Guest Post: Almond Blancmange

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Surprise! I am here but I am not really here.... At the beginning of the year I mentionned that there would be some new and familiar faces coming by to mend the fort while I would focus on deadlines for the cookbook. The support these people have given me is beyond any expectations whether it be a "hey! Whassup?!", a "dude! Calm down and breathe!" or a single image they took or post they wrote moved me in many different ways. I also thought that asking them to guest post would let you discover amazing people if you don't know them already. They won't all be food bloggers, but they do have a couple of things in common: talent and a love of all things sweet. I'll be back next post!

Today, it's my very own hero Jen of Use Real Butter keeping you company. I discovered Jen through the Daring Bakers and our friendship has grown in the most delicious way this past year. She is funny, bubbly, and sincere. She gives it to you as it is, has a very opiniated opinion (her words), a mouth watering blog and brilliant food photography. We have a say in our house "Jen's...that's what for dinner!"

I am positive I will go to my grave with a long list of desserts trailing behind me... I don't mean my gluteus maximus (hey, I'm keeping it clean since this isn't my blog), I mean a list of dessert recipes that I want to make. For every new recipe I master, there are at least three or four that I add to the list. Oh, who am I kidding? I don't master recipes, I just make them, shoot them, post them, and pawn them off on friends and neighbors. Despite this sisyphean endeavor to work my way through The List, imagine my delight and astonishment when I am introduced to a completely new dessert.


sprinkle gelatin over cream and water




I think Tartelette will laugh when she learns that the first time I ever heard of Blancmange was when I was in junior high and listened to the British synthpop band by that very name. It wasn't until 20+ years later *gasp* that I sunk my teeth into the dessert, blancmange, at my aunt's house. Utterly delightful stuff.



ground almonds and sugar



If you told me that I could not eat chocolate ever again, I would not be heart-broken. I like to make things with chocolate, but I am okay without eating it. Now, if you said the same thing about cream-based desserts, I might sit down and have a cry because I actually enjoy eating them almost as much as I enjoy making them.



add some amaretto to the cream (you boozehounds, you)



Having tried blancmange once before, I found a recipe for a modern variation on the dessert in one of my cookbooks. This one contains ground almonds - enticing! Based on other recipes I've perused, it looks as if blancmange is typically very smooth - a thickened cream-based dessert that is served unmolded. I ran into one discrepancy in the recipe, which was to use 1.5 cups of blanched almonds and in parentheses, the recipe said 4.5 ounces. That's not right at all. 1.5 cups yielded 7.5 ounces. In hindsight, I think I'd go with 4.5 ounces and I'll make a note of that in the recipe.



folding whipped cream into the almond cream mixture



Even with a lot more almond than I think the recipe should have had, it was delightful. I would probably grind the almonds down finer than I did for a creamier consistency in the future. The process of folding in the whipped cream lends to the airy texture of the dessert. I made individual servings in ramekins, which unmolded with some stubborness. That may have been due to the high almond content.



these will set in a couple of hours in the refrigerator



The resulting texture was slightly thicker than mousse. If unmolding had not worked, I could have easily served the blancmange in lovely quenelles (although I'm not sure that would fly if I had made the recipe with less almonds). Either way, the important accompaniment is the fruit. Any combination of berries, drupes, you name it, pairs lovingly with the almond and cream. It also looks as stunning as it tastes. A simple and elegant recipe to serve.



et voilà



Modern Almond Blancmange Recipe:
from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope (2 1/2 tsps) unflavored gelatin (powder)
4 1/2 oz. almonds, blanched, sliced or slivered (just under 1 cup)*
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsps kirsch or Amaretto (ummm, I think I could definitely use more of this)

*the recipe says to use 1 1/2 cups which 66% more than 4 1/2 ounces, so if you want a really almondy dessert, go for it, otherwise I think 1 cup is sufficient.

In a small saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup of cream and the cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface and let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir over low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Set aside. Pulse the almonds and the sugar in a food processor until the almonds are very finely ground. When the gelatin mixture has cooled slightly, stir in the kirsch or Amaretto. Add the ground almond mixture and stir until combined. Whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream to soft peaks (do not overbeat). Fold the cream into the almond mixture in thirds. Rinse a 6-8 cup mold or 8 4-ounce ramekins (I did 6 6-ounce ramekins) in cold water. Pour in the mixture and cover with plastic wrap (but don't let the wrap touch the mixture). Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the mold. Dip the mold quickly in and out of hot water. Invert the mold onto a moistened plate and unmold. [Or, if you're me, cover the ramekin with plastic wrap after loosening the sides and dipping in hot water, then turn it over and smack it on a kitchen towel on the counter several times. When it finally comes out, use another piece of plastic to cover the top, then invert it again, remove the first piece of plastic, then invert it once more onto the serving plate.] Garnish with lots of fresh fruit (berries, peaches, etc.).

71 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love Jen's beautiful blog! These Blancmange look delicious! A wonderful speciality!

Cheers,

Rosa

Elra said...

I spend over an hour to check out her stunning photographs. I also like her food blog. You are amazing Jen!
Ah...blancmange never look this "enticingly delightful" indeed.
Cheers,
Elra

morgana said...

Hi, Jen. Nice to meet you. And hi, blancmange, nice to meet you too. ;-)

Thank you for let me know so many new things, it is always exciting to visiti yor blog.

Char said...

Hi jen! I'm with you on the whole chocolate issue. Not that I'll turn down good chocolate, but give me something delish and creamy and I'm in heaven. thanks for sharing this with us, I have never had it before.

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

This looks fantastic, I've never hd blacmange made with almonds but would love to try it!!! Woohoo for guest posts!

elisabetta said...

Bellissimo !!!
Che bello avere il filmato dei passaggi. Così è moltooooo facile anche per me.
Grazie e.............complimenti vivissimi, i tuoi dolci sono sempre un'invito per gli occhi e la gola.

Baci Elisabetta

Patricia Scarpin said...

The first time I heard (read) about blancmange was after I started reading food blogs, a couple of years ago...
I love the addition of almonds here - it looks superb, Jen!

Helen, good luck there, darling!
xx

cindy : quaint said...

i've never had blancmange and it looks delicious. it also looks like something i could actually make. lovely photos.

hang in there helen, you're in the home stretch.

Culinarywannabe said...

What a perfect recipe to have when people come over for dinner! I love desserts like this that can be made ahead of time and then plated and served when ready. Thanks for stopping by Jen!

Dulzura Magica said...

Wow that looks very elegant and delicious thanx for sharing!

Nina Timm said...

This is a far cry from the horrible blamanche that we were forced to make in home economics class at school. I love the pairing with the berries....

Judith said...

Why hello, Jen! Fancy seeing you here. That looks fabulous, and I'm on an almond kick lately.

Aran said...

i would definitely cry if someone ever said to me i couldn't have cream based desserts ever again... that would be devastating as custards and such are definitely my weakness. i love blancmange and i have different variations of it too, with almonds, without almonds with creme fraiche, with yogurt... all of them fabulous.

so good to see jen yu here. great post!

Eleonor said...

An absolute delight! Maybe lining the bottom of the cups with cheesecloth or plastic wrap might help unmolding them since there is no baking?

Anonymous said...

I have been a silent lurker on both your sites and not only am I delighted to know you guys are friends but to see you share blog time. Too many people think of it as a popularity contest, clearly not you guys and that is extremely refreshing.
This dessert is very refreshing too and I love the step by step pictures!

K.

Margie said...

Jen, as always, perfecto-mundo! I plead ignorance, I have never enjoyed this item, never attempted its mastering, but those are things of the past, no doubt.

You already know I LOVE YOUR BLOG, well, I LOVE HELEN'S TOO!! I wish both of you the greatest of successes. You two kindred spirits are such talents.

:)

Peabody said...

Gorgeous! What is not to love about this. Heavy cream, sugar, Amaretto and almonds. Good stuff Jen.

Jen said...

Well I've heard of blancmange but have never actually known what it was. This looks so good- especially with all those berries on top. I'm definitley bookmarking this one.

Tartelette said...

Eleonor: good suggestion on lining the ramekins with cheesecloth or wrap. Cheesecloth is more traditional as the blancmanger molds traditionally have holes in them to let the cream drain a bit (it's like an insert with holes set inside the mold).

Liska said...

Mmmm! Looks amazing.
Jen, it's nice to meet you :)

Maria said...

Great guest post!! I love Jen's blog too!

Florence said...

Ca me rappelle ce que faisait ma maman quand j'etais gamine. Pas d'amande dans les siens mais je vais essayer cette recette!
Peux tu recommander un site pour les conversions?

Florence.

cindy* said...

confession...i didn't even know what blancmange was until just this very moment. but, i love creamy treats and i looove (3 o's) almonds and amaretto.

great guest post and info!

mycookinghut said...

This looks great! Is it mandatory to use kirsch or Amaretto? Can I replaced with something else?

Frero said...

Hi Jen! Nice to meet you! Thank you for keeping my sister relatively sane during this amazing but lonely time. She talks about her "blogging friends" like she has met them before and now I know why. I bet she wants to adopt your dog too...she is "incorrigible" as we say here.
I am happy I have to write comments and not speak them because my accent is terrible compared to hers!!
Take care.

Joie de vivre said...

Tartlette,
Thank you so much for your kind words! You have such a beautiful blog. I will be a regular reader from here on out!

Thistledew Farm said...

What a lovely little tartlette - I would love to eat it up....here little tartlette, come to mama....

Joyce said...

I will have to hop over to Jen's blog. This blancmange sounds easy enough that I think even I can attempt with little difficulty. Thanks.

Madam Chow said...

Sax's book is wonderful.
The first time I ever heard of blancmange, which I have yet to try, was in the book "Little Women," by Louisa May Alcott. I've wanted to try it since I was about 8 years old, and now I know where to find a recipe!

Hayley said...

What a thoughtful idea to have guest posts. This dessert looks so simple and refreshing.

I just wanted to thank you for your lovely, and kind words you left on my site. It's those types of things that keep me in the kitchen.

Now I'm heading over to Jen's blog, thanks for introducing me!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

This looks delicious. Great photos!

Julia said...

Wow, I wonder if I could do it! I wonder, I wonder! It would be divine, these look amazing!

lynda said...

Beautiful photos...the one with the cream partially folded in is gorgeous. Who'd a thunk?!!And the finished dish is stunning. Great guest spot. Can't wait for your cookbook to come out,Helen! I'm sure you'll keep us all posted! Best wishes with that!

bensbaby116 said...

I don't love almonds, but my husband does. I bet he would love this! Beautiful photos, by the way.

suzi said...

I adore the step by step pictures and can't wait to make these! thanks for sharing.

Helene said...

This is a great idea. Love the pictures. And I also like 'use real butter' blog.

Lori said...

Two of my daily must reads together. Cool. You two both inspire me immensely.

Tartelette- you know why you have so many people giving you support. My theory is that you are just that nice and supportive to everyone else.

Hey , what comes around goes around!

Tartelette said...

Lori: what can I say..you made me weak in the knees.

Thank you everyone for your comments. For those of you who just discovered Jen's blog, "where you been?!!"...no kidding...I hope that you get inspired to visit her and often.
For those of you coming here through Jen's blog, "welcome!" and I hope you will be back!

Thank you everyone!

Navita said...

hey love it ...Jen..she is awesome...n the oops sorry can't pronounce the dessert...but I love almonds....its simple yet beautiful...n somehow very exotic sounding n refreshingly tropical...
great recipe...hve bookmarked it.

Irene said...

This is a lovely dessert! Same question here about what to use in replacement of the alcohol.

Jen Yu said...

Thanks everyone for your sweet comments. Nice to meet all of you! And yes, the reason it is so easy to help Helen out is because she is a gem of a friend, one of the nicest people I know and love.

Eleonor - yes, a great idea!

K - that's so kind of you to say. I think Helen and I just have a lot of fun with this :)

Mycookinghut - You can sub almond extract, but I wouldn't use nearly as much... perhaps add 1 tsp at a time and adjust to your liking?

Frero - you can speak all you want. I love French accents! Your sister keeps ME sane :)

Lori - I absolutely agree with you on Helen. I consider myself lucky to be the recipient of her loyal (and hilarious) friendship.

Irene - well, technically almond extract is alcohol... but that would be my first suggestion as a substitution. Otherwise, I'm not sure. Perhaps Helen has a suggestion (she is far more knowledgeable than I am!)

punkin said...

ooh, i can't wait to try this. (with agar instead of gelatin)

the first time i heard of blancmange was on monty python's flying circus. needless to say, it wasn't very appealing...

Virginia said...

Why your recipes and photos are always so perfect??

You are the best!

An italian admirer.

Bonbon Oiseau said...

what a lovely dish...i'm ready for breakfast!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

It looks absolutely sublime, Jen! A very beautiful and elegant creation. I'm always wowed by both you and Helen!

Anonymous said...

Just thinking this morning that it would be awesome for breakfast...I guess I'll have to get it ready today for tomorrow...Oh not easy to sleep on that one!

Thank you both for a lovely recipe!

Jolene.

Tartelette said...

Alcohol question: I would replace it with 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond extract and 2 1/2 teaspoons of heavy cream to make up the liquid ratio difference.
If you wish to use another extract like orange blossom or vanilla, same thing and if you wish to ommit a flavor altogether, I would just add the same amount of liquid in cream.

Brilynn said...

I used to shy away from desserts with gelatin in them because for some reason I thought they were extra complicated, but recently I've realized I need to get over it and just start making things.

leaca said...

gorgeous photos of what looks to be very delicious.

The Duo Dishes said...

Definitely tons of amaretto would need to be added if you made it for us. Hey, it's flavor! :) How yummy.

Maybe said...

Helen : What a wonderful idea to welcome guests on your blog !

Jen : Your blog is soooo great ! I fell for your chocolates and puppy...)

Jamie said...

This is truly lovely and it looks doable as well. Would make an elegant dessert.

Mallory Elise said...

oooh. what bright berries :) aren't blog friends great. i've stopped thinking that i'm creepy, since, why can't internet be real friend eh!? anyways. you're too much of a celeb :P hehehe.

Cynthia's Blog said...

Ah Jen, you did us all proud! At least I am proud. This looks awesome!

diva said...

this is just gorgeous!! it must taste heavenly with all that heavy cream and amaretto. i'm in love! x

Anonymous said...

Made these last night and they were delicious! There were only 3 of us but I think we were ready for second helpings...we behaved though!
Thank you for the recipe!

hmstrjam said...

yummy!!!

Stacey said...

Tried this recipe yesterday and it´s fabulous.. even though I almost turned the cream into butter while using my flashy new Bosch kitchen machine! I agree that a scant cup of almonds is plenty. Thanks for sharing.

glamah16 said...

Jen has a great blog. I love almonds and cream so this is definately one for me.

Chessa! said...

these look delicious!!!! I love your photos and the recipes sound easy and not at all intimidating.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Gorgeous, Jen! The photo with the berries truly pops. Good call on the guest blogger, Tartelette!

Manggy said...

Lovely, classy dessert, Jen! I wonder if the fruits would have been able to sit on top had it been 4.5oz of almonds? Either way it looks delicious! :)

Abby said...

Yay! I love Jen's blog. Beautiful post and photos as always!

Mollie said...

Two of my favorite people in one spot! Great post and the berries are beautiful!

Passionate About Baking said...

Great great guest to have over...& what an indulgent dessert. Jen's got a beautiful blog with gorgeous pictures...lovely to see here here!

kellypea said...

A long line of desserts indeed. Good think you've got this one checked off your list. Yum-mee!

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

I definately have to try these...I love amaretto.

Helene said...

It's been years since I had blanc-mangé. Ca a l'air tellement délicieux.

Clare said...

I don't know if this has any relevance, but here in the uk you make blancmange (whether from a package or from scratch) by thickening milk and cream with cornflour, then setting in little dishes or a mould. I'm sure Mrs. Beeton would have written about it. The common brand is "Pearce and Duff's" and comes as flavoured sachets.

In addition, you can occasionally find packages of "Table Cream" made by a now-extinct company called Symingtons. This does include gelatine as well as cornflour and has a firmer, creamier texture.

Either way, a chocolate version of either was always a big part of my childhood birthdays - set in a rabbit mould and sat on a bed of green-jelly 'grass'. Not particularly elegant but very effective.

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