Mole Negro de Oaxaca

I made turkey mole for 2014 Christmas dinner, and while a bit late in posting, I wanted to capture the steps/ingredient amounts before I forget. This was my first time making mole, and I can’t say I’m an expert in how exactly mole should taste, but I thought this all came out pretty fantastic (strong roasted flavors with subtle hint of chocolate).

I used a slow cooker with a 6 pound bone-in turkey breast. Added some turkey stock to the slow cooker with additional spices like cinnamon sticks and thyme, also threw in some onions and carrots.

For the mole I used various techniques and ingredient amounts from 3 different recipes:
1) Rick Bayless Oaxacan Black Mole

2) Rustica Mole Negro (Use Google Translate for English)

3) Black Mole from Oaxaca

My Version of Mole Negro de Oaxaca

~24 dry chiles total as follows:
1 dry chipotle
11 dry mulato chiles
6 dry pasilla chiles
6 dry ancho chiles
1 corn tortilla
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves in skin
3/4 to 1 cup nuts (any mix of walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds
10 cups turkey or chicken broth (I don’t remember needing this much)
6 tomatillos
4 plum tomatoes
1 plantain
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp anise
1/4 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp dry thyme
2-3 dry avocado leaves (optional, I did find these at my Mexican grocer)
120g Mexican tablet chocolate

In a large/deep cast iron skillet:

1. Split open each chile and remove the seeds, keep the seeds in a separate small bowl
2. Dry roast the chiles, blister, put in a large bowl (not thin plastic, hot water will be added)
3. Dry roast the raisins, add to the bowl with the chiles
4. Add boiling hot water, let sit for 30 minutes – put a plate to press everything down
5. Char onion and garlic with skin on
6. Dry roast tomatos and tomatillo
7. Remove skin from garlic once cool
8. Dry roast cinnamon and anise (add to toasted sesame) – add oregano, thyme, cloves, pepper
9. Dry roast nuts
10. Add a bit of lard into pan and fry tortilla, almost burnt
11. Add the chile seeds and toast until black – take burnt tortilla and burnt chile seeds and rinse under water using strainer
12. Add more lard if needed and saute the plantains a bit
13. Use blender to puree soaked chiles and raisins, then strain into container
14. Blend everything else (add stock if needed), then strain

15. Simmer sauce 20 min
16. Add chocolate
17. SImmer additional 20 min

The Gluten-Filled Peanut Butter Cookies from Bob’s Red Mill

I generally don’t like store bought cookies, and peanut butter isn’t my favorite type of cookie, but there is one exception: Bob’s Red Mill Peanut Butter Cookies that are sold pre-packaged at their grain store in Milwaukie, Oregon. We always pick some up after filling up the trunk with 25 pound bags of flour. You’ve probably seen Bob’s Red Mill products at most any grocery store across the US, but I don’t think their packaged cookies are distributed.

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And, while there are variations of the PB cookies recipe online that are gluten-free or teff-filled, these are not worth your time. The Bob’s teff PB cookie recipe is especially horrific and deserves no further mention. Thankfully, when you go their Milwaukie store, they do have the good PB cookie recipe available, which is as follows (with my additional instructions and thoughts added):

Bob’s Red Mill Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/3 cup white sugar (I just used 1 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I just used 1/3 cup)
3 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup + 2 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered dry milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Beat butter on high with paddle mixer for ~2 minutes until pale white/looks like mayo
3. Add both sugars and cream it with the butter for another few minutes
4. Add eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla – mix at a low to medium speed
5. Add flours, dry milk, soda, and salt – mix at low speed
6. Use a scoop to portion out cookies on parchment paper (original recipe says 3 3/4 ounces)
7. Chill scooped dough for at least 15 minutes
8. Bake ~13 minutes, and then press flat and bake about 3 more minutes (original baking time says 14 to 18 minutes)

In the picture below, the top row shows the baked peanut butter cookie. The left cookie is what your finished bake should look like, the right cookie is what happened when I scooped the dough, and pressed flat before baking. I prefer the left side cookie with the crinkle pattern as opposed to the fork-marked smooth version.

The mound of dough below the two cookies is what my scooped dough looked like after chilling in the fridge. These cookies did not spread when baking, so that’s why I wrote Step 8 with the recommendation of flattening the cookie after about 13 minutes.

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Pumpkin Empanadas (Empanadas de Calabaza)

Most of the recipes I came across for pumpkin empanadas were quite basic for the filling–a can of pumpkin puree, a few spices, some sugar. This version from Muy Bueno Cookbook is representative of most I came across online. While simple can be good, I thought there needed to more depth to the flavoring, and in a moment of pure luck after realizing I’d added too much pumpkin pie spice, I decided to fix it by adding some Crema Oaxaquena that I had on hand from serving with turkey mole on Christmas. Voila, depth of flavor achieved by adding about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the cream.

Pumpkin Filling for Empanadas

1 tbsp butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (or piloncillo)
15oz can of pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp (or more) pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
1/8 to 1/4 cup Crema Oaxaquena

Melt butter in saucepan, add brown sugar and melt
Add rest of ingredients and cook for 10 minutes or longer at a low temp to reduce
Cool completely before adding about 1 tbsp filling per 4-5″ diameter dough

For the empanada dough I used the recipe from the book: My Sweet Mexico – it’s just flour, sugar, salt, butter, baking powder, and heavy cream (again, I just re-used the Crema Oaxaquena).

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Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes

For Christmas 2013, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Japan — we had intentions of making it all the way north to Hokkaido, but weren’t able to fit into our itinerary. Regardless, in anticipation of the different cuisine up north, he found this lovely recipe called Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes, which actually have nothing to do with Hokkaido except maybe the creamy peaks of filling are reminiscent of the snowy mountains.

This recipe comes from Ochikeron’s YouTube channel — really no modifications of significance to note — maybe just eliminating the sugar in the final batch of whipped cream is all I would suggest. Some fresh berries would be a nice topping to the cream.

BATTER
3 egg yolks
20g sugar
40ml oil (grapeseed/canola/vegetable)
40ml milk
60g sifted cake flour

1. Mix yolks and sugar until white like mayo (~2 minutes with paddle attachment)
2. Add oil and milk and mix
3. Sift in cake flour, mix on low to just combine

MERINGUE FOR BATTER
3 egg whites
40g sugar

1. Mix whites and half of sugar until soft peaks
2. Add rest of sugar and mix until stiff peaks

COMBINE BATTER AND MERINGUE

1. Fold in meringue to batter gently
2. Fill into muffin tins – I used a 6 quantity popover pan, lined with parchment (ungreased)
3. Bake at 325F for 15 to 25 minutes, cool completely

 

Cupcakes in popover pan

Cupcakes in popover pan – baked

 While cupcakes are cooling, start making the custard cream filling.

CUSTARD
1 Tbsp cake flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
40g granulated sugar
200ml milk
2 egg yolks
15g butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mix cake flour, corn starch, and sugar in a bowl
2. Add milk and mix
3. Add egg yolks and mix
4. Strain into saucepan and add butter
5. Stir on low heat constantly until thickened
6. Add vanilla, cool completely

WHIPPED CREAM
100ml heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar (reduce or eliminate completely)

1. Whisk until stiff peaks form

COMBINE CUSTARD AND WHIPPED CREAM

1. Fold whipped cream into cooled/chilled custard
2. Put into a piping bag
3. Pipe custard cream into the cupcakes – I used a chopstick to poke a long hole into the cupcake because I wanted to make sure the cream made it far down into the cake considering the length of my pastry piping tip. Be generous with the filling, let the cupcake swell with filling.

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Fixing the Momofuku Milk Bar Chocolate Chip Cake

The Chocolate Chip Cake featured in the Milk Bar cookbook was the sole reason I purchased the book in the first place. The crazy layers, the exposed sides, the seemingly exotic passion fruit, what was not to love? So I made the cake following the instructions (well documented online by Hummingbird High), and found it pretty meh for the following reasons:

1) Not enough coffee frosting, and coffee flavor not coming through
2) Passion fruit curd tasted like butter, passion fruit flavor completely masked
3) Soaking the cake in passion fruit puree (I used the Goya frozen pack kind) was too sour

So, second time around, I re-made this cake making the following changes:

1) Made it 3-layer rectangle cake, 5 x 10 inches
2) Combined Milk Bar’s passion fruit curd recipe with this one
3) Re-did the coffee frosting by making this swiss meringue buttercream and adding cold espresso
4) Eliminated the chocolate crumble (just simplifying and getting rid of some sweetness) — though I do think the crumble would make a nice decorative topping for this cake.
5) Not soaking cake with passion fruit puree

STEPS:
1) Make two 9×13 inch chocolate chip cakes
2) Make Milk Bar’s passion fruit curd and then make Live Bake Love’s curd and whisk the 2 different batches together
3) Make coffee swiss meringue buttercream
4) Assemble cake

Milk Bar Chocolate Chip Cake – Modified

115g unsalted butter at room temperature
225g granulated sugar (25g less than original recipe)
45g light brown sugar (15g less than original recipe)
3 eggs at room temperature
110g buttermilk at room temperature
75g grapeseed oil
12g vanilla extract
185g cake flour, sifted
4g baking powder
4g kosher salt
150g mini chocolate chips (I used less)

To make 3 layers, make this recipe twice, each time baking in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cut each 9 x 13 cake down to 5 x 10 and use the extra pieces for the middle layer. Follow instructions on Hummingbird High for making the cake.

Milk Bar Passion Fruit Curd

100g passion fruit puree
65g sugar
2 eggs
1 gelatin sheet
170g cold butter
2g kosher salt

After making the Milk Bar Passion Fruit Curd, make a second batch of curd using Live Bake Love’s recipe and combine the two and refrigerate to set.

Live Bake Love Passion Fruit Curd

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (modified from original)
1/2 cup passion fruit puree
4 Tbsp cold butter

The following recipe for buttercream will make more than you need, so next time I would try 1/2 to 3/4 batch of the buttercream. Also, I plan to reduce the amount of sugar I use next time, this was a bit sweet for me.

Sweetapolita’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream

300g egg whites
500g sugar (reduce next time)
680g butter (I used 570g and found it more than enough)
1 heaping Tbsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
+ 1/4 cup cold brewed coffee/espresso

Make the buttercream as directed on Sweetapolita’s site, and then whip in cold coffee. Next time I will try and make a stronger brew with less liquid so it’s easier to incorporate into the buttercream–aiming for maybe just 1/8 cup of coffee.

Assembling the Cake

Refrigerate the cakes overnight
Next  day, place bottom layer on your assembly board
Spread passion fruit curd on bottom layer
Take two half-pieces of cake and make middle layer
Spread curd on middle layer
Place top layer on curd
Chill for 30 minutes in fridge
Trim cake to neaten up the sides
Crumb coat with the coffee buttercream
Add second coat of coffee buttercream