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Everything posted by reenicake

  1. Sounds great! Fruit pies freeze excellently, egg ones are sort of iffy depending on how much extra liquid they contain. I don't freeze custards like pastry cream, and no fondant either. Yes to freezing ganache and phyllo pastries, but not anything with fresh uncooked fruit in it, which would collapse when defrosted and soak through the phylllo/puff pastry. But nut fillings freeze well, as do cooked fillings (to wit, frozen spanakopita.) My problem is, I don't have enough freezer space! If only the weather could be relied upon to stay at 35 degrees, I could put it all on the fire escape.
  2. a deep rich chocolate flavor is gained in chocolate sauce by actually simmering the mixture -- unlike when making a ganache where you only want to get it hot enough to melt the chocolate, in a sauce it is a good thing to get the sauce over the temperature where the cacao molecules bust open. (think fudge.) Just be vigilant and don't stop stirring or it will scorch.
  3. To minimize stress, have some nice big trays already arranged, plus a few sheet pans of things to be arranged there. You may or may not want to have a centerpiece, such as a croquembouche or a lollipop tree or whatever, but different heights add interest, especially in a big room. You can invest in a nice stand, or improvise with cans and cardboard rounds, but make sure everything is as stable but portable as possible, and have lots of business cards. Flowers and fruit (real or plastic) make it easy to create an inviting display, but make sure they are food-safe or don't touch the food. Take the time to arrange the pass-trays nicely too, they make a difference.
  4. JB Prince has stacking frames that you can use, depending on the volume. For smaller amounts, a rectangular tart form works well, you just have to put it on something perfectly flat. At Le Cirque we used to use these 1/2" pieces of plastic bonded together at the corners.
  5. The packaging is the culprit, they now have to have this on everything that gets boxed in a plant that is used by different products in a company's range. I have the same problem with my son's dairy and egg allergies; if you are doing a substitution by weight it is 15% cornstarch, 85% bleached apf. Although, King Arthur supposedly packages their flour products in a different plant -- their Queen Guinevere cake flour is excellent.. Chefpeon, I know what you mean! Half the time I pine for the things I can get so easily at work, such as praline paste and real high-gluten flour (both of which, if you can find them retail, are ridiculously priced), when I bake at home.
  6. I have done this with Valrhona's regular pure pate de cacao... actually to be honest I was trying to save some students' mistakes, they had used the wrong chocolate to make spreading ganache. So I did the math for sugar content using the box label of the 64% and added the appropriate amount of granulated sugar. It worked out okay for truffles, but in hindsight the ganache would have been smoother had I used superfine sugar, or possibly a percentage of trimoline for some of the sugar. Regular granulated sugar was a bit grainy even after running it through a Cuisinart... possibly it could be smoother if run through a commercial Robot coupe. On refrigeration the fat separated out of the unformed ganache but the truffles did not show this. I am doing some experimenting too, because a lot of the bittersweet chocolate on the market has traces of milk products and I am working on projects for my dairy-allergic son. Would love to see results of your experiments too.
  7. try using pastry flour (or 2 parts ap flour and 1 part cake), and omit the baking powder -- this will reduce the puffing/rising. But the freezing is a good solution, especially if you can bake at a higher temp.
  8. There are a few ways to cover them in chocolate. #1 take each almond and dip it in the tempered chocolate with a fork. #2 have the almonds in a big bowl, pour tempered chocolate over them, and toss to coat, then separate into clumps as the chocolate cools. The third is to do the same as #2, but after the chocolate you add a powdery coating such as confectioner's sugar or cocoa powder. This helps to separate them so you get individual almonds.
  9. I like Manjari as a mousse or relatively simple ganache with brandied cherries... very successful as a chocolate mousse filling for a black forest cake. It also bakes quite well (ie flourless or molten cakes). It's a bit too strong for me for molding, I would suggest a straight liqueur filling to stand up to it. Count me in if you decide to re-sell.
  10. if the graininess went away when it warmed up, then it's not egg coagulation or lumpy cornstarch. It's probably butterfat. This would happen to us sometimes at my old job -- we used a milk/cream (sometimes ultra pasteurized, sometimes just pasteurized) combo too rather than butter. In particular, when we would make a very big batch and it would not cool down as quickly (something about residual heat I guess). Bring it to room temp, burr mix it smooth, and it should be fine.
  11. i really have to caution against cooking kiwi at all... flavor is blechhh! very bitter/sour, none of the aromatics from fresh are left. better to dry in a low temp dehydrator maybe, until chewy and no longer too wet, rather than reduce a puree with heat..
  12. The classic way to make chocolate-covered almonds is to kind of do a rocher, which is candying them first by boiling them in a sugar syrup until it caramelizes/crystallizes around them. Then you coat them in chocolate. I like to add whole spices like cinnamon sticks, star anise or cardamon to the sugar so it suffuses the almonds.
  13. How small is small? In many cases the type of pastry that you use (and thus the baking) will be affected by how much surface area there is... petit four size, 3", 4" mini tart size? You might try freezing the filled pans and baking them frozen.
  14. You can use your favorite pastry cream recipe as a cream pie filling. A great idea for cutting back on the cornstarch is adding a little white chocolate or cocoa butter to the still-hot cream. Gelatin is usually only used in bavarians, which to me denotes a chiffon-type filling with whipped cream added to either a pastry cream, creme anglaise or fruit puree. More loft, less puddingy texture. Personally I love butterscotch banana cream pie.
  15. Tempering the chocolate and adding cold liquid to make ganache works beautifully, especially with coconut milk. Completely bypasses the separation issues. Mealy chocolate? might have sugar bloom from being improperly stored, a common problem with chocolate sold in bar form.
  16. My sister and I ate at Room 4 Dessert this spring, and it is the perfect solution for those who interested in flavors in general but tend to the sweet/experimental rather than the savory. What we did was eat an inexpensive and not too filling dinner (ramen at Momofoku), then walk about 20 minutes to R4D. By then we were not too full and not too hungry; we each had one dessert and split another. Both places have a counter setup but Momofoku was much busier and louder. R4D was more comfortable, with better lighting, and we had a great time talking to both Mr. Goldfarb and the chef making the desserts.
  17. boil them in simple syrup or honey, drain, then bake on low until shiny then break up.
  18. If you are gouing to Europe you might want to check out this place for molds, they have many I have never seen elsewhere, including a cup: JKV in holland
  19. Whole-egg foams and separated-egg foams differ when baked -- a genoise has a larger, more porous crumb and is usually delicate, but okay to be split in 3 layers, or baked high and fast to roll with a moist filling. Biscuit or pan de spagna is sturdier and more flexible, which means that they can be split thinner; or baked in sheets to wrap around charlottes; or rolled tightly and sliced to line a bowl; or piped as a finger (biscuit ala cuilliere)... You usually want to do a separated-egg foam if there is more in there, such as nuts or a different flour like semolina; or more fat like a chiffon.
  20. Hmmm, I'm wondering if the food processor part is because there is so much cream being added that it needs to have those blades to help emulsify the cream into the butter and sugar. Then the mixer gets it fluffy. I'm wondering, too, that if you beat the butter and sugar in the mixer and add the cream slowly if it will prevent the mixture from going through the curdled stage and maybe cut down on the length of time to get it to come together? Any expert care to weigh in on those thoughts of mine? Just tell me if I'm out in left field.... ← Just a thought, the food processor then mixer, beating for 15 minutes -- it's enough to basically make the whipping cream turn to butter, so that it makes the icing stiff and emulsifies the water into the sugar. Since there is no extra water, what you saw as "weeping" was the cream separating into butter and whey. Just like extra beating incorporates air and emulsifies meringue buttercream, so with this.
  21. A serrated knife and the corner-chopping method described by RRaaflaub have always worked for me. On the other hand, if you make ganache in the food processor (great for always getting an emulsion)you don't need any smaller than 1-2 inch pieces. The processor does a fine job of chopping the buttons too.
  22. PUDC is a fun dessert, and some great ideas. I remember my mom making one in an electric frying pan. Years later (I want to say 5-6 years ago?) as part of the retro thing I made a huge one for a company picnic at the restaurant where I worked -- Le Cirque! Shocked the hell out of the French dudes, fond memories for the Americans, and just- plain-odd looks from the Japanese. Speaking of the mini pineapples, why not an inside-out pineapple cake whre everything is inside the pineapple? And you could freeze it too, to really turn the thing on its head...say, a rummy pineapple mousse, caramel ice cream, warm cherry sauce.
  23. are they ovenproof? A chocolate brioche pudding would be nice with the other two things you mentioned. Or something fun like chocolate-dipped caramel corn.
  24. Years ago I tried the Basic Muffins from Cook's Illustrated and they have been my go-to ever since. (Shirley Corriher agrees!) The formula is great for random plug-ins of fruit -- start with a basic batch and split it up, add blueberries to one part, raspberries to another, etc. Very easy and so beautiful. I make a mango one with mango yogurt and chopped mango that is just... ahh.
  25. Yay! glad to help. You can freeze the rest and use them for French toast if you have too much to use for bread pudding. When I have too much stale/hard bread I take our son to feed the ducks at a park nearby.
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