‘Spearminting’ with Shortbread

Actually, I was ‘experimenting” with vegetarian mirror glaze today. Previously, I made a mirror glaze that was too rubbery so I thought I would give it another try. Anyway, I wanted to try making some chocolate mousse domes. The recipe I found for the domes was good. It uses Agar Agar rather than gelatin sheets so it remained vegetarian.

As I only needed six shortbread cookies for the bases of the domes, I decided to make a few (24) shortbread cookies with the balance of the recipe. And, as long as I was also using chocolate for the domes I figured I might as well dip one side of the cookie to make a nice chocolate crescent accent

To make the domes, I filled my 2.5” diameter silicone mold with mousse to within 1/4” of the top. This provided room to fit a 2.5” trimmed cookie in the base. As the cookies spread a little while baking, the thinnest were trimmed with a cutter and placed on the still soft mousse, then put in the freezer until solid.

Even the thinnest shortbread cookies were too thick (about 1/4”.) The problem is the unbaked cookies are too fragile to move if they are any thinner. Next time I will roll the dough out thinner on the cookie sheet then remove the excess from between the round cookies. Wish me luck.

The results were promising. The glaze was too thick to pour. Spreading the glaze ruins the effect of a smooth. Coating. I found another recipe for the glaze, but using gelatin sheets. I will substitute Agar powder using one third the amount of Agar to gelatin. The ratio of cocoa powder to liquids seems right to allow it to pour. Time will tell.

Chocolate Mouse Domes with Agar Agar

Mousse

INGREDIENTS:
• 60 g Dark Chocolate (melted)
• 50 ml (1/4 cup) Heavy Cream
• 175 ml (3/4 cup) Whipping Cream ( whipped into soft Peaks)
• 1 tbl Agar Agar
• 6 short bread biscuits

METHOD:

  1. Add Agar Agar to heavy cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate
  2. Let rest for five minutes, then mix chocolate and heavy cream into a smooth mixture.
  3. Fold in Whipped Cream to the above mixture

Assembling

  1. Pour the mousse mixture into semi dome silicone molds or any medium sized round bowls.
  2. Place one biscuit over each dome
  3. Freeze the mousse until solid.

White Chocolate Glaze

INGREDIENTS
• 50 g White Chocolate
• 50 ml Heavy Cream
• 2 tsp Agar Agar
• 1 tbl Butter

METHOD

  1. Mix in the above mixture and bring it to boil once.
  2. Mix everything into homogenous smooth glaze.
  3. Sieve it once

Dark Chocolate GlazeOption 2 (not yet used)
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/chef-dominique-ansels-recipe-for-dark-chocolate-mirror-glaze#chef-dominique-ansels-dark-chocolate-mirror-glaze-recipe

INGREDIENTS
• 206g, or 1 cup sugar
• 142g, or 1⁄2 cup, plus 11⁄2 tbsp heavy cream
• 1 ½ tsp Agar Powder (originally 12g, or 4 tsp gelatin, powdered)
• 60g, or 1⁄4 cup water, cold
• 148g, or 2/3 cups water, room temperature
• 71g, or 1⁄2 cup, plus 5 tsp cocoa powder

METHOD

  1. In a medium pot, bring sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the Agar powder and heat while stirring until mixture starts to thicken (1-2 min, medium low heat.)
  3. In a bowl, combine the 148g (2/3 cups) room temperature water with the cocoa powder, stirring with a spatula until it becomes a uniform paste.
  4. Stir cream-sugar-Agar mixture into cocoa powder paste until combined.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, and strain the glaze mixture through a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl to remove any clumps of undissolved cocoa powder.
  6. Emulsify the mixture with a hand blender (immersion blender) to remove any lumps, until smooth.
  7. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight to set, until ready to use. Should be 90 deg to pour.
  8. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

OPTION PUBLISHED WITH THIS RECIPE
INGREDIENTS:
• 50 ml Water
• 50 ml Heavy Cream
• 50 ml Sugar
• 80 gm Cocoa Powder
• 2 tsp Agar Agar

METHOD:

  1. Bring all the ingredients to boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Whisk to cool to room temperature
  3. Sieve once to remove lumps

ASSEMBLING AND DECORATION:

  1. After 8 hours remove mousse from freezer and remove from the moulds
  2. Place mousse domes on cooling rack.
  3. Pour Dark Chocolate or White Chocolate Glaze over the dome and place the dome in freezer for 5 mins.
  4. I sprinkled some freeze dried raspberry powder on the domes to add a little bitterness to the sweetness of the mouse and glaze.

The Long and Shortbread of It

We love shortbread cookies, and we love chocolate. Combining the two is a step from ecstasy. Also, this gave me the excuse… I mean opportunity… to use the hexagonal cookie cutters Fran (aka QC) bought me.

Using hexagonal cutters reduces dough waste as there are no gaps between each cut.

Hexagonal Cookie Cutters with the one used on the lower right.
Shortbread Cookies surrounded by Raspberry Hand Pies.

Shortbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS
• 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl place over a pan of boiling water. Turn the burner down to simmer and heat with stirring until the chocolate is nearly all melted. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
  6. Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.

I’d Give $1000 to be One of Them Millionaires

I saw these on GBBO and decided to give them a go. (Kind of English slang for “try to make them”.) Millionaires Bars are layers of shortbread, caramel and chocolate.

I used a jelly roll pan, which is about 25% bigger than the specified pan. This caused each layer to be thinner than I expected. As they were setting I considered increasing the recipe quantities by about 50%. After cutting and eating them I think I am going to leave them the way they are. They ended up being about 1/4” thick and if I cut them into 1” square pieces they will be perfect bite sized pieces.

Self induced problems: 1) Forgot to use the parchment paper making me worry about releasing the bar from the jelly roll pan. No problem. I cut around the outside and across the center. Each large piece came out easily. 2) I should have poured the chocolate on the caramel before it set. Not doing so caused the chocolate to not adhere to the caramel. Cutting the bars into 1” squares, so you can just pop them into your mouth without taking a bite and “breaking” them, converts the problem into an enhancement.

Overall, these are delicious cookies. The caramel was heated to 242 deg which made it a perfect softness and texture. The chocolate wasn’t tempered but resulted in a nice layer with a good snap. The short bread base was difficult to push to the edges of the pan, but perhaps rolling it out before placing in the pan would help. I also skipped the macadamia nuts as my pantry was bare. If you saw my pantry, you wouldn’t believe that possible.

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Paul Hollywood’s Salted Caramel Bars

https://people.com/food/paul-hollywood-salted-caramel-bars-recipe/

INGREDIENTS
• ⅓ cup granulated sugar
• 1⅓ cups unsalted butter, softened and divided, plus more for greasing
• 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp. table salt
• ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
• ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
• 3 tbsp. golden cane syrup (or honey as a substitute)
• 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
• 7 oz. dark chocolate baking bar, chopped
• ½ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Grease a shallow 11×7-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. Line baking dish with parchment paper, allowing paper to extend by 2 inches on each side; grease parchment.
  3. Beat granulated sugar and 2/3 cup butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt; stir with a spoon, and then combine with your hands to form a smooth dough (try not to overwork it). I ended up adding a couple of Tbl water to the dough so it would come together,
  4. Press dough into pan in an even layer, and prick surface all over with a fork. Bake in preheated oven until pale golden and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan, about 45 minutes.
  5. Combine brown sugar, condensed milk, golden syrup (or honey) and remaining 2/3 cup butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until butter melts and mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel bubbles become larger, mixture thickens and turns a rich, glossy caramel color, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour caramel evenly over the shortbread, and sprinkle with sea salt. Cool completely until set, about 1 hour.
  6. Melt chocolate, stirring often, in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Pour melted chocolate evenly over caramel layer; spread with an offset spatula until level and smooth. Sprinkle with nuts. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Use a knife to release ends of bars from pan; use the parchment paper as handle to remove from pan. Cut into bars.

There’s a Bright Holden Glaze on The Meadow

No, I’m not in Oklahoma, I am still sheltering-in-place in California. In the Galaxy on Orion’s Belt post I mentioned I was going to remake the mousse desserts using Agar Agar rather than gelatin. Agar is a plant based thickener while gelatin is animal based. Well, the agar was delivered this week and as I and still sheltering-in-place, I am still baking, so here we go.

Last week Fran asked for some shortbread cookies so I made a batch this morning. I cut them into rounds, just smaller than the large end of my silicon hemisphere molds. The plan is to fill the mold about 2/3rds of the way with mousse, push a frozen vanilla cream into it and seal the bottom with the cookie. As I planned to coat one end of the shortbread cookies with chocolate, and will have some left over, I will coat the bottom of some of the hemisphere desserts with some, then mirror glaze them.

So the plan was good, but the execution was lacking. The cookies were too big so I cut them down, but they were also too thick. I couldn’t properly fill the mold with vanilla cream and cookie and still have 1/8” space for the chocolate. The new plan is to dip the bottom of the bombe in chocolate, re-freeze and then coat with the agar mirror glaze.

The agar mirror glaze was easy to make, but cooled too quickly and coated the bombes with a thick glaze. Luckily, this glaze, while sticky, was much better than the gelatin version. Portions of the glaze were placed in small bowls and dyed. When ready to coat the mousse bombes some of the colored glaze was poured on a larger aliquot of yellow glaze and poured over the bombe.

The good news is, Quality Assurance certified the mousse as exceptionally light and creamy. The cookies were a bit thick so it was suggested a pan of brownies would be a better base. The chocolate bottom was a nice addition and should be continued.

The directions for the agar agar said you should cool the glaze to 80 – 90 degrees. I found this temperature too low resulting in a thick glaze. I also need to find a better way to mix the various colors with the base color while maintaining the temperature of the dyed glaze at 90-100 deg, maybe place them in a warm water bath until ready to use.

Anyway, they are delicious and worth making!!

RECIPIES

Shortbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS
• 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut with a round cutter just smaller than the opening of the mold. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Cream Filling


INGREDIENTS
• 3 tbsp all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
• 1/2 cup butter (or Trans fat-free shortening)
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 scraped vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes. Stir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil. When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature.
  2. When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter (or shortening) and sugar together in a medium bowl until light.
  3. Add in the milk/flour mixture and the scraped vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 7 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

INGREDIENTS

• 5 1/4 ounces 148 g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 14 ounces 396 g cold heavy cream
• 3 large egg whites
• 1-ounce 29 g sugar
• Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional
• Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish, optional
• 6 ounces 170 g semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1-ounce sugar 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. Place chocolate in a large bowl set over a bain marie or in a double boiler at a low simmer. Stir chocolate until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.
  2. Beat the cream over ice until it forms soft peaks. Set aside and hold at room temperature.
  3. With a mixer, whip egg to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping until firm.
  4. Remove the chocolate from the bain marie and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once.
  5. When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Fill each well of the hemispherical mold about halfway. Push a frozen vanilla cream drop in each well and top with a shortbread cookie. Make sure the cookie is below the top of the well.
  7. Place the mold in the freezer until solid.
  8. When frozen solid remove the mousse from the mold .
  9. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don’t trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
  10. Coat the top of each cell with a thin coat (1/8”) with melted chocolate and return to the freezer to set.

Agar Mirror Glaze Recipe

INGREDIENTS

• White Chocolate 8 ounces (220g)
• Sweetened Condensed Milk ½ cup (140g)
• Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
• Corn Syrup ¾ cup (245g)
• Cold Water 7 tablespoons (100ml)
• HOT Water ½ cup (120ml)
• Powdered Agar 4 teaspoons (16g)

METHOD

  1. Bloom agar in the HOT water (120ml), let stand 5 minutes
  2. Combine the corn syrup, the other measure of COLD water (100ml) and the sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pot and get it warmed to at least 150°F add the bloomed agar and bring to a boil.
  3. Allow it to boil rapidly for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and add the condensed milk and whisk smooth
  4. Pour the entire hot mixture over the chocolate and whisk smooth
  5. Pour through a strainer into a clean container and color as you like.
  6. Pour over cakes & pastries once it has cooled to 80 or 90°F