Chocolate Pots de Creme

Happy Monday, everyone!  I’m still hacking away a mile  a minute, but at least I don’t feel like death warmed over any more.  Hopefully I’m on the downside of it all.

I hope all the dads out there has a great Father’s Day; poor Beloved spent his in transit for a business trip.  Since he wasn’t home, I made his Father’s Day dinner on Saturday night instead – grilled steaks with Bearnaise sauce, sauteed greens and roasted sweet potatoes.  I haven’t made a Beanaise sauce in many years and was worried it would break or curdle, but I needn’t have worried – it came out beautifully (you get the recipe later this week).  I also decided that dessert was in order, since it was a special occasion, and made this one – I’d been pondering it for quite some time.

Pots de Creme are really just a sophisticated pudding, and when made with high-quality dark chocolate are a rich and decadent treat.  Since they’re a custard, they are typically made with eggs, sugar and milk or cream but with this damn bronchitis, I’ve been avoiding even the small amounts of dairy I normally consume and used coconut milk and water.  Refined sugar is out of the question, of course, and while the recipe calls for coconut sugar, you could also use evaporated cane juice.  I used 85% dark chocolate, but if you choose to use a 72% dark, you can probably decrease the sugar to 1/3 of a cup.

And was this good?  It got the reaction I was hoping for – Beloved gobbled his down and finished mine off, too.  Not that it wasn’t good, because it is simply delicious, but it’s so rich, and my appetite has been so poor lately, I just couldn’t finish it.

Note:  You can, of course, use cow’s dairy rather than coconut milk if you choose.  I recommend 1 cup of whole milk with 1 cup of heavy cream.  I also had melted the chocolate in a double boiler and added it to the mixture after I’d whisked the hot milk into the eggs, and it seized up a bit – I had to whisk it briskly to incorporate it, and the result was that the custard was just a tiny bit grainy.  I’m recommending melting the chocolate in the coconut milk before adding it to the eggs in the hope that the custards will be silky and smooth when done.

Chocolate Pots de Creme
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (13.5 ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (85% cocoa)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the coconut milk and water in a large saucepan; add the vanilla bean pod and seeds and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and coconut sugar in a large mixing bowl until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  3. Break up the chocolate and add it to the coconut milk mixture; reheat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is almost, but not quite, at a boil. Slowly whisk in a small amount of the chocolate mixture to the eggs, to temper the mixture and avoid cooking the eggs. Keep adding the hot chocolate mixture until it is fully incorporated into the eggs and sugar.
  4. Carefully pour the custard into individual ramekins and place them in a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to hold them all without crowding the containers. Fill the pan with hot water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins, taking care not to let water splash into the custards.
  5. Bake the custards for 30 to 40 minutes; when they are done, the centers will be soft but the edges should be firm. Remove the custards from the oven and allow them to cool in the water bath. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 292 calories, 22.2g total fat, 122.5mg cholesterol, 37.6mg sodium, 271.8mg potassium, 18.8g carbohydrates, 1.8g fiber, 13.4g sugar, 5.4g protein.

 

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Muffins

Happy Monday, y’all!  I hope all the moms out there had a lovely day yesterday.  My Mother’s Day was great; I spent it doing exactly what I wanted to be doing:  cooking.

Like, for 8 hours straight.

I know; call me crazy but it’s what I wanted, so it’s what I did.  I won’t tell you about everything I made – yet – but it included rhubarb, raisins, mustard greens, bacon, eggs, goat cheese, wasabi, macadamia nuts and coconut, just to name a few ingredients.

It also included almond flour, tapioca flour, fresh raspberries and an exquisite bar of high-quality, 70% dark chocolate. (Thank you, Alex, for the inspiration!)

Until the last few years, I’d always preferred milk chocolate; it’s a long-held prejudice from my childhood, probably because my mother disliked dark chocolate (she didn’t like frosted Pop Tarts, either, so even before, when I’d consider eating a Pop Tart, it was a nekkid one).  My days of eating milk chocolate are behind me now, but I’ve learned to enjoy a good-quality dark chocolate.  However, I personally find anything over 70% too be too bitter, so that’s what I used here.

I believe Beloved and I have a new favorite muffin; these were so unbelievably good that we couldn’t stay away from them – since it was Mother’s Day, I didn’t pay too much attention to calories or carbs and, frankly, cooked like a fiend and ate like a pig all day long.  And I had a grand time doing it.

We especially enjoyed the muffins, which were just slightly sweet from the coconut sugar, delightfully tangy from the raspberries and decadently rich from the chocolate.  So, so, so good.

I’ve had a problem lately with the baked goods I make solely with almond flour becoming soggy after a few hours, so I played around a little with cutting back on it and adding a small amount of tapioca flour, which is far more absorbent, and it worked quite well.  The muffins were still a little “rustic” from the almond flour, but not as much, and they had more of the “springy” texture you’d expect from a conventional muffin.  I have a feeling I’ll be working on changing the ingredients of the occasional baked good in the future.

Baked in a conventional-sized muffin tin, these are not huge but they don’t need to be; they’re quite satisfying if you’re not on a Mother’s Day cooking/eating binge.  😛  Seriously, though, this morning I had half a muffin with a hard-boiled egg and am quite full.

Note:  The muffins in the photo didn’t rise as much as I’d have liked – probably because I forgot the baking soda like a big goof.  Actually, I’m surprised they rose as much as they did; I wonder if it had anything to do with the tapioca flour.  If anyone makes them as written, let me know if they rise satisfactorily for you.

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Muffins
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Muffins
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Muffins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup ghee or butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces raspberries
  • 3 1/2 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a 1 dozen muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, tapioca flour, baking soda and coconut sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted ghee and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture, beating lightly by hand with a wooden spoon, until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the raspberries and chocolate.
  3. Divide the batter equally between the 12 greased muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 201 calories, 13.7g total fat, 56.9mg cholesterol, 72.7mg sodium, 179.8mg potassium, 14.9g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 5.6g sugar, 2.5g protein.

 

Chocolate Strawberry Bucheron

Beloved and I attended our first winter farmer’s market last weekend.  We picked up some onions and leeks, collards and apples, as well as several beautiful heads of garlic.

The Goat Cheese Lady was there, too.

Jeanie Mackenzie is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, and her cheeses are just to DIE for (if you will recall, her handmade artisan goat cheeses were largely responsible for my quick defection from Whole30 last June).  They’ve figured very prominently in several recipes, whether I’ve mentioned it or not.  They are simply spectacular…and she had some Bucheron.

I darn near kissed her.  (I told you I love my farmers…and my cheese makers, too!)

As usual, I really had no idea what I was going to do with it, although some organic California strawberries and lightly salted, roasted pistachios inspired me.  And what an inspiration it was; this dish is rich and decadent, yet fruity but not too sweet, all at the same time.

It was, as The Young One said, “a righteous dessert.”

Oh, yeah.

Chocolate Strawberry Bucheron
Chocolate Strawberry Bucheron
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup [url href=”http://www.theolivetap.com/store/index.php?productID=333″ target=”_blank”]dark chocolate balsamic vinegar[/url]
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 6 ounces Bucheron or other aged goat cheese
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, coconut sugar and dark chocolate balsamic vinegar. Stir; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the bucheron into 6 equal slices, and place each slice on a plate or wide, shallow bowl. Arrange the strawberries evenly over the slices of cheese, then drizzle with the vinegar.
  3. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 156 calories, 8.1g total fat, 13mg cholesterol, 108.4mg sodium, 265.9mg potassium, 14.8g carbohydrates, 3.1g fiber, 10g sugar, 7g protein.

 

 

Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Salad

I am quite late posting today – sorry about that.  However, “Travelfest 2011” began this morning and Beloved will be out of town on business for 3 weeks straight, including weekends, so we’ve been doing many necessary errands and chores and spending as much time as possible together.

And now I’m just bushed, so today’s recipe is quick and simple.  It’s also freaking delicious – I had no idea how delicious it would be when I was figuring out what to do with all the peaches and plums we’d purchased last weekend at the farmer’s market.  I just wanted to use them up.  Beloved suggested some sort of fruit salad so I decided to roll with that and cut a sprig of thyme from our herb garden, then decided cheese would be nice with this fresh fruit.

A word about cheese.  You probably know that I’ve been loving me some goat cheese these days, but I’ve also discovered the deliciousness that is sheep cheese, too.  I like it because it has a much smoother flavor than goat cheese – it’s nowhere near as tangy – and it elicits even less of a sensitivity in my body than goat cheese.   The feta I used in the tomato salad earlier this week was made from sheep’s milk, and I used Manchego – a hard sheep cheese similar in texture and flavor to a good quality Parmesan – in this recipe with very good results.  In fact, if you cannot find or do not care for Manchego, a hard Parmesan that can be shaved (I use a vegetable peeler) should be fine.  Of course the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar is the one I ordered a few months ago, but if you prefer you can substitute a high-quality balsamic vinegar and shave a half-ounce or so of a very good quality bittersweet or dark chocolate into the fruit.

You know, I’m calling this a salad but we ate it as a dessert – in fact, we quibbled over who was going to get the remaining serving after we each ate ours.  Because of this, I’m going to classify it as dessert.  It’s a damn fine one.

Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Salad

Chocolate Balsamic Fruit Salad

serves 3

1 large peach, pitted and sliced
4 small plums, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons dark chocolate balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup Manchego cheese, shaved

Gently toss the peach and plum slices with the thyme and cheese in a large bowl. Divide among 3 chilled plates and drizzle the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar around the fruit and cheese. Serve immediately.

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For more tasty Spins, head on over to Sprite’s Keeper.  Take some virtual cookies.

Boston Cream Pie

Happy Monday everyone!  It’s the start of a new week, a new month, a new blog layout and a new recipe.  And a new feature – from now on, all recipes will be available in a printable format.  I’ll work on getting all of the archived recipes put in a printable format as quickly as possible.

Because I’m just all about the “new” today.

I like my new layout a great deal; it gives me lots of room for modification so I can change the look in the form of new headers and colors and buttons on a regular basis without having to take the time to design and code a new theme every time I want to change it.  I hope y’all like it too; I welcome any feedback you might have.

Okay – Boston Cream Pie.  It’s one of Beloved’s favorite desserts and the one I made on Valentine’s Day.  When made from scratch it’s not a complicated recipe by any means, but it is a tad time consuming.  It is also one of the yummiest cakes you’ll ever eat.

The origins of the name – to say nothing of the recipe – differ depending on the source, but it’s generally accepted that it’s called “pie” when it is really a cake because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans so many people baked cakes in them.  The Parker House Hotel in Boston claims to have served these cream “pies” since their opening in 1856, hence the “Boston” part of the name.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the dessert (I have quite a few readers outside of the U.S.), it consists of two layers of sponge or butter cake that are sandwiched together with pastry cream. A chocolate glaze is then poured over the top of the cake and allowed to drip down the sides.  My version uses a simple butter cake, baked in two thin layers and filled with classic creme patisserie; a thick, rich, vanilla-flavored custard that consists of egg yolks, butter and milk thickened with flour or corn starch and flavored with vanilla.  I spread the top with an easy chocolate ganache consisting of heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate and a little butter.

It is oh, so very yummy, and it should be:  The cake is adapted from the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking, the creme patisserie is adapted from the 40th Anniversary Edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the chocolate ganache is adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible.

I am nothing if not an equal opportunity adapter.

Note:   The creme patisserie will hold up to being sandwiched between the cake layers much better if it has been refrigerated a bit, so make it first.  The cake recipe is for two 8″ or one 9″ cake layers –  since I prefer a 9″ cake for this recipe I bake two thin layers; that way I don’t have to worry about splitting a single layer with a knife and risk it falling apart.  If you make two 8″ layers or a single 9″ layer, increase the baking time about 5 minutes.  Also allow the ganache to cool until just barely warm to the touch before spreading on the cake – it will thicken, but still run down the sides of the cake without pooling at the bottom.

Boston Cream Pie

serves 8

Creme patisserie (or vanilla custard)

1 cup granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup flour

2 cups very hot milk (almost boiling)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In the 3-quart bowl of a stand mixer, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks with the paddle attachment and continue beating for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted.  Gradually beat in the flour until completely smooth.

With the mixer running on low/medium low, gradually pour the hot milk into the egg yolks in a thin stream.  Pour egg/milk mixture into a clean, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set on the stove over moderately high heat.  Stir constantly with a wire whisk, making sure to reach all over the bottom of the pan.  As the custard heats, it may become lumpy, but will smooth out as you beat it.  When it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue beating with the wire whisk for another 2 minutes or so, taking care not to scorch it at the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.  Scrape into a clean bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until ready to use.

Gold butter cake

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375º F; grease and flour cake pan(s).  Have all ingredients at room temperature before beginning.

Sift the flour together with baking powder and salt; set aside.  Cream the butter until soft and gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and scraping down the sides of the bowl and stirring until the batter is smooth after each addition.  Pour the batter into the cake pan(s) and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean.

Remove pans to a wire rack; cool cake completely before removing from pans.

Chocolate ganache

4½ ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat.  Add the heavy cream and raise the heat to medium.  Heat and stir, trying not to create any air bubbles, for a few moments.  Remove from heat; add the butter and stir well.  Allow to cool until barely warm to the touch.

Assembly

Place one cake layer, top side up, on a flat serving dish at least an inch or two larger in diameter than the cake.  Spread the creme patisserie thickly and evenly over the surface of the cake; top with the other layer, bottom side up (if the cake layers “domed” during baking, shave the tops with a sharp serrated knife until flat).  Pour the ganache on top and gently spread with a spatula until the chocolate coats the top of the cake evenly and begins to drip down the sides.

Cut into wedges to serve.  Wrap leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving.

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because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans.