Saturday, December 18, 2010

layer cake

chocolate cake

Here are some pics of the cake and other treats I made for Chris and Cara's wedding that I catered at the end of November (thanks Cara for the beautiful pictures!). The bride wanted a butter cream cake with swirled frosting. I immediately thought of the cakes in the classic Disney movie, Pollyanna. You know what I'm talking about---those five giant butter cream beauties that the cooks made for the the charity bazaar. I think one of those cakes belongs in the classic version of the American dream----a house with a white picket fence and a giant layer cake on the kitchen table.

The recipe I used for the cake was the this chocolate cake recipe from the Hershey's website. I used Valrhona cocoa powder though, which makes all the difference in the way the cake tastes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

chocolate overload

chocolate nougat
Or in other words, Three Musketeers! I've been thinking about doing something like this for a while and I finally got around to it. The filling in a Three Musketeers bar is a basic nougat, a sugar dough made with a sugar syrup poured over whipping egg whites. I let Chris know that it is similar to a an Italian torrone, but he replied that he has no idea what that is because he is fake Italian. The syrup is a mixture of corn syrup, sugar and water cooked to soft crack stage, or around 270 degrees. While it cooked, I whipped up the egg whites then poured the syrup in and paddled it in my mixer until it cooled. I added melted chocolate to taste, rolled it out on the counter on a silpat and let it cool down. It tasted fresher than the actual candy bar and ten times more chocolaty, most likely because I used good chocolate, Guittard 55%. Here is the recipe I followed in case you want to give it a try. I cut the nougat into 1" square pieces before dipping them in chocolate, because smaller is always cuter...

ganache experiment
I made a ganache from a book that Chef lent me, Fine Chocolates by Jean-Pierre Wybauw. Usually, you make a ganache by pouring hot cream or milk over unmelted (or melted, depending on your preference) chocolate, then stirring to combine. For this recipe, I made a syrup of sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk, let it cool to room temp, them poured it over softened butter that I was whipping in my mixer. I then folded the melted chocolate into the butter mixture. I've definitely never done that before. It tasted kind of like chocolate buttercream but fluffier and smoother. I tried piping it into rosettes, in hopes that the ganache would harden slightly so I could dip them in tempered chocolate, but the rosettes never hardened. Drat. I will have to ask Chef about what I did wrong. That's an almond on top of the rosettes to complement the Amaretto I added to the ganache.

work update
We got a shout out on Grub Street, New York Mag's food blog. I wish I could say I got a chance to decorate some of the cookies, but the night shift people just don't have time. Hopefully that will change for me, though. Chef told me that I will be moving to the morning shift very soon! For now, I've been working mainly on the swing shift again, which is night time production. I'm slower than I was a year ago when I started on that shift, but I'm hoping to pick up speed as I work it more.