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Dessert Incompatibility {CtBF}

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As Howard and I say, we’re “dessert incompatible”.  I’m far from a chocoholic.  I’ll eat chocolate, but it’s never my first choice.  On the other hand, for Howard, it’s chocolate all the way.  When I try making a new dessert usually only one of us loves it.  It’s tough…

Now that we’re cooking through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, I’m discovering new twists on familiar and new recipes.  Take this week’s choice, for example.  Chocolate Mousse is something that I always forget about.  I’ve made it a few times before, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.  However, it’s not something that comes to mind when I’m deciding what to make for dessert.

Discovering this week’s recipe Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse takes things over the top.  The name says it all.  It’s not just chocolate mousse. It’s chocolate mousse that starts with a salted caramel.  I used to be terrified of molten sugar, but the more I make it, the more comfortable I get.  Melt sugar, whisk in butter and cream, and you’ve got caramel.  Stir in chopped dark chocolate until it melts and you have chocolate caramel.

Chocolate Caramel

Once it cools to room temperature (we don’t want scrambled eggs in our caramel, do we?), you whisk in egg yolks.  Finally, fold in stiff egg whites with some fleur de sel, and you have salted butter caramel-chocolate mousse.  Spoon the mousse into glasses.  Voilà!  Who would think that something so good would be relatively easy to make?  The hard part is waiting at least 8 hours for it to chill.

The mousse is packed with flavor.  Both the chocolate and the caramel flavors come through.  It’s sweet, but not too sweet.  It’s light, so not too filling a dessert.  The small juice glasses I used are the perfect size for a little treat after dinner.

Dessert Tray

So far Cook the Book Fridays’ new book choice hasn’t disappointed.  I will have to remember to serve this mousse to company so it’s deliciousness can be shared.

If you want to try it at home, you can find the recipe on page 258 of My Paris Kitchen.  The recipe has also been published on Epicurious.  To see what my friends thought of the mousse, check their links here.

The core of Cook the Book Fridays are bloggers who met through French Fridays with Dorie, have remained friends, and enjoy cooking together (virtually anyway). All are welcome to join us as we continue the journey through another French cookbook, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

ffwd: double-chocolate and banana tart

I think this recipe should have been called a double chocolate and double banana tart. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is an unusual dessert. The double chocolate comes from a chocolate shortbread crust and a thick layer of ganache. The double banana comes from a layer of caramelized bananas and a layer of fresh banana slices.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned below, the primary other eater at my house doesn’t mix fruit and chocolate and wouldn’t have anything to do with a banana for a million dollars. So I had to get a little creative with this one. Once again, I went the mini route. The full pastry recipe made four mini tart shells. I’ve made the non-chocolate version of this crust before. With both versions, I just love the ease of the press-in dough. I also think the texture and flavor of the pastry is excellent.

The original plan was to make one banana mini tart and then figure out what to do with the others afterwards. As it turned out, my friend Karen came over for a visit, so I made two banana mini tarts for us to eat while we caught up.

The caramelized bananas didn’t actually come out the way I expected. I don’t know whether I sliced the bananas too thin, but they pretty much fell apart while they were caramelizing. I did transfer the mixture to a parchment-covered plate, but there wasn’t anything to pat off, and when it cooled, I was afraid I’d be stuck with a hard candy blob. So, I quickly divided the soft mixture to the mini tart shells to harden in place.

The ganache layer was simple to put together. Hot cream is poured over finely chopped bittersweet chocolate to melt the chocolate. Then butter is whisked in to finish the ganache. I spread the ganache over the bananas and let it cool in the fridge for about an hour. I only made half the ganache called for and used only half in these mini tarts.

To finish it off, I arranged sliced bananas over the chocolate and glazed it with melted apricot jam. They were gorgeous!

Karen and I had fun critiquing the tarts and figuring out how to perfect them. We thought the caramelized banana layer was the best part and that there wasn’t nearly enough of it. In a full tart, the layer must have been awfully thin. We thought the tart should have had at least twice as much caramelized banana in it. We also thought the double chocolate might have been overkill, and that a plain shortbread crust would have been better. We also didn’t love the apricot glaze. A simple caramel drizzle would have been nice and maybe a touch of crème anglaise.

Howard wasn’t at all disappointed to miss out on the chocolate banana tart, but he does adore chocolate. I took a cue from the bonne idée for this one and combined Dorie’s idea for a chocolate nutella tart with Karen and my ideas on improving the original and concocted chocolate caramel almond tarts with the remaining two chocolate shells.

I spread a thin layer of Trader Joe’s fleur de sel caramel sauce on the bottom, then I reheated the rest of the ganache and spread that on top. Finally, I toasted some sliced almonds and layered them on top of the ganache and let it rest in the fridge to firm up. To finish it off, I drizzled more of the caramel over the almonds just before serving. It was pretty, not as gorgeous as the banana version, but looking fine. It was rich, but Howard liked it. I could see making the full sized version sometime.

Check out how the other Doristas made out with their tarts here. We don’t share the recipes here, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Going Banana-less with a Chocolate Caramel Almond Tart