Tag: dessert

Flourless Chocolate Mousse Cake

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Okay folks, the verdict is in and I can say this cake is obscenely good. I never knew chocolate, eggs, butter and sugar could become something quite amazing when combined a certain way.

The ingredients are few but the technique is immense. This is the beauty of baking.

I give full recipe credits to Noah, who is a music producer and DJ in Los Angeles. He served this cake at one of his dinner parties years ago and I never forgot it. I saved the recipe to try making it someday.

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If you want to give it a go, use quality ingredients. The recipe suggests Scharffen Berger semi-sweet chocolate, Plugra butter, good vanilla extract and the freshest eggs you could find.

Thank goodness I found these items at an organic supermarket in Huntsville. I have a thing for exceptionally good ingredients and in this case, I assure you the extra expense will make a difference.

Before you begin, get your situation in place because things are gonna get a little crazy. At least, it did for me. I like to have everything set-up in advance… like making sure my eggs are room-temperature, getting the pan greased and having the measuring spoons and necessary bowls out and ready.

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Separate the eggs. I’ve learned the best way to separate eggs (especially if you’re separating many) is to crack them all in one bowl then, with clean hands, scoop out the yolks from the whites. You can go with the traditional way using the shells or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can use a water bottle.frametasticMelt the chocolate. The chocolate I bought came in block-form so I used a large kitchen knife to chop it up. Put the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl along with the butter and melt over a pot of simmering water.
frametastic(2)You could do this using a microwave too. Stir until it becomes shiny. Set aside.

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Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of sugar. I didn’t go too crazy with this process but I’ve seen some recipes that tell you to beat the yolks and sugar until it becomes very light and air-whipped. Stir in the vanilla extract.frametastic(1)Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the yolk and sugar mixture.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Don’t overbeat. You don’t want the whites to become chunky.
frametasticFold the whites into the chocolate/yolk mixture. Don’t stir too vigorously or whisk; simply fold as you turn the bowl around and around to incorporate the fluffy whites. The mixture will triple in volume but keep going until it’s all mixed in.

By this time I am thinking, wow. This is quite a journey. I felt like such a novice…

Pour the batter into a 9-inch, greased springform pan. Save about half a cup of the batter for later. Bake for about 30-35 minutes in a 325-degree oven.frametastic(1)Once it’s out of the oven, the cake is high like a souffle but as it cools, it will deflate and crumble deliciously, as shown above.

Cool completely before pouring the remaining batter on top for a frosting effect. You can skip this step if you’re worried about raw eggs.

Place in the freezer overnight to set then serve.

You can serve this with a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.

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Just don’t faint after trying it because it is that good.

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In short:

Chocolate Mousse Cake
9.7 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Melt chocolate with butter over very low heat. Stir until smooth and set aside. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar. Gradually stir in chocolate and vanilla. Beat whites until soft peaks. Gradually add remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff. Fold whites into chocolate mixture. Pour 3/4 of batter into a 9 inch springform pan. Cover and refrigerate remaining batter. Bake cake for 35 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread remaining batter over top of cake. Freeze overnight.

Preview: Chocolate Mousse Cake

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Wow. So that’s what it takes to bake a chocolate mousse cake. I just took it out of the oven and it looks beautiful.

It is flourless, it is difficult, and as you can see from the picture above, it uses only top-notch ingredients. Too exhausted to write the full entry now. Standby for my post soon!

Use What You Have: Blueberry Brownies

Months ago around the holidays, I was inspired to try this recipe after reading about it online. Plus, I just happened to have a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer. How serendipitous! Recipe can be found here. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

By the by, I used ground cloves instead of cinnamon. Not sure if adding spices enhances the brownies, as I found it a bit strange. But adding any sort of spice seems to instantly holiday-ify a dessert. It was fitting back in December when I made these but since the holidays are over, I’m sure you could skip out on the cinnamon if you don’t have any.

Easy Spiced Poached Pears

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It’s easier than you think. Just because something looks fancy, doesn’t really mean it’s fancy. Not to say that my recipe for poached pears looks particularly fancy — even pretentious-fancy — but you know what I mean, I think.

Anyway, they truly are easy to make. I modified this recipe from what I thought was Giada’s but I can’t find it on the Food Network’s web site so who knows where I got my inspiration. My recipe uses apple juice for the poaching liquid instead of red wine, which is typically used to give this dessert a beautiful red stain. But as I didn’t want to open a whole bottle of red, I opted for apple juice. I’ve seen recipes that use Moscato, Riesling and other white wines but let’s just say this is a less snobby version.

ingredients

Ingredients:
Several pears, preferably Bosc pears for their sturdiness and long attractive stems. Avoid overly ripe ones.
Apple juice, just enough to cover all the pears in liquid (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 to 3 lemon peel strips
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or a vanilla bean if you have it
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all-spice or cloves
2 or 3 tablespoons butter, depending on your mood

When it comes to these ingredients, it’s okay to be flexible. Heck, this recipe is something that just grew out of my mind. If you don’t have vanilla extract and don’t want to go to the store and pay $5 for two ounces of it, that’s okay. Same thing goes for the cinnamon stick. If you only have the ground version, that’s fine. Oftentimes with recipes, you may feel pressure to stick to what the ingredients call for. This is necessary in many cases for certain desserts, which under the rule of food chemistry require strict measurements, but hey we’re poaching pears here. Feel free to knock out some of the spices if you don’t like them. A few indispensable things, however, are the juice, the sugar and at least one of the spices. Also, make sure the pears have equal ripeness. You don’t want one of the pears to be very ripe while the others are still catching up. The result will be one very soft pear on the verge of falling apart while the others are perfect.

Another important factor, purely for aesthetics’ sake, is to leave the stems on. Try to find pears with their stems still intact. I think this is what makes poached pears such a delightful dessert because their stems create a very elegant effect. Be careful when you handle them, as they can easily break off. As you can see, most of the stems broke off my pears, save two precious ones that still had them. Remember: Preserve the stem!

Begin heating your poaching liquid. Add the apple juice in a saucepan and stir in the brown sugar, spices, vanilla and lemon peel. Allow it to begin boiling.

Slice a bit off the bottom of each pear so that you can stand them upright when they’re finished. Next, core the pears if you have a corer. I do not have one so I skipped this step at the expense of the eater who will have to cut and eat around it. By calling this post “Easy…” I probably also meant that it will be a ghetto approach. Hey, a girl’s gotta improvise. Next, peel your pears. What I like to do is leave a bit of the skin on the tops like so — this adds extra flair and it looks like the pears have hats on.

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Once peeled, add them to the poaching liquid and simmer. Be delicate with them to avoid stem breakage. Simmer the pears on medium heat for about 30 minutes until they become soft but not too soft. By this, I mean you should be able to stick a fork in it easily but not too easily.

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When your fork gives in easily, remove the pears from the pot and set them aside on a plate to cool before serving. Continue reducing the poaching juice for approximately 15 more minutes.  The liquid should be shrunken in half by now. It will be quite sweet, as the brown sugar and the already-sweet apple juice will make a very sugary sauce for your pears. Near the end of reducing the sauce, add butter. This will add richness [note that once the sauce and pears are completely cooled, the butter will harden into little pieces]. When the sauce is complete, pour it over a strainer to remove the peppercorns, cinnamon and lemon peel.

Spoon the sauce over the plate of upright pears and serve with vanilla ice cream or the like. I served mine with Trader Joe’s Greek-style Honey Yogurt, which is just beyond fantastic with or without these pears. The slight sourness of the yogurt goes nicely with the sweetness of the caramel-like, spiced sauce. Enjoy!