Monday, July 12, 2010

Party All The Time

Ah here I am, back in control, just the way it should be. After temporarily (and partially) seceding the controls last week, I've once again regained power. On to the food!

Today I'm going to tell you about a party I held a couple weeks ago in my backyard. You see, after oh so many celebrations, Shaya and Racheli got married. And, in Jewish tradition, the partying continues every night for a week after the wedding.

Welcome to the barbecue.
We went with the standards - hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken; rice, potato salad, and a host of other salads - and lest you think I tackled this all by my lonesome, I had plenty of help.

But, back to what you're really here for - dessert. The requisite watermelon, of course, plus other fruit, pink-tinted rice krispie treats and mini peach cobblers provided by someone else, plus I made my classic chocolate chip cookies (though with some minor, but still edible screw-ups).

PLUS - Mini-sprinkle cupcakes:

After waxing-poetic about my new mini muffin pan that I reappropriated for tartlets, I finally put it to use for adorable tiny cupcakes.
I'm sure they make mini cupcake liners, but I didn't have any, and I wasn't too worried about sticking, and I thought no liners would make them easier to eat, and I was always told to never write a run on sentence. Ha, good thing school is over for me.
I certainly have more things in store for that pan - especially after my mother, who apparently reads this thing, bought me my very own tart shaper! Speaking of, she was also the guest photographer at this event, as I ran around worrying about things. Teamwork!

Anyway, up next on the menu: individual chocolate mousse cups.
To be honest I'm not really the biggest fan of chocolate mousse - but I thought it would be cute, easy and popular. And it was. The recipe is, in the words of my least-favorite Food Network personality, "super simple" with two ingredients. Then I just divided it into little cups, and topped with whipped cream right before serving.

Tip of the Day: Chocolate mousse is indeed easy, but there are a few tips that are crucial to it's success. One is the tempering of the yolks - if you add all the melted chocolate at once you run the risk of "cooking" the yolks - and have scrambled egg mousse. Adding a bit at first brings their temperature up before mixing in the rest. Another crucial point is the folding of the egg whites as supposed to mixing - use a spatula to cut and lift the mixture, folding it over itself over again until combined - but we careful not to stir it, you'll deflate the lightness of the whipped egg whites.

Mini cupcakes:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups plus 1 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs and vanilla, beating until well mixed.
Mix in the buttermilk, then gradually stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Divide among greased cupcake pans (I got about 24 mini ones and an extra 4 normal sized ones), and bake on 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tests clean. Baking time may vary so you have to keep an eye on the mini ones because they can go from just right to overdone quickly. Might be best to set for 10 minutes then start checking.

Top with frosting and sprinkles.

Chocolate Mousse:

8 eggs
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Separate all the eggs into yolks and whites.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
Place the egg yolks in the bottom of a large bowl. Add a small amount of chocolate to the yolks, stirring to combine. Pour in the rest of the chocolate and mix well, until completely combined.
Set aside.

Beat the egg whites on high until they form stiff peaks. Dollop a couple heaping tablespoons of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

Then, using a plastic spatula, fold in about a third of the egg whites at a time, being careful not to stir or deflate the whites. It helps to use a glass bowl so you can see if you've missed any parts that needs combining.

Pour into either a bowl or individual cups and cover, then refrigerate until set.

Note: This recipe can be scaled up and down as you would like. I generally average about 1 1/4 ounces of chocolate for 1 egg - but you don't have to be that exact. Follow all the instructions the same!

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