{Cookbook Review}: Blueberry Brown Butter Tarts

May 31st, 2012 · 9 Comments · Cookbooks, Fruit, Pastry, Recipes, Reviews, Tarts

 

blueberry brown butter tarts

Since it’s just about pie season, I thought it would be a good time to review a cookbook that’s been on my to-do list for a while: Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented.

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Five

April 24th, 2012 · 4 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

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Before I finish off my mousse experiment, I want to remind all you faithful readers that this Saturday is the big Food Blogger Bake Sale! We have had a location change since my first announcement: the bake sale will be this Saturday, April 28, at Omnivore Books from 11-4.

Omnivore Books was the location of our first bake sale so I’m really excited to be back here! And, to continue a very fine tradition that started when Rose Levy Barenbaum was speaking the day of our first bake sale, Alice Medrich will be at Omnivore from 3-4 to talk about her new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts! I can’t think of a better agenda: stop by for a treat and then listen to a pastry master speak. If you’d like to see who’s participating in this year’s bake sale, go on over to the official website and see all the volunteer bakers listed on the side.

I really hope you all can come out – please Facebook/tweet/spread the word about our bake sale so we can get a great turnout! If you don’t live in San Francisco, check out the national list of blogger bake sales to see if there’s one near you. Thanks so much!

Now, onto the final mousse of the taste testing!

choc mousse 5

Chocolate Mousse #5: Sabayon based

Unfortunately I have to start off my notes about this last mousse with a little disclaimer: this recipe is called Pâte à Bombe chocolate mousse in the cookbook but I don’t think that’s correct. Pâte à bombe is made from combining hot sugar syrup with whipped egg yolks – the resulting ultra-rich and airy base can be used for everything from mousses to ice cream. It would undoubtedly have made an excellent chocolate mousse, but the recipe I made instead is really a sabayon based mousse, which is also a perfectly valid mousse method, just different.

Sabayon is also another wonderful pastry staple that has near-endless uses: it’s basically the French version of the Italian zabaglione, and is little more than eggs and sugar whisked and cooked into a buttercup-golden custard that can be layered in desserts or just eaten by the spoonful. In the case of mousse, it lends a gorgeous creaminess and fullness of flavor. This is the one other mousse recipe in my lineup that uses cooked eggs, and the extra steps in this method are indeed worth the effort, in my opinion.

You might be thinking that this method seems similar to the creme anglaise mousse #4 I made, and in principle they are very similar. But if you compare the ingredient ratios you’ll notice there is much more egg in the sabayon recipe. This makes for a much thicker and darker mixture. There’s also less dairy in this recipe, so the chocolate flavor is more pronounced, with less cream to soften out the edges. I found the mousse to be sweeter and creamier than #4 as well.  Zabaglione is traditionally made with Marsala, so it seems perfectly reasonable to splash a bit in this sabayon as well.

I really enjoyed this mousse – along with the first mousse, these two seem the most suited for straight eating. Just a couple more mousse-making tips – these apply to all the mousses I’ve made:

- Temperature is key. You’ll notice a temperature range for the melted chocolate in every recipe. When you are combining chilled whipped cream into warm chocolate, if the temperature difference is too great the cream will set the chocolate, creating little hard chips that ruin the texture of the mousse. You want the chocolate to have cooled down enough to avoid this temperature shock.

- Folding technique is also crucial. You’ve incorporated all this lovely air into the various mixtures – the last thing you want to do is mash it all out with over-vigorous mixing. That’s why most of the recipes feature steps where you incorporate a small bit of one mixture into another – for example, folding a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate – to help balance out the densities and make it easier to fully combine the two component together. Fold quickly and smoothly, and with as few strokes as possible – the more melt-in-your-mouth your mousse will be.

I hope this was a interesting tour of how many different ways mousse can be made. I would say that I could see uses for all of the five mousses I did try: #1 and #5 are great for eating, #2 is also good for milder palates, while #3 and #4 work well as dessert components. There’s still so many other methods I didn’t explore: pâte à bombe, meringue, Bavarian, or even the water-based mousse. I guess a second round is in order in the future? I’m going to take a little break from mousse right now, though, and let you all try and hand and tell me which one you like best.

Happy mousse making!

choc mousse 5 scoop

Chocolate Mousse, Sabayon Based

  • adapted from Cooking with Chocolate
  • 3/4 cup (200 ml) whipping cream, chilled
  • 6 oz (170 g) bittersweet (60-68%) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (45 g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • Place whipping cream in bowl of a stand mixer and whisk with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  • Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Make sabayon: Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, and water together in a large bowl until combined.
  • Place bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water and stir until mixture reaches 180 degrees F. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • When the chocolate mixture has cooled to 113-122 degrees F, fold in one-third of the whipped cream with a flexible spatula to lighten.
  • Fold in the rest of the whipped cream, and then fold in the sabayon.
  • Divide mousse among dessert glasses and chill for 12 hours. Mousse will keep for up to 2 days.

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Four

April 20th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse lineup

Remember back with mousse #1, where I discussed how eggs enriched a mousse like nothing else? The only issue was that the eggs in the classic French style mousse weren’t cooked, so it should be avoided by those with health concerns. However, the next two mousses use eggs that are cooked, so you don’t have to worry about anything – except perhaps your waistline! I think they’re worth the extra effort.

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Three + {Tool Review}: Tovolo Quick Prep Mixer

April 16th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

tavolo prep mixer

Apologies for falling behind on the mousse recipes – I wanted to add on a review of my latest kitchen gadget, one that’s very apropos for mousse-making.

The photo above is of the Tovolo Quick Hand Mixer. I picked mine up on sale from a kitchenware store – I’ll confess that normally I would have passed this by as unnecessary (I mean, all a good pastry chef needs is a whisk and some elbow grease, right?), but the price, plus the fact that it’s a perfect illustration of gear trains and the benefits of mechanical advantage made it too fun to pass up.

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Two

April 11th, 2012 · 9 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse spoon

Thanks for the feedback on my mousse project! As I anticipate typing the word “mousse” about a hundred times in the next couple days, I am totally waiting for “mouse” to slip into one of these posts and elude both the spellcheck and my mousse-addled eyes. If only I could blame Autocorrect when that happens…

Without further ado, mousse #2!

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology: Day One

April 10th, 2012 · 13 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse board

Sometimes you find yourself in an inspiration drought. I know that seems practically impossible these days, when Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest means there’s all sorts of inspiration for the taking, all the time, but sometimes I find the reverse happening. When you’re surrounded by everyone else’s cool ideas, and it seems like everything original has already been done, it’s hard to have room for creative thoughts of your own in your mind. Sometimes I find I need to step away from the overstimulation and let my brain wander and percolate ideas on its own. Like the classic writers’ advice, to stop reading when you’re trying to write your own book, so you don’t let other voices drown out your own.

I can’t guarantee that the project I came up with is wholly original, but at least it was a happy kickstart.  I tried to re-organize my bookshelf for the tenth time (I keep coming up with new algorithms for determining hierarchy) and ended up picking out Cooking with Chocolate: Essential Recipes and Techniques, which was a nominee for IACP best baking book of 2011. I concur with the short-listing: it’s a comprehensive compendium of classic chocolate techniques, easy to follow, and written in English – that last criterion can be a real killer when searching for advanced/professional level baking books!

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