Lavender & Callebaut Mousse with Biscotti Crumble

Yeah – I make mousse too.

Let me tell you though, this was one hell of an experiment.

If you’re new here, what you need to know is that I am not a chef. I do however, cook for my restaurant. Apparently you need that qualification to call your self a chef.

So, I, Cenéa the Not-Chef, spend my spare time scouring the internet for recipes to test, learn and improve. I take my knowledge of the functions and behaviours of ingredients, and use that to make my own core recipes.

Then, once mastered, I add a little Cenéa. A little lavender here. A little rose there. A sprinkle of pistachio to the left.

You get me.

Let’s get into it.

This is going to look like no other mousse recipe – with the gentle folding, and slow incorporation. This is the brutal way of making dense, thick, turn-your-bowl-upside-down mousse.

GET IT
125g high quality milk chocolate
50ml butter, salted
375ml fresh cream, cold
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
80g castor sugar, sifted
10ml vanilla essence
3 drops lavender essence
2.5g fine salt, sifted

WHISK IT
1. Add the castor sugar and salt to the egg yolks, gradually, and whisk until stiff peaks forms. Keep aside.
2. Whisk the cream until very whipped and very stiff peaks form.
If you add the eggs to this, nothing will stiffen.
3. Whisk the egg yolks lightly – just until mixed, and then fold into the whipped cream.
Recipes will tell you to fold x amount of times and yada yada, yes, maybe this works, but we’re making mousse of the Gods. Mix properly.
4. Melt the butter and chocolate in the oven in short bursts, until it has the texture and look of ganache. Keep aside to cool slightly. If you put it into the mixture too warm, it’ll cook the eggs.
5. Add the lavender and vanilla essence to the egg yolk + cream mixture, and fold.
6. Fold the cooled melted chocolate + butter mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
7. Add a fat spatula full of the whipped egg white to the chocolate mixture, and fold.
8. Now, you’re going to add all the chocolate eggy cream mixture thing to the egg whites, and fold.
9. Now, contrary to popular belief, you can whip the living heck out of this mixture, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.
10. Beat the existence out of the entire mixture with a hand blender until it starts to thicken. Trust me. It’ll take ages, but do it. If it isn’t getting any thicker after 15-20 minutes, fold in more whipped cream and a little more egg white + sugar mix, and then abuse it some more.
11. Once you are happy with the thickness – which is going to be thick enough to stick to the spoon but lob right off because it’s so heavy – fold gentle to remove bubbles.
12. Spoon (or pipe) into jars of ramekins, or whichever cute little fancy container you want, and let set overnight.
This is going to be dense and rich and beautiful. And. And.

And enjoy!

Oh, then I top it with crumbled chocolate biscotti, chocolate shavings, and ground coconut biscuits.

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The Baked Cheesecake Recipe

In the Pistachio, Rose & White Chocolate Cheesecake recipe, I referenced this recipe – which I hadn’t posted yet.

It got really cold and my fingers were frozen. It’s winter here in South Africa. It is currently 7°C. This doesn’t happen in Durban. It must be all the smoke from us burning our own country to the ground that is preventing the trusty Winter Sun from getting through.

I like to substantiate excuses with state-wide war explanations.

Kidding – here’s the core cheesecake batter recipe.

BATTER
800g cream cheese, room temperature
115g sour cream, room temperature
2 full eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1.5 cans (575g) condensed milk, room temperature
½ teaspoon of salt, sifted
30g all purpose flour
10ml vanilla essence, room temperature

BEAT IT
1. Using a hand blender, whisk the creamed cheese until completely smooth.
2. Add the sour cream, and whisk until completely smooth.
3. Add the condensed milk, and pulse until mixed through.
Don’t overbeat the mixture.
3. Add the salt and vanilla extract, mix until incorporated.
4. Sprinkle in the flour gradually, and slowly whisk until mixed in thoroughly.
The flour will absorb some of the moisture from the condensed milk and sour cream. Remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula when mixing in dry ingredients to mix in properly.
5. Pulse in each full egg one at a time.
Pulsing will reduce overbeating and introducing air bubbles that cause cracks.
6. Pulse in each egg yolk, one at a time in the same was as Step 5.
7. Pour batter onto a base of your choice in a springform pan
8. Place in the centre of the oven, on a flat tray with water in it.
Yes – in the water. If your springform pan has been properly waterproofed, we’re sorted. We’re gonna be okay.
9. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges are cooked, but the middle of the cheesecake is still jiggly.
The consistency of panna cotta for about  of the mixture (centre-outward) is perfectly okay. The cheesecake will still cook with the existing heat, and then firm in the fridge.
10. Let the cheesecake cool until room temperature, out of the oven.
11. Let the cheesecake then set in the fridge until well cold.

Enjoy!


Pistachio, Rose & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Hi. Bust out the crumpets.

Just expect more complicated cheesecakes – we need to make the base, sauce and then batter.

SAUCE
So, the secret to adding flavour to cheesecakes is in the sauce. The general rule is 115g of sauce per 450g cream cheese. Thankfully, here, we make the sauce for the flavour and the sauce for the décor in the same way, bar one step.

3 drops pistachio essence
1 drop rose essence
100g white chocolate
200ml fresh cream
2 tablespoons salted butter

BASE
1 1⁄2 packs plain tennis biscuits, crumbed
125g brown sugar, granulated and sieved
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, sieved
30g pistachios, finely chopped
85g melted butter, or as required
Pink food colouring
Aluminium foil

1. Combine drops of food colouring to initially, about 70ml melted butter. You are aiming of a gentle pink colour.
2. Mix the finely chopped pistachios, sugar, salt and the tennis biscuit crumbs well.
3. Combine the melted butter with the crumbed mixture, until wet-sand in texture.
4. Press this pink biscuit mixture into the base of a springform baking pan and set aside.
I like a balance of pizazz and rustic, so the only flashy decorative thing about the cheesecake will be the base – pink to accentuate the rose element. The cheesecake mixture will still be the signature yellowy cheesecake we’re used to. You don’t want to use too much food colouring, particularly due to the taste and risk of it turning brown if it becomes red or is overcooked.
5. Wrap the base of the cheesecake in aluminium foil.
Ensure that there are no cracks, and that this is waterproof. This will be for your water-bath, to ensure the base doesn’t burn.


BATTER
Check out the recipe for the baked Cheesecake, for your standard, add-flavour-to-me, batter.

LET’S MAKE THIS BABY
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Slowly whisk no more than 230ml of the sauce into cheesecake batter.
Do this gently slowly, so as to not cause bubbling – these cause cracks.
3. Pour the cheesecake batter onto your prepped base, and smooth the surface with a spatula.
4. Place in the centre of the oven, on a flat tray with water in it.
Yes. In the water. If your springform pan has been properly waterproofed, we’re sorted. We’re gonna be okay.
5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges are cooked, but the middle of the cheesecake is still jiggly.
The consistency of panna cotta for about of the mixture (centre-outward) is perfectly okay. The cheesecake will still cook with the existing heat, and then firm in the fridge.
6. Let the cheesecake cool until room temperature, out of the oven.
7. Let the cheesecake then set in the fridge until well cold.

DRESS HER UP
So, I like to dust the cheesecake with very finely crumbed remnants of the ground base mix just sort of diagonally (artistically). I mean, look at the name of this cheesecake – give a little love; diagonal love.
I add a drop of food colouring to a bit of extra sauce (I always make extra) and drizzle over top, or just use melted white chocolate.
Then I finish each slice with an edible flower, because why not?
Or, do whatever on earth you like!

Enjoy!

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Lavender, Honey & White Chocolate Sauce

A necessary ingredient for the Mini White Chocolate & Lavender Cheesecake, this sauce is also great for pouring over just about anything you want to.

Drizzle a crumpet, go on.

WHITE CHOCOLATE SAUCE

250g white chocolate
125ml cream
2 teaspoons butter
6-10 lavender flowers
2 drops lavender essence
1 tablespoon honey

Together, now:
1. Bring cream to boil with lavender.
2. Remove from heat, and remove lavender.
You don’t need to remove the lavender. I didn’t. I liked the colour.
3. Fold in chocolate, honey, essence and butter until melted.
Do this slowly. The cream will still thicken even off the heat and while stirring slowly. Stirring too fast will release heat – the heat will thicken the sauce though evaporation.
4. Whisk gently until smooth.
5. Store in a jar or something similar.
6. Let cool.

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Mini White Chocolate & Lavender Cheesecakes

If you’re like me, and like to experiment with aromatics and flavour, you will love this rich, aromatic baked mini cheesecake.

There a few components to this cheesecake – base, sauce and cheesecake mix.

This is not a quick cheesecake.

I chose to crumb the bottom later of cheesecake and stack over dark chocolate mousse.

BASE

For the base, you’ll need:
6 tennis biscuits, crumbed
6 chocolate or vanilla biscuits, crumbed
125g chocolate brownie, crumbed
80ml melted butter, as needed

Prep the bases:
1. Stir until well combined.
2. Line tray with paper cupcake holders.
I used 5cm paper holders for minis.
3. Press base into individual mini trays with a shot glass, or any spoon/scoop if flat.

BATTER

For the batter, you’ll need:
900g medium fat creamed cheese, room temperature
83g sour cream, room temperature
5ml vanilla essence
115g white chocolate & lavender sauce
200g white sugar, sifted
2 full eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1⁄4 teaspoon of salt, sifted

Let’s make the batter:
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
1. Whip the cream cheese with a hand blender until beaten smooth.
2. Add the sugar and salt, and whip with the hand blender until fluffy.
3. Add the sour cream, and whip until again fluffy.
4. Add the two full eggs, one at a time, while simultaneously pulse with the hand blender until smooth.
Pulsing while adding the eggs will prevent too many air bubbles in, which can cause cracking.
5. Add the egg yolks one at a time, following the same procedure as above.
6. Add the vanilla essence and white chocolate & lavender sauce, and mix well with a spatula.
7. Spoon the mixture onto your prepped bases.
If you’d like to stack them like I did, spoon an even amount onto the bases and directly onto the cupcake paper.
8. Bake at 150°C for 10-12 minutes.
Slow and steady – these are quite small.
9. Let the finished cheesecakes cool at room temperature.
It is normal for the centre to sink. This is why I stacked mine.
10. Once cooled, let the cheesecakes firm in the fridge.

CONSTRUCTION
White chocolate is quite rich, so I like to top the cheesecakes with something a bit more balanced, or something citrus to cut through the richness.

1. Whipped cream & candied lavender.
2. Dark chocolate mousse & edible flower.
3. Whipped cream & brownie crumble.
4. Torched lemon meringue.

Enjoy!

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Yeast-Free Civil War Bread

Here’s a story about civil war and bread.

In South Africa, 2021, civil war erupted.
A coordinated attack was launched on our supply chain of primary products, rendering most of KwaZulu Natal & Gauteng without petrol, food, mobility and safety.
Shops were looted and burned to the ground. Produce trucks were targeted. Breweries were ransacked and destroyed. It was pandemonium. Trade came to a stand-still.
At the time of writing this, the attacks continue.
To bridge a gap in resource availability, I decided to make bread for my neighbourhood. Seeing as no stores were open, I could not get yeast.
So I got to researching, and the following buttery sandwich loaf was born.

I sold 52 loaves, and the comments speak for themselves.

So, let me tell you how to make it.

GET THE INGREDIENTS
600g cake wheat flour, sifted
12g white granulated sugar, sifted
3g fine white salt, sifted
40g baking powder, sifted
65ml extra virgin olive oil
15ml salted butter, melted for recipe
625ml full cream milk, room temperature
Melted butter, for finishing

GET THE TOOLS
1 very large mixing bowl, for the dry ingredients
1 medium sized mixing bowl, for the wet ingredients
1 scale
1 wooden spoon
1 spatula
1 basting brush
1 cup, to melt butter
1 bread pan
Aluminium foil
Heat-proof surface

HOW TO PUT IT TOGETHER
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Brush a bread pan with butter.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients until completely mixed.
4. In a different mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and give a gentle stir.
If the milk is not room temperature, the butter will harden and form pockets in your batter.
5. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients, and using a wooden spoon, stir until combined into a thick batter.
The batter will be sticky and wet – not remotely smooth. Do not panic if it looks too wet. If you stir until all the dry ingredients are incorporated, it will be okay.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, and use the spatula clean out the batter properly.
7. Bake for 30 minutes on the top shelf at 200°C.
8. Reduce heat to 180°C, and opening the oven door momentarily for the following step should suffice.
9. Remove the bread from the oven, and cover the pan with aluminium foil.
It actually doesn’t matter what direction the foil faces. The foil will prevent burning and too much crusting from exposure to direct heat. If you want the crust even less brown and softer, put a layer of aluminium foil on the bottom shelf of your oven. It is best if you cover a flat baking tray with the foil to protect your oven element.
10. Bake the covered bread on the top shelf for 20 more minutes.
At about 5 minutes to go, melt extra butter for the crust of the loaf.
11. Remove from the baking pan, and brush the top and sides of the loaf thickly with melted butter.
12. Let the butter absorb into the crust, and cool to gently warm before eating.
Make sure to let cool at room temperature and in an aerated area to prevent sogginess. If you let cool in a storage container, the condensation of the steam will make the base of the loaf soggy. I let my cool on brown paper.

Enjoy, and I hope this helps you in the next apocalypse.

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