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Valentine's Eve Dessert


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I have not posted for a time due to work load. Let me expand a bit. At the beginning of December I was asked by a local bowls and social club if I would be interested in cooking a dinner every Friday evening for members of the club. I accepted the challenge and was supposed to start the catering at the beginning of February - except the previous catering folk decided to abscond in December and thus I started the catering at the beginning of January. I have now done three Friday evening dinners with the fourth next week. Dinner consists of two courses - either a starter and main or main and dessert. Being summer at the moment, I am doing mains and deserts until the winter months start.

Now, it may be a bit unlucky for some (I am not superstitious), but Valentines Day is on a Saturday this year and thus Friday the 13th is my meal evening and I was thinking of a simple dessert for the approximately 50 club members who order the Friday meal, with a Valentine's theme. My initial thoughts were a heart shaped meringue with a dollop of cream topped with red berries. However, I am not too sure of the availability of fresh red berries nor their cost at the moment. Also, these meals are low budget (what isn't these days) and thus I need to keep this in mind.

Right, other than my meringue idea, mentioned above, anybody wish to throw in some thoughts or ideas?

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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You can substitute tart strawberry or raspberry coulis for the whole berries.  Even better, I think, unless the berries are very fresh, and frozen berries can be used.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Plated desserts are often just two or three simple things cobbled together. You could bake some small, two-bite cookies to add crunch. They could be made a day ahead, or even just the dough could be made in advance. A sheet pan of brownies would also be good.

 

Panna cotta is a good choice, you can make it a day or two in advance, as well. (you can serve it with some fresh fruit topping it, but it wouldn't have to be berries) However, you will need individual cups (could be disposable) to mold it in.

 

If you have the heat-proof cups, or can buy those heart shaped foil cups, pots de creme is good and again can be made a day in advance. One of my favorite types is to just put a spoonful of seedless raspberry jam in the bottom of the cup and fill with vanilla custard. Serve this with a crisp cookie, and you're done. Bread pudding is also good in individual cups -look around for interesting stale bread to use, like day old sticky buns or cinnamon rolls.

 

And, there's always cheesecake -it's really easy to make, and can be made in flavors. It can be cooked individually or in large rounds. You can decorate the top by separating out a little of the batter and dying it red then making designs with that.

 

Ice cream or sorbet might be nice. Once again, it can be made in advance, even portioned out in advance if you can keep the bowls or plates cold.

 

Mousse is good if you don't have access to extra cups for cooking. You can scoop it our from a big bowl as it is served, and, a little goes a long way.

Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
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ruthcooks: I do not know why I did not think of a berry coulis - thanks for that!

Shel_B: I did originally think of a panna cotta but the moulds are a problem - it would need spending large amounts to buy imported items that would get very limited use in the future. Good suggestion as I too like panna cotta!

Lisa Shock: Some nice ideas, thanks. Your brownie idea is actually quite good and I will throw that around in my head a bit. Just off the cuff, a very dark square brownie slice with a white heart of icing sugar could do. Unfortunately, getting heart shaped moulds, be they foil or permanent, is quite difficult here at the bottom pointy end of Africa. The best I can do at short notice is make heart shaped moulds using acetate strips, which will not stand up to the temps in the oven.

But, I can easily make 50 heart shaped acetate moulds and make refrigerator cheesecakes with a red fruit coulis topping - the white and red contrast should look quite good. Something for me to play around with in the coming week. A mousse may also go down well done in the same way.

Thanks for the thought so far.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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Brownies could be cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter from a sheet pan. (freeze the scraps to make rum balls, or mix with some other scraps for bread pudding) Remember to put parchment paper down before the batter. You could dust them with icing sugar, or pipe a smaller heart in the center using ganache or red icing.

 

It's pretty easy to pipe a heart shape, just use a fairly large round tip and pipe a round shape, then pull it at a little bit of an angle to taper off to a point that's a little off center. Then pipe another round the same size right next to it and pull the point in the opposite direction, towards the other one. Pictures.

 

Oh yeah, linzer cookies would be nice, if you have heart shaped cutters and some red colored jam.

 

Also, don't forget that coulis can be used to paint on plates, like drawing a heart on the plate. Load it into a fine tipped squirt bottle; the beauty supply stores here sell ones with very fine points, designed for use with hair dye.

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Pannacotta can be made in simple plastic mugs and then turned out, it doesn't have to be heart shaped but then use a red fruit pure or coulis on the plate.

 

What fruits are in season right now?

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I just returned from catering a "Sunday Live Music" event, which I do every three weeks or so. It is a junk food catering event. Went thru 24kg fried chips, 50 chicken & mushroom pies, 50 hotdogs and 75 boerewors rolls. I am knackered!

But, I have thought about the Valentines Eve Dessert during the day and am now considering a panne cotta with a fruit or berry coulis. I have quite a bit of egg whites in my freezer, so am thinking of making a whole bunch of pink meringue hearts, only about 2.5 to 3mm thick, to plop on top of the panne cotta

To answer CP's question re fruit in season, basically everything with the exception of citrus. But I do not know about berries - that I will be able to determine during the coming week when I can pop into my fruit and veg supplier. I will also have a look at what frozen berries are available during the week and what their price is.

Back in the morning - John.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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I dont know what grows in South Africa.  If it had been here I would said get  rhubarb or locally picked  fruit, the cheapest and start your menu from there.  

 

We are going to have either apple pie or pear and ginger pie on  Valentine day.

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Spent a time visiting some of my suppliers. Frozen berries are out - waaaaaay too expensive. One supplier will make sure he will have some fresh strawberries for me on the 12th ( they are nearly out of season here). So, I will make a few test panne cotta later this week and also make a heart shaped mould for doing small meringue hearts and see how they turn out. I will post a few photos of the tests for comment. John.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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Shel_B: I did originally think of a panna cotta but the moulds are a problem - it would need spending large amounts to buy imported items that would get very limited use in the future. Good suggestion as I too like panna cotta!

 

 

FWIW, in the past, I've made panna cotta for pot lucks and other situations where I did not use a mold.  I made the dessert in a large container and let people scoop out just what they wanted.  While the technique may not be ideal for every situation, it is an option for some.

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 ... Shel


 

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Shel_B, yes, that is the way I would do it for a normal club event/evening. However, there are two reasons for individual mouldings - one is to portion the desserts due to costs and ensure we do not have some folk "over indulging" and the other is really for the sentiment of the Valentines Day and presentation that can be done easily with individual units.

Tomorrow I will cut the strip mould for the little meringue hearts as I need to bake meringues for another client and should be able to do both the order and my own batch in one bake. We also have another problem here at the southern tip of Africa and that is that the country is running out of the ability to generate enough electricity and we have "load shedding" in progress each day. This really screws up cooking and baking - my ovens are electric but, fortunately, my cooking plates are all gas. This is just one of those things a person has to contend with living in a third world country!

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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You can freehand pipe meringue cookies as hearts, it's pretty much the same as piping heart shaped macaron.

Ah Lisa, I am no longer a spring chicken like yourself! In the past I could freehand pipe perfect meringues, icings and batters on a rocking boat - now I am on land and the land is stable, the hand movement has the rocking motion, which causes too many "oopsies" thus the quick way of doing it with a flat mould and scraper, similar in making a tuile. But thanks for the thought.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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John do a none bake dessert then. Much easier  and also safer for you.

Hey CP, that's what I am doing, except for the little meringue hearts. Meringue does not really cook - it really dries out. So if the power goes off whilst doing them, it makes no real difference - I just leave them in the oven and they will be done in no time as the oven slowly cools.

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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Right - a bit of a report back. I made a mould for my hearts but could only find a 1mm thick plastic strip. I did a few samples but they are just a bit too thin for my liking. So, in the morning I will glue two strips of the plastic together and make a 2mm thick heart mould. I also made 5 sample vanilla panna cotta which are spending the night in the refrigerator - they look good so far but I must wait and see how they un-mould from the plastic cups I used as moulds. Could be interesting! Once my tests are ready tomorrow afternoon, I will plate two of them and do the necessary photo's and post them. The panna cotta are 100g each to keep things cost effective. And I now stink delightfully after handling only one Madagascar vanilla bean - they are ones I smuggled back into the country after visiting Madagascar on a yacht delivery two years ago and still have about 70 or so beans left.

Edited to correct the iPad auto correct!

Edited by JohnT (log)
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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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when I make individual pavlovas, I trace circles onto parchment to use as a piping guide.  You could do the same with the heart shapes and after tracing, flip the parchment over so the meringue does not touch the ink.  If you are very very good (I am not!) you can put a blank parchment over the marked one and then slide the marked parchment out from under after you pipe the meringue.

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John : My friend is making  panna cotta for valentines day  but she is making them round and here comes the clever bit.  She made a sheet of raspberry berry panna cotta, cut out hearts and  put them in the bottom of the round mould and then added  white  vanilla pannacotta and let it set.  It look stunning and is easier to make and she is make 500 of them.

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Okay, here is the test result - sorry for the bad photo but I do not have a good camera for these sort of things! The coulis is actually quit a bright red and not brownish, as in the photo. The small meringue heart is of my first "way too thin" batch as the power has been off again today and I have not had the time to cut the thicker one - it needs a lot of improvement!

However, the panna cotta was darn good, but has a fault in the moulding (the name of the company who moulds the plastic cup), so I had to spread some of the coulis to hide this.

image.jpg

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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That looks like something I'd enjoy if someone were to serve it to me. I admire your solution to the 'name in the mold' problem! :-D

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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That looks like something I'd enjoy if someone were to serve it to me. I admire your solution to the 'name in the mold' problem! :-D

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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When you glue together two 1mm thicknesses, I wonder whether you'll end up with cracking (due to stretching of the outer strip or compression of the inner strip) when you try to bend them. Do you plan to curve them somewhat before gluing?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I have already bonded the strips and the 2mm result is quite flexible. The plastic is a food grade that is used for making heat formed food containers and the glue was supplied by the company that does the mouldings. It is more a bonding fluid than a glue - you coat it onto the plastic and it desolved the surface layer slightly then push the two strips together and apply pressure for about an hour. When I cut the bonded strip, there is no sign of any joint - it just appears to be a solid 2mm strip. What it actually is, I have no idea other than being told by the moulding company that is is food grade after curing and perfectly safe.

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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