Agua Faba…Let me Educate You!

Have you ever heard of aqua faba? Means bean water and that is what it is; the water in a can of cooked chick pea beans. Aqua faba is used for making vegan whipped cream, no lie! It is pretty simple; drain the water from a can of chickpeas; only they are recommended; other beans make a poor substitute and have a very pronounced beany flavor. Put the liquid (should be ¾ cup from one can of chick peas) into a stand mixer bowl. Beat until foamy, add ¼ tsp cream of tarter which helps form a sturdy structure and beat for 9 or 10 minutes. In the last minute add 1 to 3 tsp vanilla extract and then 1/3 to 2/3 cup powdered sugar. Use immediately.  Here is the site for more information: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/aquafaba/. I think the chocolate mousse sounds especially promising. It is rather similar to my mousse recipe other than it lacks the strong coffee and booze I add!

I looked into aqua faba whipped cream as my goddaughter was visiting and she is a vegan; I wanted to make a parfait for dessert and we got to talking about this interesting stuff. Neither of us ever made it but we were game to try it. We followed the recipe fairly closely. It looked a lot like whipped egg whites. I found it rather insipid but I am betting that if you make the chocolate mousse the chocolate will disguise the less than exciting flavor of this vegan fluff. Plus, I was out of vanilla so we made it almond flavored and skimped on that and the sugar. Maybe it needs more sweetness and a lot of vanilla to taste the best…. Let me know if  you try it; curious what you think.

Cloud Pie, Yes…that’s a Thing!

choc cloud pie

It’s spring but not much fresh fruit is out for pies; I am rather tired of apples pulled from refridgerated storage, ditto the pears. And peaches/plums.necterines are here after traveling thousands of miles from South America. So for a quick dessert try this recipe: a chocolate cloud pie. This works well with a premade graham cracker crust. My guy actually liked it better that way. I especially loved the version I made once with a mixture of chocolate cookies and ginger snaps. Do any crust you like.

chocolate pudding

It is not hard to make: I throw it together in three easy steps. It was one of those recipes where the sum of the ingredients is far tastier than the components would lead one to believe. The first time I made it everyone devoured their slice. some took slices home. The name came from the fact that it is as light as a fluffy cloud and from my love for my older sister who died over eight years ago. Margie’s love of pie was renown in our family and I am absolutely sure she would have adored this pie. Whip some up this week and woo your family with chocolaty goodness that should please everyone. choco cloud pie slice (2)

Notes: I used Amaretto this time instead of rum as I was out. I think cognac would be nice too. I have used bourbon too; works fine! I used 3/4 cup almonds as that’s all I had; worked great; I put 2 Tbsp. aside for topping and rest went on top of the baked cookie crust. You can buy a crust or make your own. I often leave out the almonds on the crust before you put in the filling. I don’t really miss them…good to know if you don’t have a full cup of almonds. A healthy slice is like eating a chocolate cloud….with puffs of cream and the crunch of toasted almonds. I used a hybrid crust when I made it a couple of years ago; I was tired of my gf oreos; so I scraped out and discarded the filling and crunched up the cookies, I thought I was a bit short on cookies so I added 7-8 gingersnaps I still had from my last cookie crust. Crunched up and mixed with butter, baked into what became a flavor delight of a cookie crust! One of the best pies I have ever made. And I make a lot of pies….

Chocolate Cloud Pie

Ingredients
1 pre-made graham crumb crust, GF
1 pkg chocolate pudding, the kind you have to cook
2.5 cups whole milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp dark rum, Amaretto, brandy, coniac
3/4 cup slivered almonds, divided
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided

4 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Pour the almonds into a frying pan, no oil and toast them, stirring constantly. Alternately you could do this in the oven at a low temperature but I prefer the frying pan. Stop when they are medium brown, try not to let them get black on the sides.

Cook the filling; put the whole milk into a medium sized heavy sauce pan, Then add the dry pudding mix, the corn starch and the cocoa. Stir with a whisk as it heats on medium heat. Once the mixture is bubbling all over the surface turn off the heat and add the rum. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill until cooled. Take ½ cup heavy cream and whip. Add this to the pudding and whisk until blended. Take 4 tbsp of almonds and set aside for garnishing the pie later. Sprinkle the rest of the toasted almonds over the chocolate pie crust Gently spoon the filling into the pie shell on top of the toasted almonds. Chill at least 2 hours until set and cold. Whip the rest of the heavy cream in a chilled bowl, adding the sugar near the end of the whipping. Gently put dollops of it all over the pie top. Sprinkle the reserved almonds on top. Enjoy!

Originally posted March 2014. No changes to recipe.

Black Forest Cake 2.0 Version

In these difficult days we sometimes need a little cake. This is a quick and easy version of Black Forest Cake, hence the 2.0 my shorthand for easy peasy version. Made with a chocolate mix from Aldi’s. You can use a box mix of any kind you like. It is a lush and sensuous dessert worthy of a special occasion but great when you are in a low place emotionally. The whipped cream and cherries are a real treat together with the dark rich chocolate layers. The sides have grated chocolate on them and the top is a pool of cherry yumminess. I think these flavors together are timeless. I am wondering why I haven’t made it in years. Maybe I was inhibited by the seemingly complex nature of this layer cake. I actually baked it in a single size petal cake pan and cut it into two layers using toothpicks stuck half way up the sides as a guide but you can use 2 8 inch round pans at much less effort.

black forest cakeBlack Forest Cake 2.0 (easy version)

Ingredients:
1 chocolate cake mix plus the add ins. I used an Aldi’s mix; added 3 eggs, ¼ cup melted butter and the milk the recipe says (it says ¾ cup water but I always use milk for added moistness and better texture)…use the gf mix you prefer.

Toppings/fillings
1-2 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 can cherry pie filling
2 cups whipping cream
1/3-1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 oz of dark or semisweet chocolate grated

Directions: Make and bake cake according to box directions. Let cool completely after removing from pan. Put bottom layer on a wide cake plate. Top with brushed on chocolate syrup. Pour cherry pie filling on; do not put to the edges; leave ½-1 inch perimeter to allow for squishing out once you lay the top layer on. Put top layer of cake on. Whip cream to soft peaks. Add powdered sugar and beat just a bit more; not too hard or it will start to turn (to butter). Spread cherry filling over the top center of the cake; about half way out. Then spread the whipped cream over the rest of the top and down the sides. I used a cake spatula to smooth it a bit. I had grated the chocolate by hand while the cake baked. You have to get it on the sides. You can toss it at the cake, blow it on or flick it at the cake with your gloved fingers. Not an easy task. But you get to lick your fingers when you are all done! Put a few cherries plucked out of the pie filling on top around the edges to decorate. Serve cold.

black forest cake slice

Excuse the messy background. We were celebrating my guy’s birthday so I didn’t have time to make things neat. It was a glorious birthday cake for sure!Enter a caption

We actually found it tasted even better the next day. It is far easier to make than it looks. Makes a spectacular adult birthday cake! Enjoy.

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.

20180708_133046

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.