mexican drinking chocolate pots de creme

mexican drinking chocolate pots de creme

it’s been a weird april here in ontario. cloudy days and snowy, wind-chill factor nights are keeping the flowers at bay and prolonging that sweet anticipation that spring will, eventually, arrive. that’s just how it is here. spring will come, and so will the heat of summer.

it’s also monday.

so how about some chocolate, with a hint of spicy chili, no less?

one of my favourite things to enjoy in hot weather is a cold cup of drinking chocolate. these little desserts combine classic chocolate pots de creme with the flavours of an icy mexican drinking chocolate, flavoured with a whiff of cinnamon and an ever-so-subtle ht of chili spice.

best of all, this takes 10 minutes to prepare.

mexican drinking chocolate pots de creme

mexican drinking chocolate pots de creme

250g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half or 18% cream
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup whipping cream
shaved chocolate and cinnamon for dusting

place the chocolate into the bowl of a blender. in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the whole milk, half and half, egg yolks, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon. cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula, until mixture is thick and custard-like, and coats the back of a spoon. scrape into blender bowl. carefully blend until smooth, holding a towel over the opening and allowing steam to vent. pour mixture into dessert dishes. chill until cold.

whip the 1/2 cup of whipping cream and spoon over pots de creme, and garnish with chocolate shavings and cinnamon. makes 6-8 servings.

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chocolate ginger sparkle cake

chocolate ginger sparkle cake

i really do have a thing for cake. i should probably start posting some different desserts. more pies and tarts, or maybe a torte or crumble or a custard or even a fool. i’ll put that on my to-do list. today though, it’s all about this rich and decadent chocolate ginger sparkle cake.

i don’t remember where this recipe came from, but i have it written in a recipe notebook i started in 1991, when i really started getting into food. it’s written in point form, which leads me to think i was watching a cooking show and frantically wrote it down. i’ve made this so many times since, for special occasions and catering jobs, and it’s always a hit. the ginger was an addition i made later, because i think ginger and chocolate get along famously and that it makes this cake even more special.

pay attention to the times for beating the eggs, and don’t skimp. this cake contains no chemical leaveners, so it relies on incorporating air into the eggs for volume. fold very carefully too, so you don’t deflate your egg whites. is a dense cake, but it shouldn’t be stodgy. the plus side is that it’s easy to handle the layers, and it comes out very straight.

chocolate ginger sparkle cake

chocolate ginger sparkle cake

12 ounces grated semi-sweet chocolate (the best you can wangle)
1 1/2 cups cake flour
pinch salt
8 eggs, separated
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lb + 2 tbsp. very soft butter
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

for the icing:

1/2 lb softened butter
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup half and half cream or milk
4 cups sifted icing sugar

butter 2 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper, then butter the parchment, and set aside. preheat oven to 350F. place the egg whites and the 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. using the wire whip attachment, whip on high speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. scrape into a bowl and set aside. switch to the paddle attachment. place the yolks in the mixer bowl with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar. beat at medium-high speed until very light, about 4 minutes. add the butter to the egg yolks, a little at a time, until incorporated. reduce speed to low, add flour and mix until just blended. remove bowl from mixer, and using a rubber spatula, gently fold in half the egg whites until still a bit streaky. add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until incorporated. it may take several passes, as the batter is very dense. gently fold in the grated chocolate and the ginger. divide into the two pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean of any raw batter (there will be melted chocolate on it)

cool on rack for 20 minutes, then turn out onto the rack, remove parchment, and cool completely.

meanwhile, prepare the icing by placing all ingredients in a food processor and blitzing until smooth, scraping the sides down once or twice. scrape into a bowl, cover, and chill for 1/2 hour.

to assemble, split each cake round in half lengthwise. spread each layer with about 1/2 cup icing, then coat the whole cake with a very thin layer (this is the crumb coat, which seals the cake for further frosting) chill for 15 minutes. at this point you can either slather on the rest or add another smooth layer and pipe the edges.

makes 1 serving. (ok, 12-16)

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salted macaroon granola

salted macaroon granola

i have great, great news for you. this salted macaroon granola is somewhat healthy. unlike commercial granola it isn’t fat laden. it’s full of whole grains and  contains only a small amount of unrefined sugar as well as a good handful of cacao nibs, a bona-fide “superfood” and other things that are closer to the good side of the food spectrum. okay, so it’s not broccoli, but it’s not brownie cheesecake either. i don’t think enjoying something sweet and tasty should (always) make you feel dirty after.

there are times i really crave chocolate. like right now. also, 5 minutes ago. that’s when i grab a little handful of this yummy stuff. thanks to the triumvirate of cocoa power, cacao nibs, and a smattering of vegan chocolate chips, this is REALLY chocolatey. it should be noted that i never use caps. not even when i spell my own name, so this is like, huge. there are also coconut chips and sliced almonds, mingling amongst the big clusters of oats, kamut, rye, and bran, so it goes without saying this granola packs a decent crunch.

all bliss-inducing chocolate dreaminess aside, the cacao nibs are pretty special. they are a source of powerful antioxidants and release euphoria-inducing neurotransmitters. a chemical in cacao called PEA sharpens you up and makes you feel more alert. (i know this to be a true and undisputed fact, because it’s 1 am and i came up with the word “triumvirate”).

sprinkled over some greek yogurt or doused with almond milk, it’s breakfast. mix a bit up with some air-popped popcorn and it’s snacking gold. or just crack the jar and stick your hand in there. now is good.

salted macaroon granola

salted macaroon granola

4 cups of a mixture of rolled oats, kamut flakes, rye flakes, barley flakes, etc. (any combo you like)
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup liquid honey or brown rice syrup
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup organic cacao nibs
1 1/2 cups raw, organic coconut chips
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350f. line a large baking sheet with parchment. in a large bowl, mix together the grains, wheat bran, and almonds. in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil with the honey or brown rice syrup until runny. remove from heat. whisk in the cocoa powder and salt until very smooth. scrape out of pot into the bowl with the grains. toss well to combine (i usually just use my hands).

turn out onto prepared pan. bake for 1/2 hour, stir once, and bake an additional 15 minutes. remove from oven and allow to cool completely. it should not be the slightest bit warm.

when cooled, gently break up the granola so that some large chunks remain. toss with the cacao nibs, coconut chips, and chocolate chips. store in an airtight container or glass jar. eat with reckless abandon.

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