Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Roulade filled w/ Sweet Cream

I'm almost ashamed at how overdue this post is as Passover ended several weeks ago, although this dessert was so incredible that its memory has lingered with me ever since! 

For all you non-Jews out there, Passover is an important holiday celebrating the escape of the ancient Jewish people from the life of pain and hardship they endured as laborers in Egypt. They wandered the desert for 40 years as outcasts, and baked Matzah, a hard, flat cracker, under the heat of the scorching sun. To commemorate this, Jews do not eat anything that is leavened or that contains flour during Passover. 

And so, this provided the PERFECT opportunity to test this new recipe that apparently came from Joan (of Joan's on Third) herself. The inspiration to make this particular dessert stemmed from an amazing dinner I had at Joan's on Third the week before. The dinner is always incredible there, but the dessert in particular stood out more than usual. Of course, their flourless chocolate roulade was formed in a flawless, perfect spiral (to which my pitiful later attempt could only aspire). The chocolate cupcake I had also ordered paled in sheer proximity to this masterpiece. I knew I had to have it again, whether I was able to go to Joan's on Third or not.

 Joan's on Third Version, AKA perfection 

Initially, I had thought: How hard could this be? It's only a flourless base, which has notoriously few ingredients, and a sweet cream filling, which is also extremely simple. Boy, was I wrong. I slaved HOURS over this, only for it to crack during my attempt to roll it up and end up flat, rather than round and perfect like the one at Joan's. To improve its appearance (because let me tell you, it was against my better judgment to show up to a seder, where there would be people OTHER than family, with something so hideous), I covered it in a thick layer of cocoa powder, piped a hot fudge ribbon along its sides, and decorated it with strawberries. Those improvisations made it presentable enough! Yet, when I bit into it, all this dissatisfaction melted away... not only did it taste exactly like the one at Joan's on Third, but the thick fudge and strawberries had elevated it to a whole other level. Needless to say, the entire 16-inch roll was gone within 10 minutes at the hands of greedy seder-goers. That was a proud moment! So, I insist, you MUST make this - it is not only amazing, but slightly healthier for you due to the lack of some usually omnipresent ingredients, like flour, eggs, and butter. The fresh taste is unbeatable! But, of course, if you don't have a couple hours to spare or a dinner party to impress, you could always just go to Joan's on Third. ;)

Adapted from Joan's on Third recipe, but found at:


8 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, melted in a double boiler and then cooled to room temperature

8 eggs at room temperature, separated (**NOTE: to "separate" eggs, for those of you who don't know, means to separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, i.e. put them into separate bowls**)

1 c. sugar (I used 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. brown sugar)

1 Tbspn. unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Sweet Cream Filling

1 c. heavy cream 

3 Tbspns. confectioners sugar, sifted so that no lumps remain

1/2 tspn. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large shallow baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough so that paper hangs over the edges of the pan. 

1) Whisk the egg whites until mixture is opaque and soft peaks form. Add half of the sugar and beat until peaks are stiff and silky. Set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the remaining half of the sugar and keep beating the mixture for about 5 minutes until it is thick and pale.

3) Add the melted chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated. 

4) Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolks/chocolate to lighten the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining 2/3 until just incorporated.

5) Spread the cake batter into the baking pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until cake has puffed up and the top is dry.

6) Remove cake from oven and cover with damp paper towels. Let stand for 5 minutes, remove towels, and allow the cake to cool completely. Loosen the edges with a knife.

7) Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder and then cover with a cloth or kitchen towel. Invert the pan onto the cloth and remove the parchment paper lining from the back of the cake very gently. 

8) To make the filling: Beat whipped cream, sugar, and vanilla until thick, with stiff peaks. 

9) Spread the cream filling over the cake and, using the cloth to help lift, roll the cake up. Transfer to a platter seam-side-down and dust generously with cocoa powder. 

10) Decorate the cake with strawberries, ganache, or whatever your heart desires! Please comment if you would like a recipe for the thick, rich chocolate ganache that I used to pretty-fy this, and enjoy!

PS: For anyone who is curious, below is my failed attempt at rolling the cake into a spiral and also the reason why it had to be decorated so extensively. I wish you success in this endeavor, and a better-looking cake than I! (Although rest assured that no matter how it turns out looks-wise, the taste is OUT OF THIS WORLD.) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Speculoos (Biscoff)

Hello friends, and sorry for the delay in action since my first post about a week ago. It hasn't been easy - I've been dying for a free moment in which I could share with you my newest obsession.... SPECULOOS!! The label on the jar declares it to be a "European alternative to peanut butter", but don't be fooled -- this is nothing like peanut butter. No oh no oh no it's not. Yes, it shares its divine caramel exterior with the popular spread, but Speculoos is unrivaled, in a league all its own. For those foodies who have somehow never heard of it, I feel sorry for you - you don't know what you have been missing! Speculoos (or Biscoff, as it is called in many major grocery stores), is slightly thicker than peanut butter, but the real star of the show is its major ingredient - Biscoff cookies! Some of you might know Biscoff cookies as those incredibly addicting airline cookies given out on many Delta flights. Picture a slightly milder form of gingerbread, then picture it ground up and blended with milk and other ingredients to form a gingerbread spread. I can't even begin to describe to you how addicting this is except by denoting that I eat it plain, with a spoon, straight out of the jar every morning when I wake up and every afternoon when I come home from school. I went through an entire jar in one week. ONE. WEEK. And so, I knew I would have to find a way to bake with it! Finding a dessert worthy of my Speculoos was not difficult, but options were limited due to its status as a relatively recent novelty. Finally, I decided not to be picky and just go with it - thus, these cookies were born! The recipe is adapted from, but as always (and you will begin to see this as I post more often) I add my own special twist - homemade brown sugar! This cookie is really something special, and the molasses in the brown sugar really adds that personal kick and extra moistness. All friends who tried this cookie swooned, and I mean SWOONED, and one called it "sex in her mouth". Lovely, right? So I guess you'd better make this, although you might have to deal with the embarassing reactions of friends caught off guard by its amazingness. Go on, I dare you.

adapted from Picky-Palate

2 sticks butter, salted or unsalted (although I prefer/usually use salted)

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbspn. pure vanilla extract, or vanilla paste

4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 c. all-purpose, and 2 c. whole wheat to make it "healthier")

1 tspn. baking soda

1 tspn. salt

1 package of white chocolate chips

approx. 2 cups biscoff spread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1) Beat butter and both sugars in a medium to large bowl until well-combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until fully incorporated.

2) In a separate bowl, stir together all dry ingredients - the flour, baking soda, and salt - until combined.

3) Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until fully combined. Then add the chocolate chips!

4) With a medium cookie scoop (although I didn't have one, so I just used an ice cream scooper), scoop walnut-sized mounds of cookie dough onto the baking sheet. Place your thumb in the center of each cookie dough ball to flatten it slightly and create a slight crater, in which you will place the speculoos! Fill each crater with about one tablespoon of speculoos. Cover each cookie dough/speculoos mound with another scoop of cookie dough. Bake for 12-15 minutes, and enjoy with milk.

Bon appetit!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hello! I'm going to start this off by denoting that this is my first time blogging, ever, and I'm super excited! I've been meaning to create a baking blog for a long time, but have been either too lazy or too inundated with work to do so. So, in a burst of inspiration, I have finally made this a reality. I should probably introduce myself - my name is Erin, and I'm a high school student in a big city. I bake ALL THE TIME and have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things food: types of food, food culture, incredible restaurants all over the country/world, and pastries of nearly every kind. It's embarassing. And every time I bake (which has gotten to be at least once a week now-), and am proud of the outcome, I think of how nice it would be to share it with people. Because this was just created, this blog is still under construction in many areas, as I am working on a real layout as well as "about me". Anyways, on with it...I hope y'all enjoy this blog and my recipes! (***Recipes coming soon, I will begin posting them up with pictures this week***)