CHOCOLATE CELEBRATION FROSTING AND IN-OR-OUT OF SEASON STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COMPOTE
Chocolate Celebration Cake Frosting
… for Barbara…
Fills and frosts one 9” three layer cake
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, preferably 60%, coarsely chopped
1½ cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons Cognac (depending on the type of celebration)
Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until the chocolate is finely chopped. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, scald the cream. Turn the food processor on and pour the scalded cream through the feed tube, processing until blended. (You can skip this step, but I like to pour the chocolate/cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve, just in case there are any chocolate stragglers.) Transfer the chocolate cream into a large bowl and let it cool slightly.
Whisk the butter and Cognac into the chocolate cream just until blended. Don’t go crazy here, because you want the frosting to be smooth. Let the frosting stand until it firms up. (If you make this ahead of time, you may need to warm it up slightly by setting it over a bowl of warm water before frosting your cake.)
In-Or-Out of Season Strawberry/Rhubarb Compote
makes a generous 2 cups
2½ cups rhubarb, (leafy stems removed!) preferably fresh (if frozen, let it sit for a bit so you can blot away any excess ice crystals) cut into ½” pieces
1 generous cup fresh strawberries (in a pinch you can use frozen)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (I prefer my rhubarb on the tart side- you may wish to add another tablespoon of sugar)
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
scrapings from ½ of a vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from one small orange
In a non-reactive saucepan, place all of the ingredients and cook over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Cook the mixture for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to mash the fruit; the idea is for the rhubarb and berries to retain some of their shape. The compote should cook down and thicken slightly; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Test a piece of rhubarb to see if it is done to your liking. I prefer the slightest hint of texture, not a totally saucy mixture. Let the compote cool completely, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The compote keeps, covered and refrigerated for one week.
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