I'm mostly a writer, but sometimes I bake.
And now you no longer have to know me personally to get on the tasting panel. Instead, you can drop by Kafka's Coffee & Tea at
2525 Main Street (Main & Broadway) for something caffeinated and something sweet.
Pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting
Fudgy brownies with crackly tops
What's next? You tell me!
If there's something special you'd like to see at Kafka's Coffee & Tea—
something you've tasted,
something you've heard about,
something you've seen here or elsewhere, or
something straight from your imagination
—leave me a comment below and I'll see what I can do.
The Casual Baker
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I'm mostly a writer, but sometimes I bake.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Sometimes things don't work out the way we planned for good reason. Take that flat of strawberries from a few weeks ago that ended up as pie instead of semifreddo like I intended.
"Now why did I have to go and do that?" I thought to myself. Turns out it was all part of a master plan.
Last week, the temperature spiked as Vancouver welcomed its first heat wave of the season. A blistering walk up and down the sunny side of Main Street to the Wednesday afternoon market yielded two large cartons of ruby red strawberries. It was a misshapen, end-of-season bunch for sure, but no less tasty than prettier predecessors. No matter anyway, because these berries were going places.
Namely the pot (for a little cooking), then the counter (for a little cooling) while I set to work on the stovetop custard. A few folds with a spatula and a little (or a lot) of whipped cream later, we were well on our way to semifreddo. There was, of course, that pesky overnight wait, but all was forgiven with our first frosty bite on Thursday evening.
For the encore performance with friends, on Sunday, I topped each slice with a scoop of fresh berries. I'd encourage you to skip to the end and start right there.
Recipe and source: Just like they do it over at Fine Cooking.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Divinity candy is an American creation that appeared on the scene right around the same time as corn syrup, in the early 20th century. No surprise there, since the relatively flavourless syrup is a key ingredient in the confection. In fact, early Karo cooking brochures apparently featured a divinity recipe, and the current Karo website does too.
Corn syrup has been a pariah of the food world these past few years. For a straightforward discussion on when you might want/need to use corn syrup as well as David Lebovitz's personal philosophy on the issue (which I share), check out his 2009 post titled Why and When to Use (or Not Use) Corn Syrup. Obviously 1/2 cup of corn syrup is hardly a judicious quantity, but I don't see myself making chocolate divinity candy a habit. So what the heck.
After the fact, I learned that divinity candy can be a bit fickle when it comes to setting. Mine seemed to hold its shape just fine, although it remained quite soft (think Three Musketeers). Having nothing to compare it to, I declare my version a victory.
Chocolate Divinity Candy
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Line a cookie sheet with lightly greased parchment paper. Set aside.
Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup. Boil over high heat, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 255 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the sugar mixture is boiling, whip the egg whites and salt in a large heatproof bowl until foamy.
When the sugar mixture reaches temperature, carefully pour it into the egg whites in a steady stream while beating on medium-high speed. (It's best to pour the hot liquid down the side of the bowl so that it doesn't splash up.)
Once all the liquid has been added, beat on high speed until glossy, thick and cool (about 7 minutes). Beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
Use a pastry bag with an extra wide tip, or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped, to pipe small peaks onto the prepared cookie sheet. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours before packing the divinity candy away in an airtight container.
Candy will keep for up to one week at room temperature.
Source: Food & Drink, Holiday 2009, p. 110.