Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There's always room for Blanc-Manger



I'm not entirely sure why, but I've been rather apathetic about baking and blogging lately. I still haven't managed to make last week's TWD recipe. And it's not because I didn't want to. I just seem overwhelmed with other stuff right now. And yet I feel like I'm not getting anything done at all. I think the heat isn't helping. It's been miserably hot, with way too many 100+ days so far this year. Yes, we spend a lot of our time in air-conditioned places, including our house, but it's still draining when we are outside. Everyone has been in a bad mood at least some of the time. Case in point--I just had to stop writing to go break up a dispute between Brianna and Gillian over who would get to sit in a particular chair in the living room. Both of them have been getting way too upset over little things, and I'm really not doing any better. *sigh*

So thank goodness this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe was easy to make. Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy picked Raspberry Blanc-Manger for us this week. I've actually heard of Blanc-Manger before, in something or other that I've read, but I had no idea what it was. Turns out that it's a creamy gelatin dessert with fruit in it. We ate jello quite a bit for dessert when I was a kid. It was traditional on Christmas Eve. My mom had a mold that had options for different shapes, and one was a Christmas tree. She would use green or red jello mix and ice cream to make a creamy dessert. But once I left home for college, I seldom ate jello.

When I read the recipe for this week, I wasn't sure if I wanted to make it or not. But I didn't want to miss another week. And I was assured by several people on Twitter that it was an easy recipe. So I decided to make half the recipe. I didn't have raspberries (none looked good at the store), but I did have some strawberries, and I figured that would be a safe substitution. I even remember to buy some new unflavored gelatin. I had some, but had no idea how old it was. I don't know that it really goes bad (hard to tell, since it always smells pretty nasty), but I figured it couldn't hurt to replace it, since I was sure it was more than a few years old.


I learned at least one thing this week. It's not necessarily a good idea to try to multitask when making desserts involving gelatin. In the recipe, you're supposed to whip the cream first, then store it in the fridge while working on the gelatin mixture. I didn't have much time, since I was trying to get the blanc manger made before I left for work on Monday morning. I knew that the gelatin mixture would need to cool for a bit, so I figured I could whip the cream while I was waiting. Good idea in theory... Of course, it took longer than I thought it would to whip the cream. And even though I checked on the gelatin a couple times, it still suddenly started to firm up before I was ready. Fortunately, I caught it before it got too set, and I was able to whisk it smooth. I then whisked in about a third of the whipped cream to loosen the mixture a bit. Then I folded in the rest of the whipped cream and the strawberries. I quickly poured it into my 6" pan, covered the pan with plastic wrap, and popped it in the fridge to set while I was at work.

I had no problem unmolding the blanc-manger. I put the bottom of the pan in a bowl of hot water for less than a minute, then flipped it over onto a plate. Perfect. Brianna and Gillian were eagerly waiting to try it, so no garnishing or anything.

The verdict? I was kind of surprised that Brianna and Gillian both liked it a lot. Gillian asked me several times if she could have more "jello." Jamie's comment on it was "weird." I kind of have to agree. I wasn't thrilled with the texture from the almonds. The strawberry and cream combination was quite tasty though. I realized after I tasted mine that I had forgotten to add the vanilla. I used vanilla sugar, though, so there was a little bit of vanilla flavor.

I'd like to give this one another try, but do something about the almonds. Maybe strain them out after steeping them in the milk/sugar mixture. Or try processing them with the sugar beforehand to get a finer texture. I'd also like to try Dorie's suggestion of putting the blanc-manger on a base of cake. All in all, not my favorite, but worth trying again. If nothing else, making this reminded me that that there are lots of things I can do with gelatin that are very different from Jello, since I control what ingredients I use. And Brianna and Gillian were so excited when I told them I had made something like Jello, so I'm going to have to experiment.

Thanks to Susan for a great pick this week. It's definitely something I wouldn't have tried on my own, and it's a great summer recipe. Be sure to head over to her blog for the full recipe. And check out the Tuesdays with Dorie page to see what everyone else did this week.


15 comments:

  1. My sons says they have an extra stomach for desserts ;-)

    We liked the texture of the almonds, but grinding it with the sugar sounds intresting.

    Your "white dish" looks tasty

    Ulrike @ K├╝chenlatein

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  2. I made mine with Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour which is very finely ground - almost like other flours, so it wasn't gritty. You might not be in a hurry to make something you both thought was weird, but if the girls like it, maybe worth another go?

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  3. I multitasked too - ending up with slightly firm gelatin :) It was incredibly smooth without the almond flour, which I left out because I wasn't sure I'd like it. Yours does look wonderful!

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  4. Almond extract -that will give you the flavor you want without the bits of almonds. Not that you asked :)

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  5. It looks absolutely beautifully elegant and lovely. Whether you like it or not, you should make it occasionally just because of that...LOL. Beautiful on that plate you have it on. Next time I am serving the sauce on the side so it doesn't look like a blood letting, less is more believe me, and I am going with strawberries next time just to see what that's all about. You did a nice job, and aren't you happy you made it so that you can say you did???

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  6. Great picture! Especially with the little ones waiting to taste :)

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  7. Your blanc manger looks wonderful! It's such an elegant dessert. I also thought the almond bits were a bit weird and contrasted strongly with the creaminess of the dessert. Not my favorite either but, like you said, I'm glad I made it too!

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  8. It looks beautiful, especially the nice berry chunks in the slices! I thought I could leave the gelatin alone for a moment too.

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  9. Lovely blanc manger, it's on my to-do list :)

    ps hope you'll be able to participate in Got Milk? this year too, maybe another ice cream recipe?

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  10. Yep, I wouldn't have tried it either. Reminded me of a nice summer bowl of fruit and sweetend whipped cream. That's not all bad. I debated between my "already in the frig almond flour" and the newly purchased for this recipe blanched slivered almonds. I think I will try next time with the almond flour and enjoy the different textural thing. I thought it was super simple and for the most part uses ingredients I have on hand, at least the summer. Good job. Just think you could be in missouri in the 81 degree weather. Please don't slap me. he he :-0
    AmyRuth
    I lived in Waco and SAT for a number of years. love that heat

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  11. Your apathetic because it's summer and there are so many fun things to do right now! Your blanc manger looks wonderful.

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  12. I feel exactly the same way you do about EVERYTHING. I've been a slacker on baking lately. Just not enough time in the day. This dessert looks so delicious though. I wish I had made it. Yours is especially perfect looking. Hope you are at least enjoying your summer. :)

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  13. It has been soooo scorchingly hot here too. I'm glad you found time to make this one too - yours looks great!

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  14. It has actually been cooler than usual pretty well all summer here. We are indeed lucky.
    (of course, we'll likely pay for it at some point!)
    I love the look of the blanc manger, I will have to try it sometime.

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  15. Sorry it took me a week to get here! This looks good, and I agree it is hard to bake this summer. Perhaps so much going on or the heat, or a little of both. Glad you made this!

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