Archive for January, 2013

The ChocolateDoctor’s The Perfect Hostess—No More!

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Wonder BreadI am a professional chef and a chocolatier, but I am definitely not a food snob. I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on toasted Wonder Bread and a quick snack of a Hostess Cupcake, Ding Dong or Twinkie. But alas, at the current time these iconic, all-American foods have all gone missing on supermarket shelves.

TwinkiesHostess Bakeries, being struck by their workers’ union, has gone out of business, suspended operations in 33 bakeries, ceased deliveries and is liquidating its remaining assets, putting 18,500 employees out of work. Aside from the brands listed above, you may never see another Dolly Madison, Drake’s, Home Pride or Butternut product again.

Ho-HosAlthough there’s a chance that some of these products may reemerge as parts of other companies, as for now Hostess brand products may now join a long list of other foods and drinks that have gone the way of the dodo bird. The only thing left is to sell remaining assets to the highest bidders.

If you feel you can’t live with out another swirly-topped, Hostess Chocolate Cupcake here’s a recipe that will definitely fill the bill.

Hostess Chocolate CupcakesPrep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 15-18 minutes
Cool time: 15-20 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour
Yield: 36 cupcakes

Ingredients for the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 1/4 cups Marshmallow Fluff

Ingredients for the Frosting:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Choclatique Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions for the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat an oven to 375º F.
  2. Line a medium muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl combine oil and sugar. Mix well. Stir in the apple sauce and vanilla extract.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the water, mixing on low speed, then beat in the remaining flour mixture. Slowly add the milk and beat on low until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Fill each cupcake liner with 2 tablespoons of batter and bake for 15-18 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool completely before filling or frosting.

Directions for the filling:

  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.
  2. Stir in the vanilla and pinch of salt.
  3. Mix in the marshmallow fluff and whisk until light and fluffy.
  4. Cover and chill until slightly thickened.

Directions for the frosting:

  1. In microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, chips and corn syrup until smooth and glossy.
  2. Stir in the vanilla and cover and chill until slightly thickened.

Putting it all together:

  1. Fill a disposable pastry bag, fitted with a cupcake filling tip, with the chilled filling. Insert the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze to fill.
  2. Turn the cupcakes upside down and dip them in the chocolate frosting to coat the tops completely.
  3. Chill for 15 to 20 minutes before decorating with the swirly design.
  4. Use the remaining white marshmallow filling to pipe it on top of the cupcakes in the signature swirled design.
  5. Chill for 30 to 45 minutes.

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Health Benefit Detected In White Chocolate

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

White Chocolate BlockI am always surprised at how many five and ten pound blocks of white chocolate we sell at Choclatique. Of course, I think our Snowy White Chocolate is the best white chocolate in the marketplace and I have to suppose that many of our customers feel that way too based upon our sales history.

Cardiovascular HealthOver the last several years independent studies have proven dark chocolate has heart, skin and even brain health benefits which are linked to the flavanol content. Dark chocolate can even reduce the growth of caries which cause tooth decay. White chocolate, which does not contain the beneficial flavanols found in dark chocolate still provides cardiovascular benefits, which researchers at Molecular Nutrition & Food Research have reported. The study found benefits in dark, milk and white chocolate, and found improved platelet function among men who consumed both the white and the dark chocolate. However, women seem to have better results with dark chocolate only.

For the last several years the research on the benefits relating to chocolate has grown. Montezuma must have known that not only was chocolate a great aphrodisiac, but the Holy Grail when it comes to health. Always do as the ChocolateDoctor recommends: Take two truffles and call me in the morning.

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Farewell, Huell

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Huell Burnley Howser

(October 18, 1945 – January 7, 2013)

Huell HowserJoan and I worked with Huell Howser on the third hour of the Ken and Barkley Saturday Morning Show on KABC. This was soon after Huell arrived in Los Angeles. Hour three, considered the lifestyle segment, featured Huell who introduced us to places in our own backyard that many of us weren’t familiar with; Chuck Walsh reviewed the latest movies and Joan and I featured restaurants by bringing in food from the establishments being discussed. Somehow Ken Minyard held the whole thing together with his fun banter with Roger Barkley. It was a fast, fun-filled hour (pre-taped on Wednesday mornings) which hit the airwaves at 9am. Huell was the first one to notice that when we were plying them with mouthfuls of food, it made it possible for us to get a word in edgewise.

Around this time, Huell had just taped the first segments of California’s Gold, his travel show, based in Los Angeles at KCET for California PBS stations. The series was a video chronicle and celebration of the history, culture and people of California. This was to become a tradition on television for the next 20 years.

Huell was born in Gallatin, Tennessee. He received a Bachelors degree in history from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he also served as student body president. After serving in the United States Marines and later on the staff of Senator Howard Baker, Huell began his television career at WSM-TV in Nashville with a series of “human interest” stories.

Huell worked in New York as the host of WCBS-TV’s “Real Life” show and then moved to Los Angeles in 1981 as a reporter for KCBS-TV and as weekend host on Entertainment Tonight. In 1985 he joined Los Angeles television station KCET, then a PBS affiliate.

Huell was always excited about everything. California’s Gold highlighted small towns, landmarks, events or places of interest throughout California which are not well known to the general public, with Huell conducting informal interviews with the locals. He also produced derived shows including California’s Golden Parks, California’s Water, Visiting… with Huell Howser, Our Neighborhoods, The Bench, Road Trip, California’s Golden Fairs, and various specials.

Huell was a generous man donating his entire videotaped collection of California’s Gold to Chapman University. He also donated his personal papers, and a large collection of books on California history to the university. The school established the Huell Howser Archive, which, when completed, will offer the public free access to the entire digitized collection of episodes of California’s Gold. He also gave his extensive art collection to the university and endowed the California’s Gold Scholarship Fund.

Huell Howser2The last time we met up with Huell he was standing behind the host stand at El Coyote restaurant on Beverly Boulevard speaking with one of the owners. I was there with my visiting London nephew and giving him my full attention when I heard Huell’s smooth, southern accented voice, “Mr. Engoron, will that be a table for four?” We laughed and talked for about an hour about his series, our futures and Huell wanted to know all about Choclatique. We promised to get together soon at the Chocolate Studio but Huell was not able to visit because of his progressing illness.

Huell Howser’s death made us very sad, but then we can just tune to an old episode of California’s Gold and see him still very much alive and feel happy when watching his show. Goodbye Huell—rest in peace.

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The ChocolateDoctor Revisits Los Angeles’ Past With Dutch Girl Cookies

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Slapsy Maxie'sIt had once been the site of Wilshire Bowl and the notorious Slapsy Maxie’s Night Club, a reputed Mickey Cohen gangster hangout. During the 1950s it was transitioned into Van de Kamp’s Restaurant. Van de Kamp’s was this great chain of coffee shop-bakeries in Sothern California founded by Lawrence Frank (Lawry’s family of restaurants) and Theodore Van de Kamp (The Van de Kamp families—related to the Franks through marriage).

Van de Kamp'sThe Van de Kamp’s restaurant we use to go to was on the Miracle Mile on the corner of Masselin Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. It was the largest of their restaurants that had a separate bakery and candy store. It had a rotating blue windmill sign above the front door and a big take-out menu on the side of the building.

At eleven years old, I thought they made a “killer” open-face hot roast beef sandwich with whipped mashed potatoes and a black-and-white sundae (marshmallow sauce and chocolate sauce over premium vanilla ice cream) served with a sugared Dutch Girl Cookie—the subject recipe of this week’s blog.

Van de Kamp's 2Not only did we go there to eat, but my mother often brought food home to heat and eat later. They had a thriving take-out business (way before Joan’s on Third) when this was considered pioneering by restaurateurs and seldom done. All the Van de Kamp’s take-out foods were chef-made in the restaurant and sold fresh, never frozen. My two favorite take-home meals were the deep fried halibut and the cheese enchiladas with one slice of black olive on the top.

The restaurant had two of the large rotating baking ovens that you could see near the kitchen where they baked pies and cookies. Take-out wouldn’t have been complete without a small tray box of just-baked Dutch Girl Sugar Cookies. Everyone loved them! These were the thinnest, butteryest of cookies coated on both sides with crystalline sugar. If you were addicted to these and have a hankering for a taste of yesteryear, then give these a try. If you have never had them, you’ll never forget your first bite.

Chocolate Dutch Girl CookiesPrep Time: 15 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours (or overnight)
Bake Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Ready In: 3 hours
Yield: About 30 cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated orange zest
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
11/2 cups crystalline or coarse sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, milk, orange zest, yeast and salt until combined. Using an electric mixer, add butter one piece at a time, beating for one minute after each piece is added. Dough will be very smooth and elastic.
  2. Remove the dough from the mixer, place it in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate it for at least two hours. The dough can be refrigerated overnight.
  3. Sprinkle a work surface heavily with the coarse sugar. Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time (keep the other half refrigerated) using a rolling pin to roll out the dough on the sugar covered surface as thinly as possible (less than 1/8-inch thick), adding additional sugar to the work surface when needed. Halfway through rolling, turn dough over to coat the other side with coarse sugar.
  4. Preheat oven to 250° F. Using a rolling pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into squares about 2-1/2 inches in size. Don’t make the cookies any larger or the edges will brown before the middle is baked.
  5. Transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet about a half an inch apart and away from the edges of the pan. Repeat process with remaining refrigerated dough. Keep refrigerated until ready to bake. Bake cookies for 45-50 minutes or until a deep, golden brown (but not burned).
  6. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack immediately, so as not to stick to the parchment.

ChefSecret: No, I didn’t forget to add sugar to the basic dough. There is enough sweetness from the crystalline sugar the dough is rolled in. I know 45-50 minutes seems like a long time to bake a thin cookie like this, but you want to drive all the moisture out of the dough to create a crisp, long-lasting cookie. That said, keep an eye on them while baking to make sure the edges don’t get too dark.

Los Angeles Past: Max Everitt Rosenbloom, known as Slapsie Maxie, was an American boxer, actor (The Joe Palooka Story) and television personality. In 1930, he won the New York light heavyweight title and in 1932, he won the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World. Meyer Harris “Mickey” Cohen was a gangster based in Los Angeles with strong ties to the American Mafia from the 1930s through 1960s.

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The ChocolateDoctor’s Chocolate-Cherry Shortbread

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Balmoral HotelThe Balmoral is a beautiful hotel right beneath Edinburgh Castle. At bedtime they serve freshly baked shortbread that they claimed was the original family recipe perfected by Joseph Walker in 1898. Walker Shortbread is a Scottish manufacturer of shortbread, biscuits, cookies and crackers. The company is Scotland’s biggest exporter of food. I’m sure you’ve seen their famous plaid brand on your local grocer’s shelf.

Well, here’s the best part. I asked the chef if he would share the hotel’s recipe with me. To my surprise I found a copy of it slipped under the door in the morning. It called for a full cup of Scottish butter and the result was a cookie as smooth as silk. I couldn’t resist adding a little cocoa powder and chopped dried cherries to make it more from the ChocolateDoctor than Mr. Walker.

Chocolate-Cherry ShortbreadPrep Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Ready In: 50 minutes
Yield: 50 cookies

Ingredients:
For the Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-34 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Choclatique Natura Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup Choclatique Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips
3 tablespoons sugar

For the Drizzle:
2 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon white vegetable shortening

Directions:

  1. Preheated oven to 300º F.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts thoroughly using an electric mixer.
  3. Gradually blend in the flour and corn starch.
  4. Add the cherries and chocolate chips.
  5. Form into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Pour sugar on a small plate; dip bottom of drinking glass in sugar and gently press down on each cookie to flatten.
  6. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to chill.
  7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until bottoms begin to brown.
  8. Cool 5 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Drizzle:

  1. Place the chocolate and shortening in a small re-sealable freezer bag.
  2. Microwave on HIGH for about 30 seconds until chocolate is melted.
  3. Massage chocolate and shortening together in the bag.
  4. Snip off corner and drizzle over the baked cookies.

ChefSecret: Although it isn’t a requirement for this recipe, I suggest using Plugrá. European-style butters are made by utilizing a slow-churned process that creates less moisture content and a creamier texture when compared to ordinary table butters. This make for higher, fluffier cakes and unbelievably flakier, lighter cookies.

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