Monthly Archives: August 2010

Reverse affogato: hot ice-cream with iced coffee

What can I say? This is hot ice-cream that melts as it cools, and melts a bit faster if you pour, say, iced espresso over it. Hence, reverse affogato. Oh the marvellous wonders of chemistry!

The ice-cream’s rather unorthodox behaviour is courtesy of methylcellulose, a derivative of cellulose that acts as a thickener or gelling agent at cool temperatures (like at fridge temperature), solidifies at hot temperatures (like at about scalding, so around 60°C and above), and is soft in between (like at room temperature). So making the ice-cream involves poaching scoops of it in near-boiling water for a couple of minutes to let them solidify. Ah, poached and ice-cream: words that were never meant to go together, at least without the addition of cannot be.

The recipe I used for this was from Ideas In Food via Khymos. It’s a great proof of concept, from my point of view — I’m just personally not sold on its flavour (ice-cream made from cream cheese and yoghurt has a remarkable tendency to taste like cream cheese and yoghurt). It has its place of course (like when you want your ice-cream to taste remarkably like cream cheese and yoghurt), but I want to make something that is essentially indistinguishable from plain vanilla ice-cream except for its temperature.

So I’m working on my own recipe at the moment, and now it is only a matter of time…

Blood orange tart

This is dedicated to Hannah at Wayfaring Chocolate, whose aversion to orange means that she won’t have to add this recipe to her to-bake list! Maybe I need to change my PhD project to investigate aversion to orange, since people such as Hannah who tragically don’t enjoy orange clearly need some sort of intervention, and I want to help these poor souls whose lives are devoid of the sublime orangey beauty that we more fortunate people have received into our hearts as the orangey glow of orangetastic salvation. Orange be with you.

Like my yuzu tart, this tart is made using the lemon tart recipe from Exclusively Food, although substituting in blood orange juice and adding the zest of a blood orange to the filling after straining it and before putting it into the pastry casing. I also grated rather a lot of chocolate over the top (Scharffen Berger 62% Cacao Semisweet, courtesy of Tash who brought it back from the U.S. for me, amongst other fantastic cacao-related products, since you can’t get Scharffen Berger anywhere that I know of in Australia – thanks, Tash!).

Receive this orange tart into your pie-ous hearts, heathens!

Burnt butter and pecan cupcakes with pretzel icing

Gold? yellow, glittering, precious gold ?
No, Gods, I am no idle votarist.
Roots, you clear heav’ns! thus much of this will make;
Black, white; fair, soul; wrong, right;
Base, noble; old, young; coward, valiant.
You Gods ! why this? what this? you Gods! why,
this
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides :
Pluck stout men’s pillows from below their heads.
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions; bless th’ accurs’d ;
Make the hoar leprosy ador’d; place thieves,
And give them title, knee, and approbation,
With senators on the bench [...]

-Shakespeare, Timon of Athens

Yeah I’m pretty sure equal prose and actions described therein could be inspired by these golden velvet cakes of mine. It’s true, it’s incredibly unsurprisingly true: these are indeed yet another of my permutations of red velvet cake. Will it never end?

They were going to be brown velvet cakes, but… they aren’t that brown. With the burnt butter, I was kind of thinking there might be a tinge of brown, but that just means that the brown velvet title is reserved for some future cake that very likely features the Valrhona cocoa powder that came into my possession recently. But for now, everything is golden.

I’ve never burned butter before, so I kind of winged it but it worked out brilliantly. The smell of it was enough to convince me to skip out any of the other flavourings I might have considered adding. Burnt butter in everything from now on.

And the pretzel icing… it’s rather wondrous. I surprised myself when I came up with that one. The idea seemed like it could work, I acted on the idea, and the result of the action was spectacular. So spectacular that I’m making the leftover icing into truffles because to let it go to waste would be an act of villainy.

Red velvet cake with raspberry cream cheese icing

Red velvet recipe #8402445, red velvet cake with raspberry cream cheese icing. Made as a large double-layered cake for my mum for her birthday (happy birthday!) but some leftover batter got made into cupcakes as seen in the photo.

I’ve been wanting to make a raspberry red velvet cake for ages, just because apparently that’s one of the more common red velvet permutations in the wider world. Well, I guess in the U.S. maybe, since red velvet is pretty uncommon in general here in Australia… although they’re never going to convince anyone of red velvet’s worth if they don’t try to sell it convincingly.

For example, at the lovely Poppy Cakes a while back, I overheard a rather loud woman shout at the baker “WHAT FLAVOUR IS RED VELVET?” while gesticulating at some red velvet cupcakes, and he replied with “Well… umm… it’s kind of a mix of vanilla and cocoa…” and of course, Rather Loud Woman immediately ordered a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing.

The baker didn’t sell the mystique, the ineffable, transcendental flavour of red velvet that dares the English language (and probably all other languages ever) to even attempt to describe it. The look on people’s faces when they try red velvet for the first time is remarkable because it’s the look of realisation that language, in this moment, is useless to them.

So if the question is:
What flavour is red velvet?

Then the answer is:
You wish you knew what flavour red velvet is! It’s the flavour that will have you yelling “Where have you been all my life?” in a wounded, accusatory tone after you first try it! Your life is all the poorer for not having tried it, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, oh just try it already and stop wasting away in pathetic ignorance of its greatness of which you are quite possibly not worthy. Now is your chance to enlighten yourself.

Then either the person will try red velvet, or they will flee. What am I, a customer service representative?

You know the rigmarole with the standard red velvet recipe. And the icing?

Raspberry cream cheese icing
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
100g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla paste
400g frozen raspberries

Put the frozen raspberries in a saucepan and cook them over medium-low heat until they reduce down to a thick liquid. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. (This works best with frozen raspberries, which I only used because I didn’t feel that the fresh raspberries were worth $9 a punnet, but you could use fresh raspberries in a similar way.)

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until well combined. Add the vanilla and beat again, then the icing sugar and beat again. Add the slightly cooled raspberries and beat until well combined, then ice your red velvet cake/s.

Chilli cinnamon chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with salted caramel sauce and chilli vanilla sugar

Well, I passed the assessment round for my PhD yesterday (hurrah!) so now there’s no excuse for me not updating this blog like, seven, no, eight times a day. At least. When I’m not too busy celebrating by hemming curtains. Which I spent all morning doing because ain’t no point in having curtains if they’re the wrong length, right?

Anyway, while I figure out some sort of stupidly elaborate thing to bake to celebrate entering the next stage of my PhD candidacy, here is what I baked for the lab meeting last week. (In case you were wondering how I create so many sugar-packed, buttery sweet things, yet don’t seem to be blogging from hospital, it’s because I cater for my lab’s meetings, which enables me to give the sugar-packed, buttery sweet things mostly to other people. Mostly. If you see a lab tag on a post, you’ll know why.)

I was lazy for last week’s lab meeting and didn’t come up with my own recipes, so here are the two recipes I used:

Buttermilk chocolate cupcakes from Chocolate Fool
- I made these into the cinnamon chilli cupcakes by adding 1 tsp chilli powder and 2 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
- May I also recommend beating the butter and the sugar together then adding the eggs, rather than beating the eggs and the sugar together then adding the butter. Butter + sugar, then eggs = easier and quicker and will give you the right consistency faster.
- A useless note, but in these cakes I used fleur de sel chocolate by Mast Brothers Chocolate which I bought when I was in NYC but couldn’t eat because it was a bit too salty for my tastes. I think the chocolate was put to good use in this recipe.

Salted butter caramel sauce from Almost Bourdain
- I ended up adding about 3/4 tsp of salt, but this recipe is amazing. A+, would sauce again.

And over the top I sprinkled some chilli vanilla sugar from Lanacoora Chillis, but you could make your own by mixing 1 tsp chilli powder (or 1 tsp dried, very finely chopped/processed chillis) with a cup or two of sugar and keeping it in an airtight container with a vanilla pod buried in the sugar. Sweet.