Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daring Bakers: Orange Tian with Blood Orange-Kumquat Marmalade

It's time for another Daring Bakers challenge. This month the challenge took advantage of the citrus fruits widely available right now. We were asked to make a Orange Tian, a dessert I have never heard of before. You start with a pate sablee topped with orange marmalade, whipped cream and segmented oranges, and served with an orange caramel sauce.

I decided to make a blood orange - kumquat marmalade, as I have just discovered to use kumquats recently. I also added a layer of génoise, because my cake rings are pretty tall, and I thought the whipped cream alone would be just too much compared to the other levels. The original recipe added gelatin to the whipped cream, which I don't find necessary. If your heavy cream has a high percentage (about 33%), it will be stable enough on its own.

The orange tian was a pretty little dessert and also quite tasty. Trough the citrus taste it was not too sweet and very refreshing. After 10 minutes in the freezer it was easy to unmold and kept its form very well. All in all it was a very good challenge.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green Tea Shortbread Cookies

Since I have been living in Vancouver, I have tasted a lot of desserts made of matcha powder. Matcha powder is finely ground green tea leafs. You will find little matcha cream cakes, matcha macarons, really yummy green tea gelato and even matcha latte. 

I bought a little can of this intense green powder a while back, but haven't used it until I saw these Green Tea Shortbread Cookies in "Unforgettable Desserts" by Dede Wilson. They are really easy and fast to make, and have a nice subtle taste of green tea.

Green tea desserts can be an acquired taste, so I would recommend to start with just one tablespoon of matcha powder.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cherry Blossom inspired Macarons

This month on March 20th marks the annual Macaron Day. So, the lovely ladies from Mactweets called upon us the macaron lovers to make some spring flower inspired macarons, which will be presented on this special day on their website.

It sounded a lot more challenging than I thought. The first things that came to mind were Elderflowers. I made some very nice syrup last year with them, but I already used it up, and they are not yet in season. Then I thought about rose or lavender, but I wasn't sure how they would turn out. The idea finally came to me when I was taking a walk outside: cherry blossoms! They are already blooming all over the streets of Vancouver, a month earlier than usual. It's an awesome site. Spring certainly comes early this year!

I made regular macaron shells colored in pink and filled them with a white chocolate ganache with dried cherries and some kirsch. I later found out that Tartelette once made real cherry blossom macarons, with cherry blossom extract, which you can actually buy in Japan. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kumquat Cakes in glass jars

There are so many fruits available these days and you see them all the time, but you actually have never tried them. This was the case for me with kumquats, those little mini-orange looking fruits. They are in season now, so it was the perfect opportunity to try them.

I decided to make little cakes. It's basically a muffin dough, which are perfect to bake them in glass jars. This is something I discovered last year. Baking cakes in glass jars. Instead of in a baking pan, you can bake your cakes in heatproof glass jars / jam glasses.  Then after you bake them you immediately seal them. Through the heat they will be vacuum sealed. I use "Weck" jars, which come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. They close with a rubber ring and metal clamps. I also use them for jams or the smaller ones as dessert glasses.

Cakes in a glass jar make perfect little gifts. You can dress up the jar with a nice ribbon and also include the recipe. They are also great to bring along for a picnic. They will be good for about 2-3 weeks if they are kept in a cool place. In the summer I often bake a whole bunch of them, so I can bring them along to the beach or to a BBQ.
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