Monday, December 28, 2009

devilish chocolate roulade

I made these for holiday dinner with my family. We enjoyed them, but they were a little too rich for me. I think perhaps the "plain chocolate" was supposed to have been milk chocolate, but I used dark. I make this again, I'll either omit the chocolate filling entirely, or make it with milk chocolate and use half as much, and I would increase the mascarpone.

devilish chocolate roulade (from Chocolate, Christine France)

6 oz dark chocolate, broken into squares
4 eggs, separated
1/2 C baking sugar
cocoa powder for dusting

8 oz. plain chocolate, broken into squares
2 eggs, separated
generous 1 C mascarpone

(The recipe also called for brandy in the chocolate filling and for chocolate-dipped strawberries for decoration; I omitted these because I didn't have brandy or strawberries on hand.)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 x 9" Swiss roll pan and line with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar ina bowl until pale and thick, then stir in the melted chocolate evenly.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold lightly and evenly into the egg and chocolate mixture.

Scrape into the pan and spread evenly to the corners. Bake for 15-20 min., until the sponge is well risen and firm to the touch. Dust a sheet of parchment paper with cocoa. Turn the sponge out on the paper, cover with a clean dish towel, and leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over hot water. Remove from the heat. Beat the egg yolks together, then beat into the chocolate mixture. In a separate bowl,a whisk the whites to soft peaks, then fold them lightly and evenly into the filling.

Uncover the roulade, remove the lining paper and spread with the mascarpone. Spread the chocolate mixture over the top, then roll up carefully from a long side to enclose the filling. Transfer to a serving plate and dust with cocoa powder.

prickly pear mousse

I made this because B loved a prickly pear smoothie mix that he found in the cupboard. Looking through our cupboards is not unlike going on an archeological dig. I buy things that I have no idea how I'll use and I can't bear to throw away anything interesting or potentially useful. So, you can look and find gravy mixes from when my great-grandmother died and I inherited half her pantry and spices I received third-hand when a friend moved to California. The prickly pear smoothie mix was from a fundraiser seven years ago. Which is to say that when the small box ran out, I had no idea how to get more. But our grocery store carries prickly pears, so I decided it would be fun to make something with them. A mousse seemed like the best way to ensure that the prickly pears' flavor wasn't overwhelmed.

It turned out to be pretty good, although it was quite time consuming to process the pears. (If anyone has tips on processing prickly pears, I'd love to hear them.) And next time it will take even longer, because I'll use more prickly pears.

prickly pear mousse
5 prickly pears
2 C heavy cream, chilled
2 egg whites
1/8-1/4 C sugar

Peel the prickly pears, using caution and/or gloves. Even though most of the spines are removed from those sold in stores, I still managed to get on in my hand, and because it was so tiny, it was hard to find and remove.

Mash through a strainer, saving juice and discarding seeds. I used my pestle with the strainer for this.

Reduce juice (I started with around 1.5 C) to around 1/4 C. (I reduced mine in two batches; the first I reduced too far--it was a thick paste--and the second I left more watery. Next time, I'll shoot for a nice syrupy reduction.)

Whip cream to stiff peaks, adding half of sugar when soft peaks are reached. Mix in prickly pear reduction. Whip egg whites to stiff peaks, again adding sugar when soft peaks are reached. Lightly fold into whipped cream mixture.

We ate our mousse immediately; I don't know how well it keeps.