Saturday, 25 July 2009

Daring Bakers July Challenge - Milan Cookies and Mallows

Milan CookiesThe July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Yum, yum, yum.

Did I say these were yum?

I'll start with the Milan Cookies.

These were just scrummy!  I don't have a real sweet tooth, but I do love to bake, so these are just perfect for me!  The biscuit itself is a gorgeous soft but not soggy lemon scented vanilla, and then you sandwich two of them together (because believe me, one is just no where near enough!!) with...wait for it...JAFFA GANACHE!!!  Now I'm not usually one for jaffa, in fact I still think the best thing to do with them is roll them down the cinema aisles, but this was just cream (my favourite food ever) with dark chocolate (another fave) and the finely grated rind of an orange (donated nice and fresh from my lovely friend over the road).  I followed the recipe to a tee, which is bit of a challenge in itself for me, but instead of piping rounds, I just had to do hearts!  They look so much cuter that way, and my girls got all excited that I had made heart shaped biscuits for them because "I love them"!

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Finished MallowsSecond round was Mallows.  Again, I was thinking I wouldn't be eating them as I usually can't stand marshmallows - waaaaaay to sweet for me!  However, I had never eaten home made marshmallows before and they were just delectable!  Not too sweet, and a gorgeous spongy but not too "airy" texture.  With only a handful of ingredients, I highly recommend you give them a go.  I'll pop the recipe in my recipe pages for you.   Again, I somehow managed to follow the recipe as stated, but opted for star shapes instead of rounds.  Come on, with all those gorgeous cookie cutters out there, why wouldn't you?

I didn't mind them, but one was plenty for me.  However, everyone else seemed to "need" 3 or 4 in a row (without stopping to take a breath mind you!!) to decide if they like them or not!  Hubby even snuck a few in before I was out of bed the next morning - not bad for someone who said he would pass because he is watching his figure!

Thanks go out to Nicole of Sweet Tooth for hosting this month's super yummy Challenge and to Pastry Chef Gale Gand of The Food Network for coming up with such amazingly yummy recipes.  I can hardly wait to see what we will be baking for August - be sure to stay tuned!

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

Finished Mallows - Close up

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Theobromine - That Part of Chocolate that Makes You Feel Good!!

Well, I'm stuck at my parents' house on "holidays" (and I use the term very loosely) with the dreaded swine flu. I am literally under house arrest with 2 small children to amuse who just want to go home and see their chickens.  How to entertain them and myself? Make a completely edible molecular model of theobromine of course! My brother, aka Scon, told me about this site a while ago and said I should really check it out, especially the foodie bit. Like him, I am a bit far down on the geek scale...probably a bit more nerd than geek though, I dig the chemistry/biology more and get a bit lost with some of the IT, but hey, what a cool site!  Anyway, enough rambling, here we go. This took place over 2 days as energy levels and compulsory rest (and vomit) breaks required!! Oh yeah, and in case you didn't know, theobromine is the active chemical in chocolate (higher in dark chocolate) that makes you feel good! If you are wondering where the "bromine" molecule is, you won't find it, it is named from the cacao plant Theobroma sp.

Nana Glen Mum's Edible Molecular Model of Theobromine


This recipe is from "cakepro"  at Cake Central


2.5 Cups Flour

1.5 Cups Sugar

3 Tablespoons cocoa

0.5 teaspoon salt

1.25 teaspoon bicarb soda

1 Cup Butter

2 Eggs

1 ounce red food colouring (I omit this)

1 Cup Buttermilk (I just use normal full fat milk)

1 teaspoon Vanilla


Preheat oven to 180C.

Sift dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy. Bet in eggs on at a time and add colouring (if you are using it). Add vanilla. Add half the flour, all the milk, then the rest of the flour, mixing as little as possible to combine.

Pour the batter into 2 round pans (I just put it in one big rectangular one as it is going to get broken up anyway) and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pan). Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Let it cool

Now for the fun part, get those hands in there and gently break it up into lots and lots of little crumbs!! Put it aside and make the frosting.


This recipe is from "Carol" at Cake Central


225g Cream Cheese, softened

56g Butter, softened

1 Tablespoons lemon juice (I used lime)

1 Teaspoon vanilla

5 Cups Icing Sugar Mixture (not pure icing sugar - it will set too hard)


Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar in 2 batches.


Gently fold the frosting into the cake crumbs. YUMMY! Be sure to taste it at this stage (no reason - just cause it tastes good!!) Shape the mixture into balls and place onto a tray lined with baking paper. I made my balls in 4 different sizes to represent the 4 atoms that make up the molecule.

PART 4 - COATING Ordinarily when I make cake pops (and all credit here goes to Bakerella for the COOLEST cake pops ever!!) I just coat them in melted chocolate, which I did for the smallest balls (Hydrogen). They were nice and easy. I just melted some white chocolate over simmering water, dropped them in and scooped them out and left them on a tray to cool and set. For the rest, I wanted colour, and as I am housebound at the moment, I had to make-do with what I could find in Mum's pantry, so sugar and food colouring to the rescue! I made up some toffee and coloured it with your regular supermarket food colourings. Here's how:


0.25 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Water

1 teaspoon Glucose

Food Colouring or cocoa


Place water, sugar and glucose in a small, heavy based saucepan and stir until ALL the sugar has dissolved. Bring it to the boil and STOP STIRRING immediately! With a pastry brush dipped in water, brush any crystals off the inside of the pan. Boil for 20 minutes until a spoonful of toffee dropped in a glass of cold water makes a "crack" sound and forms a hard ball. Take it off the heat and add a few drops of colouring or 2 teaspoons of cocoa. Carefully drop one ball in at a time, turning it over with a fork to evenly coat, then drain the excess toffee from it and place the coated ball on a lined tray to cool and set.


Now for the fun part! Grab a heap of toothpicks, a metal skewer, a candle, a box of matches, tray and either baking paper or a silicon mat. Because the toffee dries hard, there is no way you can push a toothpick in without shattering it...ask me how I know!! So, you light the candle with the matches and hold the metal skewer in the flame for a few seconds then push it through the toffee shell into the cake centre, wiggle it around a bit, take it out and you have a hole just the right size to poke your toothpick in! Yippee it works! Assemble molecule as desired. So folks, after much ado, here it is, my edible molecular model of theobromine. A cooking and chemistry lesson all in one for the kids (pity they are only 4 and 6 - I think the science was a bit lost on them - but they loved the taste!!) In case you are wondering, the small white chocolate balls are the Hydrogen, the blue ones are Nitrogen, the red are Oxygen and the black (cocoa) ones are Carbon.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Daring Cooks July Challenge - Skate, traditional flavours powdered (slightly altered)

I have just joined an online group at the Daring Kitchen called the Daring Cooks where each month they post a new recipe and everyone makes it, then publishes the results on their blog all on the same day.  Today, the 14th of the month is Reveal Day!!, so here it is...Skate with traditional flavours, powdered by Grant Achatz from his Alinea Cookbook (page 230).

Skate, traditional flavors powderedI think that one of their aims in the challenge is to extend your repetoire of both cooking and flavours.  This certainly did both!  I was really dubious when I first read the recipe as it sounded like alot of work, and some crazy powdered sauces!!!  I thought it was going to be a really dry, bland dish that would be hard to eat, but boy was I wrong!!!!  It was FANTASTIC!

I had to make a few minor changes as some ingredients weren't available (I live in a rural area).  I couldn't get skate, so I had to opt for goodness only knows what it was from the supermarket fish counter, and they only had green bananas on my shopping day, so I had to substitute avocado instead.  Also, I added a few veggies from the garden to the side of the plate (I'm one of those mums that insists the children have vegetables every night).  It was a huge hit with the family.  The kids loved the novelty of brightly coloured powders on their plate that they could swirl around to make new patterns and flavours (yes I know, usually I would call it playing with food, but on this occasion, I told myself they were "exploring new horizons" lol!!)  I wasn't sure how hubby would take it either as he can be a bit "traditional" in his tastes at times, but we must have spent the next hour discussing different flavour combinations that we thought would be great.  He also said it was definately a dish to be made for visitors!

I must apologise for the lack of photos in the construction phase, but I have had sick kids and hubby all week, and my shoulder has been playing up so I pretty much just wanted to get it done and dusted.

The beans under the fish were simply divine.  They were cooked in half water, half beurre monte which was reduced right down, resulting in a beautiful buttery coating that wasn't the least bit greasy.

All in all, for my first attempt at Molecular Cuisine, I would say it was a resounding success.  I am definately going to make this again, but will travel to get decent fish that is worthy of such a magnificent recipe.  I also reckon fruit powders would be delicious served up with home made vanilla ice cream.  Might have to try that one out too!

Finally, I really must extend my thanks to Sketchy of Sketchy's Kitchen who hosted this month's Challenge.  Please check out his blog and see what other delectable delights he has been up to!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Fishing Boat Cake

Tinnie Cake view 1My friend's daughter turned 11 the other day and I offered to make her a cake.  It turns out she is saving up to buy herself a little fishing boat, so naturally, that is what the cake had to be! I made a 23cm square mud cake and covered it with Fluffy Frosting which has a lovely smooth and almost shiny finish - not matt like most icings.  I then made up some Piping Gel Tinnie Cake view 3from caster sugar, cornflour, lemon juice and water and dyed it with blue and green colourings for the water.  All the other decorations were made from fondant.  It ended up being a really easy cake to make and transport, and a quick dusting with silver lustre on the boat gave it a nice metallic effect.  Needless to say, she loved it!!Tinnie Cake view 2