Tag Archives: Heavy Whipping Cream

La Bête Noire: An Elegant, Decadent & Unforgettable Chocolate Dessert

La Bête NoireJust one bite of this amazingly fudgy, impossibly creamy, positively addicting cake is proof positive of the healing power of chocolate.” 
Bon Appetit magazine, September 2006

On this Christmas Eve, I have a quick post for you that is all chocolate.  My bookshelf holds a well-used issue of a Bon Appetit magazine; the cover shot features a piece of the most decadent, rich and fudgy flourless chocolate cake that is aptly named La Bête Noire, which translates to “The Black Beast”.  I have served it many times for special occasions and it never disappoints.  This year it was the perfect finale for a Christmas dinner feast with friends.  The bottom layer of the cake consists of a flourless chocolate cake and to make it even more luxurious, a layer of ganache (cream and chocolate) is spread over the top. Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, a Birthday or Dinner party, La Bête Noire is one of my favorite elegant desserts.  Someday when I find a 5” springform pan I may reduce the recipe by half, but for now I always make the full recipe of 16 slices of chocolate heaven.

The recipe may seem daunting, but it’s fairly simple to make as you can see below.  It’s not included in this post but you can easily view and print the recipe here. To get started, you’ll need to prepare the springform pan for a bain marie, or water bath.  Three pieces of foil are wrapped around the sides, which help protect the batter from the water and provide insulation during cooking.Foil-wrap the springform pan_Text

For the batter, I melt the butter first and then stir in the chocolate for easier melting.  I used 12 ounces (about 2 cups) of 60% cacao chocolate chips and 6 ounces (about 1 cup) of semi-sweet chips.Cake Batter_ Melted Butter & Chocolate

Simple syrup is whisked in and then some eggs – the batter is done and ready to be poured into the pan.Finished Batter

A classic cooking method, the recipe uses a bain marie, or water bath, to cook the delicate cake.  Now you can see why so much foil is needed around the springform pan.
Place the springform pan in the bottom of a large roasting pan, pour the batter into the springform pan and then pour hot water into the roasting pan, enough so it reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan.  Bake for 50 minutes.Cake Batter in Bain Marie

After cooking, the foil is removed from the sides and the cake cools completely.Bottom Layer_Cooling

The decadent finish: a layer of Ganache is spread over the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

Pour Ganache over Cake

Serve with fresh whipped cream (if you have on hand, use a fresh vanilla bean for more flavor!) and savor every bite.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I hope your celebrations are filled with chocolate, love, peace, joy and happy times.

Eat well and share the love!Logo Foodie for Two

Snow in DecemberWe’re excited that snow is in the forecast this Christmas Eve, plus we’re expecting a White Christmas tomorrow!  And thankfully, after being without heat for the last five days, our heater is being replaced this afternoon – sweet.

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Gourmet Dinner Starter: Cauliflower Apple Soup

Cauliflower Apple Soup

In September we asked some friends up to the house to help us with the site analysis for building our own pizza oven; one is an engineer, and the other a pizza oven owner.  This story and some cups of cauliflower apple soup are a wonderful example of my motto: Eat well and share the love!

September_Pizza Oven Site Analysis

While the guys evaluated the pizza oven location, we noshed and enjoyed some wine……

Pizza Oven Site Analysis_Noshing

We all love food and we have shared some fabulous meals together, including the Gypsy Kitchen Supper Club.  On a whim, I asked everyone if they would be interested in starting up a gourmet dinner club. Thankfully it was a resounding YES and two spectacular dinners have been hosted already.  Fine wines are poured and the fancy pants recipes are pulled out – the bar has been raised very high so I need to step up my game because David and I are hosting this weekend.

Gourmet Dinners 2012

The Schenker menu is written and we tested some of the recipes beforehand.  The first test was a cauliflower apple soup that will be served as a starter.  The recipe is adapted from the cookbook  The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski, a Denver chef who owns several restaurants.  I was intrigued when I saw this recipe because, not knowing any better, I would have added potatoes with the cauliflower – which would create a heavier, denser soup.  The apples lighten up the soup and it is full of rich, velvety flavors.  For the soup base, thinly sliced onions are sweated, cauliflower and apples are added and the vegetables simmer in chicken broth.  To finish the soup before pureeing, milk, heavy whipping cream and a few basil leaves are added (the recipe calls for straining the soup but I omitted this step because I like the texture).  For an elegant touch to serve alongside the soup, an apple matchstick salad with red cabbage, shallots and basil are tossed with a green curry vinaigrette.  It gives the soup some crunch and even more depth of flavor.  I think it will be an impressive hit.  Now I need to figure out which wines to pour.

To incorporate Hanukkah, our gourmet dinner will start with some mini 2011 Hanukkah Latkeslatke appetizers along with the usual fixings (our 2011 dinner shown here) and glasses of Prosecco.  The cauliflower apple soup will start off the dinner feast, three more courses will follow, and individual apple galettes with some Andrew Rich 2008 Gewürztraminer dessert wine will finish off the evening.  As usual, I will snap some photos throughout the night and will share the fun with you later.

Cheers to a wonderful Holiday celebration.  May yours be filled with many delicious treats, loved ones, good friends and happy times.

Eat well and share the love!Logo in Word

Cauliflower Apple Soup (print recipe)
Recipe: Adapted from The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients:
Soup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
6 oz. (about 1½ cups) cauliflower flowerets, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 oz. (about 1 cup) chopped apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji) – peeled and seeded, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon green curry paste (or madras curry)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup 1% milk
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large basil leaves
Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon green curry paste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper
Apple Salad
1 apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji), peeled, seeded and cut into small matchstick pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
2 tablespoons finely diced red cabbage or radicchio

Directions:
Soup: In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, add the butter and heat over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes; do not brown the onions.

Add the chopped cauliflower, apples and ½ teaspoon salt; stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until cauliflower is just heated through; do not brown. Stir in the chicken broth and curry paste and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cream, milk and ½ teaspoon salt and let simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Transfer half the soup to a blender, add two basil leaves and place a folded kitchen towel over the lid.  With hand on lid so it doesn’t lift off, puree soup until smooth.  Transfer soup to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup, adding the last basil leaf.  If desired, strain the soup through a fine sieve for a velvety texture.  If you are serving immediately, transfer all the soup back into the pot and gently reheat – add ¼ teaspoon salt if needed.  Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, refrigerate and gently reheat before serving.

Vinaigrette: Add all ingredients to a medium bowl. Whisk together until combined.

Apple Salad: Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and dress lightly with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette.  Toss gently, being careful to not break the apple matchstick pieces.

To serve the hot soup, ladle into bowl or cup (if a starter course) and serve with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple salad on the side. Before eating, add some of apple salad to the soup and enjoy!

· Use caution with hot items in the blender; the heat can cause the blender lid to blow off.  Be sure to place a folded kitchen towel over the lid and place your hand on top to secure it before turning motor on.  Do not fill more than half full.

Sweet Boy Murphy_October 2012

Sweet Boy Murphy in his element and sporting the “tough guy” look.

No-Bake Dessert: Strawberry Vanilla Icebox Cake

Sometimes my inspiration for a blog topic comes from ingredients already on hand; today it was fresh strawberries and a plump vanilla bean.  We all know how hot it has been so turning on the oven to bake something sweet just wasn’t going to happen.  I came across a recipe for a mocha chocolate icebox cake from Barefoot Contessa that requires no cooking, which I used for inspiration.  I know, I can hear you exclaiming: “How can you possibly pass up something chocolate in favor of something vanilla?”  It was the strawberries that stretched my culinary creativity and the silly fact that I do not like chocolate and fruit together – gasp!  If we’re talking chocolate fondue then I’m all over it but for some reason my taste buds revolt when the two are combined otherwise. Originating from Nabisco, the traditional icebox cake is made with layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream.  I borrowed two things from Barefoot Contessa’s recipe: adding mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and using a springform pan, which makes for an easy assembly and snazzy presentation.  Here’s how I made my Strawberry Vanilla Icebox cake for our 4th of July celebration.

Whole Vanilla Bean (for the filling):
Whole vanilla beans have a beautifully fragrant paste inside that adds tiny little specs of flavor to your dish, a visual cue that you are about to enjoy pure vanilla. To remove the paste, make a slice down the middle of one side of the bean and scrape out with a paring knife. I like to cut the bean in half for easier removal. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, use a good quality pure vanilla extract.

The Filling:
Four ingredients make up the filling: heavy whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla – Yum! Whip until firm, stiff peaks form and the mixture has some body.

Another Layer of Flavor:
After the mixture is whisked into blissfulness, fold in the chopped strawberries.

Using either an 8 inch or 9 inch (what I used) springform pan, line the bottom with vanilla wafers and fill in any big holes with pieces of broken cookie.  Add one quarter of the filling on top of the cookies, spread out and repeat the process. You’ll end up with four layers of each, finishing with the whipped cream mixture.  Smooth out the top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 12 hours.  It’s that easy!

The vanilla wafers soften from the whipped cream and soak up the flavors for a light and sweet dessert that is hard to pass up. The strawberry vanilla icebox cake is perfect for a dinner party and transports well. Thankfully the cake stays fresh in the refrigerator for several days, so any leftovers are a great way to indulge your sweet tooth. There are many ways to make an icebox cake and I have some ideas for future tasty combinations. This was the first time I tasted this treat – did you have one as a kid?  What was your favorite?

Best wishes for a sweet-filled summer!

Eat well and share the love!

Strawberry Vanilla Icebox Cake (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Refrigerate: 12 hours or more

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups chopped fresh strawberries, about 16 strawberries
2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (reserve 1 tablespoon for chopped strawberries)
1 vanilla bean – paste removed from pod, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
One 12 oz. package of Vanilla Wafers

Directions:
Filling: Add the chopped strawberries to a medium bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar; mix and set aside.

To the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar and vanilla (if you don’t have an electric mixer, use a large glass bowl and hand mixer).  Mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined and increase speed to medium (speed #4); mix until stiff peaks form.

Remove bowl from mixer, scrape off whipped cream from whisk attachment, and gently fold in the chopped strawberries.

Assemble: Arrange the vanilla wafers in a single layer in the bottom of an 8 inch or 9 inch springform pan, covering as much of the bottom as possible; if needed break some cookies to fill in the larger spaces.

Add ¼ of the mixture (a very generous cup) on top of the cookies and spread out evenly, making sure the edges are well covered. 

Repeat with remaining layers (4 of each) and finish with the whipped cream mixture. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

To serve, release the clasp on the ring of the pan and gently run a knife along the edge of cake.  Remove the ring, slice and serve cold.

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Murphy, on the lookout for anything amiss!