Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: French Yule Log

For this month's taxing challenge, I was able to acquire the assistance of my favorite second-in-command.

This is my littlest sister Julia. She is patient, calming and helpful. In the kitchen, anyway. And I was extremely fortunate to have her; I wouldn't recommend this recipe to any single baker!

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Of the many options provided by Hilda and Marion, I selected a milk chocolate whipped cream for the base of the log, with a chocolate crème brulée insert, a coconut crisp layer, and a dark chocolate ganache and almond dacquoise layer at the bottom. The layers were covered with a dark chocolate icing.

I won't repost the recipe here (you can find it at Saffron & Blueberry), but for those overwhelmed by the complex nature of this concoction, I'll detail the process I used, which covered the span of two days. First, I put together the crème brulée and baked it in the oven. Meanwhile, I mixed the milk chocolate whipped cream and placed it in the refrigerator to cool. I used a toaster oven to toast the coconut for the crisp layer, and mixed the rest of it, spreading it between wax paper to harden. I also baked the almond dacquoise in the toaster oven (multi-tasking!). When the crème brulée finished baking, I placed it in the fridge for one hour. When it had hardened, I whipped the milk chocolate cream and assembled the first part of the log. I allowed it to freeze for several hours, then mixed the dark chocolate ganache and added it, along with the almond dacquoise layer. The next day, I removed the frozen log from the freezer and covered it with the dark chocolate icing. This may sound daunting, but it's fairly enjoyable and fast-paced with two people. The most difficult part, by far, was the waiting!

My favorite portions of the log were the milk chocolate whipped cream and the dark chocolate icing. I will most definitely use these again. I also enjoyed the coconut crisp layer, for which I used white chocolate, coconut, and crushed Special K! This would be a great candy by itself.

Due to my own impatience and lack of a proper pan, this is not the most immaculate of yule logs, but this in no way affected the taste!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Another Berry Recipe: Multigrain Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

This will be my third iteration of a recipe involving chocolate and berries. Although I'm attempting to diversify my baking repertoire, my choices are severely limited by money, time, and the tastes of those who consume my recipes. Additionally, I am fond of experimenting with whole grains.

One of my favorite ingredients is Bob's Red Mill 8 grain hot cereal. The price on their site is $3.45, but it's often on sale at Shaw's, and I make porridge with it on cold mornings, and put it in so many of my baked goods. If you can't find this, any hot cereal or grain will do, including plain oats.

The frozen raspberries in this recipe are also relatively cheap, and an amazing way to remind one of summer. Which seems, by the way, too far gone to remember. I suggest you eat these warm out of the oven to avoid contemplating the fact that we have 5 MONTHS left of these dismal weather conditions. Those of us who live in the Northeast, that is.

Whole Grain Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Muffins

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup 8 grain hot cereal
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chips

1 package frozen raspberries
8 oz. chopped dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine milk, butter, and egg.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, powder, and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing just until moist. (Leave it lumpy!)
5. Fold in chips and raspberries.
6. Divide batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (apart from some gooey, delicious melted chocolate).