Tag Archives: chocolate

Alert! Moelleux au Chocolat Tasting – Thursday 9 October!

You’ve heard before my musings and particularities about the moelleux versus fondant au chocolat.

If like me you love judging one moelleux against another (mainly as an excuse to eat a whole lot of excellent quality chocolat) you should absolutely not be missing this event! Rather than show-casing the work of various chocolatiers, all the moelleux will be prepared by Philippe Pascoet of chocolate-covered caramelized pistachios fame (a household favorite).

So what’s the taste test for? Each moelleux will be prepared using a different type of cocoa bean, including varieties from Africa, Asia and Latin America. that’s right, this event is for the truly refined palate – or for anyone who just wants to eat many delicious moelleux. Same same as they say.

Here are the details:

  • Thursday 9 October, 6:30pm SHARP
  • Chocolaterie Stettler
  • 69, rue du Rhône
  • Free for members of the Passionés du chocolat club, 15chf for Slow Food members, 20chf for everyone else.
  • Email j.haenggi@passionnes-chocolat.ch with your name and membership status to reserve your spot!

PS- become a Slow Food member to get these announcements straight from the horse’s mouth!

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A Chocoholic’s Agenda: 2014

Copyright 2007 Whey-Out Chocolate Inc

Missed me?

Well, I certainly missed you.

It was recently pointed out to me that I am not eating as much chocolate as I used to. After a brief show of raging indignation, it occurred to me that it was true, and that the reduction of my chocolate intake was actually directly inversely proportional to my experimentation in making chocolates! First came the chocolate truffles (super easy, you really should try it), and then truffles stuffed with caramelized pistachios (UGH!, if I may say so myself), and finally the homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups (an adultified childhood favorite that still needs some tweaking but that is certainly promising).

Then I remembered why I so rarely indulge in my favorites: they are not so easy to find! The Maison Cartier’s nougatines are found only in their home shop in Versoix, the Hochstrasser pavé glacé Genevois found only at seasonal or specialized markets (or bought directly from the home basement where they are made in Meinier). A bit easier to acquire are Philippe Pascoet‘s chocolate covered raisins macerated in Sauterne, and their chocolate covered, crispy caramelized pistachios – a common fixture in our kitchen.

All in all, a good selection, but it does feel like it’s time to explore and expand the list of favorites. So, for me, for you, here is a listing of chocolate salons in and around Geneva in 2014.  For now, only a few dates have been announced. The Geneva expo for instance has not yet set its dates, but usually happens in October each year. As new info comes in, I will add it to this post, so check back in from time to time!

 

MARCH 2014

Salon du Chocolat, 14-16 March, Parc des Expositions de Nantes, Francehttp://nantes.salon-du-chocolat.com

Salon du Chocolat, 21-23 March, Parc des Expositions de Toulouse, France www.salonduchocolat-toulouse.com

 

APRIL 2014

Salon du Chocolat: 4-5 April, Zurich, Switzerland –  http://zurich.salon-du-chocolat.com

FestiChoc Versoix: 5-6 April, Versoix, Switzerland – http://www.versoix.ch/fdc.php

Chocolat Patrimoine Universel, 17-21 April, Grand Palais, Paris, France

 

 

 

 

 

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Secret Ingredient to chocolate truffles

This holiday season I tried making chocolates for the first time ever. I know, it’s even hard for me to admit that it took me THIS LONG to give it a shot!

I dug up a recipe online, going for french rather than english.

*As a side note, I often use francophone websites for dessert recipes rather than anglosaxon ones. Why? Because in this humble gourmande’s opinion, the Americans especially have a tendency to use waaaay tooooo muuuuuuch SUGAR! Especially when baking with chocolate, sugar has a tendency to dilute all kinds of lovely intense flavors in the cacao.*

But I digress, yet again. I tripped over this website which had a nice, simple looking recipe for chocolate truffles. Filled with enthusiasm blinding me to the task ahead, and thinking only of how great it would be to give these as gifts on a visit to my partner’s friends abroad, I dove into making these chocolate nuggets head on. I grabbed whatever ingredients I could find at the Migros, in a rush (Cailler brand chocolate at 70% if memory serves). I even got creative and decided to embellish the chocolate truffles with a homemade caramelized pistachio center, for a little salty sweet crunch. The recipes came together nicely, and although I didn’t try one, I just knew they would be good. I excitedly and proudly passed them out to our friends and hosts and it seemed they went down pretty well: their freshness especially enhanced the rich and unctuous dark chocolate ganache. It felt so good to get it right the first time ’round!

Second verse, different from the first

Trufflicious

I had to make more. As soon as possible. And it’s the holidays so there is no shortage of opportunities to give out homemade chocolate truffles. I made one batch the last couple of days, although it turned out I was not really in the mood to do it. This time, I tried a different chocolate combo, using 64% dark chocolate instead of 70%, trying to get rid of some excessive bitterness I sensed in the first batch. I rolled the chocolate ganache around the caramelized nuts, this time adding a bit more in the center to get the crunch-to-unctuous ratio right. When a nice little one was done, I popped it into my mouth to try it. Not bad – but somehow, not the same WOW I felt after the first time.

Tonight, I tried it again, still in a heavy mood and not feeling like making chocolates, but thinking ahead to a dinner party we’ll soon be hosting – these would make perfect take away treats! I heated up the cream and… perhaps I left it on too long? Perhaps too much? Or too little? I had been careless in measuring. I had been careless in assessing the heat. It simmered and a layer of skin formed on top of the cream. I quickly pulled it off the heat and poured it over the chocolate. Today I was using Lindt brand chocolate, 70% again, with just a little Cailler milk chocolate. I started stirring, my favorite part of the ganache making process. Something was amiss again, and it seemed like the chocolate wasn’t shaping up as smoothly as it has in the past. I tossed in the butter and sure enough, the mix seemed to separate lightly, and the butter wasn’t really melting. But WHY? Why, when I had done everything exactly like the previous times?

Stubbornly I pushed on, pouring the ganache into the tray in which it would sit over night in the fridge. I checked on it not too long ago, and indeed, the fat has separated and congealed. Well, it’s official, we can safely call that a bust.

This is what separation looks like

This is what separation looks like

Was it worth prepping the pistachios? Or should I just put an end to the curse and call it quits for the night? Of course I decided to push through, yet again. I pulled out the pistachios, which I had bought at the Coop this time, and in my haste, I had grabbed a pack of unsalted ones. The previous ones being salted, I hesitated again about giving the recipe a new shot. Sure, I am exhausted and just want to go to bed or watch a dumb TV show, but why not just salt them myself I thought? So I tossed them in a pan with a touch of sunflower oil and toasted and salted them up. They smelled good, great even! There was hope! But they were greasy…No matter, I would just need to pat them well enough dry and maybe put them in the oven before adding them to the caramel.

A little too toasted at this point

A little too toasted at this point

Speaking of caramel, there was the water/sugar/salt mixture seating on the flame, going clear first, and slowly turning yellow. Now I got excited again, but it was slow, so slow! I turned the heat up a notch… and before I knew it, the caramel was speedingly turning an amber colour. I scrambled to pull the pistachios out of the oven and toss them in the caramel mix before it browned too much… the pistachios were darker than I expected. Not burnt I hope? No matter, I tossed them into the caramel, stirred a bit, and just before the caramel burnt (I hope!) managed to get the mix off the heat and onto the foil to cool. When it did, I tried one of the caramelized nuts. It was good! After all this stress it was good! Or was it… bitter? Yes, it had a bitter after taste. Well that’s what you get for improvising, isn’t it?

dark pistachios + dark caramel = not such a sweet deal

dark pistachios + dark caramel = not such a sweet deal

So. The verdict? I probably won’t bother rolling any truffles with either the chocolate ganache or the caramelized nuts tonight. And it’s apparent to me that the better mood you’re in when you’re cooking, the more likely your product is likely to be delicious. Beginners luck don’t mean a thing if you can’t make the magic happen consistently. And to make delicious chocolate truffles each time, you’ve gotta have the secret ingredient: a whole lotta love.

Second verse, different from the first

Second verse, different from the first

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Les Automnales, 2013

It may not be the most exciting event around town, but it’s one of the only times and places where you can undoubtedly score some of the best chocolates in town.

Les Automnales – a bizarre showing of vendors of all types – is at Palexpo again from 8-17 November. Here are some of the foodie oriented highlights!

Atelier du chocolat

Each day you can sign up for a chocolate workshop led by no other than Gilles Desplanches, one of the most successful chocolate and pastry shop owners in town. What can you get out of it? Well, you won’t be making chocolate, but you’ll still have some fun with it:

– Finishing and decorating a piggy bank (shaped like a real pig….)

– Assembling and decorating a chocolate marmite.

– Customizing a 14cm chocolate biscuit

– Assembling and decorating a plane and its pilot with chocolate and marzipan

– Preparing and tasting diverse chocolate drinks.

– Assembling and decorating a 12cm chocolate flower pot

Not so into chocolate? 

Ecole Club Migros will be offering cooking demonstrations on everything from how to make a verrine, to sushi, pizette, pad thai, Japchae, or mezze. And you thought local Geneva didn’t do international…

But you ARE into chocolate, so…. 

Don’t forget to stop by the Hochstrasser family to buy your chocolates for the season. Chocolate butter squares with chocolate powder on top is what they are. Simply out of this world, simply awesome.

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Parisian Pain au Chocolat Safari

What better way to experience Paris’ finest pain au chocolat than on a scooter at 3am in the freezing cold? (No, I mean it, that really is the best way.)

It was my 30th birthday awhile back and my bestest partner in crime surprised me with the ride of my life to taste test one of my childhood favorites: the pain au chocolat.

Let me take a few steps back to explain just why this was the best birthday excursion ever: pain au chocolat’s were what I looked forward to every morning when I woke up as a kid. But it breaks my heart to say that I have a hard time finding a good pain au chocolat in Geneva these days. Older generations might say the drive down in quality happened long ago, but in my lifetime, I can trace it back to the late 1990s when the bakery chains took over our beloved local, individual owned shops. (Pouly and company be damned!) This pushed me to acknowledge, finally, that the best pain au chocolats very well might be in France (whither my Swiss pride…).
So IMAGINE my glee when my 30th birthday turned out to be all about tasting Paris’ finest pain au chocs! The mission? Finding the pain au choc I have come to idealize in my memories: a good pain au chocolat to me is buttery, a bit flakey on the outside, a bit doughy in the middle, and with two strips of dark chocolate cooked “al dente” – in this case meaning that the bars are pretty consistent, keeping a slight bite to them, and not just two strips of smudged chocolate as I see so often nowadays.
The Safari kicked off at the ungodly yet oh-so-savory hour of 1am, when bakers around Paris are up and at ’em stirring up and baking the stuff our tastiest dreams are made of. The fine folks of Boulangerie Pichard had been asked (and cordially agreed) to let us two mere mortals observe them as they artfully rolled up croissants, folded over pain au chocolats, layered gallettes des rois, and confectioned fruit tarts. So in the middle of the night, after a sweet cocktail, we boarded our safari vehicle of choice – a scooter – and zipped through the streets of Paris to Boulangerie Pichard, guided by the light of the Eiffel tower and the whiff of baked goods.
Frozen as our bodies were upon arrival, my oh my was it worth the icy cold scooter trip over there. For two hours, Pichard Jr took us around, showed us the ropes, told us about how the industry has changed over the years, how they are the only bakery in town that gets the kind of butter they get (which of course makes ALL the difference!) and the best way to roll a croissant so it has space to puff out, but not so much so that it unrolls. We even got to help roll them out after a few tips (and apologies to the next day’s clientele who surely observed some oddly shaped croissants as a result).
Official ingredients of any good cooking: butter, butter and moooore butter!

Official ingredients of any good cooking: butter, butter and moooore butter!

rollin' with a pro

rollin’ with a pro

Bakers they may be, but pastry chefs too! Their apricot pies were layed out on decadent looking almond paste and flakey puff pastry...

Bakers they may be, but pastry chefs too! Their apricot pies were layed out on decadent looking almond paste and flakey puff pastry…

The experience was a dream, and I can’t wait to try to make the pain au chocolat at home. In the meantime, we zipped back on our scooter through the cold damp dawn to get a few hours of sleep before we headed back out on the scooter for the pain au chocolat safari, consisting of four stops at Paris’ finest award winning bakeries.
First stop, Boulangerie Pichard again! (What do you expect, we HAD to taste the magical little pastries we had just made). This time we went in through the front door and got to see the shop front in all its golden glory.
Baker's billion

Baker’s billion

King's cake! (or galette des rois, which Pichard sends out to half of Europe in January...)

King’s cake! (or galette des rois, which Pichard sends out to half of Europe in January…)

1. Boulangerie Pichard
The pain au chocolat at Boulangerie Pichard was perhaps the nicest dough we tasted – it was so buttery and flakey, a bit doughy on the inside, and had a nice herby/flowery perfume in it that must have come from the butter itself. Indeed, irreplaceable! Only complaint was the chocolate, which tasted great, but just did not have the consistency I look for.
Two turtle doves of baked deliciousness

Two turtle doves of baked deliciousness

2. Dominique Saibron
From Pichard, we scooted over to Dominique Saibron. Here, the chocolate bar was bigger and had more of a bite to it, which made my inner girlie girl giggle with delight. The dough didn’t have quite the character we tasted at Pichard, but it remained beautifully flakey.
Dominique Saibron's good pain au choc, but not the best

Dominique Saibron’s good pain au choc, but not the best

3. Du Pain et des Idées
After Saibron, it came time to have some “real” food, which involved a stunningly good lunch at Anne Sophie Pic’s restaurant, La Dame de Pic… but I digress. The pain au choc at Du Pain et des Idees required us to wait for a good 20 minutes in line, in the humid cold. We didn’t eat this one until we got back to the hotel, so the goods may have been a little shell shocked from the long scooter ride home…. nonetheless, the dough was the most flakey we had had so far, with lovely layers, crisp on the outside… almost like a flakey pie crust. In flavor however, it also could not match the flowery creamy taste of Pichard’s.
Du Pain et des Idées... frencher than french!

Du Pain et des Idées… frencher than french!

Du Pain et des Idées

Du Pain et des Idées

4. Blé Sucré
Last but not least, we stopped by Blé Sucré to try out their pain au chocolat. Here, we found the best consistency and taste in the chocolate – substantial and dark and with just a little bite to it. The pastry however paled in comparison to the previous four. But let’s be honest, it was still a great pain au choc by any measure.
Blé Sucré

Blé Sucré

And the winner is…… anyone you want! My personal favorite was either Pichard’s or Du Pain et des Idees, but honestly, you would love breaking the bread off any of them. Bon app indeed!
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Geneva’s Salon du Chocolat

What to explore in Switzerland if not it’s fine chocolates. It is a no brainer, almost to the point where it is a dull proposal. Except that no matter how stereotypical, the chocolate stays as deliciously fulfilling as ever.

A couple of weeks ago, after much internal turmoil, and finally sick with some kind of cold/flu monster, I caved in and decided not to drive down to Turin for the biannual Salone del Gusto. How depressing, I had been waiting for that opportunity for a whole year! And my desire to attend was stoked even more after an impromptu visit from an organic farmer extraordinaire all the way from Eugene, Oregon who was on her way down to the Salone. Hundreds of thousands of visitors, conferences on food productions, tastings of some of the world’s best wines, cheeses and produce…. oh the heartache when my achy body put its foot down on the excursion.

So it should come as no surprise that I made it my personal mission to get well enough to at least visit Geneva’s Salon du Chocolat, which was happening on the very same weekend.

And I am so glad I dragged my sneezy self over there. In the gorgeous and unique Batiment des Forces Motrices, 25 chocolate makers from all over Switzerland assembled row by row to present both their tried and true and their shiny and new. Combined with a fine offering of chocolate dessert demonstrations and presentations on everything from chocolate production to wine and chocolate appreciation, the Salon du Chocolat gave me just the dose of healing flavors I needed.

Chocolatiers worth a visit

Fair warning if you ever go to a chocolate show such as this: do NOT try to taste everything. There is no better way to spike, crash, and crawl out of there with a stomach ache by noon. So here are a few highlights that you may want to check out next time ’round:

1. Poyet – journey to Thailand and back in a single bite. Sure, they have their classic chocolates too, but if you ever see their chocolates on display, use your tasting capacity to taste their line of flavor-infused chocolates. The Thailand chocolate brings in flavors of lemongrass and coconut in way that actually enhances the depth of the chocolate. They even give a wink to Geneva’s very own Calvin, including alpine salt and verbena tea flavors to capture his austerity and constant sickly nature. How the father of austerity could inspire such a decadent chocolate is and should be a mystery to me. Last but not least, for a subtler kind of experience, don’t miss out on their brand new green tea infused chocolate, so dark, so silky, and truly exotic. Head to Vevey to find their homeland!

2. Philippe Pascoet – now pretty much a household name in Geneva, Pascoet consistently offers the best chocolates with caramelized nuts or macerated fruits in the center. Seriously, their caramelized and chocolate covered pistachios are astonishing – crispy, salty, chocolatey and smooth. This is one of those secret weapons everyone loves. Find them in Carouge, or now on rue du Marché 34. You’re welcome.

3. Christophe Berger – He’s the new kid in town, over by the Plaine de Plainpalais. Stylish packaging will lure you in, and the chocolate also speaks for itself. Dark chocolate balls with caramelized almonds are extremely unctuous on the outside and crisp on the inside. Not a match to Philippe Pascoet (a touch too sweet for my taste), but delicious nonetheless and the packaging makes them highly giftable.

4. Hochstrasser – last but not least, consistently my favorite chocolate in the world, Mr Hochstrasser’s pavé glacé Genevois! I’m not sure what I love more, the perfectly dark, sweet and smooth chocolate cubes or the jovial mustachioed Mr Hochstrasser. Perhaps the only folks on the floor who make their chocolates right out of their basement, yet they compete with the heaviest hitters. Love love love.

Proud, jovial, friendly, and just the best chocolate maker this side of the Alps.

Of Wine and Chocolate

Of course I couldn’t attend the event without sitting in on the piece de resistance: wine and chocolate tasting with two of the industries’ bests. Edouard Hirsinger, 4th generation chocolate maker and nominated Meilleur Ouvrier de France, and Emmanuel Heydens, best wine sommelier in Switzerland in 1992 and director of le Passeur de vin in the Paquis, teamed up to educate the good people of Geneva on pairing wine with chocolate. In short? If the chocolate is light (40-70%), go for a drier red wine. If the chocolate is darker (70-75%), opt for a sweet red wine. Want a praliné or a nougatine? Try a Chardonnay or a white Chateau-Neuf du Pape. Chocolate covered fruit? Try one of the yellow wines that are typical of the Jura region. Want more guidance? Go to le Passeur de vin! Emmanuel Heydens clearly loves what he does and knows what he’s talking about.

And voila! The secret to kicking the common cold.

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Of Hearth and Home

We all lead completely manic lives. In Geneva in particular, as soon as the weekend hits, we flee to a constellation of great European towns around us: Madrid, Rome, Paris, London, Berlin, Oslo… We shop, have drinks, dine out, see friends, galleries, performances, monuments… then hop back on the plane on Sunday and crash back home exhausted. Another dinner at Da Paolo’s it is!

So it’s the privilege of our well-to-do generation. But Sundays weren’t always this way. As a kid, I’d get carted out to see the grandparents on Sundays for an afternoon playing petanque in the garden and an evening spent watching my grandmother creating three-course heavens in the kitchen.

Still today (especially today! Happy birthday pops :)), those Sunday memories come flooding back, but only when I’m at home! And this little one’s been running away from home every weekend since January it feels like. Whither the days of those home cooked Hungarian Sunday dinners!

Some time in March I started feeling the effects of my constant vagrancy. My plants dried up and died off. One sadly committed suicide, as if violently denouncing my rootless ways. Little families of dust bunnies took out long-term subleases on dark corners. My laundry machine went rusty. But saddest of all, my refrigerator got hot headed on me and relations with my stove have become frigid.

I think it was the suicidal house plant that finally did it. It was clearly time to sentence myself to two full days of house, home and self care.

As a side note, it’s been SO enriching! But I’ll spare you the dirty details of deep cleaning my drawers. Having polished most of the work off on Saturday, by noon today I had a sparkling kitchen. And like Mr. Clean swooping out of the sink, smile beaming and kitchen sparkling, I got my cooking inspiration back. On the menu? An ode to my culinary paternal grandparents: Hungarian veal porkolt, cucumber salad, pickles, spatzle, sour cream, a decent bottle of wine or two, and one of my grandfather’s many legendary desserts: mousse au chocolat.

MOUSSE AU CHOCOLAT (serves 4)

Ingredients: 150g dark chocolate (70% is best); 3 eggs, separated; 100g sugar; 125ml heavy (whipping) cream

Directions: 

1. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie

Melting chocolate: tip, make sure that water NEVER gets hotter than a simmer…

2. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff. It can help to add up to a tablespoon of sugar to get it really stiff.

I hope for you that you have an electric mixer, in which case this takes about 5 minutes. If you don’t, then skip the gym and enjoy beating these the old fashioned way…

3. Also whip the cream

4. When the chocolate is melted, remove from heat, but leave the chocolate in the bain marie. You want the temperature to stay warm, but not too hot. You don’t want the remaining ingredients to cook!

5. Stir in the egg yolks and the sugar. It will get thick and pasty.

Three little egg yolks, off for a swim in a chocolate jacuzzi.

6. Fold in half the egg whites into the bain marie. Must be done DELICATELY so that the egg whites keep their structure. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently fold the egg whites in from bottom to top.

7. Poor the mixture into the remaining egg whites in their bowl, and continue to fold in delicately.

8. Gently fold in the whipped cream until you get an even mixture.

All set for the big freeze!

9. Place in the fridge to cool for at least an hour or two.

10. SERVE! Could be nice with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, over a light biscuit, a digestive or fruit. I hear strawberries are in season….

A family classic from the pater familias cook book

Love discovering new places, but let’s face it… it can be so good to be home!

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Sweet Dreams of Chocolate and Cheese(cake): Part II – Devil’s Food Cake

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So, when I was a kid, I had a deep obsession with devil’s food cake. Maybe because I identified as an American living abroad, I felt it was my civic duty, as an American, to eat as much American candy and sweets as I possibly could. Whatever the reason, the crown of all things decadently american was devil’s food cake. But hang on, not that granma’s recipe kind of devil’s food cake, nooooooo. I LOVED Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker, cardboard box devil’s food cake. Mmmm mmmm mmm…. :/

So on my 12th birthday, I wanted the perfect devil’s food birthday cake. I wanted it round, with two layers, and covered in that completely overprocessed icing from a jar. I was going to have sprinkles and candles on it, bring it to school for all my friends to see, and it was going to be the best birthday ever!

See what a pain of a kid I must have been for my poor mother? If it’s not obvious yet, I’ll go ahead with the rest of the story. My dear mother, who was not naturally inclined to bake in the first place, slaved away putting this imaginary cake of mine together. She baked one big cake, sliced it down the middle, iced it, layered it, and iced it again. And despite all the TLC she put into it, I took one look at it and sobbed – because it was slanted.

Devil’s food indeed..! I know. I’m a horrible person. Or at least I was a horrible kid. My angelic mom took it in stride, piled icing up on the slanty bit, and voilà! We had some semblance of my dream cake.

Alright, let’s fastforward out of our childhood traumas and turn them into present treats! This year I decided I wanted to purge those demons, grow up, and make my own devil’s food cake. But like I said in the first installment of this three part series, I wanted to make it myself, from scratch, and way better than that Betty Crocker boxed stuff. I found the following recipe in a special “Holiday Baking” issue of Fine Cooking magazine Holiday something something magazine (ok, I’ll check the reference and place it here as sooooooon as I have the magazine back in hand…) and adapted it from there:

my very own, very first, and extremely moist and chocolaty Devil's Food Cake!

DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE

For the Ganache
Ingredients:
300g dark chocolate (I used Cailler 64%)
1 and 1/3 cups (about 320ml) heavy cream
19g of butter (softened)

Instructions:
1.    Chop the chocolate and place in a medium sized bowl.
2.    Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate.
3.    Do not stir – let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, using a whisk, stir in the center of the mixture in a small, tight motion until the chocolate is fully combined into the cream.
4.    Stir in the butter until smooth.
5.    Cover with plastic wrap (right over the surface of the ganache) and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours (easiest to do this overnight).

For the Cake
Ingredients
170g butter (softened)
225g (about 1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
65g (3/4 cup) unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking soda (in French: bicarbonate de soude)
1 tsp baking powder (in French: poudre a lever)
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk at room temperature
¼ cup mayonnaise

Equipment
Stand mixer or large bowl+electric hand mixer, or get ready to work those arms with a hand mixer.
2x 20x5cm round cake pans.

Instructions
1.    Preheat the oven to 180C
2.    Line both cake pans with a round of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper (or the bottom of the pans if you choose to skip the parchment paper) very, very generously. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
3.    Place butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat together either with a rubber spatula, or ideally with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume (3-5 minutes).
4.    Lower the speed to medium and mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Do NOT overmix.
5.    Over a piece of parchment paper, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and then add salt.
6.    Using the parchment as a slide, add about a quarter of the dry mixture to the batter. Mix (on low speed) until smooth.
7.    Add 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix until smooth.
8.    Alternate between the dry mixture and the remaining buttermilk until it is all incorporated and smooth.
9.    Last but not least, whisk the mayonnaise into the batter.
10.    Pour the batter evenly into both pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean (the sides of the cake should begin to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly).
11.    Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool for 1 5 minutes at room temperature.
12.    Invert the cakes on a wire rack and remove the pans and the parchment.
13.    Let the cakes cool completely (can be made a day early, wrapped well and stored at room temperature).

Assembly
Place the first cake on a flat plate. With a wide knife, spread the ganache over the top of the cake (using about 1/3 of it). Place the second cake on top and spread the ganache over the top and the sides, covering the whole thing evenly. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes to let the crumbs set. Spread the rest of the ganache over the top and sides. The cake and be refrigerated, covered for up to 2 days. Return it to room temperature before serving.

Ladie and Gentlemen, I give you… Devil’s Food Cake fit for a 12 year old (with veeeeery picky tastebuds)!

If this doesn't capture my childhood, I don't know what does...

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Sweet Dreams of Chocolate and Cheese(cake) – Part 1: Chocolate “Fondant” Brownies

Last night I fell asleep reading about whisks. And how to whisk the old fashioned way (look ma, no electricity!) And how to whisk egg whites. And how to whisk cream. And how to whisk…..zzzzz.

Never would I have thought I would be whisked to sleep by this new hobby. I woke up in a haze, thinking I had just dreamt it all. Doesn’t help that I spent the last 2 weeks indulging in all of my favorite chocolate desserts! I think my blood stream is still saturated with sugar….

Why stuff myself into a diabetic coma? Well, let’s just say there was reason to celebrate! And given this rapidly developing food interest of mine, I decided it was time to bake.

The authorities should consider making it illegal for sugar addicts/ chocoholics like myself to bake. To start with, I couldn’t make up my mind on which of my favorite cakes to make. So I tried to stick to my childhood favorites: Brownies. And devil’s food cake. As an American kid growing up abroad, I idolized these typical american treats! But at that time, we bought Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker straight outta the box (thanks mom!) Now my goal was to make them again, make them myself, make them from scratch, and most of all, make them EVEN BETTER!

But that wasn’t enough of course. As an adult, I’ve become a huge fan of cheesecake, so when I bumped into this delicious sounding pumpkin cheesecake recipe, I could not resist. So why choose?? I set out to do all three in one night. (Ok fine, a night and a bit).

Here is Part I of III of the results:
BROWNIES “FONDANT” (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients:
> 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
> ½ tsp salt
> ¾ tsp baking powder (in French: poudre a lever)
> 170 grams dark chocolate
> 170 grams butter (softened)
> 2 ¼ cups of sugar
> 1 tbsp vanilla extract
> 1 cup of chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:
> Preheat the oven to 170C
> 23cm x 33cm glass pan (more or less) – butter the bottom of the pan, or, even better, cut two pieces of aluminum foil  (one to cover the length, and the other to cover the width of the pan) and place them in the pan so that the ends hang over the edges. Delicately butter the bottom of the aluminum foil.
> In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
> Break up or cut the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bain marie with the butter. Don’t let the water boil, the chocolate should not overheat. Stir over the heat until melted and smooth.
> Remove the chocolate from heat – gradually mix in the sugar with a spoon or spatula.
> Whisk eggs into the chocolate/sugar mix one at a time. DO NOT OVERMIX – just whisk one in until smooth, then the next, and the next…
> Whisk in vanilla
> Using the spatula, fold in the flour mixture in three goes, to make sure the batter is mixed evenly – smooth.
> Fold in the chocolate chunks
> Pour the batter into the pan, using the spatula to spread into the corners.
> Bake four 35-40 minutes. Check on it with a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan. It is done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Do NOT OVERCOOK! Better to undercook it in fact, cause then you get the fondant part of it in the middle….

The result? I would add pictures, but we pretty much grabbed spoons and ate the whole thing right out of the oven!! I think we had concensus on these: you’ll basically bite into a gooey dark chocolate dream…..

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Last Chance for Chocolatey Charity!

You read all about it here last week: the new way of giving, spearheaded by Act in Kind…the delectably dark chocolate and wine pairings… the top notch vendors partnering in this initiative. We all thought it was just too bad if you hadn’t heard about it before reading the post. But we were wrong!

Seize the opportunity to try some artisan quality chocolates, each paired harmoniously with a white or red wine by a true connoisseur. The event is doubly decadent as all of your contribution goes not to the exquisite spread you will be tasting, but to the children of the San Adolfo school in Uruguay.

And now there’s even more of a bonus: a purchase from one of the two partner vendors will also mean an additional contribution to this simple but essential cause.

Don’t hesitate: book your last minute spot now by RSVPing to info@actinkind.com

Details: 

Act in Kind, Reaching U & Le Reservoir:

Invite you to sponsor a camping trip for the children of the San Adolfo school in Uruguay- A trip to shape many lives

Join Us for a Fine Wine & Artisanal Chocolate Tasting /// With Maitre Chocolatier Marc André from O’Saveurs and Wine Enthusiast Bruno Gueuning.

/// Frs. 50.- / person

For every guest, one child will travel

RSVP: reply to info@actinkind.com

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