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 Scarlet Pumpernickel

Actually, it’s brown, not scarlet, but it is pumpernickel. Day 5 of shelter-in-place saw the grilling of English muffins, an apple pie and finally a loaf of pumpernickel. Previously I made dark rye both with and without that nicer chewy, crunchy crust and white sandwich breads. The last time I made pumpernickel it didn’t go well, but with my recent success I decided to try again. Good move!!

This is a recipe from King Arthur Flour, my favorite Vermont baking source. This has great crumb, flavor and crust. Definitely a keeper.

Pumpernickel Bread – KAF

INGREDIENTS

• 4 cups (482g) AP flour
• 1 cup (96g) pumpernickel flour
• 3 tablespoons (21g) rye bread improver, optional
• 2 tablespoons (11g) black cocoa, for dark pumpernickel color
• 1 teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor, optional
• 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons instant yeast
• 1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (425g) lukewarm water

METHOD

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until the dough is elastic and slightly sticky.
  2. Let the dough rise in a lightly greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours; it should become puffy.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface. Gently deflate it, and shape it into a ball.
  4. Place the shaped loaf onto a lightly-greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or into a Dutch oven and cover with the lid.
  5. Let the loaf rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s almost doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  7. Slash the loaf diagonally in several places.
  8. Bake the loaf for 35 to 45 minutes until it is crusty, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads 190°F to 200°F. If using a stoneware baker, remove the lid for the final 5 minutes of baking for a crusty top.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.

Tips from our Bakers
While both the rye dough improver and the rye flavor are optional, we recommend using them if you can. The dough improver helps to improve the loaf’s rise and texture, while the rye flavor adds authentic pumpernickel flavor.

An Apple a Day…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were really true. Try to stay healthy. Take a walk, run or bike ride. Practice social separation and wash your hands frequently… You all know that. Do NOT socially isolate yourself from friends and family. Not all health is physical.

Now, here is a funny story. While at the market last week, Fran and I separated to expedite our essential expedition from sheltering-in-place. We wouldn’t want the Isolation Police to be upset. Somehow, when separated, one of us put our groceries into the wrong cart. One that was partly filled with someone else’s groceries. When I got to checkout I though we forgot our shopping bags in the car. Fran went out and they weren’t there. While she was gone I started to check out. I noticed we had a half dozen apples that I didn’t remember putting in the cart but “assumed” she did. When she returned to the market she found our original cart, with the grocery bags. I had already checked out so just kept the apples, which brings us to the reason for this post.

Last week we talked about making an apple pie and not, through a fortuitous mistake, now had the ingredients, and no thanks to an unfortunate circumstance had the time to make a pie. I had less than 2 lbs of apples so had to find a recipe that uses less than the 3 lbs we usually need. I found one this morning.

Classic Apple Pie
INGREDIENTS

• 7 cups (840 grams) sliced apples
• 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar lightly packed
• 1/4 cup (32 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 2 pie crusts homemade or store-bought
• 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter cut into pieces
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoons milk
• Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top optional

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Adjust oven rack to the lower third position.
  2. Add the sliced apples and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl, toss until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well combined. Pour over the sliced apples and mix until the apples are fully coated with the dry ingredients. Set aside for 15-20 minutes while you prep the pie crusts.
  4. Roll one of the pie crusts out to about 12 inches in diameter, transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, gently fit it in the dish, and trim any excess dough from the edges. Place in the refrigerator. Roll out the second pie crust dough and either cut lattice strips, decorations or leave whole to fully top the apple pie.
  5. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the filling into the pie crust (making sure to leave as much juice as possible in the bowl) and spread around into one even layer. Dot with the pieces of butter. Top with the second pie crust and decorate the edges (if topping with a full piece of pie crust, make sure to cut some slits in the top).
  6. Whisk together the egg and milk until well combined. Brush on top of the pie and around the edges. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
  7. Bake in the lower third of the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or until the top of the pie is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cover the edges of the pie with a pie crust shield as needed to prevent excess browning. You may also cover the top of the pie with aluminum foil to prevent it from browning too much before it’s finished baking.
  8. Once the pie is finished baking, remove from the oven, and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Don’t Spoonerize a Curd Tart

Raspberry Curd Tart

I have been baking a lot of bread recently. With the self-isolation, several of our friends were unable to find bread in the nearly empty supermarkets and as I really like to bake I am giving a lot of bread away – a loaf or two a day. Luckily, I bought an extra 10 lbs of bread flour a couple of weeks ago, along with 5 lbs of AP flour and 4 lbs of sugar.

Today, I am taking a break from bread. I made a raspberry curd filled tart. I really like my chocolate tart with orange drizzle, but saw and adapted the Raspberry Curd to use with my tart shell. Luckily, the curd can be made in advance and refrigerated so today I only had to make the tart shell. (Don’t let me kid you. I also made 2 loaves of white sandwich bread for friends.)


INGREDIENTS

Raspberry Curd
• 3 cups raspberries
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 tsp Meyer lemon zest
• 2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp water
• 2 large egg yolks
• 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, diced

Tart Shell
• 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
• 200 g almond flour (I may increase this by 50g, not sure yet)
• 60 g icing sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ¼ tsp salt
• 2 eggs (100g) Topping

METHOD

  1. For the raspberry curd, combine raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil (about 5 minutes); reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Place in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Wipe pan clean and strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cleaned pan and discard solids.
  4. Whisk together egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.
  5. Stir yolk mixture into raspberry mixture; bring to a boil over medium-low heat (about 5 minutes). Be careful, the mixture can burn if heat it so high. If it does, do not scrape the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat (the mixture should coat the back of a spoon).
  7. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth.
  8. Place curd into a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
  9. Chill curd in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week (if making in advance).
  10. For the tart shell: Mix butter with sugar (I break up the chunks of butter by rubbing them into the sugar with my hands)
  11. Add salt then vanilla
  12. Add egg and mix well
  13. Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated. I did this in 3 parts mixing well between each.
  14. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min until it firms up a bit.
  15. Butter (spray) tartlet pan
  16. Coat hands with flour and press the sticky dough into tart mold
  17. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  18. Add pastry weights to the pan
  19. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 – 20 min
  20. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
  21. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack To assemble tart, spoon raspberry curd into cooled tart shell and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula.
  22. Arrange raspberries over filling in a decorative pattern.
  23. Chill in the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.

Catch Her in the Rye

Day 2 of California’s Shelter-in-Place order and Bake #2 for “DeDe Bread.” Today I made two identical loaves of rye bread. One was delivered to my local family, and the other is currently being consumed by Quality Assurance Department.

Day 3’s plan is to make a replicate of today’s loaf plus a crusty loaf made in the Dutch Over. Before either loaf is delivered to likewise Shelter-in-Place friends and family the QA Department will be sampling a slice or two.

Homemade Rye Bread

INGREDIENTS
4 ½ tsp (16 g) packages active dry yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (just barely warm to the touch)
2/3 (225 g) cup molasses
2 tbl caraway seeds (optional)
1 tbl salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tbl Rye Bread Improver
2 cups rye flour
5 cups bread flour

METHOD

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the molasses. Put yeast mixture into a large metal bowl.
  2. Add the caraway seeds, salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, 2 cups of rye flour and then 2 cups of bread flour, mixing into the yeast mixture after each addition with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add more bread flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is not so sticky and it is too hard to mix it with the wooden spoon. At that point, spread a half cupful of flour onto a large, clean, flat surface and put the dough onto the surface.
  4. Knead the dough with a Kitchen-aide bench mixer using the dough hook. Add more bread flour in small amounts until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once the sides of the bowl are fairly clean then knead 8 minutes.
  5. Let the dough rise: Spread some vegetable oil around a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it so it gets coated in the oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  7. Gently press down on the risen dough so some of its air is released. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, knead the dough a few turns and then divide it by cutting it in half with a sharp knife.
  8. Shape each half into loaf. Place dough loafs into either oiled 8×4-inch bread loaf pans, or onto a flat baking sheet or peel that has been sprinkled with corn meal, depending if you want to cook the loaves in pans or directly on a baking stone. Cover with plastic or a damp cloth.
  9. Let the loaves rise: Let the bread rise again, this time not doubling in volume, but rising by about half of its volume, about 30 to 45 minutes, half as long as the first rising. The dough should be peeking over the top of the loaf pan if using a loaf pan.
  10. If you are using a Dutch Oven or baking stone, place it in the oven and preheat oven to 350°F for at least half an hour before baking.
  11. If baking in a Dutch Oven pick the dough up by the corners of the parchment paper and place the dough and parchment paper into the Dutch Oven or directly on the baking stone. Score the loaves a few times on the top of the dough right before putting it in the oven. Be careful, the Dutch Oven or baking stone will be hot.
  12. Put loaves in the oven. If you have a mister, mist the dough with a little water the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until done. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.

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.