Something bite-sized and chocolate?
Posted: 06 December 2008 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Some of my friends have an annual Hot Drinks and Dessert holiday party that’s my favorite of all the annual holiday parties I attend. It’s always shortly after I fly back home for Christmas, and since I’ve started doing more baking and pastry things, I have offered to make something. Last year, I made Shirley Corriher’s Smoothest Ever Chocolate Truffles from CookWise, and they were a hit. This year I’ve again been asked to do something chocolate, but I want to do something different. The item should be a small bite, since the goal is for everyone to be able to try everything without leaving and feeling bloated. Quantity should be something in the 20-30 range.

I’ve been rummaging through PPB, but I’m not having much luck finding anything chocolate AND bite-sized. The one idea I have is adapting the Bite-size Peanut Butter Napoleons by replacing the peanut butter pastry cream with chocolate pastry cream. Does anyone see any reason that to not try something like that? I’ve not made royal icing before, so I’m wondering if would still be a good topping to go with the chocolate or if there’s something else I should do. I’d probably replace the peanuts by piping some chocolate on the top of the napoleons.

I’d also be open to other suggestions that might be out there. I’m not intimidated by many things in the pastry world (I might just be na?vely fearless, but I’ve had good luck to date), and since I’ll be on break, I have lots of time to make things. Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions!

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Posted: 06 December 2008 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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How about:
Rocky Road fudge bites  

* 50ml Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
  * 200g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  * 20g unsalted butter
  * 1/3 cup (100g) sweetened condensed milk
  * 50g chopped unsalted pistachio kernels
  * 75g roughly crushed shortbread biscuits (cookies)
  * 200g mini marshmallows (or regular marshmallows, chopped)
  * 150g white chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Grease an 8cm x 20cm bar pan. Line with baking paper, leaving some overhanging.
  2. Place Baileys, dark chocolate, butter and milk in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Allow to melt, then stir gently until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in nuts, biscuit, marshmallow and 100g white chocolate. Spread mixture into pan, then chill for 2-3 hours until firm.
  3. Melt remaining 50g white chocolate as before. Drizzle over fudge, leave for 3-4 minutes to set, then cut into squares. The fudge will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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Posted: 06 December 2008 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I love the idea of chocolate bite-sized napoleons!  I’ve always wanted to try the eggless mousse recipe that the PPB gives at the end of the chocolate napoleon entry.  Instead of the royal icing, maybe a ganache of glaze consistency (chocolate cream glaze from TCB, maybe it’s in the PPB, too?). 

Instead of peanuts, you could use hazelnuts, or if you really have time, hazelnuts (skinned/toasted) covered in chocolate then chopped.  Sliced toasted almonds or candied orange peel would also be lovely, as would small chocolate curls.

I bet Rose’s chocolate oblivion truffle tart could be used for mini muffin pans, use the internal temperature worked out by Woody over on the main blog to help figure out baking time.  These could be topped with brandied cherries, hot fudge, or whip cream and a chocolate curl.

Looking forward to hearing what you go with!

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Posted: 07 December 2008 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Cate, that fudge sounds great! Not sure it’s what I’m looking for for this party, however. I might just give it a try for the family closer to Christmas, however. Last year I tried making Alton Brown’s fudge (which I believe is a slight modification of Shirley Corriher’s) three times and it worked fine two out of the three. The one time it didn’t was when I was when I was at my mom’s house. I cannot for the life of me figure out what went wrong, especially considering that I used the exact same thermometer (not just the same model, the same thermometer, as I was carrying it with me). The only thing I can come up with is the failed batch was made on an electric range, the successful two on gas ranges. Made a great hot fudge sauce for homemade ice cream, however grin Since this recipe doesn’t appear temperature finicky and loaded with good things, it might be a good thing to try out where I have issues with fudge.

Julie, I like the idea of doing chocolate on top. I don’t (yet) have TCB, so I can’t compare, but does the chocolate glaze in the ?clairs and cream puffs recipe in PPB (page 537) look like the chocolate cream glaze you refer to? Sliced toasted almonds sounds most appealing to me on the top. I think I could make that look really nice. I’d thought about using mousse (either with or without eggs) instead of chocolate pastry cream, but since the quantity of peanut butter pastry cream called for in the bite-sized napoleons is so much smaller than the quantity of mousse in the chocolate mousse napoleons, I wasn’t sure if I could scale it down all that well. Anyone have any experience with scaling down either of the chocolate mousse recipes? I see the pastry cream recipe says it can be scaled down by half, which would still be more than needed, but not by such excess (and I’m sure I can come up with something to do with an extra half cup of chocolate pastry cream).

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Posted: 07 December 2008 09:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Mitch, yes, the chocolate cream glaze you mention is the same as the one I mentioned from TCB.

As far as filling goes, pastry cream is traditional, but you could use whatever you enjoy most.  I believe the eggless mousse (p.460) would be quite easy to scale down, as you could use a whisk to whip it if the quantity is too small to whip well with your mixer. 

The pastry cream would have a custard flavor and more dense texture, while the eggless mousse will be a little more whipped, with no egg base flavor, like chocolate whipped cream. 

I noticed that this calls for couverture chocolate (p457) to coat the pastry. I just bought beautiful Valrhona couverture in small quantities from L’Epicerie.com.  Regular chocolate would also work, it would just form a slightly thicker coating.

Good luck! Let us know how they turn out (pics!)

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Posted: 08 December 2008 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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easiest recipe i’ve ever made:

puff pastry squares with chocolate centers

cut puff pastry into 2 inch squares

top each one with 1oz of really good chocolate

bake per box instructions

square will puff up around the chocolate making a little package. top with dollop of light ganache or whipped cream or coffee bc (anything, really)
if you use something pipe-able, you can make a little swirl and then top with shaved chocolate, or cocoa powder gold dragees, a mint leaf, ooh how bout a raspberry?. the possibilities are limitless with a fine chocolate bite
serve

sooo delish and sooo easy

jen

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Posted: 08 December 2008 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Another thought Mitch (- something a little more upmarket than the fudge smile  !!)

If you wanted to experiment,  I wonder how Rose’s Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte would go if you used it to fill unbaked teeny-tiny bite sized pastry/tart shells and baked it in them?

I’m assuming that the tart shell would act in a similar way to the waterbath, insulating the filling and the cooking time would be similar to achieve both a crisp shell and a divine filling?

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Posted: 10 December 2008 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Jen, love that puff pastry idea, I can’t wait to try it!

Cate, I was wondering too, about the mini cupcake-sized oblivions- has anyone out there tried that?

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Posted: 10 December 2008 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks everyone for the ideas! Jen, what sort of dimensions would the 1 oz of chocolate be? 1 oz of chocolate can come in lots of shapes and sizes? I presume these would be best served pretty warm out of the oven so that the chocolate doesn’t firm back up? (Although not too warm so that the chocolate isn’t really runny.) The mini Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Tortes sound like a neat idea, too. Not sure if I can pull that off this time, as I’d probably want to do a test run first on something like that and I’m not sure that I’d have the time to do that. If anyone has tried it, I’d be open to hearing about it. At a minimum, I’m going to make a mental note of it for next year’s party, as then I could experiment in advance.

The party is on Tuesday, so I’ll be sure to post afterward with pictures of what I tried. (And specifications of what I did so that others can try.) I’m thinking of doing bite-sized napoleons, probably filled with the eggless chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate glaze and toasted sliced almonds as suggested above. Depending on what I have supply-wise, I might try Jen’s idea, too, just for some variety.

This will be my first time working with puff pastry, so I don’t know how well commercial compares to homemade. I will have the time to make from scratch, but if the consensus is that the store-bought stuff is good, I might take the easy way out. If homemade is better, I’d probably give it a try, however. Thoughts? If suggesting store-bought, I’d appreciate brand recommendations. I don’t know if I’ll have much choice back in Fargo, but it’s worth having the information.

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Posted: 12 December 2008 07:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Mitch, I’m not speaking from personal experience, but what I keep hearing is that commercial puff pastry is very good as long as you buy a brand that is all-butter. Unfortunately, that can be hard to find. In my area, the only store where I can find a butter-based puff pastry is Trader Joe’s.

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Posted: 13 December 2008 03:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Bungalow Barbara - 12 December 2008 11:56 PM

Mitch, I’m not speaking from personal experience, but what I keep hearing is that commercial puff pastry is very good as long as you buy a brand that is all-butter. Unfortunately, that can be hard to find. In my area, the only store where I can find a butter-based puff pastry is Trader Joe’s.

Thanks, Barbara. I imagine that butter-based is going to be very hard to find in Fargo, since we’re without Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or anything of the like. I’ve got the time, so I think that I’ll give homemade a try.

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Posted: 17 December 2008 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Party was last night, and my bite-size chocolate napoleons were a great success. Here’s what I did:

1) Classic Puff Pastry (PPB 417) - Since I only needed half the smaller-sized recipe, I did that and froze the other half.
2) Eggless chocolate mousse (PPB 460 from Chocolate Mousse Napoleon) - Did 1/4 batch (2 oz. chocolate, 2/3 cup cream), since that makes one cup. Actually have another 1/4 batch in the fridge since I couldn’t get the batch I made up in advance to warm up in the very cool (sub-60?F) kitchen. Do NOT cool for six hours! Cool only until down to 65?F or so and then go ahead and whip using a balloon whisk.
3) Chocolate topping from Good Eats episode Choux Shine. (6 oz chocolate, chopped, and melted in a double boiler with 1 tsp vegetable oil)
4) Toasted sliced almonds on top.

The puff pastry came together wonderfully and baked up great. (If you’ve not made it before, go for it. I found it super easy, and a great thing to do in the midst of a North Dakota blizzard.) I rolled, cut, and baked it according to the directions in the Bite-Size Peanut Butter Napoleons (PPB 461) recipe, omitting the royal icing, of course. Once the triangles were cooled, I split them in half and piped in the chocolate mousse using a large star tip. I then put the top halves back on and went into panic mode. I’d tried to make the chocolate glaze (PPB 537) as suggested above, but due to the temperature in the kitchen, it set up almost as soon as I’d gotten it melted. My attempt to re-warm it over gentle heat resulted only in getting the chocolate to separate. I needed to top these with something, as they just didn’t seem complete. That’s when I turned to an Alton Brown recipe that I had done before, rather than trying to re-do a Rose recipe that hadn’t succeeded moments before in a pinch (grating chocolate takes forever). I dipped the tops of the napoleons in the chocolate (the mousse held the tops and bottoms together so that all but three or four of them stayed together while dipping as a whole) and then put a couple toasted sliced almonds on top.

Photographs for your viewing pleasure (I wanted to inline them, but the only way I could see to do that (and I’ve got a minor in computer science) was by attaching them, and I wasn’t about to fight with scaling them down to the appropriate size, etc.) Better pictures probably to come, once the party’s hostess downloads hers.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions, help, and encouragement!

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Posted: 18 December 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mitch, your chocolate napoleons look wonderful! I think you did a great job.

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Posted: 18 December 2008 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Rozanne - 18 December 2008 02:14 PM

Mitch, your chocolate napoleons look wonderful! I think you did a great job.

Thanks, Rozanne!

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Posted: 18 December 2008 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Mitch, those look great, and I bet they were yummy, too!  Congratulations!

Glad to hear the puff pasty was manageable, I’m due to try my hand at croissants soon (daughter’s request) so I’m encouraged by your success.

Nice to hear the ganache/mousse worked out well in the end.  I just made two batches of Rose’s light whipped ganache (didn’t have time to let the eggless mousse version chill for 6 hrs).  I also found that one can start whipping as early in the cooling process as 70F, with the mixture setting around 65F.  Thanks to Christine for recommending the bowl in ice water method, which takes only a few minutes.  I liked the flavor best after adding 1T cognac for each cup of cream. 

Somehow, though, my yield came up short, I think it was because of not enough air in the ganache, perhaps a lighter texture is achieved with whipping at a colder temp (or for longer, but I overbeat the first batch and so was shy about the second).  But it did have a nice, mousse-like texture, perfect for filling a cake roll (cocoa souffle).

And I like your glaze/almonds for the top, seems like a nice fit for the chocolate version.

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Posted: 18 December 2008 10:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Thanks, Julie. They were indeed yummy. The one thing I’ll say about croissants vs. puff pastry is that the gluten makes the croissant dough stretchier, so it’s a bit more work to roll than the puff pastry is. However, I made croissants for Thanksgiving and they were pretty easy. Still waiting on word if I’m supposed to make them for Christmas or not.

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