Thursday, October 26, 2006

SHF24 & Happy Birthday Mum!

Chocolate Pistachios petit fours, opera cake style

When I first discovered that Jeanne of Cooksister had put out the call for entries for the 24th edition of Sugar High Friday (SHF24), I panicked! I really wanted to participate but I wasn't sure whether I would be able to find the time for you see, my dear friend Mel's wedding is this weekend (28.10.2006) and I'm in the wedding party.

The last two weeks have come and gone very quickly and with the Hen's Weekend, Kitchen Tea and work etc, I've not had a free weekend since the start of October and wasn't sure if I could find the time to participate. Then I realised, crap, it's me Mum's Birthday on Tuesday, I had better make time! So in the end I decided to kill two birds with one stone and made a teeny version for SHF and a bigger version for mum. :) Brilliant!

Being a big fan of canapes and petit fours, Jeanne declared the theme for SHF24 to be "Little Bites of Delight".

Hurray! I am a sucker for little food things and am more than happy to oblige. I started off wanting to make little white chocolate pistachios cupcakes that I know Mum really liked when I made it for a family dinner back in August. Then when I got sick early this week, I spent some of my recovery time ticking off items in my pantry (in my head) and realised that I didn't have enough rosewater for the recipe. Then I decided that I wanted some butter cream to go with it instead of a white chocolate ganache (which was what I did last time) and I wanted to top them with pistachios and dark chocolate ganache to counter the sweetness of the cake.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I started off making white chocolate pistachios cupcakes and ended up with this, an operaish cake. I am constantly adapting recipes and finding shortcuts to baking, so I guess it came as no surprised to me that I ended up with this cake (and a lot more work than I had intended to begin with).

I made and assembled this cake over three days. Part 1: The pistachio cake layers was made on Tuesday night, Part 2: Assembling the cake (cutting and slathering the butter cream and chocolate) was done on Wednesday night and Part 3: The toppings and cutting the cakes to size was done this (Thursday) morning.

Hurray to me! I made it and posted in time!

Petit fours

Chocolate Pistachios Layered cake (petit fours style)

60g white chocolate chopped roughly
175ml water
45g pistachio nuts
100g butter, softened
220g brown sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
2 tbsp plain flour

Part 1: Cake
Melt white chocolate with water in a small saucepan and set aside. Process pistachio nuts until fine. Beat butter, sugar and eggs in a small bowl with electric mixer until combined. Fold in sifted flours, ground pistachios and warm chocolate into the mix. Divide batter into two portions and pour one portion of batter into a small cookie pan (I used a 33.7cm x 22.5cm and 1cm deep) and smooth into flat layer. Bake in the oven for about 6-8mins. Cool and remove from pan and repeat with remainder portion.

Makes 2 layers

Part 2: Assembling the cake

Butter cream
125g butter, softened
240g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk

Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and beat in sifted icing sugar and milk in two batches.

Makes more than enough cream for this cake.

Chocolate Ganache
120ml cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil and pour over chcolate in a small bowl, stir until smooth. Cover the bowl and stand at room temperature until ganache is spreadable.

Makes enough ganache to cover both cakes and extra.

Caramelised pistachios
1/4 cup caster sugar
2tbsp water
5g butter
1/4 cup pistachios

Roast pistachios at 180 deg C until browned (approx 5mins). Melt sugar and water in a saucepan without stirring and bring it to a boil. When the sugar starts to change in colour add in pistachios and ensure the nuts are well coated. Stir in butter towards the end. Pour onto a foil/non stick baking paper lined plate and separate the nuts.

This recipe makes more than enough for decorations.

Assembling the cake:
To assemble the cake, first divide each layer into four portions. Assemble the cake by sandwiching butter cream and cake. Once you've assembled the cake, spread chocolate ganache onto the cake and smooth the ganache with a palate knife.

*For the petit fours, I only spread the ganache on the top layer of the cake.

Part 3: Cutting and decorating cake to size

This is the part where I stuffed up. I should've done Part 2 and 3 on the same day. But since I didn't, I wasn't able to decorate the cakes properly.

What you should do, is divide the cake into two portions. Decorate Portion 1 with crushed pistachios and set aside. To serve, cut the cake to approximately 1" x 1" squares with a hot knife.

Crushed pistachios topping

Topped w/ crushed pistachio nuts

With portion 2, cut the cake to 1" x 1" with a hot knife and top with a caramalised pistachio.

Caramalised pistachios top

Topped w/ Caramalised Pistachios

The verdict: This cake needs to be served with a warning. It is a great sugar hit and I'm glad I went with the dark chocolate ganache because it definitely helped a lot with moderating the sweetness.

The disaster: You might notice that the dark chocolate ganache has a distinct oily dull shine on it. I'm not sure whether it was the quality of the chocolate (I used 63% couverture) or if the bowl/saucepan wasn't cleaned properly. The ganache ended up being really oily and wouldn't hold together when I was stirring it. It was fine once it had set, but if you look closely, there are blotches of 'oil' residue on the surface. :( Hmm..

The lessons learnt: never do this unless you
have plenty of time to spare and never wait til the ganache has cooled before topping it with crushed nuts. They don't stick very well.. (dohh...!)

Chocolate Pistachios cake - Large version

The larger version I made for my Mum looks more like a large mudcake topped with pistachio nuts. But do not be fooled! Beneath the ganache lays 4 (not so thin) layers of cake sandwiched with butter cream.
Happy Belated Birthday Mum! (and to T and Rox too)

Sugar High Friday is an International Food blogging even created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess.

DMBLGIT #11 Entry - Hosted by Spittoon Extra


Brilynn said...

These are so pretty! I almost ran out of time for this SHF too and ended up making mini cheesecakes, mainly because they weren't hard. I had such bigger plans for it, but no time.

Jeanne said...

Chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, buttercream and pistachios - is this heaven or what? These look and sound absolutely delicious - if I let you know when my birtday is, will you make ME some??! :P Great photos too. Thanks for joining us for SHF#24 :-)

thepassionatecook said...

oh my word... these look so fiddly to make! i feel almost embarassed about my contribution now, which tool less than 30 minutes to put together ;-)

Bron said...

Mmmmm yes please...
My birthday is in August!

Y said...

Wow. A three-day process cake. My hat's off to you :)

Just wondering, if the top of your cake wasn't giving you the shine you wanted, maybe you could have blowtorched (or failing that, use a hair-dryer) the top just before serving it.

Anonymous said...

These look absolutely fabulous! I love the green of the nuts against the dark chocolate. I am getting all giddy!
Grea entry!

eliza said...

wonderful little cakes! i like the combination of pistachios with chocolate. good job!

bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

These are so cute. What a piece of work! Beautifully done. I wish I could taste, just a few ;-)

ilingc said...

Brilynn: Thanks! Your mini cheesecakes looks delicious too! Especially the one with the big chocolate strawberry. :)

Jeanne: Sure I can make you some if you give me plenty of notice :)

Passionate Cook: They were only just a little bit fiddly but oh so yummy :)

Bron: Bookmarked for August :)

Y: Yep, 3 days. :D I really wanted to make Mum a cake because I didn't know what to get her :(

Helene: That was purely accidental. I didn't really consider the colour contrast of the green and dark brown until I saw the final product :D

Eliza: Thanks. The bonus is that the pistachios and dark chocolate combo actually go well together too. :)

Anonymous said...

I love bite sized treats! These look so beautiful and you have put so much effort into them, no doubt your mum would love them.
Did I mention my birthday is in December?

esther valjean said...

Love the bold green and geometric design...oh and they look tasy too :)

ilingc said...

Jen: Thanks, mum did love them though she reckoned it was a bit sweet.
December? That's coming right up!

Esther: Thanks :)