Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daring Bakers August 2010: Ice Cream Petit Fours

So, I'm posting late this month for the Daring Bakers Challenge. Sorry about that! As I mentioned in the MBCC post, I've been quite busy with school and work here recently, so I haven't had as much time to bake as I usually do. From here on out, I would say to expect less posts, and also less pictures. Believe it or not, it actually takes quite a while to write up one of these posts and to post as many pictures as I do, and I just can't do it anymore. I won't be gone completely, of course, but as I said, just expect less posts and photos. Anyways, on to this month's DB challenge! When I first found out what we'd be making, I have to admit...I was a little disappointed. Ice cream again? I mentioned last DB challenge that I didn't have an ice cream maker, and so I just have to settle with putting the base in the freezer and mixing it until it freezes. And that still is the case.

The ice cream tastes good, but because I don't have a machine churning the ice cream and breaking up the ice crystals for me, the ice crystals remain rather large, so the ice cream's just not as smooth and creamy as it should be. So that was a little disappointing. However, this was the first time making petit fours for me, so I was still looking forward to it and the brown butter pound cake sounded absolutely heavenly. The challenge this month actually included a baked alaska as well, however, we could do both or just choose one, and so I chose the petit fours. As expected, the brown butter pound cake was indeed heavenly! And with 19 tablespoons of butter (brown, amazingly nutty and caramely butter!) in it, I should certainly think so! It was a snap to put together and the pieces of cake I sneakily ate when I was leveling it were absolutely delicious. I could have stopped right there and been thoroughly happy with the challenge this month. However, I proceeded onward to cut the cake in half, add the ice cream and then eventually the chocolate glaze.
As you can see, I took a much easier way out on the chocolate glaze. I covered one of the petit fours completely in chocolate and it took a surprisingly long time! With 24 more petit fours to cover, I thought that there had to be an easier way! And so I thought I'd just put some chocolate on the top and let it drip over the sides in an icicle like way and it'd still be efficient and pretty. So overall...the end product was...good. However, the freezer kind of dried out the cake a little bit, which was the best part of the petit four (though that was probably my fault for not covering the entire cake in chocolate). And they're a little hard to eat. The chocolate on top gets very hard in the freezer which is hard to bite through and overpowers the rest of the flavors a little bit. And if you hit the ice cream wrong when you're biting through it, it gives you the chills! All in all, I'm left a little disappointed this month... However, I most definitely WILL be making the brown butter pound cake again, and this time just enjoying it plain, because it was simply out of this world!

Ice Cream Petit Fours
Makes 25 petit fours

For the brown sugar ice cream: (From Dishing Up Delights)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar, divided (I used light since that was all I had, but definitely use dark if you have'll add better flavor)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 large egg yolks
  1. Combine heavy whipping cream, whole milk, and 1/2 cup sugar in heavy large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl until very thick, about 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until custard thickens and thermometer inserted into custard registers 180°F, about 3 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into large bowl set over another bowl of ice and water. Cool custard completely, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Cover and chill overnight.
  4. Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day. (If you don't have an ice cream maker like myself, follow David Lebovitz's instructions here.)
For the brown butter pound cake: (adapted from Gourmet October 2009)
  • 19 tablespoons unsalted (sweet) butter
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” square pan.
  2. Place the butter in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
  3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
  6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9 square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the hard chocolate glaze: (from allrecipes)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 10 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Combine chocolate with butter in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to tepid before glazing the petit fours.
  1. Line a 9”x9” pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
  2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
  3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
  4. Trim ¾” off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5”.
  5. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it. (Or be lazy like me and just let the chocolate drip over the sides.)
  6. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.
The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

It always seems that whenever my family gets bananas at the grocery store, there are always a couple left over that don't get eaten. They just hang there on the banana hook and continue to become more and more ripe. Of course, what better to do with them then than to make a banana bread? I've already shared my favorite banana bread on here before, and although I love that recipe, I thought for once I might change it up and try a different recipe. This one in particular had caught my eye not too long ago on Allrecipes. It doesn't have too many reviews on it so far, but the small amount it has are quite positive. Most reviewers described the bread as having a wonderful flavor and a super soft texture thanks to the brown sugar. The one thing that worried me was that a couple of reviewers had trouble with the bread sinking in the middle the first time they tried it. But most people who had trouble with that had said that the second time they made it, it came out perfect, and provided tips for what they did to make it not sink. So with ripe bananas and tips on hand, I went to make this bread for breakfast.

One really interesting thing about this recipe is that it has very different directions than most quick breads. Generally for quick breads or muffins, you use the "mix, mix, pour, mix" method. As in, you mix together the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix together the wet ingredients in a second, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix again until combined. However, the mixing method for this recipe is actually more like a cookie recipe. You beat the brown sugar and butter until fluffy, then add the smashed bananas, egg, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk, and then add the dry ingredients. Using the advice of some of the reviewers, I beat my butter and sugar for quite a while, at least 7-8 minutes until it was incredibly light and fluffy. I also let my egg come up to room temperature, and though I didn't have time to let my milk come to room temperature, I zapped it in the microwave until warm. The result was an incredibly creamy and delicious batter that I had problems not eating straight out of the bowl! The reviewers also suggested that the cooking time wasn't long enough, so I let it go longer than called for until a toothpick came out clean. Sure enough, I ended up with a non-sunken, soft-textured, delicious tasting banana bread. I'm not sure if I like it better than the banana bread recipe I've already posted, but it's certainly on par with it, and definitely a recipe I'll keep and make again!

Brown Sugar Banana Bread
(from allrecipes)
Makes 1 9x5 inch loaf

  • 4 ripe bananas, cut into chunks (I only used 3 medium, since that was all I had)
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Place the bananas into a large plastic zipper bag, seal the bag, and smoosh the bananas with your fingers until very well mashed. Set the bananas aside. Place the brown sugar and butter into a mixing bowl, and mix on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Cut a corner from the plastic bag, and squeeze the mashed bananas into the bowl of brown sugar mixture. With the electric mixer on medium speed, beat in the bananas, egg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and milk until the mixture is well combined. (Don't be surprised at this point if the mixture looks really curdled...once you add the flour, it'll be fine!) Switch the mixer to low speed, and gradually beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt just until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute. Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the bread is set and lightly browned on top, about 40 minutes. (Mine took 50 minutes to bake, and some reviewers said their bread took closer to 60...just remember to watch it!) A toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf should come out clean. Let cool in the pan slightly, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MBCC: White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Phew! I was beginning to think I wouldn't get this entry in on time. What with school about to start and me working all the time, I really haven't had many chances to bake, but here I am with my entry and I'm happy I could make it! I'm going to apologize first of all. Because I had so little time, I didn't have time to take a bunch of photos, so I only have photos of the finished product. Eek! Sorry! But anyway, it's time for round 2 of Jamieanne's Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge and this month's ingredient was white chocolate! When I found out what the mystery ingredient was, I immediately began racking my brain to see how I could incorporate it. At first I thought candy bar. Maybe take a white chocolate candy bar and recreate it into a cupcake. But what bar? A Zero bar? A white chocolate Toblerone? But eventually, another combo hit me. What about white chocolate raspberry? The combination was inspired by an amazing cheesecake I had made before (which unfortunately I made before I started blogging), and as I got to thinking, I remembered that a while ago, I had made a recipe for a cheesecake flavored frosting and still had not gotten a chance to try it. Perfect! A white chocolate raspberry cheesecake cupcake! And then oh, I thought, why not go the whole nine yards and add a cookie crust to it? However, as I did these last minute, I didn't have time to grind the cookies and make a crust, so instead, I just put a whole vanilla wafer at the bottom of each cupcake liner and voila! It was perfect!

The cupcake isn't an actual cheesecake. Sometimes when people make "cheesecake cupcakes," they just make mini cheesecakes in cupcake liners. But this recipe is an actual cupcake. It's a white chocolate cupcake with white chocolate melted in and then chopped finely into the batter, sitting atop a vanilla wafer cookie. I used the cone method to fill it with raspberry preserves and then topped it off with a white chocolate cheesecake frosting. How is the frosting "cheesecake," you say? The secret is actually cheesecake flavored instant pudding! I got the idea a long time ago in order to try and make cream cheese frosting more appealing to myself. I've never been a fan of cream cheese, and although you add a bunch of sugar and flavoring to it in order to make a frosting, I've never cared much for cream cheese frosting either. Yet for some reason, I love cheesecake. Doesn't make sense, I know! So when I saw a cheesecake flavored instant pudding in the store one time, I thought that by adding it to a cream cheese frosting, I could make a tasty cheesecake flavored frosting that I actually liked. I threw some melted white chocolate in too to keep with the theme. I can't take too much credit for the cake recipe, because I only altered it slightly from a recipe I found on allrecipes, so I wanted to be sure to make up for it with this frosting, and I think I did!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
(adapted from Clara's White German Chocolate Cake on allrecipes)
Makes about 24 cupcakes

  • About 24 vanilla wafers
  • 5 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate, chopped, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners. In each liner, drop a whole vanilla wafer to act as the crust. Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt (this will be the second time the flour is sifted). Set aside.
  3. In a small, microwave safe bowl, melt 4 squares of the white chocolate, preserving the last finely chopped square. Set the melted chocolate off to the side to cool slightly. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks one at a time. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix until well combined. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Fold in the remaining chopped chocolate.
  4. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, pouring on top of the vanilla wafers.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan slightly then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. When the cupcakes have cooled, cut small holes in the top using the cone method. Fill each one with about a teaspoon of raspberry preserves and place the "lids" back on.
White Chocolate Cheesecake Frosting (my own recipe)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 box cheesecake flavored instant pudding
  • 2 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons of milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add the box of cheesecake instant pudding mix and the melted white chocolate. Mix until well combined.
  2. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and then add in the milk and vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat until well combined and fluffy. Use immediately to frost cupcakes.

For all the information on this contest, please visit Jamieanne's Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge info page right here.

The winner of August’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
Thank you to all our prize sponsors!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Microwave Yellow Mug Cake

It's been quite a while since I last posted, hasn't it? I apologize for that. I actually haven't been doing a lot of baking here recently, and when I have, they've been things I've already blogged about (like applesauce quick bread and Levain copycats...yum!). But now here I am with a new recipe. This one is as quick and easy as it gets when it comes to making sweets. I'm sure most of you have heard of the microwave mug cake by now. The chocolate one seems to be the most common one made. I've made it before a couple of times myself. But in all honesty, I was never too impressed with it. Sure, it was quick and easy to make, however, the texture was awfully rubbery and dense and the flavor just couldn't make up for it. I often ended up drowning it in a chocolate glaze just to make it edible. It wasn't horrible, but it was far from great. Just recently I got to thinking about it again and then thought, 'What about a yellow cake instead?' But could it end up being any better? I certainly think so!
The truth of the matter is, a cake made in the microwave will never be better than one made in the oven. EVER. However, this one is actually pretty good for being made in a microwave. After thinking about a yellow microwave mug cake, a quick search led me to this recipe, and it was the one I went with. The texture still wasn't perfect, however, I thought it was better. It produces a very dense slightly spongy cake that can only be expected since it's made in the microwave. However, the flavor was great, and paired with my go-to chocolate buttercream, it definitely satisfied my sweet tooth! Don't skimp on the flavoring is my advice. I used both vanilla extract and vanilla butter & nut flavoring (which is why my cake is extra yellow, since the flavoring contains yellow food coloring in it). It says just a dash in the recipe, but definitely go with at least a 1/2 teaspoon if you're using vanilla. Or if you're using a stronger flavored extract, adjust accordingly, but as I said, don't skimp! I'm looking forward to trying coconut and almond extracts in the future! Oh, and of course, be sure to use a really large mug. Here's the one I used compared to a normal sized mug.

Microwave Yellow Mug Cake (adapted from momoften's recipe on
Makes one miniature cake that's actually big enough to share with 1 or 2 other people...however, if you want it all for yourself, I won't tell. ;)

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk or water
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • dash vanilla extract (or whatever flavoring you like)
  1. In a small bowl, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk or water, oil, and extract. Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  3. Spray a small amount of nonstick cooking spray into your mug and pour the cake batter in. (You can actually do this whole process in the mug if you don't want to dirty extra dishes. Just don't spray any cooking spray in it, then proceed to mix your dry and wet ingredients right in the mug.) Microwave for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. (I only cooked mine for 2 1/2...I think the less you cook it, the less spongy it will be...just don't undercook.) Don't be alarmed if the cake at some point rises above the top of the mug. It will sink back down when you turn the microwave off.
  4. Remove from the mug and enjoy warm or allow it to cool and frost with your favorite frosting. (I used my go-to chocolate buttercream that I also used to frost almond cupcakes.)