Real Chocolate Mousse — The Easy Way!

This is Valentine’s Day weekend. At my house we had a cozy dinner tonight for two. For dessert I made my chocolate mousse recipe; been making it since college days. I haven’t served it in a while and when we enjoyed our cups of light chocolately deliciousness I wondered why on earth I hadn’t made in the last year or two.  Joe happily took home two of the cups. I used to have a married couple who loved it so much that if either came by without the other and I served mousse and sent one home for their spouse; it never made it there; eaten on the way or shortly after arrival. Sneaky business!

I love that I can whip it up in a few minutes – just a few easy steps; no double boiler necessary or stirring for endless minutes. All you need is a bit of strong hot coffee, some eggs and some chocolate chips. I add a bit of brandy and that makes it special! Be sure to chill it at least 2 hours but preferably 4 before  you enjoy it. I love it with a bit of whipped cream but my favorite is some plain heavy cream, light cream or even half and half poured on top. Delish!

You can sub in some dark chocolate chips for part of the cup of semi-sweet chips. Works perfectly, even mini chocolate chips will do fine.  You could leave out the alcohol but it really deepens the flavor; could use a teaspoon of real vanilla extract for it.

I made this super fast and didn’t stop for any picture taking; the cute blue flowered cup just got washed up after we enjoyed dessert!

Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/3 cup strong hot coffee (I use enough instant coffee for one cup and add it to the 1/3 cup hot water)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1-2 Tbsp. cognac or French brandy

Directions: Heat a kettle of water to boiling. While it does that separate the eggs and put the whites in your mixer bowl. Beat until still; as it gets closer gradually add in the tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. Pour the really hot water into your blender and let stand 1-3 minutes, it warms up your blender container to help melt those chips! Dump out the water and immediately pour in the chocolate chips and the hot coffee. Cover. Turn on blender; run on medium for 30 seconds, leave running and add the egg yolks (through top feed hole) and then the brandy or cognac (best quality you can afford). Blend up to 30 more seconds and then spoon over the merengue and gently fold in until no white streaks remain. My new Blendtec blender made it super thick and creamy in that minute of blending. All depends on your blender’s strength. Scoop into 6 4–6 ounce size dessert dishes. Chill 2-6 hours; preferably 4-6. Serve with whipped cream or just plain cream or half and half. Store any leftovers in the fridge; cover with plastic wrap; keeps 3-4 days tops but never lasts that long in my house. Enjoy!

Almond Torte for Dessert

I found this recipe on line somewhere for an almond cake but it was in British measurement and oven temp. I did some math and measuring; a lot of number changing and a bit of guessing. I gave it a whirl; made some minor changes to amounts, simplified a bit and added some almond extract for more flavor. And it turned out so delicious.   More of a torte in my mind so that’s what I am calling it. Next time I think I will use a slightly smaller spring-form pan; an 8 inch rather than the 9 inch I made it in.  That will make it thicker; might have to bake it longer. Otherwise; perfect dessert treat: tender with a delicate almond flavor. The coconut is a back note but I liked it in there. Just sweet enough for us. You can add another quarter cup of sugar if you are mad for sweet…

I wasn’t planning to blog this so I took no pictures. This is the last slice left 24 hours after it was baked. Went fast…definitely a keeper recipe! Next time I will snap a shot of the whole torte and some pictures of the process of making it.

almond torte slice3

Almond Torte – serves 6-8

Ingredients:

11 Tbsp. butter; melt it and let it cool to room temp. Plus a tsp. to butter the pan.

1 ½ cups almond meal plus a Tbsp. to coat the buttered pan

2/3 cup sweetened coconut, flaked

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 cup sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. almond extract

3 Tbsp. sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place shelf in center of oven.

Melt the butter and let it cool. I did that in my microwave. Butter a 9 inch spring-form (8 will work too) on bottom and first inch and a half up the sides and then dust with almond meal; about a Tbsp should do it.

Mix almond meal, coconut, sea salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl beat the eggs until frothy; add almond extract and vanilla extract. Add the cooled butter. Mix. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well with whisk. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top evenly. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Top should spring back lightly when touched, lightly browned. You can dust with powered sugar but I liked the look of it plain. Guessing it could be yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Cover to store leftovers; doubt they will last long. Enjoy!

 

Pear Cranberry Rustic Tart

A friend gifted me some homegrown pears. What delish dessert to make? How about a rustic tart? I was time limited so no time for a raft of cute little tartlets that had to have their crust rolled out one at a time and fitted into the 4 tartlet pan. Good plan. Then, I added some frozen cranberries to zing it up. Plus a touch of cinnamon and allspice. And a sprinkle of glittery sugar to fancy it up.  Just delish!

I used some small Moonglow pears, another good choice would be bosc pears, just make sure they are within that narrow  ripe pear window; not under ripe and not squishy.  The holy grail of pears; that moment of ripe before they go bad.  That. They need to be peeled, cored and then chopped, in that order. Especially bosc pears; their skin is not tasty but the are great for baking with.

pear cranberry tartPear Cranberry Rustic  Tart

First, make the crust and chill it a bit while you peel, core and slice the pears

GF Pie Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg, room temperature

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a flat fat disc with your hands. Put it in a pie bag, on a large piece of sturdy plastic or on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), put another piece of wax paper on top and chill it all in your fridge 15 minutes

Filling;

3 -4 cups peeled and chopped pears

2/3 cup frozen or fresh cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. granulated tapioca

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp. allspice

a sprinkle salt

Mix dry ingredients; add to the fruit in a bowl, stir and let sit while you roll out the crust.

Directions: Roll out the somewhat  chilled crust between the two sheets of wax paper into a disc; maybe 14 inches, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! I use my pie bag as it works great. Peel off one side of paper and place on pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper or plastic.

Using a big spoon place your filling carefully on the crust but leave a 1 ½ inch border of crust untouched all around the fruit. Fold that excess crust up to make walls around the fruit filling. Sprinkle with 1-2 tsp. chunky sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes; golden brown crust and a bubbling, cooked looking filling.  Cool at least an hour before cutting. Great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

pear tart slice

Took this by candlelight outside on my back porch just before taking a bite! MMMMM

 

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart….Crazy Good

 

Six years ago I made this dark chocolate tart and we ate it around a bonfire. Someone had the bright idea of putting toasted marshmallows on their slice.   This Friday I made the same tart but gluten free and we tried something different to top our slices with; amazing local made blackberry ice cream, delish vanilla ice cream and fresh organic homegrown raspberries.  My slice of tart was silky smooth, very dark and gone far too fast. We all had seconds, but I was able to save some for Joe and I to enjoy Saturday.  It was a big hit with all of the chocoholics there so here is the recipe.

Notes: I did run short on the 60% bittersweet Ghirardelli and used one ounce of semi-sweet to get the correct amount; it worked perfectly. Just take your time melting the mixture; I used the lowest heat possible and stirred it frequently. This is a keeper if you love dark chocolate. I am guessing it could be made with semi-sweet chocolate.  Drop me a note if you try that! I’m always interested to hear how a recipe works out.

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart

Crust

1 cup gf flour (recipe below)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

5 tbsp. butter cut into 5 pieces

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. water

Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the butter pieces and blend until they are tiny crumbs.  Then add the vanilla and 1 to 2 tsp. water and blend.  It should be thick crumbs.

Spray a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking oil and then sprinkle with some gf flour; shake to coat.  Dump the crumbs of the crust evenly all over the tart pan bottom and press in with your fingers to make a fairly even crust, be sure to push some up the short sides of the pan so it is to the top of the metal and not too thick near the edges.

Bake at 350 for 11 or 12 minutes.  I did 12 minutes. Let cool while you make the filling.

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Filling Ingredients

¾ cup heavy cream

1/3 cup whole milk

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, I like Ghirardelli.  Break into small squares/pieces.

1 large egg slightly beaten

Put the milk, heavy cream and chocolate in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat on low to heat; stir often until chocolate is melted.  Remove from heat, whisk well to fully blend and cool a few minutes.

Add the beaten egg, blend well.  Pour into the tart pan and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.  Yeap; 15 minutes; no more than 16 tops. It is a thin chocolate custard and you want it barely solid. It will continue to cook for a number of minutes so stop worrying it is underdone; trust me it isn’t!  Serve at room temperature topped with toasted marshmallows or ice cream. The contrast between the vanilla ice cream highlights the smooth dark delish of the tart. SO memorable.  I had some cold the next day; nice but honestly it is incredible when it is room temperature; the texture is perfection. Enjoy! slice choco tart with icecream

Brown Rice Flour Recipe (same as King Arthur Basic GF Flour)

Ingredients

–         1 c brown rice flour –

–         1/3 c potato starch (not potato flour)-

–          3 tbsp tapioca flour

Directions

Mix all the flours in a jar or bag

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This tart is best eaten warm with two or three toasted marshmallows pressed onto the top.  Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream is also yummy.  This picture was taken in total darkness with an i-phone and the owner of this slice of tart was ticked off that her marshmallows cooled while the shot was made so she toasted up two more marshmallows and had all four on her slice of tart.  This dessert is seriously delicious and really easy to make. If you love dark chocolate this is a must recipe for your repertoire.  It can easily be made by you wheat eaters; just use your favorite cookie tart crust recipe.  The filling will be the same.  Now, go get some good chocolate and make your own tart and don’t eat the whole thing yourself; share it with someone you love!

Originally posted in 2014. Silly of me not to repost sooner as it is AMAZING!

Pavlova: A Symphony of Delish!

My sister Elaine makes this dessert all the time. It is a specialty of hers. I think it is her go to company dessert when nothing else comes to mind. When she first described it I was not impressed. I wasn’t even looking forward to it at our family dinner party she throws every summer when I come up to visit. So I was surprised when I bit into my slice of it. Clearly this is a case of the results being far more than a simple sum of the ingredients. It is light, sweet, airy, fruity and basically melted in my mouth. I have had it at her house many times and have made it a few times myself. It is easy to construct and it can be varied in the fruit topping.

The old school classic topping is fresh passion fruit. Elaine mostly serves it with sliced fresh strawberries, perfection! It is decent with blueberries too. I once used a mixture of ripe summer fruits; peach, nectarine, blueberries, mango and kiwi. That was really memorable. Ripe local strawberries would be super tasty too. Go with what is ripe and flavorful when you are shopping for fruit. I used blueberries and raspberries for this latest version but you decide what works for you. No canned fruit though, only fresh will do.

My sister got the recipe from Food network – a 1999 recipe. It is naturally GF so no one will ask where the wheat is! Don’t leave out the red wine vinegar; totally necessary.

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Slice today; sorry it is on a paper plate but it  was luscious!

Pavlova

Ingredients:

1/2 cup egg whites at room temp (about 4-5 eggs)

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2 T light brown sugar packed or white sugar

1 pt. fresh strawberries for top, sliced and 1 cup fresh blueberries

or 3-4 oz fresh raspberries and half a pint of blueberries

or 2 sliced ripe peaches and some raspberries or blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 7-8 minutes more.

On a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a sheet pan, use a pencil to draw or trace a 9 inch circle in diameter. Line the sheet pan with the parchment, pencil side down (you should be able to see the circle). Spoon the egg whites in the circle, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disk. Make it high rather than wide; it will settle after baking. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and slightly cracked on the top and the surface is highly browned to the color of a latte coffee, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door, and let it cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooling, which protects the delicate meringue.

Whip the cream and brown sugar (sometimes I use white sugar) until stiff. spoon it in the center of the cooled pavlova and spread out to within 1/2 inch of the edge, arrange the slices of strawberry in the middle. Sprinkle the blueberries around the edge of the strawberries. To serve, slice into wedges with a serrated knife.

So make a pavlova and make everyone happy; it is beautiful to look at and even better to eat. Enjoy!

Originally published July 2014. Recipe slightly changed, minor editing to text.