Desserts/Pastries

Cooks Illustrated Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake

October 2017 Fam Din
We’re Chocoholics.

Every single one of us.

October 2017 Fam Din
From Ôn and Mệ (our paternal grandparents) that would give us Andes chocolates as goodies….

To our Folks…(particularly Dad these days…)

To all five Sibbies

and especially all of our Munchkins.

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
Mmmm….Chocolate.

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
So when we discovered the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake from Porto’s Bakery –it became a staple at our celebrations!

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
A rich chocolate cake layer base….

Topped by a chocolatey mousse layer…

Then topped with another white chocolatey mousse layer.

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
Perfection.

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
A while back, seester asked me to make a version of our beloved cake. Which was perfect timing because I had just stumbled across a version by Cooks Illustrated that I really wanted to try out.

October 2017 Fam Din
Their recipes are very specific and detailed….but for this recipe, not difficult at all. Just takes some time. Trust the process, it’s so worth it.

Oh–and don’t skimp out on the quality chocolate peeps. Since it’s the star of the show, indulge a bit.

October 2017 Fam Din
The bottom layer is a flourless chocolate cake.

Decadent and delicious.

October 2017 Fam Din
The second layer, is a rich and scrumptious bittersweet chocolate mousse.

So velvety divine.

October 2017 Fam Din
Next is the fluffy white chocolate mousse layer — airy and dreamy.

And don’t forget the chocolate shavings to garnish!

October 2017 Fam Din
And now that I’m looking at these pictures — I’m wondering why the heckI haven’t made it recently again?! Must fix that soon!

Happy Chocolate Dreams!!! ❤

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Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake
Serves 12-16

Ingredients:

BOTTOM LAYER
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus extra for greasing pan
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
pinch table salt
⅓ cup packed (about 2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar, crumbled with fingers to remove lumps

MIDDLE LAYER
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
5 tablespoons hot water
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1½ cups cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon table salt

TOP LAYER
¾ teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon water
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1½ cups cold heavy cream

Shaved chocolate or cocoa powder for serving, optional

FOR THE BOTTOM LAYER:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of 91/2-inch springform pan. Melt butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down sides halfway through. Using whisk, fold one-third of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Carefully transfer batter to prepared springform pan, gently smoothing top with offset spatula.

Bake until cake has risen, is firm around edges, and center has just set but is still soft (center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse as it cools.) Do not remove cake from pan.

FOR THE MIDDLE LAYER:

Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.

In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.

Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into springform pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.

FOR THE TOP LAYER:

In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand at least 5 minutes. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. Bring ½ cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly).

In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Smooth top with offset spatula. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours.

TO SERVE:

If using, garnish top of cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa. Run thin knife between cake and side of springform pan; remove side of pan. Run cleaned knife along outside of cake to smooth sides. Cut into slices and serve.

NOTE:

This recipe requires a springform pan at least 3 inches high. It is imperative that each layer is made in sequential order. Cool the base completely before topping it with the middle layer. We recommend Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar for the base and middle layers; our other recommended brand of chocolate, Callebaut Intense Dark L-60-40NV, may be used, but it will produce drier, slightly less sweet results. Our preferred brand of white chocolate is Guittard Choc-Au-Lait White Chips. For best results, chill the mixer bowl before whipping the heavy cream. The entire cake can be made through step 8 and refrigerated up to a day in advance; leave it out at room temperature for up to 45 minutes before releasing it from the cake pan and serving. For neater slices, use a cheese wire or dip your knife in hot water before cutting each slice.

Recipe: Cooks Illustrated. Instructional Video available here.

 

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Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies

It’s no secret folks…I love cookies.

And it’s during this time of year that I like to try out a few new recipes to add to my Holiday Cookie Platters.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
The usual suspects are often:

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
And sometimes I’ll throw in a Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie or a Peppermint Kissed Brownie to stir things up.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
For this year, I wanted to use dried cranberries and pistachios together to create a festive sweet treat. And why not add white chocolate chips to the party?

It’s all kind of healthy-ish….right? Like trail mix?

Ok….that may be a stretch.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
I opted to adapt the NY Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Jacque Torres because I love the textures of the cookie once baked—crisp on the outside and chewy on the interior.

In lieu of the vanilla extract, I used orange extract and fresh orange zest to pair with the flavors.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
Folks were a fan of them! They’re super chunky and filled with lots of different textures from the nuts, chocolate and berries.

Definitely filled with Holiday goodness.

ps. We’re three days away from Christmas even and I still haven’t finished shopping! EEK!

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White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pistachio Cookies
Makes approximately 2 dozen

Ingredients:

 

8.5 ounces cake flour
8.5 ounces bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ¼ cups unsalted butter
6 ounces light brown sugar
6 ounces granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons orange extract
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 heaping cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 heaping cup roasted & unsalted pistachios, chopped

 

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the orange extract and zest. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the white chocolate chips, dried cranberries and pistachios—mix until just combined. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop mounds of dough the size of large golf balls onto baking sheet and slightly flatten the dough balls. Bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough and enjoy!

Adapted from NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Forgive me. This is a HORRIBLE photo.

But the fact of the matter is, you wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t share this with you. So after weighing out the lesser of two evils, I said— “LET THEM EAT (cheese)CAKE!”

I made this for our family Christmas party and amidst all of the cooking/baking, catching up with the fam, and partaking in holiday cocktails—I totally missed photographing this little number and only caught a quick pic on my phone. I know, I know. The same woman who makes her loved ones eat cold food because I have to take a hundred photos first, totally blew it. DOH!

But I think you’ll forgive me once you try this beauty. Creamy, dense cheesecake studded with white chocolate and swirls of raspberry puree. DEE-LISH. I chose to use ginger snaps for the crust as an homage to the holidays but you can definitely swap them out for graham crackers or even better–chocolate cookies!

Guess I’ll just have to make this again so I can snap some better photos.

Yup–It’s a difficult task but someone has got to do it.

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
One 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

Crust:
2½ Cups Ginger Snap Crumbs (or Graham Cracker Crumbs if you prefer)
3 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling:
24 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¼ Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
¼ Teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
6 Ounces White Chocolate, chopped

Raspberry Puree:
10 Ounces Frozen Raspberries
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
¼ Cup Red Wine
Zest of 1 Lemon
Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Prepare the raspberry puree by placing all the ingredients in a small sized, heavy saucepan. Simmer on medium-low until berries have broken down and the wine has cooked off. Approximately 10-15 minutes. Transfer contents to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a sieve, using a rubber spatula to help press the puree through. Cover and set puree aside.

Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan by wrapping the outside with 2-3 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Combine the ginger snap crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into the pan and evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and cornstarch until well combined.  Sprinkle the white chocolate over the cooled crust and pour the filling on top. Spoon dollops of the raspberry puree over the cheesecake. Run the tip of a pairing knife or a toothpick through the raspberry puree to create a marble effect.

Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the roasting pan with hot water to come halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Allow the cake to sit in the oven (heat turned off) with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes.  Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake.

Serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of the remaining raspberry puree. Enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

It’s hard to believe but it’s been over a year since I’ve made a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Crazy, eh?

But I think at some point, I had just overdosed on them.

Yes, My Friends…….I had too much of a good thing.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

But then the next thing I knew it, the holidays were smacking me upside the head. Everywhere you looked it was hues of blues, silvers….green, red. I just had to bring out my tried and true Red Velvet recipe to ring in the holiday cheer. The beautiful color is just so darn festive.

And let’s face it. It would be near “Grinch-like” if I didn’t.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

To add a little different flair to my Red Velvet Cuppies, I decided to swap out my favorite cream cheese frosting with a super decadent and sweet White Chocolate Buttercream. It was a nice change from the tangy cream cheese but if you don’t like sweet frostings or want to cut back a bit, you may want to stick with the classic.

But c’mon now—it’s the holidays! I won’t tell if you don’t 🙂

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream
Makes approximately 18-20 Regular Sized Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter:
1¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1½  Tablespoons High Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
½ Cup Sour Cream
½ Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoons Red Food Color, depending on desired intensity of color

White Chocolate Buttercream:
10 Ounces Unsalted Butter, room temperature
6 Ounces White Chocolate, melted and cooled
3-4 Cups Sifted Confectioner Sugar, varies due to preferred frosting consistency
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoons Milk, if needed

*Optional: White Chocolate Shavings to top the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350°degrees and place paper liners in pans.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy for about 3-4 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add milk, sour cream, vanilla, and food color. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until well blended.

Fill each lined cup 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway between baking time. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool completely in pans on top of a wire rack.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the vanilla and butter until fluffy.  Add the white chocolate and whip until combined. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue adding sugar to desire consistency. Should the buttercream appear dry, whip in a tad of milk.

When cupcakes are thoroughly cooled, frost or pipe decorate swirls on top. Sprinkle with white chocolate shavings.

Happy Holidays!!

Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies….it’s Aloha Friday!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Happy Aloha Friday, Friends!

Since Wednesday, I’ve been blaring my Hawaiian-Island jams just willing the weekend to come faster.

You see, in a former life, I think I must have been Hawaiian. For years I’ve been immersed in the Polynesian culture and have spent the good part of 8 years with hula and producing lū’aus. You can ask any one of my former students and they can confirm what a hot mess I became the weeks leading up to large shows or the annual lū’au. But you know what? I wouldn’t have traded a moment for anything in the world.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

So you can imagine my overwhelming joy and delight when my sister enrolled my niece, Maya, into a hula school (hula hālau). Trust me, I’ve been heavily “hinting” for all the little ones to join a hālau for years, but Maya so far, is the first. Hālaus are more than just a dance school. They are communities that not only instruct on dance but also pass on culture and values.

My baby girl was in her very first lū’au this past Sunday—and I cannot express how much overwhelming pride I had that day for her. Sure, I had to resist every cell in my being from jumping in to take charge of one aspect or another—hey, I’m somewhat of a control freak. But I was just so happy.

Check out Maya (3rd from left) with the other little keiki girls. Adorable, right?

My sis asked if I could bake a little something to donate towards the bake sale. I enlisted the help of my older two nieces and we made a TON of these delish White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies. Totally appropriate, right?

We made a few tweaks from batch to batch on the recipe and I believe, found the ideal proportions. Chewy, crispy and chopped full of nuts and chips.

Maya

Isn’t she just a sweetheart? Now if we can just get her little brother (my god-bebe) Lucas into classes……

Aloooooha!!!!!!!!

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes approximately 1½ Dozen Cookies

Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour, plus 1 Tablespoon
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg plus 1 Egg Yolk
1 Heaping Cup White Chocolate Chips
1 Heaping Cup White Macadamia Nuts (roasted and unsalted), roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the white chocolate chips and the macadamia nuts by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 14 -15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Desserts/Pastries

Chocolate Lollipops–A Trifecta of Holiday Goodness!

Chocolate Lollipops

Hello Dear Friends!

First and foremost, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season! Thus far, mine has been chopped full of quality family time, good eats—and plenty of vino! And let’s be honest…what more could a gal ask for? 🙂

Well, perhaps the gift of “saving time”. And wouldn’t you know it? These “Chocolate Lollipops” are just the trick!

Inspired by the most recent special of the Barefoot Contessa in London, I whipped up (with the wonderful help of my fab nieces) these quick and easy Chocolate Lollipops. The whole process took us less than 15 minutes. True Story.

And the end result?

A Trifecta of Holiday Goodness!

Planning a little soiree? These Chocolate Lollipops will serve as:

  1. A lovely decor/centerpiece when packaged with ribbons and bundled in a vase,
  2. A deluxe party favor for your guests when they leave,
  3. and Of course, a DELISH Treat!

Another NGUYEN-WIN SITUATION! 🙂

Happy Holidays Friends!

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Chocolate Lollipops
Makes Approximately 2 Dozen Pops

Ingredients:

6 Ounces Quality Chocolate (either white, milk, dark, or mixed–your preference)
1/2 Cup Dried Fruits or Chopped Nuts (completely your preference)
2 Dozen Lollipop Sticks

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a double boiler method, melt the chocolate stirring slowly until smooth. Remove from heat. Spoon one tablespoon of the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper. Try to do this evenly to form a round circle. Lay the lollipop stick 1/3-1/2 inch into the chocolate circle. Sprinkle with your choice of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit. Repeat process until all your chocolate is used. Set aside the cookie sheets in a cool area and allow 2-3 hours to harden. Once firm, carefully peel the lollipops from the parchment paper. The pops can be packaged with cellophane and tied with a decorative bow.

**The photo shown above features both white chocolate and 60% chocolate with dried cranberries and crushed pistachio nuts.

Enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

 

Need an easy and delicious treat for the holidays? This is it—seriously.

Every Holiday season I make batches of this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark–not only because how quick it comes together but it’s darn delicious! Creamy, minty and lightly crunchy from the peppermint bits. Package them in festive holiday tins with colorful ribbons and BADA-BING, BADA-BOOM….Fabulously Yummy Gifts.

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White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

12 Ounces Quality White Chocolate, chopped
½ Cup Peppermint Candy, crushed
½ Teaspoon Peppermint Extract

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a silicon mat. Place peppermint candy in a plastic bag. With a kitchen mallet, break up the candy into small pieces.

Using a double boiler method, melt the white chocolate stirring slowly until smooth. Remove from heat and quickly mix in the candy and extract. Pour melted chocolate onto the cookie sheet. Using a rubber spatula, spread out the chocolate evenly across the parchment paper until it is approximately ¼ inch thick. Holding each side of the cookie sheet, lightly rap on the counter to remove any possible air bubbles. Set aside the cookie sheet in a cool area and allow 2-3 hours to harden. Once firm, break the bark into large pieces and serve. Bark should be stored in airtight containers to maintain freshness.