The first annual Santa Cruz Vanilla Festival came together as precisely the magical event Chef David Jackman and I imagined when David proposed the idea back in September. We weren’t quite sure how many guests we could accommodate in his cozy restaurant downtown on Pacific Avenue. While there are tables in a lovely covered patio in front of the restaurant, December can be chilly or rainy. I suggested that we take advantage of the long wooden tables to create community seating so that guests could meet one another while enjoying the three course meal. We were ready to expand to the patio if necessary, but felt 50 would be an ideal number. As it turned out, every seat inside was filled, and the restaurant was closed inside for our party.
Chocolate and Vanilla
Carole Bloom has graciously shared a toothsome recipe from her new book, Intensely Chocolate (Wiley, 2010), which not only is delicious, but is also an ideal gift to make for a chocolate lover. Carole says, “A blend of bittersweet chocolate, dark milk chocolate, hazelnut paste, and chopped toasted hazelnuts create a candy that fills the mouth with intense flavor. These go very well with coffee or tea after dinner.”
Like most of us who were raised on chocolate chip cookies, I’m crazy about them. However, I find a lot of ccc’s boring because they’re a little too bland and sugary. Kind of the “white bread” version. That’s why I like them with toasted oats and nuts. But what makes these cookies most interesting is the chocolate. Chocolate chips are fine, but most of the brands contain paraffin so they don’t melt easily and become gooey. If you can find them, I like Guittard’s pistoles, which are chocolate discs that have a lower melting point and are quite tasty. I chop them coarsely. They come in an extreme milk chocolate at 38% or bittersweet at 66%.
The uniqueness of this cake is that it is both cake and mousse in one. Dense and killer-rich, it delivers an intense chocolate flavor that isn’t diluted with flour. I often cover this cake with a simple chocolate glaze made from the same chocolate as the cake and enough butter to give it some gloss. A slender piece served with a raspberry liqueur or espresso provides an elegant end to a memorable meal.
While these deliciously crunchy candies do not actually contain honey, the bubbles that give them their light air airy texture and their deep golden color, conjure up images of bees and nature’s sweet treat. Perfect for topping cakes and desserts or just served on their own, we think you’ll be pleased with their surprising texture and rich flavor.
Although I’m not vegan, I have dear friends who are. I’m also always looking for recipes that can accommodate family and friends with food allergies or food intolerance issues. When I read on food 52 about Joanne Chang’s cupcakes, I saw a winner. Joanne, who owns Flour Bakery in Boston, has created a recipe that is moist, deeply flavorful, and fully satisfies the craving for chocolate and the desire for a rich, moist cake or cupcake — vegan or otherwise!
While these Chocolate Macaroon Bars qualify as cake, they’re really more of a confection. Rich and gooey, they are so delicious and can easily become a must have for chocolate and coconut lovers.
We probably can never have enough good, “straight ahead,” recipes in our collections. I have been wanting a good chocolate cake recipe for a while. You know, the kind you can whip up for a birthday or a rainy day or even a potluck. One that’s not complicated and you know will be good.
Crème Eggs – Time honored store bought confections indicating the arrival of spring – Now available at your fingertips!
With the crack of their hard chocolate shell revealing syrupy yolk centers, these decadent treats have been delighting kids and adults for generations. Candies that have traditionally been available annually, can now be yours the whole year through. This recipe, adapted from Food 52, will light up your dessert buffet.
Wanting to take a more sophisticated approach? With the simple modification of removing the yellow centers, this recipe can easily be transformed, resulting in delicate vanilla crèmes.
Fountains of Champagne and chocolate in a room filled with roses and a string quartet may sound like the perfect Valentine fantasy, one best left as a fantasy. Instead, how about some special dishes that are delicious, romantic and won’t break the bank?
The first time I had Nutella was in a very unlikely place — on the island of Tahiti! Tahiti, being a French Protectorate, means that all kinds of delicious European treats are readily available in markets except on some of the smaller islands. Also, fresh baguettes are delivered several times a day to even lowly gas station convenience stores! It was crazy wonderful.
At any rate, I was staying at a pension where they provided natural alarm clocks for everyone in the form of a band of semi-wild chickens. Fortunately, they also served breakfast, which included the aforementioned baguettes along with a variety of jams and Nutella.
Long before the California food revolution began, my mother was given one of these dazzling tarts as a gift. It was a predecessor of the exceptional chocolate desserts that emerged in the 1980s. We were impressed by the simplicity of ingredients and the deep, rich, creaminess of the tart.
At some point in the 1990s, the recipe was featured in Gourmet magazine, complete with raspberry coulis and a glaze, both of which are optional. It became a regular in my repertoire for special events, and when I launched my online business I featured it in my chocolate section.
Excerpted from THE BAKING BIBLE, © 2014 by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
When David Sterling’s book, Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, arrived at my door, my jaw literally dropped. As I removed the packaging to reveal this 564 page (6-1/2 pound) gem, I could barely believe my eyes. It is absolutely stunningly beautiful!
Helado de chocolate mexicano
From Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, by Chef David Sterling
David says, “When I eat this memorable and rich ice cream, I am always reminded of what the Mayas must have experienced when they were spiritually transported by chocolate. Since there are no recipes for chocolate desserts in regional cookbooks, I based my formula for this ice cream on what we know of the Maya and, later, Aztec recipes for the chocolate beverage
My grandsons were asking my daughter for stories about her childhood and she told them about the box freezer her grandparents kept in their basement filled with ice cream. Wide eyed, they wanted to know what her favorite flavor was. She told them Tin Roof Sundae. Despite it’s popular surge in the early 80’s, Tin Roof Sundae has since declined both in popularity and availability, but when the boys heard it was made with peanuts, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream they knew they had to try it.
It feels like a cardinal sin to post a decadent chocolate recipe in a blog during the first week of the new year (2013).
From Desserts in Jars 50 Sweet Treats that Shine by Shaina Olmonson
By Alice Medrich (Artisan Books, 2012)
Dessert: Who doesn’t love it? Even those of us who have sworn off of sugar or beg-off to hold at-bay another pound, secretly have illicit thoughts of a rich, warm morsel from the oven in deep winter, or an icy granita or a cone filled with buttery, creamy ice cream on a blistering day.
Okay, maybe I’m projecting a little too much. Truth is, I love dessert! Years ago I had a conversation with a five-year-old boy, and we admitted to each other that we didn’t have a sweet tooth; we had sweet teeth – a mouth full of them! My grandsons would agree that they too would walk a mile in the snow for something chocolate.