Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate with Francois-Chocolate Dacquoises with Lavender and Peaches and Chocolate Chiboust

I'm pleading temporary insanity for choosing this recipe for my Chocolate with Francois Group !! My over achieving evil twin possessed me in a moment of weakness as I was leafing through the book Chocolate Epiphany and picked a recipe that has more ingredients than most cookbooks ! Try saying the recipe name 5 times fast-it's exhausting !  But it sounded so lovely and I had visions of summer peaches and freshly picked lavender-my senses were overloaded with beautiful images and aromas.  It was sensory overload.. so to get my group started here it is:

Chocolate Dacquoises with Lavender and Peaches and Chocolate Chiboust

You know you are in trouble when you have to Google the recipe name to figure out what you are making !  Seriously, I love to bake and create things I've never done before so here we go with the August recipe.
If you have never made a dacquoise here are some Images of dacquoises to give you an idea of what your finished product should or could look like.  And the same goes for the Chocolate Chiboust-hear are some Images for Chiboust to compare to your finished dessert.  And perfect timing, one of my favorite chefs, Chef Eddy Van Damme created a beautiful chocolate chiboust this month, go to his blog to check it out.  It's a work of art !
I've gathered the lavender from my garden; purchased my favorite Frog Hollow Farm peaches and now I'm setting up my mise en place.  Also , based on my experience with Chef Francois Payard's recipes, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will not be the dacquoise or chiboust that ate Seattle !

Youtube video on making a chocolate chiboust

Chocolate Dacquoise
3/4 cup (75 grams) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds
1/2 cup (65 grams) confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons (15grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
5 large egg whites

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to the dimensions of your baking sheet With a pencil or pen trace eight 3 1/2 inch circles on the parchment.  Place the paper on the baking sheet, circles facing down so that you don't get any ink or lead on your dacquoise.

Sift the almond flour,confectioners' sugar,cocoa powder together over a bowl or piece of wax paper.  Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on medium speed until the egg whites start to gain volume.  Add the granulated sugar to the eggs a little at a time, and continue whipping until the eggs hold stiff peaks.  With a spatula, gently fold in the almond flour, confectioner's sugar, and cocoa powder.  Be careful not to over mix, as you want the eggs to retain as much volume as possible.

Fit the pastry bag with  1/4 inch round pastry tip and then fill the bag with the meringue.  Using the drawn circles as your guide, start from the center of the circle and pipe the meringue in a spiral pattern to make a disk.  There should be no gap between the concentric lines of the spiral.   On top of the outside edge of each disk, pipe 1/4 inch balls of meringue, to create a meringue border.  This ensures that the peaches will be cradled when the dessert is assembled. For some reason I chose not to pipe the little meringue balls next to each other and left some spacing-again temporary insanity on my part !

Place the baking sheet in the oven, and immediately turn it off.  Leave the dacquoise in the over for 1 to 2 hours, checking occasionally until they are dried and crisp.  Really watch this,with the weather in Seattle I had to turn the oven back on and bake them for about 10-12 minutes, then I turned the oven off and let them set in the oven for another 2 hours until they were crisp.  When they are finished turn the parchment paper over and carefully pull it to remove the dacquoises.  Store them in an airtight container , up to 2 days.

Chocolate Chiboust
3 tablespoons (45 grams) cold water
1 tablespoon (1 envelope, 5 grams) unflavored gelatin
1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
1 1/2 ounces (45 grams) 100% chocolate, chopped
4 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons  (10grams) cornstarch
6 tablespoons ( 80 grams) sugar
2 large egg whites

Make the chiboust
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (see my notes below for how I froze my chiboust)
Pour the cold water in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and let stand for 3 minutes.
Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the chocolate until completely melted.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and the cornstarch until the mixture turns a pale yellow.  Slowly pour a third  of the milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from curdling.  Once the milk is well incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat, and cook,whisking constantly, until it becomes very thick and bubbles start popping from the center of the pan, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed against the pastry cream .

With a candy thermometer close by, place the sugar and 2 tablespoons ( 30 grams) water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until the mixture reaches 242F on the candy thermometer-keep an eye on this and when it gets to 235 you need to start whipping your egg whites. If the sugar sticks to the sides of the pot, dip a pastry brush in water and brush the sides down.  You may need to tilt the pan to get an accurate temperature reading.

While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  When the sugar reaches 235 F on the candy thermometer, start whipping the whites on high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches 242 F, then with the mixer running, pour it into the egg whites in a slow stream,down the inside of the bowl.  Continue beating until the meringue is thick and the bottom of the bowl is cool to touch-about 5-8 minutes.

Fold the meringue into the pastry cream.   Pour the mixture in a 1/2 thick layer in the prepared baking sheet and place it in the freezer to set , about 1 hour-or see the notes below.
If you have frozen your chiboust in the 1/2 thick layer then cut it into eight 3 inch circles either using a knife or a 3 inch round cookie cutter.  Leave them in the freezer until ready to use or for up to 3 months tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Notes for freezing chiboust
His recipe calls for pouring, spreading and freezing the chiboust in a baking pan in the freezer.  I thought I would be wasting too much chiboust that way and my freezer compartment would never take a regular size baking pan.  So instead I took my 3 inch pastry rings and filled them with the chiboust.  I used the #30 ice cream scoop and it took about 2 1/2 of them to get the chiboust to the depth called for.  The chiboust is firm enough to hold it's shape so that once the pastry rings were filled I gently removed them before freezing-and voile no waste and frozen chiboust !

Poached Peaches
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
2 sprigs fresh or dried lavender
1 vanilla bean, split or 2 tablespoons ( 30 grams) pure vanilla extract
6 peaches, peeled and halved

Make the peaches
Combine the lemon juice, zest,sugar, and lavender with 1 quart (1 liter) water in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan, and add the pod if using.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the peaches and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes, until the peaches are tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove from the heat, and if using the vanilla extract, add it now.  Let the peaches cool in their liquid, still covered. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days.

Assemble the dessert -Finally !
Pull a few pieces of lavender off the stems (more or less depending on your taste for lavender). Cut the peaches in chunks about 1/4 inch large, and mix them with the lavender. 
Remove the chiboust disks from the freezer.
Place a dacquoise in the center of each of eight plates.  Spoon some peaches in the center cavity of each dacquoise.  Cover with a chiboust disk. If desired sprinkle an even layer of granulated sugar over the top of the chiboust,and carmelize it with a blowtorch.  Drizzle chocolate around the plate and voila !

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pick Myself Up Pie

First of all thank you to all my dear friends for your support and loving thoughts after my "temporarily fell out of the Universe's orbit " last week.  I'm back and now it's time to celebrate getting my land legs back so to speak.  Or as my favorite Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra would sing:
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.
That's life
I tell ya, I can't deny it,
I thought of quitting baby,
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.

Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern PiesFor my " little picking myself up and getting back in the race celebration" I'm baking the Grasshopper Pie. I've become so enamored with Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies, I want to bake each and every one .    I mean what better way to celebrate than by combining pie + alcohol.  Moderation with both won't hurt.  But let me tell you if you are going to go overboard do it with the pie ! It's old fashioned dreaminess and that first minty bite ..mmmm just tastes so good. Did you know that Grasshopper pie was based on the drink by the same name. A Grasshopper is made by shaking 1/2 ounce cream, 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao, and 1 ounce creme de menthe together with ice cubes, then straining.  It always amazes me how creative people can be-seriously -who would ever think of calling a drink or pie "Grasshopper". But during the 50's and 60's both were very popular and at one point the pie was labeled  "The Queen of Pies". I mean I think you would have to be drinking a lot to associate something that is usually associated with "a swarm of locusts" to a creamy,minty chocolaty pie ! So put away the alcohol,except what you need for this recipe, and make this pie for your friends.  

You can find the recipe on page 94 of Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies.  I said it in my last post-BUY THIS BOOK !  I'm not receiving any pie kickbacks on this- I just think this is an incredible little treasure and should be added to your cookbook library. And if you know me you know that I don't like to publish recipes -support the author !  However I found this one already published at Serious Eats and adapted my mini grasshoppers from there .

Mini Grasshopper Pies
1 recipe Chocolate Cookie Crust, baked and chilled (recipe follows)
1/4 cup milk
24 large marshmallows (just over 6 ounces)
1/4 cup crème de menthe
2 tablespoons white crème de cacao
1 to 2 drops green food coloring (optional)-I didn't use-if you use the green creme de menthe you don't need it either.
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, then add the marshmallows can continue to cook and stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool until lukewarm. Add the liqueurs and mix well, then stir in a drop or two of green food coloring if you like. Fold in the whipped cream.
Spread the filling in the crust and freeze for 3 or 4 hours, until firm, before slicing

Chocolate Cookie Crust
Makes one thick 9-inch crust or one thin 10-inch crust -or 12 mini tartlettes (muffin cup size)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2 cups crushed plain chocolate cookies (without icing or filling)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Combine the crumbs and butter and mix well. Firmly and evenly press the mixture into a 9- or 10-inch pie plate.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust darkens to a deeper (almost black) brown, then cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before filling. This crust can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Incredible Feast-Food Porn

What an amazing evening.  I was overwhelmed by both the quality and amount of talent present at last night's Incredible Feast.  Every direction  that you turned there was something tantalizing and delicious to taste.  The aromas knocked you over as you entered the main tent.  I felt like a child set loose in a candy store with no parents watching ! I won't even try to describe the deliciousness we experienced last night.  The wine, the flowers,the farmers, the produce, the chefs, the music and ah yes the food !

 All of the stars aligned last night in the middle of the U District to produce a truly incredible feast.  Now I know how those Roman emperor's felt lounging around eating their way into the night with one plate after scrumptious plate being served to them.  My absolute favorite of the evening was from Chef Adam Hoffman of Rover's-his Loki Salmon Roe on an almond macaroon with citrus fromage,oh my goodness,imagine the saltiness of the Salmon Roe , the creaminess of the citrus fromage and the crunchy sweetness of the macaroon-it was nothing short of a culinary explosion in my mouth.  I could have just stood by his table and inhaled these magnificent morsels all night long!  Without further ado, I give you the wonderful food from last night-enjoy and support your local farmers !

Macaroon with Citrus Fromage Blend & Loki Fish Ikura
 from Loki Fish Co & Adam Hoffman of Rover's

Pickled English Cucumber Salad with Lime Creme Fraiche & Loki Fish Ikura
from Loki Fish Co and Adam Hoffman of Rover's

Pork Belly with Peach Salsa from Serafina

Pickled Peppers Tonnemaker Family Orchard and Matt Dillon of Sitka and Spruce

Pickled Peppers,Muhammara dip and crackers
 from Tonnemaker Family Orchards and Matt Dillon of Sitka and Spruce

Pickled Peppers,Muhammara dip and crackers 
from Tonnemaker Family Orchards and Matt Dillon of Sitka and Spruce

Mussel and Chickpea Soup from
Taylor Shellfish and Ethan Stowell of Ethan Stowell Restaurants

Fresh oysters from Taylor Shellfish and Ethan Stowell Restaurants

Legumes a la Bagna Cauda from
Stoney Plains Farms and Campagne et Cafe Campagne

Yogurt marinated, grilled leg of lamb with pickled zucchini salad,goat feta and mint basil pesto from
Sea Breeze Farm and Meredith Molli of La Boucherie

Three potato salad with Smoked Totten Inlet Mediterranean Mussels with
Safflower & Pipitone Farms San Marzano Tomato Vinaigrette by
Olsen Farms and Anthony Polizzi of Steelhead Diner

Potato, Beet, Fennel and Herb Salad wrapped in Swiss Chard with Smoked Quillisacut Chevre
from Let Us Farm and Greg Johnson

Chanterelle  potato salad

5 Spice Braised Pork Belly with Cabbage Kim Chee from
Skagit River Ranch and Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table

Bread from Panzanella with Cheeses from Port Madison Farms and Appel Farms

Sopa de Maiz, Chilled Corn Soup with Padron Peppers from
Schuh Farms and Joey Serquinia of The Harvest Vine

Spinach and Rye Pasta filled with carrot and fennel topped with a pickled beet relish

Cucumber and squash blossom soup with pickled rainbow carrots from
Growing Things and Seth Caswell of Emmer and Rye

Panzanella Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Artisan Bread, Fresh Herbs and Red Wine Vinegar Dressing from
Kittitas Valley Greenhouse and Phillipe Thomelin of Olivar

Smoked Cucumber Gazpacho with Basil Yogurt and Pickled Beef Tongue from
Willie Greens Organic Farm and Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule

Roasted beets,red beet puree,feta pudding,chili roasted pepitas,arugula pesto with citrus vinny from
Fresh Bistro

Gingerbread with lemon mascarpone whip and Alm Hill Garden Berries

Sweet strawberry crepe from
Bluebird Grain Farms and Lisa Nakamura of Allium

Vanilla Rice pudding with fresh peaches

Desserts from the Dessert Auction

Passion fruit Cake from Macrina Bakery

Jonathan's Jolt Cake with espresso and chocolate

Berry Pie by Kate McDermott and Jerzy Boys Farms

Huckleberry Market Pie by Elliott Bay Cafe

Coconut Cake by Elliott Bay Cafe

Blackberry,Raspberry and Blueberry Market Cobbler by Mangetout

Mediterranean Walnut Cake by Bina Dona Kowski