Friday, October 31, 2008

Ghost Milkshakes

Ghost MilkshakesEvery year, we make these ghost milkshakes as many times as we can between Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October) and Halloween. If the kids had their way, they'd have them every day between these two days. This idea is one from the brilliant minds at Martha Stewart, and we've been making them every year since I saw it in their Halloween Holiday magazine. Click here to see how the professional milkshakes look; these are the ones my kids made.


Ghost Face:
4 tablespoons chocolate chips (we used semi-sweet, but you could use bittersweet or milk chocolate)

2 cups vanilla ice cream (our favorite brand is President's Choice Vanilla)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whipped Cream (homemade is our favorite, but we used chocolate whipped cream from a can for this version)

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

For the ghost face: Melt the chocolate either in a double-boiler or in the microwave. With a toothpick or paintbrush, paint a ghost face on the inside of a clear glass. Put the glass in the freezer while you make the milkshake and whipped cream.

For the milkshake: In a blender, combine ice cream, milk and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.

For the whipped cream: Whip cream until almost stiff. Add sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until cream holds peaks. Put into a piping bag. (I have a Whipped Cream Dispenser which makes making and piping whipped cream easy.

Take the glass out of the freezer. Fill with the milkshake. Top with the whipped cream. Serve with a spoon and a straw.

Happy Halloween!

Check out these Christmas milkshakes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whisk Wednesdays—Beignets de Langoustines or Crevettes (Langoustine or Shrimp Fritters)

Beignets de Crevettes (Shrimp Fritters)More deep-frying this week. I swear, my doctor isn't going to be pleased with this curriculum I'm working through. Butter, deep frying, plus all the treats I'm making for Tuesdays with Dorie and Daring Bakers. I usually like to "hibernate" in winter and worry about beaches and bathing suits in Spring, but I really should start my workout regimen now given how much damage I've been doing lately.

Here's a bit of background about deep frying and me. When I was met my husband, he was living with some roommates during university who loved the mini countertop deep-fryer they shared. They would deep-fry everything, including broccoli, and they'd never change the oil. "The dirtier, the better," they would declare. And then, one of the first appliances my husband wanted to buy after getting married was a countertop deep-fryer. We kept it for awhile, deep frying the occasional bag of frozen French fries. But, I never liked the smell of fried food in the house so we would have to plug it in on the deck outside (even in winter!). I finally got rid of it in a garage sale. When I was pregnant, my sensitivity to smell heightened even more, and I had to open all the windows and close our bedroom door lest any cooking smells made their way up there and cause fitful, restless sleep. More recently, I have been deep frying lots of food and almost had a kitchen fire when the oil bubbled over onto the stove. So, you see, deep frying is not something I really like to do. But it's something I've been doing a lot of lately (from fries to fish to pizza dough and now shrimp). I still don't like the smell, but I love the crunch, so is it worth it? Now and then, I guess.

How To
This week it's deep-fried shrimp that's been marinated, battered and fried. Although the recipe called for langoustines, I found shrimp easily at the big box grocery store and stuck with that. First, I marinated the shrimp in lemon, parsley and olive oil for about an hour. While it was marinating, I prepared the batter.

The batter called for both flour and potato flour. I had some potato flour, but not enough so I used regular flour as a substitute. To the flours, I added baking powder for leavener, salt for flavor, water to lighten the batter, and olive oil to keep it from forming a crust. I actually added an extra cup of water since it seemed more like dough than batter before that. After resting this mixture for 1 hour, I added whipped egg whites for more leavener and lightness.

Then, I dipped the shrimp in the batter and lowered them into the hot 350˚F oil to cook until golden brown, which didn't take very long.

Although I was supposed to make a fancy tartar sauce to go with this, I made one a couple weeks ago and didn't want to make another version. Instead of adding even more fat to my diet, I blended some Hellman's Mayonnaise and Kraft Thousand Island dressing and made a just-as-good dipping sauce for my shrimp, and probably just as fatty!


Beignets de Crevettes (Shrimp Fritters) mise en placeYou can find the recipe for Beignets de Langoustines or Crevettes (Langoustine or Shrimp Fritters) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Beignets de Crevettes (Shrimp Fritters)Tasting Notes
These were crispy and delicious dipped into my easy "tartar" sauce. I have about 2 cups left of batter. Should I deep fry some more food? I don't know. It's wintry and blustery and cold to open all the windows in the house now!

Today was the first (and a very early) snow day in Ottawa. Although the kids hoped for an official snow day where they could stay home from school, it was not as bad as predicted by the weather officials who thought it would be a "Humdinger" of a snow storm so they had to go to school after all. I got to use this snowflake plate (thanks, Mom!), however, to represent this auspicious but depressing day and photograph my shrimp in the snow.

Next Week (November 5)
• Pavés de Rumsteak au Poivre Vert (Sirloin Steaks with Green Peppercorns) pages 127-128

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $811.80 + $12.00 (shrimp) + $5.45 (marinade and batter) = $829.25

Butter used so far: 8 pounds, 3 tablespoons

. . . . . . . . . .
::Whisk Wednesdays::
We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers—Pizza

White Chocolate Toasted Pistachio with Ground Cherries and Passion Fruit Filling in deep-fried pizza doughAll month I've been wondering what to do with this month's Daring Baker challenge. Pizza just isn't the draw for me that it used to be before kids. Now, it's on the menu way too often at our house. So, what to do to make it interesting.

Here's what I came up with: deep-fried pizza dough sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and filled with white chocolate, toasted pistachios, ground cherries, and passion fruit. Since the pizza dough recipe makes a lot of dough, we also made cheese pizza that was so popular the kids fought over the last piece. And, I made a grown-up pizza topped with fajita chicken, salsa, and mushrooms. Everything was delicious!

To see the different versions of pizza cropping up all over the foodblogosphere, check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll. Thanks to Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums who hosted this month’s Daring Bakers event.

Also, we were asked to try tossing our own pizza dough. I tried, but caused a major hole in my dough. Here are two fun videos that show a couple of pros tossing pizza dough.

Recipe—Basic Pizza Dough

from Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches in diameter)

Ingredients for Pizza Dough4½ cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 grams) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
¼ cup (2 ounces/60 grams) olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1¾ cups (14 ounces/420 grams or 420 mL) water, ice cold (40°F/4.5°C)
1 tablespoon sugar
semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

Note: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.

The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

Note: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

Note: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

Note: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow it to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

Note: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Note: Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and re-flour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully, then try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Note: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

Note: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Chicken Fajita Pizza
Chicken Fajita Pizza

Recipe—Deep Fried Pizza Dough

Deep-fried Pizza DoughOil
Confectioners' sugar

Prepare the pizza dough up to step 11 above.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or fryer, heat the oil to 350˚F. Don't fill the pan more than one-third full. Carefully lower one piece of dough into the fryer. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Remove and press gently into a bowl to shape. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Note: You can find out more about deep frying at my post on Deep-Fried Whiting.

Recipe—White Chocolate Toasted Pistachio with Ground Cherries and Passion Fruit Filling

Makes 4 tarts

Ingredients for White Chocolate Filling2½ ounce shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted
3 ounces ground cherries (or you could use fresh cranberries)
1 ounce passion fruit
1/3 cup heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Prepare a bowl with ice water. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the ground cherries for a couple of minutes until they soften slightly but do not burst. Plunge them into the ice water and let cool. Dry on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.

Bring the cream to a boil. Pour over the white chocolate. Stir until smooth. (If the chocolate isn't completely melted, use the microwave to finish melting, but do it slowly so that the mixture doesn't separate.) Add passion fruit and butter, then stir to combine.

Scatter nuts and ground cherries in the deep-fried pizza dough, and then top with white chocolate mixture. Repeat until the deep-fried pizza dough is filled. Chill for 3 hours. Serve the same day since the fried pizza dough will not taste fresh the next day.

Note: Instead of deep-fried pizza dough, this filling is nice in a pastry tart shell or even on its own as a parfait.

White Chocolate Toasted Pistachio with Ground Cherries and Passion Fruit Filling

White Chocolate Toasted Pistachio with Ground Cherries and Passion Fruit Pizza, Tart or Parfait

Deep-fried pizza dough sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and filled with ...

See White Chocolate Toasted Pistachio with Ground Cherries and Passion Fruit Pizza, Tart or Parfait on Key Ingredient.

Here are my other Daring Bakers challenges:

Lavash Crackers and Honeydew-Peach Salsa (September 2008)
Chocolate Éclairs…Kransekage (August 2008)
Danish Braid (June 2008)
Opéra Cake (May 2008)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie—Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes baked in a rubber glove

This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, we were asked to make Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes with a Halloween twist. Although this isn't a cupcake, it does have a Halloween twist.

Hannah from BitterSweet was my inspiration for baking this cake in a latex glove. She baked the cutest cupcakes in silicon shot glasses (and I can't wait to try this too since I have these molds as well). Then, I was shopping at the grocery store keeping my mind open to possibilities, and there dangling on a clip next to the dishwashing liquid were No Name yellow latex gloves. Another inspiration was the classic Halloween punch bowl trick of freezing water in a rubber glove. Put the two together, and I came up with this Halloween cake.
The package of gloves says they're ideal for "washing dishes, handling household chemicals, gardening, polishing, cleaning windows, washing cans"
and now baking cakes.
Whisk Twist How To
To make the cake as a Witches' Hand, wash a latex glove and let dry. This recipe makes one glove plus a few cupcakes. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. Put the 8x8 pan on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to contain any overflow from the batter that seeps out during baking. Using a piping bag, fill the glove. Make sure you fill enough batter into the fingers. (Mine weren't full enough and broke easily after baking.) Don't fill the glove to the brim since the batter needs room to expand. Fold over the top of the glove. Bake the glove for 30 minutes to ensure the inside is done (but take the cupcakes out after 22-25 minutes). After the gloved cake has cooled, put it in the freezer. Once the cake is frozen, use a pair of scissors to cut off the glove, being extra careful around the fingers.

The fingers were very delicate (and actually didn't survive the glove removal in my case). To hide this problem, I wanted to use witches' fingers, but we only had three of these, so I found witches' fingernails at the dollar store. If you can find the fingers, they would look much better!


Ingredients for Chocolate-Chocolate CakeYou can find the recipe for Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or here. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger! Thanks to Clara of I Heart Food4Thought who chose the recipe for this week.

Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes baked in a rubber gloveTasting Notes
I made this cake in the summer and loved it then too. It's a delicious chocolate cake that is fast becoming my goto chocolate cake recipe. The same daughter who said she wanted the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake for her birthday cake also claimed she wanted this one as her birthday cake! She loves chocolate!
The house didn't burn down while making this cake nor did we die after eating it. Who knows what long-term effects latex will have on us, but I only plan to do this once a year around Halloween.
Warning: Some people are allergic to latex.

Here's another Halloween idea: Wacky {Cup}Cakes baked in cookie cutters for Halloween.

Recipe for Next Week (November 4)
Rugelach on page 150 chosen by Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal .

Cool Product
I get the odd email from marketers wanting me to blog about their products. I don't usually accommodate, but this one is now on my Christmas wish list: Equal Measure - Measuring Cup. Now I know that 2½ cups equals as many grains of flour as people on the planet (6.8 billion). Fun!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wacky {Cup}Cakes for Halloween

Wacky {Cup}Cakes - Halloween styleThis was the first cake I learned how to make when I was a kid, and one probably many of you did too: Wacky Cake. The recipe card I have is dated 1948, so it's a tried and true recipe that is made and loved by kids.

In fact, if you google "Wacky Cake" you can find out that it's a cake from the Great Depression when eggs and butter were rationed.

Recipe Card for Wacky CakeWhisk Twist
To change it up, I baked them in Halloween cookie cutters that I lined with foil and sprayed. I only filled them three-quarters full, and baked them a little less than the cake version. They popped out of the form perfectly.

I have always had trouble decorating cakes (I wish I were an artist), so when I stumbled across this post by Astrid from La Cerise about using tracing paper or parchment paper and chocolate, I knew I wanted to try it. As it turns out, this has also been done with buttercream. Check out this cake at Sweetmunkies and this cake at

I traced the outline of the cookie cutter (next time I'll trace the inside of the cookie cutter!) onto parchment paper. Then, I filled in the outline with melted chocolate using a piping bag (sandwich ziploc bag). After freezing the chocolate, I peeled it off the parchment paper and placed the design on top of the cake shapes.


Makes 1 8x8 pan or 9 cupcakes-in-cookie-cutters

Ingredients for Wacky CakeCake:
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water

4 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons white chocolate chips

Here are the directions to make it in an 8x8 baking pan.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt in a baking pan. Make three holes. In one hole, add the oil. In another, add the vinegar. In the last, add the vanilla. Over all, pour water and mix until blended.

Bake for 30 minutes (20-25 for the cupcake-in-cookie-cutter version).

For the frosting: Melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double-boiler or in the microwave. In a separate bowl, melt some white chocolate chips in a double-boiler or in the microwave. Fill two piping bags with each of the chocolates. Pipe the chocolate onto a tracing of the cookie cutter or right onto the cupcake.

Wacky {Cup}Cakes - Halloween styleTasting Notes
I made these after my Tuesdays with Dorie cake (coming up tomorrow) and side-by-side comparisons were interesting. The kids preferred the Wacky {Cup}Cake taste to the more chocolatey taste of Dorie's Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcake. The Wacky Cake isn't as sweet or as chocolatey, so I was surprised that the kids liked this one better. However, without the side-by-side comparison, both cakes are delicious.

If you liked this, you might like my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins baked in cookie cutters too.

Wacky {Cup}Cakes for Halloween

This was the first cake I learned how to make ...

See Wacky {Cup}Cakes for Halloween on Key Ingredient.

Happy Halloween!