Archive for August, 2011


Chocolate-Almond Cake


Recipe:

¼ c. cocoa
6 oz. almonds, toasted
1  ½ c. sugar
8 oz. El Rey Bucare 58.5% or Mijao 61% chocolate
12 Tbls. butter (or 6 oz.)
6 eggs, separated
lc. all purpose flour, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
• Melt the chocolate.
• Grind the almonds and ½ c. sugar in a food processor. Add the cocoa.
• Cream the butter and ½ c. sugar. Then, add the egg yolks, one at a time, scrapping the sides of the mixing bowl.
• Combine the egg mixture, the chocolate, and the ground almonds. Mix together (mixture will be dry and crumbly).
• Whip egg whites to stiff peak, gradually adding remaining ½ c. sugar.
• Mix 1/3 egg whites into chocolate mixture (to aerate the chocolate mixture). Then, fold in the remaining egg whites.
• Pour into a 10” spring form pan that has been sprayed with baker’s spray and lined at the bottom with parchment paper.
• Bake @ 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn down the oven to 325 degrees and continue baking another 30 to 40 minutes or until done. The cake will rise and be firm in the center when ready.
• Allow cake to cool completely.
• Using a cake knife, trim the top of the cake until it is level. Remove the entire top layer as it tends to be fragile and crusty.
• Brush away the crumbs.

Variations:
• This cake can be prepared using pecans or hazelnuts.
• This cake also tastes wonderful served warm with some powdered sugar on top. If you opt to serve the cake this way, do not trim the top.

Ganache

8 oz. El Rey Apamate 73.5% chocolate
l c. heavy cream
2 oz. almonds, toasted and ground

• Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
• Heat heavy cream to the boiling point.
• Add heavy cream to the chocolate and whisk together.
• To finish, place the cake on a 10” cake circle or on the inverted spring form base.
• Place a cooling rack atop a clean sheetpan. Put the cake on the cooling rack.
• Pour the ganache over the cake, covering as much as possible. Use an offset spatula to scrape off the excess ganache and level the top of the cake.
• Allow the ganache to harden somewhat, then press the ground nuts onto the sides of the cake.
• Refrigerate.

Note: if you would like to transfer the cake to a nice serving platter, partially freezing the cake will make it much easier to move.

Raspberry Cream

2c. heavy cream
1/3 c. sugar
20 raspberries
½  tsp. vanilla

• Puree the raspberries
• Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff
• Add the raspberry puree. Whisk together until combined.

Note: When whipping heavy cream, be careful not to over-whip it. The cream must be
stiff enough to pipe from a pastry bag. Over- whipping the cream will make it grainy
and cause it to separate.

Chocolate Garnish

8 oz. El Rey Apamate 73.5% chocolate

• Temper the chocolate by melting and heating in a double boiler to 86 degrees.
• Using an offset spatula spread the chocolate on a sheet of parchment paper. Be sure to spread an area larger than the base of the spring form pan.
• When the chocolate has begun to set up (it will no longer have the very shiny appearance it had when melted), lay the base of the spring form pan over it and cut out a circle.
• Cut the circle into 8, 12, or 16 pieces — however many slices you want to cut your cake. By this time, the chocolate will probably have set up. Dip your knife in hot water, and then dry it. The warmth of the knife will allow you to continue cutting the chocolate.
• As long as it is stored in a cool place — not the refrigerator — the chocolate garnish can be prepared well in advance.
• Just before putting the chocolate garnish on the cake, sift powdered sugar over the top.

Vanilla Sauce

2 c. half and half
½ vanilla bean, scraped
6 egg yolks
½ c. sugar

• Whisk together sugar and egg yolks.
• Scrape the vanilla bean into the half and half
• Bring the half and half to a boil.
• Just before the boiling point, pour half of the liquid into the egg mixture and whisk together. (This will temper the eggs.)
• When the half and half boils, add the egg mixture to the boiling liquid and turn down heat to medium.
• Stir the sauce while it is cooking.
• Cook the sauce until it thickens and coats the back of the wooden spoon.
• Strain the sauce, pouring it into a clean container.
• Cool the sauce in an ice-water bath, stirring occasionally as it cools.

Note: If you overcook the sauce, it will separate. If this happens, blend it immediately using a hand-held blender. Usually, this will save the sauce.

Cacao Harvest

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The First operation carried out by chocolate makers is cleaning the beans, that is assuring that all extraneous material is separated from the bean: dirt, stones, etc. The beans are then roasted at anywhere between 100 to 150 degrees centigrade for between 20 and 40 minutes depending on the quality of the beans and the desired aroma of the final product. Once roasted the shell becomes very brittle and is separated from the bean (nib) by way of vibration. The separation of the shell from the bean or nib is called winnowing or shelling.

Nibs of different origins are then blended in accordance to the recipe for the desired chocolate to be processed. These are then ground in high speed mills at high temperature (50 to 70 degrees centigrade / 120 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit). The nibs are thus transformed into a viscous paste or mass called Cacao Liquor and the manufacture of chocolate begins.

Part of the production of Liquor is pressed in order to extract cacao butter, an essential ingredient in the making of chocolate, and reserved.

The process begins by mixing the ingredients for the desired chocolate, that is cacao liquor, sugar, vanilla, part of the cacao butter (and milk of the final product is milk chocolate). This mass is then passed through roller mills and refined to reduce the particle size to less than 22 microns.

The next phase is called conching. This stage was invented by a Swiss named Rudolph Lindt, which eliminates the last traces of moisture and acids natural to cacao, and brings out the taste, texture and aroma of the chocolate as well as the final smoothness. The mass is placed into conches where it is slowly kneaded and smoothed. It is at this stage where the remainder of cacao butter is added to the mass, which gives the final product the proper texture and shine.

Once the chocolate has reached the desired texture it is pumped into holding tanks in preparation for the final stages of production. The final stage begins by tempering the chocolate. This is done by briskly reducing the temperature of the chocolate that has been in holding tanks from around 40 degrees centigrade to about 28 degrees. The temperature is then gently raised to around 32 degrees depending on the contents of the mass. This procedure initiates the crystallization or hardening of the chocolate. Proper tempering is very important because this will ensure the final color, shine and stability of the final product.

It is at this stage, when the chocolate begins crystallizing that it is poured into moulds. The mould are vibrated to extract any air bubbles that may have formed and then enter a refrigerated tunnel where the chocolate is solidified. The very last stage involves unmolding and wrapping the chocolate.

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