Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers May - Croquembouche!

I have been in love with the croquembouche as long as I can remember! And really, what's not to love? Choux pastry filled with smooth vanilla cream and smothered in crunchy, sweet caramel.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

This month's challenge brings me full circle, as my very first Daring Bakers' challenge was chocolate eclairs. It was my first time making choux pastry and I definitely had a few dramas. This time around I'm happy to say they were worked perfectly.

I made just 10 cream puffs and half the caramel glaze. I was keen to try the spun sugar effect but I had just 20 minutes of Oscar-free time so after assembling my 'tower' I just poured the remainder over the top.

The result?

Amazing. Just as good as anything I've tasted elsewhere for surprisingly little work. When I have more time and a special occasion to bake for I will definitely be making a full size croquembouche with spun sugar. But for now, this hit the spot and I can cross it off my to-make list.

Thanks for a fabulous challenge Cat!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Banana Coconut Icecream Pie

This week Spike of Spike.Bakes chose Dorie's Banana Coconut Icecream Pie and I have to admit, I really wasn't sure about this one! Even after reading the recipe I had no idea whether this was something I would enjoy or not. Still, I ploughed on but couldn't resist making a few changes.

My version has a plain shortbread crust (no coconut) and 2 layers of filling instead of one. I didn't want to mess up the creamy perfection of the chocolate ice-cream so I made a separate banana layer using some of my stash of frozen bananas whizzed up with a teaspoon of vanilla essence and some heavy cream. I then sprinkled some toasted shredded coconut on top.

The taste test ...

Not bad! Probably not something I would make again but banana and chocolate are always a great combination. I'm glad I didn't use any rum in the filling or coconut in the base. The flavours here were just right for us.

Thanks for an interesting pick, Spike! You can find the original recipe at Spike.Bakes under today's date.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Apple-Apricot Bread Pudding

This week Elizabeth of Cake or Death? chose Dorie's Apple-Apple Bread Pudding and it was the perfect pick given the freezing cold weather we've been having (well freezing for Brisbane anyway). Is there anything more comforting on a cold night than bread pudding?

We've had a lot of rich food recently so I tried to cut the calories a bit with this one, without sacrificing taste of course.

Rather than caramalise the apples I simply stewed them with water and cinnamon. The gala apples are so sweet at the moment they really don't need any added sugar.

We can't get apple butter here so I used a 100% apricot spread instead.

I also used low fat milk and reduced the amount of cream.

As for the bread, I found something called Scone Toast at the supermarket which seemed ideal. I always leave the crusts on.

The result? A creamy, delicious bread pudding that we all loved! Definitely didn't miss the extra butter, sugar or cream. With a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top this is the quintessential winter dessert.

Thanks for a great pick Elizabeth! You can find the recipe on her blog under today's date.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Quick Berry Tart

What's quicker than a Quick Classic Berry Tart? These even quicker Itty-Bitty-Puff-Berry-Tartlets! As much as I love Dorie's sweet tart dough I wasn't in the mood for making pastry this week, especially since I only wanted to make minis.

Why? We're still working our way through the fabulous Banoffee Tart my lovely hubby made for dinner on Mothers' Day, along with this delicious rack of lamb with roast veges.

So for this week's TWD I chose the cheat's option and grabbed a sheet of puff pastry from the freezer and cut out little circles. The pastry cream takes only minutes to make and I topped each one with 3 perfect blueberries (frozen ones because they are always in season).

I will definitely make the original Classic Berry Tart sometime as I adore fruit tarts. My apologies to Cristine of Cooking with Cristine for not making the exact recipe which you can find on her blog. But I hope you enjoy my version!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

This week Becky of Project Domestication chose a recipe I have long been drooling over ... Burnt Sugar Ice Cream! This is pretty much caramel ice cream on steroids.

I had no real problems making this apart from letting my custard cook a little long. See I was at the crucial 'stir until it thickens' stage when I realised I hadn't converted the 180 degrees F into celsius and so had no idea what temperature I was waiting for. By the time I yelled for husband to google it my custard had reached 92.5 degrees C, a smidgen too hot, but at least there can be no complaints about raw eggs!

My only other issue was trying to take a photo without someone sticking his little fingers into it!

I topped mine with crumbled anzac biscuits for an extra sugar hit and some texture.

Thanks for a great pick Becky! You can find the recipe on Becky's blog or for much better photos than mine, check out the TWD blogroll.

In other news today is our 2nd wedding anniversary! While we're not doing anything special today (other than eating burnt sugar ice cream of course) we had a lovely night away on Sunday while Oscar stayed home with his nanna. It was our first baby-free night! Did miss the little monkey though :-)
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