Wednesday, July 27, 2011

White Chocolate Mousse

When the temperature heats up it is nice to have cool sweet treats to enjoy. We do make a lot of ice cream, but sometimes we want something a little different. Most of all we don't want to spend a lot of time in a warm kitchen.

This simple and deliciously silky mousse fits the bill. It comes from Claire Robinson's Five Ingredient Fix cookbook and couldn't be easier to make. If you dress it up with some fresh fruit you have an easy and elegant dessert in just a few minutes, with no oven required. I am not usually a fan of white chocolate desserts, as I find them too sweet, without much of a flavor other than sugar. This mousse, however, was not to sweet and with some fresh blueberries on top, it was a nice cool dessert we enjoyed on the patio after dinner. It is also nice that this is entirely make ahead, perfect for when you have some guests, and don't want to go back to work in the kitchen after dinner.

White Chocolate Mousse
via Five Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson

7 ounces white chocolate chopped into small pieces
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
fruit for garnish


In a large glass bowl, place the chopped white chocolate and set aside.

Add the egg yolks and sugar to a small bowl and whisk until pale in color.
In a saucepan over low heat, bring 1/4 cup of the cream to a simmer and slowly add the cream into the yolk and sugar mixture to temper. Pour the creamy mixture back into pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it coats the back of it.

Pour hot mix into a fine mesh sieve placed directly over bowl with the chopped chocolate. Stir until completely smooth.

In another bowl, whip remaining 1 cup of the cream to almost stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the white chocolate mix to lighten and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Spoon the white chocolate mousse into 4 serving cups and refrigerate until set, approximately 1 hour. *We thought you could definitely stretch this to 6 or even  8 small  servings with some fruit*

Monday, July 18, 2011

Strawberry and Peach Blender Ice Creams

 In Southern California, it is really ice cream season year round, but it always tastes just a little bit better on a hot summer's day.  When we were children it was a special treat to make ice cream. We had to have plenty of ice, rock salt, friends willing to turn the crank, and of course my Dad, who would do the final turns when it was too difficult for our tired arms. After all that work, there was nothing better than that first bite of homemade ice cream. Although making ice cream the old fashioned way is fun, I love my new, no pre-freezing required ice cream machine. The only wait time is chilling the custard, but the great thing about both of these ice creams is that they are made in the blender and do not have a cooked base, so they can be ready to churn in minutes. These kind of desserts are perfect for those summer days when it is too hot to turn on the stove and you can't wait 24 hours for your ice cream.

Nothing is easier to make than this peach ice cream. It is light, delicate and silky smooth, and is really nothing more than peaches and cream. Since we have a large crop of peaches, we did make two versions- one with diced peaches marinated in amaretto and one without. We were split on which was better. Mr. Mimi and I liked the chunks of peaches, while Boy Mimi preferred the smooth one, so it is just a matter of personal ice cream taste.

Peach Ice Cream
This is really just a method and we make it with almost any type of fruit.

Amaretto, or almond extract

Peel and pit peaches, add to blender with the juice of one lemon. Puree until smooth. To 2 1/2 cups of peach puree we added 1/2 cup sugar, but the amount of sugar depend on the sweetness of the peaches so adjust as necessary, remembering that when frozen it will taste less sweet. We added 1 cup cream and pureed until thick. Taste your ice cream and if the flavor is too mild add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract or a couple tablespoons amaretto.  Freeze in your ice cream maker according the manufacturer's directions. If you like, chop up some additional peaches to add at the ending of churning for a chunky peach ice cream. We let our peaches sit in a tablespoon of amaretto while the ice cream was turning.

The recipe for the Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream comes from my friend Kim at Stirring the Pot. It is also a blender ice cream, creamy and smooth with a fresh strawberry flavor balanced by the slight cream cheese flavor in the background. Next time we might bake a graham cracker crust, and add some crumbled pieces to make it even more like a cheesecake.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Adapted from and Stirring the Pot
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fresh pureed strawberry
1 cup half and half or cream

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Chill ingredients for about 1 hour, or until cold, and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Links: Foodie Fridays at Designs by Gollum

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Double Blueberry Tart

Nothing says summer more than the abundance of fresh fruit available in Southern California. We are spoiled with piles of fragrant strawberries, perfectly ripe peaches, and dark sweet cherries, to name a few. When you can get several baskets of fresh blueberries for just a few dollars, you have the chance to try some new recipes- if you can stay away from the old favorites!

This double blueberry tart is one of our family favorites. Everyone loves the fresh blueberry flavor, and I love that it is one of the fastest desserts to put together. It travels well and is perfect for a BBQ or a picnic at the beach during the long summer evenings.

 This tart only has a few simple ingredients and comes together quickly. The filling gets thick and sweet, and is excellent stirred into some Greek yogurt in the morning, and spooned over some ice cream after an afternoon of swimming. The recipe comes from The Best of Sunset published 1987, and I have been making it every summer since then!

Double Blueberry Tart
adapted from The Best of Sunset (1987)

6 cups blueberries
9 tablespoons sugar- you can use a bit less if the berries are super sweet
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1  tart crust
Slightly sweetened whipped cram

1. Combine 4 1/2 cups of blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often until the berries are as thick as soft jam, 12-15 minutes. Let cool. When filling has cooled, pour into a fully baked tart crust, spreading evenly over the crust. Top with remaining fresh blueberries to completely cover the surface.
Serve topped with whipped cream.

Sweet Tart Dough
via Baking: from my home to yours

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons butter
1 beaten egg yolk

Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add the egg yolk and process until dough just comes together. Turn the dough out on your work surface and lightly knead until all the dough comes together. Gently press dough into a 9 inch tart pan. Freeze for 30 minutes. Press a lightly buttered sheet of foil against the crust (the freezing eliminates the need for weighs).  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5-8 minutes until golden brown.