Tag Archives: Vanilla Bean Whipped 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.

Strawberry Shortcakes for July 4th Weekend!

It’s time to start thinking about what to enjoy for dessert this July 4th weekend.  I decided to focus on desserts and appetizers for postings this week.  Yes, barbecued ribs, potato salad, grilled corn and coleslaw are all my favorite things to eat during the holiday weekend but sometimes the pre and post treats are what I anticipate the most.  Here is a recipe for strawberry shortcakes that uses a biscuit recipe for the shortcake.  Growing up, my Mom used Bisquick and made drop biscuits – if you have that on hand then by all means use it.  All you need for the filling are some fresh sliced strawberries and my favorite vanilla bean whipped cream.  It is a fun dessert that’s easy to pull together.

This dough is versatile and originally from my biscuits and gravy recipe. You can add cheese and herbs or sweet and savory combinations to the dough.  The biscuits can be cut out and baked on a sheet pan, or in a cast iron skillet.  And you can use a biscuit cutter or an inverted glass for bigger shortcakes.  The trick to fluffy biscuits is to keep some good chunks of butter (pea size) in the dough and not handle the dough too much (extra dough can be re-formed into a disk and cut out again).  The batter takes about ten minutes to make/roll out and they cook in just over ten minutes.  Leftover shortcakes equals a great breakfast the next morning.

The filling is easy – sliced strawberries with a no-cook simple syrup, and some freshly whipped vanilla bean cream.  It’s the same whipped cream recipe from my strawberry granita and it adds a sweet layer of flavor.  Peaches or blueberries would be a nice substitution for the fruit.  I like to have some sauce on my shortcake so the strawberries get mixed with 1/3 cup water and a little sugar.  If you have it in the house, champagne or port would also work nicely in place of the water. 

Next, some appetizer ideas to nosh on before dinner.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.  Eat well and share the love!

Strawberry Shortcakes with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two     
Makes 6 shortcakes/biscuits (leftovers for breakfast the next morning)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 tsp. orange zest
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup milk (1 %)
1 egg for egg wash: crack egg into small bowl or ramekin, whisk well with one teaspoon water
2 teaspoons sugar (to dust on top of shortcakes before baking)

Strawberry Glaze
10 medium strawberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup water (or champagne or port)
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Half of one vanilla bean, paste scraped out
2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Cut butter into the flour with a pastry blender, your hands or with a fork until the lumps are about the size of peas.  Mix in salt, sugar, orange zest and pepper.  Add the milk and lightly mix until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead lightly two or three times, adding more flour as needed.  Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to ½ inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a 3 inch round cutter.  Place the biscuits on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and let rise, covered with a clean towel, for 15 minutes.

Egg wash: add one egg to a ramekin or small bowl and whisk together with 1 teaspoon water.  Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the egg wash and sprinkle each with a large pinch of sugar.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Fresh Strawberry Glaze
Remove the tops and cut the strawberries: cut five of the strawberries into slices and the other five into rounds.  Add to a medium bowl along with the water (or champagne or port – reduce sugar to 1 teaspoon) and sugar.  Stir well.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:
Add the whipped cream, vanilla bean paste and sugar to a large glass bowl and mix with a hand-mixer on low until soft peaks form, about 1 ½ minutes.  Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.  Can be made one day ahead.

Depending on your appetite, you can either cut one shortcake in half or use two shortcakes.  Place one shortcake on the bottom of a medium plate and drizzle with a spoon full of strawberries and juice.  Add a few dollops of whipped cream and a few more strawberries.  Top with other shortcake half and add more whipped cream, strawberries and generous ladles of the juice.  Garnish with mint.