Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate mousse is relatively easy to make and great for dinner parties.  You can use nice plastic glasses if you’re bringing them to a friend’s house.  Also, if you happen to have leftover egg yolks from another recipe, now’s your chance to use them!

Original recipe

Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from RealSimple

Yield: 10 servings

8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips work too)
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar (divided into 4 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons)
2 cups heavy cream (divided into 3/4 cup and 1 1/4 cups)
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

  1. Melt chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave, checking on it and stirring every 20 seconds or so.  Stir melted chocolate until smooth and let it cool.
  2. Stir together egg yolks, 4 tablespoons sugar, ¾ cup cream, and espresso powder if using in a small saucepan.
  3. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.  Do not let mixture boil, or the egg yolks will begin to cook.  The mixture is done when it lightly coats the back of the spatula.
  4. Strain egg mixture into chocolate (or if you don’t mind a few small lumps, just pour it in).
  5. Whisk or stir mixture until smooth.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool completely.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat 1 ¼ cups cream and 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  8. Carefully fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture, 1/3 at a time. Fold just until you don’t see any more streaks.
  9. Divide among 10 glasses if you want the mousse to look fancy (if eating it yourself, just pour it into one big container to save washing extra dishes).
  10. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to cool completely.  You can leave the mousse in the fridge longer, but if so, bring it back to room temperature before serving.
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Pavlova

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This is a nice light (in terms of texture anyway) and fluffy dessert.  It’s also great for using up any extra egg whites you have.

Original recipe

Pavlova
Adapted from Allrecipes

Yield: 9″ pavlova

4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons tapioca starch OR cornstarch
2 cups heavy cream
Fresh fruit (6 sliced kiwis, mixed berries, etc.)

  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Get a piece of parchment paper large enough to line a baking sheet and draw a circle 9″ in diameter it.  Flip the parchment paper over and place in the baking sheet.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff.  Add sugar gradually while continuing to beat.
  3. When egg whites are stiff and glossy, fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and tapioca starch OR cornstarch.
  4. Spoon the egg white mixture into the circle on the parchment paper.  Smooth the mixture from the center out to the edge of the circle so that the center is slightly depressed.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.  Cool the meringue completely.
  6. Beat heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.  Spread it on the meringue in the depression.  Put fresh fruit on top.

Papaya Bowl

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In case you are still trying to lose your holiday weight gain (like me) or need to serve dessert to health-conscious friends, this is a great compromise between healthiness and sweetness.  All the colors from the papaya and berries also make it a pretty dish.

Papaya Bowl

Yield: 2 servings

1 ripe papaya
Mix of berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries…)

  1. Slice the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds.  If you want to be fancy, you can slice off the tip of the papaya (where the stem used to be).
  2. Fill the indentation in each half with a mix of your favorite berries.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

You can customize this cream cheese frosting to be as sweet as you like.  Just keep tasting it while you’re adding confectioners’ sugar.

Original recipe

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese.
  2. Beat in vanilla and as much sugar as you like.

Key Lime Pie

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Yay for key lime pie!  The recipe is both simple and reliable, the best kind there is.  To make gluten-free graham crackers for the crust, you can use this recipe.  It’s definitely worth the time!

Original pie recipe

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from the Food Network

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
a little less than 1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice (such as Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice)
1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Crush graham crackers.  I usually place them in a big Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
  3. With your hands, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl.
  4. Press mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan.
  5. Bake 8 minutes.
  6. Let pie shell cool to room temperature (a little warmer is okay).
  7. Decrease oven temperature to 325ºF.
  8. In a clean bowl, whisk together condensed milk, key lime juice, and egg.
  9. Pour filling into pie shell and bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Let pie cool on the counter until you can touch the pan, then chill it in the fridge for 2 hours.  (You can eat it sooner too if you’re impatient, but it tastes best cold.)

Graham Crackers

Thank goodness for Smitten Kitchen!  My friend and I wanted to make key lime pie, but you need a graham cracker crust for that and store-bought graham crackers certainly wouldn’t work.  Luckily, Smitten Kitchen has a recipe that survived our gluten-free adaptation wonderfully.  (If you want to make non-gluten-free graham crackers, I recommend following the original recipe instead of our modified version.)

Original recipe

Graham Crackers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: the equivalent of ten 4 x 4.5-inch crackers or forty-eight 2-inch squares

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
1 cup dark brown sugar OR 1 cup white sugar + 3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup  honey
5 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Stir together the flour, brown sugar (OR sugar + molasses), baking soda, and salt in the bowl.
  3. Add butter and mix on low speed.  The mixture will resemble coarse meal.
  4. Add honey, milk, and vanilla extract and mix in on low speed.  The dough will be soft and sticky.
  5. Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour.  Roll out the dough as best you can and then press it into the baking sheets.  (If you’re going to mash it up for a pie crust anyway, it doesn’t matter how it looks.)  The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Bake for 15-25 minutes, or longer if necessary.  I recommend checking the crackers periodically and waiting until they feel slightly firm.