Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie

After making it, I wasn't sure what to call this pie. I thought about calling it Clean Out the Fridge Pie but that name didn't sound very appealing, even though that is how this pie came to be. I had chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache, leftover from other baking I had to do this week, that I wanted to use up. I had also over purchased banana's...yet again. So what to do? Make a Nilla wafer crust and throw everything in and call it a Too Many Bananas, Leftover Chocolate Mousse and Ganache Pie...hmmm a bit of a mouthful! Although this pie was born out of a necessity to use up some leftovers, I'll be making this pie again, even if I don't have leftovers to use up. So I guess, Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie it is!

Banana Chocolate Mousse Pie

For the pie:
1 nilla cookie crust, cooled (recipe below)
1/2 cup chocolate ganche (recipe below)
chocolate mousse (recipe below)
2 medium bananas, thinly sliced
whipped cream, for garnish, (optional)

Vanilla Wafer Crumb Crust
3 cups vanilla wafer cookies
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350F.
In the food processor, pulse vanilla wafer cookies until reduced to crumbs. Add in the sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. Mixture should resemble wet sand.
Pour into a 9-inch pie plate (or 9-inch square baking dish) and gently spread into an even layer over the bottom and sides. Press crumbs in firmly to create a tight crust.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust just begins to turn golden brown around the edges.
Cool completely before using.

Makes 1 pie crust.

Chocolate Ganache
3 ounces chocolate, finely chopped (if you're using chocolate chips, this is 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a microwave-proof bowl, heat all ingredients at full power for 30 seconds. Stir and heat again at full power for 10 seconds. Remove from microwave. The chocolate will still have some unmelted pieces, stir chocolate until completely melted. If it doesn't melt completely place it back in the microwave for another 10 seconds. Take care not to overheat the chocolate. The chocolate it will seize up and become very stiff if overheated. If this happens add a bit more cream and heat for in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth.

Chocolate Mousse
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups cold, heavy cream, plus an additional 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the confectioners' sugar and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Stir over low heat.
Add the semisweet chocolate chips, stirring frequently as they melt and the mixture becomes well blended.
Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and set this mixture aside.
In a separate, large bowl, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cup heavy cream on medium speed and gradually add the granulated sugar. When all the sugar has been incorporated, beat the mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, taking care not to overmix.

Whipped cream for garnish 
2/3 cup whipping cream, cold
2 tablespoons sugar

In a chilled bowl, whip cold cream with a hand mixer. When it's slightly thickened slowly add in the sugar and continue whipping until the cream holds peaks. Place whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe border around the edge of the pie. 

Assembling the pie:
Make the pie crust, while it is cooling make the ganache. Pour the ganache, while still warm, into the pie crust. Using an off-set spatula, spread the ganache evenly on the bottom of the pie crust. Make the chocolate mousse. Slice the bananas layer them into the crust. Top with the chocolate mousse and pipe around a whipped cream border, if desired. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight before slicing.

Now that's my idea of using up leftovers!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Knock-Off Salted Chocolate Caramel Candy

Since Hubs and I have been married, we've had the good fortune to have been able to travel to many places. One thing I've noticed during our travels is that no matter where you go, if it's a place that attracts tourist, there will most definitely be someone there trying to sell you something. Most often they're hocking a knock-off of some expensive name brand item. You can pick up a look alike Rolex watch, a Louis Vuitton purse, and a Hermes scarf, all for under $100.00, sometimes all from the same person. Some of the people selling these faux items can be pretty persistent. A firm "no thank-you" as we quickly walked on usually did the trick and the hawker would simply move on to some else. However, while we where visiting Rome, we had gotten lost while searching for what was supposedly the best pizza in Rome.(Finding the "best" whatever is a theme in our travels!) We ended up somewhat off the beaten path and ended up in a fairly secluded area where we ran into a man selling purses. We walked past him quickly and then realized we were going the wrong direction and had to walk back by him again. He took this as a sign that I really wanted a purse and began to try to get me to stop and look at the purses. Hubs and I hesitated just long enough that the purse hawker was sure he could close the deal. He began pulling out Prada's', Louis Vuitton's, etc... explaining what great quality they were and that they were the real deal. When Hub's said he knew they were fakes, the man got very animated. How dare we question the authenticity of these wonderful purses. Of course they were the real deal and very good quality as well. He insisted we feel the leather and all but forced me to take a Prada bag from him and hold it. At this point he felt he'd sealed the deal and began hounding Hubs to buy me the purse. I gave the bag back to him and tried to walk away. He grabbed a second bag and began to try to barter with Hubs on a price for not only a genuine Prada bag but he was going to throw in a Tom's bag practically free. He followed us down the mostly deserted street and long story short, I ended up with not one but two knock-off purses that day. I gave the "Prada" to my little sister, who loved it, and I kept the "Toms" bag. I still give Hubs a hard time about giving into the purse guy, but truthfully I used the "Toms" bag as a travel bag until the handle broke off several years later. 
These candies are like the knock-off Toms bag. I know homemade caramels are fantastic, way better then the cellophane wrapped knock-offs, but they are time consuming to make. So if your looking for a quick chocolately caramely fix, you can be popping this knock-off version in your mouth in almost no time flat. Since no one needs to know how easy they are to make, you can impress your family and friends with your confectionery prowess!

I'm not sure that a recipe is really necessary for these. It's pretty simple but here's a basic guide:

Salted Chocolate Caramel Candy

Semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used about 1 cup)
Caramel candies, unwrapped 
Sea salt

Put the amount of chocolate chips called for in the recipe into the microwave-safe bowl and place the bowl in the microwave.
Set the microwave to 50 percent power for one minute. Chocolate burns easily and must always be melted using low heat.
Stir the chocolate chips after one minute. When melted in the microwave, chocolate chips hold their shape until pressed with a spoon. Don't rely on how the chocolate chips look to determine if they're adequately melted.
Return the chocolate chips to the microwave for 15 to 60 seconds, depending on how close they are to being melted. Stop heating the chocolate chips when they're slightly more than half melted and stir until smooth. Residual heat from the melted chocolate will melt any remaining un-melted pieces.

Drop the unwrapped caramels, one or two at a time into the melted chocolate. Roll the caramels in the chocolate until they are completely covered. Using a fork, lift the caramels out of the chocolate and place on a cookie cooling rack to set up. (If you place the rack over a cookie sheet it will keep the caramels from dripping chocolate all over your counter tops.) Sprinkle the tops of each caramel with a pinch of sea salt. Allow the chocolate on the caramels to cool until the chocolate sets. Enjoy!
I made these for Valentine's Day so I added a little heart sprinkle!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Happy World Nutella day

It's one of my favorite days of the year! No not Super Bowl Sunday...It's World Nutella Day!
 Nutella truffles
So celebrate by spreading some Nutella love...or just eat from the jar!

 Nutella is more than just a “chocolaty hazelnut spread,” it is a way of life.
From childhood memories to oozing hot crepes, from breakfasts on vacation to free-spooning sessions on the couch, Nutella is prominent in the memories of many children and grown-up children in the world.
In 2007 we gave Nutella its own holiday, and this year we’re continuing the tradition.
Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso solemnly declare Sunday, February 5th “World Nutella Day 2012″ – a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella. Go to the World Nutella Day website for even more ways to enjoy Nutella!!