October 1, 2012 at 8:04 am (Cake, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker)
Tags: bittersweet chocolate, Cake, chocolate, dark brown sugar, devil's food cake, marshmallow, marshmallow creme, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, unsweetened chocolate
This week’s Modern Baker Challenge recipe is the Devil’s Food Cake from the cover of the book. And I suspect that, like my friend Renee, a lot of people bought the book largely for the promise of this cake.
First things first, there is an erratum in this recipe in the original hardback version of the book. The fluffy white icing requires 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, rather than the 1 cup called for in the recipe. This error was corrected in the paperback version of the book.
This cake derives its characteristic moist, chocolatey crumb from a combination of dark brown sugar and unsweetened chocolate. And it’s a good cake. Really good. But for me, what sets this cake apart is the frosting.
Nick calls this “fluffy white icing”, and I was expecting it to be like a white buttercream. But with the combination of egg whites, sugar, and corn syrup, all of which are heated then whipped, it was more like marshmallow. Marshmallow creme, to be exact. And who doesn’t love that?
This was a great cake, one I’m sure I’ll make again. Definitely worth the price of the book. And I think that, like Renee, anyone who bought the book for this cake won’t be disappointed.
June 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm (Cake, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, Techniques, The Modern Baker, Twitterbake)
Tags: bittersweet chocolate, butter, Cake, chocolate, Dark rum, Eggs, marbled cake, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, rum, Twitterbake
I was all set to make this recipe the other day when my friends Kayte and Margaret tweeted that they were making it, too. So we decided to have a Twitterbake and make it “together” in our separate kitchens (and separate States). It’s always more fun baking with others, even if you are baking and tweeting from far away.
This is the third recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. After starting with a delicious, if fussy, pound cake, I was looking forward to trying this recipe.
As impressive as it looks, this cake was really easy to put together, although it did dirty quite a few bowls. The base batter consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter (three sticks!), seven eggs, and dark rum. After making a heavy paste of the dry ingredients and butter, I whisked the eggs and rum, then added them to the butter mixture.
The chocolate swirl layer consisted of dark rum, milk, baking soda, bittersweet chocolate, and two cups of the base batter, all mixed together until blended.
To assemble the cake, I put half the base batter in the pan, smoothed the top, then topped it with the chocolate layer.
I covered this with the rest of the base batter, smoothed the top, then marbled it by dragging a knife through the batter from the center to the edge all the way around the pan.
I baked the cake for 75 minutes, until it was done through but still moist.
Pardon the pun, but the cake smelled intoxicating while it baked. The chocolate and rum combined to give it a rich, heady aroma, and I couldn’t wait to cut into it. I let the cake cool, then sprinkled the top with powdered sugar (although it really didn’t need any adornment).
My daughter and I decided to sample it for a bedtime snack.
I was planning to take the rest of it to work today, but after tasting it, my daughter announced that I would be doing no such thing. The cake was rich, but not overly sweet, and had a great balance of flavors. Calling it “rum-scented” is quite apt, as the rum adds more to the aroma than the flavor.
This was another great recipe from The Modern Baker and has me looking forward to the next seven months(!) of cakes.
Check out Kayte’s and Margaret’s posts to see what they thought and to get a look at their beautiful marbling.
August 29, 2011 at 7:00 am (Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker)
Tags: baked puff pastry layer, blueberries, chocolate, creme anglaise, Feuillettes, Macerated berries, mille-feuille, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Napoleons, Nick Malgieri, Pastry Cream, Puff pastry, raspberries, whipped cream
For the Puff Pastry section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I’ve decided to take a more organized approach to baking and posting the recipes. In previous sections, I made the recipes roughly in order (although not always) and wrote and published posts as I finished each recipe. As a result, I would often publish several recipes in a row over the course of a few days and would usually finish the section well before the end of the allotted time frame.
At the beginning of the month, as we moved into the Puff Pastry section, I decided to institute “Modern Baker Mondays”. As the name implies, I’ll be posting the recipes on Mondays. I’m going to post one per week, in the order the recipes appear in the book, regardless of when and in what order I actually bake them.
This week’s Modern Baker Mondays offering is the last in a series of sweet mille-feuille, which included chocolate-filled Napoleons and raspberry mille-feuille. The feuillettés are similar to the raspberry mille-feuille, the main differences being size (the feuillettés are mini mille-feuille) and the use of crème anglaise instead of pastry cream.
The feuillettés are comprised of four components — crème anglaise, macerated berries, whipped cream, and disks cut from a baked pastry layer.
Making the crème anglaise is the most time-consuming part, but it’s not difficult. And it’s so good, you may find yourself making it again to use for other things, like berries and cream or crème anglaise ice cream.
Once everything is prepared, it’s just a matter of putting the feuillettés together. This simply involves layering pastry disks, whipped cream, berries, and crème anglaise. So easy a child could do it. Really.
Feuillettés, some assembly required
We had fun putting these together, and even more fun eating them.
Feuillettés with berries and cream
This was a simple, stunning, and delicious dessert. It would make the perfect finish to a summer dinner party.
August 15, 2011 at 7:30 am (Around My French Table, Dessert, Dorie Greenspan, French Fridays With Dorie, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker)
Tags: Around My French Table, Bakery-quality desserts, chocolate, chocolate mousse, Dessert, Dorie Greenspan, French cooking, French food, French Fridays With Dorie, Gelatin, Meringue, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, Puff pastry, Unflavored gelatin, whipped cream
This week’s recipe for the Modern Baker Challenge is one of several versions of mille feuille, which consist of a filling (usually sweet, but sometimes savory) between baked layers of puff pastry. Mille feuille is French for “thousand leaves”, a reference to the delicate layers exhibited by the puff pastry when it is baked.
To make the Napoleons, I began by baking a pastry layer, which I then cut to fit a foil-lined pan.
Next, I made a richly flavored chocolate mousse to go between the pastry layers. Most of the chocolate mousse recipes I’m familiar with are made fluffy by the addition of either whipped cream or egg white meringue to a chocolate pudding base. So I was surprised to see that Nick’s recipe utilizes both whipped cream and meringue. I had no doubt that this would make a stunning mousse.
Another interesting twist to Nick’s recipe is a secret that I recently picked up from Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table – the addition of unflavored gelatin to the mousse. As I learned when I made Dorie’s citrus-berry terrine, French chefs (both home and professional) see gelatin as just another pantry staple and use it for many things, including strengthening whipped cream and stabilizing mousse that’s destined to be used as a filling, as in this recipe.
I spread the mousse over the baked pastry layer in the pan.
Then I topped the mousse with a second pastry layer, compressed it gently, and chilled it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I removed the pan from the refrigerator and unmolded the pastry by lifting it out of the pan, peeling away the foil, then transferring the pastry to a cutting board with a large cake spatula.
I trimmed the edges of the pastry, then cut it into serving-sized pieces. I dusted the Napoleons with powdered sugar and cocoa, then plated them with a few raspberries.
My family is accustomed to my cooking and baking, which often includes exotic ingredients and fancy plating. But even they were impressed with these pastries, which we all agreed looked like they had come from a fancy bakery.
And the taste? Well, let’s just say it lived up to the appearance. The mousse was rich and deeply flavored. And the pastry was crisp, buttery, and flaky.
This is a dessert worthy of your best dinner party. It’s also perfect for a weeknight family supper.
Margaret wrote the official post for this recipe. You can read about her experience here.
July 17, 2011 at 8:13 am (Dessert, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, Sweet tart dough, Tart Crust, Tarts & Pies, The Modern Baker)
Tags: bittersweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate tart, chocolate, chocolate nut dough, coconut, Dessert, Lemon, lemon curd, lime, lime curd, mini muffin pan, Modern Baker, Modern Baker Challenge, Nick Malgieri, Pecan tart, Pecans, sweet tart, Tart, Tart dough, tartlet shells, tartlets, toasted coconut
With two weeks left to go in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I found myself with four recipes remaining. The kids are out of town, and we decided to have a low-key day today, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to play a little catch-up. I decided to knock out three recipes at once. The lemon lime tartlet and chocolate caramel pecan tartlet recipes each make 24 tartlets, way too many to have around with just J and me to eat them. Since each recipe calls for the tart shells to be prebaked, I figured I would bake the shells together and then fill them.
As for the third recipe, well, that’s the tartlet shells for the chocolate caramel pecan tartlets. The recipe calls for shells made with chocolate nut dough, and since this is the first recipe to use that dough, I hadn’t made it yet. The lemon lime tartlets are made with sweet tart dough, which I’ve made for many of the recipes in this section.
I mixed up both doughs early in the day and let them chill in the fridge for a few hours. For the lemon lime tartlets, I rolled out the sweet tart dough, cut it into circles, and pressed each disk into a mini muffin pan. Then I did the same with the chocolate nut dough.
I chilled the dough in the pans for about an hour, then baked the shells in a 350°F oven for 12 minutes. Although I pricked the dough well with a fork before baking, the shells puffed up to the point where there was no room for filling. While the shells were still hot, I pressed the center of each one with a small ladle to make room for the filling. I cooled the crusts in the pan for a few minutes, then removed them to a cooling rack. A few of the bakers in the Challenge noted that their tartlet shells stuck when they baked them in mini muffin pans. Knowing this, I had sprayed my pan lightly with spray oil, and my shells came out beautifully.
While the tart shells were cooling, I toasted coconut for the lemon lime tartlets, then made the filling for the chocolate caramel pecan tartlets. (I didn’t have to make the lemon lime filling, as I had leftover lemon and lime curds in the fridge from making ice cream.) The chocolate filling isn’t particularly difficult, although it does require quite a few steps and dirties a lot of pans and bowls. The caramel is made in one pan while the cream is heated in another. These are combined, then scraped into a bowl to cool. Chocolate, which has been melted and cooled in another bowl, is then added to the caramel-cream mixture, and butter and nuts (which have been toasted in a separate pan) are added last.
After making the filling and shells, assembling the tartlets was a breeze. I spooned the chocolate caramel pecan tartlet filling into the shells and topped each one with a toasted pecan.
For the lemon lime tartlets, I had planned to mix my lemon and lime curds, which I had made and stored separately, but Nick cautions against overstirring the curd, lest it become too liquid. I tested this by putting a spoonful of each into a bowl and mixing them. Sure enough, the curd broke down and become too watery to hold up in the tart shells. So I filled half the shells with lemon curd and the other half with lime curd, then topped them with toasted coconut.
My wife and I enjoyed these tartlets for a late-evening snack. We loved the flavor of all three of the tartlets, although we did discover that it was best to eat the chocolate ones first, as they tended to taste a little bitter after eating the curd-filled tartlets.
These were delicious tarts, and I will definitely make them again. However, unless I’m making them for a finger-food event, I would be inclined to do them as full size tarts, rather than tartlets.