If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know I don't really bake. Okay, I don't bake at all.
There are many reasons for this. Mostly, baking doesn't comfort me. I am stressed by it. Everything has to measure out, be precise. There's all that peeking in the oven to see if things are rising or puffing up or sunken and concave or developing a certain way. Everything in baking either comes out magnificently or it is an utter mess. Baking is all high drama, the needy friend that always needs someone to stroke her hair and watch her closely in case she bolts and jumps off the ledge. Sure, she's a hoot at a party and sometimes an epic, pulled-together beauty, but she's fickle and not someone to depend on.
Baking is simply mysterious. I mean...what does baking soda do and how is that different from baking powder? They look exactly the same. Can we make one of them pink so I don't get confused? And why does bread rise? Why do souffles fall when you open the oven door 10 times to obsessively check them? (Please don't write me and explain these things to me because I don't actually care) And then, there's the issue of scales. I don't weigh myself. I'm not going to weigh my flour. It's the principal of the thing. So, see? Issues everywhere.
But I think this may have changed with my friend, Abby Dodge's new book Desserts 4 Today. (The Taunton Press) Every recipe is just 4 ingredients. Seriously 4. Want to make Chocolate Bourbon balls? Chocolate, butter, bourbon, vanilla wafer cookies. Ladyfingers? Eggs, sugar, lemon zest, flour. Nutella Fudge Brownies? Nutella, egg, flour, hazelnuts. See what I mean? No stress. No need for a scale or a pantry so stocked Martha Stewart would be envious.
It really is a book written just for me, and for anyone who wants to make an impressive, tasty dessert without having it turn the whole affair into an agonizing marathon. I've had the book a little over a week and we've made four desserts out of it. All wonderful and imminently do-able, beautifully designed for someone who gets that she can't do it all, but wants to be completely awesome anyway.
Lucy paged through the book and decided to make Crushed Raspberry-Mascarpone Whip. She chose this because she likes to make whipped cream and she has no idea what Mascarpone is. She just pretended the whole thing was raspberries and whipped cream. I helped a bit with the organization, bowl and utensil retrieval, but really a five year old can literally make this dish without much problem.
The recipe calls for an electric mixer, but if you have a kid, they'll be happy to do all the work by hand. Let them. Hand whipping in the kitchen toughens them up for the real world.
Also, as you can see, we made this dessert in our underpants. We also ate it in our underpants. I suggest you do the same. That made it taste even better.
Thanks Abby, this is a terrific book.
The raspberries are nearly gone, but if you find a last pint or two at the farmer's market, this is a great way to use them. Light, fluffy, a last ditch take on summer before all the pies and tarts start invading your life. This dessert will bring you right back to July.
Crushed Raspberry-Mascarpone Whip
From "Desserts 4 Today" by Abby Dodge
Serves 4 (ironically)
1 1/2 pints (or 18 oz) raspberries, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup, granulated sugar, divided
8 ounces, mascarpone
3/4 cup, heavy cream
Have ready 4 small serving bowls or wineglasses and make room in the fridge.
Set aside about 12 raspberries for garnish. Put the remaining berries and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl and lightly crush with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
Put the mascarpone, heavy cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer (or make your 5 year old do it by hand) until peaks form when the beaters are lifted.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the cream into the serving bowls or glasses. Top with about 1/4 cup of the crushed berries. Spread about 3 tablespoons cream over the berries. Repeat layering with the remaining berries and cream. You'll have a total of 3 layers of cream and 2 layers of raspberries not including the garnish.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve or up to 1 day. Serve chilled with the remaining whole raspberries on top.