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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sweet Summer Goodbye: Recipe

Today was a beautiful day in the Northeast. However, our hearts go out to all our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast area who are bracing for yet another hurricane.

As the "unofficial" last weekend of summer, today was spent with friends and loved-ones doing what else? Eating. My wonderfully-crazy mother made all the usual dishes but added a new twist to the food repertoire...paella cooked on the grill. It was an extravaganza and an experience for all to enjoy; naturally the dish was delicious. I've included a photo here but it was taken without the addition of the shellfish. Sorry about that. Regardless, you get the idea. You go Mom.

My husband and I took our small children away for a few end-of-summer days to Lancaster, PA and just returned yesterday. It was a wonderful trip. My father grew up in Lancaster County and my grandparents lived there nearly 50 years...until they died about 10 years ago. I know this area well - it's in my blood, if you will. Pennsylvania Dutch fare certainly has its strengths - we had amazing fried chicken and two awesome pies so as a tribute to our trip and the incredible sweets that Lancaster is known for (fudge, Shoofly Pie, etc.), my contribution to today's feast was individual tartlets. Despite their rich and sweet flavor they were light. More importantly the tartlets were incredibly easy to make and their texture was smooth and creamy with just the right cookie crumble bottom.

White Chocolate-Marscapone Mousse Tartlets
(makes 6)
* special equipment: individual tartlet pans with fluted sides and removable bottom

2 1/2 cups 'Nilla Wafer cookies
3 Graham crackers
10 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse crackers and wafers until finely ground. Add melted butter and pulse until mixture comes together in clumps. With your hands press crumbs into 6 tartlet pans with removable bottoms and place on a cookie sheet. Bake 14 minutes and remove; cool completely.

White Chocolate-Marscapone Mousse:
7 oz. white chocolate
1/3 cup Creme de Cacao
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean
8 oz. marscapone cheese
1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded-sweetened coconut
1/2 cup White-Chocolate Peanut Butter*

In a double boiler with simmering water in the bottom pan, melt chocolate along with creme de cacao and water until well melted and mixture is smooth. Split vanilla bean and scrape the inside into the mixture and mix well. Reserve Bean for another use (such as flavoring sugar).

Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl and cool about 3-5 minutes, stirring or whisking often to aid in cooling. Gradually whisk in the marscapone until smooth and uniform. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring often.

Meanwhile, in an electric mixer, whip 1 cup heavy cream until thick and stiff peaks form. Gently fold cream into the chocolate mixture and refrigerate until well set - about 3 hours.

Assembly: If using peanut butter, spread a thin layer on the bottom of the tartlet and sprinkle with coconut otherwise sprinkle coconut evenly over all 6 tartlets. Gently spread Mousse over the coconut and garnish with shaved chocolate. Serve.

Can be made up to 4 hours earlier - cover lightly and refrigerate. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

* Optional

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