Candy, fruit, Gluten Free, Petit Four, Recipes, Vegan

Coconut & Pomegranate Mochi [Vegan, Gluten Free]

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Mochi is a treat that I loved as a kid, and still love to this day. For those of you who haven’t experienced this Japanese delight, mochi is a slightly sweet, sticky dessert snack made from Mochiko, or glutinous rice flour.

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As I strolled about the market the other day, I saw a basket full of fresh pomegranates, and I knew I wanted to cook with them. I love pomegranate seeds not only for their taste, but also their look; they look like shiny, precious gemstones, and what girl doesn’t love a little sparkle?

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The batter before being cooked. I have been dying to make something with coconut lately, and I knew this would be a match made in heaven!

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Coming out of the oven. This recipe is by NO means anything close to the traditional method of making mochi, which for years has been made by pounding glutinous rice over and over again in a large mortar-and-pestle type of tool, but homie ain’t got time to play games! This recipe is infinitely easier; you literally just need a whisk and a bowl, and you’re good to go!

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Cutting into the sticky stuff! Make sure you use a clean, sharp knife before cutting into these babies, otherwise you’ll have to deal with the mochi sticking to your knife and a not-so-pretty mess on your hands.

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The finished product. The mochi itself is creamy, chewy, and soft, and the pomegranate seeds add a crunch and a tart pop of flavor when you bite into them. For the mochi I used a blend of both coconut water and coconut milk, to keep it from being overly rich. I also tossed the mochi in some coconut flour instead of the traditional rice flour, giving it a nice nutty flavor as well.

Coconut & Pomegranate Mochi

makes 28 (1×1″) pieces or 7 (1×4″) logs (as pictured)

311 g Mochiko (sweet rice flour)

324 g granulated white sugar

224 g coconut water

254 g coconut milk

65 g fresh pomegranate seeds, carefully patted dry

coconut flour, as needed

Preheat your oven to 350F. Liberally grease a 9×9″ square pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your Mochiko and sugar until combined. Whisk in coconut water and coconut milk, stirring just until there are no more lumps. Gently fold in your pomegranate seeds, and pour batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until the edges of your mochi are lightly golden brown and the mochi jiggles just slightly in the center if shaken. Cool completely. Run a knife around the edge of your pan, and turn over onto a cutting board covered with parchment (to keep it from sticking as you cut it). Using a clean, SHARP knife, trim off your edges (they’re too tough to serve) and then cut mochi into 1×1″ cubes (or 1×4″ logs like I did, but keep in mind that this is a large portion!), and then gently toss in coconut flour just to cover all sides. Garnish with more fresh pomegranate seeds if desired, and enjoy!

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Cake, Candy, Recipes

Peanut Toffee Sans Rival

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Yesterday was my sister’s birthday, and I wanted to surprise her with a dessert that we both grew up with, Sans Rival. While both the name and the methods used are purely European, Sans Rival is a dessert widely popular in the Phillippines.

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The name itself literally translates to “without rival,” and with a name like that who could resist; it’s composed of layers of nut meringue (traditionally cashew) and a rich, buttery French buttercream. Here I decided to give it a twist by replacing the crushed cashews with peanut toffee bits, and by adding a bit (a lot a bit) of rum to the buttercream. I also opted out of covering the entire thing with the buttercream because a little of the stuff goes a long way!

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The end result was an incredibly rich bite, with a crunch from the meringue and a smooth, creamy finish with the buttercream. Trust me when I say a small portion is more than enough to get your sweet tooth on.

Peanut Toffee Sans Rival

makes 1 (6-inch) cake

For meringues:

151 g egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

60 g granulated sugar

60 g peanut or other nut toffee, ground finely to almost a powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 250F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar, and whip on medium high speed until it reaches soft peaks. With mixer running, slowly stream in sugar, then whip until it reaches stiff, glossy peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold in peanut toffee and vanilla extract.

Line 2 half sheet pans with silicon mats, then using a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip, pipe meringue batter in a spiral pattern onto silicon mats. You should have enough meringue to make 4 discs, each being 6 inches in diameter. Place sheet pans in preheated oven, and bake about 50 minutes, or until center is firm to the touch when pressed lightly. Let cool completely before filling; discs will be very fragile when cooled, so be careful!

For Rum French Buttercream:

75 g egg yolks

76 g granulated sugar

65 g water

150 g butter, very soft, cut into cubes

6 g dark rum

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whip egg yolks on medium high speed. While yolks are whipping, combine sugar and water in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Let sugar and water cook until it reaches 121C (250F), then with mixer running, slowly pour sugar down the side of the mixing bowl and into egg yolks. Let yolks whip until pale yellow and almost double in volume. With mixer running, add butter little by little, and whip until fully incorporated and buttercream is very smooth and creamy. Slowly stream in dark rum and mix until smooth.

For assembly:

Loosen meringue discs off of silicon mats, being careful not to break them. Determine which disc is the largest and use that as your base.

Place first disc down onto your serving dish (or cardboard circle if you’re transporting it like I did) with a bit of buttercream on the bottom to hold it in place. Divide buttercream into 3, and layer it between meringues, carefully spreading buttercream from the center out, then topping each layer of buttercream with some crushed toffee before adding the next meringue. I dusted the top of the last layer of meringue with some cocoa powder, just to give it a more finished look and a bit of bitterness to kind of balance out the overall sweetness, but it is completely optional. If you would like your Sans Rival to be crunchy, let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour before consuming. If you want it more chewy or soft, let it sit at room temperature for a few more hours or even overnight before enjoying.

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Candy, Drinks, Recipes

Candy Cane Vodka and a Very Merry Christmas!

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This Christmas I got to build some great memories with both my family and my fiance’s. Now that my siblings and cousins and I are all of drinking age, I thought an awesome gift to make for everyone would be some candy cane vodka!

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I made one big batch and divided it between some very cute mini glass bottles I found at CostPlus World Market. I took the recipe I found at Boulder Locavore and made enough for 12 portions. This has to be one of the easiest gifts I’ve ever made for Christmas; the hardest part was just unwrapping all those candy canes! Along with the vodka I included some other festive goodies and wrapped it all up in a cute little brown paper package with red ribbon.

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I love the red hue of the vodka and the flavor just screams holiday cheer! The labels for the bottles are courtesy of Joyeverafter;  I just picked one that I liked and used Photoshop to add the words to the blank labels. All in all, I’d say it was a very successful Christmas and a very successful gift exchange. If you make a batch as large as I did, it’s definitely wallet-friendly as well. The recipe takes 2-3 days to finish, so today spend some time with your family and eat as much holiday fare as you can, but next year make some candy cane vodka! Happy Holidays, all! 🙂

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Candy, Caramel, Recipes

Vanilla Butter Caramels

Whenever I cook, I always try to consider what I have on hand so I can avoid going through the hassle of making a trip to the grocery store. I love recipes that use simple household ingredients that you can find in anyone’s pantry, and this happens to be one of them!

Yesterday I made some vanilla butter caramels; they’re both chewy and soft, and almost melt away in your mouth.

So I know that this is candy-making blasphemy, but I didn’t use a candy thermometer. I know, I know, but those of us at KnitterBakerPateaChouxMaker are also risk-takers, and this recipe is simple enough to follow without one, I promise!

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I love the beautiful sheen this caramel has, and the little flecks of vanilla bean just bring it to another level that is incomparable to any flavor a plain extract would have brought. Oh, and they taste pretty damn good too.

Vanilla Butter Caramels

makes about 36 pieces

300 g sugar

170 g corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scraped

80 g water

130 g cream

40 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Line a small sheet pan with a silicon mat or parchment paper sprayed lightly with oil. This recipe is really small, so I used metal bars to make an 11″x 5″ frame to pour the caramel into. Set pan aside.

In a medium-sized pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, vanilla beans and pods, and water, and mix until just combined. When choosing your pot, pick one with tall sides, as the caramel will bubble up a lot later on. Make sure there are no granules of sugar stuck to the sides of the pot.

Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, swirling the pot from time to time. Do not stir! Let sugar boil until it reaches a deep golden brown. Immediately turn off heat, then slowly pour in 1/3 of the cream (the caramel will bubble furiously, so be careful to avoid steam burns!). Whisk in the cream until fully incorporated. Pour in another 1/3 of the cream, and whisk again. Then pour in the rest of your cream, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add your butter and whisk until completely emulsified.

Discard your vanilla pods and quickly pour caramel into your frame or sheet pan. Refrigerate caramel until it is fully set, at least 1 hour. Using a clean, hot knife, cut into 36 pieces and wrap in wax or parchment paper. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

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Candy, Chocolate, Petit Four, Recipes

Dark Chocolate Bon Bons & Thai Iced Tea Cremeux

One of my favorite drinks is milk tea, and Thai Iced Tea is no exception; it’s rich, creamy, smooth without being overly sweet, basically all the characteristics I look for in a dessert, but in the form of a drink! When I saw boxes of this stuff on sale, I knew I had to use it for something!

As it turns out, World Market also had blocks of Callebaut Coverture on sale (1/2 off!!), and so began my dream of combining the two flavors for a match made in heaven.

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Scaling out some chocolate. Make sure you chop it finely!

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Ingredients for the cremeux.

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Just before tempering the eggs in.

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After mixing it with the chocolate. The word “cremeux” is just the french word for “creamy.” It is basically a rich, silky custard that is somewhere between pudding and a mousse. So basically, heaven!

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Filling the truffle molds. I made a mistake of filling them a little too high.

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Popping them out of the molds. I won’t lie, I was ecstatic when I saw how glossy the shells got 🙂

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The finished product. This is quite possibly one of my best attempts at truffle making, and I’m definitely glad I tried! After taking a bite into these babies, the silky custard bursts into your mouth, and the Thai Iced Tea flavor adds a nice bittersweet touch. When I first learned how to temper chocolate, it was just a big pain in the butt (tabling, ugh!), so I avoided anything that required it for a long time. After learning some new, cleaner methods (seeding, yay!) I decided it was time to put it to the test, and I’d say it was a success!

Thai Iced Tea Chocolate Creameux

1 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

5 bags single-serve thai iced tea

3 egg yolks

3 + 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

6 oz (good!) dark chocolate, chopped finely

In a small saucepot, combine milk, cream, tea bags, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Whisk together and bring to a simmer over low heat, then remove from heat and let tea steep 10 minutes, until cream is a deep orange. Remove and discard tea bags, squeezing out any excess liquid. Bring liquid to a light simmer. In a small bowl, whisk well egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar, until there are no visible lumps. While whisking, pour 1/3 of hot milk mixture into egg yolks, whisk until combined. Add egg mixture to saucepot and whisk to combine. With a rubber spatula, gently stir and scrape sides and bottom of pot until custard becomes thick and coats the back of the spatula well. Pour custard over chopped dark chocolate, and whisk well to combine, until all chocolate is melted. The finished product should look smooth and glossy.

Keep refrigerated until ready to use, and serve cold. Cremeux should thicken as it cools. OR, you could be a little naughty like I was and use them as a bon bon filling!

Temper about 1 pound of dark coverture and pour into clean and dry polycarbonate or silicon molds*, filling up every mold. Vigorously tap out excess chocolate back into bowl and out of molds. The more you tap out, the thinner the shell will be, and the more delicate the truffle will be (which is what you want!). With an offset spatula, scrape off any excess chocolate from the top of the mold, making sure surface is completely smooth. After shell has set (I put it in the fridge for a few minutes because I was a tad impatient), pipe cremeux into center of each mold, leaving a 1/8″ lip around the edges for the bottoms of the bon bons. Let filling set in fridge for a few minutes. When filling is set, pour the rest of the tempered chocolate over the molds, and use an offset spatula to scrape off (well!) any excess chocolate and smooth the bottoms. If chocolate is tempered properly, the bottoms should set up within a few minutes. Now pop out your bon bons and enjoy!

*I used a silicon mold for these, polycarbonate molds probably would have been better in terms of scraping off extra chocolate smoothly, but it’s your decision!

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Candy, fruit

Poire Williams and Vanilla Bean Pâte de Fruit

Yesterday Robert and I made a pear and vanilla bean pâte de fruit, which is basically a fruit candy that is cooked and thickened with pectin, a gelling agent derived from citrus fruits and typically used in jams and jellies.

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Heating up the pear puree. I used the recipe from www.capfruit.com and divided it in half, thinking it was a large recipe. Turns out my understanding of grams was way off, haha.

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Reducing and thickening. This was the longest part. The mixture had to reach 220 degrees, and we were probably stirring that pot for around 30 minutes just for it to reach that last 10 degrees! Another thing that I should note is that it’s important to move the thermometer so that you can stir underneath it! Otherwise it will result in some heavy burning on the bottom of the pot, which is no bueno.

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After pouring the mixture on a sheet pan and letting it firm up for 24 hours, we finally got to cut it into little squares.

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After a nice toss in some sugar.

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The results. The vanilla bean gave it a good amount of warmth which cut down the tartness of the fruit well and gave it a nice rounded flavor. Overall I enjoyed this recipe, and would definitely try it again, maybe even in a bigger batch!

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Candy, Chocolate

Macadamia Mini Crunch Bar

Just Kidding! So I know I said I wouldn’t have a post for today but it turns out I actually did have time to make something really quick, and we might just have some more posts later this week!

Today I made some petit macadamia crunch bars. The recipe I used has only 6 ingredients, which made it super easy (although I will admit it uses some pricy ingredients).

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It actually has 3 different nuts in it, macadamia, hazelnut, and pistachio.

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I topped it with some pistachio powder, just to add some color and more texture. (And if you noticed, you’ll see I still have some fleur de sel caramels leftover from a previous post!)

Overall, this recipe was one of the few very simple ones that I’ve been satisfied with, and I would gladly make it again if someone buys the ingredients for me (just a suggestion!).

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