Chocolate Blancmange

January 14, 2011

simplicity conquers yet again

Sometimes the most basic recipes turn out the absolute best. The ones that don’t have very many ingredients or complicated techniques. As far as desserts are concerned, they can be quite complex and time consuming. However, every now and then I get a recipe for something really simple to make that tastes amazing. If you have ever wanted a recipe for a quick dessert using whatever ingredients you have at home then you may be interested in trying out a ‘blancmange.’

I never heard of a ‘blancmange’ before my sister in law told me about it. It basically is a very thick pudding type dessert which needs to be placed in a mold and chilled much like jello. You can add any ¬†flavoring you want, but apparently the most common flavor is almond. Similar desserts include Panna Cotta or Bavarian Cream.

We decided to make blancmange with my sister in laws recipe which had chocolate flavoring and it turned out very decadent. The texture was very smooth like pudding and is best when eaten very cold. What I discovered when learning how to make this: it takes no time at all, and is a perfect “go to” recipe when in need of an easy dessert. In fact, it’s amazingly simple, see for yourself:

Chocolate Blancmange Recipe:

  • 4 cups of milk (1 litre)
  • 4-5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 cup walnuts (you can use cashews or almonds instead)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • coarsely chopped chocolate cream cookies (such as oreos with chocolate cream)
  • chocolate bar for garnish (optional)
  • carmel sauce for garnish (optional)

Heat 4 cups of milk in a small pot until boiling. Next, add the sugar and half of the walnuts and stir well; do a taste check of the milk to see if it is sweet enough, add sugar accordingly.

In a small bowl mix the cocoa powder and cornstarch with water until it becomes a liquidy paste; add this to the milk mixture while whisking continuously. Cook until it becomes very thick then turn off the heat and mix in the butter.

Begin layering the blancmange by pouring half of the chocolate mixture into a greased mold (such as a bundt pan). Then make a layer of the cookies and the remainder of the walnuts. Add the remaining of the chocolate mixture and let the whole thing cool for a little while before putting it in the fridge.

Refrigerate for a few hours but ideally overnight will give you the best result.

Once the blancmange has been chilled take it out of the mold onto a plate and garnish with whatever you like such as shavings of chocolate or a drizzle of carmel sauce.

Make slices as if it were a cake and serve! You will find in the middle a layer of the chocolate cookies and walnuts.

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Russian Salad

January 6, 2011

If you have ever had Waldorf Salad it is similar to Russian Salad because it has a similar mayo based dressing and combination of different fruits and vegetables. I can’t tell you where Russian Salad originates or anything like that because it’s hard to find online.

But I can tell you that the first place I had Russian Salad was in India and that’s the only place I ever had it. Usually at potlucks and family dinners. So, my sister in law Hafsa and I decided to make it for everyone here and it turned out amazing! The combination of vegetables and fruits seems weird at first but they actually go really well together. And like Waldorf salad that has a mayo based dressing, this one includes sour cream which brings a really great creamy texture to the dressing.

Please use the following recipe as a guideline, as the measurements for the fruits and vegetables will be better to understand after the first time you make it. Plus you will get a better idea of what ingredients you like and what you don’t.

Russian Salad Recipe:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 16 oz can of pineapple tidbits
  • 2 cups of grapes
  • 1 green apple and 1 red apple
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few teaspoons of sugar

Cut the carrots and green beans into half inch strips and set aside. Peel and dice the potatoes into bite size pieces as well and set aside. Boil all three of these vegetables (separately since they have different cooking times) until they are cooked but still have a bite to them. You shouldn’t overcook them because they will become too mushy in the salad and that won’t be good!

Next cut the grapes in half, dice the apples into small pieces, and drain the pineapple tidbits and set aside.

Place all the vegetables and fruits into a large bowl. Whisk together the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar until smooth. Then pour over the salad mixture and combine. Refrigerate overnight, it tastes best when it’s very very cold.

[the picture above is garnished on the part of my sister in law :-) with a tomato peel rose and mint leaves]