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Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

In the great wide recipe universe, there are probably more for brownies than any other. So many versions, so many methods. For me, it comes down to fudgy versus cakey and I am firmly in the fudgy camp. For years I’ve used an Alice Medrich recipe made with two kinds of chocolate and a very small amount of flour that is intensely fudgy, chocolatey and wonderful. Sometimes I add nuts or peanut butter swirls or coffee powder, sometimes fruit like port soaked cherries or fresh raspberries and sometimes I just leave them plain. They’re fabulous. Then last week, after an hour call in which chocolate was discussed at length, I had a craving for brownies but not a speck of chocolate in the house. This is highly unusual. Highly. Not wanting to run to the store, I shifted through my pantry and noticed I had a lot of cocoa powder. Not my usual but that could work. I looked for a cocoa based recipe and came upon one I’ve crossed paths with for years but never made: Katherine Hepburn Brownies.

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Last Friday was National Gum Drop Day, another in the long, often times puzzling, list of made up food holidays. I thought I had an idea for this one. I really did. I did not. While working on the Peco Brittle (peanut-coconut brittle) a few weeks back, I remembered something else my friends mother used to make that I thought was delicious: Gumdrop Cake. As I recall, it was a simple chocolate cake baked in a square pan, studded throughout with gumdrops and slicked with a simple chocolate icing. I seem to remember I liked it. I think I was wrong. It is horrid. And it kind of threw me off my game for a few weeks.

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I haven’t started this year off on the right food, from a health nor a cooking perspective. I pushed into 2018 with a cold. That horrible, no good, terrible flu that’s making the rounds. I was down for the count for days and have been “in recovery” for two weeks. I feel better – I’m not downing a pack of Dayquil every few days anymore – but I certainly don’t feel great. I haven’t been hungry. I haven’t been cooking anything beyond buttered noodles and frozen pot pies. My kitchen mojo is running on empty.

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Financiers are a basic standard in the repertoire of any pastry chef. A simple cake consisting of egg whites, powdered sugar, almond flour and a good bit of browned butter, they are traditionally baked in small bar molds and served as a mignardise or petit four at the end of the meal. They are rich, toothsome and best enjoyed as a small bite. The history around this traditional French cake comes from the Parisian financial district and the clever bakers in the surrounding shops. They developed sturdy little butter cakes, said to hold up well in pockets, to sustain the financial workers in their neighborhoods. Another theory is the name came from the traditional rectangular mold said to resemble a bar of gold. I suspect it’s a combination of both. These pâtisseries practiced a key business rule early on: know your customer. Marketing via the late 1800’s.

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Caramel is my absolutely favorite thing of all time. True story. When I was a kid, I’d receive a box of See’s vanilla caramels for special occasions, which I would hide and ration out for weeks. At some point, See’s stopped making the plain caramels and only made them with nuts, which wasn’t ideal but I coped. Then one year, they stopped making them entirely. My heart was broken. That was the year my little sister, she must have been about 10, made me homemade vanilla caramels for Christmas. It was such a thoughtful thing to do and they were perfect. Then the unthinkable happened. On Christmas night the damn dog got into the tin and ate ALL of them. I cried. When that dog had the runs for the next two days, I was not sad.

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Cream puffs. Oh my. I am thoroughly convinced we do not eat enough cream puffs in life. No way. We all need to change this immediately. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had a cream puff. Éclairs, certainly and I even know when I last had a Paris-Brest (because that happens, am I right??) but a cream puff? No idea. What’s up with that? Éclairs are so refined, so pretty – just look at what L’éclair de Génie in Paris does with a humble choux paste – but cream puffs seem more informal, more casual, more fun. So in my one-woman quest to change this situation, today I present to you a dark, triple chocolate cream puff. Lent is a whole week away; get it in while you can. Yes indeed.

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Chocolate Pudding is one of those classic recipes that stick around forever. It’s one of those dishes that make you feel better, no matter what’s going on or how crappy your day may have been. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m big on comfort foods and memories. In my world, food can easily turn around a blue day. Things like chicken pot pies, squishy rolls and of course chocolate pudding, can turn the tide on an upside down day.

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Well Happy Valentine’s Day friends. That ever so special day of chocolate, hearts and overpriced flowers. I’m doing a few chocolate posts for the month and this is no exception though today, I’ve holiday’d it up for you. I’ve made cookies and if you’re going to make cookies for Valentine’s Day, they have to be heart shaped. It’s a rule.

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For the last several years, I’ve done a series of chocolate posts for the month of February. Expected? Absolutely but the month that contains Valentine’s Day and sometimes Fat Tuesday always seems to say “chocolate” to me. It’s funny because as I’ve stated a few times before, I’m not much of a chocolate eater. Shocker, I know as I lean more towards the vanilla, caramel and fruit end of the spectrum. All the same, as this February approached, my thoughts turned to … you guessed it … chocolate. In this case, it was marshmallows.

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It’s that happy time of the year where, if you’re lucky, leftover Halloween candy rains down upon your head. I don’t get many trick-or-treaters to my city apartment; in fact I get zero; so I don’t really have to deal with the conundrum of figuring out exactly how much candy to buy every year. So many unknown factors build up to one big question: how many kids? Weather factors in, certainly, and that can be very unpredictable in some parts. Neighborhoods also age – what might have been an endless stream of kids one year, can turn into a trickle as those kids grow up and become too cool to knock on doors for candy. The struggle is real, my friends because god forbid you run out of candy.

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