Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photos from Plated Desserts Class

My blog has been neglected. Trust me, it makes me feel both sad and guilty. The truth is that I haven't been doing anything fun outide of school.

Right now I'm in plated desserts class, where we learn how to put different components together and make them look good on the plate.

Above is a plate with two types of Tarte Tatin - pear and pineapple. They're served with a little swoosh of caramel and a big old dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Oh, and some beautiful fruit chips for garnish.

Above is a roasted banana with a reduced rum sauce, a raspberry coulis, and a passion fruit tuile (cookie) cup with banana ice cream inside.

Above is a poached pear with salted caramel, toasted walnuts, chai ice cream (melted before I could take the pic, unfortunately) and some more tuile cookies.

Puff pastry dessert called a Jalousie. This one is filled with pastry cream, raspberries, and banana slices. That's raspberry coulis on the plate.
Tempered chocolate garnishes - piped designs, cigarettes, and some butterflies.

Apple cranberry crisp with cranberry coulis and cinnamon ice cream. The dried cranberries on the plate are plumped up with sugar syrup.

Another crisp with the same ingredients, just plated differently.

Here's a chocolate caramel tart, sprinkled with sea salt. The sauce is a sour cream sauce and a raspberry coulis. Fresh raspberries, raspberry powder, and chocolate hearts are the garnishes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

All Hallow's Eve is coming - bwa-ha-ha-ha!

Here is an easy and spooky project over at Martha Stewart Living:

Here are some links to some Halloween blogs I've recently discovered. They have some great ideas for spooky props!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Trip to the Fair: Part 1 - Awesome Crafts

The fair was a month ago and I still haven't gotten around to posting about it! School and work eat up all my time. Most people seem to go to the State Fair for the food; I got for the crafts, fine arts, Eco-Experience, and the ag exhibits. Well, okay....and the food :)

First are some pics below of my favorite crop art pieces. Some of these must take crazy patience! It's hard to remember to take a pic of the name plaque with so many people jostling to see but I've tried to show them when I can. The DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor) party has strong roots in populist left-leaning farm communities so a lot of the crop art leans to the political left. Some of it is just for fun, of course - like the moustaches below :)

Below are some entries in the creative activities building:

An awesome paper cutting; these are becoming a popular craft form again.

A "quilt on a stick". They have a contest each year with a theme. This year was "The MN State bird" - the mosquito. Har har.

Amazing detail on this quilt! Can you read the "Ole & Lena" joke around the side? I can't remember the first part but here's the rest, "Lena says, ' Ole, dat pie I bake for you, the dog ate it.' Ole says, ' Dat's okay, Lena, I'll get anudder dog." Har har.

These topiary horses below were pretty cool. Kind of scary, actually, if they were in a different context.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cakes from Class

Sorry I haven't had any recipes or projects lately. This is just another quick post of some of the things I've been doing in my class this term.

Above is a Black Forest Torte - cherry filling, chocolate genoise cake, whipped creme frosting, and a cool chocolate mosaic garnish on the sides.

Above is a vanilla genoise with lemon swiss buttercream frosting, filling is lemon and raspberry. We made this for our first practical exam and had to practice piping a shell border.

The one above is a banana cake with milk chocolate ganache frosting and marzipan decorations.

I bet you know what this one is (the marzipan carrots are a clue) - carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!
This last one is a caramel mocha genoise cake with salted caramel cream cheese frosting as the filling. Yum!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New View

Here are some photos of the view from the end of my street. Our new place is just a little more than a block from the Mississippi River bluffs, so we're a short stroll from this beautiful view of the cathedral and downtown St. Paul. Pretty cool, right? We're also really close to Harriet Island which is neat because they have lots of festivals and events there (you can see the tents sent up for last weekend's Irish Festival in the pic at the bottom)

I haven't had much time to explore the area yet but can already tell that our part of St. Paul is WAY hillier (is that a word? more hilly?) than Minneapolis. I am hoping to have some time to poke around some of the local shops soon. There's also a regional park nearby and I hope to do some hiking there - probably this fall when the weather is cool.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What I've Been Up To Lately

It's been a really really long time since my last post. I've neglected my poor little blog. However, I have some really goods reasons - mainly that I've been moving (across the river to St. Paul), working, and going to school full time.

This dessert featured in the top photo is a fruit bavarian - Mango Raspberry. Here are some pics of other things we made in our last class (excuse some of the pics, they were hastily taken at the end of class):


Frozen Chocolate Terrine

A slice of Charlotte Royale presented with Raspberry Coulis and Creme Anglaise

Similar to the Charlotte Royale but with hazelnut sponge and chocolate ganache on the outside and chocolate bavarian filling.

Three Chocolate Bavarois

Creme Brulee

Gateau St. Honore - choux pastry shell filled with vanilla and chocolate cream with caramel-dipped cream puffs and spun sugar

Monday, July 5, 2010

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake

I was lucky enough to be able to stop by the farmers market on Nicollet Mall last Thursday. Normally, I'm in class but we had our summer break last week. I didn't think that I would be able to because I had training for work that day - but we got out early! Yay! I was also able to stop by the Friends of the Library book store (got some old cooking magazines) so it was pretty awesome, overall.

Anywho, I bet you're wondering about this delicious cake, right? I found one seller who still had some rhubarb and snatched some up. I thought rhubarb season was over and was resigned to waiting another year.

Since this might be it for an entire year, I was anxious to pick just the right rhubarb recipe. Well, this one doesn't disappoint! It's got the delicious nutty brown butter, the tart and tangy rhubarb, and just enough sweetness! The only change I made was to toss the rhubarb with some brown sugar and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top before baking. Make sure to really whip those eggs or you're cake won't rise as much as it should.

Here is the recipe, courtesy of Emily Kuross and her blog:

Some Treats in Red, White, and Blue!

I made a few patriotic type treats this past week. Above is a pic of some red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The pics below show two ways to decorate them. It's actually pretty easy, although a little time consuming, to make your own pinwheel decorations but I found these on sale! The other pic has some plastic stars on top, in addition to the blue and red sprinkles. That was kind of an accident, as my top-heavy cupcake rolled over onto the stars. Since the stars aren't edible, maybe just go with the sprinkles!

I also made a black-raspberry fool, shown below. I think I overbeat the whipped cream a little but it was still delicious. Just berries (of which we have a ton, having gone picking at a our favorite secret spot) and whipped cream, folded together.
Last, here is a pic below of the tart I made earlier this week. I used store-bought puff pastry because I had some I had to use up. It also has some pastry cream and I'll give the recipe and instructions for that in another post.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Racecar Cake & Working with Marshmallow Fondant

A friend of mine requested a race car cake for her sons' birthday party. I knew that I wanted to make fondant-covered cars because piped frosting just wouldn't look right (cars are smooth, not bumpy!) At first I thought about buying Duff's new fondant (because it tastes good, unlike the Wilton kind) but it's twenty bucks at Michaels - not in my budget. So, I knew you could make a good-tasting fondant out of marshmallows but wasn't sure how to go about doing it. Luckily, there are several awesomely detailed tutorials on the web. Here is the one I used:

You DEFINITELY need a stand mixer, preferably one with a dough hook attachment, to make this fondant. I had no problems making or using the fondant, though. It worked just as well as promised! It was actually a little more pliable than regular fondant, which helped prevent cracks.

I carved the cars out of rice krispie treats (you just compress the mixture to make it really dense for carving) because cake can be really heavy. I knew that I was going to place the cars on two round cakes (a figure eight "racetrack") and didn't want them to sink or be unstable.

There are several things I would add if I had more time. I should have taken the extra few minutes to add racing stripes, like I had planned. I would definitely have preferred to have more details on the cars, but overall I think they look pretty good for my first try at fondant-covered rice krispie treats.
I would have liked to have made the cake base bigger, too, but have such limited space to work in. These were already 16" rounds. I also needed to make sure that it fit in the car for delivery!
Overall, I'm not completely happy with it but I certainly learned a lot!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rhubarb Bars

We got our second CSA box of veggies last week. Hurrah! In that box was some delectable-looking rhubarb. I wanted to make something that would be easy to cut into portions and something I haven't tried before.

I used this recipe and modifed it somewhat:

My modifications were replacing half the white sugar with brown sugar and using 1/4 cup oats in the streusal topping in place of part of the flour. The crust and topping is quite sweet, which is somewhat balanced by the tart rhubarb filling. However, I would definitely add some salt in either the topping for the crust and maybe some additional spice such as cardamom or ginger. Ooh, how about orange zest in the crust?! That would be tasty. In any case, these were good but definitely for people who like their dessert on the sweeter side.