Archive for December, 2010

Is It Doughnut Day?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Every day when driving to the office I call up and ask my partner, “Is it doughnut day, today?” You see, there’s a Winchell’s Doughnut shop only a block or so away from the Chocolate Studio. I am a sucker, or at least a gobbler, when it comes to eating really great doughnuts.

When I was a kid, there was a Winchell’s at the midway point on my paper route. When I used to collect for the Los Angeles Times, I would divert a little of the dough to buy a lot of the dough. I could finish off a dozen chocolate-covered doughnuts by the time I pedaled home and my mother was never the wiser. That’s when and where I first became addicted to doughnuts.

Doughnuts are very inexpensive. In 1960 a baker’s dozen of the freshly-fried round things used to cost about $2.35. Today it only costs $7.50 and when compared to inflation doughnuts are ahead of the dollar and keeping up with gold pretty well.

When doughnuts are fresh, right out of the fryer, they have a distinctive crunch that can’t be duplicated in any other pastry. If they’re more then 4 hours old—forget it, they’re not worth the calories.

I was told that Vern Winchell (nicknamed the “The Donut King”), the founder of the company that still carries his name, opened one of his first stores with his military separation pay on Pico and La Cienega just a mile or so from Restaurant Row in Beverly Hills. He bought a second-hand Hobart mixer, a fryer, a couple of frosting racks and a display case—all for about $350. I don’t know if he thought there was a bright future in doughnuts, but the company started to grow until it seemed there was a Winchell’s on almost every corner.

I think people love doughnuts because there are so many wonderful flavors from which to choose. There’s warm glazed doughnuts—the flavor that made Krispy Kreme famous—frosted vanilla, cherry, strawberry, maple and even flavors with sprinkles and decoratifs. You can get a cruller, a cinnamon twist or even an apple fritter that is made with all of the extra scraps and pieces layered with canned apple pie filling. And then there are iced chocolate doughnuts.

The chocolate frosting is the cheapest form of chocolate you can buy. It is mostly powdered sugar, a shortening (something akin to Crisco) and cocoa powder. But no matter how cheap the ingredients are, the chocolate is still my favorite doughnut flavor. No matter where I go, Dunkin’ Donuts, Winchell’s, Krispy Kreme or Randy’s near Los Angeles International Airport, I always get the chocolate. You’ve all seen Randy’s. That’s the Coogie-designed building that looks like a huge two story doughnut on top of the small drive-thru through outlet.

Doughnuts hit a rough spot in US culinary history when low-carbohydrate and more healthful diets were in vogue. Doughnut vendors tried to fool us with bagels, but sesame seeds didn’t taste as good as old-fashioned chocolate. Even I—the world champion doughnut eater—spent a couple of years shying away from these doughy little masterpieces, but then thankfully I fell off the bagel wagon and got hooked on doughnuts all over again. I don’t think I can still eat a dozen at one clip, but one or two doughnuts once or twice a month still gets me going in the morning.

So why this sudden interest in doughnuts? At Choclatique we love to craft new flavors in new shapes. We created Moon Rocks for the 40th anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon, Napa Valley Wine Chocolates in celebration of Northern California’s grape crush and Decadent Desserts—an assortment of America’s finest after-dinner treats where Jelly Doughnut has a starring roll. And now we’ve created a special collection celebrating my favorite round pastry—the doughnut—with all your favorite flavors—strawberry, cherry, apple, maple and chocolate, of course; they will all be available after the first of the year.

A doughnut a day—now that a New Year’s resolution I can support!

Want to make your own doughnuts? Try out this recipe for Chocolate Cake Doughnuts.

Makes about 16 3-inch Doughnuts

Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Choclatique Red (Rouge) Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate, melted
10 cups vegetable oil for frying
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter until well blended. Stir into dry ingredients until well blended. Do not over mix.
  3. Chill until cold, 1 hour to 3 hours.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. With floured hands, pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. With a 3-inch doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts. Pat together scraps of dough and cut again. Place doughnuts on a well-floured baking sheet.
  5. Fill a 5- to 6-quart pan with vegetable oil and heat to 375°. Place one doughnut at a time onto a wide spatula and gently slide into oil, frying up to three at a time. Cook, turning once, until puffy and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total (to check timing, cut first one to test). With a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Repeat to fry remaining doughnuts.
  6. When cool enough to handle, dip the top half of each doughnut in warm chocolate glaze and place on a plate. Let stand until glaze is set, about 30 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Doughnut Glaze

Makes enough glaze for 16 or more doughnuts.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
1 tablespoon Choclatique Black Onyx (Dark) Cocoa Powder (Unsweetened)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate, chopped
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, milk, cocoa powder, corn syrup and vanilla and almond extracts in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted and the cocoa powder is fully absorbed. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted.
  2. Turn off heat, add the confectioner’s sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow the glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Choclatique on FacebookChoclatique on TwitterChocolate Doctor


 

Chocolate Brownies

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Is there actually anyone out there that doesn’t love a great brownie? The key word there is “great.” There are so many brownie mixes on the market that many people have gone away from even trying to make them from scratch. A really great brownie—usually nothing more than melted chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and some cocoa, all lightly mixed together with a bit of flour—is a decadent, luscious, yet simple treat. And… the brownie is one of America’s favorite desserts.

The brownie was born right here in the U.S. of A. We just aren’t quite sure when or where, although evidence points to somewhere in New England in the first few years of the 20th century. Although it is baked in a cake pan, the brownie is classified as a bar rather than a cake. There are literally thousands of recipes, both “cake” and “fudge” types. Both are perfectly correct—and delicious.

The brownie got its name from its dark brown color. But as with most foods, the origin of the brownie is shrouded in myth, even though it is a relatively recent entry to the food pantheon, first appearing in print in the early 20th century. The legends are told variously: a chef mistakenly added melted chocolate to a batch of biscuits…a cook was making a cake but didn’t have enough flour. One tells of a housewife in Maine who was making a chocolate cake but forgot to add the leavening. When her cake didn’t rise properly, instead of tossing it out, she cut and served the flat bars. That theory, however, relies on a cookbook published in 1912, six years after the first chocolate brownie recipe was published by America’s most famous cookbook author of the time, Fannie Farmer, in 1906.

The actual “inventor” will most likely never be known, but here’s what we do know: The first-known recipe for brownies I found was in the 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue, but this was a recipe for a molasses confection merely called brownies. Larousse Gastronomique, regarded by many as the ultimate cooking reference, writes that a recipe for brownies first appeared in the 1896 The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, written by Fannie Farmer—but that recipe was for a cookie-type confection that was also colored and flavored with molasses and made in fluted marguerite molds. However, as verified by Jean Anderson in The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes Of The 20th Century, the two earliest published recipes for chocolate brownies appeared in Boston-based cookbooks—the first in a second edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.

Most boxed brownies mixes will never be able to compare or even come close to a homemade brownie, made from quality ingredients and most importantly real melted chocolate. I don’t know about you, but when I read the list of ingredients for my brownies (or any other foods), I would much rather read a list like bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, butter, vanilla, salt, and flour than something that includes any words that I can’t even pronounce, let alone have a clue to what they are. I don’t believe in better living through chemistry.

Choclatique Double Dark Chocolate Brownie MixA great brownie doesn’t even have to involve having a mixer. If you have a couple of bowls, a whisk, a rubber spatula and a little bit of time, homemade brownies can be yours in minutes. You don’t have to be a professional baker or have a mix to prepare basic, delicious, baked goods.

BrowniesThe real keys to successful baking from scratch are simple and finite—use the best quality ingredients you can get your hands on and follow the directions.

Try one of my basic brownie recipes.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

This is such an easy recipe to make you don’t have to overdo anything. Don’t keep the chocolate and butter in the microwave too long, don’t beat the eggs in too much and don’t over-mix the flour. The result will be a rich chocolaty brownie with a moist, fudge-like texture.

Makes 24 small brownies
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Choclatique Red Cocoa Powder, unsweetened and alkalized
1 tablespoon Choclatique Black Onyx Cocoa Powder, unsweetened and ultra-alkalized
11 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%), coarsely chopped
8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa powders.
  3. Place the chocolate and butter a glass bowl and melt using your microwave oven in short bursts at 50% power. Set the time for 30 seconds and heat until melted. Stir between microwave bursts. Once they are starting to melt, the heat from the chocolate and butter that is already melting will help to melt the rest of the mixture.
  4. Add the sugars whisking until completely combined.
  5. Let the mixture come to room temperature before adding the eggs so that you don’t cook them into your batter.
  6. Add three eggs to the chocolate and butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined.
  7. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over-beat the batter or your brownies will be cakey instead of fudgy.
  8. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Use a rubber spatula (not a whisk!) to fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture. Fold the ingredients together until there is just some of the white of the flour mixture visible so that you don’t overwork the batter.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with your spatula.
  10. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotating the pan half-way through baking process) and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a cake tester (or toothpick) into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  11. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.
  12. Frost only if you must!

ChefSecret: Check your brownies often while they are baking to make sure you don’t over-bake them or you won’t have the fudge-like consistency.

Choclatique on FacebookChoclatique on TwitterChocolate Doctor


 

Chocolate Champagne Truffles

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

More people are making their own gifts at home this year and food is the most popular thing to make. What are the most popular home-prepared foods this time of year? During the holidays this season more home cooks are making a variety of wonderful, home-made cakes, cookies, pastries and candies. One of the easiest chocolate confections to master is the chocolate truffle.

A French invention, the original chocolate truffle was a ball of nothing more than rolled ganache—simply made of dark bittersweet chocolate and cream—often flavored and rolled in cocoa powder. It was named after the precious black truffle fungus because of its physical resemblance.

The chocolate truffle was originally created in the kitchens of the famous French culinary giant Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. As the story goes, one day, as his apprentice attempted to make a pastry cream, he accidentally poured hot cream over a bowl of chocolate chunks rather than the bowl of sugared egg he should have aimed for. As the chocolate and cream mixture set, he found he could work the chocolate paste with his hands to form a bumpy, lopsided ball. After rolling the new creation in cocoa powder, he was struck by their similarity to the luxurious truffles from the French Périgord region and the Piedmont area of Italy.

As the truffle concept caught on, different truffle textures were created by rolling the center ganache in white confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts, and the ganache was flavored with with the likes of Champagne and other liqueurs.

Today, the term truffle is often misused in America to describe any filled chocolate, and it becomes very confusing. If you see a box labeled “chocolate truffles,” are you going to get round balls of ganache, or ganache-filled chocolates? Or are you going to get a box of cheap assorted creams and other mixed chocolates?

Choclatique Champagne TrufflesAt Choclatique we take making truffles seriously, because we believe that there is nothing more decadent and indulgent than a luscious Champagne truffle made by our artisans—except, perhaps a whole box of them! Our Champagne Truffles are a wonderfully light, creamy and yes, even bubbly, white chocolate and cream ganache made with Dom Perignon Champagne and then enclosed in our rich, award-winning, Private Reserve Dark Chocolate which is then kissed with a leaf of 24-karat gold!

Choclatique Champagne TruffleOur Chocolate Champagne truffle is molded as a contemporary version of the cork peeking out from a bottle—a design created by the talented designers and artists from Ferrari. A Box of Bubbly is a wonderful marriage of the Grand Crux of flavors from France and the Grand Prix of Italian design.

You can find my simple, original Champagne truffle recipe below.

Ed’s Easy Chocolate Champagne Truffles

The chocolate truffle was originally created in the kitchens of the famous French culinary giant Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. As the story goes, one day, as his apprentice attempted to make pastry cream, he accidentally poured hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chunks rather than the bowl of sugared egg he should have aimed for. As the chocolate and cream mixture hardened, he found he could work the chocolate paste with his hands to form a bumpy, lopsided ball. After rolling the new creation in cocoa powder, he was struck by their resemblance to the luxurious truffles from the French Périgord region and the Piedmont area of Italy.

Makes 24 truffles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
16 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%), finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Champagne or sparkling white wine or liqueur of your choice
1/2 cup cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts

Directions:

  1. Bring cream to a boil and slowly whisk into the chocolate.
  2. Whisk in warm Champagne or other liqueur.
  3. Whisk in softened butter.
  4. Pour into a 9 x 9-inch glass pan.
  5. Refrigerate until set about 2 hours.
  6. Using a melon baller or teaspoon scoop and portion out 24 truffles.
  7. Using “cold hands” round out the truffles and dredge in cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts.
  8. Store in an air tight container in a cool place.

ChefSecret: Some people naturally have “hot hands.” That makes it difficult to properly roll truffles without having them stick to your hands. Rinse your hands with cold water and immerse them in a bowl of ice and water before rolling. I usually use disposable latex or white cotton gloves.

Note: Fresh cream truffles only keep for a week, not that any one will let them stay around that long.

Choclatique on FacebookChoclatique on TwitterChocolate Doctor


 

Chocolate Cherry Cordials

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I was always told by my mother, “Eat it all at once or you’ll be sorry.” Sure enough, upon taking a bite of this luscious cherry covered in chocolate, my chin and t-shirt was quickly covered with the white creamy liquid center of the chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry CordialChocolate Cherry Cordials were originally a French invention—chocolate covered Kirsch-soaked, marinated whole cherries which became liquid centers—soon found their way to the United States. In 1864 Cella’s Confections of New York started making liquid center cherries. In 1929 they began large scale production, but The Brock Candy Company (later renamed Brach’s) was well positioned to become a major competitor and steal the market share away from Cella’s.

During the 1930s, Brach’s introduced its own version of chocolate covered cherries, which quickly became a nationwide favorite. That particular candy not only helped the company survive the lean Depression era but would remain one of its biggest sellers for the next 60 years. Eighty years later Choclatique reinvented this famous confection using the original French recipe.

In this 1952 photo of the Brach’s Candy Company in Chattanooga fondant-covered cherries receive the bottom coating of chocolate.

Making Chocolate Cherry Cordials isn’t all that difficult. You don’t have to have a lot of equipment and be a sophisticated candy maker and you don’t have to take a small syringe and inject the creamy liquid inside the chocolate. That’s accomplished by making a sturdy fondant to wrap around each cherry and then dipping them in chocolate.

This home version of our Chocolate Cherry Cordial recipe is the very best I’ve tried and is similar to how we make them here at Choclatique.

Chocolate Covered CherriesI like to marinate my cherries in brandy, Kirsch or Grand Marnier for a minimum of 2 days—longer is much better. I like to wait 3 to 4 weeks before eating them to allow the enzymes to work their magic and liquefy the fondant. For the best results, please follow the recipe exactly as stated.

Ingredients
50 marinated maraschino cherries with stems, well drained
4 cups of brandy, Kirsch or Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons room temperature butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brandy
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 pounds dipping chocolate couverture, Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%), Choclatique Prestige Milk Chocolate (32%), or Choclatique Snowy White Chocolate (33%).

Directions:

  1. Prepare in advance: In a strainer, drain the maraschino cherries for about 2 hours; then marinate them with the liquor of your choice for a minimum of 2 days (longer is better).
  2. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter, corn syrup, salt and brandy in a large mixing bowl blending until smooth; about 5 minutes. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and mix well for another 5 minutes to create the fondant. Knead the fondant by hand until smooth, silky and shiny; wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, drain the cherries. When the fondant has set, carefully shape a flattened marble-size piece of fondant around each cherry; place on wax paper-lined tray. Chill the wrapped cherries until firm, about 2 hours.
  4. Melt the chocolate and temper accordingly. Holding the cherries by their stems, dip each cherry in tempered chocolate and place on a wax paper-lined tray. Store in a covered container in a cool, dark place for 3 to 4 weeks to fully “ripen” and to attain the “liquidy” center.

Be sure to get a head start on the holidays as it take several days for the centers to become liquid. If you don’t want to go to the trouble and wait for the centers to liquefy you can purchase Chocolate Cherry Cordials directly from our website.

Choclatique on FacebookChoclatique on TwitterChocolate Doctor