28 abr. 2016

Raspberry Millefeuille with Vegan Lemon Pastry Cream

At last I can share with you this delicious recipe! It was scheduled for last week but things got a litlle bit messy and the recipe didn't come out as I expected...so after cursing a few times (you wouldn't like to see me angry when I have to throw around two cups of cashew cream in the trash), I decided to start all over again and try with a different version. Let me explain what happened these days.
My initial idea was to make vegan puff pastry for these millefeuilles and a cashew vanilla custard; the puff pastry tasted good but it wasn't puffy enough, actually it was a bit brittle so after all the mess that I caused in the kitchen (and tired from all the hand kneading) I ended up eating broken pieces of that unsuccessfully baked dough as a late afternoon snack. It tasted like some kind of bland cookie, but whatever. I think it is good to also share my culinary failures or those things that come out good but they are too average for my taste. Truth is that before you truly nail a new recipe you must try a few times and learn from your mistakes, until you get to make what you had in mind.
The other thing that didn't come out really good was the vanilla cashew custard, I took the recipe from Fran Costigan's 'Vegan Chocolate'; this is the first time that I get disappointed by a recipe from this cookbook, actually it's one of my favorites. I followed all the steps and did it all okay but the texture that you get from a cashew-based cream is not really smooth, not that delicious creaminess that one would expect from a typical vanilla pastry cream, it was also too thick. It might work as a filling for cookie sandwiches and some kind of pies but definitely not for millefeuilles, éclairs or other type of desserts that call for smooth creams.
So I spent the whole weekend investigating, browsing through some old cookbooks and finally created a vegan version of my family's favorite vanilla custard filling. I tweaked some quantities and infused the soy milk with lemon to create a refreshing and summery cream that pairs so well with raspberries! You must try this one, it really tastes super good!
As for the puff pastry dough, I won't give up, sooner or later I will make my own super puffy and healthy dough (fingers crossed!). But for this recipe I used ready-made dough, hope you can forgive me! And if you have a good recipe for vegan puff pastry to share with me it would be so awesome, I've done the buttery version before but I try to eat as healthy as possible and keep my inherited high cholesterol under control.

Raspberry Millefeuille with Vegan Lemon Pastry Cream
(Makes 4 millefeuilles)

- Filling: 
Lemon pastry cream:
2 cups soy milk.
1/3 cup organic whole cane sugar.
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract.
The peel of half a lemon.
A scant 1/2 cup cornstarch.
1/4 cup soy milk, at room temperature.
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine.

Fresh raspberries.

- For the puff pastry:
2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry dough.
Confectioners sugar.

- Decoration:
Confectioners sugar.
Dark chocolate, melted.

- To make the vegan lemon pastry cream:
In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat stir together 2 cups of soy milk, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon and bring to a boil. Discard the lemon peel and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl stir together the cornstarch and the other 1/4 cup of soy milk, mix well. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan with infused milk and cook, over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent any curdling. Keep whisking (with a hand whisk) until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency, it will take up to 5 minutes approximately.
Once the cream is thick remove from the heat immediately and stir in the margarine, it will melt in just a few seconds and will add a velvety and smooth finish to the cream.
Let it cool completely at room temperature, covering the surface of the cream with plastic wrap as this will prevent a skin from forming on the top.
Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
- To prepare the puff pastry dough:
Preheat oven to 200 ºC (392 ºF).
Roll out the dough over a piece of parchment paper and divide it into 12 equal rectangles (each millefeuille will have three layers). Poke holes with a fork all over the dough and transfer to a baking sheet by gently lifting the paper. Depending on the size of your store-bought puff pastry dough you will have some leftover rectangles. Cover with parchment paper.
Place a second baking sheet pressed over the top to keep the rectangles from puffing up.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. 
To caramelize the pastry, sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar creating a thin layer over the baked pastry. Bake for a few minutes using the broil function until the sugar is melted.
Set aside to cool.

- To assemble the millefeuille:
Prepare a pastry bag with a round tip and fill with the lemon cream.
Place one layer of puff pastry on the serving plate, arrange the raspberries, pipe the cream in-between and in the centre; repeat the process again and place the third pastry layer. A classic millefeuille cake has three layers of pastry and two layers of cream. 
Finally dust the top with confectioners sugar and a drizzle of dark chocolate. 
Assemble the rest of the cakes following the method above.

13 abr. 2016

Sweet Breakfast Couscous

This recipe was a nice and unexpected surprise to me, at first I thought it was going to taste like some kind of oatmeal but it is more tasty! Hey, I still love my chia oatmeal but it's great to satisfy your tastebuds when they are asking for something different.
I've said it was a nice surprise cause I tried this couscous on a lazy rainy sunday, I was bored and thought it was the perfect moment to cook a new recipe for the blog. Turns out those impromptu cooking moments give me some of my favorite recipes; don't you love it when you taste something you've cooked for the first time and it tastes so much better than you expected?!
My breakfast version of couscous is comforting, with just the right amount of sweetness, spiced and full of healthy energy for your body. The presence of cinnamon in this recipe reminds me of the classic Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) that my mom makes...gosh I've been craving it so much lately!
I'd suggest you to eat this couscous immediately after it's done, since you will best enjoy its creamy texture and flavor. Feel free to use the toppings you prefer, you can leave out the dates and add a bit of shredded coconut for example. I personally like to pair this sweet couscous with slices of banana and strawberries, plus an extra drizzle of maple syrup.

Receta en español muy pronto en la web de El Granero Integral!

Sweet Breakfast Couscous
(4 servings approximately)

1 cup organic couscous.
2 cups oat milk.
3 to 4 tablespoons organic whole cane sugar.
One cinnamon stick.
Lemon peel.
- Toppings:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
A small pinch of ground ginger.
Two dates, chopped.
Mixed nuts.
Banana and strawberries, sliced.

Put the couscous in a heat resistant bowl or container. Set aside.
Pour the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add in the sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon peel (remember to use only the yellow part of the skin, discard the white part to avoid any bitterness). Stir a bit to dissolve the sugar. 
Bring the milk to a boil, remove the cinnamon and lemon peel and pour the hot milk over the bowl with the couscous. Do not stir, cover the bowl and let it rest for up to 10 minutes, or until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed but it's still creamy and juicy.
Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and ginger, stir and top with your favorite nuts, chopped dates and a few slices of banana and strawberries.

7 abr. 2016

Berrylicious Protein Smoothie

This week I'm sharing with you a fresh and delicious smoothie with berries and a good dose of healthy plant-based protein. After my last post, a decadent Chocolate Boston Cream Cake, I thought it was good to make something more on the healthy side, easy, quick and with a vibrant spring vibe. 
This smoothie makes a great and complete breakfast but I love to drink it after an intense workout session cause it helps me hydrate and get a lot of vitamins, good-for-you proteins and it makes me feel full and re-energized until the next meal. 
You can make your own version using different types of milks (rice, almond, etc.), subbing the blueberries with other fresh (or frozen) berries or simply leaving the blueberries out; it will still taste delicious. 
I love to use natural peanut butter in this recipe but you can pretty much use whatever nut butter you want, though if you don't have PB I'd recommend almond butter or white tahini.
Nut butters are a great source of plant-based protein but to make this smoothie more complete I added one tablespoon of pea protein powder. Feel free to leave it out if protein powders are not your thing...or use a scoop of your favorite protein powder.

Receta en español aquí!

Berrylicious Protein Smoothie
(Yield: 2 tall, XL smoothies or 4 normal smoothies)

1 to 1 1/2 cups oat milk.*
1 cup fresh strawberries, cut in halves.
1/2 cup fresh blueberries.
1 medium ripe banana.
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter.
1 tablespoon agave syrup.
1/4 cup rolled oats.
1 tablespoon pea protein powder.

If you want your smoothie less thick try increasing the milk to 1 1/2 cups or start with 1 cup and gradually add more until you reach the desired consistency.

Thoroughly wash and drain the strawberries and blueberries. Cut the strawberries in halves before measuring. 
Cut the banana into medium-big chunks.
Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the consistency by adding more milk if you like your smoothies less thick.
Pour the smoothie into a tall cup and drink immediately.

24 mar. 2016

Chocolate Boston Cream Cake

This was the cake I made for my mom's birthday. She's a chocoholic like myself so every year when I ask her what type of cake she wants for her big day the answer is always the same 'something very chocolaty'. Her favorite cake is the Sachertorte (this one) and I've been baking it for the last two years so it was about time to try a new recipe. 
As I was browsing through my cookbooks I saw a super tempting recipe of Boston Cream Doughnuts and suddenly I remembered how tasty my pastry cream is. So that recipe gave me the inspiration to bake a chocolaty version of the famous Boston Cream Pie and oh boy! it was a total success!!!
I baked two classic chocolate génoise cakes, spread a super (SUPER) generous amount of smooth pastry cream between each layer and frosted this fluffy and tender birthday cake with my go-to dark chocolate ganache. The 70% dark chocolate I use to make this ganache adds a beautiful and irresistible contrast to the sweetness of the vanilla pastry cream.
I hope you like it!
Now I'm off to enjoy this long Easter weekend we have in Spain. :-)

Receta en español aquí!

(Yield: one 22cm/9-inch diameter cake with two layers).

- For the chocolate génoise, make two recipes with the following ingredients:
60 g all-purpose flour.
40 g pure cocoa powder.
4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature.
Pinch of baking soda.
120 g organic cane sugar.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
50 g organic butter, melted.

- For the pastry cream filling:
5 free-range egg yolks, at room temperature.
125 g organic cane sugar.
50 g cornstarch.
625 ml milk of your choice, at room temperature.
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.
75-100 g white chocolate, chopped.

- For the dark chocolate ganache:
200 g dark chocolate, chopped.
250 ml milk of your choice.*
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar.
Pinch of salt.
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (optional).

- Decoration:
White chocolate, grated.

- For the pastry cream I always use low-fat milk but you can use full-fat milk.
- For the dark chocolate ganache I like to use soy milk but you can also use almond milk.

- To make the chocolate génoise:
The quantities listed above are for one cake layer so to make a two-layer cake you will need to make two recipes.
Lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper of a round 22 cm/9-inch cake pan (or if you are going to make two layers like me, prepare two pans).
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/338ºF.
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and set aside in a warm place.
In the bowl of your stand mixer place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract and whisk on high speed until the mixture looks pale and fluffy, it should have tripled in volume.
Gently sift flour mixture over egg mixture in three additions using a spatula. Right before the last addition carefully fold in the still-warm butter until the mixture is just evenly combined. Take care not to overmix and deflate the batter.
Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan and lightly tap on the counter to get rid of possible air bubbles.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Let sit in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes approximately. Remove from pan and let cool completely.
Repeat the process to make a second layer.

- To make the pastry cream:
In a medium saucepan bring the milk to a boil. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl vigorously whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Gradually add in the cornstarch and keep whisking until fluffy. Add in the milk and stir until incorporated. 
Set this mixture over a medium-low heat again and cook, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, for a minute or two approximately. Once the cream starts to thicken finish the cooking process away from the heat, stirring quickly and vigorously to get a smooth, velvety pastry cream. Add in the white chocolate until fully melted and incorporated, from 75 g to 100 g, it's up to your taste.
Store the pastry cream covered with plastic wrap, touching directly the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
Let it cool completely before using.

- To make the dark chocolate ganache:
Put the milk, sugar and salt in small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to boil.
Remove from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate, gently whisk until the chocolate is fully melted. If using, add in the vanilla extract and stir until the ganache looks smooth and glossy. Keep the ganache at room temperature.

- To assemble the cake:
Spread a generous amount of vanilla pastry cream over the first layer and carefully place the second layer on top.
Cover the whole cake with half of the ganache, refrigerate until set and finish the coating with the remaining ganache. Store refrigerated.
Decorate with grated white chocolate and let the cake set at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

16 mar. 2016

Easter Chocolates

These chocolates are a good option if you are looking for a fancy and grown up Easter treat to bring to a family gathering. Don't get me wrong, I do like chocolate bunnies and eggs, and here are quite a few proofs: my first Easter cake, these vanilla cupcakes with chocolate eggs on top, or that time I was in full choco-beast mode and made these luscious Millionaire's Banofee Tarts and my vanilla cupcakes with a super creamy avocado chocolate frosting from last year...yep, these ones were also decorated with cute bunny and egg toppers.
So I felt a little rebel this time and thought about making something chocolaty (Easter = chocolate overdose) yet different from what I've done in the past. Plus it was the perfect excuse to finally use my new chocolate molds.
Wish I could have more time to make a second Easter recipe but my mom's birthday is in four days and still haven't decided what kind of cake I will bake to surprise her, one thing's for sure: there will be an almost indecent amount of chocolate.
Let's talk about the fillings I made for these chocolates. I adapted two of my favorite ganache and filling recipes: the first one is a vegan 'Dulce de Leche', the original recipe is a chocolaty version of this classic caramelized milk and it's from Fran Costigan's cookbook 'Vegan Chocolate'. I simply omitted the last two ingredients (dark chocolate and vanilla) in order to make it look more like a toffee sauce. It's so creamy and delicious! Tip: if you aren't planning to make a big batch of chocolates keep in mind that there will be plenty of Dulce de Leche leftover, use it for waffles, pancakes or ice creams...do not throw it away! It will last for up to two weeks in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
The other filling is an orange chocolate ganache: an adapted version of the delicious Rich Chocolate Ganache Topping from Isa Chandra's and Terry Hope's cookbook 'Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World'. If you let this ganache set in the fridge overnight it will get firm and with a texture very similar to truffles. By the way, I also made some small truffles with the leftover ganache, so deliciously creamy that they are disappearing very quickly!

Receta en español aquí!

Easter Chocolates
(Yield: 30 chocolates, 15 salted caramel chocolates and 15 orange ganache chocolates)

- For the chocolates:
300 g/10 oz dark chocolate (70 %).
- For the salted caramel filling:
1 can full-fat coconut milk (400 ml/14 oz approximately).
1/2 cup coconut sugar.
1 tablespoon agave syrup.
1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt.
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum.*

- For the orange ganache:
1/4 cup soy milk.
113 g/4 oz dark chocolate, chopped.
2 tablespoons maple syrup.
2 drops orange essential oil.

*Use 1/8 teaspoon of xanthan gum if your coconut milk already contains some thickening agent like guar gum. If not, add 1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum to thicken the sauce.

I recommend making the fillings the day before so they set overnight and get firm enough to fill the chocolates.
- To make the salted caramel filling:
Combine the coconut milk, sugar, agave syrup, salt, and xanthan gum in a blender. Start blending on low and increase the speed to high. Blend for 1 minute until the sugar is disolved.
Pour into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally just until the mixture begins to bubble.
Raise the heat to high and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil furiously. Stir frequently for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat up or down as necessary to mantain a steady boil.
Once the mixture has reduced, let it cool at room temperature and then pour into a clean jar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. It will last up to two weeks in the fridge.
- To make the orange ganache filling:
Bring the soy milk to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and maple syrup. Use a heatproof silicone spatula to mix the chocolate until it is fully melted and smooth. Stir in the orange essential oil. Set aside at room temperature until cold and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the chocolates:
Temper the chocolate:
When we are using chocolate for coating, such as when making truffles and confectionery the tempering method makes it look more glossy and helps to prevent the chocolate from quickly melting when we are touching the chocolates, truffles or bars. Tempering chocolate might seem a little tricky the first time and it does require some precision, a good sugar thermometer and patience. Don't get mad if at first you don't succeed (it took me several times to nail it), if your chocolate begins to harden or thickens too quickly while filling the molds then melt it again using the double boiler method.
The easiest way to temper small amounts of chocolate at home is called the 'seeding' method, which involves stirring unmelted chocolate into melting chocolate that has been heated to 45 ºC (113 ºF). 
To temper 300 g (10 oz) chocolate, first chop 200 g of it and finely grate or chop the remaining 100 g. Place the 200 g of chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the hot water. Use the sugar thermometer to check the temperature of the chocolate. When it has reached 45 º C, remove from the heat and stir in the 100g finely grated chocolate. Keep stirring until the temperature of the mixture drops to 28 ºC. Set the bowl over the pan of gently simmering water again and heat to 31 ºC. The chocolate is now tempered and ready for use.

Fill the molds:
Pour a little of the couverture into each chocolate mould (30 chocolates in total), then turn them upside down so that the insides are fully coated and the excess drips out. Wipe off any chocolate from around the edges of the moulds. Chill until set.
Fill 15 chocolates with the salted caramel sauce until they are almost filled to the top. Give the moulds a shake to even the surface of the filling. Chill again, then cover the filling with more of the tempered chocolate. Quickly smooth the surface with a palette knife.
Fill the other 15 chocolates with the orange ganache and repeat the process above. The quantity of ganache that you should use will depend on the type of mold and its shape. I would recommend though to drop about 1/4 teaspoon of ganache per chocolate.
Leave the chocolates in the fridge to set, then release them from their moulds.
They will keep well stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.