SHF#13 The Dark Side: A Week in the Life of A Chocoholic
If I sit down and do the math, I fork out a disproportionately large chunk of change stocking up on bars of Valrhona (mostly Manjari 64%, the rest Lacté 41% and Blanc 35% as I adore milk and white chocolate too) every month. Thanks to some unmitigable disasters resulting from the use of what I think of as econo-bars, I've long since learnt that great chocolate desserts start with great chocolate - scrimp on the choice of chocolate and it's practically pointless lavishing all that time and effort on a recipe. Strange but true; cheap chocolate is not going to magically transform into a decadent dessert through the alchemy of the kitchen.
Hardly a week goes by without a chocolate dessert or two (or three) that simply begs to be tried - I've earmarked enough intriguing recipes as must-make in my books to last me a lifetime. The terrific theme for the 13th edition of SHF hosted by Lovescool is The Dark Side. Below, a chocolate dessert diary of sorts, a typical week's worth of curiousity (and craving) sated. The recipes pair bittersweet chocolate with caramel, with liqueur, and with coffee respectively. All three feature flavour combinations that I like; I have been really psyched about giving these recipes a whirl.
Chocolate Caramel Sandwich Cookies
Aside from loads of delicious ideas for all manner of savoury sandwiches, Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book also has a whimsical (and equally delicious) chapter dedicated to "sandwiched sweets". Each of these pretty treats features two intensely chocolatey cookies sandwiching a rim of vanilla-scented caramel dotted with a fudgy chocolate centre. As all that peeks out of the circular cut-out is the fudge, biting into one presents a lovely surprise. The finishing touch - a few grains of fleur de sel - adds further to the surprise.
How could I resist a name like that, not to mention the surreal appearance of this dessert in Alice Medrich's Bittersweet? Once baked, the crisp meringue shells can be filled with anything you fancy, be it mousse or whipped cream-and-berries or ice-cream - think of them as edible containers. I filled them with a bittersweet chocolate and Cointreau mousse.
Tarte au Café
For me, no bout of chocolate dessert making is complete without a Pierre Hermé recipe - this tart is based on one found in Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan. A cookie-like pâte sucrée crust is filled with mocha ganache (the original uses a white chocolate and coffee ganache) and topped with coffee whipped cream. In the original version, white chocolate acts as a vehicle for the coffee flavour. Using bittersweet chocolate reverses the roles; coffee here acts to accentuate the seductively dark flavour of the ganache.