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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Swoon-worthy Oscar Party Snacks

Happy Tuesday everyone! While the Oscars are swarming with controversy this year, the one thing that perhaps we can all agree upon is to eat delicious desserts on Sunday night. Here are a few ideas (to eat alone or with a group...I don't judge) to get your party going:

Mini Cheesecakes with Wine Gelees
Kate Zuckerman, The Sweet Life

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
  • 7 whole graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
  • One 10 1/2-ounce log of fresh goat cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (5 ounces)
Wine Gelees:
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons each of orange Muscat, rosé, Pinot Noir and tawny port
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut out four 3-inch rounds of shirt cardboard. Brush the insides of four 3-inch-round and 2 1/2-inch-deep ring molds with butter. In a food processor, grind the crackers with the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set the molds on the baking sheet and line the bottoms with the cardboard rounds, trimming to fit. Pack the crumbs into the molds; press to compact. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg, egg yolk, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the goat cheese and beat until smooth. Fold in the crème fraîche. Spoon the mixture into the molds and smooth the tops. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheesecakes are just set but not browned. Let the cheesecakes cool, then refrigerate them until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat a sharp, thin-bladed knife under hot water; dry the knife. Carefully run the blade around the edge of each cheesecake. Pressing up on the cardboard, ease the cheesecakes out of the molds; return to the baking sheet. Cut four 11-by-2 1/2-inch strips of parchment paper. Wrap the paper around the perimeter of each cheesecake to form a collar that extends 1 inch above the surface; secure with tape.
  4. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let soften. Microwave at high power for about 15 seconds or just until the gelatin is melted. Put the 4 wines in separate ramekins. Add 2 teaspoons of the sugar to the rosé and to the Pinot Noir and microwave for 20 seconds; stir to dissolve the sugar. Stir 1 teaspoon of the melted gelatin into each of the 4 wines. Let the wines stand until cooled, about 10 minutes. Pour one of the wine gelées over each cheesecake and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the parchment-paper collar from each cheesecake. Carefully remove the cardboard bottoms and serve.
NOTESVariation: To make one 6-inch cheesecake: Butter a 6-inch springform pan and wrap the outside in foil. Press the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom and bake for 10 minutes. Set the springform pan inside a small roasting pan and fill with the cheesecake mixture. Add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cheesecake is firm and set. Remove from the water bath and let cool on a rack. Remove the foil and refrigerate until chilled. Unmold the cheesecake and wrap it in a parchment-paper collar that extends 1 inch above the surface; secure with tape. Pour 1/2 cup of one of the wines into a bowl; if using rose or Pinot Noir, add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Microwave at high power for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin over 1 1/2 tablespoons of water and let soften. Heat at high power for 15 seconds, or until the gelatin is melted. Add it to the wine and let stand until slightly thickened but not set, about 10 minutes. Pour the wine gelee over the cheesecake and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until set. Remove the paper collar before serving.

Chocolate Mousse
Bon Appetit, 1998

  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine both chocolates and 2 tablespoons coffee in heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Set aside.
  2. Mix sugar, egg whites, cream of tarter and salt with remaining 1/4 cup coffee in top of double boiler. Using hand-held mixer, beat mixture until tripled in volume and thermometer registers 160°F.on candy thermometer, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and continue beating 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Beat in vanilla extract. Fold in warm chocolate mixture. Spoon chocolate mousse into 6 small dishes and refrigerate overnight.

Chocolate-Peanut Brittle Cupcakes
Food Network Kitchens

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 10 -ounce bags peanut butter chips
  1. Make the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F using the convection setting, if available. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Put the butter, cocoa powder and 3/4 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Whisk to combine, then whisk in the brown sugar.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the warm cocoa mixture. In another bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla; stir into the batter until just combined but don't overmix.
  3. Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each three-quarters of the way. Bake until the cupcakes are slightly domed and spring back when lightly pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
  4. Make the brittle: Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place the granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until it turns amber. Remove from the heat; stir in the peanut butter and butterscotch chips until smooth. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, smooth into a thin layer with a spatula and let cool. Break the brittle into pieces, place in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
  5. Make the frosting: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the peanut butter chips and let stand about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Place the pan over a bowl of ice, stirring occasionally, until the frosting is spreadable, about 10 minutes. Spread on the cupcakes or transfer to a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe on top; sprinkle with the brittle.

Happy baking!

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