My dear readers, you've been so wonderfully patient with me. Over the past months you've listened to me prattle on about turnips and varieties of rice and tell exceedingly long tales about the joy of kabobs, offering your comments and suggestions. There's been barely a peep of complaint about the conspicuous lack of sweetness floating around these pages, in fact, my last offering was simply a repeat of our favorite red velvet cake. My goodness, I even wrote about making stock, certainly useful but a pretty lame excuse for a post. I do hope you're not going through sucrose withdrawal.
Well, ask and ye shall receive, because we're about to make up for any possible lost time in the sugar and cream arena today. Ask is what my friend Genie did, when she got the idea to have a birthday celebration featuring a menu of four fancy desserts and plenty of wine to go alongside. We plotted and planned, traded recipes over email, debated chocolate mousses and cakes, shopped and baked. The Monday before Saturday's party I started with the ice cream custard, spacing the baking and churning and simmering over the whole week (making ice cream for forty with one tiny machine is rather time-consuming). Melissa made an absolutely ingenious play on "chocolate sushi," and I fielded last minute questions from Genie about curdled custard for creme brulee (emergency solution- put it in a blender).
I was so busy running around that I barely had time to snap a decent photo, but the complete lack of leftovers (aside from a slice or two of cake) and the amount of empty wine bottles sitting on the curb for recycling day are a good indication of the party's success. Add a blowtorch and a few wigs to the mix and you've got yourself one hell of a good time. Which is why I'm sure you won't mind if I go take a nap now.
Mango and strawberry center wrapped in creamy white chocolate rice, garnished with mint leaves and drizzled with dark chocolate.
Guinness Cake and Cream
Guinness Gingerbread Cake with Guinness Ice Cream garnished with candied pecans.
Rhubarb and Rose Creme Brulee
Rich rose-scented custard with a layer of rhubarb on the bottom and crackly sugar crust. (adapted from here, full recipe listed below)
Chocolate Cakes with Tangerine-Mascarpone Cream, Kumquat Flowers and Orange Syrup
1 recipe chocolate cake
double recipe kumquat flowers (24 kumquats), reserving syrup separately
for tangerine cream frosting
4 tablespoons butter, softened
12 oz mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
1 tangerine, zest and 1 squeeze of juice
1 lb powdered sugar
1. Prepare chocolate cake and bake in cupcake pans or mini-cake pans for 20 minutes at 350 F. Set aside to cool.
2. Prepare kumquat flowers. Spread the flowers on a sheet of wax or parchment paper to dry and reserve syrup.
3. Prepare frosting: Cream together butter and mascarpone until smooth. Add the tangerine zest and juice. Slowly sift in powdered sugar until the frosting reaches desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator.
4. Assemble: Top chocolate cakes with the tangerine cream. Arrange kumquat flowers on top of cakes. Drizzle syrup decoratively around plates. Serve.
Rhubarb and Rose Creme Brulee
We were a bit short on rhubarb, you may want to double the amount called for. Makes 12.
1 lb rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup (3 oz) caster sugar
8 egg yolks
2/3 cup (5 oz) sugar
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon rose water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the rhubarb in a roasting tray (single layer) and toss well in the sugar. Roast for 15-20 minutes (until the fruit is soft). Cool and divide into ramekins.
Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, whisk until pale and thickened and add the lemon zest. Place the cream and milk in a pan, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan and add the pod. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave for about 10 minutes to infuse the flavour. Heat the cream again, take the pod out then slowly pour into the egg mixture, stirring all the time. Place the custard into the pan, set over a low heat and cook until the custard coats the back of a spoon, keep stirring! (it takes about 15-20 minutes). Add the rose water. Cool the custard and sieve into a clean bowl. When the custard is cool, pour over the ramekins (with the fruit). Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, sieve the sugar thinly over the custard. Brown the sugar with a blowtorch (you can place under a hot grill if you don’t have one). Repeat this process 2-3 times to make the perfect crunch. The custard will be softer than ‘cooked’ creme brulee, so you need to work fast while you’re browning the sugar.