Archived entries for the chocolatey

Brown-butter Blondies

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Whenever I crave sweets and want to bake something quickly, but don’t want to OD on chocolate, I make blondies. And when I think about making blondies, my train of thought goes to Blondie, which then goes to Heart of Glass, which is an audio parasite that immediately embeds itself into my brain for several days.

And now that will happen to you. You can thank me later.

But at least while Heart of Glass is circling its way through your head, you can be eating classic blondies. They satisfy the sweet tooth: sweet, chewy with a hit of chocolate and salt.

I’ve realized that the step that takes these to the next level is browning the butter. It gives the bars a richer, nuttier flavor. I add chopped pecans to complement the flavor, but you can leave them out if you choose. I use half white chocolate and half dark chocolate because it looks great, but you can substitute with all dark chocolate if you prefer, and which I sometimes do.

Classic Blondies
makes 16 bars

Ingredients
1 stick butter (110g, or ½ cup) (I use salted butter)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (220g)
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour (140g)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (50g) white chocolate chunks
1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped pecans (60g) (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (170 C). Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper. This will make the bars easier to remove when you are ready to cut into them.
  2. Melt the butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue heating until it smells really nutty and fragrant and you start seeing browned bits of milk solids in the butter (be careful not to burn it).
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar and allow to cool until just warm. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and whisk until combined. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes – be careful not to overbake, so they don’t dry out. The top should be shiny.
  6. Remove to a cooling rack. When it’s cooled to room temperature, remove from the pan and cut into squares.

Champorado

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As a Filipino-American child, what is one of the greatest things about waking up in the morning? You have the privilege of eating chocolate and rice for breakfast.

Chomporado, or chocolate rice porridge, is served hot with lots of sugar and milk to taste. My mom likes to eat it with heavy cream, and some like to eat it with evaporated or condensed milk (staying true to the Filipino love of canned dairy products.) Me? I like it with a spoonful of crème fraiche. Soooo good.

Often this porridge is eaten with salty dried fish such as dilis or daing. I never have, but can understand the appeal of the sweet and salty together.

The legend is that Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, invented champorado as a use for leftover rice. I’m not really buying it because I have never met anyone who uses anything other than glutinous rice to make this dish. But I definitely like the story: a national hero who, as a child, invented one of the greatest breakfast foods ever. Only in the Philippines!

Glutinous rice, also known as sweet rice or sticky rice, is typically prepared steamed in Asian dishes such as Thai coconut sticky rice with mango, a dessert that is as delicious as it sounds. It is far starchier than regular rice, thus making it the perfect rice for porridge as it becomes thick while cooking. (My favorite Filipino dessert, suman, which is coconut rice wrapped in banana leaves, is also made using glutinous rice).

For champorado, the rice is boiled with water and dissolved cocoa powder is added. I find the Dutch-process cocoa powder makes for a really rich chocolately color and taste. Usually the sugar is added to taste at the table, along with the milk, but in this recipe, I’ve added a bit of sugar with the rice while cooking. I prefer it this way because I don’t have to add more sugar at the table as I don’t like it too sweet, but my kids always add more sugar.

The whole thing takes about 20 minutes to make and is perfect for a cold winter morning.

Champorado
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup (200g) glutinous rice (I don’t rinse it, but it is up to you – a single rinse to clean it should suffice)
4 cups (1 L) water
¼ teastpoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Give it a stir and lower heat to medium low and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Every few minutes, give it a stir. It may cook faster than 15 minutes; basically, you are looking for it to be thick, and the rice to be cooked through, not gritty in the middle. (I definitely check it at the 10 minute mark; lots of times it takes about 12 minutes to cook through.)
  3. While the rice is cooking, whisk the ¼ cup boiling water into the cocoa powder in a small bowl. When it’s cooled a bit, whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, whisk the cocoa mixture into the rice mixture. Cook, uncovered, over medium low for another 5 minutes until the cocoa has absorbed into the porridge.
  5. Serve with sugar and milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, half and half, heavy cream crème fraiche, or whatever dairy product you like best. You’re the boss!

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Glutinous rice

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Gooey double
chocolate chip
cookies

Happy Valentine Day! This is the time to bake chocolatey desserts. I thought that the best place to start was with the recipe from a recent LA Times Culinary SOS: Milk’s ooey gooey double chocolate cookies. I read the description and was totally sold.

But something wasn’t quite right — I wasn’t liking all the unsweetened chocolate the recipe called for, and I felt like (is this possible?) that there was too much chocolate for the chocolate chunks — I mean, really, a whole pound for only 18 cookies is kind of ridiculous; I’d sooner eat bon bons. The reason I don’t like unsweetened chocolate is that it can be a difficult element to control. There are lots of options out there for excellent bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, but there are few choices for unsweetened. And, on top of that, I can’t easily find it where I live.

I tried the recipe anyway and was pretty disappointed by the texture. The melted chocolate was great, but the cookie part was disappointing — no chew and it actually had a bit of a, I don’t know, gritty texture. I was convinced that just cramming as much chocolate into a cookie as possible does not a great cookie make.

In the end I found a great Martha Stewart double chocolate cookie recipe with better proportions of sugar, flour and chocolate. (Chocolate and cocoa add quite a bit of starch to a recipe, so a good chocolate recipe will automatically look as though it has too little flour). I bumped up the amount of chocolate chunks for this recipe, and replaced all the milk chocolate with bittersweet for a darker, less sweet cookie.

They came out perfect — the cross between a brownie and a cookie that I was looking for, with lots of gooey chocolate chunks. Bake them right after you’ve mixed them — for some reason, the texture was better before I left the dough in the fridge (unusual with most drop cookies). These are best warm out of the oven. Skip the chocolate souffle and bake these for your sweetie!

Gooey double chocolate chip cookies
makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
4 ounces (150g) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick, or 110g) butter
2 large eggs
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups (8 ounces, or 300g) chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 C). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate together over low heat. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Lower the speed to low and beat in the chocolate mixture until well combined.
  4. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.
  5. Drop 1-1/2 tablespoon portions 2-inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for no longer than 13 minutes — they should be slightly underbaked so the interior stays chewy and soft. Remove the whole sheet of parchment to a cooling rack and cool until just warm and set.

Chocolate crinkle cookies

A few weeks ago (okay, before Christmas) I heard this story on NPR in which Shirley Corriher, author of Bakewise and frequent guest on Good Eats talks about what makes a good cookie. She ended with one of her recent favorites, chocolate crinkle cookies. I had never made them before, so I was intrigued. (Butterhorns were the holiday cookie of choice in our household growing up.)

After looking at the recipe, and reading about bloggers’ attempts to make the cookie, I realized that I would first of all have to cut back on the sugar. The recipe calls for an ungodly 2-3/4 cups of sugar, and that is not even including the powdered sugar on the outside. Holy toothache! Many other bloggers said that it was in fact, too too TOO sweet.

I worked on it for a couple of weeks and came down to this recipe. I reduced the sugar and replaced the canola oil with melted butter. (Come on, why make a cookie without butter?) It is a bit more fudgy than chewy, but is still really super chocolatey. The key is to not overbake it, and in fact underbake it just a little bit. A nice tip I took away from the NPR story was first rolling the cookies in granulated sugar, then powdered sugar prevents the cookie from absorbing the powdered sugar so it stays snowy white.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
6 tablespoons (75g) butter
8 ounces (227g) bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/4 cup (250g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey or corn syrup
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1-3/4 cup flour (232g)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For rolling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar

  1. Melt together the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  3. With a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the sugar, honey and eggs on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. The mixture should be lightened and thickened quite a bit.
  4. Add the chocolate-butter mixture to the egg mixture. Beat at medium low speed until well combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, and beat at low speed just until combined.
  6. Refrigerate the batter for at least 4 hours.
  7. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 F (170 C). Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough into 2-inch balls. Roll in the granulated sugar, then the powdered sugar.
  9. Bake for 11 – 13 minutes (I bake them at 11 minutes, but I think my oven runs too hot). They should still look a bit gooey inside.
  10. Let cool and eat the same day if possible (that’s when they are best!)

Links:
NPR: Chemist Divulges How To Bake The Perfect Cookie

Fave hot chocolate


I was lucky enough to find big American marshmallows in the gourmet grocery

My friend Martha recently posted on Facebook that she was driving 25 minutes away for hot chocolate. This may sound ridiculous — unless you’ve had good hot chocolate.

Some of my favorite hot chocolate is at Angelina in Paris. And yes, to say my favorite hot chocolate is in Paris makes me cringe at how much I sound like some sort of pompous foodie. But really, the hot chocolate is goooood. It is dark and thick, almost like pudding, and tastes like a warm melted chocolate bar. And it also costs a fortune.

Rather than take the train eight hours round trip for a hot beverage, I’ve been lucky enough to come across a recipe, courtesy of Jeffrey Steingarten (speaking of pompous foodies, he’s my favorite) that basically mimics that hot chocolate that I crave.

The most important thing about this recipe is that you use a good chocolate that you like to eat. I really like Valrhona and Scharffen-Berger dark chocolate (70% cacao). Callebaut will do in a pinch. For the love of Jacques, don’t use Hersheys, unless you are making this for someone you don’t like. Also, do use the salt — it brings out the chocolatey in chocolate.

Okay, enough writing. Must have hot chocolate.

Favorite hot chocolate
serves 4
adapted from Jeffrey Steingarten

Ingredients
1-1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 ounces (80g) of your favorite bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder (Droste is my favorite)
a generous pinch of salt

  1. In a saucepan, stir together the milk, water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chocolate and cocoa, bring to a boil again, whisking until the chocolate and cocoa are dissolved and the mixture is thickened.
  3. Serve in little cups — a little goes a long way with this hot chocolate!


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