Category Archives: chocolate

Deepest Darkest Crepe Cake!

Deepest Darkest Crepe Cake!

This was a Daring Bakers challenge I completed back in April of 2007. It was a fun challenge and I just wanted bump this post up incase you missed it.

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I was actually really excited when I saw this challenge, especially after reading all of the comments everyone had. It seems that they all had some trouble with the crepe recipe. Luckily, being vegan, I get to try it with a different recipe since I don’t eat milk or eggs. As long as you expect the first couple of crepes to be trial runs that are fit for snacking but not the actual cake, you should be fine.

Continue reading Deepest Darkest Crepe Cake!

Daring Bakers for May 2011

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow & Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

THE DARING BAKERS’ MAY, 2011 CHALLENGE: MARQUISE ON MERINGUE

All vegan recipes were created by Ashlae of Ladycakes.

Mandatory Items: The marquise & the meringue are mandatory items. All other components are optional, but really do make this a complete (& outrageously decadent) dessert.

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Vegan Recipe Variations:

Our vegan recipes come from Ashlae (http://ladycakesbakes.blogspot.com/), who we’re going to call our little vegan miracle-worker. Ashlae took a look at all of our recipes and went to work adapting and testing – & finally came up with some amazing substitutions that neither Emma nor I would have been capable of doing. She’s offered 3 recipes below, a chocolate pudding that can be frozen, a meringue that torches beautifully, & a caramel sauce for drizzling.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

(http://ladycakesbakes.blogspot.com/)

1 package Mori- Nu soft silken tofu (approximately 12.3 oz.)

1 cup vegan chocolate chips (approximately 6 oz.)

1 Tablespoon vegan butter (approximately ½ oz.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a food processor, blend the tofu until it is creamy & lump-free; keep in food processor and set aside.

2. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the butter into the chocolate chips until smooth. Once melted, remove from heat & cool for 10 minutes.

3. Pour chocolate mixture & vanilla extract into food processor; blend with tofu until combined.

4. Pour into molds & freeze for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

  1. Continue with step 9 of the Chocolate Marquise recipe, substituting the appropriate recipe for your meringue & caramel sauce.

  2. When you’re ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving.

  3. While it’s still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment ‘handles’ or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.

  4. Cut it into cubes & roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don’t do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.

  5. Plate with the torched meringue & drizzled caramel sauce, & toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly & are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they’ve softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you’ll get creamy & crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, & sweet sensations on your palate.

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I used a snowflake shaped silicone muffin pan for the Marquise.

Notes: Make sure you do not use water-packed tofu, it will not work with this recipe Mori-Nu is available at Whole Foods & on Amazon. If you like an intense chocolate flavor, try using 1 ½ cup chocolate chips (or 9 oz.) instead of 1 cup. Also, make sure you do not instantly pour the hot chocolate into the tofu – it will make it curdle.

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Vegan Meringue

1 cup water, cold

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoon EnerG egg replacer

1 teaspoon agar-agar powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

 

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine ¾ cup water and the egg replacer; beat on highest speed for 6-8 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

2. While the base is mixing, combine the remaining ¼ cup water and agar-agar powder in a saucepan over medium heat; stir constantly, just until the mixture starts to thicken (this should only take1-2 minutes).

3. Once the base mixture forms stiff peaks, pour in agar-agar mixture, vanilla extract and lemon juice; mix until combined.

4. Turn off mixer & sift in powdered sugar. Resume mixing on high speed until the stiff peaks return.

  1. Transfer to piping bag & use immediately.

  2. When you’re ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) & use a blowtorch to broil.

This made way more meringue then I needed, so I used the rest to make meringue kisses for munching later. I also don’t have a torch at all, so I had to use a lighter to torch the meringues a bit, it worked, somewhat 🙂

For the Vegan Caramel Drizzle, I made a vanilla caramel.

Spiced Almonds

Servings: Makes about 1 cup of spiced almonds

1/2 cup (4 oz.) sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tsp egg replacer whisked together with 2 TBSP water

1 cup (145 grams/ 5 oz.) blanched whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, & salt. Add the spice mix to the egg replacer mixture & whisk to combine completely. Toss in the nuts with a spoon. Spoon the coated nuts onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Allow the nuts to cool completely and they will get very crunchy. Set aside until ready to serve.

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April 2011 Daring Bakers Challenge

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

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Our April Challenge: Maple Mousse in Edible Containers

With this challenge, they tried to reach people who have a sweet and salty tooth by combining bacon and maple syrup. They also realized that not everyone wants to use bacon, they also gave us the option of nut cups or tuile cups. We could also incorporate a meringue topping if we chose. Since we did meringue last month, I chose to leave it off. Obviously I chose the nut cup with their vegan mousse option. This was my first time using agar agar and found it really easy!

Recipe Source:

Nut Crust were taught to me by a friend, no source, but posted at Cheap Ethnic Eatz

Vegan maple mousse was inspired by this recipe at Suite 101

We had to do one of the maple mousse recipes given and make an edible container.

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Nut Bowls:

1 1/2 cups crushed nuts of your choice such as almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts

1 egg, beaten, at room temperature

2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces

1. Use a food processor or a zip-lock back with a rolling pin to crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed. You want it somewhat coarse. (I used my spice grinder)

2. In a bowl mix the nuts with the beaten egg and the sugar.

3. Take 6 small ½ cup capacity Pyrex cups or a similar container and line the inside with aluminum foil. Spread ¼ cup of the mixture in the bowl, all the way up to the sides making sure you have a thin and even clean layer all around. (I used a muffin pan and parchment paper)

4. Bake at 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. until the nuts are golden and fragrant (about 15 minutes). Let cool completely before unmoulding.

5. Melt chocolate (either in the microwave or over a double boiler). Dip the rims of the cooled nut bowls in the chocolate. Place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened and is set.

*I used 1 ½ tsp egg replacer mixed with 2 TBSP water for the egg, coconut sugar for the sugar and walnuts for the nuts.*

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Vegan Maple Mousse: I made as written

1 package (12 oz.) soft silken tofu

¾ cup (14 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup

2 teaspoon agar-agar

1. Let tofu come to room temperature. Using a food processor, blender, or hand mixer, blend tofu until just smooth.

2. Sprinkle agar-agar on the maple syrup and let it rest for 10 minutes. Heat maple syrup on the stove to a boil and then let it simmer 5 minutes until the agar-agar has dissolved.

3. In a food processor, blender, or a large bowl, blend the tofu with the maple syrup until creamy.

4. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from the fridge and divide among your edible containers.

Daring Bakers – March 2011

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

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When I decided to get back into the Daring Bakers, I was really excited! I couldn’t wait until the challenge came out, I stalked the forum until…it finally was there… yes, wait, meringue! What?! Meringue, without eggs…hmmm…well, I did make that Lemon Meringue Pie. Okay, back to Yeah, can’t wait to make this!

I chose to halve the recipe since I don’t need to eat 2 coffee cakes by myself 🙂 I can never seem to get my hubby to take anything to work (he hates having to carry containers & remember to bring them back home), so, with just the two of us eating it, I made just one.

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Here is the recipe I used:

The Mandatory Items: Sweet Yeast Dough for the Coffee Cake and the meringue

Variations allowed: The filling.

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE

Makes 1 round coffee cake, approximately 10” in diameter

For the yeast coffee cake dough:

2 cups flour

1/8 cup date sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 1/8 tsp active dried yeast

¼ +1/8 cup whole milk

2 TBSP water (doesn’t matter what temperature)

¼ cup Earth Balance margarine at room temperature

1 ½ tsp Ener-G egg replacer

2 TBSP warm water

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For the meringue:

2 ½ TBSP of soy protein isolate

1 tsp baking powder

¼ + 1/8 cup almond milk

¼ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp vanilla

¼ cup powdered agave (inulin)

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For the filling:

½ cup chopped pecans

1 TBSP cinnamon granulated sugar

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

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Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine ¾ cup of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the egg replacer and ½ cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the ¾ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use. Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. Sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately when you assemble.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In a clean mixing bowl – whip together all of the ingredients for 10 minutes.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10” rectangle. Spread the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about ½” from the edges. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the meringue (ex: the cinnamon-sugar followed by the chopped nuts and the chocolate chips).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to the lined cookie sheet, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1” intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring. Cover the coffee cake with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cake from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cake off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the top of the coffee cake with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

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How was it? YUM! I would probably up the chocolate chips to ¾ cup, but that’s only because I’m a chocoholic 🙂 Everyone loved it as is. I did eat about half of it myself, good thing I only made one. I could have made the cuts a little bit deeper, but they made a good reference for serving size.

January 2010 Daring Bakers


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

I’m finally back doing the Daring Bakers Challenges after a couple of months off. I am very glad to be back. Our challenge this month was Gluten-Free Wafers & Nanaimo Bars, a Canadian Bar Dessert.

Lauren tells us that “Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut & nuts, a middle custard layer, & a topping of chocolate.”

Recipe Source: Graham Wafers — 101 Cookbooks (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000126.html) I adapted it to be gluten-free. The adapted recipe can be found at www.thedaringkitchen.com Nanaimo Bars — City of Nanaimo (http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html)

Here are my adaptations & whoops.

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons Earth Balance (Cut into 1” cubes & frozen)
1/3 cup Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons Soy Milk
2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, & salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter & pulse on & off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk & vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft & sticky. Okay, this is where my whoops came in. For some reason I had 1cup stuck in my head, so I added 1 cup of soy milk, well, it was only supposed to be 5 tablespoons (¼ cup + 1 tablespoon). Soooo…. I had to add more rice, tapioca & sorghum flour & a little more brown sugar. It was still a little soft, but was workable.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour & pat the dough into a rectangle about 1“ thick. Wrap in plastic & chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half & return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface & roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8“ thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4“ squares. Gather the scraps together & set aside. Place wafers on 1 or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper & lower positions & preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, & reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour & roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in 2 or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned & slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, & the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled, place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out & smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds whipped with ¼ cup water
1 1/4 cups Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almond flour
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
12 oz silken tofu, firm
2 tablespoons Vanilla Pudding Mix (mori nu)

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Earth Balance


1. For bottom Layer: Melt butter, sugar & cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg & stir to cook & thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts & coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8“ pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream tofu & pudding mix until smooth. Refrigerate until firm. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate & butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer & chill.


Additional Information: These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

These were really good!  I should’ve used extra-firm tofu for the pudding ‘cuz it was a bit squishy, but sooo good.  I am so making these again.

A very yummy plating disaster with the Daring Bakers


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August’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella & me, Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar. We have chosen the famous Dobos Torta, a Hungarian speciality.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

A Dobos Torta is a 5-layer sponge cake that is filled with chocolate buttercream & topped with caramel wedges. There can be up to 24 layers in a Dobos Torta, just in case you were wondering. The Dobos Torta was invented in 1885 by Jozsef C. Dobos who was a Hungarian baker. Check out the full recipe & everyone else wonderful creations at http://www.thedaringkitchen.com.

I halved the recipe to make 2 small round Torta’s.

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Dobos Torta

For the sponge cake layers, I made Hannah Kaminsky’s recipe in My Sweet Vegan.

For the chocolate buttercream

6 oz coconut yogurt, chocolate flavored

¾ cup sugar

4 oz dark chocolate

1 stick Earth Balance

2 TBSP silken, firm tofu

I whipped them together in my kitchen aid until combined.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup sugar

  • ¾ cup water

  • 2 TBSP lemon juice

Finishing touches

  • 6 whole macadamia nuts

(from our hosts) Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper & butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife & an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water & lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high & boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally & washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn’t just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time & the cake layer was cold & the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less & you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut & separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back & forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela’s note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later & it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

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Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into 6 equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 ½” cardboard round & top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

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All frosted, doesn’t look too good though.   Okay, now it really looks funny.  Is it supposed to fall over???

We were able to vary the shape, buttercream flavor, & nuts that we used for this recipe. I stayed with all the flavors they gave us except for the nuts. I have discovered that I just don’t like hazelnuts, not sure why. I keep trying to like them, but… I had some macadamia nuts on hand, so I used those.

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Verdict: Great flavor, but I totally tanked on the plating, it completely fell over. I did miss how to do the caramel. We were supposed to cover the top layer of cake, which I did, then cut those into 12 triangles to use on top as decoration. Well, I just covered the top layer & placed it on top of the cake, not as pretty, but since it fell over anyway…um…, I guess it didn’t matter?

I do recommend this Torta, very yummy & really not that hard to make. Thank you so much for such a wonderful challenge.

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Daring Bakers for July 2009

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
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I too am a big fan of Gale Gand, even though I don’t eat much of what she makes anymore. I am still able to take a lot of her recipes & veganize them though. I have actually never had a Milano Cookie before, I know, very sad. I also do not like marshmallows of any kind, I know, very strange. Although this months challenge got me interested. Even though I don’t like eating marshmallows, I really wanted to make some. Not sure why, but I couldn’t wait to get started! You can see the original recipes & everyone elses results here: http://www.thedaringkitchen.com

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I started off with Isa’s version of Milanos, printed with my changes. I wanted to make them lower in fat & a little healthier.

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Vegan Milanos
Makes 16 cookies

1/3 cup rice milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Scant ¼ tsp orange extract
2 cups flour
2 TBSP cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large mixing bowl, use a strong fork to mix together milk, sugar, applesauce, vanilla and orange extract.

Add half of the flour, along with the cornstarch, baking powder and salt; mix well. Add the remaining flour and mix until you have a soft dough.

Fill a pastry bag, or zip-top baggie with the dough & pipe onto your cookie sheets so that it is 1 ½” long. Wet your hands a bit with cold water, it will keep your hands from sticking to the dough. You will need to do this after every couple of cookies. Flatten with the palms of your hand to create an oval that is 2“ long and 1“ across, then straighten the edges out with your fingers. You are going for the milano cookie shape, don’t be too perfect with it though, let it have some character. Continue shaping the cookies until you have 16 cookies placed about 1“ apart (they don’t spread much.) per tray.

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Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until tops are firm and edges are ever so slightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 2 minutes. Use a thin, flexible spatula to transfer to a cooling rack. Meanwhile, bake your next batch and melt your chocolate.

Let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes, then take a cookie and dip the bottom into the chocolate. Then take another cookie and dip it, and place the dipped sides together to form a sandwich. Don’t press them hard or else the chocolate will smoosh out. Place them on a tray & put in the fridge to set for at least an hour. Continue with the remaining cookies until you have 16 sandwiches. Have a wet rag at the ready to wipe your fingers between putting the cookies together, to avoid chocolate fingerprints on the cookies. Bring to room temperature before serving.  I filled half with the melted chocolate & half with my leftover almond-ella.

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We only had to make one of the cookies, but who can resist Milano type cookies & I really wanted to make some Marshmallows, so I made both.

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For the Marshmallow recipe, I used David Soleil’s recipe that you can find here: http://veganmarshmallows.blogspot.com/2009/04/vegan-marshmallow-recipe.html I followed it exactly (except using Lyle’s Golden Syrup & Barley Malt Syrup in place of the corn syrup), so I won’t reprint it here.

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I also used silicone molds to shape the marshmallows.

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I made the regular vanilla flavored marshmallows for all. On some, I used chili powder to dust with & some I used cinnamon. On 2 of the big ones, I coated with coconut flakes & 2 of them I mixed in some peppermint, soy cream cheese frosting. The peppermint is yummy!

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For the Mallows, I used leftover chocolate shortbread that I had made for pie & made a quick chocolate ganache to pour over the top, yum!

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Verdict: Milanos – YUM! I did under cook them a bit, I should’ve left them in for another 2 minutes, but they were still really good, just a little chewy. I also made them too thick, which didn’t help with the chewiness. They sure tasted good though, & I will be making these again.

 

Mallows – YUM! I had so much fun making the marshmallows. The texture was a little different, but they tasted like marshmallows. This was good though, because the main thing I don’t like about marshmallows is their texture. Once you put them into a cookie & cover with chocolate, well, who could resist!

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Daring Bakers for June 2009!

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The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict & Annemarie of Ambrosia & Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Recipe origins: Traditional (UK)
Inspirations & References: Allan Davidson, Tamasin Day Lewis, Anton Edelmann, Jane Grigson, Nigella Lawson & Jamie Oliver
Hostess: Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict
Co-hostess: Annemarie of Ambrosia & Nectar

From our hosts: “Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits.

Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream & baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam & an almondy sponge cake-like filling.

The version we’re daring you to make is a combination of the 2: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane & jam. The term “Bakewell pudding” was first penned in 1826 by Meg Dods; 20 years later Eliza Acton published a recipe that featured a baked rich egg custard overtop 2cm of jam & noted,

‘This pudding is famous not only in Derbyshire, but in several of our northern counties where it is usually served on all holiday occasions.’ By the latter half of the 1800s, the egg custard evolved into a frangipane-like filling; since then the quantity of jam decreased while the almond filling increased. This tart, like many of the world’s great foods has its own mythic beginnings…or several mythic beginnings. Legend has it in 1820 (or was it in the 1860s?) Mrs. Greaves, landlady of The White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to produce a pudding for her guests. Either her instructions could have been clearer or he should have paid better attention to what she said because what he made was not what she asked for. The cook spread the jam on top of the frangipane mixture rather than the other way around. Or maybe instead of a sweet rich shortcrust pastry case to hold the jam for a strawberry tart, he made a regular pastry & mixed the eggs & sugar separately & poured that over the jam—it depends upon which legend you follow. Regardless of what the venerable Mrs. Greaves’ cook did or didn’t do, lore has it that her guests loved it & an ensuing pastry-clad industry was born. The town of Bakewell has since played host to many a sweet tooth in hopes of tasting the tart in its natural setting. Bakewell tarts are a classic English dessert, abounding in supermarket baking sections & in ready-made, mass-produced forms, some sporting a thick sugary icing & glazed cherry on top for decorative effect. Enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee or just eat it sneaky slice by sneaky slice until, to your chagrin, you realise the whole tart has somehow disappeared despite you never having pulled out a plate, fork or napkin with which to eat it.”

I am very glad that I made mini tarts, otherwise I would’ve had the problem of the sneaky bite by sneaky bite & realizing that I had eaten the whole thing! These are mighty tasty. I am going to make this one again, but try to replace the Earth Balance with fruit puree to lighten the fat content a bit.

More from our hosts: “The etymology of pudding is a rather interesting & slightly convoluted one. The naming confusion may come from the British manner of referring to the dessert course as ‘pudding’ (as well as referring to fat babies by the same name, though we don’t think that is what was the inspiration in this case). & so any dessert is a pudding until another name comes along & adds clarity to what it really is.”

For the challenge, we had to make a Sweet Shortcrust Pastry, by hand, please. We also needed to make the Frangipane. We had the option of making a homemade jam or curd, which I sort of did. I used a homemade “almond-ella” which I had made for last months challenge, I also had 2 yummy jams in the fridge that I had bought, so I used those. This recipe comes together quickly & easily. I recommend making the shortbread crust first because it needs to rest in the fridge for a bit. While that is resting, you can make your own jam & the frangipane. You can go here: www.thedaringkitchen.com to see the original recipe. Below is my adaptations & changes:

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Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Yield: 12 mini tarts
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Flour for dusting
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, sliced almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it warm up for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin & roll the pastry to ¼” thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the center & roll away from you), & turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size & thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in & trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. For mini tarts, cut out rounds that fit your muffin tin, or silicone mini tart pan.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam/almond-ella onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top & pop into the oven for 20 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy & brownish. Remove from oven & strew flaked almonds on top & return to the heat for the last 5 minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust & the frangipane will be tanned, poofy & a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven & cool on the counter. Serve warm or room temperature. You may drizzle with a little more almond-ella, if desired. When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy & the crust should be crisp but not tough.

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Notes from our hosts:

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes & linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (¼ cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” & strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference & spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out & cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling wrap

8oz whole wheat pastry flour
1oz sugar
½ tsp salt
4oz Earth Balance, frozen
¼ cup soy yogurt
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
1-2 TBSP cold water

  1. Sift together flour, sugar & salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater (this really does work best). Using your finger tips only, & working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
  2. Lightly beat the soy yogurt with the almond extract (if using) & quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive & slightly sticky dough. I had to use 3 TBSP of water since it was so dry here.
  3. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt & vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, 1 tsp of vanilla paste or 1 tsp of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

4.5oz Earth Balance, softened (this is 1 stick and about 1 tsp)
4.5oz powdered sugar
1 ½ TBSP Ener-g Egg Replacer

1/3 cup warm water
½ tsp almond extract
4.5oz ground almonds
1oz whole wheat pastry flour

  1. Cream butter & sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  2. Whisk together the egg replacer & warm water, add to the butter mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all of the egg replacer is in, pour in the almond extract & mix for about another 30 seconds & scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts & the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) & retain its pallid yellow colour.

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For my toppings, I used some leftover hazelnut praline, pine nuts & slivered almonds. For my fillings, I used almond-ella, peach, mango, orange jam, and apricot jam. They were all yummy! Not sure which my fav is, I really liked them all. I think a little peanut butter mixed with the jam & topped with the frangipane would be good too, but I didn’t try it. Enjoy!

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It’s Daring Baker time!!

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The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Linda & Courtney say, “Making strudel dough has been on my personal baking to-do list for quite a while but I was always kind of scared to actually try making the paper thin dough. And as being a Daring Baker means challenging yourself, making strudel dough seemed like the perfect recipe for this month’s challenge. Not a lot of rules this month as we’re allowing you complete freedom for the filling & shaping of the dough. The only thing that’s mandatory for everybody who’s participating in this month’s challenge, is to make the strudel dough. Hopefully this will suit both the sweet & savoury DB-ers Of course you’re welcome to make the traditional apple strudel that you’ll find below but wouldn’t it be so much more fun & challenging to try something completely different? We’d love to see you get creative!”

img_3256.jpg  Okay, not so pretty, but it sure tasted good.
My first thought was, “Oh, I really don’t like cooked apples, but strudel sounds like a great challenge.” Then, I kept reading ,”Ooo, we get to fill it with whatever we want, yeah!” I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to fill it with. I thought rhubarb, but decided to make a pie with the 10 beautiful stalks I was given from a friend of someone who picked them from her garden! My next thought was blueberry strudel, but then I went to a wine bar & was reading through their desserts & saw a Calzone filled with nutella & bananas. That was the one! You can find the original recipe here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/  Check out everyone else’s amazing creations here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/blogroll/bakers

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Preparation time for the recipe
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough

30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out & stretch dough

10 min to fill & roll dough

30 min to bake

30 min to cool

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Almond“ella” & Banana Strudel

1 cup chocolate almond spread (from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)
1 banana, in half lengthwise, then quartered

¼ cup chocolate chips
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
strudel dough (recipe below)

1. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven & preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread the chocolate almond spread over the dough, about a ½” from the edge. Place the bananas over the top of the chocolate almond spread. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips & cinnamon.

2. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

3. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife & serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

I found that it tasted just as good the next day. I also found that I should have used 2 bananas and about ¼ cup more almond“ella”.

img_3257.jpg  The dough came out great, flaky & crispy.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest & Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup bread flour
1/8 tsp salt
7 TBSP water, plus more if needed
2 TBSP warm water, mixed with 2 tsp ground flax seeds
½ tsp cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour & salt in a bowl. Mix the water, flax mixture & vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water mixture to the flour while stirring. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a large surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough & throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball & transfer it to a plate. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36“ round table or a work surface of 23 x 38“. Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour & rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle & roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough & gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch & pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough & stretch & pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch & pull the dough until it’s about 2′ wide & 3′ long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips from Courtney & Linda
– Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling & stretching of the dough with the first batch & if it doesn’t come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
– The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
– Before pulling & stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands & wrists, & wear short-sleeves;
– To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
– Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Both Courtney & I did a trial run on making the strudel. Below are our notes:

Courtney’s notes
– I couldn’t get it to stretch to 2′ by 3′, it turned out more like 2′ by 2′. But the dough was tissue thin nevertheless;
– I got some serious holes, but after rolling it wasn’t noticeable;
– I used a large cheese cloth which helped manipulate & stretch the dough more than a heavier cloth would have.

Linda’s notes
– I made the dough by hand, just mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Kneaded it for about 5 min like you would bread dough. This worked as well. Haven’t tried using a standmixer so I don’t know how it compares.
– Instead of cider vinegar I used red wine vinegar;
– I used bread flour
– Picking up the dough to let it stretch didn’t work well for me, holes appeared pretty much instantly. Instead I stretched the dough while it was lying on the tablecloth by putting my hands underneath & stretching it out further & further

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Double Daring Bakers – April 2009

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What was my double challenge for April?

BOSTINI CREAM PIE

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Huh? It’s not a typo. Bostini cream pie is a twist on the traditional Boston cream pie. The dessert is vanilla custard topped with an orange chiffon cake & then drizzled with a chocolate glaze. The Boston cream pie is my m-i-l’s favorite desserts. The recipe is from a restaurant that was later printed in the SF Chronicle newspaper.

We were able to play with the size of the dessert as well as being able to halve the recipe, which I did. We could also use a different custard recipe to make it vegan. This challenge was originally done in October 2007 Challenge #12 Hostess: Mary of Alpineberry.

Bostini Cream Pie (from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni & Scala’s Bistro)

Makes 8 generous servings

I used the pastry cream recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking

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Custard

3/4 cup whole milk

2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch

1 whole egg, beaten

9 egg yolks, beaten

3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED: vanilla extract is okay)

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

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Chiffon Cake

1 1/2 cups cake flour ¾ cup cake flour

3/4 cup superfine sugar ¼ + 1/8 cup sugar

1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder ¾ tsp baking powder

1/3 teaspoon salt pinch salt

1/3 cup canola oil 1/6 cup applesauce

1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks) 1/6 cup soy yogurt

3/4 cup fresh orange juice ¼ cup + 1 TBSP orange juice

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest 1 TBSP grand marnier

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup egg whites (about 8 large) ½ cup warm water mixed with 4 TBSP egg replacer

1 teaspoon cream of tartar ½ tsp cream of tartar

 

Chocolate Glaze I used a chocolate powdered sugar frosting, cuz I didn’t have any chocolate, can you believe it?!?

8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate

8 ounces unsalted butter

To prepare the custard: Combine the milk & cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg & yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean & sugar in a saucepan & carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard & pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder & salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest & vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar & beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven & let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan & heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate & stir to melt. Pour through a strainer & keep warm.

To assemble: Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.

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