Chez Luce

Kitchen adventures on Wandsworth Common

Daring Bakers Challenge November 2010 : Crostata November 28, 2010

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The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

I chose to make 2 different fillings for my mini crostata, caramelized white chocolate ganache and raspberry (above), and milk chocolate praline ganache with dark chocolate glaze (below).

started off by making the pasta frolla for the crostata. I made it in the processor to save time and chilled the pastry down before rolling. I found the pastry easy to work with, and during baking, the shells didn’t shrink at all which is my usual problem with pastry.

The fillings I chose were quite labour intensive, but I really wanted to try working with praline which is where my idea for the chocolate crostata filling came from. I poured caramel over hazelnuts to make the praline, then whizzed to a powder before mixing into a milk chocolate ganache. This filled the tart almost to the top, but there was just enough room for a glaze of shiny dark chocolate and a sprinkling of praline powder.

For the other crostata, I made caramelized white chocolate (which is something I have been meaning to do for ages and I will DEFINITELY do again – it was delicious!). I melted this into some cream to make a ganache, and set some raspberries in a (hopefully) pretty pattern. I glazed the raspberries with a little sieved strawberry jam to give them a glossy finish.

I really enjoyed this challenge as I really got to be creative with the fillings – Thanks Simona for giving us all so much creative licence!

Pasta Frolla

1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Chocolate Filling

Make a praline by pouring caramel over skinned, blanched hazelnuts. Whiz to a fine powder in a food processor.
Mix some praline powder into a milk chocolate ganache (made by pouring hot double cream over milk chocolate and whisking until smooth).
Fill the baked crostata shells with the praline ganache.
Make a glaze with dark chocolate, milk and cream and spread over the top. Finish with a sprinkle of praline powder.

Caramelized white chocolate and raspberry filling

Make caramelized white chocolate according to David Lebovitz’s recipe
Pour over hot double cream to make a ganache.
Arrange raspberries on top and glaze with sieved jam.


Matcha Madeleines and a Big Chocolate Hit September 29, 2010

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I went to Japan Centre recently. Near Piccadilly Circus? Go see it for yourself. I nearly stayed in there forever, soo much japanese stuff… and the fresh sushi and cooked to order tempura at the takeaway counter looked amazing! I was all but hypnotised by the machine freshly grinding matcha (green-tea) powder, but I eventually managed to drag myself away with a small sachet to play with.


After looking up a lot of recipes for matcha this and green tea that, I decided on making a classic madeleine with the addition of a tbsp of matcha powder to replace some flour. I pretty much winged it but I was totally pleased with the results!



…And what else to serve the madeleines with but rich chocolate pots, all smooth and dense, garnished with some juicy raspberries… heaven…




Madeleines made as previously described in this post, with the replacement of 1tbsp of flour with matcha powder


Chocolate Pots de Crème

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 egg yolks
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract

Prepare 4 small or 3 medium size ramekins by placing in a shallow baking pan or the bottom of a broiler pan. Set the oven temperature at 170 degrees.

In a small saucepan boil cream,and milk for a minute. In another bowl place chopped chocolate and pour hot cream mixture over. Let the hot mixture sit for 2 minutes and then stir to melt and blend the chocolate.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well blended. Add vanilla.

Slowly pour warm chocolate cream into egg mixture, whisking until mixture is smooth. Pour mixture through a mesh sieve to cull out any lumps. Next pour or spoon into the ramekins.

Pour hot water into the bottom of the shallow baking pan so it comes about ½ inch up sides of ramkins. Cover the pan with a large sheet of aluminum foil and poke small holes in the foil to allow air holes. Place in oven and bake about 30-35 minutes.

Pots de crème are done when the outside is set and the inside still slightly jiggles. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Chill in refrigerator another 5 hours before serving. Pots de crème will keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days so you can make it ahead for a party if you wish. In fact, the flavor combination of chocolate and coffee will mellow into a smooth blend if kept refrigerated over a day.


Daring Bakers Challenge August 2010: Nutty and toasty meets cool and creamy… August 27, 2010

Recipe: Petits Fours






The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.


So, another month, another new dessert to try with the Daring Bakers. When given the coice of a baked alaska or petits fours, i knew straight away that it had to be the mini sweets! I love the petits fours at fancy restaurants, and jumped at the chance to make some of my own!


I decided to make individual sized brown butter pound cakes, rather than one large cake. This helped me to control the cooking so each cake was evenly browned, and the edges were nice and sharp. I absolutely loved the cake and it was so easy to make. I am in love with pretty much anything with brown butter as an ingredient, and the nutty flavour of the butter was really prominent in these little cakes. I am now coming upwith all sorts of uses for this recipe, it is definitely a keeper!





Daring Bakers January 2010 Challenge: The World Comes to Canada January 27, 2010

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Recipe: Graham Crackers & Nanaimo Bars










The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and


I really enjoyed this month’s challenge as Nanaimo Bars are not something I have heard of before here in England. Although one of the optional challenges was to use Gluten-Free flour, I used regular flour in my crackers as GF would have been cost prohibitive for me. I look forward to trying gluten free baking in the future, though.


The crackers were made completely in the food processor and were therefore extremely quick to make. They are also delicious and are what Americans use for cheesecake bases where we would use digestive biscuits or gingernuts or something.