Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

How to Make Chocolate Drop Cookies

chocolate cookies

A few weeks ago, we invited friends over for dinner on very short notice. I had enough food in my fridge and pantry — I just needed to figure out what to make. I put together a salad with grapefruit, avocado and a shallot-citrus vinaigrette, and I pulled some little puff pastries out of the freezer, baked them, and filled them with a mixture of cauliflower, goat cheese and other vegetables.

I was worried that dessert would be a problem. I only had one egg in my fridge. So I started looking for something relatively simple that would work with the ingredients I had on hand. I found a recipe for Butter Drop Cookies in my trusty How to Cook everything and saw that there was a modification to make them into Chocolate Drop Cookies. That sounded perfect.

They were quick to make — about 30 minutes from gathering the ingredients to pulling them out of the oven, and they turned out to be fluffy, cakey, soft cookies that weren’t too sweet or rich. I was missing a few ingredients, including milk, which I substituted with water, and vanilla, which I just did without. I also didn’t have enough plain sugar so I used some light brown sugar — and the cookies still turned out just fine. And though the recipe didn’t call for it, I dusted them with powdered sugar to make them look a bit more festive.

The cookies kept well for quite a few days, and I even made them again a couple of weeks later — and I had all the right ingredients — when Evan’s brother was in town and wanted something sweet after dinner. They were even better when I was able to include vanilla and milk.

The Recipe:

Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 3/4 cups sugar (I used a combination of white and light brown)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (the first
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. With a mixer, combine the butter and sugar, then add in the vanilla and egg. Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add the dry ingredients and the milk a bit at a time. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, add the melted chocolate.
  3. Spoon the soft dough into mounds on a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies seem to be firming up a little, but still soft.
  4. Let the cookies cool a few minutes before removing from the pan, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Chocolate Mousse from the ‘Alien’ Cookbook

“Oh, look Mummy! CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!”

I got a cookbook called “Debbie Learns to Cook” when I was quite young. It’s a combination storybook and cookbook with some rather funny illustrations of a family with rather large, alien-like foreheads. So of course, what did we call this book while I was growing up, but The Alien Cookbook. As far as I can tell, the book is out of print and pretty well unavailable except for a few used copies.

The only recipe we ever made out of the cookbook was pancakes, and they were truly great pancakes — always light and fluffy. My mom had written in cup and tablespoon measurements next to the measurements in the book, which were all in grams. There were a few other recipes in there, too — for mayonnaise, candy apples and chocolate mousse.

When at my parents’ house recently, my mother pulled the book out and decided that I should take it home with me. I was happy to have this little piece of nostalgia — and the secret to delicious pancakes — and a few days later when Evan and I were hankering for some dessert, I decided to make the simple chocolate mousse.

chocolate mousse recipe

Click to view larger version

I only made one serving, which we both shared, and it turned out very rich, but quite delicious. It could have used a little more sugar for my taste, and maybe a splash of a liqueur or vanilla to cut richness a little, but the texture was good, and it came together quickly.

I’m glad to have my first cookbook back!

Weekly Reading: Tech, Tech, Tech, Chocolate!

I’m back from Florida and have plenty to share. I’ll be putting up the pictures and posting about the trip soon, but for now I have lots of new stories out on these fair interwebs. Not presented in the order the headline would lead you to believe, let’s start with dessert…

First, there’s my SpoiledinLA Holiday Gift Guide Review of Madame Chocolat, which you already got a little preview of.

Then there are two AllBusiness articles: one on web browsing tricks to help you speed up your surfing, and another on whether a netbook is right for you.

And then there’s a piece I did for Entrepreneur.com about the unwritten rules of social networking. I interviewed Joel Postman of Socialized PR about The Unwritten Rules of Social Networking, from how to interact with clients to the best strategies for growing a strong following. We also discussed whether to hire a community manager and how to balance your personal and professional identities. Thanks, Tomdog, for sharing one of your social networking blunders, and thanks to everyone else who shared their social media horror stories via Twitter and LinkedIn, too.

Madame Chocolat: The Most Delicious Interview

Most of the interviews I do for the articles I’m writing are over the phone, so it’s a real treat to get to meet the person I’m writing about face to face. Over the last few weeks, I did not one, but two interviews — for two publications, SpoiledinLA and Hitched magazine — with Hasty Torres at her Beverly Hills chocolate boutique Madame Chocolat. I also took plenty of pictures.

Now, hanging out in a chocolate shop — and getting to indulge in some of the sweets — is never something I’d turn down. I even have a tag devoted to chocolate on the blog. And Hasty’s shop didn’t disappoint. We chatted over lattes mixed with chocolate spoons, and I checked out the incredible holiday chocolates and got a tour of all the goodies in the store, from truffles and bonbons to chocolate covered cheerios. I must say, my favorite chocolate so far was the white chocolate citron, a pretty and creamy bonbon made with lime juice and decorated with delicate teal branches and leaves (second chocolates back on the right in the picture below). The caramel hearts were also delicious, as were the rich and enormous chocolate chip cookies. (OK, I promise to stop drooling now.)

I also learned that you can have a chocolate party at Madame Chocolat, for kids or adults, where you can make chocolates of your own. Ahem — anyone planning a party?

The SpoiledinLA reviews aren’t online yet, but the Hitched Candid 7 article where I talk to Hasty about her relationship with her husband, celebrity chef Jacques Torres is up now. The interview was fantastic, but of course I couldn’t use it all. Here’s my favorite outtake, about how Hasty and Jacques make their relationship work when they both have their own chocolate shops on opposite sides of the country — and how they hope to work together one day:

It works because of our love of chocolate and the love of what we do. It’s so helpful to have a partner who understands what you do and works in your industry. Jacques is still my mentor, and he’s still my chef. There are so many people who say they could never work with their spouse, but since that’s how we met, we really do well together. We’re like yin and yang in the kitchen—we can anticipate each other’s needs, and we know how to help each other out.

Check out the Hitched article to learn how Jacques proposed in the chocolate shop, what their favorite chocolates are, and how being on “The Girls Next Door” has brought in a flood of new requests for “body parts” chocolates.

Quick and Deilicious: Lemon Chocolate Chip Cake


Lemon chocolate chip cake without frosting

My mom’s lemon chocolate chip cake has been one of my favorites since I was a kid. The combination of lemon and chocolate go perfectly together, and my mom seems to always have a supply of cake mix on hand. It’s become one of Evan’s favorite cakes, too, so when faced with the prospect of bringing dessert to a friend’s house tonight, it was easy for us to settle on this tasty cake. I don’t know where my mom got her recipe, since she’s had it memorized for ages, but last night she wrote down the recipe and helped us out. Using a Cuisinart, we were able to mix all the ingredients together in about five minutes — the time it took the oven to heat up. I imagine mixing by hand would work just fine, only take a little longer.

Ingredients

  • 1 box Duncan Hines lemon cake mix (you can try other brands, but Mom says DH has the best lemon cake)
  • 1 box Lemon Jell-O Instant Pudding mix
  • 0.5 cups oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips — about 1 to 1.5 cups, though you can really add as many as you’d like

Directions

Using a Cuisinart, start by blending the dry cake and pudding mixes. Add the oil and blend, then slowly add in the water. Mix in the four eggs until everything is well blended, then add the chocolate chips and mix them in. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan — we use a tall one with a hole in the middle. Bake in a preheated oven, if using convection, bake at 325 degrees, if just baking, bake at 350 degrees. Check the cake after 45 minutes and test to see if a cake tester comes out mostly dry. If not, bake another 5 minutes and retest. Our cake last night took 50 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.

The cake tastes great on its own, but it looks much prettier with a coat of chocolate frosting. Also, the chocolate chips tend to sink to the bottom, though this creates a tasty chocolaty sort of crust and the cake will still taste delicious.


The cake with chocolate frosting — we’re done!

A Short Trip to Barcelona: Art, Architechture and Inspired Faux Poster Making

Once we were in London, we wanted to make our way over to Barcelona to visit Bernat and Miriam. We flew over on a Tuesday morning, and had to Leave by Thursday evening, but we made the most of our short trip.


Sitges

Once we got in, we took the train into the city since we were staying near Estacio Franca, and walked over to our hotel, the simple and modern Ciutat Barcelona. We had a leisurely lunch at Santa Caterina Market with Bernat, then headed out of the city to Sitges, a very pretty seaside town. The Sitges Film Festival was in full swing, and we had tickets to see Blindness, but after walking around town, getting food and drinks, and visiting with some friends who were also there, it turned out we had absolutely terrible seats in the enormous theater, so we decided to skip the 10:30 p.m. movie and just head back into town.


Ben Hur — in chocolate

The next day, Evan and I went to the Palau Musica to get tickets to the architectural tour, but they were sold out for the day. We bought tickets for Thursday morning, then relaxed in the beautiful cafe, amid flowery stained glass and ceramic pieces. Then we headed out to the Chocolate Museum, also in the Gothic District. The entry ticket was a chocolate bar (delicious), there were exhibits on how to make chocolate and the history of chocolate, and there were some impressive chocolate sculptures, like the choco Ben Hur. There was also a confectioner’s expo in the building next door, and we were able to snag some more delicious free chocolate.


Miro sculpture — doesn’t it look a bit like Evan?

Then we decided to head up to Mont Juic. We hopped on a bus to the funicular station, then went up the hill. Just a short walk away was the wonderful Fundacio Joan Miro, which had a huge collection of Miro’s work, including drawings from when he was a child, an incredible mercury fountain and enormous room-size pieces made just for the exhibition space. There was also a gallery dedicated to works inspired by Miro.


Mies van de Rohe Pavilion in the rain

After the Miro museum, we walked by the Olympic stadium and the art museum, and took a series of escalators down the mountain to end up at the Mies van de Rohe Pavilion. By this time it was raining, and we had to pay a bit to get into the small pavilion — which took about 3 minutes to get through. It’s a neat structure, characterized by lots of straight lines, and barely-there room designations, and there are two ponds, one of which has a nice statue in it, but other than a single white-upholstered Barcelona Chair, there wasn’t much else to see. It seemed like it should be a free or maybe 1 euro attraction.

From there, we headed across the street to the Caixa Forum. There were two exhibits going on — a small photo exhibit on motherhood around the world, and a much bigger, more interesting and more extensive exhibit of Alphonse Mucha’s work that featured a lot of classic theater posters as well as paintings and other works by the artist. There was also a room set aside for us to make our own Muchas, with poster templates, crayons, markers and cutouts. We chose to make a bit of a satirical poster, bringing Mucha’s feminine ideal into a grittier production, the show Westside Homie: From Goddess to Gangsta, complete with bling, bullets and stripper shoes. Maybe we had a bit too much fun.

The next day we toured the Palau Musica and were wowed by the beautiful concert hall, with its stained-glass sun skylight, tiara-like chandeliers around the palm tree pillars, and mosaic muses surrounding the stage. It was also incredibly bright and airy, with windows all along the sides. It was unlike any other concert hall I’d ever been in. I wish we could have seen a performance.

We spent the rest of our time walking around the Parc de la Ciutadella and the Gothic District. Evan bought ham, we celebrated Bernat’s birthday (happy birthday!) and we hopped on a plane back to London since we were heading back to California the next day.

Is the Week Already Over?

It’s been another busy week in London. I’m still writing up stories on Sugarscape, only managed to do one blog for Londonist — “London – Bangladesh? Let the Train Take the Strain” — and started posting on the Workology blog.

Other than that, I also made it to another chocolate tasting, this time at Keith Hurdman’s Melt chocolate shop in Notting Hill (I’ll write more about that soon), went to Tuttle Club/Social Media Cafe and started to do some interviews for some upcoming posts on the Workology blog. (Thanks, LJ, for doing my first video interview!)