Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sweets for my Sweets

 Valentines Day is upon us and what would be more fitting than a post about chocolate? It may be appropriate at this point to stop reading, grab a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) a handful of Dove Chocolates or snap off a piece of your favorite Black & Green chocolate bar.  If you are in dire need, a handful of chocolate chips or a piece of bittersweet baking bar will do.
   Good chocolate like good coffee, is either worth the trouble or higher cost to you or it's not. It's a sort of enlightenment. Recent studies have confirmed the health benefits of good, dark chocolate. this has translated to me as, "eat more chocolate" or "feel less guilty."  It is not unusual to find rolled up foil wrappers from dark Dove chocolates in the washing machine, dryer, in my jeep, in the fishing tackle box, and all of my family's coat pockets. Yes, we love chocolate.
   Chocolate is my favorite de-bonking remedy on long Mountain Bike rides.  Chocolate milk is as popular a post-ride beverage as a micro brew.
   So what better reasons have we for not making some cocoa imbued sweets for our Sweethearts?

Here are some tips to keep in mind while cooking 
with cocoa and chocolate

  • Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate can be used interchangeably. Bittersweet as the name indicates is less sweet. Choose one from a premium chocolate maker.
  • Unsweetened chocolate can NOT be used interchangeably with bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.  
  • Cocoa powder can be either natural unsweetened or Dutch processed.  Dutch processed involves a treatment with alkali to neutralize the natural acidity.  Dutched cocoa is nutty and mellow, natural cocoa is sharper and fruity in flavor. 
  • It is best to use the type of cocoa called for in the recipe because both cocoas react differently with baking powder and baking soda.  Use the finest cocoa powder you can and/or try the many bulk varieties available at natural food stores.
Baked donuts glazed in ganache

Chocolate Stout Cake
Chocolate Stout Cake

1 1/4 c. Stout (Guinness or a good home-brew)
1/3 c.dark molasses
1 2/3 c. unbleached whole wheat flour (preferably organic)
3/4 c. unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1 1/2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. baking soda
1/2 tea. sea salt (I like to use Celtic)
1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, room temp. softened
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
3 large farm eggs
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
Chocolate ganache (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°
Butter and lightly flour a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan (or two 8 inch cake pans or 12 mini bundt pans).
In a small pan bring the stout and molasses to a simmer, then remove from heat and set aside.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cream the butter in a large bowl, by hand or with a mixer, until smooth, about 1 min.  Add brown sugar, beat until fluffy and light, 3 min.
Scrape side of bowl often.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Scrape bowl after each.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and stout using low speed.  When well combined beat on med. speed for 20 to 30 seconds, then stir in chopped chocolate.
   Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s). Spread it evenly.  Tap pans lightly to eliminate any large air pockets.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.  45 to 50 minutes.  Cool on a rack for 20 minutes, invert onto the rack.

6 ounces semisweet chocolate ( I like to use half bittersweet)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 tea. vanilla
Slivered almonds (optional)
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Allow to stand for 1 minute then whisk until it is all melted and smooth. Let the ganache cool for a few minutes and then drizzle over the cooled cake.  If you are making the layer style cake you can spread the inner layer with a favorite jam (plum and cranberry jams are wonderful in this cake) or use a light spread of the ganache before setting the next cake layer atop.   Slivered almonds are optional.

Marzipan...I love marzipan. It is like edible playdough. From our traditional Yule log cake to this lovely cake, you can be very creative with this confection.
Marzipan embellished Chocolate Beet Cake 

Chocolate Mousse My favorite French dessert.  Its is so simple but so impressive.
1 2/3 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 egg whites (preferably from farm eggs)
1/2 c. sugar
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted then cooled
Shaved chocolate for garnish

Beat cream, vanilla and salt in a large bowl with a whisk until stiff peaks form. Chill.   In another bowl beat the egg whites  with a whisk until soft peaks form. Slowly add add sugar while whisking until stiff peaks form.  Add the cooled melted chocolate to the egg whites. Gently fold until almost incorporated, add the whipped cream and fold until all is completely blended.  Spoon or pipe the mousse into 6 serving dishes and chill.  Sprinkle with chocolate shaving just before serving.
I hope you will try these amazing, easy  recipes.  Remember to make the classic before doing weird experiments. Cooking (an art) is a lot like mixing paint, too many colors make mud!

Chocolat, Je t’aime !


One more fabulous recipe:

Four Dozen Wicked Truffles
Wicked Truffles

1 lb. Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
8 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. coconut oil
1/8 tea. sea salt
2 eggs yolks, beaten
Optional flavorings: Amaretto, Raspberry Vodka or other

Tossing Accents:
Lime-sugar (1/2 cup granulated white sugar with zest from one lime, shake well, infuse overnight)
Cocoa Powder
Ground almonds

Melt the chocolate, butter, coconut oil and salt in a double boiler.  stirring often until smooth. Whisk the yolks in a bowl, add 6 Tbs. boiling water. Whisk constantly.  Strain and add to the melted chocolate and whisk till very smooth and glossy.  It is at this point that I divided the chocolate into three bowls. I left one plain chocolate, added 1 Tbs. Amaretto to another and 1 Tbs. Raspberry Vodka to the third.  Whisk all well till flavoring are fully incorporated. Chill for at least an hour.  Scoop out with a small ice-cream scoop dipped in hot water or a rounded measuring spoon. Roll the plain truffles in the cocoa.  Roll the Raspberry ones in the Lime-sugar! and roll the Amaretto truffles in the ground almonds. Chill, store in the refrigerator.  Amazing and better than store-bought!!!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article eggs: