Saturday, August 15, 2009

Frasier with Pistachio Creme Mousseline





At least this time, it's not a raspberry post, but I won't be far from all things berry at least until summer ends :D.

Ever since I started going to farmers' market two years ago, after I moved back to California, it was an instant love. I don't know how many times I've been saying this, but I'll say it again, once you buy fruits from farmers' market, you won't go back to grocery store. Especially in summer, where we're blessed with abundant ripe and sweet berries, fragrant stone fruits, deep-purple cherry, and so many other things. I used to think that berries are all tart and they're just pretty, not good to be eaten just like that, but obviously I was wrong!! I tasted my first SWEET raspberries and strawberries at farmers' market and I was really surprised that I can munch on them just like that without adding any sugar. Since then, I have been a firm believer that you shouldn't buy your berries or fruits in season at grocery store. Plus, you can find fresh produce, great food, and much more depending on how big the farmers' market is. When berries is this sweet, you gotta make a cake with it!

Anyways, onto the cake now. It was one of my dearest friend's birthday a month ago (yes I know, I need to update sooner :D), and he requested a birthday cake for his birthday about a week in advance so that I could have enough time to prepare everything. He understands me well enough to know that I need plenty of time or notice way in advance to make a cake. So, he gave me what he thought was enough time so that I won't have one of those "oh no, I don't have time to make it" kinda excuse, smart guy :P. And without a doubt, I used this opportunity to try out some things new and I decided on this fraisier.



Fraisier is not new to me actually as I made it a few times before. It's like a French style of American strawberry shortcake. Traditional fraisier has two layers of genoise, soaked with Kirsch syrup, filled with creme mousseline (a combination of pastry cream and buttercream), and finally topped off with green/pink marzipan. The version of the fraisier I made before did not have this exact components though. I used Cointreau or Grand Marnier instead of Kirsch (not a big fan of it), and I used vanilla bean creme diplomat (combination of pastry cream and whipped cream) as I like everything light texturewise, and I skipped the marzipan too. There is another version of modern fraisier, which I saw in Pierre Herme's book and some French websites., which uses pistachio-flavored creme mousseline as the filling. Pistachio and strawberry is one of those pair that you cant go wrong with, they go really well with each other. Some version also uses blow-torched italian meringue to decorate the top instead of marzipan.



I've never made creme mousseline before and so I didn't exactly know what is the ratio between the pastry cream and the butter. I read some books and website but they're all suggesting completely different proportion. So, there I was creating my own ratio, which suits my taste. I started with my usual vanilla bean pastry cream, added pistachio paste and weighed it as I kept on tasting it until it tasted strong enough (it is easily overpowered by other flavor, so need to make sure that the flavor is pronounced enough). Same thing with the butter, I kept adding it a little at a time and weighed it until I got the right consistency and taste. I also made italian meringue that I burned with blow torch to create the burnt effect for the top part, while the pattern was created using a metal spatula. I got a little bored with glaze and wanted to do something different :D.

The final result was a success, although I think it's a little bit on the sweet side for me. I guess it's predictable from the syrup (I made it sweeter than usual unpurposedly), the mousseline was also a tad too sweet (an experiment, remember?), but it adds up to the sweetness too, and lastly the italian meringue. Italian meringue has always been too sweet for me and that's why I don't use it that often. I reduced the amount of the sugar in this from my previously reduced-sugar recipe, but it still contribute to the sweetness level. Sadly, I forgot to write down the recipe while it was fresh in my memory :(, and now I have to do it all over again to get the right proportions. Oh well, I guess it's another reason to bake another cake!




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Friday, August 14, 2009

Raspberry Mascarpone Gratin



I'm a little scared when I typed the title of this post. It seems like I posted too many raspberry stuff lately and most of them are paired with mascarpone (raspberry tiramisu, raspberry mascarpone cheesecake, raspberry charlotte with mascarpone, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, and now this). I apologize, I hope you can bear with me to get through this summer season with lots of raspberry desserts/cakes, plus I think I warned you before that this is coming, right? :P

Anyways, I've gotta tell you about this dessert as I love it so much. The first time I read Helen's post on Tartelette , I fell in love with it. Well in fact, I would easily fall in love with anything that has these two words on it. I kept postponing trying the recipe as somehow either I don't have the perfect opportunity/occassion to make it, or I just don't have everything ready. Until a few weeks ago, I wanted to bring something to work for a couple of friends to say thank you. Cake was definitely out of my options as there are only so many of us, and so I finally found the perfect time to give this recipe a try. Fortunately, I have everything in the fridge.



I gotta say that this dessert tastes like anything I've ever expected and wanted with raspberry and mascarpone combination, not to mention that it's a breeze to make too. Making this is super quick and easy and it tastes heavenly. The floral note of the raspberry and the subtle taste and creaminess of the mascarpone just made me falling in love even more with this two ingredients. I even made another one after this for my nephew and niece as they liked it so much. I had one left from work and gave it to them and turned out that they love it and asked for more. I just gotta make that again. My nephew had 3 ramekins in one sitting! Well, I thought him well to be a dessert snob :P. My niece had 2 and even that surprised me.

I think I would change the direction slightly as when I made this the second time (I didn't pay attention for the first time), the batter looked curdled. the result was okay but I'm still bothered by it. I think it's because the egg is added the last time. Next time, I would whisk the egg and the sugar first, then add the mascarpone and heavy cream. Once the egg is emulsified with the sugar, it'll be easier for the egg to get incorporated with the cheese and cream. The baking time depends on the size and the depth of your ramekins, so watch the texture to know when it's done. Just like creme brulee, you want the center to be slightly jiggly when you move it, and the outside set. It'll firm up in the fridge later on. I like to put pistachio on top as a garnish and as an added texture.



Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins
source: Tartelette

Serves 4-6 depending on the size of your ramequins.

1/2 cup (4 oz) mascarpone, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh raspberries

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, the egg and the egg yolk. Whisk until fully incorporated and add the heavy cream. Make sure everything is well combined and divide between your ramequins, not filling them all the way to the top, about 3/4 full. Divide the raspberries among the gratins and set the dishes in a deep roasting pan. Fill the pan with water, half way up the sides of the dishes and bake at 340 for about 20-25 minutes or until they seem to be barely set: still giggling a little when you move the pan but not completely wobbly. They will continue to bake and set as they cool. Let cool and serve either chilled or at room temperature.


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Raspberry Mascarpone Cheesecake



I made this cheesecake once before, here. I don't normally like cheesecake, especially a dense one. I can probably eat one small spoonful and I will be content. But after tasting a mascarpone cheesecake, it has become my favorite. My love for mascarpone is undoubted, and it's really hard for me to resist putting this cheese into anything I make. Everytime I think of mascarpone, I would immediately think of raspberry and raspberry mascarpone cheesecake was one of the results of that.

When my asked me if I could make something for him to bring to a housewarming party, I immediately thought dessert. Although cake is a form of dessert, I just don't think a cake would suit that kind of party and besides, it would be pretty heavy I think. So, I was thinking something that's special, tastes really good, doesn't take long to make (you know me, I'm in a time crunch all the time), and can't be found in any bakery stores (at least around here). This cheesecake is one of the things that came up in mind. Although my friend said that I can even experiment with anything (he knows that I like to do that often in every opportunity :D), I just don't want to take that risk serving something to a group of people that I don't know. So, I must resist that opportunity and decided something that I like instead, this mascarpone cheesecake. I knew that I wanted to make fruit-flavored summer dessert, and not chocolate or coffee flavored.



If you read my first raspberry mascarpone cheesecake post, you would know that this is originally a regular mascarpone cheesecake (you can find the recipe in that post too) that I modified slightly. The cheesecake recipe is very basic and standard actually, but once you added mascarpone, it completely changes the taste and makes it extra special. I always think that mascarpone and raspberry is one of the best pair, flavorwise. In my first cheesecake, I added lots of fresh raspberries in the middle of the cheese batter and topped off with a raspberry glaze, but I wasn't really satisfied in the glaze part. This time, instead of scattering raspberries inside, I made a raspberry filling (I don't know what to call it). Basically, I just puree some raspberries, strain it, and cook it with sugar under low heat until the mixture thickens and reduced to half the original volume. My idea was to have a raspberry lava center, so that when the cheesecake is cut, they would have a surprise in the center. I also think that you would get more raspberry flavor this way instead of just whole raspberry, without getting annoyed with that tiny little seeds going in between your teeth.



I also put a sour cream topping on top and baked it for about 10mins, just because I have sour cream leftover in the fridge :P. I didn't taste the cheesecake, but I tasted the crumbs and the cheesecake crumbs that's left in the springform pan, and it tasted as good as I remember it. Too bad I won't really find out how good the combination is with the raspberry lava in the center. I absolutely love the raspberry glaze this time. I just found some leftover raspberry syrup for soaking a cake, and I have a little raspberry puree, so I combined them, add sugar/water as I needed and added enough pectin. I didn't even measure anything, but it came out perfect! The consistency is just right, the flavor is there, and not too sweet at all! The glaze was really shiny that I had a hard time taking picture of it without getting the reflection of the light or anything. I forgot to write down the proportion of the raspberry lava center though. I meant to write it down quickly but I kept on putting it off and by the time I actually want to do it, I forgot already :( (it happens quite often actually), so I'll just have to start over and try out some proportion again next time I make this.


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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Raspberry and Lychee Charlotte



I always thought raspberry and lychee are a great combination. Both have slightly floral fragrance that's not too strong and I think they compliment each other really well. I like to brainstorm some flavor combination for a cake or dessert, including what components I think it should have, and I write them down in my "brainstorming book" :D. Or sometimes I just browsed through the internet and found some interesting cake combo that I'd like to try. I often eat something that taste interesting (in a good way) and thought that "hmm.....this is gonna be really good in a cake", and started to scribble down my notes. Life is so full of good things that there are so many possibilities of different flavors that I don't think I can make them all in my lifetime.

I made raspberry-lychee cake before a few times, usually with rose (usually called ispahan, introduced by Pierre Herme, my pastry hero :D). I was in a charlotte madness at that time, I wanted to make summer berry charlotte, pear charlotte, you name it, and this raspberry-lychee charlote is one of the charlottes I was dying to make.

So I made this for a quarterly potluck party at work with a group of coworkers. I seem to be the default for the dessert person, I don't know why. They immediately asked what dessert I will bring when the invitation was sent out. Making dessert for coworkers is a little bit pressuring compared to making it for your friends. You always want to impress them, while your friends already know your failed and good cakes :), but I took my chance and used this opportunity to experiment with this flavor.



Usually and traditionally, charlotte is composed of soft lady finger sponge, instead of regular sponge cake and decorated with it as well. But I'm not a huge fan of this lady finger sponge as usually they're dry and the texture is not soft, it soaked up liquid really well though. If you're Asian, then you will understand that we like everything to be soft and moist. Fortunately, I had some cotton-like soft sponge in the freezer and I had two layers! Perfect to make this, and what a time saver! Don't you just love freezer. I soaked the sponge layers with a raspberry solution, filled it with mascarpone bavarian cream flavored with framboise (clear raspberry brandy), lots of chopped lychees and fresh raspberries. Put a thin layer of the cream on top of the second cake layer and decorated it with lots of fruits. I bought the Italian lady finger (hard/cookie-like lady fingers, used for tiramisu mainly), to save the time and becauze I like them better than the soft one.

In the end, it turned out great! I wish I can make some adjustment though next time. There are some area that I want to change, such as, the cream needs to be firmer (need to add more gelatin), use vanilla bean instead of extract, and probably a variation on the filling. Bavarian cream is one of the most common fillings for charlotte, another option is mousse. So I chose bavarian cream and added mascarpone to it. But I don't think the mascarpone added much to the flavor and texture if you added to bavarian cream. Next time, I would probably use vanilla bean bavarian cream, or mascarpone mousse instead. But overall, it tasted lovely :)


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Black Raspberry, White Chocolate, and Cream Cheese Cake





No, I don't have a husband, if you might asked :D. It's for somebody else's husband.

It all started when I was asked to make a cake for a friend's birthday (she never had any of my cakes before) and turned out she liked it so much that when her older sister was visiting her from Indonesia and was looking for a cake, she mentioned my name. I have never met her sister before, she told me that her sister and the husband were about the pickiest couple when it comes to food, more over, dessert. You see now how much pressure I had when I heard that.

After a few emails and phone calls, she decided to try the black raspberry cake I made here since she's never had it in Indonesia (raspberry is very hard to get in Indonesia, and therefore not a common fruit or flavor). It was actually for her husband's birthday who is a chocolate addict, but she decided on trying something new, something they've never tried before (FYI, her husband is a chocolate lover :D). It was just such a really short notice though.



So, this is what I can come up with, in such a short notice. I think I only had one day to make this. And when I said one day, that means bright and early in the morning, and at night after work around 9pm (oh, and another morning on the day itself before work :D). I hope I can do much better with the decoration though, although I'm not sure what would I do differently if I had more time. But anyways, I'm always happy and grateful for every opportunity I get to contribute something for a special event :)




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Monday, August 3, 2009

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake





I didn't have a certain occasion when I made this. It just happened that I have 5lbs of cream cheese and plenty of fresh raspberries in the fridge. You know already my love towards raspberries and I could never passed on picking one or two baskets whenever and wherever I see them, especially at this time of the year. You will see my fridge full of assortment of berries, cream cheese, which is one of the staples, and heavy cream. Those are some of the things that I always have ready in my fridge. You can practically make countless possibilities of cakes with just these few things (considering you always have eggs, butter, flour too :D).

Sometimes, I just didn't think what I wanted to do with the berries especially, when I bought them. Unfortunately, they have a very short shelf life and I often found myself forgetting them and ended up throwing most of them away :(. It's not that I purposely neglect them but a lot of times, I came home really late and didn't get to open the fridge for a few days :(.

This time, it was yet another time that I had to come up with something to use the raspberries that were really threatened to die. Sometimes, I really think it's a good thing. At least this way, I always have to think of what to do with them, or else I would not bake as much. It wasn't difficult at all this time to come up with something. The idea of making white chocolate raspberry cheesecake came instantly when I opened my fridge and saw all the ingredients for cheesecake right in front of me. Besides, I've been wanting to try this recipe for the longest time. I made some adjustment though, I used different almond crust recipe from the previous mascarpone cheesecake I made before and I multiplied the whole filling by 1.5. Looking at the recipe, it looks like the end result would not be high enough, two 8-oz of cream cheese for 8" springform pan. I like my cheesecake a little higher than that, although not as high as NY cheesecake, so I decided to increase the amount of batter. I substitute one 8-oz cream cheese with mascarpone cheese that I had on hand, hoping that it would give a softer texture and creamier taste. I also decrease the amount of sugar, I forgot by how much (need to look at my notes).



Here's the original recipe:

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake
Source: Epicurious

Crust
  • 18 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling
  • 4 ounces imprted white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh raspberries or frozen unsweetened, thawed, drained
Topping
  • 1 8-ounce container sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2-pint baskets raspberries or one 1-pint basket strawberries
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Use a good white chocolate as you won't be able to taste it of you use the cheap kind. I used Callebout and I might want to add more to the batter next time. I did omit the raspberry jam though. I also thought it would taste better with vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. I did go a little overboard on the lemon zest. I have this habit that whenever I used lemon zest to make any kind of dessert, I always rub them with the sugar using my fingers to release the oil from the zest. It makes all the difference in the world. However, I wasn't thinking obviously at that time, that the lemon zest would overpower the subtle taste of the white chocolate. The white chocolate taste wasn't as pronounced as I would like them to be, and I'll blame it on the lemon flavor :P. But overall, I really recommend this recipe though. The texture is smooth and creamy. I would leave out the zest completely next time and use probably 1/2 pod of vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract.

I shared it with my coworkers at work and we all loved it (yes, that would be including me :D)




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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mango Entremet






You see, mango is one of my favorite all time fruits (other than raspberries, and some other fruits). My eyes would lit up everytime I heard a mango cake, mango dessert, mango this, mango that and it's definitely one of the cake flavors that I would pick up if I'm in a pastry shop. You can understand how excited I was when I saw Helen's post about her Chocolate Mango and Coconut Cream Cake. I absolutely LOVE LOVE what she did with the cake. It looks gorgeous, clean, neat, superb! I've always wanted my cakes to look like that, but I guess I have a long way to go :(. Ever since I saw her post, I wrote it down in my "to-make" list, that I need to make something with mango and it has to be square and it has to show the different layers. Helen kindly has her recipe on her blog, and I could just follow that, but you know me, I'm a rebel :D. So, I decided to experiment and make a new recipe for a mango entremet, thinking what layers can go along really well with mango. Mango and coconut are often put together, but I'm never a fan of coconut flavored cakes, so coconut is out of the question and so is chocolate.



After some scribbling, I decided that my mango cake would consist of sponge base, mango mousse, vanilla bavarian cream, and thin raspberry gelee in the middle. I waited for the perfect occasion to make this cake and my sister in law's birthday was coming up, so yay! Just like me, my family loves mango, so this is the perfect event to try this. There's not much can be done earlier except the sponge base. Everything else pretty much has to be made just before you use it. I wanted to make 8" square, but my cake ring can only measure 9x10 at least, so I tried a new method using an 8" square baking pan. I lined the inside of the pan with plastic wrap and let it hang on the side, and assemble everything in it, then into the freezer it goes. After it looks strong enough, lift the plastic wrap and trim the sides. It sounds easy enough on my mind.



Since this is a trial recipe, of course everything will not be perfect. My mango mousse is too strong and too soft, my bavarian cream layer is too thick and needs more gelatin, my glaze was not perfect, etc. I only freeze it for less than 30 minuntes I think before pulling the plastic wrap up and it did not completely set yet. You can probably see that the sides are not straight, etc. I was having a hard time trimming the side of the cake while the cake is still soft, not solid. Oh well, lesson learned: do not rush things! I wasn't 100% satisfied with the look of the cake, I imagined it would be shorter, the layers are thinner, the mousse and the cream are stiffer, etc.

But I was really glad that the whole family liked it! We only have 7 people (5 adults and two kids) and they easily finished everything off! Everybody had second except my little niece, I was surprised enough to see her finished her own cake. This cake surely is a winner, I just had to work more on the recipe (and the looks) :)

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Indonesian Goodies

There's a time when I want to bake all things with mousse or cream, anything to do with French patisserie, but there's a time when all I want to bake is some simple Indonesian goodies that reminds me of home. Sure all those gateau, pastries and desserts are great, but there's something about a simple dessert that brings your memory back when you were little.

These are just some stuff that I made over a few weeks, there are some that I didn't even bother to photograph. I made them many times before, so no need to have special post for each one of them. I hope you too have something that would remind you all the precious childhood memories back when you were a kid, and try to re-create some of them :)


bika ambon


lapis surabaya


putu ayu


bolu kukus


weird shape?
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1st Birthday Cake!



I was asked to make a 1st birthday cake for a little girl a few months ago. At that time, it sounded easy, she picked the decoration from a picture and it didn't look complicated at all. The process of making the cake was pretty easy too and straight forward. The top 6" tier is blueberry-vanilla cake, and the bottom 8" tier is "lapis surabaya" cake, which has 2 layers of vanilla and 1 layer of chocolate (made from all egg yolks and lots of them!).

I mentioned this a few times before and if you know me well, you would know that I'm not really good at cake decorating. I always have trouble when it comes to decorating a cake. My mind goes blank everytime a cake is finished and ready to be decorated. I think mousse cakes are easier though, just throw some fresh berries, glaze, chocolate, and voila! you got a nice-looking cake. But with fondant, nu-uh! I've never had the patience of making little figurines or decoration that usually go into a fondant cake. I love making wedding cakes or bridal shower cakes, that don't require much; in fact, for me, less is more for those types of cake. I always adore the simplicity and cleanliness of a wedding cake.



When it comes to decorating a cake for a small kid, I was really confuse. I tried to remind myself over and over again that it has to be colorful, not plain white or ivory, so I did my best to make it cheerful (although I think I overdid it :( ). It took me probably a good 6 hours total to decorate this! I know I know, I'm slow, I don't even remember or know why it took so long. I guess I underestimated the time it needs for kneading the fondant, coloring each one of them, shaping them, letting it dry, etc etc. I was pretty happy with the top tier, it looks spring-y (which really suits the season at that time) but I was not for the bottom tier :(. I gave up at the end and just let it be the way it is. I guess I REALLY need to practice my fondant skill.





The surprise came in a day later. The mother emailed me that everybody at the party LOVES the cake!! An hour later, I got a call from a friend who attended the party and he (and his wife) confirmed how good the cake tasted. Although I think they're a little exagerating, but it really blew me off. The disappointment I got from the day before for not being able to make a perfect cake, has been replaced by the relieve feeling after hearing and reading the comments. Phew..! As long as everybody happy, then it's all that matters :) (oh, and sorry for the ugly pictures :D).
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