MINI-HEART CAKES FOR YOUR VALENTINE


Valentine’s Day is so commercial. Who needs a special day to celebrate love and friendship? No one. We should all just ignore it. With that in mind, let me say I have no problem with a special day to shower all those special persons in your life with attention and affection. A partner, a special friend, that family member you look up to and adore. Today I share a recipe that seems a bit involved, but when you break it down into its components, it is quite simple. Trust me. I almost always speak the truth.

VALENTINE’S MINI-HEARTS MOUSSE CAKES
(inspired from many sources)

for the sable base:
120 g cold butter, cut in pieces
65 g powdered sugar
260 g all-purpose flour
30 g almond flour
pinch of salt
1 egg

Heat oven to 375 F.

Add the sugar, flour, almond flour and salt to the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds just to incorporate the ingredients together. Add the cold butter and process until the butter gets in small pieces, a bit smaller than pea-size. Add the egg and mix just until it starts to glue together as a dough, but stop before it all gets into a single mass to avoid gluten formation.  Gather the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and gently form it as a disk with your hand.

Roll the pastry between plastic or parchment paper to a 3mm thickness. Cut heart or round shapes. Place over parchment paper on a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.  Bake for about 10 minutes until it starts to get golden around the edges.  Reserve.

for the quinoa-crisp:
115 g white chocolate
20 g pistachio paste (or almond butter)
20 g puffed quinoa (or rice Krispies)
for home-made puffed quinoa, click here

Bake the puffed quinoa in a 325 F oven for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a microwave very gently. Mix the melted chocolate with the pistachio paste.  Add the quinoa and spread  in a 4 mm (1/8 inch) thickness in between two sheets of parchment paper. It will be a little sticky, try to level it as best as you can. When it is cooled down a bit, cut the exact dimension of the bigger mold you will use for the dessert. Reserve in freezer until  needed.

For the Raspberry Mousse insert:
2 g of Platinum gelatin (1 sheet)
100 g mashed raspberries (fresh or frozen), seeds sieved out
20 g granulated sugar
100 g whipping cream, cold

First, put the gelatin leaves, in a bowl with very cold water to bloom for 10 minutes.  In a small saucepan, heat the raspberry puree until it boils. Remove from heat, wait 5 minutes, drain the gelatin and add to the mixture. Mix until completely dissolved. Let cool to about 95 F.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gradually incorporate the cream into the raspberry mixture. Place the mousse in the semi-spheres and freeze overnight.

For the mascarpone mousse:
6 g Platinum gelatin (3 sheets)
80 ml whipping cream
55 g egg yolks
80 g granulated sugar
160 g mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
320 g heavy cream

Bloom the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Combine egg yolks with sugar, whisking well and set aside. In a saucepan, heat 80 ml of cream until it boils. Remove from heat, and slowly pour a bit of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, to temper it gently. Add the rest of the cream and transfer all the mixture to a saucepan.

Over low heat, cook until 180 F stirring constantly. Remove from heat, drain the gelatin, and add to the mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool down to around 140 F. Add the mascarpone cheese, mix until the cheese is incorporated. Process with a hand mixer, to emulsify. Add the vanilla paste, and let it cool to around 95 F.

Meanwhile, whip the 320 ml of cream to soft peaks. Incorporate the  cream gradually to the mascarpone mixture. Place in the mini-hearts mold, 1/2 to the volume, spread gently with a spoon around the sides to avoid air bubble.  Drop the frozen raspberry inserts, cover with mousse almost to the top, place the crunchy quinoa layer on top, press gently and freeze overnight.

For mirror glaze:
3 sheets Platinum grade sheet gelatin
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
1 tsp agar-agar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
½ tsp titanium oxide (optional, but advisable)
red gel food coloring

Put the water, sugar, liquid glucose and agar-agar in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze.  Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk and the titanium oxide.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. Add the red food gel dye. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

The ideal temperature to glaze is 92 to 94 F. Glaze the frozen mousse cakes, decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Defrost 2 hours in fridge before serving.

 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For this dessert I used a mini-heart mold from Silikomart and a mini-half-sphere mold. The mini-heart mold I bought came with a cookie cutter with the exact dimension to made a cookie base. I am not sure every single mold sold comes with the cutter (I got mine at ebay a while ago), but any heart-shaped cookie cutter will work, if the dimensions are approximately right.

Start your preparation two days before serving, by making the raspberry centers. In this case I used a mousse, which tones down the sharpness of the raspberry a bit. If you prefer a sharper, more intense taste, consider using just the puree thickened with gelatin, like I shared in this post. You can also make the crunchy base with puffed quinoa (or rice Krispies) and the sable base two days in advance. Or even earlier. Stick the crunchy layer in the freezer, keep the sable at room temperature.

The day before serving make the mascarpone mousse and assemble the little cakes. Freeze everything and if you want to make your life very easy on serving day, prepare the mirror glaze emulsion and store it in the fridge.

On serving day, glaze those babies and keep in the fridge to defrost for a couple of hours. It is a process I love making, no matter how many times I do the mirror glaze thing, I am always in awe…

I had to add sprinkles because that’s how I roll… Also, they work wonders if you have a small boo-boo here and there on the glaze. Just drop a silver star on it, and call it a day.

You could omit the crunchy later with puffed quinoa but it is so simple to make and it does add a lot to the dessert. You can buy puffed quinoa or quickly make some, following the instructions here. If you don’t have  pistachio paste, use a bit of almond butter softened in the microwave just to make it a tad more spreadable. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will work.

I am pretty happy with the way these little hearts turned out. Both mousses combined well in flavor and texture. If you don’t have the hear-shaped mold, use large half-spheres. You can also go for dessert rings and make the insert as a smaller component with any shape that is convenient for you. Just keep in mind the volumes you will need. Every component can be scaled up easily if necessary, but the raspberry mousse already makes more than you’ll need for 8 mini-cakes. I had enough for 15 inserts and only used 8.  Leftovers are in the freezer, patiently waiting for a next opportunity to play.

Finally, when you pour the mirror glaze, do it over a baking sheet lined with Saran wrap, so you can easily store leftovers. They freeze well and if you accumulate several colors you can go Pollock on your next dessert…

ONE YEAR AGO: Blue Moon Milk

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooked Chicken Meatballs

THREE YEARS AGO: Zesty Flourless Chocolate Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Maple Pumpkin Pecan Snacking Cake

FIVE YEARS AGOSilky Gingered Zucchini Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Sweet Fifteen!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flaxseed Sourdough

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Green Beans with Miso and Almonds

NINE YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

TEN YEARS AGO: White Bread

 

MASCARPONE MOUSSE FROM BAKING CHEZ MOI

FACT: a truth known by actual experience or observation;
something known to be true.

For instance: I have too many cookbooks.  That is a fact. I don’t need another cookbook. Also a fact. Oddly enough, both were ignored when a third event recently took place:  I ordered Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. Instead of being ashamed of my lack of will power,  I jumped up and down with joy when the package arrived. Later that same evening I took it to my bedside table, where I intended to browse through a few pages, but instead found myself unable to put it down. Not enough sleep that night.  If you face the fact of owning too many cookbooks, and think you don’t need another one, I will be brutally honest: you are wrong. You must invite this one into your home. Released just last month, I know it will become a classic. And you don’t want to be out of that loop, do you?

mascarpone mousse
MASCARPONE MOUSSE
(reprinted with permission from Dorie Greenspan)

1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoon cold water
8 ounces (227 g) mascarpone
1/3 cup (80 mL) heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of fine sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Put the gelatin in a microwave-safe bowl, pour over the cold water and let the gelatin sit for about 3 minutes, or until it is completely moistened and has begun to expand. Then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 15 to 20 seconds to liquefy it.

Scrape the mascarpone into a large bowl, preferably one that has a pouring spout, and gently stir to loosen it.

Pour the cream and honey into a small saucepan, put over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Allow the liquid to cool for 5 minutes, then pour some into the gelatin and stir until smooth. Stir the contents of the gelatin bowl into the remaining cream and then pour everything into the bowl with the mascarpone. Use a whisk to blend gently.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt together on medium-high speed until the whites just begin to turn opaque. Little by little, add the sugar and keep beating until the whites are marshmallowy – blowy and white, and when you lift the whisk, they’ll form tipsy peaks.

Turn the whites out onto the mascarpone mixture and, using a flexible spatula, lightly fold them in. Thoroughness is less important than gentleness here.

Pour or spoon the mousse into four 1-cup-capacity bowls. Cover the mousse with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving, making sure to keep it away from foods with strong odors.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

FruitTopYou can gild the lily with some berries, either crushed with a little sugar in the bottom of the bowl, or as whole fruit on top. 

Comments: I always joke with Phil that Giada de Laurentiis in her cooking shows tends to use a few ingredients a bit too often.  Mascarpone is one of them. Hazelnut is another. You blink once, and there she is, grabbing the mascarpone from the fridge, and the bag of hazelnuts from the pantry.  So, I almost did  not pay attention to this dessert in Dorie’s book.  But, her description of the way the sweetness of honey plays with the tartness of the mascarpone and how the dessert kind of grows on you with each spoonful, convinced me to try it.  We recently had a couple of friends over for a Brazilian style dinner (steak, rice, black beans), and I wanted a dessert that would be tasty but not overly heavy.  This mascarpone mousse was perfect for the occasion, even if I say so myself…  Plus, I made smaller servings than called for. Dorie’s recipe is supposed to make 4 servings, I divided the mousse into six small bowls.  The description of Dorie is spot on: the mousse has a perfectly creamy texture, smooth, not too sweet, and the mascarpone and the honey together form a match hard to beat. I would not change anything in this mousse, and would recommend you try it if you need a dessert that is not on the heavy side.

And now, time for an overview of Dorie’s new book, the one that you must invite into your home right after you finish reading my post.

Baking Chez Moi Cover

“These are the recipes the French bake at home for their families and their closest friends. They are generous, satisfying recipes tied to places, traditions, customs and culture.”
(Dorie Greenspan, Baking Chez Moi)

The way I see it, her book is the opposite of another she wrote together with Mr. Hermé,  Desserts by Pierre Hermé. In that book, nothing is simple, and every single one of the concoctions are the stuff that French people would buy at a pastry shop to take to a dinner party, or serve to lucky guests on a special occasion.  It is an amazing cookbook, but even though I’ve had it for more than 10 years, I made only two recipes from it, and each one left me feeling as if I had run a marathon. Barefoot. However, I must say that the French lemon tart is the best I’ve ever tasted, and worth buying the book to enjoy it.

Baking Chez Moi is a totally different entity. You will want to go to the kitchen right away to start baking, with no need to sit down and meditate in preparation, or light a bunch of candles to the Pastry Gods.  The book is divided in 6 chapters: Simple Cakes, Fancy Cakes, Tarts & Galettes, Baby Cakes & Petite Pastries, Cookies & Bars, and Fruit, Creams, Frozen Desserts & Candies.   A final closing chapter on Basics.  I will not list every recipe in the book, just give you a quick overview highlighting the ones that appealed to me the most.

Simple Cakes.  All the recipes in this chapter are indeed simple, often with just a few ingredients, perhaps the best example being Plain and Simple Almond Cake. To make it, you will need eggs, sugar, and almond flour. A hint of vanilla. That is it.  I can imagine the wonderful texture and delicate almond flavor.  Quite a few tasty apple cakes, including Custardy Apple Squares that seem perfect for that afternoon snack, or a special brunch.  Another great concoction in this chapter is a Cheesecake, Alsatian Style.  I had the opportunity of tasting one while living in France, it is lighter than the American version, so if you love cheesecake, don’t skip this one. With her Cornmeal and Berry Cake, she brings the fashionable olive oil cakes that everyone raves about these days. The same theme is present in her Hazelnut, Ginger and Olive Oil Cake (amazing flavors put together). Spiced Honey Cake made my heart skip a beat.  I just know it will be one of my favorites, as I am crazy for pain d’épices.

Fancy Cakes. In this chapter, she dials it up a notch, but the recipes are still quite user-friendly, and her notes so clear that even those who suffer from cake-phobia will be tempted to dive in.  The first cake in the chapter is a thing of beauty, the Moka Dupont.  A sort of icebox cake assembled with cookies, coffee and chocolate buttercream.  Shaved chocolate decorations on top.  Such a stylish little cake!  Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake: with a name like this, who would not want to make it?  Love this particular instruction, “some of the chocolate may drip down the sides – let it.”  Tarte Tropézienne, is a cake made in fact with a buttery brioche dough, split in half horizontally and filled with a combination of creams.  It was a favorite of  the famous Brigitte Bardot in her early years of acting in Saint-Tropez. It is still very popular in that region, where each patisserie carries its own version.  A beautiful Gingerbread Bûche de Noël is also part of this chapter.  Not sure I have what it takes to face it, but it is such a classic!  Galette de Rois, a dessert that brings me nice memories of my days living in Paris, and a gorgeous Rose Fraisier, made with genoise and strawberries close this elegant chapter.

Tartes and Galettes. By far the number one for me is the Apple Tarte Flambée.  Why? She describes it as a sweet version of flammkuchen, a very thin pizza-like concoction from Alsatia that when I tried for the first time I thought I had died and gone straight to heaven. Will never forget the restaurant either, a very small place near Institut Pasteur at the 15eme.  I went back there quite often, usually all alone, heart-broken and feeling sorry for myself, but flammkuchen comforted me quite well.  Other goodies that called my attention in this chapter are Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond ToppingApricot-Raspberry Tart, Simplest Plum Tart, Caramelized Cinnamon-Milk Chocolate Tart (oh, my…),  and – are you ready for this one? – Crème Brûlée Tart.  Ok, that pretty much does it, although Tiramisu Tart sounds almost as decadent.

Baby Cakes and Petite Pastries. This chapter stole my heart and ran away with it… The first recipe already made me melt a little: Nutella Buttons. Enough said. Think tiny cupcakes with a Nutella filling and a glaze of chocolate ganache.  Happiness disguised in pastry. Pistachio and Raspberries Financiers, followed by Matcha Financiers are elegant, simple, and made in a two-bite serving. Lemon Madeleines of course had to be included, and a version of Black-and-White Marbled Madeleines is also there. Cannelés? Yes, of course! I must make them, as I even have the silicone pan for that, sitting in my cabinet. No excuses. What do you think of Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling? Sounds fantastic to me. Beignets, Pailles, Merveilles, and Palmiers.  A French Nirvana in small pastries form.

Cookies and Bars.  Dorie starts the chapter explaining that the traditional French cookie is the sablé, a shortbread type of delicacy that accounts for “half a hundred of the hundreds of cookies” in the French repertoire. Recently I made a chocolate chip cookie based on a shortbread dough and fell in love with its delicate, slightly crumbly texture. So, let’s say I am more than ready to embrace sablés. Some of the cookies that spoke dearly to me in this group are: Vanilla Bean, Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate, Viennese, Green Tea Sablés. But, of course macarons are incredibly enticing, and she’s got several types like Basque Macarons, Parisian Macarons (the photo will blow your mind), Macaron Biscotti.  I also noticed her Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches, and Lavender Galettes (like a galette in cookie presentation). My favorite cookie of all times, Speculoos is part of her collection, and for that I am grateful. In the bar type of cookies, my favorites would be Lemon Bars, and Granola Bars.

Fruit, Creams, Frozen Desserts and Candies. A lot appealed to me in this chapter. How could I not go crazy for the Apple Speculoos Crumble?  But there is a Dark Chocolate Mousse, a Mascarpone Mousse (recipe included in this post),  a Honey-Yogurt Mousse, Lavender-White Chocolate Pots de Creme, Caramelized-Coffee Bean Pots de Creme, Speculoos Panna Cotta (excuse me while I close my eyes and dream a little), Chocolate Truffles, and Soft Salted-Butter Caramels.

Final Chapter,  Basics. Here you will learn many techniques and basic sauces and components of recipes such as how to make a Hot Fudge Sauce, a Raspberry Coulis,  a Spiced Hibiscus Syrup, Candied Petals, Flowers, Leaves and Herbs, among many other things.  Wonderful way to wrap up a great book!

A few final remarks: every recipe has a small introduction with a little story behind the recipe or the person who first introduced it to Dorie.  Just enough chit-chat to spice it up without being overwhelming.  Most recipes also include a short paragraph entitled “Bonne Idée“, with suggestions on how to slightly change it, with an added component, or a different type of presentation.  Baking Chez Moi is one of those cookbooks that you can read over and over like a novel.  I am glad I lack will power to resist certain temptations…

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So, there you have it, my little virtual tour of Dorie’s new cookbook, that must be part of your collection.  Dorie, thanks for giving me permission to publish your recipe! I look forward to baking more and more from it…

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ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Brigadeiros

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Espresso Loaf

THREE YEARS AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Special Holiday Fruitcake