Friday, January 2, 2015

Espresso Caviar with Chocolate Mousse

If you are a food snob, quit reading right now.  I am not a food snob, there are certain "good" foods I just haven't developed a taste for, and that is just alright with me.  One of them is caviar.  I have had the good stuff, not my favorite, and I have had the not so good stuff, REALLY not my favorite.

In 1990 I spend several weeks in Magadan, Russia on an exchange with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.  Six of us went over, stayed with different host families, took Russian Language classes in the mornings and cultural activities in the afternoons.  I stayed with a young woman named Irena.  One of the professors at the Magadan Institute was from Alaska, and a good friend with Irena.  I got to go on a couple of extra excursions.  Some very pleasant; a cook-out to the beach, a trip to a small holiday town,  a remote reindeer herding village, and one very moving; a trip to an abandoned concentration camp from Stalin's days.

Where ever we went, the Russian people would offer their best, as we were the first Americans in that part of the country (remember this was about 24 years ago).  And everyone had home-made salmon egg caviar they were so proud to share.  Now, I don't care for the little tiny black caviar, let alone the salmon egg sized caviar.  It was always served on thick slices of bread with a 1/2 inch layer of butter and then lots of red, salty caviar.  I'm sure it was delicious, if you liked caviar, but I do not.  And, you had to eat it, it would be a huge insult if you didn't.  I learned not to eat it fast to get it down because then you would get another piece, I would take a bite and leave it on my plate for last.  After a few house visits, Irena would quietly take the bread off my plate and eat it.  I was so relieved she liked it and felt like it was almost a favor that she got an extra serving...that is until I thanked her and mentioned how much she must like it.
"No, I don't like it either," she told me.  "I just saw how hard it was for you to get it down.  It was less hard for me to swallow it."  
I owe her big time for that.

I saw this caviar recipe and thought it might be a kind I would like.  It is a fun twist on caviar, and looks fancy on top of the Chocolate Mousse.  I'm going to try it with cranberry juice next...or not, it might remind me too much of the color of salmon caviar, and I won't be able to get it down.
Here's to Irena.

Espresso Caviar
from Sprinkle Bakes

Use this caviar as a topping or garnish to impart flavor and texture to desserts (good for savory applications too!)  Be sure to plan ahead.  Chilling the oil overnight is an important step and should not be skipped.

Special equipment:
Plastic squeeze bottle, unused medicine dropper or culinary syringe
Mesh sieve or slotted spoon

2-3 cups vegetable oil
1 1/4 oz. packages powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
3 fluid oz. hot liquid, hot coffee, hot chocolate
1/4 cup salt for water bath

1.  Place oil in a 9x13 inch metal pan and store in refrigerator overnight.  The oil must be very cold for the gelatin to set properly.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix the gelatin and water until thoroughly combined and no lumps of gelatin remain.  Let stand while you prepare the hot liquid.

3.  Warm 3 oz. liquid on the stove or in a microwave until very hot but not boiling.  Pour liquid over set gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is melted.  This make take a few minutes and you can break up the gelatin with a spoon for quicker dissolve.

4.  When gelatin is completely melted, transfer liquid to a squeeze bottle.  You can also leave the mixture in the bowl and use a medicine dropper or syringe to draw the liquid for dropping.

5.  Let he mixture stand for a few minutes, if it is too hot the gelatin will not set properly and the caviar will be misshapen.  It should be just barely warm - almost room temperature.

6.  While you wait for your mixture to cool, prepare the oil for the ice bath.  Transfer chilled oil to a 1 quart container (preferably metal because it will aid cooling, but glass will work too.)  Prepare the ice bath.  Make sure the bowl you are using for the ice bath is larger than the container holding the oil.  Fill bowl with ice and then add water until the bowl is two-thirds filled.  Add 1/4 cup salt and stir until mixed.  Rest the container of oil inside the water bath.

7.  Begin dropping gelatin mixture into the cold oil, 1-3 drips at a time.  The amount of drips will vary according to the viscosity of the oil and type of dropper you use.  It took me about 3 drips for one caviar pearl to form.  You will know the correct amount when the mixture forms a ball that rests on the surface for a moment then sinks to the bottom.

8.  When half the mixture has been used, wait for 3-5 minutes then scoop the caviar into a mesh sieve or slotted spoon to drain.  Place caviar in an air-tight container or a canning jar with a screw-tight lid.  Resume dropping the gelatin mixture into the cold oil until all of the mixture is used.

9.  When finished, place caviar in a canning jar or in an air-tight container with a little of the oil poured over the top.  This keeps the caviar moist for up to a week.  Rinse with very cold water before use.

Chocolate Mousse
serves 12

2 cups whipping cream
16 oz. dark chocolate (65-70%)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
sweetened whipped cream, optional topping

Melt chocolate over double boiler until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Pour whipping cream and vanilla into a cold bowl, whip at high speed until medium soft peaks form.  Pour melted chocolate into whipping cream, all at once and mix quickly.  Mix with a rubber spatula until completely combined and no white streaks remain.  Dish into individual glasses or bowls.  Serve immediately or chill until ready to use.  Before serving, bring to room temperature by setting mousse out of the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.  Top with sweetened whipped cream and espresso caviar.

1 year ago:  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili and Eating Soap
2 years ago:  Sun Dried Tomato and Blue Cheese Torte
3 years ago:  Aztec Chocolate Cakes and De-Santatizing the House

January 2, 2015   Sunrise 10:53 am  Sunset 2:57 pm  Temp. H -1/ L -8°F

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