Dienstag, 29. Dezember 2009

TWD: Low and Lush Chocolate Cheesecake

This week my first cheescake ever was on the schedule. Well, not the first cheesecake I ever ate, but the first I ever made. (But as I began baking muffins and easy christmas cookies about one year ago, and serious cakes only two month agos, almost every cake and tarte-type is new to me)
Again, as almost every other week, I had some problems with the ingredients, as creamcheese doesn't exist here. After some research I decided to take a bit less than half the needed amount of Philadelphia and complete the rest with with "Topfen" (or "Quark", as it is called in Germany). I guess it did work out s it should, so I will stick to this mixture in the future, if more cheesecakes should ever be on the plan.

This weeks recipe, the Low and Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake, was chosen by the Tea Lady of Tea and Scones. You may find the recipe there or, even better, on page 243 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours.

Preparations - bringing the liquid in the oven 
and bringing it out of the oven 


Inside the test cake                                                                                  And ready!!

I guess I am not too big a fan of cheesecakes. They are ok, but I don't want to take a bath in it. And I am neither a big fan of very creamy tortes, so, the combination of chocolate and cheesecake didn't craze me.
Nevertheless, I really liked the "dough", made of "graham crackers" (again, yes, you guessed it, a problem of ingredients. I took thick round wholewheat crackers that did look like they could do the job of graham crackers.
Despite the little problem that I have no idea what graham crackers could look like. But, again after some research and reading the descirption, I guess my dough was not too far away from what it was meant to be).

So, I don't think that I will do a lot of chocolate cheesecakes again, even though I have to admit that doing it was really as easy as promised and my colleagues where much more exited about it than I.
But I will for sure use the "dough" again!

Montag, 28. Dezember 2009

TWD rewind: Marshmallows

This is a long-term rewind!
I did remember having seen Marshmallows on the "Completed Recipes"-list. In fact, it was scheduled for the week of 15.4.
It was chosen by Judy from Judy's Gross Eats.

As I am not American, Marshmallows are not part of my (culinary) cultural heritage. The thing most similar to it is "Mäusespeck" (mice ham, in english), this pink and white fluffy something. Children usually like it, and so did I, but I lost sight of them when I grew up. My godchild also liked them a lot when he was younger. But nobody would roast them, put them in hot chocolat or use it for icecream in my latitude.

And for sure I never ever thought it would be possible to to them at home. I thought of Marshmallows as something extremely artificial, synthetic. Something produced in large ugly companies by completeing lots of unhealthy chemistry.

You can imagine my astonishment when I found the recipe in Dorie's book?
Meanwhile I found another one in David Lebovitz' wonderful icecream-book, the Perfect Sccop.

As I had eggwhites left over and one the friends always complains when I bring some examples of my baking adventures for tasting ("I don't like cookies. I don't like chocolate. I hate cakes! You never have something for ME!" - Uhm, pretty hard to do, as she only likes gummy bears and, yes, marshmallows).
So - I made them.
And it was real fun to do!!

When they where "solide" (as solid as marsmallows can and should be) I made rectangles of them, but I also used some biscuit cutters and made a few  pigs and lambs and Eiffel towers.

I loved doing it! It's a bit a mess, but I can imagine that doin it with children is a lot of fun!

Dienstag, 22. Dezember 2009

TWD: My favourite pecan pie

This weeks recipe was chosen by Beth from Someone's in the kitchen with Brina.

She opted for a pecan pie ("My favourite Pecan Pie", p. 327 in Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan). In the last weeks I found out that I love pies but I have some trouble getting them right. The dough never does what it should, even if it is a simple, easy dough. For me, something like an easy pie/tarte dough doesn't exist, obviously...
Anyways, I love nuts, so I was looking forward to baking this pie very much!!

As so often, I had difficulties with the ingredients: Corn syrup doesn't exist in Austria (but I found out that it can be exchanged for simple sugar water; I started to use sugar water wiht a bit of agave syrup), and pecans can be bought, but they are very expensive. Therefore, I took ordinary walnuts instead, as they are very similar. Hope it doens't make a difference...

So, I prebaked the crust on Sunday and assembled the pie late Monday in the evening. 

Tomorrow (or today for those who are on the strict side...), we have a Christmas lunch for the "youngsters" at the office and I promised to bring pies. I will take the chocolate cheese cake which is scheduled for next week (I know - that's not strictly to the rules, but I will have no time next week and nobody to eat it, so I had to bake it already this week), and two little pecan (walnut) pies. I took half the ingredients and made two small pies.
I have no idea what they taste like. But I stole some chocolate-nuts from the top (some that were  a bit too burned) and they tasted pretty good!

So, cross your fingers for my two pies tomorrow!

Donnerstag, 17. Dezember 2009

TWD rewind: Sablés

I missed the Sablés for TWD last wek due to travelling, and meeting friends, and making holiday, and sleeping long, and... just lazying araund!
But I LOVE Sablés and so I couldn't wait to catch up!
The recipe was chosen by Barbara of Bungalow Barbara, so there you may find it, and also some pretty good looking pictures and variations.

Preparations: roll the log in sugar (and coconut, not pictured), sliding them into the oven, bake with 175°C.

Letting cool them for a while

And already ready. That's it!

(The brown edges are the coconut on the second batch)

Ok, I still have to work on the looks, I know, I know. But for today - who cares! I - CAN DO - MY OWN - SHORTBREAD!!!

I never have to go to the store and buy expansive imported stuff anymore!

But wait, that also means that there is no more reason to stay away from shortbread because I would have to go to the store to buy them and there is also no price-barriere any more I could decide not to overcome...
At least, I guess the three-or-more-hours-chill can keep me away from baking (and eating!) them all the time!

Next time, I would use a bit less butter, because they ran a bit out of shape at the bottom while baking and they taste very buttery, so I guess a bit less butter-taste would do no harm. I will use normal and not cane sugar, although I like the slightly brown colour, but it makes the Sablés a bit grainy.
And I will try the savory variations soon!

Dienstag, 15. Dezember 2009

TWD: Cafe Volcano Cookies

As I was travelling the whole last week I had to skip the Sablés for  TWD. But I am definitely going to catch-up soon, because I love, love, love Sablés! So, even if I didn't make them (yet) thanks in advance to Bungalow Barbara who had the nice idea to choose them! It's not only that I like the taste of Sablés, but it is so easy to play around and try some variations. I have not decided yet, but I somehow often go for the classics, so maybe I will choose the basic type. But as December is not necessarily green and red for me, I will definitely not use coloured sugar!

So - so much for last week. I just finished to unpack my rucksack, it's 0:01 AM, , therefore it is Tuesday - so why not blog straight away...

This week, Cafe Volcano Cookies, chosen by MacDuff of The lonely Sidecar, where pending on the queue!


I am pretty sure that what I got out of the oven is not what it should be. Anyways, they tasted wonderful. Very sweet, even though I took a bit less sugar, but still wonderful.

And I can't wait to see all the other's pictures and find out, what they really should turn out! : o]
(What a pitty my time zones forces me to post earlier than most of the others...)

As I bake now with TWD for some weeks I really have to say that all the recipes I tried so far turned out more than fine. And I guess, the same is true for the other recipes. When I arrive to bake wonderfully looking tartes and cookies, tasting incredibly good, a great deal of the credits go to Dorie and her book.
It's no miracle to make good sweets when you can rely on a good recipe!

Dienstag, 1. Dezember 2009

TWD: Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tarte, revisited

Oh boy, it's still Tuesday, even here in middle-Europe, and I got to give a confirmation of operation!

I made a new dough in the evening. A friend passed by and patiently waited until I did fit the dough in the tarte shell. While it was baking I wanted to present him the remaining failed dough shell.
And - miracles happen - after two days on the sill between the outer and the inner window, the tarte shell was perfect!! So I spread the remaining pastry cream on it, placed the pears and caramelized pistachios on it - and it was perfect!
My friend and I just LOVED it! It did not only taste so wonderful, it also looked great!

 Before baking                                                                                                 The tarte formerly known as Failed

Now, lets hope that the two mini-tartes I baked today for my nice colleague are still well tomorrow. I placed them in the fridge, although the recipe calls for eating them in between 4 hours. But I had to cheat a bit - because I made an easier, safer dough today I had to bake the tarte with the cream and the pears already on it. So, it looks a bit  different than it maybe should, and they have to wait until tomorrow to be eaten. I cross my fingers that in the fridge they won't get too soggy.

TWD: Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tarte

So, first I got to say that this Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tarte chosen by Lauren of I'll eat you is tasty, tasty, tasty. Just what I like. A tarte dough tasting a bit like shortbread (which is similarly crumbly), poached pears, a colorful and at the same time perfectly taste-matching topping by caramelized pistachios. The pear-pistachio combination is not only an eye-catcher, but also a wonderful combination of tastes.
And now the bad part.

First, again I had to learn the hard way to stick to the recipe. When it calls for poaching the whole pears, don't cut them in slices, only because you think that's easier to handle. The result will be, that the whole fruit is deep red. What is ok, but I sliced only one pear and halfed the other one - and there I saw how it was ment to look like, and what the text mentioned as "you will see how wonderful it looks with the deep red outside and the rosé inside of the pears".

Secondly, I really had troubles with the dough. I could not imagine that it should be that crumbly and not sticking together to one piece. So I filled way too much dough in my little molds. When I baked it, it came up. I tried to give it an emergency relief and put a whole lot of beans on them, and it was a bit better afterwards. But in the end, I do not think that's what it should look like.

It was the first time I made a dough that deviated a bit from the completely easy tarte dough I usually make, and what came out was a slight desaster. And the dough was really not a tough cookie. So I am a bit frustrated.
The dough was too high and thick, there was not enough room to really fill in the cream (I more or less spread some of it as good as possible), and, what was the worst part - it was too hard to cut.

As I said in the beginning, nevertheless I really liked it. It did look ugly when I started to eat it because I more or less had to spoon it out the mold. But it was more than tasty. So I really have to try it again, some other day. When I find enough courage.

I am not going to bring the other second little tarte to the office tomorrow. What is a pitty, because I made it for one of my nicest colleagues, who didn't arrive to get anything I made in the last weeks. And who has to listen to everybody else in the department, still weeks afterwards speaking about the cakes and crumbles and cookies I made (I guess they are, just like me, still surprised that I should be able to bake - that's not the usual image of me...). I have to think about something else to compensate her. And about what to do with the tarte shell, the poached pears and the pistacchio cream...

Dienstag, 24. November 2009

TWD: All-in-one Holiday Bundt Cake

I am still a cameo-participant of TWD, but never mind, I go on baking and trying to improve my cake-abilities and maybe someday I will do it on the blog-roll :o]!

This week, the fourth of the November recipes was on the schedule, the All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake from pages 186 and 187, chosen by  Britin of The Nitty Britty.

I had some trouble with the ingredients:
I have never ever seen canned pumpkin purree in my whole life, but some other bakers were so kind to help me out and affirm my decision to take self-made purree. I wasn't sure about the consistence of canned purree, but the self-made version turned out to be fine. I just put the pumpkin in the oven instead of cooking it in a pan, as I would usually do, so it didn't get too moisty.
Then, it is really not that easy to get pecans. DM doesn't have them, the usual supermarkets for sure definitely don't have them. But even at the Naschmarkt I didn't find them, what really came as a surprise as usually there is nothing you can't get there. (Maybe I didn't look thoroughly enough?). At my almost last hope, a high-end bio"grocery", they usually sell it - but they ran out of stock. Finally, I found it in a little shop specialized on sweets and decorations for bakers. It the very last minute.
And then again the cranberries. Cranberries are just not very usual in these latitudes. But I found dried ones, and this time not-sugared ones.
I skipped the optional maple-icing, as maple-syrup is again not very usual (though not that hard to get, but still very expensive).

So I had everything together, but I hope I won't have to do such a schlepp through the city every week!
(I won't, at least in December - I already had a look at the upcoming recipes for next month, and I got to say - wow, I am really already looking forward to December!!)

So, here is how it turned out:
As always I made a "real" one, and some little ones for trial and error and tasting. I halfed the recipe but still got a "children-bundt cake" and some made in a mold for brioche out of it.

Here the big one, straigth out of the oven (will it come out of the mold? Will it break? Will it stick to the pan? Panic!)

No, everything went fine!

And here the inside-look and one of the little ones (some I topped with dark cranberry-chocolate. It was ok, but the chocolate would not have been necessary - made me learn to stick to the recipe...)

I know, I know, I still have to  work on the presentation and the looks of my cakes and tartes, but for the moment I am sososo, well, what to say...  proud is not the rigth word, maybe more: astonished, that it is really me who makes these delicious cakes, that I am satisfied with that.

If you want to see what it looks like if really excellent bakers do it, just have a look at some of the other bakers result! Some Most are really just amazing!!

Dienstag, 17. November 2009

TWD: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake, or: If the kichen isn't a mess afterwards, you made something wrong

Wow, my first real TWD cake. The last two weeks I did fudge a bit on it, as I decided to do the cookies and the crisp. I don't want to say that cookies and crisps can't be a challenge and if you really want to make them excellent, not just ok, than you also have to put some effort (and love and soul :o]) in it. But they are knowen bround for me. In the end I know, that I can do them at least as good that hungry colleagues in the office take them.

But this week I had to show some guts and try the recipe, that sounds like the most challenging cake recpipe I ever read - the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

It was a two days project! And it was fun! Yeah, I am serious.
Everybody chooses its own demons, isn't it?

Day 1: Preparing the ganache that has to be chilled over night.

Chopping different kinds of chocolate (right: milk chocolate with caramel).

 Making caramel.

Bringing everything together.

Day 2: The rest.

Making the glaze and the cake itself.

Baking and cutting the cake.

Assembling the parts with the ganache. (what a mess...)

Chilling. Glazing. (again, what a mess...)

And then - into the fridge over night. 

(that's not a dirty plate - that's decoration ;o])
Until  Monday afternoon, it didn't know if it turned out fine, as I didn't try it. But, what can go wrong if you bring together chocolate, chestnuts and caramel? 

I like to do a small piece for trial and error, and a "normal" one. The round cake is the test-case I just enjoyed 5 minutes ago. And I loved it!!
Next time, I would use more chestnuts and a bit more caramel. But anyways, I am sososo proud of me, I can't tell anyone!

[I exchanged the milk chocolate for the ganache with milk chocolate that has caramel pieces added. I did cut the cake in only two pieces (mine simply wasn't high enough to be cutted in three parts). And I left out some of the sugar in the recipe, as I doubt if American recipes just have too much sugar for European tastes (something that was also a topic at the dessert-discussion in Paris). For the decoration I opted for "Schoko-Maroni", a typical Viennese sweet. First I wanted to take Marrons Glacés, but the guy at the chocolate shop convinced me, that candied chestnuts are not comparable to Eibensteiner Maroni. And he is right, as almost nothing is comparable to them!)]

Samstag, 14. November 2009

Paris Patisserie - a discussion on dessert

When  I recently was in Paris for a much too short time, I was lucky enough to see David Lebovitz participating in a discussion about French Pastry. It was real luck, because when I was living in Paris this summer, in my second week, just a few days after I discovered his blog, he also had a reading. And this time, it was one of his co-discussant I just discovered for me shortly before - Dorie Greenspan.

So I headed to the American Library, and just as in May I again felt completely in the worng place at the wrong time, because everybody in the room was American. Or at least native English speaking. And the few who weren't - were French. I don't think there was any other person whose mother tongue was neither English nor French.

But what do you have to expect when three Americans living in Paris speak about French Patisserie?

And, as always when I am in the companion of  US-Americans - after a few minutes I did remember what I do like so much about them. Their friendliness (yes, even and maybe especially by New Yorkers - you just don't know how rude other people in other big cities are!). Their relaxed and laid-back behaviour. Their optimism (which can, in the worst case, come along as a dumb happy-peppy, but in most cases is just a refreshing, inspiring way of seeing things).
And, it did remind me that book readings and discussions are so much more unstressed, unwound and open to everybody over there. Come in, take a glass of wine and some snacks, listen to people who like to entertain you (and are not just there to lackadaisically show their intellectual superiority - something also some parts of the audience like to do in a maddening way).

So, I had two hours of American lifestyle in the middle of Paris - how much better can it get?

(And the stalker in me brought up all my courage to ask for a dedication in my all new book on chocolate desserts!)

Montag, 9. November 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps

As I am no official member yet, I reserve myself the right to deviate a bit from the rules - and blog on Monday.
(Tuesday's gonna really be a problem... but let's see how it works out )

I am still a bit afraid of all these intimidating recipes and cookies with a lot of cream and preparation. So I tried again one of the easier tasks for November - the Cran-Apple Crisps

As usually, my attempts do not really look very well.
For the moment, I don't care. For the moment I am fine if the test objects turn into something someone may want to eat.

And the crisp did.

I love the coconut-topping! But I saved the bigger part for the next day and over night, the crisp seems to get even sweeter than it was straight from the oven.
This is not such a good point as I had used dried cranberries, that were heavily sugared, which I did not figure out before I tasted the extremely sweet crisp today.

Moreover, it seemes that everything I tried out so far turns out to be very, very sweet. Maybe this is because upt to now my significant experiments were all American recipes, and it seems that Americans like their sweets much sweeter than the ordinary European taste. And, I do not really got for extra-sweet stuff anyways. So, I am going to reduce the sugar-amount for the next recipes and hope it doesn't spoil the result.

And now, bon courage, because at some point I have to make my attemps official...

Freitag, 6. November 2009

Teatime - by Pain de Sucre

When I was in Paris last week (what I, as always, enjoyed, enjoyed, enjoyed), I ate my way through many of the great bakeries I got to know when I was living in Paris this summer. (I will post a list of some of them some other day.)

At a book reading I attended (also something I should come back to the next days...) I heard a young women praising a place that was definitely not on this list. I more or less ignored since I once went there in May and had the feeling that (i) the shop itself was very snobby, (ii) the staff was very unfriendly, even by Parisian standards (I don't like to be treated like inferior to the salesperson - no matter if it is an high-end clothing store or a patisserie), and (iii) the products didn't offset the first two points. They didn't have any normal bread (well, ok, it's a patisserie, not a boulangerie. But still - they make sort of "bread", but did look very snotty if asked for petits pains), they had a lot of strange-flavoured marshmallows (and I don't even go for "normal" marshmallows) and besides that only big cakes and no individuelles (and, sorry, but what should I do with a whole cake?)

But the podium as well as audience supported the young women's valuation.
So I decided to give it one more try.
I went there last Saturday. And on Sunday, I couldn't wait the opened up so I could come back.

What a misconception!
The salespersons where just lovely and nice. Both times.
The cakes came in every size.
I dind't spot any marshmallow in the whole shop.
I had wonderful filled little breads.
And the best little cake-something I ate in a long, long time - the Teatime.

Maybe the red-green combination is not that crazy and innovative. Maybe it's not that singular to combine pistachio and cherries.
But it was so humid, so fruity, and the different tastes did match so perfectly...

So, thanks to the unknown young women for being so enthusiastic about Pain de Sucre!

Mittwoch, 4. November 2009

Getting Started - TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasse Spice Cookies

So, the ultimate reason why I start this blog is that I would like to participate at "Tuesday with Dorie" - kind of an internet-club, where people bake their way through "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dori Greenspan.Up to now, they don't know about my aspiration, as I am still kind of too shy to "reveal". But I decided, after following the site some time, I am going to get started, without officially joining yet. What gives me the time to try it out and see if it works for me.

Why I want to participate is easy. I like baking (what I did not really figure out until very recently), I like to become a better baker, and I need some fix dates in my life and commitments, otherwise I never stick to what I once decided.
So, here is the commitment: Blog every Tuesday the recipe of the week. That's all.

Well, on Monday, when I thought about starting this week, I had a look at the recipe of the week.
And decided, to start next week.
Lucky me, in November participants are exceptionally allowed to pick any November-recipe and switch weeks. Lucky me, because when today I read some of the blogs, I found out that the actual recipe for this week was obviously not only too demanding for me. Not that all the others didn't arrive at making it perfectly right. But at least I saw some comments like "it was the most demanding I ever made for TWD", "I never spent so much time for only one cake" or "it was a two-days-project".
So. As I am no official participant I granted myself the right to start on Wednesday and pick out the November recipe that sounded most like I could manage it.

And here we are.

Sugar-Topped Molasse Spice Cookies

My first baking tray was, um, how to say...

Looks like a pizza, you say?
Or a football?

Yeah, right.

But the second and third tray turned out pretty well.

Or, at least I am mostly satisfied with it! And, most importantly, they are tasty! Cookies don't have to look picture-perfect anyways.
(and I am not only saying that because mine don't! ;o])

And don't they perfectly match with my kitchen furniture??