Monday, December 5, 2011

Ghirardelli bittersweet chips now at Costco

I'm so excited! Costco now carries Ghirardelli Bittersweet chips - 3.5 lbs for only $10!

These are our go-to for candymaking, especially at Christmas when we make tons of chocolates for our families. It's rare to find them for less than $2.50 per 11 oz bag ($3.63/lb), and the cheapest I've ever seen them - only once or twice - is $2/bag ($2.91/lb). $2.85/lb is an excellent price for a very tasty chocolate that melts well for dipping and candymaking. And big bags are perfect when you're making as much as we do for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween! Chocolate/Pumpkin Swirl Bread

I think pumpkin and chocolate are a massively underused flavor combo, so I wanted to correct that this Halloween. It doesn't hurt that the orange-and-black (well, dark brown) swirls are very in season!

The stars of our show:

I based it on recipes from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (one of my all-around faves). For the chocolate bread, I used the Nut Bread recipe, which is right there on the same page as the pumpkin bread recipe! This is my standard go-to quickbread recipe, I've used it to make blueberry bread and cranberry-orange bread in the past. This time I subbed 1/3 of the flour for cocoa, and of course skipped the nuts - worked like a charm!

The tricky part was that the nut bread recipe is for one loaf, while the pumpkin bread recipe is for two - and I only wanted a half a loaf each, so I had to halve one recipe and quarter the other at the same time. You better bet I was triple-checking each ingredient before it went into one of the four bowls involved! Luckily. It all went as planned, and the batters were perfect for swirling in the loaf pan. The result was a moist and delicious holiday snack!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Water Mousse

My newborn son seems to have a dairy protein intolerance, which means that I have to cut all dairy out of my diet until he grows out of it! This is a scary prospect for someone who is a strict proponent of real butter, never shortening, in my baking (not to mention a huge cheese fan), but it's also an opportunity to experiment.

Our go-to mousse recipe has been Albert's Mousse, from (what else?) Alice Medrich's Bittersweet. (If you are new to this blog, this is my chocolate bible.) Now, Albert is the author's dairy-intolerant brother, so already this mousse is done in the classic French style of nothing but dark chocolate, sugar, eggs, and water, so it would be fine (and trust me, it is more than fine).

But a few months ago, I was led to this recipe using nothing but chocolate and water. We definitely wanted to try this!

It's as easy as it sounds - boil water, melt chocolate, whip. We used Valor mint-flavored 70% bars that we bought at Whole Foods. Note that there is no added sugar in this recipe, so whatever chocolate you use is what you get!

Unfortunately, I overwhipped it (using an electric beater because we don't have a whisk right now). My advice to avoid this: At first, it will seem like nothing is happening, so, like me, you'll probably turn your beater up to high. That's fine, but as soon as it does start to thicken turn it back down to med or low. Then, the instant that it looks like "thick whipped cream," stop! I kept going maybe another 20 seconds, and while it tastes lovely, the texture was not at all mousse-like. It crumbles like wet, clay-y dirt, but was smooth and soft in your mouth. Definitely not unpleasant, but not mousse.

You can see, this texture is not as pictured on the recipe page:

The end result was tasty enough, though, that I think this solves a problem for me. I've been wondering what could possibly be a dairy-free substitute for ganache, particularly in truffles. Taste and texture wise, I think this would be excellent! The only question is how to assemble them - I don't think that this form would pipe well, and I think it would be too delicate too roll into balls. And unlike ganache, I don't think you can pipe this while it's more liquid and let it set up - it depends on the whipping for stiffness. But I'm sure I can come up with something. And the end result would be surprisingly delicious vegan truffles!

UPDATE: We tried it again, this time with a bar of 70% Ghirardelli. We stopped mixing much sooner, but to our surprise it kept firming up after we stopped! The difference was that we could get it into the pretty glasses while it was still shaped like mousse instead of having to scoop lumps into the glasses. :) This is good news, though, as it means that piping it into molds for truffles while it's still soft should work beautifully!