It’s the middle of January, but I still have a holiday jingle stuck in my head, specifically the line “mix and mingle (and jingle and jangle).”
When I first started baking, I ruined so many cakes or other goodies by not taking the time to follow the recipe exactly. I certainly didn’t have a science background and I never realized how much chemistry was involved in baking. Who knew you could whip egg whites too much? Or that it was really important to whip the fat first and then the fat and sugar for a cake? Not me! Perhaps if I had this jingle stuck in my head years ago I would have mixed and mingled everything correctly.
In the recipes below, it is vital to have the cream cold for the Chocolate Mousse before whipping so that the cold fat droplets stick together around air bubbles to stabilize the whipped cream. In the Southern Biscuit recipe, a very wet dough makes more steam in a hot oven and creates lighter biscuits. And in the Bourbon Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, roasting the pecans really enhances their flavor and using shortening, rather than butter, limits the cookie’s spread.
For questions or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
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Simple Chocolate Mousse
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream until you see steam. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Stirring slowly, dump in the chocolate all at once. Stir slowly until all of the chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved. Allow the chocolate cream to cool for 30 minutes, then pour into a medium bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. The cream must be thoroughly chilled.
Using an electric mixer, whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form with the beater is lifted. Carefully, continue whipping until you get a moderately firm peak consistency – perfect for a mousse. Divide among six individual serving dishes. Keep refrigerated until serving. You can garnish with a swirl of whipped cream.
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups spooned and leveled self-rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup plain, all-purpose flour, for shaping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and arrange a shelf slightly below the center of the oven. Spray an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the self-rising flour, sugar and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingers until there are no large lumps. Gently stir in the cream, then some of the buttermilk. Continue stirring in the buttermilk until the dough resembles cottage cheese. It should be a wet mess, not soup, but cottage cheese texture. You may need to add more buttermilk.
Spread the plain (not self-rising) flour out on a plate or pie pan. (I can remember my grandmother doing this, can’t you?) With a medium ice cream scoop or spoon, place 3 or 4 scoops of dough well apart in the flour. Sprinkle flour over each. Flour your hands. Turn a dough ball in the flour to coat, pick it up, and gently shape it into a round, shaking off the excess flour as your work. Place this biscuit in the prepared pan. Coat each dough ball in the same way and place each shaped biscuit scrunched up against its neighbor so that the biscuits rise up and don’t spread out. Continue scooping and shaping until all of the dough is used.
Place the pan on the arranged shelf in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Brush with the melted butter. Invert onto one plate, and then back onto another. With a knife or spatula, cut quickly between biscuits to make them easy to remove and serve immediately.
Bourbon Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups pecans
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg
1 1/4 spooned and leveled all-purposed flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Nonstick cooking spray, optional
Arrange a shelf in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. While they are hot, stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. When cool, coarsely chop and set aside. Process the oats in a food processor with the steel blade for about 10 seconds.
With a mixer, in a blow, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of butter, the shortening, and sugar until lightly fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, bourbon, and cream. Add the egg and beat just to blend. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, the cinnamon, and nutmeg. On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture in several portions. Stir in the oats and pecans by hand. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.
-- Suzi Hogan and her husband, Tim, live in Mansfield.