Dessert First, Please

Monday, February 15, 2010

Steve and I celebrated a fabulous Valentine's Day by taking a stab at Indian cooking. Not going to lie - our house smelled ah-mazing! But, I decided that the way to blog our dinner was by starting with the end of our evening...dessert!

I found this recipe for a Strawberry Mousse Cake Strata on Use Real Butter and knew this would be the perfect Valentine's treat. But, since Valentine's Day is nothing without hearts, hearts everywhere, I made some little extras and adjustments to the original.

A day in advance, made some chocolate hearts. I went super simple and just melted some semi-sweet chocolate chips in a pan. I used a little less than half a bag, but for what I needed I easily could have used less.

After the chips were good and melted, I spread the chocolate onto a baking sheet that was lined with parchment paper. I popped this into the fridge for 30-45 minutes until the chocolate was pretty solid. (Note: if you're not sure if it's done, try cutting out a small shape as a test. It will be VERY easy to tell if your chocolate is firm enough!)

Once the chocolate was firmed up, I cut out my hearts with some cookie cutters.

I think I'm a sucker for everything heart shaped...especially chocolate! I placed the hearts into a tupperware, placed parchment paper in between them so they wouldn't get stuck together, and put them in the fridge.

On Sunday morning it was time to make the cake! The recipe for the strata called for a chiffon cake. I opted to just make a white butter cake (recipe, below) because chiffon cakes call for far too many eggs and I didn't feel like blowing my supply on one cake!

Once the cakes were cooled, I popped them in the freezer for about an hour or two for them to really firm up. I then pulled them out of the freezer and grabbed one of my heart-shaped springform pans to cut out heart shaped cakes.

I got 4 hearts out of two 8-inch layers, which was all we needed. The original strata recipe has you split the layers in half which means you can get more desserts out of this, but we didn't need any more than 4.

We also didn't complain as we shoved the leftover cake into our mouths. Who doesn't love a little cake for lunch? Also, don't make the same mistake as me and line your cookie sheet with parchment before putting the cakes on there or they'll stick like crazy, ugh.

After cutting the cakes I slid them into the springform pans. These worked out perfectly in lieu of using molds. I spread strawberry preserves on top...

And then layered on the strawberry mousse that I whipped up. Then I popped these babies into the freezer. This is a great make ahead recipe because you can freeze them all day and then pull them out a little before you want to eat them.

After we fixed all of the chaos in the kitchen from our spread of chicken tikka, samosas and naan, I pulled the dessert out of the freezer, took them out of the molds and topped them with the whipped cream I had made just minutes before.

This dessert was just ammmazing. It was like eating a strawberry shortcake and the chocolate heart was an excellent edition. My mind is now wandering to the leftovers in the fridge...nom nom nom.

White Butter Cake

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar, divided
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

While eggs are still cold separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 3/4 cup (150 grams) of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour.

Strawberry Mousse

Note: below is the full recipe. I divided this by half because I only made 4 individual desserts.

1 envelope gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups strawberries (sliced, or if frozen strawberries, then thawed)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp sugar

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small saucepan and let soak for a minute. If using frozen strawberries, use 1/4 cup of the strawberry liquid instead of water. Stir over low heat until the gelatin is dissolved (about a minute). Remove from heat.

Mix the berries, sugar, and gelatin mixture in a food processor and purée. Chill until the mixture piles in a mound when spooned. Beat the cream and sugar to soft peaks. Temper the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture (incorporate about a third of the whipped cream first). Fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

Note: below is the full recipe. I divided this by half because I only made 4 individual desserts.

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 tbsp sugar

Combine cream and sugar in mixing bowl and whip on high until soft peaks.

Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut as many circles from the butter cake, or small springform pans that can double as molds. Place each circle of cake at the base of a 3-inch diameter ring mold (2-inches high) or springform pan. Spoon about one to two teaspoons of strawberry preserves on top of the cake and spread it evenly to the edges. Spoon strawberry mousse into each ring mold to the top. Freeze the ring molds for a couple of hours. When ready, remove ring molds from freezer and push the strata out of the mold onto serving plate. Let it come to room temperature (about 30 minutes to an hour) and top with whipped cream.


Mrs. Hot Cocoa said...

That looks adorable and delicious. For Valentine's Day, all I managed for dessert was a half-eaten carton of Ben & Jerry's. ;-)

Anonymous said...

That looks delicious. Strawberries and Chocolate, 2 of my favorites! I'll have to keep this in mind. I didn't make anything for Valentine's day because we went on a ski trip (first time ever!)

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