Friday, May 31, 2013

complicated chocolate peanut butter cake

Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet – Peanut Butter and Chocolate all Decked Out

February 1, 2011 at 1:22 am | Posted in CakesDaring BakersDessertPuddings | 114 Comments

“You’re going to love the January Daring Bakers Challenge”.  That’s what Lis, the co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, said to me one day last December.  I was tied up in cassoulet, confit and a computer crash at the time, so the thought of baking anything was a welcome diversion, especially something I would love.  I’m very late in posting this – 4 days to be exact.  The freezer makes a great pause button.
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.
On reveal day, I think I squealed.  An entremet!   Plus, an entremet with a joconde (a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets – formed in a ring mold,  Add a ‘La’ and joconde is the French name for the Mona Lisa – did she sponge off of people?  Bah Dum Bump) and decor pattern paste!  Ok, let’s go back a little further.  Once a year (I think), the Food Network televises the World Pastry Championship.  I watch in awe as tall toque topped teams of pastry chefs from many different countries compete to hold this honor… from the individual chocolates (bonbons and pralines) and plated desserts, to the sugar sculptures and chocolate showpieces, it’s all pretty amazing, but there’s one round that always holds my attention completely – the entremet.
A compilation of two of the three joconde imprimes I made.  Obviously, number three (bottom left) was the only one salvageable.
These pretty cakes of mousse, creams, genoise’s, feuilletines, dacqouise’s et al, are stunning works of art.  The flavors and fillings are always above and beyond your typical creative juices and they really are legitimate pieces of art!  The chefs, with their industrial strength, electric spray guns, (LOVE when pastry chefs find uses for the stuff you find at Home Depot or your local hardware store.  Joe with the dirt under his nails and half arm tan standing behind Pierre in his Burberry jacket with buffed nails, both purchasing a blowtorch), blasting bombes of mousse with chocolate and cocoa butter, while another pulls sugar into perfect, delicate flowers, gently placing them atop the shiniest caramel mirror you’ll ever see.  This is heaven to me.
Salted Peanut Dacquoise
Now, could I make an entremet that comes even a little, itty bit close to those?  Probably not, as my kitchen isn’t equipped with any electric spray guns, and I’m not equipped with those kinds of skills, but, I do have acetate, and chocolate transfer sheets!  It’s like playing grown-up when you’re a child – I was going to the land of make-believe to take on the role of a French pastry chef.  Oui Oui!
Naturally, as you’ve all come to expect on this blog, a few things went wrong before I could start building my entremet.  THE SQUIRRELS ATE MY JOCONDE PASTE RIGHT OFF THE DANG SILPAT.  Let me explain.  My freezer simply wasn’t freezing the design laden paste as hard as I felt it needed to be, so..since we’ve been hammered with snow and freezing weather the past 2 weeks, I decided to cover the baking sheet with the paste and my hard fought scraped out designs, and plant it on the snow outside.  Since when do squirrels like chocolate, seriously?  An hour later I go to get it and squirrels scatter, the top baking sheet covering pushed over, and only a minuscule corner of chocolate paste swirl left.  There were some chocolate, squirrel paw prints across the silpat..OK I though about it for a second, but only a second!
I really, really, really – REALLY wish I had  designed my joconde to match the chocolate transfer design on the hearts.  Simple scribbles with the wooden spoon handle, and the shoes would have matched the purse.
I didn’t freak, since I had plenty of paste left over for another try.  Again, I carefully scraped out a few designs on it, getting creative using biscuit cutters, a potato masher etc. I noticed everything was frozen solid on the second shelf of my freezer, so I moved everything and jammed the baking sheet in (yep, jammed, when a baking sheet doesn’t fit, so you find a way) and went on to make the sponge.  No snafu’s, no caveats, no problem!  I spread the sponge on top of the paste and into the oven it went.  Everyone said the baking time in the recipe that was provided to us by our host, was wayyy too long, as in crispy joconde too long, as in…divide baking time in half too long.  I obsessed and only baked it 6 minutes, not wanting to inch close to burnt spots - this sponge is all about the aesthetics. right!  The damn sponge tore when I gently pulled the silpat off.  SHEEET!
I had just enough paste left to make one more, but I had to make the sponge again. I was NOT spending time on intricate designs again – so, Lisa meet wooden spoon handle, wooden spoon handle, meet Lisa.  Squiggle, squaggle, sqwawggle.  Good enough.  If this one doesn’t work, I might actually give up on one of my most favorite challenges ever.  It tore a little (I’ve come to the conclusion that I need new silpats, they’ve been used to the point of silicone revolt and retreat), but I had enough to line the mold.  I had to piece together more than one strip, but it wasn’t too bad.  Not my original vision, but, hey, it’s amazing how quickly that changes when you have squirrels with refined palates.
Now that I’ve taken up almost a whole page with squirrel sabotage and other disasters, on to the good stuff.  My original vision for my entremet was ‘exotic’ fruit, sort of leaning toward tropical.  In fact, I even made some of the components for that first vision, but a peanut butter- milk chocolate theme struck like lightning and I couldn’t let it go.  I kept recalling this amazing peanut butter and milk chocolate mousse parfait created by The Dessert Truck in NYC.  Let’s just say, if you’re a fan of peanut butter, this is one of those desserts that haunt your senses forever once you’ve tried it.  Initially, I was going to add a fruit gelee insert and/or topping to add a peanut butter and jelly aspect to it, but then decided peanut butter and chocolate PLUS fruit gelee would sort of distract the palate from sinful and rich.  I was feeling the contrast in texture, but not so much in flavor.  I wanted pure peanut butter – chocolate goodness.  A chocolate gelee mirror was my last minute, final decision, after mulling for days and days over fruit or caramel (remember when Greg Brady didn’t choose Marsha or his GF for head cheerleader?).  Below are the components of my chocolate peanut butter entremet.
  • Biscuit Joconde
  • Milk Chocolate Ganache
  • Salted Peanut Dacquoise
  • Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Feuilletine
  • Milk Chocolate Cremeux
  • Cocoa Genoise
  • Peanut Butter Mousse
  • Cocoa Glace (A nice, shiny chocolate ganache is great too.  Equal parts chopped chocolate and heavy cream, with a touch of light corn syrup.)
I was all over the place as far as the amount of ingredients for each component goes.  I used base recipes, changed them around, and hoped it was the perfect amount without any leftovers.   However, the genoise and chocolate cremeux (set with gelatin, which is not usually the norm, but it needed to be to carry the weight of the other components.  Didn’t affect the texture in a negative way) leave some leftovers, but is that really a bad thing?  Cocoa genoise - chocolate cremeux parfaits!  Also, the peanut butter mousse is a little different in that the heavy cream is not whipped and folded in.  However, it’s so light and creamy, you would never know it.  As rich as this entremet sounds, it’s actually quite light and not too sweet.  Wait, how could I forget the finale?
Asbestos handmade caramelized sugar corkscrews, ground salted peanut brittle (Equal parts sugar and water..cooked to a light caramel.  Stir in ground salted peanuts and cook until deep amber.  Spread on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and cut before it sets completely, or break apart when set), and tempered chocolate, which I poured and spread on a transfer sheet of gold scribbles, then cut out hearts, hearts because this baby was made with L-O-V-E .  A dusting of cocoa, and voila, my first, complete entremet.
By the way, below – can you tell which are the challenge recipes and which are not?  I’m metrically stunted – conversions make me cringe.
Milk Chocolate - Peanut Butter Entremet with Joconde Imprime
Makes one 8 – inch round entremet, joconde makes more

*Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted
*Note: How to make cake flour:
*Cut out a 6 to 7 – inch circle of extra joconde, to use as a base to this entremet.  Set aside, covered, or refrigerate, until ready to use.
Patterned Joconde-Decor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid
COCOA D├ęcor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.
Milk Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salted Peanut Dacquoise
- recipe by Nancy Olson via Food & Wine
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Feuilletine
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped
*1 cup paillete feuilletine (OR rice krispies, or corn flakes, or crushed sugar cones) Although I suggested cornflakes as an acceptable substitute for paillette feuilletine, to me the taste and texture are quite different (they’re crushed french lace crepes called gavottes and are sweet with a caramel tone).  I purchased mine online, HERE.
Milk Chocolate Cremeux 
1 1/2 teaspons powdered gelatin or two leaves gelatin
2 Tablspoons water
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup good quality milk chocolate, chopped and melted
Cocoa Genoise 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cocoa simple syrup (1/2 cup each sugar and water cooked until sugar is dissolved, 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder added or 1T liqueur of your choice)
Peanut Butter Mousse
inspired by the NYC Dessert Truck dudes

2 teaspoons powdered gelatin or about 2 1/2 leaves gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
5 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup salted smooth peanut butter
Cocoa Glace- courtesy of Daring Bakers, from the Yule Log challenge, Dec ’09
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin or 2 leaves gelatin
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2.Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3.On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4.Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5.Fold in melted butter.
6.Reserve batter to be used later.
1.Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2.Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3.Fold in sifted flour.
4.Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Place the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. In a saucepan, heat cream over medium high heat until it just starts to boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes, then stir until uniform. Let sit until it reaches a soft, spreadable consistency.
Trace a 7-inch circle onto a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on a baking sheet. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until they’re finely ground. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture. Spread the meringue on the parchment to fill the circle. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Turn oven off, prop the door open with a wooden spoon, and let dry in the oven for about an hour or two.
In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the peanut butter with the butter and milk chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and fold in pailette feuilletine. Spread the mixture on top of the salted peanut dacquoise. Transfer to the freezer and let cool completely.
Bring the milk and the heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and sugar; temper the yolks into the warm milk-cream mixture. Cook the custard, whisking constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon and registers 182 degrees on a thermometer. Add the melted chocolate and mix with an immersion blender. Stir in the melted gelatin and let cool until it thickens somewhat.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Place a heatproof mixing bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly, until the mixture is lukewarm. Remove the bowl from the simmering water, and whip until cool. Fold in the dry ingredients, and then fold in the melted butter. Pour the batter onto a Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 6 minutes, or until done. Cut out one 6 to 7-inch round.  Save the rest for other preparations, or just snack on it.
1. In a bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the water and let stand for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, cook the cream over moderately high heat until it bubbles around the edge. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the egg yolks. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter. Melt the gelatin for 15 seconds in the microwave, then stir into peanut butter mousse base.  Let sit, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly.
Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.  Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.  Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.  Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.
NOTE – This sets very quickly, so make it as soon as you remove the entremet from freezer for the last time.
1. Line an 8-inch cake ring or springform pan with acetate or parchment paper – make sure it’s at least 2-inches in height above the edge of cake ring – the peanut butter mousse will spill over, if not.  Line with strip of biscuit joconde, cut about 1-inch shorter in height than the top of the cake ring.
2.Place the circle of joconde biscuit at the bottom of the cake ring.  Spread or pipe with all the ganache then press the dacquoise - feuilletine disk on top of it. Pour partially set chcolate cremeux on top then freeze for about an hour.
3.  Remove entremet from freezer.  Brush both sides of the cocoa genoise with cocoa simple syrup then press on top of the chocolate cremeux.  Pour thickened peanut butter mousse on top of genoise. Freeze for another hour or two.
4.  Remove from freezer and pour cocoa gelee, slowly, over the top.  Let set, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
By the way, just found out the Peanut Butter Exhibition is up and running again, so I couldn’t resist, and entered this emtremet. Be sure to check it out and join up! Click the badge below to read about it and enter.
This was definitely a challenge, but so enjoyable and well worth the awe appeal, taste and layers of texture.  Surprise friends and/or family with one of these beauties at your next holiday, birthday celebration, or dinner party!  To see some of the most gorgeous entremets created by my fellow Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.  Au Revoir, until next time!

Monday, January 14, 2013

YUMM! Buttermilk Fantails - Rich pull-apart rolls made with honey and buttermilk


1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup warm water (105–115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk


First, butter muffin cups with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Stir together the yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast). I’ve made these twice. The first time, the yeast took forever to foam and I thought I’d have to start over, but I let it sit for a full 10 minutes and it foamed up. The second time it happened much quicker. Just be patient!

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 tablespoons of melted butter into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting the surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes.

I found the best way to knead this dough was to slap it down on the surface, pull it towards me, fold it back into itself, flip it over, and do the same for a solid 6 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball, then place it in a clean, well oiled bowl. Turn the ball over to coat well, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a cloth towel. Place in a warm spot, like the corner of your kitchen, and allow to rise until doubled in size about 1.5 to 2 hours.

When you’re ready, punch the dough down (do not knead it), then halve it. Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick; keep the remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Brush the dough with 1/2 tablespoon of butter (you may be tempted to use more – do not do this or the rolls will not stick together) and cut into 6 or 7 equal strips.

Stack the strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 or 7 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate the outer layers of each roll to fan outward, then cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled and the dough fills cups, about 1 to 1.5 hours.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush the tops with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with some sea salt, if you like, then transfer to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

These will keep well in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or you can freeze them after they’ve cooled, store in an airtight container or bag, and warm back up in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so when you’re ready to serve.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicken Stew

6 cups water with 6 cubes chicken boulion cubes or 6 cups chicken stock
2 cups carrots
Simmer on Med heat until carrots are tender about an hour

Meanwhile cook 2 large skinless chicken breasts 6 more cups water until thoroughly cooked, scrap of fat out of water and add that water to carrot mixture.

cut up 4 celery stocks
6 Med potatoes
and add to water.

shred our cube chicken and add to water, you can also add any frozen vegetables at this time, I like corn. About 2 cups frozen vegetables

Add spices:
crushed bay leaves 1 tsp
herbs province 1/2 tsp
1 tsp pepper

Allow all these to cook at least 40 min until potatoes are tender

If you wanted to make things easier just add all these to the crockpot in the morning and let cook all day on low. i would precook the chicken though, so you don't get the boiled chicken gunk in your soup.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cake mix doughnuts

2 c. warm water
1 tbsp. yeast
1 box white cake mix
4 c. flour
Dissolve yeast in water. Add cake mix and flour. Dough will be soft. Mix well. Let rise about 1 hour. Roll out on floured counter. Cut. Let rise 30- 45 minutes. Fry in vegetable oil.
Glaze while warm with: 1/2 c. hot water 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups powdered sugar

Monday, August 27, 2012



Baking in the summer we like to use lemons, limes, adding citrus to a recipe can cool down a warm summer night.  While not being a citrus the leader of freshness for me is the coconut.
Having a coconut craving the other night I found this recipe and decided to give it a whirl.  Fantastic is all I have to say.. I thank Baked Perfection for the recipe.
Nothing Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
recipe by Baked Perfection
makes 15 cupcakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cups sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk (full fat)
1 cup shredded coconut
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and egg white, one at a time. Add the vanilla and almond extract; mix well. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with coconut milk (batter will be thick). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Coconut Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups powdered sugar
generous pinch of salt
4 tablespoons coconut milk
pinch of salt
Beat butter, vanilla, and almond extract until creamy. Add salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, alternating with coconut milk, beating until combined.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cafe Rio

Cafe Rio Burritos

6-10 lb Pork or chicken
1 8oz yellow Elpato Sauce
1 8oz Green Elpato Sauce
3-4 small cans tomato sauce
3/4 clove garlic
1 1/2 cup brown sugar

Cook in crockpot for at least 4 hrs. The longer it cooks the better it tastes. Shred meat and put back in crockpot until ready to serve.

1 bunch cilantro
Tbl salsa
2 cloves garlic
juice from 1 lime
1 bottle of buttermilk ranch

Dice cilantro, (I don't use all of it, we don't like that much that cilantro) and garlic. Mix the cilantro and garlic in bowl with buttermilk ranch, lime juice and salsa. Stir. Put in serving dish or some of mixture back in the bottle.

3 cups rice cooked in 6 cups chicken broth instead of water, with 3Tbl of lime juice.

Prepare above ingredients. Serve with tortillas shells, black beans, cheese and whatever you like on your burrito!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

The first time I had this, my grandma made it for me and my sister. I have been in love with it ever since. If my husband liked caramel popcorn more, I would make it all the time! Good thing he doesn't or I would weigh a few extra pounds too!

Here is the Recipe. I have doubled it before, and it works out well.

Microwave Caramel Popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup Karol syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda

3 quarts popped popcorn
 brown paper bag (not necessary I have used a microwave safe bowl and it works great)

Pop 3 quarts popcorn and place in brown paper bag. Mix sugar, butter, salt, and Karol syrup  in 2qt bowl. Microwave 3 to 4 min stirring every min until boiling. Depending on you microwave the time varies on getting it to boil. Boil for 2 min, then add soda and stir. The soda will react with the mixture and bubble and rise.

Pour mixture over popcorn in brown paper bag. Fold bag over and shake well. Microwave for 3 min more. Remove from microwave and shake well again. If you like your popcorn a little sticky, you can stop here. If you want it less sticky. Place popcorn in microwave again and microwave for 2 min more. Allow to slightly cool before serving. Enjoy!

I have not had a paper bag before and I just use a bowl and place in in the microwave. Stir the caramel mixture around with the popcorn and that works great too.