Hurray! This is our first blog entry, and to start off this four month baking experience, we decided to do a Brazilian recipe called pao de mel, which roughly translates into honey bread, which really isn't bread, but does consists of a ton of honey. The way to describe them are mini honey and spice cakes with a dulce de leche filling smothered with dark chocolate. This recipe was taken from Ana's mother back in Brazil, which meant that the outcome of the cakes would be different since the ingredients were not from the same company or brands. Nonetheless we were determined to make these little treats. What we were not expecting was the level of dificulty it came in making them.
Pão de Mel
1 1/2 cup brewed fennel tea, cooled down
1 cup honey
1 cup milk
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
A pich of cinnamon, ground cloves and ground ginger
1 kg dark chocolate
Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF. Grease and flour mini tins or muffin tray.
Sift the flour, sugars, baking soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
Add the spices.
In another bowl, add the milk, fennel tea and honey.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while stirring with a wooden spoon.
Pour the batter halfway into greased tins or trays. It's important not to overfill the tins because they rise a lot.
If using individual trays, arrange them on a cookie sheet and place it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.Pierce a knife or toothpick into the centre of one of the cakes to determine its completeness. When they are ready, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, melt 1 kg of dark chocolate. If you do not have a double-boiler to melt the chocolate in ( which was the case for us) then break the chocolate into pieces and place them in a ceramic/glass bowl and boil hot water in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place the bowl with the chocolate on top. Stir until melted.
Take the cooled spice cakes, cut them horizontally in half and fill it with dulce de leche.
Deep each pao de mel into the chocolate. Use a fork and spoon to dip them in to minimize the mess.
Arrange the chocolate covered cakes on a sheet of foil paper and allow the chocolate to harden.
Eat and savour the chocolate as it melts in your mouth!
*Because they were too thin (Look at Ann's comments below), we had to take two of the spice cakes and put them together.
Okay, we were quite ambitious to make this recipe, no, I was quite ambitious to make this recipe. When Ana first came to Canada from Brazil, she brought these little cakes that her mother made, and I just had to learn how to make it. I thought that I could totally replicate this recipe, but boy was I wrong. There are so many things that went wrong with this recipe, but at the end we ended up with a pretty decent batch of paes de mel despite the mishaps that were made.
The first thing that went wrong was that I doubled the batter amount. If you have these little tins, then this recipe calls for forty of them. I only had twenty (which I got as a gift from Brazil), so what we had to do was not only use the twenty tins, but also a jumbo muffin tray (which holds six muffins) and one 8" cake pan. We both joked that we were making small, medium, and large paes de mel.
The second thing that went wrong, which I'm terribly embarassed about is that I used one tablespoon of baking powder, instead of baking soda. So remember people, its baking SODA not baking powder.
The third thing that went wrong was the chocolate. I used regular extra dark chocolate, specifically President's Choice Extra dark Chocolate. The chocolate itself was delish, if you like it really dark, the only problem is that it did not harden, and when we chilled one of the chocolate covered cakes in the freezer (just to speed up the drying process because we were dying to try one), it totally melted all over our fingers. We ended up looking like naughty children caught eating a ton of chocolate. It was funny, but kind of frustrating at the same time.
Despite the fact that the cakes were a bit dense, and literally melted in out mouths ( and hands) they were pretty good. So are we going to try this again? Of course! We now know what our mistakes are and we do plan on doing this again in the future. We just need to figure out where we can get chocolate that stays dry on our finger tips but melts in out mouths.
All righty... so our first mission didn't end up the way we had fantasized, but it wasn't a total disaster, either. i thought the cakes turned out pretty good. It tasted like a store-bought Pao de Mel I used to have when I was younger.
I didn't tell Ann this, but the chocolate was my biggest fear - chocolate can be very tricky to handle. Back home, my mother uses a special chocolate to coat the cakes so all you have to do is melt it. No tempering, no nothing. Just melt it, coat the cakes and they almost instantly dry. But here it's different. So many kinds of chocolate to choose from and so many different names! I didn't know which one I could use to coat, so I just said: "Buy dark chocolate"; we would see what would happen later.
Everything seemd fine. We melted the chocolate and coated the cakes. "Now we just have to wait them to dry." So we waited, and waited...then we decided to put them in the fridge. Now, I know you're not supposed to do that, because it becomes sweaty, but it was 9pm and we were tired and impatient. At least now you can learn from our mistake.
The chocolate-all-over-our-faces moment was hilarious. Do you remember the scene from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the chubby boy finds the Golden Ticket and his face is all covered in chocolate? Well, I always thought "Oh, c'mon" You can never get your face that dirty eating chocolate!" Oh well, I found out that, yes, you can get your face that dirty eating chocolate...and it doesn't even have to be 258 bars. All it took for us was half of the mini cake. *cheeks turning pink*
See you next week!