Archive | August, 2013

Ile Flottante: Denver

20 Aug
09 done 1
Well, I think this was probably the weirdest dessert I’ve ever cooked.
I start my final year (I hope to God it’s my final year) of post-baccalaureate classes today, so I decided to host a dinner party of sorts for some of my Denver pals to celebrate my last duty-free night until December. I made Italian fare (spaghetti and meatballs, with homemade mozzarella), so I thought that the Ile Flottante challenge might make a nice dessert.
Overall, I liked this. The meringue had a different texture than I was expecting – it was very light (well, duh), but it was not even a little bit crunchy. I guess I was expecting an angel food cake-like texture, but the meringe was kind of…well, slimy. I mean, “slimy” is kind of a gross word, and the meringue wasn’t gross, but it’s the best way I can put it. The creme anglaise was a really nice foil, though; its richness offset the lightness of the cake a lot. The carmel sauce was my favorite part, though. It had good flavor and mixed beautifully with the creme anglaise when I served it.
I used Martha Stewart’s recipe, which is the same one I saw her make on her TV show about a month ago. There’s a neat video on her website, if you’re curious. I like the video, because I feel smug that I used the same bundt pan in the video! I didn’t remember that, but I guess it must be a Martha Stewart brand pan (no surprises there.)
Because of the timing of cooking my other dinner items, I started with the creme anglaise. I heated the milk, then did the whole egg-tempering shebang with the egg/sugar mix. My first batch curdled a little – Not a whole lot, but enough for me to decide to redo it. My second batch also curdled a little bit, but I decided to use it.
Milk heating:
01 milk
After tempering the eggs:
02 cooked custard
Final product:
03 creme
I made my meringue next. I get a lot of pleasure out of whipping egg whites.
04 meringue
My meringue puffed nicely, but it didn’t look as nice as Martha’s! This is what makes me wonder, now, if my meringue wasn’t a little underdone. I wish I’d re-watched this video before I made mine!
05 baked
Once we were closer to dinner, I made my carmel syrup. It seemed like it took ages to brown, and then: BAM. All of a sudden, dark brown syrup. I forgot to take photos of this part, because I was also baking meatballs and making cheese.
I unmolded my meringue –
06 unmolded
All plated and ready to go!
09 done 2

Solo project: Mocha Cupcakes

14 Aug

Solo project: Mocha Cupcakes

Homemade Mocha Cupcakes for a friend! I love how piped Swiss Meringue looks, don’t you?

Challenge: Ile Flottante

14 Aug

I was watching Martha Stewart’s new TV show recently (no surprise; I worship at her altar). It’s a cool structure, with a focus on one dish or ingredient done many ways, with techniques and cooking science worked in. Clearly, her producers have been watching Alton Brown.

Anyway, the “eggs” episode of “Martha’s Cooking School” was on at my parents’ house about a month ago, and I got sucked in. The final egg dish she made was a meringue dessert called “Ile Flottante“. It looked AMAZING, and I knew it’d be the next challenge I picked for catsandcommas.

There are many recipes for this online, so I’ll let us make our own choices about which to use. It’s on!

Joint project: Kolache

6 Aug

Mmmm! Kolache!


Hannah took the world’s fastest vacation out to Oregon this last weekend to stay with Nora and visit with our fabulous collegiate social circle. Naturally, it was time to bake together! Nora suggested that we make Kolache, a Czech pastry with fruit filling. Both of us have Czech heritage, and have made delicious Kolache before, but we had an excellent reason to revisit this fabulous baked good: our lovely friends Martin and Nicole are moving away from Portland to Bozeman, MT. Martin is a first-generation American born to Czech parents, and he often teaches Hannah and Nora things about the Czech Republic. A batch of freshly baked Kolache seemed like a nice treat for Martin and Nicole’s last weekend in Oregon.

This is a badly back-lit photo of Martin and Nicole, the night we ate the Kolache! (Nice hat, Martin.)

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Kolache are relatively simple to make. Nora had a little flipbook of recipes called Cherished Czech Recipes, so that was our source for the recipe. Actually, Martin and Nicole got that book for Nora! (Talk about self-gifting, amirite?)

Kolache are mostly sweet yeast bread, with little thumbprint wells on top, filled with (a usually sweet) filling of some kind. The recipe book had so many filling options, both sweet (honey poppyseed, cherry, butter rum…) and savory (cabbage, of course!). We settled on 1/2 cherry filling (which was basically just cherry pie filling) and 1/2 lemon curd.

Here’s Nora, shopping for cherries to use to make the cherry filling.

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Oregon cherries, of course!

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At home, we whipped up our yeasty beasties:


Then came warm milk and melted butter, and finally our flour/sugar/egg mix. Hannah used Nora’s beautiful red stand mixer to do this part:


Nora kneaded the dough just a little bit:


…then left it to rise for about an hour. An hour we filled by watching “The West Wing“!

Then we divided the dough, rolled it into little balls, brushed them with melted butter, and let them rise again on the baking sheets.


Meanwhile, Nora made the cherry filling (basically, cherries/their juice and sugar, thickened in a pan over low heat with corn starch).


Hannah made the “crumble topping”, which was basically strudel. Flour, sugar, and cinnamon cut together with butter using a pastry cutter.



Once the little balls had risen again, we punched the wells in and filled them up! Hannah’s disembodied hand making wells:


Nora’s disembodied spoon in the background, adding cherry filling:

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Crumb topping added!


They baked up beautifully and our end product was awesome! They were really airy and just the right amount of sweet.


…And a blurry, self-taken phone picture of the bakers!

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Solo project: Berry-almond muffins

4 Aug

As I’ve probably shared before, every couple months I head to the library for some culinary inspiration. This time around, I found “EatingWell in Season,” which features fabulous ways to use your farmers market finds.

It also has a surprising number of baked goods (healthy of course) for each season. The summer section has a recipe for “Berry-almond quick bread,” which I decided to make into muffins.

Using half whole-wheat flour and half white flour, plus brown sugar, gives the bread a caramel, nutty flavor and a thicker texture than your average muffin. Definitely recommended for potlucks and for sharing at work.