Cranberry and Pistachio Panna Cotta

Cranberry and Pistachio Panna Cotta

Servings

 6

Active time:

15 minutes

Ready In:

6 hours and 30 minutes

Good For:

Dessert

Inroduction

About this Recipe

I don’t know about you, but I always end up with extra cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving and this is the perfect way to use it up.  I usually make my own but this recipe would work with canned as well.  I used my fancy glasses because I don’t get many chances and it really makes a beautiful presentation but ramakins or any small bowls would work. 

Ingredients

  •  1 cup jellied style cranberry sauce
  • 1 tbsp powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 vanilla beans or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts (split evenly)
  • 1 tbsp powdered gelatin
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • pinch of salt

To get started warm the cranberry sauce in the microwave for 30-60 seconds until it is pourable and divide equally in 6 dessert glasses. If you have a chunky style sauce like the Cranberry Blueberry recipe below, blend it with a blender or stick blender and run it through a sieve to get a smooth consistency.  You an angle the glasses or just put a nice layer on the bottom.  Place in the refrigerator while you make the panna cotta.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk in the measuring cup and let it stand 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 2

Pour milk and gelatin into a heavy saucepan and the split vanilla pods and 1/2 of the pistachio nuts.  Stir over medium heat about 5 minutes until the gelatin dissolves.  Don’t let the milk boil. Turn off the heat and let the vanilla beans and pistachio nuts steep in the warm milk for about 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add the cream, honey and salt. Turn the heat on medium and stir 5 to 7 minutes until the mixture is warm but not boiling. Remove from the heat and strain out the vanilla beans and nuts.

Step 4

Remove from the heat and cool for about 15 minutes. Pour into the glasses. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.  Garnish with cranberries (sugared by dipping in simple syrup then sugar) and the remaining nuts.

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

Halloween Cake Pops – Ghosts and Witches Hats

Halloween Cake Pops – Ghosts and Witches Hats

Halloween Cake Pop Ghosts

Halloween Ghost and Witches Hat Cake Pops

It’s that time of year again!  I can’t seem to get away from the cake pops.   I’ll spare you from the entire process since I have done them several times before (Brownie Cake Pops on Glo Sticks,  Easter Egg Cake Balls, and Chocolate Cake Balls).  These are different in only in the fact that I used a mold for the Witch Hats and a little glitter icing to decorate the Ghosts but they are so cute for Halloween especially since my artistic skills are pretty weak so I have to go with the easy things.   The ghosts are great because when they turn out goofy I just say I planned it that way and using the mold for the witches hats was also just my speed.  My biggest suggestion for the ghosts is that you use a white or very light cake and icing combination because otherwise it will show through the white chocolate.  I used a really moist apple cake but even that showed a little.

Apple Bundt Cake

For the ghosts, I dipped them in white chocolate in a “rustic” way, making them sort of misshapen and drippy, then used some black glitter icing to give them features.

Ghosts after dipping

Silicone molds for Witches Hats

Witches Hat Molds filled

For the witches hats, I used these molds.

Witches Hat Cake Pops on sticks

After popping them out of the molds onto a cookie tray (which I only really noticed in the pictures is probably past its prime and should be replaced) I added some sticks and put them in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour to firm up.
After dipping I put them on a table decorated with a mini-oval ceramic bowl filled with crushed Oreos for a coffin, some mini-pumpkins, lots of candles, some little paper witch hats that a friend made and some pumpkin shot glasses filled with a bright red drink.

Annual Honey Caramel Apples for Halloween

Annual Honey Caramel Apples for Halloween

apple 2 Here is my annual Halloween Honey Caramel Apple post, this year with some new pictures. caramel apples square 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). 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. apple
Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

This is one of my older, but favorites so I’m reposting one of my favorites for Easter.  These were a big hit and I’m sure I’ll be making them again this year!
Although I don’t quite get it as I guess I’m just not that much of a cake fan, cake balls are very popular around here and I do have to admit these are pretty cute.  I mentioned to college Daughter that I was going to make some and her exact words were “send them here, send them all here” and I’ve made them for several friends, who all seem to love them.  I did have some cheesecake pops at a party recently and those are going to be my next batch as they were amazing.
The basic idea is simple, mush up a cake and icing, roll it and dip in chocolate.  The best site for ideas is Bakerella, she even has a cookbook out just for them.  Previously I made some simple chocolate ones for a birthday party following Bakerella’s instructions.  This time I used a cherry chip cake mix (I usually make my cakes from scratch, but Daughter had left this box of mix here from her last visit so I decided to use it) and some cream cheese icing I had leftover from a birthday cake.

Ingredients

Ingredients:
Cherry Chip Cake mix with eggs and oil (or homemade cake)
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (added to the cake batter for a little extra flavor)
2 cups cream cheese icing (homemade or purchased)
Dipping chocolate white and dark (I prefer Ghirardelli’s candy coating because I think it has the best quality but it’s not always easy to find.  Sam’s Club carries it around the holidays so I stock up but you can also use chocolate melts which you can even get pre-colored)

Cake

First bake the cake and cool completely.

Crumbled Cake

The crumble the cake in a large bowl.

Adding the icing

Add the icing.

Cake and icing mixed up

Smash it together and form into a thick disk – a spatula works but hands work better.  Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to stiffen up.

Best spoon for making the balls
Making the eggs

This is a great spoon for making the balls or cookies.  It is a hard plastic with a rubber bottom so the portions are even and you can easily push the dough out.  It comes in several sizes and I’ve seen it at most kitchen stores, the grocery store and even at the dollar store.  For this, I used the Tablespoon size, rolling them into egg shapes and placing them on a cookie sheet.

Eggs rolled

As you can probably tell, I’m not into perfection, I just don’t have time or the patience.  I admire those who do and if you are one of them, you can make them really great.  Some of my eggs aren’t shaped exactly right but they still look pretty egg like and they don’t last long anyway.

Wrap and freeze

Next wrap and place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Stand
Dipping
Tapping off the excess
Hardening

I have tried two methods of dipping, using a toothpick and putting them on a styrofoam floral stand that I got from the dollar store and just using a fork and putting them on waxed paper.  I find that the fork works better for me but they each have good and bad parts.  In order to get them to stay on the toothpick, I had to freeze them, which then caused the chocolate to crack as it hardened but they seemed to have the best shape if you can keep them on the toothpick.  Any little drips on the bottom can be trimmed with a sharp paring knife.

Fork Dipping

I switched to “warmer” balls on the fork letting them harden on a piece of waxed paper, which seemed to solve the falling off/cracking problem and seemed to be faster.  It sometimes leaves a bit of a flat base, but that is easily trimmed with a sharp paring knife or you can just leave it and serve them with that side down.  I used both white and dark chocolate, adding gel food color to the white to make a couple different colors.  Make sure you keep the chocolate warm, if it starts to thicken heat for a few seconds in the microwave to keep it easier to dip.  When it gets thick it also makes them more likely to crack (I’ve learned these things from the error part of trial and error).  The good news is that I learned the decorating can cover up the cracks pretty well!

Decorating

Here they are after the first round of decorating. Note there are cracks and not so perfect spots, but those will be fixed soon!  I used the spray on color on some of the white ones which made a sort of marbled effect that I liked.   I tried someone’s suggestion for painting corn syrup on then putting sprinkles, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and am not that much of a sprinkle fan anyway so I ended up using the colored white chocolate instead.  Plus, that worked perfectly to fill in any cracks.  I always use a small plastic squeeze bottle when decorating with chocolate, you can get them from Wilton at the craft store or pretty much anywhere and they are very inexpensive.  Just melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Depending on how much you do at a time it can take from 1-2 minutes.  I start with 1 minute, then stir and do 15 second increments until it is melted, then pour it into the squeeze bottle.

Looking Better

Again, those of you who are more creative and have more patience could do a much better decorating job.

Molding and trimming the chocolate baskets

I also used a chocolate mold (from Wilton that I got at Wal-Mart) to make some little baskets.  You just melt the chocolate, put it into the bottom of the mold then put the top.  Using the same sharp paring knife I trimmed off any excess before I unmolded them as sometimes it was hard to judge just how much chocolate to put into the mold – the directions on the package just say fill “half full” but there are no markings so you just have to get a feel for it.

Eggs in Baskets

Here are a couple in the baskets.