Monday, April 20, 2009

****Chocolate Bread Pudding

It wasn't easy with so many great choices to choose from, however this sweet thing had just the right ring.  I love bread and I love chocolate. Bread and chocolate. Wasn't that a movie? Easily, this could be my one meal to take to a desert (or dessert!) island. Luxurious.

For years, frugal homemakers saved leftover stale bread and moistened the cut up bite sized bread with egg, milk and sugar. A thrifty way to use up yesterday's bread. So, first the bread. Home made, or good quality bakery brioche. Additionally,  I noticed on the P&Qs, challah, croissants, doughnuts and cinnamon rolls were creative choices for this as well. Wow, I want to try them all.

For the chocolate, semi sweet is the way to go. To get great flavor and value, Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate is where I put my money. Cube the bread, moisten and soak with the pudding mixture. Bake.

Thanks for baking along with me this week. Also, Upper East Side is moving.....I'm heading west to the Upper West Side. Name is changed to A Baking Blog. See you now and see you then.

Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours
By Dorie Greenspan

12 ounces bread (brioche, challah or white), preferably stale
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cherries (optional)
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cram
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


Have a 9-x-13 inch baking pan at hand (a Pyrex pan is perfect here), as well as a roasting pan big enough to hold the baking pan and how water.  Line the roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.  It the bread is stale, put it and the raisins or cherries, if you are using them, into the baking pan.  If it is not stale, spread it out on a a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350-degree-F oven to "stale" it for 10 minutes, then toss into the pan (with the fruit).

Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.

Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.   Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks an d sugar together in a bow.  Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they don't curdle.  Whisking all the while slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk.  Add the chocolate and whisk it in gently until it is melted and the custard is smooth.   Rap the bowl against the counter to pop bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid.  Leave the pan on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 30 minutes.

GETTING READY TO BAKE:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. F.  

Slide the pan setup into the oven and very carefully pour enough how water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pudding is uniformly puffed, the top is dull and dry and a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.   Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

15 Minute Chocolate Amaretti Torte: TWD

I'm so glad TWD Holly, of Phe/MOM/enon selected this chocolate torte to bake this week. Cakes usually made with ground nuts are tortes and this made a perfect choice for the Passover holiday. The name of the cake really says what it is. 15 minutes! Done.  Quicker to make than to run out and buy. Almonds throughout  Almost fudge-like, like brownies.  Balanced in flavor. Almond and chocolate. The torte's flavor gets its intensity with the crumbled Amaretti di Saronno almond meringue cookies. Those are usually found in Italian specialty stores in bright red tins.  An additional splash of Disaronno liquor was added for good measure.  Almond whipped cream is dolloped on top. Check out  Dorie's  post where she suggests making waffles with the same flavors. 

Bake along with me next week as I select the Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding, on pages 410 and 411. Upper East Side Chronicle will also be moving to a new site A Baking Blog.
Till then.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

An American classic. A restaurant I used to make desserts and deliver to always featured this one on their menu. The food theme was Pan-Asian and the banana and spices gave it a semi-tropical kick! Some candied ginger was also added to the filling.

First the crust. Good for Everything IS good for everything! Now to assemble. Sliced bananas on the bottom. This will also keep the it from getting soggy. If you feel adventurous, add a layer of caramel! Then the custard. It's a spice custard with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and my addition was a hint of candied ginger. Nice touch. Then top the pie with dollop of sour cream-whipped cream. Just the right hint of tang. Thanks to our TWD host Amy of Sing for Your Supper for selecting this one. I would have chosen it too!

P.S. The one year birthday was last week. Happy Belated. The name will also soon change to A BAKING BLOG.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tropical Paradise: TWD

Hey there, we're back from spring break and a week in Florida. Visited the family and the saw the new baby. To keep the tropical theme going, TWD's Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch hosts Coconut Butter Thins. Not quite a shortbread, but a tender crumb and a buttery taste. Added lime zest, brightens the taste. The dough is delicate and a fully pre-heated oven and chilling are key to keep from the dough from spreading. Some spreading was experienced.

As an added bonus, strawberry ice cream filled the cookies to make a better than Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar. Perfect size and big taste. That's refreshing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blueberry Time: TWD

Spring Break this week and we're in Florida visiting family and attending one spring training game! Hosting this week's Blueberry Crumb cake is TWD baker, Sihen from Befuddlement by Sihen. I must admit, this was my first visit to her site and liked her blog, especially the music add-on.

Batter was quick and easy. Some additions to the batter were: squeezed blueberries to make it more berry-berry. Another plus was the double-yolk surprise! Everyone liked the blueberry crumb, and it was soon gone.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost Pound Cake: TWD

A French yogurt cake is just the kind of cake to have around all the time. Flavored with lemon and almond, it's not too sweet and is moist and delicious. Topped with lemon glaze brings about the right tang. Almost like Sara Lee, but made with love. Our TWD host is Liliana, from My Cookbook Addiction who offered this selection for St Patrick's Day.

This was a quick cake to make and next time I'll make two, one to have ready and one to freeze.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Luscious Lemon: TWD

Creamy lemon custard is meant to be a team player. This week's dessert is selected by TWD baker Bridget from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. Spoon desserts are a perfect complement to contrasting textures. Lemon-clove flavor, topped with berries and a tuille. Cereal (Cinnamon Puffins), also make for good crunch. Try sorbets too.

East to prepare, and with a minimum of ingredients, milk, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and cloves, the milk is first heated below the boiling point and steeped with zest and cloves to intensify the flavor. In a separate measuring cup, the eggs and sugar are whisked together, tempered with milk, strained, then combined with milk. Baked in a water bath, then to-rest, and chill-to firm.

Custards, flans, puddings, creme brulee, pot de creme all share the same type of ingredients, except for varying proportions of milk and/or heavy cream, eggs and/or the addition of yolks and technique. At it's simplest, as Dorie suggested, it's an after-school dessert. A bit of nourishment for the middle of the day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Plum Delicious: TWD

Chocolate Armagnac Cake is really a chocolaty, boozy, nutty, dried pitted plum, fudge cake! A plum prize for a special dining event.

Hosted by TWD baker LyB Of then I Do the Dishes

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toffee Crunch Bar: TWD

I'm a kid who likes to eat with my fingers. Ice cream sandwiches are the right size to hold without getting too sloppy. TWD baker, Whitney of What's Left on The Table selected sweet this week.

The bars are quick to make. Like most bar cookies, it starts with a shortbread base. Prep the pan, so once the bars are baked, they will easily release. Sitting on top of the shortbread layer, a film of chocolate is smoothed over. Then the best part, Heath Chocolate Toffee Bits sprinkled (and gently pressed) on top. Heathbars have been around since 1917. The perfect blend of milk chocolate and caramel and almonds. However, as much as I liked them, the bar was a bit too hard to bite into. These were filled with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. Any suggestions? Still pretty good.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cover Cake: TWD

Pink (White)out cake was the selection from Stephanie, Confessions of a City Eater for Valentine's Day. My guys loved it. The devil's food cake is a riff on my beloved Brooklyn Blackout cake from the famed Ebinger's bakery. The cake is too perfect for this world. Cocoa flavor with layers of light, airy marshmallow and a crunchy crumb coating outside. Heaven. The traditional Blackout had a chocolate pudding filling. That was good too.

Baking is fairly straightforward....Dry ingredients, fluff butter and sugar, add eggs, alternate buttermilk and dry ingredients. Bake, cool, unmold, chill, split. Bake the crumbs at 250 for 1 hour.

Frosting. Separate room temperature whites and start the mixer on low to break up the eggs. While this is in motion, mix sugar, water in SMALL saucepan (with candy thermometer) over med-high heat. When the sugar boils, cover and boil for three minutes. Now start to pay attention. After 3 minutes lower heat and watch the temperature rise AND increase speed on the mixer, making sure the whites remain glossy. Do NOT over beat. Once the mercury climbs to 230 (this does take time) get in the ready position to pour the HOT liquid into the mixer, straight down in the space between the beater and the bowl. Hard work is done, a little over 15 minutes....mix, mix, mix until bottom of the bowl feels like room temperature. How fluffy.

Fill and frost, you're done!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Am An Island: TWD

An island of meringue gently poached in milk and plated in a sea of creme anglaise. Floating along with other islands this is one dessert that is made to impress. TWD baker, Shari Whisk: a food blog hosts this selection.

Using room temperature egg whites, start slowly to get the foamy bubbles going, add sugar, whip up to the meringues stage. Form the islands by taking two spoons and with a motion of scooping and rotating, ovals are created. Poach in the simmering milk. Drain and chill until ready.

Reserve, strain and heat to scald the milk for the creme anglaise. Patience in stirring. Ribbon stage for the yolks, then a bit of the scalding milk is added to temper the eggs. Back to the pot with a gentle flame and more stirring. Figure 8 motion, until liquid coats the back of the spoon, about 10 texting, no phone. Strain this pouring custard and once made is poured into the serving dish. The meringue is gently placed on top and then drizzled with caramel. A classic composed dessert. Very retro (my mother-in-law always made for her father-in-law) and very good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cookie of State: TWD

If only that simple. The cocoa, chocolate chunk, salt, and texture brings everyone together towards the common goal; peace. I propose World Peace Cookie to act as Special Peace Envoy. Suppose its mission is to promote solutions for peace, and as an ambassador, travel around the globe. How nice. Dorie, want to sign on?

Tuesdays With Dorie

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spice Girl

I've done better. Didn't get to the oven in time, about five minutes too late. No time for a do-over. With colds and sniffles in the house, re-baking them were not going to happen. So sorry TWD and Heather.

Gingerbread cake is sprinkled with fresh ginger and chopped chocolate in a cocoa spice cake is just the thing for a cold winter evening. Glazed with a creamy chocolate icing.

I'm sure the other bakers fared well. Till next time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake..

and I'll polish off the whipped cream, is how I recall my favorite after school dessert, Charlotte Russe from Sutter's Bakery in Brooklyn. It's base is a thin layer of sponge cake, filled with loads of whipped cream and topped with a cherry. Mary Ann, a TWD compatriot selected Dorie's Berry Surprise Cake this week and it is extremely delicious. This interpretation is something entirely different than the Charlotte Russe described in the recipe intro.

The genoise cake, saturated with raspberry syrup and filled with a whipped cream and cream cheese filling and raspberries. Outside the cake is frosted with more fresh whipped cream. Making a Genoise can be tricky. It takes patience. To avoid a sinking cake, it's best to properly heat the sugar and eggs, then whip the batter to the critical ribbon stage. Once there, gently sift in the flour and butter. Once completed, chill and enjoy. I did.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Team Match-Up

Chili and Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins are teamed up for a cold January afternoon of watching sports. This spicy, flavorful chili is from the cookbook classic The Silver Palate. And since it's Tuesday this must be Tuesdays With Dorie.

Moist, flavorful and just the right kick, is what I look for in a corn muffin. Making them is basic muffin making: dry ingredients, wet ingredients, combine, don't overwork the batter and don't over-bake. Test muffin five minutes before they're supposed to be done with a knife inserted in middle muffin of muffin pan. Ovens vary, occasionally check the temperature too. Out of the oven, ready to eat. Bowl of chili waiting with a dollop of sour cream...

Now, if only the Giants made it to the finish!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy Birthday TWD!

Happy Birthday to Tuesdays With Dorie. Laurie Woodward our fearless leader and founder started it all. Just to recap: Join the weekly TWD baking group, buy Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours book, bake the assigned recipe, capture the closeup, write about it and post! Every week is a celebration. So for this week's party.....

Dorie our guiding light has selected one of her favorites. I can see why. The pear tart is flavorful and elegant. A sweet almond crust with sliced pears resting on a bed of heavenly almond cream. Check out Dorie's post for the recipe.

Thank you very much, and many happy returns.