Chocolate Raspberry Napoleons With Raspberry Mascarpone Cream

February 22, 2008


The Viking Dinner Yurt in Park City, Utah

Yurts are portable, tent-like structures used for centuries by Mongolian nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Yurts are also a God-send for cross-country skiers in the mountainous American West, providing trail-side lodging (and some include full catering!) for hikers or — in winter– cross country skiers. In most cases, this means one only has to carry one’s clothing from yurt to yurt, and sometimes even this service can be provided. 

There is beautiful skiing this time of year in the Minnesota Boundary Waters, if Sam and Harry don’t mind doing some of the cooking.  Après ski, Sam would be fully justified in using as much butter as she’d like!  For a considerable step up in luxury, the Blue Moon Yurt in McCall, Idaho offers a 5-course gourmet dinner, while at the Viking Dinner Yurt in Utah (elevation: 8000 feet!), Sam and Harry could feast on an elegant, Scandanavian-style dinner.  The Viking’s award-winning menu often features a scrumptious soft-berry dessert, and the whole deal (including the chef) arrives via snowmobile! – Almostgotit

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Layers:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Raspberry Mascarpone Cream:
1 – 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese* or 8 ounce package cream cheese (room temp)
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur)
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Red Raspberry Puree:
2 cups whole frozen raspberries (about 8 ounces) thawed
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur), may add more to taste
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

DIRECTIONS

For Chocolate Layers: 
Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil, tucking ends under, making sure foil is tight.  Mark 15 x 9-inch rectangle on foil.  In top of double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt chocolate (do not allow bottom of pan to touch water) stirring until smooth, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Pour onto foil and spread quickly and evenly to the same thickness to cover rectangle; a pastry chef’s knife works best.  Chill in refrigerator until set but not hard, about 7 minutes.  With a sharp knife, cut chocolate rectangle lengthwise into three equal strips, each about three inches wide.  Cut each strip into six equal pieces, each about two and one-half inches wide.  Chill one hour.  (Can be made one week ahead.  Cover; keep refrigerated).

For Raspberry Mascarpone Cream: 
Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar and Framboise together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer.  Add half the cream and beat until soft peaks form.  Add the rest of the cream and beat until thick and stiff.  Cover and chill for one hour.

For Raspberry Puree: 
Place thawed raspberries in food processor or blender.  Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds and place in small saucepan.  Stir sugar and cornstarch together and add to puree, along with the Framboise.  Heat, stirring until thickened and glossy.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (Note: if puree is too cold it may be too thick to create decorative hearts—microwave for 30-40 seconds before use).

To Assemble Napoleons: 
Place one chocolate square on each of the six plates.  Spread with three tablespoons of the raspberry mascarpone cream mixture. Use a toothpick to dot edges of mascarpone cream with the raspberry puree.  Draw the toothpick through the center of each dot to slightly below center, to create a heart shape.  Top with another chocolate piece, spread mascarpone over, repeat with raspberry puree dots/hearts.  Top with last chocolate piece and finish with a dollop of mascarpone cream and garnish with fresh raspberries and/or puree and shaved chocolate.

May be plated with a pool of additional raspberry puree.  Approximate preparation time: 40 minutes plus chilling time .  SERVES 6

Italian mascarpone cheese is available at Italian markets and many supermarkets.

Recipe provided by the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission

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Nova Scotia Oatcakes

February 19, 2008

Dining at Dalhousie Castle
Photo courtesy Vossen Media Co (U.K.)

Who wouldn’t want to spend the night in a castle? Some castles are luxurious and some castles are wonderfully old: the Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh, miraculously, is both. If Sam and Harry are smart, they will have first flown in to London and then traveled to Edinburgh overnight on The Flying Scotsman – it’s only a 4-hour ride, but folks can check into a private sleeping compartment several hours early at Kings Cross station, and don’t have to leave the train at Edinburgh Waverley the next morning until after being served tea and a scone. Very romantic!

While the couple may not find Scottish haggis to their liking, they must be sure to try the many varieties of oat cakes that are a Scottish specialty. While store-bought Scottish oatcakes are generally crisper and saltier, the texture and slight sweetness of these homemade ones remind me of scones. We make them often! – Almostgotit

Nova Scotia Oatcakes

3 cups quick rolled oats
3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cup shortening
2/3 – 3/4 cup cold water

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together.  Cut in shortening. Add enough water to form a rather stiff, pastry-like dough.  Roll 3/8 ” thick and cut into circles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a greased baking sheet.  Makes lots!

  • Variation: one may sneakily substitute 1/2 cup apple sauce (one of those single-serving cups is just right) for the same portion of shortening and I guarantee no one will notice; bolder folk may substitute even more applesauce and the recipe will change a bit but still work fine; however, Sam will no doubt notice and object. 
  • Canada’s “Nova Scotia” is, of course, Latin for “New Scotland.” This recipe, given to us by a Canadian friend many years ago, is similar to a very old one that probably traces back to early Scottish settlers. Moreover? There is a “Dalhousie University” in Halifax, the capital city of this island province.

What do you mean, “The End?!?!”

February 18, 2008

Sam and Harry are on their honeymoon and they’ve left me, Almostgotit, holding the bag (er, the blog.)  Obviously this can’t just be “the end.”  “Happily ever after” nothing, I don’t believe it for a second.  What’s going to happen next with this lively pair?

No one has told me a thing. They’ve cleaned out the fridge and didn’t even leave me a cat for company.  Apparently I’m to survive on microwave popcorn and take-out for the next ten days as I wait for them to return and start cooking again.  Well, there’s nothing for it but to wile away the hours guessing at the adventures and good food Sam and Harry no doubt are having.  It’s too cold for them to visit a dude ranch, surely?  Or would they consider renting a light houseOh, the possibilities…