Monday, May 30, 2011

Mocha Cheesecake Brownie Bars

Brownies, cheesecake, coffee.. all are pretty great on their own, but together? Amazing. Treats that come in bar form are always fun, especially to bring to a pool party. These cute little handheld treats are great for parties because they are effortless to make and easy to eat.

 This is great recipe for those picky dessert eaters- they can get 3 delicious flavors in one bite. Brownie crusts definitely beats out graham cracker ones any day. It's also a great make-ahead dessert, as it needs to set and get chilly in the fridge overnight.

It was a nice change to bake dessert since the past few weeks of my life have consisted of bountiful quantities of breads. Don't get me wrong,  I am really enjoying scratch-made artisan breads but sweets still win.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sweet n' Salty Honey Roasted Almond Butter

Sometimes when I'm bored at home on a lazy Sunday afternoon I wind up experimenting making the most peculiar things. I was baking almond cookies on Sunday and I had a big 5 lb bag of almonds that were just waiting to be used. Then, I thought of Josh who eats almond butter for breakfast every morning lately and thought I would be a cute girlfriend and make him some.

But mind you, not just any old plain jarred almond butter- a sweet and salty one. The best foods always have a perfect balance of sweet and salty, don't they? The salt aspect comes from well, salt. & the sweet- honey and agave syrup. The honey gives such a floral note to the almond butter and the agave dissolves so well, and gives most of the sweetness.

Almond butter is delicious, a nice change from peanut butter. If you are a PB lover, try almond butter- you'll fall in love. If you want to get cute, put in a mason jar, label it and give it to someone as a present :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Éclair Madness!

My patisserie & baking 101 final practical was last thursday, and we had to make eclairs, fruit tartlets, and strassburger cookies. I'm going to miss that class, making random cookies, cakes & pastries daily. Im ecstatic about my new breads class though, because nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread at 7 AM. Yes, 7 AM since I switched my schedule to 6-9:30 AM. I keep telling myself its only for 6 weeks.

So for the practical I made two batches of pate a choux ([eclair paste] which yields about 50 eclair shells, however I only needed to present my best four. There isn't enough pastry cream or time in class to fill all of the shells, so instead of just throwing them in the freezer, I made some fresh pastry cream at home and went to town.

Typically eclairs are dipped in semi-sweet chocolate, but I only had milk chocolate couverture [coating chocolate] so that's what I used, and I was really pleased with the results.

So 50+ mini eclairs is just way too many, so in the freezer they go just waiting to be eaten. They freeze beautifully and defrost almost instantly, so you always can have a fancy french dessert to impress your family/friends with.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vanilla Custard & Berry Trifle

With the abundance of baked goods I bring home daily from my patisserie class, I rarely have time [or fridge space] to bake anything at home. I made petit fours in class recently and about a third of the layered cake became scrap dough, so I took it home along with some fresh creme anglaise my chef made that day in class and made a trifle.

I thickened the creme anglaise by mixing it with some fresh pastry cream, layering that between cake and some raspberries and blueberries. Some piped fresh chantilly cream and some more berries on top, and voilà, trifle! 

I do own a trifle dish, however with the limited amount of sponge cake I had to use, it seemed silly to fill a giant trifle dish only partially. I found this crystal goblet instead which does make the layers hard to see, but its unconventionality is what makes it perfect for a trifle on a whim.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

'Spaghetti & Meatballs' Cake

I was skimming through an issue of Food Network Magazine a few months back and I saw a tutorial on this cake. Immediately I knew I wanted to make it for my boyfriend's mom, because she is an Italian New Yorker and I didn't think anyone could appreciate it more. Well her birthday was about two weeks ago and I finally had the chance.

I was a little apprehensive at first because I haven't decorated too many cakes, but it really isn't hard at all. First, I found delicious chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream recipes and swapped them out for the boxed cake & canned frosting recommended in the magazine. I took my time with it and I was very happy with the results. Her jaw dropped, she smiled & loved it and thats all I was hoping for!