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Get Decadent: Learn to Make Your Own Rich Chocolate Truffles


chocolate cocoaHave you ever wanted to make chocolate truffles as rich and decadent as those you find in a chocolate shop? You can.

Keith Cedotal, the pastry chef at Sustenio, will be teaching people how to make perfect chocolate truffles and chocolate mousse during two cooking classes this Saturday at GauchoGourmet, 935 Isom Road. One is set for 10 a.m., the other at noon.

The cost is $10 a person and includes the class as well as tastes of Cedotal’s creations.

Seating is limited. For reservations, call (210) 277-7930.

The warehouse will be open during the demonstrations for those who want to shop. After the classes and until Valentine’s Day, GauchoGourmet will be selling its chocolate for 20 percent off.

 

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Las Canarias Dinner with Susanna Trilling, a Feast in Chocolate


One of Mexico’s most famous chefs, Susanna Trilling of Oaxaca, will be the guest chef at a triple chocolate dinner set for Dec. 13 at Las Canarias, Omni La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St.

The evening begins with a chocolate drink with mezcal, followed by Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Chocolate Croutons.

Mixed Greens with Kolrabi, Apples and Almonds with a Chocolate Orange Vanilla Dressing precedes Duck Breast in Achiote Chocolate Sauce on a Nest of Sweet Potato and Apple Fritters. Filet of Beef Sauteed with Wild Porcinis, Chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon will be served before a Chocolate Temple Dedicated to the Rain God Cosijo with Tejate Ice Cream.

Mexican Coffee and Tea with Chocolate Chile Truffles will also be served.

This is the first of three dinners with Trilling that will focus on New World foods. The other two, centered on chile and corn, will be scheduled for 2013.

The price is $85 a person or $100 with additional beverage pairings. For reservations, call 210-518-1177 and ask to be included in the chocolate dinner.

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Special Dinners Celebrate Whiskey, Chocolate and Wine


Three special dinners in the area are putting the spotlight on whiskey, chocolate and wine, respectively.

Myron’s is hosting a whiskey dinner.

Myron’s Prime Steakhouse,  10003 N.W. Military Hwy., is hosting a whiskey tasting dinner at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 with  Adam Harris, distillery specialist for Beam Global Spirits as the guest speaker.

The Whiskeys of the World Dinner menu begins with  Canadian Club Manhattan, followed by Maple Glazed Cedar Planked Salmon over Butternut Squash Puree with Haricot Verts and a Blood Orange Reduction served with Kentucky’s Maker’s Mark 46. Irish Lamb Stew with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions and Cabbage over traditional soda bread is presented with Kilbeggan of Westmeath, Ireland. Jerked Pork Chops over Coconut and Mango Rice with Sautéed Brussels Sprout Leaves is partnered with Knob Creek Rye of Kentucky. Finally, Cold Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Butter over Parmesan Crusted Potatoes and White Asparagus is served with Laphroaig from the Isle of Islay, Scotland.

The cost of dinner is $74.95 plus tax and tip. For reservations, call (210) 493-3031.

Little Gretel is going chocolate crazy.

Little Gretel, 518 River Road, Boerne, is having a chocolate dinner as part of the second annual Dine & Wine BoerneFest. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

The menu, presented with the Chocolate & Wine Festival of Texas, includes Coquilles St. Jacques with a Chocolate and Cranberry Sauce, Chocolate Soup a la Goethe’s Mum, Arugula-Strawberry Salad with Chocolate-Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pepper-crusted Beef Tenderloin or Chicken Breast with Chocolate-Port Sauce and Black Forest Kirsch Cake.

The price is $69 a person plus tax and tip. Call (830) 331-1368 for reservations.

Oro is pairing wine with a special dinner.

Oro at the Emily Morgan Hotel, 705 E. Houston St., is hosting a Halloween party and Deutsch Family Estate portfolio wine dinner with guest speaker Brian Windham. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

Diners are encouraged to dress in costume for the dinner with the winner of the best costume winning a complimentary dinner and a room for a night.

Chef Chris Cook’s menu begins with Ghostly Smoked Chicken Wonton with Girard Chardonnay 2000. Beaten and Blackened Hawaiian Opah with Sweet Potato and Pear Hash will be paired with The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2011, followed by Horrific Canadian Lobster Mac and Cheese with Swiss Chard and Cranberries paired with Baron Fini Pinot Grigio 2011. Spooky Citrus Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin and Ramon Bilbao Albariño Rias Biaxes 2010 preceded To Die For Anise Scented Braised Short Rib with Girard Petite Sirah 2009. Dessert will be the chef’s devilish choice.

The price is $69.95 a person plus tax and tip. Call (210) 225-5100 for reservations.

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Pi Day Calls for Pie


Strawerry Chocolate Truffle Pie

This story is being posted on 3/14, which is Pi Day for all those mathematical geeks who love to have pie with pi.

What is pi? For those who slept through geometry, alongside me, it is, as Wikipedia declares, “a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any Euclidean circle’s circumference to its diameter.” Its initial numbers are 3.14.

But that’s not important. What is important is what pie goes well with Pi Day?

Strawberries are in season, so I decided to try out the following, which was the first place winner of a strawberry dessert contest several years ago. The flavors are timeless, and the pie goes together quickly.

Strawberry Chocolate Truffle Pie

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup powdered sugar plus 2 tablespoons, divided use
3 tablespoons Triple Sec or orange juice (see note)
1 baked 9-inch pie crust
1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup red currant jelly, melted (see note)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon grated orange rind
Mint leaves and orange rind strips (optional)

Combine chips, cream cheese and butter in top of a double boiler. Place over boiling water. Melt, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and Triple Sec or orange juice. Spread evenly over pie crust; cool.

This pie is reminiscent of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Place strawberries stem side down over chocolate mixture. Brush berries with melted jelly. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

Combine whipping cream, and remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in grated orange rind. If desired, garnish pie with orange rind strips and mint leaves. Top each serving with dollop of whipped cream.

Note: When testing this recipe, a store-bought graham cracker crust was used. Raspberry liquor was used instead of triple sec. Strawberry jam was used instead of jelly; it was not seeded, but that didn’t matter. The whipped cream covered everything up.

Makes 1 pie.

From Sandy Campbell/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com

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Chefs’ Corner: Two Step El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard


El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N. (at Braun Road), is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a dessert that’s guaranteed to melt any chocolate lover’s heart. Chef Steve Warner’s El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard is a type of flan with the mysterious density of chocolate added.

Warner uses El Rey Chocolate, the Fredericksburg chocolate company that produces world class chocolates. They help make this a treat that would be welcome any time of year.

For more information on Two Step, call 210-688-2686 or visit twosteprestaurant.com.

El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

1/4 chocolate liqueur, divided use
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups El Rey 58.5 percent dark chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Set out 6 soufflé cups. Pour 1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur into each cup.

Over a low flame, melt 1/2 cup sugar to the hard crack stage. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted sugar into each of the cups.

Over a low flame, bring the heavy cream to a steam. Add the chocolate and the vanilla. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and remaining chocolate liqueur. Then temper the eggs with the chocolate and egg mixture.

Put the chocolate custard into the soufflé cups. Place the cups into a water bath and bake until the internal temperature of the custards reaches 185. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, heat a thin knife in boiling water. Run around the edge of each custard. Upend each custard on a plate and serve.

Makes 6 custards.

From Steve Warner, Two Step Restaurant

 

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Working in a Chocolate Wonderland


For the past 25 years, Sharon Loren and Anne Georgulas have marked off several days during the busy holiday season to make chocolate treats for their friends.

Sharon Loren dips a dried apricot into chocolate.

They started small, with Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Balls that Loren had made as a child with her mother. But there was one problem: Georgulas doesn’t like coconut. So, for her sake, the repertoire began to grow.

What a tasty gift!

Soon, dipped pretzels and dried apricots joined the lineup. Chocolate-covered raisins and peanut butter cups were added to the mix. Then came truffles flavored with liqueurs such as Chambord for raspberry, Cointreau for orange, Kahlúa for coffee lovers and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Now, there are dipped mini-Oreos and rocky road with marshmallows in the mix as well as nut clusters made with cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans and peanuts.

The pair make so many chocolates that Loren’s Bergheim home over Thanksgiving weekend appeared to be a candy factory with an enormous dining room table covered with sheet after sheet of candies arranged by type before being packed in gift tins.

The women started after the remains of the Thanksgiving dinner were cleared away. On Friday, they worked from about 8 a.m. until late in the night. And on Saturday, they did whatever they needed to finish up by late afternoon so the packing could begin. That lasted until late in the evening. Sunday is indeed a day of rest.

By the time the last candy has dried, each had anywhere from 50 to 60 pounds of chocolate to give to family, friends and co-workers, all packaged in bright holiday tins.

Anne Georgulas dips chocolates.

Such an undertaking wasn’t accomplished alone. The greater families of both women, which have grown from infancy to near adulthood over the years, pitched in to help here and there. The children have always done their part, taking care of the candies that were a little less attractive than the others. You know, some children are like that. They become magicians when it comes to chocolate, making as many disappear as they possibly can.

Yet the vast majority was made by Loren at her tempering machine filled with dark chocolate and Georgulas at hers handling the milk chocolate. “We just keep dipping until we’re done,” Loren says.

Milk chocolate in the tempering machine.

If all this seems like hard work — not to mention messy — when compared with making Christmas cookies, then look at it this way: Neither woman finds making cookies all that easy. As with any such endeavor, practice makes the procedure easier, and it has simplified over time. For example, the women used to use a double boiler to melt the chocolate before they bought the tempering machines. Tempering the chocolate gives the candies a shine and even color. Untempered chocolate, by contrast will be dull and could appear splotchy. Yes, the candies would taste the same, but the tempered chocolate is certainly more appealing to the eye. The machines are also easier to work with, as Loren dipped dozens of dried apricots and Georgulas made pecan clusters while talking and catching up.

Samantha Hodo and Anne Georgulas roll truffles. They use cornstarch on their hands to keep the soft chocolate from sticking.

Georgulas, a pediatrician, lives in Coppell, a Dallas suburb, so the two use this weekend each year to reconnect. They swap locations every time, and last year, when the candy-making show was up north, Georgulas used the get-together for the dual purpose of candy-making and her wedding. A year later, she’s pregnant with twin boys, who will add new life to next year’s event.

A few of the recipes have evolved over time. The women decided the chocolate-dipped candied orange slices were a little too unbalanced in favor of the orange, so Loren’s husband, Bill, offers his services each year by cutting them in half. Now, there’s a just enough orange to match the dark chocolate.

Because the tradition of making candies has gone on so long, both women have been asked repeatedly if they’ve ever wanted to open their own chocolate shop, but the answer is always the same.

Chocolates dry before being packaged.

“We’re not in the sell mode,” says Loren, who works at USAA. “We’d have to charge an awful lot for the chocolates.”

That includes customizing a few tins for special people in their lives. Loren’s brother, for example, gets a regular tin and an extra filled with nothing but coconut balls.

Working with so much chocolate has taken its toll on the two women. Neither eats much during the process, and Loren confesses she’s had her fill. “I can’t really eat chocolate any more,” she says.

But that won’t stop the tradition from going on. There are too many grateful recipients on each woman’s list. As Loren says, “It’s a labor of love.”

 

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Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Balls


Make your own Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Balls.

Sharon Loren’s recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Balls calls for Wilton Dark Candy Cocoa Melts. You don’t need your own chocolate tempering machine to make these treats. You can use a double boiler.

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Balls

Coconut mixture:
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix powdered sugar, condensed milk, coconut, pecans, butter and vanilla well. A stand mixer works best, but it’s possible to do it by hand if you have strong arms and lots of help. Form mixture into small balls, ½-inch to ¾-inch in diameter. Chill several hours or overnight.

Dipping chocolate

Wilton Dark Candy Cocoa Melts or other dipping compound

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. Using a dipping spoon, fork or toothpick, dip balls one at a time into the chocolate and set them on waxed paper to harden. Store covered at room temperature. These also freeze well.

Makes about 100 candies, depending on size.

From Sharon Loren

 

 

 

 

Makes ~ 100 balls, depending on size.

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What’s Hot: Cream, Aerosol Whipped Cream Gets a Kick


Cream is a new product that feels like it should have been around for quite some time now: Alcohol and aerosol whipped cream combined.

That’s right, you’ve got the perfect topper for an Irish coffee in can. Or any mixed drink of your choice. Or on ice cream. Or orange poke cake. Or wherever your mind takes you.

It comes in six flavors: chocolate, cherry, raspberry, orange, caramel and vanilla.

I tried the chocolate version on the recommendation of a clerk at WB Liquors & Wine, 9801 I-10 W. I enjoyed the chocolate flavor and the ease of use. Then I took it to a party and watched people really enjoy it with everything from fruit to coffee. One woman even gave herself a shot in the mouth she liked it so much.

And who can resist a product with the tagline, “Get whipped”?

The can costs $12.99.

Whatever you do, don’t refrigerate the can, the checkout clerk told me. And that warning is written all over the can, too.

Here are a few ideas from the Cream website to help you get started. All are great without the Chocolate Cream, but each is made better with it.

Chocolate Monk

1/3 part Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1/3 part Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
1/3 part Bailey’s Irish Cream
Chocolate Cream

Shake the liqueurs with ice. Pour into a chilled martini glass. Top with Chocolate Cream.

From Cream

Chocolate Milk

1/2 shot milk
1/2 shot Droste or other chocolate liqueur
1 dash amaretto almond liqueur
Chocolate Cream

Put the milk in the bottom of a shot glass, pour the liqueur on top and add the dash of amaretto. Do not mix. Top With Chocolate Cream.

From Cream

Peppermint Perth

Hot chocolate
1 ounce Rumple Minze
1/2 ounce white chocolate liqueur
Chocolate Cream
Shaved chocolate
Cocoa powder

Fill a mug with hot chocolate and the liquors. Top with Chocolate Cream and shaved chocolate, then sprinkle with cocoa powder.

From Cream

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The Cake Boss’ Pecan Wedges


Pecans

Buddy Valastro, also known as the Cake Boss to his legions of TV fans, is coming to San Antonio in November. He’s set to appear at the Lila Cockrell Theater at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12.

If you can’t wait until then to get a taste of his baking magic, try this recipe for Pecan Wedges, which appears in his new cookbook, which is not surprisingly titled “Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia” (Free Press, $25.99).

“These are decadent little treats,” he writes, “with a number of textures and flavors packed into fairly tight quarters: the pastry itself, a caramel-pecan mixture that’s pour into its center, and a chocolate shell.”

For tickets, which start at $96 apiece, click here.

Pecan Wedges

6 sticks (1 1/2 pounds) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided use
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
4 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 cup light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 cups whole pecans
2 cups finely chopped semisweet high-quality chocolate

To make the dough, put 4 sticks of the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, and paddle on low-medium speed until thoroughly mixed, approximately 1 minute. Add the eggs all at once and paddle until incorporated, approximately 1 minute. Add the milk and the flour and mix until thoroughly blended, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until stiff enough to be manipulated, about 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out each piece of dough into an 18-inch log, 1 1/2 to 2 inches high. Transfer to a baking tray and flatten the center of the log out so it looks like a ravine. It should be about 3 inches wide, fatter at the end than at the center. Crimp the edge on both sides. Repeat with all four pieces of dough, leaving about 2 inches between the logs (you  may need to do this in batches) and set aside.

To make the caramel mixture, put the remaining 2 sticks of butter, the brown sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Spoon the pecan-caramel mixture int hte ravine in the center of the logs. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove trays from the oven, transfer the bars to a cutting board, and cut each bar crosswise into 4 or 5 wedges.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler set over medium-high heat. Dip half of each wedge into the chocolate and let cool and dry on a wire rack or parchment paper for 30 minutes. These are best enjoyed the same day, but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 16 wedges.

From “Cake Boss” by Buddy Valastro

 

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Try Lavender in Your Brownies


“I love these brownies!” Sharon Shipley writes in “The Lavender Cookbook” (Running Press, $18.95). “They’re moist, chewy, and so quick and easy to prepare. Why bother making brownies from a box, when these take only a few extra minutes and taste so much better? Serve them with vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge sauce — or just plain with a glass of cold milk. What could be better?”

If you are cooking with lavender, make sure you get the variety that is meant for the kitchen. Ask your lavender farmer or the person handling the bulk bins at stores like Central Market, Whole Foods or Green Fields for guidance. Shipley prefers the dried “Provence” culinary buds because they have “a low camphor level, a nice floral note, and a gentle lavender flavor. Other varieties of lavender can taste perfumey, buttery and medicinal.” The culinary variety will also have more gray in the color.

Chocolate Lavender Brownies

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds
3 cups sugar, divided use
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder or powdered instant coffee
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Place the lavender in a spice grinder with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Pulse until the lavender is finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the flour, cocoa, salt, espresso or coffee powder, and the remaining sugar. Mix well.

Place the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high power for 1 minute at a time until melted. Let cool for a few minutes. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter mixture. Using a wood spoon, mix until just combined. Stir in the nuts, if using. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.

Makes 24 brownies.

From “The Lavender Cookbook” by Sharon Shipley

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