think I can put a heart onto anything. But don't worry hearts or not these whoopie pies are actually a perfect anytime treat.

Originally I made the heart toppers and popped them into some mini cupcakes, but alas my valentine does not care for overly sweet cupcakes.

Then someone asked me to make up a batch of whoopie pies for their special valentine and I realised I had my solution (thank you Anna).

I find that the classic marshmallow filling below makes enough to join 2 batches of whoopies cakes, so I made up one plain chocolate chip for my friend and then modified the peanut butter whoopie recipe from "Whoopie Pies" by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell to incorporate chocolate chips.

Recipe after jump

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cute as a Button Blossom cookie tutorial

Some of you mentioned you kinda liked my button blossom cookies in my last post.

I have to admit I'm a bit taken by them myself, there is something super sweet about button cookies.

Forget cute as a button, I think the saying should be cute as a button cookie.

This cookie was part of a set I designed and made for my sister in law's baby shower. She's an artist and sits more on the quirky cool side of things than traditional, so I thought baby bottles and onesies wouldn't cut it.

They were probably more cutesy than she's used to but hey, I am who I am and I think she was happy with them.

and big thanks to all of you who follow me on facebook and helped me out with these ones. I was unsure of whether to put the stitching around the edges and you convinced me it looked better with the faux stitching.
Some of you also recommended different colours so here you go while doing this tutorial I made up a few of your suggestions.

Blue button with green stitching

Pink button with pink stitching

Yellow button with pink stitching

Yup you get the picture this cookie looks pretty good in a variety of colours.

As a thank you I've done up a little tutorial to show how I made them.

Cute as a Button Blossom Cookie

Equipment and Ingredient for blue buttons with blue stitching
Cooked blossom cookies CLICK HERE for chocolate cookie recipe (my blossom cutter was 5.3cm or 2.1")
White ready to roll fondant
light blue (or colour of choice ready to roll fondant) I coloured mine with a little Wilton sky blue
Small rolling pin
Paintbrush and water
2 different sized round cutters (I used my the wrong ends of 2 wilton piping tips one of the big ones like a 134 and a #2 but just use anything you have on hand if you have a set of small round cutters perfect)
Edible writing pen in blue (optional)

Roll out white fondant cut out blossom shape using the same size cutter as you used for the cookie and adhere fondant to cookie using  a small amount of water. Using the small rolling pin gently roll the fondant to make it the same size as cookie. Repeat for all cookies

Roll out light blue fondant and using the larger size circle cutter cut out enough rounds to place in the middle of each cookie. Adhere blue rounds to the center of each cookie with a small amount of water.
The Wilton tips in this picture are a little different that the ones I suggested as I was making a different size, like I said use what you have.

Using the slightly smaller round cutter press lightly into the larger round fondant cutout to leave an impression. Using the end of the paintbrush gently push 4 indents to replicate the holes in a button.

If you would like to add 'stitching' in edible pen I recommend allowing the fondant to dry a little. Then draw on the stitches using short stokes all around the edge of the cookie.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chocolate sugar cookie recipe

I have been missing in action for the last week and oh so busy. I'm not sure what is going on but since mid January I have been desperately trying to catch up and just when I think I might just about be there something else comes along.

This week I had 3 days to design, bake, decorate and pack 6 different batches of cookies which doesn't seem so hard but was a struggle for me with 1 day mostly a write off as I had put my name down to help out at my daughter's pre prep school and afterwards had swimming lessons for the kids.

Lucky for me I have a couple of easy, no fail cookie recipes, which is actually the point of this post.

Yes there is a point to this rambling post and it is to share my super easy extra delicious chocolate cookie recipe for cut out cookies.

They have a lovely chocolate flavour and result in a flat well shaped cookie, just perfect for decorating.

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Recipe

114 g unsalted butter (4 ounces)
3/4 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar use regular white sugar if you can't locate superfine)
1 large egg (a large egg is approx 55g in weight - not a jumbo or extra large egg)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
1/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

Sift together flour and cocoa.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar add egg and vanilla and mix until well blended. Add flour and cocoa mixture and mix well.

Refrigerate dough until firm enough to roll (at least one hour).

Roll out cookie dough on a lightly floured surface. Some people roll out between 2 pieces of parchment paper to reduce sticking, I don't do that I just lift the dough between each roll to stop it sticking, like you do with pie dough. Use what ever method works for you.

Cut out shapes and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Gently knead the remaining dough and roll out again to cut more shapes until all dough is used or you have enough cookies.

Place cookies in fridge to chill while you preheat the oven to 160C (325 F).

Bake cookies until the middle is set, you should be able to tell by looking that it no longer looks wet, or there should be no indentation when pressed gently - this is tricky as you can't judge by the golden colour. Depending on the size of cookie it could be between 7 to 20 mins.

Leave on tray a few minutes and then remove to a wire baking rack to cool. Once cool decorate as desired.

Unbaked dough can be wrapped and frozen in an airtight container or refrigerated for a few days.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conversation Heart macarons for Valentines

The MacTweets challenge #16 for February 2011 was dedicated to Valentines Day. In their words 'Nothing says I Love You like a sweet little something, the size of a kiss, the flavor of your wildest desire, the macaron'.
I'm nothing if not literal, so I baked up a batch of macarons and using an edible writing pen in red I drew on some conversation hearts.

Yes my sweet kiss size macarons actually say 'I love you'.... and 'kiss me' and my all time favourite 'True Love'.

I think they would look great in different pastel colours, and if you wanted really neat looking uniform decorations you could cut out a fondant heart, stick it onto the macaron and write or stamp the words on the fondant.

My macarons were made using my regular recipe and filled with white chocolate ganache and for the pink raspberry Italian Meringue Buttercream blended with white chocolate ganache (ratio 3 cups buttercream to 1 cup ganache).

Macaron recipe - click here
Italian Meringue Buttercream from the Whimsical Bakehouse cookbook which is one of my all time favourite cook books for baking.

Whimsical Bakehouse: Fun-to-make Cakes That Taste as Good as They Look
Whimsical Bakehouse: Fun-to-make Cakes That Taste as Good as They Look

Due to the super humid and hot weather here in Brisbane at the moment the white chocolate ganache is a 4:1 ratio of white chocolate to cream. Eg 200g white chocolate to 50g cream melted together carefully and allowed to set in the fridge to a piping consistency.

I'm sure all the wonderful Mac Tweeters will be coming up with some lovely macarons for the February Challenge check back at the end of the month to see all the mac-yumminess.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How ADOREable is this high tea shoot

So this story starts with a message from Sharnel Dollar asking me if I would like to help her out on a shoot she was doing for Adore magazine.

Come on you guys know what my answer was even without seeing all the gorgeous pictures on this page. Sharnel Dollar Designs Styling + Naomi V Photography + a host of other amazing providers is always going to = a gorgeous result.

Yup I jumped at the chance.

Now I can only take credit here for making the macarons, scones and melting moments, and the recipes for the scones and melting moments are courtesy of Sharnel Dollar. But I am very proud and excited to have helped out at all.

Oh and any of you readers from the US who might want to try out the scone (biscuit) recipe - lemonade is what we call clear soda...7 up would be a suitable replacement, and it is a super easy recipe. Really, really easy fast scones.

Check out the whole high tea fit for a Queen (starting page 96)  including the recipes by clicking on this link.

In fact check out the whole magazine - it's online and free and has some gorgeous stuff in it.

High Tea fit for a Queen credits

Sharnel Dollar - Styling and making of all treats except the couple made by me
Naomi V - Photography
Green and Bloom Wedding Flowers - flowers
Pen & Paperflowers - Silhouette design
Macaron Recipe 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coconut and Strawberry Macaroon Hearts for Valentine

A macaroon instead of a macaron for a change.

I have always loved macaroons, even before I knew about those pretty little temperamental french almond things I was a fan of the dense coconut confection that is a macaroon.

I used to love the chocolate dipped ones from The Shingle Inn, a bakery in Brisbane nearby where I used to work.

I have tried a few recipes over the years with less than fabulous results. Anyway I spied a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens basics magazine that I though had promise. So I made the recipe a bit smaller and added some finely chopped strawberries and the result was pretty delicious.

and of course then I shaped them into a heart for Valentines day.

Which is really only an excuse because if you have followed this blog for any length of time you would have noticed that I frequently shape or decorate things into hearts, just because they are so darn cute.

Then I made half of them into the traditional little pyramid shape which is pretty cute as well. They are the perfect bite sized treat and not overly sweet so you can have a quite a few if you are so inclined.

I was - inclined to have a few that is, in fact a few too many so sadly my plan of dipping some of the heart shaped macaroons into pink chocolate did not eventuate.

Oh well next time ;) 

Recipe after jump.