Thursday, December 31, 2009

An A'moose'ing Tail - White Chocolate Mousse

I never saw a Chocolate Moose;
But I really hope to see one;
Cause I can tell you right now;
I would rather eat, than be one!

White Chocolate Mousse

1 Envelope (7 g) Powdered Gelatin
12 oz (355 g) White Chocolate, roughly broken or chopped (Make sure it does not contain any hydrogenated or palm oils)
2 1/2 (590 ml) cups Heavy Cream

Dissolve gelatin in 4 TB cold water, and set aside to bloom, for 5 minutes.

Place chocolate in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped.

Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside.

Place 3/4 cup (180 ml) of the Heavy Cream in a small saucepan, and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add the bloomed gelatin, and stir for 30 seconds so it can dissolve completely.

Turn on the food processor and pour the mixture over the finely chopped white chocolate, processing until the mixture is smooth.

Transfer to a medium bowl and place over ice water bath to chill quickly.

When the mixture is thick enough to fall from a spoon in ribbons remove from the water bath.

Whip remaining 1 3/4 cups (410 ml) Heavy Cream to soft peaks.

Fold into the White Chocolate mixture.

Refrigerate with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent crusting.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fungus Chocolatus Meringus - Meringue Mushrooms

Back when I was assisting my brother with my niece's Birthday cake, I made Swiss Butter Creme. In the post, I promised I would be revisiting the Swiss Meringue to form Mushrooms for a Buche de Noel that I had intended on making for Christmas dinner. Sadly, I didn't get to make it due to time constraints. Never the less, I simply moved my Buche to New Years Day.... Better late than never I always say.

So here you have it. Meringue Mushrooms, made with Swiss Meringue and painted with Bittersweet and White Chocolates... All in preparations for the Buche de Noel that shall ring in the New Year. But don't let the lack of a Buche stop you from enjoying the wonders of Swiss Meringue. No, No, No, my friends. Swiss meringue can be dropped onto sheets by the spoonful or piped into fingers, dried the same way, and then dipped in the chocolate of your choice. Stir in come coconut and make traditional macaroons.

Meringue Mushrooms

1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
a pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla or hazelnut extract
1 tsp Dutched Cocoa Powder - optional - plus more for dusting
2 tsp Natural Cocoa Powder
2 oz Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz White chocolate, finely chopped
optional - Confectioners' Sugar for dusting

Place water in the bottom of a medium saucepan and place over medium heat to bring it to a simmer.

Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl, and place over saucepan.

Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.

Test by rubbing between your fingers to ensure you cannot feel any sugar granules. (You do not have to cook this to 160 degrees as for the Swiss Butter Creme because it will be baked in the oven for 1 hour and will be fully cooked)

Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

Add vanilla, and mix until combined.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Divide the Swiss meringue between 3 small bowls; setting 1 aside. (for White button Mushrooms)

Fold 1 tsp of Dutched Cocoa into the second portion, (think Italian Brown/Cremini mushroom color)

and fold 2 tsp of Natural Cocoa into the third portion. (this gives a more Porcini color)

Now that you have 3 different colors of Mushrooms.

Place each portion in an 18-inch pastry bag fitted with a large round 1/2-inch tip.

Pipe domes, 1/2 inch to 2 inches in diameter, onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Smooth the tops with a wet finger.

Pipe 'stems' onto baking sheets, making one to go with each "cap."

Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching positions of sheets at 30 minutes, for 1 hour.
Reduce the oven temperature to 175 degrees and continue baking, switching the position of the sheets after 20 minutes until meringues are completely dry to the touch but not browned, about 45 to 60 minutes more.

Melt bittersweet chocolate, stirring occasionally, in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in a small ceramic or glass bowl.

Using a small offset spatula, spread bottoms of caps with a thin layer of dark chocolate, and let set.

Melt white chocolate in another heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in a ceramic or glass bowl.

Let cool until thickened, and spread over the dark chocolate.

To make gills, use a toothpick to draw lines from center to edge of caps allowing the dark chocolate to show through the white, and let set.

Using a paring knife, make a small hole in center of underside of each coated cap.

Dip the pointed end of each stem in remaining white chocolate.

Insert into a hole; let set, then store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place up to 1 week.

Now sit back and enjoy the most delicious mushrooms ever! If using for cake decor, dust some of the mushroom caps with more cocoa powder or confectioners' sugar, if you like.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconut

Well, I really only have one, but by the time I get done 'processing' it, it will be plenty....

Have you ever wondered where coconut comes from, aside from the blue bag. ;) This is my meager attempt at step by step instructions for processing your own Coconut, so we no longer have to depend on "Baker's" (which is sweetened) or, more recently, "Mounds" coconut (which is also sweetened)....

Which I don't fully understand, cause coconut is sweet enough already (just like me - har har ) and really doesn't need any added sugar.

So grab a coconut and follow me.... :)

Heat oven to 350°.
Poke a whole in the soft eye (one is softer than the other 2)

Drain out all that delicious coconut water and save it. (You can even freeze it)

I drained out over 1 cup of juice from my coconut. (that's a lot, in coconut terms, considering it wasn't that big) Still had plenty of meat in it though.

I strained it and gave it to my dad (cause he LOVES coconut water) It's an extremely nutritious and refreshing drink. 1 cup of coconut water contains more potassium than a banana and more electrolytes than those nasty high-fructose corn syrup ridden "Sports" drinks.

Wrap coconut in a kitchen towel, and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, and place on a work surface until cool enough to handle.
Reduce oven to 225° because you are going to want to dry some of the resulting coconut shavings.
Hold the coconut in your hand, and tap with a hammer, around the middle, until it cracks in a line all around the middle; separate into halves.

The white flesh should be slightly pulling away from the hard shell.

Separate it, keeping pieces of coconut as large as possible. (I had a whole half separate and pop out of the shell this time, the other half came out in 3 pieces)
(I use a pie server to slip into the space where the meat separated; use a side to side twisting motion to "pop" the meat completely free of the shell)

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the largest pieces of coconut into long curls,

Place on a baking sheet and move to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until just dry.

Grate the smaller pieces on the small holes of a box grater.

Package in a Zip Loc bag until ready to use (your gonna need at least 1/2 cup)

Place any remaining coconut that you do not wish to process right now, in a freezer bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Let the shaved coconut cool after removing from the oven and place in a Zip-Loc baggie as well. (this will be for decor purposes)