Companion Cube Cake

As a huge fan of the game Portal and Portal 2 I decided that for my 25th anniversary I wanted a special cake and it had to be none other than a companion cube!

I had tried to make one before with buttercream but didn't turn out like i wanted it to, it wasn't perfect, so this time I was armed with everything I needed to make the perfect Companion cube! Except time, like always. So I enlisted my best friend to help me out and we both stayed up until 2 A.M. to finish this very tiny cake. 

The intention was to make 4 companion cubes, but at 2 A.M. I called it quits. I was able to finish one cake and by then my friend was already falling asleep on the table so that had to be that.


I'm still very proud of this accomplishment and is definitely one of my favorite cakes ever!

I still wish to make another companion cube but next time in real size. That wold be an amazing cake to have, don't you agree?!

Hope you enjoyed my tiny little companion cube cake.

Kisses,
Diana

Get to know my work!

Hi!

Today I want to share with you guys some of the things I've done using chocolate, from bonbons to chocolate sculptures.

I love working with chocolate and hope you enjoy the short video "Working with chocolate" - just click on the link and a new page will open so that you can always come back here and try doing some chocolates yourself!



Lots of love,
Diana

Portuguese egg yolk cream!

One of my favorite creams, if not my favorite is definitely the "Doce de ovos" or a close translation "sweet egg". This is what you find inside the traditional "Ovos Moles de Aveiro" but less cooked.


It's a traditional cream developed in the convents over the years by the nuns to use up the leftover egg yolks from ironing their uniforms. At the time Portugal monasteries had a lot of sugar from our colonies so a lot of the traditional Portuguese candies consist of eggs, sugar and sometimes almonds.

This cream is actually quite easy to make and only requires 3 ingredients. The only down side is that you need a lot eggs and have a lot of leftover egg whites.


So to make this heavenly golden syrup you are going to need 8 egg yolks, 125 grams of sugar and 50 ml of water, this will be enough to fill and cover a small cake. And let me tell you, you won't believe how easy it is to make!

During all of this recipe we need to be super careful to not over mix the egg yolks. We want a very silky texture to the final product and if we over mix instead of silky and transparent we end up with a velvety texture and an opaque cream. It's not the end of the world at all and you might want to make the last one in some situations, but let's stick with the real deal and what is traditional. So moral of the story is: don't over mix and add air bubbles!



The first thing you need to do is bring to a boil the water and the sugar and then let it boil for 5 minutes. while that is boiling you want to grab your egg yolks and strain them through a very fine sieve 3 times using a spatula or a knife, this removes then fine layer that is around the egg yolk and makes sure that your yolks are well mixed but without air bubbles in them.



When the sugar syrup (the sugar and water boiled) is finished we are going to add it to the egg yolks very slowly as to not end up with cooked sweet scrambled eggs. We want to add the syrup in a fine string while mixing at the same time, making sure to not cook the egg but rather rise the egg yolks temperature.


Transfer the mixture back to the pan and then, using a whisk return to a medium heat and keep whisking slightly, always being careful not to over mix, you just want to "stroll" your whisk around the bottom of you pan to make sure that you don't end up with lumps of cooked egg yolk. 



When the cream begins to thicken you are going to whisk a bit quicker but always in a calm manner, and now you start to check if your cream is thick enough, for this you need a plate and a spoon.  



Remove the cream from the heat and add a bit of it to the plate, pass it with the back of a spoon and if the cream is set it will part like the red sea and stay like that, and that's when you know it's ready. If you want a thicker cream you can keep going until your whisk starts to make a pattern on the cream.



Pour the cream onto a bowl and cover with cling film, but make sure it's touching the cream or else it will form a crust on top.



Now that it is finished and cooled down you can use it for whatever you want! The sky is the limit!

Enjoy!

Tempering Chocolate at home


Hi everyone, so today I'm going to be talking about one of my favorite things, Chocolate! Mainly I'm going to tell you how you can temper your own chocolate at home without a lot of mess and waste of chocolate. So that you too can make chocolate bonbons and any other kind of chocolate decorations!

The technique I'm going to tell you about is one of the most basic ones, it's tempering chocolate through seeding the chocolate crystals.

What you are going to need it good quality chocolate and for that you need to check your label. you need your chocolate to contain: cocoa mass or cocoa liquor, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla and a emulsifier like soy lecithin. It can NOT have any oils at all! No hydrogenated palm oil, no vegetable fats, at all! If they have oils you will not be able to temper your chocolate not to mention that these are really bad for your health.


The basic ingredients to chocolate are cocoa liquor, that is the 1st extraction of the cocoa beans, after it is processed it gives us cocoa mass, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. These are the ingredients you want in your chocolates. Besides these one you can have sugar, vanilla extract, powdered milk. 


  

To make dark chocolate you need the cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and sugar, to make milk chocolate you only need to alter the amount of each item and add in powdered milk. But to make white chocolate what you need is cocoa butter, powdered milk and sugar, usually all 3 chocolates have vanilla extract added to them.

Yes, I am repeating myself, but it is really important that you know this.

Why temper chocolate?
Well, chocolate is composed of crystals, and when you melt chocolate those crystals separate. With the technique I'm showing you you melt the chocolate and separate all of the crystal in it, then you had tempered chocolate that melt into your chocolate but doesn't melt the composition of those crystal that end up tempering your chocolate.

For this you will need: 600 g of dark chocolate, because it's always easier to use dark chocolate because it has a higher content of cocoa mass. Divide 400 g and melt them over a double boiler being careful to not let any steam from the water form and get into your chocolate, chocolate hates water and if it's just steam you won't see any difference until the chocolate is set, so be careful with that.

Use a very dry bowl that is 2 times bigger than the pot, make sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl, you don't want to burn your chocolate and stir your chocolate occasionally, and keep an eye on it. You don't want to be multi-tasking when melting chocolate since the last thing we want is a lump of burned chocolate that tastes like ashes and you can't use for anything.

I do advise you to have a digital thermometer so that you can check the temperature of your chocolate. Don't use a laser thermometer since that one only measures the temperature of the surface, so your chocolate can be burning on the bottom and you won't know until it's too late.

Your dark chocolate should not go over 45 to 50ºC or 113 to 122ºF. Your milk and white chocolate should not exceed 40 to 45ºC or 104 to 113ºF.

When fully melted let them chocolate rest for 5 to 10 minutes so it cools down a bit and then add the 200gr left of your chocolate and make sure it's all covered, then let it sit for 1 minute and after, mix well. Check the temperature, it should be 31 to 32º C (87 to 90ºF) for dark chocolate, 29 to 30ºC (84 to 86ºF) for milk chocolate and 28 to 29ºC (82 to 84ºF) for white chocolate.



If the chocolate is too hot let it sit for a bit and mix it every once in a while until it is at the right temperature, if it's too cold put it over the double boiler not on the stove and mix, but be careful not to let it go over the right temperature.

And you now have tempered chocolate! Not the easiest thing ever but practice does make perfect and in no time you'll be able to temper chocolate with ease.

Hope you enjoy!

Coconut Kisses Recipe!

For today, we are having some fresh baked coconut kisses!






These are super easy to make, all you need is the same amount of sugar and coconut, and some eggs!

Ingredients:
300 g/ 10.6 oz Dried shredded coconut
300 g/10.6 oz Sugar
6 egg
zest of 1 lemon is optional but i like it
some candied cherries for the top

First mix in the sugar with the coconut until you have an even mixture. Add the eggs one at a time then let rest for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven at 118ºC/356ºF.

Use a big star tip like the Wilton 1M and pipe in a swirl motion. If the batter is too think add a bit more egg, not a hole egg, just beat up one egg and mix in a bit at a time, if it's too liquid, just add equal amounts of sugar and coconut. Just don't go crazy here, they will deform a bit in the oven, we just want some texture and form.

Or you can just scoop out the batter onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Add half or a hole cherry on top, in the picture i only have a quarter of a cherry, terrible idea since the best part of these is the cherry on top!

Then take to the oven for around 10 to 15 minutes, but do keep an eye on them.  Take them out when they are to your taste, i like mine not too dark so I take them out early on, but it's really up to you.

Let them cool down a bit before removing from the tray and serve at room temperature

I hope you like these as much as I do, let me know if you try these and feel free to share some pictures!

Kisses.

White and Dark Chocolate Liqueur Truffles

Today I made some delicious white chocolate liqueur truffles, with a dark chocolate coating and covered in toasted pistachio and cacao nibs.






To make these you will need: What you are going to need to make these is:

300 g/10.60 oz Butter
100 g/3.50 oz Icing sugar
600 g/2.10 oz melted White chocolssate
70 g/2.50 oz a liqueur of your choice (I used 40 g of mint liqueur and 30 g of rhum)
(400 g+200 g) 600 g/21 oz  Dark tempered Chocolate (you can use white or milk if you prefer)
q.b. cacao nibs
q.b. cacao powder or anything you want to coat your truffles with


First things first, melt the white chocolate over a double boiler mixing the chocolate well and almost all of the time, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Don't let it get over 45ºC or 113ºF, you can use your finger to measure the temperature if you don't have a thermometer. You shouldn't burn yourself, if it does burn your finger a bit it means it's too hot for the chocolate, remove immediately from the heat and the double boiler.
Take your time here, it may not melt completely over the heat and you may need to take it off the heat before it's completely melted and that's okay, because the heat from the double boiler will melt the rest of the chocolate without burning it.
Let the chocolate cool down but not set.

Next beat in the butter with the icing sugar until you get a creamy consistency. After that add in the melted white chocolate and the liqueurs and mix in well.

Now you have different choices, you can let it set until firm and afterwards mold into little balls with the same weigh like I did or cut it into squares or you can use a pipping bag and make make Kiss like truffles or even use chocolate molds and use this mixture as a filling for chocolate bonbons.

If you chose to do the same as me, then let the mixture set in a greased container. I put mine in the fridge to be a bit quicker!

Prepare a tray that fits in the fridge with grease proof paper to place you truffles in.

After  it's all set you need to divide you chocolate mixture, I used a scale to make sure every piece was the same, but you don't need to do that, and then I rolled each piece by hand. You can also just cut them into squares, it's a lot easier!

When it's all done just pop the tray in the fridge and remember to take it out 5 minutes before you have to dip them.

Now is time to temper our chocolate! Notice that I divided the 600 g/21 oz in to two parts (1/3 and 2/3), this is so we can temper our chocolate and get that nice crunchy texture to it.

So put your 400 g/14 oz of chocolate in a double boiler, and the process is the same as the white chocolate we melted before, but since we are using dark chocolate you can let it go up to 50ºC or 122ºF but not above it.

Now you need to divide you chocolate mixture, I used a scale to make sure every piece was the same weigh, but you don't need to do that, and then I rolled each piece by hand. You can also just cut it into squares, it's a lot easier!

After it's melted, let it set for about 5 minutes, mixing every now and again. Then add portions of the remaining chocolate a bit at a time and mix in well, making sure it is well melted before adding any more, also we have to be careful since we don't want to end up with pieces of unmelted chocolate. We want our chocolate to be well tempered and at the right temperature. For that we need to keep checking the temperature it should be around 31ºC/87/88ºF, if you don't have a thermometer you can dip your finger and place a bit of chocolate in your bottom lip. If it's at the same temperature it means it's ready to use.

It is now time to dip our truffles!

Make sure you have a tray lined with grease proof paper, again, and you have some plates filled with what you are using to coat your truffles. I used some chopped toasted pistachio and some cacao nibs, you can use anything you want, it's really up to you!

Get a fork or two ready and a knife, it's time to start dipping your truffles!

My tips are:
- make sure you submerge the truffle completely
- tap off the excess chocolate well
- make sure to swipe the fork on the side of the bowl before transferring your truffle to the coating station or the grease proof paper

This is to make sure you have a perfect truffle! Sometimes too much chocolate really isn't the way to go.

After dipping your truffle and removing the excess chocolate, you can place it in the plate with the pistachio (or wtv) and with your hand coat the chocolate completely. Since I was doing so many i used a bowl with the pistachio and place 3 coated truffles at a time and then just shook the bowl to coat them completely.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, let me know if you try this out and share some pictures!
Kisses!

Sugar sculpture Christmas edition!

Hi everyone!

So today at school we had our pulled and blown sugar exam and since we are so close to Christmas and to keep with the theme of the last sugar sculpture I decided to go with a jolly sugary sculpture!

Made the snowman and the Christmas tree out out blown sugar, super tricky to do, but not has tricky has those pumpkins from last time, but still had some attempts shattering all over me and everywhere else, stormed out of the room more times than I'd like to admit, but over all, I'm super happy with how it turned out, specially since it probably my 4th day trying to work with sugar.


The tricky parts where gluing the balls to the Christmas tree without it breaking. The bows and ties and the snowman's tiny little finger were also a nightmare and one of those fingers broke of, but we'll just pretend not to see it! 


Overall I'm very proud of what I did and really enjoyed the experience and I'm looking forward to working with sugar in the future!

What do you think?

Birthday Cake

My boyfriends birthday is tomorrow, so I'm giving him this cake for his birthday!


Do you thinks he's going to like it? It's a chocolate sponge cake with condensed milk and white chocolate with strawberry filling.

Portuguese Delights

This time in pastry class we made some traditional pastry's.
These are called "Delícias" meaning delights!




Let me know if you'd like me to give you the recipe to make these!