Pumpkin Mousse Cake for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

In my country we don’t celebrate the Thanksgiving Day. As this will be my first one, I am so excited to prepare all the traditional meals. Of course that I will prepare the roasted turkey. What is the thanksgiving without turkey? But, what I should make for dessert?

There is a blog that I love to read: Gluten free girl and the chef. One of the authors, Shauna, has a great history of struggle against the celiac disease. She and her husband are launching now a book about gluten-free recipes:

They developed a lot of delicious recipes for the Thanksgiving. You can see all of them in her wonderful post. That encourages me to do my first gluten-free dessert. This was a challenge. 
After see so many pumpkins of different colors and shapes, I decided to make a pumpkin dessert. My choice was a Pumpkin Mousse Cake recipe adapted from here

This cake consists of a “génoise” with pumpkin mousse. To prepare a gluten-free “génoise” I replaced cake flour for rice and almond flour. The result was perfect! In Brazil we love to use sweetened condensed milk in desserts, so I used that instead granulated sugar in the pumpkin mousse. I prefer made   fresh pumpkin puree that to use canned puree.

The result was this delicate dessert:

Have a wonderful holiday!

Gluten-free Pumpkin Mousse Cake
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cake, by Fran Gage (Simon & Schuster, 2003)


The génoise, a light, elegant sponge cake, is one of the building blocks of French baking, used as a base for both jelly rolls and layer cakes. The successful leavening of the cake depends solely on how much air is whipped into the eggs. Heating the sugar and whole eggs before whipping helps the eggs attain the maximum volume possible, although a slightly denser, still satisfying, version of the cake can be made without this step. Some génoises, such as this recipe, contain a little butter, which tenderizes the crumb.
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup rice flour, sifted
¼ cup almond flour, sifted
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar by hand until combined. Place the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and gently whisk until the mixture registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Put the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the mixture is pale and almost tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift the flours over the egg mixture in two additions and carefully fold in with a large rubber spatula. Fold a large dollop into the melted butter, and then fold back into the egg mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a work surface. Turn the cake right side up. Use as directed in the specific recipe for a layer cake or jelly roll.

Pumpkin Mousse

To make fresh pumpkin puree, choose a firm-fleshed cooking pumpkin. (Avoid large field pumpkins used for jack-o'-lanterns as they are too watery.) Cut in half through the stem end and place, cut sides down, on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until a skewer pierces the flesh, about 25 minutes. Scoop out the seeds, scrape the flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor. The puree should be the consistency of canned pumpkin. If it is too thin, cook over low heat until thickened. Freeze leftover puree for up to 3 months.

2 1/4 tsp. (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
2 Tbs. cold water
1 3/4 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbs. dark rum
1 2/3 cups plus 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. confectioners’ sugar
Make the génoise as directed, let cool completely and place the cake, right side up, on a work surface. Cut the cake into 2 equal layers.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, stir and let soften until opaque, about 3 minutes.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree, the condensed milk and salt and heat and stirring. Stir in the softened gelatin and let cool to room temperature. In a bowl, stir the pumpkin mixture into the remaining pumpkin puree. Whisk in the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and rum.
Using a stand mixer or by hand, whip the 1 2/3 cups cream to soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the whipped cream into the puree, then fold in the remaining cream, making a mousse.
Peel off the paper from the bottom cake layer. Put the layer, cut side up, into the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan. Spread half of the mousse evenly over the cake. Trim 1/2 inch from the outside edge of the remaining layer. Center it, cut side down, on top of the mousse. Top with the remaining mousse, pushing it between the cake and the pan and smoothing the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Warm the sides of the pan with a kitchen towel soaked in hot water and wrung out. Remove the pan sides and smooth the sides of the mousse with a frosting spatula.
Whip the 1/2 cup cream and the confectioners' sugar to medium peaks. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip (see related tip at left). Pipe shells around the top edge and a few in the center of the cake. Run a thin knife under the cake to free it from the bottom of the springform pan and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 10 to 12.


Mousse au Chocolat

I told you that last weekend I made boeuf bourguignon”, but I didn’t tell you what I made for dessert. Well, a famous French dish with French wine deserve a French delicious desert too! So, I made a Mousse au Chocolat that a learned in Paris. Believe me: it is incredibly delicious!

When I lived in England, I was having lunch with my dear friend Cake Design Layla. We were talking about culinary courses and our yearnings about our careers, when the movie Sabrina (1954) with Audrey Hepburn comes to my mind. It is a delightfully romantic story, which has some special things that make me dreaming. First, is the song La vie en rose, which is one of my favorite. Every time a listening it, I cry. Second, she went to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. When she arrived in Paris, she was a shy insecure girl, but after that, she has transformed into a sophisticated and stylish woman.
Then, after discuss the movie we asked ourselves: Why not Paris? And, inspired by the film Sabrina, we decide to go to Paris!!

It was my first culinary class at the renowned house Lenôtre. What happiness! Gaston Lenôtre, founder of the restaurant, catering, retail and cooking school empire Lenôtre, was the exacting patriarch of French pâtisserie. Pierre Hermé, one of France’s leading pastry chefs, became an apprentice at Lenôtre at 14, and for him “Mr. Lenôtre” dusted, lightened and modernized the heavy pastries of the 1950s, he made them lighter, more pleasureful, more desirable, and that’s fundamental in the world of pâtisserie.”

We attend the course “Le Chocolat de A à Z at “Pavillon Elysée Lenôtre”. I so impressed with the teachings. The chef François Schmitt had a lot of patience with us. According to him, the day was just wonderful sunny because we took the Brazilian sun with us to Paris! Lovely! Learn all those techniques were amazing. 

It is pretty easy to prepare a “Mousse au Chocolat”, but you need some attention with some procedures. The proportion of the ingredients shall be exactly the same as the recipe. You also need to control the temperature to melt the chocolate, using a thermometer. Add the eggs whites very carefully. Use a rubber spatula to do large circular movements, stirring from the bottom to top. If you overbeat the cream, it will be difficult to incorporate into to the chocolate. And the most important thing for me is: the quality of the chocolate. USE A GOOD CHOCOLATE!!!

Here some photos of our chocolate course:

And here some photos of the mousse I made:

Mousse au Chocolat
(Ecole de Pâtisserie du Pavillon Elysée Lenôtre, Paris)

500g chocolate 50% cocoa
120g egg yolks
200g eggs whites
300g whipped cream
100g granulated sugar
100g butter, cut into small pieces

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Beat the cream in a mixer at medium speed (almost whipped cream). Place the chopped butter in melted chocolate and mix, following the temperature to 90°F. Add the yolks to the chocolate stirring from the bottom to up. Place the egg whites and a teaspoon of sugar to hit on the mixer (put the sugar gradually increasing speed). Fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate quickly. Place the second and last gently. And finally put the whipped cream gently upwards. Then refrigerate.


Boeuf Bourguignon

I decided to make last weekend one of Julia Child’s signature dishes: Boeuf Bourguignon. Since I watched Julie & Julia movie in September 2009, I want to make this famous recipe. This movie was very special for me. I was fascinated for her passion for food and the way cooking changes her life. And those feelings somehow elevated my desire to cook and learn more about culinary techniques.

Exactly one year after that, my beloved hubby gave me the “Mastering The Art of French Cooking", 2 volumes, eleventh edition. Making some delicious recipes from this book and watching some of her old TV Shows I learned more about her. With her first classic cookbook she not only clarifies what real French culinary is, but simply teaches us how to cook. "She elevates the consciousness to the refined pleasures of dining", as Thomas Keller said. I love it!

About Boeuf Bourguignon recipe, she explains: “As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.” 

I felt so excited and pride making this recipe! But I had doubts about what kind of meat I should buy. In Brazil we have different names and types of meat cutting. Then comparing the beefs charts I found that lean stewing beef is round steak or London broil steak (for Brazilians is patinho or paleta).  

What do I have to say about Boeuf Bourguignon? Yummy! It’s really, really good. And what about the tasty in the next day? I tried in both days and I have to admit that the flavors were more intense in the second day, exactly as she said. I served the beef with mashed potatoes and a full body, young red wine Beaujolais, which were perfect combinations.

                                           Bon appétit!

Boeuf Bourguignon

 Serves 6
9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole dish, 3 inches deep
Slotted spoon
6 ounces bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine, such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef. 

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. 

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat. 

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees. 

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers

very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. 

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed. 

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. 

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley. 

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Braised Onions

18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
1½ Tb butter
1½ Tb olive oil
½ cup of brown stock 
½ bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme
parsley sprigs

 Heat a stainless-steel pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter and saute the onions over moderate heat for approximately 10 minutes or  until golden brown. 

Add the stock, the herb bouquet and season to taste.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.


Cupcakes and Cake Pops

For my second post, I'll write about the first sweets that I made.
Some weeks ago I got kids at home. To please then I decided to make cupcakes and cake pops:

The cupcake doesn’t look good, but it tasted great. I used a recipe from a book I bought recently: vanilla cake with chocolate chips and white chocolate frosting. I decided to give a Brazilian taste filling then with “brigadeiro”, a very popular creamy chocolate candy served in parties in Brazil. The “brigadeiro” was responsible for the almost success of my cupcakes. Almost success because my frosting was a disaster! My first attempt was the buttercream. I did everything wrong and I got a moistened stuff. I cried… So I decided to make a white chocolate ganache, which worked well.

Cake pops are a success here in the US. They are perfect to any occasion and are amazing additions to the dessert table at holiday parties, birthday parties, baby and bridal showers. Bakerella, who create those cute delights, is launching a book now, named “Cake Pops”. 

If you didn’t know cake pops, here are some photos from her website:

And here a video of her explaining how to make pops:

It’s really easy: bake a cake, mush it up with frosting, roll it into balls, insert a stick, dip it in chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

I didn’t have problems with the cake pops because I made a very simple model, using a simple chocolate cake and, instead the frosting, I used “brigadeiro”, the same one that I used before. I made the balls and put in the fridge for several hours to become firm. Then I covered with melted chocolate and decorated with colored sugar.

To receive my dear guests, I prepared this table:

I made Brazilian cheese bread, but I forgot it in this photo. Cheese bread is another specialty of Brazilian gastronomy, but this will deserve its own post and, of course, some photos.

And this is my painting that I wish my cupcake looked like. I painted with pastel pencil for the first time and was a great pleasure. After several years without painting I restart one of my passions.


1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoon chocolate mix
 ½ tablespoon butter

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine chocolate, butter and condensed milk. Cook, stirring until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to make balls with the cake or filling your cupcake.

In Brazil we used to do smalls balls with "brigadeiro". To do the balls cook the mixture until it thickens enough to show the pan bottom during stirring. Pour the mixture in a lightly greased dish and let it cool to room temperature. Now you are ready to form the little balls, remember to grease your hands with butter first. Roll it over chocolate sprinkles and place the balls in candy cups (small size).


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