Posts Tagged ‘Daring Bakers’

DB April – Maple Mousse in a Bacon Container

I realize that many of you think this is a crime punishable by law but.. I don’t really love bacon.

I like bacon, yes. I think it smells fantastic. Bacon grease is an excellent way to add flavor to pretty much anything. However, when it comes to breakfast I prefer hearty, fatty sausage to bacon. I find that my perfectly cooked bacon is not always how others make it and I’m also terrible at making bacon the way I want it. In the end, it often amounts to a lot of grease with not-super-awesome texture. I’m usually left wanting.

So when I found out that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a maple mousse served in bacon cups I was a little underwhelmed. I’m typically excited upon finding out the challenge and immediately start thinking about when I can make it and who I can serve it to. This time, I waited until the very last minute before leaving for China and just made a single one for myself in case it wasn’t fit for sharing.

I was so wrong. After bite numero uno, I started kicking myself for not making more. Baking the bacon in the oven for exactly 27 minutes yielded a perfectly crisp complement to the smooth and slightly sweet maple mousse. The combination together is indescribably good. I licked my plate afterwards and I’m not afraid to say it. This was a winner.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!


DB – Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

There’s something about the term panna cotta that makes me think of some fancy restaurant dessert. I imagine candlelight, soft romantic music in the background, a waiter attentive to my every move, and a check that makes me thankful I’m not paying.

So when panna cotta was this month’s DB challenge, I was a little bit apprehensive – until I read the actual recipe! It’s even easier than making its down-home counterpart chocolate pudding. The whole thing was whipped up and in my fridge in a quick 15 minutes. And, let me tell you, it tasted wonderful. Creamy, chocolate-y, and with a tiny adaptation of adding the zest of an orange to the cream, it had a little something extra.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada de Laurentis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

(I did not include the cookie recipe in this post, please see Mallory’s blog for that. I made a similar cookie for my Lace Cannolis last month though!)

Chocolate Panna Cotta
adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 4-6, depending on size.


  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 orange
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Pour milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside to sit 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice off the peel of the orange in big chunks, trying not to get any of the bitter white pith underneath. Set aside the flesh for garnish later. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add in cream, orange peel, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a low boil, then strain out orange peel. Pour mixture back into saucepan and add in the chocolate, whisking until melted. Whisk in the gelatin until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into ramekins and chill overnight or 6-8 hours before serving. Garnish with orange segments and florentine cookies.

Have you made anything “fancy” lately?

DB – Entremet

Dear Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be,

This challenge was not my challenge. For the first time I really really tried twice. TWICE! And twice, it got this funktastic uneven cooking leading to brownish swirls all over the joconde imprime. The first time I chalked it up to overcooking, the second time I just figured it was my oven. Even so, next time I’ll definitely be making the sponge cocoa to mask the effect.

Also, filling the actual entremet was quite the challenge. There are so many options! Cake/cookie/brownie layers, mousse, pudding, cream.. Possibilities seemed endless and I’m quite an indecisive person so that was a bit rough.

We should also mention the fact that I have no idea how to judge depth and how much filling will I need to make to fill this big mold?

I get anxious when I don’t have complete control. And I had absolutely no control over this baby.

But in the end, fears gone and caution thrown to the wind, this was a winner. The presentation was quite beautiful despite the outer joconde imprime separating at the seams and raspberry mousse leaking out. And all the work was worth it. Each bite was savored by everyone at the party I brought it to. The rich brownie layer along with the light raspberry and vanilla mousses created this perfect balance of textures and flavors.

So Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be, you did a great job this time, pulling me out of my comfort zone and encouraging me to try something new. It was a challenge but I’m glad I came out the other side still alive with a belly full of entremet.

Till February,


ps. Can you take it a little easier next month? I used a ridiculous number of eggs this month. As in over 18. I lost count. Thanks for your consideration.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

For the Biscuit Joconde Imprime recipe and technique, check out accro! My layers basically consisted of a brownie base, a raspberry mousse, a round of leftover sponge from the joconde imprime, and all topped with extra vanilla bean mousse.

Chewy Brownies (bottom layer)
adapted from use real butter, originally from Fine Cooking


  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil). For the entremet, I baked mine in a round pan to fit my mold. In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until blended. (I used a wooden spoon for this entire recipe because I didn’t feel like breaking out the big guns.) Add in the flour and cocoa. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool, cut, and eat! (Or stick it into your entremet.)

Raspberry Mousse (middle layer)
adapted from Food & Wine


  • 1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 10 oz bags frozen raspberries, thawed (or 5 c fresh)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 c heavy cream, chilled

Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a microwaveable bowl and let stand approximately 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, puree approximately 4 c raspberries with 1/2 c sugar. Strain into a bowl. Microwave the gelatin for 10 seconds then whisk it into the strained puree.

In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 c sugar until warm to the touch. Remove from heat and using a hand-held mixer, beat the whites until stiff and glossy. Fold into puree.

Using the same bowl, beat chilled heavy cream until firm. Fold into puree.

Mash remaining 1 c raspberries and fold into mousse. Pour into bowls or other serving vehicle and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set.

Happy Friday, dear readers!

DB November – Chocolate Fruit Crostata


So how did it go, everyone?

Lots of family, friends, and love? Some turkey with stuffing?  Mashed goodness? Sweet goodies in crusts?

I was lucky this year and celebrated two Thanksgivings, once with my friends and once with my family. That meant double the fun, double the cheer, double the poultry, and double the dessert. So this month’s Daring Bakers challenge could not have come at a better time! This way, I could make the challenge for one Thanksgiving and make the dessert of my choosing for the next. And ohhh how excited I was to make this challenge! It was actually quite easy and I imagine it won’t be the last time I attempt to make a lovely crostata with some minis for snacking.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge the Daring Bakers to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Chocolate Fruit Crostata
adapted from the Daring Bakers website and Dorie

Makes 1 crostata.


For Pasta Frolla:

  • scant 3/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For Chocolate Pastry Cream:

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small piece

For Assembly:

  • fruits of your choice, sliced if necessary


For Pasta Frolla: [I made mine using a food processor but see the DB website if you are making it by hand.] Pulse sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor to mix. Then add cold butter and pulse until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. Empty contents of the food processor onto your work surface.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the beaten eggs.  Using a fork, begin to combine the eggs with the dry ingredients then use fingertips to finish. Knead until a ball forms – do NOT overknead as the cold butter will get warmed by your hands and you will lose the flaky crust – and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, patting into a round disk. Chill for at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch or 3 mm and place in tart pan (or pie plate which is where I made mine). Cut off excess around the edges. Place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil large enough to cover the dough and hang over the edges and place in pan. Fill with dried beans or rice in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes. Take off weights and foil/parchment and bake again for 5 more minutes. If the dough begins to puff up without the weights, gently push it back down with the back of a spoon. Allow shell to cool completely before filling.

You can use leftover dough to make cookies or these little fruit crostatas I made by spooning a bit of strawberry jam atop rounds of dough followed by a lazy lattice (not woven) of dough strips on top.

For Pastry Cream: Heat milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until thick. Whisk in about 1/4 c of the hot milk, stirring constantly so as not to cook the eggs. Then, slowly add the rest of the milk while whisking constantly. Heat this over medium heat and bring to a boil while continue to stir constantly. Once at a boil, continue to cook while whisking constantly for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate and let sit for five minutes. Then, whisk in the butter until fully incorporated. Cool the custard either by refrigerating with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface or using an ice bath and stirring occasionally.

To Assemble: Whisk cream briefly, then spoon into pastry shell. Smooth top with back of spoon. Layer fruit however desired.

PS. Don’t forget about the giveaway!

Green Tea Doughnuts

So the final course of Boy’s birthday dinner was the lychee coconut sorbet and GREEN TEA DOUGHNUTS!

I was really excited to try making doughnuts for the first time. They’ve been on my “to try” list for awhile and so when the October DB challenge came out I was overjoyed. To make it fit into my Asian-themed dinner, however, I made a few adaptations to the original recipe and added some green tea to the mix. I also chose to add a green tea glaze to the doughnut holes as an experiment. They came out a bit ugly but the glaze definitely added some extra green tea flavor so I highly recommend it!

I originally tried to make the yeast doughnuts but, alas, they did not rise very well for some reason (the yeast was not cooperating that day!) so very last minute I made the cake doughnuts instead. They were much easier, didn’t require a rising time, and were done start to finish within an hour which made my day a lot better. In the time it took to heat up the oil I had the doughnuts all set and ready to go! Definitely a plus for a recipe. If you’re afraid of making doughnuts, these cake doughnuts are a breeze. And if you’re afraid of the oil, I’m pretty sure you can bake them as well but these are NOT oily by any means. At the perfect temperature of oil, the oil doesn’t actually soak into the doughnuts so you don’t feel like a total fattie by eating more than one (or two.. or five).

Boy said I should sell these they were THAT good. And then he wanted me to make these in lieu of a birthday cake when we went out to dinner with all our friends last weekend. Um.. no. (I made the full-sized version of the Black Pearl Cupcakes I posted about a few weeks ago and it was well received by all.)

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Green Tea Cake Doughnuts
adapted from a Daring Bakers recipe

Makes approximately 15 doughnuts and 15 doughnuts holes.


  • 3 inches of vegetable oil in whatever vessel you are using
  • 1/4 c sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 3 1/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 c + 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

* also need frying thermometer

Heat oil to 375F.

Heat sour cream until just warm in a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and matcha. Make a well in the center and sprinkle yeast into the well. Pour the warmed sour cream over the yeast and allow to sit for a minute or so.

Pour the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla into the well. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, working in a little bit at a time until completely incorporated. It will be quite sticky!

Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Sift a layer of flour onto a work surface, scrape dough onto the surface, and sift more flour on top. Pat dough into an even 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the doughnuts and holes using cookie cutters, glasses of different sizes, piping tips, or what have you. Place cut-out doughnuts and holes onto a floured surface. Continue gathering, patting, and cutting.

When ready, drop doughnuts into the hot oil. Take care not to overcrowd. They should only cook 20-30 seconds per side or until golden brown. As they finish, transfer to a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.

For green tea glaze on the doughnut holes in the first image, I didn’t exactly measure things out but it was approximately 1 tsp matcha powder, 1/4 c powdered sugar, and a couple tbsp of milk whisked together until thick.

Daring Bakers – September

Oh goodness.

Today has been catch-up day. Although really it’ll end up being catch-up week.

My birthday was yesterday (cake/recipe to come!) and between friends and family and the end of my sleepless and starvation-inclined rotation in NYC I haven’t had a moment to rest. Heck, my drivers license expires on the 30th and I haven’t even done that yet! Let’s hope I don’t get pulled over at the end of the week.

Anyway, it’s the 27th which means it’s Daring Bakers reveal day!

Which means I had to make sugar cookies today and work on my royal icing skills.

It didn’t work out very well.

Under pressure and time constraints, I can answer multiple choice questions in the time it takes some people to read the prompt (though I can’t guarantee that I answered it correctly..), I can do a tubal ligation on my first day meeting a new attending, and I can stitch up a deep cut so you can’t even tell it existed.

But I can’t seem to properly frost a cookie.

Out of an ENTIRE batch of cookies devoted solely to this challenge, I came out with 4 that I felt I could photograph.


I must work on this skill.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

The challenge was to make anything “September” and since my birthday is in September I made balloons. The original plan was to also draw in string and then take real string and connect them together. But when I tried to draw string the line kept coming out too thick and didn’t look pretty at all. You can also see that I overflooded the cookies creating a distinction between the outer edge and the rest of the frosting.

Thank you, Mandy, for making want to be better at this. Look out for future attempts because I will not be disheartened.

And look out tomorrow for my birthday cake recipe. Yay!

Daring Bakers – August

Hi friends!

Miss me?

I know. I’ve missed you too.

Funny how the last post I put up was this wonderful “welcome back from traveling everywhere” post and then I went missing for over a week.

My greatest apologies.

It’s no real excuse but I’ve been studying for my board exam (which I took yesterday YAYYYYYY!!) and applying to residency which goes out September 1 and then I’ll be back!!

Except not.

Because I’m spending the month of September back in NYC at another hospital doing another rotation that will most likely kick my butt.

Over the past couple of weeks though I’ve stocked up on my share of baking and am very excited to share it all with you!

First things first though, I am a day late in posting the Daring Bakers challenge for August. And let me tell you, it was a bit of a challenge!

BUT it made me finally buy an ice cream maker which Boy and I are ecstatic about. We buy ice cream all the time and this way we can come up with our own new flavors to try! So exciting.

My first foray into ice cream was a bit of a flop. I don’t think I cooked the custard long enough and instead of freezing into a soft ice cream, we had ice cream soup. Delicious ice cream soup, but still. Ice cream soup. My second try came out much better and I’m quite proud. This was tons and tons of fun.

Thanks to Elissa for hosting this month’s Daring Bakers challenge!!

Brown Butter Pound Cake Ice Cream Petit Fours

Check Elissa’s blog 17 and Baking for the recipe. Also, congratulations to her on picking up and going to college all the way in Boston when her wonderful parents are in Seattle. Good luck, Elissa!

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I made the brown butter pound cake verbatim. Oh my word brown butter is amazing! The pound cake was not as dense as I had hoped it would be but the flavor of the brown butter really shined and made it delicious regardless. For the ice cream, I added 3/4 tsp of mint extract to the mixture and when it was nearly done churning, added in a few handfuls of chocolate chips to make Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream! If you do this, however, I recommend cutting down on the vanilla and chopping up your chips unless they’re minis.

Excited to see what’s in store for me next month!

I’ll be back later this week after my application’s submitted for some cupcake action. Stay tuned!

ps. I also learned this month that I can’t dip things in chocolate for beans. Any tips??

– Sharlene

DB – Chocolate Pavlova

More horizon expanding coming your way. Watch out now!

Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised to find out on Friday that I’m a finalist in Cupcake Hero as the cupcake chosen by the host to go up against the cupcake with the most votes. Thank you all for your support and I hope I win but I’m already on top of the world by being chosen! I hope the flavor of the cupcakes comes through when Dorothy makes them! I’m definitely encouraged.

Moving on to other good news.

I finished my ACLS course today and am now certified to save lives. Yay!


I’m going to Vegas in a couple days. VEGAS! YIP YIP!

Just booked it a couple days ago. I know. Super last minute. At the end of my third year I managed to cease functioning and neglected to plan a vacation in a timely fashion which led to this last minute-ness. But it works out because we got a really great deal.. and will be staying here for 3 nights. Oh yeah.

I don’t really like gambling which would seem like the logical thing to do in Vegas. (But Vegas has other things to offer. Like this show. Which I’m seeing. Happy happy joy joy!) To me, it’s basically signing up to lose money and maybe some people have a good time doing just that but I don’t. Especially since I currently make no money and am hundreds of thousands of dollars in education-induced debt. I don’t mind watching other people gamble though. And getting some free drinks on the floor.

When it comes to baking though I’m learning to be more of a gambler. This past week has been a huge growing experience. I’ve taken some risks and it’s been a complete success! I entered my first Cupcake Hero, submitted to Regional Recipes, and now am presenting my first Daring Bakers challenge. It’s been so great pushing myself to try new things and be creative at the same time. Sure I had to make a couple things more than once but, in the end, things were delicious and looked decent enough. I’m a baker in progress and loving the journey. Corny, I know, but I’m basically on top of the world right now and I tend to get sappy when I’m happy.

Shoot me.

This challenge wasn’t too difficult. I did have to re-do the pavlova because I didn’t bake the first one long enough but it tasted great both times so I didn’t exactly mind making a second batch. And (I’m typing it out loud so I stick to it) although I followed the recipe verbatim this month because I was shivering in my booties, next month I plan on mixing it up and putting my own spin on things. Yeahhhh gambling!

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
a Daring Bakers challenge by Doable and Delicious

Chocolate Pavlova
3 large egg whites
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/4 c confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 c cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200F. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold it together. This will take a little bit but be patient, young grasshopper.

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue and pipe into shapes or just free-form it.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
1 1/2 c heavy cream
zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 oz 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 c mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp orange juice

Heat 1/2 cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the rest of the cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the orange juice and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

Mix about 1/4 of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated.

Mascarpone Cream
1 c whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 c mascarpone

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.

Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent scrambling the eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Slowly whisk the mascarpone into the anglaise and let the mixture cool at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or overnight.

Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired (I topped mine with mango.)

– Sharlene