Promise this is the last ‘quick off the mark’ post for a while. Dan Lepard tweeted an advance picture of this one early in the week and tantalisingly posted a list of the ingredients and I couldn’t resist having a go yesterday afternoon when I should have been doing a hundred other things (which still remain to be done).
My neighbour appeared with a bowl of home grown Conference pears poached in kirsch syrup, and stayed for supper. We had fresh Dartmouth crab on egg tagliatelli with tomato tarragon passata and steamed shredded brussel top sprouts. Then we tucked into these rich little desserts and felt very spoilt indeed.
Brian had to help with the cutting of the first two stages of the biscuits and he helped with the patting out of the very firm dough. I am getting more and more wimpy and weak of wrist as I get older. I also have a thing about straight lines generally, whether icing or cutting – but I do love the way they look. Carl Legge suggested (on Twitter) that a cheese wire might be a good thing to cut the cold stiff biscuit dough with. I think he might be right though I don’t know if it would magically make me better at straight lines?
The chocolate seized when I added the brandy and hot water, so the resultant mousse was a bit grainy. I have to work on that. Might make some more later on, just for practice of course. I had Mitchdafish’s superlative home grown eggs to use too.
I am sure the chocolatiers amongst you have some advice to share.
We had the spare yolks for breakfast in an extra golden scrambled egg on toast number, just like Hardy Duncan (another Twitterer). I wonder if he made this recipe too yesterday?
In the meantime – aren’t they fancy? That was hard work but fun!
Dan Lepard’s Chequerboard biscuits and Meringue Chocolate Mousse for Chocolate Week!
Edit: Celia has made the “Alice in Wonderland” biscuits too and a great apple breakfast cake – Read her post here.
They look incredible. You must have a lot of patience. I am know ‘chocolatier’ so sadly, I can offer you no wisdom.
Thanks Hotly – I don’t think I could have made them without help and a lot of discussion. We got every knife out of the drawer to cut through the big blocks created by stacking the layers this way and that. Phew!
I made these too, I made these too! I found the dough crumbled and fell apart which annoyed me a bit, but in the end it was all good. Probably because my starting pan was 20cm instead of 18cm, so it was rolled out a bit thinner than it should have been. Very pretty Alice in Wonderland like biscuits (or at least that’s what I think, for some reason)! Yours are much neater than mine! I didn’t make the mousse, but I might soon, lots of eggs here! :)
Brian pressed the dough down really hard into the pan (we used a 17cm one, it was either that or a 21 cm tin – one never has the right one :D ) with his iron thumbs, it was still cold at that point and I nearly gave up at the start.
He also showed me how to use the back of a knife to get the vanilla seeds out of the pod. I think I should rename this blog Mr Zeb Bakes as he does so much of it sometimes xx
Your tray of chequerboards is now my desktop background!
Are you going to have a crack at them Tony? You can’t possibly just want to look at them…. :D
Fancy indeed! Gorgeous – and by the looks of things, delicious :)
Thanks Kari :) It’s all in the look, the biscuit is short and snappy and goes well with a rich pot au choc like this. I might make some more at Christmas and cut the squares with a cookie cutter into different shapes…
Joanna and Celia – you are both very brave. I looked at this biscuit recipe yesterday (not being a Twitterer) and decided it really wasn’t worth the effort. Although I have to admit that yours look very good, Joanna – better than the Guardian baker’s anyway, so well done to Mr Zeb!
We couldn’t resist them and I would rather do something like this than try and ice swirly cupcakes :)
I meant to add that I really liked the sound of the mousse – it’s the second recipe I’ve seen this week for a less rich version than the classic recipe.
I am going to try making it once again and this time I’ll warm the brandy before I add it to the chocolate, it seized at that point and the mousse ended up a bit grainy… But still Delicious!
Oh my. Oh yum. Oh dear…. (thud!)
No not thud darling, I must disagree :) I will attempt the maths – 30 + little biscuits, seven tiny pots of low sugar chocolate mousse. I don’t do calorie counts, but that is not bad for a small dessert. One biscuit, at the most two per person.
Of course if you ate the lot in one go then you would be a little ill maybe….
The mousse is simply 175g very dark chocolate, 50 g of sugar in the mousse. so 7 g of extra sugar per pot, three egg whites, no butter, no yolks.
That looks so delicious,biscuits look amazing ! Think I would have to use @CarlLegge s idea with cheese wire as my wrists also struggle-looks like I’ll have to try now……hungry…………
that’s very sweet of you to say Lynds! I want to say something non pc or ageist but dare I say it’s about being reasonably strong and good with a well sharpened big knife (Brian) – all those chef people learn good knife skills and accurate cutting is the skill you need for these. That’s why I like those single layer or loaf cakes, or round bread shapes.
It’s like when the electrician effortlessly drills holes and my attempts always go off at a strange angle….
WOW! This is amazing! You know, someone could threaten me with solitary confinement unless I made these checkerboard cookies, and I would just walk slowly to the prison cell… No way I could pull something like this!
just amazing! I hope Dan sees this, he will be thrllled!
Oh yes you could…. I know you could. Look into my eyes, say after me, “I can do this”. Dan has seen and approved, very chuffed :D
I am really impressed with all of your fancy work, Joanna! I would love to have a go myself but, as you may have noticed, I have not been commenting lately. That’s because I have just had myself a new knee, so I am not baking at the ‘mo, but I still like looking at what you all have been up to and am making a list ready for when I’m back in the kitchen. I think your biscuits/cookies look very professional, did they taste nice too?
New knee!! Oh that’s a big operation, Sending you all my very best wishes for a speedy recovery Jeannette. Get well soon! :) The biscuits are snappy and buttery and taste mostly of vanilla seed. There are lots left, it made quite a big batch. I was trying to figure out if one could make a half batch, but then it occured to me that you could probably make one batch and freeze half the dough maybe…
WEll- those are just beautiful!
I would love to have a go at these- but maybe closer to Christmas.
I am stuck on a gingerbread curve- and it is not pretty to behold.
Between attempting another gingerbread house and finding a gingerbread with hard lemon sauce recipe that I like- we are inundated with gingerbread.
Chocolate sounds like a great antidote!
I’ve never made a gingerbread house, maybe you could use some chequerboard biscuits as decoration in one, for the flooring, or for roof tiles.
Good luck with your quest and thanks for the lovely compliment _ I will tell Brian what you said too!
I was very relieved when I clicked on your ‘new post’ email link to see you weren’t having mouse for dinner! Poor tired baby brain…
Sorry Nic ;) When I was very small, chocolate mousse was my favourite thing in the whole world and maybe it was a TV ad or something, but I used to sing this quite a lot. I think the mousse / mouse thing made it extra exciting too ….
Wow, it looks gorgeous Joanna. I’m not a big chocolate mousse (typing carefully!) eater, but perhaps this could persuade me otherwise…
Those biscuits look fabulous, I hope mine look as good when I get round to making them, which I will do (speaks sternly to self) as I’ve just bought the 00 flour so I’ll have to…
I had forgotten how much I love chocolate mousse – look forward to seeing your biscuits soon :D
Those checkerboard biscuits look very impressive, but goodness they must have taken you ages. Generally, if you’re adding water to chocolate it’s best to heat them gently together, then it shouldn’t cease. The brandy should be OK added afterwards but adding it at the beginning should be fine too.
Next time will be quicker :) If you are making bread at the same time or doing something else in the kitchen it’s not so bad. I like the making the layers in the tin technique, no rolling out to a square nonsense, much simpler and more accurate for people like me.
Thanks for the advice about the chocolate, I’ll try that Choclette!
the whole dinner you made joanna sounds delicious..starting with the crab pasta dish and sprouts and then ending with the mousse and biscuits..love the look of the biscuits and even though i would love to make them i suspect that it won’t happen..too much guilty quilting going on here…but the mousse would be doable..i particularly like the recipe because the egg whites are cooked..
thanks jane ;) It wasn’t our usual sort of dinner. We rarely have fresh crabs but there is a good fish shop on Blackboy Hill which gets fish from Brixham in Devon delivered daily.
I love your quilting and everyone else’s. I might have to investigate it and see if I could maybe make a teatowel or something really small to see if I could possibly do it. I have never done that heating eggwhites technique before but it worked despite my misgivings, (I was convinced that they would just set in the pan while I stirred).
i’m sure you could do patchwork joanna..it’s not hard at all..i don’t think a tea towel would work that well because you need at least two layers and it would be really bulky..but a pot holder would be a good start (that’s if you use them..i don’t) or a cushion cover..i wish i was close by and i could get you started so that you could see if you like it or not..the method i use is the english paper piecing one which some people find too laborious but i love it..the other hand piecing method is american i think and it uses a running stitch along the seam lines..i tried it once but i didn’t like the rhythm of it..i’d love to hear if you give it a go..j
joanna..i made the mousse for dinner on wednesday..it’s very rich and delicious..it will be a recipe i use again for sure..thanks to you and dan..:)
I seem to remember watching someone quilting once and it involved a lot of ironing and bits of paper, but it was a very long time ago. I don’t think it’s something I would be able to do from a book, being left handed I often have difficulty following diagrams, if that makes any sense? I’d be better being shown by someone like you say. Great that you enjoyed the mousse :)
Ohhh, I had a look at these when you linked the preview picture to Celia. The biscuits look so darn impressive! I think my eyes glazed over on the second line of Dan’s instructions though. I read it again, and still wasn’t sure. Maybe one day…
Mighty fine looking though Joanna and Brian :-)
I remembered yesterday that Paul (Mellow Bakers) had made similar biscuits at Christmas and posted about them here – really good step by step, with an added wrap around layer, something like Battenburg, he does ace posts. He’s at baking school right now doing a full time course. Lucky Guy :)
Ahhh, that makes more sense to me. My poor old brain cells are having trouble gathering together at the moment. I think I could actually give them a crack with that great tutorial.
Wow, just what I have dreamed about…and had night mares about for that matter…Congrats for making it work!!!
Thanks Paul :) they do have something of the Scary House at the Fair about them !
Thank you Erin :)
Fabulous. yes, looks like a lot of work. I remember making things like this with polymer clay (making jewelry) years and years ago, almost another lifetime ago.
Thanks Emily, it was a lot of discussion at the time, now I know the method, in theory I should be able to do it more quickly. Very similar to working with cold clay :)
Hi Jo, they look great (both of you!) – I’m round for tea tomorrow if there’s any left! Oh no, I’ve got to go and hear Dan speak at the Guildford Book Festival tomorrow lunchtime! (hooray!). Perhaps he’ll bring some of these to pass round!
Lucky you – I’ve heard the talks are fantastic – have a great time Allison :)
Fancy biscuits indeed! That mousse looks great…would eat that for brekkie right now!
The brandy is a bit of a ‘wake me up’ early in the morning ;)
Just popped over from Celia’s. I love your top picture – both mousse and bikkie look brilliant! For some reason the bikkies on the tray made my eyes go “funny”. Weird. Perhaps the checkered look was playing tricks on me. Okay. I’ll just close my eyes and eat instead. Great job Joanna. Have a great weekend.
Aww thanks Mariana ! I must get some proper ramekins one of these days. They made my neighbour’s eyes go funny too! In fact I trimmed up one edge which was definitely all a bit skewed before baking as she said they made her feel dizzy.
Straight evenly distributed lines are not my strong point at all. I think of them as Escher biscuits. The distortion is both in the biscuits themselves and presumably the camera angle… of course when you eat them you just shut your eyes !