Saturday, July 17, 2010

With a little help from my... mixer

Cooking and baking can be quite difficult without the appropriate equipment, without some useful gadgets and, admittedly, without ample space. Well, I have no space. My kitchen is tiny and filled to the brim. If I as much as consider adding a single spoon to one of the kitchen drawers or placing one more bowl in a cabinet, there's going to be a domino effect of huge proportions. My whole kitchen will fall apart, my entire organizing system will need reexamination and I don't have time for that, believe me.

It's amazing how much stuff I have accumulated since I moved to Holland. What I brought from Greece were the bare kitchen essentials but since then it's like I'm on a mission to fully stock my kitchen. Even after three years, I still think I'm far from completing my task. In the process, I have been driving S. crazy.

I always seem to need one extra soup bowl or a cherry pitter- I had to convince S. that a cherry and an olive pitter are two different things-, chocolate molds, a new grater or an egg beater. The truth is I don't need most of that stuff but they surely make my life in the kitchen easier, not to mention how much quicker I can whip up a cherry pie by having a cherry pitter.

What I never had though during all these years that I've been cooking and baking, is a stand mixer. That workhorse of kitchen equipment, that huge time and energy saver, that magnificent work of technical ability; I never had one. I always used a simple hand whisk or a hand held mixer.

My experience with hand held mixers has been long and painful; both for me and the mixers. The first one I ever used was the one my mother bought one day after she grew tired of whisking everything by hand. I was little and I loved my mom's new gadget. After trying to use it in various ways that the manual specifically stated it should not be used, like mixing mud with stones or trying to make a hole in the wall with it, I broke it. I cried for a week.

The second one my mom bought, which lasted surprisingly long, was slightly better in quality than the previous one and it still proudly remains in my mom's kitchen cabinet. When I moved out of my parents' house, my mom bought one for me as an apartment warming gift. The mixer and I were happy together for quite some time. It was handy, it did all the work for me without me breaking a serious sweat but then it all started going downhill. One day, as I was preparing my favorite marble cake, I felt it heating up, my hand started having a burning sensation and at the same time a noise started coming out of it, something that resembled a death rattle for mixers and after a while, it was gone. I will always remember it fondly.

When I moved to Holland I got a new one. It served me well during these past three years and I'm sure it will continue to do so for a long time. But for about a month now, my trusted hand held mixer has been replaced by my new acquisition. Yes, after years of anticipation and longing, I finally have my very own stand mixer. My brand new, pink, KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer. I had to get rid of my bread box and hang my two extra spice racks on the wall to make room for it, but it was all worth it.

Ever since I got it, I have been using it like crazy. I've made bundt cakes (perhaps my favorite kind of cake), bread, meringues and since I bought the ice cream attachment as well, I've made lots of ice cream, mainly strawberry. I have no idea how I managed all these years without one and it looks so damn cute too. A machine able to whip, blend, mix, combine, stir, knead; it's like a dream come true.

Since it's been so hot these past couple of weeks, I didn't want to bake anything but I was in dire need of something sweet. Ice cream of course was an option but I already had too much of that. And then it came to me. A couple of years ago I had discovered a recipe of white chocolate cups filled with a chocolate and mascarpone cream that was spectacular. That's what I wanted to make. So I did.

White and dark chocolate, mascarpone cheese and sugar, cream and orange zest. That's all you need. The white chocolate cups are adorable and deliciously sweet. The filling is a mousse-like combination of mascarpone, orange zest, dark chocolate and whipped cream. The discrete orange flavor cuts through the sweetness of the white and the intensity of the dark chocolate, creating a balanced and incredibly flavorsome dessert.

These impressive-looking filled chocolate cups are a chocoholic's fantasy. They're as rich as chocolate can get but they don't make you reach for a glass of water after the first bite. The light, fluffy, luscious mousse is contrasted by the texture of the firm white chocolate, making every mouthful an exciting event. They are served cool which makes them perfect for hot summer days but don't go thinking that these are only heat wave-appropriate. Serve them any time of the year, every time you want to savor an exquisite chocolate dessert.

White Chocolate Cups filled with a Mascarpone and Chocolate Cream
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Needless to say that the quality of the chocolate makes all the difference in how these small desserts will taste. Go for high quality white and dark chocolate.

I used a dark 55% chocolate for the filling but if you don't like your desserts too sweet then you can use a 70% chocolate.

Yield: 10 white chocolate cups

230 g good quality white chocolate, chopped, at room temperature plus extra for shavings
130 g good quality dark 55% chocolate, chopped, at room temperature
250 ml cream, full-fat
3 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp sugar
250 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp orange zest, freshly grated

Special equipment: one 12-cup muffin pan, 10 paper liners, hand held or stand mixer

Put chopped white chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and place bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it around with a rubber spatula and once completely melted, remove bowl from the top of the pan.

Creating the white chocolate cups requires two coatings of chocolate.
Take one paper liner and put 1 Tbsp of melted white chocolate inside. Place it in the palm of your hand and using a pastry brush, coat the sides and the bottom of the paper liner evenly. Place it in the muffin pan and repeat process with the rest of the paper liners. Place muffin pan inside your freezer so that the chocolate becomes firm, for 40 minutes.

Remelt the remaining white chocolate in the bowl according to the aforementioned process in case it has become hard.
Take out of the freezer one paper liner at a time (this ensures that the first chocolate coating will not melt, especially if it's summer and your kitchen is hot) and put 1 Tbsp of melted white chocolate inside. Using the pastry brush again, coat the sides and the bottom of the paper liner evenly, creating a second layer of coating. Place each paper liner in the freezer as soon as you're done. Leave muffin pan in the freezer for a further 1 - 1 1/2 hour so that the chocolate sets completely.

Put chopped dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and place bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it around with a rubber spatula and once completely melted, remove bowl from the top of the pan. Let chocolate cool completely.

Make some white chocolate shavings. Take a chilled bar of white chocolate and place it on a cutting board, wide and smooth side up. Using a cheese slicer, scrape the top of the chocolate bar thus creating shavings or even small curls of chocolate.
Alternatively you can use a vegetable peeler. Hold the chocolate bar in you hand and run the vegetable peeler over the thinnest, narrowest side of the bar. Set shavings aside.

Place whipping cream and sugar in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and beat with a hand held mixer (or using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer) until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Place mascarpone cheese, cooled melted dark chocolate, vanilla extract and orange zest inside another large-sized bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and beat with a hand held mixer (or using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer) on medium speed until smooth, for 30-40 seconds. Do not overmix because it will become stiff.

Fold in the whipped cream in three batches, using a rubber spatula. Transfer mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a closed or open star tip or a standard pastry tip.

Take the muffin pan out of the freezer. Take each filled paper liner and carefully remove the paper from the chocolate, exposing the white chocolate cups. Be very careful not to break the cups. Line a large serving platter with baking paper and place the white chocolate cups on the paper. Fill each cup with the mousse. Don't fill the cups all the way up. Garnish the tops of the mousse with the white chocolate shavings, place cups on individual plates and serve.

You can store the filled chocolate cups in the refrigerator, on a platter lined with baking paper so that they don't stick to the platter, covered, for 3-4 days.

Let them stand at room temperature for a minute or so before serving, unless the temperatures are too hot. In that case, serve straight from the fridge.


  1. Thanks for passing from the blog. I am not really back but I shall be posting a few recipes until the end of August.

    Such a great idea to make those chocolate cups. They look so beautiful.

  2. Stand mixers are kinda awesome. These look AWESOME!

  3. These are such a beautiful and elegant presentation, Magda! I can't wait to try them - and your photography is exquisite! The use of the hot pink paper liners really made everything pop. Brava, and many thanks!

  4. Magda, another perfect post :) I love how each step is documented and the story woven in between. Just lovely. I want one. So nice for a dinner party. A wow of a dessert.

  5. I can imagine how hard you cried...when your mum's mixer broke! Ans congrats on your Kitchen Aid, one day I'll join the club. I love the chocolate cups especially with the contrast of sweet and bitter.

  6. I couldn't live without the kitchen aid - it is just so handy and I love it! Your chocolate cups are adorable - at first I thought they were chocolate cupcakes - looks can be deceiving!

  7. What a great dessert! So pretty and impressive. I love this idea!

  8. I just found your blog and wanted to tell you how much I like your recipes, writing and photos (even though you are not a professional as you point out...most of us aren't!). They are very descriptive and lovely to look at. Good job!

  9. nutsaboutfood - thank you and welcome!

  10. yeah yeah yeah - great recipe and pics, as ever...but I want to see your KITCHENAID!!!!! Pic please? Pretty please? Just because it's so cute and pink? Please?!


  11. PS do you have a second (or even third) bowl already for your Kitchenaid? Very useful. Can't do without, actually . (I'm always pleased to be of assistance in buying more bowls. )


  12. Mickey - 7th paragraph of this post. Click on the links and you'll see photos.
    I intend to buy another bowl indeed.

  13. This white chocolate cup is so professional looking and luscious as well; I am still eating as much chocolate as ever, despite the warm weather; would love a shot at this, and the good news, I have a good mixer here!

  14. Congratulations on your standing mixer! It is super cute with the pink tint! I just have a boring white one, but it really did change my world. I went from baking only occasionally to baking practically every other day! I love it! It is now about 4 years old and I am now feeling like I need a new one - although these do last forever. Also, your mousse cups are beautiful!!!

  15. I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer---although I must confess that in my tiny kitchen, it is stashed in a hard-to-get-to place, so many times I will try to go low-tech with my baking rather than wrench it out of the closet..but truly, it is a lifesaver.

    your mascarpone mousse cups are beautiful to behold--and just right for these hot days.

  16. These look amazing!! I love the idea of an edible cupcake paper :) I couldn't live without my KitchenAid... And next week I'm finally moving into a kitchen that's a bit bigger than I'm used to. Yay!


  17. Thanks. I'm missing mine so much. It's stil in the Netherlands. And I'm here. No space.NO SPACE AT ALL, for a second one in HongKong. Ah well, in a few weeks I'll be in Holland for 10 days so I can spend time with him. (it's a 'him', mine. Called ' roderik'. Because its red :-) )
    Those cups look beautiful!

  18. these are absolutely EXQUISITE - they look like a work of art
    i dont own many of those handy kitchen bits and pieces needed to turn out special-looking treats, but i think they are a must when making something as delicate as these chocolate cups - i need a bigger kitchen worktop!

  19. These are almost too beautiful to eat!

  20. What a wonderful combination of chocolates. Delicious!

  21. This looks so delish. It's 8 AM, and I want one of these NOW. Bookmarking this. Making it soon...Love your site.