Let’s talk about whipped cream. It seems like a fairly easy process. Heavy cream, sugar, and a hand beater, stand mixer or a whisk. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Start the beating, add the sugar and keep going until the cream have formed stiff peaks. Bien serré they say in French. At the restaurant, I make a lot of whipped cream. Pastry Chef B gives me the order during lunch. “Monter la crème après on passe par la table!” And I rush to finish eating so that I can start the cream before I get a scolding for moving too slow. Though I’ve been making it daily for the best part of the month, the process was still a mystery to me. The restaurant obviously uses an industrial strength stand mixer that whips up the cream without too much trouble. I haven’t had any problems since that first time when I added the sugar too late and created a granulated, buttery mess. But at home, my whipped cream seemed to fall apart almost as soon as I made it. I stared at the cream. I turned the hand mixer on high, and stood there for what seemed like an hour hoping I wouldn’t end up with butter. No matter what I did, the cream would whip up, form its peaks and then fall down into a creamy goo a few minutes later.
Eventually I went to my source: the pastry chefs.
“Why does my cream fall as soon as I make it?”
“You’re not using the right cream,” Pastry Chef X said without looking up from his work.
“But I bought heavy cream from the same brand we use here.”
“It’s not the right cream.”
“But the box…”
Pastry Chef X straightened up, stretched his back and put down the cone of chocolate he was drizzling on the plates as decoration. “Pour monter la chantilly il faut avoir 35% – 40% matière grasse – au moins 35%.” To make whipped cream you need at least 35% to 40% fat in the cream.
I told him again that I had heavy cream – wasn’t that automatically 35%?
“Non. It’s 33%. In supermarkets the regular heavy cream is almost always 33%, you have to search for the right cream.”
I twisted my lips giving him that look that said I didn’t quite believe him, and he told me to go home, look at my cream, and then gave me the name and description of the package I should be buying.
“Mais c’est cher.” It’s expensive- he warned.
I went home, I looked, and alright, he was right. No where on that box did it say 35% fat. I marked: cream – 35%, on my shopping list.
What is it about the combination of orange and chocolate? The acidic citrus of the orange, bitter sweetness of dark chocolate. I’ve been obsessed with it lately, orange panna cotta topped with chocolate whipped cream, dreaming about candied orange peels and dipping them in melted ganache. And now these babies: orange and chocolate sandwich cookies.
Here they’re all called whoopie pies, and the French are obsessed. I think it’s because they’re slightly easier, and less time-consuming than the famous French macaroon, but just as adaptable in terms of flavor.
I have a small recipe book on whoopie pies and their yummy fillings, but I decided to go my own way now that I had the right cream for a proper whipped cream.
Simple sablés flavored with Cointreau and orange zest.
I got to practice with the piping bag. You could use a spoon but it will be much more difficult to get regular shaped cookies that will fit together. Even with the piping bag, it’s not always easy.
Chocolate and cream, whipping together. I munched on a few cookies while I was waiting. Purely as a flavor test, I assure you.
For just a little whipped cream, you don’t need a big bowl. Smaller is better, because even though the cream will expand, a smaller bowl will keep it together instead of spreading it all over the bowl.
Like the panna cotta, the cream blends with the orange and the chocolate flavors binding it all together. The cream also calms the taste of the chocolate so that the orange in the cookie can come through. Though it’s not exactly “light” the texture sure is. Light and soft, a fluffy cookie that is perfect for tea time, coffee time, breakfast, midnight snacks or just because you need orange and chocolate together immediately.
- For the Cookies
- 50g butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 50g sugar
- 100g flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp cointreau
- zest ½ orange
- For the whipped cream
- 100g heavy cream – 35% or higher
- 20g dark chocolate, melted
- Preheat the oven to 180°F/350°C
- In a large bowl beat the egg and sugar together until it has whitened to a creamy color. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the butter and cointreau and lightly mix until it’s incorporated. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until you have a homogenous dough. Don’t over mix.
- Line a large baking sheet with cooking parchment. Fill a piping pouch with the dough and pipe the dough directly onto the baking sheet in regular circles. I start from the inside and go out. Keep on hand on the top of the pouch to push the dough and the other hand on the bottom of the pouch to direct the tip. Make sure you have an even number of cookies – or you can make an odd number for “taste testing”.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack or plate.
- Melt the dark chocolate and a little bit of cream in a bain mairie. Once melted, add to the rest of the cream in a small bowl. Gently mix so that the cream and chocolate have blended. Make sure it’s completely cool before starting to whip, place in the fridge if need be. Beat the cream until stiff peaks have formed.
- Using either a piping bag or a spoon, spread the whipped cream on half the cookies and top with the other half. Store in fridge to keep the cream firm.