Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yogurt panna cotta on chocolate fudge brownie

In Italy I was once served panna cotta that was just out of this world. A display fridge full of desserts was placed next to the bar, the waiter took a panna cotta out of it's mould and poured a ladle full of chocolate sauce on top before bringing it to our table. The vanilla flavoured cream pudding melted in my mouth, feather light texture, and the warm chocolate sauce was perfectly rich and gooey.
Last week we had dinner guests and I decided to make dessert. I have wanted to make panna cotta ever since that evening in Italy and now was the perfect opportunity. Replacing some of the cream with Greek yogurt makes this dessert light and fresh. Serving it on top of chocolate brownie is indulging and of course optional. I also added cardamom to the recipe bit that is optional too and can be replaced with vanilla. This is a recipe for 4 small panna cotta so if you decide to serve without the brownie I'd double the recipe.
Panna cotta
75 ml cream
150 ml Greek yogurt
40 grams caster sugar
1 leaf of gelatin

Soak the gelatin leaf in cold water. Bring the cream and sugar (and cardamom if using) to boil. Stir in the Greek yogurt. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and add to the cream mix. Stir until smooth. Pour into 4 cups or moulds, let set for 4 hours or over night before serving.

Chocolate brownie
75 grams butter
1 egg
100 grams caster sugar
40 grams flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Melt the butter and let cool down. Add all other ingredients and stir until smooth and even. Bake for 15min on 160C.

To assemble the panna cotta and brownie; Cut out rounds of the brownie with a cup or mould the same size as the panna cotta. Dip the panna cotta in hot water and tip it out of its mould on top of the brownie. Serve with some fresh berries or a dusting of cocoa powder.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Italian meringue

If you ever think of making meringues, and you should, this is the recipe to use. Sugar and water is boiled to a thick syrup that is poured over beaten egg whites and whisked until cooled, this creates a very firm glossy mixture that can be used as an ingredient in mousses, parfaits and ice creams, or just piped into little bite sized meringues that will look very professional. You will need a hand held electric mixer and a kitchen thermometer. It might sound like a lot of work but once you take time to read the recipe and follow it you wont regret making Italian meringues. The recipe here will make a small batch, maybe a good idea to start small and just double it next time. I made my meringues very small and got about 15 out of this batch.

60 grams caster sugar
20 grams water
30 grams egg white
6 grams caster sugar

Bring the larger amount of sugar and the water to boil in a pot, turn down the heat and let simmer. When the mix comes to 115C start beating the egg white with the small amount of sugar, beat to quite firm peaks. When the sugar syrup reaches 120-124C start pouring over the egg whites while beating. Continue beating until the mix is completely cold. Pipe or spoon the mix into little meringues on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 3H on 80C.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rye loaf for toasting

Having a passion for baking can sometimes be tricky when there is only two of us eating my baked goods, we simply can not eat everything while it is fresh and I don't know how many times I have ended up throwing away things. Personally I don't eat that much bread anymore and for breakfast I mostly eat cracker bread rather than toast. Martin on the other hand loves a couple of slices of toast with beans for breakfast. We all know that toast bread does not have to be fresh to be tasty. Brilliant I think because it allows me to bake loaves of bread, slice it and freeze. Toast bread like this does not even have to be defrosted but goes straight into the toaster from the freezer. Here is a version that is easy to make and it is quite healthy too, usually I put mixed seeds in it but if you like nuts or maybe dried fruit that work well too.

7 grams dried yeast
250ml water
50 grams rye flakes
50 grams rye flour
200-250 grams strong white flour
1tbsp honey
1tbsp salt
50 grams mixed seeds

Bring 200ml of the water to the boil, add rye flakes, rye flour and seeds and stir into a thick porridge. Let cool down to room temperature. Dissolve the yeast in the remaining 50ml water(luke warm) and add to the rye mix. Add honey, salt and half the flour. Work as much flour in to the dough so it it easy to knead and not too sticky, but be careful not to add too much flour, the dough will get to compact and have difficulties to rise properly. Knead the dough for 5 min and let prove until doubled in size. On a floured surface knead into a loaf, put in a loaf tin and let prove again until doubled in size. Bake for 30-40min on 220C.

Brown butter pecan shortbread

Back home there is a very old fashioned grinder we used when grinding nuts for certain pastries. It is attached to a table top and lets you by hand grind nuts or coffee in to fine powder. Nuts and coffee can of course be bought ground already but there is something special about making things on your own. At a recent trip to Stockholm I came across one on these grinders in a little old style hard ware shop. I bought it and brought it back to Ireland and was very eager to try it out. Having a bag of pecan nuts in my cup board i decided to grind them into fine powder, toast it and use in a brown butter short bread biscuit. The result; lovely crumbly biscuits with a rich flavour of nutty butter and sweet toasted pecans. Go on and try it.

100 grams butter
50 grams brown sugar
150 grams plain flour
50 grams pecans
1 large egg yolk

Melt butter in a pot, let it start to foam and smell nutty. When the colour in brown take of the heat and let cool down.
Grind pecan nuts and toast in a dry hot pan until golden in colour. Let cool down.
Beat sugar and butter until fluffy and pale, add egg yolk, pecans and flour. Knead quickly into a dough. Roll out to a square about 1cm thick. Prick with a fork and score little rectangular biscuits in the dough with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35min on 160C. Sprinkle with caster sugar just after it comes out of the oven. Let cool down before cutting in to biscuits.