Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Trifle More

My all-time favourite use for Crème Chocolat - apart from spooning it straight into my mouth, it goes without saying - is as a yummy component in trifle-style desserts.

This luscious chocolate pudding is remarkable not only because it is so effortless to stir together, but because of the succinct list of ingredients, an elegant quartet - cream, sugar, chocolate, egg yolks. I think this sheer simplicity adds all the more to the aspect of nursery food charm about it, although the unctuous, comforting mouthfeel certainly makes the hit of sophisticated chocolate flavour being delivered all the more surprising.
Versatility is yet another virtue of this recipe; I've used it as a filling for everything from chocolate layer cakes to shortbread cookies to tarts. But, truly, its onctueuse nature makes it ideal for lending textural interest - not to mention glamour - to that good old-fashioned delight known as the trifle.
In this lineup, I've included a Black Forest Trifle, a take on that retro-licious cake classic. Crème Chocolat is layered with Kirsch whipped cream, preserved wild sour cherries, and boudoir biscuits laced with Kirsch syrup.
The key is to use good quality cherry eau-de-vie, and good quality preserved cherries.

Where the latter is concerned, griottes may be the traditional choice - and I may possibly get stoned by Black Forest Cake purists for saying the following - but my personal absolute favourite preserved cherries to use are Amarena Fabbri. As much as I adore the distinctive and signature blue-and-white packaging, what has me completely sold is what lies within the jar - small, plump, succulent amarena (wild sour black cherries) carefully candied in thick amarena syrup. They are the perfect balance of tart and sweet. I always have a jar handy in the fridge, as they are wonderful (and quick) for dressing up all sorts of desserts; I especially like it for topping cheesecake (like the vanilla bean cheesecake cups here), panna cotta, and ice cream. If you reside here, you can pick it up at the school.

And speaking of retro, I really couldn't resist adding a chocolatey version of that tratt-era pudding icon. The Chocoholic’s Tiramisu features all those elements you love about a great tiramisu - billowy mascarpone cream, bourdoir biscuits spiked with strong espresso and lashings of tasty booze, dark sultry cocoa - with Crème Chocolat added to amp up the chocolate quotient.

The above will feature in Ultimate Chocolate Treats I, a demo class, that I'll be teaching at Shermay's Cooking School on 14 March 2009 (Saturday), 15 March 2009 (Sunday), 28 March 2009 (Saturday) and 29 March 2009 (Sunday) - the March schedule has all the necessary details. For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or email

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ultimate Chocolate Treats I - Classes

I'll be teaching Ultimate Chocolate Treats I, a demo class, at Shermay's Cooking School on 14 March 2009 (Saturday), 15 March 2009 (Sunday), 28 March 2009 (Saturday) and 29 March 2009 (Sunday) - the March schedule has all the necessary details. For all inquiries, please call the school at +65 6479 8442 or email

The idea behind this series of classes is to present a collection of the kind of classic chocolate recipes you'll reach for hopefully time and again, the kind of recipes that become like familiar friends in the kitchen, that you can always fondly call upon to reliably bake a batch of delicious comfort. In short, a collection of recipes for the inveterate chocoholic, for whom there is no food that soothes like chocolate does, no salve for the soul like chocolate is.

It goes without saying that Heirloom Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are in the lineup - is there any other chocolate recipe the mere mention of which conjures up in the mind's eye a vision as cosy? The key to a chocolate chip cookie's texture is the golden ratio of fat to flour to sugar. This particular recipe is special because it bakes up nicely every time, and doesn't spread excessively in the oven to become too thin. It is also chock-full of Valrhona Perles, the Rolls Royce of chocolate chips. As for the eternal debate of soft and chewy versus crisp and golden, it’s purely a matter of personal preference, and with regards to this recipe, a matter of adjusting the baking time.

It’s also a recipe that can easily be varied. My favourite variations include

Espresso Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies with Valrhona Perles & Illy Coffee and

White Chocolate, Macadamia & Orange Cookies with Valrhona Ivoire White Chocolate & Candied Orange Peel

As for that other eternal debate between fudgy and cakey brownies, I have to confess I feel fudginess is the greatest joy in eating a brownie. Hence Ultra Fudgy Brownies using Valrhona Equatoriale Noire 55% Dark Chocolate, a recipe that’s uncompromising, unmistakable, and unapologetic in all its fudgy glory.

Crème Chocolat is a velvety chocolate pudding based on Valrhona Equatoriale Noire 55% Dark Chocolate. Enriched with cream and egg yolks, it is wonderful served as it is, possibly accompanied by a crisp cookie-like thing on the side. For a glassy set, it can be poured into dainty demitasse or espresso cups whilst still warm and liquid before being chilled.

Or you can wait for it to cool to a thicker consistency before mounding into cups for the presentation like in the picture at the top of this post.

A very versatile recipe, it’s also delectable used as a filling for myriad layer cakes, cookie sandwiches and tartlets. But perhaps my all-time favourite use for it is as an elegant component in trifle-style desserts.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares using Valrhona Equatoriale Noire 55% Dark Chocolate is a super simple, no-baking-required, just-stir-together kind of number. Quite aside from being an inveterate chocoholic, I also have something of a candy habit. The PB+C combination is a crowd pleaser, as evidenced by the legions of ardent fans a certain peanut butter cup candy has. These moreish squares are very much inspired by that stalwart of the supermarket candy aisle, with the bonus of quality chocolate and roasted peanuts.

I’ll put up a separate post on the Bonus Section with Extra Recipes, Ideas & Serving Suggestions. This includes:

Malted Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Valrhona Jivara Lactée 40% Milk Chocolate

Chocolate Chip Cookie & Ice Cream Sandwiches Heirloom Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies sandwiched with Malted Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

Fudge Brownie & Ice Cream Sandwiches Ultra Fudgy Brownies sandwiched with Malted Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

Black Forest Trifle Layers of Crème Chocolat, Kirsch Whipped Cream & Amarena (preserved wild sour cherries)

The Chocoholic’s Tiramisu Layers of Crème Chocolat, Mascarpone Mousse & Lady Fingers soaked in Dark Rum and Espresso