Luscious creamy desserts: 2 variations

What do chocolate and tarragon have in common? They're the secret ingredients to these decadent, creamy desserts.

Luscious creamy desserts: 2 variations

Chestnut brandy mousse

Chestnut purée is always available during the holidays, and here's a fabulous way to use it. Whip it with heavy cream, sugar and brandy to make a lusciously creamy cold dessert. Grated dark chocolate intensifies the flavours.

Prep time 20 min

Serves 4

  • 1 can (250 ml/9 oz) unsweetened chestnut purée
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) brandy
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) confectioners' sugar
  • 250 ml (1 c) heavy cream
  • 50 g (1 3/4 oz) dark, bitter chocolate, grated
  1. In a large bowl, combine the chestnut purée, brandy and confectioners' sugar. Beat together thoroughly, until the mixture is smooth, using either an electric beater or a handheld balloon whisk.
  2. In a bowl, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks, then fold it into the chestnut mixture. Add half the chocolate to the mixture.
  3. Spoon the cream into four glasses, sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate and chill for 15 minutes before serving.

Ingenious!

Look for chestnut purée in the baking or nut aisle of your grocery store.

  • Most markets carry it around the holidays.
  • If you can't find it, make it at home.
  • Put 250 grams (one cup) shelled and peeled chestnuts (can use canned or jarred) in a small pot and cover with milk.
  • Simmer over low heat until very tender, about one hour.
  • Add more milk, as necessary, to keep the chestnuts covered.
  • Purée in a small food processor or blender and press through a sieve.

Anise panna cotta

This silky-smooth unbaked custard is the perfect way to end a sumptuous meal. Think of it as uptown pudding. Fresh tarragon and anise seeds lend the custard a subtle licorice flavour.

Prep time 20 min

Cook time 5 min

Serves 8

  • 500 ml (2 c) heavy cream
  • 250 ml (1 c) milk
  • 125 g (1/2 c) fresh tarragon, crushed
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) anise seeds
  • 1 packet unflavoured gelatin
  • 50 ml (1/4 c) water
  • 100 g (1/2 c) sugar
  1. Combine the cream and milk in a small pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the tarragon and anise seeds; let stand for 15 minutes. Strain out the tarragon and anise seeds then return the milk mixture to the pot.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand for three minutes.
  3. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat and add the sugar, stirring, until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Divide the mixture among eight 175 millilitre (six ounce) custard cups. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator and chill until set, about four hours.
  4. To serve, run the tip of a knife around the edge of each custard cup and dip the bottom into hot water for 15 seconds. Invert a plate over the custard cup then flip over to allow the custard to fall onto the plate.

One more notch!

Gild the lily here with a simple raspberry fruit sauce.

  • Stir 10 millilitres (two teaspoons) fresh lime juice into 175 millilitres (3/4 cup) seedless raspberry jam and microwave briefly to help soften the jam.
  • Spoon the warm sauce around the cool panna cotta.

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