Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daring Bakers August 2010: Baked Alaska I know I'm a little late with this month. But better late than never right???

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’sThe Perfect Scoop”.

I  have to admit that every time I thought of this challenge I couldn't stop thinking of Annie. Yes, Annie...the movie.

When I told The Hubble this he looked at me like I was crazy. So I went on to explain to him the part where she goes to Daddy Warbuck's house and she realizes she's there as a guest and not a maid. So all the servants start singing and dancing and talking about what she is going to like best such as soap or bubble, satin or cotton, red or pink, etc. At the end of all of this the cook talks about what they are having for dinner and she ends it with a Baked Alaska.

The Hubble pretty much looked at me like I had two heads and told me that my level of detail with this scene is pretty intense. But what he failed to understand and appreciate is my complete and utter fascination (some may or may not call it an obsession) with this movie. my lifetime I have watched this movie so many times that I have worn out several VHS tapes to the point of breaking, forced my family to call me Annie, instilled an intense hatred of this movie in my older sister from watching it so many times, and my ultimate love for red heads has probably stemmed from this movie.

So back to the Baked Alaska. Every time I would watch that part, I always wondered what Baked Alaska was. It never occurred to me to look it up and make my own! But here I am...30 years old and fulfilling my lifelong dream of having the same dessert Annie had upon her first night's stay in the mansion!

Since this is a Daring Baker's challenge this post will be quite long. And I remembered to take pictures of everything!!! If you would like to see the other Daring Baker's gorgeous Baked Alaska and petit four (I wanted to do these too but ran out of time) creations you should head on over to the Daring Kitchen!

Thanks Elissa, for giving us a great challenge and reminding me of a childhood favorite!

So let's get started (and don't forget that the entire time you must be singing or humming "tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow..."

First up...we needed to make the ice cream:

I chose to do a spiced rum ice cream because I thought brown butter pound cake and spiced rum ice cream sounded great!!

To do this ice cream you will need: brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, whole milk, heavy cream and of course...spiced rum.

Start by tossing your cinnamon and brown sugar in a shallow ceramic baking dish.

Whisk it together until well combined.

Now pour in your spiced rum...

Whisk until well combined and sugar dissolves.

Add the vanilla and mix it in.

Now add the milk and cream.

At this point you can use the whisk or a hand mixer (I chose the mixer) to thoroughly mix the cream and milk in with the ingredients. Mine had a fluffy, bubbly texture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.

After about half an hour, check the cream. If it has started to freeze around the edges, go ahead and use the whisk or hand mixer again to smooth everything out. You want to do this every half hour for about 2-3 hours.

At the end you should have a pretty smooth looking cream.

Transfer it to a plastic container, seal and place in the freezer overnight to set.

I forgot to take pictures of this part but the next day you want to set it out to soften then pour into plastic wrap lined cups to create a molded ice cream to place on top of the brown butter pound cake.

Next up, we are going to make the brown butter pound cake:

Ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, eggs guessed it! Butter!

Now, I have never browned butter before so I was pretty nervous. It turned out to be easier than I thought. You just have to watch it closely so it doesn't burn.

First, place the butter in a 10 inch or larger skillet.

Allow it to melt. Make sure you have the heat set to medium. You don't want to burn it. This process takes about 10-15 minutes.

As the butter melts and heats, it gets pretty frothy...

And becomes kind of green-ish. The fats didn't seem like they were going to mix in but they do. You don't need to stir it, just swirl the pan a bit back and forth on the burner to move everything about and not burn the bottom.

Eventually, everything mixes back in and the butter starts to smell sweet and kind of nutty and delicious. I have never smelled anything that good I think!

I was texting with a friend who does this all the time. The best advice she gave me was that you know it's sufficiently browned when the particles at the bottom turn brown, like the color the crust of wheat toast gets.

When the butter is browned, place it in a shallow bowl and set it in the freezer for about 15 minutes until the fats in the butter congeal a bit.

I definitely left mine int he freezer too long and it turned super hard. If you do not stir everything together because it just gets worse! Just leave it on the counter to soften a bit again. I was a bit impatient so I microwaved it for about 10 seconds. I know...I'm a bad Kitcheneer!

Now, in a mixing bowl, toss in your brown sugar.

Your granulated sugar.

And your browned butter.

And mix it all up until it becomes light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.

Then add the vanilla.

And make sure everything is nice and thoroughly combined.

Dump the batter into a greased and floured 9x9 inch baking pan, spread it out evenly and bake.

Bake it until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan about 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Now for the meringue:

You will need: granulated sugar, salt, cream of tarter, a vanilla bean and 8 egg whites.

Start by cutting up your vanilla bean and throwing it in a food processor with your granulated sugar.

And process the heck out of it!

Throw your egg whites, cream of tarter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high until soft peaks form.

Now, in a slow stream, pour in the granulated sugar.

And beat the crap out of it until stiff peaks form. That means when you pull out the beater and turn it right side up the meringue stands up straight instead of falling over.

Now for the assembly!

Place your pound cake on a cutting board.

Take the same size cup you used to make your ice cream molds and cut out circles of the cake.

Place the unmolded ice cream on top of the cut out pound cake.

Then, working as quickly as possible because it's crazy humid in this state and the longer the meringue sits the faster it falls and melts, "frost" the pound cake and ice cream with the meringue.

After you are assembled and meringued place the forms in the freezer for an hour or up to a day. (This picture makes me laugh because they looked like little ghost men in my freezer!)

Immediately before serving, take a kitchen torch (or the broiler) and torch the tips of the meringue. This is pretty much going to become my new favorite pastime. I loved torching the meringue so much that I want to torch everything possible!

Then go ahead and cut a slice out of that bad boy (or take a whole one) and eat it...and enjoy!! And remember...tomorrow is only a day away.

Spiced Rum Ice Cream
Adapted from

  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together brown sugar and cinnamon in ceramic baking dish.
  2. Whisk in rum until sugar dissolves, whisk in vanilla extract.
  3. Add milk and cream and whisk vigorously or use hand mixer until fluffy and bubbly. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until edges start to harden, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer and whisk vigorously or mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Cover and return to freezer.
  5. Repeat every 30 minutes for 2-3 hours then transfer to freezer safe plastic container. Cover tightly and freeze overnight.
Brown Butter Pound Cake
Retrieved from The Daring Kitchen
  • 19 tablespoons unsalted (sweet) butter
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
  2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
  3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
  6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes
  7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Bean Meringue
Adapted from The Daring Kitchen

  • 8 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  1. Cut vanilla bean into small pieces. Place sugar and cut vanilla bean in food processor; process until vanilla bean is mixed with sugar.
  2. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.
Baked Alaska Assembly
Retrieved from The Daring Kitchen
  1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.
  2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.
  3. Make the meringue (see above.)
  4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.
  5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.
  6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mini Banana Beignets

Okay. That might not be the best picture and these might not be pretty and round but man oh man were these things good! G-E-W-D, good!

So you know when you are walking through your kitchen and you see...out of the corner of your eye...your bananas have turned! Oh no!!! You quickly start going through your mind as to what you can make. Banana bread, banana muffins, banana ice cream. Yes!

Then you start looking through recipes. Wait, I need 3 bananas?? But I only have 1! What do I do now??

I'll tell you what you do with one overly ripe make these banana beignets, that's what!

I picked up the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine and at the very back they have these little "secret ingredient contests." Each month they tell you what to cook with and this month's winner was Jacqueline McComas with her mini banana beignets.

I quickly set out to make these little pockets of banana heaven to rescue my lone overripe banana from meeting a dark fate with the trash can. Instead, said banana sat happily in my belly as a fried dough puff. I mean, isn't that the way you would like to leave this world if you were a banana??

So let's get to cookin!

You will need: sugar, cinnamon, vegetable oil, salt, cake flour, baking powder, whole milk, an egg, banana extract (optional) and just one overripe banana.

You want to start by placing about 2 inches of oil in a large skillet and setting a thermometer in it. It will heat as we do the other steps.

Now go ahead and whisk together your flour, baking powder, salt, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of your cinnamon.

Take your banana and put it in a separate bowl. With the back of a spoon start mashing him up.

Until he's good and smushed.

Now add to the smashed banana your milk, veggie oil, egg and banana extract (if you are using it) and whisk everything together until it's as smooth as possible.

In a small shallow bowl, mix up the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of sugar and set it aside. We won't need this until the end but everything goes fast then and we need it ready.

Next you are going to pour your banana mixture in with your dry ingredients.

And whisk until just combined.

By now your oil should have reached 375 degrees F.

This part goes pretty fast so I didn't get pictures of the whole process but this is how it goes. Working in batches you want to drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil. Cook them about 45 seconds on each side until golden brown.

Remove the little guys from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate. While they are still warm, roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture you whipped up earlier.

You will end up with a little plate of heaven like this.

And while you stand there with the nice warm fried banana dough puff thingies...go ahead and pick one up.

And because I know you want to...go ahead and take a bite. Then eat a few more because they are that good! Enjoy!

Mini Banana Beignets
Retrieved from Food Network

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 11/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 overripe banana)
  • 1/4 teaspoon banana extract (optional)
  1. Heat about 2 inches vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the egg, milk, mashed banana and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in another bowl. Add the banana extract, if desired. 
  4. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  5. Whisk the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just moistened. 
  6. Working in batches, drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 15 seconds per side. 
  7. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, then roll in the cinnamon sugar while still warm.
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