Friday, April 30, 2010

Chocolate with Francois

This month's challenge was hosted by  Moogie of Moogie and Pap and the direction from Moogie was to make Francois Payard's  Chocolate Mousse (Presented in a different and creative way ) .  I thought of a zillion different ways to present the Mousse but seriously it's all been done before, tarts,tortes,frozen,baked in a cake,sandwiched between cookies and I'm sure somewhere along the line someone even tried to fry it !  So I just decided to go with the flow and do something I love and enjoy.  While I was picking up groceries this week I kept seeing all the fixings for strawberry shortcake and I thought what about raspberry shortcake with chocolate mousse instead of whipped cream and of course raspberries instead of strawberries.  So ta da I give you my take on Chocolate Mousse ,it will be the first time I have ever had it this way-Raspberry Shortcake with Chocolate Mousse ! 

I used my new miniature angel food cake pans and made tiny little angel food cakes.  Yes I'm one of those gadget girls when it comes to baking , aren't we all ?  I mean someday someone will be beating down my door for those little angel food cakes !  I used the recipe that came with the pan and they turned out OK,a little too spongy for my liking but not bad.  I made up some raspberry syrup from fresh raspberries and put that in the bottom of the serving bowl along with a layer of fresh raspberries.  I hollowed out an even larger opening in the center of the cake to make room for the chocolate mousse and filled it to the brim !  I drizzled more raspberry syrup over the whole thing and took chocolate ganache that I had left over from some cream puffs and drizzled that over the entire cake and topped it with a sweet little raspberry !  Yummy, way too rich and something I will only have occasionally-like maybe every Friday !  This challenge reminded me how much I love mousse-it's so light and sweet-it matches the personality of the little angel cakes !  So enjoy my sweet little angels !

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chocoholic Friday

Whew, what a week it's been.  Trying to do a minor remodel in the kitchen-very minor but hopefully it will create more storage and more baking space for moi !  Had to make a decision about my job and if I wanted to move on to more responsibility-decided to stay put for now ! And last but not least getting ready for a major garage sale next week.  Now I'm not a garage sale kind of gal -truth be told I hate holding them,love checking them out but really hate putting one on.  So you ask why am I doing one-that's exactly what I'm asking myself right now and I haven't come up with the answer yet. And in the middle of all of this mess J and I have decided to head to the Oregon Coast for a 2 day vacation. Ahhh. the coast- the beach just like chocolate makes everything  good again !  And I really need that right now-my spirit needs recharged.   I even felt frazzled when I was baking this week.  I couldn't commit to what I wanted to make for Chocoholic Friday. I would think of one thing and drift to another-very uncommitted and indecisive. And then when I decided on Francois Payard's recipe for pate a choux,pastry cream and ganache I had trouble putting everything together. My pate a choux was a little tough,my pastry cream a little too thick and my ganache-actually my ganache was pretty nice-shiny and smooth. 

I'm a firm believer in being right with the universe that whatever you put out there is what you get back. Unfortunately I was putting out frazzled energy and stress so my little cream puffs were bumpy and lumpy.  Oh well such is life-just a minor bump in the road. Really with all that is going on in the world my little cream puff crisis is ridiculous and guess what? I'm so grateful that it's the worst thing I have to worry about. And a bumpy cream puff tastes just as delicious as a perfect one.  I wish you a worry free life, but if you do have bumps in the road I hope they are as small as the bumps in my cream puffs ! Enjoy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Velveteen Rabbit and Carrot Cake Macarons

I have wanted to join a macaron challenge at Mactweets for some time now and the theme this month is just perfect. Why you ask this month-well just on the heels of Easter all of the stores have had their Easter decorations at 50-75% off and so many times I have walked by the bins and spotted sad little bunnies in all the colors of the rainbow  looking up at me-I wanted to take them all home with me.  I'm well beyond the age of collecting stuffed animals but not beyond the age of remembering my favorites that are long gone.  My absolute favorite was a little brown raggedy rabbit that I had with me at college.  I don't remember much about the awkward 15 year old boy who gave him to me for my birthday but I remember everything about the rabbit. Whenever I was sad and needed someone to talk to he,the rabbit, not the boy was always there. Where he is now? The rabbit,not the boy, I'm sad to say I don't remember..hopefully he has met the same fate as the sweet little Velveteen Rabbit in my favorite childhood book by the same name. 

You think I am mindlessly chattering now but I'm not, I really am  getting to the point. The point being the May Mac Attack challenge is to  create a macaron inspired by a beloved childhood book, an extract, a character, something from any book from your childhood. With that being said,and with melancholy memories of that rabbit and all of my secrets he took with him, and to honor my favorite book The Velveteen Rabbit, I am creating Carrot Cake Macarons with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting .
My little rabbit wherever you are I can only wish that you led a life of happiness in green grassy fields with fresh young carrots and many friends. Hmm,that's an appropriate wish for my friends to-many many days of happiness in green grassy fields,with blue skies,plenty of fresh young carrots to munch on  and many friends who help make you real !

And thank you to Lara at Cook and Eat for inspiring me with her photos and recipe !  And a huge thanks to Helen Dujardin at My Tartelette for her amazing Macaron Tutorial .

Carrot Cake Macarons with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Helen Dujardin
3 large egg whites (90 grams)
1/4 cup Just Carrots dried carrot pieces (From Whole Foods or go to Just Tomatoes  website)
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground mace
1 pinch ground ginger
200g powdered sugar
110g slivered almonds
a pinch of salt
25g caster or very fine granulated sugar

4oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 pinch salt
1 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Place the freshly separated egg whites in a bowl, lightly covered with plastic wrap, and leave them overnight (or up to 4 days in the refrigerator). It is important to age the eggs before starting the cookies.

When the eggs have been aged, grind the carrot pieces to a fine powder in a spice (or clean coffee) grinder.

In a food processor, grind the almonds with the powdered sugar until it resembles coarse sand. Add the powdered carrot, cinnamon, mace (or nutmeg) and ginger and give a quick whir to mix. Set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat for about 30 seconds until the whites are a bit broken. If you are measuring by weight, this is a good time to make sure you have 90 grams and adjust as needed. The egg whites are easier to work with when they’ve been beaten a touch. Toss in the small pinch of salt, and beat them to a foam. Then, start slowly adding the sugar letting “rain down” (as Helen says). Beat until the meringue is glossy and holds a peak, stopping and checking frequently to make sure you don’t over beat.

Add the sugar/almond mixture to the meringue and stir with a rubber spatula to combine, about 10 strokes. Then, start more gradually folding to slightly break down the meringue. Test the batter every few strokes. Drop a small dot of the batter on a plate. If the top flattens after a few seconds, it is ready. If it holds a peak, give it a few more strokes. If it spreads quickly, you’ve over folded.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip, and pipe small rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet (I’ve had better luck with parchment than silplat, but some people like the silplat better). Preheat your oven to 280F. Let the macaron sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before putting them in the stove. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. If the interiors still seem wobbly (lightly touch the top with your finger and move back and forth to check), turn the oven off, but leave the cookies in while it cools. Then, remove the cookies from the oven, and let cool to room temperature before filling.

To make the filling, whisk the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup and salt together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach your preferred texture and sweetness. The shells are quite sweet, so the filling doesn’t need to be.

Spread a good sized dollop on one shell, and then top with a shell of a similar size and shape, giving it a little turn as you do. Place the cookies in an air tight container overnight, either at room temperature or in the fridge, for at least 12 hours before eating.

PS. These were quite the challenge. I went through 5 attempts and still my macaron tops are a little flat and the feet a little small.  I think I will try these with Italian Meringue vs French the next time. Although after looking at the volcanoes and amaretti type results from the first 4 attempts I don't think these turned out too badly.  Any advice on what I am doing wrong that is resulting in flat tops and little feet would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake

Things were very hectic today. You know one of those days were one thing starts everything else rolling and spiraling almost out of control . And I say almost because you are always right on the edge,thinking you may fall off or maybe even leap off just to get away from the craziness. But then you look up and the day is over and you are looking into the eyes of someone who loves you, who can make the world calm again for you and make you realize what life is really all about. And a day of craziness turns into a sweet little night,watching my favorite,Anthony Bourdain, in Provence. Not just Provence,but Saint Remy-my perfect place. It's the place I go to when I need to center myself and calm myself. Just closing my eyes I can see the blue skies and the bright sun and smell the olives and lavender. Then in my mind I see the produce,the beautiful melons, the juiciest reddest tomatoes I have ever seen with a taste that I will never forget. The saltiness of the olives, the smell of the fresh herbs, the creamy tartness of the cheese..yes it's my part of the world I hold in heart always....

And now it's time for dessert....if only I had a bagful of cerise de Provence...cherries...I have always loved cherries. Growing up we had one of the most beautiful cherry trees in our backyard. Every spring it was so full of blossoms and bees-incredible. And we would watch the little green cherries grow and turn red and darken to a deep dark red. Then we would try and pick the most perfectly formed ones before the robins devoured them. That sweet taste,the dark stain on our fingers,the red cherry juice on our lips,those were wonderful times picking those cherries. In honor of that wonderful cherry tree I give you today's dessert for my Chocoholic Friday. Triple C- Cherries,Chocolate and Cheesecake-a perfect food for the end of the day. Something that reminds me of the beauty of Provence and the sweetness of youth.

Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
Bon Appétit October 2006
by Jeanne Thiel Kelley

Yield: Makes 24 small cupcake size servings
Crust24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup blanched almonds finely chopped

1 9.7-ounce bar Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Scharffen Berger)
4 large eggs

3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 13oz jar of Chukar Cherries Raspberry Cherry Preserve & Topping

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with 12 cupcake lines. Blend cookies and almonds in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of cupcake lines. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. This filling is very thick, I used an ice cream scoop and placed a scoop of filling into each cupcake liner. I used the scoop to flatten out the filling,it came to just about 1/4 inch of the top of the liner. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 15-18minutes. Cool 15-30 minutes. Then chill overnight.
For topping:
Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Take a teaspoon of the Chukar Cherries preserve and place on top of the cheesecake in the center. Pour the chocolate ganache carefully around the preserves so that you don't cover the cherries. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour. Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Calcotada Festival -Seattle Style

Sometime in the middle of January when the weather was cold and grey and I was mindlessly channel surfing I found Anthony Bourdain's Spain Journal on the Travel Channel. I was mesmerized by his participation in a Calcotada Festival at a private farm. The Spring Onions roasting on the fire, the thick chunky red romesco sauce and the Spanish Wine flowing like water . I wanted to go there immediately, I wanted to taste those sweet onions dipped in the Romesco sauce while the red wine dribbled down the side of my mouth. That was the moment I knew I had to visit Spain ! Seriously, we usually make our travel decisions on something that gripped at our hearts and souls. We traveled to Italy one year after seeing the movie Only You with Marisa Tomei. We both fell in love with Positano and knew that someday we would be there walking down the steps to the beach at Positano and the Mediterranean Sea. And we did exactly that-it was incredibly beautiful and romantic.

So of course after watching Anthony Bourdain all I can think of is that wonderful farm in the Catalan Region of Spain in the Spring-and guess where we are planning our next trip ? Yes Spain-Barcelona, Madrid, Andalusia and Catalonia and as many more places that we can squeeze in without filling squeezed in ! And in honor of the vacation planning and the memory of that first glimpse of Catalonia thanks to Anthony Bourdain (PS I love him and his show ) I am celebrating Spring in Seattle with our own little Calcotada Festival.

I'm heading to Pike Place Market looking for spring onions and the ingredients for the Romesco Sauce. Even Saveur magazine fell in love with the recipe, check out their recent recipe and article . I searched and searched for authentic Spanish Romesco Sauce recipes -I stumbled on this one at La Tienda the Best of Spain. I also found a beautifully written article in the LA Times describing the Catalonian alchemy of a good romesco sauce. If you can try and ignore all the ads please read the article ,it's wonderfully romantic ! And it's accompanied by several Romesco Sauce recipes.

The recipe I finally settled on was one I found at a blog called In Praise of Sardines by Chef Brett Emerson. Apparently he has opened a lovely little restaurant in San Francisco that was recently written up in Food and Wine . Check out the web site and on your next visit stop by his restaurant Contigo and let me know how it was. I'm putting it on my list of stops in San Francisco just because I loved the things I found on his blog !

I bought everything I needed for the Festival at Pike Place Market. The peppers,vinegar,almonds,hazelnuts and garlic-all from a wonderful store called "The Spanish Table". The onions and tomatoes came from one of the produce stands at the market,the bread from Three Girls Bakery and the shrimp from one of the many fish purveyors at the market. It was such a gorgeous day for shopping at the market I was easily distracted by the flowers and people. I wish I would have come later in the afternoon because there was a BBQ competition going on and the street was packed with different cooks and my oh my the smell of BBQ was everywhere. Unfortunately for me cooking had just started at 10am and wouldn't be ready for a bit. That's what I love about Pike Place Market,always a surprise and always something delicious !

So back to the Calcotada Festival- I decided that I can't have a festival without dessert so keeping with the theme we will be have Crema Catalana. I found this recipe at a beautiful blog by the beautiful Laylita, a fellow blogger from Seattle. It is so sweet and indescribably delicious. Jorge,my brother in law,is going to be very sorry he missed this dessert ! He loves flans and creme brulee type desserts and this one is perfection.

Salsa de Romesco
adapted from Brett Emerson
Yields about 3 cup

7-8 dried Nora chilies (reconstituted in water that is brought to boiling and chilies allowed to steep for about 1 hr-save the water , throw out the seeds and stems)
6 Tablespoons good Spanish Sherry Vinegar 1 1/2 cup hazelnuts -skins removed
1 1/2 cups marcona almonds-blanched
3 slices bread - torn into 1-inch pieces
approximately 1 1/2 cups Spanish extra virgin olive oil
3 small tomato
1½ cloves garlic, one whole and unpeeled, the half clove peeled and minced
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons bittersweet Spanish paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper-if you want it spicy otherwise eliminate or season to taste
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Tear chili(s) in half and remove stem and any seeds. In a pan, heat the chilies in enough vinegar to cover the chili halves and allow to soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Strain the chili (s),reserve the liquid,throw away any stems or seeds.

In another pan, fry the nuts and bread in 1 cup of the olive oil over medium heat until golden brown . Scoop out the toasted nuts and bread and reserve them. Save the olive oil, allowing it to cool to room temperature, to add to the sauce later.

Roast the tomato and whole clove of garlic in the oven for 15 minutes. I left the tomato skins on during roasting and when I added to the sauce.

In a mortar, the traditional way , or in a food processor, pound or grind the raw garlic with a pinch of salt. Then add the nuts, bread and roasted garlic and pound/grind to a paste. Add the tomato, pepper , cayenne, 1/2 cup of the reserved vinegar, salt and continue to pound/grind.

Gradually drizzle in olive oil, first the nut infused oil from the frying of the nuts and then an additional ¼ to ½ cup oil, until the sauce reaches a spoon able consistency. Adjust the flavor by adding more vinegar and salt to your taste.

While you can use it right away, the sauce tastes even better the next day and keeps for about a week.

Calcots,Romesco Sauce and Shrimp
1 pound tail-on large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 bunches large spring onions, bulbs trimmed of their roots and greens attached
Best-quality olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 loaf pain rustic or country white bread, sliced 3/4 -inch thick on the diagonal
Sea salt
Romesco sauce
1. Heat a grill over medium heat. Toss the shrimp and the onions with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt; brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
2. Grill the onions until the bulbs are tender and with good grill marks and the green parts are somewhat charred, several minutes. Rotate the onions occasionally with tongs for even grilling. Set aside.
3. Clean the surface of the grill and cook the shrimp next, rotating for even grilling just until the flesh is opaque and firm.
4. Clean the surface of the grill and grill the bread, rotating for even grilling. Serve the warm bread, shrimp and onions on a platter with a large bowl of romesco sauce in the center for dipping.

A perfect night for our first of many Calcotada Festivals !

Ahhhh the Crema sweet,so light..and the burnt caramelized sugar on top..mmmm

I am so grateful that I can spend a wonderful day shopping and enjoying the market and then come home and prepare such an incredible meal from the market's bounty. It was a lovely dinner, we sat and talked and dreamt about our trip to Spain . Life can sometimes be harsh but when we take the time to create these little moments for ourselves it's magical. I wish you a little magic in your life.

PS. You can see my market shopping adventure over on my work blog
Enjoy !

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheesecake and Chocoholic Friday

It has been a busy week, as am I sure is true for you too ! Work has picked up and I took on a new assignment-writing once a month for our blog at work . I'm very excited about that and trying to map out my strategy ! I'm a week away from first deadline and first blog so if I seem a little scattered it's because I am !
On top of that I had to do what we call "site visits", that is visit the hotels we sell as part of our tour packages so I know what I'm talking about when I make recommendations to our customers ! It couldn't have been a more beautiful day to visit Victoria, BC. The skies were blue, the waters calm and our boat, Clipper IV fast and comfortable.

In between site visits I discovered a wonderful little Scottish Pub that opened in Victoria just a little under 2years ago-The Bard and Banker. If you are in Victoria stop by and order the Pork Sliders for lunch. You will not be disappointed ! 3 little sliders of delectable pork served three ways, a spicy pork sausage with a sweet smokey sauce, a pulled pork with zesty barbecue sauce and coleslaw dressing and last but not least a crisp bacon,lettuce and tomato slider. Mmm Mmmm good. Definitely on my list to return to and should be on yours too.

But I digress, again and again. Back to Chocoholic Fridays-today I'm dedicating my White Chocolate,cinnamon blueberry , mouth puckering lemon cheesecake to Chocoholic Fridays ! I started working on this recipe on Tuesday and after 2 other combinations this is the recipe I came up with. Warning- this is not your one little bite won't hurt me cheesecake. This is give me the cheesecake or I will huff and puff and blow your house down cheesecake ! So don't say I didn't warn you.

White Chocolate,Cinnamon Blueberry, Mouth Puckering Lemon Cheesecake

1 cup finely crushed lemon shortbread cookies or make your own lemon shortbread !
1 cup finely crushed lemon snicker doodles -ditto
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest

1 1/2 lbs creme cheese,room temperature softened
2 cups coarsely chopped white chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of sour cream (or whipping cream)
4 large eggs-room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped lemon shortbread and lemon snicker doodle cookies
11/2 cups of whole blueberries
1/2 cup Hershey cinnamon chips.
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon mixed with 1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon

Finishing touch
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
For the crust:
Toss the crushed cookie crumbs,butter and sugar together in the bottom of an 9" spring form pan. Press the crust into bottom of pan ,clean the sides of any stray crumbs and spray the sides lightly with a nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of lemon zest over the crust.

For filling:
In a mixer bowl, blend cream cheese,sugar,and sour cream until smooth, scraping bottom and sides of bowl to incorporate everything, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in eggs,vanilla,lemon and flour and blend well for 2-3 minutes on low speed. You don't want to beat and incorporate air into your batter.

Place the spring form pan on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle 1 cup of fresh blueberries over the crust . Spoon one third of the cheesecake filling into prepared pan and top with half each of chopped cookies,cinnamon chips and the zest of one lemon and 1 cup of the coarsely chopped white chocolate. Dust on some cinnamon sugar. Cover with the 1/2 cup blueberries and another third of the cream cheese filling and then layer on more cookies,more cinnamon chips, and more cinnamon sugar. Add the last bit of filling and finish the top of the cake with cookie crumbs,coarsely chopped cookies in small pieces, cinnamon chips,the remaining white chocolate and a good dusting of cinnamon sugar. You want to end up with what looks like a streusel type topping.
Bake 55-65 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the oven door about 6 inches and let the cheesecake cool down inside the oven for 1 hour. Don't be alarmed if the center appears jiggly prior to chilling it-it should and it will firm up. Once cooled move it to the refrigerator and chill for at least 6 hours-12 hours is best. Carefully loosen the spring form pan from the cheesecake-you may need to slide a flexible metal spatula which has been dipped in hot water around the inside ring of the cheesecake to loosen it.

Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

As I was rushing home from work today I was trying to think what could I make that was quick,nourishing and very tasty ? I knew I had to work on a lemon blueberry cheesecake before I started dinner so I wanted something that wouldn't occupy a great deal of my time because my little cheesecake was going to need my full attention. See I have my priorities straight -cheesecake first, dinner second. Of course I have some friends who would say who needs dinner when you have cheesecake !

Trying to think of something quick for dinner took me back to growing up, when my mother was working part time and we would get home from school and she would have less than an hour to feed us before she took off for work. Those nights became grilled cheese nights-something that was a favorite with my sister and brother too. Good old Kraft American Cheese on Wonder Bread, with a slathering of butter and a bowl of Campbell's Tomato Soup to wash it all down ! That's a comfort meal I crave on cold winter days. But today is not cold, and it's not winter,but I , like my mother, need something really quick,now, and fast ! And I can't get that grilled cheese out of my head. I remember seeing a recipe for grilled cheese and ham sandwiches in a magazine recently so as soon as I walk in the front door I grab my stack of April magazines and as luck would have it I stumble right onto the recipe in the first magazine I picked up. It's in the April issue of Food & Wine. By the way if you don't have this issue run out and buy it . There are so many fabulous " let's get together for a party " recipes in there I can't wait for summer to try them ! Anyway, back to the grilled cheese.

The recipe is called "Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry-Red-Wine Jam ." It takes 30 minutes to prepare and it is delicious ! Of course I didn't have brioche so I substituted some fresh Italian bread and I used a Cabernet instead of the Pinot Noir in the jam-excellent ! First, I never thought of putting strawberry jam on my ham and cheese. Second I never would have thought of mixing red wine with my strawberry jam-but the combinations in the sandwich were perfection. The smokey ham,melted cheese,sweet strawberry jam and the wine on a crisp Italian bread-yummy. And with a glass of the same Cabernet I used in the jam-it's a great way to wind down after a busy day! I can't wait to try this on brioche the next time !

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bouchons and Ribbons

Here it is Friday again and I have found a way to combine two of my favorite things-shopping and chocolate ! Maybe I should call this Shopaholic Friday instead of Chocoholic Friday.
The good news is the "Terrible Storm" never really materialized-it came in the night while we were sleeping and barely woke anyone. I think that was very considerate. And since the weather turned out to be so lovely on Thursday I ventured out to one of my favorite stores in West Seattle, Northwest Art and Frame.

Now don't let the name fool you -it is full of artist's materials and they do amazing custom framing. I speak from experience-they framed an antique print of Paris for me a few years back and did an exceptional job. But I digress, what the name of the store doesn't tell you is this store is better than Martha Stewart meets Donna Hay ! You can find lotions,candles,cards,place settings,little tiny bird's nests,books,children's stuffed teddy bears and frogs ! Beautiful wrapping papers,gorgeous construction papers in wonderful pastel hues -I can go on an on -really truly it is an artist's nirvana.

I went in search of ribbons yesterday and as usual they did not disappoint. If you are looking for unusual ribbons in many colors and textures and materials this is the place for you. I confess,sometimes I just go in and buy the ribbons because they are so pretty-I have nothing in mind when I buy them but something always develops once I have them ! Plan on spending some time here,as you wander the aisles and inspect the displays you find little treasures hidden around every corner. I found everything in my photos for this post today during my wanderings in the store. Except for the Bouchons.

Ahhh, the Bouchons-I remember when I first discovered them-sweet little brownie like kisses. I must have spent hours that day reading about Thomas Keller and his restaurants and cookbooks and THE BOUCHONS. I love petite desserts-one or two tiny bites and it's gone. But the flavor and memory of the taste never leave. They are little baby surprises for your mouth and senses. I could bake these everyday and never tire of them,but alas J, my taste taster would chase me out of the kitchen for adding to his waistline and increasing his treadmill time ! So I make them every few weeks, little week-end treats for us and only us-sorry today Chocoholic Friday is for my love and myself. You can join us by making your own sweet little Bouchons.

I found the molds I use for these at another favorite store Williams Sonoma, you can order them here . They make a wonderful gift for your favorite baker !
Enjoy Chocoholic Friday !

Chocolate Bouchons
adapted from“Bouchon
by Thomas Keller

Makes 24-30 Bouchons\
Butter and flour for timbale molds
3 ½ ounces (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ cup plus 3 tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
24 tbs unsalted butter, melted and just slightly warm
6 oz semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equitoriale (55%) chopped into pieces the
size of chocolate chips-yes you can cheat and use the miniature Nestle semi sweet chips !
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Special equipment : 2-ounce Fleximolds or 3-ounce timbale molds or the Williams Sonoma Bouchon Molds
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour twelve timbale molds-I used a very light coating of Baker's Joy on my molds. Set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick and very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can get refrigerated for up to a day.)

Put the molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag, without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick; It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate).

Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the molds and let cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds. Bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked-just not in one sitting-trust me you will be tempted !
To serve: Invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar.