26 October 2014

Forest fruit buttermilk panna cotta

I have the easiest buttermilk panna cotta recipe ever! It's also the best, but I don't want to brag. For something so tasty it is surprisingly easy to make. Although I've made it several times I never put down the recipe or made pictures so today is the day. 

I put some of my findings at the end of this post so make sure you read it all before you try it yourself.
This is the panna cotta I made for a dinner party yesterday. The fruit color has soaked down  to the white creamy panna cotta giving it a very pretty pink shade.

This is my to got to recipe for about 4 ramakins just as the one you see in the picture. It can easily be doubled or tripled or multiplied by any factor you want. The basis recipe is:
- 200 ml whipping cream
- 200 ml forest fruit buttermilk
- 2 big tablespoons of sugar
- 2 sheets of gelatin (about 3 grams)
- vanilla sugar or a drop of vanilla paste
- pinch of salt (optional)

First I soaked the gelatin in a bit of cold water so they soften.

Then I head up the whipping cream with the sugar. When the sugar dissolves I add the vanilla sugar/paste and the salt. The whipping cream just has to be hot, so it doesn't have to boil. Normally when the sugar dissolves the whipping cream is hot enough. 

I get the sheets of gelatin out of the water and mix them with the whipping cream. Then the buttermilk gets mixed in and the panna cotta mixture is good to go.
I poured the mixture in the ramekins and cover them with some plastic wrap before they go in to the fridge to set. It just needs a couple of hours so if you make this in the morning you can serve it for dessert in the evening. 

To make it extra special I made a topping to go with the panna cotta. I always have some frozen forest fruits in my freezer and they pair just perfect.

What you need for the fruit layer is:
- frozen forest fruit (or any other fruit you like)
- some sugar
- bit of lemon/lime juice
- 1 soaked sheet of gelatin (about 1,5 grams)

I know this is a bit vague, but basically you will need to extract about 200 ml of juice.

So I headed up the fruit together with the sugar and lemon juice and I adapted the flavor to my liking. If I want it a bit sweeter I add some more sugar. If it needs a bit more freshness I add some more lemon juice. Some like it sweet and some like it tart so there is no right or wrong there.

Then I strained the fruit to just get the juice. I need 200 ml juice and to this I mixed in the gelatin sheet. If the fruit juice cooled down to much you will have to heat it up a bit otherwise the gelatin will not dissolve. 

When the panna cotta is set (enough) I poured the fruit juice on top and again it has to sit in the fridge till it sets. 
I noticed that with this ratio of whipping cream, buttermilk and gelatin you will get the most silky smooth panna cotta that just melts in your mouth. 

I haven't tried this recipe with normal buttermilk, but if you do then you might need to add some more sugar to the whipping cream. The forest fruit buttermilk is already a bit sweet so that's why only 2 tablespoons of sugar is enough.

Also I haven't made this recipe with gelatin powder, but if I would I think I would let it soak in a bit of cold buttermilk first. For the same results the amount of ingredients needs to be the same.

Chocolate art

We started this lesson with a tutorial on how to make our own molds by using gelatin. When using gelatin, either in powder form or gelatin sheets, the ratio is 1 to 5, meaning for every gram of gelatin you will have to add 5 grams of water. This ratio is if the gelatin is used for food. Of course it is possible to use more water, depending on how set you want the end product to be. 

For making molds the ratio is 1 to 4. The gelatin has to soak in the water and then cooked till it all dissolves. Then you fill a container with this and put the thing in you want a mold of. After it hardens you take the thing out and you'll have a mold. Since it's very sensitive to bacteria this mold can only be used once or twice. 

I have been using gelatin before, but never tried to make a mold. It looks like fun so I will surely give it a go. 

After the tutorial the group was split in two again and our group started with making hollow round and various shaped chocolate. Before we started we had a demo of how to do it. We were also shown how to make "wings", flower petals and eyes. We got to work with this nitrogen spray to make the chocolate stick to each other faster and work with colored cocoa butter. 

We worked in teams again and each team picked one round shaped mold and one other shape. Although they had different high heel shoes, Donald Duck, several different animals, we got a Christmas tree. it was a bit early for it, but it looked like fun to make one.

We started with tempering the white chocolate first. The chocolate has to be heated to 40-45C first and then 2/3 of the mixture was brought back to 25C. This mixed in with the 1/3 that was still in the bowl should come up at around 28C.

I used some green cocoa butter to color the two halves of the Christmas tree. After the butter has dried up (so when it wasn't shiny anymore) we poured all the white chocolate in the mold covering it all up. After tapping it, so all the air can come up, we let it sit for a minute or so before pouring the chocolate out. We wanted to have a hollow Christmas tree so the chocolate only has to cover the mold enough to fit the two halves together.
We totally forgot to brush it with a thin layer of white chocolate first before pouring everything in and since we thought about it after all the chocolate was in, there was not fixing it. Luckily it came out just fine. 

I also painted the inside of the round shaped mold with different colors and we did the same thing as with the Christmas tree.

After everything was set we "glued" the two halves together by heating up both sided and then press them together. 

Then we made some wings and flower petals. Both didn't came out great, but it wasn't a bad try for a first time. Although they weren't perfect, we used them anyway. My team mate even made two butterflies. They were so cute! 

After everything hardens it was time for some more creativity. We used some tempered chocolate to make everything stick on or on top of each other and with some of the "left  over" chocolate we just made decoration.
It was so much fun trying to "glue" things on each other and making something that no one knows what it is so you can call it art
We each made our own "art work" and there was enough chocolate for a third one, which luckily I got to take home.  
I am happy I have pictures of my art work, because slowly but surely they're disappearing. Who know art could be so good. 

15 October 2014

Caramel bonbon

Last week we had a masterclass so there was nothing to bring home. But I did bought 4 chocolate bonbon molds so I finally had what I needed to make bonbons. Mom noticed that she didn't get any treats this week so just because of that I made some bonbons at home.

I made a small batch, just enough to fill one bonbon mold. I did everything as they taught me in class and it worked out great! the bonbons looked even better then the first time. However next time I would use more chocolate. Then it's much easier to fill the molds because you don't have to worry about having enough chocolate left for the bottom. 

For the filling I used the caramel recipe I found on this site: http://www.sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-salted-caramel-recipe/

Sally has step by step picture on how to make caramel. And it is delicious! 

In short the recipe is:
- 200 gr sugar
- 90 gr butter in cubes
- 120 ml hot whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon salt

I heated the sugar till it melted and turned amber colored. Then I added the cubes of butter and the salt. After the butter has been incorporated I slowly poured in the whipping cream. Because of the temperature difference the sugar mixture will bubble a lot so a big pot is a must. Then all it has to do is cook for a minute or so and it's ready. 

I stored it in a jar in my fridge and when it's cold it reminds me of the caramel you find in a Twix or in a "stroopwafel". 

So before I used it I head it up a bit so it turned a but more liquid so it's easier to pour it in the bonbon mold.
Unfortunately my camera was out of battery so I couldn't take pretty pictures, but I manage to make these.

I'm thinking of a bonbon filled with butter cream and cherries. Or with coconut and pineapple. Or caramel and nuts...

A masterpiece

Day 7 was a very exited day. If you ever watch Master Chef or any other cooking show you know that they sometimes get to watch the chefs working their magic in a masterclasses. We were very lucky to get a masterclass from the best of the best Mr Jeroen Goossens. He's been in the field for 40+ years and he's not only talented, but very humble as well. I think this is what stood out the most for me. Obviously his work is great and he makes very pretty things, but he doesn't think of himself as great. At least it didn't show and that was surprising. 

Jeroen had a whole day to make a chocolate show piece and he tried to incorporate a lot of techniques. First he started with telling us the 3 important things:
- materials
- tools 
- working method

The materials have to be correct and in the right conditions and the same goes for the tools. Working method is important because you will have to get everything ready and know step by step what to do and how to do it.

Obviously he had everything prepared for the master class. He made a drawing of the show piece, in actual size and he had a step by step plan on how to put the show piece together. 

Then he also talked about how to color chocolate. It's important to use a food color on oil base. This food color will have to be mixed with coco butter. The ratio is 1 part food color and 5 parts of melted coco butter. This has to be mixed together till the butter turns creamy. Then another 5 parts of melted coco butter has to be mixed in making it a 1 to 10 ratio. He used an airbrush for coloring the chocolate and before pouring the food color mixture in the airbrush he made sure that there were no lumps or anything by straining it first.

If he was going to color the chocolate without the airbrush then the food color would be mixed in the white chocolate first before tempering it. 
He started with tempering some white chocolate. With this chocolate and some orange food color he made bigger and smaller flower petals. Then he also showed us how to make little bows and small cigars. Here you can see him putting the flower together.

He also made drawings of butterflies and show us how to control the liquidity of the chocolate. Sometimes you need chocolate that is runny but still holds their shape and sometimes you need chocolate that is runny so you can fill in the caps. For more liquid chocolate all you have to do is add extra coco butter.  
One other technique he showed was how to make chocolate as flexible as clay. It was surprisingly simple. All he did was putting the chocolate in a blender and mix it till it clumped together. Then it was ready to be rolled out in any shape or form. 
He crafted the upper part of a women and made a mold so he could make a chocolate statue. 

Another cool thing he did was putting piece of chocolate in the fridge so they were cold before he paint brushed them. The result was a very velvety look. 

After he finished the different pieces of his show piece it was time to ensemble them. 
And this is the end result. It was a very beautiful chocolate show piece and although he made it look so easy to do it (probably because of the 40+ years experience) we would never be able to do the same. But we will try. In 3 weeks we will need to make a show piece of our own! 

PS: this show piece is Jeroen Goossens' own creation and out of respect these pictures should not be copied or used without any permission. 

04 October 2014

Praline bonbon

Day 6 started with a demo and lots of information about chocolate. Instead of two groups of about 20 we were merged to one big group of about 40 people.

In the morning there was a demo of the tastiest and second tastiest bonbon filling: it was a caramel filling with either white or milk chocolate incorporated in it. Of course there are plenty of other filling options, but we were showed these two for now.

They started with heating up the sugar and some water. The amount of water has to be at least 1/3 of the amount of sugar. More is ok, less isn't. Then when the sugar dissolved and the mixture turned amber colored they added some heated whipping cream. Because the temperature of the whipping cream was closer to the temperature of the sugar the sugar mixture didn't overly boil. Of course because there was still a temperature difference it will always boil, so a big pan is necessary. After that the chocolate went in and the filling was done.

Then we were showed how to work with chocolate. There are different kinds of chocolate, not only meaning white, milk and pure, but also how liquid/runny it is after melting. Some chocolate are very runny and some are just slower.

If we would like to shape the chocolate we would need to change the structure. Melted chocolate are like little balls, meaning they will not hold together and keep their shape. To turn these balls in crystals the chocolate has to be tempered. I found this very cool site with pictures showing the art of tempering chocolate: http://www.callebaut.com/usen/techniques/tempering/tempering-on-a-cool-marble-work-surface   

White, milk and pure chocolate each as their own temperature scheme. We worked with pure chocolate because it takes less time then milk or white.

Basically what we did is start with getting the melted pure chocolate to 40C - 45C. This is the start temperature. Then 2/3 of the mixture went on a marble slab and we started moving the chocolate around with a spatula and a scraper. This is to cool the chocolate to 27C. When it is 27C this chocolate mixture goes back to the 1/3 that is still in the bowl and if the temperature is between 30C - 32C it is ready to be used. In emergency cases the temperature can be as high as 34C, but ideal is between 30C - 32C.

For milk chocolate the temperature scheme is 1 degree less than for pure chocolate. So you still start at 40C - 45C, bring the chocolate to 26C and end up with 30C.

For white this is another degree less. So you start at 40C - 45C, bring it down to 25C and end up with 29C.

We poured the tempered chocolate in bonbon molds, tapped out the air and then turned them upside down to swing out the chocolate. With a scraper we cleaned the mold and let the chocolate harden in the mold upside down. When the chocolate dried we filled them with the caramel chocolate mixture. We also added a cube of caramel, pieces of pecan nuts, peanut crumbs. Basically anything was possible. We also used a mixture of store bough praline which we mixed with some milk chocolate to fill the chocolate. After the filling set a bit, we poured some more chocolate on the mold to close the bonbon. The bonbon is ready when there is a bit of air between the mold and the chocolate. With one tap the bonbon should come out. It is also possible to put the mold in the freezer for a bit so it's easier to get the bonbon out. 
Unfortunately it was a very warm day and we had to use the fridge/freezer a lot to have the chocolate set. We also dropped some marzipan in the chocolate and made some chocolate rice crispy bites.
The chocolate came out with special effects. Due to the humidity bonbon had some discolor marks.
They were not as pretty as we hoped but the taste was great. I can't wait to experiment with some more fillings.
I'm ready! I got a marble slab and a temperature meter. All I need now is a plastic chocolate mold, which I will get on Monday. 

Apple cake and pie

Last week I wanted to surprise my girl friend at her store with a cake so after my normal morning errands I started with making some cream patisserie. This has to cool down so in the mean time I could make the biscuit cake batter.

I had a jar of apple almond jam she gave me so I thought that would go will with the caramel butter cream. For some extra freshness I shredded one small apple and mixed it with the jam. 

After the cake cooled I cut it in three layers. Unfortunately this time they didn't turn out as even as I hoped so maybe it was beginners luck earlier.

In the mean time the cream patisserie has cooled down and to that I added two table spoons of lemon curd. I whipped up some whipping cream and mixed that in.

I made the caramel butter cream using the same recipe I used for the blueberry butter cream cake but instead of blueberry juice I added 2 big table spoons of warm caramel in the end. The caramel butter cream really tasted like caramel and it was sweet. A bit too sweet for my taste so I hope the other ingredients can even it out a bit.

Now I have everything ready for the cake. On the first layer I spread the apple almond mixture and on the edges I piped the caramel butter cream. This time I made enough butter cream to cover the sides.

On top of the apple mixture I piped the cream patisserie mixture. I did the same for the second layer. Then I spread the butter cream on the sided and topped it with some toasted shredded almonds. I decorated the top and voila: apple lemon caramel cake.
Then I messaged my gf asking her if she would be at the store and she answered that she wasn't due to a wedding. Bummer. Entirely my fault for assuming she would be at the store. Luckily my mom requested a cake for Sunday dinner so this cake it is. 

Today my gf was at the store so I baked an apple pie using the 1-2-3 dough recipe. Instead of using lemon zest I used some orange zest and instead of cutting the apples in slices or cubes I use a greater. I added some drops of lemon, a hand full of raisins, a bit of cinnamon and a bit of sugar to the apples. On the bottom of the dough I spread a thin layer of apple almond jam.
Every one loved the apple pie, especially with some vanilla ice cream.

Homemade kimchi

I've bought about 5 nappa cabbages just for one purpose: homemade kimchi. Since I figured out how to make it, I always have a batch in the fridge. It tastes so good with just plain white rice. Because I don't make it often enough I always have to look up the recipe so I though might as well write down my own version.

The most important part is how to make the spicy marinate or sauce so I'll start with that. I use about:

- 1 big table spoon of Korean chili sauce
- 1 table spoon of sugar
- 1 thumb size piece of ginger
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 anchovies filet
- 3 table spoons or so fish sauce 
- 1 table spoon of cooked white rice 

I put all the ingredients in a blender en mix it till it's smooth. If it doesn't taste well yet, I adjust the sweetness, saltiness and spiciness. And even add extra garlic or ginger.

Now for the cabbage: it has to be coated in salt or brined first before mixing with the spicy marinate. The first time I brined it in salted water till they were flexible enough to bend without braking. This only took a few hours. This time I just coated them in salt and that took all day. This also depends on how big or small the pieces are.
For 4 jars I used the outer leaves of 4 cabbages, leaving the young inner part separate so I can make soup or just eat it raw in a salad.
I cut the cabbage in quite big "bite" size pieces and also added about 6 small shredded carrots for some color and some spring onions. I sprinkled salt all over and made sure every piece had salt on. Then I let it sit for about a day till the cabbage was flexible enough to bend. I drained the liquid, washed the veggies two times and dried it as much as possible. Then I mixed it with the spicy marinate and put it in several jars. I don't add extra water, because the cabbage will release some. 
Now it has to sit on the kitchen counter till it fermented enough. Depending on how warm it is, it can take a couple of days. Every day I will have to open the jar and press the cabbage down so all the air bubbles can come out. After a couple of days I will taste a bit and if it's sour enough I will put the jar in the fridge so I can enjoy it for a couple of weeks.
Imagine eating this with rice!