Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chocolate cake, tropical flavors and my blog's 2nd birthay!

Two years ago I started this blog as a way to share my passion with others, but most importantly to learn from foodies from all walks of life and from different cultural backgrounds and what a life-changing decision it was! 

For this special occasion, I baked a cake that feature flavors and textures I deeply love. 

This cake is packed with tropical flavors that go so well with the deep, rich, and complex flavor of chocolate. 

To make and enjoy the cake, you will need:

For the batter you need: 
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 120 g  flour
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 140 g soft butter
  • 130 g vanilla sugar
  • 6 g baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 60 g melted and cooled chocolate
  • 140 ml coconut milk
  • 8 tbsp shredded  and lightly toasted coconut (omit the toasting if you want a milder flavor)
  • tsp  vanilla essence

Combine all the dry ingredients and sift them. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, once well combined add the vanilla and the eggs, one by one, and mix till well blended. Add the chocolate and mix again, when all combined, turn off the mixer, add the flour and fold into the batter. Incorporate the dry coconut then the coconut milk. 

Pour the batter in three pans of 13 cm ( 5.1 inches) diameter. If you don't have three pans, you can bake 2 and put the remaining batter in the fridge meanwhile. Bake the batter in a preheated oven at 180 C (356 F) between 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. 

The cake layers where filled with two types of filling: a fruity and a chocolaty one!

For the fruity filling, I went with the aromatic sweet and tart flavor of the tropical Passion fruit, and here's how you make it into a curd. Here's what you will need:
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g of deseeded  passion fruit pulp (you can use canned pulp but adjust the sugar as it comes sweetened)
  • 70 g sugar (you can use more if you like it sweeter)
  • dash of salt
  • 100 g cold butter, cut into small cubes, 
  • 1 tsp of corn starch
  • tsp of lemon juice
Mix the eggs and the sugar until well combined. Dissolve the corn starch with some pulp. then add them along with the rest of the pulp to the egg mixture with the salt and the lemon juice. Put the mix over a double boiler under a gentle flame, whisk the mixture for about 10 min. Put the mix onto a direct flame and keep whisking for about 3 to 5 min or until the curd thickens. Keep in mind that when cooled it will get a lot thicker, so when you achieve the desired thickness turn off the heat and start whisking in the butter. 

When done, cover the curd with plastic wrap and leave it to cool.

For the chocolate filling, I went with a standard ganache using:
  • 250 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250 g heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp corn syrup or honey
In a sauce pan, heat the cream and vanilla until it simmers, pour over the chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts, add the butter and corn syrup and whisk again. I like to beat the ganache with a whisk for about 5 min, it becomes fluffy and light and easier to work with.

Now that all of the components are ready, it's time to assemble the cake.
On a layer of chocolate cake pipe a circle of ganache around it using a pastry bag. Now fill the middle with the curd and cover with the second cake layer. Repeat the same steps and finish with last cake layer. 
Before frosting the cake I brushed it with some curd, then frosted with the ganache.

Using the remaining ganache, I made some chocolate truffles and rolled them in coconut which I used to decorate the top of the cake. As for the remaining curd, you can serve it with the cake or use it in other recipes; it's even great on toasted bread too for breakfast!

This cake might be a laborious but it's definitely worth the time, after all, it's my blog's second birthday! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Raspberry crème brulée pie!

In the culinary world, give anything a French name and it will be a hit, especially if it's a dessert. 
While it's commonly believed that creme brulée is a French dessert, but some historians argue that it is actually a very old English recipe while others think it's of Creole origins.

No matter who invented this dessert, there's no denying that anytime it is featured on restaurant menus it will be a hit.

Usually, creme brulée is served in the ramekin in which it was baked. My recipe is inspired by the traditional dessert but I serve the cream in an edible and yummy chocolate pie shell.The cream itself is flavored with delicious raspberries.

So, let's tackle this dessert starting with the pie shell.

For the chocolate crust you need (enough for an 18 cm tart pan):

  • 110 g flour
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 65 g cold butter
  • 30 g sugar (I used brown cane sugar)
  • dash of salt
  • 15 g seedless raspberry jam
  • Few drops of cold water (milk or cream)

Combine all ingredients except for the water (or cream), and in a food processor pulse for few seconds until you have a sandy mixture, add some cream, I only needed a tablespoon maybe, and the dough came together after pulsing again for few seconds. Pour the dough over a plastic wrap, shape it into a disk, cover it, and leave it to rest for at least 30 min, or over night if you are making it ahead! Roll the dough and cover the tart pan, and again leave it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 min. Blind bake it for 10 to 15 min then remove the weight in a preheated oven (180) and bake for another 5 to 10 min until the surface is no longer wet.

For the creme brulée cream mixture you need:
  • 250 g or ml of cream (I used half 35% and half 18%)
  • 2 egg yolks (or around 50 g, add a small amount of egg white in order to reach the proper weight)
  • 30 g sugar (or 40 g if you wish a sweeter result)
  • 50 g of raspberry, you can use frozen or fresh
  • A vanilla pod, split in half

Combine the cream, vanilla, and the raspberry, and put it to simmer on a gentle heat. Meanwhile whisk the yolks and the sugar until creamy and with a pale cream color. Slowly pour the cream through a sieve over the egg while whisking vigorously.

When the crust is cooled, carefully pour the cream over, put your pan on a tray which will make the transfer to the oven easier, and now you need to bake it for about 45 to 50 min in a preheated oven with only 125 or 150, depends on how strong your oven is. When the cream thickens but still wiggling in the center, then it´s time to take the pie from the oven.
Optional: I added some seedless raspberry jam on the crust before pouring the cream, just a thin layer, but you can skip this step if you wish!

You have to let it cool completly then leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, sprinkle some brown sugar (preferably) and with a blow torch (or under the grill) burn the sugar until caramelized. In two to three minutes the sugar will form a hard and glistening crust that is will break when you tap it with a spoon.

Slice your tart into serving size portions and serve with some fresh fruits and enjoy this delicious creamy dessert.