Passover Treats

It’s that time of year again – out with the baguettes, the croissants, the pain au chocolat, in with the matzohs, brisket and macaroons. Somehow giving up these leavened confections seems to much more difficult here in France, but luckily for me I’m headed to London for the first 4 days of Pesach, so I won’t be tempted too much. 

I have never been to London before. Actually, I’ve never been anywhere in England, so when my friend Jess invited me to her home in London for seder, I was thrilled! London is one of those places that I’ve always assumed I would go to but never set my mind on going. Now that I’m finally headed across the channel, I’m really starting to get excited. While I won’t be able to do all my usual culinary samplings because of Passover, I’d say it’s fortunate I’m not coming to Paris for the first time, as missing out on all the boulangeries here would be just sinful.  

All London is straight out of a Harry Potter film, right? 

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite Passover recipes. Hopefully I’ll be able to whip something up before I hop on the train Friday morning or maybe I’ll be able to make something when we arrive 🙂 I’m going to head down to the Marais in a little bit (the Jewish section of Paris) to see what treats they might have on sale now! And I’m sure I’ll have a full update on London next week!

My award winning macaroons 

An easy flourless chocolate torte

Lemon meringue pie

And probably my favorite recipe at all (that I never get around taking pictures of) Caramel Matzoh

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Chocolate Chip Cranberry Biscotti

I’ve learned that dried cranberries make just about anything better. Can you honestly think of one thing that dried cranberries wouldn’t go good in? Cookies – check! Granola – check! They can often be a wonderful addition to savory dishes as well, such as chicken and even omelets! I look forward to Thanksgiving every year with great ernest, knowing that it’s prime cranberry season. Last year at our Turkey Day meal, we had a cranberry port ice cream and a panna cotta pie with candied dried cranberries on top. I obviously hog the cranberry sauce as it’s passed around the table.

The gory process of cranberry port ice cream: 

I have always wanted to make biscotti and when I saw I had some cranberries in my cupboard, I figured why the heck not try throw them in. My precious bag of chocolate chips is slowly getting smaller and smaller but I’m hoping with an onslaught of American visitors coming next month, my stock will be replenished! When I was younger, I used to eat biscotti like no bodies business. I always remember cafes selling them in giant glass jars right at the check-out and I would always beg my mom or dad to buy one for me.

Having never made these before, I did some research behind these crunchy cookies. They originated in Italy, are usually almond based and are twice baked to receive that famous crunchy tecture. Originally they didn’t have any fats or yeast in them, but the recipe I used for called for a little bit of oil (I actually used butter) and some baking powder. I didn’t have any almond extract either, but added some almond flour I had, which was more understated than I imagine extract would have been, but still delicious.

These are really such an easy cookie to make, but always give off the appearnce of seeming quite complicated. I want to try making biscotti again, playing with different flours and fillings. I’m thinking a nutella biscotti is definitely in the works 😉

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti

(Adapted from Cooking Lite)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (or 1 tbs almond flour)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS: 

1) Preheat oven to 350°.

2) Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour and the next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

3) Combine butter, extracts, and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring until well-blended (dough will be dry and crumbly). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 7 to 8 times.

4) Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness.

5) Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch) slices.

6) Place the slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).

7) Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack. 

Nutella Speculoos Cookies

I’m going to make the assumption that you’re already well aware of my new found OBSESSION with speculoos. I think I went through a week when I couldn’t go one day without eating at least one spoonful of it! Now, I don’t think I have written about my mutual love for nutella, but let’s just say that if it was a question between speculoos or nutella, I would have a mighty hard time picking between the two. A few years ago, when I was on a ski trip, we were served little nutella packets each morning with breakfast that I would sneak into the pockets of my ski pants to eat as a snack on the slopes. I really hope the people behind speculoos are getting into the snack-size business, as carrying around a big glass bottle all the time seems quite impractical, then again, I would probably do it 😉 

Another thing I love – peanut butter. Basically I think that everything should be into a spread! Can you imagine a Momofuku compost cookie in spread form? Wow, even just thinking about it makes my stomach grumble! But back to peanut butter – no joke, I eat it out of the jar just like my speculoos. Now a funny thing about France is that they don’t really eat peanut butter here. What’s up with that? I guess they’re not that big into PB&J here. After almost leaving empty handed from Monoprix last week after my hunt for peanut butter, lo and behold, I found it tucked into a corner on the top of the Asian food section! Odd placement, as I highly doubt peanut butter is more popular in Asia than in France, but hey, at least I found it!

So where is this all leading? Oh right, I found a recipe for peanut butter nutella cookies a few weeks ago that sounded just like my kind of heaven. As I was about to start up the recipe, I had a spoonful of speculoos in my mouth when I realized “wait, what about swapping out the peanut butter with speculoos? They have the same consistency, this should work.” Well, let’s just say this was one of my better successes when deciding to alter recipe ingredients. Quite honestly, it was a sure fire thing from the start: nutella + speculoos + even a little more butter = massive hit! Of course, I added more nutella than needed and decided to do the same with speculoos. These babies sure are soft before baked, so extra refrigeration is definitely needed. Next mission – peanut butter, speculoos and nutella all wrapped up in one! Someone might need to send me some more peanut butter if I want to head down that road…

Speculoos Nutella Cookies

(Adapted from Pass The Sushi)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 3/4 teas baking soda
  • 1/4 teas salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup speculoos
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teas vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; Set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter, speculoos and sugars until combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scarp down the sides to insure everything is mixed well.

4) Add the egg and vanilla and combine. Slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined. It will be a slightly crumble dry ball of dough. Fold in your Nutella without mixing in too much.

5) On a clean work surface, turn the dough and and for into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

6) Scoop tablespoon sized balls out onto the baking sheet and press with a fork. Sprinkle each with a dash of the sea salt.

7) Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are well browned. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

A Belgian Journey: Part II – Bruges

And we continue…

Saturday morning we hopped on another train headed northwest to Bruges. (English spelling – Bruges, Everyone else – Brugge). In the completely typic cliche, I have been wanting to go to Bruges ever since seeing In Bruges almost 4 years ago now with a friend back in Raleigh. Now, as much as the film might have inspired the trip, Bruges is an amazing town that is in fact listed in the UNESCO World Heritage registrar and because of its many canals is sometimes said to be the “Venice of the North.”

Now about those canals…Lets just say I’m going to have to go back to Bruges in the spring or summer one day as the canals this past weekend were frozen over. So frozen that people were actually walking on them. Although my friends wanted to go down and try to walk on it, I was not feeling that adventurous and preferred my watching others risk their lives from the sidelines.

Another thing that we missed out on was climbing the Belfry tower, which was closed for renovation. If you have seen In Bruges, you know what tower I’m talking about. Despite the frozen canals and the closed Belfry, Bruges was still amazing.

We stayed in a the most wonderful three story house that was a 5 minute walk from the main plaza. Saturday we really just spent walking around. Although freezing, it was beautifully sunny and we were able to take in all the sights with some amazing light. After realizing that the Belfry was closed, our next stop was the choclate shop Chocolate Line that prides themselves on having chocolate paint. Yes, chocolate paint. I didn’t purchase any paint but I was almost tempted to buy some chocolate lipstick. 

One interesting fact about Bruges is that they have there very own Michaleangle sculpture, called Madonna and Child, at the Church of our Lady. We paid a paltry 1 euro to see it. How awesome is that? One thing I loved about Bruges was being able to tell where we were just by looking up. From almost any point in town, you could see the Beflry, the Church of our Lady, or Saint Salvatores Cathedral. I of course loved this as I am a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to knowing directions and orientation. The cobblestone streets and little alleyways lend themselves to perfect walking channels and more often than not, one had to be on the lookout for horse-drawn carriages (all tourists now) rather than cars themselves.

Of course, the afternoon continued with a stop for waffles and frites. Could one have a more perfect meal? I think not. After lunch, the cold constantly being a our preferred topic of conversation we popped into another cafe for some hot chocolate to warm out hands. I don’t know how they do it, but between the waffles and the chocolate, Belgium certainly knows their sweets. Instead of premixed hot chocolate, we were given warm milk and a chocolate square on a stick to mix in. This is how hot chocolate is served at Aroma in Israel and I’m sure at some other cafes, but I have never seen such a huge chunk of chocolate on a stick like this. It was the perfect internal heater for our bodies and our cold fingers. 

As a birthday present from my uncle, we got to experience some fine dining Saturday night at the Park Restaurant. Now I don’t know if the manager was expecting us or was just outside taking a smoke break, but as we walked up to the door he said “you must be Maya,” and welcomed us inside. Door service in the middle of Bruges? Pretty cool. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I can say it was definitely up there in my top ten list of meals I have had in my life 🙂 First course: Foie gras with fresh fig Second course: vegetable soup Main Course: beef tenderloin with potatoes à gratinBirthday tarte tatine! 

Our following and last day in Bruges was rather overcast and snowy. We ventured to the other side of town to a quaint little crepe restaurant and then went to a chocolate museum. The museum itself was a little haphazardly put together and some of the English translations were questionable, but being the baker that I am, it was very fun to see the whole process of how chocolate is made and why chocolate has become so popular in France. At the end, they had a nifty little demonstration showing how to make chocolate pralines. New mission in life – learn how to make chocolate truffles! 

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty spectacular weekend. I would have wished for warmer weather, but then again, one can’t always travel when it’s warm! The idea of not knowing the language or my way around it still a new concept that I’ve been taking in stride as I do more travel in France but it has also reminded me that in the technology souped up world we live in, travel is in fact, so easy. In away, I almost wished I had left my iPhone at home to cut me off from the world completely, although not knowing that Whitney Houston died until 24 hours after the fact was certainly disturbing 😉 I think now my nerves have been calmed at the prospect of doing future travels in even more foreign lands and I am now ready to conquer Europe! Croatia anybody??

A Belgian Journey: Part I – Brussels

Only three days away from Paris and it feel like I was completely displaced from reality. For my first trip out of France of the semester, I went off to Brussels for the weekend with some friends and somehow it seemed so much longer. It was an absolutely amazing trip that I wish never had to end, but in a way, it’s nice to be able to call Paris home now and walking into my apartment last night after three nights in foreign beds was quite the lovely (albeit cold) feeling.

We started off on Thursday night to Brussels. I found an apartment on airBnB, which was seriously amazing. Anyone who wants to travel should really look into it – it’s cheap, easy, and instead of hostel or hotel, you have a real apartment to go back to with amenities and such. Awesome find! Anyway…

Our first evening in Brussels was spent walking around looking for a bar, but after realizing Brussels in not quite the happening on Thursday night, we ventured back to our place with some beers and cookies in hand. The beer selection here is really out of control. Even in the tiny corner bodega, they had at least 45 varieties of beer and interesting ones too. I should preface this all by saying I have been on antibiotics this week fighting a bronchitis type infection, so unfortunately, my alcohol consumption was greatly impeded this weekend, although that doesn’t mean I could look at all the pretty bottles!

Friday morning we started the day by walking towards the Mannekin Piss and a place that I heard about which great waffles. (New thought in life – only in Belgium does one find true authentic waffles). Lets just say the walk was worth it for the waffles, but not the Mannekin Piss. Seriously, I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s a little boy, perhaps a little more than 2 feet tall, peeing. No great shakes, although there were certainly enough tourists around to make you think other wise. 

More exciting than Mannekin Piss himself are all the chocolate statues made out of him…

Now to say it was cold during our stay in Brussels was an understatement. It was freezing! And there was snow and ice on the ground, making walking treacherous at times. So after our early morning waffles, after which our fingers almost fell off trying to eat them, we went into a cute little cafe to grab some coffee and warm up. 

Perhaps one of the biggest tourist draws is the Grand Place, which unlike Mannekin Piss, is actually a beautiful grand piazza with old buildings gilded in gold. We spent a few minutes ogling the buildings and trying to get some good pictures, but once again, the cold forced us to move on somewhat quickly as standing anywhere for too long was not comfortable. 

Our next stop was the Magritte Museum, dedicated to the works of the surrealist artist Rene Magritte. I really had no knowledge about who or what he did before we got there, but I left feeling a whole lot smarter about surrealist art. I don’t mangle up what he believed in completely, so I highly recommend you take a look at his wiki page and ponder this thought…

This is not a pipe:

Now once again, the lovely thing about having a nice apartment to go back to and not a dingy hostel was that at 4 in the afternoon, feeling exhausted and cold, we decided to head back to the apartment and take some well deserved naps. Of course, we didn’t make it all the way back without a stop at a chocolate shop first though!

After some lovely naps in a gloriously heated apartment, we made our way to dinner at Fin de la Siecle, near Grand Place. Now, I don’t know who here has been to Brussels before, but somehow the streets do not make sense! We were walking down towards the middle of town and then I see on the map that the restaurant is off to the right a bit, so I say, “hey, why don’t we try a new direction and walk right?” 15 minutes later, after stopping to ask for directions, I discovered we had somehow gone in the complete wrong direction even though the map seemed to say otherwise. Being a big fan of maps and having a generally pretty good sense of direction, I was incredibly distressed. All was well though when we finally got to the restaurant and had a delicious and cheap meal. 

We rounded out at the evening at a tourist trap of a bar called Delirium Cafe. They are famous for having over 2000 types of beer. All I honestly took from the place was that it was loud and crowded. Apparently I was the only one who was unimpressed though, as it was  packed with hundreds of people! 

Even in our one day in Brussels, I felt like we accomplished a lot. Although we were in a foreign country from our host home of France, and especially from home home in New York, it was nice to still be able to speak the language. I’m realizing more and more that I have not really done a lot of traveling in countries where I don’t know the language at all. Through my travels in France and Swizerland, French has always gotten me by and in Israel, I can understand and speak enough Hebrew that I don’t feel like a total stranger. As I do more traveling in Europe I guess I’m going to quickly have to accept that it’s going to probably happen more often than not that I’ll stick out like a sore thumb not knowing the language or knowing my bearings. I guess this is just another excuse to learn more languages, although French, Hebrew and Arabic are hard enough as it is now!

In order to not make this the longest post in history and as I’m far to lazy to edit all my photos at once, I shall post about our two days in Bruges later this week.

I leave you with the quote and the realization that I must have been born on a farm because I loved Bruges!

“Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.” -Colin Farrel in In Bruges

The Bastille Eclair

I’m realizing that in my pursuit to eat all the eclairs in Paris, I’m going to have a hard time writing about the shops that they come from because most patisseries here don’t have their own name. They just say Patisserie or Boulangerie out front. I guess I’ll just refer to the area from what it comes unless the store has its own name.

Anyway, this was my first eclair since the best one at Stohrer (actually, it’s not my first since then, but the first one that’s been worth writing about. Even in Paris you can find a really bad eclair). Right around the corner from me on Rue de La Roquette, is a very cute little patisserie that actually has an extensive display of pastries and breads for just being the corner bakery. I call it the Bastille eclair as you are stones throw away from the Bastille roundabout when you walk up to this patisserie.

I’ve had some bread from here before, but never anything else. After buying some produce at the market the other morning, I went inside to grab a croissant for breakfast. Needless to say, I walked out with 2 croissants and an eclair, since it looked so delicious.Since I had yet to have breakfast, I restrained myself and waited until I got home and had my croissant and coffee before I decided to take a bite out of the eclair. To start, it was definitely on the bigger side of eclairs that I have seen, making it all that much more alluring. I have to figure that getting anything this early in the morning means it has to be somewhat fresh, don’t you think? 

Right after my first bite, I knew that this was a decent eclair, but no where near the level of the Sthorer eclair, which all eclairs will now be compared to. While the pastry cream inside was good, although not quite as rich as I would have liked, the choux dough could not hold it’s own. Yes, I agree that the choux dough should be light, but this was just too light and flaky. As I’ve said, I had some bad eclairs here in Paris, so this definitely was not in the bad category, just not in the perfect category. Since this patisserie is just around the corner, I would certainly go back to grab another one, or maybe even try some of the other yummy things they had on display, but for now, I shall continue to sample more eclairs!!!

Long forgotten, but still remembered

I must apologize for my lack of updates in the recent months. I’ve had a few recent bumps in the road in terms of my health that have kept me from updating as often as I would have liked (take a look here for more information on that side of my life – http://abvdinnyc.wordpress.com/) I’ve been baking a bit here and there still, but with summer upon us, I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things baking-wise!

Instead of backtracking to find all the recipes I’ve used in the past month, I thought I’d just share some pictures that I have taken of my creations. We’ve had a few birthdays in the apartment, Passover, and the usual baking adventures. I also hosted a baking birthday party for some 6 and 7 year olds along with my roommate. It was loads of fun and if anyone is interested in having a baking party, let me know!  With school over in just a few days, my time will be opened up once again to try some new things this summer!

Coconut brownies made during a ski vacation in Vermont. 

Chocolate cake with caramel butter cream, chocolate ganache, and salted praline for my grandfathers birthday. 

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for my grandfathers birthday. 

Adventures in juice making with our lovely new juicer. 

Carrot, pineapple, and apple juice made at home. 

Lemon cheesecake cupcakes with glazed blueberry topping for a roomies birthday party. 

The birthday spread. 

The start of the most amazing meal I had while on spring break in France. 

The most perfect steak. 

Leading a six and seven year old baking birthday party. 
A sugar cookie baking adventure at a birthday party. 

February Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Panna Cotta & Florentine Cookies

Pomegranate is my new “it” food. I’ve always loved the bloody red fruit, but within the past year, this love has intensified to an all out infatuation. As expensive as they can be, I try and get my hands on one as often as possible, especially pomegranate juice, which, with a splash of seltzer, is a perfect refreshing drink.

When I saw the challenge for this month, I knew that I was going to be able to sneak my new fruit obsession into this dessert quite perfectly. The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Now I have never made Panna Cotta before, nor can I say I’ve eaten myself many time either. I was excited for a new challenge for something that sounded delicious, moderately easy to make, and would allow me to add some of my own variations on. I made the basic vanilla Panna Cotta recipe, but added a pomegranate jelly over the top with some sprinkled on fresh pomegranate seeds. The result was the perfect mixture of vanilla sweetness with a hint of tangy fruit. I’m now a fan of Panna Cotta, as it’s a fairly easy dessert to make that can be made to seem super fancy when put in little cups and set out on table of desserts.

Florentine cookies are pretty to look at, but in my opinion not that all exciting to eat. They are definitely a hit of sweetness that are complemented well with some drizzled on chocolate, but I can’t say that they really go all that well with the Panna Cotta. In the future, I would stick to making one or the other, but not both at the same time.

If you’d like to make this Panna Cotta, which I really think you should, you can find the recipe for the pomegranate jelly here. Enjoy!

A Day of Love

Valentine’s is right around the corner and in my opinion, the Hallmarkification of this holiday is fine because it just means that I can bake all that much more without any remorse. “It’s Valentine’s Day? Chocolate? No problem!”  It’s great! I’ve also spent many hours making holiday cards and plan on running to Michael’s the moment this holiday is over to stock up on discounted Valentine’s craft things for next year. So whether you’re not a Valentine’s Day fan, or are going to be having an amorous day about town – these recipes are bound to please.

I believe that I have written of the famous Julia Childs mousse in a previous posting. Well, I have made it yet again with this sublime recipe. This mousse is just slightly labor-intensive but so worth it. It comes out the perfect texture: between light & airy and thick & creamy. And after all: isn’t chocolate the ultimate aphrodisiac?

Chocolate Mousse

(Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark-brewed coffee
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbs sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1) Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

2) In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise.(3-4 minutes) Beat in orange liquer.

3) Continue to beat mixture over an ice bath for an additional 3-4 minutes.

4) Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar.

5) In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed.

6) Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

7) Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

8) Enjoy!

But of course, mousse wasn’t enough for this holiday: I also made these sumptuous Red Velvet Cake Balls. After a trek through New York City to find red velvet cake mix on Valentine’s Day (it’s worse than finding a pumpkin on Halloween!), I was able to purchase the last box the store had. The deep, lustrous red of the cake mix was really necessary for these cake balls. The rich and chocolatey texture of the inside (my roommates even referred to them as truffles) with the firm white chocolate outside made for a perfect Valentine’s combo. I even sprinkled some pink luster dust for a festive finishing touch.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

(Adapted from Bakerella)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
  • 1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
  • 1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)

DIRECTIONS:

1) After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

2) Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

3) Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet.

4) Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)

5) Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.  (Or over a double boiler as I did, being careful not to burn the chocolate)

6) Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

7) Enjoy!

January Daring Baker’s Challenge: Biscuit Jaconde

I feel like I keep tacking onto my New Year’s Resolutions, but since it’s still only January – at least for one more day – I think that it’s okay. To add on to more baking, more blog updating, and more bread, I know want to go the whole year and do every single Daring Baker’s Challenge. I can already foresee some problems that I will face as the year wears on, but at least I can say I will try.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. I’m not going to lie, this was one of the more difficult challanges that I have done. I’m not even going to go into what went wrong with my biscuit jaconde, because I myself don’t quite know what was wrong with it, but the truth is that the mousse inside was what made the dish amazing. I made some of Ms. Julia Childs’s classic chocolate mousse that was the perfect accompaniment to the spongy jaconde cake that I tried to make.

As we sat around the table eating the mousse, my roommates pointed out that it was like eating fluffy dough – the denseness of cookie dough with the fluffiness of mouse. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it sounds good! The cake didn’t make it in the fridge for more than a day or two before it was licked clean off the plate. I always have Mastering the Art of French Cooking at the back of my cookbook shelf and never quite take advantage of all the amazing recipes it has to offer.

At the end of the day, I realized that while the jaconde didn’t quite turn out how I wanted it, the whole process, which took more than a few hours, was well worth it as I discovered the most amazing mousse recipe in the entire world. I plan on making the mousse again very soon, sans jaconde, and am hoping that it works out just as well.