I hate throwing away food, especially in this day and age when everything is so darn expensive. The other day, I was planning to make a big batch of my favorite rosemary hummus, but when I went to the local grocery store, the tahini paste was priced at just under $9!! I'm not talking about a super-industrial vat of tahini either. This was just your standard, run-of-the-mill 12 ounce jar. Now I love my hummus and carrot sticks, but I have a threshold as to what I will pay for groceries. So, for this week at least, my carrot sticks will be dipped into salsa.
Anyway, back to the point about wasting food (sorry, I got a bit off track with my overpriced tahini rant.) I try to be very conscientious about only buying the amount of perishable items that we are going to use, especially if they cannot be frozen or salvaged in some way. It is so painful to throw out what was once a beautiful bunch of pricey basil, a result of over-estimating the amount of chiffonading (is that a word?) that I would be doing.
I try to "reinvent" as many ingredients as I can, turning browning bananas into puree for baking, tomatoes into sauces, and vegetables into soups. The same applies for leftovers. Eric has an odd aversion to leftovers (except for pizza of course.) He'll enjoy the dish once, but it then tends to be forgotten about in the far corner of the refrigerator until someone (me) cleans it out. So, I've learned how to take the leftover portions of recipes and turn them into something completely "new." Chicken goes into stew, steak becomes a wrap, etc.
One of my favorite dessert reinventions uses leftover trimming from cake layers, the ones that are usually either nibbled on or thrown away. The cake trimmings are cubed, and they become part of a parfait, an individual layered dessert that usually incorporates fruit. The cake can be layered with pudding, pastry cream, or even frozen desserts. This one in particular incorporates a few leftover components of a cake that I made for a friend: raspberry curd and white chocolate raspberry mousse. This is a great dessert for entertaining, as you can assemble the trifles ahead of time and garnish just prior to serving. Here are a few extra tips for making these "berry" decadent desserts:
- Feel free to use fresh raspberries instead of the thawed frozen variety for this recipe. I would say that 3 half-pint containers would be enough. If you want to keep the food cost down however, I would opt for the frozen. The result is very similar.
- Try to avoid buying white chocolate chips for the mousse as they usually have supplemental ingredients like paraffin added. Look for a good quality white chocolate bar, such as Lindt.
- It is up to you whether you want to strain the raspberry puree before adding it to the curd and mousse. I don't mind the little raspberry seeds, but I think that I am in the minority. If you are pinched for time, then omit the straining.
- This recipe is a great way to use up leftover cake scraps from trimming the layers. You can freeze the cake scraps, tightly wrapped, and then cube them whenever you want to make parfaits.
- The mousse and the curd will both keep, covered and chilled, for 2 days. You may need to "fluff" the mousse a bit after refrigeration using a spatula or spoon.
- In order to speed up the recipe, you can chill the curd and the mousse over an ice-water bath. This is a larger bowl that has been filled halfway with ice, and then the ice is covered with cold water. Set the bowl containing the mousse/curd in the ice and stir occasionally. The process usually takes 20-30 minutes. See the photo for an example.
Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse Parfaits
Serves 4-6, depending on size of trifle glasses
16 ounce bag of frozen raspberries, thawed
For the raspberry curd
3/4 cup raspberry puree
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
For the raspberry mousse
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 cups cold whipping cream
7 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup raspberry puree
Vanilla or chocolate pound cake (or regular layer cake)
Puree the raspberries until smooth. If desired, put the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
Prepare the curd: Measure 3/4 cup of the puree, reserving the rest for the mousse. Place the puree and the sugar in a small saucepan, stirring to mix. Add the butter and stir over medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Gradually stir in the hot raspberry mixture, whisking constantly and being careful not to scramble the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and chill.
Prepare the mousse: Place 1 tablespoon of the liqueur in a small saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let the gelatin rest for 5 minutes to soften. Add 3/4 cup of the cream and stir the mixture over low heat until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the white chocolate, stirring until it is melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover, and chill until it is cool but not completely set, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Whip the remaining 1/2-cup cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add the remaining tablespoon liqueur to the cream and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the white chocolate mixture and then fold in the 3/4 cup raspberry puree. Refrigerate the mixture until cold and set.
Assemble the parfaits. Cut the cake that you are using into 3/4-inch cubes. Using parfait-style tall glasses, layer the parfaits as follows: A dollop of mousse, fresh raspberries, cake cubes, and raspberry curd. Repeat the layering one more time. Top the second layer of curd with a thin layer of mousse and a few fresh raspberries. Garnish as desired and serve!