Straight Down the Middle

As we near the end (of some peoples playing season,) one of my golf buddies invited our foursome and families over for a patio dinner before the weather starts turning cold(er). I offered to bring a cake along to the dinner. This is what I made this morning

It’s my extreme chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

The trees are gum-paste cones made by wrapping thin gum-paste around a form, then set to dry overnight.

Of course, I rarely hit it straight down the middle!!

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Meringue Cups, Not Hwy 66 – Revisited

I had the occasion to make a batch of meringue cups today and thought I would try a variation to the ganache filling I typically use. While researching another recipe on Allrecipies I saw that if, after the unsweetened, grated chocolate (4 oz) is melted in the just barely boiling heavy cream (1/2 cup) the mixture is allowed to cool to room temperature, then whipped soundly (about the head and shoulders), it will become a lighter whipped ganache which is easy to pipe into designs, or as in my case bitter kisses. The sweetness of the meringue cup paired with the bitter chocolate results in a well balanced treat.image image

(After taking the picture i decided to add some blue sugar crystals to sweeten the meringue cups up a bit. Obviously, it’s up to you)

Once, I Bared My Soul

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

E.A. Poe

Once, though not at midnight, nowhere near midnight,
Perhaps while reading, certainly while napping and
My chamber door is almost never closed…
I bared my soul and to my everlasting surprise
There, hidden deep inside, at the core, was a
Crypt Keeper Stout waiting to be poured.

Stout and Bottle

Cool, not cold and impenetrably midnight dark, smooth and sweet with hints of coffee and roasted barley. Gently carbonated with a velvet texture where a sip will fill your mouth with sweet softness. Curiously, were you to reverse the metaphor and put velvet into your mouth it would unlikely bring memories of Crypt Keeper Stout to mind.

As I pondered late one dreary morning on this delight of nature and chemistry, I wondered what would happen if I replaced some of the Weyermann Carafa II malt with chocolate grain and added 4.5 oz of chocolate nibs which were soaked for 48 hours in vodka to the secondary fermenter.

Time will tell. Time will tell.

Hold the Phone!! Stop The Presses!!!

New Flash!! Dateline Coral Springs Florida!!

After last nights dessert I decided that while the marshmallow topping made a good, authentic S’mores, it was too much work for the result, and was way to sticky and stringy to eat with guests. Instead last night I replaced it with a vanilla meringue. The torch browned it perfectly, it was easy to eat and delicious!

S’mores the S’merrier!

I had this idea to make s’mores in our new dessert dishes. The bottom layer is crushed graham crackers, the middle some kind of chocolate custard and the top would be melted marshmallow with the top burned with a torch.

I put 2 graham crackers in a zip-lock bag and crushed them with a rolling pin distributing the crushed cracker with 2 tsp in each 3 oz. dish. The chocolate cream is from a recipe I found for chocolate pastry filling:

(Yield 2 cups)

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet, melted
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

Once the milk is steaming, add the melted chocolate to it and whisk until it is fully incorporated into the milk. Add half of the chocolate milk, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170F on a digital thermometer and is very thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract. When it has cooled slightly but has not gelled, pour about 2 oz into each of the dessert cups.

Once the filling has set, add the marshmallow topping, spread to make peaks and use a blowtorch to burn the tips.

CAUTION: Weekdays off can be dangerous

Having Tuesday off was good. On the other hand it was very good. I wanted a new dessert to have for the occasional dinner. I have some new small glass flared dessert dishes and in my world the glass or dish is always full.

The dessert is a dark chocolate mousse, layered with a light chocolate mousse and topped with a Bavarian cream, shaved dark chocolate, dusted with cinnamon with a sugar/cinnamon stick for garnish.

Dark Chocolate Mousse:

  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2  tablespoons (1 ounce) salted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs  separated
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added. Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream. Pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes.

Put the bowls on a small cookie sheet ( I used a 9″x12″ jelly roll pan.) Tip the pans at a sharp angle. I used a beer bottle under one end (I wonder where that bottle came from?)  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Light Chocolate Mousse (6 servings)

  • 1/2 cup water, boiling
  • 2 tsp gelatin (powdered)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs separated and at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Combine water and gelatin in a small bowl and whisk until gelatin has completely dissolved. Whisk in cocoa powder and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually, working with 1-2 tbsp at a time, while you beat the egg whites. Once the egg white mixture has reached soft peaks, beat in the egg yolks one at a time at high speed. Slowly pour in the gelatin mixture and mix until uniform in color and well-combined.

Remove the dark chocolate filled dishes and tip them the opposite way on the counter. Evenly distribute the mousse into then and refrigerate keeping the same angle until set, at least 3 hours.

Bavarian Cream (2 Servings )

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a small bowl, stir together the gelatin and cold water. Set aside to soften. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until smooth. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour the custard through a strainer.  Stir in the softened gelatin and vanilla and stir to melt the gelatin. Allow to cool. When the mixture has cooled almost to room temperature, whip the heavy cream to medium stiffness and fold it into the custard. Immediately transfer the Bavarian cream to the dessert cups laying level on the counter, as it will firm up quickly as the gelatin sets. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Before serving, I grated some dark chocolate over the Bavarian cream. I also rolled some gum paste that I had in a combination of sugar and cinnamon to offset the sweetness of the mousse. Cut the gum paste into rectangles about 1″ x 2″ and roll into a tube with the sugar/cinnamon coating on the outside.