Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pumpkin Hazelnut & Chocolate Tart

The Idea

I needed a Thanksgiving Day recipe and could not decide on a pie or cake. This recipe came along in my inbox just in time to make the decision. I had toyed with an idea for a torte using all the flavors of Thanksgiving dessert- pumpkin, apple and cranberries, but I could not think of the best combination in time. I will work on it for next year. In the meantime this was a great recipe that I tweaked for my own (in)convenience.

The Recipe

Chocolate Hazelnut Pumpkin Tart from Betty Crocker. I do not use Betty Crocker products (unavailable or very expensive where I live) and their recipes are usually more advertisements for their products than anything else, but once in a while they come up with some great ideas. Most of their products can be easily substituted.

Recipe Adjustments

The recipe calls for a hazelnut spread with cocoa. Being in Europe, the grocery store has about 10 choices of hazelnut chocolate spreads on the shelves, but for some reason I decided to make my own using this recipe. If price was my motivation, I am not sure that I came out on top, but I did figure out that a coffee grinder is an excellent tool for making nut butter. I have tried making nut butter in my small food processor that I burn the motor out on in about 10-20 months from purchase and have not been successful. The coffee grinder zipped the hazelnuts into butter in a fraction of the time it would have taken in a food processor. Good to know. My home made "nutella" was not quite spreadable and had the consistency of play-dough, so the chocolate layer came out thicker than it was supposed to be. I also whipped the egg whites and folded them into the filling thinking this would lighten up the filling and give it more volume.

The Result

I was happy with the result and my guests were very complimentary, but I am never sure if they are just being nice since I am such a nut about my deserts. I do have to say by the end of the night there was none left which is always a good indicator. I concentrated on not making such a gigantic monstrosity as usual so I would not have much left over.

If I were to make this recipe again, I would almost double the pumpkin filling. Even with whipping the egg whites, the filling was just barely there and the chocolate, which was supposed to be more of an accent, was the main part of the tart. My guests even commented, "There is pumpkin in this?"

The tart was not very sweet, which I liked, but still rich and chocolaty.

I could not find my camera as usual during the dinner party, so you will have to do with the one picture I took during preparation ;) I will update if my guest who took a picture emails it to me! (Done!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Step One to a Tiramisu Torte

The Idea:

Faced with preparing an Italian dinner, only one option jumped to mind for dessert-tiramisu. Of course I inevitably toyed with making it into a torte, but better take one thing at a time and try to master tiramisu before I turn it into a torte. Rome wasn't built in a day after all. Oh boy, I kill myself.... but moving on. I was never a big tiramisu fan until I was in Italy with a die hard tiramisu fan and he managed to turn me into a tiramisu lover. Not a big challenge, who doesn't love coffee, booze, custard, cake and chocolate?

The Recipe:

I chose this recipe because after sorting through hundreds of recipes online, calorie guilt got the best of me and I decided to try for a whipped egg white vs. whipped cream version. More or less any colored alcohol was mentioned in all recipes from rum to chocolate liqueur to brandy. This one has brandy. This recipe also uses shaved chocolate vs. cocoa.The Result:

I was happy with the result. I have tasted better and worse. This was lacking certain decadent richness, but I can accept that due to the egg vs. cream issue. I definitely over soaked the lady fingers and have no one to blame but myself. The recipe clearly said QUICKLY soak lady fingers in coffee. The chocolate shavings were too big, cocoa would have been better for dusting the top.

What I would do differently next time/how I would use this info to get a torte recipe:

Next time I would try making a coffee, brandy and sugar glaze and make giant lady finger recipe disk for torte layers. For the filling I would incorporate a combination of heavy cream and egg whites- perhaps more fat would hold up better between the layers. Instead of chocolate shavings I would use sweetened cocoa to dust the filling and if making a torte I would top the whole thing with a ganache.

If you happen to have a good tiramisu recipe, please leave me a comment!

(Update: Since I can't seem to comment on my own blog, In response to Dace:

Man bija personīgais strīds, bērniem ēst jēlu olu tiramisu vai nē. Visi pārdzīvoja. Arī nezinu, vai tiramisu varētu ganache noturēt, bet tas būtu neautentiskās tortes versijā. Nepretendēšu uz autentisku tiramisu torte, tikai tiramisu "inspirētu" torti! ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy halloween!

In order to get this up before Halloween is completely over this year, I will quickly post my Halloween/Birthday cake for my son's shared birthday/Halloween party on Saturday. THE IDEA: Pretty clear :) Based on this recipe from blogger I Am Baker.
Cake: Red Velvet Cake
Frosting: Italian Meringue Butter Cream
Ganache: Just plain Ganache
Ghosts: Spooky Meringues with green frosting pen eyes

All in all ok, but a few lessons learned:

  1. Frost cake before hitting the punchbowl.

  2. Use just a little bit of ganache. You can always add more. I still have some that dripped down off the cake, off the cutting board onto the garage floor. I really must go clean that up before the cats get at it! (Then I will have a whole different kind of mess to clean up, but that is really not the most important point here...)

  3. Red velvet cake really needs allot of red food coloring. I used everything I had at home (3 tubes/bottles) and it was not enough. The result was a bit more on the pink velvet side!

  4. I really must stop hurrying. The effect and effort would be so much better if I slowed down while decorating. I will get there one day. A yummy messy cake is in the end, still yummy.
Good question. I have a bit of a pause from family birthday celebrations right now, but a national independence day torte (Latvia) may revisit the red velvet cake again! I need to experiment more with different frostings. The IMBC is great, but getting a bit old.