The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Of Tinged Creams and Tasting Parties

Tasting or sample menus, especially in regards to appetizers have been
 on the restaurant scene for quite some time now.

No longer does a tasting menu merely included the selection of chicken strips, 
mini quesadilla and onion rings, but oh so much more. The restaurant world has
 taken us to new heights with special seasonal offerings, tasty chefs specials 
and a vast array of delicacies to sample.

Stores and specially shops are quickly filling their shelves with innovative and 
decorative dishware to entice most any willing host or hostess to be. The mini offerings
 are flooding our gourmet senses with creative ideas to stretch our culinary muscles.

Whipping your own fresh cream is far easier than one might expect. By it’s nature
 whipped cream is one in the family of culinary foams. Although we generally think
 of this as a tasty topping four our favorite sweet treats, it can also play a magnificent
 role in savory dishes.

Today we are leaning on the sweet side, with just a hint of heat here and there. You can of course use any combinations that you desire or have available to you. The main objective here is to spend a minimal amount of time and effort, but to disguise it under the gentle hues of elegance and sophistication.

There are a few key things to remember while preparing whipped cream. One factor is the basic, very basic science behind the process of whipping cream. This science tells us that both the temperature as well as the length and speed of whipping time can drastically alter the outcome. The whipping process introduces bubbles into our cream, the longer we whip the smaller the bubbles. And since our cream has no shortage of fat, this fat surrounds these bubbles and becomes creamier as we progress.

So if we were to do a scale diagram for whipped cream, the far left would have us enjoying a light fluffy cloud of puffed cream, while the far right would produce an equally delightful butter… However somewhere in the middle we will achieve a mousse like texture, and this is what we are striving for today.

Fresh summer fruits are typically abundant by this time in the majority of the  northern hemisphere. We have a fun variety of berries here that you may or may not be familiar with. If you note the photo showing the basket of berries, on the right we have typical fresh blueberries, in the center fresh gooseberries and on the left goldenberries.

The gooseberry bush is generally classified as a subgenus of Ribes, which includes the Current family along with a hybrid of the gooseberry and blackcurrent known as the Jostaberry. Some on the other hand place this berry within it’s own genus of Grossularia. The fruit is quite tart and makes an excellent berry choice for jams, pies or along side sweeter berries.

The goldenberry plant is withing the Solanaceae which includes the tomato and eggplant. The goldenberry is also closely related to the tomatillo. You may see several other names for this berry like cape gooseberry, Chinese or Indian gooseberry. However it is not related to the gooseberry and is far sweeter.

In addition to our fresh fruit finds we will, as our title suggests, be tinging our whipped creams with various treasures. Starting with our Black Onyx Dutch Cocoa, an alkalized cocoa powder that has a rich beautiful purple/black hue. This cocoa is lower in fat that more traditional cocoas and is recommended at a 25-50% blend. Our other cocoa is a Mayan Cocoa that includes a mix of chile pepper,
 cinnamon and vanilla powder.

A tasting menu of : Mint, Pepper and Cardamom Tinged Cream with Stone Fruits. 
Mayan Cocoa Tinged Cream with Mango. Black Onyx Tinged Cream with Banana 
and Cocoa Shavings. Honey and Anise Tinged Cream with Summer Berries.

What you will need:
For the whipped cream:
1 pint heavy cream
1 Tbs raw sugar, fine grain
1 large mixing bowl, chilled
4 small mixing bowls, chilled
Hand mixer or whisk, attachments chilled

For the mint and cardamon cream:
6-8 small mint leaves, finely chopped
1/8th tsp cardamom, finely ground
1-2 pinches black pepper, finely ground
1 Saturn peach, diced
1 nectarine, diced

For the Mayan cocoa cream:
1 Tbs Mayan cocoa
1 mango, diced

For the Black Onyx cream:
1/2 Tbs black onyx cocoa
1 banana, diced
1-2 Tbs 75% or higher cocoa, shaved

For the honey Anise:
1 Tbs honey powder
2-3 drops anise essential oil

Let's get mixing:
Starting with our whipped cream, place heavy cream in a large chilled 
mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer or whisk that has been chilled. Continue 
to beat cream until just softly peaked. Add sugar at this point and continue
 to beat until you have just achieved a slightly firm peak. Then quarter your
 whipped cream and transfer to individual chilled bowls.

Add flavorings such as above or your own desired flavorings until just
 incorporated and chill for 20 minutes or so.

To arrange, depending on you mini servers, add one layer of chosen fruit then top
 with creamy tinged mousse. Add an additional layer of chopped fruit 
and chocolate shavings where specified or desired.

Note: This recipe allows for an approximation of 8 tablespoons per quartered batch,
 so 1 tablespoon per guest will yield enough for eight guests. You can increase
 or decrease the amounts served depending on the number of guests.

This article was previously featured here on Honest Cooking Food Magazine

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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