Saturday, February 17, 2018


While we were all sick, it was suggested we take elderberry as a supplement - supposedly it has anti-flu properties. They taste great but they're rather expensive. I figured I had elderberry syrup around and it might be fun to make my own. So I bought some silicone molds and gelatin and played around.

The first batch was with unsweetened rose hip juice which I had in the freezer. Let's just say, it needs to be sweetened with more than a heaping tablespoon of honey. They set nicely but taste pretty bland.

Today's batch was with the elderberry syrup. One cup of syrup plus another 1/4 of water and 2-3 packets of unflavored gelatin. Once they're in the molds they go into the fridge for 2 hours or so to set. They set well but were tacky so I coated them in sugar to make them less likely to stick to the plate or our hands or the counter. These taste really good, too! I don't have any more elderberry syrup but I have elderflower and cherry, maybe I can play around some more.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fancy Birthday Cake, Day 4


This morning I started out by making the apricot glaze which was required to then make raspberry glaze. First I used about 10 ounces of apricot jam from my stash and mixed it with some water and boiled it. When it was thick I added corn syrup and strained it to make apricot glaze. Then I added an equal amount of puréed fresh raspberries and this was then ladled onto the cakes. They went back into the fridge to set. That took a long time, particularly on the larger cake. I think the glaze layer was thicker and that's why.

This afternoon I melted some chocolate and decorated the cakes. First I got to use the torch to remove the rings and then suffered the consequences of the glaze not being fully set. (The glaze ran down the sides a bit.) Ultimately, I think the decorating came out fairly pretty. I didn't make little chocolate "duck feet" like we'd been taught in class; just some dots and swirls and then topped the cakes with raspberries.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Fancy Birthday Cake, Day 3

After work and making mousse and going out to dinner, I was too tired to post this last night...

Step 3 was to make the chocolate mousse and the raspberry syrup and assemble the cake. For the syrup I tried to cut corners and use some of the raspberry syrup I've canned but I shouldn't have. I did heat it up but it was still a little too heavy for soaking cakes. In the future I should remember to use the lighter syrup and follow Chef's directions. Anyway. The mousse.

Cakes with mousse, ready for the fridge
First I used one stand mixer bowl and whisk to make the mousse base, with the egg yolks and the sugar syrup and the chocolate. While that cooled, I chilled the second mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer, washed the first one, and made Italian meringue. Finally, I made whipped cream in the chilled bowl with the chilled whisk. Once all three things were combined I had chocolate mousse and it was time to assemble the cake.

The cake layers (1 per cake) had their tops and bottoms sliced off and then they were soaked in the raspberry syrup. These were placed in the rings. I then used some of my raspberry jam and piped a spiral of jam on top of the cake. I meant to get a picture at this point but I was just too sticky. The next step was to fill the rest of the ring with the mousse and smooth it. These went back into the fridge to chill and set.

The rest of the mousse was divvied up into little ramekins for desserts over the next few days and the youngerchild and I ate the rest!
Just a glimpse into what my kitchen looked like at the end of all this...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fancy Birthday Cake, Day 2


Today I made the chocolate almond genoise cake which will be topped with raspberry jam and chocolate mousse. A genoise is an egg based cake and the rise comes from all the air whipped into the eggs - it's beaten for about 10 minutes or so to incorporate a lot of air. Splitting the recipe in half required a full dozen eggs! What I have learned is that each cake uses about 4 eggs, so that in the future I can scale down even further. As it is, I now have 3 cakes to work with. One's in the freezer, that's my back up cake. The almond came from the almond paste I made yesterday.

Anyway, here are the cakes. (Note to self, they took about 15 minutes to bake.)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Fancy Birthday Cake, Day 1

My Mom's birthday is coming up and I'm making her a cake. It happens to be a cake I made in culinary school, and one for which the youngerchild has been begging. I don't have a billion pots and pans and mixers at my disposal, nor do I have a ton of time in large chunks, so I'm making it in stages. Today, I made almond paste.

In class, I'm sure, we just opened a can of almond paste. I don't have almond paste but I do have almond flour and the internet. I found this recipe for making almond paste out of almond flour.

Now I have just over 12 ounces of almond paste. I set aside what I needed for the cake and then the remaining 8 ounces were wrapped in plastic wrap. Could I freeze it? Back to the internet! The answer is yes, if it's packaged properly. Time for me to use my new toy, the vacuum sealer. That was my Christmas present this year. It's super easy and this is the perfect use for it. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Variations on Confit

The other day I made duck confit using 8 duck legs and a whole lot of duck fat. When the legs were done I stored them in a big jar with the fat sealing it all in. Today I put it all to good use!

For dinner we had spaghetti with confit and lemon, essentially this recipe. The youngerchild prefers plain pasta with meat on the side so received just that, with a seared duck thigh. We also had a quick salad of baby lettuces tossed with crisped duck confit shreds, croutons, and a vinaigrette made with duck fat and balsamic vinegar. It all was lovely.

There are two duck legs left for dinner on another day. So many uses out of one dish!