I made four sorbets but ended up tossing one because I tried to cheat and it didn't work out. My two favorites were the coconut and spicy chocolate.
1 cup coconut water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
Combine the coconut water and sugar and stir over a lowish heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool completely then stir in the milk and chill until cold. Once chilled, stick it in your ice cream maker (sorry yes you do need one for all the sorbets).
Coconut water has little chunks of coconut in it. If I'd had any I would probably have also added shredded coconut to the sorbet.
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Cayenne pepper to taste
Combine water and sugar and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved (a developing theme this!) then whisk in the cocoa and pepper and simmer for about 3 minutes. Chill mix for at least two hours before putting through the ice cream maker.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 pounds fresh peaches
juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup and stir over low-medium heat till sugar dissolves. Then boil without stirring for about a minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. Blend sliced peaches*, lemon juice, salt, and cooled syrup in blender until smooth then freeze immediately in the ice cream maker.
* It is entirely up to you whether or not to remove the peels from the peaches. If you do, the sorbet turns out a nice yellow. However, if you keep the peels on the sorbet has more texture and gets these flecks of pink and orange.
I kept the peels on my peaches.
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 ripe mangos
juice of one lime
This is the one I cheated on and used mango juice instead of mangos. So what I actually made was a mango slush and not a sorbet. Use the mangos.
Combine sugar and water yada yada. Peel mangos and cut as much fruit as possible off the pits. Combine the mago, lime juice, and syrup in blender then refrigorate until cool before running through the ice cream maker.
Now, all sorbets are eadible right out of the ice cream maker. However, for a firmer sorbet freeze for a couple hours (in the freezer, not the ice cream maker).
While part of the purpose of my party was not, as the beginning of this sentance may indicate, alliteration, it was the absence of cake, I decided to make cupcakes. I generally disdain the cupcake and am completely confused by DC's love affair with them. They require little talent or artistry and the ones available at the various shops and food vans here are overpriced and, frankly, only so-so in taste. I mean really...how much talent does it take to bake a cupcake and slap some frosting on top? But...if you decorate the cupcake, then I'm on board. And since Lauren got me the Hello Cupcake! decorating book for my birthday I decided to make some.
I cheated a little here as well and started out with a white cake mix to save some time. I made orange cupcakes so I also mixed in a little orange extract, grated orange rind (I used all the rind of one large orange) and the juice of the orange. I got some of the rind on my face while I was zesting it and holy crap that stung! For like ever.
After the cupcakes cooled I spread a simple cream cheese frosting (1 8 oz brick cream cheese, 1/2 stick of butter, and 1 pound powdered sugar) on them. For the decorating, I made candy butterflies. I used both dark and white chocolate and purple and blue candy disks to make them. It was actually much easier than I anticipated.
Melt the chocolate and candy disks in ziplock bags in the microwave for about 30 seconds then massage to fully melt. If further micorwaving is needed do it in 10 second increments, massaging after each round. Be careful to not over heat because then, well just do it.
Moving one wing at a time, draw the outline of the wing with the dark or white chocolate then fill in with the color. Using a toothpick, draw through the outine into the color to create the patterns on the wings. I seems to have managed to forget to take a picture of this stage. If you like you can also use the outline chocolate to make antennea. Once these are hard, you can put them on top of the cupcakes. You can use a small piece of candy to help prop up the wings. Then to "glue" them together, pipe additional melted chocolate or frosting between the wings.
You can remelt the candy in the ziplock bags during the process when it starts to reharden. However, do it in small increments (again about 10-15 seconds) and massage each time so as to not over heat.
I also used left over fondant flowers to decorate some of the cupcakes. I thought they turned out pretty cute.
For one of the savory desserts I decided to try mini apple pies with cheddar cheese baked into the crusts. I prepared the pie crust a couple days before and chilled it until I was ready to use it. I was thrilled that the recipe let me use my food processor to make the dough rather than slave over it with a pastry cutter. I rolled out the dough as I would for a pie but used a medium sized cookie cutter to cut out the pie crusts. I didn't buy a round cutter and regretted it. While the hearts I used were cute enough, they are harder to keep together and I couldn't use as much filling as I would have liked. For the filling I used granny smith apples because I wanted something a little tarter to play off the sharp cheddar.
I piled as much apple as I could in the hearts then covered it with another dough heart, used my thumb nail to make indentations around the heart to close it up and brushed it all with a little egg white. Then I topped it all off with shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese.
I baked them at 350 for about 15ish minutes and viola!
Lacking a mini cupcake pan but having recently bought a tart tin, I decided to make pecan tassies into one giant pecan tart.
For the shell:
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup flour
Chop the cream cheese and butter together then sift the flour over it and cut together using a pastry cutter. The hilarious thing about this was that I was staring at my food processor, which I'd just used to make the mini apple pie crust, wondering if I could/should use it for this. Alas I didn't but at least my arms got a good workout. I rolled out the dough laid it in the tart tin. I was also reminded about one of the many reasons why I'm not a big maker of pies. I cannot roll out dough in a round shape to save my life. It didn't matter so much with the mini pies but the dough for the tart had to encompass the entire tin.
My dough reminded me strongly of Kosovo.
It actually wasn't big enough to completely drape over the tarte tin so I ended jup pinching off bits from the too big side and squishing them onto the dough where there were gaps. But in the end it was fine.
For the filling:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1 /2 tablespoons vanilla
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Lightly whisk the eggs then whisk in the brown sugar a little at a time, add the vanilla, butter, and salt. Fill the tin with the chopped pecans and pour the sugar/egg mixture over it. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350.
Of all the desserts I made, my favorite was the fresh strawberry pie. Now I know I've just said that I'm not normally a pie maker, but this is the exception to my rule. I think it's because the pie crust is actually a cookie.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter, chopped
One again use the food processor!! After it becomes dough press it into your pie pan and bake at 350 for 15+ minutes. Mine probably could have used 20 minutes but I got impatient. When you're ready for the next step (I set aside my crust for a few days) fill either with sliced or whole strawberries. Whole berries make a prettier pie but it's harder to slice.
I actually used a combination and filled in the cracks between the whole berries with slices. Over this you're going to pour a strawberry galze.
4 tablespoons strawberry jello
2-ish tablespoons corn startch
1/2 cup sugar
12 ounces water
Make sure you combine all the dries well before adding the water. If cornstartch isn't ready to mix with the water then it's just not pretty. Stir over medium heat until it thickens.
Then pour over the berries and let sit till set.
It really was my favorite. After everyone left and I'd cleaned up I sat down and ate the rest of the pie right out of the pie dish. And felt absolutely no guilt.
Here I took a break and made coffee. There was as much coffee drinking during this process as there was wine drinking.
The most complicated by far of all the desserts were the petit fours. I blame what a pain in the ass they are on the fact that they're French. Explains it all really. I used my little brother's method for making these. His turn out beautifully. Mine not so much. But they tasted just fine. So you need to start out by making cake. Just regular cake in a 9x13 pan. I made both chocolate and white cake. Once they have cooled, flip them out onto waxed paper that's been generously dusted with powdered sugar. Cover with more powdered sugar and more waxed paper and a cookie sheet. Then weigh down the cookie sheet until the cakes halve in thickness.
Knew those weights would come in handy! When the cakes are done being weighted down, cut the cake into quarters, the slice each quarter in half, fill, put back together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then tin foil, and freeze for a few hours. Bless Lauren for giving me a cake leveler for my birthday!! I've said times out of mind that I can't slice a cake down the middle for all the tea in China. The leveler was brilliant for slicing the squashed cake quarters. Hurrah for Lauren and Wilton.
I used both a raspberry compote and bittersweet chocolate ganache for my fillings. When the cakes are sufficiently frozen, cut them into smallish squares and dip in melted chocolate. Not chocolate chips. You need to use proper candy chocolate for this because chocolate chips never melt nor stay thin enough. Now my first batch didn't turn out so pretty. I was again impatient and didn't let the cake freeze long enough so soon enough my melted chocolate was full of cake crumbles. All but about the first 10 in that batch turned out bumpy. The second batch froze almost too long and froze the bloody chocolate! There is apparently a very fine balance as to the level of frozenness that you need for these cakes.
I actually feel as exhausted writing this as I felt making it all. Next up are the pumpkin cheesecake squares. Pumpkin may be unseasonal in August but I love it so I didn't really care. This is one of thos ehappy recipes that I got off Epicurious so if you want it, click the link cause I'm going to opt to not write out the entire thing. Suffice it to say...yum-my.
I love "crumble"
Um, apparently that was the extent of the pictures I took. It's really hard to keep track of making everything and taking pictures of everything.
I also made raspberry walnut blondie brownies and apparently didn't take any pictures of those at all. Pity because they tasted darn good. Although I can tell you-do not use frozen raspberries! Bad, bad idea. At one point, because they were generating so much liquid, I had to take the brownies out of the oven and spoon off about a cup of juice. And I had to bake them almost twice as long as the recipe indicated.
Last but absolutely not least was the lemon goat cheesecake which was the unanimous winner. I had a lemon goat cheesecake at Nage on my actual birthday and it was like a revelation. Why would you make cheesecake that doesn't have goat cheese?!
In a food processor (or blender) crush graham crackers. You'll need about 2 cups for a 9 inch springform. I didn't want to buy and entire box of crackers for this so I actually used the leftover Golden Grahams cereal from the pan s'mores. Mix the crushed grahams with 8 tablespoons melted butter then press into the greased springform pan.
For the filling:
2 pounds cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sour cream
12 ounces goat cheese
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
juice of 1 lemon
10-ish ounces lemon curd (to taste really)
First beat the cream cheese in an electric mixture until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream, goat cheese and sugar and beat until smooth scrapping down the sides every once in a while. Add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon curd until fully incorporated. Pour into the springform* and at 350 for about 2 hours. Once cool, spead additional lemon curd on the top and then thickly cover with blueberries. And naturally, I managed to not take pictures of this either. Awesome.
*Note-baking cheesecakes in a water bath helps them bake more evenly. Make sure (before pouring the cheesecake mix into the pan) to cover the bottom well with tin foil. Then place the pan in a larger baking pan and fill with water so it comes up at least 1/2 -1 inch on the springform. Periodically check to see if more water is needed while baking.
So while I don't have pictures of a couple things, I did at least remember to get some pictures of the table o'desserts.
The final touches were to include a fruit plate, a cheese plate (sharp white cheddar, raw goat's milk hard cheese, stilton with apricots, and Italian truffle cheese) and a bowl of homemade whipped cream. I had planned to take post party pictures of all the desserts but it seems I made a wee too much food so the after pictures looked oddly like the before pictures.
In the end, all the work and crumbs were well worth it. I had fun making at least some of the desserts and had a great time at the party. So thanks to everyone who came and everyone in my office who ate the left overs over the course of the following week!