I had the pleasure of attending my first food blogger meet-up – #BigSummerPotluck – this past Saturday at the home of the lovely, talented and fun ThreeManyCooks.com. The award-winning, best-selling cookbook author, Pam Anderson, her 2 incredibly gifted daughters, Maggy and Sharon, and their great friend, photo genius Erika Pineda (@IvoryHut) pulled out all the stops for this exciting day. As you can imagine, the food was phenomenal, the information that was shared was priceless and Twitter friends made in real life connections. For this reluctant food blogger, it was a dream day. I learned so much from the group and took copious notes in hopes of becoming a better blogger.
Pam shared her recipe and cookbook wisdom, pastry chef-turned brilliant food stylist Melissa DeMayo taught us all more than a few tricks & techniques, Erika showed us how to make our food pix look their very best and Alice Currah from SavorySweetLife.com was the keynote speaker. Alice spoke from the heart and shared not only her personal journey but also her hope that we, as bloggers, speak with our own voice and conveyed her hope that as a food community we bond together to help and support each other. Amen to that! In life, family and work, I am a firm believer in paying it forward.
Oh…and I did a little demo from my soon-to-be released Desserts 4 Today. My goal was twofold. First, I wanted to introduce the concept that a delicious & fresh dessert can be easily and quickly made with just 4 ingredients you probably already have on hand. And secondly, to highlight the “Switch –Ins” section of D4T that encourages cooks of any ability to alter the recipe by using other flavors along with the ripest fruit available to create a dessert that is just to their taste. For more on the book, check out Desserts 4 Today.
Before I get to the recipe.. one quick story about the picture above. A few weekends back, we were heading to a lobster bake at friends’ beach house so I made these white chocolate mousse – berry parfaits in plastic glasses for easy serving and eating ~ so cute and so easy. I carefully covered each parfait with inexpensive baggies and packed them in a cooler so they wouldn’t topple over and lose their pretty layers. As Chris was loading the car, I told him at least 3 zillion times (yes.. I was nagging) to make sure the cooler was level and secured. He assured me that all was a-ok. (I knew this to be true because I snuck a peek in the car to check his handy-work = Confessions of a micro-manager.) So, off we go. Heading down to Wendy and Jeff’s spot, Chris was admiring the gorgeous views of Long Island Sound and drove right over a speed bump. Luckily, he wasn’t going too fast but still, the car lurched up then landed with a thud. ::BAM:: Car fine, passengers a-ok, layered parfaits… not so much. Pretty layers and smudge-less rims were a thing of the past ~ but they still tasted great. Goes to show that presentation is nice but the proof is in the eating.
And, now, for the first time on line, I give you a sneak peek into the pages of Desserts 4 Today and present Orange Scented White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse!
*Ingredients: In ever Desserts 4 Today recipe, I’ve listed the FOUR ingredients you’ll need first and the amount after it. This way you’ll know right away if you have what you need to make the dessert.
* “Switch-Ins” are listed for every D4T recipe. This section offers variations for the add-ins as well as different flavoring options. So.. if you’re not wild for Grand Marnier, or you want to mix your berries, or you want to leave the fruit out altogether and use crushed cookie crumbs, I’m giving you permission to switch –in some ingredients and flavors that you might like better.
* “Gussy-It Up” is another D4T sidebar. It offers suggestions for extra finishing touches for when you have time or interest. For instance, in this recipe, the berries can be folded into the mousse and served in bowls or, you can do what I did and layer them parfait-style.
Tips 4 Success:
*Fruit: With only 4 ingredients in the recipe, each element must be at it’s flavor-best. Once again, this is where the Switch-Ins come to the rescue. If the blueberries are tasting sweeter than the blackberries, or you like a combo of berries, permission granted to switch things up!
* Mixer? All you’ll need for this recipe is a hand-held electric mixer!
* Serving containers: Use any vessels you like for this mousse – wine glasses, parfait bowls or even the tall, 10-ounces clear plastic cups that I used.
* Parfait perfection: Spoon the filling into the glasses is easy, for sure. But, if you want super neat layers and fast assembly, fit a large pastry bag with a round plain or star tip and fill with the mousse and pipe into the glasses, layering with the berries. If you don’t have a pastry bag, go ahead and use a large Ziploc bag and fill with the mousse. Press out the air, zip closed, snip off about 3/4 –inch off of one corner and assemble the parfaits.
Orange-Scented White Chocolate-Raspberry Mousse
Makes 4 servings
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Heavy cream 1 1/3 cups
- White chocolate 4 ounces, chopped
- Grand Marnier 1 tablespoon
- Raspberries 1 pint
Here’s how to make it:
- Have ready 4 small serving bowls or wineglasses and make room in the fridge.
- Put 1/3 cup heavy cream and chopped chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl and heat in the microwave or over simmering water until chocolate is melted. Whisk until smooth and blended. Refrigerate until chilled.(For faster cooling, put the bowl over an ice-filled bowl and stir gently until chilled.)
- Add the remaining heavy cream. Beat, using an electric mixer, until medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted (don’t forget to stop the mixer BEFORE lifting!). Add Grand Marnier and mix briefly.
- Set aside a few raspberries for garnish. Add remaining berries and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just blended. Spoon the mixture into the serving bowls or glasses. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or up to 2 days. Serve chilled with remaining raspberries on top.
Switch-Ins: In place of the Grand Marnier, switch in one of the following:
- Orange zest, finely grated 1 teaspoon
- Amaretto 1 tablespoon
- Frangelico 1 tablespoon
- Limoncello 1 tablespoon
In place of the raspberries, switch in one of the following:
- Blackberries 1 pint
- Blueberries 1 pint
- Crushed amaretti cookies 1 1/2 cups
- Gingersnap cookie crumbs 1 1/2 cups
- Cinnamon cookie crumbs 1 1/2 cups
- Chocolate cookie crumbs 1 1/2 cups
- Hazelnuts, chopped 1 cup, toasted
Gussy It Up:
- Instead of folding in the berries, layer the cream and berries parfait-style and garnish with reserved berries and a mint sprig or two.
- Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger or chopped toasted slivered almonds to the white chocolate mousse.
- Substitute 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese for 1/2 cup of the heavy cream