Friday, November 26, 2010

Keep the mincemeat, I want Chocolate

    I awoke to rain this morning bouncing off the roof. I thought to myself, "well this isn't very Christmas like." My western friends have snow up to their eyeballs, and I have not so much seen two snowflakes put together. But then again I live in the Northeast, so I should be careful what I ask for. I could wake up tomorrow to a state emergency. I don't mind the snow so much, it is the sleet and freezing rain that I could do without.
      I am so happy that I have had two days off in a row, I took advantage of sleeping in. I work 6 days a week, so sleeping in doesn't always pan out. If I do then the guilt sets in, because I wasted the day. Funny I feel that I may have had too much sleep.
     Christmas at my grandparents house were very New Englandish. The same components were always in place. Hard sauce, ribbon candy, egg nog, mixed nuts, the book "Twas the night before Christmas", and the grandparent magic that made believing in Santa possible. My mother's parents loved Christmas, because it was a time when all their grandchildren came to visit. I remember playing Scrabble with my great-grandmother, and sharing saltines and butter mints. I remember she had the bottomless drawer of treasures that I spent hours pawing through. Unopened decks of cards, the smell of violets and lavender, sugar cubes, saltines, vintage cribbage board, blank stationary, butter mints, and a old fashioned tea ball were among the things I would find. Funny, I never grew tried of looking at her treasures.

      My grandmother used to serve mincemeat pie with hard sauce, and I think that it was a tradition that now, has been forgotten. As an adult, there are very few people that I have met that know what "hard sauce" is, never mind them actually eating a piece of mincemeat pie, once they knew what it was made out of.  Hard sauce it not really a sauce at all, it more or less resembles frosting and is spreadable. It is made from butter, rum, brandy, or whiskey and confectionery sugar. I remember it tasted of brandy and I was not very fond of it. But that was my first exposure to such an old recipe. It was made and then chilled, and placed on warm gingerbread, mincemeat pie, or plum pudding . The recipe dates back to the 1800's.
     Mincemeat pie, why, that is a whole separate story! For the longest time, oddly enough being a chef, I never knew what mincemeat pie was, I just thought that it was a spicy raisiny pie. To tell you the truth it was not my favorite, it was low on my list of favorite desserts. On the occasion, that I had no choice, the pie never left a lasting impression on me, maybe because of the raisins and the title had the word "meat" in it.  Oddly, not many stick to the traditional process of making mincemeat pie. It incites a "yuck" response from people, when they in fact find out that it contains anything from minced meat, or suet. I remember my grandmother used suet. Which by the way is the hard fatty layer covering the liver in cattle. Yuck!  Technology has a nifty way of taking the guesswork out of making a mincemeat pie nowadays and jars of mincemeat pie filling can be found at your local supermarket.

     In New England we have many desserts that are unique only to New England, whoopie pies, the Fluff used invented by a company in Lynn, Massachusetts, Indian Pudding made with cornmeal, Boston Creme Pie, originating in Boston at the same home of the Parker House roll, and Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, invented in Whitman, Massachusetts.  I love chocolate desserts so here is my twist on Boston Cream Pie.

Coco-Crazy Boston Cream Pie
1 cup butter
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups light brown sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
4 egg whites
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sifted cocoa
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 bottle cream soda
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.
1 cup milk
1 oz cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 ozs semi sweet chocolate chips
remaining chocolate left from 12 ozs package which is about 3ozs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 2/ 9in cake pans. Sift together all dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugars, until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites, eggs and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Alternate the dry ingredients with the cream soda and heavy cream. Beat well, fold in chocolate chips and divide evenly into 2 9in cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 to 45 minutes. Cool completely. Meanwhile in a small bowl combine 1/4 cup milk, cornstarch,  pinch of salt,  2 egg yolks and vanilla. mix well. In a small saucepan heat 3/4 cup milk, tsp butter, 1/4 cup sugar and 3 ozs chocolate chips till almost scalding. Carefully ladle small amounts of the heated liquid into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly until both are about the same temperature, add the yolk mixture to the saucepan and whisk until thickened, pour into a clean bowl, top with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. To make the glaze heat the heavy cream and butter and pour over the remaining chocolate and let set for a minute or two, gently stir and set aside. To assemble cake, spread cooled pastry cream over cooled cake bottom side up, place the second layer bottom side up on the filling. Carefully pour the glaze in the center of the cake and using a cake spatula spread the glaze to fall down the sides of the cake. Let set at least an 1 hour and then enjoy.

Unless your name in Baskin or Robbins, I really can't fit you in my schedule right now.~Uniek Swain


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