Saturday, November 10, 2001


got your tickets yet for the chocolate show? i hope i can find the time to go. . .

speaking of chocolate, as promised previously, i'm working on the recipe for this thing that combines all the best elements of chocolate panna cotta, chocolate firnee, and chocolate pastry cream. i decided to start today with the firnee. i thought to make just a regular sort of firnee first and then deviate from there.

now an average firnee recipe would be something like:

2 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 teaspoon rosewater
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 c. pistachios
1/8 c. almonds

of course you'd add all the cream but 2 tablespoons, add the sugar, stir constantly over low heat until the sugar dissolves (2 minutes or so), add the salt, then sift the cornstarch into a small dish, add the 2 tablespoons reserved cream, mix until perfectly smooth, add the cardamom, pour that into the cream and sugar and stir for 3-5 minutes until the cream thickened so much you could pretty much stand the whisk into it. then you'd mix the rosewater in off the heat, pour the firnee onto a plate to cool and dust heavily with almonds and pistachios that you've ground into a coarse sand in the food processor. the entire recipe takes 15 minutes if you're dawdling.

this will give you an over-thick goop that mr. right says "tastes like cold cream." (did he eat his mother's pond's as a child???) and it's true, many people find rosewater too perfume-y. but you can sense there's something good that lurks in the essence of this idea. . .

how can we take this recipe and improve it? today i did it thusly:

3 c. heavy cream
1-1/2 c. sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons Neilsen-Massey vanilla bean paste
4 oz. scharffenberger 70%
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 c. pistachios
1/8 c. almonds

i wanted to have half the stuff vanilla and half chocolate, for contrast. i also like it thinner in body than the standard recipe. you may not, so you might want to revert to the lesser amounts of cream and sugar. whatever.

i melted the chocolate in the microwave (1-1/2 mins at med-high heat; your oven may cook differently, so start with 1 min and then stir. the chocolate fully melts as you stir it.) then i made the firnee as usual, adding the vanilla paste about 1 min. after the cornstarch went in. once it had thickened, i poured a little more than half (say, 1-3/4 c.) into a bowl. that's the vanilla portion. then i stirred the chocolate into the remaining part, which was difficult, because it had continued to thicken quickly, even off the heat. the chocolate didn't want to incorporate with the whisk. i was also afraid of scorching the chocolate! but i did finally mix it all in and i put that into a separate bowl. then spread the tops of both thickly with the finely-crushed nuts, and covered with plastic. let cool 2 hours.

or you could have poured them in alternate layers in individual serving cups -- vanilla and nuts, then the chocolate and nuts. however.

this turns into a quick-making and extremely delicious dessert. mr. right liked both flavors and expressed surprise that this was firnee. it's not quite as luscious as chocolate pastry cream (no egg) and doesn't have quite the delicate texture of panna cotta. but you may find that you'll have trouble keeping yourself from eating it all at one sitting!

still, since i want a more delicate texture, my next experiment will feature gelatin as the thickener. check in next week. . . if i'm not all tied up at the chocolate show, that is!

posted by fortune | 2:35 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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