This recipe comes courtesy of a neighbor of ours in Halkidiki, where my family’s summer home is located in Greece. Halkidiki is located in northern Greece, consists of three peninsulas that are situated just east of Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki. One day I went to a neighbor’s home that had some new-born puppies that another neighbor’s granddaughter wanted to see. Acting as “big uncle Pete” – off I went escorting the young girl to this home I’d never been to before.
I was greeted by strangers like I was a long-lost relative (that’s Greek hospitality for you) and the young girl immediately went to play with the puppies and I was chatting with “kuria” Theodosia and her daughter, Nana. Kura (Mrs.) Theodosia is the grandmother of the home, Nana the daughter and their pretty young granddaughter is Sissy (short form from Theodosia). While one lady kept me occupied with questions, conversation the other disappeared into the kitchen for 15 minutes – only to reemerge with coffee, cookies, water and a “glyko”, a dessert.
Nana brought out today’s dessert called Aspro/Mavro. Aspro is white and Mavro is black in Greek – a simple dessert of alternative chocolate & vanilla creams layered between Greek petit beurre cookies. In Greece, the petit beurre cookie is very popular with the children and adults will use them frequently in dessert recipes. I’ve seen petit beurre cookies used to make chocolate logs, bases for cheesecakes or for parfait – it’s a handy ingredient!
I immediately loved the look, the taste and simple name of this dessert – Aspro/Mavro. I asked kuria Theodosia for the recipe and she quickly deferred me to her daughter Nana. I was afraid I was going to get the run-around for the recipe but Nana did in fact have the recipe and she would recite it to me. I dashed back over to my home to grab my notepad and I started jotting down the recipe.
The original recipe is very easy but Nana used creams made from packets where you just have to add milk and sugar. I wanted to avoid using packets and what you have here is my all home-made version of Aspro/Mavro, made with creme patisserie…chocolate and vanilla.
3 packages of Papadopoulo brand or any other Petit Beurre cookies
approx. 1 cup of room temp. milk (for dunking cookies in)
4 cups whole (or 2%) milk
4 egg yolks
5 Tbsp. corn starch
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
splash of vanilla extract
11 oz. of bitter-sweet chocolate pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups whole (or 2%) milk
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
approx. 8″ x 13″ baking/casserole dish (deep)
approx. 8oz. block of white chocolate
- To make your chocolate cream, add the egg yolks, corn starch, sugar , cocoa powder and flour into a bowl and whisk until creamed. Add the milk and vanilla into a pot and place on your stove-top over medium heat until the milk is just scalded. While whisking the creamed egg mixture, slowly add the scalded milk into the bowl then return the whole mixture back into the pot and stir over medium heat. Add the bitter-sweet chocolate in increments while stirring until the chocolate has melted and the cream has thickened (at least coat the back of a spoon). Remove from the heat, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool to warm temp.
- To make the vanilla cream, add the egg yolks, corn starch, sugar and flour into a bowl and whisk until creamed. Add the milk and vanilla into a pot and place on your stove-top over medium heat until the milk is just scalded. While whisking the creamed egg mixture, slowly add the scalded milk into a bowl and then return the whole mixture back into the pot and stir over medium heat until thick and creamy (enough to coat the back of wooden spoon). Remove from the heat and cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool to warm temp.
- Dip your petit beurre cookies into some milk and layer the bottom of your baking dish with the cookies (don’t be afraid to trim some cookies to fit into the pan). Cover and evenly spread the cookies with half of your chocolate cream. An offset spatula is handy for spreading the cream evenly.
- Now top with another layer of milk-dipped petit beurre cookies and now cover with all the vanilla cream and spread evenly over the cookies.
- Dip the last batch of cookies into milk and arrange your final layer of petit beurre and then cover with your remaining chocolate cream and spread evenly. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge then cover with plastic wrap (ensure the plastic does not touch your top layer of chocolate cream). Place in the fridge overnight.
- To make your garnish of white chocolate curls, the chocolate must soften a bit. Place your block of white chocolate in the microwave for 10-second intervals until it is just soft. Shave off the curls from the top with a vegetable peeler (with a plate underneath to catch the curls). Place your white chocolate back in the microwave if you’ve shaved off all the warmed chocolate. Repeat until you have enough chocolate curls to cover your dessert.
- Take the Aspro/Mavro out of the fridge and spread your white chocolate curls over the surface of the dessert. Cut into desired portion sizes and serve cool.
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