Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge!

So this one isn't so exciting. The recipe was exciting, but this month was really crazy so I only had time to attempt it once. The recipe was chocolate eclairs, which we could sub another flavor for as long as we kept one chocolate component. I decided to vegan-ize it, or try to (since I try to avoid eggs and milk anyway), and make it chocolate coconut. The coconut would be subtle, mostly from using coconut milk instead of dairy milk. However, a few things went wrong. The Pâte à Choux actually came out really nice, and close to what I interpreted the description to mean. The speckles are from the flax meal that I use in addition to Ener-G as an egg replacement.


It piped nicely, and even puffed nicely in the oven. However I got a little ahead of myself and pulled them out too soon, and they fell. You can see that the bottom looks a little thick on this one.


While they were baking, I made the chocolate pastry cream. Again, it looked nice as I started. I didn't think as much as I should have though, and didn't take into account that egg replacer is starch based, and there is starch in the recipe so the cream thickened nicely, then just kept thickening as I cooled it and I ended up with chocolate-cream gel. It was pretty gross. I didn't even bother taking a picture.

Moving away from the cream back to the pastry, I realized that I messed those up too, I threw it all away and decided to try again. However, a lot has happened this month and I haven't had a chance. I'm going to a friend's house in a little while though, and I think that I'm going to give them another go while I'm there. I wanted to get this attempt up now though so that I made the deadline in case I don't have time to post about the hopefully successful ones we make in a little while. I won't be defeated!

Here is the recipe as it was given to us- the order I found to be kind of confusing, so if I have time later, I will rearrange it and edit it, but I'm a little crunched right now.
Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

- Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough
- Pastry Cream
- Chocolate glaze

First the modifications:

Under the motto - Culinary Liberty For All, Tony and I thought we should give enough leeway for creativity.

What’s the point in cooking if not to cook what YOU want to eat?

In terms of modifications of this recipe, the possibilities are endless. In order to maintain some sort of cohesiveness throughout the challenge, here are a couple general guidelines for eclair month at the Daring Bakers.

1. The dough used for the eclairs must be a pâte à choux from the recipe given below.
2. Keep one chocolate element in the challenge. The recipe below is for a chocolate glaze and a chocolate pastry cream. You choose which chocolate element you want to keep. Then feel free to mix and match flavors to the base recipe.
3. Everything else is fair game. Enjoy!

Posting Day: August 31st, 2008

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What a week.

So this has been quite the week. Sunday night I went to the new night worship service led by friends at their church in LeRoy. I don't know the name of the church, just that they call it the golf ball, because that's what the building looks like. It's a large faceted white dome that looks like a golf ball half sunken into the ground. After the service we went to the Barringer's house; always a good thing, I love them and could use the positive company. I ended up having a long tearful conversation about certain recent events with Chrissy. It was a good conversation, and my time with the rest of the family was lovely also.

A large precursor to this week, and something that has been on my mind quite a lot, that I haven't shared with you, internet, is that Brian and I broke up three and a half weeks ago. I'm sure you understand why I wouldn't post this right away, as it is something that has been difficult to deal with. I am, obviously, still dealing with it, but it has become common knowledge and I've stopped crying every time I think about it, so it's time you know dear internet. It was a peaceful breakup, no hard feelings or fights or anything, but still very hard.

Monday morning at eight o'clock I received a call from Brian to tell me that his grandfather had passed away earlier that morning. It is a terrible loss, he was a wonderful man and will be missed. I held him in very high esteem, and it has been hard to see him lose the short and intense fight he had with the cancer in his throat. Prayers for Brian and his family are greatly appreciated, and this loss has left a huge hole. Rest in Peace, John "Dee" Deschamps.


I went home Monday, much later than I meant to due to several things. The purpose of my going home was that my car has been acting weird and I had a dentist appointment. The dentist appointment went fine. My car, however, needed some major engine tuning up. Everything was fine though, and fixable, which is good. However, there is a sequel to that story.

First, a picture of George. This is his "WTF is that thing, and why is it clicking at me?!" face.


Tuesday night I made dinner. A few weeks ago I was hanging out with my friend James and we went to a place in Brockport called Zonie's for dinner, which is a place that serves calzones. Only calzones, with almost any filling you could think of. Since we went there, I've been craving calzone. I however, also wanted pizza. So I created a pizza-calzone. Basically I made two rounds of dough, topped the first with pesto and cheese, moistened the edges, and put the second round on top. After crimping the edges together (as you would with a pie), I topped it with more pesto, artichoke hearts, chopped roasted red pepper, mushrooms, and cheese. It was pretty much awesome. Also, the dough recipe was pretty much the best I've ever made. It was super simple too (however glutenous, though I'd like to try it with alternate flours):

Mix together until dissolved:
1 cup warm water
1 packet/1 Tbsp yeast

Stir in:
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
2 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups unbleached white and 1 cup whole wheat)

I also added a heaping spoonful of pesto to the dough.

Assemble pizza as desired, bake at 425*F for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness, until firm and golden at edges.


Then yesterday I went and hung out with Steve and we made a similar creation, only with all white flour, no red pepper (because I forgot to buy one), and ricotta added into the center and top. Also delicious.

My day yesterday was quite eventful. I was planning to leave by eleven to be to Rochester by one. I actually left on time. However, not two miles from my house my car began to do that sputtering thing that was the whole reason for the tune up in the first place. "Oh dear," said I. I pulled off the road and called my mom who suggested taking it back to Dave. I did, and he said it sounded like there was still some water in my tank, so he gave me some super extra dry gas and said that it should be fine after I filled up with gas. He and I took it for a drive, and it was fine, so after dropping him back off at the garage, I went on my way. It stuttered a few times, but seemed fine. And it was, mostly, until I went through the toll booths to go into Buffalo. If you have never been to Buffalo, the thruway is a four lane highway where no one cares about anything except how much they can break the speed limit.

After my ezpass registered, I eased on the gas to accelerate- and nothing happened. "Oh no." Thought I.

Then my engine caught and the RPMs rocketed, but there was no shifting and I was still going a nice slow 20 mph or so. I got over to the middle lane and nestled myself behind an also slow-going semi and tried to control my panic. My car very slowly inched up, but around 40 started sputtering and hiccuping, and I tried to remain calm. For a short period of time things seemed to go back to normal, but soon it was sputtering again. I decided it was probably a good idea to exit the highway and the next exit was the exit for the Walden Galleria Mall. This exit is a two lane curved ramp with a stop light at the end. The light was red. I thought to myself, if I stop will I start again? And, sure enough, not twenty seconds after I came to a stop my car gave out a violent shutter and completely died.

This did not ease my sense of panic.

I got it to start again and began to beg the light to turn green. It did (though took its time) and I shutteringly got off the ramp and into a parking lot. I then called my mom and triple A and was subsequently towed back home to Dave's. The problem was quite a simple one, though effective. When he revamped my engine, he replaced a bunch of parts. The place where he gets his parts from carried two grades of parts- the good kind that he gets, and the off brand. The one part that he needed was out of stock in his preferred brand, so knowing that I needed to get back to Rochester, he got the off brand. He has solidified why he doesn't use those products. This part that he had to get was the spark plug mechanism. The way that it is is there is a little box with wires that have to go down into the engine and are secured in place by little rubber plugs that fit into the holes and are held there and then secured when the engine is turned on by suction. Apparently the suction didn't work correctly and while I was driving two of the plugs worked their way out and popped up out of the holes causing my engine to cease functioning. He called the guy and had the part ordered so that he would have it this morning. I, however, needed to get to work and so borrowed my parents' Vibe and drove back directly. My father is coming tomorrow and I'm meeting him halfway so that we can switch back.


One of the benefits to having the Vibe is that my bicycle fits in the back, so I was able to take it to the city to the place where Steve gets his parts and I'm getting it tuned up. I'm pretty excited and get to go pick it up tomorrow. They are replacing a bunch of the parts and it's going to be awesome (and probably safer). The name of the place is Full Moon Vista and it's at 180 St. Paul Street in Rochester. I was super impressed with the guy that helped me- he was really knowledgeable and has been in the bicycle business for a long time. Also, the price is really reasonable for the high quality stuff and service they provide.


One last amusing thing before I retire to bed- When I left my room briefly earlier, the house cat here, Clover, snuck into my room seeing the open door. I didn't notice her when I came back in, and went about my business for a little while before being startled by the eyes staring up at me from my bed when I turned. After she knew that I had noticed her, the ritual "love me I'm awesome" dance commenced, pictures of which can be seen on my flickr.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Late mini post

So I definitely need to go to bed soon, but I have two exciting things:

1. I bought the paint for my room today, and got most of the room primed- we ran out with just the top of one and a half of the walls bare- talk about mildly disappointing. So I have to stop at the store tomorrow and grab a quart of primer. Grr. But it's exciting because hopefully I'll get at least the 1st coat of the color up tomorrow. I'm so exited to have a real room really to myself.

2. Steve and I went to the Organic Co-Op today. I got several exciting things, but by far the most exciting is the iced cream made out of coconut milk! Soy-free, milk-free, and non-rice-y. It's made by the company "So-Delicious" who I've seen and eaten soy-based ice cream by, and it really lives up to it's company name.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Verdict on the cake


So I, and all that partook, were very pleased with the cake.

This is what was left of it after both sets of parents, SJ and I had at it this afternoon. Most of this was finished off by Megan, Jillian and I this evening. We had a really nice girly chat time evening.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vegan coconut cake, and the saga of it's making, and I got a flickr

This post is about a seemingly successful vegan coconut cake, and the point that I got a flickr. At the moment, the only pictures on my flickr are of the aforementioned cake.

Yesterday I really wanted to make a cake, and my roommate justified making it when I said "there's no reason to make a cake, with the phrase "there is no need to have a reason when cake is involved." I said "okay" and away I went. This cake took a while, but it shouldn't have, I was just silly about a few things.

I haven't technically tasted the cake yet, but the few nibbles of scraps that I tasted were quite good. We'll see how it is tomorrow. It didn't raise very much, so I think if I do it again, I will either 1 1/2 the recipe, or use a smaller pan. It worked really well for thin layer to torte- no need to split them crossways.

I made cupcakes the other day that turned out okay, but nothing to blog about. I had frosting left over, which was one of the reasons for my wanting to make a cake. This frosting would lead to some now amusing mishaps though. It was comprised of granulated sugar disolved into heated coconut milk, beat with an equal amount of coconut oil, then beat into a good measure of confectioner's sugar. It wasn't quite as fluffy as buttercream, but it was quite tasty.

After I made the cake, I let it cool on the counter, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it there while I went to work, planning to put it together when I was on my break between jobs. When I got back from work, I beat the frosting a little to soften it to a workable consistency (coconut oil gets rather stiff in the fridge). I then divided the cake into quarters, took one quarter, placed it onto a little rectangle of cardboard covered in foil, and spread a quarter of the frosting on the top. I didn't consider the point that the room-temperature cake might melt the delicate frosting.

By the time I had the third layer on, the second layer was sliding out, and we won't talk about what happened when I tried to persevere and put the fourth layer on (as though that would help somehow). I tried so hard to salvage it, to no avail. After ten minutes I ended up disassembling the stack and scraping off as much of the melt-y frosting as I could salvage (It's a good thing that the cake has hearty structure). This actually ended up working well, because I then put the layers re-covered in the fridge to chill through, and the coating of melted frosting sealed them, so hopefully their few hours in the fridge while I was back at work didn't dry them out too terribly.

Before I went back to work, however, I tried to salvage the frosting. Needing to make a little more, I added a cup or so of confectioner's sugar and a bit of coconut oil. The discrepancy in temperatures, however, caused the frosting to break and become a oily, lumpy mess. I tried heating it through, and that made it worse. Feeling defeated but refusing to scrap it, I stuck it in the fridge and went back to work.

Work went really long and I finally got home just after midnight. As expected, the frosting was hard as a rock, as coconut oil freezes at a very high temperature. I thought about melting it, but didn't think it would help anything, since it just made it separate more before. So I took my hand mixer with the beaters on it and just buzzed the top of the mass. Surprisingly, as it shaved off ribbons, it mixed it all together, and I had perfect, smooth, fluffy buttercream-type frosting after about ten or fifteen minutes! I then took out the four sad looking, glazed cake pieces out of the fridge and much more successfully torted them.

Then I took the left over cream and smoothed the sides with it.

Then came the vegan ganache experiment. I decided to carry through the coconut theme and use coconut milk. When you open a can of coconut milk, if you don't shake it, the milk will be separated into a thick cream-consistency liquid and, pretty much, water. I refrained from shaking the can and used the separated thick coconut cream. I think that this is easier in the non-light versions, but all I had was light. I combined this (about 2/3 cup) with a drizzle (about 1 Tbsp) of agave nectar in a saucepan and brought it to a rapid simmer. I then poured it over 1 1/3 cup organic chocolate chips (Sunspire brand- they are so delicious! I could just eat a bag- no need to make anything with them). I let it stand for a few minutes, then stirred it until it was smooth. It seemed a little thicker than ganache that I'd previously made, but was a nice consistency. At this point you are supposed to add a little liqueur or flavor extract, but I forgot.

I let the ganache sit for a few more minutes to cool to 90-ish degrees, as I've heard suggested, so that it wouldn't melt the cream frosting and be thick enough to give a good coating. I should have waited a little longer though, because the stayed nicely on the top, but most of it slid off the sides and it ended up looking like Mecca, oddly enough.

I persevered again though, and moved the wire rack and spent several minutes scooping up ganache and spreading and re-spreading it on the sides. Eventually I got a nice covering. Not perfect- but nice and mostly even. I drizzled some over the top too, to hide the imperfections. There is a little bit of speckling from the frosting being pulled through. I think that I was pretty successful though- especially in my frazzled state at one in the morning.

After it chilled in the fridge, the ganache stiffened up quite nicely, and it looks like real ganache. :) I'm pretty happy with it. For all of it's grief though, it better taste darn good!

Now that you have the back story- here's the


Vegan Coconut Torte (or just cake, if you just make the cake):

Preheat oven to 325, grease and flour a 9x13 for a thin cake, or another size pan of your choice.

In a food processor combine:

1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
2/3 cup light spelt flour (**for GF readers, spelt is not gluten-free! I digest it better than wheat, so if you are just wheat sensitive I highly suggest it, but it *is* glutinous!**)
1/4 cup almond flour
4 tsp baking powder
(if using GF flours instead of the spelt, don't forget the xanthan gum)

Process for a few minutes until coconut is reduced to flour. If you have coconut flour, sift flours together and skip the processor.

In a separate bowl mix together:

1 1/2 cup organic unrefined sugar
1 tsp salt

Blend and add to the sugar:
1 1/4 cups coconut milk, warmed
1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil
prepared egg replacer for three eggs

Slowly add flour blend by sifting it over the wet ingredients while whisking. After all of the flour is added, if the batter is still thin, you may need to add a little more flour. I ended up adding three extra Tablespoons of spelt.

Dump into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center tests clean.

Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes.

Loosen edges of cake if necessary and invert onto lightly oiled rack. Once cooled, wrap tightly and CHILL thoroughly. Prepare whatever filling you would like to separate the layers with while the cake is chilling, and chill the filling if necessary. Cut the layers if necessary and assemble as desired. Chill the cake while you prepare the ganache, place cake on wire rack over a pan and pour the ganache in the center of the cake, allowing it to drip over the sides and coat them. With a round cake this is usually not to hard, a square cake takes a little more convincing on the ganache’s part. Chill for several hours until ganache is set and there is no temperature discrepancy among the components.

I will post pictures of the sliced end result tomorrow, and give a review on the taste and flavor combinations.