June 2006 archives

Solving Two Problems

I’m currently working on solving two problems, and I beg forgiveness.

I recently upgraded to a digital SLR camera, and I’ve been struggling to understand all those little dials, digital read-outs, flashing numbers, and the myriad of switches that will make me look like the pros.
So that’s one problem I’m tackling.

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The next problem: I have too much chocolate.
Here is Paris, the temperature is starting to soar and after a recent project I worked on with several of the top chocolatiers in Paris I was handed multiple boxes of chocolates to sample and taste.

(“What project?”, you might be asking. I’ll be sending more information about that to my Subscribers. What? You’re not a Subscriber? Enter your email address is the green box on the right and you’ll get wild and wacky updates from me.)

So I hope you indulge me in letting my try out my new camera photos here on the site, and I’ll be introducing some wonderful chocolates, and other French confections, in the next few postings. Some of the postings will be short and sweet, and others I’ll ramble like a madman on chocolate. And sugar.

The chocolates above are from Patrick Roger, one of my favorite chocolatiers in Paris. The collection is called Le Best-of and each stick contains something different:


  • Ganache baies de Sechuan: Chocolate ganache seasoned with grains of Sichuan pepper.

  • Gananche mandarine: Ganache infused with tangerine peel.

  • Ganache citron vert: Ganache with lime zest and a touch of the lively juice.

  • Pâde d’amande chocolat et châtaigne: Almond paste compounded with chestnut puree.

  • Praliné nougatine: Crunchy nougat paste. (my favorite!)

  • Ganache et gelée de coings: Jellied quince paste layered between chocolate cream.

  • Mousse caramel: Caramel mousse (ok, I lied…this is my favorite…or am I allowed two?)

Patrick Roger
108 Blvd Saint-Germain
Paris
Tel: 01 43 29 38 42
M: Odéon

47 rue Houdon
Seaux
(RER station B: Seaux)
Tel: 01 47 02 30 17

(And Muchas Gracias to a certain señorita too!)

Dulce de Leche Brownie Recipe

I thought I’d share this recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies. I’ve had several jars of the dulce de leche in my refrigerator, waiting to be used. And since I happened to be craving chocolate brownies, I though, “Why not combine the two?”

In the past, I’ve used homemade Dulce de Leche in this recipe, although you can use store-bought. I think these brownies are really fun to make – who doesn’t like swirling caramel? Just be careful not to overdo it. You wanted big, gooey pockets of dulce de leche.

brownies

Dulce de Leche Brownies
12 brownies

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway Books)

  • 8 tablespoons (115g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (25g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (140g) flour
  • optional: 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Dulce de Leche (or Cajeta)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).

Line a 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn’t reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Here comes the fun part.
Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Storage: These brownies actually become better the second day, and will keep well for up to 3 days.



Related Recipes and Posts

Chocolate FAQs

Chocolate Milkshakes with Coffee and Almond

Cocoa Powder FAQs

Baked Mint Brownies

Chocolate Idiot Cake

Chocolate Sherbet



Blogging, Interrupted

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Someone has a lot of catching up to do.

Back soon…

The Worst Kitchen Gadget in the World

Almost every foodie worth their salt, including those who hang onto every word by that scary, bow-tied gent, adore their Microplane zester. The rasp-style graters have turned zesting into one of the hottest fads of the new millenium.

(Did anyone catch those steamy photos of Vince and Jen zesting lemons on their balcony? Or Brad and Angelina passing time until the baby came, grating orange zest for God-knows-what-those-wacky-lovebird were going to bake up?…Keep it in the kitchen, guys, okay? Or how about the worst culprit of them all; Britany almost dropping hers while the cameras snapped away? That girl is unfit for zesting, if you ask me.)

But in non-celebrity news, I just got the best non-kitchen gadget from Microplane…

In case you’re wondering why I’m so excited (or maybe you’re not, but if you’re reading this far, I’m assuming you are…or you’re just indulging me), this is the a Foot File. It’s not something you use in the kitchen. And if you do, please don’t invite me for dinner. Mine’s staying in the bathroom, just in case you get invited over.

But for those of us who spend a lot of time on our feet, it’s pretty easy to develop leather-like skin. I ordered one of these green-meanies, knowing that anything from Microplane would likely exceed my expectations, but I didn’t realize that within 30 seconds, 30 years of hard-earned callouses would disappear right down the non-proverbial drain.

One use, and bam!, my whole foot-care world turned upside-down.
I don’t know what to believe anymore (which may also be from watching White House press conferences, as well.)

I won’t go into the skin-cell-by-skin-cell details here, since you already know enough about me, but with sandal season coming, I’m going to be able to walk proudly down the streets and boulevards of Paris this summer. So forget anything you ever knew before about my foot care regime and get one of these. You won’t regret it. And remember; keep it out of the kitchen.