domingo, 29 de março de 2009

My floating islands

It is always the same story. Some eggs and I. Eggs, sugar and I, together, forever and ever. This time the eggs were separated, baked into meringues which were served floating in custard. Floating islands is the kind of dessert which reminds me of my grandmother's house, long weekends in the country side visiting family and friends. As soon as I found this recipe with the most beautiful islands I have ever seen I knew I had to make some islands myself. Terrible thing gluttony, to be moved by greedy hungry eyes and the desire to try some food. I am not proud. Anyway, I follow the recipe in details except for the fact that I did not use chamomile in the custard and I flavored the meringue with lime zest. The result looked good but was a little bit too sweet for our taste.

The original recipe of Floating Islands

For the islands:

4 (150 grams) egg whites
300 grams sugar
Zests of 1/2 lime
Pinch of salt
Butter for the ramekins

For the custard (creme anglaise)

6 egg yolks
500 ml milk
100 grams sugar
Scraps of half vanilla pod


In a bowl over boiling water whisk egg whites, salt and sugar until the sugar starts to melt and the egg whites turn shiny and white. Remove bowl from heat and whisk the egg whites until stiff meringue are formed. Add lime zest and whisk a little more. Butter six small ramekins and divide the meringue among them. Bake at 140C in a hot water bath covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.

Custard (creme anglaise)

In a saucepan boil the milk with half of the sugar and the scraps of the vanilla pod. In another bowl beat yolks with the other half of the sugar. Add milk to egg yolks whisking vigorously so the yolks do not curdle. Return the mixture to heat and cook until 84C or until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, let it cool and refrigerate.

Serves 6

quarta-feira, 25 de março de 2009

Imagine the best dessert in the world today

Imagine the best dessert in the world. What color will it have? Mine is red and white... just the one in the picture.

Imagine tapioca pearls cooked in milk, coconut milk, granulated sugar and scraps of a Tahitian vanilla bean.

Imagine the best South African red plums you can eat in this life;

Grab these sweet plums and make the best fruit sauce in the world with them.

Let the sauce cool for a while...

Cover the tapioca pudding with the plum's sauce.

Do you think the dessert needs more color?

Add some crunched pistachios to give it more contrast. Now eat it. Tell me, isn't it the best dessert in the world? Today vanilla tapioca with fresh plums sauce is my best dessert in the world.

Vanilla tapioca pudding with fresh plums sauce

800 ml milk
200 ml cooknut milk
1/2 cup tapioca pearls
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
Scraps of one vanilla bean


In a saucepan over medium heat cook the tapioca with milk, coconut milk, sugar and vanilla seeds whisking it until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat to low, keep whisking the mixture and let it cooks for 15 minutes or until the pearls are soft and transparent.

Divide the mixture in ramekins or glasses and let it cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 6 to 8, depending on the size of your ramekins.

Obs. If you prefer you can add the vanilla bean to the mixture and remove it once the milk boils. Wash the bean, let it dry and use it again or store it in a sugar pot. The sugar will absorb the vanilla flavor.

Plum sauce

3 red plums cut in small pieces
3 teaspoons of granulated sugar
6 teaspoons cold water

In an small sacucepan over medium heat cook the plums with sugar and water. Remove from heat once it boils. Let it cool and serve with the tapioca pudding.

You can serve the tapioca in different pots or ramekins and prepare more than one type of sauce. I made passion fruit sauce too and I found the combination of yellow and red sauces incredibly beautiful.

sexta-feira, 13 de março de 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake, the magical mixture of eggs and sugar...

I love the mixture of eggs, sugar and butter and I am totally crazy when I add chocolate to this mixture. This is the queen of all mixtures, good raw, perfect baked, try it as you wish. Whether as a fresh mousse or a flour less and dense chocolate cake.

I played with this mixture yesterday as I was looking for something to cover the passion fruit panna cotta I had made. Panna cottas are usually served with fruit coulis or sauces but after last week's tangerine mousse I got a little tired of mousse with fruit coulis, specially when the passion fruit has that sweet and mild flavor.

So, instead of a fruit coulis I made a chocolate mousse with my magical mixture to cover the passion fruit panna cotta what made a beautiful verrine, how the French call the desserts served in a glass.

The chocolate mousse is nothing but eggs, butter, sugar and dark chocolate with at least 52% cocoa solids. In eggs based mousse the textures are results of yolks and whites properly beaten so they can give both the mousse and the cake the airy and velvety texture I love.

To demonstrate the versatility of this simple mixture and divided it. Part of it was layed as mousse over the passion fruit panna cotta and the other half was baked as a flour less cake and served with a good spoonful of plain yogurt flavored with some drops of vanilla extract.

Chocolate Mousse and Flour less chocolate cake

5 large eggs at room temperature and separated
5 table spoons of sugar
200 semi sweet chocolate with at least 57% cocoa solidas (I used 60%)
150 grams of unsalted butter

Butter a small squared pan, lay with parchment paper and butter the paper.

In a double boiler over medium heat melt chocolate and butter whisking it to help it melt without over cooking the mixture. Set aside.

In a clean pot beat egg whites until medium peaks. Don't let the egg whites form hard peaks as they can produce a drier cake.

In a large clean pot beat egg yolks with sugar until fluffy and light. Add chocolate mixture to yolk mixture whisking well to incorporate. Add egg whites to the mixture and use a spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate the whites to the mixture. Don't over mix so you don't remove all the air in the mixture.

Add 3 table spoons of the mixture to the glasses with passion fruit panna cottas and refrigerate.

Transfer the other half of the mixture to the prepared pan and bake it for 20 minutes at 180C/325F.

Let the cake cool and decorate it with the chocolate icing. Cut small squares of cake and serve with plain yogurt flavored with drops of vanilla extract.

Chocolate icing

50 grams of semisweet chocolate with 60% cocoa solids
1 table spoon of butter

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler whisking the mixture to incorporate. Let it cool and use it to decorate the cake before serving.

(The flour less chocolate cake is dense and velvety and I like to bake it in a larger pan so I can get a very thin cake that I cut in small squares).

Passion Panna cotta

300 ml light or heavy cream
100 ml milk
100 grams sugar
2 teaspoons flavor less gelatin powder
1/2 cup pure fresh passion fruit juice

Sprinkle gelatin powder over passion fruit juice and let gelatin melt. Cook cream, milk and sugar and to a boil. Remove from heat and add passion fruit-gelatin mixture to cream mixture whisking all the time. Take mixture back to low heat whisking to dissolve gelatin. When mixture start to boil remove from heat and let it cool for 15 minutes whisking the mixture every 5 minutes. With the mixture fill half of six small glasses, cups or ramekins and refrigerate.

Makes 6 half glasses. Cover with spoons of chocolate mousse and serve with chocolate shavings.

(The perfect pair for the dense velvety chocolate cake is a spoonful of plain yogurt).

domingo, 1 de março de 2009

My favorite green salad

I am that kind of person who finds pleasure in simple things. I definitely don't go through life after luxury or sophistication, not that I don't enjoy those things after all, because I do. It is just that the beauty of bare feet on the ground or a fruit compote served with a spoonful of soft cheese speaks to my heart. Simple is speaking without saying a word, telling more with less words, subtle, distinctive, natural.

Simple loves of mine: bread and butter with café au lait, rice and beans, guava jam with white cheese, sugarcane juice with lime, açaí with banana, roots samba, zabumba-triângulo-e-sanfona, iced-mate with warm cheese ball in São Paulo, iced-mate with Globo cookies in Rio, pineapple ice cream from the blue troller, freshly cooked corn at Praça 15 docks in Rio, acarajé from street vendors, sweet popcorn, churros del Uruguay and coconut tapioca on Barra da Tijuca beach.

This put I can tell that I just love simple salads my favorite salad being the most simple among the simplest. Spinach and green apples, isn't it simple. All right, actually it has few more things than just spinach and apples. Sometimes I happily add some slices of cucumber. Not today. For now what about adding slice of the best Parmesan cheese money can buy, homemade croutons with loads of garlic and a spoonful of the most tasteful dressing?

And here it is, and I don't much more to be satisfied:

Washed and dried fresh spinach leaves;

A whole green apple to be sliced;

The best Parmesan money can buy;

Homemade croutons with lots of garlic

and a tasteful dressing ...

Dressing for my favorite green salad

3 or 4 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 or 2 garlic gloves
salt and pepper

Smash, process or mix the ingredients until you get a homogeneous mixture. Transfer the mixture to a clean jam jar, seal it and refrigerate. Dress the salad with the mixture before serving. Can be kept refrigerated for a week.

Delicinha, viu?
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