Crème Fraîche

Frosting, sauces and garnishes

Yield: about 1 cup
Recipe: 128/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 320

Crème fraîche

     I had never before done crème fraîche and although I was nervous to make it as I am with all fermented foods, it was pretty straight forward to make. Mine cultured for 36 hours as it is pretty humid here, and the cream thickened quite a lot. Since I was making this to accompany a dessert, I naturally assumed that this cream would be a bit sweet, forgetting of course that it is fermented with buttermilk so it does taste a bit sour. I realize now after trying a few different things that I really do not like anything sour in my desserts, especially not sour cream. However, if you do, this crème fraîche will be perfect for you and you can add little dollops on a variety of desserts. To each our own! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Stir the whipping cream and buttermilk together, and pour the mixture into a plastic or glass container. Place this container into a bowl and fill the bowl with hot tap water, just to the level of the cream. Place this in a warm, draft-free place to culture for 24 to 48 hours. Time will depend on humidity.
  2. Check the fragrance of the cream for a fresh citrus or sour aroma, and chill the crème fraîche without stirring until set, about 3 hours.
  3. To use, spoon off the crème fraîche and dispose of the liquid whey at the bottom. The crème fraîche will keep in the fridge until the best-before date of the cream.

Valerie

Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream

Frosting, sauces and garnishes

Yield: about 2 ½ cups buttercream
Recipe: 119/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 170

    For New Year’s Eve I offered to bring a dessert for our hosts since they were taking care of everything else. I wanted to make a beautiful-looking cake that would be tasty as well, and this is the chocolate hazelnut* buttercream required for the recipe. This is a more involved buttercream that requires more steps than simply whipping eggs with sugar and butter, but I enjoyed making it and the flavour was delicious. I did find however that it was too salty*, so I would recommend using ¼ teaspoon of salt instead. This may have something to do with the fact that I used whisky instead of the sweeter Frangelico liqueur or brandy though, so if using those you may want to start with ¼ teaspoon, taste it and add more salt if necessary.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz (90 g) semisweet chocolate
  • 2 oz (60 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico or brandy *
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt *

Directions:

  1. In a glass or metal bowl, melt together the semisweet and bittersweet chocolate over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring until melted. Set aside. Note: If using a substitute for bittersweet chocolate, add the sugar and/or cocoa powder in this bowl.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer ideally, mix the egg yolks with ¼ cup of sugar until they are pale and have doubled in volume, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepot, bring the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, and cook uncovered, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pot with water, until it reaches a temperature of 238°F (114°C).
  4. While beating at slow speed, carefully pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl with the yolks. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and beat until cool, about 6 minutes.
  5. Beat in the melted chocolate, then beat in the butter a few pieces at a time.
  6. Beat in the Frangelico or brandy *, the vanilla and the salt.
  7. Use the buttercream at room temperature. It can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. If doing so, just pull it out of the refrigerator to warm it up to room temperature and beat until it is smooth and spreadable.

* Notes:

  • I did not have bittersweet chocolate so used instead unsweetened chocolate. Semisweet chocolate could also be used as a substitute, provided that you add the appropriate amount of sugar and/or cocoa powder to compensate.
  • Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur. Since I possessed neither Frangelico nor brandy, I used whisky instead. I do think it enhanced the flavor of the buttercream without being too much, but just keep in mind that if you do not use Frangelico it is no longer a chocolate hazelnut buttercream, but just a brandy- or whisky-flavored chocolate buttercream. Still tasty, but not quite the same I imagine.
  • I used the suggested ½ teaspoon of salt but the buttercream was too salty. Not so salty as to make it inedible, but almost. I would decrease this amount to ¼ teaspoon. I do however wonder if the choice of alcohol would affect the saltiness of the buttercream. Please keep this in mind when adding the salt at the very last step of making the buttercream.

Valerie

Seven-Minute Frosting

Frosting, sauces and garnishes

Yield: about 2  1/2 cups
Recipe: 97/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 150

    The next cake I planned to make was the delicious-looking coconut cake, so of course I had to make this seven-minute frosting to accompany it. I whisked the frosting by hand (but barely made it!) and was surprised by how well it all came together. I am usually not quite successful with egg whites, but this frosting recipe turned out marvellous. It is indeed very marshmallowy, both in texture and taste, and is as white and glossy as the first snow the fell upon us in Montreal. It looks beautiful (the frosting) and tastes even better. Give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Fill a saucepot with 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  2. In a metal bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar and water. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk either by hand or using a hand mixer at medium-high speed for 7 minutes. The frosting will tun white and double in volume, but will still be a bit fluid by the end of the 7 minutes.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Whip the frosting on high speed using a hand or stand mixer until it becomes thicker and a spreadable consistency, about 5 minutes. Use the frosting immediately, while still warm, as it will solidify considerably as it cools down.

Notes from Anna:

  • This frosting is best for cakes that do not need refrigeration.
  • Using ice water helps the mixture to heat up gradually while whisking. This, in turn, allows the sugar to melt evenly before the frosting starts gaining volume.
  • If, after you have cooked your meringue for 7 minutes while whipping, you notice that it is grainy looking, do not panic! Simply add hot water, ½ teaspoon at a time, and whip it in until the icing looks smooth. This could take up to 2 tablespoons of water. This extra step should melt any sugar granules and return your frosting to its fluffy, marshmallowy state.

dsc_8317

Valerie

Maple Meringue Frosting

Frosting, sauces and garnishes

Yield: about 2 ½ cups
Recipe: 94/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 152

    An earl grey chiffon cake with maple meringue frosting evidently calls for… maple meringue frosting. I thus made this lovely frosting recipe and was surprised by the fact that I could do it and furthermore that it was delicious (and not too sweet)! Frostings are usually not my forte, but this recipe is fail-proof and was just the right consistency for spreading. As a bonus, it is very glossy since it consists mostly of egg-whites, so very appealing on cakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. With a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then add the sugar and whip the whites just to a soft peak.
  2. In a small saucepot, bring the maple syrup to a boil and cook uncovered and without stirring until it reaches a temperature of 242°F on a candy thermometer.
  3. While beating the egg whites on medium speed, carefully pour the maple syrup into the meringue by pouring it down slowly down the side of the bowl. Continue whipping until the mixture has cooled but is not quite room temperature, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Notes from Anna:

  • This frosting should be used immediately after frosting.

Valerie

Classic Chocolate Sauce

Frosting, sauces and garnishes

Yield: 1 cup
Recipe: 93/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 319

dsc_8182

     It is a well known fact that I am a lover of chocolate and, to warm my heart, of hot chocolates. When I am feeling fancy I like to top it with a heap of homemade whipping cream and small pieces of broken peppermint candies. However, this time I thought that I would try this chocolate sauce recipe and drizzle it atop the whipping cream. I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate at home so I used dark chocolate and the sauce tasted good nonetheless. A bit sweeter than the use of bittersweet chocolate would have provided, but still very much enjoyable. This is an easy recipe for a good chocolate sauce that can be drizzled on top of, well, pretty much anything. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whipping cream (i.e. heavy 35% cream)
  • 3 oz. (90 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)

Directions:

  1. Stir the cream, chocolate, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt together in a heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium-low heat until melted and smooth.
  2. Remove the sauce from the heat. If adding brandy, do it now. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature.

Notes from Anna:

  • This chocolate sauce is thick and rich and is best served warmed.
  • The chocolate sauce will keep in the refridgerator until the best-before date of the cream.

Valerie