Vegetable Garden

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cake

My very good friend, Min, was over at my apartment last weekend.  We often bake together and I recently shared with her my molten chocolate cake recipe.  She used the recipe for a few recent parties and the dessert was very well received.  Last weekend she suggested that I post some of our favorite recipes on the blog.  So here's one of our all time favorite - Molten Chocolate Cake.  It's so simple to make, you'll never pay $10 for molten chocolate cake again at any restaurants.

Moten Chocolate Cake
(makes 6 servings)
5 oz        Bitter Sweet Chocolate
5 oz        Butter
3              Eggs
3              Egg Yolks
5 oz        Sugar
2 oz        Flour

Prepare ramekins/aluminum tin cups by coating the inside of the conatiner with softened butter.  Preheat oven to 425F.

Melt chocolate and butter in a stainless steel mixing bowl over a bain marie.  In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, yolks and sugar.  Add melted chocolate/butter mixture to the egg mixture gradually, stirring constantly so the eggs are tempered and do not scramble.  Once all chocolate/butter mixture is completely combined with the egg mixture, add the flour.  Incorporate the flour completely with as few strokes/stirs as possible.  Pour the batter into prepared ramekins and bake at 425F for 15 minutes.

Unbaked batter can be frozen in individual ramekins/cups for up to 4 weeks.  Bake for 18 minutes if the batter is cold or frozen.

I like to serve the molten chocolate cake with raspberry compote or orange liquor flavoured whipped cream.  My husband likes it with good quality vanilla ice cream. 


We made eclairs today.  Eclairs were one of my favorite pastries when I was a kid.  I recall that they were sometimes filled with whipped cream or even butter cream.  The eclairs we made today are filled with pastry cream flavored with chocolate, cofee and vanilla.  Even though these eclairs turned out to be delicious, the appearance was not up to par.  I did not score the dough deep enough before baking, the sides cracked and did not make a perfect looking pastry.  Since these will be on the test next week, I am  going to have to do a practice batch at home during the week.  I hope my neighbors and doormen won't mind repeating the desert :o)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Long Weekend & Weigh-In

I am so happy to get a long weekend break.  I was so tired after last week's exam, my husband, Vince, said I was speaking incoherently.

Weeek #3 Key Statistics
(my) weight - 116.0 lb... I am surprised that I weigh (insignificantly) less than I started, even after a weekend full of BBQ's, beer and wine indulgence
(husband's) weight - ??? lb... there is some resistence to step on the scale this week.  Hmmm...
desserts made (eaten) - 18 tarts & 8 batches of cookies
Looks like we know who has been eating the goodies

We're moving into Pate A Choux (Cream Puff Dough) starting tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Just In Time

Test Day

We had to produce all these between 9:30 and 1:30, including a 30 minutes lunch break.  1:30 time stamp was written by the chef instructor indicating the time I finished all 3 items.  I literally completed just on time with not even one minute to spare.  It was quite a scramble...but I am happy that I made it.

Now I am truly looking forward to the long weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Final Tarts

Today is the last session on Tarts and Cookies.  We made a beautiful Linzer Tart (filled with raspberry and apple jam). 
Linzer Tart

Raspberry & Apple Filling

We also made Quiche Lorraine, which served me well this evening.  Since tomorrow is a test day Vince and I had quiche for dinner so I can spend some time studying for tomorrow's test....

What's tomorrow's test like?  We're required to make 1 big tart, 4 small tartlettes and 1 batch of cookies in 4 hours, plus a 45 minutes written test on ingredients, procedures and conversions such as....
.... 1 fl oz = 28.37grams; 1 quart = 946 ml; F to C; differences between french, swiss and italian meringues...types of custards... etc etc..

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Almost The End of Tarts and Cookies

Tomorrow will be the last day of Tarts and Cookies, followed by my first practical and written exam of this pastry program.  After 11 days in the sweet kitchen, my partner and I had our first reall kitchen boo-boo.  We burnt our caramel.  It's amazing how quickly and how much the sugar continues to burn after we remove the pot of sugar solution from the heat. 

Technically we made 2 tarts and one batch of cookies but I did not bother to bring home/eat the Tartelettes Tatin.  Even though we remade a batch of caramel (the first batch burnt) for the Tart Tatin, the sauce tasted burnt and was just unpleasant to eat.  We secretly (which now isn't a secret since it made it to the blog) sent the tart to the compose bin after we picked at it a little.

My favorite take home goodies today are these lovely Bourbon-Peacan Cookies.  I am definitely going to add it to my permanent recipe box.  They are incredibly crumbly but not milly like shortbread cookies.  On the palette, it has the sensation of nuts and cookie crumbs held together by a light meringue.  It has great crunch without being hard or dry.

The Tarte Aux Noix Caramel (Caramel-Nut Tart) turned out beautifully but it's a little too sweet for my liking.  This tart is filled with chopped walnuts and caramel, topped with almond paste. 

Tarte Aux Noix Caramel (Caramel-Nut Tart)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week #3 (Monday & Tuesday)

Tarte Au Citron (Lemon Tart).  I find this tart a little on the sweet side.  I have a recipe for a similar lemon curd but it has less sugar and more eggs.  It's my first time handling the torch (for torching the meringue). I love the smell of burnt sugar.

This Tarte Aux Noix (Nut Tart) might be my favorite tart yet.  It's like a cake within a tart shell.  The filling is made of almond flour and hazelnut flour held together with french meringue.  It's surprisingly light on the inside.

Today is the most stressful day in the kitchen since the start of the program.  It does not help that my partner and I are both assigned bakers as well.  Assigned bakers are responsible for baking all the goodies (for half the class) so that all the tarts are loaded in the oven at once.  What a crazy day!

I love how these ganache tarts turned out.  Picked up a couple of new skills today despite all that craziness.  I am happy about that.

Tarte Au Ganache Chocolat (Chocolate Ganache Tart)

This Chocolate Bavarian Tart is delicious.  It has some gelatin in the filling which gives the dessert a great mouth-feel.
Tarte Bavarois Au Chocolat (Chocolate Bavarian Tart)

We mixed in the left over candied lemon from yesterday's lemon tart into these cookies.  It's wonderful... besides, I love being able "repurpose" my ingredients/leftovers. 

Monday, May 23, 2011


Weeek #2 Key Statistics
(my) weight - 116.5 lb... yay, no change
(husband's) weight - 163.5 lb
desserts made (eaten) - 8 tarts & 5 cookies assortments

Summing up Week #2

I can't believe that I've been in the pastry program for merely 2 weeks.  It feels like I've done lots and lots of baking.

To wrap up a great week for baking, we made Clafoutis and Spritz Cookies.  Clafoutis is a baked custard tart.  I've never had Clafoutis until now.  It's actually pretty good.  We made it with sour cherries and blueberries.  The tartness of the berries complement the sweetness of the custard very well.

These Spritz cookies remind me of a certain type of cookie we used to have during Chinese New Year. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Something Savoury

Today we made something savoury in the sweet kitchen.  The onion tart is giong to be a great side dish to complement the filet mignon I was planning to make for dinner tonight. 

I've baked for many years but I've never thought of making Fig Newtons.  These are delicious.  The pastry is mildly sweet, buttery and super tender.  Fillings are 100% figs, what more can one ask for.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day #5: Taaaarts.......

Tarte Aux Fruits (Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream)
I am really pleased with how this tart turned out - it looks lik a blooming flower.  This is the 6th tart I've made since last Wednesday and I must say that I am definitely getting the hang of it. 

Tart Alsacienne (Alsatian Apple Tart)
I have never seen or heard of this tart recipe until today.  It's caramelized apples, flambe with brandy and the filling is baked custard.  I think the picture looks better than the tart itself.  I doubt I will put this on any restaurant/bakery menu because it simply does not look pretty.... well, maybe that's the reason why I've never heard of or seen this tart before!

Vanille-Kipferl (Viennese Vanilla Crescents)
These delicious hand-shaped cookies are flavoured with ground hazelnuts and coated with vanilla sugar.  If I were to make them at home, I'd skip the sugar but spread some Nutella on the flat (bottom) side... or maybe coat the bottom with some chocolate.  I think that will really bring out the hazelnut flavour and aroma even more.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tarts, Tarts and more Tarts!

Yay, today's another successful day in the Sweet Kitchen.  Look, aren't these Tarte Aux Fruits Frais (fresh fruit tarts) perky?  Makes me happy just looking at them :o)

This Tart Bourdaloue (Pear & Almond Tart Bourdaloue Style) is really yummy  I wish I could send desserts via email.  The flaky pie dough was a pain to roll out but it was totally worth the effort.  The pears were poached in 1 liter of wine and a whole vanilla bean. The aroma of the poaching liquid was like perfume.  I was so sad to throw out the poaching liquid after the pears were done.

Just in case you're wondering where these tarts went - Bart the Super, Steve the doorman, neighbors across the hallway and neighbor on the 5th floor.

I hope I will be able to replicate these for my exam next week.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week #1 in the Sweet Kitchen

Weeek #1 Key Statistics
(my) weight - 116.5 lb
(husband's) weight - 163 lb
desserts made (eaten) - 2 pies & 5 gingersnaps

I am glad that the program started on a Wednesday so there were only 3 days of school in the first week.  The week flew by so quickly.  Everyday this week seemed like a mad scramble to me - from being in class from 8.30a - 2.30p, to getting blood work done for school medical records to getting "stuff" (eg cake box etc).  By the time class ends at 2.30p, I am exhausted! Since I am still serving out my transition period at work I have to rush home immediately after school to log on to the office network.  This weekend is a much needed break for me to regroup and strategize on how I can manage my time more efficiently.

We work in pairs in the kitchen and I am fortunate to have a partner, Helen, whom I work very well with.  This week we learnt to make Pate Sucree (Sweet Tart Dough), Pate Brisee (Flaky Tart Dough), Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream), Compote De Pommes (Apple Compote) and Gingersnaps cookies.  The results of these components were a fine looking Tart Aux Pommes (Apple Tart), a delicious Tart Aux Bananes Est Creme (Banana Tart) and of course, Gingersnaps cookies.  After years of experimental home baking, for the first time, I made a tart shell that did not shrink!  It would have helped if I had known to let the dough relax before trimming the excess.... at least, that's what I think went wrong with my prior attempts.  My favorite this week was the Banana Tart even though I'm not a big fan of Banana Tarts in general.  The pastry cream was light, flavorful, sweet yet not cloyed.  Vince's (my husband) favorite was the gingersnaps - it reminded him of Speculaas, a spice cookie he used to have in the Netherlands during Christmas season.

Tarte Aux Pommes

Tarte Aux Bananes Est Creme
(picture of my partner's tart)

the gingersnaps were here until vince came home...

Looking forward to the coming week in the sweet kitchen (minus the sanitation written exam)