Posts tagged ‘chocolate’
I realized over the weekend that my first blogiversary came and went with no fanfare, public or private. Indeed, it has been over a year since I started detailing my eating habits online, posing my food for pictures, and attempting to cook my way through an entire cookbook library. It has been a wonderful experience thus far, and it is sad to me that only a year into the project my posting frequency has fallen off so dramatically. I can keep explaining to everyone that grad school is frickin’ HARD, but that’s boring and obvious. With the holidays coming up, cooking and eating will no doubt become a priority again, and you will see it all here! Until then — we must celebrate with chocolate.
This amazing recipe comes from a cookbook I picked up in Les Galleries Lafayette in Paris. Whether my French language skills were advanced or pitifully wanting at the time, I could understand the cover photo of a pan of brownies with multiple spoons digging in, and the simple exclamation that makes up its title: Je veux du chocolat! (I Want Chocolate!) with little effort. So when I figured out that my blog’s one year anniversary had been achieved, I decided that I, too, wanted chocolate. Though the book contains myriad iterations of chocolate confections – mousse, cake, cookies, ice cream, etc. – this one has always been a favorite of both mine and my mother-in-law’s. It is quite simple to pull together, and is surprising in its rich cocoa flavor and dense, moist center.
All I ask is that once you unmold the perfection that is this dessert, and grab your fork and vanilla ice cream, you dedicate your first bite to the perpetuation of FromMyTable.com. A votre sante!
Gateau au Chocolat Fondant de Nathalie (Nathalie’s Melting Chocolate Cake), from Je Veux du Chocolat
(serves 8 at least!)
Please excuse the irregular measurements — I am translating from the French here!
7 oz. (200 grams) bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)
1 stick plus 6 Tbs. (200 grams) butter
1 Tbs. flour
1 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs. (250 grams) sugar
Heat the oven to 375 degrees (190 C.) and grease an 8- or 9-inch diameter springform pan or tart pan with removable base.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a microwave or double boiler. Add the sugar and set aside to cool slightly.
One by one, add the eggs, stirring well with a wooden spoon after each egg. Finally, add the flour and stir until smooth.
Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan and cook for 22 minutes. The cake should be still lightly trembling in the middle. Take out of the oven, unmold quickly, and let cake cool and rest on a rack until ready to serve. Bon Appetit!!
You will know that school is going well and that I have retained my sanity when posts appear here on From My Table. As you can tell, it was touch and go there for a while, since my last post was put up here almost a month ago. But today I finished writing my first paper (and it was a doozy!) and I finally have time to catch up here. To set your minds at ease, it isn’t that I haven’t been eating or cooking. I have just found that I can either post on the blog or cook and photograph, but not both. I have stored up quite a few meals in my camera, but my typing time (and sterling wit) has been expended elsewhere for the past month — namely, at school.
Here’s the good news: I have a killer dessert for you. Made of chou dough (the same used for gougères), these are simple and scrumptious and versatile to boot. The ingredients are probably in your fridge and on your counter right now, and they take a mere half hour to make. Plus (as if you needed further incentive), profiteroles cut an elegant figure and thus can be served at your next dinner party. If you can wait that long…
Profiteroles, from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
1 cup water
5 Tbs. butter
1 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. When water and butter boil, add the dry ingredients at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, like so:
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Then, beat the eggs in, one at a time. Each egg will make the mixture gloppy and slimy for a minute, but will turn back into smooth dough after some sustained stirring.
Lightly oil a baking sheet and/or line sheet with parchment paper. Using the wooden spoon or, if you’re fancy, a pastry bag, form mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use about 1/4 cup of dough for each large puff or about 2 1/2 Tbs. for smaller puffs. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce temperature to 350 (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 minutes more for smaller puffs or 25 minutes more for larger puffs.
When the puffs are firm, turn off the oven, remove the puffs, and using a small sharp knife, score a horizontal cut about 2/3 of the way up each puff (this is much easier right out of the oven when the puffs are crispy). Return the puffs to the still-warm oven for about 15 minutes to let the residual heat dry them a bit. Remove and cool completely.
When ready to serve, fill as desired by cutting the top from each puff at its scored mark, mounding the filling inside and replacing the top.
My favorite fillings include:
Brigham’s vanilla ice cream with Herrell’s hot fudge sauce and/or dulce de leche (I used Stonewall Kitchen)
Home-made ice cream (coconut? strawberry? mocha chip?)
Apple chunks sauteed in butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Cannoli filling (sweet ricotta, mmmm…)
I have come to learn this past week that Guinness stout is a pantry staple. Of course, it is no coincidence that this tidbit of information comes to me in mid-March in Boston, when St. Patrick’s Day parties are springing up everywhere and while pilsners are dyed green, the Guinness still runs black. A good many courses (even a whole meal) may be improved with a bit of this rich brew – from appetizers to breads to dinners to desserts – not to mention a swig of the stuff pairs wonderfully with all of the above.
On our recent trip to San Francisco, RJ and I learned first hand how much more friendly the people of California are as opposed to the crowds in Boston. Everywhere we went, people tried to convince us to move out West – whereas in New England you can hardly get a stranger to talk to you even if you’ve already moved there and just want to make a new friend! So many recent imports to Boston have told me that it is rather impossible to meet people here, since everyone who grew up around town or went to school in the city already knows each other, and no one is particularly welcoming or friendly. Cliquey, I think they called it. In San Francisco, Tahoe, and Napa RJ and I found ourselves chatting with people of all ages and originating from around the world, all settled in California and not planning to ever leave. One such man was sitting next to us as we sipped Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista on Hyde Street. His name was John Spilane and he was a tipsy Irish guy. He bought us drinks and chatted with us about all those things you aren’t supposed to speak about in bars – the economy, politics, religion… One thing he did say was that Guinness was only his third favorite beer. Beamish and Murphy’s Stout both surpassed Guinness in his authentic Irish estimation.
What I am getting at is March 17th. On this day, RJ and I had been home for 24 hours, and had our first days of work after a blissful vacation. Preparing an authentic Irish dinner, even driving the two minutes to the new Irish bar in town, was far from our minds. Yet at 5 pm, who should call RJ’s cell phone but a now very drunk John Spilane! In his light, slurring Irish brogue, he wished us both a Happy St. Patty’s day. I got quite a kick out of that, and instantly felt bad that I hadn’t prepared anything for my half-Irish husband’s native holiday. RJ was then compelled to drive to the liquor store and at least buy a 4 pack of Guinness (no Beamish to be found!). He drank one, and the others lay waiting in the fridge, presumably for next year!
As the beer was left untouched for several days, I reclaimed it for the pantry. I have two great Guinness recipes that I made and will share the dessert first. This cake is quite delicious and I would recommend it to anyone, Irish or not! It is a tight crumb, slightly elastic on the inside, but with a moist and tender mouthfeel. Around the edges and top, probably due to the carbonation in the beer, we had a bit of thin crunchiness – like a light and sweet brulee topping – which I really enjoyed. RJ and I both felt it actually tasted better on the second day (and third, and fourth), after the cake had cooled a bit more and the flavors of the Guinness and cocoa were able to really come into their own. Enjoy the cake, then come back for dinner!!
Chocolate Guinness Cake, by Nigella Lawson, found here in the New York Times, December 8, 2004
For the cake:
Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
For [Nigella’s] topping:
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream.
For Katharine’s alternative topping:
1 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. light cream cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean’s seeds
For the cake: heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.
For the topping: Using a food processor or by hand, mix confectioners’ sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.
Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.
Yield: One 9-inch cake (12 servings).