Monday, March 28, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Rainbow!

We've already done Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple...

So today's muffin tin meal is sort of a summary - I let The Muffin pick her favourite bit from each tin (within reason!) and put them together with a couple of extra treats, to make Muffin Tin Monday - RAINBOW!

Clockwise from Top Left: Red sausages with red tomato sauce; Orange carrot birdies; Yellow pineapple (with yellow giraffe pick); Green pear; Blueberry jam on pancake letters spelling the word "Blue"; Purple cherry icypole.

In the middle: Fairy bread heart with rainbow sprinkles; Rainbow colour M&Ms.

The After Shot:

Unsurprisingly, the fairy bread went first. The Muffin really enjoyed this tin - she loved all the different colours, and seemed generally quite excited about the whole thing... Success!

Next week we will start doing different themes again - I for one am quite glad to be leaving the Colours series behind, as I'm looking forward to a few other themes I've been planning!

To see what other mums did this week, go to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Foray Into The Black Forest...

It's one of those things that are done badly sooooo often. And I don't pretend to know what I'm doing either - I've never made one, simply because frankly I'm not all that keen. Granted I've never eaten one in Germany, and I've probably never eaten a good one, but the ones I have had (ie commercially made in Australian bakeries) taste, in my opinion, mostly like cream. And I actually hate cake with lots of cream layers.

But here's the thing: my mother loves Black Forest Cake. So when I saw Gary Mehigan make his interpretation of a Black Forest Cake on Masterchef last year, I knew exactly what I was going to make for mum's birthday.

Firstly, I would like to say right now that I have no intention of entering the fiery online argument that ensued after this episode - ie. Is This Cake Really A Black Forest Cake? My answer to this is: I don't care. Like I said, I'm not big on what I have previously experienced as Black Forest Cake. But this thing looked all kinds of awesome. Four kinds of cherry action (real ones, not glace or tinned - I put maraschino cherries on the top of mine purely because I couldn't get fresh ones out of season. I used real frozen ones for everything else). A lot of chocolate (which can't possibly be a bad thing, right?). Mascarpone cheese (no, not a German ingredient, but again - who cares).

Anyway. I got a bit snap-happy making this cake, so if you want the actual recipe, go to the Masterchef site. But if you just want some idea of what a palaver it is to make, and a bit of food porn, keep scrolling...

I didn't actually take any photos of the actual sponge being made. Oversight. Sorry. But I'm sure we've all seen sponge cake before, right?

Hazelnuts coated in cooked sugar, otherwise known as the beginning of the hazelnut praline:

Hazelnut praline begins to be chopped in the processor:

Hazelnut praline ready to use:

Hazelnut praline, plus a bit of egg custard business, plus this....

...equals this:
...possibly. Actually I'm not at all confident that I got this element 100% right. My custard had juuuust started to split, and I decided to go with it anyway. So it looked kind of funny, but I have to say it tasted fantastic. Really.

Cherry compote just in the pan:

Cherry compote about five minutes in:

Once the cherry compote is all boiled down and reduced, it gets separated into two elements: the cooked cherries, and, with a little extra work, the cherry syrup:

Which looks unassuming, but is awesome. The flavour punch is incredible.

So, onto the mascarpone cream - ie. mascarpone cheese, icing sugar & vanilla:

Mixed into deliciousness (which I may or may not have eaten several spoonsful of on its own):

And once all the (seven!) components are sorted, the layers of chocolate sponge, cherry syrup, chocolate hazelnut praline mousse, mascarpone cream, and cherry compote are stacked up:

The last layer is covered in a poured ganache, before being transferred to the top of the cake:

And finally, the cake is topped with the candied cherries that I also didn't take photos of the making of, chocolate curls, and fresh (or in my case, maraschino) cherries:

And with any luck, it makes it to the picnic in one piece! (Yes, insanity, I know. But I had my heart set on doing it, and when mum said "picnic", I thought "hmmm. Sure, no problem...")

So, The Big Question: Is It Worth It?

In a word, no. Probably not. Don't get me wrong - this cake is good. It's really good. It is also incredibly rich - almost (I hesitate to say it) almost too rich. For me. Which has to be some kind of record. However, everyone who tasted it liked it, and my daughter says it is her favourite chocolate cake ever. But it is an awful lot of work, and there are other cakes that I like just as much or more, that are a lot less of a palaver. So no, I probably won't make it again.
What I will make again is several of its elements, on their own. The chocolate hazelnut praline mousse would make a fantastic filling for a chocolate cupcake, and I can see myself using the cherry compote and the cherry syrup for a lot of things. To me, the cherries were a little lost in this cake - you could taste them, but really they deserved centre stage. I intend to give it to them someday.
So what do you think? Have you tried this cake (or something similar) out? Would you bother again?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Purple

Phew! To be honest I'm getting a bit sick of The Colours of The Rainbow... The Muffin isn't though, and this is The Moment She Has Been Waiting For - her favourite colour is purple, and she has had the dessert section of this tin planned for weeks. Anyway, this is the last all-one-colour tin we will be doing for a while, so get ready for something a lot more colourful next week!
So here is yesterday's Muffin Tin Monday after-kindy snack:
Top Row: Frozen blackberries; Purple grapes; Blueberry & yoghurt homemade icypole.

Bottom Row: Carrot sticks (purple carrots grown in our garden); Roasted beetroot & yoghurt dip; Currants (which I explained used to be purple when they were grapes. She has been told this before, but had obviously forgotten, as she was fascinated).

The After Shot:

We Were Clearly Not In The Mood For Carrots Today. She did actually carry on about how yummy they were with the dip when she bit into the first one, but then only ended up eating two. Go figure. Incidentally, I made more dip than this, and found out last night that it works really well as pasta sauce with a bit of prosciutto, spinach, mushroom & feta cheese - yuuuuum...

To see what other mums did this week, click on over to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog - but come back here in a few days time - there will be cake!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Blue

Colours of the Rainbow series continues. THERE ARE NO BLUE FOODS - AAAURGH!!! (well, except blueberries...)

So this time we have a treat-heavy snack tin - hey, it doesn't hurt once in a while, I guess...

Top Row: Thinking laterally: not coloured blue, but pancake letters spelling the word blue - sandwiched together with 100%-fruit-no-added-sugar apricot jam.

Bottom Row: Yoghurt with blue sanding sugar; jelly made with grape juice, lime juice, a little blue food colouring, and one of those "create your own flavour" packs of jelly crystals; Frozen blueberries.

The Muffin didn't really like the jelly much - she only ate about a third of it. I asked if it was the flavour (which incidentally I thought was yummy), or if she just wasn't keen on any jelly. She said she just wasn't keen on any jelly. (seriously, what child doesn't like jelly???) (by the way, note to American readers: when I say "jelly", I mean what you would probably call "jello") :o)

To see what (no doubt much healthier) tins other mums did this week, go check out The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday - Green

It's Muffin Tin Monday once again, and we are now up to Green in our Colours Of The Rainbow series.

This tin turned out a little differently than I had planned it. I was going to have spinach leaves in it, and also a caterpillar made out of peas. But we went fossicking at the local markets for green fruit/veg elements, and found three green fruits. And then I wondered what sort of more substantial element (carbs?) I could give her that was green, and decided on green pancakes (frozen spinach blended into the pancake batter - The Muffin loves this, and it's a great way to make pancakes healthy). So here's what we ended up with, and it's all very light green and anaemic-looking, but it did actually look tastier in real life, I promise...

Top Row: Pear; Grapes; Kelsey plum.
Bottom Row: Green pancakes; Green jellybeans from her party-bag stash; Green pancakes. She also had some lime marmalade (not pictured) for her pancakes, to match the green theme.
The After Shot:
The Muffin did not want to even try the Kelsey plums. I insisted she taste one, so she did, and said she didn't like it. Fair enough. The pears were apparently "too crunchy". She ate two pieces, and then ate four more pieces that I had fried up in the pan with some butter (for Husband and I to have on our pancakes).
To see what other mums did this week, go here: The Muffin Tin Mom.

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