Food, glorious food... done my way. Pretence of perfection

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ganache bites

So what to do when you buy 100% cocoa solids chocolate? It's a bit bitter to eat on its own, so I went back to my favourite gooey recipe and tried that.

I emptied the chunks of choc (about 73g after I snacked on a few pieces to see what it was like - It made my pint of bitter taste sweet!) into a ban-marie with a little double cream (equal measures -ish). The simmering water melts the chocolate at a slow pace, so it doesn't split. At least in theory, the 100% stuff isn't half delicate! You're not to work it too much otherwise it can get quite bitty, but I did stir it to get the cocoa butter back in the with solids.

I added a fair bit of sugar too to sweeten it a little, and added a little drab of whisky. A 10 year old Talisker to be exact, one of the finest whiskies.

I put the concoction on a silicon mat and left it in the fridge to firm up. About 10 mins later I came back with a spoon, scooped up a little and rolled it in cocoa. Back in the fridge (minus one).

Lovely and firm at first, then they just melt on the tongue... mmmmm

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gateau Saint Honoré... ish

Well that was fun! Saint Honoré is the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. But even someone with his immense powers could not help me... No doubt if you're checking other posts on this gateau and you'll notice mine looks rather different... I'm such a good chef I let the recipe take me, rather than forcing it into something it shouldn't be... *ahem*

For those of you not in the know (I'm still not) this cake has three main parts: 1. Puff pastry, 2. Choux pastry and 3. St. Honoré Cream.

1. The puff pastry is tough, tough work; mine took hours of labourous attent... ok, £1.59 from the local shop, but I walked there so that should count, no?!

2. Pate a Choux – Cream Puffs Dough
4 ¾ oz. all purpose flour (135 gr)
1 cup water ( 240 ml)
2 oz unsalted butter (58 gr)
¼ tsp. salt (1 gr)
1 cup eggs (240 ml)

Sift the flour and set aside. Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid (mine still had some butter on the top, don't fret). Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes (mine happened much quicker, it's like making a white sauce). Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease (elbows were thoroughly greased, but it wasn't too much work). Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. Do not add all the eggs at once. Check after a few, the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise. Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired (go mad! I did :-D).

Seriously easy considering the results, even mine turned out (too) well. Sooooo much fun!

3. Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.) *warning 1*
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (130 gr)
½ cup all-purpose flour (70 gr)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500ml)
1 Tb. rum *warning 2*
¼ cup whipping cream (57 gr)
3 egg whites dash of salt 1/2 cup sugar (105 gr)
Vanilla pod (I used essence to hilarious out comes!) *warning 3*

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water. Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk. Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the whipping cream.Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

So now you have all the main ingredients.

"Warning 1" refers to reading packet instructions. I didn't because of "Warning 2"... I found that the rum had the affect of making me forget to read the packet instructions on the gelatin. Well maybe not forget but you get the inference ;-) "Warning 3" refers to the fact I used essence and because of "Warning 2" I might have used too much... oh dear... It's been a week since I made it and I still wince :-)

You need to make a circle of the puff pastry, and pipe a few concentric rings of the choux pastry onto it. Put 12* puff balls on the baking sheet
around the "cake" and bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 400F (205C) until the pate a choux has puffed (about 10 minutes). Reduce the heat to 375F (190C) and bake until everything is dry enough to hold its shape, about 35 minutes longer for the puff "cake" and 8 minutes longer for the cream puffs (just pick them up and take them out as they are done). *And if you have lots of choux puff pastry left over just go mad and make loads X-D

Now either the little gelatin sheet I used wasn't working, or I used too much rum or the too much rum I'd ingested meant I missed something, but my cream just did not set. Things were going so well until this point too, the puff pastry had puffed, the choux balls and choux'ed; what followed was simply comedic gold to any obse
rver, imagine a dam that's springing leaks of cream and some little boy trying to scurry around stopping the leaks with his fingers...

Apart from turning the air blue and the counter top cream things were going quite well... I poured *so embarrassed* the honore cream into my cream puffs and put them straight into into the fridge as quick as possible. I then added another gelatin sheet to see if that would help... it firmed up a but so I poured *blushes* more honore cream into the cream puffs (I'd had a few drinks by then so I was snacking as I went :-)).

Then it was just a matter of praying to Saint Honoré and hoping the cream would set some while remaining inside the cream puffs. At this point you're supposed to dip your cream filled cream puffs into caramel... oooookkkkkkkk then, I instead poured caramel (that's the chocolate looking substance in the pic, I'd used golden sugar so it was darker than usual anyway) onto the rim of the "cake" and fixed the puffs onto it. At this point the rum/apple juice cocktails really started to kick in... I poured more caramel into the base of the cake (with the idea of making the bottom more able to take the cream), then poured the honore cream into the centre... to cover that fact it hadn't turned out well, I just kept on going with the cream puffs...

It might look a mess (guilty) but it tasted great. It went down pretty well at work the next day, there wasn't much time between the lid coming off and the lid going back on the empty box.

Thanks to Helene and Anita for the challenge, I hope you're not too mad at the mess I made of it :-) Roll on next month's challenge, I definitely won't be drinking next time!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Four Cheese Pizza

Mozzarella di buffalo, crumbly goats cheese, dolcelatte and parmesiano.

Mmm mmm.

The dough was made from several different flours but it still came out quite well. I used Giorgio Locatelli's recipe, so a little milk and olive oil was added to the blend. Plus I put died oregano and basil into the hot water before mixing it into the flour mix.

It was also cooked on a pizza stone so it have a nice crisp bottom to it...

Luckily for me the pizza was soooo good it nearly made up for the loss of the FA Cup to Chavski... still, it can't take away the moment when... no, must put it behind me... &(&^%& %$$$£$ £%&^(#*)@(!!!!!!