Archive for May, 2013

Great Expectations & Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes That Live Up To Them

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” – Charles Dickens GREAT EXPECTATIONS

I have been doing some reading lately and by reading I mean uppercase READING! In fact, I just read my first full Charles Dickens book. May seem rather high school or college to some but for one who struggled to learn to read, and indeed did not learn until I was on the far side of 10, reading Dickens felt like climbing Everest. I have read quotes by Dickens, I have been a fan of his Masterpiece Classics, the themes I know affect my life, but it’s all those words, there are just so many of them.

Then in the winter of this year a few friends and I started reading and gathering a rather loose book club of sorts – lots of fine food and discussions and some reading thrown in. It’s been so fun to see friends and discuss what we are all reading. We started light and ramped up until this “let’s read a classic, how about Dickens?” Gulp…challenge accepted. And I can’t say how happy I am. Yes, it took me the better part of 6 weeks, but oh the language, the characters, and the themes that reach out from centuries ago and are still relevant today. I rather loved it and feel a bit proud of myself; I know most people read this when they were half my age, but I have to admit I never saw myself reading Dickens just as I admire everyone who climbs Everest I don’t see myself doing that either.

For our first gathering I made these delicious chocolate yogurt snack cakes from David Leibowitz’s THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS, and they should live up to every great expectation you have for them. They are delicious, moist, not too sweet, easy, and they freeze like a dream. I seriously have always had at least one in my freezer since I first made these over a year ago; I think it might be one of the best parts of them. And the book had me rolling with laughter.

And some future kitchen reading I am super excited to check out is VEGETABLE LITERACY recommended by the wonderful Joe who also introduced me as a child to risotto along with other fine culinary masters, to Chanticleer I still don’t get it, and put up with a rather large amount of Ramona sized melt downs and fits. Thanks and apologies from a more grown up version of that feisty kid.

For all your expectations and the realization that they are more complicated in reality than in the dream. To a whole lot of growing up for Pip, Estella, and myself, and for the love of chocolate and literature, I give thee cakes!

Love,

Ramona

Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes from David Leibowitz’s THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS

Makes 12 cupcake-sized snack cakes

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract(I left this out and it still tastes great)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners or lightly butter the pan.

In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of the oil. Once melted and smooth, remove from the heat. (Or if you are like me you can do this in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments, stirring well between each until smooth.)

In another bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup oil with yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla and almond extracts.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yogurt mixture. Stir lightly a couple times, then add the melted chocolate and stir until just smooth.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until they feel barely set in the middle and a tester or toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving.

These cakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for four days or freeze them and take them out 15-20 min before you want to enjoy and delight in home made dessert from the freezer.

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05 2013

Chocolate-Chile Mole Meringues

Happy Cinco De Mayo and Happy 95th Birthday to my Grandfather!! For this special occasion a recipe I have meant to share for years.

These are one of my favorite cookies, and that says something. I have a little bit of what I would dub recipe ADD – its hard with so many yummy ideas out there to repeat myself, but I do with some very special recipes and this is one of them. I found this recipe over 5 years ago and I have been a loyal baker of these since then.

The cookies are simple with few ingredients and not a huge time commitment. They are rich in chocolate and spiced with a kick from the lime and Chile that makes them all the more tempting (don’t worry they are not spicy). They are gluten free so they have become my go to dessert for gluten free friends and meals. I can’t say enough about how delicious they are so let the continued repeat in my kitchen convince you to try these this May.

Ingredients: – Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine

6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 large egg whites

½ cup sugar (I use just under 1/2 a cup)

1 tsp. ancho chile powder

1 tsp. lime juice

½ tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick sheet pan liners.

Melt chocolate in microwave on medium power 30 seconds. Stir, and heat 30 seconds more. Continue heating and stirring until chocolate is completely melted.

Beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar. Increase beater speed to high. Whip until stiff peaks form when beaters are raised. Add chile powder, lime juice, vanilla and cinnamon; beat briefly to mix.

Gently fold melted chocolate into egg whites with rubber spatula, leaving some streaks of white.

Drop batter by teaspoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets. Store in airtight container.

05

05 2013