The other evening I catered a holiday party. I had a great time. The hostess had some creative ideas, one of which was the above tarts. I picked up 4 dozen egg custard tarts in Chinatown, very popular as a dim sum dessert. She asked for a coconut whipped cream, so I whipped up 4 cups of heavy whipped cream with 4 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and (the cherry on top) 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons natural coconut extract. I topped each tart with sparkly sprinkles - a blend of silver and cream pearls and jimmies.
I originally tried to make dairy-free whipped cream with just full-fat coconut milk. But the liquid and the fat barely separated in the can, even when I stored it in the fridge overnight (you need to pour out the liquid before whipping the solid milk). I've never tried coconut extract before, but it was a dream. These cupcakes were fragrant and looked beautiful, each with a piped mound of delicious whipped cream. Like a coconut custard tart, but petite and more elegrant.
In addition to the coconut custard tarts, I also made herbed goat cheese with basil and mint, which I then spread on peppered crackers. I candied 3 pints of kumquats by making a sugar syrup and halving and seeding each kumquat. The kumquats simmered in the syrup and continued to soften and sweeten before being strained. Each container of kumquats was filled with more of the citrusy syrup and left in the fridge overnight. The halves looked beautiful perched on top of the goat cheese. And with a sprinkle of sea salt, this appetizer was the perfect combination of sweet, salty, sour and creamy.
Everyone got an icy white cosmo upon arrival, a fun and festive drink. Although next time, I might use less cointreau (very sweet) and more tart white cranberry juice. I also made truffled grilled cheeses, which then were quarted into manageable bites. The smell of them coming out of the oven was intoxicating. I used white bread, shredded fontina cheese, truffle oil and lots of butter to make them crispy. Some sage would also go well with these sandwiches.
Overall, a fun night! Happy holidays to everyone - I hope to begin 2012 with some new recipes and creative ideas for entertaining.