oh what a week it has been…

I don’t know where to begin.  This past week has been chalk full of activity!  The market, a bonfire, a trip to Antigonish, a cocktail party … and baking for all of it!

Let’s start at the very beginning (“a very good place to start” … name that tune!), last weekend’s lime explosion  at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market with little red kitsch’n.

It was ridiculously DE-LIC-IOUS (and adorable, non?)

You saw my post on the lime-blueberry cheesecake cupcakes … this is what they looked liked when all was said and done.
These were the first goodies to go.

The lemon-lime cupcakes (filled with lemon-lime curd and topped with lime cream cheese frosting) were also super popular.  A little labour intensive (piping and filling on the spot) … but oh so wonderful.

Since the entire theme was based on that bon appétit magazine (“lime juice is the new salt”) – we swapped out Jenna’s usual lemon meringue tarts for some lime raspberry meringue tarts (the bon appétit recipe used blackberries – but since they aren’t in season, we used raspberries).

And then … the pièce de résistance … cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares.

Intense?

Amazing?

Yes … and … yes.

Another bon appétit recipe (from their desserts cookbook), only, we played around with it to make it work for our purposes.

We wanted squares.

We wanted a graham cracker base.

We wanted to switch the layers around.

It was a S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

Tart and fresh.  Not too heavy (the white chocolate mousse was a nice surprise), the addition of chinese five spice to the cranberry compote was pretty spot-on, and my graham cracker base was epic (Jenna’s words, not mine).

Since this is a layer dessert, you’ll probably expect me to tell you it isn’t difficult, but it does take a little bit of time.  Don’t worry – you can basically make everything in one go, and then just assemble in stages … in the end, not overly labour or time intensive, and oh so worth it.  Seriously … I can’t wait to whip these up again!

cranberry-lemon-lime-white chocolate mousse squares

(based on bon appétit’s cranberry-lime tart)

ingredients:

graham cracker base

*this is completely unmeasured … I used two sleeves of graham crackers (the large ones) and pulsed them in a food processor.  I then melted (about) 1/2 cup of butter, and slowly poured it into the food processor and blended everything together.  You want the base to hold together when you pinch it together … but not get so saturated in butter that after you bake the base it would harden because of all the excess fat.

lemon-lime curd

zest of 1 lemon and 2 limes

1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon & 2 limes)

1/2 c. sugar

6 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

cranberry topping

1/4 c. water

1 1/2 tsp cornstartch

2/3 c. sugar

3 tbsp honey

1 1/2 tsp chinese five-spice powder

1 12-ounce bag (3 cups) fresh or partially thawed frozen cranberries

white chocolate mousse

5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. + 2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Once you get all those ingredients together … it’s time to start baking!

base:

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Line a square baking pan with parchment paper, spray with non-stick spray.

Press the graham cracker base into your prepared pan.

Trick of the day (thank you Jenna): in order to get an even base, press the graham cracker base with the base of a measuring cup … you’ll see that by pressing the base of the cup across the top of the crust you’ll get a pretty perfect graham cracker base.

Bake for about 12 – 17 minutes.  You want the crust to be firm.  Remove from heat and allow to cool on a wire rack in the pan.

lemon-lime curd:

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the lemon – lime juices, lemon – lime zest, sugar and butter.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.  When the butter has melted in the saucepan, whisk some of the warm liquid into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly while you pour (this prevents the eggs from curdling).  Once done, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan (that is still over low heat).  Cook, whisking constantly, the curd will start to thicken – don’t let it start to boil.  Remove from heat.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl.

Pour the curd into the strainer – this will remove any little bits, and make for a silky smooth curd.  Allow to cool slightly, then pour into the pre-baked graham cracker base.

Bake in the oven (again, at 325 F) until set – about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (stick it in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap to speed up the process).

white chocolate mousse:
Stir chocolate on top of a double boiler over simmering water until it’s melted and smooth.  Remove from the water and heat and whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.  Cool completely (speed up the process by putting it in the fridge – remember to cover it with plastic wrap).
cranberry topping:
In a medium saucepan (and off the heat), whisk the water and the cornstarch until blended.  Add the sugar, honey, and five-spice powder.
Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
Add cranberries, cook until the mixture boils and berries just begin to pop but still retain their shape, occasionally stirring gently, about 5 minutes.  Cool completely – don’t worry if you think this topping is too thin… it thickens in the fridge.  I decided to cool it overnight … it got nice and thick.
At this point you’re ready to pull the white chocolate mousse from the fridge and gently spread it over the baked and cooled graham cracker base and lemon-lime curd filling.
Before you start cutting – you need to allow this to cool and firm up.  Again, I allowed this to cool overnight in the fridge … bon appétit recommends freezing it for 15 minutes.  You could try that as well :0)
Once set, it’s time to lift it out of the baking pan and then trim the sides … there are two reasons for this: (1) it makes for perfect squares and (2) it allows YOU (the baker) to taste-test.  Nibble on one of those cast-off trim pieces …
Once the trim is removed, you should be able to cut out 16 pieces … if you have a nice little square cookie cutter you would get perfect pieces ;0)  Top with the cranberry topping and serve immediately.  If you aren’t serving right away, don’t top the squares, return them to the fridge and finish assembling them as needed … and if you don’t need the whole lot of them at once, freeze them, uncovered by the cranberry topping in an airtight container.
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