Thursday, October 4, 2012

Guest Post: Bavarian Cream + Cherry Sauce

My next guest blogger is the amazing Faith from An Edible Mosaic. Faith features some of the best food photography I've seen, not to mention incredibly creative and thoughtful recipes to round out her blog as one of my favorites. She is actually releasing her first cookbook, titled An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair, in early November! Please welcome this incredibly versatile and talented blogger!

Hello Mission: Food readers! I’m Faith and I blog at An Edible Mosaic. I’ve been following Victoria’s fabulous blog for a couple years now (among other things, I am always smitten by her delicious bread puddings and captivated by her lovely teatime escapades), so I was pretty excited when she invited me to guest post here. And when she said she was looking for posts with a travel theme to go live at the end of September/beginning of October, my mind immediately went to Oktoberfest + German food!

In Germany, Oktoberfest starts in September and runs 16 days through the first Sunday in October; this year it starts September 22 and ends October 7. According to Wikipedia, Oktoberfest originated as a festival to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is now the largest People’s Fair in the world, and it has spread all over the globe – no matter where you are, there are probably one or more Oktoberfest festivals within driving distance. Until 1960, horse races were part of Oktoberfest in Germany, but the races ended in 1960 and now Oktoberfest is more about German beer, food, music, and dancing. What better food to celebrate this time of year than with something Bavarian?

I’ve always loved Bavarian cream; it is luxuriously rich and velvety, very similar to other custards (like pastry cream), but thickened with gelatin instead of cornstarch or flour. Cherry sauce makes the perfect adornment; actually, if you want to take this dish one step further, you can make it a “Black Forest” Bavarian Cream by adding dark chocolate shavings as garnish on top of the cherry sauce immediately before serving. Heaven. 

Just a quick note about the cherry sauce. Be sure not to skip the lemon juice, as it pulls out all the other flavor notes. I use a little bit of mahlab spice, which is the seed kernel that comes from the center of St Lucie Cherry pits. Mahlab has a lovely aroma and tastes like a cross between almonds and cherries. To my knowledge, mahlab spice isn’t commonly used in German food (it’s common in Middle Eastern cooking), but I use it in literally everything I make with cherries because it accentuates the natural flavor of cherries like nothing else. For more info on mahlab, check out my post on Cherry Sauce (which uses dried cherries, but you’d never know it tasting how amazing the sauce is!).

Anyone else in the mood for some German food?  :)

Bavarian Cream + Cherry Sauce 
Serves 6

Bavarian Cream (Adapted from the recipe for Bavarian Cream with Raspberry Coulis on Epicurious and from Mirko Trenkner’s recipe for Bavarian Cream with Berries in The Food & Cooking of Germany; Aquamarine, 2009.)

1 cup cold water, divided
4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch sea salt
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Put 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top; swirl the bowl to help the gelatin dissolve, and give it a quick stir if necessary. Let it sit until gelled, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 3/4 cup cold water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour the hot water onto the gelatin and stir until dissolved. Set aside for now.

Whip the cream to stiff peaks in a medium bowl and transfer it to the fridge.

Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan until the milk is hot and starting to steam, whisking occasionally. While the milk heats, put the egg yolks in a medium bowl and beat lightly. Once the milk is hot, whisk it into the yolks, starting off by adding just a couple drops at first and then adding more as you go. Pour the milk/egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over low to very low heat, stirring frequently. Once simmering, cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off heat and stir in the gelatin/water mixture along with the vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, and almond extract.

Strain the Bavarian cream twice through a fine mesh sieve and pour it into a medium bowl. Fill a large bowl about 1/3 full with ice water; nestle the medium bowl of Bavarian cream inside the large bowl of ice water and use a handheld electric mixer to beat until the Bavarian cream until cooled and starting to thicken. Gently fold the whipped cream into the Bavarian cream, adding 1/3 at a time.

Transfer the mixture to 6 individual serving bowls and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

Cherry Sauce (Inspired by the recipe for Cherry Sauce on An Edible Mosaic)

1 cup frozen pitted sweet, dark cherries
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon mahlab*

*Mahlab is a Middle Eastern spice that can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores.

Bring the cherries, water, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; turn heat down and simmer (uncovered) 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry, bring up to a simmer, and cook 1 minute. Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice, vanilla, and mahlab. Cool and serve the sauce on top of the Bavarian Cream. (The sauce will thicken as it cools, and if you want it to set up almost like a soft jelly, you can refrigerate it on top of the Bavarian cream for a couple hours before serving.)


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