Oh, Blondie, Blondie, Blondie. When will you learn that the beefs mean nothing to me? I only love cows for their cheese, ice cream, and fro-yo making power. Though I'll admit there is a single tear spilling down my cheek at the sight of your photos. Sniffle. I'm so proud. Anyway, back to my post and the topic of making certain blogging partners who are in Las Vegas with shiny hair and delicious cocktails jealous...
Is it already time for another Daring Bakers Challenge? Yes! Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream? But Brownie...you're allergic to Filberts... Yes! And that's part of what makes me so Daring!
Don't worry, I didn't go crazy with the tree nuts, but I did put on my Alterna-Daring Baker Hat and modified the recipe so it was made with my favorite nut that's really a legume, the peanut. Yes, Blondie. It's a Peanut Gateau with Peanut Brittle Praline Buttercream and a thin shmear of your favorite strawberry jam. Actually I feel pretty badly because this was supposed to be your birthday cake. But my kitchen is only just now ready to prepare anything more than slice and bake cookies. Any way, you're living the high life in Vegas now, so you prolly won't miss this cake much...
But I digress...I know that this post is going to get long, so I'll first refer you to this month's host Mele Cotte's post for the full filbert recipe should you be able to indulge in the the loveliest tree nut of the bunch--no offense cashews, you know I'd eat you, too, if I could.
Sooo...first scanning the recipe of the genoise, I was a bit fearful regarding the amount of nuts needed and how it would work with peanuts. Could I use a straight substitution? How would it taste with lemon rind mixed in with peanuts? I started searching for a peanut genoise recipe and stumbled upon this recipe. The technique seemed to match up with the filbert recipe, though the nut ratio was different. I spent most of this month packing and moving and unpacking so I didn't have time to experiment, so I decided to go with the genoise recipe that was intended for the peanuts to begin with. The peanut recipe was super easy and it was exciting to see my mixture triple in volume. I quickly poured it into an 8 inch round pan before it started losing volume. And tossed it into the oven. Within about 15 minutes it was done.
Next the Sugar Syrup:
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.
You have the option here to add in liqueur, but since I was changing the recipe to peanut, I decided to keep it simple and omitted it here.
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 tsp. vanilla
Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.
Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*
On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.
Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.
Again you have the option to add 1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice here. I again chose to omit the liqueur here.
When my buttercream isn't getting fluffy and whipping up, I recommend adding an additional egg white, I use the pasteurized whites and I just toss them in the mixer.
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Peanuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.
**I can verify that it is extremely hot. I have the blister on my left index finger to prove it. That said, it was very cool to make my own brittle.
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick strawberry preserves
1 Tbsp. water
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.
Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed
Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!
Here also you have the option of adding a liqueur which I omitted.
Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.
Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.
Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.
Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.
Garnish cake by piping reserved buttercream.
Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
The cake was delicious. The strawberry glaze added a nice hint of acidity that balanced well with the cake. It will probably go to my office tomorrow. As with all the Daring Baker Challenges I had fun making it--especially dumping the ganache on the cake. Though the next time I give this cake a try it will be on a weekend, when I have time to concentrate fully on this. Also...not such the great cake to make during a hot NY summer.
Watch the Nest-Spresso, an Egg Incubator, on SNL
28 minutes ago