Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday Baked: Coffee Ice Cream


I am not going to deny it. I totally indulged and bought an ice cream machine specifically for this week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge. Silly, I know, but I figure with three little kids and an ice cream loving husband it will get put to good use in the long run. After all, it has been on the "would love to have" list for a long time. Totally justified, right?

OK, probably not, but I'd have to say that it was totally worth the splurge. Homemade ice cream is WONDERFUL! I had no idea it was so good or so easy. The kids are already trying to bribe me to get their favorite flavor selection made next (not that they had any of this alcohol and caffeine based concoction to know how fantastic it was). Whoops.

The whole process was rather simple, really. Bring (2 cups) whole milk, (1 3/4 cups) heavy whipping cream, (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar, (3 tablespoons) instant espresso and (1 teaspoon) salt to a simmer. Then, slowly stream half of the coffee mixture into 6 gently whipped egg yolks. Whip the egg yolks like crazy and add them back to the coffee mixture. Heat over medium-low heat until you have custard or until about 175-degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Remove the custard from heat and strain it into a bowl. Whisk in the Kahlua (1 tablespoon) and place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent a crust from forming. Cool the custard for a few hours in the fridge.

After the custard cools, put it into your ice cream maker and let the magic happen. Twenty minutes later voilà... Ice Cream! 

Technically, this is more frozen custard than ice cream since it has the addition of egg yolks. Either way, it is creamy, rich and full of great coffee flavor. A totally delectable pick-me-up.  

Grab a bowl or a cone and ENJOY! This stuff is good.

Head on over to Baked Sunday Mornings to see what my fellow bakers thought of this cool summer treat from Matt & Renato's Baked Explorations.

Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daring Bakers:
Passion Fruit Gelées with Lime Sugar

 So, here it goes... And it isn't pretty this month.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy


Errrrrrrrrr... Say what? I messed up already?

Darn it!

Not the recipe... No, actually these little gems are quite refreshing. I am talking about this whole "Candylicious" themed month here at The Daring Kitchen. Yes, I read through the instructions at the beginning of the month and thought I understood the challenge, but as I am about to post, I am realizing I messed this one up. I messed it up pretty good.

Now, from what I thought I had read, I didn't have to make a chocolate candy if I did not want to enter the contest. To be honest, with school starting, a son with a broken leg, and a whole bunch of other craziness, the last thing I wanted to do was think about a creative chocolate recipe. (Thanks to those who did 'cause I will be trying them out later.) No, I needed a no brainer this month. A simple recipe where I could just stick to the script.

Well, as it runs out, I did need to make a chocolate recipe AND a non-chocolate recipe...

Says so right here... See?


You must make TWO candies

The first candy must be ONE of the following CHOCOLATE candies:
     a. A truffle, dipped or not dipped in chocolate OR
     b. A cut (square) dipped chocolate/bonbon OR
     c. A filled chocolate/bonbon using a chocolate mold

The other candy can be any CHOCOLATE or NON-CHOCOLATE candy you like.

I am not sure how the requirements could have been made more clear. And, to top it off, I went out and found my own non-chocolate recipe.


I am fairly certain finiding my own recipe isn't allowed either. What in the world was I thinking? Wow! Was I off on this one, or what?!

Since I am realizing my mistake a few hours before post time, instead of a Daring Bakers compliant post, you get these candies made of passion fruit puree and lime infused sugar. They were a bit reminiscent of Jell-O Jigglers but with more sophistication. The original recipe called for plain sugar to coat, but I chose to jazz them up with the lime sugar, which added a definite kick. To be honest though, out of the three options (no sugar, plain sugar and lime sugar), I thought the unadorned gelées were the best.

Hopefully, next month will prove less of an embarrassment. I can't promise though :)

Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company

Makes about 4 dozen candies  
Start to Finish: 13 hr (includes setting time)


2 small limes
1 cup of sugar

Using a microplane, zest limes and add to sugar. Mix the zest with the sugar until well combined and store in an airtight container. Zest should be ready in about 5 to 7 days. If you find the citrus flavor is not strong enough after 1 week, add a little fresh zest to the sugar before using.


Recipe adapted from Gourmet (December 2007)

4 (1/4 ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup water
2 cups sugar plus additional for tossing
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup thawed unsweetened passion fruit puree (maracuya) such as Goya brand

Lightly oil an 8-inch square, nonstick baking pan.

Sprinkle gelatin over water in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and let stand 4 minutes to soften. Heat gelatin over medium-low heat, stirring until dissolved. Add 2 cups sugar and stir until dissolved. Add lemon juice and stir.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, washing any sugar crystals down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil, uncovered, without stirring, 13 minutes (watch carefully so that mixture does not boil over). Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes for bubbles to dissipate. (Skim any foam that remains after 5 minutes.) Stir in passion-fruit purée (do not scrape bottom of pan; leave any dark bits that stick).

Pour into baking pan and pop any remaining bubbles with a toothpick. Let stand at room temperature until set, at least 12 hours.

Run a sharp knife around edge of gelatin and invert onto a cutting board. If the gelées will not release from the pan, place a hot towel on the bottom of the pan until they release. Cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips, then cut strips into 1-inch pieces. Just before serving, gently toss gelées in a bowl of (lime) sugar to coat, brushing off excess.

Gelées, without the sugar coating, will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for two weeks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake (Icing Smiles)

Have you ever shared a moment with someone you have never met before, and through that moment you become friends. I experienced this recently, and I will be forever grateful.

I was blessed with the opportunity to make this cake for two beautiful, brave little girls, sisters in fact. They were all smiles and giggles when I met them, and yet you would have never guessed that one of these girls is living with brain cancer (Medulloblastoma) and the other is trying to find her own way in spite of the hospital stays, the heartache and the unknown. These two little girls share an incredible courage and friendship. It was amazing to see.

I received an email from Kelly and Molly's mom a few weeks back. She recapped Kelly's diagnosis and prognosis in such a manner that made me tear up instantly. She talked about her family and what they have endured over the last 5 years with grace and unwavering love. I was blown away by her strength. All I could think to do was hug my kids and make the best damn birthday cake I could. There could not be a more deserving family, and it was something, even if little in the grand scheme of things, that I could do to help. These little girls needed to celebrate life!

I was introduced to this amazing family through a wonderful and generous organization called Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles provides critically ill children and their siblings with birthday cakes made by volunteer bakers. Their goal is to provide smiles and joy, even if only temporary, to the kids and their families.

Making this cake was an experience that will stay with me forever. It was a true honor. Kelly, Molly and their family were such an amazingly warm, strong and supportive bunch. God has given them a challenge of a lifetime, and yet I think they will make it through. They have that much love. I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers, and I ask that you do as well.

I beg you to join my fellow Icing Smiles volunteers and put your skills and time towards a truly AWESOME cause. You do not have to be a professional decorator to participate. In fact, there are many ways you can help. Find out for yourself here. It is so worth it! I am not sure you can receive a better reward than a giggle of excitement and a big 'ole hug from these kids (and their families). My hugs were two of the best I have ever received :)

Have a blessed day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Baked: Grasshopper Bars

My mom used to make a version of these when I was a kid. I think it was a Betty Crocker recipe. Like clockwork, they would make an appearance at every Christmas and St. Patrick's Day celebration. They were a holiday staple, and something I always looked forward to.

Their appearance at holiday functions diminished over the years. They were replaced by the confection of the moment, and it often left me wondering what the heck happened to those yummy mint brownies of my youth?

I had a conversation with my mom about this very question a few years back. We were reminiscing about years gone by, and I asked her what happened to the grasshopper brownies she used to make. She really didn't have a better answer for me than, "Gee, I don't know sweetie."

What? What do you mean you don't know?


So, I took it upon myself to recreate the delicious mint brownie I so loved as a kid. With my Mom's  handwritten recipe in tow, I got to work. I was determined to introduce them to my own kids whom I was certain would love them just as much as I did. But, you know what, they just weren't the same. They weren't bad, I mean my kids enjoyed them for sure, but for me they were a little disappointing. They were much sweeter than I remembered and didn't give me the same feeling of sweet satisfaction I used to get after eating one as a kid. Honestly, it made me a little sad, and I suddenly understood why Mom retired them.

Well, you all can relax. I have snapped out of my minty funk, and I am once again excited thanks to the baking dynamos known as Matt & Renato.

Apparently, in their extended absence from the holiday party circuit, the mint brownie went off and had some work done...a face lift so to speak. They came back to town (refreshed and revitalized) as Grasshopper Bars, and let me tell you, these are certainly not my Mamma's version! They are sleek, sophisticated and a little devilish. The rich, dark chocolate and mint combination is sensational on its own, but the addition of the Creme de Menthe puts them on the sinful level....Oh, so good!

If you have a few minutes to spare, check out what my fellow Baked Sunday Morning friends have to say about this recipe. They are a talented group of bakers, and they always provide an interesting read.

If you're feeling especially inspired, grab yourself a copy of Matt & Renato's book, Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, and join us on our baking adventures. We would love to have you.
Have a Sweet Day!
Jaime @ The Great Cake Company 


Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
Makes 12 large or 24 small brownies

3/4 cus all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa powder
5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 - 72%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cu (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.

Configure a large size double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the creme de menthe filling.

3/4 cups sugar 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup whole milk 
2 tablespoons heavy cream 
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes 
3 tablespoons Creme de Menthe 
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy.

Add the Creme de Menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined. If the filling is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the proper consistency.

If the filling is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to proper consistency. Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.

6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped 
1 teaspoon light corn syrup 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes 

In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat. 

Pour the mixture over the chilled Creme de Menthe layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Note: The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered for up to 4 days.