Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chocolate coconut charlotte

Okay... so it tasted very good, but the coconut layer was way too loose thus the charlotte was fragile and a little difficult to serve. The sun had long set when I finally topped my dessert with whipped cream and soI had to use the flash to photograph it. It is not a great photographic achievement...sorry for that! I enjoyed the combination of all the different elements: the chocolate mousse, the vanilla cake, the coconut custard and whipped cream. The rum was barely perceptible. I must try it again and make sure that the loose coconut custard is not something I did wrong. I often make a dessert repeatedly until perfect and then I move on. For the original Martha Stewart recipe click here.

The brussel sprouts and cauliflower gratin recipe, that I gleaned from, was quiet good. I changed the recipe considerably and I guess I can call it mine. I could not bring myself to add the several cups of 35% cream. Its not a diet thing but a 'I didn't want my guest to feel disgusting afterward' thing, especially considering I did not choose the lightest dessert to accompany the meal. This gratin is my last winter meal of the season in the hopes of encouraging spring.

I want great strawberries and tomatoes and all the goodness warm weather brings!

Here is the gratin recipe, I would put it away and use it as a side dish for a winter holiday meal. I hope to post some festively spring inspiring meals this coming week.

Cauliflower and brussel sprout gratin
  1. 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered lengthwise through core
  2. 1 1 1/2-to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets
  3. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  4. 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  5. 1 cup 35% whipping cream
  6. 1/4 cup green onions
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  8. 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  9. 1 cup croutons
  10. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  11. 3 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided

Fill large bowl with ice and cold water. Cook brussels sprouts in large pot of generously salted boiling water 2 minutes. Add cauliflower to same pot; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain. Transfer vegetables to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.

In a small container with lid combine the milk and cornstarch, cover and shake well to create a *slurry. Combine cream, shallots, and sage in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 3 minutes, then add the *slurry and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until cornstarch thickens. Season with salt. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Lightly brown pine nuts on a baking dish in a 325 F oven. Place croutons in food processor and pulse until mostly fine with some small chunks. Stir in pine nuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish; arrange half of vegetables in dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then 1 1/2 cups Cheddar. Arrange remaining vegetables evenly over, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups Cheddar. Pour cream mixture evenly over.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover gratin with foil. Bake covered 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle breadcrumb topping over and bake uncovered 15 minutes longer.

*What is a slurry? Here is a definition from Wikipedia. I learned the term in cooking school.

A mixture of water and a starch (normally corn starch) used to thicken liquids to make a culinary sauce; usually for a clear sauce, as the product will be translucent. It is comparable to and often the same as a gravy.

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