Custards, Creams and Mousses

Chocolate Bavarian Cream & An Anniversary

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 2

 

Today is my second anniversary as The Humble Gourmet.  Yay!

I have so enjoyed this journey with all of you, and I look forward to sharing more recipes and stories and life events in the future.  I hope you have all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Reflecting back on the two years, I have accomplishments that I’m proud of, and more that I would like to achieve in the upcoming year.  I’ve shared some personal stories and moved to a new location.  We’ve had Coffee & Doughnuts, the Best Granola Ever, and Christmas Dessert in February.  I haven’t been as productive on the blog as I wanted to this year due to my health issues, but now I’m feeling good and rarin’ to go.  I’m hoping in the next year to have more diverse recipes, I want to develop a new series of posts (in the works now, as a matter of fact), and possibly my first giveaway!  So much more to do, I hope you’ll all be here with me for it!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 1

 

So, in honor of this second anniversary, I’ve made chocolate Bavarian cream.  Haven’t had Bavarian cream, you say?  Well, now’s the time to try it.  Almost like a cross between a mousse and a panna cotta, Bavarian cream is smooth and creamy, but uses gelatin to hold its form.  It’s typically done in a large batch and put into a decorative mold, which is then turned out on a platter and adorned with cream and berries, but I went simple with this one.  We are a household of two, so small ramekins are a better fit for us than a large molded version.  But my goodness, were these delicious.  They were gone almost as quickly as they were set.  A little pink sea salt to bring out the chocolate, a couple of fresh raspberries (the last of the season here…boo!), and a sprig of mint and my friends, we were in business.  I know working with gelatin can be intimidating, but this dessert is practically fool-proof.  Consider it your entry to the gelatinized, set dessert club.  You won’t be sorry.

What sort of things would you like to see on The Humble Gourmet in the upcoming year?  Any recipe suggestions?  Posts?  More stories?  Let me know in the comments!  THG

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 3

 

Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
  3. 1/4 cup cold water
  4. 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  5. 2/3 cup sugar
  6. 1 tsp. pink sea salt
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups heavy cream
  10. Raspberries and fresh mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate over medium heat until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle powdered gelatin over cold water and let bloom, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sea salt and vanilla until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat. Pour hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Return egg and milk mixture to saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 5-10 minutes). Do not let it boil. Add bloomed gelatin and whisk to incorporate (it may bubble up; be careful not to let the mixture overflow). Add chocolate and mix until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, whisk heavy cream until just before stiff peaks form (peaks should be firm, but fold over when lifted). Fold in half of the chocolate mixture until smooth, then fold in the remainder. Continue to gently fold until mixture is completely incorporated. Divide mixture among 6 small ramekins or one large gelatin mold, smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to set, at least 3 hours.
  6. Once mixture has set, remove from refrigerator. To unmold: dip the mold or ramekin in hot water just up the sides for about 5 seconds. Run a butter knife around the edges. Turn a plate over the top and, holding onto the plate and mold, flip over. Carefully pull up the mold, wiggling gently if necessary to release the cream. Garnish with berries and mint and serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 2

Happy Halloween my friends!  The bewitching hour is upon us.  Who has plans for tonight?  Party?  Trick or treating?  Stuffing your face with pizza and candy while you watch the scariest movies Netflix Streaming has to offer?  Just me?  Okay.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 4
If you do find yourself in the mood for a decadent and devilish dessert, I have just the thing for you.  Pumpkin pots de creme with a chocolate ganache cap.  Rich and sweet and perfectly adult.  I have seen so many great kid’s Halloween desserts on the Internets lately (some of them are incredible), but I thought a nice adult Halloween dessert would be in order.  Not to say kid’s won’t like it; but I have a feeling you will be the one licking the bowl clean this year.  😉

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 3
A variation of my Sweet Potato Pots de Creme from two years ago, this one features pumpkin puree, cardamom, and pinch of sea salt for variation.  Plus, that dark chocolate ganache is the perfect compliment; thick and rich and bittersweet to compliment the earthy custard below.  An elegantly ghoulish dessert for this Halloween night.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 1

I wish you all a safe and happy All Hallow’s Eve!  And, for fun, check out this great article from howstuffworks.com on the history of trick or treating.  Happy Halloween!  THG

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  2. 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  8. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  10. 5 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, vanilla pod and beans, and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and let spices steep for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whip egg yolks and sugar together until thick and ribboned. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the cream mixture. Slowly pour hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the eggs. Once cream is mixed in, add pumpkin puree and mix throughly. Add cardamom, sea salt and nutmeg and mix.
  4. Place 6 small ramekins or teacups in the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about 1/2 of space. Add hot water to the roasting pan so that the bottom 2/3 of the ramekins are submerged.
  5. Bake ramekins in roasting pan in the middle of the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until sides are set and center is still slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  6. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. heavy cream in the microwave, about 30 seconds (mind that it doesn't overflow). Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted and glossy. Spoon chocolate over set pots de creme and smooth the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

 

Persimmon Steamed Pudding

PSP 2

Awhile back, we had our friend John over for a dinner and a movie night. We made squid ink pasta (my fave) in vodka sauce and watched “Sunset Boulevard”. Have you seen it? Norma Desmond? It’s the best; a little campy, a little noir, and full of Gloria Swanson at her most awesome/insane.

Even if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ve quoted the most famous line at some point: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” Actually, the real line is slightly different, but funnily enough, that’s what the famous line has been turned into. Just like Mae West’s line “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” She never said it like that; she actually said “Why don’t you come up some time…and see me.” But, that’s not how we remember it. Even “Casablanca” has a misspoken line…Bogart never says “Play it again, Sam.” He only says “Play it.” and Bergman says “Play it Sam.” But no one says the line the way it became famous. Isn’t it odd how we remember and change iconic lines?

PSP 4

ANYWAY, since I’m sure you weren’t looking for a Hollywood movie line lesson, back to food. For dessert that night, I decided to go with a twist on a classic: steamed pudding. I had some fresh persimmons from the farmer’s market, so I steamed them, pureed them, and folded them into the pudding. A little cardamom and we were on our way.

I love cardamom in desserts. It’s such a distinct flavor and can really cut through the sweetness of a dish like this. It’s got that great earthy, spicy quality to it, which pairs so nicely with winter fruits like persimmon and pear.

PSP 1

Whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. I can get overwhelmed by too sweet a dessert, so the tart pomegranate and the spicy cardamom balance this dish out nicely. The consistency is really great too; similar to a clafoutis, but much more moist. Definitely like a cross between a custard and a cake. Super yummy.

 

What old movies do you like? What movie lines do you find are often misquoted? THG

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Persimmon Steamed Pudding
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 cup persimmon puree
3/4 cup milk

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Brush the inside of 4 small ramekins with the butter. Refrigerate until butter sets.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, cardamom and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat remaining 6 Tbsp. butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolks one at a time, beating between until incorporated. Add vanilla and beat. Add persimmon puree and beat until well combined. Add in the flour mixture in 3 sets, alternating with the milk. Beat well between each addition until all is added and well combined. Scoop mixture into prepared ramekins to just below the lip.
In a lidded casserole dish, add a dish towel to the bottom. Set ramekins on top of towel, being careful to keep about 1 inch space between each dish. Add hot water 2/3 way up the ramekins. Place lid on the casserole dish and carefully transfer to the middle of the oven.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from water bath. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4

“Coffee and Doughnuts”

"Coffee and Doughnuts"

This week has been overwhelming.  I’m pretty glad it’s over.

Beignets

Sometimes life becomes too much, you know?  Stress and heartbreak and worry and guilt all pile on at the exact same time, and it’s hard to see your way out of it.  Sometimes you need a push, sometimes you need something new to look forward to.  Sometimes you just need time.

Cafe au Lait Mousse

We lost our family dog, Delaney, this weekend.  It was sudden, and shocking, and incredibly heartbreaking.  Trying to navigate this has been really difficult and the only way to get through it is with routine.  Food, photos, blog.  Rinse and repeat.

Cafe au Lait Mousse and Beignets

For Mother’s Day, my brother Ryan decided to make gumbo for our mom.  Mom loves New Orleans and all things Cajun/Creole, so gumbo it was.  I was in charge of dessert.

and

"Coffee and Doughnuts"

Coffee and doughnuts.  Or, more specifically, café au lait mousse and homemade beignets.  A little twist on a Southern classic.

The mousse is made with instant espresso (available at most grocery stores) and white chocolate.  I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to help mimic the chicory flavor that is usually found in New Orleans coffee.  Light, frothy and rich, with a nutmeg whipped cream on top.  Delightful.

The beignet recipe came from the New Orleans cookbook Cooking Up a Storm.  Most beignets are made from a sturdier dough that is rolled out and cut into squares before frying.  This recipe is a bit more rustic; a thinner batter that is spooned into the oil like a fritter.  The result is smaller, lighter, oddly shaped little doughnuts.  Still delicious.

Cafe au Lait Mousse and Beignets

It’s amazing how much a sweet treat can improve a crappy situation.  Tons and tons and tons of sweet treats. 

What is your favorite comfort food in times of distress?  THG

Coffee and Doughnuts

Café au Lait Mousse

1 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. instant espresso

1 Tbsp. hot water

12 oz. white chocolate

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 large pinch nutmeg

1 large pinch ground cinnamon

5 eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar, divided

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks.  Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together espresso powder and hot water until a thick syrup forms.  Set aside.

In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and butter over medium high heat.  Once melted, whisk in espresso mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the double boiler over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks and 1/8 cup sugar.  Continue to whisk over heat until yolks reach 140ºF.  Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk egg whites on high speed until cooled down and thickened considerably.  Set aside.

In the double boiler again, whisk together egg whites and remaining sugar until whites reach 140ºF.  Transfer to stand mixer and whisk to stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into yolks.  Fold white chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Finally, fold whipped heavy cream into egg mixture.  Spoon into coffee cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.  Serve chilled with spiced whipped cream.

Makes 8 coffee cups

Beignets (from Cooking Up a Storm)

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

pinch of nutmeg

Canola oil

Powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk water, milk and egg together.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg.  Whisk well to combine until smooth and free of lumps. 

In a medium saucepan, heat approximately 3” of canola oil over medium high heat to 350ºF.  Drop spoonfuls of batter into canola oil.  Fry until golden brown all around, turning once, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel lined cookie rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Makes approximately 2 dozen

Honey-Lavender Pots de Creme

Honey-Lavender Pots de Creme

I’ve been feeling a bit more feminine lately.  Girly.

Honey-Lavender Pots de Creme ingredients

Painting my nails, wearing heels, pretty hairstyles.  I’m usually fairly lax with my beauty regimen, but lately I’ve been making a bit more of an effort.  Don’t really know quite why.  I blame the Fashion and Beauty section of Pinterest

Winking smile

Honey-Lavender Pots de Creme
This dessert is very girly.  Lavender!  Honey!  Whipped Cream!  Tiny, cute ramekins to contain all the lavender and honey!

Now, it must be noted that this is one of Shawn’s favorite desserts.  He, however, is NOT girly.  Just the dessert.

Honey-Lavender Pots de Creme ingredients

I want to eat this little dish of creamy deliciousness, in a floral chaise lounge while getting my toenails painted, hair fluffy and perfectly curled, in a poufy tulle skirt.  While watching a romantic comedy.

Girly, girly, girly.  It’s fun sometimes.  THG

Honey-Lavender Pots de Creme

Honey-Lavender Pots de Crème

3 cups heavy cream, divided

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract, divided

1/4 cup dried lavender buds, plus more for garnish

6 egg yolks, at room temperature

2/3 cup honey

1 Tbsp. sugar

large pinch of salt

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300ºF.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 cups heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract and 1/4 cup lavender buds to simmering.  Remove from heat, cover and let steep 15-20 minutes.  Drain to remove lavender buds.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, honey, sugar and salt together until thick and smooth.  Whisk in 1/3 cup of heavy cream mixture to temper the eggs.  Whisk in remaining cream until smooth.  Pour into individual ramekins, about 3/4 full.  Place in a large roasting pan and fill pan 2/3 full with water.  Cover with foil.

Bake in the middle of oven until sides are set and center is still jiggly, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove from water bath and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.

While pots de cremes are baking, whisk 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp. vanilla and powdered sugar in a stand mixer to stiff peaks.  Refrigerate.

Serve pots de cremes cold with a dollop of whipped cream and lavender buds.

Serves 8

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

It was absolutely beautiful here this weekend.  Sunny, warm, no sweater kind of weather.  Spring was definitely in the air.  So it had me itching to break into some spring flavors.

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

Lemons and blueberries are such a great combo.  The rich, vibrant, sweet flavor of the blueberries with the bright, tart flavor of the Meyer lemons.  So light and warm.  Like a little cup of springtime.  Mmmm.

Blueberry Macarons

So, the original plan with this recipe was to make the macarons and sandwich a Meyer lemon buttercream between them.  BUT, I did something silly. 

I didn’t follow my own advice in aging the egg whites.  Typically, what you want to do is separate the whites from the yolks, cover them, and leave them to age at least 24 hours.  This allows for some of the moisture to escape from the whites so that you have a stronger, drier shell when baking.  Well, I only aged these whites about 10 hours.  I had forgotten to take them out the morning before, so I waited until I got home from work.  Because of this, the shells cracked while they were baking.  Bah!

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

So, because they cracked, and because they had more moisture in them than my usual macaron shells, I knew that they wouldn’t hold well being sandwiched with the buttercream.  They came out flat, a bit chewy, just not what I was hoping for.  Plan B then!  Mousse.  Meyer Lemon Mousse.

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

This mousse is dreamy.  Incredibly light, frothy, almost more like a foam than a mousse.  Not too sweet, so that lemon flavor really jumps out at you.  I will continue to make this mousse over and over again.  It was fantastic; perfect for a light, springy dessert.  So mousse then, with a macaron accent.  I added a macaron to the bottom of the cup, poured in the mousse, then stuck another macaron on top.  The macaron on the bottom completely dissolved, making this blueberry/lemon mousse layer.  The macaron on top softened underneath, but remained thin and crispy on top.  It was sort of like breaking through the top layer on a crème brulee.  Awesome.  I’m almost glad that the shells didn’t turn out; this was just so good.

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

I just love when mistakes turn into something even better than the original.  Why didn’t I think of this first?  I would have saved myself a lot of four-letter words

Winking smile

What cooking mistakes have you made that turned into something great?  THG

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

Meyer Lemon Mousse with Blueberry Macarons

Blueberry Macarons:

1 cup almond flour

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup ground freeze-dried blueberries

3 egg whites, aged 24-48 hours and at room temperature

pinch of cream of tartar

1/4 cup superfine sugar

2-3 drops blue gel food coloring

In a food processor, combine the almond flour, powdered sugar and ground blueberries.  Pulse to mix.  Sift mixture three times into a large bowl.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar.  Whip egg whites on medium-high until very frothy.  Reduce speed to low and add superfine sugar.  Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low again and add in food coloring.  Increase speed to medium-high again and whip to stiff peaks.  Fold in dry ingredients, about 50 folds, until batter is smooth and shiny.  Pipe into 1” circles on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Tap the sheets on the counter top to release any trapped air bubbles.  Let sit for 45-60 minutes until the tops dry out slightly.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Once heated, reduce to 300ºF.  Add shells to the middle of the oven, one tray at a time, and bake for approximately 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Allow to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes.  Move to cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Makes approximately 40 shells

Meyer Lemon Mousse

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup lemon extract

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar, separated

5 egg whites

In a stand mixer, whip heavy cream and lemon extract together until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a double boiler set over medium heat, whip egg yolks, lemon juice and 1/6 cup sugar.  Whip vigorously until thickened and a candy thermometer reaches 145ºF.  Remove from heat.  Whip in a stand mixer until cooled to room temperature and mixture is thick, about 4-5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a clean double boiler set over medium heat, whip egg whites and remaining sugar until a candy thermometer reads 145ºF.  Move to a stand mixer and whip to stiff peaks.  Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture until well-combined.  Fold heavy cream into egg mixture until smooth and creamy. 

In a small glass, like a highball glass, add a blueberry macaron to the bottom.  Pour mousse over until the glass is almost full.  Add another macaron to the top.  Refrigerate to set, at least 4-6 hours.  Serve chilled.

Serves 6-8

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

Molten Chocolate Torte

I moved into my new position/office today at work.

Yay!

This calls for a celebration.  Let’s make a torte!

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

An ooey, gooey, rich, indulgent molten chocolate torte.  Drool.

Cracked, thick crusty top.  Soft, spongy sides.  Thick, creamy, almost pudding-y center.  Chocolate perfection.

Let’s make sure to use all bittersweet chocolate, just so it’s that much richer.  Because what’s the point in making a chocolate torte if not to make it as rich as possible?

Molten Chocolate Torte

Grind up some dried rose petals.  Take a deep breath.  So fragrant, so flowery.  Go ahead and mix some of that rose powder in with cocoa powder.  Then go ahead and sprinkle that mixture all over the top of your torte.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

I am currently OBSESSED with flavored whipped cream.  Whipped cream with rose sugar?  Insane. 

Make this.  Make this frequently.  It’s just too good.

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

Is there any better way to celebrate than with a plate o’ chocolate?  If you can think of a better way, I’d like to know.

Is this dessert healthy?  Absolutely not.  Is it worth the extra calories?  Absolutely yes. 

Make this torte to celebrate your new job.  Make this torte to celebrate your new house.  Make this torte to celebrate your new baby.  Make this torte to celebrate a new episode of Real Housewives.  Just.  Make.  This.  Torte. 

But bring me some while you’re at it

Winking smile
THG

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

Molten Chocolate Torte

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small chunks

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed

Large pinch of salt

5 eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3 Tbsp. cocoa powder

3 Tbsp. ground dried rose petals

Preheat oven to 375º.

Cut a parchment paper round to fit into the bottom of a 7” springform pan.  Butter the bottom and sides of pan.  Wrap aluminum foil around the outside bottom and side of the pan, about half way up.  Set aside.

In a double boiler set over medium-high heat, melt chocolate, butter and salt together until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, combine eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on high until thick and doubled in volume, about 8-10 minutes.  Fold chocolate into egg mixture until smooth and well combined.  Pour mixture into prepared springform pan.  Tap pan on the counter to release air bubbles.

Place springform pan into a large roasting pan.  Fill pan with hot water until it reaches 1/2 way up the springform pan.  Bake in the middle of the oven until the top and sides are set but center is still jiggling, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove springform pan from waterbath and let cool to room temperature.  Remove foil from around bottom of pan.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Combine cocoa powder and ground rose petals.  Remove torte from refrigerator and carefully separate the sides of the springform pan to remove torte.  Sprinkle with cocoa powder mixture evenly over the top of the torte.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8

Rose Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream

3 Tbsp. ground dried rose petals

3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, beat heavy cream until soft peaks just begin to form.  Add ground rose petals, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Whip until at desired thickness, taking care not to over whip (this will happen fast, so be careful).  Refrigerate until ready for use.

Makes approx. 4 cups whipped cream

Apple-Caramel Pavlovas

Apple-Caramel Pavlovas

I have been SO into meringues lately.  In all forms: meringue cookies, macarons, toasted meringue toppings.  They’re just so versatile, so easy to make, so marshmallowy and delicious.  Last weekend, I made a couple batches of brown sugar rum and rose meringues to hand out at our New Year’s Eve party.  They were awesome; just so light and crunchy, sweet but not too sweet.  Meringues rock.

I’ve been making desserts almost every Friday for the family.  We usually all go out to dinner together, so now we meet up at my parent’s house afterwards and have dessert.  I try to make only enough for everyone to have the night, so we don’t constantly have a supply of sugary treats in the house.  Great for the taste buds, not so much for the waistline.

Apple-Caramel Pavlovas

This week, I decided to make pavlovas.  Pavlovas are traditionally a meringue crust with fruit, usually passion fruit, and whipped cream.  I decided to veer a little away from tradition.  I made a brown sugar meringue crust and filled it with an apple-caramel sauce and a green apple mousse.  For the mousse, I based it off the lovely Helene from Tartelette’s recipe for Meyer Lemon mousse.  It came out very light and fluffy, almost foamy.  It was a great pairing to the dense and heavy caramel.

For both the mousse and the caramel, I used fresh apple juice from a few Granny Smith apples.  I advise that you juice the apples IMMEDIATELY before adding them to the recipe.  If you leave the juice sitting out too long, it begins to oxidize and lose that lovely green color, taking on a cloudy, brown coloring instead.  It also seems to affect the flavor a bit; there’s more of the fresh Granny Smith bite when using the juice immediately.  Granny Smith’s are definitely the best for this recipe; they provide that nice tartness to compliment the sweetness of the caramel and meringue.  Any other apple would get overpowered by the sugary quality of the sauce.

Apple-Caramel Pavlovas

Apple and caramel are such a great pairing, aren’t they?  This dessert was light as a cloud; exactly what I was looking for out of my new meringue recipe.  So tell me, what’s your take on meringues?  THG

Apple-Caramel Pavlovas

Apple-Caramel Pavlovas

Meringue:

3 large egg whites

Large pinch of salt

3/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. cornstarch

Green Apple Mousse (based on Tartelette’s recipe here):

1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin

2 Tbsp. cold water

1 1/4 cup milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3 egg yolks, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup fresh Granny Smith apple juice

1 cup heavy cream

Apple-Caramel Sauce:

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 cup fresh Granny Smith apple juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 250ºF.

In a stand mixer, whip egg whites and salt on high to stiff peaks.  Reduce speed to low and add in brown sugar.  Once sugar is incorporated, add vanilla extract, vinegar and cornstarch and whip to incorporate.  On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spoon out meringue into 7 small 5-6” circles.  Smooth a small well into the center of each meringue circle so there is a slight lip at the edge of each.  Bake in the middle of oven for 45 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave meringues in the oven for another 3 1/2 hours without opening the oven door.  Set aside.

For the mousse:  Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and set aside to bloom.  In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth and not grainy. 

Boil milk and vanilla together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add 1/4 cup of hot milk to egg yolks and whisk vigorously to temper.  Add egg yolk mixture to boiling milk and cook over medium heat until mixture has thickened, stirring constantly.  Add juice and stir to incorporate.  Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Set aside to cool with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on top of mixture to prevent a skin from forming.

In a stand mixer, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks.  Fold into egg yolk mixture.  Refrigerate to set, about 2 hours.

For the caramel: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk brown sugar and cornstarch together.  Add apple juice, vanilla extract, heavy cream and salt and whisk.  Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture begins to thicken.  Whisk in butter and remove from heat to cool.

To assemble: Fill center of the pavlova with about 2 Tbsp. of caramel sauce.  Using an ice cream scoop, scoop apple mousse on top of caramel.  Drizzle caramel sauce on top of mousse and finish with a thin slice of green apple.

Serves 7

Chocolate Mousse with Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels

Chocolate Mousse with Peppermint Meringues

I am definitely feeling the holiday season this year.  Chocolate, peppermint, chocolate, orange and cranberry, chocolate, gingerbread, chocolate.  Yum, yum, yum.  The flavors and scents this time of year are so wonderful, so decadent, so warm and cozy.  Starting on December 1st every year, I can usually be found consuming pounds and pounds of candy canes.  I eat just enough each December to get sick of them for an entire year.

Crushed Candy Canes

One of the things I love best about this time of year is how everyone’s rules go out the window.  We indulge, we treat.  People who count carbs all year eat crusty French bread and cake, sugar abstainers drown in chocolates and treats, fat-free followers smother their foods in butter.  After 11 months of bills and work and struggles and stressors, we give ourselves 31 days of “whatever we want”.  Being a firm believer in indulging in the things you enjoy, I love that once a year everyone else follows suit.

Mousse Ingredients

So, indulgences.  Is there anything more luxurious, more decadent, more indulgent than chocolate mousse?  I don’t think so.

Melting Chocolate

So smooth, so fluffy and light.  My mom, upon trying this dessert, declared it her favorite that I’ve made.  I may have to agree.  It is an absolutely perfect recipe.  I used Robert Irvine’s recipe for the mousse, and I have to say it is definitely one I will use again.

Chocolate Mousse Steps

In trying to find a good chocolate mousse recipe, I came across a lot that went something like this: melt chocolate, beat heavy cream, combine, refrigerate.  Sounds good, but definitely NOT mousse.  True mousse should have the following elements to it: an egg yolk custard for body and smoothness, whipped egg whites for that airy “mousse” texture, melted chocolate for flavor, and whipped cream for softness.  The egg elements are so important; it’s what elevates the dessert from chocolate whipped cream to actual, real mousse.

Chocolate Mousse

See that texture?  That’s exactly what you’re looking for.  The mousse should hold it’s shape as you scoop into it, with an airy, soft center.  It is so wonderful.  I also added a touch of peppermint extract to the mousse, just for a hint of mint.

Candy Cane Meringue Syrup
Candy Cane Pinwheels

But I didn’t stop there.  The mousse by itself didn’t feel quite finished.  It needed something extra: meringues.

Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels

I adore meringues.  The crunchy, crispy texture with the marshmallow-like taste.  They are usually baked in drops, like large Hershey’s kisses, but I felt the flat pinwheels would be best suited to the mousse.  Thin and light and a perfect compliment to the rich chocolate mousse.  I crushed candy canes very fine to a powder and add them to the meringue mix.  There were a couple of candy cane pieces in the meringues that added a little extra candy crunch to the cookie treats.  I also added some extra red food coloring, folded in loosely so there is a subtle swirl pattern in the meringues.

Chocolate Mousse with Candy Cane Pinwheels

By the way, my oh-so mature and sophisticated husband pointed out that the mousse swirled into the dishes looked like, ahem, poo.  Thank you as always my love for your tact and eloquence.  He did thoroughly enjoy it, though, despite calling it “mousse poop” all night.

Winking smile

Chocolate Mousse

Well, questionable presentation or not, this is a delicious and holiday appropriate dessert.  It’s excellent for holiday party, because you can make both desserts in advance for time management.  Insanely good and perfect for your December indulgence.  So tell me, what’s your favorite holiday treat?  THG

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

Adapted from Robert Irvine’s recipe here

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

5 eggs, separated

1 Tbsp. water

1/4 cup sugar, divided

 

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and peppermint extract until stiff.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth with no lumps.  Set aside to cool.

In a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl set over the simmering water in the double boiler, beat the egg yolks, water and 1/8 cup of sugar until it reaches 145ºF on a candy thermometer.  Transfer to mixer and whip until cool, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl set over the simmering water in the double boiler, heat the egg whites and remaining sugar until it reaches 145ºF.  Remove from heat and beat with the mixer to very stiff peaks.

Fold whipped egg whites into yolks until completely incorporated.  Fold in chocolate until completely incorporated, then fold in whipped cream until just mixed.  Pipe into serving dishes.  Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.  Serve chilled with crushed candy cane pieces and meringues.

Serves 8-10

 

Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels

3 regular-size peppermint candy canes, crushed (about 1/4 cup)

3 egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup superfine sugar

pinch of cream of tartar

red gel food coloring

 

Preheat oven to 175ºF.

In a double boiler, whisk candy cane, egg whites and sugar until candy canes and sugar melt, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a mixer with a whisk attachment.  Add cream of tartar.  Whip egg white mixture until very stiff peaks form and mixture is smooth and glossy.  Add in food coloring and loosely fold until color is ribboned through mixture (do not over mix).

Add mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” round tip.  On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pipe pinwheels, starting in the center and going closely around until about 1 1/2-2” in diameter.  Bake meringues for 2-2 1/2 hours, until firm crust has formed on top.  Transfer to cooling rack until completely cooled. 

Makes approximately 30 meringue pinwheels

Sweet Potato Pots de Crème and Pecan Shortbreads

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I feel like my life has been so hectic lately.

I was recently promoted at work (yay!).  Basically, the woman who is the Director of Communications is going on leave for most of next year, so I am stepping in and taking over for her.  This means that for the past 4 weeks or so, I’ve been putting in 10+ hour days Tuesday through Thursday, and being on-call Friday and Saturday.  It also means that with my new position, I’ve been staring at a computer screen for the majority of the day, doing detailed graphic design work.  My eyes have become permanently bloodshot from not blinking enough (must remember to blink; never thought I’d be telling myself that!).

Sweet Potato Pots de Creme

So, when I’m home, I’ve been reminding myself to breathe.  Slow down.  Because I am definitely someone who once I’m too busy and hectic in one aspect of my life, I find myself becoming too busy and hectic in every other aspect.  And that’s not always advisable, because that’s when emotional meltdowns tend to happen.  So, breathing (and blinking!) are high on my priority list when not at work.  I want to be able to enjoy the holidays, enjoy writing this blog, enjoy my downtime; I don’t want to become a huge stressball who gets no joy out of the things she’s doing in her life.

Pots de Creme Ingredients

So, on my days off, baking is one of my ways of slowing down.  Having to carefully measure, mix, whip; you cannot rush your way through.  You have to slow down and be precise.  And it’s just the thing to keep me focused.  I enjoy it so much, not just the outcome but the process as well.  It’s like meditation for me.  I look forward to the days when I know I’m going to be baking.  I usually plan out what I’m going to make, pour over recipes, trying to find the perfect Friday night dessert.  Except with this one.

Sweet Potato Pots de Creme

I was trying to decide what I wanted to do for dessert.  I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate, didn’t want to do a cake or souffle.  I wanted something with cinnamon, and maple, a pecans.  Something with fall flavors, something different.  Going through the pantry, I found I had about 5 sweet potatoes left over from a dinner earlier in the week.  I also had eggs and a carton of cream.  Perfect.  I was going to make pots de crème.

Pots de Creme Ingredients

Pots de crème are one of my absolute favorite desserts.  They fall somewhere in the custard/mousse/pudding category of sweets, but they definitely stand out on their own.  Their base consists of cream, egg yolks and sugar, along with whatever flavoring you’ll be adding.  They are baked in a water bath until jiggly and put into the refrigerator to set.  The finished product is thick, creamy, and has a consistency similar to a pumpkin pie filling (especially this particular take on the pots de crème).  They are rich, but not too much so.  A small ramekin is the perfect serving size for this dessert, although some people (coughSHAWNcough) can definitely consume two in one sitting.  They are just the loveliest little desserts, very comforting and sweet and not-too-gourmet.  I’ve made them before with honey for the flavoring, and they take on a much lighter and sweeter quality than these sweet potato ones.  Both different, both completely delicious.

Maple Creme Fraiche Topping

I topped the custards with a maple crème fraiche.  Super simple; just a package of crème fraiche with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup mixed in.  Trader Joe’s has a really great crème fraiche for just a few dollars; no need to break the bank there.  The crème fraiche really cuts the sweetness of the pots de crème with a touch of tartness.

Pecan Shortbreads

But I didn’t stop there.  The dessert didn’t feel quite finished with just the pots de crème.  And I kept going back to the idea of pecans, or more importantly, pecan shortbreads.  Crunchy, nutty, super buttery shortbreads.  Brown sugar instead of regular for an extra maple kick.  Completely delicious and addictive.

Pecan Shortbreads

After a super busy and overwhelming week of training, graphic designing and deadlines, this was a wonderful way to wind down.  Boiling cream, roasting sweet potatoes, cutting out small shortbreads, everything forced me to slow down and wait.  And breathe.  And blink.  THG

Finished Pots de Creme

Sweet Potato Pots de Crème

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. bourbon vanilla extract

1 cinnamon stick

6 egg yolks, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup roasted sweet potato, pureed

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Topping:

1 cup crème fraiche

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300ºF.

Add cream and vanilla to medium saucepan.  Add cinnamon stick.  Heat until simmering; cover and steep 10 to 15 minutes.  Discard cinnamon stick.

Beat yolks, sugar, sweet potato and spices until light and ribboned.  Add 1/4 cup of cream to temper egg mixture.  Pour yolk mixture into cream and mix well.  Pour mixture into ramekins 3/4 way full and place in a large roasting pan.  Fill pan with water, being careful not to splash into ramekins, until water reaches 2/3 up the sides of ramekins.  Cover with foil.  Bake in middle of oven 30-45 minutes or until set on the sides and center jiggles.  Remove from water bath a refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Mix crème fraiche and maple syrup.  Spoon on top of pots de crème.

Serves 8

Pecan Shortbreads

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup pecans, toasted and ground in food processor

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cream butter and sugar in mixer until fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix.  Sift in flour and salt and mix to incorporate.  Add ground pecans and mix on low until just coming together into a ball.  Dump ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disk.  Wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface to 1/2” thickness.  Using a small 1 1/2” round cookie cutter, cut out dough and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in center of oven 20-25 minutes until edges are brown.  Let cool before serving.

Makes 50 1 1/2” round shortbreads