Posted: May 15, 2011 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | No Comments »
These last couple of weeks have been a bit of an adventure. Tons of stuff at work, family stuff, friend stuff and just general life stuff have all converged this month, like that giant Power Ranger from when I was a kid (although not as young as I probably should have been to be watching Power Rangers). Somewhere in the craziness I got suckered into volunteering some baked goods for the annual parent auction that the school puts on to help fund scholarships. When you put something in the context of helping students apparently I just start volunteering things. The family that won my “prize” is the family of one of my students so when his mom called me to ask if I would do the desserts for his confirmation this weekend, I was more than happy (and obligated) to do it.
I have also recently found out that when I put my head phones in and rock out while making dinner, my neighbors who are also colleagues can totally hear me. Awesome…
These two previously mentioned facts led to my awesome day of baking today. I figured it was way too late to save face now since I’ve lived here for about 8 months now, so I hurled caution and embarassment to the wind and put together an epic baking play list and jam while I baked for the confirmation dinner. I started at around noonish and finished up at just about 6 when I had to leave to bring them to the event. I made meringue sandwiches with chocolate ganache and lemon curd filling, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and truffles.
I started with the meringues since those had to bake the longest. For this one I left out the chocolate chips since I was sandwiching and filling. I whipped up the egg whites and sugar until the meringue was really tight and then piped it in even rounds about an inch across. I smushed down the peaks to make them as even and flat as possible. If you want to smooth out your meringue just dip your finger in a little water and gently poke them down. I put them in the oven and then got started on the chocolate ganache and then the lemon curd. Chocolate ganache at this point is one of those things that I’ve done enough so its like second nature, so that went pretty quickly, but the lemon curd I had never made before, so it was a bit more time consuming/confusing/challenging. First you have to wisk together the sugar and egg yolks, then add the lemon zest and juice and wisk it over boiling water until it thickens, which mine did not do easily. Finally you remove it from the heat and stir in the butter one pat at a time. the end result is delicious, but I’m definitely going to have to make it a few more times before I get the swing of it.
When I was done with the ganache and curd, I still had like 30 minutes for the meringues so I put together my brownie batter and cookie dough. At this point, chocolate chip cookies are about as natural to me as breathing, so I pretty much just turn on my stand mixer and go down the list of ingredients.
I took the meringues out and put the brownies in, then set up my sammich station. meringue, dollop of ganache or curd, meringue, done. I meant to get pictures of all the finished products, but that went by the wayside, as a lot of things often do.
Once the brownies were done, I started in on baking the cookies which is easy but requires more attention since each batch only cooks for 5-7 minutes. In between, I used the left over chocolate ganache to make truffles. half coated in dutch processed cocoa, the other half coated in sprinkles. Who doesn’t love sprinkles?
The truffles are super easy. Take chilled ganache, spoon out desired amount, roll into a ball and then coat in whatever. the major challenge here is being willing to get your hands dirty. I tend to use cocoa powder to keep enough friction on my hands so that the truffle doesn’t just melt into the shape of your palm. Use the cocoa like you would flour on your hands while kneading dough.
You are going to get dirty while doing this. Suck it up, try to remember not to rub your face and wash your hands before and after. I tend to be of the mind that if you aren’t willing to get your hands dirty, then you should be willing to get the hell out of my kitchen.
22 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
Chop chocolate, or use chocolate chips and put in a large bowl. Bring cream to a summer then pour over the chocolate wisking contantly. If you just pour the cream over the chocolate and don’t stir it, the chocolate might separate and your ganache will be really liquidy. If that happens, add some COLD cream and wisk until it is the desired thickness.
5 Egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of 4 lemons
1 stick unsalted butter sliced into pats and chilled.
Wisk together eggs and sugar, then add lemon zest and juice. Place over a saucepan of simmering water (not touching water) and wisk until it thickens. Remove from heat and add butter one pat at a time, wisking along the way. TaDa! Lemond curd.
1 cup shortening OR butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
Start with shortening and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Keep the mixer on medium speed and add each ingredient, allow each one to be incorporated before you add the next. Once everything is mixed in, turn the mixer off and fold in 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips by hand. Spoon onto cookie sheets and bake for 5-7 minutes each, until the edges start to brown but you are still a little nervous that they are under cooked. They will keep cooking, I promise. Pull them out and let them cook on the sheet. If you keep letting them cook in the oven, they will be over cooked and then you will be frustrated and asking yourself why you didn’t listen to me in the first place.
Songs that my neighbors heard my belting out all afternoon (I know, its ecclectic, and I have some seriously contradictory taste in music, don’t judge)
Adele- One and Only
Adele- Someone Like you
Adele – Rolling in the Deep
Adele- Rumour Has It
Alkaline trio – Love, Love, Kiss, Kiss
Amanda Seyfried- Thank You for the Music
Avenue Q- What do you do with a B.A. in English
Avenue Q -Mix Tape
The Beatles- Let It Be
Ben Folds – Annie Waits
Ben Folds- Zac and Sara
Doug Stone- Why Didn’t I Think of That
The Fray- You Found Me
Garth Brooks- She’s Every Woman
Glee-Dont Stand So Close To Me
Glee- Loser Like Me
Glee-Somebody to Love
Glee-Never Going Back Again
Ingrid Michaelson- Be Ok
Miranda Lambert- More Like Her
Mumford and Sons-Roll Away Your Stone
Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More
Natasha Beddingfield- Never Had A Love Like This
Nora Jones- Come Away With Me
Van Halen- Why Can’t This Be Love