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An Evening Pick-Me-Up {CtBF}

Crème brûlée is one of my favorite desserts to order in a restaurant.  I find the contrast between the creamy custard and the melted sugar crust a pleasing way to end a meal.  The only other time I’ve made crème brûlée at home was about 5 years ago for French Fridays with Dorie.  When this week’s recipe challenge for Cook the Book Fridays was another version of crème brûlée, this time infused with coffee flavors, I was ready to try it again.

The custard is relatively easy to put together.  The milk, cream and sugar are warmed together, then whisked into egg yolks.  The mixture is flavored with instant espresso powder and coffee-flavored liqueur.  I used an ANCIENT bottle of Tia Maria that my mother gave me when she cleaned out her liquor cabinet over 30 years ago.  Alcohol must be quite the preservative because I tasted it first and it still tasted like coffee liqueur.

You don’t even have to thicken it on the stovetop, worrying about clumping or burning.  Crème brûlée is gently cooked in a water bath in the oven until set.  Mine took almost an hour to get to that point, possibly because I used small ramekins instead of lower gratin dishes, but I wasn’t in any hurry.

The custards wait in the refrigerator until it’s time for dessert.  I sprinkled a heavy layer of sugar on top of each bowl, then I put Howard in charge of the mini-blowtorch.  He seemed to enjoy melting the sugar until it was slightly golden.  After all that bubbling, it’s surprising how quickly the topping hardens.

After my first experience, I think one reason this elegant yet easy treat didn’t make it into my repertoire is that Howard insisted this wasn’t a dessert he enjoyed.  With this latest version, I convinced him that it was like coffee ice cream, which he does like.  He was a sport and tried it.  I think he surprised himself when he liked it.  I filled 6 ramekins, so we shared the leftovers with my in-laws when they visited this weekend.  They liked coffee crème brûlée too!  Maybe we will be making this again, at least the coffee version.

I used the egg whites to make this impressive (and more difficult) dessert, an almond macaroon torte with chocolate frosting from Smitten Kitchen.

If you’d like to give coffee crème brûlée a try, you can find the recipe here on Leite’s Culinaria or on page 253 in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  To see how the other bloggers from Cook the Book Fridays made out, follow the links to their results here.

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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.