Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Guinness! (Guinness Dark Chocolate Ice Cream)

Guinness turns 250 years old this week!  Hurray!  So, since I need no better excuse, Desserts for Breakfast here is taking a break from the scheduled programming and turning to a week of celebrating this awesome dark beer.  So, welcome to Guinness Week!

Okay, so it actually started out very serendipitously.  I had planned to get back to ice cream making after a month or so of being away from it (due to traveling and catering orders), and I'd decided to make chocolate ice cream.  But, right as I flipped open David Lebovitz's awesome ice cream book, the book fell open to Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, and I *had* to try it.  It was only later that night once my custard was cooling in the fridge did I find out that it's Guinness's birthday this week--hence, perfect timing!  This has spurred quite a Guinness obsession in the house, and there's more Guinness goodness to come.

Guinness-dark chocolate ice cream

But, as much as I <3 David Lebovitz's book, I do prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate.  And the ice cream came out great despite the substitution.  This was such a rich, creamy ice cream with a great added depth from the Guinness.  Definitely something worth having around for Guinness week!  (btw, I also made a vanilla bean ice cream later that day to go with the Guinness-chocolate. It's a perfect companion and helps mild out some of the alcoholic flavor, if that's not your cup of tea.)

Read on for the recipe....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PotW: Whole wheat pancakes with almond fruit and mascarpone cream

I don't know if anyone else gets this, but sometimes, there are just certain foods that you tend to cook with certain people.  And, for my awesome Icelandic roommate, Maria, and I, it's grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes.  We've gone through several incarnations of pancakes already, and there's nothing more I look forward to on a Saturday morning than to wake up to the newest version of pancakes that we can think and cook up.  So, I'm starting a new weekly feature here on Desserts for Breakfast: the Pancake of the Week  (aka: PotW), since pancakes are, after all, a dessert.  :-).

[last week's PotW: vanilla pancakes with white peaches, caramelized brown sugar, and ricotta cheese]

This week, we had some leftover almond-berry-stone fruit mix from the night before, so we decided to concoct something that would complement this last hurrah of summer fruits:

Whole wheat pancakes
with summer fruit - almond mix
and almond mascarpone whipped cream

The whole wheat pancakes here aren't very sweet, so they were the perfect accompaniment to the summer fruits and mascarpone whipped cream.  And, the slight almond flavoring in the whipped cream went well with the slivered almonds in the fruit.  All in all, definitely a good send-off of summer fruits... looking forward to fall!

For the recipe, read on.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Key (Lime) to My Heart

Yet another dessert from the vast dessert table I did for Maria and Nick's wedding this past weekend (comprehensive post coming soon, I promise)!  At our first meeting, Nick mentioned that he really liked key lime pie, so I knew that I wanted, no matter what, to include it in the dessert menu.  But man, oh man! Squeezing key limes is one hell of a pain.  I've joked with several people now that if I were to open my own bakeshop and sell key lime pie, I would *have* to hire someone I couldn't stand and force them to squeeze key limes for by hand.  Or, just get someone who really enjoyed eating key lime pies.  Anyways! if you dare, I'll include the recipe here.  Or, if you have one of those handy dandy juice squeezers, you're golden, and I'm very jealous.

Key lime pie
with graham cracker crust
and dark/white chocolate hearts

By the way, these heart shaped mini-pans are just awesome.  I got mine at Sur la Table, though I couldn't find them online when I looked.  I also have the round version, which I did find on the website.  They're great pans, and mousses, cakes, cheesecakes, or tarts that I make with them always slide right out.  (of course, if you're paranoid like me, you'll take the time to line the bottoms with parchment and spray a bit of non-stick...)

Now onto the recipe (and chocolate hearts)!

Key Lime Pie
makes ~24 mini hearts

for graham cracker crust (this will make a bit more crust that you need, but better to have too much than not enough, in my book)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I just run store-bought graham crackers through a food processor)
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter

1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix in butter.
2. Press the crumb mixture into (sprayed and lined) the bottoms of the pans, about 1 Tbspn per heart.  Use something like the side of a small rolling pin to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and a little bit up the sides.
3. Put the crust in the freezer while making the filling.

for filling

2 14oz. cans condensed milk (Trader Joe's has great organic condensed milk for cheap)
8 large egg yolks (save those whites for meringues/macarons!)
2-3 Tbspn key lime zest
1 cup key lime juice (~25 key limes... have fun!)
green food coloring (I used gel coloring, so please adjust as needed)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine milk, yolks, zest, and juice in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Whisk in one to two drops of food coloring for a light green color.
3. Pour mixture into the crumb-prepared pans, filling about to about two-thirds full.  Bake for 13-15 minutes until the center looks set but moves like jello when you give the pan a bit of a gentle shake.
4. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Keep the pies in the pans until you are ready to serve.

<3 <3 <3 chocolate
To make chocolate hearts:

Melt chopped chocolate gradually in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl or in a double boiler.  Pour the melted chocolate into a disposable piping bag or parchment triangle.  Be careful! The chocolate is very hot!  If it's too hot to hold, wrap a dish towel or paper towel around it so you don't burn your hands.  Then, pipe small heart shapes on a piece of parchment paper or Silpat.  Allow the chocolate to cool completely, and then peel off the parchment paper.  These hearts are made of untempered chocolate, so they are very delicate and should be kept in the fridge.  I use a pair of chopsticks to arrange them on the pies, but food-safe tweezers are also useful.  :-)

So one last story about the key lime pies.  As I was cleaning up the dessert table and consolidating the few remaining morsels onto two platters, a wedding guest comes up to me and asks, "Are there any more of those key lime pies?"  When I told him no, his face just completely fell!  He was so disappointed that I felt so bad I hadn't made more.  But, at the very least, I take it as a sign that all that key lime squeezing and juicing really paid off.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vegan chocolate pumpkin cupcakes

This post is an exciting one! since it will be the first time that I'm posting a recipe here on Desserts for Breakfast.  When mentioning and/or talking about my desserts with others, I keep getting asked about my recipes, so by popular demand, I will start including some here in the posts.  The recipes that I post here will be a mix of those adapted from other sources (as noted) and my own.  Please enjoy!


For a recent dessert bar order, the host requested that I make a vegan dessert.  I don't do much vegan baking, but when I do, I refuse to compromise in flavor and texture.  I wanted the vegans to have something that even the non-vegans would find scrumptiously delicious and irresistable, so I decided to go with chocolate cupcakes.  I've also been getting fairly excited about the upcoming chilly weather of fall (we're still in the 100 degrees here in California), so I decided to add pumpkin into the "buttercream."

vegan chocolate cake
with pumpkin 'buttercream'

I have to say that this chocolate cake recipe that I tried was so surprising--it totally rivaled even my best non-vegan chocolate cake recipe.  The pumpkin buttercream, however, is a tad sweet, so I would use it with moderation.  I am working on developing a non-vegan pumpkin buttercream that isn't so sweet, so I'll post that when successful.

(btw, these cupcakes were a hit at the wedding.  They were so good that people didn't even know they were vegan and the vegans were shocked to hear that they could eat them.)

Read on after the jump for recipes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Dissertation!

My friend, Lauren, recently filed her dissertation and officially became a Dr.! So as a present, I made this, since writing a dissertation is most definitely deserving of a chocolate cake.

Chocolate cake
Pistachio-Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Orange Buttercream

(The texture on the side of the cake was done with a silicone pastry brush and purple royal icing. It's actually a pretty cool technique--I'll probably try it again at some point.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just peachy.

I'm always a bit sad when the season for stone fruit comes to a close (or perhaps it's because this coincides with the end of summer, good weather, and carefree days as well).

not the prettiest thing in the world, but what a good way to start your day and enjoy the last few available peaches of the season.

Vanilla pancakes
with white peaches,
caramelized brown sugar,
ricotta cheese

You can't see the caramelized sugar because it's in the middle layer with the peaches. I wanted to do something extra fancy and flambe the peaches before putting them on the pancake, but Richard, my breakfast guest, said no.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dinner Impossible: Taiwan

When my family in Taiwan got wind that I'm now a "good cook," they requested that I make a huge family dinner for everyone and extended family in Taiwan. Of course, being me, this turned into my own version of Dinner: Impossible. First of all, I didn't know what was in season in Taiwan or, due to the devastating typhoon, what limited fresh ingredients would be available to me. Next, the kitchen that I was working in was incredibly limited: barely any fridge space (despite the fact that due to the horrid tropical weather of Taiwan, everything has to go in the fridge to avoid spoilage), no freezer space, two gas burners, no oven. Oh boy. In the end, though, I turned out a great dinner that I myself am fairly proud of. Because of the limitations of the burners, I decided to do the dinner as a course-by-course--there was no shortage of plates, thank goodness! (And, also due to this fact, I was unable to get any pictures of the food.)

But, for your vicarious enjoyment, here's the menu:

Amuse bouche
sweet potato blinis
with creme fraiche, chives, and smoked salmon

red and yellow watermelon
with balsamic vinegar, fresh thyme, and strawberries

porcini and shiitake dried mushroom risotto

pasta, three ways

tomato and basil capellini
linguini con vongole
saffron spaghetti 'alla carbonara' (with smoked salmon)

carrots vichy
spring baby asparagus with creamy lemon vinaigrette

chocolate, three ways

dark chocolate mousse with passionfruit reduction
strawberries dipped in Guittard white chocolate
'el diablo' spiked creme de cacao