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Jahresarchive: 2007

Outrageous Brownies Revisited

It 's not like I need a reason to make brownies, but Myriam's invitation to her Browniebabe of the Month event, prompted me to try my hand at a very much lusted after recipe: Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies.
The thing is that I make brownies every other day or so, if not they are definitely in th menu on sundays…why? They are easy to keep around of a friend stops by, if the neighbors' kids are outside playing , see me and run toward my shopping bags asking "are you baking us something?", and let’s be honest because B. and I have a huge sweet tooth when it comes to brownies.
After many years of brownie baking I have adapted and combined many different recipes to come up with one that turns plain chocolate into a square of deep dark fudge, and allows me to play with additions if flavors, liqueurs, nuts, dried fruits, etc….but to me the recipe is not original anymore as I make it so often. I will write it here someday but for the event I started dreaming about Ina’s brownies (allright, Lisa, get your mind out of the gutter…).

Why "revisited"? Well, for starters there was no way I was going to use 1 pound of butter! Why? There are ways to have outrageously good brownie without an artery blockage. But I still wanted an "outrageous" factor so I decided use diced salted butter chocolate caramels as an add-in and cut the recipe in half. If you don’t want to go through the troubles of making the caramels, you could use diced soft caramels or crushed hard ones.

Outrageous brownies with Salted Butter Caramels, adapted from Ina Garten:

Servings: depends on your gluttony

1/2 pound unsalted butter (8 oz)

8 oz plus 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3 large eggs

1 tablespoons instant coffee powder

1 tablespoons real vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided (1/2 cup for batter and 2 in the chips)

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups diced salted butter caramels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x13 baking pan.
Melt together the butter, 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
Stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the caramles and 6 ounces of chocolate chips with 2 Tbs. flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Want to know the truth? They are so good, they made me wish I had made the entire recipe…!

Fudgey, fudgey and again fudgey and they disappear faster then the neighbors' kids can "what did you bake today?"

So if you were ever tempted to make them , run to your kitchen and make a full batch! You won’t regret it.

Hay Hay ! Mousse Round Up

Update 4/26: Let’s try this one more time: I figured that the picture file was too big so I had to downsize the pictures, not as pretty but more colorful!

As a host I want to thank you all for making my blog look so good…just look at this: 54 gorgeous entries! I can’t begin to tell you how thrilling it was to host such an event. Thank you all for trusting me with your precious entries.
I realized that a lot of people had never made mousse before or had very rich experiences. It was great to see all go beyond the norm or/and reveal a bit about themselves.
I have read every one of your great posts and forgive me if I have forgotten to comment. My head was starting to spin, and if you have received more than one round up notification email, that’s because I was on a sugar high…!
So without further introduction, here is the round up with entries appearing in the order they were went to me.

Voting begins April 24th and runs until sunday April 29th midnight. A winner will be announced May 1st. Anybody can vote just email me your vote at marinette1ATcomcastDOTnet. Good luck!

Entry # 1

Paul from Eatnz starts us off with a delicate and sophisticated Belgian Chocolate Mousse Mille Feuilles. Deep dark scoops of chocolate mousse layered with golden puff pastry and cognac flambéed orange segments.

Entry # 2
Barbara, from Winos and Foodies, mastermind and creator of HHDD, adds a dash of humor and pizaz while presenting her Dark Chocolate With Banana And Macadamia Nut Mousse.

Entry # 3
Arfi from Homemades tries her hand at a deep dark Chocolate Mousse for the first time. The results could almost make your sugar count run over!

Entry # 4Kieran, from Ice Cream Ireland is definitely an innovator with his intriguing Warm Lime Meringue Mousse.

Entry # 5Clare at Rainy Days And Sundays, tempts our tastebuds with a lovely Pistachio Mousse on Shortbread Stack in an attempt to recreate the flavors of her childhood.

Entry # 6Australia based Karen from Cherry Leader puts on the glitz and serves up White Chocolate Mousse Cake with Little Red Gems…now I would not mind wear all of it!

Entry # 7
Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas made a lovely combinations of two mousses and shares them with her family and us instead of her dinner guests (eat cake!) Check out her Chocolate and Lemon Mousse.

Entry # 8Bea at La Tartine Gourmande revisits an old French classic, Fraisier, with a deliciously bright and colorful Rhubarb Mousse and Strawberry Cake.

Entry # 9Deborah, from the relatively new kid on the block Taste and Tell serves up a grown up Strawberry Mousse with Strawberry Daiquiri Sauce. Makes you want to have it as a pre and after dinner drink!

Entry # 10
Valentina from Trembon In English tries a few different mousse recipes before settling on this Chocolate and Chesnut version…a feast for the eyes.

Entry # 11

Hong Kong based Canadian, Heather, at The Culinary Chase puts a savory spin on the theme with a healthy Smoked Salmon Mousse.

Entry # 12Cheryl from Gruel Omelet, prompted by her husband to divide and conquer serves up a velvety Neapolitan Mousse.

Entry # 13Jenny from All Things Edible makes mousse for the first time and comes up with a dessert fit to please her entire family with this Lime Curd Mousse Cake.

Entry # 14Brazilian Patricia at Technicolor Kitchen sends us these lovely Individual Passion Fruit Mousse in tiny chocolate cups, after thinking about 100 recipes she wanted to make. Aren’t we glad she settled on this one?!

Entry # 15
Rose from 64 sq ft Kitchen challenges her dislike for honey and comes up with this lovely and mouth Honey and Orange Frozen Mousse

Entry # 16
Eunice from Lemon Almond makes 2 types of White Chocolate Mousse with a lovely Chai spice mix just to make sure she does not pass on “the” one…glad she found her happiness as we have more to try!

Entry # 17
Morven from Food Art And Random Thoughts tries her hardest to find an egg and gelatin free mousse and finds her happiness (and ours) with satisfying Easiest Lemon Mousse You’ll Ever Make…don’t take my word for it go check it out!

Entry # 18
Seattle based Culinary Concotions by Peabody, will make you drool over your computer with 2 gorgeous mousses: Kahlua Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Honey Mascarpone Mousse "because 2 is better than one"!

Entry # 19
Another mousse novice, Ellie from Kitchen Wench picks up an inventive cooking technique and come up with a Triple Chocolate Mousse adorned with the cutest sugar work.

Entry # 20Brigitte in Singapore, combats humidity to serve up her fresh lemon Ginger Mousse with Pistachio Tuiles. Thanks for braving the elements!

Entry # 21Anna from Morsels & Musings presents a jewel studded Muhallabiah Mousse with Pomegranate & Orange Blossom Syrup, for her second HHDD participation. Hope there will be many more!

Entry # 22Another new kid on the food blogging block is Brooke from bear necessities enters her first blog event with this scrumptious take on a pie favorite: "Key Lime Mousse".

Entry # 23Y from Lemonpi serves up a classy deep dark and velvety Chocolate Mousse, which also happens to be dairy free, and finds out that traditional is never boring when it comes to chocolate.

Entry # 24Melody from Fruittart uses a Donna Hay mousse base to give her limes a friend in this Mango Lime Mousse.

Entry # 25

Freya from the England based Writing At The Kitchen Table makes a healthy, diabetic and vegan friendly tofu mousse and kicks it up a notch with chocolate liqueur soaked fruit. Necessity is the creative factor in this Chocolate Tofu Mousse with Liqueur Soaked Figs.

Entry # 26Ales from Preserveless at thinks about the approaching summer days and makes a bikini friendly Yogurt Mousse & Raspberry Sauce Tiramisu. Look at those colors! I have my spoon ready!

Entry # 27Minko at Couture Cupcakes in Australia goes savory on us and offers Lemon Mousse Sauce. She uses shrimp as the dipper but I can see raw vegetables or other seafood too. The possibilities are endless with this recipe.

Entry # 28Vero from the delicious Swiss blog delimOOn helps fellow French readers to discover Donna Hay and the event with a versatile Grand Marnier flavored white chocolate mousse in her white chOcolate mOusse, sO simple.

Entry # 29Gilly at Humble Pie is inspired by a weekend trip to a local sugarbush and maple syrup harvesting to make the snow white and velvety Maple Mousse with Salted Butter.

Entry # 30
Anne from A Foodie Froggy in Paris, gives us these gorgeous Little Eggplant and Basil Mousses, in her attempt to reconcile anybody reluctant to try eggplants.

Entry # 31
Mia from Cloudberry Quark has a hard time remembering how many times hse has made mousse in the past but gives us one sure to be remembered: Earl Grey Mousse with Dried Pear Slices and Raspberries.

Entry # 32

Katie, another new blogger at Other People’s Food serves up an interpretation of a well loved candy bar in this Le Kit Cat mousse bar.

Entry # 33
Chris at Mele Cotte looked over many sweet mousse recipes before changing course in this lovely Mousse au Chevre. Glad you did!

Entry # 34Mallow from the newly created two handed blog Sweet and Savory, offers us a portable and refreshing Frozen Cherry Mousse and Chocolate Malt Sandwiches.

Entry # 35Ashley, a first timer to HHDD and author of the blog Big Cook, Tiny Kitchen almost changed her mind before making a lovely Mango Kiwi Mousse.

Entry # 36Shawnda from Confections of a Foodie Bride goes Texas bold with a Dark Chocolate and Chambord Mousse. Hay, yall! It’s Mousse!

Entry # 37Myriam at Once Upon A Tart whips up healthy and creamy Fresh Avocado Mousse. Right on time for Spring!

Entry # 38Big Donna Hay fan, Chichajo from 80 Breakfasts, tries mousse for the first time and delivers this absolutely gorgeous Nutella Mousse.

Entry # 39
Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity serves a dose of humor and fabulous spicy take on this month theme with a Chipotle Chocolate Velvet Mousse.

Entry # 40Kelly from Sass & Veracity gets her inspiration from a well known ice cream dish and serves up an over the top Chocolate Mousse – Banana Split Style

Entry # 41Australia based JenJen from Milk and Cookies tried her hand at mousse for the first time and puts her spin on a restaurant inspired multi layered dessert with these delectable Chocolate Delights.

Entry # 42
Inspired from a recent trip to Thailand Mia from Nosh creates a very spring refreshing Ginger and Grapefruit Mousse, adorned with fresh mint, more grapefruit and fresh flowers.

Entry # 43

In her own words Bron from Bron Marshall, Classic and Creative Cuisine is “fashionably late” to the event because of one delicate ingredient that almost did not make it into her mousse. One look at the recipe and the pictures for her Honey and Saffron, White Chocolate ‘Mousse’ Pot with Pears will make anybody forgive her.

Entry # 44Ulrike from Küchenlatein also thinks about the upcoming beach days and helps us not expand our waistlines with this lovely Lemon Yogurt Mousse With Rhubarb Compote.

Entry # 45Puu from puu’s cookbook got sinfully creative when missing one kind of chocolate and came up with a Chocolate Mousse Duo.

Entry # 46Talida author of Talida Bakes gets her inspiration from one of her favorite drinks, taro bubble tea, and offers as a first time making mousse this lovely Taro Mousse.

Entry # 47In Germany, Meeta from What’s For Lunch, Honey? puts some French pizzaz into her mousse and serves a healthy serving of Mousse de Truite…smoked trout? Mousse?…intrigued? read more about it here.

Entry # 48
In sunny California, Anita from Dessert First gives the perfect description of mousse and a show stopper illustration of her idea in this Maple-Star Anise Mousse.

Entry # 49Lolotte, a French expat based in Virginia enters her first HHDD with a scrumptious Creamy Cherry Chip Chocolate Mousse with…read the rest of her entry to find out!

Entry # 50Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms, avoided near disaster with her first attempt but quickly recovered and made a delicious, light and smooth Apricot Mousse with a touch of brandy.

Entry # 51Kate from Applemint in Hong Kong, prepares this stunning a Green Apple and Passion Fruit Mousse Cake for a Monopoly night that never took place… wouldn’t we be at her place in a heartbeat if we could?

Entry # 52
Lisa, from La Mia Cucina makes it to the finish line with her much awaited creation: Deep Dark Chocolate Covered Caramelized Banana Mousse. Definitely worth waiting for!

Entry # 53
Mary at Alpine Berry chose a Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake to take to her nephew’s birthday party. It is sure to appeal to both adults and children…who can resist such a combination…

Entry # 54

Laura, author of Eat Drink Live in Limerick, Ireland, also revisits a famous candy bar in a lovely dark Mars Attack Mousse

Lychee Rose Parfait and Orange Blossom Macarons

Lychee Rose Parfait Topped with Strawberry Sorbet, served with Orange Blossom Macarons filled with Blood Orange Curd.

I was truly excited by this month Sugar High Friday theme set out by Monisha and I have been playing with ideas in my mind ever since she wrote it was all about Flower Power for this 30th edition. I did not intend to wait until the last minute but I am in the middle of a round up myself and other baking activities so I apologize to my fellow South Carolinian for being among the last entries.

I knew I wanted something light and springy, something that reflect who I am when I think about desserts for dinner parties. I like light flavors, I like individual and miniature. I use orange blossom flower water on a (almost) daily basis. I am a serious ice cream fanatic. I eat fruits like they are going out of business. I love making macarons and I love citrus anything. Most importantly I always try to use flavors I do not tend to gravitate towards like rose extract. I bought a bottle a long time ago and I stare at it everyday….I am not too fond of it or at least I have not come up with a dessert that would allow me to appreciate it, until today…

I tried to get fresh lychees but here it is nearly impossible so I used canned ones and they did the job just as good. They are a little sweeter than fresh ones of course but the texture and final taste was the same. All the components can be (and were) made ahead of times and refrigerated so it gives you plenty of time to tend to more important activities.

Lychee Rose Parfait with Strawberry Sorbet:

Makes 8

Cookie Base:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Divide the dough in half and refrigerate. Roll out one half to 1/2 inch thick and put the sheet of dough on a parchment lined abking sheet. Bake8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 2 minutes. While still warm cut out 8 rounds with a 3 inch cookie cutter. Set aside. Use the remaining half for regular cut out cookies if desired.

Strawberry Sorbet, adapted from Richard Leach:

3 cups fresh diced strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup wildflower honey
1 cup water
3 Tb lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve then freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Keep frozen until ready to use.

Lychee Rose Parfaits, adapted from Richard Leach:

1 14oz. can lychees
2 tsp. rose water extract (or to taste)
2 eggs, separated
6 Tb sugar
3/4 cup creme fraiche (can substitute sour cream)
1/4 heavy cream

Drain the lychees and keep or discard the juice. Puree in a food processor with the rose extract. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and 2 Tb. of the sugar and whisk until pale and thick. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm peaks are formed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whip for one more minte, until glossy. Whip the creme fraiche and heavy cream together until firm peaks are formed.
Fold the whites into the egg mixture. Add to the lychees. Lastly, fold in the cream mixture. Place the parfait in a piping bag.

Using 8 3 inch metal rings, place a sugar cookie at the bottom of each ring. Pipe the parfait mixture evenly between the 8 rings, leaving some space for the strawberry sorbet. Set in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm. Fill the remainder of the tubes with the sorbet. Smooth the tops and keep in the freezer until ready to use.

Orange Blossom Macarons with Blood Orange Curd:

For the shells:

120 gr. egg whites, divided
35 gr. sugar
150 gr. finely ground almonds
150 gr. powdered sugar
1 Tb blood orange zest
For the boiling syrup:
150 gr. sugar and 50 gr. water

Sift the ground almonds and powdered sugar. Add the blood orange zest. In a stand mixer, whip 60 gr. egg whites to soft peaks, add 35 gr. sugar.
In the meantime, in a saucepan on high heat bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 230 F. on a candy thermometer.Slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium – high speed until they are completely cooled and you have a shiny meringue (10-15 minutes).
Mix the remaining 60 gr. of egg whites and the sifted almond/sugar and carefully fold into the meringue.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the mixture and pipe macarons about 3 inches in diameter on parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes if desired. This is often done to assure those little feet at the bottom but I found that I can skip this step with this recipe and still end up with the same result.
Bake at 320 for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Blood Orange Curd, adapted from Alice Medrich:

grated zest of 1 blood orange
2/3 cup strained blood orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

Combine the zest, sugar, juice in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs until light.
Beat some of the orange mixture into the eggs to temper. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes.
Strain and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.

Fill the macarons with about 1 Tb of the curd and refrigerate.

The final decorating step was to melt some white chocolate and form rose petals to set the parfaits on to them in a flower like manner.

I have to say I am acompletely in love with this dessert. The rose flavor is not too strong and it is really "ice cream for adults". Sophisticated, yet simple to make. All the steps are easy and let you set your own cooking pace.

Note: metal rings can be quite pricey so when it comes to assembling cold plated desserts like this one I use pvc pipe. Go the hardware store and select the diameter you need (I like having 2, 3, and 4 inch diameter rings around) and have one of their sales associate cut it for you. If you promise them a few brownies, they will do so without a problem.

Last Call For Mousse!

This is the last call for you to get me your entry to HHDD 11 Mousse!
I know that a lot of us have had internet connection issues (me included) so I am extending the deadline to sunday…LAST DAY….after that get ready for a round up of the most intriguing, gorgeous, mouth watering mousses I have ever seen!

The recipe for the mousse in the picture is just a variation of this one. I added grated fresh ginger and a dash of nutmeg…delicious!

Banana-Pistachio Bonbons & Chocolate Pudding

Or…"monkeying around instead of finishing my spring cleaning"… according to B.

Right then I lifted my eyebrows and replied "well then, if this is monkeying around I am sure you won’t care if I eat it all …"

I have never seen a man picking up a vacuum cleaner faster than he did when he saw what I had just pulled out of the oven! Up until know I had never seen the necessity to re-arrange our cleaning responsabilities so why do it now…"I feed you honey, give you clean clothes and love you, darling…Keep vacuuming"

A conversation on the state of the pantry and the fridge with my dear friend C. made me realize it was about time to organize my shelves again and use the (many) items i had bought for a particular recipe that I had never gotten around to make or that left me with extra "stuff" such spices, flours, extracts and in this case spring roll wrappers (scroll down to the bottom of the link) and plenty of fine chocolate needing to be used!

I had bananas getting tired of staring at us day after day, pistachios about to take a trip to the neighbors' because they were feeling abandoned, and wrappers about to get as wrinkly as prunes, and plenty of chocolate to share the love.

I decided to make little banana packets with the spring roll dough and I shaped them into candy wrappers, baked them and served with some form of chocolate… When I usually make them, I use vanilla beans cut in half lengthwise to tied the ends but I did not feel like using my precious loot on a casual weeknight dinner.
Instead of making my staple chocolate sauce of heavy cream, chocolate and spat of butter (which works great as an impromptu fondue), I decided to make B.’s childhood favorite: chocolate pudding. I grew up on mousse, he loves his mama’s pudding…except dear mother-in-law never seems to find the recipe…I got inspired by this one from Gourmet Magazine, and the serving amount was perfect for 2, no sharing…!

Banana and Pistachio Bonbons:

Serves 2

4 spring roll wrappers
2 bananas
1 Tb. lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted, chopped pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of butter, melted

Peel the bananas and cut them into small cubes, add the lemon juice.
Lay a wrapper down on a clean cutting board, brush with some melted butter, sprinkle with 1 Tb of sugar, add 3 Tb or so of diced banana, add 1 Tb of pistachios. Roll the wrapper into a log and secure the ends with kitchen strings or vanilla bean (cut in half and soften if necessary), to form a candy wrapper type package.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients and bake for 10-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Pudding, adapted from epicurious:

Serves 2

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
2 Tb cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a heavy saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch. Add chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar mixture.
In a bowl whisk together milk and egg yolk and gradually whisk into chocolate mixture. Bring mixture just to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly, and boil 1 minute, whisking. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
Divide pudding between two 8-ounce ramekins. Chill puddings in freezer, surfaces covered with plastic wrap, until cooled, about 30 minutes.

I regret I did not make more for tonight…the wrappers are good any time of the day, cold-warm-hot. And the pudding….I scored major points with B. Good I have got a birthday coming up!

Tapioca Raspberry Verrines – Heart Of The Matter

I thought that after some rich mousses, very sweet pastries and buttery brioches, B. and I could use a little dessert break. I know our waistlines and hearts would thank us…it is spring after all! There are plenty of gorgeous seasonal fruits available at the market and since we did a good house spring cleaning our eating would not suffer a lighter dessert fare.

I also thought that Ilva’s and Joanna’s event The Heart of The Matter was a great pretext to come up with a little easy, tasty creation using what I had picked up at the market one morning. I love raspberries….maybe as much as I love lemons. Stranded on a desert island, I would be completely satisfied with a bowl of these and a dollop of whipped cream. I don’t use tapioca very much because of the gelatinous texture it takes when it is cooking. I was on the lookout for big pearled tapioca but the Asian market I go to was closed so I had to fall back on the regular kind. I was not really sure of the end result when I cooked the tapioca layer of the verrine but it thickens a bit when cooling and becomes more like rice pudding once completely refrigerated.
This dessert uses minimum sugar, milk (you can use low fat), and plenty of fresh fruit. Even the topping won’t put your heart into shock!

Tapioca Raspberry Verrines, from Tartelette, inspired by the cover of this book:

Serves 4

1/3 cup tapioca
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups raspberries (could use frozen)
1 1/2 tsp. gelatin
1 Tb. water
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tb. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tb. butter

For the tapioca pudding:
In a heavy saucepan combine the milk, tapioca and 1/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens up, about 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove from the heat and let coo to room temperature.

For the raspberry layer:
Combine the remaining sugar and the raspberries in a saucepan and cook over low heat to break the raspberries a little so that they release their juices and soften up.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the tablespoon of water and let it get soft.
Remove the raspberries from the stove and gently stir in the soften gelatin. Stir until it is completely incorporated. Let cool to room temperature.

For the topping:
In a saucepan, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, spices and butter and cook until the mixture lumps up and gets toasty. Let cool completely.

Assemble the verrines:
Divide the tapioca pudding and raspberries evenly among 4 glasses or other containers.
Right before serving, sprinkle about 2 Tb. of the crumb topping among the verrines.

Funny thing is that this was meant to be shared between friends in sunday night, but a terrible wind storm kept each couple home so we had ours and we had theirs on monday night… I hope that if they read this they will invite us again…!

Waiter, There Is Something In My…Brioche!

When Andrew announced the theme of this month WTSIM, my head started spinning….Bread! I make bread a couple times a week, from the simple dinner roll to sandwich bread to the more complicated sourdoughs and multigrains. This time around I thought about impressing my family with yet another elaborate creation but then I thought that the few readers that I have might want to know a little bit more about my tastes and the only thing to showcase that is in a simple brioche.

I like complicated, I like challenging, I thrive for multi level prepared plated desserts but comes sunday morning I live for my toasted slice of brioche. Simply buttered and touched by a spoonful of strawberry jam…nothing makes me happier. B. knows the ritual and has easily adapted to his French bride’s habits. Let’s face it: wine, cheese, brioche… who is to complaint?!

I have tried a multituted of brioche recipe over the years but I have to admit that since last month the recipe from Epicurious (extremely similar to Dorie Greenspan’s) is the one I have made every saturday afternoon. Hands down, it is the most flavorful and most adaptable one around. I play with the flavor with different fillings like chocolate chips, raisins, pralines, and extracts such as rum, toffee, and in today’s case orange water. I put this stuff in most of my baked goods, cakes, breads and crepes. It lends a subtle aroma that never makes me think of orange but if spring flowers all making my tastebuds sing on sunday mornings.

Golden Brioche, adapted from Epicurious:

Makes 2 large loaves

1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/3 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
1-2 Tb orange water (according to taste)
2 envelopes dry yeast
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Egg wash:1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water

Place 1/3 cup warm water, warm milk, orange water and yeast in bowl of standing heavy-duty mixer; stir until yeast dissolves and let proof (10 minutes)
Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in the eggs on low speed, then add sugar. On medium,beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down to deflate it. Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total.
At this point you can tackle forming the brioche loaves or refrigerate overnight to do this the next day.
Butter and flour 2 large loaf pans. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Cut each dough half into 3 logs. Arrange 3 logs crosswise in bottom of each prepared loaf pan. Place loaf pans on baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the brioches with the egg wash and bake until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, if you can wait that long and enjoy!

Now you know, if you knock on my door on sunday mornings you are most likely to be handed a couple of slices of brioche and a cup of coffee…

Get Your Mousse On ! Donna’s Dark Chocolate Mousse

Just a reminder that there is one week left to post and send me your entry for HHDD Mousse!

In case you need some inspiration, here is another one from Donna Hay (thanks Peabody for the email).

Dark Chocolate Mousse, from Donna Hay Modern Classics 2

Serves 6 to 8

200g(7oz) dark couverture chocolate, chopped
75g(2 1/2 oz) butter, chopped
4 eggs, separated
1 cup(8 fl oz) cream
2 TBSP icing(confectioner’s) sugar

Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well combined. Set aside.Place the cream in a bowl ans whip until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in a bowl ans whisk until soft peaks form. Sift over the icing sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy.Gently fold the cream through the chocolate mixture, then fold the egg whites through.
Spoon into bowls and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

It was the first time (if my memories serves me right) that I saw a recipe including both egg whites and whipped cream as the lightening agent of the mousse and thought it would be overkill heavy with both egg yolks and heavy cream but it turned out rich but not "stick to your ribs my arteries are shrinking". I used 62% Lindt chocolate and topped it with an extra dollop of whipped cream and some cocoa nibs. Delicious!

Update: in an attempt to explain my mousse making thoughts, it seems that my English was not clear enough. I have always made mousse including egg yolks and whipped egg whites. I have sometimes gone the easier way by combining melted chocolate and whipped cream. What I meant is that I have never combined the three in one recipe.

Arabian Nights – Monthly Mingle 9

Here I am, probably the last one to bring her dishes to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle. I really thought I would never make it on time this month…I fell victim to the old combination of too much work, too much family (but I am happy about that one) and very little play time in the kitchen….isn’t it funny how our kitchen priorities are very different from our boss’s our customers’?..but yet, they are quite happy when we bring them half of whatever we have concocted that day!

I got quite excited when I read about the theme this month: an entire event devoted to Arabian Nights…and then I drew a blank…for about 2 seconds!I immediately thought about dishes and pastries from Morocco and Algeria and decided to bake 3 of my favorites. I had a hard time finding pastries and desserts from other Arabic countries so I am really looking forward to learn more and see what other bakers have come up with. I am also going to check out the library in the future to try to broaden my horizon.

Why Morocco? My parents were born there, mom in Oujda and dad in Rabat, in the 30s and 40s as children of military families, their parents were stationed wherever they were needed and ended up traveling quite a lot, much like nomads. (My dad continued the tradition and this is why I probably ended up here!) Although they did not stay in the country, the Arabic world always had a place in my family, in phrases and sentences, in memorabilia, furniture and of course cooking (just ask anybody about my Grandmother’s couscous).

The other reason behind Morocco is because of the vivid memories I have from a little “hole in the wall” bakery that was situated a block away from my University when I was doing my graduate work. I would go there with a couple of girlfriends and get a little pick me up around 4pm before hitting the books again. The owners loved our little group of 3 young plump chicks and we always ended up sampling more than reasonable but for us every free sugar honey dripping morsel was worth its weight in gold! I have yet to find anything close to what they had here in SC but that may not be a bad thing as all the pastries from that part of the world have a tendency to be overly sweet and I know I would develop diabetes in a flash. However, there are three pastries that stuck to my memory, and Meeta’s event was the perfect opportunity to revisit them. Common ingredients in Arabic pastries are nuts, dates, orange blossom flower water, corn meal, fillo dough, honey, sugar and butter. Only a few bites of each one of these would satisfy any sweet tooth.

Harissa from Oujda, adapted from Fatema Hal :

If you are familiar with the hot sauce ‘harissa’, do not ask me why this particular pastry is also called this way as there is nothing hot about it. I am guessing it refers to the cooking style, but if you know, please let me know in the comment box.

250 gr. ground almonds
125 gr. sugar
2 Tb. orange blossom flower water
2 Tb. honey
75 gr. butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and orange blossom flower and boil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Do not caramelize, but bring to a syrup like consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the almonds, butter, honey. Mix well. Pour into a 8X8 inch square pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the ovem, let cool completely and cut into losanges.
They are easier to cut if refrigerated for 1 hour.

Maancha (also spelled Mhencha) , Snake pastries:

Makes 8

16 sheets
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups almonds
1/4 cup melted butter + 1 Tb.
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
honey to drizzle

Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a food processor, grind sugar and almonds. Add orange blossom water and 1 Tb.butter. Blend into a smooth paste.
Stack 2 sheets of filo dough, brush with melted butter and place 1/4 cup of the almond paste and spread it down the center, in the shape if a thick pencil.
Roll the dough around the paste, and form into a snake coil. Repeat with remaining dough and paste. Brush evenly with buttter and drizzle with honey if desired. Bake for 10 minutes.

Date Snails, adapted from Celine:

Mine ended up looking like bear claws, because I could not get them to roll the right way. I’d rather come up with another solution than have something aesthetically weird. The following directions are given for making snails.

Makes 16-18


1 lb all purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 Tb. sugar
2 TB orange flower blossom water
1 egg


1 cup chopped, pitted dates mixed with a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of orange water

For the dough:
Mix all the ingredients together and add a little bit of warm water if necessary to obtain a smooth dough. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes to relax it.

Form the filling into little logs. Roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Put one log on the longest side and roll once over to encase the date filling.
Keep doing this with the remaining date logs and dough.
With scissors, cut slits into each log at 1/2 inch intervals, not cutting all the way through. Cut each log at 5 inch intervals and coil the dough onto itself to form a snail.Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Donna Hay’s Millionaire Shortbread

Or in this case Mini Millionaire Shortbread Pies….

Funny things happen in the kitchen when the timing is right or the stars are aligned. In preparation for this month’s "Hay Hay It’s Donna Day", I spent a lot of time at the library reading her books and getting to know her easy going cooking focusing on fresh ingredients and no fuss methods. I made a few copies, took some books home and one evening my eyes settled on her Millionaire Shortbread in Gourmandises (yes, the library had 3 of her books in French thanks to Mr. Martinet, the expat head librarian). From that sunny thursday afternoon until last night I could not stop thinking about it. Seriously, after lemon this one was my biggest craving of the weekend. Finally this morning I broke down and made this before heading out to the gym….I know I am evil…!

I decided to make these in mini muffin tins instead of a square pan. I love anything mini and small enough to take one or two bites out of without feeling like I am a glutton…even if I end up eating 6 of them. I was taking them to a dinner party and thought they would be great as a little bite with coffee. They turned out to be as everybite as wonderful as pictured and described in the book. The size was perfect to enjoy them without being hit on the head by a spoon full of sugar.

Millionaire Shortbread Mini Pies, adapted from Donna Hay:

Makes 12

For the shortbread crust:

150g all purpose flour / 1.5 cups

100g brown sugar / 0.5cup

125g butter, melted / 1 stick plus 1 Tb

Mix the flour, sugar and melted butter. Spoon (or use your fingertips) the mixture into the bottom of the mini muffin tins. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 F. Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Caramel Filling:

130 gr. golden syrup / 1.5 cups (I used grade B maple syrup)

125 gr butter / 1 stick plus 1 Tb.

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 0z)

Combine the golden syrup, butter and condensed milkin a large saucepan and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until it thickens and takes on a golden color. Remove from the heat, let cool for a minute and divide among the tart shells. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache:

185 gr dark chocolate / 6.5 oz

1 Tb. vegetable oil

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on top of a double boiler. Add the oil and mix well to combine. Spoon some over each tart shells and allow to set in the fridge.

Verdict: I doubled up on the quantities to make sure I had some for us and the girls at work tomorrow and I am glad I did. These disappeared while the host was pouring coffee. I am looking forward to making them again.