Chocolate Archive

Friday, January 25, 2013

intensely chocolate sables

intensely chocolate sable

Although I would hardly say that having a kid has made me wiser — there have been just too many incidents like the one this morning, when not a single of the following clues piqued my concern: 3 year-old going into bathroom to bring his step-stool into another room; the sound of a cabinet opening, a fridge opening followed by a banging sound on the counter, until it was too late and a once-clean child in a once-clean kitchen was making “skwambled” eggs — I can’t help but have come to a few salient conclusions about children/life itself over the last few years that I find infinitely applicable. One, there are few things wrong that a good night’s sleep cannot fix. Two, sometimes you really just need to scream and yell and have a great big noisy fuss for a few minutes and get it all out — pounding your tiny, dimpled fists on the carpet is optional, but this is no time to hold back feeling all the feelings, you know? — so that you can resume being sweet and awesome for the remaining minutes of the day. Finally, there’s not a single person in this universe who does not need a cookie at 4 p.m. each day, like clockwork. Nobody. Not even you. Even in the month of Resolutions.

the balthazar chocolate sable, my obsession
grated chocolate

One of my great cookie loves, and the most ideal 4 p.m. mini-escapist treat, is the chocolate sable from Balthazar Bakery. I don’t get it often, because that would be dangerous. I usually indulge when I’ve mentally committed to walking either there or back or both (exercise!) or I’m having the kind of day that only a walk to SoHo would improve (justification!). If you’ve ever been to Balthazar, you’ve probably looked right past it to ogle the pain au chocolate or burnished plum tarts because it looks plain and dull, hardly competitive with its surroundings, and I think you’ve missed out because alone in its 1/4-inch thick fluted round is the intensity of all the chocolate in Paris. Okay, I exaggerate but still, that’s no excuse to miss it. It’s bittersweet, crisp and sandy; it absolutely aches with chocolate impact and it makes me very happy.

sift the dry ingredients (cocoa is lumpy!)

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 26, 2012

roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones

roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones

One of the saddest things you should probably know about me is that I’m a terrible host. I don’t mean to be; in my head, I’m the kind of person who would find out you were coming over, quickly gather some wildflowers from the side of the road, put them in an old Mason jar, pour-over some coffee from a local roaster, steam cream from an upstate dairy in a spouted glass and pull out something warm and enticing from the oven right as you arrived. In my head, I understand that none of these things are terribly difficult to pull off. In reality, were you to come over right now, you’d find a plate of pears (one with a toddler mouth-sized bite removed) and mostly-empty jar of something delicious, but alas, too delicious to have lasted until you arrived, on the table, a colossal explosion of wooden train tracks and fire station parts all over the carpet and a fireman in a time out (“What did he do?” I asked. “He did NOTHING!” I was informed. Well, then…). Also notable is the absent aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. Upon closer inspection, you might see that I don’t actually own any coffee-making apparatus. And not a single warm thing has left the oven this morning; we had stove-top oatmeal for breakfast again.

tippy pears
peeling the pears

Seriously, you’d revoke my book contact if you saw this place. I might have kept this to myself forever, but I have been found out. I have been found out because in the last month, more strangers have entered my apartment than have in the three-plus years we’ve lived here. They come under the auspices of writing articles about tiny kitchens or wanting to watch me make a recipe from the cookbook, but I know the truth: they want to see how we really live and when they find out, well, I hope they are relieved because are all of the fruits in your bowl intact? Are no firemen in unjust time outs? Good, you’re a step ahead.

pretty pears get a longer photo shoot

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 20, 2012

my favorite brownies

one-bowl, chewy-fudgy brownies

I understand that when a website but 5 11/12 years old boasts not one or two but eleven brownie recipes that it’s possible, perhaps, or at least worth considering that the brownie category: it’s been exhausted. The brownie beat reporter can retire. The archives are full. I get it, I do. Shouldn’t we be discussing blueberry pie, summer harvest tians or backyard grillery? Probably.

unsweetened chocolate
butter

But the thing is, I really wanted a brownie. And more so, I wanted my favorite brownies. And despite having an alphabet of brownie recipes on this site from Adorable Hearts to Baked Bakery to Cream Cheese, Cocoa, and Creme de Menthe, I actually haven’t shared my go-to brownie recipe in its purest form, what I dub my Forty Minute Naptime Brownies. And for that, we need to talk about, well, Jacob.

melting the chocolate and butter

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 15, 2012

chocolate swirl buns

chocolate swirl buns

A few years ago, I conquered one of what has to be one of the seven wonders of my culinary world, chocolate babka. Babka, if you’re new to it, poor you, is a brioche-like sweet yeast cake, usually rolled thin and spiraled around a filling of chocolate, cinnamon, sweet cheese or fruit, and is often studded with streusel. And I know that most people save their gushing prose for lemon meringue pie, 8 inches high, or brownies with swirls of peanut butter, candied bacon and candy bars inside, I know that most people hadn’t heard of babka before it became a punch line, but Alex and I fondly remembering the grocery store chocolate babkas — with endless spirals slicked with bittersweet chocolate — of our childhood and I couldn’t rest until I cracked the code at home.

a sticky, rich babka/brioche dough
grind your chocolate with sugar

Martha Stewart made it easy, as her late mother’s chocolate babka is the finest out there, and not just because it contains the complicated twist patterns, pebbles of streusel and touch of cinnamon that it’s just not right without. Nope, her version won all prizes because it was completely and totally, borderline indecently, overcrowded with chocolate. The chocolate-to-dough ratio is staggering. It’s… unseemly. It’s… some kind of wonderful.

your chocolate filling awaits

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

chocolate buckwheat cake

chocolate buckwheat cake

There are rainy, dreary, energy depleted days when the best thing you can do at 3 p.m. is to stop pretending that anything short of chocolate cake is going to improve your outlook. Tuesday was that kind of day and, just my luck, this happened to be a rainy Tuesday kind of chocolate cake.

chopping bittersweet chocolate
buckwheat flour with ground almonds

But before that, I really tried to tell you about soup, soup with whole grains and seasonal onions and floating croutons of pungent cheese. I really tried. But I found that the same conditions that led to the need for a hearty soup on a Monday night in May — a gray day in which my brain a little fried from a week at the beach and maladjustment back to real life — also made it impossible to discuss soup in any kind of articulate manner on Tuesday. And so, I made chocolate cake instead. If this site had a subtitle, that would be it.

what you'll need + bea's inspiration

Continued after the jump »


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