Chocolate Archive

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

classic ice cream sandwiches

definitely homemade ice cream sandwiches

Look, guys, you’re never going to see my living room on a design blog. As lovely as the walls in landlord-chosen sallow yellow-beige are, as handsome as this coffee table once was (before the finish chipped off the top and we decided to ignore it until it fixed itself), and as charming as the explosion of half-deflated balloons, overturned fire trucks and other toys (some not even wooden, organic, or in sync with our decorating scheme, which, by the way, doesn’t exist) might be, this is hardly the stuff of Pinners’ Envy. Our parties are equally uncoordinated. There are no Mason jar cocktails with homemade bitters, flour sack table runners, or dishes sprinkled with fresh herbs from our window box garden (which also, uh, doesn’t exist, although if you saw the grime that accumulates on our windowsills from the avenue below, you might thank us). We’ve never sent guests home with a party favor aside from a hangover and we usually forget to make coffee at brunch. Our poor toddler has been deprived of organized birthday parties thus far, as I secretly hoped to stick with family brunches and homemade cakes (of course) until he was capable of expressing even the slightest interest in a more elaborate affair. (Although this year, he’s already made his intentions clear: “Jacob turn three. With cake. And guitar. And cake.” Noted!)

what you'll need, plus ice cream
let the mess begin!

But, I do have my moments of high obsessiveness, such as my longstanding affair with creating homemade versions of things you normally buy at the grocery store, be they Oreos, goldfish crackers, graham crackers, fudge popsicles, pop tarts or marshmallows. I can’t help it; the homemade versions always taste a zillion times better and contain no mystery ingredients. So, when I spied a recipe for ice cream sandwiches in a new book about parties, even I knew I’d probably never make the gold luster cookie Oscar statuettes, Walk of Fame brownie stars or glitzy gold curtains in the chapter that focuses on creating an old-fashioned Hollywood-style movie night party, there wasn’t a chance they wouldn’t be in my freezer by that very weekend.

big, chunky cookie dough

Continued after the jump »

Monday, December 19, 2011

peppermint hot fudge sauce

peppermint hot fudge sauce

You have all of your holiday shopping done, don’t you? I bet everything is wrapped and in gift bags, and that you know how to tie ribbons into bows without cursing. I suspect everyone but me knows how to… fluff? Is that what they call it? I bet everyone knows how to arrange the tissue paper inside the gift bags so that it looks perfectly festive and even a tad enthusiastic. I have a hunch that your gifts are homemade and hand-lettered; that you made your own cards. Oh, you didn’t? Well, come sit down over here. You’re among friends.

peppermint hot fudge, in parts
ready to melt

I ran to Duane Reade this morning and bought a roll of brown shipping paper and decided at once that the gift wrap theme this year would be “rustic”. I also wiped out the gift bag supply; sorry about that. Then I went home and made my first homemade gift. Yes, I know it is both Hanukah and Christmas week but I don’t like to be rushed. Plus, if you only have time this week to warm hearts and minds with but a single homemade treat, I hardly think this would be an unwelcome choice.

a slow pour

Continued after the jump »

Monday, September 12, 2011

red wine chocolate cake

red wine chocolate cake

Saturday night, New York City was the loudest I’d heard it in a long time. I should preface this by saying that I live in a noisy part of an already noisy neighborhood and under the best of circumstances — NYU students gone for the summer, long holiday weekend, rain — there’s always a Saturday night ruckus. But this was something else. This woke me up. I swear, I heard a trumpet, more sirens than feasibly possible, people cheering like the Yankees had won the World Series (did they? no wait, something about football?) and when I went to the window, I saw a Vespa go down the sidewalk and I couldn’t get back to sleep. For the eve of such a somber anniversary, there was hardly anyone bummed out after midnight. I like that about this place, even grudgingly, even at 1 am.

the line-up, with bedell first crush!

I don’t have a 9/11 story. It barely happened to me. I mean, it very much happened to me, it happened to my city, I lived here at the time and it broke my heart. But I didn’t work down there, I didn’t know anyone that did, and were I to spin any kind of dramatic retelling, it would be inauthentic as it’s just not my story to tell. I wasn’t even on the island at the time, as I worked in the Bronx back then and I remember, distinctly, and in hardly my finest moment, feeling like I immensely hated my life right then, stranded miles and miles from everyone I cared about, stuck at the kind of job where they asked you to get back to work shortly after the first plane crashed. I wanted a different path, I just didn’t know how to forge it for myself.

swirly batter

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 13, 2011

dobos torte

mine

Last week, when it was ninety million degrees in New York City and all the sane people were cracking open fire hydrants, grilling on their roof decks and/or sticking their faces in their wheezing air conditioner units, I looked around my shoebox kitchen, with its half-counter and miniature oven, considered the sheer volume of items left on my to-do that I’d never get done and said, “Clearly, this is the day for me to make an 11-layer dobos torte.” Because my birthday was two days away and that seemed as good as any to sever what frayed tethers I had left to my sanity. [Plus, I already had cleaning help!]

lots of eggs, lots of yolks
thick, ribbony batter

Growing up, my family and I considered the 7-layer cake to be the ne plus ultra of bakery cakes. They were rectangular, filled with a pale, faintly mocha flavored buttercream and coated, top and sides, with a firmer dark chocolate frosting. I’ll be the first to admit that their flavor wasn’t always spectacular, but did you hear the part about the seven layers? The awesomeness of this trumped all chocolate intensity quibbles. What I hadn’t realized, however, is that the historical home of this cake was not (shockingly) a circa-1980s Central New Jersey strip mall bakery, but a Budapest, Hungary specialty food shop where one József C. Dobos invented it his namesake torte in 1887, which became so famous that the city threw a full scale city-wide fete to celebrate its 75th anniversary. That there is some cake.

puddle of batter

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 2, 2011

fudge popsicles

fudge pops

I have a tremendous crush on Matt Armendariz. It’s awkward, I know. I’m married, he’s married; I have a kid, he has dog children. It’s okay, my husband knows. He took a picture of Matt with his shirt half off a couple years ago, so I think we’re even. Fortunately for those who are now reading this uncomfortably at home, hoping this conversation ends quickly, my crush is more of a talent crush: Matt is a former graphic designer and art director and currently a food photographer, author and the man behind the Matt Bites blog. His photography is amazing, all natural light and unfussy, but what I find more addictive than anything else is his outlook, his energy for life. It’s hard to spend 5 minutes with him without getting hooked on his enthusiasm for family, good friends, great food and a life well lived with lots of travel to far-flung places. Seriously, he even went to Avery Island, Louisiana to learn how Tabasco is made. And didn’t take my husband with him. Alex is almost over it.

all set up
cooking the pops

And now he is a cookbook author too. [Amusingly, I think Matt and I signed our cookbook deals the same week except his book is in my hands right now and my book is ... OH LOOK! Manhattanhenge! Did you catch it?] On A Stick! — yes, in which every recipe is speared or skewered or threaded on a handheld food device — is truly an exaltation of summer. It’s State Fairs and street fairs, frozen beach treats and the stuff picnics and backyard barbecues are made of: skewered salads, grilled marinated kebabs, melon with spices and fried pickles. Even unfathomable things get adorably impaled, like fried chicken and waffles, meatballs and spaghetti, potato chips (!) oh, and pizza too. It’s lighthearted, but there’s no skimping on the cooking: coconut shrimp, Chinese meatballs, pork belly and sweet and sour lollipops. Are you drooling yet?

almost like fudge pudding

Continued after the jump »


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