Tag Archive for chocolate

Beet & Chocolate

beet chocolate cake IMG_1699

I am firmly in the beet lover camp: a well grown garden beetroot  tastes of clean sweet earth. And that’s a good taste, intense, earthy, crunchy when raw, silky when cooked, deep garnet. But I know that the beet is as fervently disliked as it is loved. As much for taste as for its uncanny ability to color everything sanguine.

But that perceived flaw is also a strength. One can turn beets into a natural food coloring. Years ago, I made preserved cherries from a Greek recipe that called for dropping a chunk of beet-root in the jar of preserve to enhance its color. The cherries tastes faintly of beet – fine with me since I like beets.

Then, a few days ago, at breakfast, leaving through an older issue of Saveur magazine, I stopped turning the page at the gorgeous photo of icing in the most lovely shades of pink. Colored by beet powder! According to the article, beetroot powder has some earthy sweetness but  does not have a strong taste. I was intrigued.

I made beet root powder. Because right now we have beets. The recipe for DIY beetroot powder is here. A mandoline is helpful to slice the beet paper-thin. After drying the beet slices in my yard-sale food dehydrator (they looked like rose petals!), I pulverized the dehydrated slices in my Vitamix. Worked like a charm!

beet powder IMG_1679 beet powder IMG_1684

Then I wanted to make icing. And use it. Read more

The Eggs and The Chocolate Mousse

Our small flock of hens are laying well – it’s not unusual to pick-up 6 eggs or more a day, meaning 3 1/2 dozen a week! Eggs make a nice hostess gift for hen-less friends, and although we like 2 eggs for breakfast once in while, and omelettes are ones of the most versatile and nutritious fast foods I know, that’s a lot of eggs for the 2 of us.

 

Classic Chocolate Mousse

So, at the moment, egg-based dishes are what I bring to pot-luck dinners – a double bonus as both deviled eggs and creme caramel (which takes twice as many eggs as a regular baked custard) are very popular.

So is chocolate mousse. Read more

Of Chile & Chocolate (Spicy Chocolate Custard)

A Spicy Variation on 3-2-1 Custard

This recipe first appeared in the Virginia Wine Gazette.

Peppers (aka chiles) and chocolate are products of the Americas – unknown in Europe until the Spanish conquistadors brought them home in the 16th century. Can you imagine Belgium or Switzerland without chocolate? Calabrian or Greek cuisines without hot peppers?

Cocoa was an expensive beverage – and an acquired taste, too, since it was served without sugar or milk, both unknown in Mesoamerica, but with hot chilies and vanilla, both Mesoamerican native spices. Expensive, bitter and spicy, it’s no wonder cocoa was considered a medication.

Yet, once the Europeans added sugar and milk, hot cocoa, as we know it today, took off. Starting in the 18th century, various processes were developed to form chocolate bars and candies. The modern eating chocolate bar was born in the mid-19th century.

As other tropical areas of the world started to grow the cocoa tree for its seeds, the cocoa bean, which is dried and fermented, chocolate’s popularity was sealed.

Chiles and cocoa work great together indeed: a number of chocolatiers are teasing our taste buds by adding the spice to their gorgeous chocolate confections. You can do it at home too! Add unsweetened cocoa to your favorite chili recipe. Throw a pinch of hot ground chile in chocolate desserts.

I make no claim for their health benefits nor for their possible aphrodisiac qualities, but I can assure you that chocolate and chiles, alone or together, are wonderful winter fare – in fact wonderful fare any time of the year.

Below is a variation of what I called 3-2-1 custard: the Spicy Chocolate Custard. 3 eggs/2 cups milk/ 1 cup chocolate chips: those are easy proportions to remember, negating the need for printed recipe if you need to whip a dessert quickly. You may tweak the spices and flavoring endlessly for subtle differences. Read more

Chocolat, Je T’Aime.

I post a picture of pickled Jerusalem artichoke or marinated peppers (canned last summer) or wheat berry salad on Facebook. Do I get request for recipe? hahaha… However, I post – as an after thought really – a photo of an almond and chocolate cake… and I get no less than 3 (3!) requests for recipe. My friends like chocolate.
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But who indeed does not like chocolate?

I would normally not post a recipe for Reine de Saba cake, because, really, it’s such a classic. And it’s a classic for good reason: it is such a very good cake – beautiful, dark and tender; it’s also balanced: not too dense, not too intense, just right. After a bite, you’ll understand its name. Read more