Archive for June, 2010

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Cream – Mmmmm

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

The recipe is on the Daring Bakers site here:  It was already gluten free so no tweaking needed.

I have made other recipes from the Francoise Payard cookbook and they have all been terrific, so I was looking forward to trying this challenge.  Although there were many steps, all the recipes are fairly easy.  In terms of the products, I prefer soft pavlovas, so these were too hard and dry compared to my usual merangues, so next time I would make them to my preferred degree of doneness with a soft centre.  The disadvantage to that is that they have to be eaten right away, so the dry merangues have some advantages.  The best part of this recipe was the mascarpone mousse.  It is wonderful, not too sweet, and absolutely full of velvety lushness (as Nigella Lawson might say!) I will make it again, and also the recipe has no eggs unlike most mousses so that is also helpful depending on who is allergic to eggs!

I had more stuff leftover so I also tried a deconstructed version in some verrines.  I am freezing them so I will see how well they come through this. Thank you to Dawn for a great challenge and making me explore more of the recipes in chocolate Epiphany.  PS – my favoutie recipe in the cookbook is the flourless  chocolate cookies, I may do a post on these later.

Coconut Mistake Cake

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

This is without a doubt the best gluten free cake recipe I have developed so far.  Here’s the story behind the name.

I wanted to make a gluten free cake for G. and had the idea of a cocoanut cake.  I looked at a few recipes, then tried to adapt one from the Jean Pare Decadent Desserts cookbook.

The first time I made this it smelled great, very cocoanutty, and rose beautifully. When I took it out of the oven I smiled and figured I had accomplished something.  Then I happened to glance at the recipe and realized I had left out the sugar!  So, undaunted by this mistake, I made a sugar syrup and soaked the cake before icing it.  Overall, it was still a promising cake. The next time I made it I remembered the sugar, and it also came out fragrant and fluffy.  Anyway, I have since made this cake 4 times, each time tweaking the recipe a little bit.  You will groan at the number of flours I have used, so just substitute if you dont have all of them, but it might not be as good as mine then!

The most recent version of this cake was for G’s birthday, and everyone had seconds.  You really cannot tell this is a gluten free cake, it tastes like a moist, somewhat rich buttermilk cake.  I decorated the birthday cake with Johnny Jump Ups fresh from the garden, but when the birthday boy blew out the candles they all blew off! The naked cake still tasted delicious.

Coconut Mistake Cake

(Gluten Free)

This cake is scrumptiously full of coconut.  It is a substantial buttery cake that is ideal for a birthday or other special occasion. Use real buttermilk – no substitutes. The icing is very sweet.  You can cover most of the cake with the recipe, if you want really thick icing double the recipe.



½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

I tsp coconut flavouring

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add flavourings
Dry Ingredients:

Flours (total is 1 2/3 cup)

  • 1/4 cup garfava (bean) flour
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot or corn starch
  • 1/3 cup white buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 Tbl quinoa flour
  • 3 Tbl amaranth flour
  • 2 T chestnut flour

1 tsp guar gum powder

1 Tbl baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1/3 cup ground almonds

Mix all dry ingredients together.  I have tried variations on the flours, but this mix is the best.
1 cup buttermilk

½ cup sweetened flaked coconut

Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in about three batches, Then stir the batter enough that there are no lumps.  I do this all in the mixer. Fold in the cocoanut last.
Bake in 2 – 8” round layer cake pans for about 20 – 30 minutes until lightly browned depending on your oven.  When done check with toothpick.  The cake will mound slightly in the middle and have a fairly firm texture.


½ cup unsalted butter

2 cups icing sugar

½ tsp coconut flavouring

¼ tsp vanilla

Dash of salt

Whip cream or milk – enough to moisten (1-2 Tbl)

Cream butter, add sugar and flavourings and beat until smooth.  Add just enough cream or milk to make the icing smooth (Do this a little at a time because it can get too runny quickly)

Spread thin layer on first cake, then top with flaked cocoanut.  Stack next layer and ice the top.  Do the sides if you have enough icing.

Pâté Anyone? Daring Cooks Challenge

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I used to make pâté quite a bit many years ago, but have not made any for quite a while, so I was looking forward to this challenge.  I chose the pork and liver recipe and  actually followed it to the letter (not something I am usually very good at!) I have a real French  pâté baking enameled pan that I almost gave away a couple years ago but then thought better of it.  The thick cast iron really bakes the pate slowly,  and the narrow shape is perfect, so I am glad I relented when I was in one of my get rid of clutter phases. This was the first time I tried a liver and pork combination.  It is absolutely scrumptions.  The spicing seemed a little light when I read the recipe, however due to the slow cooking and letting it mellow in the fridge for a day, the flavours are really subtle and quite delicious.  The other good thing is that there is no wheat in it.  Unfortunately wheat is often present in bought pâté, so this was a bonus as well.  The recipe is here at Daring Bakers

For the bread, due to gluten free needs for my hubbie I developed a recipe that was good as bread, but even better as crackers when they were twice baked like biscotti.  They came out so good that I also developed a wheat based version from another recipe, and frankly I can’t stop eating them. The crispy initial bite is followed by the mellow taste of wheat and a hint of rosemary.   So, both recipes are here for you following this post. This made a lot of pâté, so now I am trying an experiment – how does pâté  freeze?


Savory Gluten Free Parmesan Crisps

I developed this recipe starting with the concept in a recipe in a cookbook called Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal to go with a Daring Cooks pate challenge.  It is very good as a quick bread right out of the oven, but also wonderful as a cracker or crisp if thinly sliced and baked again to dry. They are sort of like Raincoast Crisps, a popular but very expensive west coast cracker sold in Canada.

Ingredients Method
Dry Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup garfava flour
  • ¼ cup amaranth flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tap baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp (or more) dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum powder
  • ¼ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
Combine dry ingredients. The total flour is 1 cup, so you can try other combinations.

Whisk the ingredients to distribute all the stuff.

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbl olive oil (I used extra virgin)
  • ¼ cup water
Add wet ingredients and mix a stiff batter.  Put in oiled small loaf pans then wet your gingers and push the sides of the batter down so the center is mounded up like a loaf.
Bake at 350, the time depends on the size of your pan, mine were very small load pans and they took about 15 – 20 minutes.  If making crisps, allow to cool, in fact even put the loaves in the freezer for a little while.  Then slice into 1/8 inch pieces and arrange on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 for about 12 minutes, then turn opver and bake again until crisp, about 12 minutes more.  Watch carefully towards the end because they go from crisp to overdone quickly.

Try spicing this with other spices like herbes de province, cumin and coriander, etc.  The cheese can also be left out.

Savory Wheat Crisps

I love a Canadian Cracker called Raincoast Crisps, but they are really expensive and sometimes hard to find here.  Julie Rosandaal, in her cookbook Grazing, has a recipe that is close to the bought versions, and I have made it several times with lots of creative tweaks.  This time I tried to develop a savory rendition of crisps.  They were so good as bread that I ate half a small loaf right out of the oven.  They are equally good dried as crisps.  And another great thing, there is no butter or eggs in this recipe, but because of the buttermilk they are moist and rich as a bread, and crisp as a cracker.



Dry Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 TBL amaranth flour
  • 2 Tbl buckwheat flour
  • 1 TBL almond meal powder (optional)
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbl brown sugar
  • 2 TBL chopped pecans
Mix together and blend thoroughly.

Re flax – grind your own meal in a coffee grinder, it is far better than bought

1 cup buttermilk Add buttermilk and mix quickly.  (Yes, there is no butter or eggs in this recipe!)
Bake at 350 in small loaf pans until the tops are cracked and slightly browned.  Allow to cool.  Eat fresh like this, or cool, even freeze for a little while, then slice very thin.  Bake at 300 on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes, then turn over and bake again for 15 minutes. Watch like a hawk at the end because they overcook easily.

Piece Montee (Croquembouche) Daring Bakers Challenge

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

The recipe is here I have to thank Cat because I really had a blast making this, and it tasted great as well!

The best part of Daring Bakers is that is makes you actually try things that you have read about but not actually made.  The May challenge was to make a croquembouche.  I am not that crazy about cream puffs, but I had never tried to make gluten free pate a choux. So, that was my personal challenge.  I tried the recipe included in the link above from daring bakers but with gluten free flours,  I also tried a batch with an adaptation of a recipe from Bette Hagmans Gluten Free Goumet.  Both turned out good, but the adapted Betty Hagman recipe has the best inner holes in the puffs, so I used them to make the piece montee.  I will post my version of the gluten free pate a choux shortly.

I also tried to make a spun sugar coating which is traditional in Croquembouche, and giove it the needed crackle when you eat it. I used a recip from Dessert Circus, one of my favourite baking books for French baking.  Well, I made an absolute mess in the kitchen, but I had a ball doing the spun sugar decorations.

This is the first time I have treid to make spun sugar, and it is a little challenging and takes practice. What I learned is that you have to let the syrup cool a little before using.  Also, you have to hold the fork up really high until the sugar stretches, that is what makes the fine threads.  I used one of my little experiments to top the croquembouche, and added pansies (I have warned my husband not to weed up all the pansies, they have come in very handy for decorations lately).  Overll, this Daring Bakers challenge was really interesting and expanded my culinary repetoire.

Beets that Bleat – an Appetizer!

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I love beets and find that they are really versatile and can blend flavours in many different directions.  This appetizer is wonderful and eye candy as well, so I hope you will like it as much as all my testers have.

My most recent rendition of this recipe was for my parents friends on my recent trip to PEI.  So, this post is dedicated to Mum and Dad, Shirley, Verna, Ted, and Ray.  I really enjoyed our lunch!

I saw a picture of an appetizer like this while browsing the internet, so I had to try it because not only was it beautiful, it sounded delicious.    I roasted the beets with their skins on.  Rather than the usual practice in recipes of wrapping them in tin foil, which is really wasteful, my method is to wash them, oil them in the surface, then cover in a pyrex dish and bake them.  They are soooo much more flavourful that boiled beets, but do take a long time to cook.

My version of this recipe is at the end of this post.  The SAVEUR link is here, look at their picture, it is really nice as well.

Layered Beet Appetizer

I tried this recipe from the SAVEUR magazine website and have adapted it with a variation on the filling and dressing.  This is a wonderful appetizer or addition to a salad as a first course.  I have made it several times now to rave reviews even from people who are not keen on the individual ingredients.

Ingredients Method
Roasted Beets:

4 medium beets  with tops cut off

1 Tblsp  vegetable or olive oil

(Note:  this method of doing beets creates much more flavor  and better colour than boiling. The method of oiling and baking in a pyrex pan is better than the usual instruction of using aluminum foil, and also better for the environment!)

Use fresh beets, not the type that come in a bag.  Cut off tops and leave about a ½ inch of the leaves.  Wash each beet, dry it, then but oil liberally around the whole beet.  Place in pyrex pan with maybe a teaspoon of water, and roast at 350 for as long as it takes to make then fork tender.  This is usually at least an hour, and can sometimes a fair bit more.  Keep tabs at the end because they go from not done to really done quickly.

When beets are cooled enough, peel off the skin and clean off bits, but do not rinse them.

SAVE the remaining oil and juices for the dressing.


1 pkg (about 170g or 4 ounces) of chevre, the type that breaks apart

About 2 Tblsp yoghout or sour cream to soften the cheese

1 clove garlic

½ tsp Herbes de Provence

Salt to taste – a few shakes


Place all these ingredients in a food processor.  If you don’t have one then do it by hand and use a garlic press.  Don’t try to use a blender, it makes it too runny.

Cut the beets into slices about ¼ inch thick.  Spread about 1 tsp on each slice, you don’t want it too thick or they will topple over.  Press each new slice on to the cheese enough to stick but not to push out the cheese.  You can assemble the pieces  in whatever order will make a flat sitting mound.  The first time I made them I then cut the stacks into perfect circles with a pastry circle, then you get perfect sizes.  Since then I just cut the stacks into quarters and live with a ragged edge.  Let you degree of anal fixation be your guide.


2 Tblsp orange juice concentrate or boil some orange juice to reduce it

1 shallot chopped very finely

1 TB juice from the roasted beets

2 T olive oil

1 TB balsalmic vinegar

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

A little garlic

These are approximate quantities.  Play with it.

Boil the shallots in the orange juice for a minute to soften them, then add the rest.

Spoon a little dressing over the beet stacks.

These keep for about 2 days in the fridge.  They are best if they have been allowed to cool in the fridge until solid, at least a couple hours.  The cheese does take on a pink colour, but they taste great.
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