The Daring Bakers

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Baked Alaska has a reputation of being difficult to pull off.  Well, after making this one, I can tell you that’s not true.  The key is not to be in a hurry, and to allow the ice cream and base (typically a sponge cake) to refreeze after layering the two.

This is a very fancy looking dessert, sure to impress anyone who gets a slice put in front of them.  If you want to be super-impressive, make a flambe Alaska, by dark rum over the meringue after torching, and light the rum on fire. [continued after the jump...]

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Swiss roll ice cream cake

Swiss roll ice cream cake

After a hiatus from taking part in the Daring Bakers challenges, I was able to complete the July challenge.

It was also a good excuse to break out the ice cream maker, so it was a win-win situation.

Think of this cake as a thin chocolate & whipped cream cake, with ice cream, fudge sauce, and more ice cream inside.  Yeah, it tasted as good as it sounds.

I would make this again, but next time I think I’d just buy the ice cream and fudge sauce.  While homemade ice cream definitely tastes better than store-bought, for the filling of a cake, store-bought would be good enough.  Not to mention cut down the time to make it to a few hours.

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February’s Daring Bakers challenge was making tiramisu , one of my favorite desserts to make (and eat of course). Big change from my past experiences with making tiramisu was that the mascarpone cheese and savoiardi ladyfingers were made from scratch! [side note: I was very pleased to see that savoiardi ladyfingers could be made, as I can't seem to find any locally that aren't priced into the atmosphere...]

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.
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The Daring Kitchen is a group of people from all over the world that bake/cook something new (that month’s “challenge”) in the kitchen. Part of the reason I started this blog was to force myself outside of my culinary comfort zone, so this was right up my alley. I joined as a Daring Baker (you can also join as a Daring Cook).

According to Wikipeida, Nanaimo Bars are “…a dessert of Canadian origin popular across North America. A type of chocolate no-bake square, it is named after the West-Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.”  I had never heard of them, but I think I’ve seen them before in bakeries, I just haven’t paid much attention to them.  I will now though, as these are pretty tasty.

The challenge was actual two baked items: the above mentioned Nanaimo Bars, and graham crackers/wafers.  See my post/recipe here for the homemade graham crackers.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
1 1/4 cups (5.6oz) graham cracker crumbs (from this recipe, or store-bought)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup (1.8oz) sugar
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup (1.9oz) almonds, finely chopped
1 cup (4.5oz) sweetened flaked coconut (you can use unsweetened also)

Middle Layer
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp heavy cream
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (8.9oz) powdered sugar

Top Layer
4oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp butter

Bottom Layer: Line an 8×8″ pan with foil made into a criss-cross pattern.  Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler.  Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into the foil lined pan (no need to grease the pan).

Middle Layer: Cream butter, then add cream, custard powder, and icing sugar beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.  Place in the fridge while making the top layer.

Top Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat.  Cool.  Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

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homemade graham crackers

homemade graham crackers

I made these as part of the January 2010 Daring Bakers challenge (they went into the Nanaimo bars).

The graham crackers were used in the making of the Nanaimo Bars, and until I made them, I never even gave a thought to making graham crackers, or even that you would/could do it.

An optional part of The Daring Baker’s challenge was to make these gluten-free, but I stuck with the ingredients (wheat flour) I had on hand.  Taste-wise, they are the same.
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