Chocolate Ganache Truffles

The last time I had them I was quite young but I really loved them. So I have always loved chocolate truffles. They are so rich and just amazing. Lately, I have been dying to make them, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
8 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (a cacao content of about 60% works best)
½ cup of cream (for chocolate with 70% cacao, increase the cream by about a tablespoon or two)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 tablespoon rum, or other liquor (optional)
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder for coating the truffles (or use chopped nuts or melted and tempered chocolate)

Directions

1 Chop the chocolate into fairly even, small pieces—a heavy serrated knife works well.

2 Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to boil. Remove from heat. Add the chopped chocolate to the cream. For an extra smooth truffle, add butter. Add any liquor here, too. Wait a minute or two until most of the chocolate and butter is melted.

3 Transfer to a mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, quickly but gently transfer the mixture to a bowl so that you can form your emulsion in a cooler environment.

4 Whisk the mixture vigorously until it’s thick and smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl and incorporating all the cream and chocolate. If you have one, an immersion blender helps make sure the emulsion is stable.

5 If the ganache shows signs of breaking at this point (if it looks curdled or oily), you can add a few drops of cream to help re-emulsify it. A well-emulsified ganache should look like chocolate pudding: thick, smooth, and glossy. Leave it in a cool spot to firm up for at least four hours, ideally overnight.

6 Once the ganache has set into a uniformly firm mass, scoop out small balls with a melon baller or spoon. Roll each one briefly in the palms of your very clean (or gloved) hands. It helps if you have cold hands or are in a cool room.

7 Chill the truffles briefly, for about 15 minutes, while you prepare whatever you’d like to roll or enrobe them in.

If your ganache isn’t firm enough to scoop into balls, you can chill it in the fridge to harden. Or, whip it very briefly until the color just begins to lighten—about 30 seconds on medium-low with a hand mixer. Let it set again and it will firm up.

8 Roll the truffles in cocoa powder, shaking off any excess cocoa. You can also roll them in chopped nuts or enrobe them in melted and tempered chocolate.

20130427-170354.jpg

9 Store them at room temperature for up to a week, in the fridge for two to three weeks, or in the freezer for two months. They taste best eaten at room temperature.

20130427-170442.jpg

This is a really good recipe, I really recommend it if you love chocolate truffles like me. They are disappearing quickly so next time I think I’ll double the recipe.

20130427-170606.jpg

Thanks to: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/02/chocolate-ganache-truffles.html

Advertisements

Soufflé

Believe it or not, before this spring break I had never had a soufflé. My first experience was with my grandparents and my grandmother made some lemon soufflé. It was really amazing! I love lemon desserts a little too much but this soufflé was really just perfect.

I wanted to make something similar to that soufflé and I did. This recipe was simple, but very nice. I am going to post a lemon soufflé recipe, which I did not use however its similar, and I think it looks great.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more, room temperature, for dishes
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dishes
8 large egg yolks plus 10 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons), plus 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup whole milk
Garnish: confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter six 12-ounce souffle dishes, and then dust with granulated sugar. Whisk together yolks, flour, zest, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Slowly pour milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent yolks from cooking. Return mixture to pan, and whisk until thick like a pudding, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain through a sieve, and whisk in butter and lemon juice.

Beat whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir a third of the whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whites using a rubber spatula.

Fill each souffle dish to the top, and smooth. Run your thumb around edges to remove batter from rims.

Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until souffles rise and are golden, about 16 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve immediately, before souffles lose their height.

Now the soufflé I made was simply not as good as my grandmothers but I think it was a success.

20130421-113504.jpg

20130421-113518.jpg

20130421-113530.jpg

Thank you to: http://www.marthastewart.com/335397/lemon-souffles

Rainbow Cake

It’s been really hot lateley and all I can think is, summer is so close. When I let my mind wander while thinking about summer, I generally think about swimming, the beach, sun screen, cool drinks, and for some reason rainbows popped into my mind. I’m not exactly sure why because at least where I live there is not that much rain in the summer…just sun. But anyway I thought of rainbows and I still had no idea what I was going to bake this week, so I decided to make a rainbow cake.
I have only made rainbow cake one other time and I’m not exactly sure how old I was, but it was a really long time ago. But I think this cake was pretty good.

Heres the recipe:

Ingredients

Vegetable shortening (I used butter to grease the pans)
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/3 cups sugar
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple gel food coloring

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush six 9-inch-round cake pans (or as many 9-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.

Divide batter evenly between six medium bowls. Add enough of each color of food coloring to each bowl, whisking, until desired shade is reached. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes (working in batches if necessary).

Remove cakes from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto a wire rack; re-invert and let cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the purple layer on the cake plate. Spread a scant 1 cup buttercream filling over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges. Repeat process with blue, green, yellow, and orange layers.

Place the remaining red layer on top, bottom-side up. Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Using an offset spatula, cover cake again with remaining frosting.

I made a simple vanilla buttercream frosting for the frosting.

20130414-172317.jpg

20130414-172333.jpg

20130414-172339.jpg

20130414-172422.jpg

20130414-172428.jpg
I was a little worried about how this cake would turn out, but it was really nice and I think I will make this again!
Thanks to:http://www.marthastewart.com/256688/rainbow-cake

Interview with Heather Roth of L’Academie de Cuisine

I recently had the amazing opportunity to interview my mom’s friend, who is a professional pastry chef. I am happy to be able to post my interview with her today. Her name is Heather Roth, and she is the Director of Career Services and Alumni Affairs at L’Academie de Cuisine, which provides professional education programs in the culinary and pastry arts. Heather spent a lot of time with me, and I want to thank her for her generosity. I learned a lot from talking with her. She is very inspirational. If you are interested in learning about L’Academie de Cuisine, their web site is: http://www.lacademie.com.

When did you get interested in baking?

I was always interested in baking, but I had never thought of it as a career. I worked at a bakery in high school. After college I really liked to bake pies and different things. But when I was working on Capitol Hill, I thought more and more about food and found out about an organization called Share Our Strength. Their mission is to end childhood hunger. I ended up getting a job there, and worked there for three years. I was working with many chefs and the more I talked to them, and learned more about good food, the more I was interested in pursuing something related to food as a career.

How did you get started?

I was working for Share Our Strength, and I went to an event called Women Chefs and Restauranteurs (WCR) and met many pastry chefs. After that, I decided I wanted to become a pastry chef. So I decided to contact the pastry chef of Olives who was at the event. I asked her if I could work for free, one day a week, in order to see if this was really what I wanted to do. I worked on Wednesdays from 6:00 am to 10:00 in the morning, and then would go to work at Share Our Strength. It was fun for me. I then started working at Equinox with Todd Gray in 2001. That is how I got started.

What was the most challenging part of trying to make a name for yourself?

In this industry you need to put a lot of time in, and if you’re in it to be rich and famous then those are the wrong reasons to become a pastry chef. There is a very small percentage of people who actually do get rich and famous. It has to really be something you are passionate about. What ever you’re doing in life, you should do something you really love. There is a lot of hard work, a lot of countless hours, and at first as a young pastry cook, you aren’t the pastry chef, you haven’t graduated from pastry school. I was at Equinox for four years before I got my first job as the head pastry chef and even that was pretty quick. There are benefits to taking longer to becoming a pastry chef because there is so much to learn, it’s good to take that time. Once you are chef, you are the one teaching. There are lots of good cooks, but a good chef is also a good teacher. Teaching and being a chef walk hand in hand. But it’s really about working hard and doing your best and making it your own.

What tool do you use most when baking?

When I bake, I use a scale the most. As you get more involved, you’ll see that some recipes use cups and teaspoons, but a scale can make it easier and give you more accurate measurements. I like using a scale just to make sure that I’m being very precise.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

One of the pastry chefs that I admire the most and one of my biggest inspirations is Claudia Fleming. Her book is my favorite cookbook of all time, it’s called The Last Course. It was the first time I really thought about dessert not having to be sweet, and it really influenced my style. She used pine nuts, and I had never seen pine nuts in dessert before, and just different things you would not have thought about in desserts. It made me start thinking about combinations of flavors outside the box. Another inspirational person for me is Michel Richard. I had read about, and then seen, how he would go to the hardware store and to Asian markets to find a tool to use in a different way or an ingredient that could be thought about in a different way. He was a huge influence for me. There are so many things you can find in a hardware store, like pipes for molds, for example. It’s a pastry chef’s second favorite store. First would be a pastry-specific store.

What do you consider your strengths?

I think that some of my greatest strengths are my creativity, my palate, and flavor combinations. Just really learning to develop that, and learning to get a sense of balance, whether it was sweet and salty, savory and sweet, whether its the crunch, and hot and cold, and making something that’s perfectly in balance.

What do you think you need to improve on?

I definitely think that I take things too personally. But that could also be a strength because you put all your effort into whatever it is you’re working on. However, it can be your greatest downfall too, and I think it’s something I need to improve on–letting go of things. At this point with the Internet, everyone has the capacity to be an online food critic. It’s hard to not take these things personally sometimes. It’s different if you are working in a restaurant and someone says something about your cake to you in person, for example.

What was your experience like on Top Chef: Just Desserts?

The best thing that came out of being on Top Chef: Just Desserts was the friendships that I made with the other cheftestants. That was probably the highlight of it. Also, while TV and different reality shows have helped to show more about the industry, it is important to remember that reality television is not reality.

How is it different working in front of cameras than on your own?

It is completely different working in front of cameras. First of all, in a regular kitchen, you have your recipes in front of you. During our season of Top Chef, we couldn’t have the recipe in front of us while cooking. In reality, you are not really expected to know recipes off the top of your head. The other thing is, you’re in a completely different kitchen. The ovens aren’t the ovens you are used to, for example. If you bake something at your house and then go to someone else’s house and bake it, it will be different because the kitchen is different, the oven is different, maybe they don’t have the right tools. There are different challenges. It’s a new environment and so it takes time to adjust. And there are new people, so there are a lot of new things to deal with. With reality television, you have to remember that it’s meant for entertainment.

Do you have a favorite thing to bake? Do you spend time perfecting recipes?

At this point I think my favorite thing to bake is cakes. Just because I love the design of it. I enjoy exploring different kinds of flowers and decorative things. Cakes can be prepared for different occasions, whether it’s a wedding, or birthday, or any celebration. I also really love pies. I love apple pie. It’s my favorite dessert just because it’s really simple. Sometimes people over complicate things, and that’s where they go wrong. If you do something really simple but really well, it’s an approach that I appreciate more. I always try to perfect recipes. I think striving to improve is part of the motivation that chefs have.

Did you expect to win the Pastry Chef of the Year award in 2008?

I hoped for it, but I don’t know if I excepted to win. I had been nominated the previous two years, and did I expect to win? No. Was I hoping to win? Yes. I did feel like the first time I was nominated that it wasn’t my time. When I did win, I felt like stars were aligning and things were going right. I had been getting a lot of positive feedback from guests and from the press so I felt like that was the year. To be given an award for something you love is great. It’s also something given by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and voted on by people, leading stars in the community. It’s an honor to be recognized by people who you respect.

What was your biggest success?

My biggest success was when I was just opening Hook. I had a dessert that I had been working on, and I loved it and was confident in it, and I was going to put it on the menu but I wanted someone’s opinion, and someone’s opinion that I trusted. Phyllis Richman was at that time the food critic of the Washington Post, and she had never reviewed anything of mine, but she and I happened to meet, and developed a rapport. She happened to be coming in, and she tried the dessert. She loved it. She said it was one of the best desserts she had ever had. When people think of me, I think they think of that dessert. It’s lingonberry linzer torte with taleggio cheese ice cream and port wine reduction. It was written up in Washingtonian Magazine, and it became synonymous with me. It’s nice to have people know you for a specific thing that you make.

What is it like to work at L’Academie de Cuisine?

Working at L’Academie de Cuisine is very gratifying. I really enjoy the role I have here. Teaching is something I would be interested in doing at the school, but my current job is the director of career services and alumni affairs. This allows me to play an influential role with both pastry students and culinary students. I help them think about what they want to move on to or who the want to be. What their strengths are and what they want to think about pursuing. Everyone here is very supportive, it’s a great teaching staff, the students that come are passionate and have determined that they want to pursue this as a career.

What is the typical age of students at L’Academie de Cuisine?

You have to be 18 to start the professional program. I think mid twenties is the average age, but I think the oldest student was 63.

What words of advice do you have for a young person to get involved in baking?

There are many words of advice that I would give to a young person trying to get involved in baking. But I’ll try to keep this brief. Work hard, know what you’re getting into, always try to improve, learn to multitask, learn how to let things go, always try to further your education, taste everything, I could keep going but I think that’s a good starting point.

Thank you for letting me interview you!

You’re very welcome.

Here are some pictures,

20130412-193502.jpg

20130412-193515.jpg

20130412-193530.jpg

20130412-193539.jpg

News

Hey guys,

I think I owe you an explanation for why I have not been blogging. I’ve been on holiday with my family but I have been doing some baking. I’m back now though and will be trying to blog more. I’m planning something different for my next post, so keep checking in.

Thanks, tatytreats13 🙂