Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Butcher, The Baker, The Blogger ~ Happy Anniversary, Food Bloggers Network

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Food Bloggers Network; an informal group of food bloggers who connect to network and to share best practices on blogging. The one thing we don't do, ever, is link to our blogs and our posts.

No, the Food Bloggers Network isn't a place to spam others. What began this time last year with an idea (this idea, in fact) has blossomed into a group of 244 members (you can read member blogs here). FBN is a place to ask questions of our food blogging peers and a place to share our knowledge. I've seen bloggers become subject matter experts (like my friend Carla who writes a fantastic photography series on her blog Chocolate Moosey). It's a place where over the last year I have seen friendships develop (such as Jen and Kim who are running a special heart healthy series today) as bloggers advance their skill sets or come together to bring to life a special post.

So today let's do what we food bloggers do best - let's enjoy a decadent treat and celebrate one year of being together.

Italian Meringue and Chocolate Mousse Cake
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 2 by Julia Child & Simone Beck
pp. 426-429

This "cake" is no more than the combination of two recipes - each using Italian meringue. One is cooked to a crispy disc and the other is folded into chantilly cream and melted chocolate to make chocolate mousse. Sandwiched together and topped with raspberries they form a crunchy and creamy contrast fit for a celebration.

If you watch old episodes of The French Chef and look closely at the illustrations in Mastering the Art of French Cooking you'll notice there wasn't that concern with picture-perfect end results the internet is so obsessed with today. Rather the focus was on methodology and taste. I found it rather freeing to not pipe out my meringue and mousse but rather to just use a spoon to make each layer. Topped with fresh raspberries I have no doubt I'll enjoy the end result just as much. In fact, without going to too much trouble I was able to make this on a weeknight after work (and not hate my life whilst doing so).

Note: the following is a half recipe which would easily serve 4. Please reference Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the original 8-10 person measurements.

Italian Meringue
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons d'Arbo raspberry syrup (optional - not in original recipe)
3 egg whites
small pinch salt
large pinch cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

A stand mixer is extremely helpful for this recipe. A hand mixer will do but my old favorite - a plain whisk - will require shoulders of steel or multiple kitchen helpers to take turns. Do yourself an enormous favor and use a stand mixer if at all possible.

Preheat oven to 200º F.

Combine the water, raspberry syrup, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and swirl to combine. Let slowly come to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until peaks begin to form. Add salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and reduce speed.

Check on your sugar syrup. Increase heat and boil until mixture reaches 238º-240º F or the soft ball stage. As soon as it does remove from the heat and ever so slowly let mixture trickle into the egg whites in a thin stream, keeping the mixer running the entire time. Once all the sugar syrup is incorporated keep whipping egg whites until very stiff peaks form and mixture has cooled (about 10 minutes).

Pipe, spoon, or otherwise ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of mixture (reserving remainder for chocolate mousse) onto a parchment or silpat covered cookie sheet in rounds (either large ones for a single "cake" or smaller ones for individual cakes). Bake for an hour and 15 minutes at 200º F. Turn off the oven and let cool inside the closed oven for about 30 minutes. Take out and let cool completely.

Chocolate Mousse
Italian meringue
1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces good quality dark chocolate (the better the chocolate the better the result)

Melt the chocolate over the stove in a bain-marie. Julia and Simone add rum to their chocolate but I left mine unadulterated. You could also add Cointreau or framboise for flavor. Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks (do not add sugar - once you combine with the meringue and chocolate it will be more than sweet enough). Fold the melted chocolate with the remaining meringue then fold in the whipped cream. Voilá! Chocolate mousse!

Once the Italian meringue is cooked and cooled layer the meringue with the mousse and top with fresh raspberries. Serve immediately.

Check back later this week as we continue the celebrations with Jen from Jen's Favorite Cookies and Stacy from Food Lust People Love!

Read more from The Butcher, The Baker, The Blogger series:
The Butcher, The Baker, The Blogger
The Butcher, The Baker, The Blogger ~ Networking 101
The Butcher, The Baker, The Blogger ~ Copyright & You

35 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the first anniversary of your other "baby" besides this blog! It has grown to be the most valuable resource I have for information about technical blogging issues as well as food blogger camaraderie. We have a potential 243 sounding boards with unique talents and that means a lot of expertise in one great place. Plus it feels great to be able to help someone else occasionally, now that I have a little more experience under my belt. Thanks for starting FBN, Jessica! And for your steady, strict hand guiding it this last year.

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    1. Thank you Stacy! It's been such a pleasure working with the FBN members even when I've been on a blogging hiatus.

      Heehee... yeah, I'm strict. I'm such a badass.

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  2. This cake looks SO amazing Jess! And I am so so happy you started FBN-I can definitely say my blog would be NOWHERE near where it is today without it and you <3

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  3. Congratulations on the First Anniversary of FBN! Thank you for your support and effort you have given to the group. Now, I'm going t have a piece of cake.

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  4. Yay! Hooray for ideas that turn into something incredible! :-)

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  5. Thank YOU for bringing me together with other bloggers so that I could learn, grow, and develop lasting friendships. I honestly don't know what I'd do without your amazing group.

    And I don't know what I'd do without this gawwwwgeous cake!

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    1. Thank you Jen! I feel the same way about the amazing community we've all been building at FBN.

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  6. Happy anniversary FBN! I'm so happy you put this fabulous group together. It's a wonderful sounding board, and I had the chance to get to meet you in person!

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    1. Heehee... blogger dates are the best! :D

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  7. YAY for FBN! Glad to have met and thank you for a means of networking!

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    1. Thanks Foodie! I'm glad you're part of the group!

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  8. Happy anniversary to FBN! I'm so glad to be a part of this amazing group. You will not believe how much I've learned from everyone. Of course, I've been completely useless and just soak up everyone else's knowledge but hopefully one day, that'll change. Jessica, thanks so much for creating this group and for allowing me to be a part of it. Now let's celebrate with this amazing cake!

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    1. Ha! All it takes is one comment on a post for all that to change. Glad you're with us. :)

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  9. Happy Anniversary FBN and all its members!!!

    Jessica, thank you for having the idea and the bravery to start FBN!! You have inspired me in so many ways! FBN has been such a valuable source to me in so many levels; blogging is not only daunting for a beginner but also gets lonely at times. This fabulous group of bloggers with big hearts and brilliant minds have always been there to cheers us on when something good happens, and to offer comfort and advice when something needs fixing. One of the most rewarding part of blogging is meeting you and fellow FBN members.
    God bless everyone! xx

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  10. You filled a huge void with the creation of the FBN...thank you so much, Jess, for all your dedication and hard work. And your meringue cake is the perfect celebratory cake!

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  11. Congrats on our 1st birthday ~ It was & is a great idea :-)

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  12. Congratulations! I've never heard of the foold bloggers network until now. Is there any information on how to become a member? My blog has been active for over two years, now, and I love to hear more about it.

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    1. Right now, it's a closed Facebook group which allows us to ask each other questions and share stories and support each other out of the public eye. Any food blogger is welcome! Just head on over to http://www.facebook.com/groups/foodbloggersnetwork/ and request to join, Kate.

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  13. Happy Anniversary FBN and Congratulations Jess for starting this amazing group! You have no idea how much it has helped me in every aspect and how much I've learnt this past year!!That cake looks perfect to celebrate a special day :) Gorgeous!!

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  14. Happy Birthday Jessica and FBN - I have learned so much from you and from all the others on FBN. I don't talk too much but I read everything that's posted and try to learn a new thing each time. I've told you more than once how much I appreciate being included in this group because I love it! Now, as for the recipe - I need this book for sure. Something that doesn't push perfection sounds perfect for me. I didn't get hit with the "perfectionist" DNA bat and so it is very hard for me to even attempt it. I will be so proud of something and then see it next to someone's picture that looks like a magazine tear sheet........and then I hope it tastes good! : ) Love ya and all you've done for the blogging world!!

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    1. Thanks so much Kelli! So thrilled you're part of the group!

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  15. YAY FBN! Loved this post! Love all you ladies (and gentlemen)!!!

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  16. Yummy!!! And a big congratulations on the group's anniversary. You were the first to have a vision of a place where we could gather and learn from one another. The others that have followed on Facebook and G+ are because of you. I have learned so much at FBN that it's impossible to imagine how else I could have picked up so much valuable knowledge in such a short amount of time. We are all so grateful. Now, more yummy postings, please. :)

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  17. Happy anniversary to the FBN. :) That meringue cake looks amazing. :)

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  18. Jessica, thank you so much for starting the group a year ago. I can't believe all I've learned from the wonderful people that have joined in over the past 12 months. The knowledge and expertise everyone so openly shares is amazing and I love that I don't have to search though a gazillion posts of look what I made today to find the pertinent conversations that are so helpful to everyone.
    Your cake sounds amazing, meringue and chocolate mouses, yes please!

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  21. Congratulations on your network anniversary! It sounds like a really great community; I wish I had known about this network last year when I was spending all of my time on FoodBuzz trying to connect with fellow food bloggers. I just sent a request to join your facebook group. Please let me know if you need any additional info.

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    Very much appreciate the recipe for Italian Meringue.

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  25. Great!Am also create cake for my girl friend.cake recipe is different and step by step easily understood.

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