Chocolate Archive

Saturday, January 22, 2011

chocolate-peanut spread

peanutella

People, I’m no good. I’m terrible news, a bad influence and possibly everything that your nutritionists, cardiologists and mamas warn you about. There I was, like most people with a pulse, enjoying the heck out of some Nutella on a slice of bread at my in-laws last weekend and I thought, you know what would make this even better? Peanut butter. I mean, is there any question that the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is at the very center of American hearts, gullets and junk food aisles? And then I thought, But it’s January. You’re getting in a bathing suit in a month. This is terrible idea. But then I reasoned, Well, it’s not like I have to eat more than a spoonful. Surely, it’s possible so exercise some self-control around chocolate and peanuts. Guys, I’m really funny sometimes, aren’t I?

puny peanuts
toasted again

So I started looking at recipes for homemade Nutella — pardon me, the non-trademark-protected gianduja paste — which is the smooth and shiny combination of hazelnuts and cocoa loved all over the world. I was surprised to find approaches, as well, all over the map. Some used honey, some began with a caramel but two techniques in particular caught my eye: one in which ground nuts were mixed with just cocoa, sugar and oil, quite close to the ingredient list of jarred Nutella and a very simple one from Martha Stewart, which relied on sweetened condensed milk for its body. I decided to make the Martha version second, but never got there because my mother (who was hanging out for the afternoon) and I never got our spoons out of the food processor bowl from the first batch long enough to even consider if it was less than perfect.

grinding

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, October 30, 2010

buckeyes

half-dipped

Once upon a time, when I was probably no older than in grade school and sadly, not a whole lot shorter than I am today, a friend of a friend of my mother’s presented her with a bag of peanut butter and chocolate candies that my mother and I, chocolate and peanut butter fiends, went ballistic over. Here in this plastic bag (that we kept in the freezer, a history of hiding foods I have no self-control around in the freezer long predates this site) were all of the awesomeness of Reese’s peanut butter cups but, a) larger and b) homemade. We had to have the recipe.

the goods
butter, peanut butter, cream cheese

No, we really had to have the recipe. We asked. We might have begged a little. But we were shut down, because this friend of a friend was writing a cookbook, and needed to save the recipe for future publication. Now, I don’t think my mother is especially one to hold grudges, but I tell you, it’s probably been more than 20 years since then and I mentioned chocolate peanut butter balls to my mother this week and she said, flatly, “I am still waiting for that cookbook.” You could say it’s kind of a running joke.

i want (peanut butter) candy

Continued after the jump »

Monday, September 20, 2010

monkey cake

monkey cakes

I’m pretty serious about birthday cakes. When I think of someone being presented with some shortening spackled quarter sheet cake from a discount grocery chain on their birthday — a day they only get to celebrate once a year! Which is like forever if you’re a kid or perhaps the sort of grownup who didn’t get the memo that at the age of 34, birthdays are really not supposed to be a big deal anymore — it makes me sad. Not judgmental-sad, because lord knows I could barely eke out this cake on Saturday, and it’s supposed to be, like, my calling, but empathetic-sad because I totally blame lousy, intimidating recipes for making the two-layer + frosting task seem not worth it to go it at home. I hope to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get the fluffy, towering, butter-laden imperfectly frosted, slightly crooked homemade cake they deserve for making it through another year. Or, perhaps, one’s entire life to date, for the first birthday set.

bananas a-mashingbanana batterlevelling the cakesmaking a mini-monkey

pinning on the earsbuttercream pillow, coming right up!little monkey cakemonkey cakes, senior and junior

Of course, the joke is on me because who went without a homemade birthday cake this year? Yup, you’re looking at her. Who else? Yup, the husband. It turns out, babies keep you really busy. But we don’t bear grudges, in fact, I figured if I could only get my act together for one single birthday cake this year, it might as well be a cake for the monkey. I may or may not have started planning this in June. I may or may not have spent 45 minutes last week practicing doodling monkeys so I could get it right. I admit nothing.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

everyday chocolate cake

everyday chocolate cake

Chocolate gets stiffed every summer in my kitchen and this one has been no different. Apparently, the only time I have come near chocolate with a ten foot pole this summer was more than six weeks ago, when I made some impromptu chocolate doughnut holes in the lull between rhubarb/strawberry season and every awesome fruit since. And I love chocolate like some people love bagels. This isn’t right.

cocoa

It’s just that every time I think about making something with chocolate in it, I push it back to the fall, and then the winter. How boring I have become since I started aligning my cooking with the seasons! I reason that I can make chocolate goodies any time of year, but nectarines will only be as brilliant as they are right this very minute and then not again until next summer and I will miss them the whole time and thus we must focus only on each other for as long as we can. Me and summer fruit, we get intimate.

battered up

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

chocolate doughnut holes

chocolate doughnut holes

I was sure that I’d blinked and a whole month had passed since we last spoke, but apparently I dropped in on Friday to discuss peas. It was my birthday and I was double-fisting tissues and hoping the DayQuil would kick in soon. Fortunately, it got better from there, with my awesome husband stealthily making plans to send the baby to his grandparents while he plotted what has to have been the most fun party since our wedding. There’s been a new dress, a new camera, new measuring cups and a new tooth, countless formats of cheese, innumerable sinks of dishes and full nights of sleep, plural. Is it any wonder that I hardly remember five days ago?

it all started with cherries

There were also some cherries. I had great plans for them, the possibilities for kitchen craftiness seemed endless. But then, I ate them all. Look at them. Can you blame me? Sometimes it’s just wrong to meddle with something that arrives needing no intervention.

wet ingredients, dry ingredientssticky soft doughnut batterpat pat pat the doughdoughnut hole negativesfrom the fryerdrippy buttermilk glaze

Continued after the jump »


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