Posts tagged chocolate
Monday, December 15, 2008

chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookies

chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookies

I don’t know about you, but as disciplined and balanced an eater as I am, I can’t stay away from Nutella. It is my one weakness, my kryptonite. I could, in all honesty, much have a pretty awesome evening with a book, a jar of Nutella and a spoon. Forget bread, as it just gets in the way. And if you think I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect, here’s a small confession, I’ve been known to go through a complete jar of Nutella from start to finish in one sitting. Yes, I have that little will-power. Hazelnut chocolate – I just can’t quit you!

toasted hazelnuts

So you would think I’d be wise enough not to make chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookies; cookies that bring hazelnuts and chocolate together. You’d think I would have enough common sense to know early on this was a very bad idea indeed. You’d think I would see the impending doom coming. Instead, I ignored every scrap of common sense and made the cookies anyway.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

dark chocolate cherry muffins

dark chocolate cherry muffins

Sigh. I’ve been delaying writing about these muffins because it’s almost unfair to write about them without having these at your side with a tall, cold glass of milk – it kind of makes me wistful and hungry. Do I have your attention yet?

dark chocolate cherry muffinsdark chocolate cherry muffins
dark chocolate cherry muffinsdark chocolate cherry muffins

I don’t know how you like your chocolate, (and yes, I’m assuming that you actually like chocolate, because the alternative would just be crazy,) but I like mine dark, rich, with just a touch of bitter (and yes, we are still talking about chocolate). Well, if you are looking for a muffin to make that’s more like a cake and less like a muffin that packs an intense chocolate flavor with a surprising bite of cherries – this is for you. Because – and don’t say I didn’t warn you – this is one serious chocolate muffin.

dark chocolate cherry muffinsdark chocolate cherry muffins

And while this is a recipe that takes minutes to pull together, we ran into some technical difficulties when my friend and I discovered that our brown sugar turned into brown sugar rock and her husband had to come to the rescue and hammer the block into pieces then proceeding to pulverize it in the food processor. We are nothing if not dedicated.

dark chocolate cherry muffins

The dried cherries, I think, work better than fresh ones because they offer a slightly more concentrated tartness, but if you want to go the fresh route, those should work well also.

dark chocolate cherry muffins

And while the batter was baking in the oven, we decorated my friends’ Christmas tree, which smelled so amazing, I want one now. The reward for our hard work (because bedazzling a tree with ornaments is serious manual labor) was these muffins and I treated myself to a glass of milk. If only all hard work had such decadent pay-off.

dark chocolate cherry muffins

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

chocolate chip cookies – beating out tate’s

they were flat and crunchy on parchment paper

To be honest, this cookie making experience seems so far away, I have a hard time recalling the vividness of the excitement. I’ve been meaning to write about it for days now, or maybe over a week, but with work and a 4-day bar mitzvah event, I’ve been otherwise detained. I do know that when we first tasted the cookies, I did a little dance around our kitchen with a victorious “Take that, Tate’s!!” feeling pretty successful, particularly given my recent cooking flops.

Not only did I manage to produce a cookie that was delicious beyond words, it tasted far better than my favorite cookies made by Tate’s! And it wasn’t even their recipe, which by the way, is seriously flawed – as I came across a few blogs that bemoaned the fact that the cookies came out tasting like anything but Tate’s packaged ones you can get in the store. It also didn’t help that KS’s younger sister mentioned the very same problem she had with the recipe, proclaiming those cookies mushy and gross. Now, I may not want to partake in any Chips Ahoy, but let me tell you, a cookie has to be seriously disgusting for me to complain about it!

on silpat they were a bit thicker

So, back to the cookie that made it all better – thank you, Martha Stewart, yet again. Really, it was like a miracle, as if the skies parted, the clouds lifted and I heard angels sing and trumpets play. It was the first time I tried a cookie I made and thought to myself, “There’s a living that can be made in this!” Unfortunately for you, I got so carried away with making, baking and tasting the cookies, that the pictures for this recipe are seriously lacking. For which I am sorry. A bit.

Having said all this, there’s the expected regular disclaimer. I mean, how do you like your cookies? Do you prefer them to be chewy or crispy? On the thicker side, or thin and lacy like? My cookie tastes have shifted over the years and with chocolate chip cookies, I now strongly prefer a thin, lacy, buttery cookie to a thicker, chewier one. If you are also one of those people, this cookie is for you. If, however, you’re in the thicker, chewier cookie camp, do not despair, for there is a way for you to use the same recipe and get the cookie you prefer. Read on!

This discovery was made by pure accident, as most discoveries are. For one reason or another, and frankly I can’t remember why, I baked a portion of the cookies using a Silpat cookie sheet and a portion using parchment paper. The Silpat batch was thicker and chewier – tasty, but we preferred the parchment paper batch, which was the thin, lacy, buttery cookie that melted in our mouths. This is the cookie I was after, and KS proclaimed that these were my best cookies yet – a high praise from a guy who tells me straight if I’ve over-salted the soup yet again. Unfortunately, unlike the last time, he couldn’t come up with a sexy name for the cookie, and so it’ll remain the good ol’ chocolate chip cookie.

Continue reading chocolate chip cookies – beating out tate’s.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

world peace cookies – korova cookies

world peace contained

Ever since I’ve become an avid 24 devotee, I’ve been far more sensitive to phrases that contain the word “nuclear” in them. And it doesn’t help that Fox News totally exploits that just-right-after-24-paranoia that sets in when you start thinking that everyone’s out to get you.

Usually, though not always, the word is linked to either Iran, or North Korea. Sometimes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s name comes up, sometime it doesn’t. For someone who is politically aware, yet for some reason has trouble pronouncing the name Ahmadinejad, (AH-MA-DI-NE-JAD – I think I got it, maybe) I find wars and war terminology polarizing.

On the one hand, the history geek in me, realizes that wars have happened historically and however unfortunate are a way of social development. Or at least they have been in the past. On the other hand, I shudder at what damage war can do to a generation. The sacrifice it takes. And how, no matter what we say, whether or not we are in support or against any war, those who fight and come back are still underappreciated by the rest of us, who have no approximation of what it’s like out there.

With that in mind, I have quite the desire to make a super huge batch of these cookies, that have been making their way around the blogosphere and dispatch it to Ahmadinejad as well as Kim Jong-il. I’ll put them in pretty tins, include the recipes, and perhaps try to convince them that if they shift production to these cookies instead of nuclear whatevers, their economy will prosper – everyone in the world will want to buy their cookies (because let’s face it, there’s only a handful of us with baking fetishes).

world peace cookies - waiting for heat

Whether or not this is effective, I, myself, feel subdued and somewhat floating when I have these with a glass of milk. I went through an entire batch in 2 days. And while KS had a few cookies here and there (he’s not as much of a chocolate freak as I am, tant pis!), the damage done was pretty much by me. And while these might not be good for the waistline, they are certainly good for the soul. Various bloggers have been making them and hailing them as world’s greatest cookies. And at first, I was on the fence, skeptical and unsure. I mean, how good could they really be?

Well, I hate to say I was wrong to doubt the praise, but I was wrong. These cookies are the greatest things invented in cookie land – so dark and rich the chocolate, they’re frighteningly and unfairly good.

And while I might not find success with stopping world nuclear armament, I find myself more congenial to mankind after I have a few of these little circles of perfection.

World peace? Perhaps not overnight, but maybe as bloggers all over the world circulate these cookies, who knows, the joke might turn into a reality.

Continue reading world peace cookies – korova cookies.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

truffles with cayenne pepper

temptation with cayenne

After I graduated college, I set off, with a friend in tow, to backpack through as much of France as five weeks allowed us. I was armed with a few changes of clothes, a Lonely Planet guide, a little cash, a mighty credit card (and it was all worth it!) and an appetite that was determined to fit as many foodstuffs into my stomach as possible. Whereas my friend might have been on a cultural expedition, I was on a gastronomical one. Foie gras, baguettes, unpasteurized cheese, wine, raw seafood and sausisson sec – all these were to be consumed in massive quantities, not to mention other things like pain au chocolat, cassoulet, boudin noir and the famous Marseille soupe de poissons.

It never occurred to me to include chocolate in the mix. I was always a spotty chocolate eater. Whenever I was home, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. Same went for any Hershey’s or Nestlé’s around. I thought Godiva’s are quite nice, but haven’t had enough to develop my palette, and I always seemed to be picking out the dark chocolate ones, leaving the milk and the white chocolates without much attention.

Something, for me, was missing in chocolate. Some necessary hue of flavor. And I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, it now makes perfect sense.

I think it was somewhere in Nantes or La Rochelle that my friend and I wandered around a farmer’s market. In France, these things are so prevalent that were I to reside there, I’d never shop for produce in a store. Along the fruit and vegetable vendors, we spied a little chocolate stand. Among the bon bons and the patisserie were sheets of dark chocolate with bright red swirls – it was chocolate with cayenne pepper, something I’ve never tasted nor heard of.

Naturally, it was the thing we bought and tried. And then my chocolate world flipped on itself and was never to be the same. I instantly realized what was missing from chocolate for me, was a flavor that was going to intensify the complexity of chocolate itself. In this case, the cayenne pepper gave the bitterness more depth and, in a strange way, added a little sweetness all the while warming up my throat. It was so good, in fact, that I ate an entire sheet we bought, licking my fingers afterwards. In my broken French, I chatted with the vendor hailing the cayenne as the greatest thing to happen to chocolate. He agreed. We parted with him gifting me and my friend more of the spice-filled goodness.

After I moved to New York and got my bearings, I quickly figured out the artisanal chocolatiers, making sure to sample each one’s work, and without fail, try the spicy versions of their creations. Among the mix were Katrina Markoff’s Vosges chocolates – a store so pretty it made me want to have everything in aubergine. And I’ve stayed a loyal fan through the years, sampling all her whimsical creations. So when I spied her truffle recipe in Bon Appetit this month, I was on a mission – to make cayenne spiced truffles.


Ah, but I’m waxing poetic and lengthy with this post. It’s just that this is chocolate, people! And good quality too. Yes, I know, the cost might sound prohibitive, but the high end chocolate makes all the difference in making the proper ganache. Also, what if you hate cayenne? Can’t you then, try something else? Well, absolutely – create new flavors, see what suits you best. I think my next flavors will be lime-basil, earl grey tea, and vanilla-black sesame. Just be sure to use good quality chocolate, like Scharffen Berger, or Vosges. You’ll thank me later.

The truffles are not difficult to make, but it’s a very time consuming process. Make the ganache, then chill it. Roll the truffles, then chill those too. Then you have an option of dipping in melted chocolate (chilling that too) before rolling in anything from unsweetened cocoa powder (my pick) or chopped nuts, seeds, and so on. And then putting them back in the fridge. Finding those little cups for the truffles was not an easy feat. Luckily, my boyfriend spied some in his pantry and kindly shared.

32 pieces of heaven

Some recipes call for piping the ganache through, some ask for latex gloves for rolling. I didn’t have either at my reach, so I did everything by hand, periodically dipping my hands into a bowl of iced water (it’s not pleasant, I warn you) to keep them cold and prevent from making the chocolate. Lastly, I find it’s easier to knead the ganache with one hand before rolling it into a ball, or shape of your liking with both hands. If you’re imitating Maison du Chocolat, your truffles will be slightly potato-shaped. Otherwise, it’s a lumpy sphere for you – the classical truffle shape.

Whatever flavor and shape you use, these will, undoubtedly, add sparkle and zest to any holiday table. You should try to consume them within 8-9 days of the creation though – fresh ingredients only last so long.

While the Radish is off to a little sojourn in the Hamptons, I’ll be cooking there as well, and depending on internet access, try to post there too. Should I be cut off from all things online-related, I wish you all a very Happy New Year full of champagne and soirees!

Continue reading truffles with cayenne pepper.