Austrian Desserts and Pastries: A Review!

December 22nd, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, it is always wonderful as a food blogger to receive a new cookbook in the mail. This one was no exception… Austrian Desserts and Pastries. From the moment I received it, I loved the beautiful photographs of the intricate and delicate pastries and cakes. The cookbook details not only the process of making Austrian desserts but also explains some of the tradition behind them.

After some perusing, I decided to make a Grillage Torte (although the Apple Strudel was a close second). What caught my eye, were the layers. First you made a hazelnut brittle. Then you grounded the brittle and some walnuts to make the cake layers. The filling is a rich vanilla butter cream and then it was glazed with chocolate. As you can see below, it did not look that great but it tasted good. My family loved it.

So, what did I think of this cookbook? It is great for an experienced baker. Sometimes, perhaps due to the translation from Germany, the quantities or directions in the recipes were incorrect. My cake was supposed to have more layers but it was too thin. It is necessary to understand baking, in order to anticipate these issues. The cookbook is also really useful for someone who wants to learn more about Austrian desserts and pastries. It seemed very comprehensive. Plus the photos are beautiful and drool worthy!

P.S. This cookbook was provided to me by the publisher.

Capricious Chocolate Marx Food Contest

December 17th, 2011

The Polls are open… Please vote for my Fennel Pollen Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Marx foods always has some fun new contest for adventurous foodies. This was no exception. I was sent an assortment of products and had to make something with chocolate incorporating at least one of them. Opening the package was like Christmas: two types of peppers, a vanilla bean, coconut sugar, fennel pollen and candy cap mushrooms.

I disregarded the peppers and vanilla bean for this challenge because they are always paired with chocolate. I wanted something different! I had never tried coconut sugar and loves the subtle caramel flavor. I felt that chocolate would overpower it so I’m going to save that for its own special dessert. That left me with fennel pollen and candy cap mushrooms… what to do… how about… Fennel Pollen Salted Caramel Olive Oil Chocolate Truffles

They were good… the fennel pollen and salt work together to give you a great surprising hit of flavor with the chocolate… turns out fennel pollen and chocolate do go well together… Please vote for me over at Marx Food.

Fennel Pollen Salted Caramel
(for good instructions on how to make caramel)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fennel pollen

1. In a sauce pan, heat the sugar over medium until it begins to caramelize stirring occasionally.
2. When the sugar becomes caramel colored and is all dissolved, slowly pour in the cream. Be careful because it will boil and sometimes splatter. Continue stirring until it has been fully incorporated. If the caramel seizes up a little, continue to stir over the heat until it is liquid again.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, salt and fennel pollen.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Truffles
(adapted from Tartine)
1/2 pound dark chocolate chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
Fennel Pollen Salted Caramel, cooled by pourable
Cocoa powder (for rolling)

1. Heat the heavy cream in a sauce pan until it begins to bubble.
2. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted.
3. Mix in the olive oil.
4. Stir in the salted caramel.
5. Set in the fridge for at least an hour to become solid.
6. With a spoon or melonballer, spoon out about a tablespoon of the ganche and roll it into a ball. Roll in the chocolate cocoa powder.

P.S. Marx Foods supplied the fennel pollen and other contest ingredients mentioned in this post.

The Cookiepedia Review

October 10th, 2011

A perk of food blogging… free cookbooks! The latest cookbook to land on my door-step was the Cookiepedia.  This is a super cute cookbook for a beginning baker. It gives a nice overview on most of the classic cookies and a few I had never heard of (salt & pepper cookies?). She also adds some variations so a beginning baker can start to experiment with different combinations and flavors.

I chose three to try out: brownies, pecan sandies, and chocolate crinkle cookies… My results…

I started with Brownies because I love brownies and I can easily compare them to others.  The recipe was well written and easy to follow except the baking temperature is not easily discernible.  You see the cute little oven cartoon in the top right-hand corner?  That is where you find the temperature.   As for taste, the brownie was alright.  I wanted something that had more chocolate but these ended up being more like a chocolate cake.  The recipe’s introduction talked about the difference between fugdy and cakey brownies.  I think it would have been beneficial to have a variation for both.

Next up, Pecan Sandies.  The picture looked great… pecan shortbread with roasted pecans on top… but that is not what I got.  My cookies spread all over the place.  I had put them in the fridge to set up before baking.  It did not seem to work.  I think the butter may have been way too soft to achieve shortbread cookies (Caveat: I did halve the recipe).  I was dissappointed with these.

Finally, I made Chocolate Crinkle cookies.  Yummy!  Fudgy Goodness!  I love these cookies.  My only issue with the recipe was that it took longer than expected to bake.

Overall, cute cookbook but best for a beginner baker.

Disclaimer: The Cookipedia was sent to me to review by the publisher.