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toni

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Posts posted by toni

  1. toni, many years ago Time-Life put out a series of books called "The Good Cook". One of the volumes is devoted to cakes of all kinds. It covers the basics and advances to fancier preparations. The first third or so of the book is a pictorial and the last an index of recipes. It is out of print, but you may be able to find them in a used book store or on eBay.

    If they are unavailable, I would look for other older texts that explain more about how ingredients react to each other and the proper techniques involved. Many newer cookbooks are too interested in being cute or are devoted to trendy items like cake pops. One of the most helpful books I have is "The American Woman's Cookbook" that was my mother's. It is also long out of print, but is good for meal planning and explaining what to make with extra egg whites and yolks and the like. Unfortunately, it assumes that most of the users are familiar with cooking times and what a low, medium and hot oven are without giving any temps. It's still a good home ec kind of a book.

    Best of luck!

    It is so sweet of you to take the time to give me this information, Annabelle. I will look in a used book store very soon for The Good Cook, and I thank you. It sounds very interesting.

  2. Is there a resource for me to learn about when to mix, when to beat and for how long? When adding some ingredients, I have a fear from reading in past directions like, "Mix just until combined... don't be afraid to beat it for several minutes," etc. I would appreciate any help possible. Help!!! Lol. Thanks ahead of time. Toni

    There are some things you have to be careful about beating for a long time. If you beat flours with gluten (such as wheat flour), the gluten will develop and be tough -- good for bread, not good for cakes or biscuits.

    If you're adding something you want to stay light -- such as beaten egg whites -- you don't want to beat too much, because they'll deflate.

    But beating a butter/sugar combo, well, you can go pretty much as long as you like.

    That is very helpful, thank you.

  3. Just an fyi - I make Toba Garrett's chocolate buttercream which is an American buttercream using butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa (and liquids and flavorings) but it also had ganache added - up to a cup for a regular batch. This addition makes the buttercream a beautiful texture. You can find her recipe at epicurious.com, I believe.

    I'm going right now to check that one out...and thank you!

  4. Maybe adding more powdered sugar would have been good. I was just thinking that it was so thick (dense) already, and I was worried it might end up even thicker by adding more powdered sugar and also be too sweet. But because it had so much chocolate, maybe it would have been okay to be a little sweeter. Annabelle, yes, I guess it was more like an American buttercream. I started making this frosting so many years ago, and I tend to want to improve or change things up. I remember wanting to make it more chocolatey a few years ago (and it was really quite chocolatey already) and I should have left it alone and not decided to add melted chocolate. You know that saying, a little...then a lot must be better...? Why did I think cocoa powder AND melted bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate would make this frosting the ultimate in taste

    Okay, here is what I did: I took the frosting out of the refrigerator and let it set for a bit and then put the frosting in the KA mixer and mixed it a little bit. Then I added 2 TBSP of whipping cream as it mixed and continued adding 2 TBSP at a time as I watched it and probably ended at about 10-12 TBSP. The frosting softened quite a bit and then I added 1/2 of a cube of butter, 1 TBSP at a time. It was still quite rich, a little lighter in color, and it was yummy.

    Next time I'm not sure if I will add the melted chocolate to the recipe. For sure, I won't add 2 TBSP each of unsweetened and bittersweet.

    I would love to hear if any of you use only the unsweetened cocoa or if any of you use both the cocoa and the melted chocolate to make a buttercream-type of chocolate frosting. I don't make frostings enough to not be intimidated.

    Thank you, everyone for your help. Just reading your responses gave me more confidence.

  5. Thank you, Lisa. That sounds interesting. I'm a little worried that it could make it too sweet, though. What do you think: I have about 4 cups of frosting. Should I add about 1 cube of butter and about 1/2 cup powdered sugar and what would happen if I just added more butter?

    I'm surprised that you say that adding the cream wouldn't affect the flavor much. Some frostings are made up of whipping cream, sugar and the cocoa, right? Do you ever combine unsweetened cocoa and the chopped chocolate like I did? I don't know if I should ever do it again.

    Thank you again for responding. I'll let you know what I do. Here's hoping...

  6. I'm wondering what to do to make a chocolate frosting that I already made not so dark and dense. It was made with butter, powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and then I added 2 oz. of unsweeteed chocolate and 2 oz. of bittersweet chocolate. I'm sure I made a mistake by trying the added chocolate, but what can I do now to lighten the frosting up? I've made a 5 layer chocolate cake and I've filled it with chocolate buttercream that is nice and light. I thought the darker, richer frosting would be good, but this is ridiculous.

    Can I add whipping cream before it is whipped to the frosting and just mix the 2 together and then beat it? I don't know the basics of when something like this curdles when mixed together.

    Is there a resource for me to learn about when to mix, when to beat and for how long? When adding some ingredients, I have a fear from reading in past directions like, "Mix just until combined... don't be afraid to beat it for several minutes," etc. I would appreciate any help possible. Help!!! Lol. Thanks ahead of time. Toni

  7. It is so awesome of you to take the time to share your recipe, Gfron1!

    I am printing it out and will make this for sure. I like that you suggested mixing thighs and breasts and that is what I'll do. It sounds really good and I'll be sure to let you know how mine turns out. Thank you again sooooo much!

  8. I just did this yesterday, so it's all very fresh in my mind. First, just a thin layer of sugar, evenly sprinkled on top. I used about 2 tsp. sugar per ramekin - mixed half and half white and light brown. Next, a REAL blow torch from the hardware store. It costs about half of what a kitchen torch costs, and isn't really all that big and scary. You light a match, turn on the knob to release the gas, and then adjust the flame so that it's small enough to feel safe to you. Done. Finally, you have to torch the custards very delicately, and keep the torch moving all the time. Eventually you'll get the hang of melting the sugar without burning the sugar to blackness (a few spots are fine). should be easy to aim the point of the flame pretty precisely where you want it to go.

    Don't be in a hurry. And don't be scared. And let the creme brulees rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

    Thank you so much for the encouragement and your experience.

  9. You can get torches at the hardware store that have ignition triggers, so you don't even have to use a match. Very convenient, easy to use.

    Eileen

    How did you know that I was picturing myself holding the match, turning on the gas and adjusting the flame in order. I will look into this torch. You know my husband is wondering why I am so determined to figure out the caramelization because he says the creme is so outstanding by itself. Go figure!

  10. the secret to get an even cap of burnt sugar is to spray with water before burning,we do this here in spain with great results

    I'm surprised to hear that because I've heard to dab the top of the creme if it has moisture on it after taking it out of the refrigerator. It does make sense that the sugar would stick better if the top were damp, though. Thank you for your thoughts.

    I think the poster meant to spray the sugar to dampen it slightly for an even caramelization. The only reason I would disagree with this is because it would take longer to caramelize in order to evaporate the water. With the little torch, this would be prohibitive I think.

    Oh, thank you.

  11. I usually don't even let it simmer. Following Barbara Tropp, I bring the poaching liquid to a boil with the bird in breast up and then just turn off the heat, cover it, and shred later. If I'm really trying, I'll pull the breast meat off as a chunk and shred it first while the thighs and legs finish cooking.

    I would love to know more. Is Barbara Tropp the author of a book that I could get to help me? Maybe I should go this route. Do you like poaching a whole chicken better than perhaps roasting a whole chicken to get chicken for recipes using chicken?

    Barbara Tropp was an incredible cookbook writer, chef, teacher, and restaurant owner. She describes the method in both her books: "Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking"- page 129, and in "The China Moon Cookbook" - detailing "no-poach chicken" in the margins of pages 116 & 117.

    I usually am cooking smaller quantities and favor barely simmering chicken parts on the bone in a well flavored broth with tomato, chile, garlic, onion, and sometimes cumin for Mexican influenced dishes. I concur on the shredding with the grain and incorporating some of the cooking liquid. If cooking ahead I will store the shredded chicken in a container amply bathed in the liquid, draining before use. For future use, storing it in the liquid in the freezer yields a moist result for me upon thawing.

    I just returned from the bookstore and had no luck finding either book. I did buy chicken today so tomorrow I will try cooking it. Are you actually simmering it for about 20 mins. (if it is say, 4-6 chicken breast halves) or are you bringing the broth to a simmer or boil, covering the pan, and after turning off the burner letting it set on the burner for about 45 mins.? Sorry to be so detailed. I'm hoping for a very successful dish. Thank you again.

  12. Thank you all for replying.  I liked all the suggestions and I will  practice using just sugar in a pan.  I know the torch was lit because you could see the flame very clearly.  If I have to keep the flame on the creme longer, doesn't it seem counter productive that the creme melts some?  I appreciate all your help and I will strive for the right outcome.

    i think another tip is to make sure that the creme brulees have had a chance to sit in the fridge and get very chilled before attempting to torch or broil them. i don't think home broilers get hot enough to do a good enough job before the creme brulee gets too warm/liquidy.

    edited to add: the great thing about needing them nice and chilled is that you can make your creme brulees (cremes brulee?!) up to three days ahead of when you want to serve them. they keep fine, covered, in the fridge. torch them when you are ready to serve them.

    here's my method (after torching literally thousands of creme brulees in restaurants):

    1) put a ton of sugar on top

    2) dump the sugar off. you should be left with a thin layer of sugar stuck to the moist top of the creme brulee. clean the edges of the dish if you're worried about appearances

    3) now add a touch more sugar, maybe another very thin layer

    4) start torching. with the small torches, the flame might actually have to be touching the sugar but i find with the hardware store version, this isn't necessary. you can start out close and as the sugar melts (NOT crystalizes, wrong term to use) and carmelizes, you can adjust distance to keep the sugar from getting too dark which might end up making it taste bitter.

    5) move the torch evenly over the surface until all the sugar is nicely caramelized

    6) if you think the sugar layer is too thin, you can always add a touch more. i do this while the just torched layer is still very hot and liquid. continue to torch.

    7) allow to cool before serving. you want it to be nice and crisp and it needs several seconds to cool down. you can throw it in the fridge if you want, but remember that if you keep it in there too long, the sugar layer will liquify with all the moisture.

    good luck!

    Thank you so much for the help and advice. I will keep trying. Also, I made the creme brulee the night before the dinner, so it was very cold and set.

  13. the secret to get an even cap of burnt sugar is to spray with water before burning,we do this here in spain with great results

    I'm surprised to hear that because I've heard to dab the top of the creme if it has moisture on it after taking it out of the refrigerator. It does make sense that the sugar would stick better if the top were damp, though. Thank you for your thoughts.

  14. Thank you all for replying. I liked all the suggestions and I will practice using just sugar in a pan. I know the torch was lit because you could see the flame very clearly. If I have to keep the flame on the creme longer, doesn't it seem counter productive that the creme melts some? I appreciate all your help and I will strive for the right outcome.

  15. I have made creme brulee for the 3rd time now and I have never been able to crystalize the sugar. Hints? Advice? I have put the ramekins under the broiler and the creme turns liquidy. I bought the creme brulee torch from Williams Sonoma and the sugar remained the same and never turned golden or crystalized and I kept the torch on the sugar quite a long time. I am so glad that this version of creme brulee I made for last night made enough so that I could serve additional ones that weren't becoming liquid after the guests tasted the so-called torched ones. The sugar did not taste very good on top of the creme of the ones that I attempted to turn golden. At least the ones that weren't topped with sugar and had not been torched tasted great. Different recipes called for using regular white sugar, brown sugar, turbinado or demerara and I used the white cane sugar. What has been anyone's experience? Head to a hardware store for a blow-torch? Anything bigger than this creme brulee torch from Wm Sonoma scares me. Do I just give up on making the creme brulee with golden, crunchy tops?

  16. Thank you for the response, gfron.  To clarify, are you doing the initial cooking of the chicken in the mole sauce or is it put into the sauce after poaching? I'm not sure when you are using the low and slow method.  Are you using chicken breasts or the whole chicken in your low and slow method?  If you have a recipe or a book to recommend, I would love it.  Last week I followed a recipe in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen using chicken breasts.  He called for chicken thighs and said to nestle the thighs into the sauce, cover, and set over med-low heat until the meat was tender.  Then shred.  We like white meat and whenever we go out to eat burritos, the chicken is in slender shreds, moist and tender.  Thank you again so much!

    Sorry, been kinda busy. I do cook in the sauce and I cook it for about 45 minutes (or until I remember). Using thighs, I don't have any of the problems mentioned above. Realize, my kitchen has become pretty nuts, so I've adapted most of my stuff to be idiot proof (meaning me). Thighs can hold their own in my opinion. One other caveat is that my molè has a bit (really not too much) of lard, which assists in the texture. If you're interested in the recipe I'll pass it along after this weekend.

    It would be so kind of you to share your recipe. Mole means there is chocolate added? Do you think one tastes the chocolate? Whenever I have seen mole I have always passed over it, but I am definitely game to try something if you say it is wonderful. Thank you and whenever you can get to it would be awesome.

  17. I generally roast, but more out of shear laziness than anything else. That and I love the smell of roasting chicken.

    Well, I did read your response and went to the store and bought two 4 pound chickens. Lazy? Heck no! I put on a marinade of lemon zest, kosher salt, pepper, and rosemary and let it set in refrig. for 3 hours. It was so yummy and moist. I forget about simply making a roasted chicken. I'm wondering about pros and cons of roasted chicken vs poached chicken to use in recipes for Mexican dishes and soup, etc. And the house smelled divine, as you said. Thank you!

  18. Thank you for such great information, heidi!  I am going to try to find one or both books at the book store.  I appreciate sharing how you make it.

    I don't want to side-track this topic, but Barbara Tropp's method for poaching chicken is wonderful, and if you can only buy one cookbook in the next few weeks, it really does need to be "Mastering the Art..." by the wise and wonderful Barbara. It is a book that can reside, with pride, next to Julia's "Mastering the Art..."

    Thank you for the added recommendation, snowangel...to the bookstore I go this weekend.

  19. I usually don't even let it simmer. Following Barbara Tropp, I bring the poaching liquid to a boil with the bird in breast up and then just turn off the heat, cover it, and shred later. If I'm really trying, I'll pull the breast meat off as a chunk and shred it first while the thighs and legs finish cooking.

    I would love to know more. Is Barbara Tropp the author of a book that I could get to help me? Maybe I should go this route. Do you like poaching a whole chicken better than perhaps roasting a whole chicken to get chicken for recipes using chicken?

  20. My molè chicken is what I think you're referring to.  Its the same idea as Chris' except I cook low and slow in my molè sauce.  The stuff you're getting in burritos is typically (in my area anyway) cooked in a broth with tomatoes.  But either way, its just a low and slow.

    Thank you for the response, gfron. To clarify, are you doing the initial cooking of the chicken in the mole sauce or is it put into the sauce after poaching? I'm not sure when you are using the low and slow method. Are you using chicken breasts or the whole chicken in your low and slow method? If you have a recipe or a book to recommend, I would love it. Last week I followed a recipe in Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen using chicken breasts. He called for chicken thighs and said to nestle the thighs into the sauce, cover, and set over med-low heat until the meat was tender. Then shred. We like white meat and whenever we go out to eat burritos, the chicken is in slender shreds, moist and tender. Thank you again so much!

  21. I love to make Mexican dishes but am stumped on making the chicken like one gets in burritos. How do they get such tender, moist, finely shredded chicken? I'm hoping someone here can help me. If you have a recipe for cooking and shredding the chicken, I would be so appreciative. Thank you in advance.

  22. That is so helpful.  I think I am dense:  I'm not sure what this sentence means: "So the cakes I freeze...have to be made with those multi-million dollar ingredients that can create such a stir on foodie boards."  If you have time, I'd love to know if you mean something like shortening and you were being funny about multi-million dollar and the foodie boards.  Sorry.  Thank you again for all the help.  :biggrin:

    No no I was being a bit obtuse--I am referencing that bastard child of baking, the cake mix.

    I love your sense of humor! Thank you.

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