Quick Chocolate Mousse

Both of us were having a massive chocolate craving, so I glanced around in my fridge and freezer to see what I had.  I peaked my head out of the kitchen and shouted “mystery box challenge!”  Yeah, that was a Masterchef Australia reference.    I’m a big dork, but at least I acknowledge it and don’t even try to hide it, it’s what makes me awesome!   This was just one of those dishes that I was in almost shock of when it was completed.  Mostly because it really tasted just that amazing.  It took longer for me to figure out what to do almost giving up before I knew exactly what to make.

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

As some may or may not know I have a addiction like many others to Masterchef Australia.  Which is weird because I am from the US.  Skipping over that technicality,  let me tell you about the show.  Love, Love, Love it, a little bit of drama, lots of cooking and tons to learn, but what makes me love the show is the camaraderie.  No one is back-stabing another contestant, and when one leaves due to elimination, they are all generally upset and not cheering “that bitch is gone” unlike most if not all american reality shows.

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German Chocolate Cupcakes

EDIT: This pre-posted a few days early, originally and without a photo, that we were going to take, but unfortunately… we ate all the cupcakes before taking a good picture so despite my husbands very strong objections, I am using the photo off my iPhone, I am very sorry for the bad photo, forgive me? I really wanted to post this recipe because it was just fantastic! And the proof? We ate the cupcakes before we could take a photo, that’s how good they were!

I have the honor of making the cupcakes/cakes for my good friends boyfriends birthday. She has mentioned before that he likes German Chocolate Cake, so I knew that I had to make it for his birthday cake. Being that this even was going to be in her apartment I wanted to limit the amount of cleaning up she may have to do. Rather then making a big cake that would require plates and forks I went with cupcakes, and then a small 6″ layered version for the birthday boy.

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Milano Cookie

I am quite a big fan of the milano cookies you find in the white paper bags in the grocery store. I am not however a fan of paying for their asking price. So, armed with my whisk, a bar of chocolate and a carton of eggs I set off on an adventure. My kitchen adventure had it’s up and downs, and I am not going to say it was easy because it wasn’t. I had a lot of trial and errors, more errors then I really wanted actually. I was feeling ‘off’ and it showed in my cooking. Biggest lesson learned, if you feel not your self stay out of the kitchen, it shows in your food.

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

A Chocolate Guinness Cake, with Bailey’s Swiss Buttercream Frosting, and a Jameson Ganache.

Happy birthday to my husband! I have been wanting to do this cake for some time now. A few months ago I asked him what he wanted for his birthday cake this year. He said car bomb cake, and immediately I knew my plan. I wanted to clean up the look and make it not only taste amazing but look amazing as well. Since it is just the two of us who get to consume this bad boy, I went with a very small 6″ cake in 3 layers.

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Macarons with Coffee Ganache

After weeks of wanting to get this just right for a personal challenge, and trying close to 10 different recipes, all failing in some way for me, I took it back to my inspiration.  Masterchef Australia, and season 2 one contestant made the most amazing looking macarons.  It worked!  I even got feet, however it was way too sweet and there was this air pocket between the chewy goodness and the crunchy shell.  So, after some minor alterations, and about two of my days off spent on researching egg whites and sugar structures I came to believe that the secret was/is ‘caster sugar or bakers sugar.’  When I switched sugars i started to get feet the texture was right, but too sweet, and it was a dead ringer for the ones Frank brought home from a bakery downtown.

I will stress this over and over…  important elements; sifting, room temperature egg whites “aged” for at least a day, and the “macaroning” which is the process in which you fold the egg whites into the almond and sugar mixture.

Macarons with Coffee Ganache

  • 200g Icing Sugar(Powdered Sugar)
  • 175g Almond Meal/Flour, fine ground
  • 105g Aged Egg Whites
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 50g Casters Sugar
  • 1 tsp powdered egg whites
  • Brown Gel Food Coloring

Turn oven on 245 degrees F.   Put racks on the 1st and 3rd positions.  Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter next to your scale place the bowl sifter on top of the parchment.  Measure out the almond flour in a second bowl on the scale, and pour into the bowl sifter,  gently sift onto the parchment do not force through the sifter.  Throw away any large pieces that do not go through.  Pour back into the bowl on the scale and check weight, add more almond flour to get back up to 175g.  Keep repeating this process until after you sift the weight comes out to 175g when placed back into the bowl.   Once you reach the desired weight place back into the bowl sifter and weigh out the icing sugar and pour into the bowl sifter and sift the flour and sugar together onto the paper.  Repeat the process of sifting both ingredients three(3) times, the last time leaving it on the parchment sifted out.

In a mixer, with a very clean wide bowl.  Add the egg whites and salt to the bowl and beat on med high speed, until it’s very foamy and doubles in size.  While the eggs are working sift the sugar and powdered egg white together and place on parchment ready to add to egg whites.    Turn the mixer on high speed and slowly add the casters sugar mix, once the sugar is all in add the food coloring until desired color is achieved.   Now, it’s critical time!  Do not over beat the eggs.  Once all the sugar and coloring is incorporated and you reached a soft peak stage stop and check every 30 seconds until medium peak stage, and you’re eggs are done! If you took them to stiff peak stage you overworked the eggs and need to start over.

Now the tricky part! Macaroning….  get a heavy silicon wide flat spatula to mix.  Add 1/3 of the dry mix to the egg whites, fold in till just incorporated.  Keep adding the dry mix to the egg mix 1/3 at a time until all incorporated.  Now the fun part!  You need to keep folding this mixture until the mixture is what is known as ‘lava stage’ What you’re looking for is when you lift the spatula above the bowl the mix very very slowly falls off and watch the mixture in the bowl.  You should after counting to 10 not see any ribbons or  lines in the batter where the batter falling off the silicone landed.  If it is incorporating too quickly you over mixed and you will end up with flat thin macarons, with no feet. Pour a small amount onto parchment about the size of a quarter.  it should not get any bigger then what you dropped it out to be, the batter should be glossy and smooth as well.  If it looks smooth, glossy, and doesn’t spread too thinly out then your done.  Pour into a 16″ or larger piping bag fitting with a large round tip, I used a Wilton #1A tip.  If the batter is running out of the bag too quickly then you over worked in the “Macaroning phase.”  It should want to slowly come out but not pour out.   Trick: if you’re working alone put the bag into a tall round container and fold the edges around glass lip over around 4+ inches not in the glass, I used my husbands pilsner glass.

On two(2) baking sheets lined with a silpat.  In a 5×8 pattern pipe out your mixture into 1″ or quarter size rounds.  The tip should be directly above the sheet and make a soft round takes about a 2-3 count with gentle pressure on each cookie before moving on to create the next.   Once you have completed piping lift and gently tap the bottoms of the baking sheets, this rounds out the cookies and also gets any air bubbles out.   Let them rest, this time varies by season, month, time of day, color of your hair… basically I cannot tell you how long to let them rest to form the shell, however!  When they are ready to bake you gently touch the top and sides and the batter does not stick to your finger, it’s not tacky.    Place both sheets in the oven, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR for at least 10 min, if you do not have an oven window (like me!)  Once you see feet takes about 10-12 min rotate the pans, bottom on top and front to back.  Let cook for another 5-8 min until the tops feel firm.  Remove from oven and place sheets on wire racks to cool do not attempt to remove the cookie from the sheet before the pan is completely cold to the touch.

While cooling time to make the ganache!

Coffee Ganache

  • 6oz Heavy Cream
  • 6oz Bitter-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 packet of Starbucks Via, Italian Roast instant coffee or 1 1/2 tbsp. Instant Espresso powder (1 tbsp espresso powder to 4 oz chocolate)

Put the chopped chocolate, butter, and coffee into a small bowl.  Bring the cream up to a soft boil via microwave or small sauce pan.  Pour into the bowl over the chocolate and leave for about two(2) minutes.   Mix until it is chocolaty smooth goodness, don’t forget!  Always taste to make any modifications before product is finished.  Refrigerate for 10 min, remove and stir.  Repeat this process until it is thick and pipe-able.  Pour into a small piping bag, I used 12″ disposable bag, with a Wilton #35 tip.

Your ganache should be cooling and your cookie sheets should be cold to the touch and your macarons should just pop right off the silpat when it is gently bent.  Match your cookies up with ones of similar size, and Place on a wire rack fitted with parchment paper.  Flip so all bottoms are facing up and you know which tops match to which bottoms.  Pipe your ganache onto one row of cookie bottoms, skip the next row, pipe on the next row until complete.  You shouldn’t use too much filling leave a space between the filling and edge of the cookie.  Sandwich the cookies together and keep in air tight container!

adapted from: Masterchef Australia; Contest: Callum Hann