My mother, although multi-talented, had an aversion to the kitchen and has often said that I learned to cook at an early age “out of self-defense.” When she made chicken à l'orange by smearing a chicken with powdered Tang, I quickly developed a necessary passion for creating tasty things to eat. Somewhere in the family photograph album is a picture of me at the stove, age ten, happily stirring marinara sauce.

I developed a lifelong fascination with food; good food. There was even a foray of working as a chef’s assistant at a French restaurant during my mid twenties, just for fun. I had always loved watching Julia Child and knew that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was to be revered. It wasn’t until I read her biography (long before the Julie & Julia movie) that I really became fascinated with her work. From that book, I decided to prepare her recipe for mayonnaise.

Upon tasting it, I wept. . . .

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Bavarois au Chocolat Blanc - White Chocolate Bavarian Cream

On Saturday night, I had four friends over for another Julia Child meal. I knew that my friend, John, really likes Julia’s boeuf Bourguignon, so that was definitely on the menu. Besides, it’s easy to serve; no fiddly last-minute sauces to prepare.

Here’s a table setting.

Yes, I had a course in napkin folding when I went to restaurant management/cooking school many years ago. This one, the “artichoke fold” is the only one I remember.

John's wife, Carla, has to have salad with every meal and here’s one of our favorites: Spinach with grape tomatoes, mangoes, with an orange-balsamic vinaigrette. Besides, I really like the primary colors of red and yellow on my blue plates.

And here you go: Heaven on a plate. Julia’s boeuf Bourguignon and asparagus with Julia’s beurre blanc.
Incidentally, beurre blanc tastes fantastic on boeuf Bouguignon. I don't know if it's ever been served that way; perhaps I'm just being an obscene American, but maybe it should.

Dessert was my favorite (something you’ll rarely hear me say.) I’ve been preparing Julia’s Bavarian creams in all their variations: Orange, strawberry, plain, almond praline, and chocolate. There were no more variations left in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I had done 'em all.

My favorite cookie is a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie – why not make a white chocolate macadamia nut Bavarian cream?

I melted lots of white chocolate into the custard which became the Bavarian cream. For the topping, toasted macadamia nuts went into the whipped cream. Here it is.

Perhaps I need to figure out a way to make it more presentable. This sort of has a Rachel Ray glop-n-slop thing going on here. Next time, I’ll pipe the whipped cream around the sides and mound the nuts on top.

But, holeee COW this was incredible! Somehow the white chocolate caused the Bavarian cream to have a double layer. One layer was fluffy, as it should be, and a larger layer was thick and custardy with white chocolate. It's definitely my favorite dessert now.

Now this is what I love. After making all five types of Julia's Bavarian creams, I can honestly say that she taught me how to make a Bavarian cream. Now that I had Mastered the Art of Bavarian creams, it was time to venture out on my own.

So, here's the recipe for Bavarois au Chocolat Blanc:

2 Pkgs gelatin
1/2 cup warm milk

Scatter the gelatin over the warm milk. Stir until dissolved.

7 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar

Gradually beat in the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon.

1 1/2 cups boiling milk
8 oz. white chocolate chips (2/3 pkg)
2 tsp vanilla

Beat the milk in a thin stream of droplets into the egg yolk mixture. Pour into a large saucepan and set over moderate heat. Stir with a rubber spatula until mixture thickens enough to coat the spoon lightly. Do not overheat or egg yolks will scramble. Remove from heat and immediately add the milk and gelatin mixture, white chocolate chips and vanilla, stirring until the gelatin and chocolate have dissolved completely.

5 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 Tb granulated sugar
Large bowl of ice.

Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the hot custard. Set over the ice. Fold delicately with the spatula frequently while mixture is cooling to keep it from separating. When cold and almost but not quite set, proceed with the recipe.

1/2 cup chilled whipping cream

Beat the cream over the preceding bowl of ice with a balloon whisk until it has doubled in volume. Fold in the whipped cream into the custard. Line a 9-inch springform cake tin with plastic wrap, leaving extra plastic wrap over the sides. Pour the mixture into the tin, gently place the overhanging plastic wrap over the mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped.

Beat the cream as before, adding the sugar halfway during the process and fold in the chopped nuts once the cream is fully whipped. Unmold the chilled Bavarian cream on a serving platter. Spread the whipped cream and nut mixture over the top and serve.

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