Caucasian Curry

Caucasian Curry
Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mexican Mole Truffles

authentic Mole usually has a zillion ingredients.
with all it's many layers of complex flavors, it seems to be one of the "mother sauces" of Mexican food
AND everybody's Mother has their own interpretation of this classic "mother sauce".

being that mole is well known for it's chocolate enhancement...
i thought why not make a MOLE TRUFFLE ?

to keep with the mole tradition of a zillion ingredients, i tried to add in as many of the classic ingredients as possible.  i know it sounds involved, but the flavors hit you in layers and you can almost taste each one as the chocolate melts and lingers on the palate.

OR in a nut shell...



1 Valrhona 61% dark chocolate bar...8.5 oz....chopped small
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp whipping cream
1/2 - 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 - 3/4 tsp ground cumin, rounded
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 rounded tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 rounded tsp espresso powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ancho chili powder
1-2 tsp molasses
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
15 raisins, chopped...more (softened) if adding into truffle.
roasted salted almonds and cocoa powder for rolling

put chopped chocolate in a glass bowl and set aside.
in a small sauce pan add the cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, chipotle, oregano, espresso powder, cloves, ancho chili powder and raisins.  bring to an "almost boil"...turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent a skin on top.
bring temperature back to almost boil...just bubbling around the sides.
pour cream mixture over chocolate THROUGH A STRAINER.  lightly press what you can through the strainer.
begin stirring from the middle.  as the mixture comes together, stir all around to incorporate.  add vanilla bean paste, almond extract, and molasses.  stir to incorporate.  TASTE TEST.  you might  need a little be the judge.
let it sit for a bit.  when it's getting close to room temp give it another stir and stick it in the fridge...UNCOVERED.  in an hour or so come back to it,  COVER IT and leave it for a few hours or over night is better.  it should be completely set.
when ready to roll, bring it out of the fridge for a while until it is a bit more pliable or easy to scoop.   roll into 3/4 inch balls using thin rubber gloves.  gloves make this process much easier and less messy, trust me...go get some.  at this point you can roll them in cocoa powder, chopped roasted salted almonds or dip in tempered dark chocolate.  please DO take the time to temper your chocolate if dipping.  check here for some tips and tricks i've learned so far and check here for some good tempering info.
keep truffles in the fridge and re-roll in cocoa powder if necessary just before serving for a fresh look.  truffles are best texture at room temp.

NOTE...for the first batch i strained the raisins out...but for the second batch i added in some soft raisins, chopped small.
ALSO...i have found that brands of good chocolate behave differently.  Valrhona seems to be a harder set than Guittard Coverture and Scharffenberger.  not to worry they all set and are delicious...but i DO recommend using Guittard "coverture"dark chocolate for dipping.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Low cal.-Low Fat, Moist Delicious Cupcakes...too easy

are you really serious about that BIKINI ? 

go to the gym 4 times a week ?

eat fish and vegetables EVERY DAY ?

give up on all the sweets ???

NO...but you might want to consider some alternatives...

BEWARE...that swimsuit will be moving to the front of the closet before you know it.

original found everywhere on google, but i like Skinnytastes blog
makes 18 "good size" cupcakes at about 100 calories each...

1 box cake mix
for this one i used the sugar free vanilla cake mix
10oz diet soda. i used diet ginger ale
2 egg whites, slightly beaten

preheat oven according to cake mix
spray muffin tins (these stick to paper cups)
OR...i  like to use silicon muffin cups, then put them in paper cups after cooled.  i HATE it when some of my cupcake sticks to the paper!

mix eggs, cake mix and soda
pour into cupcake cups of choice... 3/4 full
bake as directed on the box.
let cool completely and add icing...SPARINGLY

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla or lemon extract
1-2 Tbsp milk of choice
add only enough milk to get icing consistency.  if it's too thin add powdered sugar...too thick? add a little more milk.
put into a small freezer baggie and cut the tip for an easy throw away piping bag.  you probably will not use all the icing (icing equals more sugar...equals more calories).  save in the fridge in the piping baggie for the next batch you will be making soon.

without icing...82 cal...19.4g carbs...1.7g protein...2.3g fat...0 sugar
with icing (if using ALL the icing), i'm guessing....110 cals, 26g carbs and 6g sugars

use the icing sparingly and they will be about 100 cals each for a good size cupcake.

go ahead, eat 2 !

BY THE WAY....the flavor combinations are endless...chocolate cake with diet cherry soda, 7 up with lemon cake, pineapple ginger ale (shown here),  cream soda with vanilla cake,  diet chocolate soda with chocolate cake(shown here)?...
you get the idea...

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Banh Gan...Vietnamese Flan with Espresso

and so continues my fascination into the Vietnamese culinary world.
there are so many sweets and savories that i find interesting, odd, delicious and dare i say...just a bit SCARY?

scary is what keeps me coming back for more.

this Vietnamese treat is strangely addicting.  i've made it 4 times now with different recipes each time.  one better than the next.  i posted Banh Gan #1 here, but didn't find it necessary to post about the others until this one.  the espresso, chocolate and star anise pair so well with the rich caramelized brown sugar.  the texture was spot a very dense flan or egg custard.

a thin slice or a few simple cubes with a nice little Vietnamese coffee or espresso will settle your afternoon or polish off a lovely dinner party.

lately i find my self roaming the streets of Little Saigon here in Westminster about twice a month.   my first experience was rather unpleasant, but that might be due to the "unknown" and my American ways.  i have since gained a little rapport in a few of the tiny shops.  occasionally i can make the vendors crack a smile or two and let me on a few of their secrets...with translation from a helpful customer.

i still stick out like a sore thumb,  have no idea what anyone is saying to or about me, but it has now become a little more familiar and i feel somewhat comfortable in the chaos of a Saturday afternoon.

ORIGINAL found at Playing With My Food

12 eggs (apprx. 600g)
1/3 cup (35g) tapioca starch (best to weigh this)
4 tsp single acting baking soda, Alsa brand
pinch of baking soda
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 can coconut milk
8 star anise
375g dark brown sugar

preheat oven to 350F
vegetable oil an 8x8 or 9x9 pan
in a sauce pan add coconut milk, sugar and star anise.  bring to a soft boil for a moment, then turn off heat and let steep and cool completely.  remove star anise.  whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl.   lightly beat egg in a separate bowl then sift dry ingredients in. sifting it in helps create less lumps.  tapioca powder is a hard one to mix in, but combine as well as possible.
NOTE...single acting baking soda works ONCE, when the dry meets the wet.  so it is best not to let that sit.  try to work as quickly as possible (not super speedy) after this point to ensure nice air pocket tunnel  effect. this time put your greased pan into the hot oven for about 5 minutes (empty greased pan).
add cooled syrup/milk mixture to the egg mixture.  combine well.
strain the batter mixture straight into the HOT greased baking pan.  lightly push through left-overs and get this into the oven.
bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.
remove and cool in pan on wire rack to room temp.
refrigerate and serve chilled.

above is an example of the Banh Gan i found in Little Saigon.  this began the fascination and i have to buy it everytime i'm there.
PS...not to toot my horn or anything...but my trusty taste testers said they preferred mine over the store bought.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Rolled and Roasted Pork Belly with Fresh Herbs


seasoned, rolled and slow roasted.

unctuous crispy porky goodness.

super easy, no fail pork belly roll.  i've done it twice...once with the savory aromatics and once with brown sugar and chipotle.  each belly requires a little different cooking method and time due to the size and shape of the meat.  this one was done half way in the dutch oven, then moved to a roasting rack.  i suppose the total cooking could be done on the rack, but i wanted to maintain as much moisture as possible and i didn't want the outside to get burnt...this was a very small belly.
this double cooking method produced a moist unctuous pork belly with crispy skin right out of the oven.  it's also delicious served sliced and seared to top off the ultimate burger or layered in a nice hot-off-the-grill panini....oh, maybe a fried egg on top for breakfast?
  anyway you serve it you can't go wrong when pork belly is involved.
don't forget to serve with those delicious rosemary wine pork fat  caramelized onions.

first poke holes all over with metal skewer.  then score skin with a box cutter, as shown.
mise en place your add-ins to make things easier and lower cross contamination. 
 evenly distribute salt, pepper, herbs and thin onion.  then roll and tie.  you might want an extra pair of hands to help get a nice tight roll.  as you can see i did use one tie to hold in the ends.
thick onion as a base with shallow wine and chicken stock...covered for the first hour, uncovered 2nd hour. 
move to roasting rack for another hour or until fork tender, at 325F convection...then crank the oven to 430F and keep a watchful eye 'til skin is crispy.  

with fresh herbs

2 lbs, pork belly with skin
(choose a meaty-flatter piece if possible)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
3-4 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
about 1/4 onion very thin sliced
1 tsp kosher salt for the inside.
fresh ground pepper
more salt for the outside.

FOR THE DUTCH OVEN if using for the first hour.
2 small white onions, sliced thick
6-8 cloves garlic
a few sprigs rosemary
1/3 cup white wine.
approx. 1/4 cup chicken broth
note...liquids according to size dutch oven.  liquid should not touch the pork roast.  approx. 1/2 inch will do.
preheat oven to 320F
wash the belly and make sure there are no lingering stray hairs.  dry it well.  poke holes in the skin all over with a sharp skewer, as shown.  score the skin with a box cutter, as shown.  with skin side down, dress the meat side with salt and pepper.  mine took about 1 tsp salt...i had a rather small piece.  sprinkle herbs and lay out some thin slices of onion, as shown.  get your string cut and ready.  roll the belly.  it's easier if you have a friend help with this to get it tight. if it doesn't work well one way, go a head and try the other end first.  stuff will fall out, but don't worry.  i used three strings going around and one string holding the ends in.  pork belly can protrude in strange directions and i wanted a nice tight roast.  
dry the outside with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

this step might not be necessary, but i started in a dutch oven....
i think it helped cook the roast for a while in a nice moist environment.  and it made some delicious rosemary wine onions that were later caramelized when roasting.
put the thick slices of onion and the garlic cloves in the bottom of a dutch oven with a few rosemary sprigs.  lay the roast on top.  add the wine and enough chicken stock to just cover the onions, not touching the pork belly (example photo).
put in the oven covered for 1 hour.  then uncovered for the next hour.
now take the roast out and put it on a rack.  or an aluminum covered tray with the onions underneath (example photo).  i turned the convection on.  roast for 1 more hour.  poke it and see if it is really fork tender.  fork tender all the way through.  you be the judge.  it is very hard to over cook a pork belly.  when fork tender turn the oven up to 430F convection and watch until the skin gets crisp, but not burnt.
take it out and let it rest for about 20 minutes
remove strings and slice with a very sharp knife.

OR...for a delicious warm thick slice on a big burger or sandwich...
cool completely before storing.  i like to wrap in parchment inside a tupperware and lay the cover on...not snapped shut.  the cut roast photos were taken the next day and the skin was still crispy.
i like to rewarm in a medium heat skillet with a touch of butter on both sides.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Sweet Spiced Vanilla Bean Bone Marrow Custard

one can't help feel primal and a bit righteous eating bone marrow for breakfast.  
absolutely decadent, healthy and delicious way to start your day.

OR...serve this for a flashy finish to a super carnivorous dinner party.

a dessert your guests won't forget.

don't be afraid...i urge you to try this...even for the conversation aspect alone.  you'll be surprised how unassuming the marrow is.  it tastes pretty must like a rich egg custard, but there's just a little something else to it...a certain je ne sais quoi...perhaps.

I'll bet my fellow "marrow mate", Trevor, at Sis. Boom Blog will be all over this one.

i know you probably think bone marrow is all fat, but they are mainly good fats...monounsaturated.  there are many health benefits as well.  i am not a nutritionist, but i have found that marrow is full of minerals, protein, calcium, vitamin A, phosphorous and iron.  in the 19th century is was regarded as a health food.  Queen Victoria was said to eat it every day...that might be over doing it just a bit, but...
a nice little marrow custard every now and then will do just fine.

with a few adaptions, but many thanks to the original found at
makes four(4)  7-8oz ramekins

1/4 to 1/3 cup rendered beef marrow
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs, room temp.
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 to 3 Tbsp honey
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed open
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, 2-3 inch
butter or veg. oil for ramekins

FIRST...but not absolutely necessary (i always do this)...soak your bones in salted water over night or 24 hours.  change the water 2-3 times with salt each time.  this draws some of the blood out.  blood is not bad, but nice white marrow is preferred.  sometimes it's the luck of the draw so you might want to buy more bones than you need so you can pick the prettiest marrow after you see it rendered.  freeze the remainder for "bone butter".
in a small sauce pan add milk, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, star anise and vanilla bean scrapings.  bring to a boil and turn off heat.  set aside and let steep while preparing marrow.
in a large stack pot, add bones, cover with water and bring to a boil.  they should probably only need a few minutes until they are ready to render out the marrow (photo above).  if you boil them too long they will start to dissolve.  remove bones with slotted spoon and wait until they are cool enough to handle.  over a bowl, run a small knife between the bone and marrow.  the marrow should slide out of the large end of the bone.  there will be some liquid fat.  leave this behind when measuring out the 1/4-1/3 cup for recipe.
pre-heat oven to 350F
put some water on to boil for your bain marie and butter or grease your ramekins.
in a small bowl, mix the eggs and honey.  set aside.
strain you spiced milk into a medium sauce pan.  cut marrow into small-ish pieces for easy blending with an immersion blender.  add marrow to strained milk mixture.
NOTE... i used an immersion blender because i found that the mixture needed to be "slightly" rewarmed while blending.  the marrow can separate and act like solid fat if it meets cooler temperatures or if your marrow has sat and become did mine.
if your mixture is warm, slowly temper your eggs into the milk/marrow mixture.  blend with the immersion blender until smooth.  if it looks like the fat is separating...rewarm ever so slightly, while emulsifying  until it comes together and blends well. 
pour mixture into greased/buttered ramekins and place into bain marie/large roasting pan.  pour near-boiling water into roasting pan/dish about 1/2 way up the ramekin.  bake in oven 25-30 minutes...they should look just set...maybe a little wobbly in the center.  they will completely set from residual heat.  mine took 23 minutes.

i suggest serving them just a bit warm...on it's own or with a few fresh berries.  they keep well.  i refrigerated 3 and have rewarmed them slightly in the microwave for breakfast...
i feel like i start my day at the top of the food chain.

for more info on Rendering Bone Marrow check this post i did a while back.  next up?...Jennifer McLagan's savory Bone Marrow and Porchini Mushroom Custard from one of her fabulous books, "ODD BITS".  stay tuned

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shichimi Togarashi Truffles with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Soy Sauce

the dark chocolate sushi experience...


NO, there is not fish involved.
i haven't gone totally off the deep end.

BUT... you won't believe these truffles...

spicy, sesame, soy with dark citrus chocolate?!


i think i might have come up with something quite interesting this time.  it's like a patron participation interactive truffle experience.

the soy and toasted sesame hit the palate first, then the smooth dark chocolate takes over , but wait...then a slightly citrus warm spice hits you and you find yourself going in for the "double soy dip"...and a little crystallized ginger nibble to polish it off.


what can i say...i get these hair brained ideas and hope that no one else has done something like it.  i always say...there are no "new ideas", least, if i google the concoction it doesn't show up plastered all over the front page.

a word about SHICHIMI TOGARASHI...also know as "Japanese 7 Spice".  ingredients consist of sesame seeds, orange peel, poppy seeds, paprika, Chinese chiles, Szechwan pepper, ginger and nori.  it's is a delicious spicy blend that goes with just about anything....i found mine at Savory Spice Shop, a fabulous place here in Newport.  i make such an odd variety of things it's nice to know this shop will have it fresh and they sell an ounce, a bag, a jar...whatever you need.


250g (1 large bar) Valrhona 61% dark chocolate
3/4 cup full fat canned coconut milk. (heavy cream works as well)
1/2 inch ginger cut into 4 slices
zest from 1/2 large orange
1 to 1 1/2 tsp Shichimi Togarashi spice
toasted sesame seeds for rolling
soy sauce for dipping
crystallized ginger for decor

chop the chocolate into small large chunks.  set aside in medium glass bowl.  in a small sauce pan add the coconut milk (or heavy cream) and sliced fresh ginger.  bring to an almost boil...just bubbling around the sides.  let simmer for a few moments to infuse the ginger flavor.  pour coconut milk through strainer over chocolate and let sit for a few minutes to begin the melting.  begin stirring from the middle and you will see the ganache start to come together.  add orange zest and shichimi togarashi spices and stir to incorporate.  TASTE TEST...can you taste your spice?...zest?  you don't want any flavor to over power the next.  it should be subtle...don't over do it.  let come to room temp and refrigerate until set.

NOTE...sometimes these take a little extra care.  i have had a few instances with my ganache "breaking" when using coconut milk and Valrhona chocolate.  "breaking" can mean an oily looking surface and or a grainy texture.  there are many ways to fix this and some are too involved.  i have tried them and it's messy.  here's what works for me.  if this happens i reheat the ganache over a double boiler until it is back to liquid and stirable.  take it off the heat and hand whisk...not too too vigorous or you will end up with frosting, but enough to bring it together.  i liken it to RE-emulsifying the mixture.  let sit on the counter and check it in a while.  if it is still separating, give it another stir.  refrigerate until set.

remove from fridge.  let it sit if necessary until you can get a spoonful out.  it's best to work with it chilled.  using thin rubber gloves form balls.  roll in sesame seeds after each ball is formed.  press seeds into bare spots.  mine are approx. 16-18 grams each.  this creates a "two-bite-truffle"...which works well for the double soy dipping.
enjoy the full experience with soy sauce and crystallized ginger.

for a variety i used toasted white sesame seeds, plain and some rolled in shichimi togarasi and black toasted sesame seeds.  keep a watchful eye when toasting seeds.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pig Cheeks wrapped with Bacon, Brown sugar and Onion


there's a new kid in town.


not that this is any new big discovery, but i have just recently fallen in love.  i simply can not explain how unctuous this small little nugget of pig meat is.  i've had beef cheeks before and they are absolutely fabulous in this recipe for Beef Cheek Barbacoa, but they are a bear with all the sinew and fatty bits that need trimming.  the pig cheeks, on the other hand, are small, thin, clean and easy to work with...i buy mine at one of my favorite Asian markets in Irvine, H Mart.

PIG CHEEK wrapped in BACON ?


the perfect HOG HEAVEN FOR TWO.
but...will serve four generously.

this is what my cheeks looked like.  there was a good layer of fat on the other side of the larger one.  this was almost 1 pound.

please read through...some of it is visual
everything is approx. because you never know what size cheeks you're going to find, but this is what you'll need....
pig cheeks....3/4 to 1 pound
1/4 white onion, very thin slices
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
a few dashes of cumin pepper flakes or cayenne or chili powder or Mrs Dash South Western Chipotle
9-11 slices long the longest, not the center cut
butchers string

preheat oven to 325F.

lay the bacon out as shown.  the bacon strips that will be wrapping around the outside should be on the board first.  the strips that will cover the ends go across.  in my case i had 2 pieces so i dressed the first one (photo above) and laid the 2nd on top (not shown) with a few extra sprinkles of salt, brown sugar and spices.
roll the meat first.  then wrap the bacon that will cover the ends.  next wrap the outer layer.  you might need to cut a little bacon off so as not to over lap too much.
pre-cut your strings so you are not fumbling for the scissors...tie the string around the ends first.  i used two.  then 3 to four strings around the body holding the bacon on.  this is not as difficult as you may think, but an extra hand in the kitchen helps hold things together.

1 to 1 1/2 green apple, cored and sliced thick
1 to 1 1/2 white onion, sliced thick
enough chicken stock to just cover the onions.
brown sugar to sprinkle on top.
place thick slices of onion and apple on the bottom to act as a trivet or rack and place the roast on top as shown.

the roast in photo was in the oven for approx. 3 1/2 hours total.
roast for 2 hours with the lid on.  check on the roast.  check the liquid.  you don't want the roast sitting in liquid.  roast for another hour.  peek after 30 minutes and give it a poke.  is it fork tender? it starting to brown?  if it is fork tender, but not brown, remove the lid, turn up the oven to 350F and watch it so you don't burn the bacon.
mine fully cooked and browned (as shown) in the covered dutch oven about  3 1/2 hours.
remove the roast and carefully remove the onion ringlets with a slotted spoon.  these are delicious pork fat caramelized onions.  if the onions are not browned enough, put the dutch oven uncovered back in the big oven without the roast and cook to your satisfaction...don't forget them in the oven while you are noshing away at the pork roast.

for about 20 minutes

slice and serve...
refrigerate left over...if there is any...but wrap in parchment.  the bacon should still be a bit crispy the next day.  reheat a nice thick slice on a medium heat skillet, lightly searing both sides.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Moroccan Spiced Dark Chocolate Truffles with Fig Essence

i thought i had better give you something sweet.  i've been so elbow deep in pork bellies and other various savory goods lately that i've forgotten about all the wonderful delicious dark truffles i've made along the way.  these Moroccan inspired truffles were a big hit.  they came and went so fast i forgot to post about them.

we've all seen fig truffles...some touting to be "healthy fig truffles".  i've made these before, but i think there's too much chewy fig and not enough chocolate.
why skimp on the chocolate ?
chocolate IS a "superfood" !
to keep the full flavor of the chocolate, but still have the essence of the fig, i decided to just use the gooey-caramel-brown sugar-like inside with the snappy seeds...the seeds are the fun part.  i love the tiny pop-crunch in the mouth.
i liken it to the "caviar of the fruit world".

the warm Moroccan spices, snappy fig seeds and the salted pistachios all work together for one delicious dark chocolate ball of flavor.

ganache can be a little temperamental so i've put in a little note, but overall truffles are quite easy and people are always amazed and appreciative of homemade chocolates.


1 large bar (250g) Valrhona dark chocolate  61%
3/4 cup full fat coconut milk...canned (can use heavy cream for "dairy people")
1/2 tsp Moroccan spices (recipe below)
1/2 tsp cardamom
5-6 dried white figs,just the seeds and inside.
roasted AND salted  pistachios, chopped

first you might need to rehydrate your figs.  soak them in some near boiling water for about 10 minutes until they are pliable.  slice them open and scrape the insides out.
put coconut milk, Moroccan spice, cardamom and fig seeds in a small sauce pan and slowly bring to a good simmer.  stir while heating.  you might need to whisk a little to incorporate everything.   when mixture is just about at a boil (bubbling at the side) pour over chopped chocolate and let sit for 3-4 minutes.  then start to stir from the middle.  your ganache should slowly come together.  now stir to incorporate.  TASTE TEST.  do you want more spices, cardamom?.  let sit and come to room temp.  then refrigerate until set and worthy of truffle making.
NOTE...sometimes these take a little extra care.  i have had a few instances with my ganache "breaking" when using coconut milk and Valrhona chocolate.  "breaking" can mean an oily looking surface and or a grainy texture.  there are many ways to fix this and some are too involved.  i have tried them and it's messy.  here's what works for me.  if this happens i reheat the ganache over a double boiler until it is back to liquid and stirrable.  take it off the heat and whisk...not too too vigorous or you will end up with frosting, but enough to bring it together.  i liken it to RE-emulsifying the mixture.  let sit on the counter and check it in a while.  if it is still separating, give it another stir.
i am not a professional chocolatier so if i run in to a chocolate problem i refer the the vast knowledge of the internet.  a good place to start is "The Chocolate Doctor" .  this great site has answered many of my chocolate questions.


2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 chili powder
1/2 sweet paprika
1/2 ground cinnamon
1/4 ground ginger
1/8 ground clove

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