Caucasian Curry

Caucasian Curry
Saturday, July 27, 2013

Truffles in an HOUR. No excuses...

truffles should be considered a luxury item...


not anymore
not in this house.
i whipped these up in about an hour.

now i'm in big trouble !
we have a permanent container of truffles in the fridge.

cute little truffle blocks...

who says truffles need to be round ?

they might look like a simple square of chocolate, but it's actually smooth creamy dark chocolate ganache flavored with a hint of cinnamon, a punch of espresso and a warm smoky kick from adobo and chipotle.

NOTE...these flavors are my signature "go-to".  everybody LOVES these.  BUT this recipe will work with many flavor combinations.  i will be experimenting more with the "truffles in an hour" so stay tuned for more flavors and shapes.

Dark Chocolate Truffles in about an HOUR...
i have done this recipe in an hour, but the first time might take an hour 20 minutes
dairy free with coconut milk, but can use heavy cream.
makes about 24 squares/rectangles


9.7 oz Dark Chocolate, chopped very fine
Guittard 61% coverture discs work best for me)
3/4 tsp cinnamon (sprinkle over chocolate)
put this in a glass bowl and set aside.  put a kitchen towel around the bottom of the bowl to keep the chocolate nice and cozy when you are ready.

line a small square or rectangular pan, dish or  tupperware with heavy saran or aluminum foil.  i use an 8 x 5 inch plastic container.   if you lightly spray the container with oil the saran will  cling to the sides and  it makes removal much easier.

1 cup full fat coconut milk's easier to heat a full cup of milk and measure out what you need.  that's why i put 1 cup in the recipe amount.
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp of chipotle in adobo(canned)...use 1 minced small chipotle pepper with the seeds removed before chopping and adobo sauce to make the 1 1/2 TBSP.
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste.
1/2 tsp espresso powder

slowly bring the milk mixture to a soft boil.  remove from heat and strain out 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp.  add this straight away into and over the chocolate.

very gently use a fork or skewer to disperse the hot milk into the chocolate.  do not stir at this point.  just gently prod around to remove any pockets of chocolate that might be stuck together or the bottom of the bowl.  let sit for a minute.  now begin to stir from the middle.  the ganache should start to come together from the middle.  start to incorporate the whole thing.  do not stir vigorously "YET" (see note #2 below).  just gently stir around and through until combined.  when it looks like all the chocolate lumps have melted you can break out the whisk.  the whisk is OK for truffles, not straight "pourable glossy ganache" that you would use on a cake.  do this by hand, not a stand mixer.  whisk until fully emulsified.  the ganache will thicken ever so slightly.  pour into prepared dish/tupperware.  tap the container on the counter a few times to even it all out.  put this in the fridge and it should be ready in about 25-35 minutes.

above is an example using tin foil in an 8" x  5" tupperware...i now prefer using heavy saran.  also, this looks grainy on top because i sprinkled this batch with flaked sea salt before it was almost set.

the whole block should lift out of the container.  remove the saran or aluminum and cut into squares or desired shape.  you might want to clean the knife between slices.  have a small bowl of cocoa powder and coat all sides.....DONE
these are room temperature stable, but should be stored in the refrigerator. not fret if there are a few teeny tiny pieces of chocolate that did not melt.  you can strain these out (more to clean up) or leave them alone.  my chef friend Lauren, who studied chocolates, says it is better to have a few tiny lumps than risk breaking the ganache.

IMPORTANT NOTE #2...sometimes when i use coconut milk  with Valrhona or Scharffenberger, my ganache "breaks"...this means it is not absolutely smooth and glossy after it is combined and will result in a grainy truffle DO NOT want this.  i can now recognise it right away.  i believe this means the two fats did not make friends in the heating/melting process.  give it a little more whisking if you notice it before pouring.   if you don't notice it until after it has set, don't worry...they will no longer be "truffles in an hour", BUT......just cut block into small squares and reheat over a double boiler until melted...then whisk until fully emulsified and pour into another prepared lined dish.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Cookie review-BART & JUDY'S "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie In the World" ???

are these "THE BEST chocolate chip cookies...

well, i think Bart and Judy have opened a ferocious can of worms with a statement like that.

first let me tell you,  I LOVE THE PACKAGING !  that's what made me buy them, not that it claimed to be the best.  although i must say, curiosity riled the baker in me and i just had to try Bart & Judy's "THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE IN THE WORLD"
how very very clever those two are.
reeling the buyer in with packaging like that.  i wonder if Bart & Judy are friends with "Dr.Bronner", the soap guy with small print all over his products.  the box has all kinds of quotes, philosophies, information, instructions and warnings....AND it's made of 100% recycled paper with a mention on the side..."MADE IN THE USA: THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD".  the whole experience in kind of fun, very unlike any mass produced store bought cookie...for that reason i thought it was worth the purchase....

the cookies are secondary.

i felt like the kid that gets an expensive gift for x-mas, tosses the gift aside and plays with the box for hours.

as you can see from the photo above...these are tiny teenie cookies.  some smaller than a quarter.
some don't even contain ONE CHIP !


AND i bought the ones with walnuts and pecans.  i'll bet ya anyone with a nut allergy would have no big anaphylactic shock after eating the whole box...there might be one walnut and one pecan somewhere in the box, but i haven't found it yet.

on the back he makes a pretty obvious reference to "Famous Amos"...
i was around for the Famous Amos craze in the 70's.  were you?  Famous Amos was the first big hit phenomenon of the bakery world that i can remember.  when Famous Amos cookies arrived on the scene they were nothing like the prepackaged lame cookie that those little Kellogg's Keebler elves are hocking now a days...these were a pretty darn good cookie.  especially if you could get some hot out of the oven at the flagship store in Los Angeles.  it was a good cookie...small, BUT NOT THAT SMALL, crisp, homemade tasting and it had at least a few chocolate chips in each cookie.  nuts were a good size.  you could actually see them, but even he didn't claim to be the best in the world.

nutritional facts?...
it claims 6 cookies per serving equaling 30 grams for 83 calories.
now...i know many many people who would jump at the chance to have 6 chcocolate chip cookies for 83 calories.  but do you know how pathetic 30 grams is?
don't sneeze or you'll loose 1/2 your serving !
"ecstatic delirium"?...hasn't hit me yet...personal injury?...maybe a paper cut from playing with the box.

after you finally get the box open you see a gold bag reminiscent of Willy Wonka's golden ticket.  the bag comes with warning instructions to let the cookies "decant" for 10 minutes to enjoy their fullest flavor.
who do you know that will open a bag of cookies and wait for 10 minutes before trying one?  
of course i had to try one right away.  then i waited 10 minutes and tried another.  was there a huge difference?...NO.  same small, smaller than a quarter, cookie.  nice flavor, nice crunch, but yet another fun gimmick that sets these cookies apart from the norm.

oh...and i forgot about the "STOP! READ FIRST!...important's another note about the "decanting".
 do i really need to be told twice HOW to eat a chocolate chip cookie?...maybe one so small that could get lost between a tooth?  it goes on...then there's another side that is "optional reading".
i will admit i went for the whole deal and entered my "exclusive serial number" on the web site.  i have no idea what that does except give my email address out there for more people to spam's all in fun.

in conclusion...
don't get me wrong...i DO like the cookie (i like the box better).  this IS a "good" cookie, but it's just so very very small....and general consensus from friends and chefs?..."a good cookie, crunchy, homemade flavor, better than the elves",  but best in the world?...not so much.
on the back of the box, Bart states that this venture is not about the money (good thing).  he just wants to put a smile on your face and make the world a better place with his "great cookie"

well...that he did....he put a smile on my face.  definitely NOT from the best chocolate chip cookie in the world, but maybe just the shear enjoyment and conversational debates i had when sharing the box and tiny little nondescript cookies inside.
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Black Magic Cake with Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache

well...i can now cross the important DOUBLE LAYER CAKE off of my "bucket list".

believe it or not...i have never made a double layer cake from scratch.  i HAVE, of course, made a box cake or two back in the high school days, but fear of the ugly dry crumbly lopsided cake syndrome must have kept me from trying again.

on so many levels...
pardon the poor pun !

i was complimented by many and must agree...
this is the best chocolate cake i have EVER tasted.

aka Ina Garten's Aunt Beatty's Chocolate Cake
BUT ... many thanks to FOODESS.COM for the introduction with her delicious photos



1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa...i used Guittard
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk.  (i substituted with 1 TBSP white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest of the cup with milk...let stand 5 minutes)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup hot coffee

preheat oven to 350 F.  grease and flour two 9 inch baking pans.  i lined the bottom with a parchment round, buttered the round and floured the sides.
in a large bowl of stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth...about 3 minutes.  remove bowl and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula...NOTE...batter will be very runny.
pour batter evenly into the two prepared pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes.  i rotated the pans after 15 minutes.  even cooking is key to an even cake.  start to watch after 25 minutes.  the toothpick should come out clean WITH A FEW MOIST CRUMBS.
allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edges and flip cakes out on to a wire rack.  cool completely before handling and frosting.
NOTE...i made the cake the day ahead and kept it in the fridge.  this makes it A LOT easier to handle...this is one VERY moist cake.


14 oz Guittard 70% bittersweet coverture chocolate discs
14 oz heavy cream
4 tsp light corn syrup
1 chipotle pepper with adobo sauce (from the can)... split open
NOTE...this amount was correct for this 2 layer cake.  i had about 1/2 cup of delicious ganache left over.

heat heavy cream, and corn syrup (and chipotle, if using) in a small sauce pan.  bring to a boil, remove from heat and pour directly into and over the chocolate.  if you used chipotle you must pour through a strainer.  allow to sit for 1 minute.  start to gently stir from the middle.  take your time.  you will see it magically come together with a beautiful shine.  stir until you have it all incorporated.  let sit on the counter for at least 45 minutes.  you are looking for a pudding consistency and ABOUT 70 DEGREES.  if you need to speed it up, refrigerate and stir every 10 minutes until pudding consistency.  put this in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment.  start slowly and move the speed up to high.  you will see that it forms soft peaks after one minute.  keep a close eye so you DON'T OVER WHIP.  watch it until it gets just a bit more firm.  ice the cake immediately after making.  it will begin to seize up if you take too long.  i found some great visuals at Joe so please check out his helpful photos for the correct consistency.

i have made this cake twice already with rave reviews.  the second was served last night for my bestest friend Carol's B-Day.  i found that the cake travels well.  don't worry that the frosting seems stiff.  keep it at room temperature and it will slice like a dream with a sharp knife.  clean the blade between slices.  i think i fed 16-18 pieces...

NOTES FROM NOVICE LAYER CAKE BAKER....this is a fabulous cake to start with...dense and super moist.  handle with care.  bake the cake the day before and refrigerate.  work with cold cake so it is much easier to handle.
remove parchment round from bottom of cake and put bare bottom cake on flat coated card board round made for a 9" cake.
elevate the cake off your work surface for easier frosting application.
don't be too skimpy on the middle frosting layer...check thickness by sticking your finger in.  you want a good 1/3 inch.
try to get your top swirl right fairly quickly because the ganache will start to stiffen and you can't go back and fix it.
work on your smooth sides after you have your swirls done.  don't be skimpy on the sides either.  as your knife goes around make sure you do not see "cake" peeking through.
don't worry if your top doesn't look "bakery professional".  
THE TASTE TEXTURE AND CHOCOLATE WOW FACTOR WILL DISGUISE ALL MISTAKES. can always hide things with chocolate shavings, fresh berries and such.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Homemade Ginger Ale or Beer...or HOOCH

the non-alcoholic kind

positively the most satisfying best tasting ginger ale i've ever had in my life!
and it's HEALTHY. you might have guessed i'm on a quest for the best, funnest, most interesting and out of the ordinary drinks of the NON-ALCOHOLIC NATURE.

as stated in a previous post... 
the most important person at your summer party is the designated driver.
if that person is bored and ain't havin' a good time...if THAT person wants to go...everybody goes...

so take some time and make some special concoctions to keep the party going.

start with a "ginger bug"...wait...
make a "wort"...
add the "BUG" to the "WORT"...wait...
bottle and wait some more...
in about 2'll have  HOOCH
i like saying "hooch", but this is KID FRIENDLY.  i read that you'd have to drink a gallon or two of the stuff just to possibly equal 1 light beer.  i'm not an expert, i'm just going by what i have researched on quite a few different if you are worried, please do some more research and please let me know.


1 heaping Tbsp fresh grated ginger, (clean or peel knob)
1 large Tbsp of sugar
filtered water

fill a quart mason(sterilized) jar 2/3 full with filtered water.  add ginger and sugar, stir until the sugar dissolves.  cover, as shown, with canning ring and cheese cloth...or a rubber band and cheese cloth.
before you go to sleep, give it another stir.
in the morning add another 1 Tbsp ginger and 1 Tbsp sugar...stir.
repeat this for 3-4 days or until you see some action happening on the surface.  there will be some visible fermenting bubbling "action".  if this does not happen within 5 days, you might want to consider starting over.
NOTE...always try to use sterilized equipment so as not to introduce any odd bacterias...even when going in for a simple stirring.  just a good wash with antibacterial soap should do, but i sterilize the jar in the oven for 15 minutes at 220 degrees.


1 1/2 to 2 cups pure cane sugar
1/3 cup fresh grated ginger
2 qts filtered water

bring this mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  let this steep (covered for  while) and come to room temperature.

NOTE...this is NOT AN ALCOHOL version.
i just like saying GINGER HOOCH

1 cup strained "ginger bug"
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
"ginger wort" from recipe above

add above items into 1 gallon glass jar.  fill the rest with filtered water.  stir to combine.  cover with cheesecloth and rubber band and let sit on the counter for 5 days.  taste it the 2nd or 3rd day.  does it need more sugar or lemon or ginger?
i added juice from 2 more lemons, a little more grated ginger and 1/8 cup sugar.
stir very morning and night for 3-7 days.
i waited 5 days

now strain the gallon of liquid into glass bottles with locking tops (as shown) Grolsch beer bottles.  it's cheaper to buy the Grolsch beer and have someone drink it then buy the bottles alone.  strain into pourable container then USE A FUNNEL.
let this sit somewhere safe...i read in a lot of blogs that said thiese could possibly explode...YIKES!   so, depending on the weather and where you live...keep a close eye on them.  i had one plastic bottle so that i could squeeze it to check the pressure and i tested a sealed glass bottle after 5 days. .  
after 5 days...a little effervescent fizz
after 9 days...a little more fizz

after 17 days of tender loving care....?
bubbles...beautiful  effervescent bubbles.  nothing like the fake store bought stuff.  these were very gentle sparkles and the flavor is far beyond...

this is best served "NEAT"...chilled sans ice

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Espresso Pudding Coffee Jelly Surprise


it's fat free
with a caffeine kick in the pants.

fabulous PROTEIN-PICK-ME-UP...

much more fun than an energy drink or a calorie/carb filled protein bar.
a pretty little guilt free dessert or a satisfying late night sweet snack attack.



3/4 cup cold coffee
1 cup hot  coffee
2 packet plain gelatin
sweeten or flavor coffee to your liking
NOTE...these measurements (1 3/4 cups liquid) make a wiggly jello texture, but DOES cut into cubes.  if you want it just a bit more firm, cut the liquid to 1 1/2 cups total.


2 cups plain greek yogurt, i use Fage
1 small box sugar/fat free Jello Pudding mix(4 serving size)
1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
2 big shots of espresso(4 oz), cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional
approx. 1/2 tsp espresso powder.
the espresso powder is optional, but i wanted a stronger espresso flavor.
1/2 cup vanilla protein shake...or milk of choice
put the shake in last as needed to thin to your desired consistency... sometimes i use about 1/4 cup shake.
put the dry ingredients in a small bowl and combine, set aside.  put the yogurt and espresso in a stand mixer and combine on slow then medium.  i used the whisk attachment.  slowly add the dry ingredients.  as noted, add a little protein shake or milk of choice if it seems too thick...don't forget IT WILL THICKEN MORE in the fridge.  TASTE TEST...does it need more espresso flavor...more sweetener? a splash of vanilla?  a sprinkle of cinnamon?

layer the jello cubes and yogurt mixture into cups of choice.  chill in fridge for a few hours.  serve with whipped topping and a few chocolate covered espresso beans.

if you have an Asian market near you, you can save the trouble and buy the "Coffee Jelly" (shown above).  i was unaware that this box was about 9 bad...but it was good and i wanted to see what texture and density was in the authentic Japanese style "jelly".  this is what i used in the photos, but i tested out the recipe i have given here on the second batch.

approx. NUTRITION...6 servings
(without whipped cream) should be ZERO calories
75 calories
11 grams protein
7.4 gram carbs
3.1 gram sugar

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