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chefette

What's on your menu for dessert?

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In this little chunck of guilt-free calorie-free time between Christmas and New Year's resolutions when everyone is getting together with family and friends, preparing and consuming special meals and treats, what is everyone making, or buying, or looking for at the table?

I love these little chocolate cakey cookies frosted with fudge and topped with a maraschino cherry half. They are a must have, and gingerbread christmas tree cookies frosted with the good old fashioned 10X, butter, and milk recipe frosting with red hots as decoration. Somehow the season also seems to make me think of mint and chocolate too. Maybe people have alot of mints around at the holidays to help people who have indulged a bit more than they should ease their stomache pains.

Everyone lists off what they had or served for dinner, I think we need to start seeing more detail about the really special parts of everyone's meals - desserts.

Life is Short - Always start with dessert!


Edited by chefette (log)

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This year I did not have time to make any of my usuals. I did manage to make a few chocolate bon bons though.

I made a white chocolate nutmeg ganache with butter and a touch of rum that tasted like egg nog enrobed in dark chocolate (72%)

I also made a nice milk chocolate ganache infused with orange zest also enrobed in dark chocolate (72%)

I had prepared several other ganaches to make chocolates for friends and family (some experimental) but did not have time to make all the chocolates I had planned so wrapped and froze most of it for later use.

Tried and true; milk chocolate with cinnamon, dark chocolate with red wine infused with pear and spices, Manjari (simple, smooth, perfect in its natural complexity). I think that the holidays seem to be all about spices so I like to do a holiday chocolate spice collection.

My experimental ganache that I was not so happy with was based on a reduction of mulled apple cider with dark chocolate (no dairy).

The other dessert I usually think of for New Years is Creme Caramel.


Edited by chefette (log)

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I did a lemon sabayon with a pine nut crust and honey mascarpone whipped cream on the side. It was fantastic.

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Orange and cardamom infused dark chocolate truffles, raspberry marshmallows, chocolate haystack thingys (chocolate, corn flakes and toasted coconut), and orange and caramel rice crisps. I may also make some kind of cookie - something with nuts - or sweet/savory cracker depending on how much time and energy I have today.

Your "dark chocolate with red wine infused with pear and spices" sounds really interesting. was this a ganache that is formed into truffles? I'd love to hear more about this one.

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Comfort foods: Danish applecake and Danish ris a l'amande (and a couple of turns with my new ice cream maker!).

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The ganache with red wine infused with pear and spices is something I have been playing around with for a couple of years now since we did a Kosher Parve class for a Jewish Community Center. I wanted to come up with a way for them to make and enjoy a nice chocolate cake with ganache just like anyone else.

I like to use the somewhat reduced liquid from poaching pears in red wine to make the ganache. It works out rather well, although if you were specifically considering the ganache and not the pears, you would want to cut back a bit on the sugar to make it less sweet.

pretty much substitute the wine mix for cream - yummmm.


Edited by chefette (log)

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when we were kids my Mom always made what we thought of as a sweedish tea ring. I really miss those.

Anna, are you from a Danish background? Or you just love these Danish treats?


Edited by chefette (log)

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good topic chefette - you're right, dessert does not get nearly the amount of attention it deserves.

nightscotsman - where do you get your recipe for raspberry marshamllows? I am a sucker for a homeade marshmallow, but have failed hopelessly (and countless times) with the recipes I've tried. But, in Dorie Greenspan's new book (called "Paris Sweets", I think) she has a recipe for strawberry marshmallows that I want to try. But, she uses fresh strawberries to first make a puree, and I am afraid to use the flavorless ones in the grocery store right now. (I can't handle another disappointment in my attempts at a passable marshmallow) I was going to wait until I could pick my own in May. Does anyone know if there is some alternative for flavoring the marshmallows?

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Having joyously sampled Nightscotman's strawberry marshmallows (recipe on The PNW thread - "Egullet Holiday Party In Seattle, at the Blue Onion Bistro") I'd guess that he has a winning recipe for raspberry ones too. Just substitute of puree? Oh yeah - I assume you strain either version before adding to the mix? He also mentioned using some orange flower water.

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I did a lemon sabayon with a pine nut crust and honey mascarpone whipped cream on the side. It was fantastic.

That's the French Laundry lemon tart, right ? Try it with Meyer lemons while they're still in season (you still have 2 balls of dough in the freezer, right ?)

- S

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good topic chefette - you're right, dessert does not get nearly the amount of attention it deserves.

nightscotsman - where do you get your recipe for raspberry marshamllows? I am a sucker for a homeade marshmallow, but have failed hopelessly (and countless times) with the recipes I've tried. But, in Dorie Greenspan's new book (called "Paris Sweets", I think) she has a recipe for strawberry marshmallows that I want to try. But, she uses fresh strawberries to first make a puree, and I am afraid to use the flavorless ones in the grocery store right now. (I can't handle another disappointment in my attempts at a passable marshmallow) I was going to wait until I could pick my own in May. Does anyone know if there is some alternative for flavoring the marshmallows?

Here's a link to the page of the thread with the marshmallow recipe: clickster (scroll about halfway down the page). I tried Dory's recipe, but I thought they came out lighter and airier than I was looking for. I wanted creamy and gooey. So I took her flavoring idea and combined it with Martha's no-egg-whites recipe and it seemed to work.

No need to waste fresh strawberries when you're just going to puree them. Frozen will have much better flavor than any you can get in a standard supermarket anyway. I wouldn't strain either - the seeds are tiny and they remind you you're eating the real thing. To make other flavors just substitute different purees (though you'd want to strain out larger seeds, like raspberry).

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hey - thanks nightscotmsman for the tips! I especially like the idea of leaving the seeds in. I tried Martha's recipe once, I think it was among the more successful batches, but still not quite what I wanted. Maybe with a little pracitce I'll finally get it right.

I've seen the long, rope-like "homeade" french marshmallows, but have never bought them because 1) I figured they could never be fresh enough to be any good and 2) the real reason, because I could never get myself to pay 2 or so dollars per marshmallow when I can pick up a whole bag of jiffy-puff for a fraction of the price. I am such an American... But, the flavors always seem right - I wouldn't say no to trying a rosewater marshmallow.

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when we were kids my Mom always made what we thought of as a sweedish tea ring.  I really miss those.

Anna, are you from a Danish background?  Or you just love these Danish treats?

No, born a Brit but proud to be Canadian. I married a Dane some forty years ago and fell in love with Danish food (as well as The Dane).

Like all ex-pats though, when you actually go home again, as it were, you discover you are more Danish than the Danes! In my husband's family, we seem to be an anachronism. They have moved on to much lighter, healthier food! Traditional Danish dishes are only served to visiting relatives.

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Fish@ Dec 30 2002, 09:04 PM

That's the French Laundry lemon tart, right ? Try it with Meyer lemons while they're still in season (you still have 2 balls of dough in the freezer, right ?)

Thanks for the advice. I want to use the balls before they go bad.

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I myself have never actually made marshmellows, but while I was staging at the French Laundry they were making and serving fresh marshmellows as petit fours. It seems easy and fast - so fast that I missed seeing it done. It did seem that resting the marshmellow properly before cutting them up was important.

I agree with Nightscotsman that for pureeing you should select frozen berries. Trader Joes is a great resource for good frozen berries at excellent prices.

Night (ok for short?) how do you use/serve your marshmellows?

Anna, have you ever tried the apple cake at Ikea? We were shopping there the other day and I thought what the heck - let's try it and it was pretty good. I would get it again. I admit, I did ask if I could microwave it and it was nice all warmed up. The sauce was disappointing though. Anyway, if you have tried it, is this like your cake?

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Made the Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake for Christmas Day. Tomorrow will be trying to make a Zuccotto cake for the first time.

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Who's up for locating and making something new for dessert tomorrow that we have never made before but wanted to, but were afraid of for some reason? Or creating some new dessert?

We can all report back here about what we attempted, or created how it worked out, how we might change it, etc. Any takers?

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I am thinking of trying out one of Michel Bras desserts: The Nougat Millefeuille with banana butter, yogurt cream, and caramelized almonds on page 187 from The Essential Cuisine of Michel Bras. It looks intriguing--I suspect getting the thin nougatine layers just right might be the most interesting part.

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I'm in charge of the dessert for tonight meal...

I didn't had a lot of spare time so yesterday, at the restaurant I made a cake: dacquoise with spices ( cinamon, nutmeg, star anise, pepper...), cranberry compotte, almonds praliné and a manjari mousse.

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I'm in for trying something new if I can get access to my own kitchen. My mother has taken over and I haven't been able to do much more than make tea or coffee the last week and a half. I did make a Chestnut Mousse Cake for Christmas Eve that tasted exactly how I wanted but looked rather dismal. My mother had put away the clean dishes, utensils and cutlery in all the wrong places and I couldn't find anything.

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Don't you just love how 'helpful' mothers can be in the kitchen? I guess its payback for all those times we 'helped' mommy make something and it took four times as long and the cleanup was never really fully realized.

My Mom's birthday is right after Christmas and when I was about 10 I decided that I was fully capable of making and decorating an immensely beutiful birthday cake for her without any supervision. I completed the chocolate cake layers (using my Grandmother's recipe) without incident. I made the frosting - an astounding puse buttercream. At this point I probably need to add that I managed this whole project wearing my brand new ruby red patent leather mary janes :wub: (that I had just tormented my poor mom into procuring for me the way only a determined child mesmerized by something in a department store can :rolleyes:

As I very carefully frosted the sides of the cake without paying much attention to the edge of the counter or gravity, the whole cake ended up on my new shoes - my Dad rushed to the rescue (of the cake) scooped it up, slathered it with whipped cream and froze it in rough cake form. We talk about it every Christmas. It is a wonder we never made upside down puse buttercream chocolate cake enrobed in whipped cream a standing tradition. :biggrin:

Fortunately my Mother has not chosen to come help me in the same manner :laugh:

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Chefette,

How is that book, Michel Bras?

Was tempted to buy it, but havent yet

Any good ideas from the French Laundry on petit fours?

I made marshamallows yesterday and the spatula slipped into the sugar and splattered on my hand, , thank god I keep ice water near by, pretty bad burn though.

I think the syrup evaporated too much so the marshamallows got a little hard. I microwaved them for 12 seconds then browned them with a torch, serving em with my espresso pots du creme for tonight.

Happy New Year

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I really like the Bras book. Cool ideas, great presentation. So far though I cannot say that I have been really overwhelmed by anything I have made. Admittedly I only made two savory items and one pastry item. If I do this banana nougatine thing it will be my first complete dessert from his book. It certainly is full of great ideas though - very inspiring.

French Laundry petit fours? I assume you are asking what they were serving. While I was there they were doing a little passionfruit gellied curd dome on a fluted round of sable with candied lime zest crossed on top, something I don't exactly recall with a rosette of cream and half a raspberry, tiny chocolate tartletts (filled and fired a la minute), marshmellows, soft caramels, house made truffles (a trick to enrobe in the afternoon heat without air conditioning), house made molded chocolates, and an assortment of incredibly beautiful macaroons (beet, lemon, rose, plain, chocolate, pistachio... ) served to guests in beautiful porcelain boxes

But back to the thread - are you making anything special for New Years? Anything traditional? Anything new?

I think the tradition should be to try something new for the New Year, to move forward into new pastry areas, skills, flavors, and presentations--it should be strictly wrong just to reach back and do safe old things.

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Don't forget there are two Bras books--Essential Cuisine, which is the one Chefette was talking about--but also the Bras Dessert Notebook. Both are superb in their own way. (We've discussed them both on the site in other threads.)

On my menu for new "New Year's Eve" desserts for 250 people tonight--"Coconut two ways with mango salad and lime gelee"--built as a parfait--lime gelee, brunoise of mango tossed with vanilla, lime and a Chilean "Botrytis" dessert wine called Montes, a jiggly coconut cream with the consistency of "tembleque," topped with a very light coconut espuma and also "Choco-Coco-Banana"--a warm chocolate cake with liquid coconut center, Venezuelan chocolate flan (with Michel Cluizel 72% VZ chocolate) caramelized bananas, caramel gelee and salty plantain powder.

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I myself have never actually made marshmellows, but while I was staging at the French Laundry they were making and serving fresh marshmellows as petit fours.  It seems easy and fast - so fast that I missed seeing it done.  It did seem that resting the marshmellow properly before cutting them up was important.

Night (ok for short?) how do you use/serve your marshmellows?

So far I've just served them as petit fours/snacks and to top hot chocolate (strawberry marshmallow on hot chocolate - perfect). They are so easy and good that I suspect I will be a little marshmallow obsessed for a while until I can try all the flavors and combinations that are swiming through my head. And yes, the resting part is vitally important as it takes a very long time for gelatine to reach maximum stability at room temp.

I'm also very interested in the Michel Bras book. Beautifully photographed and some great presentation ideas. I have the Dessert Notebook and it was delightful to read. Made his candied vegetables to go over vanilla panna cotta and his tomato pate de fruits - both very good, though several people I gave them to got a little freaked out when I told them the fruit jellies were tomato. Hmmm... tomato marshmallows? Naaah. :blink:

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