Tag Archives: Whipped Cream

Thanksgiving, and the Verdict – Triple Silken Pumpkin Torte

26 Nov

Hello again, everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family, friends, love, great food, and of course thankfulness. :) I had a great double thanksgiving–one on Thursday, and one on Friday! I love this time of year. There are so many things to be thankful for– for my family with all their wonderful imperfections and amazing love, for my friends with all their steadfast support, for the blessing of an education, for the opportunity to live in this great country (despite its issues), and most of all for the free Grace we’ve been given in Christ. It’s times like these when I am reminded most that I am still a work in progress–I fail so many times, but with His gift of the good news of grace I can stop trying to be perfect with my own will power, stop feeling guilty, and instead turn my life into a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1) out of gratitude for what He’s done for me. And I can hold onto this and be full of gratitude despite my circumstances. And gratitude is what Thanksgiving is about, right? This is a perspective I must remember and foster all year round. What are you thankful for this year? It could be a job in these tough times, a new friend, warm Fall clothes, a fabulous new book? Leave a comment below to share what you’re thankful for!

What did you eat for Thanksgiving? On the first Thanksgiving I had with one half of my family, we had a lot of delicious Vietnamese food, and then on the second day, a more traditional fare of Cornish game hens and all the wonderful sides that go along with it (chestnut stuffing, SO YUM). Of course, we dug into the Triple Silken Pumpkin Torte that I shared with you all on Wednesday!

First slice

Since I had never made this torte before, and wanted to save cutting into it for our Friday dinner, I didn’t know exactly 100% what to report back on the flavor, or what I might have changed in the recipe at the time of my first post. Here’s a little update on all of that, based on my preferences, so you have  some ideas on how you might want to alter the recipe for the future.

Tastes: I loved this torte! As someone who isn’t a huge fan of the homogenous pumpkin filling in traditional pies, and who appreciates a greater mix of flavors, this was the perfect Thanksgiving dessert for me.

  • One thing I loved about this pie was the pumpkin/ginger flavor. I opted to use fresh ginger root instead of the more common ground ginger spice (in the little jar from McCormick or the like) and it was phenomenal! I’ve tasted many desserts made with that powdery-like cabinet spice, and never really thought much of the flavor it brought through. On the other hand, I noticed that the fresh ginger immediately made my ingredients fragrant and heavenly smelling. A big plus! This may be because of my strong affinity for ginger, so you may or may not agree with me, but I think this addition really added a wonderful dimension to the torte. Verdict: Stick with fresh ginger.
  • I was a little concerned that the maple cream layer didn’t have enough maple taste–when I tasted it before I put it into the mold, it tasted more sour (like the creme fraiche) than maple-y. After I got feedback from my family, however, they loved how the cream layer tasted, and thought that more maple sugar would have overpowered the pumpkin layers and not really allowed them to shine. Verdict: Keep the cream layer sweetened with 4 tsp. maple sugar. :)
  • The top layer (caramel pumpkin chiboust) was very sweet! I moderately liked the way it tasted, but my family likes subtley sweet desserts, and commented on this strongly sweet flavor. To remedy the possibly over-sugary taste, next time I will reduce the amount of caramel made, or allow it to “burn” a little longer to get a warmer flavor, or both! Verdict: Modify top layer recipe to contain less sugar, or cook the caramel longer.

Textures: The overall texture of this torte was very light, which I enjoyed. Although each slice contains a lot of carbohydrates and fats, the texture made me believe I wasn’t eating a ton of dessert.

  • The pie crust recipe used was the typical short crust pastry (recipe in this post) that I utilize in most of my pie desserts. It’s formulated for tarts and the like, because its higher flour to fat ratio makes it crumblier rather than flakier. However, I find it so easy and almost just as tasty as real pie crust (I’m not super picky in this area). It’s flaky enough for not containing any shortening, but I would really have loved to get the traditional pumpkin pie feeling of a real pie crust in this torte. Especially since the filling is so light, I would have liked to feel a heavier crust. Verdict: Next time, use a pie crust.
  • The term that describes this torte is silken, so the fact that I didn’t add gelatin to the top layer really screwed that part up. The top layer was more of a very light mousse-y texture than a silken, creamy texture. The lightness of the folded-in egg whites needed to be complemented by the stabilization of gelatin, but wasn’t, which resulted in quite a foamy top layer. This created a bit of interest because the torte got lighter in density as you rose up the layers, but even so, I really made a mistake in not adding the gelatin. There was very little “silken” nature, and because there was no gelatin, I doubt that what I made qualified as a true “chiboust.” Verdict: Don’t skip the gelatin! The recipe in the post reflects this addition.

Second Slice

There you go–a little bit of my personal take on Thanksgiving, and a little bit of my deliberation over perfecting this recipe. I hope this helps any of you who were thinking about making this treat for a holiday meal/party/potluck, and who wanted a little bit more information on the final taste test! Are there any other tweaks or alterations you would make? Any tips that pop into your mind that would make this torte more phenomenal? Please let me know in the comments! I appreciate constructive criticism–I love to learning about baking, and it can only make me better, right? :)

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, friends! I’ll be reuniting with a bunch of old school friends that are in town for the holiday. It’s going to be pretty epic, and I am way excited!


Delicious Pavlova- More uses for the last of the summer fruits!

15 Sep


First let me apologize for the horrible picture– I am sorry! However, there is an explanation as to why this photo is more horrible than usual.

I was cooking 3 things at once! With two other people! It was Easter and my roomies also needed to use the kitchen! I transported this pavlova to its destination on a 30+ minute bus ride! My fruit was a little over-ripe!

There… do you forgive me yet? I promise to work harder on my food presentation and photography skills. After all, David Lebovitz (one of my heroes) says, “You eat with your eyes,” and I for sure want to make things look appetizing on this blog!

This pavlova was born because it was Easter (my favorite holiday), and one my good friends Sam was holding a potluck dinner at his apartment. I asked Sam what I could contribute, and he declared that I should definitely make a pavlova. This was quite fitting, seeing as we all knew Sam loves pavlova, and I only ever make desserts. Hehe. I had never even heard of such a dessert before I came to know Sam (who by the way, is a pretty big foodie guy), so it may be a good idea to explain what the deal is for those of you who haven’t heard of it either!

This delectable delicacy hails from the Australian continent, and I say “continent” because there’s a big hullabaloo about whether it originated in Australia or New Zealand (most people say it comes from New Zealand). It was named after a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was on tour down under in the 20’s. It consists of a BIG HUNK of meringue (basically a cake of meringue), topped with whipped (chantilly) cream, and then topped with any chopped fruit of your liking. Pretty simple, right? I used whatever fruit I had on hand, and chose to include kiwi’s of course, ’cause kiwi’s are native to the Australia/NZ and I am authentic like that.

Despite the shortened time this meringue had to cool (we were in a rush to catch the bus!), and the bumpy ride it experienced thereafter, the guests at the potluck dinner enjoyed it immensely! It comes out so light, crunchy and sweet, like a soft crisp cloud! Combined with the smooth richness of the whipped cream and the tart fruit on top, this dessert makes for a crowd-pleaser. Not to mention, the colorful array is eye-catching and a true showstopper. Oh, how could i forget!? It’s a low-fat option compared to many other desserts (although that wasn’t our main concern, right?)! Please make this for your next get-together–and soon!–before all the delicious summer fruit goes out of season! Your friends who have had pavlova before will be so pleased that they could revisit this exotic treat, and those who haven’t heard of it before will be doubly impressed!

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar (granulated is fine, too)
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla

Whipped Cream
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat your oven to 275 and place the rack in the middle
2. On a piece of parchment paper, trace a 7-inch diameter circle. Flip the paper over onto a baking sheet so that the pencil-lead is facing downward. You don’t want pencil lead in your pavlova!
3. Beat the whites on medium high speed in a large bowl till they form soft peaks.
4. Add the sugar very gradually while keeping your mixer on. Continue beating till you have glossy peaks.
5. At this point, reduce your mixer speed to slow and mix in the vanilla, cornstarch, and vinegar. I read somewhere that the vinegar gives your meringue that toasty pale-brownish color when it comes out of the oven.
6. Now tip all of the whipped egg whites into the circle on the baking sheet. You can use a spatula to make the edges of the circle a bit higher than the middle. You want a slight bowl shape in your meringue so that it can hold the whipped cream and the fruit.
7. Bake that meringue for about 1 hr and 15 minutes. In this waiting time, you can wash and chop the fruit, and make the whipped cream.
8.To make the whipped cream, beat the cream and vanilla until it forms peaks. Simple as that! It also helps to use a metal bowl that has been placed in the freezer!
9. When the meringue has finished baking, turn off the oven and open the door of the oven so that it is slightly ajar. This is to let the meringue cool slowly. 30 minutes like this should be just fine!

*Note* [i.e. you can skip this part if you like]: We do this because the egg whites have little tiny air bubbles whipped into them. The heat of the oven causes the gas in these bubbles to expand (PV=nRT! shoutout, high school chem teacher!), and cooling the meringue too rapidly would cause these bubbles to deflate in a second. The meringue could then collapse and crack, which we don’t like. The same goes for baking souffles and cheesecakes. It’s better to have a pretty, puffy souffle and a smooth, non-cracked cheesecake, so cooling slowly is the best way to go.

10. Assemble by adding the whipped cream and the chopped fruit on top! Serve immediately after assembling (you don’t want the cream to make the meringue soggy!)

There you go! A dessert that consists of ingredients everyone has in their fridge or pantry, that is visually pleasing, that doesn’t take crazy amounts of skill to tackle, and that is above all, extraordinarily delicious.  What more could you ask for? Well, I guess I would ask for a table full of friends to share it with… :)

What about you? Have you tried pavlova before? Do you think you could make this for your buddy next door? Any tips you have for me and the next time I make this? Let me know in the comments below!


Note #2: Do you find that you dislike mangoes? Could it be that the type you originally tried was full of displeasing fibers that stuck in your teeth? I’m here to tell you that there is hope for a mango victim such as yourself. You see, there are two most common types of mangoes that you might find in your grocery store– Tommy and Kent. Tommy is the evil, fibrous kind. He’ll bother and pester you until you just leave him alone. He can only be dealt with if you pulverize him to a soup/puree. Kent on the other hand is the sweet and agreeable mango. He’s not tough, or gritty, or sinewy, or wiry, or coarse. He’s just tender all the way through. :) Try a Kent mango and maybe your mango-jaded outlook will change!

Note #3: Many people find cutting up mangoes to be difficult. I sure did when I was first faced with the task! However, observing my mom and her mango cutting/eating skills, I learned quickly how to best maneuver around the oblong pit.

  • A mango is oddly formed! It is round, but two faces of it’s oblong shape are wider/bigger than the other two. In this picture above, the wider faces are toward us and behind the mango, while the smaller/narrower faces are on the top and the bottom of the picture.
  • The goal is to cut the mango flesh off the long seed, so leave the skin on and basically cut off the two wide faces of the mango with your knife.
  • Take the two wide faces that are now separate from the pit, and score them with inch-wide squares. Run your knife along the skin to separate the squares. You’ll get perfect little mango cubes!
  • The flesh on the two narrow faces of the mango still contain a lot of fruit! Feel for the pit with your knife and cut those sides off too. Score them as much as you can, and cut off the squares, just as you did with the wider faces.
  • Now make like me and munch on the remaining mango flesh that surrounds the naked pit. :) Mmm now I’m craving some, and badly!

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