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July 27, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate-Chambord Sorbet

Recipe time! I see a lot of recipes flow through my inbox, but tonight's recipe just seemed like such a great thing given the heat of the season (and it has been yucky hot). The recipe du jour is for a Chocolate-Chambord Sorbet. That'll help you beat the heat. Well, it'll help ME beat the heat. At least once I get an ice cream maker. It does require one. But I've been dying to get the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer, so this could be just be the excuse I need.

Anyway, if you direct your browser toward the Grand Forks Herald you'll fine where Chef Jeff shares this piece of love alternate link at the Sun Sentinel to avoid some paywallage. I have a feeling that I might be making some of this in the near future. Not sure I have Chambord, though. I might need to try it with Grand Marnier instead. Which sounds just lovely to me.

July 21, 2010

Hot Chocolate Summer

Well, things have been... interesting. I'm working and this is good. As a result I've not been putting a lot of time into the blog. Again. And I've been eating lots of chocolate and baking and all sorts of fun stuff. I've just been busy with getting used to the new job and stuff and therefore not writing about the chocolate happenings. Tonight, however, I feel like posting so I'm going to go on a bit about what I've been up to.

First thing to address is the Weekend of Disastrous Chocolate (fully deserving of those capital letters). I was tasked with the creation of some decadent dessert for my brother's birthday. I tend to aim high and normally I hit my target close enough that things are all good. This time, well, I'm not exactly sure how it went. I decided that I would make something from my favorite cookbook, Alice Medrich's Cocolat. I decided to shoot for Chocolate Decadence - a torte with a name that summed up what I wanted to deliver. It sounded easy enough. And things seemed to go quite smoothly until I reached one point where things didn't feel quite right. I was folding my egg whites into the chocolate mixture and it just didn't seem to go well. I don't know if I over-whipped my egg whites, under-whipped them or possibly what I was folding them into was too hot. Or maybe I just had wrong expectations. It just didn't seem quite right so after the baking I set it aside as a failed experiment. One that tasted just lovely with a little raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Yes, I have odd standards.

So with one "failed" recipe behind me I decided to do something foolproof: brownies. Not the traditional cocoa brownies, but chocolate ones. So I reached for another Medrich cookbook, Bittersweet. I like the book because it has a great variety of recipes and has variations on some of them that are nice and easy to play with. I picked the version of the recipe I wanted to do and started flipping back and forth between the main recipe portion and the variant and got to work. I was certain I had everything right this time. Until I started looking into the oven to check on the progress that is. It really seemed to be sort of seething on top. Like it was over moist. The top looked almost like it was boiling. When I finally slipped the brownie slab out of it's pan the parchment in the bottom of the pan was stuck to the pan by an enormitude of liquid butter. The main recipe called for about twice the butter that the variant did. So my replacement dessert was just a wee bit over-buttery. Rich as all get out and not too bad tasting at all, but not what I was shooting for. Brownies should not leave you with greasy fingers.

So I turned to the cupboard to see if I had any bulk chocolate left. I had some old old old baking chocolate of dubious quality left and that was it. And I needed to get baking immediately. So I made another batch of brownies, this time with the right amount of butter. In fact it had the right amount of everything if you ignore the fact that the chocolate was old and sub-par. And in spite of the shortcomings of the chocolate itself the brownies turned out really pretty tasty. Finally I had a dessert I was reasonably happy with. At least happy enough to serve.

So to recap: it took me three tries to get to a dessert I felt confident serving. I should have just served the torte I made in the first place. It was tasty and people kept picking at it at the party. Not my best work, but I should have had a little more confidence in it. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Moving on, I've not eaten a whole lot of interesting chocolate of late, but I did pick up some Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Caramel squares to take into the office. I like to keep a candy bowl at work for the community at large. It's my little way of trying to help others through the day. It's all about sharing the power of chocolate. Anyway, they're really pretty darn tasty. Not the cheapest of chocolates, but not outrageously priced given the quality. And it's a bit better than the Snickers and Milky Way Midnight I like to stock the bowl with. Not that I plan on switching over to them instead of the cheaper fare or anything, but they make make an appearance in the bowl from time to time.

The other little item I've been picking up at the store is Coconut M&M's - yes, they're back! I've been running into them in stores again and I quite like to have them available to me once more. Well, available to me without me having to hit my big zipper bag of them that I've been slowly snacking on since last year when they first made the scene. They make me happy. Next to the Peanut variety these are my favorite M&M's.

Finally, for some odd reason I really felt the need for a mug of hot chocolate the other night. And if there is one thing I have a lot of it's hot chocolate. There are literally more than a dozen hot chocolate options in my cupboard - I kid you not. I decided to go for the good stuff and reached for my canister of Jacques Torres Wicked Hot Chocolate. I used a bit more milk than the instructions call for, but it was still awesome tasty. An odd choice for a really hot summer day, but it's what I craved.

So that's a bit of what's been going on in my little world o' chocolate. Not sure if or when things will get back to normal around the blog, but normalcy if overrated.

Cheers!