Chocolate

Chocolate Truffles & Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels

Christmas Candy 2

Well, it’s December 23.  Can you believe it?!  I feel like I just finished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, and we’re already 2 days out from Christmas.  This year has absolutely flown by.  Not only is 2013 nearly over, but next Wednesday will mark the halfway point in my pregnancy.  Yikes!  When did that happen?  We could not be more thankful and excited for what 2014 has to offer us,  but until that comes, we still have one (big) holiday to get through.

Every year for the past several years, I have made some kind of candy or cookie at Christmas time.  Eggnog macarons, candy cane meringues, rum balls.  And for the past 2 years, truffles and caramels have taken center stage.

These are the best gifts to give to people this time of year.  I have a huge extended family, and making treats has always been the best way to make sure everyone gets some holiday love this time of year.  Truffles are fantastic; so, so easy to make, and so easily customizable to whatever flavors you want.  I did one basic truffle recipe with two different toppings: pistachios and cocoa powder.  Truffles dipped in cocoa powder are my personal favorite; so rich and decadent, that I have a habit of eating about 12 before even realizing I’ve consumed that much chocolate.  Whoops.  😉

Christmas Candy 1

These caramels are a take off of the Truffled Truffles I did on here awhile back.  Rich, super buttery caramels with that little truffle oil finish, and the bite of the sea salt … these are the best caramels ever.  The main trick that I’ve finally picked up on with caramels is to never stir the sugar; only swirl the pan.  Stirring the sugar can create crystallization, which makes for gritty caramels, very unappealing.  These little babies are smooth as can be, and melt in your mouth immediately.  Before I got everything cut and wrapped, Shawn was surreptitiously taking slices of it off of the brick, he loves these caramels so much.  Ahh, the rush of Christmas sugar.

I love Christmas.  We will be eating fondue and crab Christmas Eve with my family, followed by a Christmas morning of stockings, gifts and a delicious brunch.  This year is particularly poignant, as it is the last year for Shawn and me as a family of two.  This time next year, we will have a little 6-7 month old, and will get to start all of our own traditions to carry on throughout the years.  I can’t wait to see what the coming years have to bring us.

And to you, my lovely readers, I wish all who celebrate a very merry Christmas!  THG

Chocolate Truffles
Yields 50
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Ingredients
  1. 24 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided
  2. 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  5. 3 Tbsp. good brandy
  6. 2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
  7. 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  8. 1 cup green pistachios, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter. Stir until just smooth and set aside.
  2. Heat heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form along the sides of the pan. Quickly pour over melted chocolate and stir a few times to incorporate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and stir until mixture is smooth. Add brandy and coffee liqueur and stir to incorporate. Pour into glass baking dish and refrigerate 1 hour to set.
  3. Using a melonballer, scoop chocolate mixture and roll into 1 inch spheres. Place on a parchment sheet and refrigerate another 1 hour.
  4. Melt remaining 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water until smooth. Allow chocolate to cool to about 92-93F. Using two regular teaspoons, roll truffles in melted chocolate until fully covered. Tap on the edge of bowl to release any extra chocolate from around truffle. For cocoa powder truffles: add chocolate dipped truffle to bowl of cocoa powder and gently roll to coat. Tap to release excess powder and set on parchment paper lined baking sheet to set. For pistachio truffles: place chocolate dipped truffles on parchment paper lined baking sheet and quickly sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  5. Let truffles set with chocolate at room temperature for another 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/
Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels
Yields 40
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups white sugar
  2. 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 3 tsp. truffle oil, divided
  5. 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  6. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  7. 2 tsp. pink sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, water and 1 tsp. truffle oil over medium-high heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture; just swirl as necessary. Allow sugar to bubble and darken in color to a deep golden brown (keep a close eye to make sure sugar doesn't burn.)
  3. While the sugar is caramelizing, bring heavy cream, butter, remaining 2 tsp. truffle oil and sea salt to a boil. Set aside.
  4. Once the sugar mixture has reached a deep golden brown, remove from heat and quickly whisk in heavy cream mixture. Be careful; it will quickly bubble up! Once heavy cream mixture is incorporated, whisk in vanilla and return to medium heat. Heat caramel to firm ball stage, about 250F. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until caramel has set, about 2-3 hours.
  5. Cut up several 3x3 inch squares of either parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly brush vegetable oil on a cutting board and large knife. Remove caramel from the pan and parchment paper and place on cutting board. Sprinkle generously with pink sea salt. Cut into 1 inch wide strips, and then into 1x1 inch pieces. Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper and set aside. Continue to brush knife with vegetable oil as needed. Refrigerate wrapped caramels until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps

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The day has arrived!  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap has come to a close, and today is the day everyone who participated is sharing their delicious recipes.  

It was so much fun participating in this massive cookie exchange; definitely one to do next year as well.  How it works is this: after signing up, you are assigned 3 random bloggers to send cookies to.  A dozen cookies each, all an original recipe.  In return, 3 different bloggers send you a dozen cookies, so everyone ends up with one dozen of 3 different kinds of cookies.  Too fun, right?

Chocolate Gingersnaps 1

 

I was assigned to make cookies for Brooke from 2 Texas Gals, Crystal from Mrs. Happy Homemaker, and Khandra from Cakes by Khandra.  Let me tell you, trying to decide on one recipe was tough.  I needed to do something that would hold up well to shipping, but I still wanted to do something original and somewhat festive and holiday-like.  I finally decided on gingersnaps, with a little twist: dark chocolate gingersnaps.  I had made something similar years before, but more as a firm, wafer-like gingersnap.  These were soft and chewy, perfectly spiced and that nice rich hit of dark chocolate.  I made an extra dozen to have at the house, which were quickly devoured by both Shawn and myself.  Cookies don’t have a long life in our house.

Chocolate Gingersnaps 2

 

Speaking of which, I can’t forget about the cookies that showed up at my front door!  I don’t know if everyone that participates is this talented, or if I just got real lucky, but we had an absolute sugar feast with our shipments.  Megan from Nutrition Awareness sent maple gingersnaps, with the maple sourced from her family’s farm in Ohio.  Sweet and spicy and simple, perfect little gingersnaps.  Ace from The Toasted Sprinkle sent in “Faux-reos”: chocolate shortbread with white chocolate filling.  I nominate these to take the place of real Oreos, they were seriously that good.  And finally, Nicole from Cooking for Keeps sent us sugar cookies dipped in white chocolate with peppermint candy and pretzels.  I cannot tell you how insanely good these were.  Super soft, buttery cookies, with the sweetness of the white chocolate, the coolness of the peppermint and the salt of the pretzels.  I was deeply disappointed to only get 12; I could have eaten a truckload full of those babies.  So, so good!

Needless to say, in my humble opinion, the Cookie Swap was a great success!  If you are curious about how to participate next year, you can go here for more information.  Happy baking!  THG

Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  6. 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  7. 1 tsp. ground allspice
  8. 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  10. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  11. 1/2 cup sugar
  12. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  13. 1/4 cup heavy molasses
  14. 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  15. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  16. 2 eggs, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cream of tartar. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar until thick. Add molasses, fresh grated ginger and sea salt; mix well to combine. Add eggs one at a time to wet ingredients and beat well. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix to combine. Work together with your hands into a large ball of dough.
  4. Scoop the dough using a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Leave on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move cookies to cooling rack. Serve at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Chocolate Bavarian Cream & An Anniversary

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 2

 

Today is my second anniversary as The Humble Gourmet.  Yay!

I have so enjoyed this journey with all of you, and I look forward to sharing more recipes and stories and life events in the future.  I hope you have all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Reflecting back on the two years, I have accomplishments that I’m proud of, and more that I would like to achieve in the upcoming year.  I’ve shared some personal stories and moved to a new location.  We’ve had Coffee & Doughnuts, the Best Granola Ever, and Christmas Dessert in February.  I haven’t been as productive on the blog as I wanted to this year due to my health issues, but now I’m feeling good and rarin’ to go.  I’m hoping in the next year to have more diverse recipes, I want to develop a new series of posts (in the works now, as a matter of fact), and possibly my first giveaway!  So much more to do, I hope you’ll all be here with me for it!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 1

 

So, in honor of this second anniversary, I’ve made chocolate Bavarian cream.  Haven’t had Bavarian cream, you say?  Well, now’s the time to try it.  Almost like a cross between a mousse and a panna cotta, Bavarian cream is smooth and creamy, but uses gelatin to hold its form.  It’s typically done in a large batch and put into a decorative mold, which is then turned out on a platter and adorned with cream and berries, but I went simple with this one.  We are a household of two, so small ramekins are a better fit for us than a large molded version.  But my goodness, were these delicious.  They were gone almost as quickly as they were set.  A little pink sea salt to bring out the chocolate, a couple of fresh raspberries (the last of the season here…boo!), and a sprig of mint and my friends, we were in business.  I know working with gelatin can be intimidating, but this dessert is practically fool-proof.  Consider it your entry to the gelatinized, set dessert club.  You won’t be sorry.

What sort of things would you like to see on The Humble Gourmet in the upcoming year?  Any recipe suggestions?  Posts?  More stories?  Let me know in the comments!  THG

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 3

 

Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
  3. 1/4 cup cold water
  4. 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  5. 2/3 cup sugar
  6. 1 tsp. pink sea salt
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups heavy cream
  10. Raspberries and fresh mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate over medium heat until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle powdered gelatin over cold water and let bloom, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sea salt and vanilla until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat. Pour hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Return egg and milk mixture to saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 5-10 minutes). Do not let it boil. Add bloomed gelatin and whisk to incorporate (it may bubble up; be careful not to let the mixture overflow). Add chocolate and mix until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, whisk heavy cream until just before stiff peaks form (peaks should be firm, but fold over when lifted). Fold in half of the chocolate mixture until smooth, then fold in the remainder. Continue to gently fold until mixture is completely incorporated. Divide mixture among 6 small ramekins or one large gelatin mold, smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to set, at least 3 hours.
  6. Once mixture has set, remove from refrigerator. To unmold: dip the mold or ramekin in hot water just up the sides for about 5 seconds. Run a butter knife around the edges. Turn a plate over the top and, holding onto the plate and mold, flip over. Carefully pull up the mold, wiggling gently if necessary to release the cream. Garnish with berries and mint and serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 2

Happy Halloween my friends!  The bewitching hour is upon us.  Who has plans for tonight?  Party?  Trick or treating?  Stuffing your face with pizza and candy while you watch the scariest movies Netflix Streaming has to offer?  Just me?  Okay.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 4
If you do find yourself in the mood for a decadent and devilish dessert, I have just the thing for you.  Pumpkin pots de creme with a chocolate ganache cap.  Rich and sweet and perfectly adult.  I have seen so many great kid’s Halloween desserts on the Internets lately (some of them are incredible), but I thought a nice adult Halloween dessert would be in order.  Not to say kid’s won’t like it; but I have a feeling you will be the one licking the bowl clean this year.  😉

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 3
A variation of my Sweet Potato Pots de Creme from two years ago, this one features pumpkin puree, cardamom, and pinch of sea salt for variation.  Plus, that dark chocolate ganache is the perfect compliment; thick and rich and bittersweet to compliment the earthy custard below.  An elegantly ghoulish dessert for this Halloween night.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 1

I wish you all a safe and happy All Hallow’s Eve!  And, for fun, check out this great article from howstuffworks.com on the history of trick or treating.  Happy Halloween!  THG

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  2. 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  8. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  10. 5 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, vanilla pod and beans, and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and let spices steep for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whip egg yolks and sugar together until thick and ribboned. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the cream mixture. Slowly pour hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the eggs. Once cream is mixed in, add pumpkin puree and mix throughly. Add cardamom, sea salt and nutmeg and mix.
  4. Place 6 small ramekins or teacups in the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about 1/2 of space. Add hot water to the roasting pan so that the bottom 2/3 of the ramekins are submerged.
  5. Bake ramekins in roasting pan in the middle of the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until sides are set and center is still slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  6. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. heavy cream in the microwave, about 30 seconds (mind that it doesn't overflow). Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted and glossy. Spoon chocolate over set pots de creme and smooth the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

 

Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart

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So, I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Quite awhile. Case in point? This dessert was made for Christmas Eve dinner. So…yeah. I’ve been lazy getting around to it.
But, I figured, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And this dessert is decadent, and involves chocolate, and red fruit. And, it’s pretty. Really, really pretty. And if you were going to eat a pretty dessert any day, it should be Valentine’s, right?

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I’m going to be alone this Valentine’s Day. Shawn is going away for a work conference, so it’s just me, the dogs, and some terrible/awesome rom-com I’ll find on basic cable. I’ve never been very into Valentine’s Day; it’s a great day for eating chocolate and smelling pretty flowers, but otherwise, I can take it or leave it. So, I’m not destroyed over spending it on my own. Shawn has a standing tradition to give me a bag of Skittles each year on Valentine’s, so as long as I get those tasty little fruit candies, I’m a happy girl. But I’ll miss my guy, just cuz
:-)

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The sweetness of the chocolate versus the tang of the goat cheese and tartness of the currants is such a great combination. It’s complex and unexpected. Plus, as I mentioned before, pretty. This is a dessert to make to impress your Valentine.

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I love the currants in the goat cheese filling. Fancy, like little rubies.

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Beautiful. And delicious, let’s not forget that.
What are you doing for your Valentine this year? THG

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Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart
Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
Chocolate Filling:
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Goat Cheese Filling:
8 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh red currants, stems attached

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cubed butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in ice water, 1 tsp. at a time, until dough just comes together. Dump dough onto a well-floured surface. Roll out into a 1/4″ thick rectangle. Press dough into a 4.25″ x 13.75″ tart pan. Fork the bottom of the dough. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake in oven until just beginning to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
While crust is baking, heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to simmering. Pour over chopped chocolate and mix until chocolate completely melts.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together goat cheese and sugar until fluffy and well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, orange juice and zest. Add egg mixture to goat cheese mixture. Whisk half and half and heavy cream into cheese mixture until well combined.
Spread chocolate in a thin, even level at the bottom of the tart shell. Pour in goat cheese mixture on top. Tap tart pan to remove any air bubbles. Carefully add red currants to the top of the goat cheese mixture, making sure not to let them sink to the bottom of the tart. Bake in the center of oven until goat cheese sets, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

“Coffee and Doughnuts”

"Coffee and Doughnuts"

This week has been overwhelming.  I’m pretty glad it’s over.

Beignets

Sometimes life becomes too much, you know?  Stress and heartbreak and worry and guilt all pile on at the exact same time, and it’s hard to see your way out of it.  Sometimes you need a push, sometimes you need something new to look forward to.  Sometimes you just need time.

Cafe au Lait Mousse

We lost our family dog, Delaney, this weekend.  It was sudden, and shocking, and incredibly heartbreaking.  Trying to navigate this has been really difficult and the only way to get through it is with routine.  Food, photos, blog.  Rinse and repeat.

Cafe au Lait Mousse and Beignets

For Mother’s Day, my brother Ryan decided to make gumbo for our mom.  Mom loves New Orleans and all things Cajun/Creole, so gumbo it was.  I was in charge of dessert.

and

"Coffee and Doughnuts"

Coffee and doughnuts.  Or, more specifically, café au lait mousse and homemade beignets.  A little twist on a Southern classic.

The mousse is made with instant espresso (available at most grocery stores) and white chocolate.  I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to help mimic the chicory flavor that is usually found in New Orleans coffee.  Light, frothy and rich, with a nutmeg whipped cream on top.  Delightful.

The beignet recipe came from the New Orleans cookbook Cooking Up a Storm.  Most beignets are made from a sturdier dough that is rolled out and cut into squares before frying.  This recipe is a bit more rustic; a thinner batter that is spooned into the oil like a fritter.  The result is smaller, lighter, oddly shaped little doughnuts.  Still delicious.

Cafe au Lait Mousse and Beignets

It’s amazing how much a sweet treat can improve a crappy situation.  Tons and tons and tons of sweet treats. 

What is your favorite comfort food in times of distress?  THG

Coffee and Doughnuts

Café au Lait Mousse

1 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. instant espresso

1 Tbsp. hot water

12 oz. white chocolate

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 large pinch nutmeg

1 large pinch ground cinnamon

5 eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar, divided

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks.  Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together espresso powder and hot water until a thick syrup forms.  Set aside.

In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and butter over medium high heat.  Once melted, whisk in espresso mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the double boiler over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks and 1/8 cup sugar.  Continue to whisk over heat until yolks reach 140ºF.  Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk egg whites on high speed until cooled down and thickened considerably.  Set aside.

In the double boiler again, whisk together egg whites and remaining sugar until whites reach 140ºF.  Transfer to stand mixer and whisk to stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into yolks.  Fold white chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Finally, fold whipped heavy cream into egg mixture.  Spoon into coffee cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.  Serve chilled with spiced whipped cream.

Makes 8 coffee cups

Beignets (from Cooking Up a Storm)

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

pinch of nutmeg

Canola oil

Powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk water, milk and egg together.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg.  Whisk well to combine until smooth and free of lumps. 

In a medium saucepan, heat approximately 3” of canola oil over medium high heat to 350ºF.  Drop spoonfuls of batter into canola oil.  Fry until golden brown all around, turning once, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel lined cookie rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Makes approximately 2 dozen

Truffled Truffles

Truffled Truffles

I have an insane sweet tooth.

Really.  I challenge any one of you to a sweet-tooth-off.  It is sickening the amount of sugar I can consume in one sitting.  I can have frozen yogurt, ice cream, candy, cake, cookies anytime, anywhere.  I sometimes have to deliberately decide to NOT eat sugar.  It’s a disease.

Truffled Truffle Ingredients
 

These babies are an indulgence.  A sweet, salty, rich indulgence.  An absolute must for anyone with a sweet tooth.  An absolute must for anyone, period.

Truffled Truffles

Okay, so they’re not technically truffles.  They’re caramels.  But “truffled truffles” sounds so much cuter than “truffled caramels”, don’t you agree?

Truffled Truffle Ingredients

Truffled Truffles

Quick sidenote: Shawn took the photo on the right.  I love how they look suspended in air.

Chocolate-covered salted caramels.  Sounds fairly basic; delicious, but basic.  The thing that heightens these particular treats is the addition of truffle salt and truffle oil.

The salt is just a sea salt with small pieces of shaved truffle added in.  Very, very flavorful.  Truffles have such a unique flavor; earthy, rich, sweet, salty.  They taste like everything all at once.  I received a jar of truffle salt and a can of truffle oil in the stocking this year at Christmas.  I’ve used them fairly sparingly; neither of them ingredients I can afford to regularly stock in the house (this is the Humble Gourmet, remember?).  But, I decided to be bold.  Daring.  Frivolous.  I added the salt and oil to my caramel with wild abandon.  Totally worth it.

Truffle and sweet go incredibly well together.  It’s just so complex a taste.  You get that great, sea salt hitting you right as you bite in, the rich bitterness of the chocolate, the creamy, sweet vanilla flavor, and then, at the very end, that savory, subtle taste of the truffle. 

Truffled Truffles

These are definitely one of the most decadent, luxurious desserts I’ve ever made.  The caramel is so smooth and creamy, with a thin layer of dark chocolate, and that truffle.  The truffle is totally what elevates these little confections from sweet little candy to rich indulgent dessert.

I must make these again.  And again.  And again. 

Drat.  There goes my modest truffle budget for the year.  THG

Truffled Truffles

Truffled Truffles (Chocolate-Covered Truffle Caramels)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed

1 tsp. truffle salt, plus more for topping

1/4 tsp. truffle oil

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 lb. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

To begin, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spray or brush the parchment with vegetable oil.  Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar, water and corn syrup over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to let boil, undisturbed, until the sugar melts and caramelizes to a light, golden amber color.

While sugar is caramelizing, combine cream, butter, salt and truffle oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Allow butter to melt and cream to simmer.  Do not boil.

When sugar has caramelized, remove from heat.  Working quickly, whisk the cream mixture into the sugar mixture; be careful, it will bubble up quite a bit.  Add in vanilla and whisk to combine.  Set over medium low heat and continue to cook until a candy thermometer reaches 250ºF.  Remove from heat and carefully pour onto parchment paper lined baking sheet into a thin layer.  Refrigerate until set, about 2-4 hours.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add chocolate chips and nuke for one minute.  Remove and stir well.  Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Remove caramel from refrigerator.  Cut into thin strips.  Roll each strip into a ball, about 3/4” in diameter.  Add caramel ball to chocolate to coat completely.  Remove with a slotted spoon, being sure to drain off excess chocolate, and place on a fresh parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a small pinch of truffle salt.  When done, refrigerate again until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.  Serve chilled.

Makes approximately 30 “truffles”

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

Molten Chocolate Torte

I moved into my new position/office today at work.

Yay!

This calls for a celebration.  Let’s make a torte!

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

An ooey, gooey, rich, indulgent molten chocolate torte.  Drool.

Cracked, thick crusty top.  Soft, spongy sides.  Thick, creamy, almost pudding-y center.  Chocolate perfection.

Let’s make sure to use all bittersweet chocolate, just so it’s that much richer.  Because what’s the point in making a chocolate torte if not to make it as rich as possible?

Molten Chocolate Torte

Grind up some dried rose petals.  Take a deep breath.  So fragrant, so flowery.  Go ahead and mix some of that rose powder in with cocoa powder.  Then go ahead and sprinkle that mixture all over the top of your torte.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

I am currently OBSESSED with flavored whipped cream.  Whipped cream with rose sugar?  Insane. 

Make this.  Make this frequently.  It’s just too good.

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

Is there any better way to celebrate than with a plate o’ chocolate?  If you can think of a better way, I’d like to know.

Is this dessert healthy?  Absolutely not.  Is it worth the extra calories?  Absolutely yes. 

Make this torte to celebrate your new job.  Make this torte to celebrate your new house.  Make this torte to celebrate your new baby.  Make this torte to celebrate a new episode of Real Housewives.  Just.  Make.  This.  Torte. 

But bring me some while you’re at it

Winking smile
THG

Molten Chocolate Torte with Rose Whipped Cream

Molten Chocolate Torte

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small chunks

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed

Large pinch of salt

5 eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3 Tbsp. cocoa powder

3 Tbsp. ground dried rose petals

Preheat oven to 375º.

Cut a parchment paper round to fit into the bottom of a 7” springform pan.  Butter the bottom and sides of pan.  Wrap aluminum foil around the outside bottom and side of the pan, about half way up.  Set aside.

In a double boiler set over medium-high heat, melt chocolate, butter and salt together until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, combine eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on high until thick and doubled in volume, about 8-10 minutes.  Fold chocolate into egg mixture until smooth and well combined.  Pour mixture into prepared springform pan.  Tap pan on the counter to release air bubbles.

Place springform pan into a large roasting pan.  Fill pan with hot water until it reaches 1/2 way up the springform pan.  Bake in the middle of the oven until the top and sides are set but center is still jiggling, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove springform pan from waterbath and let cool to room temperature.  Remove foil from around bottom of pan.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Combine cocoa powder and ground rose petals.  Remove torte from refrigerator and carefully separate the sides of the springform pan to remove torte.  Sprinkle with cocoa powder mixture evenly over the top of the torte.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8

Rose Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream

3 Tbsp. ground dried rose petals

3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, beat heavy cream until soft peaks just begin to form.  Add ground rose petals, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Whip until at desired thickness, taking care not to over whip (this will happen fast, so be careful).  Refrigerate until ready for use.

Makes approx. 4 cups whipped cream

Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Tree Cupcakes

My best friend Emily has a Christmas party every year.  Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, desserts.  Very fun, very festive.  We go every year.

Christmas Cupcake Wrappers

Almost every year I’ve brought a dessert to the party.  Cookies one year, a cheesecake another.  This year, I decided cupcakes were the best way to go.

Cupcake Dry Ingredients
Adding Oil to Dry Ingredients

Adding Espresso to Dry Ingredients
Espresso

Cupcakes are great for these type of meet and mingle parties.  I went with small, bite-sized cupcakes instead of the regular size, so that guests who are standing and trying to balance a plate and a glass can down them in one or two bites.  I made the cakes using Paula Deen’s chocolate cake recipe.  Surprisingly, there is no butter in this cake mix; it’s an oil cake.  There is, however, a good amount of sour cream for texture and to add a nice bite to the sweet chocolate.  I also added a little peppermint extract to go with the candy cane marshmallow meringue frosting.

Baked Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
Baked Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

They were scrumptious.  I topped them off with a few pearl sprinkles for Christmas ornaments and a vanilla meringue star (I used my meringue recipe from here, but removed the candy cane and added about 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract).  The stars began to droop a bit as the night wore on, but they were yummy nonetheless.

Party Dessert Table

Emily’s dessert table.  She made brownie/strawberry Santa hats that were adorable and delicious!  She also did a hot chocolate bar, which I indulged in quite a bit.  So fun.

I’ll be spending my Christmas gorging on crab, fondue, mountains of cookies and apple cider.  I’ve always been a big fan of spending the last week of the year stuffing my face with anything that isn’t nailed down.  Next week I’ll be posting some of our Christmas recipes that will work just as well for any New Year’s dinners or brunches you may be holding as well.

To each and everyone of you, happy happy holidays!  THG

Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cupcakes

Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cupcakes

(adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe here)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup instant espresso, cooled

3 large eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line small cupcake tins with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients well.  Add oil, espresso and eggs.  Mix well until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in sour cream, vanilla extract and peppermint extract and mix until well combined and smooth.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake tins, about 3/4 full.  Bake in the center of the oven until toothpick comes out clean in the center, about 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool in tins about 10 minutes, and transfer out of tins and onto cooling rack to completely cool.

Candy Cane Marshmallow Meringue

3 egg whites

1 cup sugar

large pinch of cream of tartar

green food coloring

1/2 cup crushed candy cane

In a double boiler, heat egg whites and sugar over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved.  Transfer to mixer and add cream of tartar.  Whip egg whites with whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form.  Add food coloring to desired shade and whip egg whites to stiff peaks.  Fold in candy cane pieces.

Spoon meringue into pastry bag and pipe in a swirled, Christmas-tree like pattern on top of cooled cupcakes.  Top with sprinkles and meringue stars.

Makes approximately 40 cupcakes

Chocolate Mousse with Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels

Chocolate Mousse with Peppermint Meringues

I am definitely feeling the holiday season this year.  Chocolate, peppermint, chocolate, orange and cranberry, chocolate, gingerbread, chocolate.  Yum, yum, yum.  The flavors and scents this time of year are so wonderful, so decadent, so warm and cozy.  Starting on December 1st every year, I can usually be found consuming pounds and pounds of candy canes.  I eat just enough each December to get sick of them for an entire year.

Crushed Candy Canes

One of the things I love best about this time of year is how everyone’s rules go out the window.  We indulge, we treat.  People who count carbs all year eat crusty French bread and cake, sugar abstainers drown in chocolates and treats, fat-free followers smother their foods in butter.  After 11 months of bills and work and struggles and stressors, we give ourselves 31 days of “whatever we want”.  Being a firm believer in indulging in the things you enjoy, I love that once a year everyone else follows suit.

Mousse Ingredients

So, indulgences.  Is there anything more luxurious, more decadent, more indulgent than chocolate mousse?  I don’t think so.

Melting Chocolate

So smooth, so fluffy and light.  My mom, upon trying this dessert, declared it her favorite that I’ve made.  I may have to agree.  It is an absolutely perfect recipe.  I used Robert Irvine’s recipe for the mousse, and I have to say it is definitely one I will use again.

Chocolate Mousse Steps

In trying to find a good chocolate mousse recipe, I came across a lot that went something like this: melt chocolate, beat heavy cream, combine, refrigerate.  Sounds good, but definitely NOT mousse.  True mousse should have the following elements to it: an egg yolk custard for body and smoothness, whipped egg whites for that airy “mousse” texture, melted chocolate for flavor, and whipped cream for softness.  The egg elements are so important; it’s what elevates the dessert from chocolate whipped cream to actual, real mousse.

Chocolate Mousse

See that texture?  That’s exactly what you’re looking for.  The mousse should hold it’s shape as you scoop into it, with an airy, soft center.  It is so wonderful.  I also added a touch of peppermint extract to the mousse, just for a hint of mint.

Candy Cane Meringue Syrup
Candy Cane Pinwheels

But I didn’t stop there.  The mousse by itself didn’t feel quite finished.  It needed something extra: meringues.

Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels

I adore meringues.  The crunchy, crispy texture with the marshmallow-like taste.  They are usually baked in drops, like large Hershey’s kisses, but I felt the flat pinwheels would be best suited to the mousse.  Thin and light and a perfect compliment to the rich chocolate mousse.  I crushed candy canes very fine to a powder and add them to the meringue mix.  There were a couple of candy cane pieces in the meringues that added a little extra candy crunch to the cookie treats.  I also added some extra red food coloring, folded in loosely so there is a subtle swirl pattern in the meringues.

Chocolate Mousse with Candy Cane Pinwheels

By the way, my oh-so mature and sophisticated husband pointed out that the mousse swirled into the dishes looked like, ahem, poo.  Thank you as always my love for your tact and eloquence.  He did thoroughly enjoy it, though, despite calling it “mousse poop” all night.

Winking smile

Chocolate Mousse

Well, questionable presentation or not, this is a delicious and holiday appropriate dessert.  It’s excellent for holiday party, because you can make both desserts in advance for time management.  Insanely good and perfect for your December indulgence.  So tell me, what’s your favorite holiday treat?  THG

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

Adapted from Robert Irvine’s recipe here

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up into pieces

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

5 eggs, separated

1 Tbsp. water

1/4 cup sugar, divided

 

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and peppermint extract until stiff.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth with no lumps.  Set aside to cool.

In a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl set over the simmering water in the double boiler, beat the egg yolks, water and 1/8 cup of sugar until it reaches 145ºF on a candy thermometer.  Transfer to mixer and whip until cool, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a stainless steel or tempered glass bowl set over the simmering water in the double boiler, heat the egg whites and remaining sugar until it reaches 145ºF.  Remove from heat and beat with the mixer to very stiff peaks.

Fold whipped egg whites into yolks until completely incorporated.  Fold in chocolate until completely incorporated, then fold in whipped cream until just mixed.  Pipe into serving dishes.  Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.  Serve chilled with crushed candy cane pieces and meringues.

Serves 8-10

 

Candy Cane Meringue Pinwheels

3 regular-size peppermint candy canes, crushed (about 1/4 cup)

3 egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup superfine sugar

pinch of cream of tartar

red gel food coloring

 

Preheat oven to 175ºF.

In a double boiler, whisk candy cane, egg whites and sugar until candy canes and sugar melt, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a mixer with a whisk attachment.  Add cream of tartar.  Whip egg white mixture until very stiff peaks form and mixture is smooth and glossy.  Add in food coloring and loosely fold until color is ribboned through mixture (do not over mix).

Add mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” round tip.  On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pipe pinwheels, starting in the center and going closely around until about 1 1/2-2” in diameter.  Bake meringues for 2-2 1/2 hours, until firm crust has formed on top.  Transfer to cooling rack until completely cooled. 

Makes approximately 30 meringue pinwheels