28 February 2011

Salted Caramel Banana Panna Cotta with Chocolate "Crust" (and a Lemon Meringue Pie Tragedy)

Caramel Banana Panna Cotta

Salted Caramel Banana Panna Cotta 
adapted from David Leibovitz's "Perfect Panna Cotta"
  • 3 T cold water
  • 1 pkg. Knox gelatin
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ripe banana, pureed/mashed very well (I used a small potato ricer)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup 2 % milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tsp dark rum (optional)
  • 5 chocolate cookie wafers, crushed*
  1. In a medium sized bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let sit sit for 5-10 min.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, gently swirl together 1/3 cup water and sugar.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat without stirring
  3. When mixture turns a deep amber color, remove from heat and quickly whisk in 1 cup heavy cream.  
  4. Return to medium-high heat and, whisking constantly to dissolve any remaining bits of caramel, bring cream and caramel mixture just to boil.
  5. Immediately remove from heat to stir in milk, banana and salt.  
  6. This time, heat until very hot, but do not boil.  
  7. Carefully pour hot liquid over gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.  
  8. Stir in vanilla and rum.  
  9. Divide evenly into 4 small serving dishes (custard cups, wine goblets, pretty jars, etc.).  
  10. Chill until firm, about 4 hours or up to 24 hours. 
  11. Just before serving, top with ground cookies or cake crumbs
I happened to have leftover dark chocolate cake (just the bits that I'd cut off when leveling and torting the cake) in my freezer. I whirled it in the food processor to grind it up and it worked beautifully.  So don't throw away (READ: waste) all of the extra bits of cake when you cut them off to make layer cakes!  Put them in a ziploc and throw them in a freezer for cooking inspiration on another day!

And now, for a sad story...

I also made a Meyer lemon meringue tart this weekend, after a friend gifted me with a large bag of amazingly fragrant and juicy Meyer lemons from a relative's tree.  
The tart was beautiful.  

The crust was a golden and crisp pate sucree. 

The filling was perfectly creamy with just the right balance of creamy and sweet. 

The meringue was gloriously golden brown. 

I had just pulled it out of the oven and set it on top of the counter to cool. 

And then I leaned over to wipe a few crumbs off of the floor.

And then...
tragedy struck. 

Moral of the story: Don't clean your floors until after dessert has been served.  

(P.S. Much like our hideous counters, the floors in our very old house were "redone" by former owners who had an aversion to grout sealant. )

15 February 2011

Serendipity on a Tuesday

Happy eggs. 
I was disappointed that the yolk broke, until I looked again.  Such a cheery way to start the morning!

14 February 2011

"All you need is love..."

"Love is all you need."  Of course, some tasty little Valentine cookies never hurt, too, right?  These cookies are buttery sweet and delicious (just like my babies).  No matter where you get your sweetest love, I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with it.  <3

Sweet Love & Cookies
(NOTE: This recipe comes from a dear high school friend, who makes them every Valentine's Day for her husband, who adores both her and her cookies!)

  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
Cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs  and vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients together and blend in slowly with butter mixture.  Let chill at least one hour before rolling out. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just the weensiest, tiniest bit golden on the edges. Ice with poured fondant,* a simple buttercream or royal icing.  
Consistency of finished dough should be similar to play dough.  At this point it's a little tempting to play with it like, well, play dough, but try to resist the temptation. :)

Split the dough into two pieces before chillling. This way one can stay cold in the refrigerator while you roll and cut out the other.

*I used King Arthur's recipe for poured fondant.  It was FANTASTIC. It poured well and tasted much better than other poured fondant recipes I've used in the past.  After mixing the ingredients together, keep warm in a bowl set over gently simmering water and stir often.  This will help the consistency stay smooth while you work.  
Fondant covered cookies

Royal icing...not so tasty but darn pretty. 

And now for a few more sweet treats...
Hummingbird Cake, filled with mascarpone cream and iced with white chocolate Swiss Meringue buttercream. 

Hummingbird Cake, filled with mascarpone cream and iced with white chocolate Swiss Meringue buttercream.