Creamy desserts

Creamy desserts

By
Leiths School of Food and Wine
Contains
21 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 550 9
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

For sheer indulgence, choose from the tempting range of rich and creamy puddings in this chapter, from tangy fruit fools and creamy mousses, through pannacotta and chilled soufflés to irresistible roulades and cheesecakes.

Whole eggs, or sometimes just the yolks, are used to set creamy custard desserts such as crème brûlée – whole eggs setting a mixture firmly and yolks giving a softer, richer set. Egg dishes must be cooked gently or they will have at best a rubbery texture and at worst the curdled texture of scrambled eggs. To counter this, many dishes are cooked using a hot water bath, called a bain marie, so that the eggs are protected from the fierce oven heat by the water.

Whisking cream

When cream is whisked, air bubbles are trapped, thickening the cream so that it can be used to lighten and enrich mixtures, even helping them to set. Both whipping cream and double cream can be successfully whisked. Care must be taken to avoid over-whisking, which gives the cream an unpleasant grainy, fatty, texture. Make sure the cream is cold before you whisk it, and on a hot day, whisk cream slowly, as it can suddenly thicken.

If you are adding sweetness and flavourings to cream, such as icing or caster sugar, vanilla seeds or grated orange zest, add them before you start whisking. If added at the end, the cream is more likely to become over-whisked. If you add acid or alcohol to cream, it will thicken much faster than usual.

SOFT PEAK Cream whisked to this stage is thick enough to form peaks that hold briefly as you lift the whisk, then dissipate back into the cream. This is usually the required consistency if it is to be folded into another mixture, such as crème pâtissière.

Cold soufflés

Cold soufflés bear little relation to their hot namesake. Traditionally they are served in the same soufflé dishes or individual ramekins as hot soufflés and made to resemble them by the crafty means of tying a strip of greaseproof paper around the top of the dish and pouring in the mixture to the top of the paper to set. When the paper is removed, the cold soufflé appears to have risen above the rim of the dish just as for a hot soufflé.

Cold soufflés are actually just light and airy mousses that are sometimes set with gelatine. Nowadays they are often set and presented in a glass serving dish or pretty individual dishes rather than in the traditional way.

All manner of fruits – and chocolate – can be used to flavour these desserts and they have the advantage that they can be prepared well ahead.

Setting point for cold soufflés, mousses, etc.

A liquid or mixture with gelatine in it must be brought to ‘setting point’ (over an ice bath for speed), so it can combine with a foamy mixture without separating. Whipped cream, whisked egg whites or a mousse of yolks may be added to a gelatine mixture, to create volume and lightness in the finished dish. The gelatine also prevents other ingredients sinking to the bottom, such as the vanilla seeds in a cold vanilla soufflé.

Once you have added the gelatine (either dissolved powdered or sponged leaf gelatine) to the mixture, place it over an ice bath (a larger bowl half-filled with ice cubes and cold water) and begin stirring gently.

Stir continuously and gently to ensure an even cooling and setting, until there is a visible thickening, and when a spatula drawn through the middle of the mixture creates a ‘parting of the waves’ (when the mixture parts briefly, for 3–5 seconds before flooding back together).

At setting point, remove the dish from the ice bath and gently fold in the lighter mixture, such as lightly whipped cream or soft/medium peak whisked egg whites.

A note on using a soufflé dish for a cold soufflé...

Tie a double band of lightly oiled greaseproof paper around the top of the dish, to extend about 3cm above the rim with the non-folded edge uppermost. When the soufflé mixture is poured in, it should come about 2.5cm above the rim of the dish.

Once the soufflé is set, heat a palette knife in hot water, dry it and run it between the double sheets of greaseproof paper against the side of the set soufflé. The heat will very slightly melt just enough of the gelatine to enable the paper collar to be removed cleanly.

The exposed raised side of the soufflé can be spread with a thin layer of lightly whipped cream and coated with nibbed toasted almonds to finish.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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