“Tiramisù is a classic Italian desert but there is nothing classic about my version which is served in clean flower pots and topped with edible soil and chocolate herbs. The soil is delicious (caramelized white chocolate tastes like Caramac bars) and kids love it because eating it looks so wrong but it tastes so right!” — Heston

Heston Blumenthal's tiramisu

Freezing time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Makes 4 pots

For the crystallised dark chocolate
200 g white caster sugar
80 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (minimum 60% cocoa solids)

For the caramelized Grape Nuts
50 g Grape Nuts cereal
¼ tsp salt
15 g brown sugar

To finish the soil
60 g white chocolate
20 g cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
60 ml hazelnut oil

For the dark chocolate layers
250 g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)

For the Marsala cream
3 large eggs
50 g unrefined caster sugar
300 g mascarpone
200 ml whipping cream
60 ml Marsala
1.5 g leaf gelatine, softened in a little cold water

For the sponge fingers
24 sponge fingers
150 ml ground coffee brewed in 400 ml water
100 ml Marsala

To serve
Basil and mint leaves, to garnish

For the crystallised dark chocolate, put 75 ml cold tap water and the sugar into a saucepan and place the pan over a high heat. Bring to the boil and continue to heat until the temperature of the liquid reaches 135ºC or until the syrup at the side of the pan begins to colour.

Remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate. Whisk to incorporate the chocolate and continue to whisk until the liquid has completely crystallised.

Pour the chocolate crystals onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and allow to cool. This can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

To caramelise the Grape Nuts, place the cereal in a frying pan over a high heat and allow to toast for approximately 4 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. Add the salt and continue to toast for an additional minute.

Sprinkle the sugar over the surface of the Grape Nuts and stir with a spatula until the surface of the Grape Nuts is well caramelised.

Pour the caramelised Grape Nuts on to a baking tray lined with baking paper and allow to cool at room temperature. Roughly chop and set aside.

To caramelize the white chocolate, preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5. Place the white chocolate on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, begin to stir the chocolate every couple of minutes until fully caramelised.

Mix the crystallised dark chocolate and caramelised white chocolate with the cocoa powder and chopped caramelised Grape Nuts, then add the salt and the hazelnut oil.

To make the dark chocolate layers, break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Pour the melted chocolate over a sheet of acetate. Place another sheet of acetate on top and then place a heavy chopping board on top to create a thin, even layer. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Using a pastry cutter roughly the size of the inside of the flower pots, cut out four discs of chocolate. Store in an airtight container in between sheets of parchment in the fridge.

To start the Marsala cream, whisk the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk the mascarpone, whipping cream and Marsala until soft peaks form. Fold the cream mixture into the egg mixture in three batches.

Place 5 tablespoons of the cream mixture in a small saucepan. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine leaf, add it to the pan and warm up the mixture just enough to melt the gelatine. Whisk the mixture into the bulk of the Marsala cream.

To soak the sponge fingers, place them in a flat tray. Mix the coffee with the Marsala, and drizzle some of this over the top. Allow to soak for approximately 1 minute, then turn the sponge fingers over and drizzle with the remaining coffee mixture.

To assemble the tiramisù, place a chocolate disc on the bottom of each pot, then add some sponge fingers soaked in coffee and Marsala. Next add some Marsala cream. Place another chocolate disc on top then some more Marsala cream, one more disc and a final layer of cream. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Sprinkle the soil on top of each tiramisu flower pot to cover the surface.

To finish the tiramisù, brush some melted chocolate underneath mint and basil leaves and, when dry, ‘plant’ them in the edible soil.

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“I long resisted the charms of Rose Red Velvet Cake, believing it to be merely a layer cake tinted red with a bottle of food coloring. But when several people on my blog sang its praises, I decided to investigate it more thoroughly. It turns out that there is more to this cake than its shocking color. This beloved southern cake is traditionally prepared with oil, a mere suspicion of cocoa, and a teaspoon of white vinegar, which raises the acidity of the batter and intensifies its color. The liquid component is usually buttermilk, which is thought to raise the acidity as well, although the baking soda normally used neutralizes most of the acidity and makes the crumb more coarse and the color darker. So, when I created my version of this classic, I used only baking powder to employ the full acidity of the buttermilk, making vinegar unnecessary. I also used half oil and half butter for the flavor-enhancing qualities of butter and the moist, softening quality of the oil. The resulting cake is as flavorful and tender as you can hope for and stays soft enough to eat even straight from the fridge. A heart-shape pan is perfect for Valentine’s Day. And the contrast of the white chocolate cream cheese buttercream against the red cake is alluring.” – Rose Levy Beranbaum

Rose Red Velvet Cake recipe

Rose’s Red Velvet Cake
Serves 8 to 10

3 large egg whites, at room temperature (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons 3 fluid ounces, 90 grams)
1 bottle red food color (2 tablespoons, 1 fluid ounce, 30 grams)
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (or 1¾ cups) cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour), sifted into the cup and leveled off (7 ounces, 200 grams)
1 cup superfine sugar (7 ounces, 200 grams)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup safflower oil, at room temperature (2 fluid ounces, 58 grams)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C)(½ stick, 2 ounces, 57 grams)
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (4 fluid ounces, 121 grams)

Special Equipment: One 9 by 2-inch heart-shape or round cake pan (8 to 8 2/3 cups), encircled with a cake strip, bottom coated with shortening, topped with parchment cut to shape, then coated with baking spray with flour.

Preheat the oven
Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Mix the Liquid
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, red food color, and vanilla just until lightly combined. (Caution: Be careful with the red food color: it stains effectively, but also unmercifully.)

Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa, and salt.

Make the Batter
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the oil and butter on medium speed for 1 minute. It will not be completely smooth. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula.

Bake the Cake
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cake
Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake so that the top side is up. Cool completely.

Some people have a problem with the idea of using red food color and use beet juice in its place. In recipes using baking soda, the beet juice would turn brown, but with this highly acidic batter, the crumb will stay red, though not as pretty a red as offered by the food color. The best way to harvest beet juice is to roast the well-washed beets in their skins, leaving an inch of root and stems, in an aluminum foil package at 350º/175ºC for about 45 minutes for medium beets, up to about 1 hour and 15 minutes for large ones. Remove the beets and use the foil to pour the beet juice into a small container. For a distinct chocolate flavor, you can use up to ¼ cup cocoa/0.7 ounce/21 grams, sifted before measuring, but decrease the flour by the same amount. The color will be a much darker red.

Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting
Makes almost 1 cup (7.6 ounces/216 grams)

3 ounces white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped (85 grams)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool (113 grams)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (65°F/19°C) (1 ounce, 28 grams)
1/2 Tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream (0.2 ounces, 7 grams)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Melt the White Chocolate
Heat the chocolate until almost completely melted. Use a small microwavable bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds (or use the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often—do not let the bottom of the container touch the water).

Remove the white chocolate from the heat and, with the silicone spatula, stir until fully melted. Allow it to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch but is still fluid.

Make the Frosting
In a food processor, process the cream cheese, butter, and crème fraîche for a few seconds until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides. Add the cooled melted white chocolate and pulse it in a few times until it is smoothly incorporated. Add the almond extract and pulse it in.

Highlights for Success
Use white chocolate containing cocoa butter, such as Green & Black’s with vanilla seeds or Valrhona. The frosting becomes more firm in the refrigerator.

For a whiter frosting without the subtle flavor of the white chocolate, you can replace the white chocolate with 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup)/4 ounces/115 grams powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.

Compose the Cake
When the cake is completely cool, set it on a serving plate. Frost the top with swirls of buttercream.

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“Many years ago, when my parents moved from New York City upstate to Grafton, New York, my mother reported with great excitement that they had discovered an amazing bakery in Saratoga Springs called Mrs. London’s. After I had visited the bakery and was treated to an array of just about every fabulous dessert on the menu, this simple mousse cake is the one that I was most moved to recreate.” – Rose Levy Beranbaum

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse Cake
Serves 8 to 10

Oven Temperature: 450°F/230°C
Baking Time: 7 to 10 minutes

A gossamer soft and delicate sponge cake (biscuit) is cut to fit and line a loaf pan that is then filled with an equally ethereal and deliciously mellow and velvety chocolate mousse.

Plan Ahead: The sponge cake (biscuit) can be baked, cooled, and placed in the pan while the chocolate custard is cooling before you complete the mousse. Alternatively, the cake can be made a day ahead.

Special Equipment:
For the cake: See Light Sponge Cake (Biscuit).
For assembling the cake: One 8½ by 4½ inch (6 cups) loaf pan.
One baking sheet or extra half sheet pan (inverted), lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Light Sponge Cake (Biscuit)
Makes 16¾ by 11¾ by ½ inch rectangle

This versatile cake, which is used in varying ways for several recipes throughout the book, takes about 10 minutes to mix and 10 minutes or less to bake. It is a slender, airy, yet velvety cake layer containing no fat other than that from the egg yolks, making it sturdy enough to absorb moisture from other components without falling apart. The following recipe gives instructions for baking the cake in a half sheet pan. The cake can also be made in two 10 inch round cake or 9½ inch round tart pans, which are ideal for making two round cake bases. One base can be used for the recipe, while the other can be frozen for future use. Individual recipes will specify modifications to this recipe.

Special Equipment:
One 17¼ by 12¼ by 1 inch half sheet pan, bottom coated with shortening, then lined with parchment (cut the parchment to extend 1 inch past one of the long sides of the pan) coated with baking spray with flour
One large uncoated wire rack
One baking sheet or extra half sheet pan (inverted), lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray

1/2 cup (or 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons) 1.2 ounces or 33 grams bleached cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour) sifted into the cup and leveled off
2-1/2 or 22 grams tablespoons Corn starch
5 (to 8) large eggs, separated, at room temperature — yolks (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) 3.3 ounces or 93 grams; whites (about 4) – 1/2 cup (118 ml), divided (4.2 ounces or 120 grams)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon, divided superfine sugar (4 ounces or 113 grams)
¾ teaspoon (3.7 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (0.8 grams)

Preheat the Oven Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.

Mix the Dry Ingredients In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch until well combined.

Mix the Egg Mixture In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, place the egg yolks, half of the egg whites (¼ cup/59 ml/2.1 ounces/60 grams), and ½ cup/ 3.5 ounces/100 grams of the sugar. Beat on high speed until thick, fluffy, and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed and beat in the vanilla. If you don’t have a second mixer bowl, scrape this mixture into a large bowl and thoroughly wash, rinse, and dry the mixer bowl and whisk beater to remove any trace of oil.

Make the Batter Sift half of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and, using a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or silicone spatula, fold it in gently but rapidly until almost all of the flour has disappeared. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture until all traces of the flour have disappeared.

Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the remaining egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.

Add the Meringue to the Batter Using a large balloon whisk, slotted skimmer, or large silicone spatula, gently fold the meringue into the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, smooth it as evenly as possible.

Bake the Cake Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Have ready a small sharp knife.

Unmold and Cool the Cake Run the tip of a sharp knife around the sides to dislodge any cake that may have attached itself to the sides of the pan and unmold the cake at once. Slip a small offset spatula under the narrow edge of the parchment to loosen it. Grasp the parchment and gently slide the cake from the pan onto a baking sheet or inverted sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cool until it is no longer warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Make the Templates Make the templates for cutting the cake into 4 pieces: 1 continuous piece for the bottom and sides, 2 ends, and 1 top. Measure the outside of the pan and transfer the measurements to sheets of paper or card stock. The templates should be slightly oversized to allow for trimming to fit. Cut out the templates.

Chocolate Mousse Filling
Makes 4 cups/29.6 ounces/840 grams

9.5 ounces (270 grams) bittersweet chocolate, 60% to 62% cacao, chopped
2 cups (473 ml, 16.4 ounces, 464 grams) heavy cream
10 (to 14) egg yolks, at room temperature (¾ cup, 177 ml, 6.5 ounces, 186 grams)
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract 1 egg white, at room temperature (2 tablespoons, 30 ml, 1 ounce, 30 grams)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 Tablespoons superfine sugar 1.3 ounces, 37 grams)

Make the Chocolate Custard Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a stand mixer bowl and a handheld mixer.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water (do not let the bottom of the container touch the water), heat the chocolate and cream. Stir often with a silicone spatula until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove it from the heat.

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks. Stir several tablespoons of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture. Gradually pour the yolk mixture into the remaining chocolate mixture, stirring constantly.

Continue stirring, occasionally scraping the bottom of the container to ensure uniform consistency. Heat the mixture to just before the boiling point (170° to 180°F/77° to 82°C). Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than cream. It will leave a well-defined track when a finger is run across the spatula. Immediately remove the container from the heat and pour the mixture through the strainer into the mixer bowl, scraping up the thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the container. Press it through the strainer and stir in the vanilla.

Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the chocolate custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 2½ to 3 hours, stirring every 20 minutes, until cool to the touch. If you are ready to fill the cake-lined pan sooner, you can speed cooling by setting the bowl in an ice water bath (see page 538) and stirring frequently. Do not let the mixture get too cold or it will be too stiff to incorporate air from the meringue. The ideal temperature is 65° to 68°F/19° to 20°C.

Beat the Egg White into a Stiff Meringue In a medium bowl, beat the egg white and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Complete the Chocolate Mousse Filling With the whisk beater, on low speed, beat the chocolate mixture for about 30 seconds, or just until very soft, floppy peaks form when the beater is raised. Gently fold the meringue into the mousse until uniform in color.

Cut the Cake Pieces Invert the cake onto a wire rack and carefully remove the parchment. Reinvert the cake onto the baking sheet or inverted sheet pan and remove the plastic wrap. Place the templates on top of the cake so that they all fit. Use kitchen scissors to cut out the 4 cake pieces.

Line the Pan with the Cake Pieces Line the loaf pan with a sheet of plastic wrap cut 2 feet long, with the excess extending past one end of the pan. Lightly coat the plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully insert the bottom and sides piece of cake into the pan, crust side against the pan. Trim the 2 end pieces to fit tightly against the bottom and sides of the cake.

Compose the Cake Spoon half of the chocolate mousse into the cake-lined pan. With a small metal offset spatula, lightly press the mousse into the pan to ensure that the mousse fills the corners of the cake. Repeat with the rest of the chocolate mousse. If necessary, trim the tops of the cake pieces to be flush with the top of the pan. Place the top cake piece, crust side up, over the mousse filling and trim its edges to fit inside the cake’s side and end pieces.

Fold over the extended plastic wrap to cover the top of the pan. Lightly press down on the cake’s top. Wrap any excess plastic wrap tightly around the sides of the pan. Set a small cutting board or heavy pan large enough to cover the entire top of the loaf pan on top.

Let the cake sit for 3 hours at room temperature for the chocolate mousse to set. The cake cuts best and has the best texture at room temperature.

Unmold the Cake Remove the cutting board and fold back the plastic wrap to uncover the top of the cake. Place a serving plate or the cutting board on top of the pan and invert the cake. Remove the pan. Gently peel off the plastic wrap.

Use a straight-edge knife to slice the cake from top to bottom. Between slices, wipe off the knife to minimize the likelihood of the chocolate mousse spreading onto the cake.

Store Airtight: room temperature, 6 hours; refrigerated, 3 days. Do not freeze, because the texture will become less smooth.

Highlights for Success
The chocolate mixture will continue to thicken after a few minutes at room temperature. The safest way to prevent over beating is to use the stand mixer until the mixture starts to thicken and then continue by hand with a whisk when folding in the meringue.

Excerpted from The Baking Bible, © 2014 by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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