In The Beginning…

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It all started with a post-wedding cake in aBatteredOldSuitcase. Daniel and Frances were married in Sacramento, then honeymooned in Egypt. Upon returning to the States they stopped by South Florida for a second reception for our friends and family who couldn’t travel to California. I made my first “wedding” cake for the party.

Once safely ensconced in retirement I expanded both my baking and short story writing. I recently joined an online forum which provides writing help for amateurs like me and am currently revising everything I wrote over the past few years, including my first book “Ruth,” several short-stories basked on our rescued Havanese/Poodle, Rosalita. I also wrote a political thriller, ”The Star Alliance”, and science fiction with “The Quantum Butterfly Effect,” all of which should be considered proofs until they have been revised—ToAHotelSomeplace.

GhostsThatSell Memories is my sporadically updated travel blog. I wrote it primarily for friends and family we visited during our 2018 cross country road trip.

Header photo of my hometown, Middlebury, Vermont by my life long friend David Griggs. Please visit his website  www.djgriggsphoto.com.

 

Snow White Themed Birthday Cake

I realized I didn’t post at least a picture of my Snow White cake. I made this cake for my DIL Frances’ birthday last week. It’s an Extreme Chocolate Cake with buttercream frosting. (I am not the best at frosting smooth buttercream cakes.) The apple is real, but the leaves on the top are gum paste.

The ribbons, yellow crowns and red apples are also gum paste. The figurines are all purchased, but I thought my granddaughters would like to play with them.

Raspberry Chocolate Cake V1.1

Another week, another birthday cake, except this one wasn’t a themed cake, just a plain cake. Whew! Deep breath.

Today is my son Dan’s birthday. This summer I made Grace’s “Galaxy Cake” and Vivian’s “Princess Aurora “ and Mommy Frances’ “Snow White Cake.” Today was just plain Daddy Dan’s birthday cake. Let me say up front, there is and has never been anything “just plain” about Dan. I don’t have adequate adjectives to describe what a fantastic person, father, husband and son he is.

The cake is my Extreme Chocolate Cake, which is everyone’s favorite. This time I frosted it with marshmallow frosting (my favorite.) A light dusting of freeze dried raspberry powder added a nice tart contrast to the cake and frosting. I made the 10” Round Cake size which perfected filled three 8” cake pans. Wrapping them with wet cake pan strips kept the cakes from doming.

The filling between layers was home made raspberry jam. I piped a ring of buttercream to dam the raspberry filling in place. I used the rest of the buttercream to crumb coat the cake. (Not the smoothest crumb coating. It was fixed after setting in the fridge for a while.)

This is Version 1.1 because after I baked the cakes QC asked if I put jammy bits into the cake. What a great idea, a couple of hours too late, but never fear, there will be another chocolate cake and will certainly have jammy bits included in the batter!

Extreme Chocolate Cake

(Sorry, this blog software doesn’t let me create nice columns.)

INGREDIENTS

Cake 10” ROUND CAKE

9” ROUND CAKE                                    Or 11”x15” or          HALF Sheet Cake (18”X13”

  • 2 cups white sugar                                3                                  4
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour                   2 2/3                            3 ½
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder        1 ¼                              1 ½
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda                  2 ¼                              3
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder              2 ¼                              3
  • 1 teaspoon salt                                     1 ½                              2
  • 2 eggs                                                  3                                  4
  • 1 cup milk                                             1 ½                              2
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil                             ¾                                 1
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract                     3                                  4
  • 1 cup boiling water                                1 ½                              2

 

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (125g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar 624g (1c confectioners sugar = 117g)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. (SEE QTY FOR 10” CAKES, AND SHEET CAKES)
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly (1000g in each 9” cake pan) into the two prepared pans. (For cupcakes, portion ¼ scant cups in each cupcake paper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or 205 internal temp. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency. (This recipe will frost 36 cupcakes.)
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

 

NOTES

  1. Do NOT let the internal temp exceed 210 deg F or the cake will be overdone.
  2. Fill cupcake papers 2/3rds full. This will allow space for the cupcakes to expand and create a nice domed shape.

Marshmallow Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 egg whites
  • 5 tablespoons cool water, plus more for the double boiler
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Pour about 2 inches of water into a saucepan to create a double boiler. Bring the water to a gentle simmer.
  2. In a clean, grease free large mixing bowl, combine 5 tablespoons of cool water, cream of tartar, sugar, egg whites and corn syrup. Place the bowl over the simmering water. Turn off the heat. Use an electric hand beater to whip the mixture. Do not leave mixture unattended and do not stop beating any time during this process.
  3. After about 3 minutes, remove the bowl from the heat and quickly take the temperature of the egg whites. They need to reach 140 degrees F. If the mixture is less than 140 degrees F put the bowl back over the water and resume beating until they are finished, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the bowl from the water and fold in the vanilla extract. It should look like marshmallow fluff. Allow the frosting to cool. Frost and serve immediately

Stairway to Heavenly

I made this cake several years ago and loved it. I re-made it a couple of years ago and wasn’t impressed. You know what they say in the bakery, try, try again.

After 35 min baking at 350F the center of the cake was only about 150F. I reset the timer for 15 min and at the end of that time the temperature rose to 190F, which is about right. Over baking will cause it to be dry and dense, and mine was both. Darn. Try, try, try again, I guess. (Hint: Have a nice glass of wine as you eat this cake.)

The drizzle frosting is simply confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and a dash of salt. I dusted the freshly frosted cake with some powdered freeze dried raspberries to temper the sweetness and added some fresh raspberries for decoration and another tart element.

Heavenly White Cake

INGREDIENTS

• 2 ¾ cups sifted cake flour
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp Cake Improver
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 4 egg whites
• 1 ½ cups white sugar
• ¾ cup butter
• 1 cup milk
• Trace of violet food coloring
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp almond extract (optional)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C.
  2. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add ½ cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  4. Cream butter or margarine (about 3 minutes.) Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy (about 6 minutes.) Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Wipe a trace of violet food coloring to the front of the rubber blade of your mixer. This will offset the yellow coloring due to the butter and vanilla. Start and end with dry ingredients.
  5. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat gently, but thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in desired pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper or silicon sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 30 to 35 minutes for a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan, or two 9” round pans, or three 8” round pans for 25 to 30 minutes or one 9”x4” round pan for 40-50 minutes. (DON’T OVERBAKE!)
  7. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Vanilla Drizzle Icing

INGREDIENTS
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted before measuring)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear for whiter icing)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

METHOD

  1. Sift the confectioners sugar then measure out 2 cups.
  2. Combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and 3 tablespoons milk in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until smooth and well blended.
  4. Adjust for desired consistency as needed, adding more milk for drizzling or more confectioners’ sugar for spreading.
  5. Use immediately to top a cake, cookies, and other treats.

Yellow Cake

I’ve been searching for a recipe for an exceptional tasting, moist, tender white cake. I was reminded that I made a cake for my granddaughters baptism and it was described as one of the best “white” cakes they ever tasted. Today, that cake was resurrected as a small, two layer 8’ cake to share with QC and a couple of neighbors as opposed to the two layer 11”x15” cake to serve 60.

I used a chocolate frosting that complements my Extreme Chocolate Cake. When I say complements I mean it is smooth, shiny and sweet.

I had a few flower and bird decorations left over from my other granddaughters Princess Aurora birthday cake, and being a frugal ex-pat Vermonter was unable to bin them.

Yellow Sheet Cake

INGREDIENTS : (Double – Half)
• 2 and 1/4 cups (285g) all-purpose flour (570g -142g)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda (2tsp – 1/2tsp)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (1tsp. 1/4tsp)
• 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temp (460g – 115g)
• 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar (700g – 175g)
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature (4 – 1g)
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (4tsp – 1tsp)
• 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temp (240g – 60g)
• 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, at room temp (480g – 120g)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Generously grease and lightly flour a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3 full minutes until creamed together. The mixture should be a light yellow color. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition until both are mixed in. On high speed, beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  4. The full recipe yields 2000g of batter. Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out into a thin, even layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes (for the jelly roll pan, less for a half recipe or 35-40 minutes for a double. Actual times depend on pan used, less time for shallow pan, more for deeper, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or 200F. (Two 8” round pans required 30 minutes to bake in my oven.) Make sure you rotate the cake pan once or twice during bake time if your oven has hot spots. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack. As the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
  5. Make ahead tip: Cake can be made 1 -2 days in advance, covered tightly at room temperature.

Extreme Chocolate Frosting

INGREDIENTS (2/3 Recipe)

• 3/4 c butter ½ c (112g)
• 1 1/2 c (125g) unsweetened cocoa powder 1 c (80g)
• 5 1/3 c confectioners’ sugar 624g 3 ½ c (415g)
• 2/3 c milk .45 c (98g)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cream butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla.
  3. Beat to a spreading consistency.

The Beautiful Sleeping Aurora

Finally I made the Princess Aurora cake for my granddaughter Vivian’s birthday – 20 Covid days late. The extra days gave me extra time to obsess and agonize on the design and execution. The original design was to be 4 layers of 10” cake for the base and 3 of 8” for the top and serve 60 people. We are down to 9 people and a scaled down cake.

I made most of the decorations a few weeks ago and kept them safely tucked away until now. All the flowers and birds are gumpaste. The roses were made using the typical technique of adding several rows of die cut petals. The other flowers were also die cut and while still flexible placed on a slightly crumpled sheet of parchment paper to give them some contour.

The letters fondant, rolled thick and cut with a die. A sharp knife cut the pattern into the letters which were airbrushed gold and dusted with glitter. The picture frame was cut from rolled gumpaste, allowed to dry and the edges were painted gold. Gumpaste glue stuck the picture to the frame.

The drapes and dress are darker pink dyed, rolled fondant and dusted with silver petal dust. The crown is gold airbrushed gumpaste cut in the shape of Princess Aurora’s crown. Gold glitter was dusted on the still slightly wet crown. The “4” is tempered dark chocolate, airbrushed with gold and dusted (too heavily) with gold glitter. (The fingerprints are mine.)

The top two 6” layers are white cake and the bottom three 8” layers and my extreme chocolate cake (family favorite.) I am not a fan of this white cake. (I constantly and this far unsuccessfully search for a recipe that is light and moist.) The frosting is a simple buttercream with 3:1 butter to shortening ratio.

Many techniques, lots of time, tons of fun making this cake.

Tender White Cake

INGREDIENTS
• 326g (2¾c) Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
• 333g (1⅔c) sugar; superfine sugar is best
• 1 Tablespoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 170g (12Tbl) unsalted butter, softened
• 4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
• 227g (1c) whole milk (2% plus 4Tbl Heavy Cream)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8″ x 2″ or 9″ x 2″ round pans; a 9″ x 13″ pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8″ round pans are at least 2″ deep; if they’re not, use one of the other pan options.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it’s mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.
  3. Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8″ or 9″ rounds; 23 to 26 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake; or 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.
  6. Yield: Two 8″ or 9″ round layers; one 9″x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Basic Crusting Buttercream

INGREDIENTS:
• 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening (1/4 cup Crisco, ¾ cup butter)
• 1/2 cup butter softened (see above)
• 1 tablespoon of merengue powder
• 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
• 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
• 2 tablespoons milk
METHOD

  1. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and milk.
  3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
  4. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks.
  5. Don’t over whip or it will bring air to the icing and will be impossible to smooth.
    NOTE:
    If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.
    YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.

A Delicious Old Glory!

This 4th of July dessert is either the largest cookie, or one of the smallest cakes I ever made. That is not to say it is either the least flavorful, or not the prettiest cookie/cake I ever made. I am very happy with the result in both attractiveness and flavor.

There were no real trick in making this. Once the cookie cooled a few minutes in the pan I turned it out onto a cooling rack to let it cool to room temperature. I trimmed it to fit the available serving tray and to remove the more well done edges.

I coated the cookie with a thin layer (<1/4”) of white buttercream and first outlined the upper left corner and set blueberries in a rectangle approximating the aspect ratio of Old Glory.

I just noticed I squeezed some raspberries into the third from the bottom row on the left. Probably should have used a larger berry there and left a bit more white showing. Judgement call, could have gone either way.

Chocolate Chip Cookies/Sheet Cake

INGREDIENTS
• 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ¾ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups (12 oz) chocolate chips

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  6. Stir in morsels and nuts.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pan Cookie Variation:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. It’s easier to pat down into an even layer with wet/damp hands. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Pavlova’s Dog?

Pavlovas are a meringue type confection with a crisp exterior and marshmallow like interior. They were named for ballerina Anna Pavlova and are quick and easy to make. They will keep at room temperature for 3-5 days if sealed in an airtight container in low humidity.

I made them for Independence Day and topped them with red (fresh raspberry or strawberry sauce) and blue (fresh blueberries) for the red, white and blue theme, and chocolate because, well….it’s chocolate!

The tartness of the sauces compliments and tempers the sweetness of the pavlova. These are a delicious, light, refreshing dessert.

Mini Pavlova

INGREDIENTS

• 6 (180 g) large egg whites, room temperature
• 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
• 2 tsp corn starch
• ½ tsp cream of tartar
• ½ Tbsp lemon juice
• ½ Tbsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the Oven to (I used 215˚ F as my oven runs hot. Many recipes call for 250˚ F. But my pavlovas were over baked and light brown at this temperature. Because this contains eggs, it should be heated to more than 160˚ F. at a minimum.)
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment (or Silpat) paper. Using your stand mixer, beat 6 egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on high, gradually add 1 ½ cups sugar and cream of tartar and beat 10 min on high speed, or until soft peaks form. It will be smooth and glossy.
  3. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla extract. The mini pavlovas can be formed by piping, or for a more irregular look I used a spoon.
  4. Bake for 30-45 min. If the temperature is too high, or you leave them in the oven to long they will begin to brown. After 30 minutes add 15 additional minutes if necessary for the surface to no longer tacky.
  5. Slide the pavlova with the parchment paper onto the counter or a cooling rack and allow it to come to room temperature.
  6. Once cool, you can top them with your choice of topping or store in an airtight container for 3-5 days at room temperature (in a low humidity place).

Berry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

• ½ cup water
• 1 tsp corn starch
• 1 cup blueberries, raspberries or strawberries
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 Tbl lemon juice
• ½ tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Combine water and cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the cornstarch dissolves
  2. Add the berries, sugar and lemon juice. Crush the berries with a potato masher.
  3. Place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender blend the sauce for 30 to 60 seconds
  5. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the berries to extract as much juice as possible. Stir in vanilla extract.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the sauce to prevent skimming
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature

Yodel Lay Hee Hoo

Have you ever see contestants on GBBO struggle making a Swiss roll? For those unfortunate few readers unfamiliar with this cake, it is a thin sheet cake rolled tight, usually with some filling inside.

Follow this method and you too could be a contender!.

Swiss Roll

INGREDIENTS
• 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
• ¼ (32g) cup confectioners sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Dash of salt
• 2 (25g) Tbl granulated sugar
• ¾ (96g) cup cake flour
• ½ c raspberry jam

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of a 15-x-10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Leave the sides unlined and undressed.
  2. Place the egg yolks and confectioners sugar in a large bowl and whip until the yolks have doubled in volume and hold a ribbon. This takes about 4 minutes. Whip in the vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the salt first on low speed until foamy, then increase the speed to high and pour in the granulated sugar, whipping until the whites hold a medium peak.
  4. Sift half of the flour into the yolk mixture and fold in without deflating the eggs, then fold in half of the whipped egg whites. Repeat with the remaining flour, and fold in the balance of the whites until evenly incorporated. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, taking the time to ensure the batter is level.
  5. Bake the cake for about 12 minutes, until the cake springs back when gently pressed in the center. It will only lightly brown. Do NOT over-bake. Cool the cake for about 2 minutes on a cooling rack, then loosen the sides with a spatula. I found using the spatula and pushing straight down on the edges worked very well.
  6. Sift a layer of confectioners sugar over the surface of the cake and cover with a clean towel. Place a second pan of about the same size as the jelly roll pan over the towel and flip the cake, removing the pan it was baked in. Peel off the parchment paper and dust this surface with icing sugar. Roll the cake up from the 10-inch side with the towel and let it cool completely (cooling it rolled sets its “memory” so the cake won’t crack once filled and re-rolled.)
  7. Stir the raspberry jam to soften. Unroll the cake and spread an even layer of jam over the cake. Don’t use too much jam. The ½ cup should be plenty. Leave and inch on the last part of the cake uncoated with jam. The jam will squeeze along as you roll and will eventually coat the last edge. Roll the cake back up again, if desired, dust the top with confectioners sugar. Cover and store at room temperature until ready to serve.
  8. The cake can be prepared up to a day in advance and stored, wrapped and unrefrigerated.

It’s Independence Day This Time

I need an Independence Day themed dessert for a party this weekend. I started out with a red, white and blue mousse cake. The blue was to be blueberry mousse. As you may know, blueberries are not chucked full of flavor, so having made the blueberry mousse, (it tasted mostly like whipped cream) I looked elsewhere for inspiration.

I don’t know how it came to mind, but a berry trifle with red berries, whipped cream and blueberries sounded perfect for a cool, light summer dessert. As one of the kids at the party is allergic to strawberries I used raspberries as the red. (The fact raspberries are my fav, didn’t enter into the decision.) I wanted something more substantial than simple whipped cream so I decided on Creme Diplomat. This creme is basically cream patisserie and whipped cream. I fortified each with cornstarch to help it retain is structure longer.

Rather than lady fingers or simple cubes of white or vanilla cake I settled on a sliced Swiss roll with raspberry filling. (Prettier). I never made a Swiss roll before, but had lots of advice and examples from watching years of GBBO.

By coincidence, I made raspberry jam last week and had plenty to use for this project. I sliced the cool, filled Swiss roll into 14 pieces. (Note the nice tight swirl pattern. GBBO contestants always struggle with this.) The bottom and sides of the bowl were lined with the slices, then extra jam was forced into any openings between, or on top of the slices.

Creme Diplomat is essentially 1:1 cream patisserie and whipped cream. It resulted in a light, cool and perfect for a summer dessert. QC loved it, said it wasn’t overly sweet but delicious. 😄

I am experimenting with a new backdrop for many of my pictures. I am using the dark background in this post. Let me know what you think.

Crème Diplomat

INGREDIENTS

• ½ c sugar
• ¼ c corn starch
• Pinch salt
• 2 c whole milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 2 Tbl butter
• 2 cups heavy cream, cold
• 2 Tbl granulated sugar

METHOD

  1. Whisk eggs and milk together and add to all other ingredients (except vanilla) to a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil whisking constantly
  3. Cook until thickened (it’s ok if it looks lumpy)
  4. Sieve lumpy mixture into a bowl and add 1 tsp vanilla, mix thoroughly
  5. When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool about an hour.
  6. Whip the cold heavy cream and granulated sugar to medium peaks.
  7. Fold a few spoonfuls of the custard into the cream. Gradually fold the rest of the custard in 2 or 3 additions, being careful to not knock the air out.

Mousse, No Squirrel

Don’t ask me why I was obsessed with making a Neapolitan Mousse Cake, but I was, and it’s now complete. Today was the third and fourth (and final) adjustments to the recipe(s).

To make the three layers approximately the same thickness I increased the amount of white and strawberry mousse. I also adjusted the amount of agar agar to create the consistency I wanted.

Neapolitan Mousse

INGREDIENTS

WHIPPED CREAM (for Chocolate Mousse)– YIELDS 1 ½ CUPS OF WHIPPED CREAM
• 1 cup Heavy whipping cream
• 4 tablespoons Powdered Sugar or Confectioners sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons Cream of tartar
• 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
WHIPPED CREAM (for Vanilla and Strawberry Mousse)– YIELDS 2 CUPS OF WHIPPED CREAM
• 1 ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
• 6 tablespoons Powdered Sugar
• 2 teaspoons Cream of tartar
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
WHITE CHOCOLATE
• 2 cup White chocolate chips
• ½ cup heavy whipping cream
DARK CHOCOLATE
• 1 cup dark chocolate chips
• ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
STRAWBERRY PURÉE
• 1 ½ cup fresh strawberries
• 1/3 + 2 Tbl cup granulated sugar
• 1 ½ tsp strawberry extract
• Red food coloring to suit (1-2 drops)
AGAR AGAR
• 2 Tsp Agar Agar
• 2 Tbl warm water
CHOCOLATE GANACHE
• 1 cup chocolate
• ¾ cup heavy cream
GRAHAM CRAKER CRUST
• 2 cups finely crushed regular graham crackers
• 1/3 cup butter, melted
• ½ beaten egg white
• 3 tablespoons sugar

METHOD

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In a food processor pulse the crushed graham crackers several times, then add the rest of the ingredients until well mixed. Press remaining mixture firmly and evenly against bottom of an 8” removable bottom cake pan.
  2. Bake at 350 F for 10 min. Set aside to cool.
  3. When cool, line the inside edges of the cake pan with acetate

WHIPPED CREAM – (3 batches required)

  1. Before beginning with the recipe, place the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Once the bowl has chilled, add heavy cream and vanilla and beat on low speed until the cream starts to thicken slightly. There will be fewer and larger bubbles.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and powdered sugar and beat with increasingly higher speed until stiff peaks form. Once done, set it in the fridge to chill.

PREPARING THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

  1. Heat heavy cream to steam, not boil. I use the microwave in 30 second bursts
  2. Place 1 cup chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
  3. Pour heated cream over chocolate, cover and let sit 30 seconds
  4. Beat until the cream is completely incorporated and the chocolate is smooth and creamy
  5. Let come to room temperature
  6. Gently fold the room temperature chocolate into the cold whipped cream
  7. Spread the chocolate mousse evenly on top of the graham cracker crust
  8. Refrigerate

PREPARING THE STRAWBERRY PURÉE

  1. Combine strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens.
  2. Keep stirring occasionally. When the strawberries are soft and the syrup has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. When completely cooled, coarsely puree it with an immersion blender. Add strawberry extract and set it aside. Measure the syrup – you will require ½ cup of thick syrup

AGAR AGAR MIX

  1. Mix 3 teaspoons Agar agar powder with 4 Tbl lukewarm water
  2. Whisk to combine
  3. Let rest 4 – 5 minutes for the agar agar to bloom

PREPARING STRAWBERRY AND VANILLA MOUSSE

  1. Heat a pan 1/2 filled with water over low heat and place the white chocolate bowl over the water when it simmers. Keep stirring the chocolate as it softens and melts.
  2. Add agar agar mix and stir constantly for 5 minutes
  3. Add ½ cup warm milk and mix until the chocolate is thick but runny.

FOR VANILLA MOUSSE

  1. If desired add a few drops of white food coloring to lighten the yellowish mixture and mix well
  2. Gently fold the cool to touch white chocolate [and agar] mixture into the cool whipped cream until combined. Do not beat and deflate the mousse.

FOR STRAWBERRY MOUSSE

  1. Add half the cooled whipped cream to the cool white chocolate mixture
  2. Add the strawberry syrup that was prepared earlier to the whipped cream/white chocolate mixture
  3. Mix gently to not deflate.
  4. Add the rest of the whipped cream to the strawberry-white chocolate.
  5. [OPTIONAL – add two drops of red food coloring. Without the coloring the strawberry mousse is not strongly differentiated from the vanilla mousse.]

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  1. Warm cream in the microwave just until a simmer and not boiling hot.
  2. Pour it over the chocolate and let it rest, undisturbed, for 30 seconds.
  3. Now start stirring gently until it forms a smooth chocolate ganache.
  4. Let the ganache cool slightly, but it should still be pourable.

DECORATING THE MOUSSE CAKE WITH GANACHE

  1. Pour the chocolate around the edge of the mousse cake letting some run down the side, but not so much as to drip all the way to the bottom.
  2. Cover the rest of the cake with chocolate and top with sliced strawberries.

DECORATING THE MOUSSE CAKE WITH A CHOCOLATE COLLAR

  1. Cut a piece of parchment paper the circumference and height (or a little more) of the mousse cake.
  2. Place it on a larger piece of parchment paper to help later clean-up.
  3. Temper a cup of chocolate, fill a piping bag and let cool slightly. This was an experiment for me. It needs to be cool enough to not run when piped, but warm enough to pipe easily
  4. Cut a small hole in the end of the piping bag and with an erratic swirling pattern make a lace pattern over the smaller piece of parchment paper, being sure to cover all the way to the edges.
  5. Let the chocolate collar dry such that it won’t drip when picked up.
  6. Carefully wrap the mousse cake with the still slightly soft collar and press gently.
  7. Let the collar cool for a few minutes then carefully peal the parchment paper base from the collar, leaving the chocolate collar adhered to the mousse cake.