Tagged chocolate

Boca Negra, or Black Mouth

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This, besides black forest cake, is my oldest child’s favorite cake. I’ve only made it twice because she’s actually allergic to eggs, so as you might understand, when I do make it, she savors every mouthful. And for good reason — it’s rich, and yet light, and decadent. (My daughter wasn’t allergic to eggs the first time I made this. And though she won’t die from eggs now, her skin suffers horribly for at least a couple of weeks. I made the cake recently because she was leaving for two months and requested this for her farewell party.)

A food processor is helpful, though good old-fashioned bowl, whisk, and elbow grease will serve you well. The results are definitely worth it. And you’re not slaving away either in a hot kitchen, because it’s quick to mix up.

The original recipe appears in Julia Child’s Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers, one of my favorite baking books. I bought it brand new when I was younger and couldn’t get enough Julia Child on my shelves. But lucky you, there’s over a hundred copies available today at Amazon, starting at $1.82. I highly recommend it.

Make the bourbon cream early, ideally the day before:

12 ounces white chocolate, chopped up (White chocolate I like: Callebaut, Valrhona, or Lindt)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup bourbon

Put the chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Heat up whipping cream in a saucepan over low heat just until bubbles start to form. With the motor running, pour hot cream through the chute into the chopped chocolate, processing until smooth, about 15 seconds. Add bourbon and process 5 seconds more.

Transfer to bowl, cover, and chill overnight. Bring back to room temperature, and stir well before serving.

Make the cake:

12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped up (I default to Lindt and Callebaut and Valrhona’s Guanaja especially when it’s for a birthday or anniversary)
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons flour (I’m quite sure this will work with gluten free flours, since it’s such a minute amount as to not affect texture that much)

Prepare a 9×2-inch round cake pan by greasing the bottom. Line with parchment cut to fit the bottom, then grease the parchment as well. Set the pan in a shallow roasting pan. You will also need hot water for baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the chopped dark chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat up bourbon and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is syrupy, . With the motor running, pour bourbon mixture into the chocolate until smooth. With the motor still running, add butter, a bit at a time, then the eggs, one at a time. Add flour and process just until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Pour hot water around the cake pan, to come up the side of the pan about 3/4 to 1-inch high. Bake 30 minutes.

Remove pan from water bath and wipe dry. Run a small, sharp knife along the sides of the pan to loosen. Put a plastic sheet on top of the cake pan. Turn over onto a flat plate. Remove parchment, then set a flattish serving plate or cake server on top and flip again. Serve warm or at room temperature with the bourbon cream and the optional raspberry sauce.

Optional raspberry sauce: Puree 8 oz. frozen raspberries in food processor or blender, adding a few tablespoons sugar, or to taste. Pour through a sieve, pressing on the seeds.

Let’s Talk Chocolate Now

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I haven’t done a foodie post in a while, and I stumbled upon a link a couple of days ago (I *think* it was Jenn who shared it, sorry, can’t remember for sure) — about chocolate manufacturing practices that are unfair to cocoa farmers, etc. Today I read an article on the ebola crisis and its relation to a possible chocolate crisis, prompting this post.

So before we talk about chocolate, let’s pray:

Jesus, healer of the sick,
Your heart was filled with compassion for the sick and suffering
and you traveled to all the towns and villages, curing every disease and illness.
We ask that all of those infected with the Ebola virus may feel the healing power of Jesus:
Comfort for all who mourn the loss of loved ones
Protection for all those who are vulnerable
Support for all health workers who risk their own lives to care for others.
Let your compassion be more contagious than any disease or malady so that we may generously respond as you would. Amen.

Source: http://crs.org/prayers/prayer-for-people-suffering-from-ebola.cfm


I have two requirements for meeting chocolate needs 😀 — fair trade and organic, and there are a few companies I’ve patronized the past few years that keep raising the bar (pun unintended 😀 ) both by their continuously innovative flavor combinations and their commitment to sustainability/renewability and to the farmers who grow this universally-loved treat. As a Catholic I don’t agree with every single one of these companies’ beliefs/practices, but I do see that they’re trying, and I love that there are concrete ways to help promote the social doctrine of the Church while at the same time stuff our faces with addictive things. 😀 I kid. There’s usually chocolate in the house but we only have a bite or two daily. Everything in moderation. 🙂

No, this is not a paid post — years ago I’d do a chocolate post every now and then, highlighting new finds, but fell out of that habit. So hopefully this will make up for lost time. Without further ado, my current favorites, in no particular order:

Theo. Info on their cocoa beans here.

theoraspberry

Stefoodie’s Faves: Sea Salt, Raspberry, Orange, and Cherry & Almond. The Ginger is okay too.

An old favorite, Chocolove. Chocolove’s practices.

chocolovecherries

Stefoodie’s Faves: Cherries in Dark Chocolate, Currants & Almonds in Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate.

guajillochipotlechoc

Vosges — probably the most daring out of all the manufacturers I’ve tried. They’ve been doing weird stuff from Day 1. 🙂 Their green initiatives.

Stefoodie’s Faves: Pomegranate/Goji and Guajillo/Chipotle, and of course, Bacon and Chocolate, though I really want to make a Dark Choc/Bacon combo myself, one of these days. I wanna try their Matcha bar

lemongingerchoc

Another old fave, Equal Exchange. Partners, Products and Practices.

Stefoodie’s Faves: Dark Choc with Raspberries, Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt, Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper.


Both my parents have amazing stories about harvesting and eating cacao when they were children, and they have fond memories of helping make cocoa tablets called tablea. Until recently they’d still bring these roughly-shaped, homemade tablets — not storebought but farm-direct — back to the US after visiting the Philippines, but sadly that culture is lost to us, their children and grandchildren… so it always fascinates me to read about cacao farmers and wonder about their daily lives. Let us continue to pray that this disease is eradicated and precious lives are spared.

A donation can be sent directly to St. Joseph Catholic hospital in Liberia by clicking here, or click here to donate to Doctors Without Borders.

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread

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This is the allergen-free version of Jazzed Up Banana Bread, as promised…. but first, a note on flours:

I keep a variety of gluten-free flours and starches and just mix and match when experimenting with recipes. My general rule is to dump small amounts of several different ones — trying to keep a ratio of 1 part starch : 1 part grain or other “flour” — in a large bowl, and then when everything’s in there, feeling the mixture with my hands and seeing if it’s “floury” enough, adjusting amounts as necessary. Too much starch means it might feel pasty in the mouth when baked, or simply will need to bake/cook longer. Too much of a particular grain and I get a dominant flavor or texture that isn’t pleasant, i.e., rice or amaranth. I’ve found that small amounts of different starches and flours up the yum-factor, because there isn’t ONE dominant flavor that the kids are likely to hate. The good news about experimentation is that because of the increased availability and affordability of alternative flours and starches in recent years, compared to 10 years ago — it’s not as cost-prohibitive to play with them and come up with decent substitute recipes. Most things we make these days are edible even if they might need some future tweaking and retweaking. Enjoy the process, that’s the key! 🙂

So that means, in this particular recipe, if you can’t find amaranth flour where you are, let’s say, feel free to substitute another gluten-free flour or increase amounts of other things, like teff (I <3 teff!!). 1/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk if you're avoiding nuts) 2 teaspoons white vinegar 2 tablespoons flax seed meal 1/4 cup sorghum flour (see note on flours above) 1/4 cup amaranth flour 1/4 cup arrowroot starch 1/4 cup teff flour 1/4 cup almond flour 1/4 cup potato starch 1/4 cup tapioca flour 1/4 cup coconut flour 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum 2/3 cup sugar (If you're avoiding processed sugar, sub with a healthy option like Sucanat. Helpful reading about sugar.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips and/or cocoa nibs (any ratio will work)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
3 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Cooking spray or additional coconut oil or other oil of your choice for prepping loaf pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, add vinegar to almond milk. In another bowl, mix flax seed meal with some water (~3-4 tablespoons) until you have a thickish slurry — this will thicken as it sits.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the flours and starches, plus the xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips/cocoa nibs, chopped ginger and mashed bananas. Add vanilla extract to almond milk mixture and fold into the rest of the ingredients, along with the flax seed meal slurry. Fold in melted coconut oil last, making sure everything is nicely combined.

Transfer to lightly-greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, turning pan halfway, until skewer comes out clean when inserted in center of loaf. Let cool in pan, on a rack, 5 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely before slicing. (Riiiiiight.)

Enjoy!!

Chocolate Chocolate “Luna Bars” (DIY, Homemade, Yummy)

Who doesn’t love Luna Bars, right? I would eat them everyday, but my family can’t. So I got to thinking — they’re really just rice krispies (TM) with a layer of chocolate or other creamy sticky sweet goodness. The sad thing is my allergy-sufferers can’t really enjoy them because these bars usually have stuff in them my people can’t/shouldn’t eat. Enter the DIY Luna Bar.

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1/2 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 cup raw honey (can use less if you’re trying to cut down on sugar)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups chocolate-flavored crispy rice cereal — I used EnviroKidz but you can use Erewhon if you want a purer product made in a completely allergen-free facility
2 tablespoons soy protein shake mix (use another type of protein powder if you can’t have soy)
1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Kirkland’s)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
cooking spray, for your hands and for the pan

In a saucepan, combine almond butter, agave nectar, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Stir over low heat until runny (it will still be very thick). (You can microwave instead, if you like — we got rid of our microwave a few years ago.)
In a large bowl, combine cereal and soy protein shake mix or other protein powder. Stir in the almond butter mixture and fold-fold-fold until well-combined, using sprayed hands if need be to make sure everything is incorporated well.
In a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together until smooth.

Line a small rectangular pan with parchment, making sure that it’s long enough so you’ve got it overhanging on both sides. I used one that’s roughly 5 x 7 as it’s the one that was most suited for this. If I had used a larger pan the bars would be too thin and I didn’t want that. So my bars came out thicker than I would have liked, but hey, who’s complaining. 😀

Spray pan and parchment with cooking spray, very lightly.
Pour in melted chocolate and spread evenly to edges. Pour in cereal mixture and press down with a spatula and/or your hands. Take a second piece of parchment or some waxed paper and put that on top. Press to smoosh everything just a bit even if you crush some of the cereal. Weigh down with a heavy something, like a marble mortar or a brick.

Chill in the fridge 30 minutes or so. Run a hot knife along edge of pan to loosen, and turn out onto a cutting board.

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Cut into bars or squares, whichever you prefer. Ours didn’t turn out as “pretty” as we would like, but with all that chocolatey crunch, no one cared.

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Prepare to be inundated with requests to make this again and again and again.

Baked Hot Chocolate

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A four-ingredient wonder, this dessert is one of the easiest you can make, with things you probably already have in your pantry and fridge. The only thing to get right really is the timing. A mixer, either a handheld one or a stand mixer, would be handy, but if push comes to shove, you can use a wire whisk and some elbow grease. I first made this in 2007, and it quickly became one of my go-to chocolate desserts. For some reason I suddenly remembered it today, so I’m sharing it, from my old baking blog.

Baked Hot Chocolate
Adapted from (the dudes behind Scharffen Berger chocolates) Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger’s Essence of Chocolate

9 ounces 60-70% chocolate, grated or chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Hot water for baking

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Arrange 4 8-ounce ovenproofcups or ramekins in a baking dish or roasting pan.

In a double boiler set over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, whisking gently but continuously, until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In another bowl set over the same simmering water, stir eggs and sugar together until warm when touched with the tip of your finger. (If you’re using a stand mixer, use the stand mixer bowl for this.)

When warm, beat in stand mixer 3 to 5 minutes (or use handheld mixer, or a whisk, which might take a few minutes longer), until light and fluffy.

Gently fold the egg-sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture, until smooth.

Spoon/Pour batter evenly into ramekins. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and bake 15-20 minutes (tops will no longer be glossy).

The top should be crusty. You won’t need to use a skewer to test, however, since the inside will be pudding-like in consistency, and shouldn’t be dry at all.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without whipped cream. Raspberries are also an excellent accompaniment.

Making Chocolate Curls

A repost from my old baking blog.


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One of the most exhilarating things about being a baker is working with chocolate. I haven’t even begun to explore all the myriad ways of playing with it, shaping it, cutting it, melting it, coating with it, etc. and I look forward to doing just that on this blog.

Let’s start with something simple today — making chocolate curls. For years I tried to make chocolate curls using the Betty Crocker instructions I read about as a little girl: take a piece of chocolate and use a peeler to peel off curls. Except, that never worked for me. I ended up with 1/4-1/2-inch wide curls, and though that was cute I really was expecting something more. I tried the bigger bars, hoping the size would help, but I was still just moderately successful.

Then on one of my cake-baking periods (around 1998) I stumbled across a method in a cake-decorating book published in Australia (sorry, that was so long ago and I didn’t take notes, so I can’t tell you the name). The solution was so simple that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. But of course, I wasn’t any less grateful. At any rate, making really wide chocolate curls is so easy and painless that I’ve been making my curls this way ever since.

Simply melt some chocolate — I like using dark bittersweet but you can try other chocolates too. There are also formulas for making “curling chocolate” but I won’t bother with that for now. You then pour the melted chocolate onto a clean, flat surface, like a cutting board, or marble. Let that cool, or chill in the fridge if you like (some purists will frown at that, but it works for me just fine). When it’s firmed up, it’s ready for some curling action. (If you put it in the fridge, take it out about 10 minutes before you’re ready to begin.)

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Take the flat edge of a knife, or even a bench press, or a spatula — whatever works for you, and start scraping the surface of the chocolate towards you. Experiment with different angles, pressure, direction, etc. and you’ll come up with different kinds of curls, ruffles, waves, etc. You can also try making chocolate curls at different temperatures, e.g., right out of the refrigerator, 5 minutes later, 10 minutes later, etc. You’ll see that you get different results, and each has its own peculiarities that will in itself give you ideas for ways to garnish and make your baked goods extra-special. Enjoy!

Ganache

A repost from my old baking blog.


4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons rum, brandy or other spirits
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
Confectioners sugar to taste

Chop or break off chocolates into small chunks. In a microwave-safe bowl or large measuring cup, combine with the whipping cream. Microwave in 15-30 second increments, stirring well after each, until you have a smooth brown mixture. Stir in spirits and/or vanilla. If you need to use it right away, stir briskly in bowl set over ice, until it reaches the consistency you want. Otherwise, keep in refrigerator, covered, up to a week, until needed. Sprinkle or sieve in confectioners sugar and stir well.

Use this as a filling for cakes or for frosting.

To use for making truffles, simply add more chocolate, or use less cream. Chill and form into balls, then coat with cocoa powder, nuts, sprinkles, etc. or coat with a chocolate glaze and decorate with royal icing, etc.