Beatrice Ojakangas

Recipes from the Scandinavian Chef

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Location: Duluth, Minnesota, United States

11/06/2007

Mini Indulgences

MINI INDULGENCES WHEN JUST A LITTLE BITE OF SOMETHING SWEET WILL DO
Often when we eat out, we share a dessert (one dessert, 4 forks). So I thought, this being the season for indulgent desserts it would be fun to work out some favorites out in mini versions. Desserts like crème brulee, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, chocolate mousse and truffles. Upscale restaurants and fancy day spas serve them in miniature 2 to 3-ounce sizes (or in the amount that a shot glass will hold).
The trick to making these at home is to be creative in finding little-enough dishes. Mini pies are simple – you can use miniature muffin cups. Chocolate mousse is easily served in one-ounce shot glasses (but you need to find spoons small enough to dig into them). Mini crème brulee posed a bit of a problem until I hit upon the idea of using porcelain or metal butter cups, although votive light holders might also be a choice. You just need to be sure that whatever you use can withstand the heat of the oven and the heat of a blowtorch.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse
For mini mousses, shot glasses work well here whether glass or ceramic. Chocolate covered coffee beans are sold in coffee shops (like Starbucks), or in the coffee section of the supermarket. Remember to locate demitasse or similar little spoons for serving.
Makes 12 mini (1-ounce) desserts
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
12 chocolate covered coffee beans
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cream and ground espresso. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 minutes or until cream is hot. Strain cream into another microwave-safe container to remove any little bits of ground coffee and add the chocolate sugar and instant coffee granules. Pour into 12 shot glasses. Chill for 3 hours or until firm. Top each with a chocolate covered coffee bean.

Mini Pecan Pies
Bake these pies in miniature muffin tins.
Makes 24
Crust:
4 ounces (1/2 of an 8-ounce package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
Filling:
1 large egg
3/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, chopped to 1/4 inch pieces
Garnish:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
In the food processor with the steel blade in place, combine cream cheese and butter. Process until blended. Add the flour and process until flour is worked into the mixture. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Place one piece of dough into each of 24 miniature muffin pan cups. Press dough onto bottom and up the sides of the edges to form shells.
In a small bowl, mix the egg, brown sugar, vanilla and pecans. Spoon mixture into the muffin cups, dividing the mixture evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes, run knife around the edges of each to remove from pans. Put chocolate chips into a heavy-duty plastic bag. Set sealed bag into hot water to melt the chocolate. Snip a very small hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle over the pies.

Mini Crème Brulee
Very easy to put together. My first batch I cooked in tiny demitasse cups, filling them by half. Then, after calling around I found 2-ounce little metal cups from a restaurant supply that cost only 49 cents each and they worked well, too. This is an easy recipe to put together. I used a dozen of them for one batch. A regular blow torch is handy for melting the sugar on top.
Makes 12 1-1/2 to 2-ounce desserts
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, preferably super fine or baker’s sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
about 1/2 cup light brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Whisk the cream and egg yolks together until perfectly blended. Put through a fine strainer to remove little lumps from the egg yolks. Mix in the sugar and vanilla. Pour into 12 two-ounce cups and place in a large baking pan. Pour about 1 inch of boiling water into the baking pan. Bake for 35 to 55 minutes, then check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of one and if it comes out clean, they’re done. Be careful not to overcook or, like a custard, the crèmes will separate.
Remove from the baking pan and set on a counter to cool. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.
Before serving, spread a thin layer of brown sugar on top of each to cover completely.
Now, with a blow torch, melt the layer of brown sugar. The point is that you need to caramelize the sugar that will melt and then harden. Theoretically, you can do this under the broiler, but I have more luck with a blow torch.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
8 ounces milk chocolate, or 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Put chocolate into a large glass bowl and microwave on HIGH 30 seconds at a time until chocolate is almost completely melted. Stir in peanut butter and cool to room temperature. Whip cream until stiff and fold into the mixture. Refrigerate until firm.
Scoop chilled mixture into 1-inch balls. Mix powdered sugar and cocoa powder and roll the truffles in the mixture. Place into miniature bon bon cups and refrigerate to store.
Makes 3 dozen.

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