Posts tagged chocolate
Monday, February 11, 2013

hot chocolate and marshmallows

plop

I sure talked a big talk when I claimed to be making Valentine’s Day dinner for Andrew and me. And I bet all of you fell for it hook, line, and sinker. But in reality this year, our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple carries a bit of irony with it. Instead of a quiet just-the-two-of-us-at-home meal, Andrew will be speaking at his alma mater in Boston. What could possibly be more romantic than climate geeks stealing flirty looks, gazing into each other’s eyes, or even possibly meeting their soul mate while listening to my one and only explain the patterns, the trends, the connections between extreme weather and climate change? Exactly – absolutely nothing.

My parents and Andrew’s parents are coming to the talk – they’re forbidden from asking questions. Also, they are to sit in the back, lest their parental instincts take over and they start mouthing “Enunciate! Straighten up!” to Andrew. We’ve got this under control.

Flowers? Who need’em! Just talk dirty-climate to me.

Continue reading hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

chocolate chunk and sea salt challah

chocolate chunk and sea salt challah

Believe it or not, but making challah with chocolate and sea salt had been on my mind for awhile now. Years ago, while on a walk getting lost in the city, which was still new to me, I got caught in the mother of all storms. Or so it seemed, because typical to my habits, I never check the weather when I head out for a day-long excursions. It’s a good thing I married a guy with several radar apps on his iPhone, otherwise, I might have gotten blown away by now.

Anyway, seemingly out of nowhere, the skies opened up and dumped what seemed like buckets and buckets of rain on New York. I couldn’t even see individual drops or streams. It was a wall of water coming down with the mightiest of forces. I ducked into the first café I could find to pass the time. Once seated, I quickly scanned the menu and ordered a chocolate brioche bread pudding. I expected a chocolate brioche made into bread pudding, but instead what arrived was regular brioche with generous chunks of chocolate tucked between the bread slices. Even better, I thought. But that wasn’t all. On top of the bread pudding, there was a slight shimmer – a delicate sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

Continue reading chocolate chunk and sea salt challah.

Monday, September 10, 2012

amazing chocolate pudding

chocolate pudding

Hello there. Sorry for vanishing into the void, but I’m back. Sort of. August was a blend of crazy, busy, and sad. I won’t get into the sad, but there was a lot of travel between New York and Massachusetts and not of the happy variety either. Amidst the travel and gaining two additional roommate for a few weeks in August, I submitted the manuscript I co-wrote with Chef Forgione. The recipes alone were over four hundred pages. How I got it done, I’m not sure entirely, a lot of it had to do with a generous friend and her home office.

While it’s taken me three weeks to tell you about chocolate pudding, I hope you forgive me. I’ve been feeling a little stretched as of late, despite a relaxing week in Wellfleet where I diligently ate oysters and chased them down with beer. It feels like a far away memory now. I could, easily, have spent a whole month out on the Cape and hope to do so someday soon.

Most recently I had made chocolate pudding to justify my dessert-for-dinner excuse. I had a filled cavity from earlier that morning and could hardly open my mouth. Applesauce seemed too boring. And it was too warm to contemplate mashed potatoes. Rice pudding, delicious as it is, required chewing. Naturally, the next possible choice was chocolate pudding. Obviously, right? Right??

Everyone I know likes chocolate pudding. Even people who are ambivalent towards chocolate, like chocolate pudding. But here’s the rub: some of most of the recipes were far too rich and far too sweet for my palate. In doing a bit of research I found that many of the recipes use egg yolks, and while I’m all for yolky richness, I like my chocolate pudding to have singular, clean chocolate note. Less of a custard, more of a pudding, if you will.

Whenever I crave chocolate pudding, it’s impossible for me not to recall a certain disaster that once befell an apartment I was renting on the Upper East Side. Back then, I used to be a big fan of Swiss Miss chocolate pudding snacks, which I purchased weekly at my local Gristedes. At the time, I was working for a certain investment bank where my hours were long and my teammates were not very nice. When I had initially accepted the position, it was to do x, y, and z. I was, instead, relegated to the tasks no one wanted to do, and in the end just about everyone on the team came in at 9 and left at 5; whereas I had to be in at seven thirty in the morning and left well after nine o’clock at night. On most weekends I spend at least one day in the office. It was some time ago – I was very meek and didn’t know how to speak up for myself. Thankfully, I’ve become much better at this.

Continue reading amazing chocolate pudding.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

malted guinness chocolate ice cream

malted chocolate guinness ice cream

I like to joke how I was Irish in my past life. Something about that country has a constant pull on my heart. The literature, the poetry, the musical cadence of the speech, the whiskey, sad Irish songs, and of course, Guinness. They all feel as familiar and like-home to me as if I’d actually spent time there. It feels like all those things are in my bones, the way Russian things feel – like they’re second nature.

I first tried Guinness with my friend Alex, who came to the US by way of Moscow and now lives in the UK. Alex is a good egg, as one would put it. We go back all the way to fifth grade. And it’s amazing to look back and say you’ve been friends with someone for 22 years, continent divides and all.

Continue reading malted guinness chocolate ice cream.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

chocolate-covered strawberries

glossy and chocolatey

For this Valentine’s Day, we’re keeping it simple. There will be no fancy dinner at a candlelit restaurant, no scheduled seating time. Instead we will be having a simple, quiet meal at home. I can’t think of anything more romantic than sharing a meal with my favorite person. Just the two of us, some food, wine, and excellent conversation.

red and lush
schaffenberger

Given that it’s our first Valentine’s Day together, we’re both a bit awkward about the whole thing. On the one hand, we want nothing more to show our love for one another. On the other hand, both of us, separately, always regarded Valentine’s Day with a bit of indifference. In my single days (and believe me I’ve spent many a Valentine’s Day single!) I never felt odd about not being one to receive flowers, chocolate, or not having a date.

Continue reading chocolate-covered strawberries.

Monday, September 20, 2010

project wedding cupcakes – one-bowl chocolate cupcakes

dark (and brooding)

Let me not beat around the bush and just be out with it – I’m making a hundred cupcakes for a friend’s wedding. One. Hundred. Cupcakes. Deep breaths. I’m clearly trying to challenge the notion that only home-scale baking can come out of a home-scale kitchen. We’ll just see about that. Deb has already successfully tackled a wedding cake, and she’s proof that you can create a large-scale, beautiful cake in a tiny New York kitchen. This is a test of will, patience, and excellent math skills. We’ll see how well I can multiply.

i keep my eggs in a bowl now

In case any of you are wondering how I managed to get involved in this project (because a demanding job in finance and maintaining this blog clearly aren’t keeping me busy enough), let me give you a brief history. Tight budgets are something that are familiar to most of us, especially, those of us living in New York, and particularly in light of the recession. Never mind that the second you mention the word “wedding” to anyone providing a service, they automatically charge you at least twice the regular amount. Want to get a hundred cupcakes from a bakery? That amount alone will probably spike up the price as you’re putting an additional constraint on a bakery that operates to capacity in what is most likely to be a tiny kitchen. Flower arrangements are pricey enough, but wedding flower arrangements are in a pricing category of their own. It’s hardly fair, I think, given how expensive weddings can run. In short, when I found out that my friend India was looking to do a wedding on a shoestring budget, I decided to make these cupcakes for her as a gift.

whisk the dry ingredients...

The advantage of cupcakes over cake is that because there is no cake to cut, guests (that means you, potentially) get their dessert faster. And given my views on dessert, I’m always in favor of eating cake sooner, always looking forward to the cake portion of the meal, in hopes that it will blow me away, and make me believe that really great tasting wedding cake is out there, somewhere. But so far, nothing has stood out, and perhaps that is because most weddings cakes are draped in loathsome fondant (seriously, am I alone in hating the stuff?), offering little besides cloying sweetness. Cupcake, on the other hand, don’t have any fondant (imagine having to drape a teeny cupcake in it) – and thus automatically, the problem falls away.

So, in the next few weeks, you’ll see the project unfold before your eyes. I’ll tell you of my butter-cream woes, and how I learned to “tame the beast”. If nothing else, at the end of this, I will emerge a better baker, and India will get her hundred cupcakes. Hopefully, they’ll be pretty, though my last buttercream adventure has left me nervous freaking out. Practice should, in theory, make perfect.

one. bowl. no. gimmick.

I had to, first, decide on what kind of cupcakes I was going to make – that was the easy part. Almost immediately I decided upon dark chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream frosting. I ran the idea past India and she loved it. The next step was to decide which chocolate cupcake recipe was goingt o win out in the end? I started to look for recipes for testing, making calculations of what ingredients I might need to have enough for recipe testing.

And just as I was ready to start playing around with recipes, I received a tweet from a lovely friend who generously offered to send me some Scharffenberger chocolate so I could test my chocolate cupcakes to my heart’s delight. An amazing coincidence, as I was going to be using Scharffenberger anyway!! Every week, I buy a few dark chocolate Scharffenberger bars at Whole Foods, and Andrew and I devour them. We’re nothing if not fiercely loyal to the brand. I love eating it and cooking with it. And I certainly didn’t expect to get a windfall of the very product on which I’m very happy to spend my own money. A few days later fifteen (fifteen, people!) pounds of chocolate showed up at my apartment. I expected a few chocolate bars, maybe a can of cocoa, but fifteen pounds!!

chocolate one-bowl cupcakes - wedding

I tested a few batches, from various recipes, adding and subtracting some ingredients, and finally settled on Martha Stewart’s “one bowl” recipe, which I have to say, is downright perfect. Martha really got this recipe down. Outside of scaling down a bit of sugar, you should change nothing here. And it’s got some serious dark-chocolate taste. Oh and the one-bowl part? One bowl cake recipes are New York apartment bakers’ wet dream. Don’t own a mixer? It’s okay – the one bowl cupcakes are mixed by hand with a spatula! Don’t have any counter space? No problem – you just sequentially add ingredients one by one into a, you guessed it, one, single bowl. Can I get an amen?

salted caramel buttercream experiment

And really, the one-bowl thing left with only fewer dishes to wash, for which I am endlessly grateful. If that’s not a thing of beauty, I don’t know what is. And the best part – when the time comes to make nine batches of these babies, I’ll be grateful I have fewer dishes to wash.

Stay tuned for adventures in frosting mishaps. And if any of you have any practical frosting advice to give, please do! I’ll share whatever I learn from my mistakes, but if you have any pointers, I’m all ears!

cooling

Oh, and I’m sorry for making you look at washed out, crappy pictures! The original ones have vanished, somehow, and all I got stuck with were rejects! To make matters worse, Picnik totally broke this morning, and I couldn’t even edit the baddies. Forgive me, it won’t happen again.

Continue reading project wedding cupcakes – one-bowl chocolate cupcakes.