{Baking} STRAWBERRY & VANILLA BEAN MASCARPONE CAKE … PINK for Pinktober

“Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone’s eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too.”
Gladys Taber

Yes, it’s the PINK month of the year again, PINKTOBER, or October as the calender says it. October is officially known as the Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this pink ribbon flies its colour. I support the cause and do my little bit to chip in towards social awareness every year, October being kicked off pretty early {on the 3rd} by Mr PABs birthday. { I got an early morning groggy picture of him and junior below}.

Year after year, he gets a cake with some, or sometimes a LOT, of PINK! He is a  good sport, and doesn’t mind the PINK at all. There was a time over the past years that the kids would question the pink? “Why is Papas cake pink? That’s a feminine colour. Why don’t we make it blue“… etc, etc! I’m glad to say they learnt the cancer awareness message, and now enjoy the pink with the rest of the PAB bunch, no questions askedPINK rules October in my mind!

October 1st marks the beginning of breast cancer awareness month all over the world. American Cancer Society uses this time to boost their campaign to raise awareness to breast cancer and to inform people that there is now a 98 percent rate of survival if the cancer is detected early. October is the month where you will see pink ribbons everywhere, which has been the national symbol for breast cancer awareness since it was first introduced back in 1991.

I picked some pink off my blog today! I have to admit I was never a pink person by any stretch of imagination, and steered clear of the colour for as long as I remember. White, black, beige, blue are more me, and I almost hated the very sight of pink.  So much so, that my daughter was hardly seen in pink in her toddler years. As time went by, I began to soften my attitude to many things in life, and my first Pinktober experience had me warming to the colour. It’s strange how rigid and stubborn one can be, and then comes along a different perspective, through blogging as in my case, and teaches you how to accept things more easily. Dislike for a colour seems so  trivial, especially when there are so many serious issues around.

Of course I had grand plans, with PINK and frozen strawberry reduction syrup etc for the cake, but my plans went very wrong. A new oven, new baking tins,  and a new recipe are not the perfect combination, and before I knew it I was in a corner, cooling my heels. My baking prowess took a larger than life beating, and I sulked as I looked at the two flat as pancakes strawberry genoise cakes. It was a horror of a day, and even though I thought hmm, trifle pudding, the cakes looked no good, so sadly were binned. I was quite relieved I had made the mascarpone two days ago.

Soon it was late evening, and with the next day being a busy one, I just whipped up my tried and tested old faithful sponge recipe. Things looked more PINK and happy soon, but no time for pictures of the making of course. Old recipe, single baking tin and new oven worked better. But the sink full of dishes, and next days lunch preparation made me over-bake my sponge slightly. Had I taken it out 5 minutes earlier, it would have been the perfect one! Yet nothing that some vanilla mascarpone filling couldn’t fix! Pictures taken in a hurry as we had folk over for lunch … huff puff!

As you can see, it was pink all the way. I had dried strawberries for the top, which I forgot all about and they still lie in my fridge. I barely had time to hurriedly pipe on squiggles on the top, but the strawberry flavours and the vanilla bean mascarpone combined well and saved the day! In the end I was just glad I was able to go PINK!

Strawberry & Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Cake
Sponge
The sponge recipe is based on the weight of the eggs. Each egg weighs approx 50gms.
6 eggs {300gms}
125gms sugar(little less than half the weight of the eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
150gms flour {half the weight of the eggs}
1tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp strawberry extract/essence
2-3 drops red food colour
Filling/Topping
600gm mascarpone (homemade recipe here)
200ml cream, chilled (25% fat, that’s all we get here)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 cup icing sugar for filling { adjust if required}
50gms dark chocolate ganache, optional
Method:
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190C. {I reduce it to 180C after 10 minutes of putting the cake in} Grease and line a 8″ spring form cake tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt thrice. Reserve.
Beat the eggs and sugar well with hand beater till very thick ribbon falls and holds in place for at least 5 seconds {beat for approximately 10minutes}.  Add vanilla extract and strawberry extract and beat for another minute.
Gently fold in the sifted flour; mix lightly so that air doesn’t escape.
Turn gently into tin and bake for 35-45 minutes till done. Don’t over-bake it or the sponge will be dry.
Once done, remove from tin after 5 minutes and leave on rack to cool completely. Cut horizontally into 4 layers.

Filling:
Whip the mascarpone with almost all the powdered sugar and the scraped vanilla bean until thick and holds peaks. Divide and keep 1/3 for topping.
Sandwich the layers with the remaining 2/3rds of cream.
Topping:
Whip the chilled cream till it holds peaks, and gently fold into the reserved beaten vanilla mascarpone cream.
Reserve 1-2 tbsp for piping designs on top. Frost the top and sides, pipe some designs on top {see video here} and drizzle some dark chocolate ganache down the edges if desired. Chill well before serving.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

{Daring Bakers/Baking} Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse & Preserved Stone Fruit

“To follow without halt, one aim; there is the secret of success. And success? What is it? I do not find it in the applause of the theater. It lies rather in the satisfaction of accomplishment.”
Anna Pavlova
The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.
It’s the Daring Bakers time of the month again, and I’ve just got it together in the nick of time. The challenge Dawn chose is primarily based on a recipe from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois PayardChocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. Chocolate Epiphany a book on my wish-list, and the name of the recipe so delicious, I was thrilled to see the challenge. What’s not to love about a chocolate pavlova!!
   

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova. Colloquially referred to as “pav“, it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner. The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

It’s become some sort of a norm for me to usually get the DB challenge done early. I used to procrastinate for long before, but the last few challenges have had me up and going in the first week or so. Not this time though. It’s been a busy month, and I just didn’t get down to it. We were away into the Himalayas in the first week of June, then came the boys birthday, and then the hub came down with the nasty tummy virus. A potent combination of baking and blogging just not happening, but all the time I had chocolate pavlovas on my mind. Whether it was in Gangtok climbing the hills to get to the monastery, or baking a  Swiss Black Forest Cake for the son wondering if I could pass off a pavlova as a birthday cake, or the 3 days I spent in the hospital with Mr PAB who was not looking too good, strangely enough, all along I had Chocolate Pavlova fixation!
I’ve made Tropical Fruit Pavlova earlier from INDULGE – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark for a Blogger Aid fund raiser. That had been my first attempt and at the time I had wondered why it took me so long to get there. Many desserts later, I was thrilled to see this months choice for the challenge, chocolate pavlovas, something I’ve wanted to try forever! I didn’t get as far as the creme anglaise and mascarpone cream because of the lack of time. Also because it’s been far too hot in North India, and anything with a cream base just tends to run in seconds. I managed to stabilise my mousse with some gelatin, and that too barely. At 44C, nothing stays!!

In an attempt to keep it as light and refreshing as possible, I topped the stabilised mousse with a combination of preserved stone fruit. As time goes by, I seem to add more and more ‘passions to my list. I am completely taken in by food photography, and also mad about preserving stone fruit, thanks to some jars I found in the market. Jars of the sort are not part of normal kitchen stuff available in India, so you could hear me whooping down the aisle! The past month has seem me in a frenzy pitting cherries and stoning peaches and apricots! I made a jar of brandied burgundy cherries from notes in The Cake Bible, and then went on to preserve a jar of regular cherries and peaches to make the most of the summer bounty! I was thrilled to be able to use them here, as Mr PAB couldn’t stop having a go at them!
All in all, a delectable summer combination. Chocolate and cherries offered the classic combination, and mascarpone chocolate mousse just made it better. For the record, I need to add that mascarpone doesn’t freeze well, at least not my homemade mascarpone. I made some a while ago and decided to freeze it before we left for Gangtok as I thought I would use it for the pavlovas. Ack. .. was strange and granular on defrosting when I returned, so I made a fresh batch from my post here. Nothing as simple and good as home made fresh mascarpone! Also, just for the record, a power cut doesn’t affect the baking of a meringue base. I know because the minute I popped the meringues into the oven… POP… off went the electricity for an hour!

I did have a bit of a time with the weather very hot at 44C, and so couldn’t get my mousse to behave. Once I managed to stabilise the mousse, the rest was FUN FUN FUN!! Thank you Dawn for something so ‘doable‘, and something so utterly divine! We loved it to the last crumb!! Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse, Brandied Cherries and Peaches
Recipe Source: Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

Chocolate Meringue {for the chocolate Pavlova}
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar {I powdered 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tsp cornflour}

1/3 cup cocoa powder
Method:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 95º C. Line one baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. {The whites should be firm but moist}.
Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white.
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into 6 rounds or whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. {I made 6, but 8 would have been a good serving size too}

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
300gms mascarpone cheese {homemade recipe here}
200gms dark chocolate
1/4 cup low fat cream
1 tsp gelatin powder
2tbsp milk
Method:
Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk in a small bowl, and  place the bowl in a larger bowl of warm water till translucent.
Run the dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add the cream, and run for another 20 seconds. Mix till well blended and let sit at room temperature until cool.
Whisk the mascarpone until smooth.{DO NOT OVER-BEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK}. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture gently.
Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Add the gelatin quickly, but gently, and mix uniformly. Chill till holds form.
Spoon or pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas. Top with brandied burgundy cherries, peaches and cherries in syrup, and chocolate flakes.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
Do stop by HERE and take a look at the marvelous pavlovas the rest of the talented daring Bakers have whipped up this month.
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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

As I sign off, just a reminder for a giveaway I am hosting courtesy of CSN Stores. On offer is a one-time-use $80 gift certificate for one lucky winner to use as they wish on any of the CSN websites. Do leave a comment HERE if you wish to take part.

STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE EGGLESS ICE-CREAM & A CSN STORES GIVEAWAY!

I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted — stay up all night or eat ice-cream straight out of the container. 
 Bill Bryson

I was delighted to hear from Sean for CSN Stores the other day asking if I’d like to do a home decor or kitchen accessories giveaway for readers of Passionate About Baking from the US and Canada. YES PLEASE!! I could choose something from counter stools or cookware from any of the CSN  Stores. Of course I had to choose something form the ‘cookware‘! This giveaway offers me an opportunity to thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to leave a comment and say wonderful things.

Have you had a look at the CSN Stores? CSN Stores LLC is a fast-growing, privately-held company offering customers the best online shopping available for home and office goods. A $200 million company, CSN is made up of more than 200 online niche shops offering a huge selection of products ranging from barstools and bedroom sets to grills, greenhouses and gaming equipment. They include All Barstools.com, Toys and Games Online.com, and Cookware.com.

 

With summer here, I thought either the Cuisineart Ice Cream Maker or Delonghi Retro Panini Grill would be a fun giveaway. I loved both of them, so thought I’d offer you a choice. Suggestion: With the grill, you can start with a several array of delicious panini sandwich recipes .

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment on this post before Sunday, April 24th, midnight your time, and let me know which of the two items from CSN Stores you’d like to win.  Tweet about this giveaway for an extra entry leaving a comment for each entry.

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2 Qt. Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker – ICE-30BC

What’s better than a quart of luscious homemade ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt? Two quarts! The fully automatic Cuisinart Pure Indulgence makes 2 quarts of your favorite frozen desserts or drinks in as little as 25 minutes. It’s easy, an integrated motor, double-insulated freezer bowl and automatic mixing paddle do all the work. Results are consistently smooth, cleanup is easy, and the brushed metal styling is simply sensational. 
or 
Delonghi Retro Panini Grill – CGH800
Make great tasting, restaurant-style grilled sandwiches in the comfort of your own home! This product features a double-sided non-stick grill that cooks from the top and bottom for fast, even grilling. Adjustable thermostat for grilling and toasting allows for easy operation and the temperature range window lets you easily view the precise temperature for perfect customized grilling and toasting every time!
The giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Be sure your email address is included in your comment.
My stash of strawberries lasted long. Some eaten straight out of the bowl, and loads frozen to be preserved. Others reduced to delicious Roasted Vanilla and Balsamic Strawberries, some headed into jars of Strawberry Vanilla Bean Conserve, and also in a Strawberry Cake with Quark and Mascarpone. Did I forget to mention the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Scented Frangipane Galette and these Double Chocolate Strawberry Energy Bars? Add to that a No Bake Strawberry Quark Cheesecake which I still have to post, and I could happily live off this passionate fruit for ever.

Like all good things come to an end, so has the strawberry season in our neck of the woods. It’s been better than any season before, and we’ve been spoilt silly by these luscious berries. Now it’s time to dig into the reserves and use the frozen ones! With the mercury almost hitting 45C very early in the season, this luscious eggless strawberry ice-cream was absolutely sensational.

Quick Strawberry Ice-Cream was music to my ears when I first saw the recipe in INDULGE – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark This gorgeous book that I received to review from Blogger Aid is one of the most special ones on my bookshelf, and if offers a variety of desserts from very involved to very simple. Each recipe has trivia attached to it, and Claire Clark extensively uses fruit in her desserts… that is something I love. If I were to own just one book on desserts, this would be my choice!

About the recipe, the author writes, ” One day when I was teaching at Le Cordon Bleu, my friend and fellow pastry lecturer, Matthew Hardy, was in the basement , busily prepping for our ice-cream demonstration the next day. I was shocked to see him making strawberry ice-cream without any eggs, and was convinced it wouldn’t be as luxurious as my recipe. I was, however, pleasantly surprised, as it was every bit as rich and creamy as mine.Whenever I make a fruit ice-cream, now, whatever the flavour, I use this recipe.”

I adapted the recipe a little as I had just made fresh mascarpone for something and looking through Indulge had a a change of heart. I just HAD to make ice cream. but had used my last batch of cream to make mascarpone. The recipe is QUICK as it says. I used vanilla sugar, and the only extra ingredient was a tbsp of vodka. By all means go the double cream way as that might be easier for most of you. It’s a delightfully creamy ice cream and just right for summer. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, this giveaway just might win you one!

QUICK STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE ICE CREAM (Eggless)

Adapted from Indulge by Claire Clark, pg 193
Ingredients:
600gms frozen strawberries,  (or if using fresh, washed and hulled)
300gms vanilla sugar (or Castor sugar)
500 ml freshly thickened mascarpone ( or double cream)
1 tbsp vodka (optional)
Puree the strawberries in a blender and then pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. ( I leave the seeds in because I love the added texture they offer)
Mix half the sugar with the thickened cream, and bring to a simmering boil. (If you are using double cream, mix half the sugar with the cream, and bring to a boil)
Pour this mixture over the fruit puree and mix well, then stir in the rest of the sugar,
Leave to cool completely. Set in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, then place in a freezer safe container in the freezer. Stir 6-8 times, every hour, to break and distribute the crystals, and then leave to set overnight.
Soften slightly before serving.

Note: I added a tbsp of vodka. This doesn’t change the taste, but helps keep the ice cream from getting rock hard.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥


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