Friday, September 27, 2013

Daring Bakers: Tres Leches Cake

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

Tres Leches cake is something I have had many times, usually at a fancy restaurant, but I have never seen one that looks as incredible as Inma's version.  Any time I have had it, it is a fairly plain affair (not that it is not good plain), but Inma version adds fruit and hers was beautifully decorated.

Inma had a chocolate coconut version of this recipe which sounded incredible, unfortunately I am the only coconut lover in the family so I decided to go for the standard version.  The cake is very easy to make.  The cake is a standard sponge cake, which I sometimes have a little trouble with, but this one came together perfectly.  The tres leche ( or three milk ) sauce was just as easy.  You wouldn't think canned milk could taste so good but combined with a little cream it made a very tasty sauce for the cake.

I have never tres leche with fruit but thought it might go nice with some mango, and I was right.  The cake was really good - as good as any I have had in a restaurant.  I like the cake plain but the mango was a wonderful addition.  The whole family loved the cake as you can see from the picture below :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Daring Cooks: Gnocchi

Wow - this is exciting.  This months Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by ME!  I think a lot of people that host a challenge try to pick some kind of specialty, or a dish that they have a special version of, or at least something connected with their ethnic heritage or something.  Well not me.  I like gnocchi but I haven't actually eaten it too much and I have never made it in my life.

I chose to do a potato gnocchi as the challenge and I started with a lot of research.  Gnocchi is a very simple thing usually having only a few ingredients.  It turns out there are many theories on what makes gnocchi good or bad.  You want your potatoes dry - some people say to bake them - others say boiling is ok - and another theory even said to use old shriveled potatoes (I didn't try that last idea).  Some recipes say to use an egg to hold it together and others say the egg will make it heavy.

Well I kind of chose to focus on the recipes in this NY Time article by Mark Bittman with Mario Batali.  Even the article can not agree because in the video Mario uses an egg and he boils the potatoes, but then the recipe bakes the potatoes and does not use an egg.  I can't really tell you which way is best since I made all of mine with the egg and boiling the potato (if it is good enough for Mario - it is good enough for me).  I can tell you that I definitely don't think the egg made it too heavy.

I ended up making several different kinds of gnocchi.  The first I made was a very traditional gnocchi with a Brown butter sage sauce.  This was good but not my favorite, did like the crispy sage though.  I also had definitely not perfected the gnocchi yet and it was almost too tender and started to fall apart in the water while cooking.

The second gnocchi was the gnocchi with butternut squash that Mario makes in the video.  This was probably my favorite of the sauces I made.  Delicious sauce and loved the fried squash.  I still had a little trouble with the gnocchi falling apart to I needed to get to the bottom of that.

Well for my last gnocchi I made a spinach gnocchi and just topped it with a little olive oil and Parmesan cheese.  I think in my first two tries I was way to scared of adding too much flour since everything said too much flour would make them tough.  Well for this version I added a bit more (the recipe did say it would need more because of the moisture of
the spinach) - my test batch was still falling apart more than I would like so I added more flour and that was it - they came out perfect.  They looked great and didn't fall apart at all.  They were also not tough at all either.  They were probably still more tender than any restaurant gnocchi I have ever had.

I can say the challenge was fun for me and I hope it was fun for everyone else that participated.  As usual people are coming up with some very creative twists on this.  If you would like to check out the full challenge you can find it on the Daring Kitchen recipe archives.