Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chocolate-Raspberry Torte

Many of you know that I test recipes and shop for groceries for Cook's Illustrated. This is a recipe that I tested several months ago, at that time I published a photo on the FoodBuzz website. Well Cooks Illustrated finally published the recipe in the November 2010 issue. This means I can publish the recipe now. This recipe is the first recipe I have tested where some big changes were made before the recipe was published. They added more chocolate, almost doubled the amount of almonds and the amount of vanilla was doubled. Since the first one was delicious I can only imagine how good it is with more nuts, vanilla and chocolate. The glaze turned out so shiny you can see the reflection of the raspberries in it. You can check out the entire recipe and notes in the November/December issue of Cook's Illustrated or on their website.

Chocolate-Raspberry Torte
Cake and Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cups (about 7 ounces) sliced almonds , lightly toasted
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (1 1/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup fresh raspberries , plus 16 individual berries for garnishing cake
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans with parchment paper. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla and espresso powder.

2. Process 3/4 cup almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped, six to eight 1-second pulses; set aside to garnish cake. Process remaining cup almonds until very finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add flour and salt and continue to process until combined, about 15 seconds. Transfer almond-flour mixture to medium bowl. Process eggs in now-empty food processor until lightened in color and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. With processor running, slowly add sugar until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Using whisk, gently fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture until some streaks of egg remain. Sprinkle half almond-flour mixture over chocolate-egg mixture and gently whisk until just combined. Sprinkle in remaining almond-flour mixture and gently whisk until just combined.

3. Divide batter between cake pans and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until center is firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire rack and cool completely in pan, about 30 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto cardboard rounds cut same size as diameter of cake and remove parchment paper. Using wire rack, reinvert 1 cake so top side faces up; slide back onto cardboard round.

4. TO ASSEMBLE TORTE: Place ½ cup raspberries in medium bowl and coarsely mash with fork. Stir in raspberry jam until just combined. Spread raspberry mixture onto cake layer that is top side up. Top with second cake layer, leaving it bottom side up. Transfer assembled cake, still on cardboard round, to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.

5. FOR THE GLAZE: Melt chocolate and cream in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and gently whisk until very smooth. Pour glaze onto center of assembled cake. Use offset spatula to spread glaze evenly over top of cake, letting it flow down sides. Spread glaze along sides of cake to coat evenly.

6. Using fine-mesh strainer, sift reserved almonds to remove any fine bits. Holding bottom of cake on cardboard round with 1 hand, gently press sifted almonds onto cake sides with other hand. Arrange raspberries around circumference. Refrigerate cake, still on rack, until glaze is set, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Transfer cake to serving platter, slice, and serve.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Easy Cassoulet

One of my favorite cookbook authors is Pam Anderson, no not that Pam Anderson, this one is married to a minister. The reason why I like her is that in most of her books she just doesn't give recipes, she gives formulas. So a recipe for a stir fry maybe use 1/2 pound of protein, 1 pound vegetables, etc. Then she will give a list of suggested proteins and vegetables. Then she will give you a list of sauces you can use for stir fries. Finally she will finish with some recipes for her favorite stir fries. I usually recommend her books to people who are just getting into cooking, you will learn how to cook not recipes like you do from Betty Crocker or some of the other beginning cookbooks. Pam just came out with a new book, Perfect One-Dish Dinners, so I had to try a recipe. As usual it was delicious. I am looking forward to trying some more of her recipes from Perfect One-Dish Dinners.

Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans

2 1/2 punds sweet Italian sausage links, I cut mine into 1/4's as they were large
3 pints cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cans (around 16 oz) white beans, undrained I used Great Northern and Cannellini

Serves 8

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sausages, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, bay leaves and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large heavy roasting pan. Set pan in oven and roast until sausages are brown and tomatoes have reduced to a thick sauce, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in beans, and continue to roast until casserole has heated through, about 10 minutes longer. Fish out bay leaves and serve.