2008 hasn’t been very inspiring for me up till now (in the baking department that is) as I already mentioned in my last post…actually the end of 2007 wasn’t either. I planned on making a special dessert for Christmas but I couldn’t decide what to make before I went to Croatia. I figured I’d just go through some of my mum’s cookbooks for inspiration. When going through the few books on dessert she has, again I couldn’t decide…sigh… The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to use poached pears in some form. I wanted to keep my options open as to what I would make so I bought white chocolate, bitter sweet chocolate, butter, puff pastry, mascarpone and vanilla beans. I wanted to buy whipping cream too but this was sold out (no idea why, apparently it’s a very popular item around Christmas?), the only alternative they had besides non-dairy cream (yuk!) was ready whipped and sweetened cream from the freezer. So I bought some of that in case I wanted to make egg-less chocolate mousse.
In the end I decided to keep it simple and puree the poached pears and mix it with mascarpone to make some sort of cream. Also I wanted to make a simple chocolate mousse with melted chocolate and whipped cream. Wanted to use the poached pear cream and chocolate mousse to fill star-shaped puff pastry. Although this wouldn’t be as sophisticated as I had pictured it, I thought it would still be a decent and Christmas-y dessert.
If only things worked out the way I thought they would….
The mascarpone tasted a bit odd (I checked the date and it still had a few weeks), I only had it ‘straight up’ once before and that time it tasted much better. Mixed with the pureed poached pears it didn’t taste that good either 😦 it was not bad but I just didn’t really like it. Also it turned out to be much softer than I thought so I had to pour it in shot glasses instead of filling the puff pastry.
Meanwhile some of the whipped cream was defrosting….I should rephrase that, what I thought was whipped cream and what the lady in the supermarket told me was whipped cream was defrosting…turned out it was frozen whipped cream dessert. Obviously you can defrost it but then it turns into liquid frozen whipped cream dessert 😉 I went ahead and melted the chocolate for the mousse anyway and added it to the still sort of semi-frozen frozen whipped cream dessert…somehow I didn’t expect it to turn into stracciatella ice cream – I know silly me – but by this time my brain was not functioning like it should be. After the stracciatella incident I sort of reached a stage of whateva.
Even the last stage of the dessert turned out all wrong. But I couldn’t be bothered by it by that time. I thought the puff pastry would more or less puff up horizontally but it puffed up looking like balls. So all in all I think you can understand that I didn’t make any pictures. I didn’t let it ruin my Christmas though.
My family thought the dessert was wonderful anyway.
To compensate the chicken liver pÃ¢tÃ© with confit d’oignon I made as a starter turned out great. I made it once before for Christmas two years ago. The good thing about this recipe it that it’s easy to make, delicious, looks professional and you can make it ahead. The picture is from two years ago, didn’t make any this time. You can find the recipe here.
I only did a little baking during the holidays of which only one thing was good enough to (eventually) blog about. It was a clementine, almond and polenta cake with clementine rosemary syrup. The clementine and rosemary came fresh from the garden. The original recipe called for semolina but I used polenta intead. It come out tasting really wonderful. The only downside was that the polenta didn’t have enough strength to keep the cake together once it was cut. Still need to experiment with the recipe to see if I can fix that.
And here’s some pictures of (my dad preparing) the traditional Croatian bakalar (dried cod) for Christmas eve. It wasn’t a tradition in our house though but the times we celebrate Christmas in Croatia we do make it. Can’t say that I really love it but hey, it’s tradition 😉
The picture at the top are cookies made from left-over apple pie scraps. My mum and I just added some candied ginger, cane sugar and chopped almonds. Will be using my mum’s apple pie crust recipe to make cookies because I thought the cookies (and pie) were very very good!