Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Mousse with Burnt Rum

 Ah, chocolate and booze. Two of my favorite things, together again. A perfect -- PERFECT -- conclusion to an extremely satisfying Valentine's Day dinner.

The recipe, an Epicurious 4-forker, was fun and surprisingly, easier than I expected. Imean, is there anything more exciting than playing with fire in the kitchen? Or any better excuse for getting a man to help you?

I think not.

As I look at this picture, I realize that I probably should have placed the goblet in front of a bottle of rum, but c'est la vie. It's a nice commemoration of a truly special chardonnay, from one of my favorite wineries to visit in Sonoma. If you're ever in the area, it's THE place to plan a picnic lunch.

Just sayin'.

Mexican Chocolate Mousse with Burnt Rum
(from Epicurious)
  • 1 18.6-ounce box Mexican chocolate,* chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white rum
  • 4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided

Stir chocolate, milk, and salt in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until chocolate melts. Stir constantly until all sugar in chocolate is dissolved, about 13 minutes. Add rum to chocolate; using long match, immediately ignite rum. Carefully stir chocolate mixture with long spoon until flames subside.

Transfer chocolate to large bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat 3 cups cream in large bowl until peaks form.* Working in 2 batches, fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture.

Divide chocolate mousse among 12 glasses, about 3/4 cup for each. Chill mousse until set, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

If desired, beat remaining 1 cup cream until peaks form. Place dollop of whipped cream atop mousse in each glass.

Serve with Cinammon Almond Cookies (recipe to follow).

*I highly recommend chilling both the bowl and the beaters before whipping the cream. It makes the process a breeze.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shredded Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta and Garlic

I have a confession to make. I'm not much of a vegetable eater. In fact, there are a number of veggies that I won't touch with a 10-foot spoon. And unless ketchup and tomato sauce count as vegetables, I pretty much never get my recommended servings.

My significant other, however, is the exact opposite. He could likely subsist on greens alone and be perfectly content.  I know his veggie consumption has decreased considerably since I moved in, so for Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something nice and make something nutritious. Or at least, nutritious-ish.

Amazingly, I actually happen to like brussels sprouts -- at least when they're shredded and carmelized with some tasty pork fat. This marks the first time I've ever tried to make them on my own, and I'm happy to report thaelf that t my attempt was a marked success.

There are dozens of recipes out there on the blogosphere, and I imagine that most, if not all, will produce similarly fabulous results. All else being equal, I went with a version on Skinnytaste, so I could convince myself that the calories in the oil and pancetta don't count. The brussels sprouts cancel those out, right?


Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Garlic
(from Skinnytaste)
  • 2 oz pancetta, minced
  • 2 lb brussels sprouts (weight after outer leaves and stems removed)
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

  • With a large sharp knife, finely shred the brussels sprouts after thoroughly washing.

    In a deep heavy saute pan, sauté pancetta on medium-low heat until fat melts and pancetta becomes golden, about 5 minutes. Add olive oil and garlic and sauté until golden. Add shredded brussels sprouts, salt and pepper to taste and sauté on medium-low heat for about 4-5 minutes until tender and crisp.

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

     Notice a theme here?

    Yes, after purchasing an entire box of Rice Krispies to supply the small amount required for the Crispy Bacon-Cheese Puffs, I was left with a LOT of leftovers. Not being a huge-fan of either Rice Kripies in a bowl or those marshmallowy Rice Krispies treats, I was faced with the challenge of finding something tasty to do with them. Something "out-of-the-box, if you will.

    The recipe, courtesy of Joy of Baking, fit the bill PERFECTLY, and has earned a permanent spot in my recipe book. I didn't change a thing and ended up with  an incredibly satisfying batch of cookies. I loved that they were simultaneously familiar, yet unique; comforting, yet exciting. Best part -- they stayed unbelievably fresh when stored in an air-tight container for at least 5 day. Not that it was easy to make them last that long...

    Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted buttter, room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated white sugar
    • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla  extract
    • 2 cups all purpose flour 
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 2 cups crisp rice cereal
    • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

    In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the oats, and then gently stir in the rice cereal and chocolate chips. 

    Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the  prepared baking sheets, and bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. For chewy cookies, slightly under bake. For crunchy cookies, bake a few minutes longer. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

    Makes about 60 cookies.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Crispy Bacon-Cheese Puffs

    Ah, nastalgia!  My mother used to make these fun little puffs every once in awhile when I was a kid, and although I don't know that they've touched my lips in 20 years, I've never quite forgotten them...the sharp cheddar cheese, the crunchy bacon, the rice crispies, all rolled up into buttery balls... They were like cheese straws, only better. In my 10-year-old brain, they nothing short of legendary.
    This is why, when Super Bowl time came around and the challenge of creating a crowd-pleasing appetizer came up, all I could think of was these cheese thingies. It is also why, when a nasty cold crept up right before the Big Game and side-lined my party attendance, I had to make these snacks anyway  Even if I was the only one to enjoy them.
    Thankfully, my mother still had the recipe on an old 3x5 index card, and thankfully, save for the bizarre name ("Cheese Pastry Snacks," which sounds like something from a Chinese bakery), they were EXACTLY as I remember them.

    The process is simple.  You just dump a bunch of delicious ingredients into a bowl... Mix them up.... Roll them into little balls, sprinkled with paprika...   Nuke 'em... AND PLAY!
    What can I say? These little puffs bring out the kid in me :-)

    Crispy Bacon-Cheese Puffs(source unknown)

    • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup coarse crushed rice crispies
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
    • 1/3 cup butter, softenend
    • 6 strips crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
    • 2 tblsp. cold water
    Drop 7 level tblsp fulls in a circle onto each of 3 lightly buttered plates. (Butter plates only around deges, where dough will be placed.)
    Sprinkle with paprika, Microwave 1 plate at a time.
    Microwave at High 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 minutes, rotating dish after 1 1/2 min.  Dough will be slightly puffed when done and will crisp on drying.  Remove immediately from plate.  Serve hot or cold.