Category Archives: chocolate

Sweets for the Sweet

I normally am a big curmudgeon when it comes to Valentine’s Day. For some reason I’m optimistic about my love life, this year. Though there is no one in the works, I feel that this spring will bring someone wonderful and new. So for the first time since elementary school, I’m celebrating this silly holiday. I’ve been meaning to make these salt caramels for quite some time now; this is the perfect excuse. Funny enough, they where fast and easy to make!

Fleur De Sel Caramels

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel, more for garnish
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 lb high quality dark chocolate

Line bottom and sides of a glass loaf plan with parchment paper, then lightly spray it with oil.

Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.

Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.

Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into pan and cool 2 hours.

Chop the block of chocolate into small pieces using a serrated knife and place them in a metal bowl. Fill a small saucepan with water and heat it on medium-high heat. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan and heating water.

Cut the caramel into pieces, you can use a cookie cutter to cut it into small hearts. Lay them out on a large sheet of parchment paper.

Once the chocolate starts to melt, constantly stir it with a sturdy rubber spatula. When you drizzle the chocolate back into the bowl from the spatula, it should sink into the pool of chocolate, this is how you know it is 100% melted. Take the bowl off of the saucepan and place into another bowl containing ice and water. Using the spatula, keep mixing the chocolate so that it doesn’t harden on the edges of the bowl. Keep mixing it till the chocolate, when drizzled back into the bowl, doesn’t sink but piles up on itself.
Dip the caramels into the chocolate, removing the excess dripping chocolate and place on the parchment paper. Sprinkle a tiny amount of salt onto the top, a few grains. Let the chocolate harden and dry for two hours before packaging.

For love or chocolate

I started a new job for the month of January. To win over my co-workers I quickly whipped this up. It worked like a charm. This will melt anyone’s heart.

Raspberry Filled Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
1-1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c brewed coffee
2 t pure vanilla extract
2 T vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix the oil, water (or coffee), and vanilla. Slowly and gently pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and mix the batter with a whisk.

4. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls (and some bubbling) in the batter where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter (the color becomes more consistent throughout).

5. Pour batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes–testing with a toothpick. Remove to a cooling rack and frost.

Vegan Vanilla Icing
1 c shorting (transfat free)
3 c powdered sugar
½ T vanilla extract
1/8 c soymilk
4 drops of food coloring

1. Beat all ingredients on low, then high with an electric mixer, until fluffy.

Raspberry Filling
1 frozen bag of raspberries
1 cup of sugar
2 T corn starch
Water

1. Heat raspberries and sugar in a pot on the stove at medium high heat until bubbling.
2. Mix corn starch with just enough water to make a lump free slurry.
3. Add corn starch mixture to raspberries and stir, still on the heat, till the mixture is thick and clear and glossy.

Cupcake Assembly:
1. After cupcakes and raspberries are cooled to room temperature, you can start assembling.

2. Cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Cut the bottom part off of the cone of the cap, eat or discard.

3. Fill the cupcake with a spoon full of filling, place cap back onto to seal in the filling. This doesn’t have to be perfect.

4. Pipe the icing onto each cupcake

5. Decorate as you like.

Perfect for a cold winter’s night

When I first wrote this recipe it was chocked full of cream and butter. Then I gave it to Frances to “make over” for Health Magazine. The original had over 1000 calories in it. I couldn’t bring myself to give up all of the fat, so here is a good, but still decedent, lighter version.

Tipple Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Bread Pudding

Cooking spray
1 loaf challah or brioche bread, cut into 1-inch
4 large eggs
½ cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 white chocolate chip
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup sugar
2 cups cream, divided

Spray 2 muffin tins with the cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, condensed milk, vanilla, bourbon and salt. Soak the bread in the egg mixture for 1 hour. Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Fold in the chocolate. Fill each individual muffin cup with the brad and chocolate mixture and bake for 1 hour till the pudding puffs up and is golden brown.

While the pudding is cooking, heat the sugar in a saucepan at medium high. Swirling the pan as the sugar melts and caramelizes. Pour 1 cup of cream into the sugar and let it boil to combine. Continue to let the caramel boil to thicken.

Beat the remaining cup of cream to a stiff whip.

Serve the warm bread puddings with the caramel and whipped cream.

Sweet Tart

Tarts are a quick solution for that impressive desert. There is something about the arrangement of glossy fruit that make’s people’s mouths water. My crust recipe can be use to make a double crusted pie, so why not make two tarts instead. The more the merrier.

Christmas tarts: Apple Hazelnut and Chocolate Raspberry

Crust
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball.

Separate the dough into two equal rounds. On a well flowered counter top, roll out each round of dough till it fits into each tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the corners and trim off the top. Set each aside.

Apple and Hazelnut Filling
1 cup shelled hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
¼ teaspoon vanilla
3 large granny smith apples, pealed, cored and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
¼ cup water

Toss the apple slices in the lemon juice and set aside.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a blender puree the hazelnuts, sugar, egg, ½ stick of butter and vanilla until they form a paste. Spread the hazelnut paste over the bottom of the pastry.

Starting from the outside arrange the apple slices, over lapping to make a rose pattern. There should be no pastry or hazelnut peeking through. Really pack in all of the apples. Sprinkle the apples with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and dot the remaining ½ stick of butter over the apple. Back in the over until the apple and crust are golden brown, about 1 hour.

When the tart is close to being finished, heat the jam and water in a small saucepan until melted. Once the tart comes out of the oven brush the jam mixture over the apples, coating lightly, so that they apples are shinny. Let the tart cool to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Raspberry Filling

1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup of cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pints raspberries
2 tablespoons apricot preserves 

¼ cup water

Fill the tart shell with beans or pie weights. Bake in a 350 degree oven until it is golden brown.

Place the raspberries into a colander and lightly rinse. Cover with paper towels and let dry.

While the tart shell is cooling, place the chopped chocolate into a metal or heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan on medium high until scalding. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and add the vanilla. Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes so that the chocolate melts. Using a whisk, submerged vertically in the center of the bowl, whisk in a circular motion until the cream combines with the chocolate to form a silky ganache. Pour the chocolate into the tart shell.

Starting at the outside, arrange the berries, stem side down, in concentric circle till all of the chocolate is covered as much as possible.

Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan until melted. Brush the jam mixture over the berries, coating lightly, so that they are shinny. Let the tart cool so that the chocolate sets, before serving.

I’m dreaming of a chocolate Christmas

To me, Christmas means desserts. This year I spent Christmas eve in New York City with some of my closest friends. It took two days for me to make this cake and it was worth every second. This is so rich and impressive looking. Unfortunately after just one piece, I was satiated.

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake

Cake
2 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dalt
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa
½ cup shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mousse
2 pints strawberries, stems removed
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
4 ounces white chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Ganache
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces

Garnish
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Pre heat the over to 350 degrees. Heavily grease one 10 inch round cake plan.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a spoon. Put the bowl into the mixer and add all of the wet ingredients. Beat the batter on low with the balloon whisk. Once the ingredients look combined, scrap down the sides with a rubber spatula and then mix the batter on high till it turns a lighter brown color. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan and cook for at least 3o minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan, on top of a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the wire rack and gently tap the bottom of the pan. Lift the pan and let the cake cool completely on the wire rack. Once the cake is cooled, using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two equal rounds.

To prepare the chocolate and strawberry mousse, reserve the 12 best-looking strawberries to decorate the top of the cake. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree 10 strawberries and then strain it, to remove the seeds, so that it yields ½ a cup of puree. Set aside until needed. Refrigerate the remaining berries until needed (that includes the 12 berries for decoration) Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, the white chocolate and the strawberry puree in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap. Allow to heat for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl, using a rubber spatula to remove all of the melted chocolate mixture. Keep at room temperature until needed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip, whisk the 6 egg whites on high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Continue to whisk on high while gradually adding 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until stiff but not dry, about 30 seconds. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
Using a hand-held whisk, whip the heavy cream in a well-chilled stainless steel bowl until stiff. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the whipped cream. Now fold in the remaining egg whites. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

Assemble a 10 inch springform pan. Place one layer in the bottom of the pan, trim ever so slightly, if necessary to get it to snuggle fit. Spread 1/2 cup of chocolate strawberry mousse onto the cake layer in the assembled springform pan. Arrange the reserved strawberries (not including the 12 for decoration), stem side down, into the mousse. The berries should be arranged in 2 rings: the first ring being 3/4-inch from the outside edge of the cake, and the second, inside ring, 3/4-inch away from the first. Distribute the rest of the mousse over the berries, being careful to keep the berries in position. Holding the pan by the top rim, gently but firmly tap the bottom of the pan 2 to 3 times on your work surface (this will eliminate air pockets). Position a cake layer on top of the mousse and gently press into position. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours (do not freeze).

Make the ganache. Heat the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the sides from the springform pan (do not remove the bottom of the pan from the cake; this will make it easier to handle later). Use a cake spatula to smooth and fill in the sides of the cake with 2 to 3 tablespoons of room-temperature ganache. Evenly spread the remaining amount of this ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour.

Whip the heavy cream and vanilla until it is full and thick. Transfer the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake and a large one in the center of the cake. Place a strawberry, stem side down, into each whipped cream rosette. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

Cut the cake with a serrated slicer, heating the blade of the slicer under hot running water before making each slice. Allow the slices to come to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Cupcakes A Go Go

November was super busy and I enjoyed a lovely 10 days in Mexico. It’s finals season so that has contributed to my cooking delinquency. However, the final project in my Social Entrepreneurship class is pitching my organic bakery concept, Patisserie Carbon. So with that in mind, I’ve been making cupcakes, like crazy.

I got these cute little mini muffin tins so that I can feed my whole class on my batch of cupcakes and people can taste both flavors without feeling guilty. I made vegan chocolate cupcakes, with a raspberry jam filling and a fluffy vanilla icing. I also made gingerbread cupcakes with a caramel butter cream icing. Of course everything is made with organic ingredients.

For the chocolate cake I used an old recipe from war times. It amazing me how good this tastes for being vegan, really.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
1-1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c brewed coffee
2 t pure vanilla extract
2 T vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix the oil, water (or coffee), and vanilla. Slowly and gently pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and mix the batter with a whisk.

4. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls (and some bubbling) in the batter where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter (the color becomes more consistent throughout).

5. Pour batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes–testing with a toothpick. Remove to a cooling rack and frost.

Vegan Vanilla Icing

2 c shorting (transfat free)
6 c powdered sugar
1 T vanilla extract
¼ c soymilk

Beat all ingredients on low, then high with an electric mixer, until fluffy.

Gingerbread Cupcakes (Courtesy of Bobby Flay and The Food Network)
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour 

1 t baking powder 

3/4 t baking soda 

1/4 t salt 

1 T ground ginger 

2 t ground cinnamon 

1/4 t ground cloves 

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted 

3/4 c brown sugar 

2 large eggs 

6 T black strap molasses 

3/4 c water

1. Pre-heat the over to 3:50 degrees.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. In an electric mixer, bead the butter, brown sugar, eggs and molasses will well blended.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients and water, alternating to form a thick batter.

5. Pour the batter into muffin tins with paper liners and bake for at least 20 minutes, checking doneness with a toothpick.

6. Cool on a wire rack and frost.

Caramel Butter Cream Icing
1 c sugar
½ c heavy cream
2 sticks butter
2.5 oz margarine
3 large egg whites
1-1/2 c sugar
1 T vanilla Extract

1. Heat the cup of sugar on medium high heat in a heavy bottom pan. The sugar will met and caramelize, take the sugar off of the heat and swirl the pan to make sure that all crystals dissolve and that the sugar doesn’t get too dark or burn.

2. Pour the cup of cream into the sugar and let it continue to cook. After 10 minutes, stir to pull the sugar off of the bottom of the pan and continue to cook so that the mixture thickens. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool.

3. Beat the butter and margarine together on high, till fluffy, with an electric mixer, set aside.

4. In a heat proof metal bowl, over simmer water, like a double boiler, wish the egg whites and remaining sugar. The sugar crystals will dissolve and the mixture will get thing and turn white. Be careful not to cook the eggs.

5. Wisk the vanilla into the egg whites.

6. Add the egg whites and the caramel to the butter mixture. Beat on high until well combined and fluffy.

7. Put the mixture into the refrigerator to cool. Stir occasionally until it is the right consistency for piping.