Chestnut Mascarpone Mousse and Tuile Cookies

This month Daring Bakers challenge hosted by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf was tuiles. There were four different recipes given to choose from including a savory one. First, I had a solid intention to make them all. Then, I waited, and waited a little bit longer… , and then some urgent matter came up…, and I ended up doing the challenge the night before the due date. I basically, fixed it from what I had at home. Procrastination is definitely not a virtue.

The tuiles recipe I used is adapted from “The Chocolate Book” by Angélique Schmeink. I have to say I was surprised how well they retained their crispiness compare to other recipes I tried before. I baked vanilla and chocolate leaf-shaped tuiles, and made some hazelnut brittle leaves as well. I served the cookies with the mousse which was a simple combination of a chestnut puree, mascarpone, whipped egg whites, and rum; I added some gelatin to set the mixture and turn it into mini-tortes. The crust was ground hazelnuts, chocolate cookie crumbs, melted chocolate, and more rum. I sprinkle some grated bittersweet chocolate over the top of the mousse and placed a rum-flavored chantilly quenelle (I was pirating in my previous life) on the top of each serving. There was also a chocolate–caramel sauce (not shown) to decorate the plates.

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Molded Soft Gingerbread

I’ve had this mold for years and haven’t molded a single springerle yet (I don’t really know why, I do love springerle cookies). As soon as I spotted the recipe in the “Tartine”I knew what my cookie mold would be used for its very first time. Maybe, it’s a bit late for the gingerbread with Christmas all gone, but taking into considerations the shape of my mold, I decided to post anyway; it could be suitable for Valentine’s Day which is still ahead. Honestly, I wouldn’t have patience to hold it till next Christmas; this is the best gingerbread I’ve ever tried, period.

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Vanilla Bean Cranberry Coffeecake

Vanilla beans possess a miraculous power to transform quite ordinary things into something different, something more interesting and exciting. This is one of the examples – very simple yet delicious coffeecake; perfect solution when you need a quick-fix dessert with a guaranteed result.

The recipe is adapted from the December issue of the “Gourmet”.

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Homemade Fondant

I promised to post the fondant recipe I used for my cake-decorating projects quite a while ago. Well, I guess it’s better late than never.

If you’ve ever sampled a store-bought, ready-to-roll fondant (I’m speaking about the most readily available “wonderful” Wilton product, in particular) you will understand why I decided to master a home-made version. Among other “cons” were the awful smell (intense shortening-like), and the long list of the preservatives and artificial ingredients on the package. It still would be probably acceptable if the molded decorations were considered as décor only. But, on contrary, kids prefer to start from the fondant-made stuff; they always eat the fondant first.

If you’ve never worked with the fondant before, then disregard my criticism above and buy a small package. Do not use it on your cake, but get a feeling of the right density and texture. The fondant should be “soft but firm”, if it makes any sense. I learned from my own mistakes, and don’t want you to repeat mine. First recipe I used called for the exact amount of icing sugar to be incorporated. So, I trustfully kneaded it all into my fondant. That fondant ended up in the garbage bin. It was too dry and stiff to work with. The icing sugar quantity should vary; it depends on the weather conditions. Sometimes, I have a couple of ounces of icing sugar left over; other days I use it all.

The recipe below is adapted from Toba Garrett.

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Pine Nut Honey Squares (Rectangles)

I don’t just love the flavor of these nuts, I also respect their softness, their slicing cooperativeness. And there’s a significant benefit from the waste-free cutting – the less trimmings and shattered pieces you have, the slimmer you are (well, I’m speaking for myself here; I do suffer from the incurable form of the C.E.T.D. (Compulsive Eating of Trimmings Disorder).

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Three Cheese and Wheat Berry Spinach Pie

In Russian, I would have said it’s a savory zapekanka. But I doubt that everyone is familiar with the meaning of this word. So, let’s call it a crustless cheese pie (it could have had a crust but I decided not to bother). You can toss in any cheese combo you like or have on hand; that’s what I’ve done here. The pie is great warm, but I don’t mind eating chilled leftovers either.

In case you are wondering if I’m done with sweets for good, I can reassure you there are some sweet posts coming. I was baking too much during holidays and now I’m taking a break and enjoy cooking more.

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