Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Carolyn Cooks: Mac N Cheese

Friday, July 4th, 2014

One of the dishes my mother made very well in the days when she still cooked is Macaroni and Cheese. For many years I tried to replicate her recipe, including watching her method quite carefully. Mine was NEVER as good.  I decided I would more or less give up on that and strike out on my own.

Note: my mother appears to cook the way I do. No actual recipe. Sorry.

In the last year, I have settled on a method of Mac N Cheese that is reliably delicious. I share with you my method.

The better quality your pasta, the better the outcome, but to be honest, you can get by with just about any kind. There are two extra steps in the pasta cooking method.

Here is what you need:

  • Large, lidded pot for cooking the pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • Colander
  • Peeled Garlic to taste (for me, LOTS!)
  • Garlic press
  • A measuring cup with a handle (No worries!! No measuring involved)
  • slotted spoon
  • A very large frying or saute pan
  • Olive oil: First Cold Press
  • unsalted butter. 1.5 to 2 sticks
  • Half a cup of full fat milk
  • 1/2 cup of water reserved from the boiled pasta water
  • Finely grated Parmesiano-Reggiano. You might try substituting another tart, dry cheese. Maybe 1/2 cup or whatever, depending on the other cheese you use. Too much and it may be bitter.
  • 2-3 cups grated smooth-flavored cheese(s), such as Raclette, A Danish Fontina, etc. Bellwether Farms Carmody is excellent. Depends on your favorite cheeses and it depends on how they taste, so make sure you use cheese where you are familiar with the taste ahead of time. I have had good success adding a small amount of triple cream brie, but whoa, Nelly! Advanced technique!
  • white pepper (you can use black, but it will be unsightly) About a tsp or to taste.

Fill the pot with water
Salt it (as in throw in about a teaspoon or whatever)
Drop in the peeled garlic
Bring to a boil, covered
Use the slotted spoon to remove the garlic from the pot. Set aside.
Add the pasta (leave pot uncovered)

NOTE: the pasta pot is supposed to be big/deep enough to totally immerse your pasta in the boiling water. If I use linguini noodles, which I often do, we don’t have a pot that deep which means I have to smoosh down the pasta as the bottom part cooks. Don’t tell my brother (the chef).

Here is the MOST IMPORTANT PART:

Under-cook the pasta

Cook the pasta to less than al dente. Meaning, it should taste like it’s not cooked all the way. This is because there will be further cooking, and if you cook it to finished in this step, you will end up with over-cooked pasta. Yuk.

While your pasta water is coming to a boil, put the large frying pan on medium heat. Pour in some olive oil– a couple tablespoons, less if your olive oil is strongly flavored. When the frying pan is hot, add the butter — chop up the butter.

Grate your cheese. (Use cheese you have to grate. There’s no point in going through all the extra steps if you use inferior cheese.)

When the butter is half melted or so, add the milk.

Add the garlic that you removed from the boiling water prior to adding the pasta, using the garlic press. It will smoosh easily. Before or after the milk, doesn’t matter. But let things heat together for a bit.

When the pasta is sufficiently under-done, fill a cup with some of the pasta water and set aside.

Drain the pasta (DO NOT RINSE) and put it in the frying pan. Technically, you should add a little more salt, but I don’t because the Parmesan is a salty cheese and also I don’t like salty food.)

Add a half-cup or so of the pasta water.
Add the cheese.
Add the pepper.

Stir everything and continue gently stirring until the cheese is fully melted. See, right now your pasta is continuing to cook!

You should taste-test and adjust the proportions of cheeses until you have a pleasing combination of smooth to tart.

Serve.

The best part is that this is quite delicious and filling so a smaller serving will make you very happy.

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Similar Items Update As Promised

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Update of 2014.04.20

Here’s a link to my Similar Items post:

The Navitas Raw Organic Chocolate powder arrived and it was suitably mockable, I thought, with its “Food of the gods” claim and, to be honest, uninspired packaging. (Except the zip part of the bag is AWESOME!) I noticed that the company is in the same town I work in. As in, I could have gone to their store on my lunch hour.

Today I baked with it. I made cookies and brownies. Since the cookies go to college boy, I was making a double batch. 4 1/2 cups of flour were called for. I used 4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of the cocoa powder.

The brownies are in the oven. I made different brownies than usual since I wanted to use cocoa powder instead of chocolate. I found a suitable recipe and made them. The recipe is reasonably similar to my current favorite so I decided it was a good comparison. I sampled the batter and while I cannot render a final verdict since they’re still baking and I have to send them to my son, here is what I can say:

OH MY GOD. THIS IS THE BEST COCOA POWDER EVER.

I am not kidding.

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Carolyn Cooks — Orange Bread

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

During the depression, my grandmother bought a cookbook from a door-to-door salesman. It’s called The Household Searchlight Recipe Book, and it is an awesome source of interesting recipes that I think are being lost. Today, I made one called “Orange Bread” because my son asked me to make something I’d never made…

2 Large oranges
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Win

Win


Peel oranges. Cut rind in narrow strips. Cover rinds with hot water. Boil until tender. Drain.
[I reserved 1/3 cup of the water for the boiling water listed above. Also, I ate the oranges. Mmm.]
Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water. Boil 20 minutes, stirring constantly.
[You can slack on this for the first 10-15 minutes, but you have to stir OFTEN. For the last five, stir constantly. ALL the water will be gone, by the way.]
Remove from fire. Stir until cool.
[I transferred to a glass bowl and put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes.]
Add egg and milk. Sift flour, measure, and sift with baking powder and salt. Add to orange mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour into well oiled loaf pan
[I recommend parchment paper on the bottom. Also, I used cake flour, so make the standard substitution if you do this, too.]
Let rise 20 minutes. Bake in hot oven, (425 F) about 1 hour.
[About 30 minutes in, I covered the top with buttered aluminum foil (butter-side down) and let it go another 15 minutes. It was done to perfection.]

This is not a sweet bread at all, plus the taste sneaks up on you. At first, it’s hey, bread. Big deal. And then the sugary orange spreads through your mouth, and even though it’s not sweet, it’s just really really delicious.

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Carolyn’s Cooking Adventure: Sourdough Cornbread

Monday, February 25th, 2013

My friend Robin gave me some sourdough starter. I made sourdough bread, which, because I wasn’t paying attention as much as I should have, was good but not great. It did, however, use up most of my starter, so I took my starter out of the fridge and for the last few days have been feeding it twice a day at room temperature. It’s bubbling along quite nicely.

I’ve been saving the discarded starter. I made sourdough pancakes which were pretty darn good.

Tonight I made sourdough cornbread which was so awesome I’m still having a food O over it. As a base, I used the recipe on the back of the Alber’s cornmeal box, and then I was cooking without a net. And I have to tell you, I was so sure this would be a failure that I didn’t keep track of what I was doing. Which is why I’m blogging it, so I get it down before I forget.

You-all need to try this, if you ever happen to have starter around, and then you will want to run out and buy ALL my books because, omg THAT’S THE AUTHOR WHO POSTED THE ORGASMIC CORNBREAD RECIPE!

Right?

Picture of baked sourdough cornbread

Sourdough Cornbread.

OK, so the recipe calls for these ingredients:

Base Ingredients

1 cup of flour
1 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup of sugar (I wasn’t paying attention and added 1/2 cup, but I figured, what the heck. It will probably need it because of the sourdough starter. This turned out to be true.)
1 TBS of baking powder.

1 egg. (I used two)
1/3 cup of oil. (I eyeballed it.)
1 cup of milk — all but maybe 1/4 cup omitted. On purpose.

it probably calls for salt but I didn’t use it. Oops. I didn’t miss it.

So, here’s the list of the ingredients I used, and the steps in the order I took them in, with comments, which are important as you’ll see:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

1 cup of flour
1 cup of cornmeal
1/2 cup of sugar
1 TBS of baking powder.
2 eggs
1/3 cup of oil
1 cup room-temperature sourdough starter. Might have been 1.5 cups. Whatever. If you have that much, use 1.5 cups but I think you need at least 1 cup. You’ll make up the difference with the milk anyway.
Enough milk to make the batter stirable. 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

1/2 cup unsalted Butter. If this frightens you, you could probably get away with 1/4 cup, but come on. Live a little.

When the oven is at temperature, and you’re just about done with the batter, put an 8×8 pan in the oven (glass is probably best. I used an Apollonia ceramic pan, which is French and completely awesome, I love it for baking) and throw in the stick of unsalted butter. You’re going to let it melt. Be brave.

I sifted the cup of flour 2 or 3 times (measure the sifted flour the first couple of times). Put it in a large bowl. Add the cornmeal and the baking soda and whisk well.

In a small bowl, mix the oil, 1 egg (you should probably just use both at this point) and the sourdough starter until it’s well blended. Add to the flour. The batter was heinously thick so I added the other egg, but I’m sure you could safely add it in the previous step. Since the batter was still heinously thick, I added milk a couple tablespoons at a time until it was thick, but stirable.

At this point, I was convinced I had a failure on my hands, so I just opened the oven and swooshed the pan around to make sure my ocean of melted, bubbly butter coated the sides a bit (probably not necessary) and poured in my thick batter.

My recommendation is that you don’t look at the result. It’s scary. It looks like doom. Just close the oven and let it cook for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If the top looks to be getting too brown, lightly cover it with aluminum foil. With my oven, it cooked for 25-30 minutes.

Ta Da. Done! Eat it right away!

it was the most awesome, light and fluffy cornbread ever, with just enough sugar to counteract the tart sourdough. Amazing.

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Special for you: My pumpkin pie recipe

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Yesterday, I made two pumpkin pies. One recipe was from the Joy of Cooking and the other was from our 1957 Betty Crocker cookbook. Except I added molasses to the latter. They were both good, but not, in my opinion, amazing. Since I cooked two pumpkins last weekend I have, no kidding, something like a gallon of fresh pumpkin puree. I also had two extra pie crust balls since last night I made enough for 4 pies (assuming single crust.)

For that reason, I left the left over pies at my brother’s house, with the intention of making more. Which I did tonight.

A couple of things in advance. You can totally use canned pumpkin for this, but it’s really easy to cook and puree your own, provided you have a food processor. Pureed pumpkin freezes really well, by the way. You can also use a prepared pie crust. I use the Joy of Cooking pie crust recipe, with the exception that where it says to add water, use water from a cup you have a lot of ice in so that the water is really, really, really cold. This is the key to a pie crust dough that is not too sticky to roll out.

My pie crust was the two dough balls from last night which I had wrapped in saran wrap and left in the fridge overnight. At first I thought it was going to be way too difficult to work since it was no longer room temperature. However, I found that removing the wrap and microwaving my dough ball for 15 seconds returned to dough to malleability. Here’s the fascinating part: This pie crust dough was a billion times easier to roll out and get into the pan. It was really easy. Probably a real baker knows why that is.

Anyway. I used two nine-inch pans. I cooked the pie crust for 12 minutes at 450. I do have pie weights. (cover the crust with aluminum foil and put your pie weights on the foil.) Then, provided you have all the ingredients to hand, the rest takes about 15-20 minutes. When your pie crusts are done, remove to cool, then turn the oven down to 425.

Please note I’m giving you my best approximation of the amount of spices. Mostly, as long as you keep things proportional and don’t go crazy with something strong like clove, you really can’t go wrong. If you don’t have allspice, use nutmeg, but reduce the amount. Nutmeg is a strong spice. I just realized I omitted salt. I didn’t miss it at all. Probably you should use no more than a tsp. But I always under-salt as I prefer the taste of less salted food. You can adjust the proportions of the spices depending on your tastes.

The Pie

Ingredients – For Two Pies

4 cups of pumpkin puree
3 cups of heavy whipping cream
6 eggs – slightly beaten
4 tbs dark molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
4-5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper

Put the pumpkin in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir it a bit till it seems like it’s getting hot. Add the spices only and stir your pumpkin for a bit. You want things to warm up and blend thoroughly. Add the molasses and keep stirring. You are not cooking anything, you’re just heating up the pumpkin and letting the spices absorb. If you use fresh pumpkin, you may need to stir a little longer as it will probably be wetter than canned. Regardless, this doesn’t take long at all.

Add the sugar and stir some more. Don’t let it sit, and do scrape the sides down often.

Add the cream and stir a lot, until blended.

Add a couple cups of the pumpkin mixture to your slightly beaten eggs and blend thoroughly. Pour this back into your sauce pan and blend thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into your pie pans. Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil and put in the oven. (Next time I might just lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pies as I think it would be neater, less work, and also prevent hotter spots from developing on the surface.)

Cook for 15 minutes at 425 then reduce the heat to 350 and cook for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Let cool.
My pies were done (both times) at exactly 40 minutes.

A Few notes

The consensus at my bother’s was that the pie with molasses was more flavorful, and it was. Molasses really compliments the ginger and clove. The other one was creamier, but, to be honest, I thought the spices were too subtle. I made both pies with half and half, and I felt that I should have used heavy cream or evaporated milk, the half-and-half was not quite rich enough. The difference between the two recipes from yesterday was 3 eggs and less cream, or 2 eggs and more cream. I felt the 3 egg version was slightly better in texture.

Neither of the other two recipes called for heating the pumpkin (but I did that anyway). The pouring some of the pumpkin into the eggs, mixing and pouring back, is so often done with custard-based pies that are cooked, that I figured I would play it safe and do that with this version. I didn’t with the others, and those pies were good. This pie was awesome, so I wouldn’t skip that part.

My challenge tonight was achieving a combination of the two recipes that would give me a richer, zestier flavor with a smooth texture. So, as you can see, I went with more eggs and slightly less cream. I also used heavy whipping cream, but evaporated milk would probably have been fine, as it, too, is very rich and flavorful.

Cayenne pepper is the secret weapon of pumpkin recipes. That wasn’t in either of yesterday’s recipes, but cayenne pepper is a wonderful compliment when you want subtly zippy flavor for a pumpkin pie or soup.

I also changed the proportion of granulated sugar to brown sugar. Both of yesterday’s recipes used more granulated sugar and less brown sugar. I swapped those proportions. The taste of brown sugar is what you want in pumpkin pie.

Cooking your own pumpkin

This is really easy. Preheat oven to 325. Halve and scoop out a pumpkin. Arrange, rind side up, on an oiled cookie sheet. One with a rim is best, as there will be some water cooked out. Rub some olive oil over the outside of the pumpkin. Cook for 1.5-2 hours, until very soft. The skin will peel off easily if you’ve cooked it long enough. Puree the pulp in a food processor. (Remove the skin!)

Voila. Done.

It will keep in the fridge for 5 days or so. Freeze in 2 and 4 cup amounts if you’re not going to use it all pretty quickly.

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Cooking with Carolyn – Devonshire Cream

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Again by Twitter request:

Devonshire Cream is not readily available in the US, though you can certainly buy it. This yummy spread is especially good on freshly baked scones. It’s supposed to be easy to make so I went in search of recipes. My first attempt was an utter failure. All subsequent attempts have been a resounding success.

There are two methods, the oven method and the frying-pan method. The oven method is probably the least work, but technology may conspire against your success. Basically, what you do is heat the whipping cream in a covered oven-proof bowl at a very very low temperature for a long time. For the oven, you need 180 F, and some ovens, it seems, turn off after several hours of being on. You’re supposed to leave the oven on for 8-12 hours and then come along and scrape all the delicious Devonshire cream from the top.

In my case, I didn’t get the opportunity to find out if our oven would shut off because someone came along, ignored my note to leave the oven alone, and turned it off. Damn. But my whipped cream in that attempt was also only 18% fat. Total fail.

The frying pan method takes more attention, but it is less vulnerable to someone turning off the oven because the frying pan method looks like something is going on. Which it is. If you’re home for several hours anyway, this method works great.

Ingredients

  • The very highest fat whipping cream you can find. Shoot for the high 20’s. Anything less will disappoint. Not the ultra-pasturized kind either. To find out the total fat content, check the nutrition label for fat contact percentage, saturated and unsaturated. Add them together and make sure you get a number in the high 20’s. The higher the better.

Hardware

  • Big frying pan
  • Heat diffuser (this thing you stuck UNDER the frying pan so it’s not sitting directly over the fire.)
  • Slotted spoon
  • Container for the cream you scrape off

Pour 1-2 pints of whipping cream in the frying pan. Put it on low over heat diffuser. Cover. Every hour or so scrape off the top layer with slotted spoon. The recipe I looked at said not to use a slotted spoon but that was a frustrating failure. Slotted spoon. Put the stuff into a container. Repeat until the cream is gone or you’re tired of it. Cover the stuff in the container and let rest in the fridge.

You’re done.

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Carolyn’s Recipe for Candied Ginger – Plus!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

The subject came up on twitter and since the process for making candied ginger, and obtaining the amazing left-overs, isn’t amenable to 140 characters, I thought I’d quickly share it here.

Ingredients

  • Fresh ginger (a big old hunk)
  • Sugar (baker’s sugar works best but regular sugar is fine.)

Utensils

  • Sauce pan (required)
  • Long handled wooden spoon (required)
  • Wire mesh sieve (if you want to easily save off the sugar, required)
  • cooling rack (best if it’s fine enough to hold the ginger (nice to have)
  • A tare scale is helpful but you can always fudge it.

Peel the ginger.

Chop it thinly and into pieces not too much bigger than your thumbnail or, say, smaller than a quarter.
Put the ginger in a sauce pan and just cover with water.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium-ish and let it cook a while, stirring frequently. The original recipe I followed said to cook until it was transparent, but as it turns out, that takes forever unless you are a master chopper and able to chop really thin. I don’t think it’s necessary. Besides, the transparent part happens at a different stage. Basically you want to keep it at a low boil (more than a simmer) for at least 45+ min. I set my timer and come out and stir every 10 minutes.

In order to get a good amount of ginger water you can use for tea (see below), once or twice pour the water off into a suitable container. Add fresh water and continue slow boiling your ginger. Not too often though or your ginger and ginger water will be wimpy.

When it’s transparent or the finest slices are looking transparent, remove the ginger from the heat, save off the remaining water and weigh the ginger. If you don’t have a tare scale, then eyeball it.

Put the ginger back in the saucepan and measure out an amount of sugar equal to the weight of the ginger. (If the total weight of your ginger is 10 ounces, then measure out 10 ounces of sugar.) Or eyeball it. The margin of error appears to be pretty big, but err on the side of more sugar, not less.

Add 3 tablespoons (or so) of water to the ginger. (I know that doesn’t seem like much, but it is.) Pour in your sugar and return the ginger to high heat. Throw in more sugar if you’re worried or anxious for some reason.

Using a LONG wooden handled spoon, constantly stir the ginger. (Why? Because the mixture is HOT, that’s why. The longer handled the spoon, the further your hand is away from the heat.) The sugar and water will boil rapidly and look foamy. Keep stirring until the pan is dry. DO NOT STOP STIRRING OR WALK AWAY at any time while you’re doing this. It’s at this stage that the ginger becomes transparent.

Remove the ginger from the heat and pour the contents onto a fine wire rack with wax paper underneath, or just onto the waxed paper if you don’t have a finely wired rack (otherwise, all those small bits of ginger fall onto the waxed paper anyway.) Let it cool a bit. You can use the spoon to spread it out.

Put the ginger into a bowl with more sugar and toss to coat. When the ginger is completely dry, put the ginger in an air tight container (see below).

Saving the sugar

You will have left over sugar, some of it fine, some of it lumpy with tiny bits of ginger, all of it gingery.

Get another bowl or container. Pour your ginger into a sieve and shake. (See above, transfer the big pieces to your container.) You will have a bunch of fine ginger infused sugar which you can save and use.

Sieve the sugar from the waxed paper. You’ll have the clumpier sugar left, which you can store separately from the finer sugar.

Best hint

Use FRESH ginger.

Bonus Uses

Get a big glass of ice water. Put in fresh lemon juice to taste. Add some ginger sugar to taste (doesn’t take much!). Enjoy.

Put some of the ginger water, how much depends on how hot and gingery you like your tea. Fill the rest of the cup with boiling water. Enjoy.

Use the ginger sugar to flavor stuff. Like other tea. Or in your coffee.

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My Dangerous Pleasure – New Recipe AND a Contest

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

The Contest is officially Over

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. I LOVED reading your cooking stories. They were just wonderful. Thank you for sharing those stories. I’m off to pick the winner.

Updated!!

I’ve made this post sticky for the duration of the contest. There’s a new recipe (this time, chocolate mousse) and a link to Chapter 3 of My Dangerous Pleasure. Also, since I was late getting out my newsletter, I’ve extended my contest deadline to Midnight Pacific June 4th in order to give them time to enter.

The Contest Info

As some of you may know, the heroine of My Dangerous Pleasure, Paisley Nichols, owns a bakery. In honor of that and in shameless promotion of the book (it’s out May 31, have you bought your copy yet?) I’m going to be giving away a slew of cooking supplies to one lucky winner. The supplies will include, among other things:

  • Baker’s Sugar
  • Cake Flour
  • Chocolate (assortment)
  • Dutch Process cocoa
  • Vanilla
  • Parchment paper
  • Flour
  • A cookbook or two

If the winner is in the US I will also arrange to ship some awesome butter to the winner. If I find out that butter can be shipped internationally, I will so do, but I cannot guarantee that will be possible. I will also include some other baking-related surprises.

But Wait! There’s More!

Over the next three weeks my publisher will be making chapters 1-3 of My Dangerous Pleasure available for you to read:

  1. Chapter 1 (pdf).
  2. Chapter 2 (pdf).
  3. Chapter 3 (pdf).

What Would I Do With All That Baking Stuff?

Well, you could make some awesome desserts . . .

The week before last, I posted a recipe for Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies. download a pdf of the Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Recipe. Last week’s recipe was for download a pdf of the Butter Cookies recipe

This week? Chocolate Mousse. download a pdf of the Chocolate Mousse recipe

Notes on the Mousse

The higher quality the chocolate, the less tolerant this is to inattention, over-beating, cheating and timing. I recommend making this once with cheap chocolate, as it is less prone to seizing and will still taste really good. (but not to-die-for good) that way you’ll understand the steps involved and will not be as tense when you’re using the good chocolate.

Also, despite the cautions, this doesn’t take all that long to make. You can do it!

Notes on Ingredients

Heavy Whipping Cream: Get the highest fat content you can find. Not the cheapo grocery brand unless you happen to know it’s high quality.

The Chocolate

You have to look really, really hard to find chocolate without soy lethicin in it. Sadly several formerly high quality chocolates have started adding soy lethicin. If you find chocolate without it, almost by definition, you’ve found a high quality chocolate.

You should be able to pronounce all the ingredients in your chocolate: cocoa, cocoa butter and not much else. Look to the Belgian or Swiss chocolates.

A note on separating the eggs

There CANNOT be EVEN A DROP of egg yolk in the egg whites. This means you need three bowls. One for successful egg whites with no yolk, one for the egg yolks and one to use when you’re separating an egg. That way if the egg is old and the yolk is runny or what have you, you only need to discard one egg and won’t contaminate the successes.

Seized Chocolate

Seized chocolate gets instantly grainy and lumpish. You can try stirring your way out of it, but you’re likely to get mousse with an unappealing texture. This actually happened to a friend of mine. It was sad, and she cried.

Ingredients

16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped or as chips.

2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

6 large eggs, separated

Directions

1. Whip the cream to soft peaks, put aside in a new bowl and refrigerate

2. Melt the chocolate.

You can do this in a double-boiler (over-but-not-in hot but not simmering water). Stirring often. With this method you will almost certainly end up having to wait for the chocolate to cool down to warm.

It’s far easier to do this in the microwave:

Put your chocolate in a bowl, and NEVER nuke for LONGER THAN 30 seconds.

Stir. Nuke again for 30 seconds.

Stir and nuke, stir and nuke etc until the chocolate still has a few lumps.

Now, you just stir continuously until the rest of the chocolate melts. It doesn’t take long and the chocolate will not be all that hot. Dab some chocolate on your lower lip. It should feel warm but not hot. If it’s too cool, the chocolate will seize. Same if it’s too hot.

3. Whip the egg whites in a very clean bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Beat until soft peaks form. Soft peaks should fold over and not be rigid.

4. When the chocolate is at the proper temperature, add about 1/4th or less of the whipped cream.

Add the egg yolks. If you don’t add the whipped cream first, the chocolate will seize when you add the yolks. (It will also seize if the chocolate is too hot.)

Fold by hand until mixed. Do this fairly quickly because you don’t want the chocolate to seize. (Fast, but not too fast!) Too slow and the chocolate will seize.

Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream. You need the fluffiness, so be gentle.

5. Fold in half the egg whites until just incorporated using a whisk, then fold in the remaining whites, switching to a spatula. Be gentle. There should be no chunks or bits of white, but you need this fluffy so don’t over-work.

6. Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

How to Enter the Contest

Leave a comment on this post in which you mention your fondest, funniest, saddest or most embarrassing cooking memory. Feel free to make one up. If you have one involving Elves, demons, fiends or other supernatural creatures, that would be pretty darn funny.

Leave a comment by midnight Pacific June 4, 2011.

Contest void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. People related to me can’t win. Sorry.

Winner will be chosen at random on or shortly after June 5.

Go!

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Rant Alert On Account of I’m Crabby

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Huh. I thought I lost this ranty, crabby post. But there it was in drafts, and now here it is for you to read. Note: I was feverish when I wrote this.

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, my son mentioned that he wasn’t feeling well. The day before Thanksgiving, he definitely wasn’t feeling well. Poor kid. I was extremely tired Wednesday which should have been a tip off. Then Thursday, I was even more tired. Yes, the bug hit me, too. So I’m not feeling too well. And that makes me crabby. Here’s some things that get me peeved.

1. Just because YOU don’t like modern technology doesn’t make the technology bad. When you write an email in which you admit you know nothing about a technology related subject and then proceed to defend your know-nothing position, you aren’t actually making a case against the technology. You’re proving that you are ignorant and there is no reason anyone should listen to your opinion.

2. If you are a writer, for crying out loud, don’t you think you might spend some time learning how to write? You know, with sentences that make sense and words that are used correctly and spelled correctly?

3. I am officially sick (besides literally) of male writers who build worlds in which the female characters are there to die, divorce, or for their protagonist to have sex with and then dump. Have I mentioned that before? Well, I mean it.

That’s just the stuff from today when I wasn’t falling asleep from feeling crappy and ill.

Random Stuff that Frosts me.

1. Meljean Brook is ALWAYS funnier than I am. And I am starting to hate that. Like this post about Thanksgiving pies. Well, you know what? Wednesday night, I made two pumpkin pies AND a coconut cream pie FROM SCRATCH. I even used fresh pumpkin that I baked myself. Do you know how long it takes to cook and puree a pumpkin? Do you know how hard it is to make a good pie crust — which I also made myself, by the way. I also made fresh ORGANIC whipped cream to which I added a touch of vanilla, I’ll have you know. Coconut cream pie requires a custard and the making of custard is fraught with pitfalls and difficulties and everything could have gone completely wrong. Only it didn’t. It also requires a meringue and eggs whites are notoriously prone to failure. But my meringue came out fantastic and the coconut I sprinkled on top toasted up just right. The coconut cream pie was really, really good.

There is nothing even remotely funny about making pies from scratch that come out delicious. And I read Meljean’s post and thought, wow, so easy, and I bet it came out good, too. And funny. My pies are not funny.

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Contest, Food and some other stuff

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Elizabeth Hoyt is having a contest. You could win three of my books. (Indiscreet, Scandal and My Forbidden Desire) Enter here.

In other news, I made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and have since been baking lots of pumpkin stuff because I bought a big pumpkin and had LOTS of pumpkin left over. The pumpkin muffins have been consumed. Yummy. I made pumpkin soup last night that was amazing. That disappeared before it had time to cool. Today I made a pumpkin bread with cranberries and boy, it’s really, really good. I’ll probably make 1-2 more pumpkin-y things.

I’ve now been twice to see the movie The Blind Side. What a great movie! Go see it.

I’m in the middle of reading Diana Holquist’s Hungry For More. It’s really cute and I’m in awe of how accurate the chef details seem to be. From what I’ve read (I went on a Ruth Reichel binge a while back plus read a long New Yorker article about chefs) she seems to have nailed the details. And even if she didn’t, she’s making me believe she did.

This afternoon, I met some friends and had European Sipping Chocolate and talked about books. What a lovely day.

Currently, I am in denial about Monday and how much I’ve eaten. Please support me in this effort.

Thank you.

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