Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daring Bakers- Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They chose Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
I made the regular tuiles paired with spumoni ice cream. The tuiles spread a LOT when I baked them so the three I had on my baking sheet turned into one. These were a lot of fun, if not very noteworthy in the taste category.
Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.
Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

¼ cup softened butter (not melted but soft)
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again.
If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers- Coming Soon

Well, we couldn't resist taking the girls to Disneyland last night, so the DB Challenge will be coming (don't ask what happened all the other nights this month)!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant is something that, I think, if you didn't grow up eating it, is weird- it's bitter, it has weird seeds, it gets all brown. I can honestly say when I was growing up, we ate eggplant next to never. My mom is the best, but she worked full time and wasn't really the type to venture out in the cookbooks and make a variety of dishes. My husband's family, on the other hand, apparently ate it all the time. My mother in law is more prone to cooking the types of food in which eggplant would more commonly be found. They also lived in Italy for a few years when my husband was young, so that probably influenced her cooking as well. As such, my husband + eggplant = best friends. Me + eggplant = I have to think about it. But since he likes it so much, I usually cook it once a month in something. Or, if I'm lucky, he'll cook it in some pasta. The best eggplant recipe I've found so far is this sandwich from Cooking Light.
Until now.
Now, of course I've heard of eggplant parmesan and seen it at restaurants, but not being an eggplant fan, I was never one to try it. But I found a recipe on Simply Recipes (I'm trying a bunch of stuff on there now right now) and thought it sounded like something my husband would like. This recipe is straightforward, but a little time-consuming. Preparing the eggplant and frying it takes some time, so I did this on a Sunday. This recipe is wonderful! My husband said it tasted pretty authentic Italian. Even our 17 month old ate a ton of it (the 3 year old ate Apple Jacks, but 50% success is good for us).
I'm not really sure why you bread and fry the eggplant in oil, only to top it with cheese and tomato sauce, but hey that's what it says. Next time, I would probably just bake it instead of fry it. Also, make sure you slice the eggplant thinly so they're soft after baking. If you have small children, you may even want to skin the eggplants. I would NOT recommend skipping the initial draining step. Eggplants contain a lot of moisture. Salting them and letting them sit cuts down the moisture, as well as the bitterness.
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
adapted from Simply Recipes
2 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants

Kosher salt
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (I used no-salt added)
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 lbs of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (I used an 8-oz pkg of shredded)

1 cup grated high quality Parmesan cheese
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1 Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange one layer in the bottom of a large colander and sprinkle evenly with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, salting, until all eggplant is in the colander. Weigh down the slices with a couple of plates and let drain for 2 hours. The purpose of this step is to have the eggplant release some of its moisture before cooking.
2 While the eggplant is draining, prepare tomato sauce. Combine tomatoes, garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
3 When eggplant has drained, press down on it to remove excess water, wipe off the excess salt, and lay the slices out on paper towels to remove all the moisture. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs. Mix well. Pour beaten eggs into another wide shallow bowl. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and pour in a a half inch of olive oil. When oil is shimmering, dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg. Working in batches, slide coated eggplant into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels.
4 Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bottom of a 10x15 inch glass baking dish, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce. Top with one third of the eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with one third of the Parmesan and half of the basil leaves.
5 Make a second layer of eggplant slices, topped by 1 cup of sauce, remaining mozzarella, half the remaining Parmesan, and all of the remaining basil. Add remaining eggplant, and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan.
6 Bake until cheese has melted and the top is slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 8.

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe on Foodista

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD- Chocolate Ginger Muffins

While I was in college and for a couple years after while I was working, I lived at home with my parents. Often on Saturdays, my mom and older brother and I would meet up for lunch, a lot of times at a nearby soup-and-salad buffet (all-you-can-eat is less evil when it's salad, right?). The restaurant had this gingerbread sheet cake that I loved. Granted, it was probably made from a mix, but it was moist, only slightly spicy and always warm like it was straight from the oven. Paired with non-fat vanilla frozen yogurt and a drizzle of chocolate sauce, it was my favorite treat.
When I saw Sherry Trifle's TWD pick this week, I was excited. The picture in the book looked similar to my beloved treat, with chocolate chunks and chocolate frosting (which makes everything even better). I loaned my 9" square baking dish out and haven't gotten it back yet, so I halved the recipe and made muffins.

I'm embarassed to admit that I had to leave out the fresh ginger. I bought a small piece at the store last weekend, but it must've been too small because after reminding the bagger to put it in my grocery bags, I think I must've accidentally thrown it away with the bags because it was no where to be found. I increased the amount of ground ginger to compensate. I used dark chocolate chunks in the muffins and for the frosting.While I did think these were tasty, they needed the frosting. I tried a piece plain and it was way too spicy for me. I liked how the chocolate mellows the spice out; it's a good combination. I may have overbaked them a little. As she says in the recipe, Dorie recommends trimming the crunchy portions. Since I had muffins, if I trimmed the crunchy portions, I would've been left with muffin holes. But they were still good, I would make them again. Head to Sherry Trifle for the recipe!

Great Giveaway

Head here to enter a great giveaway at All about Cakes!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CS Bakers- Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache

This months Cake Slice Baker's cake is Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache. A moist, mildly-banana banana cake with a creamy white chocolate ganache. I left out the deep-fried pecans because although I'm sure they're wonderful, we're not fans of nuts and I didn't reall feel like using 3 cups of oil to deep fry them. I also halved the recipe and made a 6-inch cake. This cake is really, really GOOD. You should definitely try it out. It isn't too time-consuming if you don't fry the nuts. And the white chocolate ganache is HEAVEN! Check out the blog roll here.Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache
makes a 9-inch triple layer cake

3 cups of cake flour
3 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of ripe mashed bananas
8 ounces of softened unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
7 egg whites
Praline Filling:
1 cup sugared pecans, cooled
1 and 1/2 cups white chocolate ganache
Sugared Pecans:
1 and 1/2 cups pecan halves
3 cups vegetable oil
1 cup confectioners sugar
White Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces of white chocolate chopped
2 and 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper or wax paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside dry ingredients. In a food processor or blender, process the milk and banana into a smooth light puree. Set aside.
In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. On medium high speed, beat in egg whites 2-3 at a time until smooth. Scraping down the sides of the bowl between egg additions.
With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and banana puree alternately in 2-3 additions, beating until just blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 1-minute. Divide the batter among the cake pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of each cake. Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto a wired rack and remove the paper liners. Then cool completely one hour.
To assemble the cake, put one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with half of the praline filling, leaving a 1/4"-inch margin around the edges. place the second layer on top, again flat side up, cover it with remaining filling. Finally add the third layer and frost the sides and top with the white chocolate ganache. Garnish with sugared pecans.

Praline Filling
With a large chef's knife chop the pecans. Or pulse in a food processor being careful not to turn into paste.
Add the sugared pecans to the white chocolate ganache and stir to mix well.

Sugared Pecans
Place the pecans in a medium sauce pan, add water to cover, and heat to a boiling. Boil the pecans slowly until they are swollen and soft 5-8 minutes. Drain the nuts well in a sieve for about 5 minutes. (Do not pat dry; the nuts must remain damp.)
While the nuts are draining, heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan or deep fat fryer t0 350F degrees.
Set half of the nuts aside. Dust the remaining nuts in the sieve with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Shake the sieve to coat the nuts evenly, letting any excess sugar fall away. Immediately add the coated nuts to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon scoop the nuts out and drain them on several thickness of paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining nuts.

White Chocolate Ganache
Pu the white chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. In a small sauce bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 1-minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the white chocolate cream stand until cooled to room temperature.
In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters beat the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream and vanilla until softly whipped. Stir in the white chocolate cream and beat until fairly stiff. taking care not over beat, which would cause the ganache to separate.

TWD- Berry Surprise (Pan)Cake

Well, I read all the problems people were having in the P&Q's with the egg whites. So when I made my Berry Surprise Cake last weekend, I was extra careful with the batter, only folding it until the flour and butter was barely incoporated. I put it in the pan, pleased that it was still fluffy. I halved the recipe and baked it in a 6-inch pan. In the oven, it was browning up nicely. So imagine my disappointment when I unmolded it from the pan and it was about an inch high. I didn't even bother making the rest of it (or taking pictures). But check out the recipe here, or see other people's successful cakes here!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Talerine Beef Casserole and Molten Chocolate Cake

We had the missionaries over for dinner last night. For those of you unfamiliar, imagine a couple of young men, left to their own devices (in the food arena) for a couple years. You'd enjoy a home-cooked meal, right? Well, actually in our area, the missionaries have a place to go for dinner almost every night so they get a lot of home-cooked meals. I saw this casserole recipe at Simply Recipes and thought it sounded good. When I planned this meal, I didn't know it would be 87 degrees, but it was still homey, comfort food. I've never heard of Talerine Casserole, but apparently it's been around for a while. It came together relatively quickly and was simple and delicious.I used a food processor to finely chop the red bell pepper, onion and garlic. I didn't think my kids would eat them if they were chunky at all. They melted wonderfully into the tomatoes. I also cut back on the cheese a little as well.
For dessert I threw together a simple Molten Chocolate cake made from a box cake mix (gasp!) and instant chocolate pudding (double gasp!). It's really good, trust me.

Talerine Beef Casserole Recipe
adapted from
Simply Recipes
12 ounce bag egg noodles
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, chopped fine
3 minced clove of garlic (I used half these amounts and processed in a food processor)
Grapeseed oil or olive oil for sautéing
1 1/2 pounds ground round beef
Salt (I used grill seasoning)
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 28-ounce can tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen corn (can use canned corn or creamed corn)
1 15-ounce can of black olives, strained and chopped
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated (I used about 1 1/2 cups of cheese)
1 Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the egg noodles.
2 Heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions and bell pepper and sauté until softened. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with your fingers or a knife, if you are using whole canned tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to warm.
3 In a separate skillet, heat to medium-high. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the pan and brown the meat, working in batches. Break up about half of the ground beef into the pan. Do not stir, but let sit and cook for a minute or two until brown. Sprinkle a little salt over the meat while cooking. Once brown on one side, stir the meat a little to get the other sides browned. Once the meat is thoroughly browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan and put it in with the tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Brown the second batch of ground beef the same way.
4 Using the same pan that you had used for browning the beef, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining oil and beef drippings. Once browned, add the mushrooms to the beef and tomato mixture.
5 While the mushrooms are cooking, add the egg noodle pasta to the boiling water. Cook as directed, about 4-5 minutes. Strain when cooked, but still a little firm (al dente).
6 Add egg noodles, corn, chopped olives, and about two thirds of the cheese to the large pot of beef and tomato mixture. Gently mix in.
7 Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish, or to two casserole dishes if you don't have one that is large enough. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of casserole(s). Place in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes (can go as long as an hour).

Molten Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe
1 pkg. Devil's food cake mix
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups Cold milk
1 pkg (8-serving size) Jell-o chocolate pudding & pie filling

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 pan.
Prepare cake mix as directed on package (I use butter instead of oil and milk instead of water). Stir in half of the chocolate chunks. Pour into prepared dish; set aside.
Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 1 min. or until well blended. Pour over cake batter, starting from the center and spreading our; sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chunks.
Bake until cake appears baked in the center, about an hour. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWD- Sweet Corn Muffins

Well, like the TWDers, once I saw this week's pick of Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins, I thought to make chili. But alas, it was 85 degrees here yesterday, and my husband offered to grill chicken instead, so we had sweet corn muffins instead of pepper. Chosen by Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake, one of my favorite blogs, these muffins are WONDERFUL!! I halved the recipe and (accidentally) added more sugar than Dorie suggests in the sidebar. I was afraid they were going to be too sweet (is tha possible?), but they were just fine. Buttery, not too grainy- these are a definite go-to the next time I make chili! My husband thought they were pretty close to our favorite cornbread at Bandera. We might try baking it in a skillet to see if we get similar results. This sweet version would also be wonderful with butter for breakfast!
Check out Rebecca's blog for the recipe!

Sorry for the bad picture. Out kitchen is dark at night.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


You probably came here looking for the French Pear Tart. I actually wasn't going to make it as I despise pears. I did have intentions to make last week's Tall and Creamy Cheesecake because there is nothing I love more than cheesecake.
Except maybe sleep.
Yes, last night when I was going to make the cheesecake, I fell asleep. At 7:45pm.
So the Tall and Creamy Cheesecake will make its debut later this week.
I promise.
Go here for the low-down on the French Pear Tart, though!