My 100th Post - A Mediocre Dessert!

I recently fell in love with a Tamasin Day-Lewis recipe for a Chocolate, Coffee and Raspberry Bavarois Tart. I was enamoured by the Chocolate and Coffee element although, I admit, I was seriously dubious about the raspberrys.

To my retro-drenched imagination, the word Bavarois conjured up images all sorts of expensive French Restaurants from the 1950s and a teeteringly tall, unmoulded, gelatine rich dessert, studded with Angelica and Cocktail Cherries. In fact, Bavarois (also known as Bavarian cream, from where it originates in Germany) is simply a chilled egg custard, unified with gelatine, served simply or other times more exotically as part of a glamorous Charlotte Russe or similar culinary construction.
Of course, my undying love of kitsch didn’t fail me and on Friday night I decided to make it, in between doing a greyhound home check. This was possibly where my first mistake happened.
In my eagerness to a) make the dessert and b) celebrate Friday night with some Kentucky Bourbon, I thought I could split the dessert preparations into two: the pastry and then the filling. All well and good I thought. I mixed up the ingredients for the chocolate rich pastry (this is actually the first time I’ve made the supposedly tricky chocolate pastry), and chilled the sticky ball in the fridge for half an hour.
Whilst waiting for the pastry dough to cohere in its inhospitable environment, I infused the milk with coffee granules (Carte Noire, my husbands favourite British coffee - just don't get him started on British coffee!!) for the custard and read the back of the gelatine packet, which I have never used before.
Gelatine sheets are great! Once soaked in cold water, they become like a prop from Alien or the goo that drove the Lutz Family crazy in the Amityville Horror. Oh, and they help to set desserts too....
So, half an hour passes. We have about 15 minutes before our home check so I decide to line my pastry tin with the rich, short chocolate pastry. A tip, from Tamasin to me to you: dust your rolling pin and surface with cocoa powder when rolling out chocolate pastry. Another tip, from me: do not use your expensive Green and Blacks for this, it’s a waste of expensive cocoa powder. Save it for the pastry.
When you roll the pastry out, it is like the texture of human skin, soft but pliable. You need to keep dusting your hands to work the dough into the ridges of the pie tin but it does fit eventually.
Ok, an hour or so later. Home check done, Kentucky Bourbon purchased, Takeaway Kebabs ordered. I set to work on completing the dessert.
I baked the chilled pie crust, blind (both the pastry case and the cook). Oops number two occurs here. Whilst baking the crust, I set to work on making the custard. It was whilst doing this, and leaning, somewhat agitatedly against the cooker, stirring, stirring, stirring, that I must have knocked the oven temperature switch to maximum, as opposed to the more gentle 180c. Eeeek!! The pastry comes out resembling the blackest of all black nights. It doesn’t smell burnt so I tell myself “don’t panic Freya, it’s just the cocoa powder that’s making it look really black, it will be just fine. Here, have another Bourbon.” Sometimes I think I do speak common sense.
The third error occurs around this point. The takeaway arrives and I am hungry. The custard is not thickening like it should but it is coating the back of the spoon. Greed overtakes artistic integrity at this point and I hurriedly stir in the wibbly wobbly gelatine sheets and hope for the best. It cools as I eat. For the record, the food was great.
After dinner, I whip the cream, fold that into the cooled coffee custard and gelatine mixture (which is still quite liquefied). I add the raspberries, which I am still really iffy about, pour it into the blackened pastry and put it into the fridge, hoping for the best.
After one more Bourbon, my mothering instincts kick in and I am checking the baby that is my Bavarois every 10 minutes, gently nudging the pie tin to see if it has set up. Paul tells me it will be just fine and to leave it overnight. Quite harshly too.
The next morning, after a fitful night spent dreaming about unset, collapsed Bavarois (so reminiscent of my disastrous Grasshopper Pie), I tentatively peer into the fridge. It looks like a set cheesecake. I jiggle the tin. No discernible wobble. I poke it with a cocktail stick. It comes out clean. I am jubilant! The gelatine worked! The custard was thick enough after all!
Of course, the final test - the taste test - is the one that matters. And it wasn’t an overwhelming success. As I had thought, the tart raspberries tasted unpleasant against the bitter coffee. The pastry bottom was overworked and leather-like (although not burnt!). A simple sweet shortcrust would have been far better. The coffee custard filling was delicious though, very much like coffee ice cream (which I love).
Some tweaking of the recipe, switching the pastrys, removing the fruit element, perhaps making individual tarts instead, would all make this a much better dish.
But at least the Kebab was good.


Brilynn said...

I just posted my 100th as well, and wasn't overwhelmed with how it turned out either... stupid brownies staying in the oven too long...
But hurrah for landmark posts, disasters or not!

FreyaE said...

Hi Brilynn! Congrats to you too! I look forward to the next hundred mutual culinary mishaps!!
Brownies just aren't the same without their squidgy bellies are they?

Kathryn said...

I can't imagine that combo either Freya, to be honest. Interesting. Although I am currently suffering from Post Dentist Severe Pain - spent 2 hours in the dentists' chair and am in intense pain and facing more to come. How nasty is that?? Anyway off to soothe my aching mouth with some medicinal alcohol.

I'll email you tomorrow if I find the address!

Kathryn x

FreyaE said...

I should have gone with my gut instinct but sometimes odd combinations can be surprising.
Hopefully you'll start feeling better soon!
Look forward to hearing from you!
Freya x