Strawberry Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream Cake

  If I could define the month of May with only a word, “fresh” is the one that continually comes to my mind. Fresh new scenery brought to life after spending the months of March and April waking up. There’s a breeze blowing about today, carrying with it all the clean, floral scents May brings, specifically one fragrant tree native to my area is Robinia pseudoacacia- from which I could sniff the flowers all day! There’s so much to love about this month it would be endless babbling on about it.

 I tend to get excited about the month of May because that’s when things begin to ‘start’, so to speak. much of April is waiting for things to sprout up from the ground. Now that it’s May, strawberry season has finally begun and I was able to visit one of my favorite local orchards to do some picking. The orchard has one acre dedicated to strawberry picking in the springtime. The patch is situated at the foot of a mountain, and looking behind you there’s another lovely view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I would have posted a few photographs from my visit, but the sun was extremely bright and the heat intense, so they didn’t turn out so well. 

  During my visit to the strawberry patch, I picked four pounds of strawberries, all of which were used to make this delicious strawberry vanilla coconut ice cream cake. I’ve been aching to try my hand at strawberry ice cream, and to my dismay, I happened to pick one of the more difficult ice creams to make. It’s a creamy custard based ice cream, but it still has a bit of an iciness to it since I used fresh strawberries. The bottom made of crushed chocolate chip cookies molded together with a small amount of melted butter. Before cutting this cake, it is best to let it sit a few minutes to soften, then cut with a hot knife. The more difficult place to cut through is the cookie layer.

STRAWBERRY  VANILLA  COCONUT  ICE CREAM CAKE


 ice – cream

1/2 cup organic (canned) coconut milk

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla 

4 fresh egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

1 pound fresh strawberries, chopped

1/2 cup raw sugar

 cookie – crust

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cup raw sugar

3/4 cups coconut oil

2 large eggs

4- ounces dark chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons butter, melted

  method:

  for the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla and beat with an electric hand mixer/standing mixer until light in color. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then stir in the chopped chocolate with a wooden spoon or spatula. Scoop out onto prepared pan, spacing each scoop about 2 inches apart. Bake for 11 minutes until the edges of the cookies are slightly golden. Cool the cookies on the pan for three minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. While the cookies are cooling, prepare a 7-inch by 3-inch cake pan by cutting out a round piece of parchment paper and placing it the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled completely, mash them/pulse in a blender until they’re crumbs. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and add 3 1/2 cups of the cookie crumbs. Stir with a wooden spoon until they’re all coated with the butter, it should be moist enough for them to mold together, if not, add a little bit more of melted butter. Place the crumbs into the prepared cake pan and press with your fingers until firmly in place. cover and place the pan in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  for the ice cream:

  Before you begin with the ice cream base, chop the strawberries into pieces, then place in a strainer over a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir. Cover and place the strawberries in the refrigerator to drain most their juices. Use the strawberries when ready.

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the coconut milk, whole milk, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl halfway with cold water and ice, then place another bowl on top of the ice water(make sure you don’t get water inside the second bowl). Add the heavy cream to the second bowl, then place a fine-mesh sieve over the cream. 

2. Once the milk begins to simmer, turn off the heat. Begin whisking the egg yolks lightly, then pour a little of the hot milk into the yolks. Now, add the yolks into the saucepan with the remaining milk and return to medium-low heat. Continue to whisk the custard and all around the bottom of the pan(so it doesn’t burn) until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and immediately pour the custard into the sieve over the cream. Whisk the cream and egg mixture (making sure not to get the cold water inside) until it’s cool to the touch. Cover a chill in the refrigerator for thirty minutes or overnight. Once chilled, churn according to your ice cream machine instructions.

3. Once churned, gently stir in the chilled strawberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan with the cookies. Cover tightly and freeze until firm.

Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Rum Frosting

classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting

  For many, carrot cake is a must-have on the dessert table after enjoying a fattening dinner on Easter Sunday. In my own family, it was actually quite rare. My Grandmother always made a banana pudding trifle or a layered coconut cake for Easter. I only recall eating carrot cake as a spring dessert served at church events or family get-togethers; but though it was scarcely served in my home, it has always been a family favorite when we had the pleasure of eating it.

  This recipe wasn’t specifically meant for Easter, though. I’ve been meaning to post a cake for the past week but they just haven’t worked out, so I decided on this classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting and well, it happens Easter is this weekend. The recipe for this cake was given to my mother by my Grandmother which she acquired from a friend (my, what a mouthful!) twenty-something years ago. It has always been a family favorite. Of course, I did adapt it slightly. Typically, walnuts or pecans are used, but instead, I used almonds.

 It’s a delicious, dense, and very moist cake. It uses a total four cups of carrots! The frosting has a very light and fluffy mouthfeel, with a slight rum flavor and vanilla bean speckled all about.

 

CLASSIC CARROT CAKE WITH VANILLA BEAN RUM FROSTING


 cake:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups raw cane sugar

4 large eggs, room temp.

seeds from (1) vanilla bean pod

1 1/4 cup organic canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk, room temp.

4 cups grated carrots

3/4 cups coarsely chopped almonds

   frosting:

seeds from (2) vanilla bean pods

1/4 cup dark rum

8 ounces cream cheese, room temp.

8 ounces butter, room temp.

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of sea salt

 method:

Before starting anything, split open two vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and place the seeds and the pods in a small jar with a lid. Add the 1/4 cup of dark rum and close the jar. Let the ingredients sit for an hour or more. When ready to use, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and discard the pieces. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three, 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices- set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy; once they reach this stage, begin streaming in the oil. Add the buttermilk and then the flour in three batches, beating each addition until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the grated carrots and chopped almonds until combined. Divide the batter amongst the three prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. They’re done when the cake springs back up after being touched lightly, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the cake from around the edges of the pans. Invert onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

 for the frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula and add the powdered sugar and vanilla-infused rum. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy about3 minutes.

 assemble the cake:

 Place the first cake layer on a cake board/plate/stand and spoon about 3/4 cups of frosting on and spread around with an offset spatula. Repeat this with the second and then the third. Use any remaining frosting to frost around the edges. Or, you can use all the frosting on the first, second, and top layers and leave the sides naked. Decorate with fresh or edible flowers.

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar 

  Spring has always been a favorite season of mine.  It gives me a great amount of inspiration to see things sprout from the loneliness of winter and flourish into something beautiful and vibrant.  It’s like painting with an entirely new set of colors.  “What will I paint this month?”, is a metaphorical question I ask myself at the beginning of each month, as each new month brings its own palette of colors in various form. In the baking and photography sense, these forms are the vegetables, fruit, and flora that each month has to offer.   

  Now, here we are, stepping into the month of April. To be completely honest, it never felt as if I was in March all this time. It was so warm most of the month, with a few cold days here and there, even a bit of snow.  Many flowering trees that normally bloom in April have lost most their petals and have begun the next step unfurling their green leaves.  The crabapple trees are on the verge of blossoming, this I’m particularly excited about as they’re breathtaking in full bloom. I often enjoy this view in mid-April, but I’ll be seeing it a little earlier this year. 

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar

  I’m excited to start combining the different flavors and scenes April has to offer. Much of my recipes these past couple weeks have focused mainly on citrus with some sort of herb or spice to accompany it. The last thing I baked was this Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze, and this week I bring to you these soft and feather-light Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon sugar. 

  Beignets are rather easy to make, especially if you are familiar with homemade doughnuts.  Both are processed in a similar manner, though, beignet dough is left to rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight, giving the end product a pleasant yeast flavor. Once they’ve been taken out of hot oil, they are rolled around in sugar which is given a subtle lemon flavor by rubbing the sugar granules in lemon zest. Lastly, they’re filled with a luscious pastry cream flavored using fresh lemon zest and rosemary leaves. They are, in a sense, an adieu to the citrus season for me.  A delicious one at that.

Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar  Rosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon SugarRosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon SugarRosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon SugarRosemary Lemon Cream Filled Beignets with Lemon Sugar

ROSEMARY LEMON CREAM FILLED BEIGNETS WITH LEMON SUGAR


 beignets:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110°F)

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

2 1/4 cups unbleached bread flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed + softened

oil (canola, vegetable, etc), for frying

 

 rosemary lemon cream:

1 cup whole milk

1 rosemary sprig, slightly mashed

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/4 cup whole milk 

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon cake flour

1 tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup sugar

lemon sugar:

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 cup granulated sugar

 

 method:

 for the beignets

  1. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer, add the yeast and warm water and slightly stir to combine.  Sprinkle in the flour and let it sit until it’s dry looking about 10-15 minutes.  Add the sugar, egg yolks, flour, sea salt, and water.  Mix the ingredients on medium speed with the dough hook attached; the dough should come together quickly, but if it looks dry within the first minute of mixing, add extra water until it comes together(you don’t want it clumpy).  Continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes, then stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a spatula and sprinkle with a bit of flour. Mix for another 5 minutes.   Afterward, it should be smooth, soft, and elastic with a slight stickiness to it. Once again, scrape down the bowl.  Add the softened butter and mix on medium-high until it all comes together.  This may take a few minutes and it will look separated at first, but it will soon come together forming a shiny, smooth, and elastic dough.  Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a large bowl lightly greased and floured.  Cover with a thin towel and let the dough rise in a warm, dry place for 1 hour to an 1 and 2o minutes.  Once doubled in size, release the gasses by gently punching down the dough.  wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.  After two hours have passed, release the gasses one last time, then cover again(tightly) and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Lightly flour a large, flat surface and turn the dough out onto it.  Set aside a large baking sheet covered with a thin cloth and then dusted with flour.  Cut golf ball sized pieces of dough out.  To shape, simply cup your hands and roll a dough piece in between your palms, until it’s a smooth ball.  Gently flatten the ball between your palms until you have a sphere shaped piece of dough.  Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process until all the dough has been shaped.  Space each piece about 3 inches apart.  Prepared another baking sheet if needed.  Cover with a thin towel and let them rise again in a warm, dry place for 1 hour to an 1 and 15 minutes.  On the last 20 minutes of rising, fill a medium sized pot with a couple inches of oil and heat to 340°F(you want to keep it around this temperature to evenly cook the beignets through).
  3. Meanwhile, set aside a large plate and add the sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon zest.  Rub the zest and the sugar between your fingers until all the sugar has a coating of lemon flavor to it.  
  4. Once the beignets have finished rising and the oil preheating, gently scrape one beignet from the baking sheet and slide into the hot oil, quickly flip the beignet once in the oil.  Cook 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and just slightly dry the oil from the surface of the beignet, then roll around in the lemon sugar until coated.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.  Continue this process until each beignet has been fried and sugar coated.

 for the cream filling:

  1. In medium sized saucepan, add the milk lemon zest and rosemary sprig.  Bring to a boil over medium heat then remove from heat.  Let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove the zest and rosemary.  Bring the milk back to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and a pinch of sea salt.  Add the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly.  Then using a strainer, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan of milk.  Turn the heat to medium and continue to whisk the mixture constantly until it becomes thick.  Stop stirring for a few seconds to see if the mixture is boiling, if so, continue whisking for 1 minute, then remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan and evenly spread around. Place another piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to ensure a skin doesn’t form.  Place in the freezer until fully cooled(about 15 minutes).  
  3. Stir the pastry cream and spoon into a pastry bag with a large, round piping tip attached.  Poke a hole into the side of each beignet and pipe in the pastry cream until all the beignets are filled.  Enjoy.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

  Monkey bread has long been a favorite recipe of mine, with its warm, gooey, cinnamon goodness.  It’s one of those foods you savor in your childhood and long crave into your adulthood and the rest of your life, but never find yourself enjoying it as often as you would like.  As a child, it was a rare treat; my mom didn’t really bake many things outside of muffins, cookies, or birthday cake.  Cinnamon rolls almost always came from a can and homemade doughnuts weren’t a thing until I began to bake for fun.  Although this pull-apart cinnamon grapefruit bread with earl grey lavender glaze isn’t monkey bread, it closely resembles it (sans the gooeyness) in way of the process.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

  I recently realized there aren’t any recipes on my site with grapefruit as an ingredient.  I thought it best I post at least one including grapefruit before the season runs out, which is when I decided on this pull-apart cinnamon grapefruit bread with earl grey lavender glaze.  When it comes to grapefruit Florida ruby red is the best(in my opinion) and it’s what I used for this recipe.  Though it’s only the zest you need for the bread, still, I’ve found that that variety is what holds the flavor in the peel the best.

  I wish this bread had lasted longer than it did.  It was taken rather well by my family, my mom especially.  Which is surprising because she doesn’t like lavender and this had dried lavender sprinkled all over the top to add more flavor.  In any case you don’t have lavender on hand, just make a trip to your local garden center.  Most stores where plants are sold have small pots of lavender growing as of now and you can find them rather cheap as I did.  Once you have one, pluck as many buds off as you can and set them out to dry, then use.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Grapefruit Bread with Earl Grey Lavender Glaze


PULL-APART CINNAMON GRAPEFRUIT BREAD WITH EARL GREY LAVENDER GLAZE

 bread

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

3/4 cups whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

zest from 1 grapefruit

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

 sugar, cinnamon, and butter coating

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

 earl grey + lavender glaze

tea:

1 cup water

2 earl grey tea bags

1 sprig of fresh lavender

glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of the tea you made

dried lavender buds (optional)

 method:

 for the dough

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and heavy cream until warm.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the yeast and pour in 1/2 cup of the warm milk, stir slightly and let it sit until the yeast dissolves and is foamy(5-7 minutes).  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl, set aside.  Once the yeast has dissolved, add the egg yolk, sugar, and remaining milk and whisk until just combined.  Sprinkle in 1 cup of flour, the grapefruit zest, and the soften cubed butter; mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook attached and slowly pour in the remaining flour.  Continue to mix until the dough begins to wipe the sides of the mixing bowl clean.  It should be very soft, but not sticky.  Remove from mixing bowl and place in a lightly buttered bowl.  Cover with a thin towel and let it rise in warm, dry place until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  2. 10 minutes before the dough has finished its rising process, preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Butter well the sides and bottom of an 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, lightly buttering this as well.  Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and set aside.  On a plate, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  
  3. Once the dough has finished rising, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for 1 minute.  Begin to tear various sized pieces (medium to small sizes) of dough in your hands and roll into a ball.  Dip the dough ball into the melted butter and cover with the sugar mixture, lastly place the dough ball in the pan.  Continue this process until all the dough is used and is evenly distributed in the loaf pan.  Place the pan on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to an hour, until nicely browned.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan.  Using a sharp knife, carefully loosen the bread from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto a plate and drizzle generously with the glaze.  Top with dried lavender and enjoy warm!

  for the glaze:

  1. Bring the water to a boil with the lavender sprig, then remove from heat and add the two tea bags.  Steep for 10 minutes then remove the lavender sprig and the tea bags.  Cool the tea completely before using.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar.  Add two tablespoons of the cooled tea to the sugar and whisk until smooth, it should drizzle thick and not runny.  If it’s runny, add a 1/4 more of powdered sugar.  if it is to thick, add 1/2 teaspoon more of tea.  Drizzle onto the bread when it’s still warm and top with dried lavender buds.

Chocolate Vanilla Sage Mousse Cake with Pistachio and Sea Salt

  Much of February was one of those months for me.  After three weeks of absence, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I thought of this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt.

  It’s a chapter every creative person faces more often than not: the depletion of their creative energy.  It’s like sitting in a vacuum, where nothing new comes in or comes out, it’s just empty space.  The worst part is feeling as though it will never go back to normal, thankfully it always does-  in its own time.  It is both a blessing and curse, the blessing being time to collect your thoughts, your sense of self, and to better understand your surroundings.  The curse is the depressing thoughts that come with losing one of your outlets of expression.  It’s like suddenly forgetting how to swim while you’re in the deepest part of the ocean.

  The weather as of late has been but an early breath of spring, which is what helped bring a few ideas back to me.  Many trees, shrubs, and flowers began to bloom three weeks in advance due to the warm winter season.  I saw Bradford pear trees with their snow-like petals blowing in the wind, as well as cherry blossoms with their lush pink and red hues.  I envisioned something chocolate being surrounded by all these blossoms, and that’s when this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt came to fruition.  It’s nothing too creative, to be honest.  I have a chocolate mousse cake recipe rather similar to this one(also one of my most popular blog posts and recipe on this site).

  By reading the title, you may be wondering, ‘why sage’?  The truth is, my motto is to always add at least one fresh ingredient for the main flavoring agent in my baked goods, it is either a fruit, herb, or a vegetable.  But it must be in season and at least somewhat local, to add to my motto.  The sage was plucked from my sage plant in the front garden, which thrived all throughout this mild winter of ours.  To my surprise, it complemented the chocolate rather well.  It’s all very rich in every possible way, with hints of vanilla bean and sage all throughout the mousse.  The brownie I would liken to fudge; it’s chewy and has a strong chocolate flavor.


CHOCOLATE VANILLA SAGE MOUSSE CAKE WITH PISTACHIO AND SEA SALT

brownie

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

seeds from (2) vanilla beans

1 cup coconut palm sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

mousse

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 fresh sage leaves, chopped

seeds from (2) vanilla beans

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 large egg yolks

3/4 cups heavy cream

3 large egg whites

3 tablespoons sugar

roasted pistachio, for garnish

sea salt, for garnish

METHOD:

 brownie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Prepare one, 8-inch cake pan by greasing the side and bottom then lining with parchment paper.
  2. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with about two inches of water, then placing a heatproof bowl over the pot, making sure that it doesn’t touch the water.  Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add to the bowl the butter, vanilla bean seeds, coconut sugar, and cocoa powder.  Stir occasionally with a spatula until the butter has melted completely and the sugar has somewhat dissolved as well.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit until slightly cooled- it should remain very warm, but not burning hot.  You should be able to dip your finger in for five seconds without it burning you.  Once it reaches this stage, add one egg and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined; repeat with the second egg.  Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined and there are no flour streaks to be seen.  Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and spread around evenly.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a sharp knife and invert onto a wire rack(keeping the parchment on the bottom)to cool completely.   Tip: to speed up the cooling process place the brownie in the freezer until cool.

  mousse:

  1. Place a medium sized bowl in the refrigerator to chill, along with the whisk attachment to an electric hand mixer.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the butter, chopped sage leaves, and vanilla bean seeds.  Cook on medium-low until the butter is melted and the sage becomes fragrant- about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then remove the sage pieces.  Place the butter in the refrigerator until firm again.
  3.  Create a double boiler and add the butter and chopped chocolate.  Stir occasionally until the ingredients are melted completely.  Then remove from heat.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a medium bowl on high with an electric mixer.  When they begin to gain volume, sprinkle in the three tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
  5. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat with the chilled whisk(s) until soft peaks form.
  6. After all this, the chocolate mixture should be warm (not hot) by now.  Add the egg yolks and stir until combined.  
  7. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate in two batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding another.  Once the whipped cream is combined with the chocolate, begin to fold the egg whites in three batches, making sure each batch is fully combined before adding the next.  There should be no streaks or clumps of white when finished.  
  8. Place the cooled brownie(with parchment paper still attached)in a well greased 8-inch cake pan.  Then, very gently pour the mousse over the top and spread around evenly.  Cover tightly with tin foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, this will take up to six hours or you can leave it in overnight.  I did the latter.
  9. When the mousse is firm, heat a sharp knife in hot water until the blade is hot, then use it to loosen the mousse from around the edges of the pan.  Firmly place the tin foil back on the pan with your hand placed in the center and gently flip until the cake falls out.   Place on a flat surface and remove the parchment from the bottom of the brownie.  Flip the cake back onto a cake and gently remove the foil.  The mousse should not be messed up if this is done carefully.  
  10. Melt some chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cake, then top with chopped, roasted pistachio and sea salt.  Cut with a hot knife and enjoy.