Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Chocolate Strawberries

This afternoon I made some chocolate covered strawberries. I have dipped berries in chocolate before but I will admit, I have never actually tempered the chocolate. I figured it was time to do it right so I tempered it, since I don’t have a nice big marble slab I chose to use the “seeding” method. It is really very simple, you chop some chocolate (about 1 lb.)…

…bring it up to about 110*F in a double boiler mixing constantly at this point all the chunks should have melted. Let it cool to about 100*F and then add some more chocolate (about 4 oz.) which will bring the temperature down further still. When the chocolate reaches the desired temperature, in this case about 90*F  remove the solid chocolate.

Since I was using the chocolate for dipping, I placed the bowl of tempered chocolate in a bath of water that was a few degrees warmer in order to keep the chocolate liquid for dipping.

I dipped clean and DRY strawberries in the melted chocolate and set them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. When I had finished, I  put the tray of berries in the fridge to set up.

Tempering the chocolate resulted in a smoother finish and a crisper break when you bite through the chocolate. It only took a little more time but I think it is definitely worth it.


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C is for Cookie

Last weekend I was on a major cookie kick, starting with some chocolate chip cookies on Thursday. One of my good friends had an Art Show Opening on Sunday, a lucky excuse to bake some more. I made two kinds for the opening, lemon sugar cookies and chocolate sables.

The lemon sugar cookies were cut out in the shape of bones in honor of the main focus of her work, Max (a fantastic poodle.)

The chocolate sables were thin and crispy with irregular bits of molten chocolate. The dough, sprinkled with fleur de sel, was just sweet enough to balance the deep chocolate.

Having a hard time fighting the temptation to bake still more cookies, with no real excuse, I gave in on Tuesday and made a batch of makrouth. A Tunisian cookie made with semolina, dates, oranges, and olive oil. The end result somewhat resembles a fig newton.

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I got up early this morning to bake a cake. I only have one large sheet cake pan so I had to bake two layers, separately. I used the same recipe that I used for my friends wedding cake last summer. Last night while reading through some cookbooks, I came across a useful tip. When baking large cakes, reduce the oven temperature by 25*F to allow for more even cooking. I tried this out today and I am pleased to say that my cake turned out quite nicely, no dry or crispy edges and the center is cooked through!

While the first layer was baking, I prepared the batter for the second layer. With both layers baked and cooling…

I thinly sliced some strawberries. (Normally I don’t buy like to buy fruit out of season but I had a request for strawberries and they actually looked pretty juicy so I went for it.)

I put the berries in a bowl and sprinkled a some sugar (maybe 2 Tbsp.) on them.  I whipped some cream and assembled the cake. I put the strawberries in between the two layers with just a touch of whipped cream…

…then covered the entire cake with whipped cream and dusted it with a little cocoa powder.

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Last weekend I went for a little drive and wound up Michigan. Among many things I (I should really say we, as it was a group effort) made some delicious chocolate chip cookies. The recipe that we used is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. They were delicious, especially with a large glass of milk!

I am back home now and tonight I wanted to make some more cookies, I decided to play with the recipe and use yogurt with a little baking soda as a substitute for the eggs. They were quite tasty, though a bit thinner and more chewy with crispy edges. It’s hard to compare the two cookies, they are totally different. I enjoyed the eggless version but I am not completely satisfied. I will let you know when I come up with the perfect compromise, until then here are some more pictures.

This time, I used chocolate morsels from Askinosie Chocolate. They were well worth it! These dark chocolate morsels are a nice break from sweet cookie.

Ready to go in the oven…

and finally cookies before bed….

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A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with some of my friends and their daughter and I came up with a plan to make chocolate truffles for her classmates for Valentine’s day. So, today, we did just that. We used the ganache that I had leftover from the Sarah Bernhardts that I made yesterday.

The Munchkin chose orange zest, roses, sea salt, and cocoa powder for garnishing. She may be 10, but she has quite the refined palate.

We spooned out portions of the ganache and rolled them into balls.

Since the chocolate melted in our hands, it required some cleaning up between batches. Don’t worry, the Munchkin also used the sink for this step…)

When we were finished making the balls, we prepared the garnishes.

For one variation, we crushed dried rose buds and mixed the petals with some orange zest and rolled the truffles in it.

For the other, we rolled the truffles in cocoa powder. Both types got a touch of vanilla sea salt on top. Finally we put one of each in their little boxes…

…and tied them up with a ribbon and a card.

They are simple and delicious!

Here is a basic recipe for ganache:

1/2 lb. finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 c. cream

1/4 tsp. salt

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof mixing bowl and set aside. Place cream and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Leave the ganache at room temperature for least 6 hours. Note: You can speed up the “setting up” process by refrigerating it and stirring it every 20 minutes until it is set, but I don’t recommend this technique, it tends to come out a bit grainy in texture.

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Sarah Bernhardts

Yesterday I did a cooking demo at the At Home Store. I made some really wonderful cookies that are a cross between a macaron and a truffle. The recipe that I used is from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook:The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion by John Barricelli. They were really fun to make! They were pretty simple even though lots of different steps were involved. The first step was making the chocolate ganache.

Secondly, I made the almond macarons. I used a pastry bag to pipe out tiny little rounds…

Then I melted some chocolate for the hard casing. (This was the only place that I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. It calls for a little bit of vegetable oil, to keep the chocolate looking shiny, but I only had olive oil pressed with tangerines–so that is what I used instead. The orange was very nice although maybe a little too strong. If I were to use it again I would use even less and maybe mix it with some vegetable oil.

With all of the elements ready, it was time to assemble the cookies. I piped some ganache onto each cookie…

…and then dipped each one  in chocolate.

They were really tasty! I had a lot of ganache left over! I think I could have made about a third of what the recipe called for and had enough.

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A birdday cake

My sister made this cake a while ago and it looked delicious! When I was deciding what to bake for my brother for his birthday, the “Chocolate Guinness Cake” came to mind, it is rich, chocolaty, and moist. Perfect for a wintry day like today.

The first step was to pour the Guinness in a wide saucepan, add the butter and warm it until the butter melts.

Next, I whisked in the cocoa powder and the sugar, until it was smooth. I slid the pan off the  hot burner and beat the eggs with some vanilla and sour cream. I added the egg mixture to the pan and mixed again. Lastly, I added the flour and a little baking soda.

I poured the batter into a springform pan and popped it in the oven for about 45 minutes. When it was done, I put the cake outside to cool.

Meanwhile, I made up a batch of cream cheese frosting. The recipe calls for a little whipping cream to be added into it, making it fluffy, somewhat resembling the foam on top of a pint of Guinness.

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