Monday, 31 January 2011

Cheddar-Ale Soup

As if a cake of chocolate mousses wasn't rich enough for one day....we decided to make Cheddar-Ale Soup for dinner. This soup was y-u-m but super rich and with each spoonful, I could almost feel the cholesterol building in my veins! Still, it was very good-the flavour was rich but mellow. The texture was perfectly creamy. And it's a pretty easy, quick soup to make!

Serves 6

4 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into 3-inch strips
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pale Ale
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


In a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 8 min. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

Discard all but 2 Tbsp of the fat in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter. Add the onion and carrots. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20min.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 min.

Add the flour and cook, stirring for 3-4min. Add the ale and cook, stirring for 2-3 min.

Add the milk and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-12 min. Remove the pot from the heaet and puree the soup until smooth.

Set the pot over medium-low heat and add the cheese by the handful, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the bacon. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Dark and White Chocolate Mousse Joconde Entremet

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 the Entremets dessert.

This really was quite a challenge! I spent 2 days making the Entremet and tried really hard to be precise in putting it together. I'm really happy with the end result. I'm usually an impatient and imprecise baker. But, this time I was determined to make a beautiful and tasty dessert.

I decided to fill my Entremet with 2 different mousse recipes. Unfortunately, the dark chocolate mousse turned out to be more like a ganache-very yummy but too dense and rich for this cake. Other than that it was great-the sponge and the white chocolate mousse were amazing!

Joconde Sponge

Yield: Two 1/2 size sheet pans or a 13"x18" jelly roll pan


3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cake flour
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
2 1/2 tsp superfine (caster) sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1. In a clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and caster sugar to firm, glossy peaks. Reserve in a separate bowl to use later.
2. Sift almond flour, confectioners' sugar and cake flour.
3. On medium speed of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light.
4. Fold one third of reserved whipped egg whites into almond mixture. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not overmix.
5. Fold in melted butter. Reserve batter to use later.

Patterned Joconde-Decor Paste

Yield: Two 1/2 size sheet pans

14 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened.
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
7 large egg whites
1 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
Food colouring


1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually add egg whites and beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with colouring to desired colour.

Preparing the Joconde:

1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
2. Using a piping bag with a large tip, pipe decor paste approximately 1/4 inch thick onto a silicone baking mat placed on a baking sheet. Pipe into a decorative pattern.
3. Place baking sheet with paste into the freezer and freeze hard (Approx 20min)
4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the Decor paste.
5. Bake at 400*F until joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approximately 15min (mine only took about 7-10min so keep a close eye on it.)
6. Cool slightly before removing from the mat.
7. Flip the cooled cake onto a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove the mat. Cake should be upright with patter showing.

Preparing the mold:

Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid flat on a baking sheet. Place a large piece of clingfilm over this.
Place a springform pan ring with the base removed on top of the clingfilm.
Pull the clingfilm tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping the edge. Cut the parchment paper to be flush with the top of the mold.

Trim the cake of any dark, cripsy edges. You should have a rectangle shape like this:

Decide how thick you want your Joconde wrapper. Traditionally, it's half the height of your mold.
Measure the height and cut the cake into equal strips and cut a piece of sponge to fit the base.

Press the cake strips inside the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap the ends slightly. Gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The mold is now ready to fill.

Chocolate Mousse

(adapted from Patrice Demers' La carte des desserts)\

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
350g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Beat the 500ml of cream into stiff peaks. Reserve.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with 1 Tbsp of sugar. In a saucepan, bring the remaining cream, milk, and sugar to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid gradually over the egg yolks, whisking constantly.
3. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until thick enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture through a strainer onto the chocolate and let sit for a mintue. Whisk together until smooth. Add vanilla extract.
4. Fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream. Fold in the remaining whipped cream.
5. Spread the mousse into the cake mold, filling to the top of the cake. Refrigerate until set.
White Chocolate Mousse

3/4 tsp powdered gelatine.
1 Tbsp water
6 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small bowl and let stand 5 min.
2. Place white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
3. Remove from the heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour the hot cream mixture over the white chocolate and let stand about 1 min.
4. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature, about 5-8min, stirring occasionally.
5. In a clean bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.
6. Whisk in the white chocolate.
7. Spoon white chocolate mousse over the dark chocolate mouse and smooth top with an offset spatula.
8. Refrigerate for 2 1/2 hours.

When set, dust top with cocoa powder, if desired.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of my all-time favourite dinners! It is the epitome of comfort food and perfect on a cold winter's evening.

I consider myself something of a chicken pot pie connoisseur and this recipe is the best! It's easy to make, although it is time consuming. I use store-bought puff pastry because I find the idea of making puff pastry from scratch a little intimidating and store-bought tastes really good!

Chicken Pot Pie

3-4 chicken thighs, roasted and shredded
4 chicken drumsticks, roasted and shredded
1 cup petit pois peas
1/4 cup butter
1 chopped red onion
1 chopped garlic clove
1 sliced leek (optional)
1/4 cup plain flour
2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
unbaked puff pastry

Preheat oven to 220*C.

Boil carrots for 7 minutes, adding the peas for the last 3-4 mins. Drain

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the butter. Add the leeks and cook until soft. Stir in the flour.

Slowly stir in the broth and milk. Stir well so there are no lumps. Simmer over a medium-low heat until thick (3-5min). Add the shredded chicken, peas and carrots.

Place the chicken mixture into the casserole dish. Cover with the pastry and cut away the excess. Tuck the edges under and seal with a fork, or pinch the pastry into ridges. Make slits in the top. Bake 20 min until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Cool for 10min.

Here is a picture of the's not the best picture, but it gives an idea of what the filling is like!