The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestlé Florentine Cookies.
I’m sick. I made panna cotta but I skipped the cookies (I’ll get to them sometime this semester, I’m sure). I don’t feel like writing a post or taking pictures, but I made a cardamom and vanilla flavored panna cotta that I thickened with a gelatin substitute made of a combination of thickeners, and it turned out having a tapioca pudding type texture, except firmer than pudding. Lumpy. Not how panna cotta should be. So stick to gelatin (or agar agar).
So WordPress tells me what people searched for when they found my blog, and sometimes they search for whole questions. I thought I’d give my answers to those in case anyone else has been wondering.
How to save brownies that are too dry: there’s a long and honored tradition of soaking dry cake in tasty liquids like espresso and various kinds of alcohol. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work on brownies.
Why to roll a swiss roll while it’s still warm: otherwise it might crack, because it’s less flexible when cool.
Can salted butter be used in a Swiss buttercream recipe: I hope you found my post saying NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO. It will be overwhelmingly salty, and I say this from experience. You can get away with salted butter in almost everything else, though.
Add gelatin to ice cream for cake?: Not a bad idea. Gelatin not only makes ice cream feel creamier, it also helps it keep its shape as it warms up instead of melting into a puddle. This is a good feature for an ice cream cake.
I really did make them (yeast donuts with Alton Brown’s recipe, served with chocolate and ginger glazes, and powdered sugar). They were delicious. But I’m inundated with work right now, so a real post about them will have to wait. Sorry I suck at blogging lately.
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
I’ve been groaning to myself about the state of the food blogosphere circa Valentine’s Day, but then I realized, I’m doing the same thing. I made truffles, as I have every Valentine’s Day since my freshman year in college. I can’t help the fact that they’re the perfect potluck base: I make the centers – a simple ganache (cream + chocolate, melted together, some add butter), this year I took Cooking For Engineers’ advice and used a 2:1 chocolate:cream ratio by weight – and everyone brings a topping.
But I also made something else that is not what you usually see on Valentine’s Day (or ever), although I must admit it is clearly V-Day themed.
I have a thing about pâtes de fruit, which will become clear when I finally get around to posting about my cranberry ones. This time, I made them with red wine. I used Juanita’s Allrecipes recipe for wine jelly as a starting point, but it’s a pretty loose interpretation. Here’s what I did:
1 bottle red wine
1 packet low-sugar pectin (ie, pectin that can be used with low- or no-sugar recipes; not because I’m anti-sugar, but because this pectin can tolerate a wider variety of sugar concentrations, making it harder to screw up)
about 3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 an ice cube of lemon juice – about 1 Tbsp
Make a pectin slurry: I mixed the pectin with some of the wine so the pectin wouldn’t clump when I added it later. If you’re using liquid pectin, don’t worry about that.
Boil the heck out of everything: I boiled the wine, sugar, and lemon juice, and then added the pectin and kept boiling until 1) a little put on a plate in the freezer solidified to my liking – when I pushed on it, it broke into two pieces on either side of my finger instead of letting me make a finger-shaped hole; 2) the bubbles were small and close together; 3) it was just shy of 220°F – it seemed like it would never get quite there! The longer you boil, the firmer they will set, unless you go way too long and the pectin breaks down, in which case they won’t set at all (although your syrup will be pretty thick by then anyway). I would love to tell you the temperature at which this happens but I have been unable to find it myself. If anyone knows, please comment!
Pan and chill: I took it off the heat and poured it into a greased mini-madeleine mold and a greased mini-muffin pan, then refrigerated. They came out of the molds just fine. So don’t think your baking pans are unitaskers!
The verdict: They were quite good, but a little too tart. I would either increase the sugar, at least for this particular wine (did somebody say Riesling candy? I’ll get right on that), or drop the lemon juice. I have a sneaking suspicion that since all the pectin I buy has citric acid in the ingredients, we may not really need to add acidic ingredients anymore. Perhaps lemon juice and such are just still in all the recipes from before someone got the bright idea to add it to the pectin. Does anyone know for sure? I’ll have to test it sometime. Anyway, wine is already acidic so maybe it’s sufficient on its own. My recommendation is to make this with a fruity wine and no lemon juice – I still like to err on the side of too little sugar because, even as someone with a huge sweet tooth, too much sugar can take some of the complexity out of the flavor. And these are supposed to be sophisticated candies, after all!