Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Got Cheesecakes?

Once again we had an amazing time in pastry class this week.  The Sweet Treat of the day was Cheesecakes!  Now I’ve had my fair share of cheesecakes over the years. Some were good, some not so good… But I’ve never had any that tasted as creamy and smooth as the ones we made in class!

We made 2 different kinds… a plain more like a NY style and a Ricotta… And check it out - we MADE the ricotta! So simple. So delicious.  We also made the graham crackers for the crust.  It’s these little things, like making your own ricotta, graham crackers, or marshmallows that we’re learning in class that I find the most fascinating.  Of course you need some kind of yummy goodness to drizzle over the cheesecakes.  The choice was ours to make whatever we wanted to top them off with.  We partnered up and made a delicious batch of Caramel Chocolate Ganache with some sea salt added.

The graham cracker crust was super easy to make.  We just rolled them out and baked without cutting into shapes since we were going to grind them up in the food processor.  I did keep a little piece to try and it was delicious.  I didn’t add very much melted butter to mine in the food processor when grinding up and I think that was good. The crumbs felt like light wet sand for lack of a better term.  For each pan I did try to put some of the graham cracker crumbs up the sides a little bit.

Plain Style Cheesecake
check out that crust!

Making the ricotta was SO EASY!  Now I want to make my own ricotta every day.  In class one of the fellow bakers bought a loaf of bread during one of our breaks from a bakery down the way. We smeared ricotta on bread drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. It was so yummy.  I brought home the little bit left over from our batch and used it to eat with some pita chips as an appetizer while watching the Oscars.

homemade ricotta

The key things that Hadley (our master baker instructor for this class) said for making cheesecakes is that you want to make sure that your ingredients are room temperature and to beat the cream cheese mixture on low to avoid aerating the batter too much.  So we basically put the cream cheese into the stand mixer, set it on low and waited…. And waited… And… you get the idea.  The end result was a creamy, delicious, can’t wait to make this again cheesecake.  We also let the cheesecakes cool in the oven once they were done baking. She opened the oven doors and let them cool.  They were then put in the freezer for more cooling.  She also said to keep them in the freezer overnight to help them really set up. 

So the lesson learned was that homemade cheesecake is da bomb. And to make a day or so ahead of when you want to serve it.

Cheesecakes with caramel/chocolate ganache

I brought in the extra to my office the next day – they were both well received. But I think the ricotta cheesecake got the most ‘yum’ noises.  Also a friend from work said the crust was perfect!  Which is something because he is French and is my biggest critic (which I totally appreciate).  For the first time he actually had no criticism other than “Maybe a dash of whip cream would be nice.” 

Till we bake again!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sweet Treats for Everyone!

This past week was filled with sweet treats and fun!

Some good friends of ours were married Friday the 13th! I got to be part of a wonderful bachelorette cocktail party for the bride to be & brought brownies.  I used the brownie recipe from class.  They were a hit at the party! :)

Chocolate Overload Brownies!

For our Pastry Class homework this week, we were to make a pie crust.  I made Apple Pie and it was perfect since Saturday was Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day Apple Pie

Can you say flaky crust?

This Week in Pastry Class we made some Fruit Based Desserts. They were all delicious but I think my heart belongs to the cobbler!

apple tart tatin before...

apple tart tatin after ....

zucchini bread (we added strawberry jam) 
to the mix

So I have to admit - Babe didn't really like the apple tart tatin BUT I thought it was delicious.  Though he did like the Zucchini bread more than I did.  It was good, but was missing something.

Of course both of these pale in comparison to the days winner which was a Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler with Biscuit topping.  This was Ah-MAZE-ING!  

Strawberry Blueberry Cobbler
with Biscuit Topping

And last but not least we actually got President's day off (this is something because we rarely get holidays). So I promised I would recreate the eclairs from last week.

I think my dough was better today.  It was definitely a little thicker than last week's and easier to pipe. So i think the shapes of my eclairs were much better.

Pate a Choux in the beginning...

Pate a Choux 

I made Chocolate Earl Grey tea infused pastry cream that I think is my best batch yet.
 One tea bag of chocolate earl grey tea 
while the milk begins to simmer

Stirring the cream till it thickens

Once the dough has been baked and cooled. Which sort of worked. The bottom rack was a little burnt on the right side but that's the oven is hotter on that side.

Eclairs are cooling

The chocolate ganache recipe came from my new Tartine cook book from the Eclair recipe for the book.

Put all 3 of these together and it is bliss if I do say so myself!

filling the eclair with pastry cream


Eclairs close up

chocolate earl grey tea infused pastry cream eclair 
with chocolate ganache

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Desserts & The Super Bowl

I was out of my element in today's class.  But I loved every minute and I think everything turned out pretty good.  A lot of what today's class was about is technique and timing. Eggs are finicky!  

We partnered up & away we went!  What you can do in 4 hours!

Chocolate pudding from scratch - 
not as complicated as I had imagined at all!  It was pretty quick to whip up.

Creme Brûlée was a little complicated. 
Timing is what you really need for this one. 

Pastry Cream is all about technique and timing.  I definitely need to work on this one.  Which will be later this week as our homework is to make a batch to bring in. Can't wait to try it again.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme. This was by far my favorite of the day. I will definitely be trying this one again soon.

And we made Blondies for fun.  One group added the toasted pecans.  Our group chopped up chocolate.  They were so good!  

All of these are perfect to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday!!