May 6, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie – Peanut Butter Torte

Filed under: Cheese, Chocolate, Nuts, TWD — lynettechng @ 10:21 am

PB torte

Another country… and another installment of Tuesdays with Dorie! The big move is a thing of the past, although my baking equipment still sits in 2 big boxes, and standmixer has yet to find a permanent spot on the kitchen counter. The butter is in one fridge with the vanilla, and the chocolate is in another with the eggs. Half the spices are in the cupboard, and the flours are all over. You get my drift…? Not quite so moved in yet.

Even so, that did not stop me from this week’s TwD – a Peanut Butter Torte chosen by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food. I have to admit that I was rather intrigued by the recipe, as it called for almost no baking. Honestly, I think one could have gotten away without baking the Oreo cookie crust, and just stuck with freezing it instead.

I did away with the cream in the Oreos, to try and cut down on unnecessary sugars, and upped ot a touch on the butter to hold the crust together. it worked to a certain extent, but yielded a thicker crust – no complaints there!

The cheese and peanut butter filling was easy enough to make. I’ve never been a huge fan of peanut butter (I know… NUTS, right? Pun fully intended!), and I knew who this dessert was going to go to, so I didn’t hold back on the PB, and chocolate! The salted peanuts made the whole thing a tad too salty, so I would recommend going for standard roasted ones instead.

Overall, I found this dessert much too sweet for me, and all I could manage was two bites and no more. An adjustment to the cheese : PB ratio will definately have to be looked into should this dessert be revisited. No glaze this time, as I wanted to make this a little less unhealthy (it already had oreos, cream cheese and peanut butter!!), but was still well received by the PB lover! I served it with some homemade honeypear vanilla ice cream (this one I LOVED!)

Would I make this again? Maybe. But only on request. Although I think I will experiment baking this instead to make it a little more stable, and not start melting the moment it’s out of the fridge in the Singapore heat! But hey! Don’t let me stop you from trying it yourself…

* * * * *

PB Torte slice + Godiva

Peanut Butter Torte

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)

24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Small pinch of salt

2 ½ c. heavy cream

1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)

2 tablespoons whole milk

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped


Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

PB Torte melting


March 4, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie – Snickery Squares

Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, TWD — lynettechng @ 8:37 pm

It’s been a helluva long week, and I was just dying for something sweet to take the edge off. Something full of chocolate, with a crunch! I knew Dorie’s Snickery Squares would do the trick. Lucky for me, this was the recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, chosen by Erin of Dinner and Desserts. 

Bottom layer of buttery, crumbly shortbread, next filled with home-made dulce de leche and candied peanuts (not a big fan of peanuts, but anything candied can’t be too bad!), then topped by velvety smooth chocolate… ooooohhh!! I was drooling just at the thought of the assembly of the deliriously sweet treat. 

What I did not anticipate, was the amount of work required into each step. Sure, they all looked simple enough reading, but the actual process of getting the individual layers was not something I had put very much thought into. 

The dulce de leche made, all 90 minutes of baking my jar of sweetened condensed milk (great recipe from here, recommended by Madam Chow) consisted of me walking back and forth between my kitchen and loving room. Constantly. I was so worried that it would burn!! I guess that sort of explains my slightly pale dulce de leche. It still tasted sinfully good, though. 

The next ‘nightmare’ was tackling the candied peanuts. Caramelising? Yet another pothole. I really should try to be more optimistic. I read, and reread, and read yet again the whole bit about caramelising sugar. When to throw in the nuts, what to do after… and I’m now extremely pleased to know that it’s not all that scary, after all!  

All in all, it probably wasn’t all that difficult a task to do, but I wanted to have my snickery squares on the Friday night. Remember the exhausting week? Well, I knew I wasn’t going to get a snickery square that night, so I consoled myself by snacking on my freshly ‘baked’ dulce de leche. 

Bad move! I realised that I now did not have enough dulche de leche (can you tell I just love saying that? Dulce de leche) for my recipe!! So it was on with whipping up another batch while I started with the base. 

Everything proceeded swimmingly after that. Cool the base, scatter the nuts, spread the dulce de leche, pour the chocolate… YUM! I just could not wait. So much so, that I took it out of the fridge 10minutes in, and went for a slice! 

It wasn’t pretty. My caramel wasn’t firm yet, and slicing it at this stage made a complete mess. But of my! It tasted divine! Just like a bar of store bought snickers, only better! It tasted like a grown up bar of snickers. 

This is one recipe that will be repeated again and again. Give this Dorie Greenspan recipe a try. I promise it is worth all the effort that goes into it! 

* * * * *

Snickery SquaresFor the Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 TBSP powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

 For the Filling:½ cup sugar
3 TBSP water
1 ½ cups salted peanuts
About 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche

For the Topping:7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
Getting Ready:Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crust:

Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.

Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling:

Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.
Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.

When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.

Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.

To Make the Topping:

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Cut into 16 bars. 

February 21, 2008

Do you really need a Sweetheart?

Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies — lynettechng @ 12:27 am

I had contemplated back-dating this post. Yes, that’s right. Cheating.

Why?, you may ask. Well, simply because I was late in posting for Valentine’s, that’s why. And not wanting to be left out, I contemplated back-dating this post. But while drafting it in my mind, it started to dawn on me that I didn’t have to. Simply because I was going to say that Valentine’s isn’t just for the couples out there.

This year, I don’t have a Honey to snuggle up to… but I do have a few Sweethearts that deserve my attention. To my girls (and a couple of boys) out there, this year’s Valentine’s treats are for you. For always being there, especially through the rough, for putting up with my whinging, my worse than ever bad temper, and most of all, my absence.

So this year, my Valentine’s is proudly late, because my true Valentines won’t mind…

* * * * *

This is Thomas Keller’s TKOs from his book, ‘Essence of Chocolate’… which is nothing more than a grown-up, classy tribute to the humble Oreo.

My filling is brown (as opposed to the white filling the recipe calls for) because I was initially going for the half recipe, but forgot it while heating my cream, and poured it all over my lovely chopped Valrhona milk chocolate which was a half recipe portion (and all I had!). I had to make up for the other half with a 66% Valrona Alpaco so I would not lose the milkiness the filling was meant for (and also that it was a left over packet from the Gateau frm the last TWD!). Waste not, want not…

It was still a perfect blend, so if you’re a true-blue chocoholic, and want to go for a chocolate filling, please don’t let me (or Thomas Keller) stop you.

This dough does not re-roll well. So I would suggest you roll it only once, and try and get as many cookies as you can out of each. Of course, if you do not mind weird-looking cookies, or if you wish to have some samples for ‘quality control’ (one must always set high standards), feel free to re-roll them. They might not look pretty, but rest assured, they still taste absolutely delish!

I urge you to try these… Remember. You don’t need a Sweetheart to make these… use round cookie cutters instead!


1/2 cup cream
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 1/2 ounces butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes

For the filling:
Place the white chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk together to melt the chocolate. If it doesn’t melt completely, place it in a double-boiler to finish the melting process.

Transfer the filling to another bowl and let cool until it has thickened enough to spread – it may take a few hours. I quickened up the process by putting it in the fridge for 20mins (while my cookies were baking), and whisking it to give it a bit of fluff and texture. I found that it set pretty quickly after being in the fridge.

For the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F / Gas 4).

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in an electric mixer. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time. Let the dough continue mixing until it comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured working surface and work into a solid block. Divide the block into two pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, roll out to 1/8″ thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on the baking sheets about 1 inch apart (cookies will spread a bit in the oven).

Bake the cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes depending on your oven (mine only took 11 minutes, so keep watch!), rotating the sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks for a few minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks and let finish cooling.

To assemble the cookies:
Using a small spoon, scoop a small dollop of filling into the center of the underside of each cookie. Top with another cookie right side up. I love mine with tons of icing (it’s top quality valrhona! so sue me.), so I placed dollops on 3 points of the heart, and squished it. YUM!

Press the cookies together until the filling spreads out to the edges.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

February 19, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie – Almost-Fudge Gâteau

Filed under: Chocolate, TWD — lynettechng @ 11:11 pm

It took me quite a while, after looking through so many blogging events online, sifting through the ones that looked too intimidating, I finally found one that fit the bill. It wasn’t a contest (i managed to squell the competitive streak in me), and it would keep me baking. Or rather, encourage me to blog about the lovelies that came out of my oven…

You see, I bake. Quite a fair bit. But what generally happens is that I baked and ate them. End of story. I’ve thought about blogging about them, but that’s where it ended. That’s right, ladies and gents! I am a procrastinating baker! There. I’ve said it. Hello, my name is Lynette, and I’m….

Big thanks to Laurie for coming up with Tuesdays with Dorie! Where a member gets to choose from Baking each week, and everyone does their take on it and posts about it on their blog. This week’s (and my very first go at this) is the Almost-Fudge Gâteau. And might I say, this is one decadent cake, and highly recommended for a special occassion.

Dorie recommends a bittersweet chocolate for this recipe, but looking at the ingredients (very little flour and butter… but 5 eggs!), I figured that this was going to be a pretty dense piece of art, so i opted to go with a 66% Valrhona Alpaco, that has a lovely woody, earthy taste. It was G.O.O.D! It was dense, as expected, and the lighter chocolate worked perfectly. As the name described, it was almost like fudge, with a hint of crumb. Delish!

The cake, overall, was fairly easy to make. although the part where it called for the beating of the egg whites to ‘firm but glossy peaks’ did scare me for a minute. I’ve always had this irrational fear for egg whites, or to be specific, whipping egg whites. You see, there’s always talk about how you have to be careful with whipped egg whites. How they are delicate, and how, when handled wrongly, they could ruin everything!! And I didn’t want that to happen. And it’s this fear that had kept me from attempting to make my favourites like meringues (Dorie has a FAB cocoa almond meringues recipe in Baking, pg 155) and macaroons… I speak in the past tense, but that’s another story for another day.

The gâteau (or iced sponge cake, in French) rose beautifully in the oven. Mind you, the only raising agents in this were the revered egg whites, so this meant that they would make or break this cake. You could probably imagine me pacing back and forth in the kitchen, peering at it through the oven window. And of course my sigh of relief when it did what Dorie said it would, rise on the sides, then puffed in the center. Phew!

The glaze was delicious, and was the perfect balance to the cake. The sprinkles, on hindsight, were a little tacky. But it had been so cold and dreary in Hong Kong for the last couple of days, that I wanted to inject some color into it.

Yellow + Orange = Sun, no? Well.. my bad! *shrugs*

I leave you the recipe, and strongly encourage everyone out there to give this a try… you know you’ll regret it if you don’t!

* * * * *

Almost-Fudge Gâteau

5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:

First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

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