Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mmmmm...cookie. Shiba approved (not tested).

No Shibas consumed any chocolate in the making of this post! Only some intent sniffing.
Long weekend = extra time to bake = blog-stravaganza! :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

First Memories

As a child, I loved to read. When my family made trips to the mall, they would leave me unattended in the bookstore for hours while they did their shopping. I'd bury my head in the tales of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, Nancy Drew, Anastasia, and Tintin. But these days the books I read are more of the culinary variety or...also whatever catches my eye. One of the very first recipes I ever made (with the assistance of the Mothership) was Pee Wee cookies - a recipe from the Pee Wee Scouts series (a literary equivalent to the Girl Scouts if you will). For a long, long time, it was the only recipe my family ever made. Part of it had to do with the fact that the Mothership really liked these cookies and another part of it was that it was really one of the only cookie recipes we had in hand. And that it's darned easy to make.

In honour of Mother's Day, I whipped up a batch of Pee Wee cookies for the Mothership and presented it to her, along with a Sudoku book and some Belcolade chocolates.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Very Non-Royal Cake

I'll be honest - when the "official" wedding photos were released by The British Monarchy Flickr site, I gasped with excitement when I finally laid my eyes on...the McVities Chocolate Biscuit Cake. Yes, I loved the pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge's dress, but I am a cake nerd at heart, and I was anxiously waiting to hear and see more about this Chocolate Biscuit Cake.

My Royal Knockoff

Prince William/Duke of Cambridge specifically requested this as his groom's cake - which is really an excuse to have two cakes at your wedding! I don't blame him at all, when the "official" cake was a fruitcake monstrosity (tasty, I'm sure, but not what I would've liked at my wedding) - so why not have something a bit more decadent to nibble on? Immediately I set about trying to replicate this cake - and when I found some recipes, I was surprised and a bit disappointed that it was not more...complex. Yet I give him kudos for picking a cake that is a favourite of his and not at all traditional 'elegant' choice. The North American version would be an icebox cake - cookies layered with icing and then chilled, both to solidify the sugary mass but to soften up the cookies as to give a more cake-like texture. When I was explaining the process to my coworkers, I describe the cake as being "a chocolate brick" - and indeed it was, a heavy, dense, and rich chocolate treat.

Basically - the recipe is to prepare a chocolate ganache and then pour it over crumbled up cookies and then press it into a mold. Chill overnight and then cover with chocolate. Seriously - that's it! No baking required. Heck, only one bowl required really. The recipe for the ganache differs from source to source, but basically it is chocolate + cream + extra additives (incl butter, honey, coffee, liqueur, eggs, vanilla).
All the ingredients you need!
1 pkg McVities Rich Tea cookies

A whole lotta chocolate

The occasion for me replicating the cake was for the birthday of a coworker, and I knew he would appreciate the special history of this cake. I amped it up of course - I couldn't bear to serve such a simple cake, so I added a layer of berry jam and Grand Marnier under the chocolate coating and then dotted it with white icing. I think an added twist would be to do a more whipped ganache frosting and add toasted slivered almonds on the sides. In the 'official' McVities video, the batter is MUCH more whipped and soft looking. My theory is that they might have done a 40/60 split on crumbs and bigger cookie pieces (vs 100% big cookie pieces) and perhaps folded in some whipped cream, or beat the ganache for a lighter texture (think mousse-like).
The brick goes into the pan