Monday, August 3, 2009

Desserts: Tricks and Zabaglione..... Wonderful!

In spite of the "bad rep" given by all diets and regimens, it's hard to conceive a good meal which does not culminate with a wonderful dessert. In reality and when taken in moderation (what's that? said "Les Sibarites"...... gourmets to you.....).

So I thought I would not only tempt you with some chosen "tidbits" but give you the benefit of years of experimentation in the kitchen and share some "tricks of the trade" that might give you either inspiration, resolution to problems you've encountered or just plain vicarious thrills while reading all this.... Because in the final analysis: no one is turned off by something rich...mmmm. Let me tell you one of the most important thoughts I learned having many restaurants: "It doesn't matter what low-cal, low-fat, whatever is in vogue - meat and desserts SELL... no matter what". You can take this to the bank, I promise.
  • For cakes or pastries always use plain wheat flour. If you're going to make them "drunken" with the addition of spirits then dissolve the same volume of sugar and water, cook for a minute and once you remove from the heat, add the desired liquor. Sugar doesn't dissolve in very alcoholic mediums, and grainy is NOT nice.
  • If you make a custard or flan and don't have all the time in the world to make it right- then make it in individual serving dishes and you'll cut down the cooking time by a fourth!
  • Meringue is always good as a decoration, since it's easy to make (as long as you bring the whites to very firm stage) and you can mask a dessert that didn't turn out "perfect".
  • When making Apple Compote, do add some whole cinnamon and some lemon peel.
  • Baked apples are great when baked after removing the hearts and filling them with sugar, in a baking dish with a glass of white wine added as a cooking medium.
  • Fruits are used well washed and with their skin on.
  • If the lemons you need are old and dry, before juicing, boil once and let them cool.
  • If you're preparing a chocolate cream and want to make it more aromatic, add some dissolved coffee. Also add a pinch of salt too. If the chocolate you need is not available, use cocoa powder (my favorite) mixed with some butter.
  • If you must reduce (Oh my!...) the caloric content of your desserts, you can use sugar substitute and low fat milk, but only if you must. I suggest smaller servings instead.....
  • Why doesn't your whipped cream end well? Always use a whisk, either manual or electric so it's very firm. But stop before it turns into butter...
  • If you add sugar it's whipped cream, add powdered sugar and it's Chantilli Cream and don't forget whipped cream doubles it's volume....
  • The cream must always be cold and the bowl you're using too (put in the fridge first)
Okay, so much for the tricks... now on to the Zabaglione..... The origin of zabaglione is uncertain. It might have originated in Venice (no wonder I love it!..)when this city ruled the Adriatic. Originally, sweet Cyprus wine was used, but with the decline of the Venetian Republic, Marsala wine began to be used instead. Another change in the recipe is the use of sugar instead of honey, the original ingredient. However, there is another school of thought that says this sauce or custard was invented in the 16th Century in Florence, Italy (ok, this is also excellent...) in the Medici Court, and while they classified this dessert as a "caudle" which is a sauce used as a custard to fill pies or tarts. The original pre 16th century version was a drink, wine or ale thickened with egg yolks. In Mexico we have Rompope and "Pollas" which are quite similar but mainly used as a drink....

Classic Zabagione Recipe.- This is the basic sauce:
8 egg yolks
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 Marsala or Sherry Wine

Place the egg yolks and sugar on top of a double boiler or "bain marie". The water on the bottom part must be slightly boiling and should not touch the bottom part.

Use a wire whisk and whisk the mixture until foamy. Add the wine and continue to cook until it doubles in volume. If you use an instant-read thermometer, it should read 140 degrees F. Beat the mixture for another minute or two. Serve at once. Easy and elegant, what a combination!

Coffee Mounds.- A light and aromatic presentation with a coffee flavor added which is lovely.
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tbl coffee grounds
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 cup whipped cream

Crush or grind the coffee grounds. Bring the milk to a boil and let cook 1 min. then add the coffee. Remove from the heat and let it infuse for 1/2 hour. Make a caramel with 1 cup the sugar and 1 tbl of water. Reserve 1/2 cup of sugar. When it's done, add 1/4 cup hot water to the caramel. In a small pot put the 1/2 cup sugar and turn into a hard caramel (you heat it until it becomes golden and stop, reserve). Run the milk through a sieve, add the rest of the sugar and mix well. Pour this over the caramel, now cool, and add the yolks and place on the heat once more on low heat, mixing all the while with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat when it first comes to a boil. Pass through a sieve and distribute in serving cups. Top with the whipped cream and decorate with caramel threads made from the hard caramel which gets re-heated to decorate but will harden as it cools.

Pastry Knots over Zabaglione.- A traditional dessert in Italy, delicate and smooth.
For the knots:
4-6 cups olive oil for frying
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tbl cognac
1 lemon rind
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1/3 stick of butter
pinch of salt

For the Zabaglione:
4 tbl powdered sugar
6 oz Liguria Wine (or your choice, like Marsala)
8 egg yolks

In copper pot place the yolks and sugar. Mix for 5 min with hand whisk. Add the wine. Place the pan in a water bath (Bain Marie) on low heat, stirring until it becomes thick, but still loose. Let rest in a cool place until needed.

Form a well with the flour and place the ingredients in it's center. Mix well so you get a loose dough. Cover the dough with pastic wrap and let rest 6 hours. Then extend the dough so it has 1/2 inch thickness and cut strips of 1inch by 5 inches long, preferably with a dented cutter. After this, form them into "knots". Fry them in hot oil and place on paper towels, sprinkle with the powdered sugar placed through a sieve. Place the zabaglione in a deep dish and then the knots over this and serve.

Apple Jam with Calvados Zabaglione and Sorbet.- Something really special for you..........
1 tsp cinamon
3 gelatin sheets
4 Granny Smith apples
1 1/5 cup mashed green apple

For the Zabaglione:
3 egg yolks
1/2cup sugar
1/2 cup cider
1/4 cup whipped cream
1/2 cup Calvados Wine

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup glucose
4 cups orange pulp
2 tbl sugar

Make the sorbet cooking 2 cups of water with the sugar; once it begins a rapid boil, let it cook for 10-12 min. Let it cool. When it's almost cool, mix it with the orange pulp and glucose. Reserve in the freezer.

Peel the apples and cut in small cubes. Bring the mashed green apples with the cinnamon. Place the gelatin sheets in some cold water for about 5 min. Add the apple cubes to the hot mashed apple mix. Incorporate the gelatin sheets and gently beat, allow to become warm off the heat. Divide this "jam" in four deep dishes and allow to gel in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Bring the egg yolks, along with 1/2 cup of sugar to heat and add the leftover 1/2 cup apple mash. Add the cider and allow to cool but continuing to beat. Add the wine and whipped cream. Place on each of the plates, sprinkle with sugar and allow to get golden in the oven for a couple of minutes. Serve with the sorbet.

You'll have some rich and different dessert dishes to surprise family and friends with.... Plus Zabaglione is a good dessert sauce to master. it will not only add to your repertoire of sauces, but adds another dimension to desserts since it can be used whenever a touch of creaminess and subtle liquor favor is desired, like over pie or plain cake with some fresh fruits, as a filling for crepes, as a kicked-up pudding, or simply place some fresh fruits on it and serve! Make it, taste it and create your own uses for it!... Enjoy....

No comments:

Post a Comment