Showing posts with label Fruit Cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fruit Cake. Show all posts

Monday, August 12, 2013

Peach Mousse Cake

For some reason, this cake has been on my mind all summer. When two of my college roommates happened to be passing through at the same time, it seemed like a perfect excuse to go for it. It's based on a recipe in The Best of Gourmet 1988 but I've switched things up a little bit. It's been years since I made it but it's every bit as good as I remembered.

Now I have to admit that this isn't the cake you want to tackle on a busy day. None of the steps are difficult, but they are time consuming. I'm going to divide the steps to make it a little easier to follow the recipe. The great news is that you can make it a day ahead of time and simply serve it when company arrives the next day.

I made this in a pan designed for tiny individual cakes. You loosen the sides and push each individual cake up. Very cute. But this can also be made in a 7 inch spring form pan.  If you have extra mousse, spoon it into pretty glasses and serve as mousse. Yum!

The cake is basically a cookie bottom topped by peach mousse, with a dollop of whipped cream. Light and refreshing for a summer day. It's just the kind of thing that is served at tea time in the Sugar Maple Inn on Wagtail Mountain in MURDER, SHE BARKED.

Peach Mousse Cake

Cookie Base

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup flour
pinch salt


4 large yellow peaches
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
2 large egg whites

Whipped Cream

2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Step One: Cookie Base

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream the butter with the sugar until well mixed. Beat in the egg yolk then the flour and salt.

Flour your fingers and press into the bottom of the pan.


Bake 10 - 14 minutes. It should be golden on the edges. Cool on a rack.

Step Two: Peaches

Peel and pit the peaches, slice and cut the slices in half. Place in a heavy bottomed pan with 2 tablespoons sugar and the lemon.

Bring to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then puree in a food processor.

Step Three: Gelatin

In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over three tablespoons of cold water. Give it a swirl to cover it all with the water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Measure the yogurt and set aside. Heat the gelatine over medium low, stirring until dissolved.

Step Four: Mix

In a large metal bowl, mix the peaches with the yogurt and quickly add the gelatine, mixing thoroughly. Place in a larger bowl with ice to cool. Stir occasionally so it does not set.

Step Five: Egg Whites

Place a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar. Stir or whisk lightly until all the sugar has dissolved. (Note: Salmonella is killed between 145 and 165 depending on who one asks. You can test it with an instant read thermometer.) Remove the bowl and immediately beat the eggs until they form soft, glossy peaks. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the peach mixture. Fold the rest in, gently, but thoroughly. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared cookie bottom and refrigerate.

Step Six: Whipped Cream

Beat 2/3 cup heavy cream. When it begins to take shape, beat in the confectioner's sugar and vanilla.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen. Unclasp the spring form and lift off.

Pipe whipped cream onto the mousse cake.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How to Make Christmas Pain Perdu (Italian Style) by Cleo Coyle

A popular breakfast in New Orleans, pain perdu literally means lost or wasted bread. Traditionally it's made with thick slices from a crusty French loaf that's gone stale, which tells you where the name originated. If not used this way, the bread would be wasted, lost to crumbs or bird feed.

There are two reasons I chose this recipe for Christmas day. The first is a gift to my readers, many of whom just finished Holiday Buzz. In the book, my amateur sleuth (Clare Cosi) talks about her special plan to cook up this dish on Christmas morning. Although I mentioned the recipe, I didn't publish directions for it.

The second reason I'm sharing this with you today is much more practical. Fruit cake is a customary gift for this Season, so many of you may have it on hand, and pain perdu is a very tasty use for those leftover pieces that might be going stale.

The Italian version of fruit cake is a rich, sweet bread lightly laced with dried fruit called panettone. If you've never had panettone, look for it in boxes like the one in my photo below. Boxed panettone can keep for months but once it's out of its wrappings, this delicious bread goes stale fairly quickly. When that happens, simply follow these directions for a festive French toast.

Merry Christmas, everyone...
Eat with joy to the world!
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle's
Panettone Pain Perdu
Fruit Cake French Toast

For every 4 slices of bread, fruitcake or panettone quarters...


2 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk, light cream, or half-and-half
(optional) 1-2 tablespoons Amaretto 
½ teaspoon vanilla (if not using any liqueur flavoring, double this amount)
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 one-inch thick round of panettone, quartered (or 4 slices of fruitcake)
For frying: 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil +
For frying: 1 tablespoon butter
To finish: confectioners' sugar

Note: This is a versatile recipe so feel free to substitute orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) for the amaretto. A bit of nutmeg and cinnamon to taste are also optional additions, along with some orange zest. I prefer mine with just the amaretto and vanilla, but to each her own! I sometimes turn this into a lovely dessert by scooping ice cream over a warm piece, and sprinkling chopped, toasted almonds over the top with a drizzle of amaretto and a puff of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Avoid disaster: If you're a French toast expert, you don't need these tips, but if you haven't made it in some time, note that fruit cake, panettone, and any soft bread will be quite fragile and tear on you easily. To avoid that, note my underlined comments in the recipe, and you should end up with a very pretty plate of (non-torn) pain perdu!


Step 1—Prep bread: If using fruit cake, slice 4 one-inch pieces. If using panettone bread, slice a 1-inch thick round layer (see my photo). The thickness is important to avoid tearing. 

Allow the cake or bread to sit out and become dry for a few hours or overnight. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Slice the thick round into 4 quarters and set aside.

Step 2—Mix egg custard: In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, liqueur and/or vanilla, sugar, and salt. Place the egg mixture into a pie or cake pan and soak the slices of bread for about 3 minutes on one side, then avoid tearing by using two forks to carefully turn the fragile pieces and soak them for another 3 on the other. At this point most of the liquid should be absorbed. 

Step 3—Fry and bake: Into a skillet or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 of butter. When the butter is melted and butter/oil mixture is hotuse a clean hand to carefully transfer the fragile slices of fruit cake or panettone quarters into the pan. Pour any remaining custard over the top of the slices in the hot pan. 

Turn the heat down to medium and begin to time the cooking. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown (do not overcook). If cooking more batches, be sure to wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and add fresh oil and butter for each new batch. 

Use a spatula to carefully transfer the fried quarters to a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. After that time, either serve the pain perdu or turn off the oven to "hold" the pieces for 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 4—Serve : Eat the pain perdu warm with a traditional New Orleans’ dusting of powdered sugar and/or serve with butter and pure maple or cane syrup and/or fruit toppings (strawberries, blueberries, etc). Add a scoop of ice cream and/or whipped cream, maybe some chopped nuts, and you have an incredible dessert. As for me and my husband, Marc, this is what we'll be eating Christmas morning...



Merry Christmas, everyone,
from Cleo and all of us at
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pesky Food Restrictions

Brave Erika Chase took on guest blogging on New Year's Day.  We're thrilled to have her.  Her new series about a book club promises to be another new favorite! 

It's the first meeting of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society and an intruder is later found dead in his car. When the owner of the mansion which is home to the book club meetings, Molly Mathews, becomes the prime suspect, Lizzie Turner, a reading specialist with the Ashton Corners, AL school board, and fellow book club members turn their talents to sleuthing.
Who knew the new police chief would be non other than Lizzie's old unrequited high school flame, Mark Dreyfus? Why is she finding chapters from an anonymous manuscript in her mailbox? And will cheese straws have to be served at every meeting from now on?

Lizzie is unrelenting in tracking down the killer, even to the point of putting herself in danger -- from the murderer and the oh-so-alluring police chief.

And now Erika~

Sometimes having to deal with food restrictions can be a real pain. No wheat. No dairy.
No sugar.  Like I said, it can be tough sometimes to find the right combinations. Other times, not.
That’s when it all comes together in a delicious recipe like this one, that tempts me to eat way too much.
I chose to use spelt flour, but kamut may work well also. And for the fruit juice, I used orange although
pineapple also tastes great. Maybe I’ll try apple juice next time.

Although Christmas is over, the holiday season continues so here’s a very tasty, easy-to-make
recipe for fruit cake, that even those who can eat whatever they like, will like!


2 c. spelt flour
½ c soft butter
2 eggs
1 c. grated raw carrot
2 tsp. baking powder

½ c. each: raisins
                chopped dates
                chopped figs
                chopped prunes

½ tsp. each:  cinnamon

¼ c. rum
½ c. juice

Cream butter. Add eggs, then flour and carrots. Mix well.
Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and turn into a loaf pan.
Bake at 325 F. for 1½ hours.
Leave in pan until cake is cooled completely.

(Baker’s note – if you, like I, forget to follow the recipe and add an extra ¼ c. rum, it still
tastes great…although eating and driving may not mix!)

Erika writes the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries. The first, A Killer Read, will be published in April, 2012. Visit Erika at or on Facebook and Twitter! 

Shh, don't tell Erika, but I found a sneak preview of A Killer Read!