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    Entries in hot hot hot (2)

    Wednesday
    Dec042013

    Gourmet Hot Chocolate Balls

    First, I must apologize for my recent blog neglect.  It isn’t for lack of trying, really.  It’s just that… well… see what you probably don’t realize is that between all the beautiful stuff that gets posted here, there are plenty of failures.  Unfortunately, I’ve had more than my share of those lately, hence the lack of posts.  I’m back, though, with a fabulous holiday treat!

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 cups chocolate chips
    • Cocoa and various other things for rolling in, which I will explain later 

    First up, pour your chocolate chips into a bowl and set it aside.  Next, heat your cream just barely to a simmer.  I actually did it in the microwave this time, but if you do that, be careful, and be sure to stir every 30 seconds or so.  You don’t want it to boil.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. 

    Cover and let it sit for 3 minutes.  

    When you uncover it, it won’t look much different, but trust me, it’s ready. 

    Gently whisk until it becomes shiny and perfectly smooth.  (Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of that this time around so I’m borrowing this one from when I made actual truffles.)

    Put that into the fridge until its nice and firm, which will probably take an hour or two.  When it’s ready, begin scooping out lumps that are roughly 2 Tablespoons in volume.  (If you have a little ice cream style scoop, it would be perfect for this job.  Unfortunately, I don’t have one.  Why don’t I have one?  I might just have to pop on over to Amazon and remedy that.)

    Shape it into something resembling a ball and place it onto a piece of parchment. 

    Repeat until you’ve gotten through all the ganache.  (That’s what the chocolate/cream mixture is called.)  You should be able to get about 12 of them.  I know, there are only 10 in my picture.  One is missing because it was used as a sample.  I figure there is probably another one because my balls were getting bigger and bigger as I went.  If you’re more consistent than me, you should be able to get 12. 

    Now comes the fun part.  This is where you can flavor them with all different kinds of stuff.  Let’s just start with cocoa, and then I’ll give you a list of other things to try.  Sift some cocoa into a small bowl. 

    Then drop one of your balls into it.

    Roll it around until it’s completely coated.  Shake of the excess and place it onto a foil lined sheet pan.  (Parchment would also be fine, but you don’t need the nonstick for this purpose and foil is usually cheaper.)

    Ok, so now for the ideas I promised.  I coated some of mine in cocoa, some in vanilla sugar, and some in crushed peppermint candies, because that’s how I roll.  (Ha!  See what I did there?  It’s funny because I was rolling the… oh never mind.)

    Anyway, those are just a few ideas.  You could use orange sugar or you could even mix a little salt with the sugar (chocolate and salt are so yummy together!)  For a Mexican style hot chocolate, you could mix cinnamon with the cocoa powder, or if you want a little kick, stir in a pinch of cayenne.  The possibilities are endless, and the cool part is, they can all be different.  If you’re having guests over, they’ll have their pick of flavors to choose from, and everyone will be happy. 

    So far, all we have are truffles, but when you’re ready, you can transform them into fabulous, gourmet hot chocolate in a trice.  Each truffle will be good for about ¾ cup of milk.  Just drop one of them into the bottom of your mug. 

    Then heat the milk until it’s nice and steamy and pour it over the top. 

    Allow it to sit for 2 minutes or so, then just stir.  If you have any trouble with little bits of ganache settling on the bottom, just grab a little whisk.  And there you have it.  Serious hot chocolate goodness.  I topped mine with whipped cream because duh, it’s hot chocolate. 

    What is your favorite flavor of hot chocolate? 

     

    Tuesday
    Jul092013

    Hot Chocolate Cookies

    And I mean hot.

    I've seen suggestions to add a pinch of hot chili pepper to hot chocolate more than a few times. Apparently the spice of the chili will emphasize the sweetness of the chocolate much like a pinch of salt can. The suggestion has been attributed to Mexican and other central and south American cuisines and I've been craving tacos like crazy lately. No, nothing related between the taco cravings and the chocolate-chili, it's just that I've been craving tacos and the mere mention of Mexican food makes me want to run down the street to the much too convenient little Mexican place and get 3 tacos for 5 bucks.

    I've been limiting myself to 3 tacos a week. Otherwise, I think I'd be eating there every night.

    But this post isn't about tacos (I want tacos). It's about summer-themed cookies.

    How is hot chocolate summer themed? It's summer, and it's hot. And I want chocolate.

    And since I'm inherently lazy I figured that rather than come up with a whole new recipe, I'd just modify an existing one. So I started with snickerdoodles. And you've got two choices to use as your base: my snickerdoodle recipe or Taneasha's snickerdoodle recipe. Both are awesome. Need moar snickerdoodles!

    Hot Chocolate Cookies

    • 1 c butter
    • 1 1/2 c sugar
    • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 3 c flour
    • 1/2 c cocoa
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tsp cream of tartar
    • cinnamon sugar

    Make sure the butter and eggs are at room temperature. If they're not, use one of Taneasha's awesome tips to fix that. Also, melt the chocolate. One minute and 30 seconds at 50% power, and then stir until it's smooth.

    Cream the butter and sugar until they're fluffy and golden, and then stir in the chocolate.

     Beat in the eggs and vanilla until you have something resembling a soft buttercream icing.

    In another bowl (yes, I used a second bowl, but I had an apprentice here to help me with the dishes;

    and she also brought me herbs from her garden!!) stir together the flour, cocoa, cayenne, baking soda, and cream of tartar.

    Since my apprentice is still working on the whole technique thing, she spooned the flour into the measuring cup and then levelled it with a knife.

    Don't forget to sift the cocoa to get all the lumps out.

    And yes, I'm serious, we are really putting cayenne in cookies.

    Mix the dry into the chocolatey-buttery stuff. We did it in about three parts.

    The dough should be soft and a little bit sticky.

    You should be able to form it into a ball with only minimal amounts sticking to your fingers.

    Give it a few minutes in the fridge if it feels too soft. It's better to chill the dough than to add extra flour; the cookies will be crumbly, rather than crispy-chewy if you have too much flour. You can wrap the dough and leave it in there for a day if you're planning ahead, but if you do, give it at least 30 minutes on the counter. If it's too cold, you'll need to put a lot of work into rolling the dough into balls, and since cookies are technically a pastry, you want to touch them as little as possible.

    Cold balls plus too much handling equals tough cookies.

    Preheat the oven now! 350.

    Bust off a piece of dough about the size of a cherry.

    Gently roll it into a ball, and then drop that ball into a small dish of cinnamon sugar.

    Jiggle the dish and roll the ball around until it's completely covered.

    Once you've done that a dozen times, and have a dozen sugary balls on a parchment covered sheet, bake them for 8 minutes.

    Keep an eye on them. It's tough to tell when these things are overdone because the chocolate is so dark, but you'll definitely taste it if they are. Err on the side of underdone. Use a timer!

    I was hopeful that these would work and holy crap did they ever! Chocolate chili cookies are total win. They aren't "hot" and spicy the way a savoury food is hot. They have their own shiney little bite. But it's a transient and sparkly feeling in your mouth. Like the sparks off a campfire: bright and a little bit burny, but they don't linger.

    And with the sugar on the outside of them, they even look a little sparkly!

    Perfect with an iced coffee!

    What do you like to have hot in the summer??