Thursday, October 17, 2013

So Far, Soufflé.

    Alright Ladies and Gents it's time to put your fancy pants on, because we're about to make some chocolate soufflé!
Soufflé is one of those magical food items. It's light, fluffy, and warm. Depending on what you put into it, it could satisfy your cheesiest or sweetest dreams, and right now we're dreaming in chocolate. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about.
It may seem like something you'd only see on the Metropolitan Opera House's dessert menu, or in a 5-star Brasserie, but with a little know-how, you can whip one up as quickly as a batch of cookies. Trust me, when you're craving some serious dessert, it's more satisfying than a cookie. Unless the cookie is filled with warm salted caramel... but enough of that, I'm getting side tracked.
Soufflé!  One thing that it is however, is time sensitive. So plan on serving it as soon as it comes out of the oven or else you lose the "wow" of the puffed confection. My boyfriend Mark photographed this baking session, and he first handedly found out just how quickly the deflation occurs. So we will have one picture of mine from inside the oven, and then the slightly deflated finished product. He did a great job though! Next time, I'm sure he'll have that finger on the shutter when the oven door is opening. A round of applause for the food photography rookie!
I served this with a warm raspberry sauce for some acidic bite with the rich chocolate. Try it with any fruit you like! Blackberry or tangerine would be heavenly.
Here we go.

Chocolate Soufflé with Warm Raspberry Sauce.
Serves 6
1/2 c. Heavy Cream
6 oz (yes, weighed) Bittersweet Chocolate, chips or chopped
3 Egg Yolks at room temperature
3 Tbs Creme De Cacao 
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract 

6 1-cup ramekins buttered and dusted with sugar

5 Egg Whites

5 Tbs Sugar

 Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Sorry, that was demanding. Please preheat your oven.
Now it's time to get your double boiler happening. This is where a lot of people go wrong. Either they put too much water in the bottom pot so that the bowl with the chocolate touches the scalding water (burning and seizing the chocolate); or they boil the water underneath and again...seize the chocolate. Here's the ideal double boiler. Put enough water in a pot to come up about 1/4 of the way, and gently simmer it. Simmering water looks like seltzer, and we're going for not the most active seltzer you've ever seen, more like seltzer that makes my mom angry that someone hasn't tightened the bottle top enough. Place the chocolate and cream in a separate bowl that sits on top of the warm water. Monitor the water so it doesn't boil and gently melt the chocolate.
Now, blend in the egg yolks one at a time until fully incorporated. Add in the Creme De Cacao and vanilla.

Great job! You can now take the bowl off the heat and sit this aside until you're just about ready to bake and serve.
Stop right now. Just stop. Are you planning on whipping the egg whites and then walking away for an hour until your company arrives? Well with soufflé, that simply won't do. You can make this chocolate mixture ahead of time and prep the ramekins, but save the egg whites until you're about to clear the dinner plates.

In the mean time, let's make raspberry sauce! Here I trusted my go-to chef, Ina Garten. Don't try to fix what isn't broken, folks.

Raspberry Sauce 

1/2 Pint Raspberries
!/4 c. Water
2 Tbs Raspberry Liquor
1/4 c. Seedless Raspberry Jam
1/2 c. Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and cook until combined. I strained the mixture and then warmed it back up before serving. "Now how bad could that be"?

Now that your delicious dinner has been enjoyed by all (I'm sure it was), let's get these bad boys cookin'. Place your room temperature egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk them together at a low speed until frothy. Slowly bump up the speed and add the sugar in a steady stream. Now we're going to whip them until they become a shiny and stiff meringue. When the egg whites start creating a stream behind the whisk and turn shiny, you're just about there. Don't over-whip or you'll break the meringue down and be *&^% out of luck. Sorry to be frank, but it's true and has happened to me so so so many times.

Did I scare you? I'm sorry, you're going great!
Let's get that chocolate mix out, and fold the egg whites in thirds. Be gentle, because the more air in the batter, the fluffier the finished product. Now we can finally fill the ramekins about half way and bake for 15 minutes.

Pull them out, dust with powdered sugar and spoon over some raspberry sauce. Yeah, I'm probably going to go make some now. I made myself hungry.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Drunken Pumpkin Pie.

Figuring out where to start, turns out, wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be.
Start with pie!
Every thing's better with pie. Awkward parties you were invited to by your old friend from high school, filled with people who haven't seen you in 7 years who expect a very quick yet surprisingly detailed description of "what you've been up to": better when someone brings out a pie. A hard 12+ hour day at work and someone "accidentally" makes an extra pie (yes that happens when you work in a bakery): instantly excitable. So what am I trying to say here? Eat pie, sometimes too much, mostly whenever offered. Sorry Michael Pollen, but you and I both know that when it comes to pie, these eating rules rarely apply.
October means chilly weather, spices like cinnamon and clove, and gourds. Let's do everyone a favor and combine the best of the season by making some drunken pumpkin pie! Bourbon, for the chill in the air, cinnamon and clove for zest, and pumpkin...well for the pie. Great! I'll shut up now and get to that pie.
Everyone who knows and loves pie, knows that it all starts with the perfect crust. The flaky pastry is a fairly easy concept, chilled butter and flour mixed with ice water until it's a dough. Getting it right (and pretty), isn't something everyone can get on the first try though. So try, try again! After all, that means you'd be making more pie. Mmmm.

Pie Crust
Enough for 1 pie crust

1 1/4 c. All Purpose Flour
1 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 stick frozen butter cut in cubes, and 1/4 c. frozen vegetable shortening cut into cubes. 
3 tbs ice water with 1/2 tsp vanilla (more if needed)

Here's what I love about this whole homemade crust business. It's so much cheaper and more customizable if you make your own. It takes all of 4 minutes to make and about an hour to chill. I added brown sugar and cinnamon to this pumpkin pie, but in a cherry pie maybe I'd use almond, and in a quiche maybe I'd add pepper!
Let's do this thing!

Add all of the ingredients, minus the water, in the bowl of your trusty food processor.
Like that! 
Now give it a few whirls until the butter is about the size of small peas.
Now pop that lid back on and we'll start slowly pouring in the vanilla ice water. It will become a dough very quickly, but don't add too much if it doesn't look like it's coming together right away. Give it a few more pulses and it will all combine into a large ball of pie crust!  

You don't want to add any more water now, because that baby's perfect. Lightly flour a work surface and shape the dough into a 1'' disk. Here's the hardest part. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling. 
Don't you dare skip this part. Resting and chilling the dough will allow the butter and shortening to re-solidify, which is a pretty important part of flaky pastry. When the butter hits the heat of the oven, it will steam and create air, which creates fluff. Which is tasty. 
Alas, it's been an hour and we're so ready for pie. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your pie dough until it's about 14 inches. When you get out your 9 inch pie dish, I'll tell you the easiest way to transfer that dough to the pan. Ready? Put your rolling pin on the very bottom of your 14 inch pie circle. Start rolling up the dough around the rolling pin. You're a natural! Now that you have a pretty solid pie dough burrito, pick it up and place the overlapping piece on the edge of the pan. Now we unroll. See?! I know, you'll thank me later. Fit the dough to the pan, cut off the excess, and prick the bottom with a fork. This will allow the steam to escape and keep the bottom of the crust nice and flat. 
Bake the pie crust unfilled for about 15 minutes. Hold onto those scraps by the way. Keep them in the fridge. I'll explain in a minute. 

That's my baking partner, Frida. Say hello!
Now that you've met Frida, we can make the filling. 

Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Pie
15 oz. Canned Pumpkin
1 c. Heavy Cream 
1/4 c. Whole Milk
2 Eggs
1 c. Dark Brown Sugar 
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Clove
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
1/4 c. Real Maple Syrup
3 tbs. Bourbon
This part is so easy. Put the pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix together the cream, milk, eggs, maple syrup, and bourbon. Add the cream mixture into the pumpkin. Add remaining spices and sugar, and whisk until combined! Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Now let's get our Martha Stewart on. I made little acorns to decorate the edges of my pie! Right?! Do you need to do this? Well no. I guess not. But you eat with your eyes first, and these look pretty cute. 
Let's bake this bad boy.
Bye-Bye, Pie.
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40-45 minutes. It'll be done when the center of the pie giggles just slightly when moved. Cool completely before eating. I know. More waiting, what am I trying to do to you?
By the by, I added a pan underneath the baking pie. This was just for spill-insurance. It didn't spill though.
I served this with molasses whipped cream, which is essentially heavy cream,  powdered sugar, and vanilla whipped together with a touch of molasses folded in. I really just wanted an excuse to post a picture of my beautiful copper mixing bowl. You understand. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7th, 2013

        Honestly, I wish I could start over. This blog, that is. I want this project to be legitimate, strong, and a piece of me. I guess it is part of me...but a young me. Now I'm 24. Yeah yeah, still young I get it, but I'm so much more present in the real world than I was at this blog's beginning. I bake full time,  waking up at 4:30 am to start making breakfast for the masses at 7. I pay bills. I have a bachelor's degree in English Arts and Literature. I don't have due papers, a commute to school to spend hours on end doing nothing with friends between lectures, or long train rides home.  So, as you're reading this and asking yourself, "What gives? Where's my food picture?!" know that today I'm starting over. This doesn't mean the end (or delete button) for old posts and recipes, as much as an archival of them. Get ready for the future of To Cook a Mockingbird, of myself. It's a brand new year!
       Now where do I start...