Chocolate Archive

Thursday, February 26, 2015

the ‘i want chocolate cake’ cake

the 'i want chocolate cake' cake

About six weeks ago, around 9 p.m. on a day I had consumed mostly air and maybe a slice of toast because I couldn’t for the life of me imagine how food had ever tasted good, without any warning, I wanted a slice of chocolate cake with swirls of chocolate frosting and probably some sprinkles and the sprinkles, so help them, better be rainbow. Except the word “wanted” doesn’t accurately describe the craving; it was suddenly everything. I needed a piece of chocolate cake so badly that I began to regret every cupcake shop I’d ever walked past and not gone in during the height of the mid-aughts cupcake craze. I regretted not licking every beater of chocolate buttercream that had ever crossed my path when I worked at a bakery in high school. And I regretted that when I asked my husband why we didn’t have any chocolate cake, he said “because you haven’t made any?” He was correct — I’d made them dinner, instead — and the great unraveling of all that had once been right and good but failed to lead me to chocolate cake continued.

what you'll need plus some buttermilk
sift the dry ingredients if your cocoa is lumpy

I recently warned (threatened?) that I might have to exclusively dedicate this space for a while to a few currently acceptable categories, those that involve butter, bread, peanut butter or chocolate. And while I’m happy to tell you that my interest in most foods (except for chicken, sweet potatoes and soup, they know what they did) has returned, my devotion to these categories hasn’t waned in the slightest. So, here is the promised Oh My God, Is That Chocolate Cake? Give It To Me Right Now Cake. Or The Nothing Is Ever Going To Be Okay Again If I Don’t Have Chocolate Cake Cake. Or The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake. Really, I tried to come up with a less cumbersome title, but “chocolate cake with chocolate frosting” doesn’t connote the central urgency here.

thick batter, spread it flat

Continued after the jump »

Friday, February 6, 2015

chocolate oat crumble

chocolate oat crumble

I have learned over the years that people have strong opinions about the combination of chocolate and fruit. I don’t judge, I mean, I have strong opinions about pretty much everything, such as the combination of pumpkin and chocolate (no), sea salt-flecked cookie lids (delicious but ftlog, only with a light hand), syrup on pancakes (only if the pancakes aren’t sweet), and how many episodes in a row it’s acceptable to consume of city.ballet. when you’re sick for the fourth day in a row (all of them, what kind of question is that?). What I’m saying is, pretty much the only thing I don’t have rigid views on is the combination of chocolate and fruit.

what you'll need
d'anjous

And yet, when my mother spotted this recipe in the newest and (in my not unbiased opinion — I blurbed it) most charming book from Nigel Slater I said, as articulately as ever, “I dunno, wouldn’t it be kind of weird?” Which is when I realized that I might I have an overly segregationist view of fruit crumbles. To me, they’re a very specific thing, fruit recently plucked from a tree or vine, mixed with sugar, spices if desired, flour or cornstarch to thicken and topped with a crumbly mix of flour, butter, sugar, oats and sometimes nuts. A butter-free, flour-free topping? A buttery almost caramel sauce-d base? Chunks of chocolate?

oats, chocolate, maple syrup, salt

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, December 4, 2014

decadent hot chocolate mix

decadent hot chocolate mix

Here is how I’ve made hot chocolate for most of my life: heat some milk in a saucepan, add a bit of unsweetened cocoa and sugar and whisk. Form lumps. Be unable to break up lumps. Get frustrated, try again, this time slowly slowly slowly whisking milk into cocoa and sugar, hoping to form something of a cocoa roux. Heat mixture until steamy and drink merrily, trying to ignore faint background of chalkiness. Hooray for cocoa?

what you'll need, except maybe not marshmallows
grind it up and you're done

Until this week, that is. This week, I saw a recipe for a homemade hot chocolate mix in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated that had my undivided attention because it wasn’t just cocoa and sugar but ground chocolate and vanilla and salt and and and… I mean, how bad could it be? What was the worst that could happen — we’d have to warm up with several cups of hot cocoa in a single week in the name of recipe testing? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: sometimes, this job is the worst.

homemade hot chocolate

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, October 9, 2014

better chocolate babka

new chocolate babkas + impatient kindergartener feet

Inadvertently, this has become Festivus week on Smitten Kitchen, wherein I air my grievances at past recipes and exhibit what I hope can be passed off as “feats of strength” in reformulating them for modern times. Still, nobody could more surprised than I am that of all the recipes in the archives, it’s Martha Stewart’s decadent chocolate babkas from seven years ago that have ended up in this queue, because at the time we found them beyond reproach: rich, buttery, crumbly and intensely chocolaty. They were precisely what we’d remembered getting from the store growing up, but better, I mean, I’d hope they’d be. Clocking in at 3/4 pound of semisweet chocolate and almost a cup of butter per loaf, the recipe in fact uses triple this (2.25 pounds of chocolate! 1.25 pounds of butter!) for three loaves. And not unlike the chicken pot pies, this, along with the messy, complicated prep, became the problem. Despite repeated requests from our families every holiday, I’ve probably only made it once since, if that. It’s all too much.

the dough, after overnighting in the fridge
rolling out chilled dough is easier

This high holiday season, however, I decided to audition a different chocolate babka — the stunning, twisty, glossy chocolate krantz cakes that I imagine have tempted anyone that’s opened Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Although I was curious, I knew there was no way they could be as good. How could they be, what with only 2 1/4 ounces of dark chocolate and just over 1/2 cup of butter per loaf? It was going to taste abstemious, and wrong. Abstemious chocolate babka is wrong, wrong on a moral-ethical level, as far as I’m concerned.

melted chocolate to make paste

Continued after the jump »

Friday, September 5, 2014

chocolate and toasted hazelnut milk

chocolate and toasted hazelnut milk

Like most people with at least a passing interest in foods made from recognizable ingredients, I’ve heard a lot about almond milk in the last decade. But my love of all things milk, cream, crème fraîche, sour cream, double-cream, triple-creme, dulce de leche, sweetened condensed milk and milk fudge (you know, just to get started) was such that I had little interest in making it a regular part of my life.

well-toasted hazelnuts
soaking in water overnight or longer

Plus, there was so much that I didn’t understand. First, most recipes call for raw almonds. Have you ever tasted a raw almond before? They taste, to me, terrible, like waxy nothingness. Why stretch this waxy nothingness into a glass of liquid? However, you know that flavor you get when you deeply toast almonds to a nice milky coffee (mm, milky coffee) shade, that incredible flavor which is amazing in pastries as it is on salads and even for a plain snack? Why weren’t we making almond milk out of toasted almonds — was it just the shade? Does beige “milk” unnerve people?

looking real murky the next day

Continued after the jump »