Archive for November, 2013

A Pastry Delayed – Patisserie 46

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New blog series idea. Posting about all the bakeries I get to try in Minneapolis. I have seriously been waiting to get to Patisserie 46 for a full two years. I mean, I’m all about delayed gratification, but two years is a little too long to wait for a decent French pastry.

Actually, I would call them the best French pastries in the Cities. They reminded me of my time in France. Bakeries on every corner, do you hear me? My life was charmed. And forever ruined. Dramatic.

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I had this beautiful chocolate hazelnut dacquoise layered with hazelnut cream and topped with a thing layer of chocolate and a gold leaf hazlenut. It wasn’t even like eating Nutella. Very sophisticated.

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Obviously I had to get some kind of cake, but I almost freaked out (who I am kidding, I was freaking out) when I saw the Canelés de Bordeaux, another of those French delicacies which I regard as too time-consuming to be worth my while. You can read about the process here. They are sort of an eggy, spongy interior with a caramel crunchy exterior.

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And speaking of caramel, my friend Autumn got a salted chocolate caramel something or other that looked like modern art from the sixties. Ain’t she sweet.

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I will be back to try the savory pastries. The croissants. I can’t even handle right now. Every day is like night to me until I can return. Too excited for breakfast.

Goodnight,

L

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Pipe Dream #236: To Sneak in Snacks – Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

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For your cold and chocolate fixes…

{Get a looka that crinkly icing!}

…this oatmeal cake is sure to warm you up.

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This cake is so full of chocolate, I barely know where to begin. First comes the cake layer, a dense cocoa oat slice studded with semisweet chocolate chips. The oats in the cake don’t come off as oatmeal; they just keep everything moist and hearty. Then follows a sugary chocolate icing that includes MARSHMALLOWS (cue singing aloud for joy). It’s that kind of rich icing that you almost can’t eat with a spoon because of its intensity, but then you can because its fudge rippliness is so irresistible.

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I don’t often allow myself to make this kind of “snack cake.” Too much “evening out the slices,” if you catch my drift. (Can you see how I took out that little mini edge so it would be straight? Ha.) By the end of the afternoon, my “snack” has turned into “dinner.” Better to save a cake for a celebration?

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On the other hand…not. Snack cakes have their place. Especially with icing like that.

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Indulge yourselves, snackas,

L

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

Adapted slightly from Pinch of Yum

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup quick cooking oats
1¾ cups boiling water
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips, divided
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons milk
1½ cups sugar
½-3/4 cup chocolate chips
½-3/4 cup mini marshmallows or regular marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and mix well.
Add flour, soda, salt and cocoa and mix until just incorporated.

Add the water to the oatmeal and let stand for a few minutes. Once the oats are soft, add oats mixture to the batter and mix well. Stir in six ounces of the chocolate chips (half).

Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the other half of the chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the surface springs back lightly when touched. Do not overbake. Let cool completely.

For the icing , melt the butter, sugar, and milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to low and add the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Stir briskly until icing is smooth. Pour immediately over the cooled cake. Allow the frosted cake to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Pipe Dream #235: To Get a What What – Mini Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecakes

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Can I get a what what?

Sorry, I just wanted to reference that song because I recently rediscovered it and was filled unwarranted nostalgia, as I never listened to it when it was a real popular song. Oh, for the days when commercial hip hop/Jay-Z was better.

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But guys. Get ready for something that never disappoints

Like a sprained ankle, boy, these aren’t anything with which to play.

Pumpkin. Streusel. Cheesecake. This ain’t no scrub hollering at you. Oh no. These elements are pure gold standalones, but when combined, they sing a tune catchier than Drake, Eminem, Kanye and Wayne put together.

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This is the most embarrassing post I’ve ever written. I think I need to go and wash out my mind with a Focus on the Family radio drama.

Also, in case you are wondering, Thanksgiving is soon. Wouldn’t this be a perfect Thanksgiving dessert?

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To likely mixes and unlikely mixes,

L

Pumpkin Streusel Mini Cheesecakes

Adapted from Kraft.com

2/3 cup  flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup  packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 eggs
1/2 can  (about 8 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons  pumpkin pie spice

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix flour,  2 tablespoons granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl until blended; cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts.

Reserve 1/2 cup oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spice with mixer until blended; pour over the crusts. Sprinkle each with reserved oat mixture.

Bake 25 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in the fridge.

Favorite Shots: Birthday Cake Victim

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New birthday cake victim, aglow with delight. Birthdays, they are the best.

L

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New birthday cake victim, aglow with delight.

Pros and Cons: POY’s Perfect Cookies

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Yeah, yeah. They look pretty perfect. And they look even perfecter on Pinch of Yum. Which is why I had to make them. But let me tell you, these did not turn out as right as they could have. POY has all these wonderful tips and tricks that make the consistency just right, but I must have messed something up, because I was a little disappointed.

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To sum up. (Name that movie.)

PROS

  • These cookies were huge. I love that.
  • They included white chocolate chips and pecans (POY does a classic chocolate chip cookie. I have actually posted two cookie recipes with this combination already on my blog. I see atheme. Otherwise known as “a theme.”)
  • They stayed soft in the middle. Essential.

CONS

  • They got a little too crispy after sitting for a while. The edges got hard.
  • POY uses mostly white sugar, so I thought these were a little lacking in caramelly flavor. Brown sugar may have solved the softness issue as well.
  • They just did not look as soft/perfectly browned as POY’s. Even after I followed all of her tips!
  • The amount of precision butter-melting involved may have you getting anxious. It did me.

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This was the first thing I tried from Pinch of Yum, fellow MN bloggers. Trolling through the chock-full archives, there were so many drool-inducing sweets I wanted to try that I actually have a little list saved in my email. In fact, I just drafted two more blog posts that are recipes from it. Stay tuned. I feel some success coming on.

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will try these again, just to see if I can make things right. I actually really want to try the New York Times Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie that everyone has been on about for three years running. I even have bread and cake flours. Yes, the NYT cookie requires two types of obscure flour. Obscure meaning “not all-purpose.”

For a few less finnicky chocolate chip cookie recipes, try the Updated Classic chocolate chip cookies (my reigning fav) or these Decent chocolate chip cookies.

POY’s Perfect Cookies

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

7 tablespoons salted butter
¾ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1¼ cup all purpose flour + a few tablespoons, if needed
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾  cups white chocolate chips + ¾ cups chopped pecans

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Put the butter in the oven in the stainless steel bowl of a stand mixer as it’s preheating until about one third to one half of the butter is melted. Do not melt more than half of the butter. Turn the oven off. Let the butter come back to room temperature for at least 30 minutes – it should be a soft solid.

Add the sugar and vanilla. Cream with a tand mixer fixed with a paddle attachment until well mixed and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated.

Measure in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix slowly with the electric mixer, scraping the sides until all the flour is incorporated. If the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl and looks wet, add one tablespoon of extra flour at a time until the dough feels dry and sticks together in one large ball. Stop adding flour right when the dough starts to take on a dry look and feel. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Roll ¼ cup dough into high, round balls. Place balls on a baking sheet a few inches apart and bake for about 9 minutes. Take them out when they are puffy and just a bit brown on the tops and edges. Let stand for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Pipe Dream #234: To Keep It PG-13 – Pumpkin Chiffon Torte with French Buttercream and Caramel

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There are so many pipe dreams in this recipe, I don’t even know where to begin. I didn’t want to share this cake. Not with tha blog, not with the party-goers. And not because I’m selfish/addicted to sweets, and it was too good to share, either.

The filling of this cake (which I won’t take the trouble of sharing with you, avoid the pain) took it to over-the-top sweet, and I think it really damaged the finished product. I was, like, almost embarrassed to serve it.

And then I still ate it. Just to be sure of my real thoughts about it. Ok, whine sesh over. And also, JUST LOOK AT IT. And also, the buttercream frosting is the best best best frosting to come out of my kitchen since I tried a Swiss meringue buttercream. But I’ll come to that in  a moment.

First, let’s talk chiffon cake.

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Chiffon cake is kind of like angel food cake, except instead of using egg whites, you use whole eggs. You whip the eggs whites separately and fold them into the batter, which creates a super fluffy cake. It is kind of squishy like I imagine a real live sea cucumber would be, if I poked it. It doesn’t quite give when you bite it. Idk, just go try one, you’ll see.

Traditional chiffon cakes are baked in a tube pan, kind of like a bundt pan, then flipped over onto a bottle to cool so the cake keeps its height. The sides of the pan also help the cake to rise. I saw a number of recipes for chiffon cakes in regular pans too, which is what I did with this recipe. This recipe also called for the pans to be greased (a big chiffon cake no no, as the cake will fall out of the pan once tipped). I decided to give it a shot, even if it wasn’t totally traditional.

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Even though the recipe didn’t say I should flip the pans, I decided to give it a go anyway. Contrary to any story the above picture may be telling you, my cake did indeed fall out of its pan about 10 minutes after being flipped onto my MacGyvered glasses.

Luckily the layers remained intact, and I just let them cool on a wire rack. Next time I do a chiffon cake, I want to try this lemon one, which was the first recipe to turn me on to chiffon cakes and also calls for the cake to remain in the pan. Unless someone buys me a chiffon cake pan, in which case, I’ll go all traditional on yo tummies.

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The buttercream variation I tried is a “French” buttercream, which uses egg yolks and a sugar syrup to create the most silky smooth buttercream. The Kitchn even goes so far to call it “sexy,” but I will refrain here, because this blog is only PG-13 on Random Tuesdays, and plus, I can’t call the buttercream that ends up in my hair/face after three solid hours in the kitchen sexy. So.

This is the first buttercream I really felt I had a handle on “fixing” after it split. If yours splits after you add the butter, try increasing your mixer speed to high for 1-3 minutes and just see if it doesn’t come back together. Worked for me.

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I topped it off with a good old-fashioned jar of Smucker’s caramel topping, but you could use and caramel recipe you like for this. Or maybe melt down some Brach’s caramels with a bit of heavy cream. I would try using salted caramel if I did this again, though. The caramel really was too flippin’ much.

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Keeping it real,

L

P.S. I made this before this post from SprinkleBakes came out. A Chocolate Turtle Pumpkin Torte. I was basically celebrating, because she is an amazing baker (like, actually so fabulous), and she is practically copying me. I mean, not really, but we are like-minded.

Pumpkin Chiffon Torte with French Buttercream and Caramel

Cake adapted from Wilton, Buttercream from the Kitchn

For the cake:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
4 whole eggs + 4 egg whites, divided (reserve 4 egg yolks for caramel buttercream)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8 in. round cake pans with vegetable pan spray.

In large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk pumpkin with whole eggs until well combined. Add to flour mixture and whisk until well combined.

In large bowl, whip egg whites on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks. With mixer running, gradually add granulated sugar. Continue beating until glossy and stiff.

Fold 1/3 egg whites into pumpkin mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in remaining egg whites completely. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 28-32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Invert pans onto a cooling rack* and cool completely. When cooled, run a knife along sides of cake to release from pan.

*I tried to do the classic chiffon cake and invert the pans onto those cups like you see in the pictures. In a classic chiffon bundt, you don’t grease the pan, and you invert it onto a bottle to cool so that they keep their height. My cakes fell out of the pans eventually because I greased them. Don’t do it.

For the buttercream:

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still slightly firm
1 1/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons water
10 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons bourbon or other flavoring, such as vanilla

Unwrap the butter and cut it into large pieces, about 8 per stick. Combine the sugar and water in the small saucepan and place on the stove over a medium flame. While the syrup is coming up to temperature, add the yolks and a pinch of salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until pale and thick.

When the syrup reaches 238°F, remove from heat.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl to avoid splattering the syrup on the beaters.  Stop pouring every 10 seconds or so and increase the speed to high, then switch it to low and drizzle in more syrup.  Do this until all the syrup is incorporated. After all the syrup has been incorporated, beat on high speed until the mixture has cooled to room temperature.  This can take about 10 minutes.

When the mixture and the bowl no longer feel warm, switch to the paddle attachment and start adding the butter one cube at a time, mixing well in-between each addition. At this point, the buttercream may look curdled and awful. Try increasing your mixer speed and just keep beating until it comes together (maybe 1-3 minutes). Add the bourbon and continue to beat until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable.

To assemble the cake:

Slice the two layers in half horizontally, making four layers. Use half the buttercream to fill the layers, then spread a thin crumb coat around the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, then use the rest of the frosting to frost the cake fully. Refrigerate until firm. I used about 3/4 of a jar of warmed Smuckers caramel topping to decorate the cake. Warm up the jar in the microwave, but make sure your caramel isn’t too hot or it will melt the frosting. Pour the caramel on the center of the cake, spreading to the edges so it runs over the sides. Decorate with sprinkles and a pecan, if desired.

Favorite Shots: Broken In

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A new kitchen! One thing that hasn’t changed: My keyboard keys sticking from all the flour on them. I am scared my laptop will die, and then the Apple Genius guy will crack it open to retrieve my iTunes library and be like, “What the…” before he chokes and dies from the plume of white powder that emerges.

L


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