Sunday, May 31, 2009

Birthday Cookies

Some people draw, some paint , some sculpt- I decorate cookies. That's about the extent of my artistic capabilities, although I suppose I shouldn't sell myself short. The possibilities are endless and I have seen things that other people have done that are true masterpieces. I just took a look at some pictures of the first cookies I decorated and can proudly say I have definitely improved. Still need lots of practice, but I'm getting the hang of it. The secret is getting the right consistency of the royal icing for the purpose you need- flooding, writing, detailed work- and that can be very tricky. Anyways, here are some cookies I finished today for a first birthday party. Kinda cute if I say so myself!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mozart Cake

This is the cake I made for my friend's birthday. For this one you've got to take a momentary break from any diet you may be on. It is so rich, that a small piece will do the trick, but even if I say so myself, it is amazingly delicious. The combination of the meringue base and layer, with chocolate creme and then layered with a white chocolate and dark chocolate mousse in between- well what can I say.......

The cake is not hard to make, but does take a long preparation time. Baking the meringue bases, making the mousse , chilling, putting together all the pieces and freezing, but boy is it worth the effort. Recipe follows- it's from a collection of best recipes from a popular Israeli food magazine called "Al HaShulchan" ( On the Table). They call it "Mozart Cake"
Mozart Cake
Ingredients for a 26cm. springform pan

4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar ( 100 gr.)
3/4 +1 tablespoon ( 100 gr.) powdered sugar
3/4 cup ( 70 gr.) ground hazelnuts
3/4 cup ( 70 gr.) ground almonds

750 ml. sweet whipping cream
225 grams bitter chocolate, chopped
225 grams white chocolate, chopped

Chocolate Creme
100 grams bitter chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon whipping cream
50 grams butter


1/2 (120 ml.) whipping cream
150 grams bitter chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cups (150 grams) hazelnuts or walnuts chopped or sugared hazelnuts, broken into small pieces

Prepare the meringue:
1. Whip egg whites in mixer until just foamy. Slowly add sugar and continue whipping until soft, stable peaks are reached.
2. Fold in the powdered sugar, hazelnuts and almonds.
3. Using the base of a 25 cm. pan, outline the circle of the pan on two separate pieces of parchment paper. Turn the papers over ( so the pencil side is down) and place on a baking sheet.
4. Using a spatula or piping bag, fill in circles of the meringue using the pencils marks as the outer border.
Bake at 110 C. (225F) for 2 hours until the meringue hardens.

Prepare the mousses
1. Heat the whipping cream until just before boiling.
2. Prepare one bowl with the dark chocolate and one bowl with the white chocolate. Pour half of the hot cream over the dark chocolate and the other half over the white chocolate. Mix until smooth cream is formed for each and chill inthe refrigerator at least 4 hours.

Prepare the chocolate cream
1. In a pan, melt all the ingredients for the chocolate cream, mix and cool.
Putting it all together:
1. Place one meringue base in the springform pan and spread the chocolate cream over the top.
2. In a stand mixer, whip the chilled white chocolate mousse. If it hardened too much in the fridge, let it soften for a few minutes at room temperature before whipping.
Spread the white mousses over the cream. Place the second meringue base on top of the white mousse. and press firmly down.
3. Whip the dark chocolate mousse and spread evenly over the top meringue layer.Freeze for ay least 24 hours.
After the freeze:
1. Heat the last bit of whipping cream to almost boiling.
2. Pour the cream over the dark chocolate and stir untilthe chocolate melts.
3. Pour the topping over the frozen cake evenly. Return to the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the topping hardens. At this point you can cover the cake with plastic wrap and leave in the freezer for a few days.
4. To serve, remove from freezer and deforst for 3-4 hours in the fridge. Release the cake from the pan using a hot, wet kitchen towel wrapped around the pan to help it slip out easily.
5. Press the chopped nuts onto the sides of the cake.
6. Cut the cake with a smooth edged knife dipped in boiling water to help cut it smoothly.
After all that work, you want the slice to look great on the plate, not a messy bunch of goop!


Mother's Day Cookies

Today we are celebrating my friend Bonnie's birthday and since it is also Mother's Day ( in the U.S., not here in Israel , but no matter!) I decided to make a cake and cookies for all the girls on Mom's day. They were so fun to decorate and the possibilities are endless. The cookies are a delicious sugar cookie recipe I use and I play around with adding other flavors such as grated lemon or orange peel, even adding a few drops of different liqueurs to flavor as well. Royal icing added the final touches on top.

Very girlie cookies- a shoe, dress and purse.

For the base on each cookie I colored fondant and on some I rolled different textures on the surface.

Attaching the ribbons to the purses for the handles was a bit tricky.

I made the mistake of waiting until the fondant was dry.

I should have stuck the ribbon under the sugar paste when it was still soft.

Live and learn!

Bagged and ready to go!

Wishing Moms everywhere a Happy Mother's Day !

Monday, May 4, 2009

Early Senility

Nothing to joke about , really, but I sometimes question where my head is. I made a huge batch of sugar cookies in the shape of a flag with the intention of decorating them for Israeli Independence Day. I was so proud of myself. I made them in advance and put them securely away in a box to decorate as the day came closer. Yeah- put them away so well that I totally forgot about them! Among my mountains of "stuff" in the kitchen( I try to be organized, really I do!) I found the box of cookies, waiting to be dressed. Of course, Independence Day had passed three days before! Not one to waste- better late than never- so I proceeded to decorate and here are the results. Next time I'll leave those kinds of projects in full view!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bagels #1

I love bread. I could eat it for every meal and every course of every meal. Even instead of dessert- and that's something! Doesn't do much for my waistline, but that's a whole other issue.
Not only do I love eating bread but I love making it. It's relaxing, satisfying and the smell that fills the house while it's baking is indescribable. I've baked lots of different breads before but have never tried bagels. Bagels, as far as I 'm concerned, need to have a crispish type crust and a chewy, flavorful bread on the inside. After reading Pioneer Woman's post of the bagel-making experience she had with Smitten Kitchen ( wish I had been there), I decided it was time to give it a try. This is attempt # 1 using Peter Reinhardt's recipe recommended by Smitten Kitchen.

The Sponge

The dough

the bagels go into the fridge to rest overnight

Boiling the bagels

Covered in sesame seeds ( yum!)

Final Product

Verdict: Not difficult to make. I'm not sure my sponge rose to the extent it was supposed to. They didn't come out smooth and shiny like a bakery bagel ( or the one's in Smitten Kitchen's pictures!), but I am determined to keep trying and will re-do this recipe again as well as try some others. In any case they were delicious and the crust was crunchy while the inside was chewy. I had fun going through the process ( not a difficult one at all, just takes time- mostly waiting time) and that's important too. By the way, all the bagels were "inhaled" within a very short period of time and the general reaction was "more!"