Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Almonds

New favorite snack again from Trader Joes. Thanks J for letting me scavenge around in the snack cabinet at your house. Seriously, this is like crack, well Ive never actually had crack, but this is what can easily become an addiction.

I love dark chocolate and almonds. The chocolate has bits of turbinado sugar, (for the one UK reader, it's called demerara over there), which is lighter than brown sugar. It's this crystallized sugar cane that is added into the dark chocolate and gives it sweetness with a little more crunch. But the best part is while your savoring the slightly sweet dark chocolate you'll get dab of sea salt on the tongue that just excites and enhances the whole experience.
Again, TJ's does it again. Pure indulgence and great with a nice cherry chocolate Cabernet or Port.

Friday, February 6, 2009


No not the fruit, but the people of New Zealand. I've always wanted to visit New Zealand as I have long-time friends there. Well I've still never visited. But a dear friend has.

I must paint a picture of a friend who goes to visit and stay with friends only to find that because of interesting circumstances ends up traveling a week on her own. Driving on the left side of the car on the left side of the road. A friend who is a native Angeleno and still uses a GPS to get around the city but manages to work the network of roads in New Zealand to visit some incredible places. After a week of nonsense finds a car and a place to stay in the height of the tourist season. Only to find that the Buddhist retreat she visits that week is having a silent retreat. No problem, she doesn't want to talk to anyone anyway. Then finds herself a friend who isn't part of the retreat and shares stories and a meal. Takes a tour through five vineyards in wine country of New Zealand, visits the beautiful beaches and still single handedly is increasing my international plate collection....Thanks get to posting about this trip. It's screaming for a scene in a screenplay.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate Carob Ganache Tart

While we're on the subject of chocolate, after trying the decadent chocolate at Todo Santos I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit, February 2009 issue for a chocolate carob tart. I love it when they have a picture of the food, so I can compare if I even came close to what the recipe called for in the looks department.

I haven't eaten carob in years, I remember my mom taking me to Mrs. Gooches (a health food store) when I was a kid and making me eat carob, wheat germ, and flax seed oil. Not pleasant food memories. However, this recipe called out to "try me." The recipe is long, so I'll point you here to take a look at it.

I'll tell you how mine turned out. The hardest part was the crust. It was fun putting my hands in the butter and flour but I was unsure that the mixture wasn't fine enough. After chilling it I tried to roll it out, this was a mess and both times I attempted this I ended up with a wonky circle and just gave up and ended putting it in my removable bottom tart pan and attempted to mold it to the pan. I must have done a good job, because everyone who ate this remarked on how pretty and tasty the crust was.

Then came the baking of the crust, I don't have pie weights, I don't have beans (you'd think I would, as I keep trying to get my Grandmother's bean recipe for years) but I don't. So I just put the tin foil on it and baked it. The crust did get air pockets and puff up but when I took it out of the oven I quickly deflated it (poking w/ fork and just pushing down on the tin foil with an oven mit).

Melting the chocolate and carob and cream was easy and once the pie crust cooled down you just pour it in the crust and put uncovered in the refrigerator to chill.

Now for the best part. I've never made brittle and had no idea where to find malted milk powder. We have a store here on the Westside called Rainbow Acres, super organic and vegan. I manage to buy both the carob chips and malted milk powder there. Here's the recipe for the brittle. Seriously this was scary and fun at the same time. You must have your parchment paper ready with cooking spray on it as you have to work pretty fast once all the ingredients are ready to be poured onto the sheet.

Making the amber colored sugar wasn't as bad as I thought, I'm always worried I'll severely burn myself and ruin my sauce pan (neither happened). Once the sugar turned a pretty amber color I put in a table spoon of butter...oooh it started to bubble up slightly. Then you have to QUICKLY pour in the malted milk powder (3 tbsp). Now there was a volcano eruption, I stirred super quick and got really nervous, once everything was all mixed in I immediately poured the mixture on the prepared parchment sheet and spread it out as evenly as possible. The brittle cools fast. Once it's completely cooled you just peel it off the parchment paper, break the candy apart, and scatter it over the chilled chocolate tart.I took the whole tart to work. However, before I did that I took a sliver to taste and make sure I wouldn't poison anyone. I was so excited I took a bite before taking the picture. It was perfect, not to rich, but chocolaty and the crust was a flaky consistency. I had one piece left for SB who again was upset that I always make these things and take them to work. Since I still had all the ingredients I made it again just for him...oh and me. Yes now, once again, I fortified in my mind why I take these things to work. We ate the entire tart ourselves in one week. Not good for the diet, but I oh so delicious.


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