Monday, 1 March 2010

Playing with cake.

David Lebovitz writes my favourite food blog of the internet.  There are competitors, it's true, but I love David's style, his pictures, his character and his beautiful recipes.  He's a guy from San Francisco living in Paris, which makes for amusements all by itself.  When I was there the other week I explored a few places more or less entirely on his recommendation.  I was also haunted by the exciting sort of feeling that I might run into the guy - Paris and its food has become so tightly linked to him and his writing in my mind.  (Actually, he was away while I was there, but still...)  He has worked as a professional chef, and now seems to make a living from writing books and blog posts.  When I am busy or on holiday and my feed reader goes berserk and tells me I have 800+ unread items to go through, his posts are some of the few that I make sure I read before hitting the 'mark all as read' button.  [I keep meaning to send him some suet and a proper recipe for mincemeat next Advent, rather than the Delia one he tried which makes no sense. ]

I haven't made a great many of his recipes, it has to be said, mostly because I don't make dessert that often and that is his speciality.  However, when I AM looking for something sweet, it's definitely a go to sort of place.  I trust his recipes to work, unlike quite a lot of the internet.  I recently adapted this recipe to christen my ice cream maker, and it was divine (all I did was switch the milk chocolate for dark and leave out the pepper, nice though it sounded, because I wanted something to go with ginger-chilli caramel sauce and pepper was an unnecessary extra...).  I have plans about using this macaron recipe on the next batch of ice cream's left over egg whites.  Determined to crack macarons.

 One thing I'd had my eye on for ages though was just a simple recipe for chocolate yogurt snack cakes.  That doesn't even link to his site, but to someone else's (also a great blog, by the way, but it doesn't suit me quite the way David's does).  It comes from a book of his which I've just purchased.  I've made them twice now, the first straight up and the second time adding a soft centre.  I found them a little dry, that was the thing.  They're good as a base, and they have a great crumbly texture, but they didn't come out as moist as I want in a muffin - which could well be explained by my use of low fat yoghurt.  I also had two open jars of Nutella (or store own brand variant) in my cupboard, product of living in a house that nobody actually lives in for more than a month or two at a time at the moment.  So...I froze teaspoons full of Nutella on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof the night before I wanted to bake.  I followed the recipe and made the batter.  I half filled the papers, poked in a chocolate-hazelnut ice cube and covered the it over with more batter and baked as directed.

(Was still having camera issues at this point. Not sure why everything I took that day was out of focus...)

They came out brilliantly, particularly when still warm with a spoonful of crème fraîche.  Now I need to find other things I can use to make soft centres for muffins.  I could make an ordinary ganache with chocolate and cream and flavour it all kinds of ways, then freeze and bake like this, but I want to work out a way of doing it with something like lemon curd.  No idea how that might work though - either the freezing or the cooking of lemon curd.  It's sort of a delicate concoction.  But if I could figure that out, there's a whole world of fruit fillings out there, too.  Jam is too sweet I think, at least for me.  Apple puree is pretty easy.  Hmm...

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