Halloween dessert: Pumpkin mousse on frangipane
It was love at first bite. It didn’t look like much, but its taste was wonderful—soft, smooth, toasty, nutty, light, but not at all insubstantial. Chef C.’s recipe was titled "Almond Cream." I loved it. A classmate baked it in a pie shell, giant goodness. My lab partner and I made little tarts. I wanted to put it everywhere. When we did our section our puff pastry, I wanted to fill my Danish with it. Chef warned me that it wouldn’t work because the batter would melt and ooze everywhere, and it did, but I still enjoyed the almond coating the almond cream left over the top of the Danish.
I Googled it several times, always coming up with almond pastry cream or almond candy or amaretto coffee creamer. Finally, I came across something … frangipane tart. Frangipane. I wrapped my mouth around the world slowly, and several times … mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to say it. "FRAHN juh payn." Like pain. Of course. Because it tastes so good, it hurts.
I really learned to appreciate almonds in this class--toasted to bring out their flavor, ground into flour, mixed into fresh marzipan (so much truer to almonds than store-bought stuff), and baked in tart shells as frangipane tarts. I was almost desperate to find a "free-form" frangipane, since the usual stuff is dense, almost like a thick custard. I found a recipe for frangipane cake online, and it was definitely good enough.
It started with almonds
Homemade almond paste
Sifting cake flour before folding it in
Ready to bake
Frangipane, cake form
The lovely rind is leftover. Oh, darn
Cake rounds in cups
The California cheesecake took me by surprise. My mom had always made no-bake cheesecake, and while it was ok, I wasn't a huge fan of the strong cream cheese taste that dominated the recipe. This recipe uses it as a supporting role, and the result is a gently flavored mousse. I like pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, but sometimes, I don't want that pumpkin flavor to punch me in the hard as hard as it does, so this is toned down a bit, and laced with the usual pumpkin-loving spices.
Cups topped off and set in fridge overnight
Decorated with halved candy pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, and slivered almonds
Boxed in ice for the party
Not all of them made it into the box