Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chocolate Coeur a la Crème with Raspberry Sauce

Since the Holidays are coming, I thought you might enjoy a not too sweet, but still elegant dessert idea. Coeur a la Creme is a delicious, easy, make the night before, dessert. It can be romantic or fun for a party. If you don't have heart shaped coeur a la creme molds, you can use a small colander. Line it with the cheesecloth as directed. When it comes time to unmold, place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and follow the instructions below. Slice the beautiful chocolate coeur into slices and serve with the raspberry sauce. Happy Holidays!

1/2 c heavy cream, divided
4 T dutch process Cocoa
1 T butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Line two 1/2-cup coeur a la crème (heart shaped) molds or two 6-ounce custard cups with a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth, extending far enough beyond edges to encompass filling completely.
Combine 1/4 cup of the cream, cocoa and butter in small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat; cool.
Place cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whip until smooth. Add cocoa mixture, blending well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often to completely homogenize the chocolate. Add remaining 1/4 cup cream; whip until blended. Spoon mixture into prepared molds. Smooth the tops of the mixture in the molds. Fold the cheesecloth over top. Place a wire rack in a tray with 2 inch sides; place molds on rack. Chill at least 6 hours or overnight.
To serve, gently remove the cheesecloth from the top of your Coeur a la crème and invert each mold onto a chilled dessert plate; remove the cheesecloth very carefully. Spoon Raspberry Sauce around the hearts.
Raspberry Sauce
Puree 1 cup fresh raspberries until smooth. Add 3 T powdered sugar and puree again.
Strain pureed berries through fine sieve into small bowl. Stir in 1 T Chambourd or Grand Marnier.
Grate a little bittersweet or white chocolate over the top for an additional flair.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ChocoMochaLatte Soup at the Prudential Center

Happy Holidays! I love this season that starts with gratitude and continues for weeks on end with delicious celebrations. The gifts of time spent with friends and family are my favorite ways to enjoy the holiday spirit.
We went to Boston last weekend and spent Saturday at the Prudential Center Barnes and Noble store, signing a few books and sharing gallons of warm, silky ChocoMochaLatte Soup. It is the perfect liquid chocolate ending to a wonderful meal. I have to mention how the folks at Barnes and Noble were so kind and accommodating to us. It was delightful to be in the busy store and find smiling faces all around. Kudos to the staff!! Rachel Ray was there in the afternoon signing copies of her new book. We were able to stop by and say hello. I offered her copies of Fresh Maine Salads and Superb Maine Soups. It was fun to hear her say-" So you're the one with the chocolate soup everyone is talking about!" Best of luck to her in her culinary ventures.
Randy Smith- the photographer for Fresh Maine Salads and Superb Maine Soups and Charles from Nutmeg Foods were also in attendance to sign and sample.
Charles and his wife Victoria have developed a wonderful line of chocolates from their shop in Portland, Maine. Their chocolate caviar is the perfect garnish for this rich soup.

ChocoMochaLatte Soup
A strong coffee infused cream embraces the dark sweet chocolate in this soup. Find amazing chocolates at Nutmeg Foods.
2 cups heavy cream
4 Tablespoons freshly ground espresso beans
2 cups dark chocolate bits
2 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate
2 Tablespoons heavy cream for garnish
chocolate covered espresso beans
In a small saucepan heat the ground espresso and heavy cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter into a clean small saucepan. Whisk in the chocolates. Stir until melted. Serve warm.
Garnish with chocolate covered espresso beans or chocolate caviar and drops of heavy cream floated atop the soup. If you place a drop of cream and gently drag a toothpick through the entire drop, (right through the middle) it will form a pretty heart.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mom’s Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

I grew up with these delectable soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside cookies. When they come out of the oven the whole house smells delicious. Taking that first bite of cookie, just out of the oven, hot and c crispy with the gooey melted chocolate in molten little bits… My mom made these on a regular basis- never without my absconding with a good portion of the dough. She would protest with a smile, knowing that her resistance would never work. When my brother was in high school she even started a little cookie delivery business. They are worth their weight in gold.
1 c brown sugar 1/2 c granulated sugar 1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening 1 1/2 t. Vanilla 2 eggs
2 1/2 c flour 1 t. Baking soda 1/2 t. Salt
1 12ounce package chocolate chips 1 c nuts (optional)
If you plan to bake your cookies right away preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the two sugars, butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in dry ingredients until well blended.
Stir in chocolate bits. Add nuts if you like- pecans and macadamia nuts are especially good. Scrape down the sides of your bowl to be sure all of the goodies are incorporated into your dough.
At this point you have many options:
I find using an ice cream scoop -the kind with a moving release band inside the scoop-, I can drop the cookies onto the baking sheet easily and the sizes are consistent. Baking times will vary depending on the size of your scoop. For a 2 ounce scoop, drop the cookies about 2” apart on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Another option is to spread the dough into a greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake these for 25 minutes or until the center is lightly brown. Cool a bit then cut them into squares. Baked this way they make wonderful ice cream sandwiches. Place a cooled square on a plate. Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Cover with another square. For the deluxe version- drizzle with hot fudge sauce. Yum!
This dough freezes extremely well. If you want to save some for later, spoon or scoop the dough onto a plastic wrap lined pan. Top with another piece of plastic and place in your freezer. When the dough balls are hardened, transfer them into a plastic, zip freezer bag. They store indefinitely. This is a dangerous thing to do if you like the dough. Removing one from the freezer to bake or to eat frozen is a treat anytime. You can bake them straight from the freezer. Just keep an eye on them as they bake for a bit longer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Spiced Rum

A friend of ours came to a soup party and was willing to give this a try- even though she had never liked sweet potatoes. It was her favorite soup of the night- and mine too. The curry is a nice undertone. Combine it with the rum and the flavors are complex and scrumptuous.
Serves 4-6
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 scant Tablespoons curry powder
1 cup chopped onions
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
4 cups peeled, cubed Maine potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups hearty vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons spiced rum
8 oz cream cheese
4-6 Tablespoons sour cream
In a large saucepan, warm oil over medium-low heat. Add curry powder and onions and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, Maine potatoes, salt and peppers. Add stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup in the pot; or pour soup into a food processor or blender, process until smooth and return to pot. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Add more stock or water for the consistency you’d like. Add rum and serve immediately.
Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika.