Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Here’s my take on a little-black-dress dessert, one you can pull off throughout the holiday season from now to Valentine’s day.

The crust is a basic chocolate wafer crumble pressed into a tart pan, and the filling is cocoa-flavored mascarpone topped with glistening cranberries. It manages to be glamorous, festive, and simple all at the same time.

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Yield: 1 9-inch tart

Ingredients

  1. 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  2. 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  3. ¾ cup sugar
  4. 30 chocolate wafer cookies
  5. 6 tablespoons melted butter
  6. ¼ teaspoon salt
  7. ¼ cup sugar
  8. 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  9. 1 cup powdered sugar
  10. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  11. 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions

  1. For the topping: Sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup water in a small bowl and let soften 10 minutes. Put the cranberries in a saucepan with the sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil; stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes or so; you want to soften the cranberries but retain their plump shape.
  2. Drain the cranberries over a bowl. Add the gelatin to the juice in the bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the cranberries to the juice, stirring gently. Cover and chill until the mixture thickens, about 8 hours or overnight.
  3. For the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the cookies, sugar and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is moistened and holds together when you pinch it. Press the crumbs on to the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake the crust 10 -12 minutes; cool completely on a rack.
  4. For the filling: Beat the mascarpone, sugar, cocoa and cream together just until spreadable. Spread the filling over the cooled crust and top with the cranberries. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/cranberry-cocoa-cream-tart/

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

chocolate-truffle-ice-cream-recipe

I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream; not a fan of those what-the-hell flavors that pose as ice cream but are actually a totally different category of dessert – pumpkin pie, cotton candy and wedding cake come to mind.

I avoid distracting mix-ins like swirling candy rainbows, chunks of cake, cookies or even chocolate chips. That stuff just gets in the way.

When I indulge in ice cream, I want to be focused on the very essence of it: cream, air and sugar. I want smooth, super-luscious cream floating in my mouth; sweet, butterfatty custard in easy to understand flavors like vanilla, strawberry or chocolate.

chocolate-truffle-ice-cream-recipe

Making homemade ice cream isn’t difficult, but it does involve some patience and maybe a tiny bit of bravery during certain delicate steps such as making the custard base on the stovetop (scrambled eggs are not fun in ice cream, and neither is throwing them out and starting all over).

The demand and production of ultra-premium “artisanal” ice cream is growing. If you live or visit a city that has small shops like Jeni’s in Columbus, Ohio or Van Leeuwen in New York City, well lucky you. Bypass the recipe below and go out on the town!

But if you have some time, an inexpensive electric ice cream maker and the desire for indulgence, you can make this rich, not-too-sweet ice cream in your kitchen. The texture is very much like the inside of a chocolate truffle, only much colder…

chocolate-truffle-ice-cream-recipe

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

Serving Size: 1 quart

Ingredients

  1. 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  2. 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  3. 8 egg yolks
  4. 1 cup brown sugar
  5. 2 cups heavy cream
  6. 1 cup whole milk
  7. 1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus more for serving
  8. 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes on medium-high speed.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture just to a boil - when little bubbles form around the edges of the pan, you're done. Transfer to a container with a pouring spout (like a Pyrex liquid measure) and slowly drizzle into the egg mixture on low speed.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook for 5 - 7 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a trail in the pan. If you want to be sure, the temperature should read 175 degrees on an instant thermometer.
  5. Whisk the melted chocolate into the custard until completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold - at least 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Scrape the mixture into an ice cream maker (it will be thick) and churn according to directions. You can serve right away, or transfer to a container to freeze for a few more hours. Scoop truffle-sized servings and dust with cocoa powder.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/07/chocolate-truffle-ice-cream/

Homemade Nutella

homemade-nutella-recipe

What comes to mind when you think of culinary pairings that seem to make magic together, so absolutely made for each other you can’t imagine tasting one without the other?

I can think of a few right off the bat, like:

lime + ginger

basil + tomatoes

olive oil + garlic

and last but not least:

chocolate + hazelnuts.

In one of my favorite new books, The Flavour Thesaurus, author Niki Segnit writes that when cocoa became scarce and  expensive during the late 19th century, chocolate manufacturers in the Italian Piedmont “bulked out” their product with a paste of hazelnuts, which grew plentifully in the region, thus introducing to the world the taste sensation known as gianduja.

All I can say to the genius who stumbled upon this marriage of convenience is THANK YOU.

Millions of hungry, sugar loving children and their families are grateful, since the discovery eventually led to the production of Nutella, and from there, well, we all know the story.

Let’s just agree that chocolate-hazelnut spread on a piece of bread kicks the ass out of your every day PBJ sandwich.

I love the idea of making my own version of Nutella – as much as I adore the store-bought version, it can be a bit cloyingly sweet. Also when I check the label I’m a little dismayed to see that these days the spread can be ‘bulked out’ with partially hydrogenated oils.

I was inspired by a few different recipes here – one from raw food chef Ani Phyo and another from the LA Times.

After applying my appropriate tweaks, I’m happy to share the results with you. Be aware that the texture is not completely velvety smooth, like the stuff that comes out of a jar. Food processors are a wonder, but can’t completely pulverize the nuts to an ultra fine puree.

However, I enjoy the resulting texture – plus the flavor of this homemade version is so real and luscious it’s almost beyond comparison to anything you can buy.

Homemade Nutella

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups toasted hazelnuts *
  2. 1/2 cup agave nectar
  3. 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil
  4. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  7. about 1/4 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. Process the hazelnuts in a food processor workbowl until they form a coarse paste. You'll need to scrape the bowl down a few times to fully incorporate.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the water and continue to process until somewhat smooth.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the water until you achieve a smooth, emulsified consistency, keeping in mind that you might not need all the water, or might need a bit more.
  4. Scrape the spread into a container and chill in the refrigerator until spreadable; it will keep for about a week. Bring to room temperature before spreading on toast, pouring over ice cream, or directly into your mouth...

Notes

I like the organic, neutral flavor of Omega Nutrtion coconut oil

* To toast hazelnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until the nuts turn light brown. I don't bother with trying to rub off the skins - I find it too much trouble and the results are about the same.

http://familystylefood.com/2010/06/homemade-nutella/