Posts tagged ‘marshmallow’

July 14, 2011

Kosher Kupcakes

         

As if publishing Pumpercake’s Seven-Layer Cake this week wasn’t exciting enough, I’m absolutely thrilled to be a guest blogger at  Joy of Kosher today!

A Joy of Kosher representative contacted me asking for a guest post and a couple summery cupcake recipes that could be made pareve (without dairy).  My guest post features Pumpercake’s cocktail-inspired “Margarita Cupcakes,” and “Black & White Cupcakes,” inspired by the well known Jewish cookie.

Make sure you stop by Joy of Kosher today to take a look at Pumpercake’s cupcake article, recipes, and pictures, as well as the many other great articles and wonderful everyday recipes throughout the site!

July 13, 2011

Pumper Pasties

“He had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets rattling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry — but the woman didn’t have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.

Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.

“Hungry, are you?”

“Starving,” said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.”

-Aboard the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Pumpkin pasties are a mutual favorite treat shared by Harry and many of his friends throughout the series. Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, and Ginny have all been known to snack on pasties once in a while. Here in the muggle world, Potter fans seem equally as fond of the handheld sweets, for when I started researching pumpkin pasty recipe ideas, I was overwhelmed with the amount of feedback I received. The only issue was, it seemed every reader had interpreted Pumpkin Pasties in a very similar way, as there were minimal variations in recipes. It was always a sweet, flaky pie-pocket filled with the same pumpkin pie filling.

While I’m sure these versions are delicious, I decided to go a different route.  I thought it might be interesting to do more of a Pumpkin Pastry, but still find a way to make it whimsical and fun.  In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there’s a time during holiday when Harry and Ron sat by the fire for hours on end, “eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork — bread, English muffins, [and] marshmallows. ” Naturally, I loved the idea of the two friends snacking on my favorite sweet, and I decided to incorporate the mallows. With that, the Pumpkin-Marshmallow Napoleon was born… although I think I’ve come up with a much better name for them:

Pumper “Pumpkin Pasty” Pastries

Inspired by: The Hogwarts Express Food Trolley’s “Pumpkin Pasties”

Adapted from Phyllo and Pumpkin Marshmallow Napoleons,” Baking Obsession

Caramel-Glaze Spiced Pastry Rounds

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon all spice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

–recipe yield:  about 24-30 disks,
about 8-10 assembled napoleons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold one sheet of thawed puff pastry.  Using a floured rolling pin, gently smooth out creases from folds and roll out puff pastry sheet to about 1/4 – 1/8-inch thickness.  Using a 2-3 -inch cookie cutter or a round glass, cut pastry into about 12-15 disks and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Using a fork, prick a few holes into each disk.  Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for about 5 minutes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, dissolve granulated sugar in ¼ cup water, bring to a boil, and turn off heat.  Stir in brown sugar, butter, salt, spices, and vanilla, continuing to stir until butter has melted and the mixture has formed a warm glaze.  Use a pastry brush to paint a small amount of glaze onto one side of each chilled pastry disk, placing the painted disks back onto the lined baking sheet.  Cover the disks with another layer of parchment paper, and place another baking sheet directly on top of the paper to weigh down the disks as they bake.  Bake disks for 10 minutes before removing from oven and flipping.  Paint the glaze onto the opposite side of each half-baked pastry round, replace parchment paper covering and additional baking sheet cover, and then transfer back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Repeat all instructions for the second sheet of puff pastry.  Allow rounds to cool completely on wire racks before assembling napoleons.  Pastry disks can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Pumpkin-Marshmallow Filling

¼ cup cooked, pureed pumpkin

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ all spice

pinch ground ginger

1½ envelopes unflavored gelatin

½ cup cold water, divided

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin and spices until combined.  Set aside.  In a large glass mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin into ¼ cup of cold water and let sit.  Have an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ¼ cup water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Cover saucepan and place over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes before removing lid and attaching a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the syrup.  Let the syrup cook until it reaches 240 degrees (about 5-6 minutes), and then immediately remove it from heat.  With the mixer on a low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture, allowing it to pour down the side of the bowl into the gelatin.  Once all the syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip the mixture until cools to lukewarm and becomes extremely thick, or about 12-15 minutes.  The vanilla bean paste can be added during the last minute of whipping.

Once the marshmallow mixture has been fully whipped, use a spatula to fold about ½ cup of the mallow into the pumpkin-spice mixture.  Then, pour the lightened pumpkin to the mixing bowl and fold it gently but thoroughly into the marshmallow.  Transfer the combined mixture into a pastry or zip-top bag fitted with a small, plain round pastry tip.

Assembly

Pipe 5-6 small dollops of pumpkin-marshmallow filling onto the surface of each pastry round.  Set aside 1/3 of the mallow-dolloped  pastry rounds.  Use a water-moistened finger to lightly flatten the tops of each of the dollops on the remaining 2/3 of the pastry rounds.  Let all pastry disks sit out, uncovered, for about an hour to allow the mallow filling to set.  Stack up two disks with flattened dollops and top with an un-flatted dolloped disk to complete each napoleon.  Serve, or store covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

July 12, 2011

“They’re Not Really Frogs, Are They?”

Happy Potter Week Tuesday!   It seems today is the perfect time to share Pumpercake’s 3rd HP-inspired recipe, as we’re only three days away from the big movie premier!

A recipe for Chocolate Frogs and Peppermint Toads was an easy and obvious choice to include in Pumpercake’s Potter Week festivities.  Whether it be on the Hogwarts Express or in the common room after a trip back from Honeydukes (a sweets and candy shop in Hogsmeade, the wizarding village), Harry and his friends can constantly be found snacking on the reptile-shaped confections or trading their Chocolate Frog Collector’s Cards.

The recipes I’ve included can be used for Frogs and Toads by use of appropriate candy-mold trays, but the recipes can also be applied to any other chocolate-coated shaped candy.  Unlike the Chocolate Frogs served on the Hogwar’s Express food trolly, my Chocolate Frogs are bursting with delicious fillings, like coconut-marshmallow cream and salted peanut butter filling.  Also unlike the Chocolate Frogs on the Hogwart’s Express food trolly, mine don’t magically leap out of their packages or “hop realistically in the stomach.”

Chocolate Frogs & Peppermint Toads

Inspired by: Honeydukes’
“Chocolate Frogs” &
“Peppermint Toads”
-Hogsmead Village

“What are these?” Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs.  “They’re not really frogs, are they?” He was starting to feel that nothing would surprise him.”
–  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Chocolate Frogs

12 ounces milk chocolate chips

12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1 batch salted peanut butter filling
(recipe below)

1 batch coconut-mallow filling
(recipe below)

chocolate frog candy molds

–recipe yield: about 24 chocolate frogs,
12 of both filling/chocolate combinations

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the milk chocolate chips.  Over low heat, melt the milk chocolate and remove it from the heat.  Spoon a small amount into each individual frog mold, adding just enough chocolate so that it covers the very bottom of each mold.  Using a small paintbrush, spread the chocolate up to thinly coat all sides of each frog, creating a little hollow bowl-like bed for the filling to fit in.  Place mold tray into the refrigerator to chill for 3-5 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

After chocolate has set, drop about ¾ teaspoon of peanut butter filling into the center of each frog.  Spread the filling slightly so that it is not level with the top surface of the mold tray, leaving room for the top layer of chocolate.  Spoon more melted chocolate into each frog mold, right on top of the filling.   Fill each frog until the chocolate is just level with the top surface of the tray.  Refrigerate or freeze 8-10 minutes, or until completely set and hardened, before removing frogs from the tray.

For coconut-filled chocolate frogs, follow the same directions as above, replacing the milk chocolate with dark and the peanut butter filling with coconut-mallow filling.

Peppermint Toads

12 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1-2 drops pure peppermint extract

1 batch white peppermint filling (recipe below)

chocolate toad candy molds

–recipe yield: about 24 peppermint toads (as my candy molds were very shallow)

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the white chocolate.  Over low heat, melt the chocolate and remove it from the heat.  Stir in 1-2 small drops of peppermint extract.  Spoon a very small amount into each individual toad mold, adding just enough chocolate so that it covers the very bottom of each toad.  Using a small paintbrush, spread the chocolate up to thinly coat all sides of each toad, creating a little hollow bowl-like bed for the filling to fit in.  Place mold tray into the refrigerator to chill for 3-5 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

After chocolate has set, spoon in about ¼-½ teaspoon of white peppermint filling into the center of each frog.  Spread the filling slightly, just so it is not level with the top surface of the mold tray, leaving room for the top layer of chocolate.  Spoon more melted chocolate into each toad mold, right on top of the filling.   Fill each toad until the chocolate is just level with the top surface of the tray.  Refrigerate or freeze 8-10 minutes, or until completely set and hardened, before removing toads from the tray.

Candy Fillings

Salted Peanut Butter Filling

½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon table salt

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

–makes enough for 12 candies, plus extra

In a medium bowl, cream together peanut butter and  butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and salt.  Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat.  When the sugar has been combined, drizzle in heavy cream and whip until fluffy, being careful not to over-whip.

Coconut-Mallow Filling

¾ cup marshmallow fluff (my fluff recipe can be found here)

1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut

¼ teaspoon coconut extract or coconut oil

–makes enough for 12 candies, plus extra

Gently combine all ingredients, folding until flaked coconut has been distributed throughout mixture.

White Peppermint Filling

¾ cup marshmallow fluff (my fluff recipe can be found here)

1-2 drops pure peppermint extract

–makes enough for 24 candies, plus extra

Add into the fluff one small drop of peppermint extract and fold to incorporate.  If desired, another drop or so can be added and combined into the filling.

June 27, 2011

Marshmallow-Toffee Combination Creation

Marshmallow and toffee.  Sounds a little strange, right?  Sounds like a  sugar-shocked, sticky sweet, caramel covered cavity waiting to happen, right?  Wrong!  Turns out, marshmallow and toffee are a match made in candy-coated Heaven.

I first discovered the divinity of this delicious combination on a trip to Dairy Queen, of all places.  I was experimenting with Blizzard flavors, trying to decide what would pair well with marshmallow topping, which I always request to be mixed into my DQ treats.  I decided to try the Heath Blizzard with my usual swirl of mallow, and since then, haven’t ordered anything but that exact dessert.  There’s just something about the nutty flavor of the almond and the sharpness and crunch of the burnt-sugary English toffee that pairs so beautifully with the silkiness of the smooth vanilla marshmallow cream, it’s melt- in-your-mouth irresistible.

I haven’t yet visited Dairy Queen this summer, but the delightful duo of toffee and marshmallow has still been ever present in my mind.  I decided to create my own frozen dessert using these flavors and textures in a different way.  I made a semifreddo/ice cream base, split it in two layers, and incorporated marshmallow and toffee flavors in both layers in different ways.  While DQ’s concoction uses the chocolate-covered version of Heath’s toffee pieces, I decided to use plain toffee pieces and add chocolate in other ways throughout the dessert.  A marbleized marshmallow swirl runs through rich, chocolate-mocha ice cream, and the almond flavors of the English toffee are found in the crust, along with more chocolate and ground toffee.  Marshmallow can also be found in the second ice cream, which is speckled with crunchy toffee pieces and topped with a chocolate-toffee crumb topping to finish off this tempting treat.  No hot ovens to turn on and no ice cream machine needed, just an hour or so of free time and a persistent sweet tooth!

Toffee-Marshmallow Ice Cream Cake

Inspired by: Dairy Queen’s Candy Lover’s Heath Blizzard” with Marshmallow Topping

 Adapted from Martha Stewart’sFrozen Mocha Toffee Crunch Terrine

8 ounces English toffee pieces
(ex. HEATH “Bits ‘O Brickle” Toffee Bits)

7 ounces chocolate wafer cookies

¼ cup almond flour

3 tablespoons melted butter

6 ounces of cream cheese

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ cups heavy whipping cream

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2½ tablespoons cocoa powder

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup marshmallow fluff (recipe below)

–recipe yield: 9x5x3-inch loaf; 12-15 slices

Line a large loaf pan with plastic wrap.  In a food processor, grind ¼ cup toffee pieces and 20 wafer cookies.  Add almond flour and melted butter and pulse until crumbly.  Press crumbs into bottom of loaf pan and place in freezer. Grind together 15 more wafers and ¼ cup toffee.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat room temperature cream cheese and vanilla extract until smooth.  On a low speed, mix in ½ cup heavy cream until the mixture has reached medium soft peaks.  In a separate large bowl,  whip remaining heavy cream until it has just reached stiff peaks.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the whipped cream cheese mixture and place into the freezer to chill.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together granulated sugar and ¼ cup water and place over medium-high heat.  Allow liquid to rapidly boil for 5 minutes.  In the meantime, whisk together coffee, cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons boiling water in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  While sugar syrup continues to boil, place egg yolks in a large bowl and beat on high for 3 minutes.  When sugar syrup has been boiling for full 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour a small amount of the syrup into the yolks, continuing to beat.  Gradually add in the remaining hot syrup to the yolks while beating the mixture.  Beat for 8-9 minutes, or until the mixture has tripled in volume.

Divide yolk mixture in two equal parts, pouring one half into a separate large bowl.  Remove loaf pan and chilled whipped cream mixture from freezer.  Divide whipped cream mixture in half with a spatula, and fold one half into to one of the bowls of the yolk mixture, along with the cocoa-coffee mixture.  Continue to fold until mixture is streak-free and chocolate-y.  Pour this mixture into the loaf pan on top of the crumb layer.  Add heaping teaspoons of marshmallow fluff into the loaf pan onto the surface of the chocolate layer until about 1/3 cup of fluff has been dotted into the pan.  Run a butter knife through the fluff and chocolate layer to swirl the two together.  Place loaf into freezer to chill.

Add ½ cup of marshmallow fluff to the remaining half of the yolk mixture.  Beat well until combined and fluffy.  Fold the fluff-egg yolk mixture into the remaining chilled whipping cream, along with 1/3 cup of plain toffee pieces.  Remove loaf pan from freezer.  Sprinkle half of the chocolate wafer-toffee crumb mixture into the loaf pan on top of the swirled chocolate-mallow mixture.  Once the crumbs have been sprinkles in an even layer, pour into the loaf pan (on top of that layer) the marshmallow-toffee ice cream mixture.  Place loaf pan in freezer to set up overnight.  Remove semifreddo by pulling up on the plastic wrap on the sides.  Peel away and discard plastic wrap and sprinkle any remaining chocolate wafer-toffee crumbs on top of the loaf, along with bigger toffee pieces if desired.  Cut the ice cream loaf into slices and serve.

Marshmallow Fluff

1 egg white

¾ cup corn syrup

pinch of salt

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

½ Tsp vanilla extract

–recipe yield: lots of fluff!

In a large bowl, beat together the egg white, corn syrup and salt for 10 minutes (set a timer).  The mixture will be very thick.  After ten minutes, gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar on a low speed.  Mix in vanilla extract until incorporated.  To store, cover the bowl of marshmallow fluff with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic wrap to sag into the bowl and cover the entire surface of the fluff so that it doesn’t develop a skin.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer for 2-3 weeks.

June 11, 2011

S’more Truffles & Even MORE Macarons

As I’ve openly professed my love for all things marshmallow throughout the duration of Pumpercake’s existence, it should come as no surprise to my most loyal readers that I’m also a big fan of s’mores.  Smore’s are one of the only hot desserts that are perfectly acceptable during even the hottest summer nights.  A few years back, there was one summer in particular that Alicia, Katie and I lived solely off of graham crackers, milk chocolate and melted mallow, maybe with the occasional dollop of creamy peanut butter thrown in.  So when our families planned a visit during my last trip to Michigan, I knew I had to create a couple s’mores-inspired treats to pass around as the girls re-told the story of my being too impatient to wait for my metal marshmallow skewer to cool before devouring the mallow and nearly burning off my bottom lip.

Both desserts combine all the elements of the beloved s’more in different ways.  The truffles have crushed grahams and melted marshmallow that make up the base of  the candy, as well as a surprise mini-mallow hidden in the center.  The truffles are finished with a coating of milk chocolate and an extra pinch of crumbs.  The macarons, much sweeter than the truffles, present the flavors of the s’more in a more familiar, sandwich-like display.  Both bite-sized treats were delicious, looked beautiful together, and went over very well.


S’mores Truffles

Inspired by: S’mores

These truffles are most delicious when served cold, straight out of the refrigerator or cooler, if possible.  This allows for the texture of the truffle interior to match that of the marshmallow hidden inside, creating a velvety, homogeneous bite.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

15 large marshmallows

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs*

½ cup mini marshmallows

2 cups milk chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter.  Add in large marshmallows, toss them to coat in the melted butter, and allow them to melt entirely.  Once melted, transfer the mixture to a medium bowl containing the softened cream cheese.  Beat together the melted marshmallow and cream cheese until homogeneous.  Mix in the graham crumbs until completely combined.  Refrigerate mixture for about 10 minutes.  Once the mixture has chilled, it’s time to shape the truffles.  Using a melon-baller or a small cookie dough scoop makes this job a breeze, otherwise, I suggest using a round tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop and measure out the mixture.  Each time a truffle is scooped, place a mini-marshmallow into the center of it and roll the truffle to re-shape it into a ball with your hands.  Once all the balls are formed and stuffed with a marshmallow, transfer them to the freezer to chill for 15-20 minutes.

While the truffle centers are chilling, prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the chocolate chips.  Over low heat, slowly, evenly start to melt the chocolate until it has almost completely melted.  Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir chocolate to melt the remaining solid pieces and to slightly cool the mixture.  Remove the truffles from the freezer to prepare to coat them, one at a time, with the melted chocolate.  I find that the easiest way to do this is to use the fork and spoon method, thoroughly described in another of my candy-making posts, here.  Once each truffle is coated and dropped onto a sheet of parchment paper, they may be dusted with a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs before the chocolate has hardened.  Store cooled, hardened truffles in between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.


S’mores Macarons

Inspired by: S’mores

A truly delicious rendition of  the dessert.  Each of the components that make up this recipe can be found throughout Pumpercake.

Chocolate Shells

Marshmallow Frosting

Graham cracker crumbs*

Flaked sea salt

Once macaron shells have baked and cookies have been sandwiched with frosting, prepare a small batch of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil over the stove, reduced to a syrup and cooled) to brush on top of the shells.  Sprinkle a bit of graham cracker crumbs and pinch of flaked sea salt over top of the syrup-brushed cookies.

*Both desserts can also be made gluten-free by use of gluten-free graham crackers crumbs.

May 9, 2011

Turkish Java & Molten Lava

This past Holiday season, upon opening a Christmas card from a family that I’d gotten to know shortly after moving to the area, I was surprised to discover a gift card to their favorite place to get Middle Eastern food.  When Evan and I visited the little Lebanese restaurant, we were very strategic in placing our appetizer and entree orders and made sure to leave room for a dessert selection as well.  On impulse, I decided on a chocolate molten lava cake, mainly because the menu described it as being served alongside homemade  marshmallow cream.  Little did I know, although the pair was absolutely delicious, it was neither the lava cake, nor my beloved marshmallow fluff that would turn out to be the star of the dessert (as well as the entire dinner experience).  There was another component to this little dessert trio, and that was a dollop of an unbelievable pistachio and orange ice cream.  Sounds strange, a chocolate “Turkish Coffee” cake served alongside marshmallow, pistachio and orange flavors, I know.  But, when gathered onto one spoon, the combination of the different flavors, textures, and temperatures seemed as deliciously obvious as a pairing of spaghetti and meatballs.

This unforgettable dessert has very frequently been the topic of conversation between Evan and I since our visit to that restaurant.  Clearly, I had to recreate this dish, but very delicately.  There was no way I was going to tweak any of the perfect flavors in the slightest degree and risk compromising the divinity of this dessert.  I decided, instead, to deconstruct the assembly of the cake.  The result is what I’m calling a “semifreddo lava cake,” composed of a rich, spiced chocolate sheet cake wrapped around a pistachio-orange semifreddo creme.  The “hot lava” took the form of a hot-fudge sauce and was drizzled atop the dessert, and with the obvious inclusion of my favorite marshmallow frosting, the reconstructed dish was complete and just as euphoric as we’d remembered it the first time.

Semifreddo Lava Cake

Inspired by: “Molten Chocolate ‘Turkish Coffee’ Cake”

-Lebanese Taverna (Arlington, VA)

Mocha-Spice Sheet Cake

Adapted from “Mocha Cake,” Gourmet – August 2009

Rich and chocolate-y with a subtle hint of coffee and spice, this flourless cake stays fluffy, moist and soft when frozen… perfect for a semifreddo dessert.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

3 teaspoons  espresso powder

6 eggs, separated

½ cup granulated sugar, separated

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and line a 13×9 inch pan.  Prepare a double boiler fitted with a small glass bowl to melt the chocolate.  Before turning on the heat under the double boiler, dissolve the espresso powder by stirring it into 3 tablespoon of hot water.  Once dissolved, strain the espresso into to bowl of chocolate, turn on the heat, and melt the chocolate together with the espresso.  Once almost completely melted, remove bowl from heat, stir to melt completely, and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, the salt and the cardamom until the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 8 minutes.  Beat in the cooled chocolate.  In a separate bowl, beat the room temperature egg whites until they’ve reached soft peaks, gradually add in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and continue to beat until the meringue just creates stiff peaks.  Gradually and gently fold the egg whites in small batches into the chocolate mixture.

Spread the batter as evenly as possibly (without deflating it) into the prepared pan and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until it has puffed and is dry and springy to the touch.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cover the cake with two layers of damp paper towel.  Let the covered cake rest for about 3 minutes, remove the towel (allowing the crispy top layer to peel away with it), and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan.  Once the cake has completely cooled, loosen the edges of the cake with a knife and invert onto a large cutting board or sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Transfer the cake (still covered with parchment atop the cutting board) to the freezer for 2-3 hours for easy slicing and assembly.

Pistachio-Orange Semifreddo

Adapted from Tim Nugent’s “Pistachio Semifreddo,” Top Chef

This semifreddo is simply divine and can stand alone as a truly delectable dessert.  The flavors are amazing, but it’s the texture that makes this semifreddo so special.  Make sure to whip each layer of ingredients carefully as directed and fold as gently as possible for a beautiful, airy-light finish.

4 eggs, separated                               1 cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup superfine sugar, separated       zest from half an orange

1/3 cup pistachio paste*                      1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a large glass bowl and, over medium-low heat, whip together the egg yolks and ¼ of the caster sugar.  Continue to whip on a high speed until as much volume as possible has been achieved, about 5-8 minutes.  At this point, remove from heat and, while still warm, add the pistachio paste and gently swirl it into the yolk mixture.  Set bowl aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whip the room temperature egg whites until they’ve reached soft peaks.  Gradually add in the remaining superfine sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks have been achieved.  In small batches, gradually fold the stiffened egg white meringue gently into the yolk-pistachio mixture.  In a separate bowl, beat the cold whipping cream to soft peaks, add in the orange zest and juice, and continue to whip slightly until they’ve reached medium-stiff peaks (do not over-whip or the cream can turn into butter).  In gradual batches, gently fold the whipped orange cream into the fluffy pistachio mixture.  Once the semifreddo base has been combined and poured into properly lined pan (as directed below), allow to freeze overnight before serving.

*I made my own pistachio paste for this dessert, but it actually ended up being quite a bit of work and not as easy as the recipe makes it seem.  I would suggest just purchasing some pre-made pistachio paste and adjusting the amount of sugar in the semifreddo accordingly, as it may not be quite as sweet as my homemade paste turned out.

Hot Lava Fudge

Adapted from the Old Occidental Hotel’s “Hot Fudge Sauce,”  -Muskegon, Michigan

1 cup superfine sugar          1/3 cup cocoa powder          2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour              1 cup milk                             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-recipe yield:  1 ¾ cups sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and unsweetened cocoa powder.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine and stir together the milk, butter and vanilla just until the butter has melted.  Add in the dry ingredients to the milk mixture, constantly whisking.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Remove from stove and transfer to serving cup or gravy-boat to allow to cool.  Refrigerate unused portion.   Leftovers be reheated in a double-boiler or microwave as needed.

For the marshmallow fluff, make a half-batch of my favorite marshmallow frosting recipe.

Assembly:

Once the sheet cake has chilled in the freezer, remove it and peel back the top layer of parchment paper.  Using a large loaf pan as a guide, trace onto the removed parchment paper the shape of the top, bottom, and two longest sides of the loaf pan.  Cut the shapes out of the parchment paper and arrange them on top of the sheet cake.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice the cake in the shapes of each of the parchment paper to (eventually) fit along the inside of the loaf pan.

Line the large loaf pan with two large pieces of parchment paper, allowing the paper to drape outside of the pan, creating “tabs” that can eventually be pulled up to remove the dessert from the pan.  Handling the cake very gingerly, place into the bottom of the lined loaf pan the slice of cake that fits accordingly and gently press it so that it’s lying across the entire bottom of the pan.  Place both long side pieces of cake into the lined loaf pan along the matching sides and gently press.  Pour the semifreddo base into the cake-lined loaf pan and cover the semifreddo with the final slice of cake fitting the very top of the loaf pan.  If the semifreddo doesn’t reach the top of the pan, slice this piece of cake to fit into the pan atop the semifreddo accordingly.  Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and allow assembled dessert to freeze overnight.
To serve, remove the dessert from the freezer and lift the parchment tabs to loosen the dessert from the loaf pan.  Place plate or serving tray on top of loaf pan and flip to invert the dessert onto server.  Peel back the parchment paper.  Cut dessert into slices, drizzle the hot fudge, and spoon a dollop of marshmallow fluff on or next to the dessert or slices.  Serve immediately.

April 20, 2011

Thank Heaven for Little Girls (& Unruly Frosting)

Two days a week I am lucky enough to be a nanny for the prettiest baby girl in the whole world, Talia.  Yes, that is a pretty strong statement and I may be a little biased, but in all honesty, the kid is beyond adorable.  As you happen to be reading the blog and are probably a friend or family member of mine, chances are I’ve probably already shown you at least 5 pictures and/or videos of Talia or gushed to you about her latest “trick” of the day.  At which point you, more than likely, have gently reminded me that I am not, in fact, her mother, contrary to how I proudly speak of and brag about her.

Whitney (Tali’s actual mother, as well as my mentor and cherished friend) has always been a huge supporter of my baking and of the blog.  So, when I prepared some fancy pink champagne-inspired cupcakes for my great friend Claire’s 23rd birthday, I sent a quick picture of the sparkly, girlish cakes to Whitney for her approval.  Whitney fell in love with the idea and the look of the pink champagne cupcakes and thought they’d be the perfect treat to serve at the luncheon following Talia’s upcoming Christening.  I offered to make the cupcakes (along with a few other treats) as a gift to Talia, Whitney and Kevin… the wonderful family who have come to mean so much to me.

I chose to top the pink champagne cakes with my favorite marshmallow frosting, which might seem like a ridiculous choice for such a fancy-flavored cake, but I thought the marshmallow gave the cakes a fun, whimsical feel that seemed perfect to serve at a party for a little girl.  The marshmallow frosting can be a bit sweet, and with the added pink sanding sugars I used to decorate, it was important that I find a mellowing balance with the other flavors.  I cut back the amount of sugar in the pink champagne cakes a touch, and also chose a delicate and slightly tangy mascarpone filling that helped balance the sweetness of the dessert.

Alongside the pink champagne cupcakes, I decided to also serve a spread of special chocolate cupcakes (which are described in more detail in the post below, or here).  And as Kevin is a big fan of my gluten-free chocolate truffles, I decided to make a big batch of those especially for him.  I threw in a couple other surprise batches of some new truffle recipes I’ve formulated and have been working on, including some of my key lime pie truffles for him to try.

This is the point in which I wish I could include a comment about how well everything fell into place the morning of Tal’s Christening.  I wish so badly that I could say something to the effect of, “Yes, I had taken on quite a large project, but being as confident in the kitchen as I am, I knew I could complete each and every one of my desserts flawlessly and in no way was I being overly-ambitious.”  But, in all actuality, the morning of the Christening turned out to be a bit of a crisis, complete with several batches of inedible frosting and a small meltdown on my part.  Long story short, due to the humidity that day, my marshmallow frosting refused to set up correctly and upon making and remaking the icing, I ended up missing Tali’s Christening ceremony.  I was pretty upset about missing it, but the extra time did allow me to figure out the problem and adjust my recipe accordingly, and of course, share my experience here so that others can learn from it!

After correcting the frosting and finishing up, I was able to make it to Whitney and Kevin’s home before everyone else, giving me lots of quiet time to set up  the dessert table.   The table looked lovely, but the best part of my early arrival had nothing to do with how much I’d fussed over the desserts.  The thing that made my missing the ceremony 100% okay was the extra, quiet time it allowed me to spend with the lady-of-the-hour herself, my Tali.  I was able to lend a hand to the busy hosts, Whitney and Kevin, and get sleepy Tal off to rest before greeting her many guests.  And as much as I loved watching everyone enjoy the desserts, nothing beats some cuddle-time with Talia.

Pink Champagne Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mascarpone Filling & Marshmallow Frosting

Inspired by: Pink Champagne

Pink Champagne Cakes

Adapted from Gail Wagman’s “Champagne Cupcakes,” Cupcakes Galore

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

6 egg whites, room temperature

1/3 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups pink champagne, separated

-optional: 3-4 drops red food coloring

–recipe yield: about 24 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tins with cupcakes liners and set aside.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.  In a separate, medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the whisks of an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Add in the vanilla extract, and, if desired, add 3-4 drops of red food coloring.  Keep in mind that the color will be a little lighter after the dry ingredients are added.  Beat well until the color is distributed evenly throughout the butter mixture.

Slowly mix about 1/3 of the sifted flour mixture into the butter mixture until it has combined.  Then, add in about half of the 3/4 cup of champagne and mix until combined.  Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix, and then the remaining half of the 3/4 cup of champagne and mix again until combined.  Add in the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until the mixture is completely combined, being careful not to over-mix.  Over-mixing the batter once the flour has been added can result in dry, dense little cakes.

Gently and in small batches, fold about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter at a time.  Continue to fold until all of the egg whites have been added and are fully incorporated.  Divide the batter between the cupcake tins, filling each cupcake liner about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 16-18 minutes, or until the center of the cupcakes are  springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then remove them and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cakes have cooled, use a toothpick to poke a few tiny holes in each cupcake.  If you’re planning on filling the cupcakes, avoid poking the holes near the very center of the cakes, as you’ll be hollowing out the centers anyway.  Soak a pastry brush or a small, clean paintbrush in the remaining 1/2 cup of pink champagne, and use it to lightly brush the top of each cupcake, coating it with the champagne.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Filling

This recipe can be used as a filling or a frosting.  Preparation should start to the day before assembly.  I love the creaminess and delicate flavor of the mascarpone, but the cheese’s softness makes it difficult to use in frostings.  The white chocolate used here helps to keep the mascarpone thick and also adds delicious sweetness,  which the tangy cream cheese helps to balance out.

12 ounces white chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the white chocolate chips.  As the chocolate is melting, pour into a separate,  small, heavy-bottomed saucepan the heavy cream and the 1/2 cup of cream cheese.  Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and, constantly whisking, allow the cream cheese to break apart and melt into the heavy cream, being careful to keep it moving and not allow the milk or cheese to curdle.

Once the cream is smooth and hot, add a small amount into the melted chocolate and stir.  If the chocolate beings to seize, the cream is not hot enough.  Return the cream back to the hot stove top, turn the burner on low and don’t panic!  Use an electric mixer to try and smooth out the seized chocolate mixture.  Once the chocolate is as smooth as you can get it and the temperature of the cream mixture is brought up, slowly add small amounts of cream to the chocolate and continue to beat until it has all been added and is beaten into a homogeneous mixture.  Allow the smooth mixture to cool slightly before covering it and refrigerating it overnight.

Once the chocolate-cream cheese mixture has chilled and hardened somewhat, take it out of the fridge and let it sit out and come to room temperature.  Once it has softened slightly, add in the mascarpone and beat the mixture until combined, homogeneous and fluffy.  When ready to be piped, transfer the filling to a pastry or plastic zip-lock bag.

Marshmallow Frosting

This recipe is comparable to an Italian Meringue or a ‘Seven Minute Icing’ and is whipped up over the stove.  Sugary delicious and beautifully whimsical, it’s my all-time favorite kind of frosting.  It should be prepared and served in the same day, as over time it’s texture can become granular and unpleasant.

2 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons water*

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

–recipe yield: about 3 cups

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a large glass bowl.  Combine the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, water, and cream of tartar in the large bowl.  Beat the mixture on high speed over the simmering water until the mixture is thick, fluffy and marshmallow-y, about 7 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla extract, and transfer to a pastry bag to be piped.

* This frosting is temperamental in humidity and won’t stiffen up if there is a lot of moisture in the air.  As mentioned earlier, I had to make numerous batches before I found out that that’s what the problem was.  In this event, just reduce the amount of water in the sugar syrup.  In my hysterics, I even added a pinch of cornstarch as a precaution.

Optional Ingredients for Decorating:  colored sugars, jimmies, sprinkles, candy pearls, etc.

Assembly:

Using a round apple corer or a small paring knife, hollow out the centers of each cupcake.  Snip off the tip or a corner of the pastry or zip lock bag filled with the mascarpone filling and prepare to fill the cakes.  To do this, insert the tip of the bag into the hollowed cake and squeeze a small amount of the filling into the cake, just until it plumps and the filling barely reaches the top of the cake.  Continue to fill each cake, and when all cakes have been filled, replace the very tops of the inside “guts” that have been taken out of the cakes.  I prefer to tear off the bottom half of the “guts” before plugging each of the cupcake holes with only the top piece.

To frost and decorate the cakes, I used a few different techniques so that they all looked a little different.  I used a spatula to spread a small amount of the marshmallow frosting into a thin, even layer on a few of the cakes, and then dipped the cakes in colored sugar or sprinkles.  I then used a large star tip in a pastry bag filled with the marshmallow frosting to pipe a small rosette into the center of those cakes.  Large rosettes can be used to cover entire cupcakes, and round tips can be used to pipe little ‘blobs’ atop the cakes.  Decorate however you please with sprinkles, pearls, and sugars.

April 8, 2011

Marshmallows & Memories

While students at Michigan State (Go Green!), my roommates, Molly and Ashley, and I developed and embraced a love for everything marshmallow.  Late night marshmallow latte runs were a regular occurrence, bowls of homemade Rice Krispie Treats were shared during movie nights, and birthday cakes were almost always topped with marshmallow frosting.  Molly and I found a bag of marshmallows to be a perfectly suitable substitute for meals, partially because we were broke college students and partially because they are delicious. And it was not uncommon for Ashley and I to cuddle up to a jar of Marshmallow fluff and a couple spoons to start off a Saturday morning.  How the three of us survived four years together without so much as a cavity, I’ll never know.

Now, with Ashley headed to Arizona, Molly in Chicago and me here in DC, celebrations with all three of us sharing birthday cakes with marshmallow frosting will be harder and harder to come by.  Molly and Ashley’s birthdays are a month apart, and I wanted to send them both a little something that they’d love and that would help trigger a few of our fun memories together.  Homemade marshmallows were an obvious choice.  And despite Evan’s comments regarding their appearance, including a comparison to tofu, I think they turned out beautifully.

Homemade Vanilla & Coconut Marshmallows

Inspired by: Marshmallows

-adapted, just a touch, from Dinah Bucholz’s “Marshmallows,”  The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar                    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup cornstarch                                   1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract*

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin             -optional: toasted coconut**

1 cup ice cold water, divided

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

-special tools:  candy thermometer,  a good-quality electric mixer or stand mixer (preferred)***

Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and coat the parchment with cooking spray.  I used butter-flavored cooking spray, which seemed to really add to the melt-in-your-mouth flavor of the mallows.

In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch.  Sprinkle the mixture onto the lined, greased pan and shake around until bottom and all sides of pan are completely covered with the mixture.  This is important, as the marshmallow will be next to impossible to remove without a well-powdered pan.  Return the remaining cornstarch mixture to the bowl for later use.  If desired, sprinkle the toasted coconut in an even layer on the pan or on a portion of the pan (I did half with and half without).  Set prepared pans aside.

Empty the gelatin into a large mixing bowl along with ½ cup of the water.  Have the whisk attachment of the stand mixer or an electric mixer standing by.  In a small saucepan, whisk together the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium-high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees.  For an accurate reading, the thermometer should be well-submerged in the liquid, but not touching the bottom of the saucepan. My mixture hit 240 after about 7 or 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping and let it incorporate.  

At that point, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.  Do your best to pour it evenly onto the pan.  I found that the more I tried to spread it or messed with it, the less smooth and whimsical it looked.  Using a flour sifter, dust the top with enough of the remaining cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallow to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board and peel back and discard the parchment paper.  Using a pizza wheel dusted with the cornstarch mixture, cut the marshmallows into squares.  Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

*I’m not normally a stickler for the fanciest, most expensive ingredients, but I would suggest using a higher quality, pure vanilla extract for this recipe.  Upon researching candy-makers’ experiences with marshmallow, it seemed to be the trend that if poor quality or too little vanilla was used, the marshmallows had a funny gelatin taste.  For this reason, I bumped up the vanilla from the suggested tablespoon, to a tablespoon and a half and was happy with the result.
**To toast coconut, sprinkle desired amount of shredded or flaked sweetened coconut in a thin layer onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil.  Place in a 300 degree oven for about 13-15 minutes, tossing the coconut and checking on it every 4-5 minutes, as it browns fairly quickly.  When finished, it should be fragrant, lightly crisp and a pale, golden color.
***Another common trend that I found upon researching the horror stories of mallow-making was the misconception that an electric mixer that “has seen better days” would suffice for this project.  It seems that many an aspiring marshmallow-maker were left with a burnt-out electric mixer halfway through whipping and, sadly, never got to complete the process or enjoy the finished product. –Now, I must admit, I have an unjustified attitude problem when it comes to stand mixers (I have this crazy idea that using one takes away from all the fun).  So far, in my years of baking, I’ve refused to touch one.  I know that one day, probably not too far from now, I’ll cave and buy one and probably fall in love with it, but for now, I put my faith in my high-powered handheld mixer.  Long story short, make sure that your mixer is up for the task!  Luckily, mine ended up to be a “Little Mixer That Could.” -Special thanks to Kim Botsford, who supplied me with that electric mixer just over a year ago : )