Archive for January, 2008

Dark Chocolate Espresso “Donut” with Ganache Glaze, Gilded Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans, and Raspberry Whipped Cream

Monday, January 28th, 2008

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This is a deep, dark chocolate cake glazed with bittersweet chocolate ganache, piped with raspberry whipped cream frosting, and sprinkled with chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans rolled in edible gold dust. It’s a decadent, uber-chocolate cake that is both bittersweet and luxurious.

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Chocolate Cake:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup organic sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup of strong brewed black coffee
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup soy creamer (what I had on hand), but milk or buttermilk would be fine
6 oz butter
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the Chocolate Ganache:
10 oz bittersweet chocolate
12 oz heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter

For the Whipped Cream Topping (optional):
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces pureed raspberries
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 gram gelatin powder
red gel food coloring (optional)

For decorative topping:
Chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped, rolled in
Edible gold powder (available at nycake.com or other online baking supply store)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper. Melt butter and chopped chocolate into hot brewed coffee. Add soy creamer or milk, vanilla extract and espresso powder and mix. Set aside. Sift together rest of dry ingredients and place in mixing bowl. Add slightly beaten eggs and wet ingredients, and mix all until combined.

Pour into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick/cake tester just comes out clean. Do not overbake! Let cool on wire rack. After 10 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Once cool, cut out six large circles with six small circles within to resemble “donut holes”. I used a 3 1/2″ circle cutter for the outer circle and a 3/4″ cutter for the inner one.

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Prepare the ganache. Chop the bittersweet chocolate finely and place in bowl. Heat heavy cream until boiling and immediately pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then stir until ganache is combined. Add butter and stir. Pour ganache over “donuts” with a spoon or ladle and coax it over the sides. I coated them twice for a smoother finish. Let cool and firm up in the refrigerator.

In the meantime, prepare raspberry whipped cream. It’s easy to make your own raspberry puree for the whipped cream. Bring frozen raspberries and sugar to a boil. The raspberries will liquefy. Force through a strainer with the back of a spoon. Dissolve gelatin into the puree and let sit for a few minutes. The gelatin will make the whipped cream much more stable to work with. I then heated it in the microwave for a few seconds and let cool. Whip heavy cream just until soft peaks form. Add the cooled raspberry puree into heavy cream and whip until firm. I added a drop of gel food coloring to boost the color.

Once the ganache firmed, I piped the raspberry whipped cream in a decorative pattern onto ganache-glazed donut cake. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I piped a pattern resembling hearts.

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For a luxurious look, I chopped chocolate covered espresso beans, rolled them into edible gold dust, and sprinkled them over the whipped cream. A tiny bit of this dust goes a long way.

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For a less frilly “girly” cake, I omitted the pink frosting and came up with the following. I was really pleased with the effect of the gold-dusted espresso beans; it was kind of like *bling* for my donut.

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This recipe made six donut cakes, with plenty of cake scraps to snack on. I actually heated the cake scraps in the microwave the next day, and it was absolutely tender and delicious warmed. It tasted somewhat like a lava cake (without the oozing part).


Parisian Patisseries 2007

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

My husband Bob and I made our second winter trip in a row to Paris over the holidays. This trip inevitably turned into a feeding frenzy of French food. Our first stop was Pierre Herme’s store at St. Germain des Pres. I was kicking myself for having missed it during our last trip, so we were eager to make our first visit. Also, this past year, I had obtained a copy of his book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, specifically because I had heard there was a recipe for macarons in there (more on that later). Anyway, there was a bit of a line, which gave me an opportunity to photograph and salivate over the the artfully presented desserts.

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The longer log cakes pictured above are the modern French-style buche de noel. This style is more popular in Paris than the rolled jaconde with buttercream that I made over Christmas (the rolled version is apparently a more old-fashioned version) and requires a special trough-shaped mold which I was very tempted to buy.

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The beautiful shot glass filled with fruits and creams and decorated with a violet was called an “emotion exotic” and was composed of pistachio creme brulee, pineapple seasoned with lime and coriander, coconut, and tapioca. mmm…

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In the background of the picture above, you can see some of Pierre Herme’s macarons, the cookies adored by Parisians. The store had some rather exotic macaron flavors as balsamic vinegar and truffle.

We had to save some room for Sadaharu Aoki, pictured below. It was a favorite from our last visit, and just a few blocks away from Pierre’s boutique.

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The “bambou” green tea cake was as delicious as ever, and we sampled a few different flavors, as well, including black forest and raspberry (no, not all on the same day).

We also went to Dalloyau for this amazing fruit pastry. Just look at all those layers! It looks like the cross-section of some geological formation. I don’t know exactly what was in it, but it was tart and delectable.

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And last, but not least, was Laduree…To give you an idea of the popularity of Laduree’s macarons in Paris, we were able to get into Versailles and the Louvre faster than we were able to place an order for macarons. The line went out the door. Of course, we probably went there during a peak time of day at a peak time of year. The store clerks would not allow me to photograph inside, but I managed to get a few pics from the store window. There were some new flavor offerings, such as “rouge diva” (with chocolate, red fruits and spices) and gingerbread, and praline, in addition to the classics such as caramel with sea salt, pistachio, mocha, and so on.
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Pictured below are the pastries called “les religieuses” (pink) and “les Saint Honore” made from profiterole-esque choux pastry. We didn’t get to sample those, as our stomachs could only handle so much sugar, so we happily feasted with our eyes.
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This trip has inspired me to try making macarons, and Bob fortuitously came across a cookbook in Paris entirely about macarons! It is also entirely in French and suddenly I was thankful I had taken so many years of French in high school into college – to be able to read a darn French cookbook.