Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daring Bakers-Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet-Challenge #1

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

As mentioned in a prior post, I became a member of the Daring Kitchen and joined both the Daring Bakers and the Daring Cooks groups.  This was my first official challenge as a member of the Daring Bakers.  I was exciting about the challenge and immediately thought of caramel and chocolate, caramel being one of my favorite things.

I must say the finished product was not exactly what I had in mind. I still ended up impressing my group of friends, The Steves.  The Steves (there are two of us named Steve, so everyone has a Steve name, I'm *Runner Steve and there is a Hostess Steve, Queen Steve, Hey Steve, and so on) are the group of friends I and my partner hang out with  almost every Friday  night.  A few weeks ago, I let them know I would bring dessert for the night. 

At first, I thought the dessert would take about 4 to 5 hours to prepare, that was including time for it to set up in the fridge.  Actually it took me almost 8 hours in total to get through everything.  The biscuit Joconde Imprime being the biggest challenge.  My sponge cake ended up being undercooked in the middle but overbaked around the edges.  Thankfully I had enough to line my springform pan.  Honestly, I'm happy I learned the technique for this, but do not think I will be trying again it anytime soon. 

However, I did enjoy learning how to make the Praline Feuillete and the Praline powder and butter (see the previous post), the caramel mouuse. Both of these were the favorite parts of all of the Steves.  I definitely will be adding both of these to my collection of recipes and will be making them again, especially the caramel mousse.  I've made homemade caramel many many times.  

Anyways, below is a few pictures of the final project.  The base was a Praline Feuillete (using rice krispies), then a chocolate mousse, ganache, salted caramel with toasted almonds, caramel mousse, and finally caramel sauce and toasted almonds on top.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Praline Powder and Paste

Tonight, I started to work on my the January Daring Bakers Challenge (for now the challenge is Top Secret, on the 27th all will be revealed).  Anyways, for a few parts of my project I needed praline paste.  After doing a lot of Google researches and finding out praline paste is expensive but rather easy to make, I decided to make my own. 

Praline paste, I learn is a common staple in a lot of pastries, especially French pastries.  Basically praline paste is ground up nuts (traditionally hazelnuts or a combination of hazelnuts and almonds) that have been coated in a caramelized syrup.  I decided to use all almonds to make my praline paste. After looking at many recipes, I decided on the following.

  • 1 cup almonds ( I used slivered)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar

First step was to toast the almonds in the oven.  An easy step, just have to pay attention and not get distracted.  I've had more than one mishap, not this time, with toasted almonds or other nuts a bit too far.

The next step was to melt sugar and make a simple caramel syrup.  Again rather easy, just takes some time, yet something you have to keep your eye on so it does caramelize too far.  Once the syrup is ready, you stir in the nuts and quickly coat them with the syrup. Once the nuts are coated, you spread the nuts out onto a Silpat mat or greased cookie sheet to cool.

Once the mixture cools for about 30 minutes to an hour, you break it into pieces and then grind the pieces into either a powder or paste.  The paste tastes like a sweet (very yummy) peanut butter, well in this case almond butter.  I did have to contain myself from tasting more.  I could have easily eaten a few heaping teaspoons.

Now, the next step is to prepare for the actually attempt of the January Bakers Challenge.  Stay tuned for that.