Friday, August 14, 2009

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Sauce

Two Words: Chocolate Mousse.

What in the world can be more of a treat, more of a chocolatey indulgence, than a traditional silky chocolate mousse? Possibly this dangerous-good-yet-simple chocolate mousse recipe with a super easy raspberry sauce.

This is the real deal. And it's certainly a wonderful treat. This chocolate mousse recipe comes form Alton Brown from the Good Eats episode The Art of Darkness and let me just say, this masterpiece of dark-chocolatey-ness is my favorite! And the best part is that it is very simple. No eggs involved. Just melted chocolate, butter, coffee and rum folded into whipped cream with a little gelatin for stability. That's it! The raspberry sauce is also dead easy and is one I created because of my deep love for the wonderful combination of chocolate and raspberry. All you do is take a bag of frozen raspberries, defrost it, add half a cup of splenda, blend, strain, and drizzle your heart out!

Some time ago on my birthday, my fiance, then boyfriend, made this exact same chocolate mousse recipe with raspberry sauce for me. Needless to say, armed with this recipe, he whisked me away :P

If you love chocolate mousse, you most definitely must try this chocolate mousse recipe. The only modification I made was that I used 60% dark chocolate chips for that really rich dark flavor, but you can use whatever you prefer. This recipe is easy, it's delicious, and with a little raspberry sauce, each bite can be elevated to somewhat of a religious experience. Trust me, once you try it, you'll be converted :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Welcome Back with Peanut Butter Cookies

Is it really August??! And my last post was in February?? I can't believe how the time has flown by! Please allow me to start of by saying once and for all: I'm So Sorry!!

Well, I suppose this was happens when you are in law school and all of a sudden, you find yourself engaged to a wonderful guy and planning your wedding which will take place over your Christmas break!! THIS Christmas break! I know, I'm crazy :)

But that's no real excuse to neglect my dessert blog. I mean, between February and today, I have probably made, tasted, and gawked at over hundreds of dreamy desserts. Oh and speaking of dreams, I have had plenty, conjuring up recipes and imagining new flavor combinations. But yesterday morning, I wasn't feeling creative. I was just feeling like making some good, old fashioned Peanut Butter cookies. But since I am officially on Bridal-dress-size-alert, I knew I had to try to make them with a little less flour and sugar. So I made them completely without! I first saw this recipe while Paula Deen (of all people) on foodnetwork making these cookies for some ice cream sandwiches. They are called Magical Peanut Butter Cookies and they only have 4 ingredients!!

I've made these cookies several times now and they always turn out great! Since it is so simple, there are so many different things you can do with the recipe: like add chocolate chips, or chopped up honey-roasted peanuts, or dip them in chocolate, or even spread some strawberry jam on the bottom of one and make a sweet little peanut butter and jelly sandwich (which is exactly what I did yesterday)! Try them out and have some fun with the recipe for yourself!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sweet Pink Valentine Cupcakes

There is something intrinsically sexy about the color pink. It's a hot color like red, but it's not as serious as red. It's red's crazy little sister who wants to drive her car with the top down, hair blowing in the wind, with no real direction to go in. Just completely free. How does this wild child translate into desserts you ask? Well, through these cupcakes of course!

I'm not boxed cake mix person by any means. But I'm in law school, I had a boxed cake mix in my pantry and some jello, and plus, they were super easy to make! The recipe can either make a layer cake or cupcakes. Just follow the box's cooking times and you can make either one. I gave them as early Valentine gifts to my roommates and our neighbors since we're all in the same boat here on campus and greatly appreciate any sugary, sweet treat that comes our way. To me, that just about sums up Valentine's day: eating sugary, chocolate-y, heart-shaped or pink/red sweets while spending time with the people you love. What a great holiday for a foodie!

So if your looking for something quick and easy and down right PINK for Valentine's day, try your hand at this recipe. A few other bloggers have tried it out and have found them to be really delicious. They were a big hit here. Plus, they've got CREAM CHEESE FROSTING. Can you ask for anything better on Valentine's day?? Well, maybe a deep, dark chocolate cupcake underneath all that frosting... which gives me some great ideas... :)

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fresh Fruit Tart in January

I know it seems unseasonal, but everybody loves a fresh fruit tart. The combination of a buttery crust, subtly sweet pastry cream and neatly arranged whole and sliced fresh fruit, glistening under an apricot jam glaze presents a beautiful pastry that is difficult for many people to resist! This particular fruit tart (shown directly above and below) was made at the request of my roommate for her 22nd birthday. It received many oow's, aww's and yuuum's as everyone munched down after singing happy birthday. Needless to say, it was a big hit! Most important, I believe the birthday girl was quite pleased (in fact, she said she liked it better than one from a pastry shop!)

The recipe I used for both the crust and the pastry cream filing came from this blog. I know it sounds a bit daunting: making the sweet tart dough, chilling it, blind baking it, waiting for it to cool, making the pastry cream, waiting for that to cool, washing, slicing and arranging the fruit and finally, making and brushing on the glaze. But if you space it out over a few days, you'll find that it's pretty do-able. This tart was a 3 day process for me, but everyone is different. This tart had blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and sliced anjou pears. My first time making a fruit tart was probably last spring, when I followed this same recipe. It was met with popular success then and now! The crust recipe makes 3 batches, so you can make some ahead of time, freeze it and then when you are ready, thaw and bake. I know it says you can freeze it for a month, but trust me, once your friends and family taste this fruit tart, they are going to start asking you when you'll get around to making 2 more :)

This is a tart I made from my first batch of sweet tart dough last year. It had mangos, strawberries and kiwi. But the great thing about fruit tarts is that the possibilities are endless. You can make it all berries, or all sliced fruits, or poached fruits, or any combination you like. Give it a try. In the end, you'll produce something that's as delicious as it is beautiful!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Sweets and Treats

Christmas time is a wonderful time of year. I love everything about the sights (Christmas lights and decorations), the sounds (beautiful, warming Christmas music), the smells (Christmas trees, gingerbread) and of course, the tastes!! Among my favorite flavors of Christmas time are things like Alton Brown's fruitcake, anything with peppermint, and pumpkin and it's entourage of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove spices (although technically, that's a Thanksgiving taste too). This year, since finishing up my first set of law school finals, I've been Christmas baking like crazy! So crazy in fact, it has taken me this long to post a few of things I made. I say a few because I also made a couple other desserts that were eaten before I got a chance to take of picture of them!

This Peppermint bark recipe was so easy to make! It was my first year making it and I will definitely do it again. The only hard part is crushing all the little peppermint hard candies, that is, unless you have a food processor. Which, of course, they don't provide you with at the law school housing. The recipe is pretty basic: melt some dark chocolate (I used a 8 oz bag of semi-sweet chips) and stir in about 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. Spread that onto a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Then melt some white chocolate (Again, one 8 oz bag of real white chips) and stir in the crushed peppermint candies, reserve some to press on top for decoration and spread this layer on top of the dark chocolate. One it cools and hardens, break it up and much away! (or be nice and give it away)

I also made some Easy Fudge and decorated each piece with a walnut half. It was my first attempt at making Fudge myself and since I didn't bring my candy thermometer with me to school, I figured I should go the safe route and do the easy fudge recipe. Still tasted great though!

Next up is something I made when I got home. This Apple Carmel Crisp was a BIG hit at school when I made it one night that I decided to try it at home for my family. My brother ate one serving, said it was good, and then about a half hour later, was eating another serving! And he never does that! Needless to say, it was crowd pleaser at home too. 

Next is Libby's pumpkin roll cake! My mom loves pumpkin flavored things so this was a request from her. She enjoyed it thoroughly, as well as the rest of my family. I followed the recipe pretty closely except I used splenda in the cake instead of sugar. It same out a little thinner than usual but that just means that there is a high frosting to cake ratio! No complaints there!

Lastly is my pumpkin cheesecake. Basically, I took my favorite cheesecake recipe and method, found here by Alton Brown, and added 1 cup of pumpkin puree and it's spice groupies (cinnamon, ginger, know the drill). I made the crust from ginger spice cookies I found in the bakery section at the grocery store. This cheesecake was creamy, smooth and the flavor of the pumpkin was not overpowering at all. And the best part is my family loved it!  

All this talk about Christmas baking has put me in the mood to make something sweet. Oh no, the cycle continues!

Friday, November 21, 2008

American Classics: Red Velvet Cupcakes and Cheesecake

I should probably own stocks in Philadelphia Cream Cheese. No kidding, I have a least one block of cream cheese in my fridge at all times (if not more)! Even now that I'm not living at home, I still feel the urge to wander down the aisle at the grocery store where I know the cream cheese will be patiently awaiting my arrival and check to see if my little blocks of goodness are on sale. And if they are, I have to fight the instinct to buy 3, 4, maybe even 5 blocks! Oh and the real danger is at Costco! It's probably a good thing that there isn't a Costco anywhere in sight in Malibu, because they sell cases of the cream cheese... *sigh* 

The issue is that there are so many applications for cream cheese, so many DELICIOUS applications, that is. Cheesecake, cream cheese frosting/filling, danishes, I even throw it my baked Macaroni and Cheese! But by far, my two favorite uses for cheesecake come in the form of two American classics: Cheesecake and Cream Cheese Frosting (as in here on top of Red Velvet Cupcakes). 

(The tastiest lint in the world!)

Hands down, this is my favorite recipe for Red Velvet. It's Paula Deen's and can be found on the food network website. They are moist, tender and down right scrumptious! One warning though, this recipe makes way too much frosting, (Yea I know, you can't really have too much frosting) but the past few times I've made this recipe, I've cut down the frosting by half and still had some left over.

As for cheesecakes, there are all kinds: Firm, dense cheesecakes, light and fluffy cheesecakes, and of course, there's that category of cheesecake wanna-bes (dare I say, no-bake cheesecakes!). But honestly, no matter which way you look at it, cheesecake is not really a cake at all. It's a custard. It's a mostly fat and egg based dessert that is cooked low and slow in a water bath. Not at 350ยบ for 45 minutes or anything that sounds like you're baking an actual cake.

No, in fact the best cheesecakes are ones that are fully cooked and yet still soft and smooth. My favorite cheesecake is by Alton Brown and can also be found on the food network website. The man is genius and this recipe just goes to show it! This cheesecake comes out perfect. And it's all about the texture, which in most custards, is what is necessary to the flavor of the cheesecake. I have tried many, many, many cheesecake recipes and this one is absolutely my favorite!

As a plus, it's always a crowd pleaser. I mean, who can resist 10 pounds of perfectly delicious cheesecake when it stares you in the face??! (not me!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Quest for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is something uniquely heart warming about freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The sweet smell the fills the room as you watch the little dough mounds puff and spread, that for some reason, has an affect that is unmatched by any other cookie. Looking at the cookies as they cool on the baking sheet, it's becomes very easy to forget the meaning of self-restraint. You want to bite into them while the chocolate is still melty and the centers are still gooey but, as you know from childhood, that two bad things could happen if you do: 1) you can burn your tongue with the hot goodness and 2) you might get a tummy ache afterward (though you know that in both cases, it's well worth it)! 

So in order to receive the full effect of a soft, freshly baked cookie that lasts for days, I began experimenting with recipes to get the perfect chocolate chip cookie: one that is thick and not flat, moist and soft in the center, crisp on the edges, and the right ratio of chocolate chips to cookie dough. This started as a simple project...but it soon developed into a little obsession of mine. I researched cookie recipe after cookie recipe. I considered using different flours, butter or shortening, brown sugar to white sugar ratios and various types of chocolate chips. Finally, I came across a concept that really opened my eyes and is a drastic change in the type of leavening. 

Instant Yeast! Yes, you read that correctly! I started with a recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies that I knew would result in the soft center, chewy cookie that I was looking for and replaced the leavening it called for with the ingredient known to add a lift while maintaining the shape of the baked good. The cookies turned out to be simply the best! They were lightly browned and crisp on the outside, yet incredibly soft and moist in the center. But the best part was not the texture, although that was nearly perfect. The best part was the flavor! The cookies tasted clean and sweet, unobstructed by the "chemically" taste of baking soda/baking powder. The texture was that of the perfect cookie but the flavor was like a chocolate chip cookie flavored sweet bread! 

I highly recommend that you take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (or any drop cookie recipe for that matter) and replace the baking soda or baking powder with about a teaspoon of highly active dry yeast. I can guess what you will be quite pleased with the results. 
This experiment of mine is still on going and I would also love any input you have after trying out this happy little accident :)