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The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world- life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this month’s challenge – not only were we making Swiss rolls (which turned out to be quite a challenge in and of itself), but we were also making two flavors of homemade ice cream and a hot fudge sauce – and then combining them all into one large, multi-layered ice cream bombe style dessert!

Sunita provided recipes for a chocolate Swiss roll with a vanilla cream filling, along with recipes for vanilla and chocolate ice creams (made without an ice cream maker) and a hot fudge sauce. We were allowed to follow the given recipes or we could change the flavor of the Swiss roll, filling, or ice creams. What was mandatory was that all the components had to be made from scratch and the final dessert had to be set in a bowl/pan in the following order – Swiss roll first, followed by the first ice cream, the fudge topping, and finally the second ice cream.

After spending some time contemplating flavor combinations, I decided to go with a s’mores inspired Swiss roll ice cream cake. I kept with the chocolate Swiss roll, but did a marshmallow cream filling, with a layer of vanilla graham cracker ice cream and a layer of chocolate marshmallow ice cream.

I had really wanted to do a vegan sponge cake, but after two epic failures I reverted back to the original challenge recipe and finally got a Swiss roll that didn’t break into a million pieces after unrolling it. In keeping with the Daring Bakers style of making everything from scratch, I also made the graham crackers and marshmallows included in the two ice cream recipes. If you have never made homemade marshmallows, I highly encourage you to do so. You won’t believe how wonderful and natural they taste; they seriously put store bought marshmallows to shame.

While the process seemed epic, stretching over three days (with many broken Swiss rolls in between), I have to say that I can’t think of a finer reward than finally getting to bite into this dessert! The taste was beyond amazing, and I was quite sad to see the last few bites finished off last night.

You can view the recipes and how to assemble the dessert after the jump.

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The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I have to admit, I was pretty stoked when I read about this month’s challenge. I am a huge fan of almond butter and manage to figure out a way to get in a tablespoon or two everyday – whether it be in my morning bowl of oatmeal, a smoothie, or a sandwich. Despite my great love of almond butter (and for that matter, peanut butter), I have never managed to venture out beyond those two household staples, and was thrilled that this challenge would finally make me do just that.

So what do you need to know about making your own nut butters at home? Here are a few of the great pointers provided by our hosts:

  • The process for making various types of nut butters is essentially the same. Pour nuts into bowl of food processor. Grind the nuts in the processor until they form a paste or butter. The nuts first turn into powdery or grainy bits, then start to clump and pull away from the side of the bowl, and finally form a paste or butter. The total time required depends on the fat and moisture content of the nuts; grinding time will vary from roughly 1 to 4 minutes (assuming a starting volume of 1 to 2 cups [240 to 480 ml] nuts).
  • You may add oil as desired during grinding to make the nut butter smoother and creamier or to facilitate grinding. Add oil in small increments, by the teaspoon for oily nuts like cashews or by the tablespoon for dryer/harder nuts like almonds. You may use the corresponding nut oil or a neutral vegetable oil like canola.
  • The inclusion of salt in the nut butters is optional and to taste. If you make nut butters from salted nuts, peanuts or cashews for example, you will not need additional salt.
  • Roasting the nuts before making nut butters is optional according to your preference. To roast nuts in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4). Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until nuts are fragrant and a shade darker in color. Allow nuts to cool before grinding.
  • Homemade nut butters are more perishable than commercial products and should be stored in the refrigerator. The nut butters harden & thicken somewhat upon chilling.

For this challenge we were to make our own fresh, homemade nut butter and then use it in at least one savory recipe. Four savory challenge recipes were provided for us to choose from and there was also an optional challenge to include a homemade nut butter in a sweet recipe of our choice. With a fridge stocked full of various nuts and the desire to try as many nut butters as I could, I made a total of four dishes that incorporated some type of nut (or seed) butter.

For the savory challenge recipe, I chose to make the Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing.

I was not disappointed – the cashew dressing component of this recipe is absolutely amazing! In an effort to not just eat the leftover dressing by the spoonful, I used it over the next day or two in every way I could think of until the last drop was finished. The leftover cashew butter that didn’t make its way into the dressing found its way into my morning bowl of oatmeal and provided a nice change of pace from the usual almond butter.

For my next nut butter adventure I decided to try another savory recipe using a different type of nut butter. Our hosts provided us with a link to recipes using nut and seed butters from Futters Nut Butters for further inspiration. I visited the site and found a recipe for a Walnut Hummus that sounded too interesting not to try.

For this recipe I made a roasted walnut butter to use in the hummus recipe. I decided to serve the hummus in bite sized cucumber cups with crumbled walnuts sprinkled on top. The combination of cucumbers and hummus was quite refreshing and served as a perfect snack for a hot summer day. I will definitely be hanging on to this recipe for future use. Once again, any remaining nut butter went into the next day’s morning bowl of oatmeal.

For the optional sweet recipe I tried out the Maple Pecan French Toast recipe from the Go Dairy Free cookbook by Alisa Marie Fleming (the recipe can also be found in Vegan Bites by Beverly Lynn Bennett).

For this recipe you essentially soak your bread in a homemade pecan cream (that is sweetened with maple syrup) for about 1-2 minutes before cooking. For the french toast topping I macerated some strawberries with maple syrup. The end result was delicious, but a little heavy on the maple syrup flavor. If I were to do it again I may opt for a non-maple syrup topping so that the pecan flavors could come through a little more.

For my final recipe I went back down the savory route and tried my hand at Roasted Wasabi Chickpeas.

I had been wanting to try this recipe for awhile but didn’t have any tahini on hand or enough sesame seeds to make my own.  I decided to make my own roasted sunflower seed butter and use it in place of the tahini called for in the original recipe.

You can view the recipes for most of these dishes after the jump.

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