Chocolate Mousse Fraisier

Chocolate Mousse Fraisier

It’s been quite a while since I’ve added anything here.  As with most everyone now, I have been able to spend more time baking although I have had to be careful because there is also a lack of eaters.   I’ve been used to making huge batches to take to work and even though perfectly willing, husband and I alone shouldn’t try to keep up.  I most often see pictures of something that looks really good and can’t resist. Plus . . . chocolate!  It was delicious and really pretty.  It did take some time so you need to plan ahead, but isn’t difficult. 

I basically followed this recipe from King Arthur Flour https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gesines-chocolate-and-strawberry-cream-puff-cake-recipe but I was a little lazy and skipped the cream puffs.  I recommend the recipe as it was pretty easy to follow and I will definitely make it again, maybe with raspberries.  I suppose that would make it not a Fraisier but I’ve never been one to follow a recipe exactly.

I was surprised that the cake recipe had no eggs and wasn’t sure what to expect but it came out very moist and chocolaty. I’m going to remember that if I ever run out of eggs and want to make a cake.  It made more mousse than would fit in the pan but we were able to overcome that calamity with a couple of spoons.

salernos@simplycooking101.com

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

I love the things that can be done with fondant, but although nobody seems to acknowledge it, the stuff doesn’t really taste very good.  Years ago I saw the recipe for white chocolate (which I adore) plastic but had forgotten about it until I saw it again recently and thought I’d give it a try.  It still isn’t quite as good as plain white chocolate but it is much better than fondant.  After I did these, I got a suggestion that I tried on a new batch which made them even better.  Being artistically challenged, I was having trouble with the petals drooping unless I kept them pretty thick (as you can see in the pictures the cupcakes are thicker and the how-to pictures are thinner) and she recommended keeping a cup of ice water handy and dipping them in.  That worked much better and faster than trying to refrigerate them after each step since my hot little hands were making the chocolate too soft.  The quick dip in the ice water helped them to keep their shape.  I loved these cupcake papers and with the roses, they looked quite special for the birthday girls.
For the cupcakes I used the recipe Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes, from More From Magnolia but for each cupcake I put two maraschino cherries in the middle of the batter and added a little of the maraschino cherry juice to a swiss buttercream.  I know the recipe is on a wedding site but the recipe is great and even has a video to go with it.  For the last step, I added about 1/4 cup of the maraschino cherry juice to give it a touch of flavor and a nice pink color.
Printable Version for Making White Chocolate Roses
Now for the roses:
First a day ahead, make the white chocolate plastic which is basically white chocolate and corn syrup melted together.  When you’re ready to begin you’ll need plastic wrap, small pastry roller or rolling-pin (you can use your fingers if you don’t have one but this works faster) and a medium to large size bowl filled with ice water.  If you want to color the white chocolate, you can knead in some food coloring (paste works best) or as I did, use a food color spray and some cake glitter after they are assembled.  Keep the white chocolate plastic wrapped in plastic except the portion you are using or it will dry out.
Cover a cutting board or table with a large piece of plastic wrap and have another piece the same size set aside.  For each rose, pull off a very small piece of the chocolate and roll it into a cone shape.  Roll about twenty very small  (between 1/4 and 1/2 inch at the most) balls making some really small, some just a little larger and some a little larger placing them about 2 inches apart on the plastic.   You don’t have to be precise, flowers are never exact anyway and they will look more natural that way (in case you can’t tell, as well as being artistically challenged I’m not a perfectionist but if it suits you, go for it and make them all consistent – I’m hoping to improve both speed and accuracy with practice).   You can make more or less petals (for buds) and larger or smaller cones and petals for different size roses.

Roll into balls

The next step is to cover them with another layer of plastic wrap then flatten the balls (not the cone) using the pastry roller.  I gave them a little dent in the middle, then pushed out each side.  Again it’s up to you how perfect you want your petals to be.  I did find that using the ice water later allowed me to make them much thinner which I thought made them more realistic although the thick ones did hold up a little better. Refrigerate them while making the next batch.

Making White Chocolate Roses

Making White Chocolate Roses

After the petals and cones have firmed up, take the cone and starting at the top gently wrap a petal around it.  Add petals overlapping each one until you have the size and shape you want.  If the petals start to droop dip them into the ice water for a second or two and they will firm up.  When you’ve finished again place them in the refrigerator so they will keep their shape.

Making white Chocolate plastic roses

White Chocolate Plastic Rose put together

The next step (if you didn’t already color the white chocolate) is to either spray or use a brush to paint color on.  I used the spray and when that was dry, a little cake glitter.

White Chocolate rose finished

Here’s how it looked.  I also made a few red ones.  The spray did tend to make some “dots” but I kind of liked it.  If you don’t just spray a little lighter or use a paintbrush if you want to just do the tips of the petals.  I plan on trying lots of different flowers, it was quite fun and they came out pretty well considering my lack of talent.

Red White Chocolate Roses

Here’s some other pictures.

Chocolate Maraschino Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Best Thin Pizza/Flatbread Dough

Best Thin Pizza/Flatbread Dough

Pizza Oven

Pizza Oven

No news here, I still love pizza and having recently spent some time with my brother and sister-in-law who have a real outside wood fired pizza oven I just had to do one more pizza post (not the last I’m sure).  Getting the oven ready is quite a process involving several hours of loving attention, special wood and lots and lots of smoke, but the result was worth it – especially since I wasn’t the one providing the loving attention!

Smokey Pizza Oven

Chef Tom hard at work

I like thin crust, thick crust and everything in between and have found this recipe to be even better than my original favorite (recipe here).  The main difference is the high gluten flour that I don’t always have on hand so I still use the other recipe as an alternate.  This dough is simple to make, easy to shape and can be rolled very thin almost like a cracker (popular with the designated taste tester – Husband).
Printable Recipe Pizza Dough

  • 3 3/4 cups Hi-Gluten Four
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth, soft dough
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning (optional)
Mix together all the ingredients except the water in a food processor, mixer or bread machine (or of course you could do it by hand) add water and process until it is well mixed and smooth (you may need a little more or less).
Allow to rise in a covered, oiled bowl for 1 hour or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  If refrigerated, let it come to room temperature when you’re ready to use.
Shape the dough to the thickness you like.  It makes a great thin, almost cracker like crust or flatbread.
Cover the dough while you preheat the oven and a pizza stone if you have one to the highest setting your oven allows.
Add your pizza toppings, or if making flatbread, brush it with plain, garlic or herb flavored oil and seeds or shredded cheese.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the crust is crisp and the toppings (for pizza) are cooked.
Honey Caramel Apples (some with white chocolate or nuts)

Honey Caramel Apples (some with white chocolate or nuts)

Honey Caramel Apples

 
Here is a repost for Halloween, the best time for caramel apples!
I know, enough with the honey caramel, but I just couldn’t resist one more time.  Caramel apples are one of my favorites and Daughter asked me to send some caramel for her and friends after seeing the earlier recipes, so I made another batch.  This time it is not a sauce but a full caramel that you can use to dip the apples or form into squares to eat or give as candies for gifts.
When making caramel, the temperature you cook it to determines whether it is a thin (220) or thick sauce (240) or a soft (260)or hard (300) candy.  A candy thermometer is a must, but you can get one pretty much anywhere that has kitchen equipment, including most grocery stores for just a few dollars.
The Ingredients are very simple:
1 cup honey
1 cup whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 apples (place them in the refrigerator the night before so they will be well chilled – it will help the caramel harden quickly so it will stick better)
Chopped Nuts (any kind you like – I used toasted macadamia)
Chocolate (I always use Ghirardelli Candy Making and Dipping Chocolate – this time I used the white)
6 craft sticks
If you don’t want to make your own caramel, you can always use ones from the store (of course it’s not nearly as good as these).

More

Wash the apples well to get off any wax or dirt.  Put the sticks in each apple.

Apples with Sticks

Make the Caramel
Use a pan much larger than you would think, the caramel bubbles up so use a big pan.  Add the cream to the pan and over medium heat bring almost to a boil.  Add the honey and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 255-260 (if you plan on using them as candies I would go to 260-265 so they will be a little firmer).   Fill the sink with ice water and as soon as it reaches the proper temperature, immediately put the pan in the cold water being sure not to get any water in the pan.  Stir the caramel for a minute or two until it thickens but not so long that it is firm (if you try an apple and the caramel drips off, let it cool a little longer).  Take the pan out of the water and dip the apples, placing them on buttered wax paper.  If you have room in the fridge or outside if it is cooler (that isn’t really an option yet here – still way to hot) to set the caramel.

Honey Caramel ready for dipping

Dipped

Once the caramel has hardened enough to lift them off the paper, dip in the chopped nuts, chocolate, coconut, chocolate chips, etc. pressing them gently into the caramel.  If you prefer you can dip them in the add-ons immediately, but I think they look better if you let them firm up a little first, then you can press them in so it sticks better.

Honey Caramel Apples

Chocolate Panna Cotta Shooters

Chocolate Panna Cotta Shooters

Chocolate Panna Cotta Shooters


Here’s another creamy and of course chocolate, dessert.  I’ve always loved custards but since doing the Daring Baker’s Challenge and realizing how simple to make and wonderful it is,  I’ve kind of switched over to Panna Cotta lately.  The Panna Cotta is creamy and chocolaty combined with just a dash of syrups (lime, blueberry and maraschino cherry).  I found some plastic shooter glasses at the dollar store and couldn’t resist. They are perfect for parties, allow for a taste of several flavors and look so cute! For an adult version, top with a layer of liqueur, maybe amaretto, Kirsch or Gran Mariner.  You can also do any size glasses you have and even molds if you prefer.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Panna Cotta


Printable Recipe for Chocolate Panna Cotta Shooters
Ingredients:
1 packet powdered gelatin
1 ½ cup milk (two ¼ cup and one 1 cup measures)
1 ½ cup cream
½ cup honey
6 oz softened Philadelphia cream cheese
6 oz good quality chocolate
Procedure:
Sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of cold milk in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes to bloom.
While the gelatin is blooming, combine the honey, 1/2 cup milk, cream and chocolate and microwave for about 1 minute, then at 15 second intervals just until the honey has dissolved and the chocolate has melted into a smooth mixture.  Do not boil –  it should be just warm enough to melt the chocolate.  (If you prefer, you can do this in a small saucepan over a low heat.)
Microwave the gelatin for 5-10 seconds, just enough to dissolve so it is clear and smooth.  No boiling here either!  (This also can be done in very small saucepan over low heat if you prefer.)
Whisk the dissolved gelatin to the chocolate mixture.
In a small bowl or measuring cup mix remaining ¼ cup of milk with the Philadelphia cream cheese and mix until very smooth.
Whisk in the Philadelphia cream cheese/milk mixture with the chocolate mixture.
Strain and pour into serving dishes or molds.  You can layer with various flavors of syrup, jam or jelly (such as strawberry, cherry, lime, blueberry, caramel) or pie filling such as cherry or lemon curd.   Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Once they are set they can be topped with a small layer of liquor (which would be too thin on the bottom), fruit or nuts and/or whipped cream.
Yields 8 full ½ cup desserts or 2-3 dozen mini-desserts depending on the size of the glasses.

Chocolate Panna Cotta Shooters

Maraschino Jelly makes everything better

Maraschino Jelly makes everything better

Maraschino Cherry Jelly

Some things just seem too good to give up even when you get older.  Maraschino cherries are one of those things.  Every kid loves them, they make a soda turn into a Shirley Temple and you just can’t have ice cream sundaes without one.  This recipe has been around forever I’m sure, but is still a great way to keep the taste around.  Because of the recent cupcakes, I had a large jug of cherry juice left so I made a giant batch of jelly (I multiplied the recipe by 4 since I had four cups of juice).

Ingredients:

1 cup of maraschino cherry juice

1/2 cup of sugar

3 TBS liquid pectin

Procedure:

Mix the sugar and juice and bring to a full roiling boil and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.  Add the pectin and boil for another minute.  Pour into jars and sterilize, or if you intend to use it right away, pour into a clean container and refrigerate.