Chocolat de Couverture Noir

On a visit to a Restaurant Depot my Q.C. Department convinced me to buy 11 lbs of bulk Chocolat de Couverture Noir. (64% is dark chocolate is not very bitter. I use 73% for dark bitter chocolate.) My question is… what should I make with it?

I am thinking Pain au Chocolat, chocolate croissants, chocolate chip cookies and/or brownies. Note the fluidity on the package. This chocolate is suitable for coating caramel, creams, berries and other confections.

Last year I made an over the top chocolate/orange tart. My neighbor’s orange tree has a abundance of oranges too high up for her to harvest. Hmmm……

Maybe something I made before: Eclairs? Chocolate Babka? Soufflés? Chocolate pudding? (Try the easy home made chocolate pudding recipe.) Chocolate chip scones? Lava Cake? Chocolate Fudge? Oh yes, chocolate fudge!!! (Maybe chocolate/peanut butter fudge, the QC department doesn’t like Chocolate/peanut butter fudge.)

Andy other suggestions?????

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

The Galaxy is on Orion’s Belt

So you may have wondered the purpose of making and posting a simple white chocolate mousse. Well, there was actually a reason for making the mousse, posting? Not so much.

Being bored during the rain storm yesterday I decided to make a half recipe of chocolate-chip/raspberry brownies. I cut a number of them in small rounds to embed in a white chocolate mousse molded into hemispheres then frozen. Today I made a gelatin based mirror glaze intending to coat the frozen mousse with swirling colors to make galactic mousse/brownie desserts. Well, it was practice. You all know I like to practice at home and failures never pass through the front door. I have an order of agar agar arriving soon so will try a vegetable based thickener for the glaze.

While not a failure, they were not a nice as I envisioned. However, practice, practice, practice and learn. The taste was excellent!!

Brownies – Some with chopped macadamia nuts

MIRROR GLAZE WITH GELATIN

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin , (1/2 oz)
  • 192 g water , divided use
  • 215 g sugar , (scant 1 cup)
  • 142g or 5 oz (scant 2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk , (1/3 of a standard 14-oz can)
  • 233 g real white chocolate , chopped or white chocolate chips
  • Gel food coloring (I used Americolor Royal Blue, Sky Blue, Electric Purple, Electric Pink, Super Black, and Bright White)

METHOD

  1. Whisk together the gelatin and 3 oz (1/3cup) cold water in a bowl, and set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water.
  2. Combine the remaining 3.5 oz water, sugar, and condensed milk in a medium saucepan, and place the pan over medium heat. Stir while the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Once it is simmering steadily, remove it from the heat and add the gelatin (no need to melt the gelatin first—just scrape the big blob out of the bowl!) Whisk the gelatin as the heat from the pan dissolves it, and whisk until it is almost entirely incorporated. A few small pieces of gelatin are fine.
  4. Add the white chocolate to the pan, and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the chocolate. If you have an immersion blender, that is best to use—just stick it right in the pan and blend until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth. If not, you can whisk everything together, just try to avoid vigorous whisking that will create a lot of air bubbles.
  5. Divide your glaze into as many bowls as you want. I find it’s easiest to have a few “base colors” that are larger portions, and a few “accent colors” that are smaller portions. I made 3 base colors, using Americolor Sky Blue, Royal Blue, and a mix of Royal Blue + a drop of Super Black. I made 3 accent colors using Americolor Electric Purple, Electric Pink, and Super White. All you need to do is whisk a few drops of food coloring into each bowl of glaze.
  6. Let the bowls set until they cool down to about 95 Fahrenheit (35 C). An instant-read thermometer is the easiest way to check this, but if you don’t have one, it should feel barely warm on your fingertip, and be thick enough to coat it. Stir the bowls occasionally as they cool, so they don’t form a skin on top.
  7. Take the mousse cakes from the freezer. Cover a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper for easy clean-up, and set small jars or cups on the sheet for the mousse cakes to balance on—try to use ones that are smaller than the base of the cakes, so the glaze can drip down cleanly.
  8. In a new bowl, pour about 1/3 cup of one of your base colors of glaze, then drizzle the top of it with a few other colors—there’s no rhyme or reason here, so go crazy! After you’ve added all the colors you want, give it a brief stir to swirl everything together, but do NOT swirl too much and muddy the colors! Take this bowl of glaze and pour it over one of the cakes, swirling it around the top to make sure that all the sides are covered. Let the glaze drip down the cake onto the baking sheet.
  9. If it is dripping quickly and is a very thin layer, it’s too warm and needs to cool down a few more degrees. If it is gloopy and clinging to the cake and barely dripping, it is too cool. You can warm the bowls of glaze BRIEFLY in the microwave (start with 8-10 seconds each) and stir until they’re fluid again, and keep re-warming as necessary while glazing the cakes.
  10. Repeat the swirling and glazing process with the rest of the cakes. It’s fun to give them all different color schemes so they each look unique. If desired, finish the cakes with a pinch of edible silver star sprinkles. (Any remaining glaze can be saved and used on a different cake within about a week or so. Make sure it stays covered tightly with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a skin and dry out.)
  11. Let the cakes sit for about 15 minutes, until the glaze is semi-set, then transfer them to small plates. Chill for an additional 10-15 minutes until the glaze is full set.

White Chocolate Mousse

It’s Pi day, so in rebellion, I made white chocolate mousse for mirror glazing tomorrow and chocolate-chip/raspberry brownies with chocolate ganache for the chewy chocolate center of my galaxy mousse cakes.

Luckily, there was extra mousse today for quality control sampling tonight. I had mine with a raspberry coulis and Fran paired it with chocolate sauce. Excellent flavor and texture. Tomorrow I will mirror glaze them experimenting with a galaxy motif. Check back soon.

White Chocolate Mousse

INGREDIENTS
• 1 Envelope powdered gelatin
• 12 oz White chocolate chips
• 2 1/2 Cups Heavy cream

METHOD

  1. Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water, and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Place chocolate in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped.
  3. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice and set aside.
  4. Place 3/4 cup cream in a small saucepan, and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add
    the dissolved gelatin, and stir for 30 seconds to dissolve completely. Pour into food processor
    with the motor running, and process until chocolate mixture is smooth.
  5. Transfer to a medium bowl and place over ice water bath. Chill until mixture is thick enough to
    fall from a spoon and form ribbons on the top of the melted chocolate.
  6. Whip remaining 1 3/4 cups heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture. If not using immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container or fill individual dessert dishes cover and place
    in fridge.

Busy Bakery Day

Here are some samples of one and two bite pastries I am making for a party of about 200 people. We are meeting tonight for a party progress meeting. I decided to give the group a sample of some of the varieties of desserts I am baking for the event.

 

I have both lemon and mango curd filled profiteroles, cream patisserie filled eclairs and tartlets, vanilla cake with pink icing and raspberry drizzle and vanilla cake with chocolate drizzle. There are mini-raspberry cheesecakes, blueberry and apply mini pie bites, chocolate brownie cups with chocolate mousse and a raspberry drizzle. Some of these were made ahead and frozen until today. The tartlets, eclairs, profiteroles and all icings, drizzles and frostings were made this afternoon.

A productive bakery day!

Which Way to Carnegie Hall?

Everyone knows how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? I am considering making bite size desserts for a gala at our temple with about 200 people expected to attend. Conventional wisdom indicated I will need 4-600 individual desserts. Perhaps you can see why I have not yet committed to this task. Allotting 2-3 desserts per person I should also have 5 or 6 dessert options, too many and it’s overwhelming (for the attendees and the baker!)

blueberry lemon and mango keylime profiteroles

So, back to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. For anyone who follows my blog you know mistakes to not leave the house, so I practice everything first. I also experiment with different flavors and combinations. For instance, I made profiteroles last week. One was to be a mango/key lime and the other a lemon/blueberry. They were fine, except the key lime overpowered the mango. I will have to try again. Practice, practice, practice. The lemon was fine, if a bit intense.

vanilla cake and swiss meringue buttercream frosting

A couple of days ago I made some vanilla cake bites with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. It was a new cake recipe, I was looking for something a bit lighter, plus a new buttercream. This one uses a Swiss meringue (egg whites and sugar whisked over simmering water in a bain marie. The frosting was delicious but a bit of a pain in the butt. I would use this if I could have  several desserts that use the same frosting. I may just divide it into aliquots and color them differently to make an easy differentiation.

chouxI make choux fairly often so don’t really need to practice, but the little choux pastries are a good way to try the different filling flavors and icings. I made these choux in an hour or two last week, used a dozen or so for experimenting and froze the other 4 dozen. If I decide to do this project I will take a day and make 200 or so. I just need enough freezer space.

This morning I decided to add two new pastries File Jan 10, 10 17 21 AMto my portfolio. The first, and easiest was the chocolate cookies with chocolate mousse filling. I decided to add some shaved milk chocolate and white chocolate over some of them and since I had some raspberry coulis in the fridge, I drizzled that over some to add more color.

pineapple upside down bites.jpeg

Once those were complete and I finished cleaning the kitchen, (yes, I clean everything up between each bake) I started the one bite Pineapple Upside Down cakes. I used the same vanilla cake recipe as last week. It was a little tricky miniaturizing everything and keeping them looking good. Next time I will reduce the amount of pineapple and use a quartered cherry so there will be more room for the cake.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 large (210 grams or 7 oz) egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt (we use non-iodized fine sea salt)

METHOD

  1. In a medium pot, add at least 1-inch of water and bring to simmer.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry the stainless-steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer* (you don’t want grease touching meringue). Add 7 egg whites and 2 cups sugar and whisk together.
  3. Place mixing bowl over pot of barely simmering water, creating a seal over the pot (bowl should be over the steam, not touching water). Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160˚F (takes about 3 min). Sugar should be fully dissolved (you should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing mixture between finger tips). Mixture will feel hot to the touch.
  4. Wipe water from bottom of mixing bowl and transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 15-20 min) and bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temp and not warm (important: warm meringue will melt the butter).
  5. Once bowl is at room temp, switch to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it is absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until it reaches a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquidy at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped.
  6. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and ¼ tsp salt and mix on med-high until incorporated (about 1 min).

Notes

*Butter should be softened at room temp about 1 hour (more or less depending on your room temperature). It should be slightly cool to the touch and not overly soft or warm. If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes at a time.

Vanilla Butter Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk Note: I use 1% milk and add the 2 Tbl as whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a cast-iron pan, and dust with all-purpose flour, tapping out excess. Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Fill pan halfway, and bake until golden around edges (time will vary depending on size of pan). Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes from pan to a wire rack. Let cool. Coat each with glaze just before serving.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS (Half Recipe)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (1/2)
  • 2 cups white sugar (1)
  • 2 eggs (1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (6 Tbl)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  5. Spray Baker’s Joy or similar product into mini cupcake pans and fill ½ full (about a level teaspoon).
  6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg yolks (2)
  • ¼ cup sugar (2 Tbl)
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream (1/2)
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) (1/2)
  • 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream (3/4)

METHOD

  1. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar.
  2. Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot. Gradually stir at least half of the hot whipping cream into egg yolk mixture; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.
  3. Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream. Pipe or spoon mixture into serving bowls. Immediately refrigerate any remaining dessert after serving.

Guess Who Came to Dinners?

We just had a weekend guest, and sadly, put her on a plane to return to her home last night. This woman prefers to eat healthy, in moderation and occasionally diet. Boy did she come to the wrong place!

We started with some rugelach. I made apple/cinnamon, chocolate and hand pies
chocolate/blackberry. They are very similar except the for filling.  I added an apple tart, (I got to use my new spiralizer so am happy.) Fran and I had some fruit dumplings from Apple Hill (much like my hand pies but bigger, so I added blueberry, apply and blackberry hand pie/filled rough puff pastry dumplings. For dinner we had my homemade pizza margherita: sweet/salty sauce, home made dough (ala pizza 2 Independent Pizza in Seattle), basil and fresh mozzarella, baked 6 minutes at 600 degrees in my gas grill. I added some garlic bread knots to accompany.  It was so good, I made second one for Sunday night.  Unfortunately, we at all the garlic bread knots, so I made some chocolate mousse with pink whipped cream topping. Oh, we also had a salad.

mousse

RUGELACH

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature (2 T cream cheese = 28g. 3/4 Cup = 12 T, ¾ C = 4oz.)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flourrugelach1

FILLING CINNAMON RAISIN

  • 1/2 cup brown sugarrugelach2
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • water for brushing dough

DARK CHOCOLATE:

  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp unsweetened cocoa power
  • ¼ Tsp cinnamon (optional)

TOPPING

  • granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar
  • milk or cream

METHOD

  1. To make the dough using a mixer: Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add the flour, mixing to make a stiff dough.
  2. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Press each gently into a disk. Make the disks as round as possible, smoothing their edges; this will allow you to roll the disks into a perfectly round circle, making the resulting rugelach more attractive.  (Note how :perfect this dough circle is.) Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but not rock hard. Or chill longer (up to overnight), then warm for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough softens enough to roll out without cracking.
  3. To make the CINNAMON RAISIN FILLING: process the sugar, walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped and well combined (but not pasty). Don’t have a food processor? Simply stir together the filling ingredients; your filling will be chunky rather than smooth.
  4. To make the CHOCOLATE FILLING: Whisk together 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder; add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired. Sprinkle atop rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a generously floured surface. Roll it into a 10″ circle and brush it lightly with water. For a flavorful touch, brush the rolled-out rugelach dough with a thin layer of boiled cider, warmed apple or 

    currant jelly, or puréed fruit preserves, instead of water.

  6. Use your fingers to spread about 1/3 of the filling onto the round, going all the way to the edges and gently patting the filling to help anchor it to the dough.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, baker’s bench knife, or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal wedges. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down on a baking sheet; lining the baking sheet with parchment will help with cleanup. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.
  8. Brush the rugelach with milk or cream; and sprinkle with granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Refrigerate the rugelach while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake the rugelach for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

APPLE TART

TART SHELLS

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g icing sugar (Splenda?)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (50g)

APPLE FILLING

  • 3 apples (sliced thin or spiralized with skins on)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Mix butter with sugar
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg
  4. Stir in flour.
    1. Mix by hand until incorporated
    2. Add 3-5 Tbl water to make dough sticky
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  6. Butter tartlet pans
    1. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
    2. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
    3. Roll top to cut off excess
  7. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  8. Add pastry weights to each pan
  9. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack
  10. Fill cooled tart shell with sliced apples. I put them in a spiral shape but any way will do
  11. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
  12. Cover exposed edges of tart with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Back at 375 F for 20-30 min. When apples have reduced and mixture is bubbling.
  14. Remove from over and cool on a wire rack.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.

Mousse and Squirrel… “Squirrel!!”

I know, mixing cartoons is never a good idea, but I couldn’t resist. Boris Badenov was never successful at deceiving Rocky and Bullwinkle, despite trying every week and oddly, neither Moose nor Squirrel recognized them time after time. The second Squirrel in the title is and a wink to “UP” and a nod to how easy it is to be distracted from what is important.

Originally, I was thinking about making a key-lime mousse, but then saw this recipe for a margarita mouse and pounced like a dog on a chew toy. I saw the raspberry and chocolate moussessess, or meece on GBBO (not their recipes) and decided to add a variety of mousse to my file, and I love raspberries, and chocolate is the universal food so why not?

I wanted to use recipes that do not use gelatin to make the mousse. I try very hard not to use gelatin to keep as much as possible vegetarian. From what I found authentic french mousse does not use gelatin, and neither to I.

Margarita Mousse

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1⁄2 fresh lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
  • 3 tablespoons tequila
  • 1⁄3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Combine sugar with 1 tsp lime zest. Rub the rims of 4-6 margarita glasses with lime wedges to moisten, crunch into granulated sugar mixture, and place in the freezer.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining lime zest, condensed milk, Triple Sec, tequila, and 1/3 cup lime juice. Set aside.
  3. Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into tequila mixture, working carefully to keep the air in the whipped cream.
  4. Spoon into prepared frozen glasses, making sure not to disturb the sugared rims.
  5. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.

Chocolate Mousse

INGREDIENTS

  • 200-250g 70%+ cacao chocolate (more is better for stability)
  • 400g heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg yolk

METHOD

  1. melt chocolate in a baine-marie
  2. whip cream
  3. whip egg yolk in a baine-marie until fluffy *
  4. mix the chocolate into the egg yolk
  5. carefully fold the cream into the chocolate
  6. refrigerate 3-4 hours

This mousse will set after a few hours in the fridge.

Raspberry Mousse

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g fresh raspberries
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 medium egg whites
  • 300g heavy whipping cream
  • icing sugar to dust

METHOD

  1. Reserving some raspberries for decoration, place the remainder in a pan with 50g of the caster sugar and cook on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring until the fruit collapses.
  2. To make a coulis, place a fine sieve over a bowl and pass the fruit through to de-seed. Cool for 10 minutes, then keep in the fridge until needed.
  3. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar for 2-3 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  4. Whisk the cream until it forms soft floppy peaks.
  5. Add 2-3 tbs of the coulis to the cream and stir very gently until nicely mixed. Once mixed add in the rest of the coulis until well incorporated.
  6. With a metal spoon gently fold one large spoon of egg white mixture into the coulis and cream mixture. Mix very gently until all incorporated. Repeat until all egg white is mixed in.
  7. Gently divide the mixture between 6 glasses or mugs. Chill for 4-5 hours. To serve, decorate with raspberries, dust with icing sugar.

Nearly Neapolitan Mousse Cake

As Nearly Headless Nick cannot join the hunt because of a technicality, this dessert is only nearly a Neapolitan Mousse Cake due to a couple of technicalities. Picky, picky picky.

neapolitanish-cake-3

The chocolate ice cream base is actually almond chocolate cake. the vanilla ice cream is white chocolate mousse, much like a white chocolate ganache but lighter and airier as the cream is whipped, and the strawberry ice cream is raspberry mousse, because I like raspberries.

I have to be honest, this dessert takes some time and patience. Experimenting with the cake recipe (two tries), making the mice, mousses, err… white and pink fillings took 2 or three recipes each adjusting the amount of pectin, when to add it, the amount of whipped cream and how much to whip it. The whipped cream for the raspberry has to be whipped to firm peaks while the white chocolate should be soft peaks. I have removed gelatin from my pantry and replaced it with pectin. Gelatin is easier and fine if you like processed skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish. I don’t. Pectin is sourced from fruit and vegetable peels. I am sure there are some nasty processing steps, but at least it didn’t start with Bessie or Babe or Miss Piggy.

The almond cake uses almond flour instead of food processor ground baked almonds. Its easier and I had some. The batter is pretty low viscosity but don’t worry, it about doubles in thickness in the oven. After cut, wrap the cake disks in plastic and they will stay fresh for 2 or 3 days so you can make them ahead.

I ordered some 3 mil acetate sheets online. I cut them to size (10 x 41/2″), cut 10 paper bands to hold the acetates in place around the cake. This obviated (not obliviate, we want to remember this recipe) the requirement to tape the acetate. I hope to use them again.

The vanilla mousse sets quickly so work with some speed. Varying the whipping time – Tied to the Whipping Post – can create a thinner mousse, but too short a time can make the mousse dense. I like to pipe the mice, mousses, errr… fillings so I can control the thickness of each layer.

The raspberry fruit has the most powerful flavor, but is the trickiest to make just right. Pectin requires sugar and acid to cross link. Pectin’s structure binds with water in an acid environment and sugar increases pectin’s ability to gel. The lemon juice (I used key lime juice, it was in the fridge) provides the acid and the berries and sugar provide the sugar environment. Vary the amount of each and when to add them. The method below worked well for me.

Neapolitan Mousse Cake

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE

INGREDIENTS

  • 200 g (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 30 g (¼ cup) unsweetened cocoa
  • 60 g (½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120 g (1 cup) almond flour
  • 225 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Line rimmed jelly roll pan with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mat. Be sure to line the sides as well.
  2. In small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat, occasionally swirling pan, until it begins to brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using fine mesh sieve, sift cocoa two times. Then sift together cocoa (for a third time), flour, almond flour and sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg whites, one at-a-time, whisking until just combined after each addition (do not over mix).
  5. Stir the vanilla into the cooled butter.
  6. Gradually pour the vanilla-butter in a thin, steady stream into the batter, whisking to just combine. (Kitchenaid with beater on level 2)
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan.
  8. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Poke the cake gently, the depression of your finger should bounce back.
  9. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack. Let stand 5 minutes, transfer cake to wire rack. Let stand until cooled completely.
  10. Using a 2½” ring cutter, cut 10 round mini cakes from the cooled sheet cake.
  11. Line rimmed baking sheet with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mat. Arrange cakes on baking sheet, spacing 2½ cm (1-inch) apart.

 VANILLA MOUSSE

 INGREDIENTS

  • 200 g white chocolate, cut fine
  • 350 g heavy whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Heat 30 sec, then check the chocolate and stir. Heat another 30 seconds and stir again. Heat 15 seconds and stir. The chocolate should be liquid but not boiling. If more time in required keep reducing the time by 5 sec and check. Do not over cook.
  2. Whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. If you overwhip the chocolate/cream mixture will set to quickly and will not form smooth even layers.
  3. Gently fold the liquid chocolate into the whipped cream using a figure 8 pattern. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  4. Add to a piping bag and fill the acetate cylinder with about an inch of vanilla mousse.

RASPBERRY MOUSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered pectin
  • 175 g fresh raspberries (about 1 pint)
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup cold heavy cream

METHOD

  1. Place lemon juice in a small bowl and sprinkle with pectin. Let sit until pectin softens, 3 minutes.
  2. In a blender, puree raspberries until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed.
  3. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids (you should have about 1/3 cup of puree); discard solids.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine raspberry puree and 2½ Tbsp sugar over medium. Cook until bubbles form at edge. Add pectin mixture and cook, stirring constantly, just until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and 1 Tbsp sugar on medium-high until firm peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not over mix.
  6. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in raspberry puree mixture in 3 parts until combined.
  7. Add raspberry mousse to a piping bag and fill the acetate cylinders with about an inch of mousse.
  8. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours (or up to overnight).

 DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE

 INGREDIENTS

  • 120 ml (½ cup) heavy cream, 35%
  • 113 g (4 ounces) dark chocolate, 70%

METHOD

  1. In a small saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup just to boil (small bubbles beginning to form around the sides of the pan) over medium heat, stirring until corn syrup is dissolved.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop the chocolate and place in small bowl.
  3. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand, 2 minutes. You may not need all the cream. I pour some to just wet the chocolate, wait a minute and stir. If it is too thick, I add more cream, too thin, more chocolate.
  4. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir together beginning in the center of the bowl gradually working toward the edges pulling in as much as chocolate as possible until the mixture is smooth, glossy and combined well.

 Assembling Mousse Cakes

  1. To make acetate collars, cut ten 10 x 4 ½” strips of acetate paper or non-stick baking paper. Also cut 20 1” x 8½” pieces of paper for use as bands to secure the acetate. Wrap one collar around the base of each cake keeping the base flush with the baking sheet. Slide paper band down to base to secure the acetate collar. Return to baking sheet. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap.
  2. Prepare Vanilla Mousse.
  3. Evenly divide the vanilla mousse between each acetate collar. (The layers should be no more than 2½ cm or 1-inch high.) Cover the cakes with a couple of sheets of plastic wrap (don’t secure too tightly otherwise the collars will lose their shape).
  4. Transfer the cakes on the baking sheet to the refrigerator. Let chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. When vanilla mousse layer is firm, prepare Raspberry Mousse.
  6. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator.
  7. Evenly divide the strawberry mousse between each acetate collar. (Again, the layers should be no more than 2½ cm or 1-inch high.) Again, cover cakes with plastic wrap.
  8. Place the cakes in the freezer. Let chill until firm.
  9. Remove the cakes from the freezer and immediately remove collars. (I recommend
  10. Removing collars immediately after removing cakes from the freezer because removal is much easier when the cakes are firm. It makes for best presentation too.)
  11. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of chocolate ganache in the center (onto the surface) of each cake, gently coaxing the ganache to the edges, leaving a 6 mm (¼-inch) border. Chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator until thawed, about 15 minutes.
  12. To serve, transfer each cake to a dessert plate, and top each cake with raspberry.

 

Pavlova is Dancing in the Street

“They’ll be laughing and singing, music swinging
Dancing in the street”

Ballet dancing, actually. Specifically, Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina who is most recognized for the creation of the role The Dying Swan. We saw pavlovas made on GBBO yesterday and as I have made meringue cups for years, this seemed like a natural extension. (Plus, I had egg whites left in the fridge from making crème pat earlier this week.)

The recipe was created in either Australia or pavlova_0001New Zealand and is a favorite around Christmas in the summer. Wait! Is it a Christmas treat, or a summer treat? Isn’t that a North American oxymoron? Ah, well, it is Christmas Eve, therefore, this time, it is a Christmas treat. (I just realized, I could have used the blueberries and made it a Chanukah treat in Israeli colors of white and blue.)

pavolva_0004Deceptively easy and insidiously versatile. You can top your pavlova with berries, nuts, chocolate, mocha, fruit, lemon curd or as King
Mongkut of Siam was fond of saying “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.” It often depends what is in the fridge or what season it is, or whatever floats your current boat.

 

 

Ingredients

  • Meringue:
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (clear to keep the meringue very white)
    • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1½ Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • ¾ cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
    • Pinch salt
  • Topping:
    • 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
    • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whipped Cream for topping

Method

  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Pipe the meringue into 8-10 large round bowl like mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. (I used a large 1M piping tip.) Leave an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
  6. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
  7. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
  8. Served topped with your favorite filling – lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream, etc, etc, etc.

Sauce or Filling Directions

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. (I used a 4:1 berry to sugar ratio.)  Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.