Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Homemade Dark Chocolates


VALENTINES equals CHOCOLATES !

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES equal 

I LOVE YOU !

treat your loved ones to something HOMEMADE from the heart.
chocolate CAN be a healthy indulgence.
BUT...you absolutely must
MOVE OVER TO THE DARK SIDE ! 
i am not a nutritionist, nor do i carry any reputable knowledge in the field, but I DO LOVE CHOCOLATE !  and...of course, i'm stretching it a bit to say chocolate is healthy, but it does carry a "SUPER-FOOD" status. there really are health benefits from the cacao nibs and the bitter seeds from which chocolate is made. 

DO YOU NEED A FEW REASONS TO GIFT DARK CHOCOLATE ?!
lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, lowers heart risk, helps fatigue, super high in antioxidants
blah, blah and more blah...

i find it's EASIEST TO WORK WITH, and....
CHOCOLATES MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY


MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATES !
buy some molds,  use some mini cupcake papers or pour it on a sheet pan and make some "bark".
NO ONE WILL TURN DOWN HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES
(Chip N' Chipotle Bar recipe found HERE)

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE!
you want your chocolates to be nice and shiny?  go buy some molds like the ones shown... do you want it to hold up and not melt in hand?...be pretty for gift giving?  TEMPERING IS A MUST.  it is NOT hard to do.  i use the microwave method explained HERE.


here are a few flavors i have made...
always starting with 1 lb. GOOD "coverture"dark chocolate
UPDATE...shhhh...i did an experiment with Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips in a bag.  it works and the flavor is great.  some, MOST, chips won't work because they have stabilizers for baking.

DARK CHOCOLATE with South African flavors....
1 lb dark chocolate...TEMPERED
2/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
1/3 cup crystallised ginger, diced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/4 tsp cayenne
So African pepper blend from Trader Joe's
sea salt and more fresh pepper blend to finish

CUMIN CHIPOTLE COFFEE TOFFEE DARK CHOCOLATE BARS
(i used Cacao Barry Mexique 66% for this one)
1/2 cup toffee chips
1/4 cup crushed crushed coffee beans
1/8 cup cocoa nibs
1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp chipotle powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder blend, 1/2 tsp cumin...sprinkle with black salt.

TOASTED COCONUT CURRY GINGER DARK CHOCOLATE
1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut
1/3 cup crystallised ginger pieces
1/2 tsp Madras curry, 1/4 tsp cayenne, lime zest, dollop of vanilla bean paste.  finish with sprinkle of sea salt and a little coconut strands.

ROSEMARY BLACK PEPPER and POTATO STICKS
(i forgot to write this recipe down...my bad)
but i always use fresh rosemary that is dried in the toaster oven.  store bought just isn't as flavorful.  i also used crushed potato sticks that come in a can from Mother's Market and fresh ground pepper with sea salt finish.

when your chocolate is tempered at 90 F degrees, add your ingredients.  i like to keep my glass bowl inside another bowl with a towel inside to cradle and keep everything warm.  have a small hairdryer handy in case you need a blast of warm air to keep your chocolate at or around 90 F degrees.  pour or spoon your chocolate into molds of choice.  try to work fairly quick or you will lose you temper...in more ways than one. 
give the molds or tray a few knocks on the counter to release any bubbles and settle the chocolate.  sprinkle with salt, pepper, your extra what-evers.  set in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes and remove from fridge.  let them come to room temp before packaging for gifts.

THIS IS A MESSY JOB for 1st timers, BUT WELL WORTH THE GRATITUDE YOU WILL RECEIVE FROM YOUR INTENDED LOVED ONE.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pink Peppercorn Potato Chip Bar with Sea salt and Toffee bits


SPICY PINK PEPPERCORNS...
SALTY CRISP POTATO CHIPS
and SWEET CRUNCHY TOFFEE BITS

this is one of my favorite bars and i forgot to publish the post.  i've made so many bars in the last few months i can't remember them all.  i will post about the flavors in a few days...BUT... this post explains the way i temper chocolate.  it's quite easy once you get the hang of it.  it's possible to go from "plain disc-to-flavor bar" in about an hour.
i am not a chocolate expert, i have a regular kitchen like anybody else, no fancy equipment just a few molds and i use the simple microwave method.


TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE !!!!
i prefer the microwave method as seen here from Alton Brown.
BUT i have an adapted method without cocoa butter as noted below...
BIG NOTE... microwaves may vary.  you do not want this to happen too quickly.  you might lower the times by 5 seconds or need to power down your microwave a bit..... the point is small intervals of heat and stirring well in between to reach 115 degrees.  this will make for a good temper.

put approx. 3/4 of chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, set the remainder aside.  NOTE...i use a little less than 1/4 of the chocolate amount i am going to temper.
heat chocolate in glass bowl for 30 seconds...stir
heat again for 30 seconds...stir
heat for 15 seconds...stir
heat again for 15 seconds...stir
do this until 100 degrees
check temperature.  if it is 100 degrees stir and heat for 8-10 second intervals until it reaches 115 degrees for dark chocolate.  i only use dark chocolate.  the temperature is different for lighter chocolates.

at 115 degrees add the remainder of the chopped chocolate that you set aside...stir well to incorporate.
let it rest for a moment and stir again.  keep "gently" stirring until it reaches 90 degrees.  use a spatula to incorporate the sides so the whole bowl will be consistent.  it might take longer than you think, but do not rush this step.

90 degrees is the perfect temp to work with.

NOTE ABOUT TEMPERED CHOCOLATE USE......
(not really for this mix and pour recipe, but might be helpful if you are dipping or need it to stay tempered.

to help keep it at 90 degrees....keep your digital thermometer handy.  place the chocolate bowl inside a larger bowl with a kitchen towel inside.  this will keep it cozy and warm.  always remember to stir and keep the whole bowl/batch consistently 90 degrees.  ALSO... have a hair dryer handy.  if it starts to cool... blow a little hot air over the surface and stir at the same time.  not too much, just enough to keep it at 90 degrees.  ONE MORE....i have seen that you can also use a heating pad under the bowl, SET ON LOW.  i tried this once and it didn't seem to work.  maybe i own the wrong heating pad.  the element was not warming the bowl.


DARK CHOCOLATE
PINK PEPPERCORN  POTATO CHIP BAR with  SEA SALT and TOFFEE BITS

2 bars, 9.8oz. each, of Valrhona dark chocolate...chopped very well
1 cup Kettle One Salt and Pepper Krinkle Potato chips, crushed
1/2 cup toffee chips
3/4 tsp fresh ground pink peppercorns
flaked sea salt and fresh pepper for finish


NOTE...before you begin, cover your work surface.  chocolate can be a messy job.
once your chocolate is tempered, add in your ingredients.  add potato chips last so the salt doesn't mix in too much.  stir to incorporate.  pour into molds of choice.  work fairly quick or your chocolate temp will lower.  keep a hair dryer handy to give it a blast of hot air if necessary.  stir while using hot air.
NOTE...if you do not have molds, make "bark" OR use mini muffin cups, set them on a small tray or cookie sheet, spoon in chocolate.

tap and jiggle molds gently on the counter to level and get any bubbles out.  sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes to finish.  put in fridge until set, about 15-30 minutes.  remove from fridge and let come to room temp before packaging.
if your chocolate has been tempered correctly it should stay nice and "snappy", not melt to the touch and package well for gifts or hidden chocolate stash.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Whipped Ganache "Rocher-Style" Truffle Bombs


Whipped Ganache "Rocher"-Style Truffle Bombs

crunchy salted almonds, crisp snappy dark chocolate coating with smooth fluffy  whipped ganache surprise inside.


i must admit...these where an unexpected accidental delicious truffle treat.  i had a huge bowl of dark chocolate ganache frosting in the fridge and no cake...hmmmm...chocolate will not go to waste in this house.  i'll make truffles.
the interior, as you can see, is simply the whipped ganache.  the same you might use for frosting something like the unbelievable Black Magic Cake.  by the way...do check out the cake, it's a must for chocolate lovers.  with a quick dip in some tempered chocolate, a little roll in salted almonds and you're golden.  you've conquered the ultimate truffle.

if there's someone special, someone to impress or you're just in the mood for chocolate...suit up...put your creative hat on and give these a try.  put your own flavors together and see what delicious little ball of chocolate you can create.



WHIPPED GANACHE FROSTING 
or INTERIOR FOR ROCHE STYLE TRUFFLES

8 oz Guittard 70% bittersweet coverture chocolate discs
8 oz heavy cream
you could add an extract, a little cinnamon, some spice etc... if you want a different flavor other than pure chocolate.
NOTE...you can make as much as you want with a 50-50 ratio of chocolate to heavy cream.

heat heavy cream in a small sauce pan.  bring to a boil, remove from heat and pour directly into and over the chocolate.   allow to sit for 1 minute.  start to gently stir from the middle.  take your time.  you will see it magically come together with a beautiful shine.  stir until you have it all incorporated.  let sit on the counter for at least 45 minutes.  you are looking for a pudding consistency and ABOUT 70 DEGREES.  if you need to speed it up, refrigerate and stir every 10 minutes until pudding consistency.  put this in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment.  start slowly and move the speed up to high.  you will see that it forms soft peaks after one minute.  keep a close eye so you DON'T OVER WHIP.  watch it until it gets just a bit more firm. you want frosting consistency.  do not over whip or you will end up with chocolate butter.  
NOTE...as stated...this was originally a frosting recipe that i stuck in the fridge.  i found the frosting recipe with some great visuals at Joe Pastry.com so please check out his helpful photos for the correct frosting consistency.

refrigerate until set.
these are a bit more difficult to ball up than a regular smooth ganache truffle...a little messy, but doable.  definitely worth the effort.  when ready to roll...use thin rubber gloves and a spoon or small scoop.  the ganache might seem "crumbly".  do the best you can to make a ball.  remember, the more you handle it, the more it will melt.  i like to quickly press the ball together with my finger tips.  make small balls and refrigerate while preparing chocolate for dipping.

MISE EN PLACE !!!

COVER YOUR WORK SURFACE
CHOP ROASTED SALTED ALMONDS
PREPARE COOKIE SHEETS WITH PARCHMENT
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE
check link HERE for my instructions.
i use the easy microwave method similar to Alton Brown's seen HERE, but have adapted it slightly.  (Alton is thorough, but tends to complicate things sometimes.)
NOTE...i have only tempered 16 oz (1 lb.) of chocolate.  i am not a master, but any less might not come out perfect.  1 pound of chocolate will be too much for just these truffles.  SO...always have extra stuff (like nuts, cookies, chips, pretzels) or more truffles to dip and have fun with.  let no chocolate go to waste.

remove balls from fridge.  let them sit out for just a moment to take the chill off.  there is a fine line between cold and cool.  if too cold they with expand and crack after dipping and the outer layer has set.  if too warm they will loose shape.  

dip each ball in tempered chocolate.  lift out of chocolate with a fork, tap off excess and drop into bowl of chopped almonds.  carefully cover the whole thing and gently place on parchment
OR...you can place these into mini cupcake papers and sprinkle more almonds on top.

BIG NOTE...i was in a hurry so for the last few so i took a short cut.  i sprinkled a few almonds in the bottom of the mini paper cups, dropped the chocolate coated truffle in the cup and sprinkled almonds on top.  these are not shown here.  they're not quite as uniform, some almonds spill while eating, but it definitely did the trick, looked fabulous and tasted delicious.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coconut Curry Lime Dark Chocolate Truffle Bites


STAY-CATION?
are you stuck at home this holiday?...or know someone who isn't vacationing this season?
let chocolate take you somewhere, even if it's just for that one fleeting get-away moment.

TRUFFLES...
smooth dark chocolaty ganache...
perfect for gift exchange, dinner parties, hostess gifts or a simple quiet moment alone.

FOR THESE ASIAN TROPICAL TRUFFLES...a slight hint of coconut curry with a touch of fresh lime zest...
add a few roasted, slightly salty coconut chips from Trader Joe's and you'll have some unexpected flavors all come together for a delicious warm, yet refreshing dark chocolate bite.

please visit my index or the search box in the right hand column  and type in "truffles" for more delicious chocolate get aways.



COCONUT LIME CURRY DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE BITES

8 oz dark chocolate
zest from 1 1/2 limes
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut milk
1/2 to 3/4 tsp coconut extract, depending on quality and taste
1/2 to 3/4 tsp Madras curry powder, depending on quality and strength
NOTE...these are dairy free, but heavy cream works great

prepare a square or rectangular vessel with saran or tinfoil.  see photo below for example.

these are room temperature stable, but should be stored in the refrigerator.
chop chocolate in small, small pieces.  no large chunks....set aside in heat resistant bowl.
heat coconut milk(cream) in a small sauce pan.  bring to an almost boil, stirring to keep even heating...bubbling around the sides is a good sign.

add milk(cream) mixture to chocolate. 
very gently use a fork or skewer to disperse the hot milk into the chocolate.  do not stir at this point.  just gently prod around to remove any pockets of chocolate that might be stuck together or the bottom of the bowl.  let sit for a minute.  now begin to stir from the middle.  the ganache should start to come together from the middle.  start to incorporate the whole thing.   do not stir vigorously "YET".  just gently stir around and through until combined.  when it looks like all the chocolate lumps have melted in...add in the coconut extract, lime zest and curry powder, stir well...do a TASTE TEST...do you need more coconut, more curry, more zest?
now you can break out the whisk.  important...just whisk to incorporate and emulsify.   the whisk is OK for truffles, but DO NOT WHIP or you will end up with a frosting consistency.  you want it still pourable.  do this gently by hand, not a stand mixer.  whisk until fully emulsified.  the ganache will thicken ever so slightly.    pour into prepared dish/tupperware.  tap the container on the counter a few times to even it all out.  put this in the fridge and it should be ready in about 35-40 minutes.
 UNCOVERED until it is fully set.

above is an example using tin foil in an 8" x  5" tupperware (with a flat bottom)...i now prefer using heavy saran.  NOTE that this looks grainy on top because i sprinkled this batch with flaked sea salt before it was almost set.  this recipe does not need the salt due to the slightly salty coconut chips.

the whole block should lift out of the container.  remove the saran or aluminum and cut into squares or desired shape.  you might want to clean the knife between slices.  have a small bowl of cocoa powder and coat all sides.....DONE
except the top...leave clean for coconut chips to adhere.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crispy Treat


OH MY !!!

THESE ARE A MUST !!!
holiday or not...these are a HUGE hit!

crunchy, gooey
sweet, salty
THE ULTIMATE RICE CRISPY TREAT
(can be made gluten free)


PERFECT FOR COOKIE EXCHANGE, OFFICE PARTY AND HOLIDAY DESSERT TREAT TRAY.
the recipe can serve a crowd...you might even get 36 squares depending on how you cut them.  the squares can be more like bite size because they pack a flavor punch and just one bite is a mouthful.
i found these on pinterest and knew they would go directly to my "must try" board.
the original recipe comes from Debbie F. at Key Ingredient.  i'm sure these have been made many times over with all sorts of combinations, but i decided to go with a gluten free option.
it dawned on me that "rice" krispies are probably gluten free already, but i wasn't sure they were totally gluten free so i used chocolate crispies from Mother's...sorry i forgot the brand name, but it definitely stated "gluten free" on the box.
i threw some gluten free pretzels in as well to make up the full 7 cups.
NOTE...i am not gluten free, and i am not serving anyone with a severe allergy, so you will want to check all of your ingredients for your particular needs.


CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CARAMEL CRISPY TREAT...GLUTEN FREE

3 tablespoons of butter
10 0z bag of mini marshmallows
1 Tbsp of vanilla
6 cups of gluten free chocolate crispy cereal
1 cup gluten free pretzels, crushed to small pieces
14 oz bag of unwrapped caramel, i used Werthers
2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, divided,,,i used Jiff
12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts for the top
NOTE...i threw a few whole peanuts into the rice crispy marshmallow mixture as well...

butter a 9 X 13 inch pan.  also butter the pot and utensils you will be using to melt the marshmallows

place 3 Tbsp. of butter and the marshmallows in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until melted.  when completely melted and smooth, stir in the vanilla.  turn off heat and stir in cereal until completely coated.  the mixture will be VERY sticky.  use buttered hands to press evenly into pan.  mixture should be firmly pressed into pan.  try to have the top even.  place in the fridge to chill.
in another sauce pan (or just quickly clean out the one you were using)...place the caramels and 2 Tbsp of water over low heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.  add 1 cup of peanut butter (i suggest store bought like Jiff, not fresh).  stir this mixture until fully incorporated and smooth.  pour the caramel/peanut butter mixture over the chilled rice crispy mixture in the pan.  get it into the corners and as even as possible.  place the pan back into the fridge.
clean your saucepan again and, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring frequently so as not to scorch or "seize" the chocolate.  LOW HEAT.
when melted, add the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter, stirring until smooth.  pour this mixture over the chilled caramel layer, spreading to the edges in an even layer.  tap the pan a few times on the counter and give it a jiggle to even out the chocolate layer.  sprinkle on nuts if you choose to and place in the fridge to set for about an hour or until chocolate is firm to the touch.
cut into squares while still firm.
bars are easiest to cut while chilled,
BUT ARE BEST SERVED ROOM TEMPERATURE.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My first chocolate bar...Chip n' Chipotle Dark Chocolate



rich dark chocolate
crunchy tortilla chips
spicy chili blends
with pure cocoa nibs
and robust espresso beans


A CHOCOLATE LOVER'S 
bite size MEXICAN FIESTA


to make the beautiful bars, you'll need some molds.
i found mine at SURFAS.  they are also available here from Amazon.

you will also need to
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE.
the idea of tempering should not scare you away.  it's very necessary for a good crisp giftable chocolate bar.
the microwave method is very easy and will change your chocolate making life to a new level.



CHIP N' CHIPOTLE DARK CHOCOLATE BAR

1lb. dark chocolate.  i use "coverture" 61% Guittard discs
1/2 cup, plus a little more, crispy, salted yellow corn tortilla chips
3/4 tsp chili powder.  the kind you add to chili.  i get the medium chili blend, salt free from "Savory Spice Shop".
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
have some fresh ground black pepper ready to add if you want...i did add a little
20-25 whole roasted coffee beans, crushed into small pieces.  i used French Roast Pete's
(test them at time of purchase to see if you can easily break it with your fingers.)
1/8 cup cocoa nibs...for extra dark chocolate crunch
for looks...dried red chili, cut into small pieces.  i used chili arbol, as shown.


first...
MISE EN PLACE
crush tortilla chips.  i used a plastic baggie and a rolling pin.  pour this into a mesh sieve (NOT the fine mesh) over the sink and tap to get out the very small "sandy" pieces.  this will give more crunch, less sandy texture.
crush the coffee beans.
chop died chili
measure out your goodies and have them ready.
always have extra on hand for final taste test.  you might want more something...

next...
TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE!
this is very important...and NOT difficult.
it is a must for a good snappy, shiny chocolate finish and will make room temp stable chocolates.
i use the microwave method explained HERE that i have adapted from Alton Brown's microwave method see HERE.
IN A NUT SHELL... you will slowly melt the chocolate, bring it up to 115 degrees (for dark) and slowly lower the temp to 90 degrees before using...but please click on link for instructions.
once your chocolate is at 90 degrees (for dark chocolate) start to add all ingredients.  stir to incorporate, but no need to "over-stir".  do a taste test...add more what ever you see necessary.
pour into molds and sprinkle with a little flaked sea salt, pepper flakes, ground pepper?  remember this will be the bottom of the bar.
let sit to set OR i put them in the fridge until the bar has separated from the mold completely.
NOTE...to get a really "shiny" bar.  let it set completely and release from the mold.  the first time i was anxious and removed it too soon.  the bar in these photos is not as shiny as the next batch.  you can tell by gently lifting up the mold and looking at the bottom.  you will see if it has totally released from the mold.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dark Chocolate Breakfast Bar


CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST !!!
with granola, hickory smoked BACON, espresso beans and pecans

what self respecting chocolate lover doesn't dream about chocolate?

well, now you can wake up, enjoy your chocolate and feel fabulous about the day ahead.

A GOOD DAY STARTS THE CHOCOLATE WAY!


CHOCOLATE IS THE CURE ALL
of course there are health benefits in dark chocolate.  pecans have their omegas, bacon has protein...HA HA...and granola is...granola,
but the best part about chocolate is that "moment"
that feeling that everything is gonna be okay

WHY NOT START YOUR DAY WITH ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS...


THE DARK CHOCOLATE BREAKFAST BAR

1 pound of good dark chocolate.  i use Guittard 61% coverture discs
BACON...about 8-10 slices cooked crispy and chopped or crumbled
1 1/2 cup of good plain (gluten free) granola
1/2 cup "sweet-spicy" pecans, some cut, some whole.  try Trader Joe's
1/2 cup chocolate covered espresso beans
1/8 cup cocoa nibs
1/4 tsp hickory smoke flavoring in a bottle
1/8 tsp chipotle powder...a little more maybe?
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
smoked sea salt for top sprinkle.  try Maldon's flaked

NOTE...have extra goodies (granola, pecans, bacon etc.) on hand in case your mixture looks too "soupy".  ingredient size and shape can vary.

prepare an 8x8 inch square pan.  lightly butter the bottom and sides. this will help hold the parchment to the sides.  line the bottom and two sides with "the parchment sling" (baking tip from Suzie Sweet Tooth).


TEMPER YOUR CHOCOLATE!
this is rather important in my opinion.
tempering keeps your chocolate fresh and snappy instead of a melting blotchy mess.  it will keep at room temperature and be a lot more enjoyable to wrap and give away...TRUST ME.
this is not a hard thing to do.  i think the "microwave method" is easiest.  see my tempering instructions HERE or visit Alton Brown's instructions HERE.
IN A NUT SHELL... you will slowly melt the chocolate, bring it up to 115 degrees (for dark) and slowly lower the temp to 90 degrees before using...but please click on link for instructions.


once your chocolate is tempered and at about 90-91 degrees, start to add in your goodies.  NOTE...save a few bits and pieces for a sprinkle on the top.  when adding in the powdered spices like chipotle, i like to do this through a small strainer for more control.  i wouldn't want one person to get a mouthful of heat...right?
also be very careful with the "hickory flavoring".  this can make or break you.  use a light hand with this for the first time using.  i found that just about 1/4 tsp was good enough.
don't go wild with the mixing or everything will lose it's individual unique flavor, ie...the spicy pecans, the smoky bacon and the cinnamon granola.  you want everything including the dark chocolate to shine on it's own.
pour/spoon mixture into prepared pan.  let sit on counter until solid or put in the fridge.  when set, loosen sides with a knife and lift out by the "sling" handles.
cut into desired pieces with sharp clean knife.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Royal Raspberry Ras el Hanout Truffles


TRUFFLES...

not always the perfect sphere,
but guaranteed smooth chocolaty decadence.

take the short cut and make truffle squares...
no need to slave over a messy chocolate bowl with latex gloves and rolling into perfect little balls.
i've made so many little truffle balls in the past year or two that i've lost count.  it's the rolling, the mess and the clean up i don't look forward to...so i decided to pour the mixture in a flat pan, cut them into squares, dip them in cocoa and call it a day.


ROYAL RASPBERRY
RAS el HANOUT
dark chocolate truffles

say that 3x's fast ...

RAS el HANOUT...a Moroccan spice blend usually containing coriander, cumin, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, all spice, turmeric, paprika and black pepper.  it does vary a little bit from region to region, spice vendor to vendor.
i found my Ras el Hanout at Mother's Market.  if you can not find a Ras el Hanout blend, try the spice shop called "Savory" or you can make it yourself.  this recipe from Wiki-how(link) is similar to the one i have.
ROYAL RASPBERRY ?...an extract i have found very useful at Surfas.  it read on the bottle "for chocolate" so i snatched it up.  it's much better than your regular store bought raspberry flavoring.

FREEZE DRIED RASPBERRIES...crushed to a powder consistency in a spice blender for the exterior.  they look like THIS found at Trader Joe's.  for these truffles i chose to dip the top only.  i found that handling them fully coated is a bit of a "red" mess for the consumer.  then i dipped the sides and bottom with good cocoa powder....who doesn't mind a little cocoa powder fairy dust?...


i make small batches.  just enough for all my pals to get 1 or two.  this small recipe is just enough for about 24 nice bite size squares.


ROYAL RASPBERRY RAS EL HANOUT TRUFFLES

9.7 oz good 61% dark chocolate, chopped into tiny pieces
1/2 cup plus 3 TBSP coconut milk
2 tsp ras el hanout spice blend
1/2 tsp, plus a few drops of "royal raspberry extract"
freeze dries raspberries, crushed or whizzed into a powder
 and cocoa powder for dipping
(NOTE...coconut milk for dairy free, but can use heavy cream)

prepare a small square/rectangle dish or tupperware.  use something with a flat bottom.  mine is 8 x 5 inches.  lightly spray the inside, then line it with heavy saran or just use regular tinfoil.  make sure you have over-hang for easy removal.

chop chocolate in very small pieces...set aside in glass bowl. 
heat coconut milk with ras el hanout in a small sauce pan
NOTE...i put an extra tablespoon of milk in due to the straining.
heat the milk to just a boil.  strain directly into and over chocolate.  let sit for a moment.   i wrap a kitchen towel around the bowl to keep the chocolate mixture cozy when gently stirring the ganache.  start stirring from the middle.  the ganache will start to come together.
when the ganache looks nice and glossy and there are no visible lumps you can get the hand whisk out.  lately i have found that after everything is smooth and creamy a good hand whisking is in order to fully emulsify the fats...see notes below.  when you are satisfied with the consistency, pour into prepared dish.   tap on the counter a few times to even it out.  refrigerate until completely set.  should only take about 30-40 minutes.
remove by lifting out in one piece holding the saran.  cut into squares and coat in powdered raspberries and cocoa.  if you store them in the fridge they will darken as shown, but can handle room temp for a day or so, covered.
NOTE...quite often my coconut milk ganache seems to "break"...this means it is not absolutely glossy after it is combined and will result in a grainy truffle texture...you DO NOT want this.  i can now recognise it right away.  if this happens keep whisking to emulsify until glossy.  if you don't notice it until after it has set, don't worry...just cut block into small squares and reheat over a double boiler...then whisk until fully emulsified. and pour into another prepared dish.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Candied Bacon



MY NEW FAVORITE FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

i now believe i found the perfect flourless chocolate cake.  as stated before in previous posts...most all flourless chocolate cakes are going to be delicious...that's a given, BUT most are very difficult to serve.  i usually end up with little chocolate crumbles on me, the table, the floor.  chocolate mess is not a bad thing, but i like the presentation to look as good as the cake will taste.

THIS IS A SPECTACULAR CAKE

smooth, rich dark chocolate
fudgy, yet light
not overly sweet
a perfect canvas for extras
serves like a charm
gluten free
a definite crowd pleaser


the original recipe comes from Gourmet Magazine, Nov. '97.
i decided in my usual fashion that it needed a little something extra.  i can't help myself.
Guittard dark chocolate
vanilla bean paste
a little espresso
a sprinkle of cinnamon
and, of coarse...a pinch of chipotle

oh...and don't forget
THE CANDIED BACON !


CLASSIC FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
with a spicy Mexican twist
original from Gourmet Magazine Nov. '97

for the cake...

4 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped small and evenly
(i used Guittard 61% coverture discs)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar.   i used super fine sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup good cocoa powder, again...i used Guittard
1/2 tsp(slightly rounded) cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
1 tsp powdered espresso

preheat oven to 375F.  line an 8 inch cake pan OR i used an 8 inch spring form pan.  line the bottom and sides with parchment and lightly butter or grease the parchment.  the sides might not be necessary, but that's what i did.
in a small bowl add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, espresso and chipotle. whisk to combine and set aside.
in another small bowl add the chocolate and butter.  use either the microwave or a double boiler to slowly melt the chocolate/butter until smooth and shiny.
pour warm chocolate mixture into medium mixing bowl with the sugar.  whisk to combine well.  now whisk in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next.  add the vanilla.
sift cocoa powder mixture into the chocolate mixture and whisk until WELL combined.
pour into prepared pan.  bake for approximately 25 minutes.  i turned the cake after 15 minutes.  start watching after 20 minutes.  mine took about 23 minutes.  toothpick should come out clean with moist crumbs attached.
allow cake to cool for 5 minutes.  if necessary, run a knife around the edges and invert onto serving platter.
NOTE...since i was going to ganache the cake i inverted onto a piece of parchment on a cooling rack.
let cake cool completely.


for the ganache...

6 oz good dark chocolate, again Guittard 61% coverture discs
6 oz heavy cream
1 tsp clear corn syrup

prepare your cake for ganaching...choose your "nice side", either the top or the bottom.  put cake on an 8 inch round that you will serve off of.  use cardboard or i used the removable 8" bottom from a tart pan.  set cake on a rack over a sheet pan to catch the ganache "fall-off".  you will want to save this for truffles or just a big spoon-to-mouth.
chop chocolate into even small pieces and set aside in a glass bowl.  (i like to wrap a kitchen towel around the bottom to keep the working ganche cozy).  warm cream and syrup in a small sauce pan until just a boil.  pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.  begin to gently stir from the middle.  take your time, you will see the ganAche magically come together.  now stir to fully incorporate and there are no lumps and it is nice a shiny.
pour warm liquidy ganache over cake...starting with a pool in the middle and spiral out wards.  work fairly quickly so it does not set.  pick up the cake and jiggle the ganAche so that it covers the whole top.  it is a messy job, but you will get the hang of it.
DO NOT go back and try to fix the top, but you can gently add to the sides where the chocolate might have missed while dripping off.
add chopped CANDIED BACON in the middle for appearance or all over for pure indulgence.   NOTE that the bacon does not make for a clean slice, but i'm sure you can work around it.  LOL !
let cake sit  to set undisturbed until serving.  you may refrigerate, but you must take it out of the fridge at least an hour or two ahead so that the condensation from temperature change slowly disappears.


for the CANDIED BACON....

preheat oven to 390F convection.
this can be done the day ahead, but you will need to re-crisp the bacon in the oven before using.  line a cookie sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.  lay out as many pieces of bacon you can...extra will disappear before you can get it on the cake.  set timer for 15 minutes, but don't go far the first time trying until you get it down.  remove from oven and pour off excess fat into a heat safe glass dish...you might want to save the bacon fat as I DO to use for "bacon-butter".  flip the bacon.  sprinkle the slices with brown sugar, cinnamon and chipotle powder or chili powder or cayenne if you want some heat.  put back in the oven until good and crispy.  remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.  if it is not crispy enough when cooled...put them in the oven on the wire rack and watch carefully...do not let them burn.  save in air tight container with parchment.  if using them later you might want to re-crisp them a bit.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Delicious Peanut Buttercream Frosting with Easy Chocolate Cake


all i can say is...

if you love PEANUT BUTTER

you'll love this cake.


 this "cake"post is all about the frosting.
the cake is good and super easy to throw together, but it definitely takes a back seat to this sweet savory smooth peanut butter buttercream frosting.
my friends were absolutely head over heals about this cake.  the aroma of peanut butter wafted though the air.  they were rolling there eyes before the first bite...  i even got called into the manager's office because of this cake.  my friend Jennifer said, "ah jules...i need to see you in the office for a moment..."   i thought i might have done something wrong or misplaced something important...
nope, she called me in because of this darn cake!
peanut butter frosting is a winner
i think i will try this frosting on the "Black Magic Cake" i made a few weeks ago...now that's a chocolate cake.  that would be a heavenly match.


ONE BOWL CHOCOLATE CAKE

FOR THE CAKE...
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp slat
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted about half way
3 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

preheat the oven to 325F.  grease a 9 inch round cake pan.  line with parchment.
sift flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.  add the butter, sour cream, milk, egg, vanilla and mini chips.  mix well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  it's okay if the batter is a bit lumpy, but make sure there are no clumps of undissolved dry goods.  scrap into prepared pan.
bake for 30-35 minutes.  check after 25 minutes.  cake should be firm to the touch, skewer comes out clean and cake is just pulling away from the sides.  MINE WAS DONE IN 25 MINUTES with oven at 320F
cool on rack for a few minutes then unmold and cool completely.
i like to stick it in the fridge for a bit before cutting it in half for layering.



PEANUT BUTTER-CREAM FROSTING
aka Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

place powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  mix on medium-low speed until good and creamy, scraping down the sides as you work.  add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

NOTES...i have not worked with frosting a lot, but i found this one very forgiving.  as in...it was easy to work with and did not get stiff as i was playing around.  i could go back and fix the top, practice my swirls and work on the sides.  i'm learning as i go.
also...i baked the cake on a Tuesday, frosted the cake on Wednesday and took the full cake shot.  Thursday i shot the slice and served it Thursday afternoon.  my point IS...this can be made the day before and sit covered on the kitchen counter.

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