Monday, March 29, 2010

Lemon-Lime Danishes, my First Blogiversary and a Giveaway!

Danish 2: The "fallen" danish

1. Blog Updated!: Instead of focusing on my dissertation proposal, I worked on updating this blog all weekend. I have come to the realization that while most people like WordPress for its snazzy themes, I much more prefer Blogger for its ease in adjustments and settings (I wrote this before it messed up today). I spent literally hours trying to upload a theme to Wordpress.com only to find out that you couldn't upload unaffiliated themes to wordpress.COM, but you could do it to Wordpress.ORG! Then, you have to get a domain host before you can download the .ORG version. So, before I found that out, I had paid money to get a new theme. When I found out I couldn't use that without paying more money for a domain, I felt like screaming. I bought a cheap domain at godaddy.com and still couldn't move forward because I couldn't find some authorization EPP code. At this point, I had spent more than 5-7 hours working on this stuff.

I finally gave up and went back to blogger to find a theme to my liking. I was hoping to find one with a three column footer and a dark, simple, sleek background, and I found it...for FREE. I downloaded it in a matter of seconds and then moved things around and was very pleased. Then, I decided to change the header to add my own photos but didn't know how. I found a great tutorial on Digital Photography School and was finally able to make my header once I figured out what was going wrong with the Rectangular Marquee Tool on my limited, free version of Photoshop. Two hours later, I made the header you see above. I am happy. I am pleased. I don't ever want to update my blog again....well, not until my next blogiversary. LOL!
Danish 1: The burnt danish

2. FIRST Blogiversary!/Danish Revisited: Anyway, since this is my first blogiversary, I decided to revisit what I made on my very first post: a cherry cream cheese danish braid. Instead of making a cherry danish this time, I made a lemon-lime danish and a lemon-lime danish with fresh strawberries (I'll explain next while I ended up making two danishes). Both danishes had a lime glaze on top and the last one had candied lime zest as well.
Danish 2: Before it fell

Well, to go along with all the trouble I went through to update my blog, these danishes didn't turn out as well as I had wanted. The first one I burnt even after baking it a few minutes under the time suggested (remember I always do half the time and then I went a few minutes under that). It still tasted fantastic, but as you can see, it was burnt and the braid didn't stay together as well as the one on my very first post.
A yummy slice of the burnt danish

I didn't burn the second one. Instead, I dropped it on the kitchen floor right before I baked it (fortunately, it was covered with clear wrap), and the braid loosened up and just opened up completely while baking in the oven. Everything was a total disaster but still tasted great. After, drizzling a bunch of glaze and candied lime zest on top, you couldn't see its "lime pastry cream guts" sticking out as much.
Generous portion of lime glaze to cover the damage

I am sorry that I can't share with you all a beautiful, perfect danish. I will make another one....next year for the next blogiversary (if I last that long). I will do it well enough ahead of time so that I'm not stressed and pressured for time. I will do it before spending hours on fixing up my blog.
The burnt, yet in-tact danish! It was still so good!

3. FIRST Giveaway!!:
On a positive note, I am offering my first giveaway. I wasn't sure what to offer. So, I thought of something related to the theme and feel of my blog, which I hope deals with international culture, foods, and languages. So, for my giveaway, I am giving one of the following cookbooks to one of my lucky readers, lurkers, and/or visitors residing in the UNITED STATES, CANADA, or MEXICO (I apologize to readers not residing in those countries; I am a lowly graduate student and can't afford much more.). Deadline: Thursday, April 1st at 12 midnight, Pacific Time.

THE GIVEAWAY DEADLINE HAS PASSED.

Click on photo to enlarge. Photos of book covers courtesy of amazon.com

In order to participate in the giveaway, answer ALL of the following questions in the comment section below:
Para participar en el concurso, contesta todas las siguientes preguntas en la sección de comentarios abajo:

1. Which cookbook would you like? ¿Cuál libro escojerías?

2. What international (i.e., outside of the U.S. for me) dish would you like to see on Mangio da sola?
OR What international (i.e., any dish not traditional to your country of residence) dish have you prepared?
¿Cuál plato internacional te gustaria ver en Mangio da sola? O ¿Cuál plato internacional has preparado tú?

3. And because I am a linguist, how many languages do you speak?
AND/OR What languages would you like to learn, if you could?
Y porque soy lingüista, ¿cuántos idiomas sabes?
Y/O ¿Cuántos idiomas te gustaría aprender si pudieras?

If you would like to leave a comment without entering in the giveaway, you don't need to answer the questions. Just leave some love!

¡BUENA SUERTE! BOA SORTE! BUONA FORTUNA! GOOD LUCK! BONNE CHANCE! 행운!

I am submitting this post to yeastspotting!

Lemon-Lime Danish Braid
dough and candied lime zest adapted by Cooking Bread (process photos of dough and danish braid) and lemon-lime pastry cream adapted from Make a Whisk

DOUGH:
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup whole milk
3 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups bread flour
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamon (optional)
1 tablespoon butter2 large eggs (beaten)
2 cups unsalted butter (cold)

DOUGH: Pour milk and water into a saucepan; heat to a scald. In a large bowl, add in sugar, salt, cardamon and flour. Add a tablespoon of butter to the scalded mixture. Stir till the butter is melted. Add in two beaten eggs and mix with a whisk. Cook mixture to 110F.

Once cooled, add in instant yeast. Pour liquid into the bowl of the flour mixture; mix with a wooden spoon. Pour out onto a lightly-floured surface, and knead for 6 minutes or till smooth and elastic. Wrap into plastic wrap and place into the fridge for 30 minutes.

BUTTER BLOCK: Prepare the 2 cups of butter. Place the butter onto some plastic wrap. Place more plastic wrap over the top. Using a rolling pin roll out to a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. If you roll the butter to large, just cut the sides and place the excess butter on top and re-roll. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
DOUGH PACKET: Take the dough out of the fridge, and roll into a 9x18 rectangle. Place the rolled butter onto the bottom 2/3rd of the dough. Fold over the top part of the dough to the middle. Brush off any excess flour. Fold over the bottom half over top the first. Pinch the seams closed. Turn the dough 90 degrees, so the narrow end is facing you. Roll out the dough into another 9x18 rectangle. Brush off any excess flour. Do the three fold again and seal the ends.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and place a black dot or make an impression with your finger on the plastic wrap. Place into the fridge for another 30 minutes. Remove the dough, and roll out again and fold again. Wrap with plastic wrap and place another dot or impression on the plastic wrap. Place back into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Again, remove the dough and roll out again and fold for a third time. Cover with plastic wrap and place another dot or impression on top so you will have three dots to remember how many times you have done this. Place the dough back into the fridge for at least 1 hour or over night. Now the dough is ready to use.

DANISH BRAID:
Remove the Danish dough from the fridge. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat surface and then unwrap and cut the dough in half. Wrap one piece with plastic wrap and place back into the fridge. Roll the dough into a 10x15 rectangle.

Brush any excess flour from the top. Now, place the dough into a piece of parchment paper. Using a pizza slicer lightly score the dough 3 inches from each side. Do not cut through the dough. It's just to be used as a guideline.

Place your filling into the middle without crossing the score marks. Using your pizza cutter and a rule cut slices down each side on the dough. Do not cut past the score line. It will be about 9 slices down both sides.

Cut off the two bottom pieces and the two top pieces. Fold over the bottom onto the filling.

Beat one egg and 1 tablespoon of water into a small bowl. You will use this as glue. Brush each piece of dough as you create the braid. Begin at the end of the dough and fold one piece of dough over the filling. Brush with the egg wash. Now, take one piece of dough from the other side and fold that over the other piece. Continue till you have created a braid. Brush the top of the braid with egg wash. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap and egg wash once again. Place into a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with some icing over top.

To make the spirals, roll out the other half of the danish dough in a rectangle shape about a 1/4 of an inch thick. Fold in half and using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1/2 inch thick strips.

Take each piece of dough, gently stretch it slightly and twist it over and over until it is tightly wound. Coil the twist rope into itself.

Place onto a piece of parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for about 30 minutes. Make an indent in the center of the coil ( I used the bottom of a shot glass to make the indent ) and fill with filling. Brush with an egg wash and bake in a preheated 400F oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Drizzle some icing over top.

LIME PASTRY CREAM:
2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups cream
2 teaspoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I combined lemon and lime)

Mix together egg yolks and cream. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk every minute or so at first, but as it heats up and starts to boil and thicken, you will need to whisk constantly. This should take about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to low/medium-low so that mixture bubbles gently and cook until it coats the back of a spoon, or when you can draw your finger through it and the line stays there. Stir in the butter and vanilla, and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve/strainer to remove all lumps. Because the mixture is very thick, you may have to help the mixture through the strainer by pushing gently with a spoon.

Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed gently against the surface of the cream.

CANDIED LIME ZEST:
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of corn syrup
Zest of 3 limes

Using a zester, remove the rind from three limes. In a saucepan, add the water, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a soft boil, and add the lime zest. Continue to boil mixture for 15 minutes. The lime zest with become translucent.

Use a fork, remove the zest from the liquid, and place the cooked zest onto a piece of wax paper. Spread out the zest, and sprinkle on top with a little sugar. Allow to cool and place into an airtight container until ready to use.

LEMON OR LIME GLAZE:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice

Stir ingredients together well, and pour or drizzle on top of danish.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cherry Limeade

Hi, my name is Memoria, and I am addicted to Sonic's Cherry Limeade.
In fact, this drink is the only item I like there, so if I'm looking for a quick meal and a limeade, I have to either go to Sonic (for the limeade) plus another fast-food place (for the meal), just buy a drink and make something at home, or just settle for a Route 44oz drink with nothing else. Acquiring the drink is a bit of a hassle, but worth it.
So, in order to remedy my problem, I decided to look for a copycat recipe for this addicting drink, and I found two viable ones that came from former Sonic employees. I had every ingredient but the soda and the limes. It was weird to buy soda at the store since I haven't done that in a very long time, so I just bought a 2 liter since it was the cheapest out of the other options (Man! Soda has gotten really expensive!! I'm so glad I don't buy the stuff on a regular basis!)
I started assembling the drink and decided to move all the ingredients to my "photo studio" (hah! I laugh at that. I so don't have a studio. If you all only knew...) to make some decent process photos. As I picked up the grenadine (a syrup made from pomegranate) to transport it to the living room, I dropped it on the kitchen floor, and the thick, red, liquid splattered everywhere! I cleaned up quickly and proceeded with the photo-taking.
I love how this recipe requires only a few ingredients to become something great. Make sure you stir the mixture for the full effect. Also, you may need to adjust the amount of lime juice or cherry syrup or grenadine to get the right ratio. When I used the amounts on the original recipes (the slightly modified version is below), I was pleased with the taste of the drink, but it wasn't quite spot on. I added more lime juice and grenadine, stirred the mixture again, and it tasted almost exactly like Sonic's limeade.
The flavor is definitely close enough to the real thing and will definitely assuage any cravings. Since it contains soda (which I didn't know it had until I found the recipes), I still won't be able to make it whenever because I promised myself that I wouldn't buy soda for the house (I broke the rule this time hehe). If you're not opposed to soda and are addicted to Cherry Limeade (or you could make other flavors like strawberry limeade!) or are just curious as to how this drink tastes, I highly suggest making it. If you have children, they would have fun making this on their own, too. It is a lovely-looking drink. I love the two shades of colors.
Unstirred (left); stirred (right)

Cherry Limeade

adapted by the comment on copykat.com and aldenteblog
Yield: medium-sized Cherry Limeade (20 oz.)

1- 1 1/2 cup(s) ice
2-4 tbsp of flavored syrup (use cherry snow cone syrup or grenadine)
1 lime, squeezed
1 maraschino cherry (or as many as you like!! I love cherries!)

Crush the ice, and place it in the glass. Add 2 Tbsp of syrup or grenadine. Squeeze an entire lime (if you like a more tart taste) on top of the grenadine. Pour in about 12-16 ounces of Sprite until the glass has been filled.

For a more cherry taste, add more syrup and for a more tart taste, add more lime. Play around with the ingredients to suit your personal taste.

SUGAR-FREE: You can also make this drink sugar-free with a sugar-free cherry syrup (if you can find it) and Diet Sprite.

AMOUNTS FOR OTHER SIZED DRINKS:
  • 20 oz gets 2 limes and 1/2 oz syrup or grenadine
  • 32oz gets 3 limes and 3/4 oz syrup or grenadine
  • 44oz gets 4 limes and 1 oz syrup or grenadine
Want a sip?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life-Changing Chocolate Cake

I apologize for this dark/bright photos. I took them late in the evening.

I knew I needed to make this cake when I saw how much flour was required in relation to the other ingredients - 1 tablespoon! This cake was so smooth, warm, and amazing. It truly is life-changing and perfect for those who are having their monthly cravings (*clears throat*).
I halved this recipe (yes, I used 2.5 eggs) because I didn't want to use up all of my good chocolate and because I didn't have anyone with whom to share this dessert :( awwww. Also, I wanted to use my new mini-springform pans!

I quickly made the batter and poured most of it in one pan and the rest in the other. When I took them out of the oven, they were still jiggly, but the instructions indicated that that was normal. However, the one with more batter was clearly not done because after cooling, it was still sort of jiggly and the innards were like yummy, chocolate lava. It still tasted amazing, but the other cake that was done tasted much better.
Top photo: less batter and done; bottom photo: more batter, not fully done

So, when you make this, because I know you will, make sure it is not jiggling after 3-5 minutes of cooling. If it is, put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes at a time. Keep in mind that there still should be a jiggling factor, though :).
Not fully done, but tastes great all the same!

This cake is like a brownie and a wanna-be lava cake in one. I'm definitely making this again. Since chocolate is the star in the recipe, make sure you use high-quality chocolate. I used my now-favorite chocolate, Callebaut. I didn't use bittersweet because I don't like it, so I used semi-sweet instead. Also, I added espresso powder to intensify the chocolate flavor, and I added vanilla extract. However, feel free to keep it simple, if you prefer. I'm sure it is still fantastic.
The "done" cake

Life-Changing Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Kitchen Crush who got it from Chocolate by Trish Deseine

200g dark chocolate, 70% cacao (I used semi-sweet)
14 Tbsp (200g) unsalted butter
1-2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 1/3 cup (250g) sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 Tbsp AP flour

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Melt the chocolate and the butter in a bowl, sitting over a pot of simmering water (bain marie/double boiler). Once melted, add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Take off the heat and let cool a little. Put in the eggs, one by one, and make sure to thoroughly mix them in. Add a Tbs of flour and mix till smooth. Line a small (15cm/8in), round baking form with baking paper and pour the chocolate mass in. Bake for 25 minutes, then take it out of the oven and let it cool. The center may look a bit wobbly, but it is supposed to look this way. Put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let it set and take out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream and raspberries, and let this magic cake change your life for better.

"Please, sir. I want some more." -Oliver Twist (click here for the movie clip!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chocolate-Filled and Cinnamon Rolls *UPDATE*

I sprinkled chocolate shavings on top of the chocolate-filled rolls.

I was trying be inventive. I was trying to combine two cravings into one: chocolate and cinnamon roll dough with a warm glaze. I didn't want to combine cinnamon and brown sugar with the chocolate. I just wanted pure, unadulterated chocolate with bread and a glaze.
The chocolate is peeking through!

That is how I thought of making chocolate-filled rolls. Once I started applying the melted, milk chocolate on top of the melted butter, though, I became hesitant. I decided to make a regular cinnamon roll on the other half of the dough just in case I didn't like the chocolate half, and I'm glad I did.
The chocolate layer on the left and cinnamon/brown sugar on the right.

The chocolate half was boring. It had nothing special going for it. In fact, it made the regular side taste even more fabulous. I used my go-to cinnamon roll recipe for this because I love how the dough rolls out and how easy it is to put together.

*UPDATE* I tried vanilla buttercream frosting on the chocolate-filled rolls, and they instantly tasted a million times better. I used this recipe for the frosting. So, maybe it was the paring of the cream cheese frosting and chocolate I didn't like too much. I bet a plain powdered sugar/milk glaze would work just as well, too. I take back what I said about the chocolate rolls. They are truly amazing now! YUM!
It's been a long time since I've made these rolls for me and not for my "step-daughters". I still felt a bit guilty eating them even though the girls had no idea I was doing it haha. Anyway, next time I will just stop messing with a good thing because the cinnamon roll section was amazing.
The next morning: top: dough fresh out of the refrigerator; bottom: risen dough

This post has been submitted to yeastspotting!

Chocolate-Filled and Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (I use active yeast)
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup margarine (or butter), melted (and slightly cooled b/c of the eggs)
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 1/2 cups bread flour

Chocolate Filling:
1/3 cup butter, softened
5-8 ounces of milk, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used milk)

Cinnamon Filling (USE IT ALL! :D):
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
(optional add-ins: raisins, apples, nuts, etc.)

Cream Cheese Frosting (I suggest doubling this part if you like a lot of icing):
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (you could use 4 ounces)
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
(For instructions using a bread machine, go to the allrecipes website.)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl (or stand mixer). Mix in the sugar, margarine (or butter), salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball (or use the dough hook for about 5 minutes), using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle (I don't measure the dough; I just make sure it's thin enough...but then again, I've made these a lot.).

Chocolate Filling: Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter, spread melted chocolate on top.

Cinnamon Filling: Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. (I saw the following tip on another website from someone who claimed to have worked at Cinnabon: lightly roll the cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture into the dough. I then pat it down with my hand until it is well-meshed or integrated into the rolled-out dough.)

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. (I almost always overnight these by placing them in the refrigerator at this point. I then take them out of the fridge 60 minutes before baking time and then throw them in the oven.) Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake rolls in a preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Then add confectioners' (or icing) sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pot Roast

If you don't like your different food items to touch each other, please don't look at the subsequent photos. :)

When Monica from Lick the Bowl Good and I decided to meet up for the first time, we went to Mimi's Cafe. The first I ever ate at this restaurant, I was happy with what I ordered so I never went again until my meeting with Monica. She gave me some suggestions on what to order, and one of her suggestions included pot roast with mashed potatoes. I don't normally order or even eat pot roast, but I was in the mood for a comforting, "home-cooked" type of meal and veggies.
Well, that pot roast was AMAZING! It was so tender and succulent, and the mashed potatoes and veggies were perfectly seasoned. The dish was so good that I kept thinking about it for days. I then decided to try making it myself for the first time.
After unsuccessfully looking for a copycat recipe for the Mimi's Pot Roast, I decided on the recipe found on Pioneer Woman's site because she didn't use a crockpot. I cooked the meat for half the time she suggested because my oven overheats (I have to cook half the time for every recipe I use), and the meat wasn't ready (see photo below).
So, I ending up cooking the meat for one more hour, and it came out just as tender as it looks on Ree's site. I served this pot roast with leftover colcannon, carrots, and onions. Although it was tender and flavorful, it didn't taste like the pot roast at Mimi's. Maybe it was because I didn't use fresh thyme and rosemary, and I used all broth instead of wine. I don't know, but I guess I'll have to keep on trying. For the next time, I'm going to use a crockpot and a different recipe. Nevertheless, this pot roast came at a close second place.

*UPDATE* After eating it a second and third time, the flavors have melded, and the pot roast tastes amazing. I think the only missing is the gravy. I used the juices from the broth as my gravy, but a real, thickened gravy would make this even better than the pot roast I had at the restaurant. So, please make gravy out of the leftover beef broth by making a small roux (about 2 Tbsp flour + 2 Tbsp butter) and adding the juices to the roux. I wish I had done that.

Pot Roast
adapted by Pioneer Woman

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 whole Chuck Roast (mine was 2.5 lbs)
2 whole Onions (I used 1/2 onion chopped in long, semi-circled cuts)
6 whole Carrots (I had only 2 carrots and chopped them in smaller pieces)
Salt To Taste (Try using Lawry's Seasoning salt)
Pepper To Taste
3 cups To 4 Cups Beef Stock (can substitute one cup of broth for red wine if you want)
3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste (I didn't have)
3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste (I used dried, about 2-3 Tbsp)

Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and butter.

Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices. When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved or chopped onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate. Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Place the meat in the pan, and sear it for about a minute or two on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate. With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that flavor up. When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate Truffles: The Alton Brown Way

I don't know why I took so long to post about these truffles. I made these for Valentine's Day! Since my Valentine/on-and-off girlfriend of more than 10 years lives in another state, I made these truffles for my two good friends/colleagues/neighbors.
We ate brunch at a Mexican restaurant, and then I gave them the truffles. They loved them! I made two kinds: one enrobed in cocoa powder dusted with powdered sugar and another with coconut flakes. I also poured a bit of espresso mixed with hot water into the ganache instead of using alcohol.
Many people say that making truffles is so easy. I agree that they require only very few ingredients and thus seem easy in theory, but when you have hot hands or reside in a hot area like I do, making truffles can be messy and hard to do.
So, this time around, I tried a recipe from Alton Brown because it is perfect for hot-handed folks like me. It takes a bit longer than most recipes, but it's worth that extra refrigeration time. I'm so happy that I can make truffles now without melting the ganache while attempting to shape them into balls. These things are amazing and are much cheaper to make yourself than to buy them. Thanks, Alton Brown! hah!

Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Alton Brown on Food Network
PRINTABLE VERSION

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used Callebaut semi-sweet)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup brandy (I used mixture of 1 tsp espresso with 2 tsps hot water)

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, finely chopped nuts, and/or toasted coconut, for coating truffles
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (for tempered coating)

Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium-sized glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside. (I did the bain-marie or water-bath-on-stove method to ensure I didn't burn the chocolate.)

Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy or espresso mixture, if using. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut each in its own pie pan and set aside.

Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.
Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the truffles in the cocoa or other coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature; however, they will melt in hot conditions.
IF USING TEMPERED CHOCOLATE:
In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl which is sitting on top of a heating pad lined bowl, with the heating pad set to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F; do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it.


Dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate and turn upside down to remove excess chocolate. Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated.Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature; however, they will melt in hot conditions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Colcannon

Only a few of you guessed which statement was true about me for the Honest Scrap Award. I was waiting until today to tell you all what the truth is. So, let's go through each one, shall we?

1. I speak 5 languages fluently.

I wish!! I speak about three languages fluently enough to have long conversations and even arguments haha: English, Spanish, and Portuguese. (My mom would tell you that I know 7 to 99 languages. Please don't listen to her; she's biased.) I can read, conjugate all verbs, and understand Italian, but I still have a long way to go with that language. I have a reading knowledge of French. Now, I'm learning Korean, and I love it!

2. I used to be a cosmetologist.

Almost true! For about 2 semesters, I took cosmetology courses to help pay for "real" school later on and realized I was wasting my time because I wasn't good at doing any of the stuff except for the written tests. So, I was too much of a book nerd to be a cosmetologist. On top of that, I caused a lady to walk out of our school building with one barely-gone eyebrow! OOPS!

3. I am a member of the "Mile-High Club".

NO WAY, JOSÉ! I have nothing else to add to that. LOL! (Shame on you, Jorge, for thinking this was true hahaha)

4. I have some Irish in my blood.

YEP! This is the truth! Also, it is the reason I made this yummy cabbage & potato dish today! I guess one of the only beneficial consequences of slavery in the United States was the blending of cultures and races that especially came about as a result of secretive, amorous or sexual relationships between slave masters and their subjects.

5. I love nuts and alcohol!
Well, I'm sure almost all of my readers know that this one is so NOT true. I do, however, like nuts in Snickers and Toblerone. I guess it is because I can't taste the nuts; I like the crunchy texture mixed in with the soft nougat, chewy caramel, and smooth chocolate in Snickers.
Well, I know you've seen this dish EVERYWHERE on the blogosphere. I chose this popular dish because I don't like corned beef, and I don't know of many traditional, Irish dishes as I should. Whenever my mother and I make a trip to Ireland, I hope to remedy that.
This dish was easy to put together. It tasted insanely good for a vegetarian, healthy meal. You've probably noticed that not many veggies are showcased on my blog, so embrace this post!! I did add some thick, turkey ham to the dish, though. The carnivorous addition intensified the dish.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

Colcannon
reduced and adapted by Good Mood Blog (Donal, a true Irishman with lovely photos) and Tasty Traveller

2 med-large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 an onion, chopped into small or large pieces (your preference)
1/4th of a cabbage, chopped (Donal suggests savoy cabbage, but I couldn't find it)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped (I used a few Tbsps of dried parsley)
1/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
2 Tbsp butter

Chop the potatoes, onions, and cabbage before starting.

Place the prepared potatoes in a saucepan and fill with water to boil. Once the water has boiled, turn down the heat, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, until fork easily goes through the potatoes.
Meanwhile, place 1 Tbsp of butter in a hot skillet, and sauté onions until translucent, then set aside.
Drain the potatoes, reserving the water for the cabbage. Place the cooked potatoes in a big serving bowl or casserole dish. Pour the reserved water back in to the saucepan, and boil the water. Place the chopped cabbage into the water, and cook for 6-8 minutes.
Place the onions, salt, pepper, and parsley into the serving bowl or dish with the cooked potatoes. Then add the cooked cabbage, and stir with a wooden spoon. Place 1-2 Tbsp of butter on top, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve, and enjoy!!

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