July Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Swiss swirl ice cream cake!

What is a Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake? It is chocolate cake that has whipped cream rolled up inside it (this is where the swirl part comes from) layered on top (though built upside-down!) of ice cream! The challenge included making the cake, whipped cream, ice cream and fudge sauce all from scratch!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

First of all, many of the recipes in this challenge call for caster sugar, which, according to the DB website, “Caster sugar is finely ground granulated sugar. It can also be found as “superfine sugar”, “fruit sugar” or “quick dissolving sugar”. If you can’t find it, you can make your own by whizzing some regular granulated sugar in the food processor or blender.”

I, of course,  could not find anywhere that sold caster sugar, so I made my own from granulated sugar. I would like to see exactly what caster sugar looks like compared to regular sugar.

Anyway, the cake was pretty easy to make, though I had some trouble removing the parchment paper from the back of it, so I had to do some patchwork, but it all worked out in the end.

The sugar that is used for the whipped cream and the vanilla ice cream (which is really just frozen whipped cream) is vanilla sugar, which (as said in the instructions) is ground sugar and vanilla pod pieces. You can make vanilla sugar anytime by adding scraped vanilla pods (leftover from other recipes) in with granulated sugar. Then you can use that instead of  granulated sugar and vanilla extract in any recipe such as cookies or cake.

I made a half recipe of everything, since I know that I’ll probably be the one eating it all! So, I used half the whipped cream for the filling in the cake and froze the rest for the vanilla ice cream part. It worked out perfectly.

The chocolate ice cream was simple but took much longer to freeze than the vanilla. I think if I make it again, I’ll try whipping it up a bit and then putting it in the freezer since the vanilla was whipped first and then frozen and still worked. It was interesting to make an egg-less ice cream and one that can just be put in the freezer and just stirred every so often rather than using an ice cream machine or some other way of spinning the base. It is a good thing to know in case I ever find myself in need of egg-less ice cream again!

The chocolate fudge sauce that goes in between the ice cream layers (this is not a dessert for someone on a diet!) was also easy to make. Just put all ingredients in the pot and whisk/cook until thick and bubbly.

Altogether, this was a pretty simple challenge, but you really have to be patient and allow for cooling, chilling, and freezing time of all of the components/layers. Since I tasted all of the components individually as I went along, I am sure that it will all be worth it when it is all frozen together! (after 24 hours…) I just tried all of the components frozen together, and they are good. I ended up with more vanilla ice cream than chocolate, but since the cake is chocolate, it ended up being a good balance. Continue reading

June Daring Bakers’ Challenge

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This was one delicious, chocolate-y challenge. I think the hardest part was not eating all of it in one sitting.

This is a three-part dessert, but all parts are really simple to make. It’s chocolate meringues, chocolate mascarpone mousse, and mascarpone cream anglaise sauce.

I did not find mascarpone cheese in either Lucky or Safeway, so I bought cream cheese, sour cream, and (extra) heavy cream to “make” my own mascarpone cheese, as I did not feel like making mascarpone cheese the way we did a few months back.

Anyway, I think because of my impatience (not letting the cream cheese soften), there were some parts of the mousse that had pockets of cheese, but it still tasted good and made me just as fat.

I had some cream anglaise sauce and mousse left over because I did not make many meringues, so I did a little experimenting, and mixed the two together and froze them in my springform pan. My plan was to have a no-crust cheesecake, but what I ended up with was an un-mold-able cross between chocolate ice cream and frozen chocolate mascarpone mousse. I think some people might call this a semi-freddo, but I am not sure that is the proper name for it. Anyway, it is a mighty, tasty concoction.

Follow the jump for the recipes and pictures.

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Cream cheese brownies, or, using my mixer for the first time…

It has been so long since I:

a) baked something at home just for fun, not for a cause, or for the Daring Bakers (and therefore a while since I posted something other than that)

b) used a Kitchen Aid mixer at home

not that I don’t like baking for a cause or for the Daring Bakers, I definitely do, but I really like no pressure, just baking for fun baking. The real stress-free baking that I’ve always loved.

Also, not that I didn’t love using the hand mixer “given” to me by my grandmother, but I also love using a Kitchen Aid mixer. Or, any stand mixer for that matter. They are just so much faster, much easier, more convenient to use. I am happy to say that this particular mixer is also a hand-me-down, this time from my mother. She wasn’t using it, so she sent it (after months of reluctance). It came, of course, with three attachments, a whip, a paddle, and a dough hook. Unfortunately, the whip and the paddle got lost in the mail. Luckily, my mother was able to get a check to cover the cost of the new whip and paddle that I just received, hence being even more thrilled to use them!

This is an easy recipe and one that I got from another (AWESOME) blog, Use Real Butter. I have liked this blog for a while now, and had been looking for a recipe that would help me use my leftovers from the last Daring Bakers challenge (to be posted soon).

Overall, it was a perfect recipe to bake for fun, and to make using not only the paddle, but the whip of the Kitchen Aid mixer that is now mine. (Thanks, Mom!)

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May Daring Bakers Challenge: Cream Puffs

As you may have noticed, I missed the April DB Challenge for many reasons: busy, not finding the ingredients, not having the right equipment.

This month, I was able to make (or attempt to) cream puffs needed to build the real challenge: “The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.”
I’ve made all of the components before, thanks to culinary school. I’ve even made all of the components for various jobs I’ve had either before or after culinary school. I know how to make pate a choux (the batter for the puffs). I know how to make pastry cream. I know how to make caramel. I know how to make chocolate glaze (which in this case was just melted chocolate).

So, I decided that I would make these special. I used some vanilla beans I bought a while back for the pastry cream. I used chocolate from TCHO chocolate, made right here in San Francisco.

But, for some reason (maybe because I was tired from working, or out of practice-I had not made these things for about 1 year-or whatever) these things, when I made them at home, did not turn out too well. The pastry cream was a little lumpy. The puffs did not “puff”.

Nonetheless, I have a pile of chocolate-dipped, vanilla pastry cream-filled cream puffs on a plate and called the challenge complete. Follow the jump to see the recipe and attempt this on your own, and to see the pictures of my croquembouche (and I use the term loosely, because, like I said, it is just a pile, and not a pretty cone shape). Maybe next time I will get a good night’s sleep and I will post another time with better cream puffs or something else made with pate a choux (you can also make eclairs, churros, and other similar items). Continue reading

DB Challenge: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I have never even heard of a tian before this challenge, and I was excited to try to make one. I was also excited about this challenge because it made me practice my knife skills, with the orange segments. This would be a good addition to any menu, but especially for this time of year when citrus is in season. This can easily be switched to any other citrus, or any combination of citrus fruit. It had also been a long time since I used pectin (I made/canned jelly in high school once.) and so that was a great way to bring it back to my cooking skills. As always, I had fun with this challenge.

I made mine in a deep Pyrex bowl, and waited until it defrosted a bit to be able to remove the inverted bowl from the plate, and it would definitely be easier to un-mold from a springform pan or from the rings as described in the recipe. I also added an extra layer of orange segments and folded all of the marmalade into the whipped cream, rather than making that a separate layer.

I had extra dough, so I folded in some chocolate chips and scooped it for some cookies, which were delicious.

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