Friday, January 30, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Tuiles!

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

S and I chose to make the chocolate tuiles. Mostly we made a huge honking mess.

Chocolate Tuiles
Michel Roux’s Finest Desserts

Makes 30

Preparation time: 15 minutes!

9 oz/250 grams dark or white couverture or best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2/3 cup/75 gr slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Temper the couverture, and stir in the toasted almonds. Place the template on a sheet of rodoïde (or use a clean sheet of sturdy plastic such as a folder) and fill with about 1 tbs of the mixture. Repeat the process a little distance away from the first one. As soon as you have 5 tuiles fit, slide them onto a mold or rolling pin (side of a glass) to curve. Let cool completely, lift tuiles off the plastic only after the chocolate has set and just before serving, so that they keep their shine.

So we used Green & Black's 70% dark chocolate. I keep raw almonds in my freezer, so we chopped them up and used those. I know it's more rustic, but according to Ms. Julia Child, that's ok. ;-)

S did 99% of the work. She mashed the bars (still wrapped) with a mallet, and then poured the chocolate chunks into a stainless pan. Then she pushed the chocolate around in there with the heat on low. Then she put the almonds in a mini chop, and chopped them so there were no big chunks. Then she dumped them into the chocolate.

We used cookie cutters as our "forms." This worked well to get the shape, but it meant the chocolate wasn't particularly thin, and it took a while to set. We also made some plain circles, which was actually the most fun for us. We did shape some, and some we left flat, because the process was getting lengthy and there is only so much time a 4 year old can spend on these tasks. But we do these challenges to have a fun mommy/daughter activity, not to become world reknown chefs. So it works for us. ;-)

I still need to put the pictures up, but I didn't want to miss out on getting my post up!


I have my photo. We served this tuile with fresh blackberries and fage greek yogurt. Yum!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


These are just a few things we had for Thanksgiving dinner. Not included are the stuffing, sweet potatoes, stuffing, or pumpkin pie.

This was our turkey. We cooked it on the grill. It was seasoned only with salt and pepper -- that's it, and it was fabulous.

This was the roasted brussel sprouts with dried cherries and walnuts. I promise, even the people who supposedly hate brussel sprouts ate multiple helpings. I use canola and balsamic vinegar. Yum.

These are my decadent homemade mashed potatoes. I used half-and-half, butter, AND sour cream. Thanksgiving is not easy on the thighs.

This is my mom's recipe. It's cranberry-apple casserole, but my sister says we just call it that so we can eat i t at dinner instead of for dessert. It is awesome with turkey!

This is one of the Maple Apple Tarts -- the recipe is from a previous post. It's amazing with vanilla ice cream. My mom, who is not a foodie, was so impressed she took pictures. She also ate 4 of the 6 tarts I made. (My mom is not a sweets eater, so this is impressive.) They definitely do look impressive!

Our first challenge

My daughter, S, and I have joined the Daring Bakers. This month we had our first challenge, a Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, created by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. This challenge was hosted by Dolores, Alex, and Jenny. The gluten-free bakers got their assistance from Natalie.

This was a particularly tough month to do the challenge because it is Thanksgiving here, and I stupidly (or brilliantly) opted to do this with S while we had 6 guests (so 10 people total) in the house. Because S, her twin, A, and their cousin, M, were all itching to bake, it became a team effort. I handled the hot sugar and the browned butter. They did most of the rest (that was the brilliant part).

I realize the icing job wasn't the most beautiful, but not bad for 2 4 year olds and a 3 year old! They LOVED this part.

You can see from this photo we kept the icing layer thin. Even this was a lot for me. But it was good icing, and EXCELLENT cake. We highly recommend the cake -- my dad had two pieces (skinny ones, but it's still a second portion). The kids highly recommend the icing!

The scariest part of the challenge was making the caramel syrup. Shuna isn't kidding about the sputtering. I JUMPED when I poured the water into the browned sugar syrup. But it was very cool to watch the process. The key is to trust that when she says dark amber, that's what she means. It's *not* burned.

I am looking forward to future daring baker challenges! S says,"Me too!"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oreo Truffles

I found this recipe on Sweet Pea Patisserie last week. I thought it looked interesting, and certainly was *easy*, so I asked S what she thought. "YES!" She launched herself into my lap. I think she was pretty excited!

My neighbor and dear friend has a 3 year old son, P, who likes to play with S and A. My friend is trying so hard to get P to transition to no nap. S already is fine with no nap, so I suggested we make these at nap time. S and I ground up the oreos in advance, and quickly mixed the oreos into the cream cheese when they arrived. Then I portioned out the mixture onto plates, and we all made balls (very inconsistent in size) onto parchment paper-lined trays. Then I popped the trays into the fridge while the kids went outside to play.

In the meantime, I melted white chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, and dark chocolate. Color me stupid, because after adding the heavy cream to temper the chocolate, the bittersweet and the dark were fairly indistinguishable. Doh! I also poured some unsweetened grated coconut unto a plate for rolling, and pulled out some artificial coloring* to make small amounts of colored white chocolate. Lastly, we used a variety of sprinkles for decorating. The original recipe called for cocoa as an option, but I didn't see little kids thinking that was so exciting, so we didn't use that.

The results were OUTSTANDING. I have never seen my kids move so fast to shove something in their mouths. A was drooling like a two year old while she ate her truffle. Even my husband, who is "meh" about chocolate could not get enough.

Unfortunately, between the ones that were eaten and the ones that went home with my neighbors, there were not enough decent looking ones for photos. However, I promised the girls that we could make some more for a party we are attending tomorrow. I'm thinking orange coloring for the white chocolate makes for some very Halloween -looking candy!

*S and I are actually allergic to artificial coloring. We aren't in huge trouble with the small amounts we ingested with this candy project, but large quantities of dye will cause us to have sore and swollen lips, among other things. How I ended up adopting a child with the same weird allergy is beyond me. I guess it proves we were meant for each other!

Pretzel makin'

A, S's twin sister, wanted to be sure to be included in the blog, but baking sweets is pretty much out with her. A is very bright, but she lacks the self-control that S has in aces. The last time we attempted to make a sweet dessert together, I ended up with no clean spoons, because I had to keep replacing the one she kept sticking in her mouth, and we ended up stirring the batter with a TEASPOON. So after that, I decided that S would make sweets, and A could make savory dishes until she learned to control herself.

S and I have been eyeing recipes on Tastespotting, and A saw this recipe from Sweets by Sarah. "Can we make pretzels, Mommy?" How could I say no to that little face?

We ended up doubling the recipe because I only had packets of yeast, and I was too lazy to divide one in half. We also used all purpose flour because for something like this, I wasn't too worried about bread flour.

As the pretzels as per the recipe are smaller than Auntie Ann's (think the size of a snyder sourdough pretzel), it wasn't a huge deal to make more. In fact, we made half of them in the original size, and then used the other half of the dough to make six large sized pretzels. A also felt that some pretzels should be pretzel shaped, some should be twists, and some should be 'A's.

The results were good. I tend to prefer salted pretzels, but I remembered on first bite that I prefer Auntie Ann's pretzels sweet. Oops! For the next one I had, I used a cinnamon/sugar combo, and it was very much like the actual Auntie Ann's pretzel. A found that she liked the pretzels best plain, and in fact, she had one as the bread for a turkey and cheese sandwich, which she proclaimed "delicious." That's pretty remarkable, since she usually picks the meat and cheese off of the bread and tosses the bread.

We did not butter the pretzels until they were going to be eaten, and just packaged the pretzels after they cooled in ziplock bags. I have no idea how long they'll last -- hubby has been having *several* every night, and swears they taste just like Auntie Ann's. A is thrilled!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Maple Apple Tartlets

This week, S and I made Maple Apple Tartlets. They were delicious (well, I thought so; S still doesn't like the hot apple thing. I give up.) And they were very easy. The only thing was that I was distracted this week because of my friend's death, and I didn't really think when I was cutting the puff pastry. OOPS. The tarts ended up long and skinny instead of short and fat. I know what I did wrong, and purchased more puff pastry, so I promise to put up photos next time (because Mommy is having these again!)

The interesting thing is that they were good cold too. I wouldn't have expected puff pastry to be good cold, but with the maple drizzle, they were YUM-O. We used Empire apples instead of Granny Smith, and they were a good substitution, I think. More sweet and they don't hold up as well if you cook them for too long, but for this recipe, it's not a problem.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apple Cobbler and Vanilla Ice Cream

Tonight S and I made apple cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I always think you have to make recipes your own, no matter how wonderful they might be. For example, for me, apples (in a sweet) sparkle with something like cinnamon or ginger. Unfortunately, I forgot that fact until after we made the cobbler, so we did a little sprinkle of cinnamon on the crust. (Next time I would add it to the fruit directly.) I also think that vanilla ice cream should have vanilla bean (hello, I grew up around Philly) so we added some vanilla bean seed to the ice cream. (Use 1 T of extract and scrape 1/2 of the insides of a bean.)

We came up with the idea to do this combo after going apple picking at a local orchard. We liked the empire apples best, so that's what we picked. Empires taste nice cooked, but they tend to "sauce," so we added some granny smiths to make sure we had some texture.

The whole ensemble tasted lovely, but the apples ended up overcooked because the whole mess had to stay in the oven for almost an hour in order for the topping to be cooked. I think I'll have to cut bigger chunks/slices in my apples next time to make sure they are more al dente.

Because the apples were overcooked, S said the cobbler was "yucky" and she "not like hot apple sauce on ice cream." I liked the cobbler quite a lot. We both loved the ice cream. S said she'd like to try the cobbler tomorrow cold with the ice cream so "it not melt so much." (See -- what kid would try it again a different way?)

Since I'm sure people are wondering what the heck a 4 year old could do in the kitchen, I do anything dangerous (involving sharp knives or hot stoves) and eggs. She does all of the rest. No kidding! She can operate my kitchenaid mixer and knows not to put her fingers in there, although I do use the splash guard as a safety measure.

I encourage everyone to cook with their kids. It teaches them some life skills, and they gain math skills (shh, don't tell!) and self-confidence! S lights up when people compliment her culinary genius.