Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine

One of the most frequently asked questions of me is "what is a terrine?"

We see so many dishes labeled as terrines that it's easy to get confused. It seems to most often be associated with charcuterie or some sort, perhaps a foie gras terrine, a pate of sorts, or some kind of foreign looking meat set with meat jell-o. But it's not what is in a terrine that defines it. Rather, it is a reference to anything made in a terrine mold. Baked, set with gelatin, cold, hot, it matters not. It's the shape that the label refers to, which is much like a loaf pan.

So, yes, it's a loaf. Which is probably why we, in America, have adopted the much nicer sounding "terrine" to describe our loaf shaped creations. When ordering a terrine off a menu expect a nice slice off the described loaf.

I myself have a terrine on the menu. A Bittersweet chocolate terrine served with hazelnut praline and espresso cream. The recipe was requested by a customer a few days ago and rather than just email it to them, I thought I'd post it for all to see and email the link.

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine
Addapted from Claudia Flemming

4-cup loaf pan lined neatly with foil
1 shallow oven proof dish

1/3 cup cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 shot of espresso (or 1 tbsp instant espresso dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp hot water)
2 eggs
1 yolk
1/4 cup sugar

preheat the oven to 325

1. This might seem funny, but trust me. Place the 3 eggs (one for yolks) in a bowl and cover with hot water. They need to be warm when whipped for maximum volume.

2. Whip the cream to soft peaks and keep cold

3. Melt the chocolate and espresso over a double boiler. Let it sit undisturbed until most of the chocolate appears melted. Then stir until the mixture is even. Because of the liquid espresso, it will thicken like a ganache. Remove from the double boiler and keep in a warm place.

4. Crack the warm eggs in the bowl, separating one yolk. Add the sugar and whisk until combined. Check the temperature with your finger. If it feels cool, then warm the mixture over the same double boiler you melted the chocolate in, whisking constantly to avoid any curdling. This should only take a minute. You just want it warm to the touch, not hot.

5. Whip the eggs on high for 5 minutes, until tripled in volume.

6. Fold 1/3 of the eggs into the chocolate, mixing until even. Fold half of the remaining eggs into the chocolate until even, and again with the last half of the eggs.

7. Fold in the softly whipped cream.

8. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover with foil. Pierce the foil in 8 places to create steam vents.

9. Put the loaf pan into the larger pan and set on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Add hot water to the outer pan until it is half way up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and lift the foil to release steam. Cover with the foil and return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes more. Turn the pan so the side that was facing the front of the oven is now facing the back to ensure it cooks evenly.

11. Remove from the oven and check for doneness. It should still wiggle a little, but look set on the top. Look at the center, it shouldn't be glossy and wet looking any more. Bake in 5 minute intervals until this is achieved.

12. When done, remove the foil and take the loaf pan out of the water bath. Cool on a wire rack at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator and let set over night, or for at least 4 hours.

13. To serve, lift the foil liner out of the pan. Peel the foil down carefully, just past the top of the terrine. Cover with a cutting board or plate and flip upside down. Peel the foil away and slice with a hot knife.

For the Espresso Cream

1/4 cup espresso beans
2 cups cream
powdered sugar to taste

1. Scald cream and pour over beans. Let the coffee infuse into the cream for an hour. Strain and chill the cream until very cold. Overnight is best. If I am in a hurry, I stir it over an ice bath until cold.

2. Add powdered sugar to taste and whip cream to stiff peaks

For the Hazelnut Praline

1 cup sugar
1 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts

1. Turn the sugar into caramel. Use any method you are comfortable with, but here is my method. In a heavy bottomed pan, melt 2 tbsp sugar over high heat. When the sugar begins to take on color, stir with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon until even. Add another 2 tbsp sugar and stir until mixed, melted, and the caramel looks amber and clear again. Continue doing this until all the sugar is mixed in and caramelized. If the sugar begins to take on too much color, remove from heat and stir in more sugar. Turn the heat down and return to the process over the heat. Make sure the sugar is dissolved before adding more.

2. When sugar reaches caramel, stir in the hazelnuts. Mix quickly, coating them evenly, and turn out onto parchment, or a silpat. Or if you don't have either, a lightly buttered pan. Let the praline cool for half an hour.

3. To crush praline, put in a large zip lock bag and break up with a rolling pin or the back of a pan. Stop when the nuts are broken and much of the sugar is crushed.

My tip on skinning hazelnuts...... toast them for 15 ot 20 minutes at 350. Here you will see them swell and crack their skins. Let them cool for about half an hour. They will shrink back to their normal size and the skins will be loose and brittle. If you try take their skins off while the nuts are warm, the skin will be too flexible, the nut to large, and the oils warm. You will end up adhering the skin to the nut and making the job harder than it is. Then to release the papery skins, rub about 10 in your hands like ball-bearings, letting the friction of the moving nuts take most of the skin off.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG!!! Let the snoopy dance begin! I'm so glad you posted this it is truly one of my favorites. The terrine is amazing and I can't *wait* to make it! Thanks Dana.

March 15, 2006 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your plating is beautiful-- your garnishes are simple and perfect--
you are an artist!

March 15, 2006 11:51 AM  
Anonymous maura said...

Thank you for the recipe- good chocolate recipes, strangly, are hard to come by.

March 15, 2006 10:15 PM  
Anonymous maura said...

*I meant "strangely"...I think!

March 15, 2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

Yes, very beautiful. But can you yourself eat this dessert in its entirety by yourself?

I can't and so I use terrine-like components in my desserts but I find them too intense for one sitting.

March 16, 2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

anonymous- AKA Traca- Enjoy!

H- What a compliment, you make me blush.

Maura- Remember good chocoalte recipes need good chocolate.

Shauna- The dessert is intense, yes. But it is portioned appropriately for one person. Are you asking if I can finish this dessert? Yes. Or if the customers I have served it to are finishing the dessert? Yes. It's really not a large portion and the texture is very light. It's a baked mousse essentially.

And I am sure your dining partner wouldn't mind coming to your rescue if you couldn't finish a dessert!

March 16, 2006 9:50 AM  
Anonymous maura said...

ryn: yeah, no kidding?!

March 16, 2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger Astrid said...

Hi I've just discovered your blog, and I wanted to say, your explanations for your recipe are wonderful: very precise, very clear, and not too long. Reading the recipe I feel like might actually succeed if I follow your instructions. Thank you for your post!

May 23, 2006 1:23 AM  

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