WHITE CHOCOLATE MINI-MOUSSE WITH SUGARED CRANBERRIES

Sometimes dessert seems excessive after a hearty meal. But then again, who would think of skipping dessert on a special occasion like Thanksgiving and all those end of the year festivities? If you face such gastronomic conundrum, I am here to help you out. These cute little morsels of mousse are about 2 tablespoons each. Topped with a single cranberry, they are easy to make, festive, and as far as dessert is concerned, pretty light. That is if you don’t inhale four of them…

WHITE CHOCOLATE MINI-MOUSSE WITH SUGARED CRANBERRIES
(inspired by several sources)

makes about 10 small portions, served in ramekins like these

4 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk
1 T light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh cranberries (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water

The day before, prepare the cranberries. Mix 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup granulated sugar, boil for a couple of minutes until sugar is fully dissolved. Reserve at room temperature, let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the syrup to a bowl and dumb the fresh cranberries into it, mix to coat the surface with the syrup. Place in the fridge overnight. Next day, drain the syrup, and add to the cranberries 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Coat them well, then place over kitchen paper to dry for 2 hours. They will be ready to decorate the dessert then.

Make the mousse. Melt the chocolate with the milk in the microwave or in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Add the corn syrup and mix well.  Let it cool slightly while you prepare the cream. Whip the heavy cream until it reaches the consistency of melted ice cream. Add to the chocolate base in three portions, mixing well but gently, you don’t want to deflate the mousse.

Add small portions to very small ramekins and cool for 6 hours in the fridge. Top with the sugared cranberry, and sprinkles of your choice.  Serve straight from the fridge.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These adorable baby-mousses deliver the perfect amount of sweetness when a slice of pie, cake, or even a piece of brownie might seem like overkill. Of course, you could make a regular portion if you prefer.  Instead of 10 individual tiny amounts, make 4 portions for indulging with abandon. What I love about this recipe, apart from its simplicity, is that it uses exactly one bar of Lindt white chocolate. Open it, dice it, you are done. No need to get your scale or anything.

Now, if you want to serve bigger portions, it might be a good idea to add a bit of gelatin. White chocolate does not hold as well as dark. In a very small ramekin it wont’ be a problem, but when scaling up, it’s probably better to ensure some additional structure by incorporating gelatin. I suggest 1/2 tsp for the 4 oz of chocolate, blooming it in some of the milk, then heating it very very gently before adding to the melted chocolate. Proceed with the recipe as described.

I used two kinds of sprinkles with a Christmas feel that went well with the cranberries. Different toppings and sprinkles would be a lot of fun to try to. A dark chocolate mousse with toasted hazelnuts and golden sprinkles? White mousse with silver sparkling sugar, a fresh blueberry surrounded by purple nonpareils? Or how about getting your hands on some Ruby chocolate? I need that in my life. I really do. If you haven’t heard about it, google Caillebaut Ruby. And dream, my friend, dream…

Ruby, dark, white… it does not matter to me. I want them all…

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VALENTINE’S DAY: THE FINALE

Three days, three posts!  In my series of collaborative articles with Jamie, from Cooking in Red Socks, it is now time to share the dessert course of our romantic meal for two. But, before I do that, let me urge you to visit her site and check out her choice for the last course of her V-day extravaganza! She pulled all the stops and made some seriously gorgeous Strawberry Napoleons, heart shaped and all.  I am in complete awe! Wish I was one of the guests in her party… 😉

Now, to the finale of my dinner for two. It was hard for me not to think about chocolate when choosing a dessert for Valentine’s Day. Having settled on that, I needed something red and sexy to pair it with. Red and sexy like raspberries. All lightly dusted with a very light sprinkle of powdered sugar. For good measure.

DSC_0052
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH RASPBERRIES
(from Good Food Magazine, May 2010)

85g dark chocolate, 70% (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp espresso powder (I used Spice House
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
boiling water (enough to use 2 tablespoons)
1 tbsp sugar
50g full-fat Greek yogurt
raspberries, to decorate
powdered sugar

Chop the chocolate very finely and put it into a large bowl that will fit over a pan of simmering water. Mix the cocoa, coffee and vanilla with 2 tbsp cold water, and pour over the chocolate. Place the bowl over simmering water, give it all a stir, then remove from the heat. Leave the bowl still over the hot water, stirring occasionally until fully melted.  If necessary, place the water back on the stove for a minute or so.

Stir the melted chocolate, it will be quite thick. Stir in 2 tbsp boiling water and the chocolate will immediately thin down and become silky smooth. Leave to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites to fairly soft peaks, then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy. Beat the yogurt into the cooled chocolate. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mix using a large metal spoon, then very gently fold in the rest of the whites until they are evenly mixed in.

Spoon into 4 small cups or ramekins and chill for a couple of hours, or overnight.  Top with a few raspberries, then dust with a little powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Comments:  As far as chocolate mousse goes, this is one of the lightest options you will find. Because our cups were a bit large, the recipe made only two portions, each one  perfect to be shared.  As a result, we enjoyed this dessert two days in a row. Naughty naughty naughty…

The yogurt gives the mousse a little bit of a tang, cutting the richness of the chocolate.  If you are fond of that super rich feeling of a regular mousse, this could be too light for you.  But, if you rather play conservative with your sweets, this is a perfect way to end a romantic dinner.

Make sure to stop by Jamie’s site to see what she is sharing with her friends.

VDay2014

Jamie, it was great to collaborate with you on this joint virtual project!
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebration!

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A FESTIVE POMEGRANATE DESSERT

If you are looking for a dessert that is elegant, feels quite special, but is surprisingly light, you must try this one. I saw it over at Chucrute com Salsicha, hosted by Fer, the Brazilian blogger who lives in California and was my main inspiration to start the Bewitching.  Anyway, after following her blog for so many years, it is clear that when she raves about a recipe, I better get to work. She served this pomegranate gelee’ for her Christmas dinner, and I immediately decided to make it for our New Year’s Eve dessert, closing the year in a very festive mood! 😉

served1

POMEGRANATE GELEÉ WITH SAFFRON-YOGURT CREAM
(adapted from Deborah Madison, via Culinate) 

for the gelee:
2 cups pure pomegranate juice
1 package gelatin
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp rose-water

for  the yogurt cream:
2 Tbsp milk
small pinch of saffron threads
½ cup Greek-yogurt
1 Tbsp honey

for garnish:
2 Tbs pistachio nuts, finely chopped
fresh pomegranate seeds

Pour ½ cup of the pomegranate juice into a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top, and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat half the remaining juice (¾ cup) just to the boiling point. Stir it into the gelatin, add the sugar, and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Gradually stir in the rest of the juice, then add the orange-flower water. Divide among 4 to 6 small glasses and refrigerate until set, allowing at least 6 hours or overnight.

Lightly heat the milk with the saffron threads and let cool. Stir the yogurt and honey together. Blend the saffron-milk mixture into the yogurt. Refrigerate until needed.

To serve, spoon the yogurt cream over each glass of pomegranate jelly. Garnish with the pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  One of the things I love the most about Fer, is that she is not afraid of improvisation in the kitchen.  If she doesn’t have an ingredient, she comes up with a substitution, and moves on, always with a happy ending!  She is also a wizard with her ice cream machine, often designing her own recipes,  all quite creative and unique. This dessert gave me opportunity to improvise too:  it originally called for orange flower water, which I did not have, and also had no idea where to get it in town.  Plus, there’s no way this Brazilian would drive around the Little Apple with snow everywhere.

I had a bottle of rose-water, acquired months ago, and decided to try it in this recipe. It seemed to me that pomegranate and rose-water could not end in litigious divorce.   To be on the safe side, I reduced the amount, using one teaspoon instead of two.  Worked like a charm!  If you don’t divulge what’s in the gelee, your guests won’t be able to detect the rose flavor, but once you know it’s there, the palate gets a subtle awareness of it, quite wonderful…

I used non-fat yogurt because again that’s what I had in the house, but go full-fat if you prefer.  This dessert had everything I enjoy: a light and refreshing feel, a luscious creamy topping, and the crunch of pistachios mixed with the slightly softer crunch of the pomegranate seeds.   Heaven, my friends, heaven!

Fer, thanks for another gem of a recipe, this one will be on our menu again and again!

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HEAVENLY HOMEMADE FROMAGE BLANC

When I lived in France I often had lunch with Valerie,  a beautiful French woman with a sensible approach to food and life in general, who was also our laboratory technician.  Her meals always involved a small appetizer, the main dish and dessert, followed by a shot of espresso.  During those lunches she introduced me to three French delicacies: Kyr Royale, Badoit water, and fromage blanc , her favorite light dessert. I became hooked on all three the first time that I tried them.

With regard to French cheeses, fromage blanc doesn’t get the praise it deserves. It’s smooth, tangy, light, and refreshing. Plus, you can enjoy it in different ways: plain, or with honey, sugar or fruit; with salt and herbs as a spread for crusty bread,  or whipped with cream to incorporate in recipes.

I’ve been in a state of fromage blanc withdrawal since then, but no longer!  Thanks to a tiny package from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, I’m the proud owner of almost 2 pounds of fresh cheese that sent me straight back to Paris as I drizzled it with honey and raised a spoonful to my lips… I’m sure Valerie would love it too!  😉



FROMAGE BLANC

(recipe from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.)

1 gallon of whole milk, pasteurized
1 packet of DS culture (order here)
(cheese cloth for draining)

Heat the milk in a large pan to 86F. Add the contents of the package and mix well. Cover the pan and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12 hours.

Line a colander with double thickness of cheesecloth, place it in the sink, and carefully ladle the curdled milk into it. Let it drain for 6 to 12 hours, depending on how thick you like it to be. (You can do this step in the fridge, placing the colander inside a pan to catch the draining liquid).

When the cheese is in the consistency you like, remove it to a container and keep it refrigerated.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: If you have ever considered making cheese at home, I urge you to try this recipe! I cannot praise enough the customer service at New England Cheesemaking Supply:  contrary to the other two companies I contacted, they went out of their way to ensure that I would get the culture quickly.    A real pleasure to deal with! I am now tempted to make mozzarella at home, their website makes everything seem pretty easy… 😉 And they have a nice blog too, check it out here.

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