Posted in baking, candy, custard, emulsion, foam

Daring Baker Challenge: Mousse in an edible container

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com

So yeah, it was supposed to be maple mousse.  But I got inspired to have a Red and Black party, so I made chocolate mousse in red tuiles.  I shaped the tuiles by putting some in mini muffin tins and draping others over the tops of wine bottles, so that they made bowls to hold the mousse.  They came out looking like rose petals.

I made my chocolate mousse from David Lebovitz’s adaptation of Julia Child’s recipe.  I tripled the recipe and, of course, made some minor changes, so mine came out like this – but be warned, this is for WAY more mousse than you really want to make.

  1. Mousse in the making
    Mixing the chocolate emulsion with the custard.

    Melt butter and chocolate with coffee.

    • 4 sticks butter
    • 510g dark chocolate (fair trade!)
    • 3/4 cup coffee
  2. Make zabaglione.  (A sweet custard with an alcoholic liquid.  Traditionally marsala wine; Julia’s recipe used rum; I used cognac and it was delicious.)  This is done by heating the ingredients in a double boiler until thick enough to coat a spoon, and then beating (an electric mixer is a good idea) off the heat (with the bowl in cool water, even) until lighter in color and thick enough that when you drip some, a trail remains.
    • 12 egg yolks (I bought jumbo by accident so I used 10)
    • 510g sugar
    • 6 Tbsp cognac
    • 3 Tbsp water
  3. Make meringue.  Beat egg whites; when it’s all opaque, add the sugar.  Keep beating until peaks form but aren’t too stiff.
    • 12 egg whites
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    • a few pinches of salt
    • 1 tsp cream of tartar
    • 2 tsp vanilla
finished mousse
Blurry picture of finished mousse.

Gently mix the first two together and then fold the meringue into that.  This means you’ll be eating uncooked egg whites.  If you’re not ok with that, make a Swiss meringue instead, which is where you heat the egg whites and sugar to 160F before beating them.

This mousse was amazing, y’all.  Totally worth all the different ingredients and components.  The zabaglione alone was amazing, I’ll definitely make that again.

I did run into a hitch – my chocolate emulsion broke.  I googled around about this and came to the conclusion that humans do not fully understand chocolate, because what I found didn’t make a lot of sense.  But basically, I think it broke because I heated it too much, and what ended up working was cooling it in the fridge, and then heating it again, very slowly.  I tried this trick where I took just a little of it and mixed it with some heated corn syrup.  That bit re-emulsified, but as I added more of the broken mixture to the fixed mixture, it got fixed and then I added too much and it all broke again.  So I guess that last addition of broken mixture lowered the temperature too much.  So, chop your chocolate and butter before starting, so everything can melt fast and evenly, and if you run into this problem, cool and reheat slowly.

tuiles
Rose petal tuiles.

Now the tuiles.  I used this recipe without the almonds, and multiplied by 4.  These were really simple, and I had been so worried!  I used LOTS of red food coloring, and flavored them with cinnamon, but then added a little cocoa powder too because I wanted the red velvet color to come out right.  I didn’t add any liquid to the recipe to make up for this; maybe if I had they would’ve come out a little crispier, like I expected, but the texture they had was good for shaping them.  I’d skip the cinnamon next time; I wanted a red flavor to go with the red color, but I wasn’t crazy about the result.

Finally, I made some cayenne syrup to go on top.

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Boil until the thread stage, 130F.  Unfortunately, even though I stopped at the thread stage, mine eventually crystallized.  But it was a nice mixture of hot and sweet, and I love spice with my chocolate.

The official drink for the party was something that’s apparently called Devil’s Blood – it’s a vodka cranberry with black vodka.  I layered it by pouring the vodka from a measuring cup over the back of a spoon onto the cranberry juice, which worked well.

devil's blood
Layered cocktail.
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Posted in baking, custard, foam

Daring Baker Challenge: Tiramisu

Pictures are coming!

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

This is my third time making tiramisu and my first time making the mascarpone and lady fingers from scratch.  I was impressed at the amount of work involved – the cream has four components! – but it went faster than I expected.

The cream involved:

1. zabaglione/zabaione (the former spelling is apparently a more old-fashioned one, but still the most used here; in Italy, I believe the second is more popular.  Regardless of the spelling, the pronunciation is roughly what you see in the second way.) – a Marsala wine stirred custard (or foam, because it’s actually more whisked than stirred).  I was really glad to see this used in the recipe, because 1) it means the eggs are cooked, which is safer, and 2) the best tiramisu I ever had, in a little restaurant in Fiesole, used zabaione.

2. pastry cream – a milk/cream stirred custard with a little starch

3. whipped cream

4. mascarpone cheese – cream curdled by being heated with a little acid (lemon juice)

These were all simply mixed together.

Beaten egg whites mixed with egg yolks - the beginning of the savoiardi.
The baked savoiardi.

The lady fingers, or savoiardi biscuits, are made of a French meringue mixed with egg yolks and cake flour.  This is piped onto a cookie sheet and baked.  I cut my piping hole a little small (I’m a ziplock bag piper), so I made squiggly lines to make mine fat enough, and it came out really cute.

The tiramisu is three layers of the following: lady fingers dipped in espresso (or my roommate’s leftover coffee; sue me) topped with a layer of the cream mixture.  The recipe didn’t say to, but I think we can all agree that cocoa powder is to be sifted on the top at the very end.

My friends and I enjoyed it immensely.  The mixture of every cream-based substance under the sun ended

The finished tiramisu.

up with a very nice flavor.  However, having tasted each component as I went along, I was a little sad to see all of these specific uses of cream mix into a homogeneous creaminess.  I decided that the pastry cream doesn’t add much – the mixture is already all cream, eggs, and sugar, and it doesn’t have any special flavors or much of a different texture from the zabaione – and that next time I’ll double the zabaione and leave the pastry cream out.  The zabaione carries the flavor of the Marsala – and if I got one critique from my tasters, it was “Make it boozier.”  I’d also probably use more mascarpone and compensate by making a little less whipped cream.  The lightness of this is great, but what’s the point of making your own mascarpone if you can’t even tell it’s there?  I am now a huge fan of homemade lady fingers – they’re easier to make than I expected (and you don’t need a mold) and you can make them in different shapes.