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Baking Tips: Brrr!

Tips Tips, Tips and Tricks! One tip every Monday!

This week’s tip/trick/handy to know is…. Use that Freezer! Another tip I picked up at my stage at La Fabrique a Gateaux. The pastries we made were composed of several different components that would be assembled to make the final product. We would make each component in bulk, freeze them, and then each night pull out the amount that was needed for the next day, and depending on the product assemble them the night before while they were still frozen or the next morning.

Freezer

Now- this isn’t exactly how it applies in a home kitchen. Use your freezer to quickly cool something down- for example, making sugar cookies, I will put the cut, ready to bake cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes before sticking them in the oven to help keep their shape. Or if a soft cookie dough needs to chill before being formed, I’ll stick it in the freezer wrapped in plastic and pushed into a rectangle that’s about 1 inch thick and suddenly your hour to two hours turns into 15-20 minutes. Or here’s one more scenario, making cream puffs quickly in the morning, the choux pastry was too hot to fill, popped in the freezer for 5 minutes and they’re good to go! No melted cream! Ah that brings to mind another way you can use the freezer/fridge, cooling down melted butter or chocolate- just be careful to not leave it in too long or you’ll have to start all over- 2 minutes then check it!

**Don’t be fooled! The Freezer is not going to kill your flavor but pack it in. I will throw something that I made in the freezer the day I made it if I know we won’t be eating it for two days. It’s great for planning ahead too. If I’m making a tart, I’ll make smaller tart shells from the left over pieces, bake them off and they’re ready to be filled at a moments notice. Did I make a few too many cupcakes? In the freezer for a last minute birthday party or house guest.

The freezer is your friend!

 

Have a tip? Let me know in the comments or by email at toffeebitsandchocolatechips (at) gmail.com. I’d love to feature you in an upcoming post!

 

 

28. July 2014 by Molly
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Baking Tips: Chocolate Ganache

Our Baking Tip Series continues with a tip from my culinary school friend- Tina! aka Tina Beana!! Miss you and your whisking style! ;-)

Use a spatula or small whisk to mix chocolate ganache! Chocolate ganache is one of the best things in the world. Creamy, chocolaty, and oh just fantastic. You can use it to fill macaroons or sandwich cookies, drizzle on top of cakes or ice cream, as icing on a cake, or use a whole lot of it and fill an entire tart.

chocolate ganache tart

There are several different recipes- the easiest to remember is half heavy whipping cream and half chocolate of your choice broken into small pieces. The best way is to do this by weight. For example, 200g heavy whipping cream and 200g bittersweet chocolate.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until just simmering and pour over the pieces of chocolate. I will let mine sit for just a second (about 10 to be more exact) to allow the chocolate to start melting. Then start mixing the two together. There are a couple ways of doing it but the most important thing to remember is to avoid air bubbles! Tina suggests using a spatula because it’s a lot easier to avoid that whipping action that’s so fun to do with a whisk. I like using a small whisk- just no whipping! Move the whisk or spatula in small circles around the parameter of the bowl, moving the bowl as you go. The chocolate and cream will start coming together, first as streaks, it might even look curdled, then as a smooth mass. The important part here is to not overdue it. Once there are no chunks of chocolate left, you’re done!

Now’s the point though where you have to decide what you want to do with your ganache. Use asap if you want a smooth finish, ie if you’re filling a tart like the one above or glazing something. Or stick it in the fridge, or just leave at room temperature, and as it cools, the ganache will thicken enough to use as an icing, filling, or several other things!

Well……………… actually, here’s another tip, let it cool in the fridge, up your cream content a bit (or not!) and whip it! Go for it! For a fantastic, killer, chocolate whipped cream! you heard me! I piped this on top of mini chocolate cheesecakes and then sprinkled grated chocolate on top. To make it even easier, make the chocolate ganache in the bowl you’re going to whip it in. This can be done by hand or in a mixer with a whisk attachment.

chocolate cheesecake

Ready for a triple pointer! Add espresso powder to the cream for a chocolate coffee ganache… Pow!

Let me know your great baking tips! I would love to feature them on my blog!

 

 

 

21. July 2014 by Molly
Categories: baking tips, chocolate | Leave a comment

Baking Tips: Cracking Eggs

The baking tips series continues! Here’s our next one!

Cracking eggs flat instead of on an edge. Nothing fancy here but it sure makes it easier. I was always in the habit of cracking an egg on the side of a countertop or bowl – tapping several times and then opening up the shell. One good smack on a flat counter top and you’re in business. Less shell. Less work. No timidness here! I learned this at my stage where cracking 18 eggs was the minimum amount and 50 was the norm. I’d watch my chef get into a rhythm, one egg in each hand. Crack! Crack! and then emptied in the bowl. She would usually be done in about 30 seconds or less with 50-odd eggs.

*Want to separate an egg one handed? Essentially after cracking the egg, you slightly crush it (the shell should hold together if you don’t grip too hard because of the membrane) and then using your pinky and thumb pull the egg apart.

A look at some eggs from Texas:

Eggs-Texas

And this super cool idea to use temporary tattoos on eggs from The SoHo blog!

texas_easter_eggs rah rah Texas eggs! One day I will have my own chickens!

If you’re a baker with an awesome tip, let me know! I would love to feature you in a post!

 

 

14. July 2014 by Molly
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Baking Tips: Infusing Cream!

Want to pump up the volume in your next baking adventure? With a little planning ahead, you can add that POW! that no one will expect!

Tip of the Monday: Infuse cream before whipping it for a burst of flavor! It’s easy! And a great way to add flavor naturally.

Here’s how to do it: The night before pour the amount of whipped cream (+a little extra, just in case) into a bowl or jar. Roughly chop the herb you want to infuse the cream with and stir it in. Let chill over night. The next day strain the cream pressing the herbs into the strainer to further release flavor. Then whip as normal!

Infused Cream

What can you use to infuse? Fresh mint or basil from the garden, thyme, oo lemon thyme! I’m sure you could do rose or lavender, large pieces of citrus rind, or even coffee beans! Don’t worry about the color changing. Even with coffee beans, the color will stay white- which just means it’s another great way to surprise your guests with another amazing dessert!

What about something simple in the summer like cut strawberries with mint infused whipped cream and maybe a little cinnamon and raw sugar?

11. July 2014 by Molly
Categories: baking tips | 4 comments

Baking Tips: Getting Handy

This is part of the Baking Tips series! Every Monday I’m telling you a new tip! I’m looking for bakers with tips! Have one? Let me know!

Today’s Tip: Clean hands are a chefs best friend! Worried about germs? Don’t be!! Give those puppies a good scrub and use them to mix and feel the texture of the dough or batter you’re working with. A lot of the time, even when I’m using a mixer, I’ll touch the dough to see if the texture is right or if a little more of this or that (usually flour) should be added. Everything we did in school was by hand (or whisk, or spatula) but it was exactly for that reason- so you get to know exactly what a certain product should look and feel like.

07. July 2014 by Molly
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