As I have said before, it's the company that makes these dinners successful. They provide the inspiration and the reason for the evening. The advantage of a long, leisurely meal is that you have a chance to relax and enjoy each other's company. We tried new foods, and even enjoyed some of them. We shared how each couple met. (I think Bob even got it right!) We told stories about our parents, about our travels and about our kids. We laughed together. We ate too much, drank just enough and enjoyed every minute. It was a magical evening. One we'll have to do again.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
When the title of a story is also the name of a dessert, you'd be silly not to run with it! Of course, it took me until a week before the dinner to realize the connection. Remember? I was stuck on the rose idea! And it wasn't until the night before the party that I came up with the honey and brandy flavored filling. Sigh. My brain just doesn't work as fast as it used to. Honey for Holmes, brandy for Watson. Perfect!
My daughter had the great idea of hiding a gem in one of the desserts. So I did! I couldn't find the Black Pearl of the Borgias, so I did the next best thing. I bought a Swarovski crystal similar to this one,
in a 27mm size. Large enough that I hoped someone would find it before they choked on it!
Six Napoleons with Honey Brandy Cream Filling
For the pastry:
24 sheets phyllo
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lay two sheets of phyllo on a piece of parchment paper. Brush with butter, then sprinkle with hazelnuts and powdered sugar. Lay two sheets of phyllo on top, and brush with butter. Using a pizza cutter, cut into rectangles approximately 3 X 6 inches. Move parchment paper and phyllo to a cookie sheet. Top with another sheet of parchment, and repeat the process twice more, ending with parchment paper. Place a second cookie sheet on top, an bake for 12 minutes, or until golden. Carefully remove top baking sheet and parchment paper; cool phyllo rectangles on bottom baking sheet on a wire rack. When cool, separate into rectangles.
Honey and Brandy flavored Cream Filling
6 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
2 cups heavy cream
Whisk together the egg yolks and salt in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed.
Fill a small cup with 1/4 cup of apricot flavored brandy, and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Put the cup aside. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the honey. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let cook until it reaches 240 degrees F. It should get very active and bubbly. Take the honey off the stove. With the egg yolks still whipping, slowly pour the hot honey down the side of the mixer bowl and let it combine with the yolks. The gelatin should be a solid mass in the cup. Scrape it out with a rubber spatula and into the saucepan you used to cook the honey. The heat of the pan should melt the gelatin into liquid. Pour the gelatin into the mixer bowl as well and let whisk together until the mixture has cooled down to temperature and looks like it has tripled in volume – it should have a thicker, more puddinglike consistency and no longer seem as liquid.
Pour out the mousse base into a large bowl. Either clean the mixer bowl thoroughly, or if you have another mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream until it has soft peaks (do not overwhip). Scrape the whipped cream out onto the mousse base. Using a spatula or bowl scraper, carefully fold the whipped cream into the mousse base, trying not to deflate the whipped cream too much.
At this point, you can cover and place the mousse in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to let set.
To assemble the Napoleons, place one of the baked phyllo rectangles on a plate. Spread with Nutella, then spread honey filling. Top with another rectangle of phyllo and repeat the process, ending with the phyllo. Serve with Black Pearl Truffles. Hidden gems are optional.
Black Pearl Truffles
9 oz good quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons apricot brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
Black sesame seeds
Heat whipping cream until just below boiling. Pour over chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. If necessary, you can place it in the microwave and heat in 30 second intervals to melt chocolate. Be sure to stir after each heating, because chocolate never looks like it melts. When chocolate is melted, add flavorings. Allow to cool. Using a small scoop or spoon, scoop out some chocolate and roll between your palms to make a ball. Roll in sesame seeds and set aside.
The dessert wine was lovely. Dunham Cellars Late Harvest Riesling 2009.
Next instant, with a loud shout of triumph (s)he held up one splinter, in which a round, dark object was fixed like a plum in a pudding.
Terri found the gem!
Next, brandy and coffee will be served.