Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grilled Ginger Chicken Yakitori with Leeks - and an old Trip to Japan

In a previous post, I mentioned a tiny Japanese restaurant in the heart of suburban New Jersey that became a firm fave of mine and gave my husband and I a new-founded respect for Japanese cuisine.

Then I actually got to go to Japan and ate McDonalds there for three days straight. More on that disturbing fact at the bottom of this post....

Aside from a delightful rolled beef and spirng onion dish (Beef Negimaki) that we constantly ordered, we would also alternately fluctuate between the chicken yakitori and tonkatsu. The former is chicken grilled in a teriyaki sauce, and the latter is more of a deep fried cutlet.

But in the mad rush that is the home kitchen, I realised I'd never actually attempted making these dishes at home, until Joanne's Regional Recipes came along showcasing Japan, and I thought "Well, now is the time or never!". Or I might have to settle for McD.

I saw a recipe on Food and Wine magazine (my new cooking muse) and I liked how they had incorporated ginger, leeks and bell pepper to this simple grilled dish.

We have the usual cast of characters to make the teriyaki sauce - yes people, we are making our own teriyaki, no store bought here!

Let me introduce you to Mirin, Sake and Soy Sauce - the same ingredients that were used in the Beef Negimaki marinade as well.

Grilled Ginger Chicken Yakitori with Leeks and Bell Peppers
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

1/3 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar (you can ramp up to 2 Tbsp as per the orig recipe, I just don't like too much sweetness)
2 tsp grated or crushed fresh ginger
~2 lb boneless chicken (thighs or tenderloin)
Optional - yellow miso paste (3 Tbsp) - I did not use this
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cored, cut into squares
1 leek, white and light green part only, washed thoroughly, halved and cut crosswise

1. Soak bamboo skewers in water for ~ 4 hours so that they do not burn while grilling.
2. Mix sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar and ginger in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat for about 5 - 10 minutes.
3.Thread chicken, bell pepper and leek pieces alternately on bamboo skewers and place on foil rimmed pan. Brush or pour marinade onto the skewers, refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Do not discard marinade, you will want to re-use it for basting while cooking.
4. Preheat oven broiler or fire up a BBQ grill, grill the skewers while basting with the remaining marinade and turning the skewers over so that all sides of the meat and vegetables get cooked. (It took me about 10 -15 minutes in an oven broiler).
5. I served the yakitori with steamed broccoli, boiled potatoes that had been tossed in butter and red chilli flakes, and some fried carrot and celery rice.

Back in the day (prehistoric - I didn't even have a digital camera!) I got to visit the magnificent country of Japan. However, I was also pregnant, and when we reached (literally) the other side of the world, my olfactory system went into overdrive and I very conveniently developed the most horrific case of nausea, which would then plague me for the rest of the pregnancy.

Nice going Ann, way to kick start your vacation in Japan!

Every restaurant sent me into shudders as the new smells and sights put my over-reactive digestive system into tremors. I sadly moped along the roads looking for something  to placate me, and my eyes fell on those golden yellow arches. Yes, people, I dare to divulge that I ate McDonalds (horrors!) for the next three days. Even though we couldn't quite figure out what we were ordering from the bright, cheery menu boards, fries are fries at the end of the day in any continent. Go on, laugh. I'm already planning a second trip to make up, suckers.

It didn't stop me from taking in the sights and sounds (maybe just not the smells) of Japan. I left in awe of the clockwork efficiency of the country and the homogeneous nature of its people. We never felt unsafe, we learnt their systems and traditions quickly thanks to the help of kind passer-bys and we marveled at their stoic and proud heritage.

At the revered Sensoji Temple in Asakusa district. I've always wonderd in Pier 1 carries that lantern in that size and more importantly, what could have happened if it had fatefully fallen on me.

Attempting to not cross a street at Akihabara - the electronics retail section of Tokyo. Very difficult to do, because you get swept in a sea of mankind and they politely deposit you on the other side of the road. Stores displayed every range of electronics from the latest in computerized toilet seats (heat and water strength monitors) to what looked to us like funny miniature walkmans which would then arrive Stateside as Ipods. They were 5 years ahead of us!

At the entrance of the Meiji Jinju temple in bustling Harajuku. Yes, the same Harajaku neighborhood of Gewn Stefani notoriety with its strange mix of British punk teenagers had this ethereal lush green Yoyogi park. The noise of the city is miraculously silenced here and you are transported into another era. Seriously, I kept thinking "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" characters were going to leap out of the trees.

Walk thorough the park for twenty minutes and you come across the majestic Meiji Jinju temple. And guess what, it was apparently "Perfect Day to Have a Wedding" Day in Japan, we walked into FOUR separate Shinto weddings taking place, and the families let us watch. A completely other world and beautiful experience, though I will give a fashion shout out to that priest, take a look at his Lady Gaga-esque platforms.

This bride was going through several kimono changes with her assistants for a wedding photoshoot and gamely let me capture a shot of her. Check out the elaborate hairdo.

Finally, as we were leaving we bumped into an army of little tots, dressed up in regalia escorted by their grandparents for some sort of children's bendiction. This sweet grandma let me take a picture of her cutie pie, who in turn flashed some sort of gang sign at me.

This very lengthy post goes off to Joanne who is hosting Regional Recipes - Japan this month!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers - Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

The challenge also required us to decorate the cookies with a September theme. My god-daughter/niece's birthday is in September, and her mother decided to throw her a tea party. So I thought - how about some tea cup and tea pot cookies as favors for the kids? I scrounged around local stores to find the appropriate cookie cutters, found the tea cup, but had to resort to a coffee pot for the second batch of cookies. Tea - coffee - same difference ;-).

The recipe we used is from Peggy Porschen, whose name I've seen in a lot of baking websites. She seems to be a high priestess of all things cake and cookie related. I'm glad I now have a fail-proof go-to recipe, since there are so many dizzying recipes out there for basic sugar cookies. The cake is buttery but light at the same time, and quite simple to put together. Next time I attempt these (and oh boy, YES! There will be a next time, I'm already planning out Christmas cookies) , I'm going to be a little more adventurous and add some flavouring to the dough, perhaps lemon or even cinnamon.

Basic Sugar Cookies:

Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
• Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.
• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
I found this a little tricky to do, the parchment paper tends to slide all over the place. I placed one hand on the paper to keep it steady and rolled with the other hand. =(
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
• Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
• Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.
• Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
• Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

I had small cookie cutters, and I still rolled out the dough too thin. So I ended up with over 56 cookies. The thicker the dough, the better for the cookie (and your back, so you don't have to ice a ton of cookies!)
Wilton's Royal Icing (Wilton)
•3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
•4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
•6 tablespoons warm water

Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
*When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

I first outlined the cookies with white royal icing (thick consistency). This proved to be back-breaking work. I used a small Wilton nozzle tip (#2), and my hand was very unsteady as I traced the outline, so this proved to be quite messy. I used pink dye on the thin consistency royal icing to "flood" the cookies.

Then I dyed the remaining royal icing in green to add some detail and piping on top of the cookies. The coffee pots also got a silver dregee ball for the "lids".
Of course, I probably should have checked with the party planner as to what color scheme she was going to use BEFORE I iced the cookies. She went with pink and blue. Check out my sister-in-laws pretty table setting. It was a perfect tea party for some pretty little ladies.

Thanks to the Daring Bakers (check out other members fantastic creations) and Mandy in particular for pushing me off my proverbial lazy behind so I could attempt these cookies. they were lots of fun and I learnt a lot in the process. Looking forward to making these again for more family events and celebrations!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beef Negimaki

Once upon a time (yes, its been YEARS), when we used to live in New Jersey, my husband and I chanced upon a tiny Japanese restaurant in Little Falls named Sukeroku.

We were smitten on our first visit because everything we illiterately ordered off the menu, helped (or un-helped) by the sweet non-English speaking kimono clad waitresses ("and they're Korean, they're not even REAL Japanese" wryly whispered a co-worker) tasted amazing and we happily joined the ranks of Japanese food lovers.

The restaurant became the de facto place for celebrating anniversaries, birthdays or random significant events like "I didn't get punched in the face by a customer" Day, and my personal fave "Oh My Gaahh, my car just skidded down Montclair Ave. as it iced up and I didn't die" Day.

One dish we routinely would go back for was the Beef Negimaki. It was wafer thin slices of beef stuffed with green scallions and braised in a sweet and salty Teriyaki like sauce. The dish would be served sizzling on a hot iron plate along with tender steamed cubes of potatoes that had been dressed in just a hint of butter.

Now, I hope I haven't committed some act of dishonor in confusing the name of the dish, because I expressly remembered the dish being named Negimayaki in the menu, but most of my Google searches turn up no finds on that name, but plenty on Beef Negimaki. Same difference? Yes/No? If anyone knows the difference, do drop me a line.

By the way, we left New Jersey 3 years later, and I randomly searched the Internet for the restaurant, and could not find any new links but a disheartening note that it had been turned into a bar/lounge. Any Little Fall-ians out there who can back this up?

Beef Negimaki (adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations)

About 10-12 stalks of green onions
~1 lb steak (I found a thin cut of sirloin tip, cut Milanese style, 1.2 lb had 4 slices)
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp shredded ginger
1 tsp chilli oil + 1 tsp sesame oil (available in Asian grocery stores)
Salt to season meat

1. Blanch scallions. Some recipes on the Internet did not advocate doing this as the scallions get limp in the process, but I stuck to it because I wanted to ensure the scallions were "cooked" enough. Submerge scallions in boiling, salted water, remove immediately and plunge into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes. Remove immediately and dry on paper towels.
2. Lay out the steak, either slice it lengthwise to get 1/2" -1" thin thickness (or have your butcher do that for you). Now invoke your annoying neighbor, ex-boyfriend or high-school nemesis, grab that meat hammer and pound that meat . OK, not so much into pulp, but beat it down a little.
3. Season the steak with a little salt. If you think the marinade is salty enough, you can omit, but I found that the meat itself needed some seasoning.
4. Place three to four green onions on each piece of steak (I had a total of 4 steak pieces). Roll up the steak from the longest side until you get a tight cylinder. Tie in three spots with kitchen twine.

4. Repeat for all the meat and green onions. Refrigerate.
5. Prepare the marinade - mix the mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Stir together and pour over the steak rolls. Let the meat marinate for about 30 minutes. Note the green onions may get more soggy the longer you leave them submerged in marinade.
6. Heat a grill pan or skillet. Add oil ( I used a combination of Asian chilli oil and sesame oil). Add the meat to the pan and cook, turning over occassionaly till all sides are browned. Baste the meat while cooking with remaining marinade and allow the meat to cook in the liquid, it will caramelize and give extra flavor to the dish. The amount of time to cook the meat will depend on how rare you want the final product. I cooked the meat for about 10-12 minutes total and used all the marinade, and the steak was medium-done.
7. Transfer the rolls to a plate and slice into mini rolls. Serve while hot. 

This is going off to Joanne of Eats Well With Others  and Regional Recipes which is spotlighting Japan this month.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ruby Tuesday's Sonoran Chicken Pasta with Spicy Black Beans

Heard of Ruby Tuesday's? They are a chain restaurant in the USA offering super-sized plates of good ol' American fare, usually smothered in some highly calorie intensive sauce or fried and battered up more than is good for you. I found it mildly funny that our local Ruby's was located right outside the entrance to the Cardiovascular unit of our local hospital. Strange coincidence?

So I spotted this dish on Noor's site, for those of you who don't know her, Noor is a native of the beautiful Southern US state of Tennessee who now resides in Saudi Arabia with her family and blogs at Ya Salaam Cooking. And moving from the gorgeous state of TN hasn't dampered her cooking prowess, she has some of the most innovative and international dinners in town, thats for sure. I love seeing what she whips up for her family, and I took a particular fancy to this dish when she re-created it at her home.

The pasta dish consists of seasoned, grilled chicken in a heavy cheese sauce that has mild American Southwest flavors courtesy of a liberal dose of salsa, alongside a nice serving of black beans. Since I've never actually had this dish at Ruby Tuesdays, I thought I'd play around with the ingredients and make "my" version. Even though there are three components - pasta, chicken and black beans, it doesn't take too long to whip up each part, and you can always go the short-cut route and use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Ruby Tuesday's Sonoran Chicken Pasta with Spicy Black Beans - adapted from RecipeLink and Ya Salam Cooking

Sonoran Cheese Sauce
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 small clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup hot water (*Adjust based on how thick you want the sauce)
2-3 tbsp chicken stock
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
3/4 cup prepared salsa (medium hot)
2 Tbsp sour cream

1. Melt butter in a saucepan and add onion and garlic. Saute until onion is transparent.
2. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Do not brown.
3. Mix the half-and-half, hot water*, and chicken stock. Add mixture slowly to roux, stirring constantly with a whisk to avoid lumps. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes.
4. Add cheese, cayenne pepper, hot sauce to sauce. Stir to blend until cheese is melted. Do not allow to boil.
5. Add salsa and sour cream to sauce and blend.
*Start with small quantities of hot water and chicken stock. If the sauce is too think, you can always thin it out with more hot water or chicken stock.

Spicy Black Beans
1 large can black beans, pre-cooked or soaked (~10 or 11 oz)
1 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
Salt to taste
Optional - 1 green chilli, chopped or 1/2 tsp chilli powder

1. Rinse black beans in water and drain. Reserve.
2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, add onion and garlic, fry till onion is softened. Add bell pepper and chilli (if using). Saute and then add spices.
3. Add in black beans and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Adjust salt and spice seasoning to taste.

Pasta and Chicken
1 bag cavatappi (or any medium sized pasta like penne) ~ 16 oz/1 lb
2 cups chicken breast

1. Prepare pasta as per package directions (boil in salted water, drain and reserve. Keep warm).
2. Season chicken with salt, pepper and any preferred spices e.g Cajun seasoning or a combination of chilli,coriander and onion powder and grill till done. Slice and reserve.

To Garnish
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
4 stalks green onion, chopped

In a large serving bowl, toss pasta and sauce while pasta is warm.  Add chicken and toss.
I usually add in the black beans as well, or you can serve those on the side.
Garnish with tomatoes and green onions.

I am sending this dish in to Presto Pasta Nights , a long-running blogging event that celebrates PASTA! PPN is the brainchild of Ruth, and is being hosted this week by Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book Review - And Duchess Potatoes on the side..

I've returned to This Book Makes Me Cook, a delightful little Internet "Cooking The Books" reading group that I chanced upon a while back, after a lazy summer where I neglected everything blog wise.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle)I'm glad I picked this month to return, else I would have missed out on reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society which had been on my back burner for a while as it had come heavily recommended by two of my enthusiastic reader friends.
 So I picked up the book late on one of those blissful rainy weekends where the stage has practically set itself up for a good read, thunder rolling outside, rain pelting the windows, the amorous glow from a well positioned lamp, the bed covers drawn just high enough to not interrupt the frequent page turning.

And then I thought "What on earth is this book on about?".

I couldn't figure it out for the first five pages. The text was in the form of a series of letters back and forth between people that hadn't even been introduced to me and I felt a little lost. I put the book down, bemoaned the choice, but returned later that night and gave the book one more try. Darn it, if anything, I had to unearth what the Potato Peel Pie was about!

And that was when the magic happened.

The characters grew on me, the letters started to make sense. New characters came and went, but their stories lingered on. The protagonist Judith, an authoress with an independent feminist streak frowned upon by society and her era, is stuck mulling about what her next novel should be about as she is hounded by publishers, friends and editors. She chances upon a book club filled with haphazard characters. They have formed a reading group in Guernsey as a ruse to avoid detection by the Nazis that they were feasting on hidden, contraband foods, namely a roasted pig. She is drawn by their story of hardship, friendship and perseverance and inevitably travels to meet them at the expense of some of her personal relationships and commitments.

The story telling is gentle, humorous, sad and poignant and Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (yes, two authors wrote this book!) effortlessly transport us from our comfortable suburban confines to the windswept, rugged Channel Islands. Your heart winces at the stories of hardship and the fate of some of the characters and you manage to crack a smile or two at the witty dialogues that are intermittent in the story. If you are a fan of British writers of the Wodehouse and Blyton ilk, then this book will probably appeal to you as it did to me.

Now onto the cooking part of this book club!

Unfortunately, the Potato Peel Pie described in the book was as awful as it name suggests, Potato Peels layered with a smattering of beet juice. Can I get a collective Eeeewwwwww.....

To turn the gist of the book completely on its head, I chose to serve up the rather royal and decadent Duchess Potatoes which I ogled for a very long time at Cynthia Nelson's brilliant Tastes Like Home.

While everyone else in the Book Club rightfully made intellectual attempts to imagine what meagre offerings the characters of the book had to endure, I decided to cook something that they NEVER would have had the chance to eat.
Duchess Potatoes (entirely sourced Cynthia's recipe which was featured in the Stabroek News and her Taste Like Home website)

4 large potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste
1 heaped Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sour cream (optional)
¾ cup grated cheese (I use my personal fave Monterrey Jack)
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon water
Parsley - to garnish (optional, I omitted)

1. Wash and peel potatoes. Slice into big pieces and add to salted, boiling water. Boil till potato pieces are cooked and are fork-tender. Drain from water and mash potatoes in a bowl.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Add butter, sour cream and cheese to potatoes while it is still hot. Mix thoroughly and taste for seasoning (add salt and pepper to taste).
4. Mix in beaten egg. At this point the potatoes must have a very soft consistency, like thick porridge.
5. Pour the potato mixture into a Zip-loc bag or clean cellophane or wax paper cone, and snip off one end of the bag to form a piping spout.
6. Pipe the potatoes into oven proof ramekins going in a circular motion. Transfer the bowls onto baking sheet/tray.
7 Sprinkle paprika mixed with water and stir into a paste. Brush or spoon onto the tops of the potato mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are golden-brown.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Daring Bakers - Ice Cream Petit Fours

That is a tiny piece of brown butter pound cake, with vanilla bean ice cream sandwiched in the middle, and then covered smothered in ganache.


The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

So of course I did this last minute. And of course I tried my hand at making my own ice cream, which actually worked out well, given I do not own an ice cream machine. But the recipe I chose involved raw egg whites. And I was very brave and "foodie" and all, but the rest of my family got weak at the knees when I told them what went into the ice cream and squirmed out of their seats when I served them, and subsequently I buckled too.

I know.

I would suck at Survivor. Thats why I've never applied to go on the show.

So, for this challenge, I ended up using store bought ice cream. Sorry, it was a cop out. But at least give me brownie points for using Haagen Daz's new "Five" range, where apparently there is nothing else in their ice cream but those 5 ingredients listed. Which included eggs, by the way. And my family had no problem chomping down that ice cream.

I loved the brown butter cake, what a luscious, dreamy cake. All soft and buttery, it was very tempting to just scoff down the cake before going down the steps of making the petit fours. But this is where I raise my one little protest, I thought the brown butter cake wasn't suited for a frozen challenge. It lost some of its consistency and flavor the more it was chilled. And unfortunately, in our insane heat, I had to keep shoving the petit fours back in the freezer if they weren't eaten at once, else they dissolved into a puddley mess.

All in all, a great challenge, even though I took the easy way out and didn't use my own ice cream. It is a tricky feat to get the petit fours perfectly glazed and thye get messy and drippy the minute they start to defrost, so I'm not sure if I could make these for a crowd. For now, I'm content just devouring them all by myself, one by one.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)

9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used milk chocolate)
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours

1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)
5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).
6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.
7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

Click here for more variations of other Daring Bakers take on this dessert!