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.

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.

Dede’s Bakery – President’s Day

It’s the same old story, but with a different meaning. I had three egg yolks leftover from an earlier bake. As QC says (often) I am both frugal and whimsical and didn’t want to waste three whole egg yolks. As it happens home made scratch chocolate pudding requires three whole egg yolks.

I suppose a real photographer could make chocolate pudding look good, but probably couldn’t make it taste this good!

Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

Makes 4 cups; serves 8

INGREDIENTS
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 3 large egg yolks
• 2 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate into fine flakes; set aside.
  2. Whisk the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt together in a large, heatproof bowl. Slowly whisk in the cream, a little at a time, until you have a smooth mixture.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks into the cream and cornstarch mixture.
  4. Pour the milk into a 3-quart (or larger) saucepan. Add the sugar and warm over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Watch for the surface of the milk to vibrate and for bubbles to form around the edges of the pot.
  6. To temper the eggs, slowly pour most of the hot milk into the bowl of cream and egg yolks. Whisk until well-combined, then pour everything back into the pot.
  7. Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. (It should look like lava boiling up!) At this point, the pudding will look much thicker.
  8. Cook for 2 minutes more, whisking constantly and vigorously. Get your whisk into all corners of the pot.
  9. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Add the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Whisk vigorously until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
  10. Transfer the pudding to a storage container and press plastic wrap or wax paper directly onto the surface of the pudding. Cover with a lid and refrigerate.

Sugar Snow-Globe Cake

I saw a technique for making sugar domes on Netflix’s School of Chocolate. Initially, I thought that looked like a fun and easy skill to learn. I soon discovered it was fun. Plus I had the added incentive of wanting to make a snow-globe cake for my granddaughters. I envisioned an evergreen tree and snowman under the dome.

‘Simply’ pour a little (1-2 Tbl depending on ring size) molten (hard crack) sugar/glucose mixture inside a ring mold, resting on 3 layers of plastic wrap stretched (not too tightly) and sealed across a large bowl.

Press down on the outside of the ring and keep increasing the pressure until the sugar reaches the side of the mold and starts to dome up. If the sugar is too hot it can melt the plastic wrap, too cold it won’t spread to the edges of the ring mold. No matter what you do, your fingers will burn. (After this I purchased some heat resistant silicone gloves.)

It was about now that I decided to make the cake an actual snow-globe. There is no way to pick it up and shake it, but a life time of skiing around snow makers gave me an idea. If I could blow the ‘snow’ (or powdered sugar) from inside the dome it would look like it was snowing.

I changed my plan from a small dome on shell tart to a 5” fondant covered cake. Now I had to make the domes bigger and higher.

I saw a method for making the globes (the author was actually making sugar bowls, but inverted would be perfect.) Ann Reardon – How To Cook That has a great tutorial.

Use helium quality balloons so the molten sugar doesn’t melt them. Ann explains using water filled balloons to disperse the heat and keep them from bursting when covering with the sugar.

This technique also required some practice. You need to be sure to use enough molten sugar or the balloon won’t be fully covered. I found covering the balloon in one smooth pour was more successful than trying to go back and filling in places that weren’t covered.

I made some white gum paste and rolled a little into balls for the snowmen. I colored some black to make buttons, eyes etc. I dyed some green and shaped it into cones. Another YouTube video demonstrated how to use cuticle scissors to snip bits to make the boughs of the trees.

Now to the engineering ‘genius’ of the cakes. To make the snow blower I procured some mini funnels (1.5” across at the top.) I connected a piece of flexible tubing (I happened to have the exact correct size and length from my beer making equipment.)

A squeeze bottle served as the air pump and a small sugar pearl blocked the sugar from pouring down the tubing. A firm squeeze on the bottle and voilà, a mini snowstorm. This is my test set up.

The cake was put on a 5” cake board which I had cut in its center, then it was crumb coated and covered in fondant. The flexible tubing was fed up through the cake board, cake and fondant and the funnel attached. The other end was fed through the checkerboard ‘tablecloth’ and two 5.25” styrofoam disks with holes cut in the center. The bottom disk had a channel cut from the bottom center to the edge to have a place for the tubing to run to the outside.

Everything was stacked, filled and covered with the sugar dome. Imagine my surprise when the girls and I tried it all together the first time, and it worked!

Slow Motion – IMHO Awesome!

Now, back to those braided fruit tarts.

‘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.

Honey Chamomile Cakelets

While on vacation last month, and at King Arthurs Bake shop, I learned a new word—Cakelets! I had absolutely no reason for buying a Nordicware Cakelet pan and, back home, tried it this morning for the first time. I used the Noricware recipe for Honey Chamomile Cakelets as a control for future bakes.

The recipe was simple and easy to follow, although I made a couple of changes and converted the volume measurements to weight. (I moved making the simple syrup to the beginning as reducing the liquid to a syrup takes a while and the cakelets should be coated while warm.) I find it’s convenient to measure most ingredients (such as honey) by weight. A cup of honey weighs 340g and a tablespoon weight 21g. Put your bowl directly on the scale and weight the required amount. Less mess and more accurate!

There was about twice as much honey syrup than required, so it’s quantity could be reduced by half. The cakelets released from the pan perfectly and maintained all the detail. I was very pleased with the result. The cakelets were strong honey which overpowered the chamomile but that is easily adjusted. I wonder how these would be with either a mirror glaze, or perhaps dipped in tempered chocolate. Hmmmm.

HONEY CHAMOMILE BEE CAKELETS

Recipe from Nordicware

INGREDIENTS
• 177ml (¾ cup) water
• 3 chamomile or jasmine tea bags
• 115g ( ½ cup) butter, softened (best to let come to room temp)
• 150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
• 126g (6 tbsp) honey
• ¼ tsp vanilla extract
• 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
• 218g (1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour
• ¼ tsp salt

TEA-INFUSED SIMPLE HONEY SYRUP:
• 237g (1 cup) water
• 2 chamomile or jasmine tea bags
• 170g (½ cup) honey
• 100g (½ cup) sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare Busy Bee Bitelet Pan with baking spray containing flour and use a pastry brush to evenly coat the details of the pan.

    HONEY SYRUP
  3. In a small saucepan, heat water to boiling. Steep 2 tea bags for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat, remove bags and add honey and sugar. Cook until reduced and syrupy.
  5. Keep warm but not boiling until the cakelets are ready.

    BATTER
  6. Heat water in a saucepan until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat and steep 3 tea bags for 3-5 minutes. Cool to lukewarm and set aside.
  7. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. (Do not over beat)
  8. Blend in honey and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and tea.
  9. In a second small bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
  10. On low speed, add egg mixture alternately with flour into butter mixture until incorporated. Don’t over-mix to avoid air bubbles.
  11. Fill each design with batter, filling only 3/4 full. Gently tap pan on towel-covered countertop to remove any air bubbles.
  12. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and center of cakes firm to touch.
  13. Cool cakelets in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
  14. While cakes are still warm, brush with honey syrup and serve.
  15. Clean pan and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 32 cakelets.

Sugar Free Berry Mousse

I love berries, all kinds of berries, but far and away raspberries are my favorite. I saw a recipe for sugar free strawberry mousse and modified it to a raspberry mouse. Feel free to change it back or re-modify to whatever berries you have on hand.

This simple mousse is quick and easy to make. After my initial try I would suggest making the berry puree and chill it before folding it into the whipped cream. Also, be sure to beat the cream into very stiff peaks. I would also chill the bowls in which you will store/serve the mousse. All these precautions will help keep the mousse firm. Don’t worry if you don’t. It will still be fresh and delicious.

Sugar Free Raspberry Mousse

INGREDIENTS

• 354g raspberries (3/4 pound)
• 100g Splenda
• 238g whole or whipping cream (cold)
• extra raspberries for topping

METHOD

  1. Clean and slice the raspberries, In a blender or food processor add the raspberries, Splenda and puree. Remove 1/2 a cup of puree and set aside.
  2. Place serving bowls in the refrigerator to chill before filling.
  3. In a cold bowl add the cream and beat until very stiff peaks form. Then fold in the remaining puree (not the 1/2 cup) gently.
  4. Divide the 1/2 cup of puree between the 4 small/medium glasses and top with the raspberries mousse.
  5. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or even over night if desired. Top with fresh raspberries and serve.

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.