Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Pavlovas

Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This dessert is made of three individual parts- chocolate meringues, chocolate mascarpone mousse, and a mascarspone pastry cream. Although I have favorite recipes for meringues and mousse already, we used the recipes provided by the Daring Bakers, and we loved them! The meringues were sweet, chocolatey, and crunchy. They were good alone, but they were the perfect base for a spoonful of the rich mascarpone mousse. The creme anglaise on top, with a little fresh whipped cream, was the perfect way to top off the pavlovas and mousse. These desserts were rich and sweet, so the mini sizes made the perfect little individual desserts. Everything was able to be done in advance except the assembly, so these would be perfect to make ahead for an easy and chocolatey dessert.

 Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. printable recipe - meringue

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):

1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

 Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):

1 recipe crème anglaise
½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream

Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.


Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.
printable recipe

If you want to see what the other Daring Bakers created visit our blogroll

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sweet Cherry Birthday Pie and Gelato

Sweet Cherry Pie and Vanilla Gelato

June is a busy time at Mimi's kitchen. We have plans to celebrate Father's Day, High School Graduation (we already had college graduation in May) and Boy Mimi, the baby of the family turns sixteen. The tradition  at Mimi's Kitchen  is that the birthday person picks the birthday meal, and dessert. Boy Mimi is a lover of all things sweet, but he does have a preference for pie and cherry pie is high on his list of favorites (along with coconut and strawberry rhubarb).
I was lucky enough to be able to use fresh cherries because they are readily available at this time of the year. I got a big bag at the store, recruited Mini Me and Mimi Jr., and we went to work making his birthday dessert. Mini Me spent a long time pitting all those cherries, but it was definitely worth it for this pie  had an intense fresh cherry flavor. Paired with Julia Child's flaky pie crust, it was truly delicious.
Note to Boy Mimi:  As with most fruit pies, this pie  needs a few hour to cool before serving, so the filing has time to set and the pie is easier to slice.

Sweet Cherry Pie
Double Crust pie
4 cups pitted sweet cherries
3 tablespoon tapioca
1 1/3 cups sugar *if the cherries are super sweet, you can use less sugar, just adjust to your taste
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sweet butter

Roll out 1/2 half of pie dough and line a pie pan. Put in the refrigerator to chill (along with the other half of the pie dough) while making the filling.
Combine cherries, sugar, tapioca, salt and almond extract, let sit for 15 minutes.  Pour fruit in to pie shell and dot with butter.
Cover with a well pricked top or a lattice top. You can sprinkle the top with coarse sugar if you would like. Bake 10 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat to 350F and bake about 40 minutes longer or until golden and brown and the filling is bubbly.
 After the 10 minutes at 450 I covered the edges of the pie in foil to prevent over browning. Remove the foil during the last ten minutes in the oven.

I use a Julia Child recipe for pie crust that is always tender and flaky. Just be sure that you do not over mix your pie dough. You can find the recipe  here.

What would fruit pie be without ice cream?  According to Boy Mimi, that would be a crime. So being the good big sister, Mimi Jr. whipped up some very yummy vanilla gelato to top the birthday pie.

Vanilla Gelato
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Bring the milk to a simmer over low heat. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks until creamy. Beat in 2 tablespoons of the hot milk into the egg mixture, than beat in remaining milk, a little at a time. Stir in the sugar, then transfer back to the sauce pan or a double boiler and cook over gentle heat (do not boil), stiring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl set in ice water to stop the cooking process. Allow to cool then add the cream and vanilla extract. Chill mixture in refrigerator for 2 hours, then churn in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturers directions.
Because the gelato was like soft serve when it was done churning, I froze it in a plastic container for another hour so it was easier to scoop.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Creamy Lemon Bars

There is something about citrus that transcends all seasons. In winter it is bright and lively, and in summer it is cool and refreshing. These lemon bars are an easy variation on the traditional recipe. They are smooth and creamy and cool, perfect for a make ahead summer dessert. The sweet-tart filling is almost like a custard and is delicious all by itself, but the buttery crust underneath provides the right amount of contrasting texture.

Creamy Lemon Bars
Everyday Foods- Fresh Flavor Fast

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 4 lemons
Lemon zest from two lemons

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 inch square pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter the paper.
2. With an electric mixer on high speed, cream butter, confectioner's sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add flour, mix until just combined. Press dough in the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of prepared pan. Prick all over the bottom with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes.
3. While the crust bakes, whisk together egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth.  Pour over the hot crust in pan; return to oven and bake until filing is just set, 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
4. Refrigerate, covered, until filling is firm, about 2 hours.  Using paper overhang lift bars onto a cutting board. Cut in 2 inch squares. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

These bars could be made in mini cheesecake pans for individual desserts, or you could use lime juice and zest to change up the flavors. Although tradtional lemon bars are hard to beat, these were really good and super easy, and a great way to use up any leftover egg yolks.

We are sending these lemon bars to the Foodie Friday event over at Designs by Gollum

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
This week Susan of Food.Baby picked Raisin Swirl Bread. What's not to like about homemade bread? We really enjoy fresh bread and this buttery loaf was no exception. I made this easy dough on Friday evening and let it rise once, before stashing it in the fridge over night. In the morning the dough was thoroughly chilled and had had the opportunity to rise a second time. I just rolled it out, covered it with the cinnamon and cocoa mixture, sprinkled a few raisins over the dough, and placed it in the loaf pan and let it rise before baking

By the time the kids rolled out of bed there was a loaf of warm cinnamon bread waiting for them. It was great on its own, but a little sweet butter spread over it really made it the perfect breakfast. I was planning on making French toast with any leftovers, but it was gone way to quickly for that. I do think it would make a great French toast or a bread pudding, so next time I'll make two loaves, one for eating and one for experimenting.

Raisin Swirl Bread
Adapted form Baking: from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

One package active dry yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
11/4 cup whole milk , warmed to about 90 degrees F.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
one large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of one half orange
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the Swirl
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
One cup moist plump raisins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

To make the bread
Put yeast in a small bowl toss in a pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of warm milk. Let rest for three minutes then stir the yeast. It may not have dissolved completely and may not have bubble but it should be soft.

Working with a stand mixer preferably fitted with a paddle attachment combine remaining milk,the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix on low speed for a minute or two. At the salt, egg and vanilla, zest and nutmeg,and mix for one minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium low speed for one minute more.Turn the mixer off and 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids, you will have a sticky mix. If you got a dough hook switched to it now. Add another one cup of flour increases mixes speed to medium and beat The dough for a couple of minutes. The dough should  come together and clean the sides of the bowl,  if not add up to 1/4 cup more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at media and knead the dough for about three minutes or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. It will be very soft much too soft you need by hand.

Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the Dough rise until it is double in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Scrape Dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient.

To make the swirl and shape the loaf:

butter a 9 x 5" loaf pan.
Whisk together cinnamon, sugar and coco .
Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the Dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18". Gently spread 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the doubt sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter and scatter the raisins over the top.
Starting from the short side of the Dough roll the dough up jellyroll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snuggly. Fit into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the end under the loaf. Cover the pan and loosely with wax paper and sent in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.
When the dough has almost fully risen, Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer pan to rack and cool for five minutes, then unmold invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Blackberry Shortcake

Blackberry Shortcake

 I heard the doorbell as I was stepping into the shower Monday morning. Probably UPS,  Mr. Mimi answered. I couldn't remember ordering anything, but I figured that I would remember once I saw a box. Imagine my delight as I walked into the kitchen after the shower and saw fresh blackberries straight from Mrs. A's garden sitting on the counter. Way better than a UPS delivery! Which brings us to this week's TWD. Cathy of The Tortefeasor chose Tender Shortcakes, which I had planned to skip, but fresh blackberries quickly changed that.

I tossed the blackberries with some Grand Marnier and sugar and tucked them away to marinate while I made the shortcakes. I made a half batch Dorie's shortcake recipe which is almost identical to my go-to recipe, the only difference being Dorie adds a bit  more sugar to the dough. Since I use milk instead of cream when I make shortcake and they always turn out perfect, I chose to do the same here.

The shortcakes were perfect. They were buttery and crispy on the outside with a light and fluffy inside. I whipped up some cream with Grand Marnier and assembled the shortcakes for a delicious summertime dessert! If you would like the recipe visit Cathy and to see what the other  TWD bakers made visit our blog roll.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Barbecue Sauce

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer and we were lucky enough to have a beautiful day, and what better thing to do to kick off summer than barbecue? Before you can have a barbecue you need an awesome barbecue sauce.  This sauce is great on poultry, beef or pork. It is smoky and tangy and best of all, easy. I usually make a large batch and keep it in the fridge to have on hand whenever the urge for delicious barbecue strikes.

BBQ Sauce
1 cup black coffee
1 1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chili in adobo sauce (adjust this amount to suite your taste)

Add all of the ingredients to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Whisk until the canola oil has been incorporated into the sauce or use an immersion blender to form the emulsion.

Although potato salad is a classic barbecue side, we like to do several different salads in the summer time. This Black Bean and Corn Salad is crunchy and cool. It can be made ahead (just add the avocado at the last minute so it doesn't turn brown) and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. You can add or eliminate just about anything to make this salad suit your taste buds. Most of the time I use Trader Joe's cut white frozen corn, because it's available year round, but roasted corn sliced off the cob is also fantastic in this salad.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
1 bag frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained
2 diced red bell peppers
1 diced red onion
1 or 2 diced jalapenos- use the seeds too if you like extra heat
2 diced avocados- add just before serving
chopped cilantro- optional

juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

I just sprinkle the cumin, salt and pepper over the vegetables, squeeze the lime over everything, and mix together.

Our friend Mrs. A brought this delicious salad with fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and sweet basil. Sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, and drizzled with a little olive oil and vinegar, it was my favorite part of the meal. I could have eaten nothing else and been happy, but I was forced to share. I can't wait for my own tomatoes to be ripe so I can make my own, but Mrs. A's salad was a perfect taste of summer!

This is our contribution to the Foodie Friday party at Designs by Gollum

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TWD: White Chocolate Brownies

 Marthe of Culinary Delights selected White Chocolate Brownies . When I saw this recipe on the list for June, I was really excited because when I first looked through Dorie's book this one definitely caught my eye. I have made brownies many times and with countless variations, but white chocolate and raspberry was a new one and that in itself was intriguing. I have to say though, I did not love these brownies. I thought the texture of the  brownie part was a little too spongy and the meringue topping was not spectacular and didn't really add any flavor. This could be the result of the weather, but I am still not sold on the meringue topping for these brownies.

A couple of construction notes,  I lined the pan with parchment paper and just lifted the brownies out of the pan rather than turning them out and  I used frozen berries with no problems.

I did like that they were not over the top sweet and you could really taste the raspberries. I still love the flavor combination so I think that if I  try these again, I would eliminate the meringue topping  and substitute flour for the ground almonds to improve the texture of the brownies.
If you want the recipe drop on over and visit Marthe and to see what the other baker thought visit our TWD blog roll.