So I Married An Axe Murderer begins with a quintessential aerial shot of San Francisco by night, the camera floating through the streets of North Beach, into a hipster (long before the term was used to describe millennials) Cafe Roads, through its crowded corridors, into the kitchen where a gigantic coffee cup (or “bowl” as Tony calls it) is quickly washed and refilled with copious amounts of espresso and steamed milk, and delivered to the waiting hands of Charlie, who jokingly responds “Excuse me, miss? There seems to be a mistake. I believe I ordered the *large* cappuccino. Hel-lo!” And so begins our introduction to the world of “beat poet” Charlie Mackenzie, who’s failed relationships and emotional angst are fodder for his art. While his friend Tony argues that his romantic misfires are really all in his head, Charlie insists he has very good reasons for ending all his relationships–one girl “smelled like beef vegetable soup,” another, he swears was part of the mafia because she never told him where she worked (though Tony points out she was just unemployed), and the latest, the subject of his poem “Woman… woe-man… whoah, man!,” Charlie claims was a klepto who stole his cat. To capture Charlie’s paranoia and abject fear of commitment, as well as his love of coffee, I came up with a dessert which I’m calling Grande Cappuccino Panic Cotta. It’s a rich and creamy espresso-flavored panna cotta, topped with a layer of white chocolate creme, garnished with a sprinkling of espresso powder and something extra…
Grande Cappuccino Panic Cotta
Yields: 4 normal size cappuccino cups…or 1 gigantic cappuccino bowl
3/4 cup Whole Milk
1-1/2 tsp. Unflavored Gelatin Powder
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt
1/4 Vanilla Bean, scraped
2-1/4 tsp. Espresso Powder (or Instant Coffee)
1-1/2 oz. White Chocolate, chopped into small pieces
*edible screaming face decal, optional
In a bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk, then whisk together and set aside. Combine the cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean in a pot and bring to a boil. Strain the hot liquid into the milk, then whisk to combine. Pour about 1/2 cup hot mixture into a small bowl with the white chocolate, then stir to melt the white chocolate completely. Whisk 2 tsp. espresso powder into the remaining hot mixture (reserve the last 1/4 tsp. for garnish), then carefully pour the liquid into four 4oz. cups. Chill the panna cotta until just set, about 2 hrs. Gently warm up the white chocolate creme so that it’s pourable, then ladle it on top of the panna cotta. Return the cups to the refrigerator and continue chilling for another 2-3 hours to set completely. Garnish with a sprinkling of espresso powder.
Now Charlie isn’t completely wrong to be paranoid, because although the butcher cleaver-weaving Harriet isn’t a murderer, her crazy sister Rose is!
He should’ve know there was something off about Rose (played to perfection by Amanda Plummer) from their first encounter. There was more than one box of fruit loops at the breakfast table! So in honor of that whack job, I’ve come up with a ghoulish version of another favorite breakfast treat–Screaming Axe Murderer Pop Tarts–buttery flaky pastry rounds, filled with a raspberry-apple compote, glazed with sour cream icing, topped with spooky screaming ghosts (edible decal), and garnished with bloody (raspberry) mini axes and cleavers. They’re screamin’ good!
Screaming Axe Murderer Pop Tarts
Yields 8-10, 3″ rounds
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Sea or Kosher Salt
9 Tbsp. Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
1 Large Egg Yolk
2-3 Tbsp. Cold Whole Milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse a few times to blend. Distribute the butter over the dry mix and pulse at 5 second intervals until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Whisk together the yolk, vanilla and 2 Tbsp. milk (reserve the last tablespoon in case you need it), then add it the flour/butter mixture. Pulse at 5 second intervals again until the dough comes together. Drizzle in the remaining milk if the mixture seems dry and isn’t coming together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 1″ thick disk. Chill the dough for at least 30 mins. before rolling out. Roll out the dough to 1/8″ thickness and punch out rounds with a 3″ cutter.
For the filling I basically precooked some apple filling, similar to the one I made for the apple strudel in the Sound of Music post, adding a little more cornstarch to ensure a thicker consistency, then folded in 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries to 1 cup of cooled apple filling.
To assemble, just place a heaping teaspoon of filling at the center of one pastry round, brush a little bit of egg white (reserved from the yolk) around the perimeter, then lay another pastry round on top of it, pressing down on the edges to create a tight seal around the filling, and crimping the edges with a fork. Pierce the top with fork to create little holes to allow steam to escape. Bake the pop tarts at 400°F for about 15-18 mins., or until they are golden brown.
For the icing, I simply whisked together about 3/4 cup powdered sugar with 2 tsp. sour cream, and 1/2 tsp. raspberry eau de vie (or water will do) until smooth.
And now for the finishing touch….Happy Halloween!