Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Dobos: Daring Baker August Challenge

Let me just start off by saying my main migraine trigger is dark chocolate. So as much as these little sponge cupcakes flirted with my senses and no matter how luscious the homemade chocolate butter cream looked lounging in the bottom of that Pyrex bowl I would resist the urge. Or so I thought. Lets just say I feel like my migraines are now so fine tuned that I can discern the depth and richness of a dark chocolate by the severity of my headache, its quite an art really. Well on a scale from one to ten this episode of precise cocoa discernment was off the charts. Please, Daring Hostesses, please pick something without chocolate for September. My chocolate/migraine sensors are only to be used on rare occasions.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

As always, my changes are in between *asterisks*

Sponge cake layers (not really layers in a cupcake though. Makes 18 regular sized)

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
  • bit of vanilla

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • 18 whole hazelnuts

Preheat to 400 degrees F. Be sure to check on the cupcakes as sponge cake seems to cook quicker.

1.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

2.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
3. Fill cupcake papers about half way. Sprinkle in a few chocolate chips or chopped up pieces to act like chocolate frosting "layers"

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.

2.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Melt chocolate.

3. Beat the butter and sugar into light fluffy cloud. Add vanilla. Whip once more.

5.When chocolate has cooled slightly, beat in with the soft butter mixture. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Directions for the caramel topping:
1.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

2. Using a large spoon pour little pools of caramel, roughly the size of the top of one cupcake. When they have slightly hardened, but not much!, use a knife to score the little rounds like a pizza. It isn't necessary to completely slice the the caramel round through. When they are fully hardened they will break apart quite easily.

Assembling the Dobos

1. Once cupcakes have completely cooled, frost them with the chocolate butter cream liberally. Top with a fan of the caramel slices, sticking them into the frosting at angles. Leave room for a hazelnut in the very middle.

2. Eat!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Joy of Food, and the things to which it relates

Firstly, Da came to town ditched the in-laws and made pesto in my new kitchen. He brought with him a bushel of basil from our family garden and spouted that there was plenty more at home! It was a mad dash of a pesto session as I had to make it to work on time. We made two kinds: pecan pesto with pecans and pecan oil and regular pesto with the classic olive oil and pine nuts. I prefer the pecan. I've put it on pasta, my sandwiches, saltines, and cheese. There are no limits to the wonders of pesto!

Secondly, my three musketeers gang was reunited in a day of general giggles and gourmanding. Started with Italian food at the Texas branch for ex-mafia members. We ordered the Roasted Pie with hot peppers, onions and garlic. Then it continued with of course a trip to Sonic happy hour. Then cupcakes at home. Sponge cake cupcakes with chocolate swirled into the batter and topped with homemade whipped cream with cinnamon and strawberries. The end of summertime tasted sweet.

The night ended, well sort of, with a belated trip to HEB for a few things to finish off our planned feast of side dishes. Macaroni and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes with skins mind you, Homemade gravy from impromptu drippings, Alex really wanted Caprese salad so we had that and finished the lot with watermelon. The gravy was the real delight seeing as our uber veggie Divya had never tried gravy seeing as the vegetarians tend to not have the means or need for gravy making with the whole no meat thing. Gravy tastes good sans meat drippings let me just say.

Lastly, Alex, the darling girl she is gave me my birthday present a little early. A loverly new tea pot complete with red poppies! My inner Angela Lansbury said a clear yes to this one.