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PIECE MONTEE OR CROQUEMBOUCHE - DARING BAKERS MAY 2010

This month's daring bakers challenge was quite interesting and I really enjoyed making it as well as eating because its our favorite one " Cream Puff ". But the real challenge is arranging them to a "Piece Montee" which means "Mounted piece". This is also called as "Croquemboche" means "crunch in mouth" . It is a high cone of profiteroles (choux filled with pastry cream) sometimes dipped in chocolate bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons. It is a traditional wedding cake in France and also served in baptisms, and first communions.

I filled my puff (half batch) with my favorite
Vanilla Crème Patisserie and other (half batch) with my husband's favorite coffee pastry cream. Offcourse my son loves both. Since I had so much strawberries I thought of arranging the croquemboche with berries which will be apt for spring too. Caramel acted as glue for my Piece Montee. Hope you all will enjoy my Piece Montee. Thanks cat for this wonderful challenge.



Blog-checking lines:
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.


Preparation time:
You will want to use your puff pastry batter and chocolate glaze or caramel as soon as it has been prepared and as close to serving time as possible. This is not a dessert that stores well and it may be a bit temperamental in humid areas as the glaze needs to harden to hold the choux together. The crème patisserie can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.
You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patisserie should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.


Equipment required:

• several baking sheets
• parchment paper
• a whisk
• a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
• a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
• a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your piece montée
• some of the items you may want to use to decorate your piece montée include ribbons, Jordan almonds, fresh flowers, sugar cookie cut-outs, chocolates, etc.


Ingredients:
For the Vanilla Crème Patisserie (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe):
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.


Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.
Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.
Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.


Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.
Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).
When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

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PHYLLO LAYERS WITH CREAM AND BERRIES











Today recipe with Phyllo sheets is quite easy and quick. It is soooo light and you will end up your dinner just with three ingredients. Here is Yummy dessert with fresh berries !!!!




PHYLLO LAYERS WITH CREAM AND BERRIES




Ingredients :


Phyllo sheets - 4 (thawed follow the instruction in the pack)
Whipped cream - as required ( I used home made, you can use store bought one too)
Fresh berries - Of your choice
Icing sugar and Mint leaves for garnishing
Butter - 1/2 tbsp melted( just melt in Microwave)











Method :


1. Preheat the oven for 375 degree f .
2. Cut each sheet to four equal sizes ( as you wish like rectangle or square)
3. Slightly brush with melted butter.
4. Put it in the oven and bake for just 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown in color.
5. Now in the serving plate. First put 2 layers of sheet spread the cream and add the berries.
6. On the top keep two more layers, spread the whipped cream and berries. Similarly layer one more time.
7. Dust with icing sugar and garnish with fresh mint leaf.










Note :


You can be more creative by drizzling melted chocolate and adding nuts along with whipped cream and berries.
Mix the Mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and chopped strawberries tastes yummy with phyllo layers or cups.

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GNOCCHI WITH PESTO(SAUTEED WITH ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM)




"Gnocchi" is an Italian name for a variety of thick, soft noodles or dumplings. The smaller forms are called gnocchetti. If the gnocchetti are red in color then tomato is added, if they are green spinach is included. Here I have used potato Gnocchetti.
They are widely available as dried, frozen, or fresh in vacuum sealed packages in Supermarkets and Italian specialty stores. Classic accompaniments of gnocchi include Tomato sauce, Pesto. Either ways it tastes wonderful with pesto or marinara sauce. Our choice of gnocchi with pesto and sauteed asparagus, mushroom is here ....And I used Potato Gnocchetti.


Cooking Gnocchi :
Remove from the pack, pour the gnocchi in boiling salted water. Boil for 2 -3 minutes or until gnocchi float to the top, drain and keep aside.

Ingredients for Pesto :
Basil - 1 handful
Almonds - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp( Roasted and reserve 1 tbsp for garnishing)
Lemon juice - 1/4 tbsp
Pepper - as required
Garlic - 1 pod
Salt - as needed
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese - 1 tbsp
Asparagus - 5 to 8 (trim the edges, wash and chop to 2 inch)
Mushroom - 6 sliced
Gnocchi - 1 pack (1 lb)
Red chilli flakes - 1/4 tsp
Garlic 1 crushed for sauteing with asparagus and mushroom










Method :

1. Coarse run the first 5 ingredients in the blender or food processor.( don't make to paste its should be like coarsely powdered).
2. Saute the asparagus and mushroom in Olive oil, Red chilli flakes and olive oil by adding salt and keep it aside.
3. In the same pan add some olive oil, Cooked gnocchi give nice toss until slightly roasted by adding the pesto mixture.
4. Once it is done add the sauteed asparagus and mushroom. After quick tossing.
5. Transfer to the serving plate by adding the cheese and roasted almonds on the top.





Enjoy the taste of cheesy , crunchy, fresh gnocchi in every bite.............



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ZESTY CRANBERRY RICE DESSERT

I know many of us love Rice Kheer right. If so try this twist to the rice kheer which adds more flavor to the usual one. Zesty taste of orange with cranberry makes the rich rice kheer more delicious with wonderful taste. I promise once you try this, you will surely like it...and will be doing it more often.





Zesty Cranberry Rice Dessert


Ingredients :


Milk - 4 cups
Basmathi Rice - 1 tbsp
Condensed milk - 2 1/2 tbsp ( Increase it if you like more sweet)
Dried Cranberry - 1 tbsp
Orange juice - 2 tbsp
Orange zest - 1/2 tbsp










Method :


1. Cook the dried cranberry in the orange juice until all the moisture is absorbed and cranberry gets plumped up.
2. Keep aside.
3. Boil the milk in the heavy vessel by adding washed basmathi rice. Stir once in a while and cook until the quantity reduces by 2 cup.
4. Add the condensed milk and put off the flame.
5. Add the orange zest give it a stir. Add the plumped cranberry and refrigerate for at least an hour.


Serve chilled and enjoy the delicious twisty kheer......by saying Mmmmmmmm ......













Note:
Adding the amount of orange zest and cranberry is according to your taste.

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