Valentino Cake as a Box of Chocolate

Behind the camouflage is this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge – flourless chocolate cake. I needed to put a batch of fondant to some use (I made the fondant earlier for another project that was cancelled). So, I turned the cake into a box full of chocolate. First, I spread the cake with a thin layer of strawberry jam, covered it with sour cream ganache, and then decorated with the fondant. By all means, don’t get me wrong – I’ve never believed that the fondant is a tasty addition.  It’s always been considered as a pretty and quite effective storing container (way more air-tight than a cake dome). The fondant was peeled off later and never eaten.

As for the cake, it was good; not great, not the best one I’ve had, but definitely – pretty good. I think, the cake would benefit from more delicate water-bath baking.

The optional part of this challenge was an ice cream to accompany the cake. And I did make a frozen dessert (not exactly the ice cream) to go with the cake. It was roasted strawberry and thyme sherbet. But I have to apologize here, since I’m not posting this recipe now. I’ll do it within a couple of days.

This challenge was hosted by Wendy at wmpesblog and Dharm at Dad – Baker and Chef and the recipe used is an adaptation of Chef Wan’s.

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Coconut Scones with Pineapple-Vanilla Jam

Coconut Scones

I went to our grocery market a couple of days ago searching for some nice berries (everyone seems to be blogging about such wonderful strawberries; I developed a strong craving). But the berries were very much so-so (it’s not the season here yet). To be exact, the only perfectly ripened fruit I found was pineapple, and that’s what I bought.

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Swedish Princess Cake

This classic Swedish cake was a birthday present to my very dear friend’s daughter. She liked it living back in Europe during her delicate childhood years (the girl is 17 now and what a beauty she is). Traditionally, the cake composed of three layers of génoise filled with a bit of strawberry (sometimes, raspberry) jam, pastry cream, and topped (more, than generously) with whipped cream. This quite loose construction is wrapped in pale-green marzipan (nobody knows why it’s green). The cake doesn’t last. The marzipan simply melts from the direct contact with cream. And I desperately needed this cake to spend a night in a fridge. Looking for the solution, I found Bo Friberg’s advice to spread a layer of buttercream over the rolled marzipan. How does it sound to you? I didn’t find his tip very much appealing. Instead, I baked an extra génoise sheet, cut it into wedges, and lined a bowl. Then I proceeded with an upside-down assembly. Once unmolded, the cake was covered with a thin layer of buttercream. And after a couple of hours in the fridge, it was ready to be covered with marzipan. This extra work might be unnecessary if you plan to serve the cake the same day you make it. If this is a case, assemble the cake as it’s usually done, freeze it briefly, then wrap in marzipan. Unfortunately, I can’t show you a slice. But I sketched some diagram below to explain my way of assembling this cake.

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Yogurt Panna Cotta with Rosemary Cornmeal Cookies

In the large family of creamy desserts the panna cotta is the easiest and fastest one to prepare. It simply sets with gelatin; but what really matters is the quantity of the gelatin used. Too much of the last and the panna cotta gets unpleasantly rubbery. I think the best textured panna cotta is served from a bowl (or glass, or ramekin) but not proudly presented unmolded on a plate. Less formal presentation requires less amount of gelatin ensuring better mouthfeel. Flavor-wise, I love the yogurt or buttermilk panna cotta best for its tanginess. And I simply adore it for its calorie-moderation.

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“Heart To Give” Cookies

It’s a bit late, sorry, but I couldn’t find any time to post these before or on Valentine’s Day. The cookies were sent to my son’s class celebration party last Friday. But this post is not entirely about these cookies.

Over some time, I’ve been observing what little kids (I’m speaking about 5-7 year young here) usually bring to school for special occasions, what they prefer to eat and how they do it. Being germophobic and mess-intolerant, I found that individually wrapped basic sugar cookies is an effective and hygienic solution. Everyone gets their own little bag, unties it, and then handles the content with his (or her) clean (or not so) hands, without palpating the rest of the cookies. And there’s another benefit. Even if not all treats are eaten in the class, everybody usually grabs one “to go” and there’s nothing left. Why should it be considered as a benefit? Well, my son gets pretty upset if his cookies are not in demand (not that they are not good; they just can’t compete with heart-shaped store-bought lollipops).

I know I’m crazy, but I also know I’m not alone. And to add more to my profile – I used beet juice to color the dough. If anybody knows where I can find natural food colors, please, please, let me know.

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Raspberry Hot Chocolate with Raspberry Marshmallows

This drink is rich and very good. It’s supposed to be served in tiny demitasse cups. The quantity stated below makes 4 servings; I don’t think that double dates is a common way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so you can scale the recipe down or just overindulge.

Happy Valentine’s Day for those who celebrates it, and a Wonderful Weekend for everybody else!

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