Everything INCLUDING the Kitchen Sink…

My adventures in the kitchen

Using up Chocolate April 19, 2009

Filed under: Recipe — Carey @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

Now you’d think this wouldn’t be that difficult. HOWEVER….

For Christmas we made homemade drinking chocolate and biscotti for gifts for co-workers and friends. In the process of stocking up on chocolate, we got more than we ended up using. I’ve had several bars of chocolate sitting around since, and not wanting them to go rancid started trying to think of a way to use them.

Jess likes pudding – well, I do too. But it’s a dangerous thing to have around – FAR to easy to grab a spoonful or 10. And I’ve never really made puddings. My luck with them seems to be hit and miss. In fact yesterday I made Tapioca, which just didn’t quite thicken up like it should have. But with not working the last couple of months, I’ve had time to experiment. And today’s experiment was going to be chocolate pudding.

I had seen a couple of recipes so went looking for them. One called for 6 egg yolks. Now aside from the fact that that is just way more cholesterol than I want to put in my food, my penny-pinching side really hates to throw away 6 whites. And we’re not much for meringue. I went looking again and found one that was really quite reasonable – or at least relatively reasonable – in terms of it’s healthfulness.

I started gathering my ingredients, and it reminded me of our Christmas chocolate project. We had made three different versions of the drinking chocolate – Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Heat, and Dark Chocolate with Citrus. And my brain started running. Wouldn’t some cinnamon be good in it? Why not some chili (I LOVE a little spice with my chocolate). And so was born Mexican Dark Chocolate Pudding.

This was a relatively simple recipe as far as pudding recipes go. It does have you add some of the ingredients part way through the cooking, so I chopped up the chocolate and cut up the butter and put them in a small bowl, then beat the egg in another bowl and added the brandy to the egg. When I went to add the egg/brandy to the pudding, it looked like it had curdled the egg, but the pudding still turned out fine, nice and smooth. It did turn out a little thick, more like a pie filling, so I think I would decrease the cornstarch to 2 1/2 TBS. next time.

This was not a particularly sweet pudding, partly because I inadvertently decreased the amount of sugar to 1/3 cup. I also used Hershey’s 100% Cacao Dark Special Cocoa Powder, 6 oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate (1 bar) and 2 oz. Unsweetened Belgian Baking Chocolate to round out the 8 oz. the recipe called for.

I used cinnamon, cardamom, mace and chipotle chili powder. I used 1/2 tsp. of the chili powder, which gave the pudding a definite heat, more than I would have probably done on purpose. I probably wouldn’t do that again. I taste tested the spiciness with the dry ingredients and 1/4 tsp chili powder and couldn’t even notice the chili. So I added another 1/4 tsp, and it seemed just right. However, the spiciness seems to have intensified with each step of the process. It was about perfect while the pudding was warm, it’s a bit spicier than I’d pick now that it’s cooled. But, that means it’s going to pair perfectly with some nice cool, mild, fresh whipped cream – or that tapioca pudding…. Oh, and the amount will also vary by the type of chili powder that you use. I have some Ancho chili powder that is more mild and “regular” chili powder is even more mild.

Mexican Dark Chocolate Pudding

3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutched)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8-1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp. mace

1 cup heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk (I used 1% and it worked fine)

1 egg, beaten (optional)
2 TBS. brandy (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
8 oz. (about 1¼ cups) chopped semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Put the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, spices and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly, making sure no cornstarch or cocoa-powder lumps remain. Whisk in the cream and milk, a little bit at a time until cocoa mixture is smoothly incorporated.
2. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking steadily and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally. When warm (but before the pudding comes to a boil), whisk in the egg, the brandy, the butter, and the chopped chocolate. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the butter and chocolate have melted and dissolved into the mixture.
3. When the pudding has come to a low boil and begun to thicken, remove from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract and pour the pudding into dessert dishes or a single large bowl.
4. You can let the pudding cool slowly on the countertop and serve it soft and warm, if you like. If you prefer to serve it firm and chilled, cover the pudding with plastic wrap (stretched taut if you like skin on your pudding, or pressed gently into the surface of the pudding if you don’t) and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes to an hour.
5. Serve garnished with freshly whipped cream and grated semisweet chocolate, if you like.

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Puffy Pancakes April 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 8:24 pm

My daughter had to work on Easter Sunday, but I figured we should do at least a little something special. She had brought home some gorgeous strawberries the day before, and I wanted something out of our ordinary, that I could incorporate them in. Lo and behold, in perfect, just-in-time fashion, my favorite recipe site had a recipe for an Puffy Apple Pancake.

It was really easy to adapt to use the strawberries, and was remarkably easy to make. I baked the pancake, then served it with sliced strawberries and nonfat Greek Vanilla yogurt. This one is going to get added to my “company’s coming” portfolio!

For a gorgeous presentation, fill the center with sliced strawberries and top with whip cream. But, it’s good left over too, so if you’re not going to use it all, don’t fill it so it won’t get soggy. Slice it and top individual slices after they’ve been moved to individual dishes.

If you’re using a harder fruit like apples, pears, peaches etc, you can bake them into the pancake. Other fruits like strawberries or bananas will be better reserved and served over the finished pancake.

Puffy Pancake

Fruit – 1 large or 2 medium apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, bananas OR figs, berries or bananas
1 TBS sugar or honey

1 TBS oil
1 TBS butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg or cardamom

1/4 self rising flour
1/2 c all purpose or whole wheat flour
3 eggs
3/4 c milk
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 450F

Put the oil, butter and spices in an oven proof skillet or pie plate (pie plate works perfectly well). If using apples, peaches etc, core/pit and slice the fruit, add it and the sugar/honey and put into the pie plate.

Put the pie plate in the oven and bake until the oil/butter is bubbly.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, eggs, milk and salt in a bowl. Small lumps are ok.

Remove the pie plate from the oven and pour the batter into the hot pie plate. Put back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the middle is set.

Remove from the oven and dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve with maple syrup or vanilla yogurt.

Makes 6 servings

Puffy pancake, fresh out of the oven

Puffy pancake, fresh out of the oven

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

 

Blondes Just Might be Better….. April 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 2:20 am

Yesterday, I teased my daughter and told her I was going to make Bacon Peanut Butter cookies. I told her I was joking, and thought that was the end of it. When she got home from work, she asked what kind of cookies I’d ended up making. Oops, none! So today I was trying to decided what kind of cookies to make. We really only had the ingredients for chocolate chip and/or oatmeal cookies, both of which we’ve had recently.

And then it hit me. I’ve seen recipes all over the place lately for blondies. What is a blondie, you might ask? Simply, it’s the white cousin of brownies. And I’m in love!! They are the perfect vehicle for any kind of add in you might want. In poking through the pantry I found dried cherries, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and toasted pecans. And the recipe turned out nice and cakey, just the way I like them.

And of course the recipe is horrendously unhealthy. I did what little I could to ameliorate that (my “word” of the evening – they used it in “Bones” tonight!). I used whole wheat pastry flour, and substituted date sugar for a 1/3 of the sugar called for. They were still plenty sweet and the change in flour didn’t seem to harm them at all. The date sugar I can get at either TJ’s or Home Economist, our local “health/bulk” food store.

Jess plans on taking one to work tomorrow and eating it in front of as many people as possible – how can you get a better review???

Blondies

1 3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground
3/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. date sugar (or use 1 1/2 c. dark brown sugar)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

Line a 9×13 pan with wax paper or aluminum foil and oil (I used olive oil cooking spray).
Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl.

Melt butter in a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients and chips etc. and mix just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out to the edges evenly. Put on rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. The top should be shiny and cracked and golden brown. Remove pan and let blondies cool completely in the pan (yeah right!! I removed them as soon as I could without it all folding up into a gooey mess in the middle!). Use the edges of the wax paper/aluminum foil to lift the whole “bar” out onto a cutting board. Cut into desired sizes.

Hopefully there will be enough left in the morning for me to get a picture to post here…

 

Bite Size Protein April 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carey @ 2:28 am

I have to apologize for my laxness lately with this blog. It has always been a mystery to me that the more you have to do the more you get done – it’s motivation thing that I have experienced more than once. When there isn’t much to do and lots of time to do it, why hurry??

The other night I didn’t feel like cooking so we opened up a couple of containers of Indian food. One was a dessert made from lentils, almonds, milk and saffron, in kind of a paste consistency. It was really good, but WAY to rich and sweet to eat much of it at one time. Jess suggested making some kind of candy from it, which took me back to a childhood memory.

Growing up in a family that didn’t use any refined sugars or oils, we had a fairly limited range of desserts. One of those was peanut butter balls – peanut butter and honey mixed up, rolled into a ball and then coated with sunflower seeds.

The paste from the Indian food was a little thin to roll into a ball, so I added some almond meal, and to cut the sweetness a bit, I added some cashew-macadamia butter. Then I rolled them in a mix of white and black sesame seeds and unsweetened coconut. The result was quite acceptable!!

You can use any nut butter, honey, sorghum, molasses or date sugar and roll them in whatever seeds/nuts that catch your fancy – or you have in the pantry!! There are no set measurements – add and mix until it tastes right – and you can form it into a ball!! Just be sure to refrigerate them for a couple of hours so they harden a bit.

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