Posts Tagged ‘dark chocolate’

Cure for the cold – chocolate

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

I promised myself not to say a word about the frigid, arctic, polar weather outside, as I’ve spent the last two days complaining about it on Facebook. My favorite local radio station (too many weird sounding letters and numbers to remember) is playing a double feature today – Coldplay (ha) and The Cure (ha-ha), two of my most-beloved bands, which also makes a nice little self-mocking comment to all my fellow frozen Chicagoans. So here is my own cure for very cold-weather play – chocolate. Always one for a good, dark, full-bodied bittersweet chocolate, I usually have my pantry stocked with it. I haven’t found a good US-produced brand yet that would be affordable in big quantities, so I go for the European ones – Swiss, Belgian, but also German. Buy the best one you can afford – good quality chocolate makes all the difference and gives the desserts a silky, dense body that makes them irresistible.

Hot chocolate is a classic cold weather cure, and I finally have a recipe that is fuss free, uses real chocolate (never a fan of the powdered stuff) and quick. It’s my own take on one from the December issue of Bon Appetit. I doubled the amount of milk, heavy cream and chocolate – the original wasn’t enough for the four of us. As it was a Christmas recipe it also calls for mint candy cane, but you can skip this – especially as they’re not easy to get outside the US. Everybody here except me loves marshmallows, so sometimes I add tiny ones or a splash of alcohol for the adults.

Hot chocolate

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (could also use whipping cream)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (you can add more if you want it sweet)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6-8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) chopped; 4 ounces is about a regular bar. If you find using 8 oz for 4 cups a bit over-the-top, go for 6 oz
  • ¼ tsp peppermint extract (optional) – could use vanilla instead, but only if you have the real thing
  • 4 candy canes or mini marshmallows – I’ve made it with Hershey’s chocolate-mint candy canes and marshmallows – there’s nothing like boosting your sugar level when it’s hostile outside.

Bring the whipping cream, milk and sugar to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, whisking all the time – I’ve met only one person who likes skin on milk. Remove from heat. Whisk in the chocolate until smooth, add the extract (if using) and divide between mugs. Decorate with the marshmallows and/or candy cane and drink up – it’s the best-tasting cold medicine you’ll ever get.

Chocolate cake

The other chocolate creation this week was a delicious and child proof cake from How to Be a Domestic Goddess – Nigella Lawson’s classic. I have had the book for some time now, but this is the third recipe I’ve made – or in this case I actually only assisted. It was my eight-and-a-half-year-old that chose the recipe and made it from scratch. She was bored out of her mind on sick leave from school, and letting her dive into the world of chocolate cakes was my way to regain control of my laptop. We used sour cherry marmalade instead of orange, but the result was great, as with all of Nigella’s desserts.

Chocolate cake - made by 8 1/2 years old

Ingerdients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (113g or one stick)
  • 4 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, chopped (one regular bar)
  • 1 1/3 cups good marmalade (orange, sour cherry, plum) – a whole 11 oz/320g jar
  • ½ cup sugar (could be light dark or muscovado for extra flavor)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs (organic or free range if possible), beaten
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 8-inch springform pan (about 20,5cm), buttered and floured

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C, rack positioned in the middle.

Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the chopped chocolate and when it starts melting take off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until completely melted. Add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir until smooth. In a small bowl combine the flour and baking powder and start adding to the chocolate mix bit by bit. When all is incorporated pour the batter into a springform, shake a little to distribute it evenly and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (always test the middle of the cake). Let it cool for 10 minutes on a rack, before taking out. If you’ve done a good job on buttering and flouring the form taking out the cake shouldn’t be a problem – when ready it shrinks a little bit and goes off the walls. It looks quite plain, but smells amazing and is moist and slightly sour from the marmalade. We played with ours – Maia cut stars and Christmas tree shapes from a cereal box and we used them as stencils. We placed them randomly on top of the cake and dusted it with icing sugar, as Nigella suggests. It looked perfect. Not surprisingly, however, it soon disappeared.


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