Thursday, April 1, 2010

chocolate peanut butter terrine

sliced terrine
i don't usually attempt
pretty desserts.
not because i'm anti-
pretty, but because,
usually, they end up looking
like this:
how things look when i try to make them pretty
but i have moments of delusion
or moments of thinking that
i'm more qualified for something
than i really am.
and i go for it anyway.

that's what happened here.
last sunday morning i woke
up, fully planning to make
a dacquoise layer cake
filled with ganache.
the trick is - it was going to
be an unfrosted cake.
just crisp layers filled
with chocolate,
that may or may not,
ooze out of the sides.
if you were new,
and the chocolate bulged a little,
you would think that's what
i intended to do.
it was the perfect brooke-proof plan.

but the forecast predicted rain
and i knew better than to try
to toss a nutty meringue into the
oven and think it will dry out
while a storm pelted the windows.

so i shifted gears and at around
4pm, set up a double boiler,
found the whisk attachment
to my stand mixer
and decided
that the too-large loaf pan
in my cabinet
would have to work.
goodbye dacquoise.
hello chocolate-peanut butter terrine.

i knew i could handle it.
i'm always fine until the end
when it has to look like it came
out of a bakery. because i am the
worst kind of not-able-to-cut-a-straight-line-
or-pipe-a-real-circle kind-of-person:
i'm kind of a perfectionist.
or, i'm the type of person
who knows her limits,
dares to defy them and then,
fails miserably and freaks out anyway.

i drive myself,
and everyone around me,

so, larry and i worked together
to line the loaf pan with plastic wrap,
trying to prevent
wrinkles in the mousse center.
(i knew that it would be covered
by a glaze, but i figured that the
closer i started to a smooth surface,
when it came time to coat with chocolate,
the better. you'll see how well that
turned out in a minute.)

and, then, i set to work
to make a filling that couldn't be
easier, but still uses a million
bowls and pots to make.
while the
peanut butter
and butter
melted together,
i separated
placing the yolks in
the mixer bowl
and adding sugar.
peanut butter, bittersweet chocolatemelted chocolate, peanut butter
egg yolks, sugarbeaten eggs, sugar
i carefully combined
the warm chocolate
with the thickened egg yolk concoction,
making sure not to scramble
them, and watched as the two
satiny mixtures
came together to turn into a paste.
i reread the part in the directions
that promised this was ok.

i set the chocolate cement aside
and poured cream
into a separate bowl.
usually, i'm a wimp and when
cream or eggs need to be whipped,
i bring out the mixer.
but the stand mixer was already
dirty, the hand mixer in a closet
in another room and the recipe
said, just until the cream
starts to thicken.
so i did it, i whisked it just until
the cream started to thicken,
and then just a little more because
i did not want to risk pouring liquid cream
into melted chocolate. we did not reach
peaks, but we did have ripples.
whisk (whisking cream)
once the cream was folded
into the chocolate,
i transferred the lightened mess
into a loaf pan, smoothed the top,
and sent it to the fridge for chilling.

up next:
candied peanuts,
which were a breeze.
peanuts, i opted for salted,
are folded into frothy egg whites
and granulated sugar.
they're then spread out on a baking
sheet and baked for about 25 minutes.
salted peanuts, frothy egg white, sugarsugared (salted) peanuts
for some reason, i remember that the
first time i made this recipe,
i was unimpressed by the nuts.
this time, however, they tasted much
more special and larry said,
you made your own honey-roasted peanuts?
obviously not, but that
was all the affirmation i needed that
these were keepers.

yes, i had made this recipe
from classic stars desserts
once before, almost three
years ago. it was during a
marathon baking session and
this terrine was one of six desserts
made in just three days. it
was the only no-bake option
and i prepared the terrine part
two days ahead, opting to
glaze it, in the location i planned
to serve it, the day of.

it is for that reason,
that i think i remembered
this dessert to be a breeze.

don't get me wrong -
it is not a challenge, nor
is it anywhere near impossible.
but, i absolutely think
there is something to be said for
making it,
chilling it,
forgetting about it and
then glazing the day of,
in the place you plan to serve it.
because for me the biggest challenge -
if you overlook the fact that it
appears like it was glazed by
a third grader -
was transporting the persnickety thing.

i forgot how long four hours
can be - or rather how short.
the terrine went in the fridge
around 5pm. after the peanuts
were made, i set to work making
ravioli for dinner that night.
by the time dinner was
and cleaned up,
it was 10 pm. the last thing
i wanted to do was glaze anything,
but i knew i would want to do it
even less at 6 in the morning.

so i set up the double boiler again,
started to melt down chocolate
and then i unmolded the terrine.
unmolded terrine - exposed
hmmm...not exactly what i was hoping
for. but it would be fine. fine!
i swore.
i quickly set to work,
using the offset spatula to
evenly spread the hot glaze
across the delicate mousse,
feeling at first like i had this in the bag.
and then i looked at it closely -
it didn't look good.
(i don't have to tell you -
you've seen the picture.)

but, what's done was done.
and then i realized:
i'd have to cover it overnight.
in a rare moment of clarity,
i pulled out my largest mixing
bowl and turned it over,
on top of the terrine.
it was perfect and i was going to sleep.

...until i realized that i had not mapped
out a serving plan.
i own a lot of platters
and bowls, but none of them
are an appropriate
shape for a 9" rectangle.
after hunting - i found my
heavy glass cheese board.
it would have to do.
chocolate peanut butter terrine
the next day after work,
i rushed home in the rain.
(it rained - i had made the
right call.) after using two
spatulas, to carefully transfer
the terrine to the glass,
i realized that i really didn't
know what my next step would be.

foil on top would just
mar the surface - even more -
but i knew i had to cover it
with something.

10 minutes later,
when i told larry i was ready
to leave, he walked into the kitchen
and saw me holding a
ridiculous contraption:
i wrapped up the sides
of the platter with foil
and topped the whole thing
with a very large
tupperware that sat on
the edges of the glass,
not touching the confection.

it was precarious -
a speed bump could have
foiled the whole operation,
especially following the moment
i sat in the car and realized that
i couldn't sit it on my lap -
surely it would melt.
instead, i held the edges
by my fingertips for the 25-minute ride.
it was, it turns out,
rather heavy.

i know this sounds crazy,
especially after telling you
the story of what it took to get
this terrine from fruition to the
table for passover,
but i promise you,
this dessert is great for a crowd.
even if you're not the most polished
of pastry chefs, it still looks impressive
(maybe in some cases "from a distance"
would help) and cuts beautifully.

it also doesn't hurt that it's
a show stopper in the flavor department.
what could be bad about
peanut butter-laced
deep chocolate?
but i promise you it's even
better with a sprinkling of candied peanuts.
all three come together in a dessert
that is decidedly rich,
but still boasts a feather lightness,
thanks to the hand-whipped cream.

just give yourself a break:
buy a rectangular cake carrier
or plan to serve this one
at your house.
cut open
chocolate-peanut butter terrine
to be fair, the peanut butter is not especially pronounced in this dessert. to my peanut butter-loving palate, it's a faint background note, which is why those sugared peanuts come in so handy. when serving, i sprinkled each slice with a bunch. the recipe calls for an 8 x 4 1/2 loaf pan, which i think would be much prettier than the 9 x 5 1/2 one that i used. regardless - either will work and promises to still taste good.

oh, and yes, i'll admit it. i flaked and used good quality chocolate chips instead of chopping chocolate. i don't usually go that route - but i will be honest: i love every quick second of it.

11 ounces bittersweet chocolate (between 58 and 62%), finely chopped or good quality chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

coat 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" (or 9" x 5 1/2") loaf pan with cooking spray. line with plastic wrap, leaving 1 1/2" overhang on all sides.

in top of double boiler or stainless steel bowl, combine chocolate, butter and peanut butter. place bowl over small saucepot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. warm mixture until chocolate and butter melt, stirring occasionally. remove from heat; stir until completely smooth.

in bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine egg yolks and sugar. beat on high speed 1 minute, or until the mixture is thick. remove bowl from mixer. using wooden spoon, stir in small amount of the chocolate mixture, mixing quickly to incorporate. once combined, add remainder of the chocolate mixture in three separate additions, stirring well each time until completely combined. (again, don't worry if the mixture is very thick.)

in separate bowl, using whisk (or hand mixer), whisk cream until it starts to thicken. for me, this meant, when the cream started to hold slight shape, but was not yet forming peaks. working quickly, stir a small amount of cream mixture into chocolate mixture until combined. using spatula, fold remainder of thickened cream into chocolate mixture in four separate additions, making sure that the mixtures have fully incorporated each time.

transfer chocolate mixture to prepared pan; smooth down top. cover with plastic overhang. chill at least four hours or up to two days.

to unmold and glaze terrine: line baking sheet with parchment paper. unwrap terrine and top with metal rack. flip rack and terrine and place on top of parchment lined baking sheet. remove loaf pan. remove plastic wrap. (yes, if you look at the picture, i skipped the rack part - this was out of sleepiness and poor reading skills, not intentional insubordination. it makes much more sense than what i did.)

slowly pour glaze over terrine, smoothing with an offset spatula. chill 30 minutes, or until set. if the terrine will be in the fridge longer than that, feel free to steal my inverted bowl method for protecting.

top with sugared peanuts. as the terrine is sliced; top each piece with additional sugared peanuts.

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

in top of double boiler or stainless steel bowl, combine all ingredients. set over small saucepot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom does not touch the water. heat until the chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally. if the glaze seems too thin, give it 20 minutes to set up before pouring over the terrine.

sugared peanuts
yes, it's true - if you make these peanuts, it is no longer a no-bake dessert...but i think that's ok. they're hardly stressful. the original recipe called for unsalted, but i opted to use nuts with salt. i'm glad. this is a dessert in every sense of the word and the occasional salty fleck is a great foil for the sugar. these can be made 1 week ahead of time.

1 large egg white
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts

heat oven to 350˚f. in small bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. whisk in sugar. add peanuts and toss to coat. spread peanuts into a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. bake 10 minutes; stir well and place back into a single layer. bake 10-15 minutes more, stirring every five minutes, or until peanuts are golden brown.

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