Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Sweets/Date Nut Balls, Roulade Cake:

Date Nut Balls (can be made ahead and stored)
Makes about 6 to 7 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups finely chopped dates
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts
4 cups crispy rice cereal
Sweetened shredded coconut (about 3 cups)

In medium pan, melt butter and sugar. Add dates and cook until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs into milk and stir into hot mixture with salt. Return to heat and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and nuts (tester used pecans). Cool completely, then stir in cereal, mixing until well coated. Shape into 1-inch balls, then roll in coconut.

What I'll be making for St Nick dessert:
Bittersweet Chocolate Roulade (from Cooks Illustrated): (make day before)

6 oz bittersweet (semisweet) chocolate, chopped fine
2 tb cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 tb cold water
1/4cup dutch process cocoa, sifted, plus extra for unmolding
1/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
1/8 tsp salt
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Adjust rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12 by 17.5 inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, cover bottom with parchment paper, and spray parchment with nonstick spray; dust surface with flour and tap out excess.

Bring 2 inches of water to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Combine chocolate, butter, and water in small heatproof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set bowl over pan, reduce heat to medium low, and heat until bitter is almost completely melted and chocolate pieces are glossy, have lost definition, and are fully melted around edges, about 15 minutes. Do not stir or let water boil under chocolate. Remove bowl from pan, unwrap, and stir until smooth and glossy. While chocolate is melting, sift 1/4 cup cocoa, flour, and sat together into small bowl and set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at medium high speed until just combined, about 15 seconds. With mixer running, add half of sugar. Continue to beat, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary until yolks are pale yellow and mixture falls in thick ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 8 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine, scraping bowl once, bout 30 seconds. Turn mixture into medium bowl; wash mixer bowl and whisk attachment and dry.

In clean bowl with clean whisk attachment, beat whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add about 1 tsp sugar; continue beating until soft peaks form, about 40 seconds. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until whites are supple and glossy and hold stiff peaks when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer. Do not over beat. While whites are beating, stir chocolate mixture into yolks. With rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it; fold in remaining whites until almost no streaks remain. Sprinkle dry ingredients over top and fold in quickly but gently

Pour batter into prepared pan; using an offset icing spatula and working quickly, even surface and smooth batter into corners of pan. Bake until center of cake springs back when touched with a finger, 8-10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, lay clean kitchen towel over work surface and sift remaining tablespoon cocoa powder over towel; with hands, rub cocoa towel. Run paring knife around perimeter of baking sheet to loosen cake. Invert cake onto towel and peel off parchment.

Roll cake, towel and all, into jelly roll shape. Cool for 15 minutes, then unroll cake and towel. Using offset spatula, immediately spread filling over surface of cake, almost to edges. Roll up cake snugly. Set large sheet pf parchment paper on overturned rimmed baking sheet and set cake seam side down on top. Trim both edges on diagonal; spread ganache over roulade with small icing spatula. Use fork to make wood grain striations on surface of ganache before it sets. Refrigerate baking sheet with cake to set icing, about 20 minutes.

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp finely ground espresso beans
6 tb confectioner's sugar
16.5 oz mascarpone (or cream) cheese

Bring cream to simmer i small pan over high heat. Off heat, stir in espresso and powdered sugar; cool slightly.
Beat mascarpone cheese and cooled cream until fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dark Chocolate Ganache:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tb unsalted butter
6 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 tb cognac (optional)

Microwave cream and butter in measuring cup in high until bubbling, about 90 seconds. Place chocolate in heatproof bowl (or bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade). Pour hot cream mix over chocolate and sit of a minute, then mix until well incorporated (or pour hot cream thru feed tube and process about 3 minutes). Cool at room temp about an hour until spreadable.

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