Habeas Brulee » Cakes http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 Saffron Turmeric Cake with Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Argan Oil Whipped Cream, Almond Brittle, and Thyme http://habeasbrulee.com/2009/06/10/saffron-turmeric-cake-with-meyer-lemon-sorbet-argan-oil-whipped-cream-almond-brittle-and-thyme/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2009/06/10/saffron-turmeric-cake-with-meyer-lemon-sorbet-argan-oil-whipped-cream-almond-brittle-and-thyme/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2009 23:23:26 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=303

I’ve been meaning to post this for months! Since a few of you requested it, I may as well start with the backlog here. This was a really fun dish to throw together. The saffron turmeric cake was an adaptation of a chocolate cake recipe, where Dave started by replacing the cocoa powder with turmeric and went on from there. It is intensely flavorful and moist and one of the most perfect cakes we’ve ever developed.

You can see from the photo how vividly red the inside of the cake is. It turns out that turmeric, a bright yellow root most commonly sold as a powder here in the U.S., turns red when it reacts with alkaline substances. In fact, the red dot traditionally worn by many Indian women in the center of the forehead is made by mixing powdered turmeric with lime (not the fruit!).

I can’t remember why we decided to pair it with the thyme brittle and the meyer lemon sorbet (I’m sure it made sense at the time, and it worked really well), but I definitely recall that we added thyme because we had read that meyer lemon contains one of the same flavor compounds as thyme.

Our few sets of our muffin pans are still stained red from making rounds of these cakes, but it was entirely worth it.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for: the winners of my CIA book giveaway! I used a random number generator to pick winners from the comments. The winners are Sandy, Kathryn, Vicki, Alison, Esme, and Red! Winners, please email me your addresses and I’ll have a book sent out to each of you pronto. Thanks to everyone for playing along!

2008: Chocolate-Whiskey Pudding Cake
2007: Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread
2006: Saffron Dill Cappelletti Stuffed With Leeks

Saffron Turmeric Cake
1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, in 1 inch cubes
1/2 C warm water
2 tbsp turmeric
1 small pinch saffron
1 C sugar
1.7 oz all-purpose flour
0.7 oz whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 c sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Prepare muffin tins with butter and flour, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, steep the saffron in the water. Whisk the flours, salt, and baking soda together, and set aside.

Add the butter and turmeric into the saffron water, then turn on the heat and simmer until the butter melts. Remove from heat.

Whisk in the sugar, but don’t panic if it doesn’t dissolve. Whisk in the flour mixture. Whisk in the egg and then the sour cream, until the color is even.

Fill the prepared muffin tins about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes. Don’t worry about it setting fully – it will finish setting as it cools.

Makes 10 muffin-sized cakes.

Meyer Lemon Sorbet
470 g meyer lemon juice
80 g glucose syrup
80 g agave nectar
80 g sugar
100 g water
1/2 tsp guar gum (or substitute pectin or a commercial sorbet stabilizer)

Blend together. Freeze in your ice cream churner as per usual.

Argan Oil Whipped Cream
Heavy cream
Argan oil

Mix to taste and beat until whipped.

Almond Brittle
Sliced almonds
Cream of tartar

Toast sliced almonds in a dry pan on the stove until they start to brown and smell delicious. Set aside.

Heat the water, sugar, and a bit of tartar in a saucepan until it is lightly golden, a bit paler than you eventually want it to be. Stir in the toasted almonds, and spread on a silpat to cool and set.

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Sour Cherry Coffee Cake http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/07/05/sour-cherry-coffee-cake/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/07/05/sour-cherry-coffee-cake/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2008 15:14:19 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/07/05/sour-cherry-coffee-cake/

I’m in Portland right now, but I made this sour cherry coffee cake not long before I left Brooklyn, with sour cherries we picked from my father’s tree.

Bonnie helped us pick the first round of cherries off the tree,

It was a 4-foot-all dwarf tree when my parents first bought it, but now it dwarfs us all.

We picked cherries for two days, and ended up with about 3 dozen jars of jam, 4 pies, 2 coffee cakes, sour cherry syrup, sour cherry molasses, at least a gallon of pitted sour cherries in the freezer, and a Persian sour cherry meatball polow (a sort of pilaf, a rice dish). And we left about a third of the cherries on the tree because we were stuck heading out of town before all of them had fully ripened, and some of them were too high up and too far out from the house for us to reach no matter how we tried.

Next year, maybe we should just rent a cherry picker and make no travel plans for June just to be sure to pick them all!

2007: Apple Caramel Ice Cream
2006: Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp with Lime Ice Cream

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
for the batter
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp plus a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 C (1 stick, 8 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 C plus 1 tbsp (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 C whole milk
2 C pitted sour cherries
for the crumblies
1 C flour
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 C butter

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Prepare a 9×9 square baking pan by buttering and flouring it.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt for the batter. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (I always use my KitchenAid for this), beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form firm, glossy peaks. Transfer them to a separate bowl and set aside. (You don’t have to clean the mixer bowl between steps, mind.)

Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in half the dry ingredients, then all the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

Take the bowl away from the mixture and stir in 1/4 of the egg whites with a spatula. Fold in the rest of the whites. Fold in the sour cherries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Make the crumblies by mixing together the non-butter crumbly ingredients. Cut the butter into the mixture until the texture is crumbly. Spread over the cake batter.

Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a knife or cake tester comes out clean.

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Chocolate-Whiskey Pudding Cake http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/06/12/chocolate-whiskey-pudding-cake/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/06/12/chocolate-whiskey-pudding-cake/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2008 14:33:46 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/06/12/chocolate-whiskey-pudding-cake/

This cake is light and luscious, like a barely cooked chocolate mousse. It’s best served with strawberries, which are coming in gorgeous from New Jersey to the Greenmarkets right about now.

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting Pille of nami-nami while she was visiting New York. She brought us some wonderful gifts, including grated rye bread from Estonia. Dave immediately jumped up when she showed us what she had brought and made her caramelized rye bread with whipped cream for us as a late-night snack.

I don’t usually like rye bread. I’m boring – I like challah and english muffins and ciabatta and other simple, plain white breads. I don’t like the sourness of sourdough or the complexity of wholegrain loafs. Rye is not my thing. That said, the caramelized grated rye bread with whipped cream was spectacular! I never expected to like it, but when I tasted it, I loved it. I ate a small bowlful even despite the sore throat I had at the time.

I mention this because we’re thinking of serving them together at the restaurant one of these days, chocolate and whiskey and rye and cream and fruit and a few other things to pull it all together. Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you can’t join us when we serve it, you should give it a try at home.

I haven’t really posted about my life much, lately. Dave and Katya and I are all doing well. It’s gotten too hot for glassblowing, so we’ve put that on hold for the summer. That said, it’s finally hot enough to open up the window and get enough airflow for lampworking, so I should be back to making glass beads pretty soon.

On the wedding planning front (August 2009, so we have plenty of time), we stuck our heads in the sand for a while, and I told Dave that he has to be the bride. I’ll look pretty and show up, but don’t really want to be the primary wedding planner in the meantime. We are leaning strongly towards doing it out at my parents’ house in the Hamptons, but are just looking around for an indoor space out there that we could reserve as emergency back-up in case there’s a hurricane. And apparently we need to figure out who our vendors will be before we can apply for an event permit from the Village of North Haven. Then we can worry about the fun stuff, like what I should wear and how we can entertain people without renting a dance floor.

On the law firm front, I’ve gotten more into will drafting and estate planning. This summer is stuffed with depositions for a few employment discrimination cases I’m working on. And I have the usual allotment of other cases, criminal, matrimonial, and more. Two of my legal clients had dinner at my restaurant the other night, and we went through the will signing there for their convenience. It’s not every day your chef comes out of the kitchen with legal documents and notary stamp in hand, but that’s my life and it works.

2007: Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread
2006: Onion Jam Thumbprint Cookies; Saffron Dill Cappelletti Stuffed With Leeks

Chocolate-Whiskey Pudding Cake
(adapted from Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard)
2 sticks (1 C, 8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 large eggs
1 C plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 C bourbon
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Set up a deep baking pan with sixteen 4 oz ramekins set in it. Butter and flour the ramekins.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler and stir together until smooth.

Beat the eggs with 1 C sugar until light and fluffy – they will expand drastically in size and become far paler than you might expect, a light cream color, almost. It’ll take about 5 minutes on high speed in a Kitchenaid stand mixer.

Whisk in the chocolate mixture and the bourbon.

Stir the flour and 2 tbsp sugar together in a separate bowl. Whisk that into the batter as well.

Fill the ramekins to about 1/4″ from the top with the batter.

Pour boiling water into the baking sheet around the ramekins, such that it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until fully set. Remove from the oven and set to cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm with fruit and perhaps whipped cream (Yard suggests whipped creme fraiche).

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Kumquat Cake http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/08/kumquat-cake/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/08/kumquat-cake/#comments Fri, 08 Feb 2008 21:00:55 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/08/kumquat-cake/

This cake is obscenely rich; it is more of a custard or pudding than a cake, almost. It is so moist that it may seem undercooked until you remember just how many eggs and pureed kumquats you poured into that wet batter to make it.

It started out as a recipe for orange cake, but I prefer kumquats, and I suspect it would work just fine with whatever citrus you happen to prefer.

Dave thinks it’s a bit too sweet, but that’s why I suggest pairing it with sour cream (or perhaps sour cream ice cream) – the tartness balances everything out perfectly.

I would serve small squares of this as part of the mignardise at the end of a decadent meal.

Kumquat Cake
(adapted from a recipe that started with Claudia Roden, adapted further by Stephanie Alexander, and adapted still further by Kuidaore, before being adapted yet again by me)
1 lb kumquats
6 large eggs
250 g almond meal
250 g granulated or superfine sugar
1 tsp baking powder

Barely cover the kumquats with water in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain and allow the kumquats to cool to where you can handle them. Open them up and discard the seeds. They will be so soft you will easily be able to do this by hand.

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Prepare a 9″ square cake pan by buttering and flouring it.

In a blender, puree the kumquats with the eggs.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Gradually add the kumquat/egg puree, whisking to combine.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden and springs back when touched and the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan a bit.

Cool completely in the cake pan before inverting to remove and inverting again to set right side up. Store, tightly wrapped, in the fridge.

Cut into smaller squares (because it is very rich) and serve with sour cream and candied kumquats or kumquat marmalade to garnish.

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Rakott Palacsinta (Hungarian Pancake Cake) http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/02/rakott-palacsinta-hungarian-pancake-cake/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/02/rakott-palacsinta-hungarian-pancake-cake/#comments Sat, 02 Feb 2008 23:16:48 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/02/rakott-palacsinta-hungarian-pancake-cake/

First things first. I would really appreciate it if you would go vote for me in Culinate’s Death By Chocolate contest.

Also, I heard today is crepe day, so we made a Hungarian crepe cake!

My grandmother says that she used to make this with a different filling in each layer – jam, ground walnuts, chocolate cream, cottage cheese, poppy seeds, whatever she was in the mood for. When I told her that I made mine with just a walnut filling and chocolate on top, she huffed a bit, then said, “It’s okay, I make it with walnuts sometimes too.”

If you trust Ima more than you trust me (probably wise, when we’re talking about Hungarian food), you should make a smaller portion of the walnut filling I describe below, and use layers of jam, chocolate, and cottage cheese as well as walnut layers between the pancakes.

But if you trust me, well, believe that my way of making Rakott Palacsinta (which Ima tells me translates to ‘Raising Palacsinta’) is very delicious, too.

Rakott Palacsinta (Hungarian Pancake Cake)

Layer palacsinta (recipe below) with walnut filling (recipe below), then cover with chocolate rum sauce (recipe below).

2 C milk
2 C all-purpose flour
6 eggs
A splash of seltzer or ginger ale
Butter for frying

Blend or whisk together all ingredients except the seltzer until you have a homogenous batter. Add a splash of seltzer or, if you prefer, ginger ale, until the batter reaches your desired consistency. A thinner batter means that it is easier to create very thin and delicate pancakes, but may be harder for them to retain structural integrity. I suggest thinning the batter more as you grow more confident in your ability to maneuver the pancakes.

You want a light pan, a pan you can easily lift and move around with one hand. I keep the batter in a blender with a good spout, and a stick of butter with the wrapper pulled back halfway in a small bowl near the stove.

Heat the pan, then just run the butter stick across it to coat it with sizzling butter. Coat the sides as well as the bottom. Hold the pan away from the stove, and pour in a dollop of batter – how much will depend on how well and how quickly you can move the pan. You want to start swirling the batter around in the pan immediately, before it has time to cook and set.

The motion is all in the wrist. You want to keep the pan moving in a sort of circular motion so that the batter runs around that central dollop in a spiral, creating the [connected] concentric rings of an ever-widening circle. This gets much easier with practice. Once that’s done, return the pan to the heat.

As soon as the pancake looks entirely dry, it is ready to be flipped. After the pancake is flipped, it is just a few moments before it is completely done – wait to see the surface begin to bubble, then flip it out of the pan and onto the plate.

Do butter the pan before each and every pancake. It is not healthy, but you can really tell the difference in flavor.

Walnut Filling
(adapted from The Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang)
1 1/3 C heavy cream
2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C rum
2 lbs. walnuts, ground
1 C chopped raisins
4 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
Milk to taste

Bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Stir in the other ingredients (except for the milk) and continue to simmer for a minute. Stir in milk to thin it for spreading if necessary.

Chocolate Rum Sauce
(adapted from The Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang)
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 C milk
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp rum

Melt the chocolate into the milk in a small saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks. Remove from heat and whisk in the other ingredients.

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Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/06/11/rum-drenched-cocoa-nana-bread/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/06/11/rum-drenched-cocoa-nana-bread/#comments Mon, 11 Jun 2007 11:51:30 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/06/11/rum-drenched-cocoa-nana-bread/

This is a combination of two recipes from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, one of the smartest and friendliest cookbook authors and food bloggers I know.

It remained moist and delicious almost a week later, and got rave reviews from my mother and Dave’s coworkers. (We bake a lot, so we have to give away most of what we make or suffer the weighty consequences.)

This really is just about perfect in every way. I intend to make it again and again, it was so good, and so easy.

Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread
(mismatched bits of two recipes by Dorie Greenspan)
For the bread

2 C all-purpose flour
1 C unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas
3/4 C buttermilk
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
For the rum syrup
1/3 C water
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C rum

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Butter and flour a 9″x5″ loaf pan, and place it on top of two baking sheets (to keep the bottom from overcooking, says Dorie).

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Beat the butter until nice and creamy, then beat in the sugars. Add the eggs one at a time, beating a minute or so after each. Do not fear the appearance of the batter at this time. Mix in the bananas. (Dorie says to mash them first, but I prefer to just throw them into my mixer whole, which mostly mashes them but leaves a bit of texture.)

Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, each time mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the buttermilk. Then stir in the chopped up chocolate bits.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Tent some tinfoil over it to keep the top from overcooking, and cook for another 40-45 minutes, or until done.

Transfer the pan to a rack and cool a bit before inverting it (twice!) and letting it continue to cool right-side up.

Make the rum syrup by stirring the sugar and water together in a small saucepan until the sugar is totally dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum.

Poke holes in the bread all over with your cake testing or a thin-bladed knife or other poky device. Brush the rum syrup on slowly, trying to get the bread to absorb as much as possible.

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Chocolate Birthday Cake http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/30/chocolate-birthday-cake/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/30/chocolate-birthday-cake/#comments Wed, 30 May 2007 14:50:23 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/30/chocolate-birthday-cake/

Having a food blog makes you instantly popular. People email you recipes. Your mother may cut out recipes from magazines and ask you to make them for her, in fact. Even kids like you better once you start to blog about food.

My friend’s young nephew was eager to tell me of a recipe he had invented. He’d never made it, mind, but he thought that I should. He had thought of a chocolate cake, with a layer of chocolate pudding in the middle, covered by chocolate frosting, with a layer of chocolate cookie crumbs over that.

Turned out, his birthday was only a few days later.

My hobby is wish fulfillment. I like making people’s dreams come true. We had to make this birthday cake for my friend’s nephew. There was simply no other option.

The cake layers are adapted from (you guessed it) an Alice Medrich recipe. Instead of chocolate pudding, the center layer is Dave’s usual chocolate mousse. When we first made the cake, we covered it in chocolate ganache and cookie crumbs, but in this version we layered the ganache and crumbs between the cake and mousse layers, and covered the cake with whipped cream instead. To lighten it and cut the sweetness. Really.

Now, part of what I love about Dave is that he will throw himself into these projects with me, trying to make some kid we barely know have a dream come true for his birthday.

The rest of what I love about Dave is that when he scraped the cream fillings out of the Oreo cookies so he could crumble only the cookie bits for the cake, he collected all the cream filling in a small container and brought it along to give to the kid, too.

Follow this chocolate mousse recipe, but only make half a mousse. Spread the mousse evenly in a 9″ round cake pan, and let it cool in the fridge, then freeze until solid.

While the mousse is freezing, make the cake.

You’ll need:
2 C sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C sifted cocoa powder (personally, I dislike Dutch process!)
1 C lukewarm water
1/2 C buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C granulated sugar
1 C packed dark brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Get out two 9″ cake pans, and line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and sift onto a sheet of wax paper.

Whisk together the cocoa and 1/2 C lukewarm water, and set aside.

Combine the buttermilk, 1/2 C lukewarm water, and vanilla extract, and set aside.

Whisk the eggs together briefly, just to combine all their bits.

Beat the butter until creamy. Continue beating as you gradually add the sugars, until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Slowly beat in the eggs. The mixture should be fluffy at this point. Beat in the cocoa mixture, just until combined. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, also just until combined. Same deal with half the buttermilk, then another third of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour.

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans and spread nice and flat. Bake about 20 minutes, or until done (that is, when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).

Make a thin, liquidy ganache with chocolate, cream and booze of your choosing.

Scrape the cream out of about 10 oreos and discard (or give to the nearest kid). Crush the cookies.

Assemble the cake: one layer of cake, a layer of ganache, a layer of cookie crumbs, the frozen mousse layer, more ganache, more crumbs, the second layer of cake. Coat with whipped cream.

I actually love the cake recipe on its own. If I ever had to make a plain chocolate cake, this (sans mousse &c) would be it.

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Amaretto Brownies with Saffron Creme Anglaise and Bee Pollen Spice Mix http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/10/amaretto-brownies-with-saffron-creme-anglaise-and-bee-pollen-spice-mix/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/10/amaretto-brownies-with-saffron-creme-anglaise-and-bee-pollen-spice-mix/#comments Thu, 10 May 2007 12:42:16 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/05/10/amaretto-brownies-with-saffron-creme-anglaise-and-bee-pollen-spice-mix/

Dave wanted something chocolate and something creamy. I wanted to play more with Aki and Alex’s bee pollen spice mix, and thought saffron would pull everything together.

I hesitate to call these brownies. They were based on a brownie recipe, but adjusted and baked in muffin tins so that they were practically transformed into rich chocolate cakes. But still, since they remain brownies, this recipe is my entry for browniebabe of the month #2.

The bee pollen spice mix just sings here, adding this wonderful earthy sizzling brightness to the entire dish. It works as brilliantly with desserts as it does with savory dishes.

Matching it with saffron is perfectly sexy, since saffron threads are nothing more than the stigmas of the saffron crocus. The stigma is the part of the plant that receives the male gametes, known as pollen.

Point being, this is easily the sexiest dessert I have ever created – chocolate, a known aphrodisiac, supported and uplifted by male and female sex organs and gametes of flowers.

Spring is here! And Cole Porter is right: “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it – let’s do it, let’s fall in love!”

Amaretto Brownies with Saffron Creme Anglaise and Bee Pollen Spice Mix
Make amaretto brownies (recipe below). Serve with saffron creme anglaise (recipe below) and bee pollen spice mix (recipe below).

Amaretto Brownies
6 1/2 oz chocolate (I used Scharfenberger 70%)
5 tbsp butter
3/4 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp amaretto
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 egg whites

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.

Melt the chocolate, butter, and sugar together. (I prefer to do this in a double boiler, by which I really just mean a smaller pot in a larger pot with some water in the larger pot.) Remove from heat, and stir in the amaretto and salt. Stir in the egg, followed by the whipped egg whites. Finally, stir in the flour, and beat with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for a minute or two, until thick and glossy.

Butter and flour a [smallish but not miniature] muffin tray. Fill each muffin tin about halfway with brownie batter. Bake for 17 minutes, or until done.

Saffron Creme Anglaise
1/2 tsp or so packed saffron threads
1 vanilla bean
1/2 C heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C milk
2 tsp honey

Infuse the saffron and vanilla bean (split in half, seeds thrown in, pod thrown in, too) into the cream by heating it to the point of steaming, then turning off the heat, covering the pot, and letting it just sit together for a while. Use more saffron if need be, until it is as intense as you want it to be. Strain the saffron cream and discard the saffron threads and vanilla bean.

Whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 C sugar until pale yellow.

Set up a bowl in an ice bath.

Mix together the infused cream, milk, honey, and 1/4 C sugar and bring to a boil. Slowly and carefully pour a third of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking all the while, then pour the yolk mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk, stirring constantly. Continue to stir as you slowly raise the temperature to 182º. Strain it into the bowl in the ice bath, and continue stirring until cool.

Bee Pollen Spice Mix
This is just our approximation of Aki and Alex’s brilliant inspiration. We used equal amounts of bee pollen and grains of paradise, with much smaller amounts of sugar and salt added in. Grind everything together fairly coarsely and you’re done.

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Monkey Bread http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/02/08/monkey-bread/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/02/08/monkey-bread/#comments Thu, 08 Feb 2007 12:57:25 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/02/08/monkey-bread/

When is a bread not a bread? When it’s a monkey! Life has been pretty stressful for me lately, with some hard decisions still left for me to make, so my partner Dave and I decided to spend a recent evening just monkeying around.

We dipped balls of risen, yeasted dough into melted monkey butter (not really; Dave griped when I suggested buying organic cultured butter, even), then into monkey filling (ground chocolate, ground pecans, and sugar), and layered them into a bundt pan and allowed them to rise again before baking. It was not unlike building a croquembouche, in fact.

Pulling off balls of soft pastry covered in caramelized crumbles of ground chocolate and pecan to devour was a ton of fun. It would be even better as a party treat, since Dave and I can’t demolish a whole monkey bread on our own before it goes stale. (At least, we shouldn’t. Which didn’t stop us from scraping caramelized monkey filling out of the bundt pan to nibble on while waiting for the monkey bread to cool.)

I usually use cookbook recipes as a starting point, adapting them to my own tastes. This time, I directly followed the recipe from The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. No changes, no adaptations, just the comfort of following directions from a cookbook that I know that I can trust.

Monkey Bread
(from The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg)
For the dough
1/4 C warm (but not hot) water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 C whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C granulated sugar
4 C all-purpose flour
For the filling
2 1/2 oz. pecans (3/4 C when coarsely chopped)
4 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate (also 3/4 C when coarsely chopped)
1/2 C granulated sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Create the dough.

Combine the water and yeast and set aside for about 10 minutes, or until foamy. This is basically to wake it up and give it a nice head start.

Heat the butter and milk together just until the butter melts, then mix into the egg yolks until combined. (If you are using a stand mixer, as I tend to, use the paddle attachment and keep the speed on low.) Mix in the salt, sugar, and foamy yeast/water mixture until combined. Add 2 C flour and mix until just incorporated, not worrying about the last few lumps. Add the rest of the flour (another 2 C) and mix for 30 seconds, then raise the speed to medium and keep on mixing until the dough is smooth. This should take about 5 minutes. The dough will still be sticky at this point.

Butter a large bowl, then transfer the dough into the bowl. Flip it around a bit to coat it with the butter. Lightly cover and leave it to rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Create the filling.

Grind the pecans, chocolate, and sugar together in a food processor until sandy in texture.

Build the monkey bread.

Prepare a bundt pan by buttering and sugaring it.

Prepare that melted butter and keep it nearby in a small bowl.

Pull off small pieces of dough, rolling them into balls about the size of a golf ball. Coat each monkey ball in melted butter, then in the filling, then place it into the bundt pan. Fill the bundt pan with coated monkey balls that way until all the dough is used up, trying to keep the top layer fairly flat, as it will be the bottom when you flip the thing out in the end.

Cover and allow to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size or until it is terrifyingly close to overflowing your bundt pan and the dough doesn’t really bounce back when you poke it.

Bake and devour the monkey bread.

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Brush the top of the monkey bread with any remaining melted butter (if you have any, that is, else don’t worry too much about it).

Bake 40-45 minutes, until the top is dark brown and a cake tester inserted into the center (of a doughy bit, not through the empty center of the pan, of course!) comes out clean.

Let cool for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack, remove the pan, and let cool for another 15 minutes before serving.

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The Queen of Sheba http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/11/05/the-queen-of-sheba/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/11/05/the-queen-of-sheba/#comments Sun, 05 Nov 2006 20:30:53 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/11/05/the-queen-of-sheba/

The Queen of Sheba was Solomon’s only match, as rich and wise as he, or more. Legend has it that it was she who told him of the lost vessel of blessed light that cast peace on anyone who stood in its presence, which became the greatest of his treasures. William Butler Yeats imagined the two of them together in his poem, Solomon to Sheba:

Sang Solomon to Sheba,
And kissed her dusky face,
‘All day long from mid-day
We have talked in the one place,
All day long from shadowless noon
We have gone round and round
In the narrow theme of love
Like an old horse in a pound.’

To Solomon sang Sheba,
Planted on his knees,
‘If you had broached a matter
That might the learned please,
You had before the sun had thrown
Our shadows on the ground
Discovered that my thoughts, not it,
Are but a narrow pound.’

Said Solomon to Sheba,
And kissed her Arab eyes,
‘There’s not a man or woman
Born under the skies
Dare match in learning with us two,
And all day long we have found
There’s not a thing but love can make
The world a narrow pound.’

The Queen of Sheba is also an almost-flourless chocolate torte, rich and overwhelming, made with almond meal. We like to serve ours with cocoa nib whipped cream. The cake itself does not come bearing brilliance and wit in addition to its riches, but it does tend to inspire them in others.

Dave made the Queen of Sheba for the last NYC food blogger potluck, and I had to promise to post the recipe for everyone, so here it is. Enjoy!

The Queen of Sheba
(Very minimally adapted from Alice Medrich’s base recipe.)
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
3 tbsp framboise
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 C almond meal
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 C sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Prepare a 9″ round cake pan by cutting out a round of parchment paper and covering the bottom with it, then buttering or oiling the whole thing, sprinkling it with flour, and tapping the excess flour out.

Preheat your oven to 375°.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler (or a bowl set in a pot of gently simmering water), removing from the heat when they are almost completely melted and just stirring until they are entirely smooth. Stir in the framboise, almond extract, and salt, and then set that bowl aside for the moment.

Stir the flour and almond meal together in another bowl and set that aside.

Whisk the egg yolks together with 1/2 C sugar until well blended. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Again, set aside.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they reach soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 C sugar and keep beating until they reach stiff (but not dry; that’d be meringue!) peaks. I tend to get the best results when whipping egg whites if I start slow and only slowly increase the speed. Be patient. Walk away and get distracted. Don’t just beat on high from the start. The temperature of the eggs does not actually appear to make a difference, contrary to popular opinion. (Harold McGee agrees.)

Fold the almond meal and flour and about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture together. Then fold the rest of the egg whites in.

Pour into the pan and spread the thick batter to level it.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted about 1 1/2″ from the edge comes out clean, but a toothpick inserted into the center still comes out kinda gooey.

Place the cake pan onto a rack and let it cool. The torte will deflate as it cools. Don’t worry, that is what it is supposed to do. A torte is sort of like a collapsed souffle, but in a good way.

Once it cools, you can invert it onto a plate, running a knife around the edge between the cake and the pan to loosen it if necessary (this will probably not be necessary). Smooth the sides and the level the top with a knife if necessary, then cover with ganache (recipe below).

It helps to cover it with a thin layer of ganache, just to sort of glue in the crumbs, and let that cool and solidify before continuing. It will be easier to spread a smooth layer of ganache over that afterwards.

Serve with cocoa nib whipped cream (recipe below).

Framboise Ganache
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
Heavy cream

Melt all ingredients together over a double boiler. Let cool a bit before using. I don’t have amounts, but it is very hard to go wrong by just throwing some in and giving it a go.

Cocoa Nib Whipped Cream
2 C heavy cream
1/2 C cocoa nibs
3/8 C granulated sugar

Roast the cocoa nibs, unless they are the pre-roasted kind. Place the cream and the nibs into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and just let everything sit and steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the nibs and chill the infused cream. Once the cream is cold enough, add the sugar and beat until it is whipped cream.

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