It’s that time of the month again where I have the pleasure of introducing you to another fabulous blogger via the Secret Recipe Club! This month, I traipsed over to Miz Helen’s Country Cottage to meet this darling Texan blogger and select one of her recipes to try. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘make ahead’
You have not lived until you’ve had a California breakfast burrito. Whether it has bacon, chorizo, or scrambled tofu and veggies (a version you are not finding at the local carniceria by the way), it’s just one of those things one must eat when one lives out West because the California style breakfast burritos are the best. I can say this with confidence having driven across the United States multiple times, trying burritos in places where they are a regional thing. (more…)
When this year began, I had no clue what a mervielleux even was nor that they are the new trendy dessert coming to the United States from France, where they’ve been made for years upon years. But I have followed David Lebovitz for years, an American chef/blogger living in France, and he posted an article about these, piquing my interest and inspiring me to make my own for Valentine’s Day dessert since I don’t live in New York, Los Angeles, or any trendy food city. Washington DC’s biggest claim to food fame right now seems to be brunch, and being from South Florida, “brunch” has been a thing as long as I can remember. Not that there aren’t good restaurants in Northern Virginia and the broader DMV, it’s just that it seems to take a little time for trends to make it this way on a broad scale, especially out in Stepford suburbia where I live.
The biggest challenge for me with this recipe was making the meringues. I have tried for years (and by years I mean once every two or so for the past ten) to make successful meringues and my results have been hit and miss. Sometimes my meringues would dry, but usually I’d end up with sticky or flat meringues even though I followed the recipe exactly and I’m an amazing baker. But I’m also a stubborn baker and decided that I would try again so I could have this dessert, and I figured I’d have more luck given how I was able to figure out the quirks of this kitchen’s oven rather quickly for my macarons and the techniques are rather similar. Because I was worried about sticky meringues given the size of the discs, I may have slightly over-baked them, resulting in light golden meringues, but they still tasted just fine and worked beautifully in the recipe. I’ve removed what I think were an unnecessary 10 minutes from my baking time.
One thing that made me very very happy about this recipe is the French buttercream! It’s really creamy and makes a very rich filling, but it also uses exclusively egg yolks, so I don’t have extra yolks after using all the whites for the meringues. This kind of balance almost never happens for me and, had I decided to test French buttercream when I had the bakery and was churning out dozens of macarons and baked goods with Swiss meringue buttercream on a weekly basis, it would have regularly appeared on the repertoire.
It might be too rich to cover a full cake, but I’m really liking it as a filling option, especially when using a rich flavor like cookie butter. I actually used leftover filling to fill macarons and they were delicious! You won’t have leftover filling though if you assemble all the merveilleux, but we ate some of the meringues alone because I wanted to confirm that I had indeed made a successful batch and hopefully broken my meringue curse. I’m cautiously claiming success.
The mervielleux are best the day they are assembled, but you can make the meringues and even the buttercream in advance. Just bring the buttercream to room temperature and whip one more time before piping if you’ve had it in the refrigerator. I actually broke the process down into steps myself, making the meringues two days before, the French buttercream the day before, and assembling the day I planned to serve for dinner just after lunch. That way the completed mervielleux had a few hours to sit in the refrigerator so the flavors could blend and give me the perfect chewy/crunchy texture I read so much about.
These would make a really impressive dessert for a dinner party or a dessert bar because you can customize the size of the mervielleux to be small enough for individual consumption or large enough to be sliced and served as a cake (6-8″ in diameter). I chose to make my meringues about 3 1/2″ around so the final covered product was about 4″ in diameter – perfect for two to share, or one happy dessert lover. 😉
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ⅓ c light brown sugar, unpacked
- ⅓ c granulated sugar
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- pinch of salt
- ⅓ c granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 16 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ c speculoos or cookie butter spread
- 2 c heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp fine granulated sugar
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- dark chocolate shavings
- Preheat your oven to 230 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Pulse the white and brown sugar in the food processor 4-5 times to blend well.
- Place all ingredients except the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. You may also do this in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, you'll just be standing there for a little while.
- On medium speed mix the egg mixture until foamy like a bubble bath, then start adding your sugar 1 tsp at a time. You want to give each addition a few seconds to dissolve before adding the next.
- Once all the sugar has been incorporated, increase the mixing speed to high and mix for 7 minutes until you have really stiff foamy white peaks.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag or a large ziploc bag with the corner cut and pipe rounds in your desired size on the baking sheet. You can pipe them about 1" apart, they don't spread so keeping them close is okay.
- Bake for two hours until the meringues look "set" and then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there another hour without opening the door. I did open the door briefly a few times during baking to check the meringues and they turned out just fine. The original recipe said to bake for an hour, my oven needed double that time, probably because my meringues were larger in size.
- After the hour rest, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheets. Transfer to an airtight container to store at room temperature until you are ready to assemble the mervielleux. You may store the meringues up to one week.
- Place the egg yolks and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and heat, swirling the pan only occasionally, to 238 F. When the mixture reaches 200 F, start whipping the egg yolks on high until they get fluffy and pale yellow.
- When the sugar mixture reaches temperature, remove immediately from the heat and slowly drizzle the sugar into the egg yolks, keeping the mixer running on high the whole time so you don't cook the yolks.
- Continue to whip the sugar and yolk mixture until the outside of the mixer bowl is no longer hot.
- Add the butter, in 1 tbsp increments and beat until the buttercream comes together. This can take up to 15 minutes.
- Add the speculoos and whip an additional minute to combine well.
- If you are assembling the mervielleux immediately, place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a jumbo tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner snipped off. If you aren't using it immediately, transfer to a container and store covered in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to assemble the mervielleux, make the whipped cream by beating 2 cups of well chilled heavy whipping cream with 3 tbsp sugar and 1½ tsp of vanilla until you reach the desired consistency. Be careful not to over-whip or you'll end up with butter.
- If you can't find pre-shaved dark chocolate (I didn't), you can easily make your own by scraping a peeler along the side of a chocolate bar as I did. Or you may substitute with chocolate sprinkles or even crushed Biscoff cookies.
- Take one meringue as your base and add a layer about ½-3/4" thick of French buttercream. Add the second meringue (see notes), and then cover the entire sandwich with whipped cream, cover immediately with chocolate shavings.
- Allow to chill in a covered container in the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Best if served the same day as assembled.
- You can just use a single meringue for each, it seems that is more traditional, but I like more texture and I thought the sandwich style looked pretty. If you prefer a meringue base only, and I would use this for individual-sized desserts, you will need to double the filling and whipped topping recipes.
- Flavor inspired by the famous Aux Mervielluex de Fred
- Meringue recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
- French buttercream adapted from The Tough Cookie
It may seem a touch arrogant to claim that this pumpkin cheesecake is “the best”, but I feel somewhat qualified to give it that distinction. You see, I have a certified cheesecake expert in our home (The Godfather), and given our time away from the more selective cheesecake-consuming metropolitan areas, I had to learn to make a really really good cheesecake. One that’s creamy but not slick, has texture but isn’t crumbly, sweet but not cloying, cheesecake that would make the Godfather look at me when we are in New York enjoying a slice at a deli and say “your cheesecake is just as good or better”. That is how we make cheesecake here.
This recipe was derived from my standard cheesecake and created for a photography workshop hosted last year by Folks Photography. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it early enough that it had time to cool properly, but it still tasted great. I wanted to make a gluten-free dessert because another vendor at the event recently realized that gluten didn’t agree with her and had chosen to eliminate it from her diet. I wanted to be sure she’d have a dessert to enjoy, and this flavor combination just seemed so very appropriate for fall. Who doesn’t have a great pumpkin cheesecake recipe?
I think this would make a great gluten free dessert for Thanksgiving if you have guests with gluten sensitivities. Just make sure they get a piece before everyone else devours it!
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 7 oz pecans
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4½ 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (36 ounces), softened
- ¾ c pure pumpkin puree
- 1½ c granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ c gluten-free flour (I use coconut or rice flour)
- 1 vanilla bean
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 c heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- Preheat your oven to 425 F
- Butter or use non-stick spray to coat the inside of a 9" springform pan. Place a fitted parchment paper circle around the bottom of the pan to make transferring the cheesecake easier. Wrap the outside of the pan in foil. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter has browned. Then remove from the heat immediately.
- While the butter is browning, place your pecans in a food processor and pulse until you have a medium-fine meal, about 5-7 1 second pulses. Combine the pecan meal and the cinnamon in a bowl.
- When the butter has browned, pour over the pecan mixture and stir well to combine. Press the crust evenly into the cheesecake pan and set aside.
- Combine the flour and spices (not the vanilla bean) for the cheesecake in a small bowl and set aside.
- Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, whip the cream cheese and pumpkin together at medium speed until well combined and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Scrape the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the mixing bowl.
- Dump the entire dry mixture into the bowl and stir on low speed until just combined.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into your spring-form pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
- Place the spring-form pan into a water bath. To create a water bath, place the spring-form pan into a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water halfway up the side of the spring-form pan (this is why the foil wrapping is important!).
- Place the water bath and cheesecake in the oven and bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Then, without opening the door, lower the temperature to 350 F and bake an additional 30-35 minutes until the cheesecake is set but the center still jiggles slightly (this prevents over-baking).
- When the cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven and prop the oven door open. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath and place on a cooling rack for another 30 minutes. Then you can transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator to chill. The cheesecake can be made up to two days in advance.
- Optional: Make the Chantilly cream just before serving. Place well-chilled heavy cream in your stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Slowly increase the speed to high. Add the sugar and vanilla bean seeds and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Do not over-whip or you'll end up with butter. 😉 Serve immediately.
This post for Cuban croquetas de jamon updated with new photos March 2016 as part of the #ThrowbackThursday photography project, where I add new photos to already delicious recipes. Enjoy!
We went to visit my baby sister in Lynchburg this weekend. Her husband is the associate pastor at a local church, so we went to their congregation this Sunday, and the messages left me thinking. My brother-in-law led the Sunday School class and the topic for the week was anger, how God views anger, and how we as Christians should not let ourselves fall into un-productive anger. It’s okay to be angry about certain things, it’s a human emotion, but it should inspire us to positive action and then it’s over. If we let anger into our hearts and into our lives we become angry people and our anger removes our focus from living the life God has planned for us. (more…)
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