Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chocolate caramel banana mousse cake

This was one of my sons birthday cakes. He loves bananas, and he especially loves them in desserts. One of his favorite is Banoffee pie. And although I am not a big fan of bananas, I cant argue on this one. I eat it too, and I love it. Its so hard to resist the gooey caramel, bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings.
So, I decided to make him a cake that will have similar ingredients, but that will be more elegant and sophisticated. And I was so happy with the result. Its two layers of chocolate sponge cake with pecans, that I soaked with rum syrup, chocolate mousse, dulce de leche mousse, and banana slices.

For sponge cake:
6 egg yolks
125 gr sugar
3 egg whites
50 gr flour
25 gr cocoa powder
50 gr pecans + 50 gr sugar (grinned together in food processor until fine powder)
50 gr hot melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Combine the egg yolks with half of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Using clean bowl whip the egg whites with other half of sugar until stiff peeks. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together over egg yolk mixture. Scoop about one third of the meringue on top and quickly and thoroughly mix it with a rubber spatula. Add remaining meringue and gently fold it into the batter. When almost completely incorporated, add pecan and sugar powder, and fold until completely mixed. Slowly pour the melted butter over the batter and fold it in. Bake in two 9 inch / 23 cm pans lined with parchment paper for 20-25 min until spongy.

Brushing syrup:
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons rum

6 bananas

Chocolate mousse:
350 gr heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
100 gr chocolate
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
First bloom gelatin in cold water. When its ready melt it in a microwave or in the hot water bath.
To make the mousse, bring 100 ml of  cream to a boil. Add chocolate and stir as it melts. Add melted gelatin.
Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until frothy and fold into the chocolate mixture. Cool to 95F/35C.
Whip the remaining cream until stiff and fold in the chocolate mixture.

Dulce de leche mousse:
350 ml heavy cream
1 egg
150 gr dulce de leche
1 teaspoon gelatin
2 tablespoons water
Bloom gelatin in water, and dissolve in microwave or in hot water bath.
Heat  150 ml of cream with the lightly beaten egg for 10 min to 158F/70C. Mix constantly. Add dissolved gelatin, dulche de leche and mix until incorporated. Whip the remaining cream until stiff, and fold in the chocolate mixture.

To assemble the cake, brush chocolate sponge layer with brushing syrup. Put it in the spring form cake pan. Layer it with sliced bananas ( I needed 3 smaller bananas per layer, and mixed them with few drops of lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring ). Pour the chocolate mousse over bananas, and put it in the freezer until you make dulce de leche mousse.
Soak second sponge layer with brushing syrup. Put it on the top of the chocolate mousse. Layer it with sliced bananas, and pour dulce de leche mousse on top. Put it in the fridge overnight to set.
I decorated it with chocolate colar and with whipped chocolate cream.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nicoise salad

I really love salads. And this one is not just a salad, its a filling meal. It originated in Provence, and it became very popular all over the world. When I make it, I make a lot, its a full bowl that can easily serve 6 people. I eat it guilt free, knowing that every bite of it is healthy. Its light, refreshing, delicious and filling meal. The best thing would be to make it in summer, when veggies are fresh and abundant, but I make it during winter also, when I find ripe and sweet tomatoes. If you are in hurry, caned tuna is perfect, but buy good quality Italian tuna. Fresh tuna will do also, and that is what I do most of the time. You will need measurements only for the first time, afterwards, you can make it the way you like it best. This one is the best adjusted to your own taste.

3 cans olive oil packed tuna drained (180 gr. each)
400 gr red potatoes
2 carrots 
1 red bell pepper
1 small red onion
1/2 cup Nicoise olives
2 tablespoons capers
300 gr cherry tomatoes
450 gr green beans 
3 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons basil

Cook potatoes until tender, but dont overcook, they will fall apart. Drain potatoes and let cool. Cut julienne and place in a large bowl. 
Boil green beans for 5 min, until tender but slightly crisp. Drain the beans, then plunge them in ice water to stop cooking. Drain well and place in the bowl with potatoes.
Boil carrots shortly, and cut julienne. Cut bell peeper, red onion, tomatoes and add all vegetables to the bowl with the beans and potatoes. Add chunks of tuna and make the dressing.

80 ml lemon juice
120 ml olive oil
salt and pper
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic 

Whisk together all of the ingredients, until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine, but be careful not to mash the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and garnish the salad with egg quarters and basil leaves. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Parmesan dinner rolls

I wish you could smell these while they were baking. They smelled like pizza, and I could not wait to get them out of the oven. I had a dinner to go with it, but we did not even get to it. We had so many of these, that my dinner went to the fridge. They are so soft and fluffy, you can eat them on their own. But, they are also great for sandwiches, and my son says they are perfect with prosciutto:)
The good thing is, you can freeze them, and take them out of the freezer when you need them. Just warm them up for 10 min in 350/180C oven, and you will have fresh, warm dinner rolls whenever you need them.

For 12 rolls you will need:

320 gr flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
160 ml. warm milk
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 cup parmesan
70 gr butter
1 teaspoon salt

Stir together warm milk, yeast, sugar, and 2-3 teaspoons of flour. Let it stand for 5 min until foamy.
Whisk together flour, parmesan, salt, yeast mixture, and eggs. Beat for about 3 min. Beat in the butter, 1 tablespoons at the time, until dough is elastic, about 2 min. Dough will be soft, but it should not be sticky. If its sticky add tablespoon by tablespoon of flour at the time. Cover with plastic, and let the dough rise until doubled. Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 12 pieces, and roll each into a ball. Arrange rolls 2 cm apart in a buttered round cake pan and cover kitchen towel. Let it rise until it fills pan.
Brush with 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water.
Bake in 375F/190C for 20-25 min.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chocolate berry jello cake

For my sons birthday party, we had few cakes, and this one was one of them. Kids loved it. It looks very festive and elegant, and it tastes great too. Chocolate base is creamy, like milder version of brownie, so its not overpowering, and top is made with cherry jello, fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
A burst of flavor in every bite.

For the cake:
2 eggs
150 gr flour
50 gr cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
175 gr brown sugar
100 gr butter
50 gr chocolate
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
Melt butter and chocolate, and cool for a few minutes.
Mix eggs with sugar until thick. Add yogurt, melted butter with chocolate, vanilla and rum. Mix until incorporated. Add sifted dry ingredients. Whisk to combine. Line 24 cm baking pan with parchment paper, pour cake mixture and bake at 325F/165C for about 20 min. Test with toothpick, it should come out clean.

For fruit jelly:
2 pack cherry jello
700 ml water (to dissolve jello)
150 gr strawberries
150 gr blueberries
150 gr. raspberries
To dissolve jello, follow the instructions on a package, but use 700 ml of water. Add fruit when jello cools down, and do not pour it on the cake until it starts to solidify. If jello is to thin, it will soak into the batter.
Cool in the fridge for few hours. Pop the cake ring open, and carefully remove it from the cake.