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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Mirrors and Mousses and Daggers, Oh My!

Do you ever think, "What would I do for a living, if I didn't do what I did right now?" You know, your alterate reality career.  What would it be? Mine would be a pastry chef. Or a civil rights attorney. Or a English lit professor.
Okay, so I have a few.  😜

But one of my favorite fantasies is to study in tiny village bakery in the middle of the French countryside, learning all the classic techniques melded with generations-old secrets, and then to refine my skills in a posh Paris patisserie. (And then to come back to New York, or Miami, or Chicago, and -- of course-- to take the world by storm.  Chez Mona? Her pastries? C'est sont marvelleoux!)


There are no limits to dreams anyways, right?  Reality, though. Well.  There are definitely limits to that. So I make do with messing around my kitchen on the weekends and hoping (and praying) that things go according to plan.  After all, sometimes when my imagination shouts “I’m a French pastry chef!!!” it completely drowns out my more pragmatic brain, quietly reminding me that I’m a TouTube taught, Ohio-based, doctor IRL. (I mean I’m YouTube taught as far as pastries go.  I did go to medical school – so I’m a real doctor.  Before you get the wrong idea. . .) 

This is one of those projects that in all normal circumstances, I should not have attempted.  It was daunting. It was multi-stepped. It required special pans and expensive ingredients which would have (should have) gone to waste when it ultimately failed. It had a name that I couldn't even pronounce. I mean, you know it's going to be a doozy of a project when the first thing that runs through your mind is "so many things could go wrong today. . . "


But fortune must have been smiling upon me, because, for once, everything actually went as planned.  Shockingly unexpected, but welcome nonetheless.  So witness my triumph and celebrate along with me as I revel in my little alternate reality career success, at least for a few fleeting moments.

White Chocolate Entremet with Caramel and Orange Blossom Creme Brulee

5 stars 
Yield: 12 mini cakes

White Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate and cream -- what could be better?
  • 190 g White Chocolate Chips
  • 170 mL Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Splash Vanilla Extract
  • 500 g (already) Whipped Cream
  • Caramel Sauce
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the cream and vanilla to a simmer
  2. Take of the heat and pour over the white chocolate
  3. Whisk until combined
  4. Refrigerate until room temperature (about 72 degrees)
  5. Combine white chocolate with one cup of whipped cream
  6. Gently fold white chocolate mixture into the remaining cream so as not to deflate
  7. Pipe into periphery of molds by outlining the walls and bottom of each mold. Then smooth with a spoon to remove any air pockets that may have formed.
  8. Freeze for 20 minutes
  9. Spoon a small amount of caramel into each mold, so that the mold is approximately 1/3 filled.
  10. Freeze for an additional 20 minutes

Pretty, pretty molds

Smooth. And add caramel.

Double, double boil and bubble
Orange Blossom Creme Brulee
  • 800 mL Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 40 g Brown Sugar
  • 130 mL Torin Vanilla Syrup
  • 12 Egg Yolks
  • 4 tsp Gelatin
  • Sprinkling Cinnamon
  • 67 mL Water
  • 1 tsp Orange Blossom Water
Cooking Directions
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  2. Stir briefly to combine
  3. Set aside
  4. Stir orange blossom water into cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Heat until gently simmering
  6. Cream egg yolks and sugar and when fully combined, add to heavy cream
  7. Cook to 183 degrees F
  8. Transfer into a mixing bowl
  9. In the hot saucepan, place gelatin and heat until liquid
  10. Stir the gelatin into the egg yolk/cream mixture and add vanilla syrup.
  11. Stir until combined.
  12. Strain into bowl and refrigerate to 95 degrees F
  13. Spoon into molds so smooth so the molds are completely filled and the tops are level
  14. Freeze, at least overnight, but up to one week.
Strain for a silky texture
Pour and smooth.  Note how much cleaner the smoothed
and leveled cakes are in the back

Mirror Glaze(Shine Baby Shine!
  • 2 Tbsp 2 tsp Gelatin
  • 240 mL Water
  • 400 g White Chocolate Chips
  • 240 mL (1 small container) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 400 g Caster Sugar
  • 200 mL Water
  • 400 g Corn Syrup
  • Gel Food Colorings as desired
Cooking Directions
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over 240 mL of water.
  2. Stir briefly to combine
  3. Set aside for at least 5 minutes
  4. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, checking after 1 minute and then at 20 second intervals until smooth
  5. Heat gelatin until liquid over stove and then add with condensed milk to white chocolate
  6. Stir until combined
  7. In a saucepan, heat corn syrup, 200 mL water, and sugar until 217 degrees F, stirring constantly
  8. Pour over gelatin mixture and blend with hand mixer until as smooth as possible.
  9. Stir in white food coloring until mixture is opaque
  10. Strain into bowl and refrigerate overnight, covered, with saran wrap touching the liquid
  11. When ready to use, microwave at 1 minute intervals until melted and then cool to room temperature, and no hotter than 90 degrees F.
  12. Separate into cups/bowls with a lip for easy pouring, and color as desired. To get the plum color that I used, mix Christmas red, and black food coloring.

Putting it all together
Look at that! They pop right out 💕
  1. Unmold the little mousse cakes one at a time, leaving the others in the freezer
  2. Place on top of the bottom of a glass, which is in a mixing bowl
  3. Pour mirror glaze on top of the mousse cake, working quickly and covering all surfaces. It works best to start with the walls and then do the top.
  4. Immediately decorate with your second/third/etc mirror glaze color as desired. Pour generously to get wide swatches of color, or drizzle for thinner lines. If you want really thin lines, make sure you start pouring off to the side of your cake so you don't get a clump of color on the cake right at the start of the pour.
  5. Wait a few minutes and swipe the bottom of the cake with a butter knife or offset spatula to clean off any beads of mirror glaze remaining.
  6. Using your offset spatula and your hands, transfer onto serving dish (touch only the bottom of the mousse so as not to disrupt the glaze.)
  7. Refrigerate immediately, preferably for 5-8 hours prior to serving.
Make sure you get every last little crevice!
And swoop, drizzle, and swirl to your heart's desire. . .

The finishing touches. . .
To decorate with candied hazelnuts

  • Hazelnuts
  • Wooden Skewers
  • Styrofoam Block
  • 500 g Sugar
  • 100 mL Water
  • 1 tbsp Corn Syrup
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Toast hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet for 10 -12 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, set up a styrofoam block on the edge of the counter, so that it projects several inches from the edge of the counter. Hold it in place with a heavy cutting board or book.
  4. Place construction paper on the ground below the block.
  5. When the hazelnuts are done, unplate onto kitchen towel and set aside for a couple of minutes
  6. Rub towel vigorously to remove skins from the nuts
  7. Gently poke the pointy end of each skewer into each hazelnut. If you go too far in, the nut will split, so go slowly and get a feel for it
  8. Set aside
  9. Combine sugar, water and corn syrup on stove and heat to 365 degrees F, WITHOUT stirring.
  10. While that heats, set up an ice bath near your styrofoam station.
  11. Place a trivet next to the ice bath and closest to the styrofoam.
  12. After the sugar syrup reaches temperature, remove from heat and place in ice bath for a few moments. You should see the syrup thickening.
  13. Remove from the ice bath and place on the trivet.
  14. Handeling the hazelnuts by the skewer, swirl the nut in the sugar mixture and immediately poke the end of the skewer into the side of the styrofoam block. Repeat, being sure not to tangle the strands of sugar with each other.
  15. Let sit for a couple of minutes. You will have candy floss on the floor and long strands of sugar extending from the hazelnuts to the ground.
  16. Cut to desired length.
  17. Set aside until you would like to use, in a cool dry spot. These will not last long before the sugar dissolves, so use them as soon as possible -- definitely the same day.
  18. Use to decorate as desired.

The skins rub right off -- like magic!

How glorious are these sugar strands?!
This is the officially the best way to make spun sugar

These sugar spikes are amazing! Yes, that's one continuous
strand of sugar. . .

Just be careful with those sugar spikes -- they are pointy! And very sharp.  
George cut himself on one.  Seriously.  Maybe not great if you're going to have children around.  
In fact, I have since relabeled them as. . . 
Hazelnut Daggers 

(you know. . . just to up the drama a bit. . . )

And then, finally, finally, they're ready to eat.  
Gorgeous and delicious (and so shiny!!!) -- 
and completely worthy of my aspiring- Parisian pastry chef fantasies 
(and maybe some of my bad-ass swordplay-aspiring ones as well)