Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle

Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle

If I was asked to name my favorite cookies of all, that would be it. Although, I’m not so sure that they can be actually considered as cookies per se. Or maybe they can because of their shape, in this particular case. Anyway, they are my favorite thing.

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White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle

White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle

Following the French and white chocolate idea introduced earlier I’m offering this cheesecake. No, this cake is not as sweet as the previous one. The white chocolate here doesn’t dominate, it leaves you wonder and beg for more.

The cake is so simple and so chic! This is a European marvel at its best. You can serve it with fresh berries or raspberry coulis. And that’s exactly what the author (Fran Bigelow) suggested. Or, if you are not pressed for time, you can make the Fleur de Sel Hazelnut brittle to decorate the cake or serve alongside. I found them to be the perfect match for the cake. Extra time spent in the kitchen will certainly be highly appreciated at the end of your dinner, I promise. If you decide to make the cookies, make sure you have enough of them to offer separately, despite your plated presentation. Everybody always looks for more to indulge.

And the last but not least. Please, don’t ruin it by a graham crust, or any crust…

Adapted from Fran Bigelow’s “Pure Chocolate”

White Chocolate and Brie Cheesecake with Fleur de Sel and Hazelnut Brittle Slice

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L’Opéra

Opera cake

This was my debut in the Daring Bakers Challenge. The baking task was the white chocolate l’Opéra, which in this interpretation was not the French classic, to be exact. The shape of the cake and the flavorings were left up to the challengers. While thinking about the flavor to choose I stumbled upon some breathtakingly beautiful pink grapefruits. That’s when I made my choice. I flavored the soaking syrup, buttercream, and the mousse with the grapefruit zest and Pink Grapefruit Liqueur (made in France, by the way) with, surprisingly, very nice, definite grapefruity flavor. It gave the mousse a pleasant light bitterness and very interesting taste. Since the whole white chocolate idea was already quite a deviation from the original, I had let myself to go even further and used Swiss buttercream instead of French one. I baked the joconde in two half-sheet pans, and then cut out three 8-inch rounds. Then I assembled the cake in a ring, mainly because I wanted to pour the mousse on the top before it sets and then let it set undisturbed. This way the mousse preserves its wonderfully light airy texture. As a decoration I placed a white chocolate rose on the top of the cake.

I really don’t recommend to attempt making this cake in one day. The rush will affect the quality of the end product and you will certainly be exhausted. It took me 3 evenings to put the cake together. Was it difficult? I’d say, no. But my husband will definitely disagree since it was him who had to put our dear son Tim to bed three nights in a row. And this, of course, included the full program: bath, tooth-brushing, night-story reading, etc.

This is my cake preparation plan spread over few days:

  • Evening 1: make the joconde; make the soaking syrup
  • Evening 2: make the buttercream; fit the joconde into the ring mold and spread with the buttercream; refrigerate for 1 hour; make the mousse (chop the chocolate while the cake is chilling); pour the mousse over the joconde; put the cake in the fridge until the next day
  • Evening 3: make the white chocolate glaze; make the chocolate plastic decorations
  • Next day: unmold the cake; put the rose on the top of the cake.

Chocolate Rose

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Chocolate Plastic Roses

Chocolate Plastic Roses

I’m posting the recipe and step-by-step instructions for making the chocolate plastic roses. Maybe someone will find this information useful. I really do like the chocolate plastic as the cake decor. It is easy to work with, looks great, holds its shape, and it is way tastier than fondant. Of course, you can make different things from the plastic, just use your imagination.

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Cinnamon Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche)

Cinnamon Rice Pudding (Arroz Con Leche)

Recently, I discovered two wonderful blogs: Bakerette and Cannelle et Vanille devoted to baking and dessert making. Their photos is pleasure to look at as well as the well-written stories to read. My eyes were caught by the rice pudding posts, and I had been salivating ever since. It felt exactly like my type of dessert. I had to make it, so I did. Was it good? It was great! My little son, when I asked him if he liked the pudding, answered with a long lasting “mmmmm”. Such an easy way to make mommy happy. Basma, Aran, thank you very much for the recipe. And special thanks to Basma for her suggesting to serve the pudding with the ice cream. I served it with the cocoa nib ice cream sprinkled with extra nibs over the top – what a delight!

I didn’t print the recipe before proceeding (the internet was out), I relied on my memory during the cooking. It turned out more like Aran’s, I guess. But I used half of the single cream and half of the whole milk as per Basma’s suggestion. Using either recipe, you can’t go wrong with it.

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Cocoa Nib Ice Cream

Cocoa Nib Ice Cream

There is another jewel from Alice Medrich’s “Bittersweet”. The book is worth buying for this ice cream recipe along, and for her advice on rescuing seized ganache. The author describes the ice cream flavor as “ rich, clean chocolate … somehow both subtle and dramatic ”. Enough said.

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