(Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.)

This month was a dessert I’d never heard of before – San Rival.  It’s Filipino – layers of meringue with nuts, separated with layers of buttercream.  I did both the meringues and buttercream in chocolate. 

The base started with 10 egg whites. They got beaten with a cup of sugar and a bit of cocoa.  Once they get to stiff peaks, a cup of finely chopped nuts gets folded in.  The recipe calls for cashews, but I had walnuts, so I used those.

The layers get baked in cake pans.  The recipe was written for one large "cake", but I thought they’d be cute as mini desserts. So I baked them in layers:

IMG_6011 IMG_6013

Then took a biscuit cutter and cut out small circles of each layer.  Other people said their layers came out too crunchy for cutting, but mine were only very crunchy around the edges.  I could have baked them longer, but I liked the texture as they were.

On to the buttercream.  I’ve made buttercream a lot, and so I knew what to expect.  I beat the eggs, cooked the sugar, poured it in slowly, let it cool, and added the butter.  I don’t even get nervous anymore when it looks just about to break – I just let it settle.

 IMG_6014

I had fresh eggs, which had very yellow yolks, so my buttercream came out pretty cream-colored.  At the very end, I added 2 ounces of melted and cooled chocolate.

Then the assembly. I stacked the meringues, piped the buttercream on them, and sprinkled walnuts on top:

IMG_6016

A whole plate:

IMG_6017

They came out really good. I like this buttercream recipe better then my current one – it’s much lighter.  Vanilla meringues with the chocolate filling would look impressive, too.  This one is going into my rotation for guest nights!

( see the recipe )

(The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!)

I was wary of another yeast bread challenge.  The last one didn’t turn out particularly well, but I figured I’d give this a shot. 

Povitica is a yeast bread with a nut filling.  It gets rolled out very thin, the topping goes on top, then it’s rolled up like a jelly roll and folder into a pan for baking.  This recipe makes 4 loves – that’s a lot of nut bread.

The dough gets mixed up and kneaded:

Povitca

Then split into 4 portions to rise. 

Povitca

After an hour and a half of rising, it gets rolled out.  The instructions said "thin enough to read through".  I got pretty close to that.  Having the marble rolling pin really helps – without it, my back would have been killing me by the second loaf.

 Povitca

The filling goes on top:

 Povitca

Then it gets rolled up and goes into pans.  I don’t own four bread pans, so I made do with my clay cooker and some CorningWare:

 Povitca Povitca Povitca Povitca

Then 45 minutes of baking.  I should have been a bit more gentle – in some of the pans, the bread split open.

 Povitca Povitca Povitca

After half an hour of cooling, I had bread:

Povitca

It was really good.  I did three loaves with walnuts, and one with pecans and chocolate.  I haven’t cut into that one yet, but the walnut loaves were great.  We took two loaves to work, and they pretty much disappeared. I’d make it again – only next time, not 4 loaves at a time!

( see the recipe )

After the maple mousse, I was in the mood to make another kind of mousse.  I’ve been looking at this peanut butter mousse recipe for a while, and I was invited to a brunch. 

I liked the idea of the edible cups, so I started with those. I had small plastic molds that I use for peanut butter cups, so I painted the inside of the molds with a thin layer of chocolate, and put them in the fridge to harden.  The first batch had to be re-melted, after they stuck to the just-out-of-the-dishwasher Pyrex bowl.  For the next batch, I pre-chilled the bowl, and lined it with Saran Wrap just in case, and they were fine.

Once the shells were done, I made the mousse.  It’s very simple – beat 2/3rds of a cup of whipping cream until it makes soft peaks.  Then beat a cup of peanut butter and 8 ounces of softened cream cheese until smooth.  Sift in a cut of powdered sugar, add a teaspoon of vanilla, and beat until smooth.  Then fold into the whipped cream carefully.

I chilled it for a few hours, then piped it into the cups.  I wanted to use a star tip, but I forgot that mine had had an unfortunate encounter with the garbage disposal a few months ago, so I settled for a plain tip.  They would have been prettier with the star, but…

Peanut Butter Mousse

They were perfect.  The mousse was very, very rich, and would have been too much in a bigger serving.  These were just one bite – the perfect mix of peanut butter and chocolate.

( see the recipe )

 

(The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.)

Another month of yeast!  I’m getting pretty good with yeast breads now.  It’s been quite a while since I had one flop, so I make them more often, and practice makes me better.  It’s a delicious cycle.

This was a basic sweet dough – mix the dry ingredients, then melt a stick of butter in warm milk, add it to the dry ingredients, add some eggs, mix, and knead.  The recipe called for 10 minutes of kneading by hand, but I just used my stand mixer.

I found these great containers for letting bread rise:  6-Quart Round Food-Storage Container with Lid.  They come in a pack of two – I gave one to my sister for Christmas with a no-knead bread book, and kept the other. The marks on the side make it easy to tell when dough has doubled.  It went from this:

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

To this, in just over an hour:

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

I didn’t take any meringue pictures, but it was just a very basic meringue – beat (room-temperature) eggs until foamy, then slowly add sugar and beat until shiny, stiff peaks.  The dough is supposed to be rolled out into a rectangle, but I always fail at this, because my doughs never want to roll into rectangles.  Vaguely rectangular blobs, yes, but never rectangles.  I want my superpower to be the ability to point at a blob of dough and say “You!  20×10 rectangle!  Now!” and just have it happen.

Once I got the dough as rectangular as it was going to be, I spread the meringue on top.   There wasn’t enough to spread it very thick – it mostly just acted as glue to hold the rest of the filling.

This was the rest of the filling – a cup of pecans and a cup of good chocolate chips:

 Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Yes, I was short some pecans and made up for it with some extra chocolate.

The dough gets rolled up, jelly-roll style, and formed into a round.  Mine isn’t even because my dough wasn’t perfectly rectangular, so I had more in the middle then I did on the ends.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Let it rise for another hour.  I left it on the counter and went out to dinner.  When it’s done, brush with an egg wash and, bake at 350 for half an hour.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Let cool.  Slice and eat, preferably with coffee.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

It was good.  I didn’t think the meringue added much, but I loved the chocolate and the nuts.  It had just the right sweetness to go with coffee.  I’d probably make it again, maybe with a cinnamon filling and some cinnamon chips instead of the chocolate.

Overall, a fun recipe!  I look forward to next month.

( see the recipe )

For some reason, I seem to have an excessive amount of Nutella in my life.  There’s the big batch of homemade nutella in the fridge.  Then, we went to TechMunch a few weeks ago, where we each got a jar of the organic Whole Foods version in our goody bags.

And there is only so much toast one household can eat.  So I went out looking for recipes, and I found this one.  It’s a cake mix on the bottom, with a nutella cheesecake on the top.  I don’t usually buy cake mixes, and I was tempted to replace it with some sort of homemade cake, but I figured I’d make this once the way it was written.  I’m glad I did, because the cake mix doesn’t really mix up to be a cake – it’s just got barely enough liquid to come together.  If you don’t want to use a cake mix, I’d recommend a chocolate shortbread crust – there’s a good one at The Hungry Mouse.

The recipe calls for one egg and a stick of melted butter, mixed with one devil’s food cake mix.  It took a lot of mixing to get it to come together, and it ended up much like a shortbread dough.  Pat it into a (well-greased!) 13×9:

Nutella Brownies

The cheesecake topping is easy – just mix a cup of Nutella and a block of cream cheese until they’re creamy and completely combined.  Add some eggs, vanilla, another stick of melted butter, and powdered sugar.  The recipe calls for 16 ounces, and you should weigh it.  If you don’t have a scale, you can just buy a 16-ounce package at the store and use the whole thing. Be careful to add the sugar slowly, or it will end up all over your kitchen!

You’ll end up with a nice, thick cheesecake batter.  Mine’s got texture because my nutella had texture – if you use the store-bought version, it will come out smooth.  Yes, that is powdered sugar all over my kitchen, why do you ask?

Nutella Brownies

Pour the cheesecake over the crust, and bake for 45 minutes or so.  This is what you’ll end up with:

Nutella Brownies

They’re really good.  The crust is firm enough to give them structural stability, but the top is creamy and cheese-cake-y.

For an interesting variation, you could use plain, smooth peanut butter as a replacement for the nutella.  You’d get a peanut butter cheesecake over a chocolate crust.  You could make it in tiny tart pans, too, but you’d have to cut the cooking time significantly.

I’d make them again!

( see the recipe )