Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Candylicious!

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

This month's daring challenge was a challenge in a number of ways.

1) make 2 candies
2) I felt I ought to make 2 candies I hadn't made before so I didn't go for fudge or truffles
3) temper the chocolate
4) make creative fillings
5) remove lovely filled chocolate from a mold

As it turned out, I had loads of ideas for creative fillings and finally settled on 1) chocolate dipped caramel apple pie: caramel ganache with cinnamon brown sugar coated diced apples   2) berries and cream : diced blueberries and strawberries mixed into sweetened cream cheese filling. I also made some "plain" ones with just the caramel ganache.

Also, it turned out that tempering chocolate wasn't all that tough but OY was it messy (for me anyway)!

My fillings turned out to be somewhat firm (so no running out of the chocolate) but not stiff enough to be rolled in a ball and dipped so that led to making a filled chocolate (bonbon). Yay for attempting something previously untried.

The toughest part of this challenge (for me) was getting the chocolates out of the "mold" without shattering them. Ugh what a delicious (but ugly) mess. I finally got some to come out by lining my "mold" (a silicone mini muffin pan) with parchment paper. The candies didn't have the same sheen as they got from setting against the silicone but they were at least not shattered.

Left: Caramel Apple Bon Bon, Right: Berries and Cream Bon Bon

While I could write up the whole post from the Daring Kitchen, its much simpler to direct you to the .pdf with all their lovely candies.

Choose for yourself what diabolical tastiness you'd like to attempt. 

If you want, you're welcome to try the fillings I made:

Caramel Ganache

1/2 recipe of caramel sauce
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar

First prepare caramel sauce. (See below.) Then whip cream to soft peaks. Add sugar, one Tbsp at a time while you continue whipping to form stiffer peaks. After caramel has had 5 minutes to cool, add whipped cream 1/4 c. at a time and fold into the caramel sauce. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. I refrigerated overnight.

Caramel Sauce (1/2 recipe)

1/4 c. unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1.5 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar (yes I know this makes it technically a butterscotch but most ppl don't know the difference and cringe when they hear butterscotch b/c of the gross store version)
1/4 c. water

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in flour to make a paste. Add brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Be careful if you go over  5 minutes. This sauce will harden into a brick of sugar when cooled if overcooked. NEVER FEAR! Should you overcook (but not burn) the sauce, add it back into the sauce pot with 1/4 c. of water. Using medium heat, the "sugar brick" will dissolve in the water and form a lovely sauce again. Remember to stir. 

Caramel Apple Pie Chocolate

1 apple
1 recipe of above caramel ganache, chilled
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of brown sugar
tempered chocolate, molten

Peel and dice the apple. Stir in cinnamon and brown sugar. Let sit 3-5 minutes for flavors to mingle. Stir in part of the caramel ganache to reach desired apple to caramel ratio. I used maybe 1/3 of the caramel ganache. Its tough to make less than the above recipe though. Pace yourself when devouring the remaining caramel ganache.

Paint the mold with tempered chocolate. Place in fridge to chill for 5-10 minutes. When firm, add filling (~1/2 tsp. in my case) and cover with tempered chocolate. Place back in fridge to chill for 5-10 minutes. Share with friends or use it to make new ones. ;)

Berries and Cream Filling

1/3 c. strawberries
1/3 c. blueberries
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Dice blueberries and stawberries and cover with sugar. Stir sugar around to distribute. Beat cream cheese until soft and fluffly. Add sweetened fruit and vanilla. Stir well and refrigerate at least 2 hours. I made this a day in advance. 

As with the previous caramel apple pie bon bon, I painted chocolate onto the mold, chilled, filled, painted chocolate again, and chilled again to set them up before serving.


I liked all three. My favorite was the berries and cream. Mmm, I can eat the filling straight from the bowl. Yum.

Rebecca and Becky both preferred the Caramel Apple Pie Bon Bon but like the others.

Mike preferred the Caramel (even though he typically dislikes both caramel and butterscotch) but liked all three. He rated Berries and Cream in second. 

I also liked finally getting the chocolates to not crack when removing from the mold when using parchment paper as a liner. Future preparations will result in me acquiring a mold intended for preparing chocolates. 

Thanks for a great challenge!

What's your favorite chocolate filling?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Double Take: Rosemary Onion Bread

Recently, I told you all about my plant, Miss Rosemary. She’s a major kitchen contributor and I try to find new ways to use her more in cooking. Today’s recipe is an example of that. It’s also an example of merging ideas. For one of the Daring Baking Challenges this spring, we made filled yeasted coffee cakes. Before I cause confusion, this isn’t a coffee cake but it has the same filled swirl technique that we used for the coffee cake. 

This is a light, soft bread with a savory filling. If you’re a light lover of rosemary, take it down to ½ to 1 tsp rather than Tbsp. This would be easy to mix and match herbs to serve in a sheet form for garlic bread to serve with salad. It’s a pretty flexible bread. Be cautious with the amounts of herbs depending on how you want to use it. 1 Tbsp of rosemary packs a huge amount of flavor.

Slice of Rosemary-Caramlized Onion Bread

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Double Take: Mandu (Korean Dumplings)

Doooooo Doo DooDoo Do Doo Dooo Dooooooo. (It’s tough to type the sound starting the CBS evening news.)

Good evening (its evening somewhere) and welcome to the 6 o’clock news. Last week we brought you a taste of Korea with Korean Fried Chicken. Today, the story continues with Korean dumplings.

What are dumplings, you ask? Well, they’re not your Southern style dumplings folks! (Although those are completely unbeatable, this is the continued Korean story.) These dumplings are along the line of Chinese/Japanese potstickers, Eastern European pierogies, and could be considered a cousin to tortellini. What do all these have in common? They’re dough with a filling inside that is boiled and eaten. All are typically dipped in or served with a sauce.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Double Take: Korean Fried Chicken

Everybody needs a little KFC! Oh wait, this is KOREAN fried chicken, not Kentucky Fried. No matter, the jingle still applies.

If you're like me, you might balk a little when someone mentions Korean food. Why is that? Why do I think mmmm Japanese food, mmmm Thai food, ...Korean food ...ehhhh?!

If I think back, there was certainly a time when I would've hesitated at Japanese food. Five years ago, I tried Thai food and wasn't sure I could be talked into trying it again. Sometimes its about finding something you like within a cuisine. I'm not interested in Japanese food with mushrooms (which make me a very sick girl...stop me if I think that a small amount won't hurt.) I'm also not interested in Pad Thai. I love spicy noodles though and Thai curries are great! I'm glad Mel got me to try Thai a second time. ...and helped me find some things I really like.

Anywho, Korean food. I kept seeing Korean Fried Chicken pop up on blogs. Multiple recipes of people going on about how awesome it was. I figured, hey its fried chicken..surely this many people can't be wrong. If you're concerned about picky eaters and this dish, let me assure you that its really fried chicken that you roll in a sauce. The sauce is tasty and can easily be tailored for the I'm-not-into-spicy-food-AT-ALL- people. My friend Becky isn't into spicy food so we were especially careful with the spicy heat. She loved this though. If you're dealing with I'm-not-eating-Korean-NAH-NAH-you-can't-make-me....serve them the fried chicken without the sauce. Problem solved.

Korean Fried Chicken (Fried Chicken with Korean BBQ Sauce)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Double Take: Summer Vegetable Gratin

Today, I realized that my last post (Risotto Primavera) was the 100th post on my blog. That seems rather momentous to me. If I glance back at the past 100 posts, I see a lot of double takes posts, a smattering of some of the cooking nights I've hosted, and several daring challenges. I also see that my writing and photography skills have changed (for the better, I think). Looking forward, I hope to get you all updated with all the crazy cooking nights we've done. Further, I'd like to start giving you more of a taste of the sweet treats I make for people's birthdays. I'll also be adding a recipe index soon and I have a new food interest that I can hopefully start sharing in the next few months. I'll let it be a surprise but the only hint I have is that it takes more time than a standard recipe takes to produce. It promises to be really fun.

Is there anything special you'd like to see getting posted here? Is there anything that is a missing feature on the blog page that drives you crazy? Let me know! This is a work in progress.

Today's recipe is a shout out to all those summer vegetables you've been gathering from your garden, local farmer's market, neighbor who can't handle anymore, or grocery. I know, everyone didn't grow up eating loads of vegetables. I'm always impressed with all the veggies that Laura @ Hey what's for dinner mom? is able to get her kids to not only eat but also enjoy! Sometimes in the daily and weekly routine, its easy to fall into a steam it and get tired of it rut with vegetables. While this is healthy, it can get dull. I don't know about you but if I get bored of food, I have trouble making myself eat it. One way to break up the rut is by combining vegetables together to compliment one another. That's exactly what the summer vegetable gratin does. It combines complimenting vegetables (in a combination that comes as somewhat of a surprise) with common spices and CHEESE!

Summer Vegetable Gratin

Say Cheese! See its got you smiling already! :)