Sunday, July 23, 2017

Red Currants and White Chocolate Pots de Crème

In summer and to cope with the heat, we tend to consume more refreshing meals, fresh fruits and vegetables, salads and chilled desserts. 

While it's entirely true that the dessert I´m sharing with you in this post is not exactly light in terms of the calories it packs, but it's served cold and in small portions making it a perfect summer dessert! 

This custard-like French dessert is very similar to creme brulée but with few key differences such as the lack of the famous caramelized sugar crust.

To the classic vanilla flavor of the cream, I added white chocolate and a touch of fresh sourness brought by the red currants. Whenever I use white chocolate in any recipe I like to balance its sweetness with tangy fruits, especially berries.

To make 6 little pots (60 ml each) you need:
  • 3 egg yolks and some of the white to weigh 75 g (note, do freeze the eggs whites if you can't find a way to use them immediately)
  • 50 g chopped white chocolate
  • half of a vanilla pod
  • 40 g sugar (adjust to your liking)
  • 200 ml cream and 75 ml milk 
  • red currants
Preheat the oven at 150 degrees C (around 300 F).

First, with the back of a knife, remove the seeds of the vanilla pod and add them to the eggs. Add the emptied vanilla pod to the cream and milk and gently heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and keep simmering for about five minutes. Once you smell the vanilla, add the chocolate and stir until it melts. 

While the cream is heating, mix together the yolks with the sugar and vanilla seeds.  You need to whisk until you get a creamy and pale mixture. 

Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg yolks while whisking vigorously. 

Add between 5 to 7 red currants in each ramekin, then add the cream through a sieve. 

Arrange the ramekins over a tray. Put the tray in the oven and add enough hot water to cover half or two thirds of the ramekins. Be careful not to spill water into the cream.

Bake the cream pots for about 20 to 25 min in the preheated oven. Do check on them from time to time. Gently shake one of the ramekins and if there's a slight wobble in the center it's time to take them out from the oven. Remember that the cream will continue to cook for a while after you take it out of the oven so you don't want it to set completely while baking. In addition, you need to keep in mind that the baking time will differ depending on the ramekins you use, the oven, the quantity of cream you pour into each pot and even the tray on top of which you have put the ramekins. I used a ceramic tray so if you are using a metallic one you might need to consider this factor as trays heat differently. 

Once baked, take them out of the oven and let them cool completely. Put them in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serve the cream pots with some red currants, shaved chocolate and a small dollop of sour cream, if you fancy some extra indulgence.

This dessert is a perfect finish to a summery dinner party and its refreshing flavors, balanced sweetness, and silky smooth texture will delight your guests. With luck, you will have some extra ramekins that you can enjoy on our own and ward off the heat!

Bon appetit  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Pecans

Vegan baking can be a bit challenging, no question about it. But with some tweaks here and there, and playing around with ingredients, nothing is too difficult.
Although vegan baking seems like a novelty, in reality, it's not. A while ago, I posted a traditional vegan recipe that I grew with and I know there are many more out there.

Most vegan recipes are an adaptation from regular ones laden with the usual suspects of non-vegan ingredients! The chocolate cake recipe I´m sharing today is adapted from a book my brother gave me a couple of years ago called "The Cake Decorator´s Bible". I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding caramelized pecans  and rum. I figured that the combination would be successful. I mean after all, it's chocolate and nuts, you can never go wrong with that!

The end result was pretty amazing. The cake was very moist and fluffy with a deep chocolate flavor and a satisfying butteriness coming from the pecans. You won´t miss the eggs and butter at all. 

To make this cake you need (23 cm loaf pan):
  • 200 g pastry flour
  • 35 cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2  tsp baking soda
  • 100 g white sugar and 50 g brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp dark rum
  • 100 g caramelized pecans, processed into powder
  • 80 ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
  • 230 ml water

In a bowl combine  flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground pecans. Whisk to combine, then add the oil, water and rum. Whisk until no flour lumps are visible.

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for 40 to 50 min in a preheated oven (160 C) or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool for five minutes in the pan. Remove and let it cool completely on a wire rack. 

You can serve the cake as it is, or with chocolate syrup, and if you want an extra luscious touch you can prepare, like I did, an easy vegan chocolate cream frosting.

For the frosting you need:
  • 100 g vegan butter or margarine
  • 10 g cocoa powder
  • 50 grams ground caramelized pecans (optional)
  • 30 g powdered sugar; you can add more if you like it sweeter. 

Combine all the ingredients and whisk until fluffy. Add on the top of the cake and garnish to your liking.

I hope you give this vegan recipe a try and I would love it if you shared your ideas for vegan baking.

Bon appetit!