Tag Archives: chocolate

Homemade Chocolate Mousse

24 Apr

Certain recipes instantly go into the “filed for life” box.  This is one of them.

I love chocolate mousse when it’s good. But so many times it’s just not.  It’s not chocolaty enough or it’s gritty or it’s sickeningly sweet.  This mousse is just perfect. And much easier to make than I anticipated.

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com. Step one: whip cream to form light peaks.  You would think that I have done enough homemade schlag in the past to know better than to leave the mixer unattended while whipping, but alas, I wound up with some stiffer peaks than I anticipated. Luckily, this didn’t impact the recipe from what I could taste.

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This recipe especially caught my eye because Ghirardelli is my favorite chocolate to bake with. Hands down, changing to these chips made every recipe better. Every time I run out and use Nestle’s or Hershey’s, the taste difference is noticeable and if I’m making anything with melted chocolate, these cheaper brands just don’t temper as well, come out as smooth and uniform, nor taste anywhere near as good.  Lesson for anyone new to chocolate: Spend the extra $1 on the good chocolate chips. It’s worth it. Case in point, these melted perfectly smoothly in my double boiler (metal bowl placed on top of a pot with simmering water… hint: make sure the bowl is bigger than the pot so steam doesn’t work it’s way out of the pot and into your chocolate).

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AllRecipes is my favorite recipe site because of the dedicated readers who leave comments on the recipes. Thank goodness for them!  While certain times I don’t follow their advice and end up with a mess, this time, they guided me in the right direction, because while the recipe calls for 4 eggs, they really meant 4 egg WHITES.  Big difference.  The egg whites fluffed up perfectly with the sugar.

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I think the next ingredient is where this recipe really takes on a new level.  1/4 cup of coffee added to the recipe gave it a richer flavor that also countered some of the sweetness without making it taste less chocolaty.  A few people mentioned that they left out the coffee and regretted it later.

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You stir the coffee into the chocolate and then quickly add the eggs and fold in the whipped cream. I was nervous that the chocolate would bind upon adding the coffee (chocolate basically turns into an ugly mess when it’s mixed with water), but working quickly left me with a perfectly smooth and delicious mousse.

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Any elegant chef might pour these into a martini glass or mason jar to present, but I had to make them transportable to offices, so I went with Dixie cups.  Keepin’ it classy.

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I also wanted to top each with whipped cream, but whipped cream won’t stay fluffed overnight, so I added a tiny bit of gelatin to my whipped cream for the first time to stabilize it and, surprisingly, it worked. And it still tasted great.

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This recipe was perfectly delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I highly recommend this as a crowd pleaser (and impresser!)

Ghirardelli Chocolate Mousse
 
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Ghirardelli®
Servings: 8
“Serve this simple chocolate mousse in a martini glass for a fancy presentation. A dollop of whip cream adds an elegant touch.”
INGREDIENTS:
10 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao
Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup coffee, hot
4 eggs, room temperature (JUST THE WHITES!)
2 tablespoons sugar
DIRECTIONS:
1. Whip the cream to form light peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator. Melt the chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl set over barely simmering water. Meanwhile, whip the eggs with the sugar until very fluffy and thick, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir the hot coffee into the melted chocolate chips. The mixture will start to thicken, so work quickly. Quickly stir in the beaten eggs, then fold in the whipped cream. Pour or spoon mixture into cups or bowls, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2012 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 4/22/2012
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Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Tarrytown, NY

15 Aug

We were trying to determine where to go for a getaway weekend.  I knew we might not get out until late afternoon on Friday, and had to be back on Sunday, so we didn’t want to go far.  We thought about the usual contenders: Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Jersey Shore, Long Island beaches.  But then Mike came up with a fantastic idea… to go to Tarrytown, NY and finally visit Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  We have been wanting to go for years, especially after trying their NYC location which was wonderful.  The only reservation we could get with the 1 week notice was at 9:30pm on Friday night.  So we decided to get a local hotel room and then we would explore the area the following day.

Stone Barns is very easy to get to. The train is very quick and you can get a cab right there.  We got a ZipCar and arrived less than an hour after we left our apartment.

Blue Hill is literally on the farm.  The chef finds what is freshest from the farm that day and makes a menu out of it.  You never quite know what is going to come out, but you can be sure it’s good.

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We arrived about 10 minutes early and were told we would be seated soon.  So we made ourselves comfortable at the bar, which had these lovely, comfy chairs and couches.

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Their cocktail list was very unique, but both Mike and I were enamored with the “Up in Smoke” which had whiskey, mescal, and smoked peaches, lime, and thai basil.  It was definitely unique. Not sure I would get it again but I’m glad we tried it.

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We had nearly finished our cocktails when the Maitre’D came over.  I assumed it was time to go but he informed us that they were a bit behind schedule and asked if we would like to begin our amuse bouche in the bar area while we waited. We happily agreed.

First up were lightly fried fresh beans (green and wax).  They were delicious and the fry just added a hint of crisp.  I also liked that they served it on slate.

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Next up was a few fresh veggies from the garden (arranged on skewers sticking out of a block).  We had fennel, butter lettuce, a radish, and a gooseberry.  Everything was tasty, but the gooseberry was sensational.

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Next up came a pancetta fried squash blossom.  I find that many times squash blossoms retain too much grease from frying, but these were tender and cooked just right.  I can’t say I tasted the pancetta too much, but the entire thing was tasty all together.

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Next was something I remembered trying, and loving, at Blue Hill NYC.  These were tiny tomato “burgers.”  These were perfectly sweet with perfectly ripe tomatoes.  Even better than I remembered.

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Next up came some sliced meats.  The one on the left was bresaola (air cured beef) and on the right was prosciutto.  Both were quite tasty.

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At this point, we were so pleasantly enjoying our experience that we hadn’t even realized that we were nearly 45 minutes past our reservation when we finally sat in the main dining room.

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The did an amazing job with an old barn, keeping it modern and industrial, while clean and looking like it belonged on a farm.

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I opened up the menu and was pleased to see that of the multiple artwork available on menus, I received the artichoke. (I LOVE artichokes).  The menu gives a choice of 5, 8, or 12 courses.   The 5 and 8 have the same amount of food, but the 8 had more variety.  The 12 is called the “Farmer’s Feast” and it sounded quite epic.   Too epic for being after 10pm.  (Sidenote: This place is a “Special Occasion” restaurant.  It is expensive even as far as NYC Tastings go.  Be prepared.  But it is 100% worth it.)  We chose the 8 course and, to add to the opulence, I also got the wine pairing.  (Note as dishes get increasingly blurry below… both in images and in recollection of what we ate).

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I then realized that the beautiful flower sitting on our table was ALSO an artichoke.  Gorgeous.

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And then the food started coming out… Look familiar?  It was so delicious and light the previous time that we didn’t mind a second helping.

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Next came a melon shooter.  It was melony, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink it again.

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And then more beans…

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When the meat came out again I debated saying something, but this was NEW meat so I just had to try it.  I believe the left was bresaola again but on the right was bologna.  Now I don’t like bologna.  But this is what bologna was supposed to be.  Made me think that I cannot even imagine how they can call deli bologna “bologna” if THIS is what it was supposed to taste like all along.

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Next, out came a salad.  It had fresh and seasonal vegetables with (YAY!) gooseberries.  It also had some marscapone and a foam that I cannot recall anymore.  They also topped it with edible flowers.  It really just looked like freshness in a bowl.

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The next item was a piece of brioche (that also had some swiss chard that didn’t photograph well).

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And this was paired with homemade ricotta that they strained in front of us.    It was creamy and rich and I kind of wanted to bathe in it.

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We were then served poached lobsters with corn and shallots.  It was in a broth that tasted like everything that is wonderful about lobster and corn.

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At this point we really wanted bread to lap up the broth from the lobster dish, and without a moment to spare, out came the bread with homemade butter and two specialty salts.

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They were flavored with tomato and spinach.  And they were wonderful.

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Next was an egg dish.  It was a poached egg over julienned squash noodled.  I took a small bite and realized that the dark red specks were, in fact, peppers(which, thanks to my allergy are my mortal enemy).  Mike really enjoyed the dish while I waited for a replacement.

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At first I was a bit upset to be missing the egg course, because there are few things I love as much as a fresh and well cooked egg.  I was also surprised that the pretty impeccable service had made this mistake.  But then… my replacement came out.  It was a lightly fried poached egg (say what?) in a pea broth.  Let me just say, this was so freakin’ amazing that I was GLAD they made the mistake.  How on earth they fried a poached egg will remain a mystery to me, but it was sensational.  The pea broth was a perfect foil for the egg and everything came together with perfect flavor and texture.

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Our next course required special preparation, where a special type of egg yoke was grated onto our dish.

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This was a homemade ostrich egg pasta dish (with the shaved egg thing over it) and a sauce that I cannot for the life of me remember but I do remember thinking it was absolutely delicious.   (Note: this is when I realized that the wine pairings, which were supposed to be “small pours,” were no where close to small and were starting to impact my ability to photograph and recall what we ate… not that I enjoyed it any less, however).

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Our next course was the meat course, which had sliced flank steak and beef tongue. I usually am not a huge fan of tongue.  Sliced deli tongue is fine, but give me a slice of pastrami any day instead.  This tongue, however, was one of the best morsels of food I have ever had.  It was rich and melted in my mouth, with intense meat flavor.

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Up next were desserts.  This was fresh blueberries, marscapone, and sorbet. It was fresh and delicious and all the right balances of sweet and tart.

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Our last bite was a caramel sauced, fresh milk ice cream, chocolate mousse with chocolate ganache and fresh berries.  It was decadent with nothing too sweet, nothing too rich, nothing too bitter.  It was perfect.  A blend of everything that is right with dessert.

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At this point I was a bit thankful that it was over… I was so stuffed (and so damn drunk) that I was concerned that Mike would have to carry me out (or roll me).  At this point we were served a mint smoothie, some fresh fruit, and some chocolate cookies.  I took a nibble and sip of each, and each was delicious… but just far. too. full.

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Overall, this was one of those meals for the history books.  It was easily in the Top 10.  From start to finish, everything was delicious.  There were some mistakes in service (the seating, the double amuse bouche, the peppers) but the overall service was so fantastic with great attention to detail, that none of that mattered.  The wines during the pairing were each very good, but nothing that stood out and it was honestly just too much.  I wouldn’t recommend going for that part, but everything else is a must.  Each bite was fresh, delicious, and elevated what food should be.  It was unbelievably expensive, but worth every penny.  It is one of those once in a lifetime food experiences that everyone should have the opportunity to have just once.   Some people dream about vacations to Bali, some about luxury cars, some about owning race horses… me? I dream about food experiences like this one.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

Museum of Sex “Awaken Your Senses” Event

23 Feb

I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the “Awaken Your Senses” event at the Museum of Sex.  It was touted as being a night filled with food and fireman.  Sold!  I invited That Lori of Stuff I Ate to join me.

WARNING: If you are too young or too easily insulted to be reading a post made about an event in a sex museum, please come back tomorrow when I promise more innocent posts will come up (though I can’t promise no cursing).  This also applies to anyone who may get nervous at the site of sculptures of private parts… Oh yeah… you can Where’s Waldo some interesting things in the pictures that follow.

I had been to the museum before (it’s a fun trip) but was excited to see an event they put on.  I was a bit late, so most of the fire fighters were already off of their calendar signing posts.

When we walked in, there was no sign, no greeting… just a table of food and people milling about. I would have loved some direction or a welcome, but we made do.

Funny thing… I wound up focusing so much on the food that I pretty much forgot about the firemen and only got one picture of them in the room!  (You can see the official pictures of the event at this link)

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The first food stop were truffles made by Mimi Truffles.

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This first bite (a spiced chai truffle) was the best thing I ate all night!

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The red velvet ones were pretty damn good too!  (Though they were both more like cake balls than truffles)

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(And made for some fun photography)

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The next set of desserts was brought to us by Michael Allen.  They had quite the spread of truffles, macarons, and other delectables.  I wasn’t overly impressed with this side of the table.

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I LOVE macarons, but these were a bit underwhelming (and the texture just didn’t have the snap that I have come to love for the cooking with the marshmallowy inside and filling)

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The left side of the display (all the way in the top left of the pic below), however, included mini canelés that were awesome.  Simply awesome.

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Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery had a display of wasabi cupcakes (that I avoided like the plague… NOT a wasabi fan) as well as the chocolate explosion bomb thing which was cake and mousse and something.  I was totally underwhelmed.  And obviously I didn’t care enough to photograph it.  So I had to end on a good note and get another chai truffle.

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Lori and I made our way downstairs to go to the bathroom and I had to giggle when I entered. I took EXTRA long and exploded in a fit of giggles as I exited and Lori looked at my quizzically.  How can you not giggle when a sex museum has a chalk board for people to write on in the bathroom?

I even left her a message:

And then she left the world a message:


(It’s true… we do)

Just outside the bathroom is a bar that JUST opened called “Oralfix”

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I liked the lamps…

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It was very modern looking.

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With a menu focused on aphrodisiac flavors.

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I also liked the tip jar…

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We opted for wine (people were milling with drinks that looked specific to the event, but we couldn’t find them… so we bought ourselves each a glass of Sexy Wine Bomb… not awful)

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I can only imagine what these are…

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As we were leaving, we perused the gift shop which included some notable books.

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And some fascinating stuffed animals…  (please… please read the tag and notice how they spell “Rabbit”)

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I wasn’t quite sure what a smoking labbit had to do with sex… then I turned it around…

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And that… my friends, is where I end this post.

In case you missed it, I was on The Wendy Williams Show on Tuesday, September 28th to compete in a Top Chef: Just Desserts segment with my NYC Nom Nom Double Trouble Peanut Butter Cup.  Two other audience members and I put our desserts up against each other to be judged by Wendy Williams, Gail Simmons, and Johnny Iuzzini.  It was a blast!

29 Sep

]

Chocolate Salty Balls

30 Aug

I had read about cake balls in just about every food blog I touched for a few months, so when a co-worker’s birthday came up, I had to try to make them. 

The idea is that you bake a regular cake, break it up and combine it with cake frosting so it becomes a fudgy texture, roll it into balls, then dip it in melted chocolate and let them harden.  What could be bad about that?  I actually chose to do brownies and combined it with cream cheese frosting.  Here are the rolled balls:

I had read that the dipping process could be hard as the balls are heavy and fall off a toothpick, so upon exploring candy dipping advice, I saw an ingenious idea.

It’s simply a plastic fork with the center two tines removed.  Easy peasy!  I made sure the balls were big enough to sit on the outer tines and then you just dip and scoop them out. 


One of my favorite things with chocolate recently is to add some sea salt.  (One of my favorite all-time recipes is chocolate covered toffee with salt). 

I know some people don’t love salt with chocolate, so I made some sweet versions.  The salted ones were GONE before the sweet ones were even halfway eaten. 

But they made for such a fun birthday treat!

Next time I really want to try red velvet cake + cream cheese or banana cake + vanilla frosting.

The recipe is really simple, but if you need some tips, here are two links:

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/cake-balls/Detail.aspx

and

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/how-to-make-cake-pops-078637 (they feature the cuter version of putting them on lollipop sticks!)

Homemade Crunchie Bars

12 May

I somehow completely forgot to post this from months ago, so you’ll forgive this pig out fest from pre-Weight Watcher days…

I have been in LOVE with Crunchie Bars (chocolate covered honeycomb made mostly in the UK) ever since I accidentally stumbled upon them in a Bridgett’s Irish Store in my neighborhood Jersey Mall.  Then I saw this poston TheKitchn (where I also learned there is an Australian Version called Violet Crumbles!) and knew I had to try this the next time my mom came to visit (since she also has a special place in her tummy-heart for Crunchies). 

You start with a combination of honey, corn syrup, and sugar. 

Then it heats…

After reading the post on thekitchn.com, I was terrified that the mixture might overflow.  They spoke of a chemical reaction after adding the next ingredient (baking soda) that makes the candy expand exponentially.  I envisioned myself somehow cleaning stick honey candy out of my gas stove and nearly quit right there… but I took out my biggest post and turns out I had little to be scared of…

Well… except killing my candy thermometer…

As I whisked the baking soda into the mixture furiously, it certainly did expand. But it maybe went from about 1 inch on the bottom to about 3 inches.


Then I poured the gelatinous foam mass onto my prepared silpat and thought that there was no way this could possibly make that interesting honeycomby like, sponge looking texture, could it?

It took about 2 hours to harden (I guess it was more humid in my apartment).

And when I cracked it open I was giddy. It was beeauuuuuuutiful!

I quickly coated it in chocolate (if you leave it exposed to the air it turns to goo I hear).

And it turned out perfectly.

Did it taste EXACTLY like a Crunchie bar? No. But it was pretty damn close.  And pretty damn good seeing as though I MADE it! Woo!

The recipe is very good on the originating site, so I’ll let you click on over and show this blog some love if you’d like to make your very own Crunchie bars: http://seattlest.com/2007/02/13/seattlests_answer_to_violet_crumble_.php

I highly suggest it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

9 Feb

This is one of my favorite recipes and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

* 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
* 1 cup peanut butter
* 1 cup butter, melted
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (This is where I go all out. The kind of chocolate you use makes all the difference. I usually by the Ghiradelli chips or melt down good chocolate bars when I’m making it for people I like)
* 2 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, confectioners sugar, peanut butter, & melted butter
2. Press firmly into bottom of 9 x 13” pan
3. Melt chcoolate chips over double boiler or in microwave, stirring occasionally
4. Spread melted chocolate over the crumb crust
5. Chill for about 10-15 minutes, then cut into bars before chocolate is set
6. Chill until ready to serve (best served cold)
7. Eat them!