Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake – Gluten-Free for Milk Bar Mondays!

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

I interview chefs weekly for Serious Eats, a national website that covers restaurants, bars, recipes and events. Lately the subject of diminishing pastry chefs and departments has come up a bit, most prominently with Lauren Resler, a pastry chef I adore who turns out layered, whimsical desserts for her restaurants, Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Cocina here in NYC (if you haven’t been – go!).

I’ve questioned many a pastry chef as to who they think the next “it” chef of their generation would be; a Michael Laiskonis, Johnny Iuzzini or Alex Stupak on the rise. Many of the chefs I’ve asked say something simple needs to be done: someone needs to focus on reinventing classics with a deeply personal twist, something old but incredibly new as well.

As I adapted Christina Tosi’s Chocolate Malt Layer Cake into a version us gluten-free eaters can enjoy, I realized that Tosi may just be that chef. Granted I’ve never eaten one of her desserts, as they’re all loaded with gluten and dairy. But as the Milk Bar Mondays ladies and I have baked our way through her cookbook, I see that she’s doing exactly what we want someone to be doing: elevating classics into something so over the top that, like pastry chef Stephen Collucci said when trying her Cereal Milk Ice Cream, “it’s so good it’s stupid”.

This cake is so good it’s stupid.

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Chocolate BlogHop! Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread (gluten and dairy free)

Dark Chocolate Tea Bread

“I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”

(five points if you can guess the movie)

Hello bloggereaders!

It’s February, and soon NYC will be painted pink and red and boxes of chocolate and racy lingerie will be put to good use in the throws of holiday romance.  Where will yours truly be this year?  Jury’s still out.  I actually dated a man for about 8+ years and I think we celebrated Valentines Day maybe twice?  I have a thing with forced romance or commercially-fueled celebrations.  All I know is the bottle of champagne I have still from one of the wineries on the South Fork will probably make an appearance.

But, heck, baking is what I do and celebrating with food is what I love, so it’s fitting that this month’s BlogHop theme, of which I’m excited to be one of the cohosts for the first time, is Chocolate!

I use chocolate (and carob) all the time: fair-trade, organic and usually vegan as I can then be assured of the dairy-free aspect.  I’m a big fan of extremely dark varietals, decked with spices or infused with flowers.  I ate my fill at the NY Chocolate Fest a few months ago, where I grabbed Paul A. Young’s Adventures in Chocolate, which I have been pouring over with hungry eyes (check out my Spicy Mexican Mulled Wine Cocoa play on one of his recipes).

I don’t think chocolate has to always be the center of the sweet, though, so when stretching my cranium for my bloghop contribution, I wanted a rich, spicy and subtle alternative to the abundance of chocolate this time of year.  Luckily, Young is a master at making a variety of complex, versatile chocolate desserts – I highly recommend his book as a present for the Valentine in your life.

The result?  This tea bread is of my new favorite recipes, and one that will be a staple in my hosting repertoire.  I bake delicious things all the time, but this I will serve with particular love.  Laden with fruit captured perfectly in a dense, spicy cake, the chocolate compliments the other flavors and the tongue finds it in just the right moments.  It’s solid without being heavy.  Exactly what you want in a fun take on a traditional British tea bread.  I’ve adapted it to be gluten free and, if you use dark chocolate, it’s naturally dairy free in Young’s original recipe.  I adjusted here and there for what I had in my pantry and to make sure the gluten-free flours could hold up.  I used puer tea as a nod to my friend Louis, who’s visiting from out of town and with whom I first drank puer years ago in San Francisco.  I’ve given slices of it out wrapped in parchment like little gifts from a Dickens novel.

Sh*t, I’m getting all romantic.  Here’s the blasted recipe.

Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread

Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread

based on Chocolate Ginger and Cardamom Tea Bread from Paul A. Young’s Adventures in Chocolate

Note: you need to soak the fruits overnight!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup / 5.5 oz crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2/3 cup organic seedless red raisins
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • zest of one large orange
  • 6 Tbsp organic light brown sugar – Young suggests muscovado, which is divine but more expensive.  Take your brown sugar a step up and buy organic and it will have a flavor and texture more on par with muscovado)
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp strong tea – I used puer, which is a very dark, earthy tea.  Have fun with any spicy, strong black tea you like
  • 1 large organic egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature and beaten extremely well
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3.5oz bar 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used Divinebecause it’s fair-trade, 1 bar is exactly 3.5 oz, it’s not overly expensive and I hadn’t tried it before.

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, combine ginger, raisins, nutmeg, orange zest, brown sugar and tea.  Mix to combine, cover and let sit 8 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325° and line a 8×4 inch loaf pan with parchment.
  • Add beaten eggs to fruit and mix thoroughly.  Add flour and incorporate completely.  Stir in dark chocolate.
  • Pour into loaf pan and smooth out the top.
  • Bake for 80-90 minutes, cool for 30 minutes before carefully removing from pan.

Young suggests wrapping the cooled cake in clean parchment and a kitchen towel and letting it sit for 24 hours.  He overestimates the layman’s patience, I believe.  I cut into this baby 1 hour after it was done baking and it was divine, but the wrapped pieces did taste even richer then next day.

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February is #chocolatelove month!
Please check out the recipes from the other co-hosts and peruse links below!

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Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of February 2012. Please link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove.

Hot Chocolate / Foam / Custardy Thing! A Dairy-Free Vintage Recipe Swap

Hot Chocolate Foam

It’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap time again!  Click on that site for a background on our awesome group of 20-ish swappers from the world over!

I’m usually rather prepared for this monthly recipe swap, with ideas bandied about and recipes tested.  But the holidays.  The HOLIDAYS! I sorta went into hibernation mode after New Years, bunkering down with work and not baking for DAYS.  I’m also working on a gluten free pasta feature for Easy Eats Magazine, so my kitchen has been ALL about pasta lately (not a bad way to start a new year).

Thankfully CM picked a relatively easy and festive recipe for our first of 2012:

Burwell General Store Recipe Swap recipe, January 2012

A frothy, potent cocktail dessert.  Which, were I entertaining, I’d totally jump on.  Which, were I totally still drinking my fill, I would make for myself if I weren’t.

But, like I said, I’m hunkering down, hibernating, rolling and boiling pasta and entertaining only the resolute January tradition of simplifying and stripping down the gluttonous and extravagance that I totally indulged in these past few months.

Along with making lots of pasta, I’ve  been experimenting with custards (check out my new favorite, Coconut Milk Creme Brulee!).  So I have lots of egg whites proofing in the fridge, ready for the macaron making that gets soclose to happening and then quickly abandoned when Downton Abbey is once again rerun on the tube (yay for season two starting tonight!).

A few months ago I was working on a hot chocolate recipe that my photographer partner and I were pitching to Saveur (it’s coming out soon!).  For it I was playing with a spicy Mexican hot chocolate recipe from Beaner Bar and one from my buddy Johnny Iuzzini that required a coconut milk foam.  Could I take this basic swap recipe, use some of those lonely egg whites and leftover bricks of chocolate and my newly-found hot chocolate skills and make my own deliciously foamy, dairy-free hot chocolate?

Yes, I could. And did.

Now, I’m not hugely into a lot of sugar in my sweet drinks: I’d rather punch something up with liquor.  And even though I have an incessant sweet tooth, I’ve need to chill the f out with all the sugar (sorry for the vulgarity).

So here we have an incredibly creamy, frothy, custardy, chocolatey foam that you can adapt for the occasion.

Suggestions:

  • Add 1 Tbsp of white or raw sugar to sweeten it up and drink/eat it straight as an incredibly creamy hot chocolate.
  • Add some red wine or liquor for a potent cocktail.
  • Spoon over an incredibly sweet dessert to add some unique texture and flavor balance.
  • Spice up with a bit of cayenne for a smoky, warming treat.
  • Use as a dip for shortbread cookies or cut up fruit

Whatever you use it for, this is a quick, easy, satisfying little trick of a recipe and a technique that might inspire some creative new desserts for 2012.

Happy New Year Bloggereaders.  I am so thankful for you!  And for some of my favorite bloggers out there who I monthly get to play with!  Please check out my fellow swappers by clicking on the little frog right here:

Foam.

This mixture makes about 1 1/2 cups of foam, good for 2 people for a small dessert or one large hot chocolate, depending on what you add into it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet (two bricks) Mexican Chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (plus more for garnishing)
  • 3/4 cup milk per person (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites per person

Directions:

  • Crush chocolate to a fine powder.
  • Add cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and whisk to combine.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp chocolate mixture, milk and egg white until the mixture thickens and doubles in size.  This may take about 6 minutes or so of constant whisking, until it’s nice and thick.
  • Serve garnished with a bit of the crushed chocolate, some freshly grated nutmeg, candied ginger or whatever leftover cookies you have around ready for dunking.

How To Make Just 6 Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free)

6 Chocolate Chip Cookies... the whole batch.

When I first moved to NYC, I lived in Manhattan with three guys I graduated college with.  After that apartment, my boyfriend of the time lived with two other dudes down in Brooklyn, and I’d stay with them often.  For a while after that the boyfriend and I lived in Queens, and his brother crashed with us for a few months.  When I wasn’t home during those raucus years of my twenties, I’d be going from show to show with casts full of eager eaters.

The point of that little history: I always had someone around to eat the batches of sweets I whipped up.

But now I’m a single gal, and my roommate doesn’t contribute enough by far in helping me rid the apartment of all things that come out of my kitchen.  I pawn sweets off on my upstairs neighbors after walking our dogs, while we have a glass of wine or talk food (love the chefs in my building).  But what I don’t give away, I eat.  Which means no matter how few I eat, I still eat too many.  For someone who’s 5 foot 2 and has hypoglycemia and gains weight easily.

Sometimes you don’t need three dozen cookies staring at you while typing an article about Third Wave Feminism (after having come out of the kitchen barefoot and covered in flour)  or while watching Bored to Death or The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (which you should be watching if you’re not…).  You just need a few.

So here’s how to do just that.  How to make just 6 gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  That are rich, and sweet, with just enough chocolate and a boost of flax (both for fiber and to bind the cookies together since we’re not using eggs), and a bit of extra protein from some nuts (optional, of course).

When you don’t want a whole batch but are craving something sweet…

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark or blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, oatmeal etc.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine flour, flax, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth – about 2 minutes.

Add molasses and beat to combine.

Add the flour mixture in a beat on low until together.  Continue to beat on high for about 2 minutes.

Add the chocolate chips and nuts and beat in to combine.

Use your hands to proportion 6 cookies, and place evenly on cookie sheets, flattening slightly.

Bake for 18 minutes, cool slightly before serving.

Notes: make sure you beat this batter well so that the butter softens completely and the sugars dissolve in, otherwise your cookies will flatten horribly.  I used organic white sugar, which melts better than palm or sucanat in this recipe.

NY Chocolate Show 2011: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

If you’ve never been to a food show or festival in NYC, they can be quite a spectacle.  They’re usually a bit oversold, and ticket-holders scarf down samples with relatively little thought and stand in long lines for freebies, even if they’re not sure what it is they’d be getting for free.  They “flit”, as I like to say.

I’ve been accused of taking these events a bit too seriously, and I totally admit my part in this, but it’s because I take the joy of food seriously.  Yes, I get that some people just wanna eat a huge variety of tacos or bacon or frozen yogurt on their Saturday afternoon.  But me,  I want to talk about the ingredients in the taco, the source of the bacon or, in this case, the dozens upon dozens of facets that make chocolate so indulgent, sensual, fulfilling and just plain fun.  I want to stroll, not flit.

I have a feeling a few of you out there might feel me on this.

I attended the New York Chocolate Show with a chef friend not allergic to dairy so we could sample and chat and chew to our hearts’ content.  Here are a few of our favorite things:

Håkan Mårtensson of Fika NYC

Okay, seeing someone sculpting chocolate just makes me happy, especially when it’s Håkan Mårtensson of Fika Espresso Bar.  Håkan finds a lot of inspiration in fairy-tales and folk lore, apparent both in his sculptures and in the playful nature of the  luxurious chocolates he’s created for Fika.  Amongst the teeming amounts of truffles and hands grabbing for whatever they could get, it was a glorious moment to just watch his hands moving, unraveling a bit of imagination and observe others who stopped for a few minutes, mouths empty, to just take it in.

Fika also makes an incredible whiskey and citrus jam that knocked my socks off.

Gnosis Chocolate

This was my hippie-heart’s favorite find of the festival: raw chocolates that are free of sugar, dairy, gluten and soy, packed with nutrient-dense superfoods and sourced from fair-trade purveyors from all the places you want your chocolate to come from.  And, oh, right, they’re DELICIOUS!  Some of my favorite were the Fleur de Sel, Peppermint, Almond Fig Spice and Mayan Heat.  Options wildly off the cuff: Powerchock (“with superfoods for maximum protein assimilation and physical prowess!”), Sacred Feminine (“Let the herbs in this bar support every stage of a woman’s cycle”) and EnWhitenment (“White Chocolate w/o dairy, soy, or refined sugar. Become EnWhitened!”).

They were so yummy I bought a bunch of bars for stocking-stuffers (crossing my fingers that my family only skims these posts now and then).

Check them out: their brand, vision and contribution to health through deliciously sweet chocolate has my humble little thanks and stamp of dusty approval.

This

I think it was at Jacques Torres.  I’m not quite sure, I’m horrible at taking notes.  And this little gem of a sculpture wasn’t getting as much attention as I felt it deserved, it being somewhat high for people to see and the samplings below taking focus. But it made me happy.  This photo will most likely be the screensaver of something or another in my office soon.

No Chewing Allowed

I couldn’t sample this, but my show-mate did note this as one of her favorites, one of the few she remarked upon later as being stellar in simplicity and taste.

Demo by Paul A. Young

Call me a dork, but the whole reason I go to shows / events is to learn things about food.  I chat up artisans and whomever about why their product makes their tale wag: why are you passionate about what you’re making?  Because if you’re not passionate about it, I just can’t relate (unless it’s Halal after a night of drinking or something, of course.  Food isn’t always art, sometimes it’s just damned good food.  Or sustenance.  You know where I’m going with that, right?).

 So my favorite time spent at festivals is often in watching the demos.  I had not heard of Paul A. Young Chocolates or his book, Adventures in Chocolate, before.  But Young sold me easily because (a) his presentation had the ease of someone who knew their trade extremely well and didn’t have to put on airs to impress anyone (b) his creativity in flavors was exciting and (c) the mulled-wine hot chocolate I sampled after was like everything good about winter and the holidays in a tiny cup, and I’m an even bigger nerd for the holidays than I am for cooking demos at food festivals.

I couldn’t sample any of Young’s truffles (a pumpkin, one with port and Stilton cheese, and I forget the 3rd) but my show-buddy was delighted by them.  And I was so curious as to what I could eat of his recipes that I bought the book, and am psyched to really begin my study of chocolate.  As a dairy-freer, it’s something I’ve stayed on the sidelines of before: how can you make a ganache without cream?! I’m ready to find out.

I was so intrigued that I made a camp-fire version of the mulled wine hot chocolate while in Vermont last weekend, literally on an outdoor grill.  I used some leftover Mexican chocolate I had ground with cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg, some leftover dark Ghirardelli chocolate from S’Moresing, and a bottle of Malbec.  Not exactly the posh British original, but it was damned warming and satisfying around a campfire in 30 degree weather after a long drive and racing ATV’s through the chilly forest (recipes from that trip coming).

Oh, the Mulled-wine Hot Chocolate is on page 116 of Adventures in Chocolate.  I suggest grabbing it.  Would make a great Christmas gift too.

And just some pretty things:

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