{Baking} CHOCOLATE & CHERRY POTS de CREME … the yolks head home!

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
Stephen King

If you know a little about me, you might figure out where the egg yolks came from. No mystery here! Of course they came from my quest for feet, and the failure associated with them! And in case you haven’t stopped by before, feel at home, grab some coffee, and join me in my footless saga! In a nutshell, it’s about finding feet in macarons, and then finding a home for the yolks! 

Macaron madness hits us this time every month and the theme for MacTweets, the macaron obsessed blog that Jamie and I host, this September, is childhood memories! Mac Attack #11 – Long ago & far away … CHILDHOOD SUMMER MEMORIES.

 
Memories I had many – of nature, of flowers, of pressed flowers, of endless summers hanging upside down from mango and tamarind trees, of purple stained teeth from cramming sweet jamuns into our little mouths, of sneaking a spoonful of malt from the jar when I thought no one was looking, of my first  and only pea pod that grew on pea plant…
I tried to weave all those into my macs, and failed miserably. Got macarons, delicious macarons, but no frills or fancy feet. There were some vanilla macarons, with pressed dried edible flowers on top, and others with malt. I hurriedly sandwiched them with Nutella! I think the weather was just too humid and I had to fix a small something which I couldn’t lay a finger on. By the time I counted my failures, I had wiped my memories clean!
It was time to look at the yellows in life, as the whites were being fiddly again! I had 4 yolks on hand and didn’t want to make an ice cream with the family on the flu express. Googling through images, I picked the one that caught my eye, and I knew it had to be a Canelle et Vanille recipe. Simple Chocolate Raspberry Pot de Creme, very Aran, gorgeous pictures. I didn’t have raspberries, those not being native to India, so my next best bet were preserved cherries from my summer slavery! I have 2 jars of brandied cherries preserved and refrigerated, and I thought they’d do well here! Did I tell you that chocolate and cherries are a marriage made in heaven? They are!
What are pots de creme? Pots de Creme refers to both the custard dessert as well as the small lidded pots this dessert is served in. Pot de creme, or pot-au-creme translates from French to English as “pot of cream”. The French do not have a word for “custard” the dish is simply referred to as “creme”. The pots may also be referred to as “petits pots“.   Technically the pots de creme is a lightly set, baked custard.  The “traditional” proportions for this dessert is one whole egg to every five egg yolks for 2 1/2 to 3 cups of liquid.  A dessert made with these basic proportions will yield a barely firm custard.  This is why the custard is best served in small pots (or ramekins). You can read more about it at Pots de Creme. 

Feedback on these divine pots was obviously good, what with the luscious chocolate, cherries and cream! sharing space! The 3C’s together got me a 5/5!! The son asked, ‘Mousse? No? Well it’s really nice and chocolaty!’ Having just watched an episode of Master Chef moments ago, he charmingly added, ‘You would have won it if you were there. They made some really bad looking stuff today!’ Funny fellow he is! The teen who lives in the clouds also graciously mentioned that they were ‘VERY NICE’, and continued to spoon it into her mouth saying,’Fatty too huh?’ Didn’t seem to deter her though!!

For those of you who might wonder about the eggy aromas, I can assure you there were none. The vanilla bean took care of that, and chocolate in there must have appropriately masked the rest. It was a smooth, silky, deep mousse like potful! Good to the last scrape! I’ve heard lots about this delightful dessert, and I’ll have to say it’s one of the best dessert in the world, really is! Now that the weather is warming up, I’m thinking pumpkin pots de creme next!

Mr PAB bought me a new oven recently, and I finally found a patch of positivity in the PAB feet saga. I did try yet another desperate batch of macs this morning, and met with some degree of success – see some kind of  feet above? Life is looking up, and this new oven might just help me find feet. Maybe it’s significant too that the monsoons have finally stopped here, and the sun is out again! Just in time thankfully, because Mr PAB was beginning to show signs of utter despair, and asked me yesterday if I thought I should buy another brand of oven! The obsession with feet is clearly infectious!

Chocolate and Cherry Pots de Creme
Adapted from Canelle et Vanille
200ml whole milk

50ml full fat cream {top of the milk cream}
200ml low fat cream {Amul 25% fat}

1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
40gms vanilla sugar
4 egg yolks
160gms bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup preserved cherries {or raspberries, fresh or frozen}

Method:
Bring the milk,both creams, vanilla bean and half of the sugar to a boil. Pour this over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the other half of the sugar. Temper the hot chocolate mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Strain the custard through a fine sieve.
Place some preserved cherries into ramekins and pour the custard into them. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and bring this to a preheated 160C oven.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and pour hot water in the sheet pan. Bake the pot de creme in the water bath until center is set, mine took about 45 minutes since the oven is new. Do check after 30 minutes. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

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{Baking / Eggless Cake} VANILLA & CHOCOLATE and CHOCOLATE & WALNUT EGGLESS CAKE

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
John Wooden
It’s time for the Daring Bakers and this time I have to say I’m sorry I couldn’t keep a date with the challenge. My kitchen is ‘under attack‘ {read renovation}, and things are still in disarray. What should have been completed last week is yet to be done, dragging on frustratingly. That’s not to say I haven’t managed to sneak in a bake now and then, but I couldn’t manage the chocolate dipping stage etc of the challenge. I did have a LMP {last minute plan} with some clarified butter on hand. Thought I could manage the brown butter pound cake, but bad store-keeping meant that the jar was empty, and my plans fell through. Fate maybe?
I did however set up a personal challenge for myself, something I have always vehemently denied as possible, an EGGLESS CAKE! No es posible has been my standard response to the many mails I have received in the past. A cake sans eggs? You kidding me? How in the world would it get a crumb, find rise, be good to eat etc! Eventually ate my words with this beautiful cake from Sailu’s Kitchen. {Gear up dear readers for a longish post because I tried 2 versions, with butter and with olive oil, and both were wonderful!}
I tread the kitchen floor mildly, in mortal fear that the cake would not be a cake. Never baked one without eggs. The other surprise ingredient was home made yogurt. I set yogurt at home every other day, and bake with it often, but eggs always keep the yogurt company. I watched in childlike fascination when the cake began to rise, rejoicing wildly, thankfully in solitude! Who would be able to understand the sheer joy of an eggless cake rising? I {almost} followed each step religiously, something I don’t often do, but…
… expectedly had a last minute ‘moment of panic‘, and added butter instead of oil to make sure the guinea pigs wouldn’t reject it outright! Oil sans eggs was just not convincing at the time, and I thought the luxury of butter might rescue my cake from rejection. I needn’t have been so skeptical, and the next time I used my stash of Borges olive oil from here. The cake exceeded all expectations! It was moist, it was flavourful, and above all, it was an eggless cake with a beautiful crumb! Beautiful enough to disappear very fast, some stashed away by the daughter for friends who don’t eat eggs, the rest enjoyed on a rainy day!

Eggless Chocolate and Vanilla Cake with Cherries
Adapted minimally from Sailu’s Kitchen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sieved
1 cup yogurt {home made}
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted {or oil}
1/2 vanilla bean {optional}
1/2 cup frozen cherries {optional}
1 heaped tbsp cocoa {I used Valrhona}
1 sachet vanilla sugar
 

Method:
Preheat oven to 200 C for 10 minutes. Grease a 6″ round tin, and line the bottom.
Beat the vanilla sugar, scraped vanilla bean and yogurt for 5 minutes on high speed. Add baking powder and baking soda, beat in on low, and allow to stand for 3 minutes. You will find that bubbles appear.
Beat in the melted butter and vanilla essence. Next, slowly add the flour in 4 lots, blending in well after each addition.
Take 1/3 of the dough in a separate bowl and stir in the cocoa. {You can make just vanilla as well, in which case, omit this step}
Add 1/2 the vanilla batter to the bottom of the tin, smooth it out to spread across the whole surface. Add all the chocolate batter, and smoothen it out too. It might be pretty thick, as mine was. Top with the remaining vanilla batter to make a third layer. Top with frozen cherries if using, and sprinkle over the sachet of vanilla sugar.
Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 175C and bake for 40-45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. {Original recipe uses a ring mold I think, and the baking time at 175C was 20-25 minutes. Mine took a lot longer, so test before taking it out of the o}.
Cool the cake for 20-30 minutes and then overturn onto a plate.
Wait for an hour or two before slicing it else it doesn’t slice neatly. {My kids couldn’t wait}. The cake was very good the next day too, and sliced beautifully!

I would suggest the use of a good quality dark cocoa, having recently discovered that it can make a huge difference. I used Valrhona that Shayma from The Spice Spoon sent for me, and after experiencing it’s virtues first hand in this Chocolate Almond Biscotti, I am totally sold on it! I added a scraped vanilla bean to the batter as I love the depth of flavour vanilla offers to baked goods, and some frozen cherries to give the cake a cheerful face-lift. Also a smattering of vanilla sugar on top, just because …

Small piece of advicemake sure you let the cake sit in the tin to cool for 30 minutes before turning it out. Also try and resist the temptation to slice it when warm. We couldn’t of course, but I found later that it sliced beautifully after 3-4 hours, or even the next day as it firmed up. This is a nice basic recipe to have on hand for folk who need an eggless cake for various reasons whether health, allergic, religious etc.

I had to get back to try the oil version soon enough as the Borges bottles on my shelf tempted me yet again. Time for eggless cake version 2, and this time around I enjoyed myself thoroughly, baking in careless abandon, knowing that things would work out well. I made the cake early in the morning, the minute the kids left for school, and then chilled it for a couple of hours after it had cooled down. Moist, deep, chocolaty and to die for! The walnuts scattered on top got nicely toasted, and added to the flavours.
The idea of making an eggless cake, without any compulsions, came to me whenever I looked at PAB’s search results on Lijit. Do you give your stats a second look? I’ve recently started looking at them for direction, inspiration, ideas etc and found several searches for an eggless cake. I was recently inspired from there to make a Mango Vanilla Bavarian Cream Cake. Todays view looks something like this -

Passionate About Baking

You have been searched 1498 times about chocolate sauce pudding, kebabs, strawberry bread, pie, tandoori roti
View your search stats.
and I can already feel a ‘kebab inspiration‘ coming in!!

The thought of an eggless cake crossed my mind often, but I never did come across a recipe that tempted me out of my ignorance. Until I saw this post. It intrigued me and I looked at it in disbelief … Was it possible that an eggless cake could look so good and picture perfect? I had to give it a go, and am darned glad I did! You will be too if you are looking for a good eggless cake recipe. This was fabulous, and gone in a day between the kids and their friends! Without further ado, here is the 2nd version, using olive oil!
Lesson learnt … ‘Anything is possible, and fear needs to be conquered!’

Eggless Chocolate Walnut Cake
Adapted minimally from Sailu’s Kitchen
1 cup all-purpose flour,
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder {I used Valrhona}
1 cup yogurt {home made}
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil {I used Borges from here}
1/2 vanilla bean {optional}
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 sachet vanilla sugar

Method:
Preheat oven to 200C. Grease a 6″ round tin, and line the bottom.
Beat the vanilla sugar, scraped vanilla bean and yogurt for 5 minutes on high speed. Add baking powder and baking soda, beat in on low, and allow to stand for 3 minutes. You will find that bubbles appear.
Sift the flour and cocoa 2-3 times. Reserve in bowl.
Beat in the olive oil. Slowly add the flour mix in 3-4 lots, blending in well after each addition.
Sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts, followed by a sprinkling of vanilla sugar from the sachet.
Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 175C and bake for 40-45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. {The original recipe used a ring mold I think, and the baking time at 175C was 20-25 minutes. Mine took a lot longer}.
Cool the cake for 20-30 minutes and then overturn onto a plate.

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{Daring Bakers} CHOCOLATE & VANILLA SWISS SWIRL ICE CREAM CAKE

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare;
It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
Seneca
The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.
This was a challenge I wasn’t going to do because it had way too many steps for me as my kitchen was going to be under ‘attack’ beginning the month of July. Then again, fate had some other plans for me, and procrastination was out. The night before, i.e. on the 30th of June, I put some peach ice cream in to set because I had bought a load of juicy peaches. When I read the challenge the next morning, I was torn between doing it because I had ice cream ready, and not doing it because there was so much more to the challenge.
Tossing coins – should I, shouldn’t I? Then the daring baker in me won and I got tempted into trying the Swiss rolls even though I knew I was pushing my luck. I thought I would serve a decontructed dessert and took a stab at attempting the challenge. One thing that initially deterred me was the amount of cream in the recipes, but I knew I would find a lighter way out, and I did, pairing low fat cream with stone fruit. I have used cherries, peaches and plums in just about every dessert I could, including the chocolate pavs in the last months challenge. I’m lovin’ it!
I absolutely adore doing Swiss rolls. I find them ever so easy to make … Mango Ice-Cream Swiss Roll, Strawberry Chocolate Swiss Roll, Star Anise Swiss Roll, Red Velvet Swiss Cake are just a few… you can tell I love them! They bake in the express lane, and are the most charming things when you slice them up! I followed Sunita’s recipe and it was great. Once filled with a low fat cream and stone fruit filling, cutting back on many calories, I loved the rustic look they had. BLISS … I love being a Daring Baker! Being one just makes me want to push my limits, inspiring me to achieve beyond the odds. The pairing of the vanilla and chocolate rolls with the low fat and stone fruit filling was outstanding!
The peach ice cream was a big batch! I knew it would be good enough for the whole filling, with still some left over. Insanely enough, I hypnotized myself into making a small batch of chocolate ice cream too just because I needed egg whites to try making macarons! The recipe is one I made on the go, based on the method for a custard or pastry cream, and that seemingly was the most luxurious part of the dessert. The kids love the deep, dark chocolate flavours it offered, right in the heart of the cake!
The whole process was a challenge given that we were in the peak pf summer in North India at 40C + temperatures, but it all came together well and was a joy to make. It was tad bit involved though, and we enjoyed each part more individually as compared to altogether! A lot of flavour and a lot of colour … and a lot of work! Yet, the experience was wonderful and gave me many ideas for similar desserts, maybe not frozen!
Do stop by here and check out the BOMBES that the other Daring Bakers have rolled out!

Thank you Sunita for this exciting challenge. It was very engaging and a bombe to make! I was over the moon when I demolded the cake and it came out so easily! Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Chocolate & Vanilla Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake with Stone Fruit
Recipe source- Inspired by the Swiss swirl ice cream cake from the Taste of Home website
Peach Low Fat Ice Cream
{My recipe. This makes double the amount you need for the ice-cream cake}
1 kg peaches, peeled, stoned and pureed
1/2 – 3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup hung yogurt
400ml low fat cream
1 tbsp vodka {optional}
1 tsp almond extract

Method:

Whisk all the ingredients together with an immersion blender or in a food processor until well mixed. {Check and adjust the sweetness}
Freeze the mixture in a wide dish or plastic container. {The larger the surface area, quicker the freezing – since we have to pulse this mixture a couple of times}…or follow the instructions of your ice cream maker.
Keep checking on the mixture every 30 minutes or so and use the stick blender to break the icicles, 4, maybe 5 times. (I used a sturdy whisk).
Chocolate Ice Cream
{My recipe}
100ml low fat cream
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
4 tbsp cocoa powder
50gms dark chocolate, broken
Put the cream, 1/2 cup milk, sugar, cocoa and scraped vanilla bean on simmer. Heat till small bubbles begin to rise on the sides.
Pour this over the yolks in a bowl, off the heat, whisking continuously.
Pour the yolk mixture back into the pan, whisk in the remaining milk, and cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Take off heat, strain into a heatproof bowl, add the dark chocolate and mix till it melts.

Cool over an ice bath, and then freeze

Swiss Roll 1
Ingredients
3 medium sized eggs
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
3 tbsp plain flour + 2.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
1 tbsp of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans
Swiss Roll 2
3 medium sized eggs
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
5 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans
Method

Preheat the oven at 200C. Brush the baking pans {11 inches by 9 inches} with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water. Spread the batter out evenly into the prepared pan, guiding it gently into the corners of the pans.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
Meanwhile, spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
Repeat the same method for the 2nd Swiss roll.

Filling
200ml low fat cream, chilled
3-4tbsps granulated sugar powdered with 1/2 a vanilla bean
5 medium peaches, peeled and chopped fine
1/2 cup sweet cherries, pitted and chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lime
Method:

Whisk the chilled cream and vanilla sugar with a balloon whisk. Fold in the chopped fruit quickly and gently, so the cream doesn’t lose volume.
Divide it into 2, and use as filling between the completely cooled cakes
Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges {a border of ½ an inch should be fine}.
Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down. {I froze them for easy slicing as it was extremely hot here, about 42C}

Assembly
Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices, approximately 2 cms each.
Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm {at least 30 minutes}.
Soften 1/3 of the peach ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm {at least 1 hour}.
Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the peach ice cream. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze till firm, at least an hour.
Soften another 1/3 of the peach ice cream and cover the chocolate ice cream, making this the last layer. {Some peach ice cream will be left over}. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze till firm, for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.

To Serve

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

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