Archive | December, 2012

New Blog Site & Tiramisu

23 Dec

Hi Everyone –

I’m migrating my blog to a new site and I’d like you to come visit me! My newest post – Chocolate Tiramisu – is available exclusively at my new page.

Future Blog Posts @ 

www.decadentdragonbakery.com

Tiramisu Slice

Please click on the link above to check out my new site. You can also subscribe to future posts by entering your email address in the sidebar of my new blog.

See you there!

Beth

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Tiramisu: Baking Ladyfingers

22 Dec

Baked LadyfingersThese cute little Ladyfinger Cookies are simple to make, delicious dipped into a cup of your favorite tea or as the base of creamy Italian Tiramisu.

When I made Chocolate Tiramisu last week, I decided to make my own ladyfinger cookies instead of buying them. The store-bought variety, while perfectly serviceable, just aren’t as good as making your own. Besides, it’s great to say you made something 100% from scratch, isn’t it?

For this recipe, you’ll need a few *special* ingredients that you may not have in your home kitchen: cake flour, cream of tartar (powder) and a piping bag/tip…in addition to a few others.

And stay tuned on a terrific use for these cookies…I’ll be posting my favorite Chocolate Tiramisu Recipe soon.

Ladyfinger Ingredients

Ladyfinger Cookie Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 8-10 minutes (until firm/lightly browned)
Oven Temp: 350 F
Makes 3 dozen 3-inch cookies | Adapted from Joy of Baking

1/2 cup Cake Flour
3 Egg Yolks, room temperature
2 tbsp White Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Egg Whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
3 tbsp White Sugar
Powdered Sugar for dusting unbaked cookies

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line two (2) baking sheets with parchment paper. [Silpats will work, but I discovered parchment makes removing the cookies easier after baking.]

Use a ruler to divide the parchment into three (3) rows. This will help you pipe evenly sized 3-inch cookies.  Fit your pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip. [In a pinch, you can probably use a gallon zip-lock bag with a small cut in one corner.]

Get all your ingredients measured and ready so they are close at hand.

Preparing Egg Yolks
In an electric mixer with your paddle attachment, beat egg yolks and 2 tbsp white sugar on high for ~5 minutes. The mixture should form a ribbon when batter falls off the beaters back into the mixture. Egg yolks will be thick and pale yellow. Mix in the vanilla extract. Sift the cake flour lightly over the batter but don’t fold in.

Ladyfingers Flour and Egg

Preparing Egg Whites
In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites using your whisk attachment until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks. Slowly add in the 3 tbsp of white sugar and whip until stiff peaks form and egg whites are glossy.

Fold the whites into the yolk mixture in three (3) additions, mixing until just incorporated.

Ladyfinger Batter

Ladyfinger Batter Mixed

Transfer your batter into your pastry bag. Hold the bag at a 45-degree angel to the baking sheet and pipe the batter to form 3-inch ladyfingers. Leave about an inch between cookies. [My batter was fairly thin and it took a few tries to pipe an even ladyfinger. You’ll get the hang of it!]

Ladyfingers on SheetAfter you’ve finished piping your cookies, sift powdered sugar lightly over the tops of the ladyfinger cookies.

Bake your cookies 8-10 minutes until the ladyfingers are firm, lightly browned and still spongy in texture.

Take the baking sheets out of the oven and slide the parchment paper from your pans onto wire cooling racks. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes and then use a thin spatula to separate the cookies from the paper. [Don’t forget to do this or they will stick!]

Let the cookies cool completely. Store in a sealed container for 1-2 days or freeze for longer storage.

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake

12 Dec

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake Close Up FINAL

I just finished a fun project: the Lychee Ombre Rose Cake.

A friend and former work colleague celebrated her little one’s baptism this weekend. I was honored when she asked me to make a rose cake for the event, after seeing my first attempt back in October.

Ombre Rose Cake Top

With all the fuss putting this cake together, I didn’t get as many photos as I would have preferred. But I wanted to share the experience with you, and what I learned.

This is a crowd-sourced cake. This cake could not have been accomplished without the help of fellow food lovers. I took inspiration from many sources as I designed this cake over the past month.

I experimented with numerous cake recipes, and at least six (6) types of buttercream. [There will be a separate post on buttercream, I promise you.] Although I did modify many of them, the recipes below stood out. They are solid recipes you can trust to perform.

White Cake : Thanks to SprinkleBakes for a moist White Cake Recipe!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Great SMB recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Lychee Filling: Adapted this Lychee Mousse filling from Raspberri Cupcakes
Color Styling: Inspired by 52 Kitchen Adventures‘ similar ombre version

All told, I probably spent five hours on this final cake. You can’t rush genius.

Baking the cakes, whisking fluffy Swiss Buttercream in my little mixer, whipping up lychee mousse and tinkering until I found the perfect color of pink. It takes time, people!

Frosting ColorsRose pink, petal pink, burgundy, red…so many options for pink.

Once I had all the requisite cake components, I was ready to build my Lychee Ombre Rose Cake! You can see there are quite a few tools you’ll want close at hand.

Rose Cake ToolsLet me know if you are curious about any of these tools. A cake turntable is really nice to have. The wax paper is simply to protect the cardboard round from being stained by the buttercream.

Filling the Ombre Rose CakeTorting and filling the cake. Make sure you pipe a dam of frosting to hold in the mousse filling – or you may experience ooze.

Ombre Rose Cake Crumb Coat

I applied an ombre pink crumb coat (dark to light). I didn’t worry about the crumbs visible in this icing since I was just going to cover it all over with roses.Ombre Rose Cake Crumb Coat Finished

I really like the effect. Perhaps I’ll do a simple cake this way in the future. [Note: this is prior to smoothing the frosting…which is why it looks a tad lopsided.]

Iced Cake Before Gold TintThe photo above is before I applied the gold tint. I used the Wilton Gold spray tint to airbrush the cake.

Pink and Gold Ombre Rose Cake with TintThe gold airbrush gives the cake an iridescent glow.

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake

My “Learnings” [Don’t make my mistakes!]

  • Don’t Bother with American Buttercream. Just don’t. NO Crisco either. Use Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s so much better.
  • Make a LOT of frosting. For this cake, you will need a lot of frosting, particularly for icing the top layer of roses. I almost ran out of the lightest pink icing. Reserve some uncolored icing for emergencies.
  • Keep your icing cool. The rose consistency changes as you ice and warm the icing in the bag. So take breaks and briefly chill the icing to avoid this.
  • Deliver your own cakes. I heard the cake encountered some smudging during transportation. Next time I’ll deliver or find a surefire way to keep the cake from moving. [One good suggestion is museum putty.]

Each time I make this style of cake, I get a little better at it. Still plenty of things to learn and improve upon. 10,000 hour rule, right?

Overall, I really appreciate my friend taking a chance on me as a newbie baker. And I hope you take a chance on yourself and make this cake, too!

– Beth

Raspberry Fudge Cookies

4 Dec

Raspberry Tower (2)

These may be the best cookies I’ve ever made. My Raspberry Fudge Cookies are packed with Guittard chocolate, rich espresso and tart raspberries.

Raspberry Fudge Cookie I love you

Innovation in my kitchen often comes from a mistake, or starting a recipe and realizing I don’t have a key ingredient.

In this case, I was originally going to share a different cookie recipe with you (another time, perhaps). But I burned the pecans I was going to use. Plans changed. No biggie: you’re going to LOVE these, I promise.

Raspberry Fudge Cookies have made it to the top of my list. My husband wants you all to know he enjoys eating the dough raw. But officially Decadent Dragon Bakery can’t condone that!  [To me, a freshly baked cookie tastes like a molten lava cake. So good!]

Both the Guittard chocolate and raspberries are locally sourced from businesses in the Bay Area.

Raspberry Fudge Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 12-14 minutes (until just set)
Oven Temp: 325 F

1 lb Bittersweet Chocolate (high-quality is best, chopped finely)
1/2 cup Butter
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt (ideally, Kosher – use less if using table salt)
1 &  1/4 cups Sugar
4 Eggs (large, at room temperature)
2 tbsp Instant Espresso Powder
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 pint Fresh Raspberries (frozen is probably OK in a pinch)

Pre-heat your oven to 325F. Line your baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper (you’ll need 4 pans if baking all cookie at once).

Guittard Chocolate

Begin by weighing and chopping your bittersweet chocolate into even, small pieces. This will help it melt evenly. Place the butter and chocolate into a medium-sized pot and turn the stove on medium-low. Slowly stir the chocolate until melted. Be careful to stir often to avoid burning the chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Chocolate and Butter

Chocolate + Butter 2

Chocolate + Butter 3

See? The chocolate is nice and creamy when fully melted.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine your flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until fully mixed.

Eggs in Mixing Bowl 2

Next, crack your eggs into a large bowl (or bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Beat for 30 seconds. Add your sugar, instant espresso powder and vanilla extract. Beat for 1-2 minutes until fully combined and foamy. Your mixture should look like this:

Eggs Sugar Espresso

Grab your cooled chocolate (make sure it isn’t too hot, it should be barely warm to the touch). Beat the chocolate into the egg mixture.

Chocolate Added

Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in your raspberries by hand with a large spoon or spatula.

Chocolate and Flour

I loved the pattern created by mixing flour into the chocolate.

It’s time to scoop some cookies! Use about 3 tbsp of dough for each cookie. [If you have a medium sized ice cream scoop with a release handle, this works really well to form the dough.] These cookies spread out, so I recommend no more than six (6) per cookie sheet. Place into your hot oven and bake around 12-14 minutes (the center of the cookies should still be quite fudgy and moist).

Raspberry Fudge Cookies on Sheet

Don’t place them this close together (only if freezing for later).

Once the cookies are out of the oven, you can transfer them to a cooling rack with a spatula (don’t pick them up by hand when warm as they’ll fall apart).

Raspberry Fudge Cookies with Powdered Sugar

These cookies really are awesome the day they are baked, so make them fresh!

Tip: If you have space in your freezer, you can scoop these cookies onto a baking sheet and freeze them for 1-2 hours.  Since they don’t need room to spread out, you can fit ~24 on one sheet. Once they are fully frozen, place cookies into a zip-lock freezer bag. You’ll be able to bake them up fresh just a couple at a time! No need to defrost before baking, but they’ll probably take a few extra minutes to finish.

I hope you enjoy them! Do you have an awesome recipe that arose from a kitchen snafu? Let us know about it in the comments!

– Beth