Entries from April 30th, 2012

Prepare to Get Sated

April 30th, 2012 · 174 Comments · Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes, Sated

sated issue1 cover

Dear readers,

It’s been a little while since my last cookbook was published. Some of my friends have been asking me what my next project would be, and I’m so excited to finally be able to announce it to the world:

I have been collaborating with Stephanie of the beautiful Desserts for Breakfast to create a new food magazine! About nine months ago, while sharing thoughts about our personal goals, we started tossing around the idea of producing our own magazine, to reflect our own particular vision of food. The idea evolved over months of late night discussions and lots of hard work, into sated magazine.

Sounds ambitious and a little crazy, right? Yes to both. There were several times when Stephanie and I looked at each other and we weren’t sure when the light at the end of the tunnel would appear. Obviously there’s so much more to creating a publication than writing words and taking photos. But in the end, all the behind-the-scenes work is worth it if you, the audience, can see our words and images presented the way we envisioned them being seen.

What is sated? sated is a quarterly production dedicated to beautiful images and thoughtful writings about food. Each issue will explore a single subject, such as chocolate, flour, or fruit, through recipes, interviews, stories, art, and photography. The end result is an intersection of culinary magazine and coffee table artbook.

sated is intended to be a print publication – although we’re working out an electronic option, we think it’s best appreciated in hardcopy format. Our hope is that sated is the type of magazine you keep on your bookshelf  or leave on your coffee table, not the kind of monthly magazine that gets read once and then recycled. That’s also why we’re starting out quarterly: to give us the time to research and produce the quality of content we want.

Here’s the concept statement I wrote in my notebook: sated is a peek into the notebook of your well-traveled bon vivant friend with a deep appreciation for the past and a streak of whimsy. She is the one who knows the origin of opera cake and finds a way to make a modern twist on it. She is the one who can talk about the differences between ten kinds of butter in a simple and funny way that makes you want to go out and buy all of them. When you open her journal, you’ll find notes on why using a molinillo to froth chocolate works best, a recipe for cinnamon brioche she wrangled from the owner of a fabulous B&B she just visited, a favorite quote from MFK Fisher, a photo of an apple orchard in fall afternoon light. She takes the best of the past and the present and combines it into her own ideal world.

sated is food with intimacy and personality. We want readers to feel like they are being invited into their friend’s home – their friend who is eager to share her enthusiasm for food . There’s so much information on food out there today that people feel overwhelmed with the need to be up to date on everything. sated isn’t looking to be trendy. sated is a leisurely exploration into the sideways and byways of food  – its history, its meaning, and most importantly its beauty.

Our first issue of sated is dedicated to dark chocolate – a fairly easy choice for two dessert lovers! We’ll put the table of contents up on the sated site soon, but we’ve put together some pretty great content I’m proud of: articles about the craft chocolate movement, how-to features, chocolate guides, and, of course, lots of chocolate recipes accompanied by Stephanie’s stunning photography. We are wrapping up production and we’re looking to announce its release within the next couple of weeks. So prepare yourself to get sated.

I’ve been blogging about food for five and a half years now, and I’ve gotten some truly amazing opportunities through my site. I hope I never stop blogging, but as my Facebook profile says, I’m always looking for the next horizon. Having written my own books and for other publications, I wanted to take on a new creative project that would challenge me and help me expand both my existing skills and develop new ones.

I’m a pretty private (shy) person, which may sound strange for someone who writes about her life weekly on a public blog. I’m still surprised when friends or acquaintances outside the food world come up to me and say they’ve visited my site. I tend not to broadcast my inner thoughts and aspirations too publicly – probably stemming from my twin tendencies to be self-reliant and to fear failure. Easier to share things when they’re all finished and done, and all the rough edges hidden away behind the curtain. So yes, I downplayed this magazine for a while, even to my friends, so I wouldn’t have to answer anyone, “oh, that magazine thing I was working on? Yeah, I have no idea what I’m doing or where it’s going,” or “oh, the magazine project? yeah, that didn’t quite pan out the way I planned.”

But the time for self-doubt is over. So sated is me throwing my windows open to the world, a public statement from me and Stephanie about how we feel about food, so I hope you’ll support us, and tell all your friends about it, and let us know what you think. Visit the website to learn about the magazine – we’ll be posting up more material and updates, and when the magazine is published you’ll be able to purchase it through the site. Also, if you’re interested in contributing to sated, use the e-mail links on the site.  I mentioned that I have a hard time asking for help, but a magazine is not a two-person job, and I have no problem saying that out loud now! To fully realize the vision we have for sated, we’ll need many more talented people on our team. If you’re intrigued by the sated mission, drop us a line!

chocolate sables overhead

To help celebrate the announcement of this magazine, I’m sharing a recipe that I made for the San Francisco Food Bloggers Bake Sale last weekend. Thank you to all of you who came out and supported us, by the way – it was a great event and everyone enjoyed themselves, and we raised quite a bit for Share Our Strength!

I made a duo of cookies, one of which was Chocolate Raspberry Sablés. Sablés are one of my favorite cookies for their dreamy, crumbly texture – butter and sugar meshed into a delicate cohesion, ready to melt at the lightest bite into crisp-tender goodness in your mouth. Two secrets: don’t overwork the dough and don’t overbake. I added some freeze-dried raspberries (chocolate and raspberry are one of my favorite combinations) for a bright burst of contrast. These are wonderfully poppable – and addictive.

Also, we’re running a giveaway to celebrate sated. We are giving away two copies of the premier issue of sated to Dessert First and Desserts for Breakfast readers. There are several chances for you to enter:

1)Leave a comment on this post for one entry.

2) Leave a comment on the Desserts for Breakfast post for one entry.

3) Follow sated on Twitter and tweet about it for one entry (you do not need to post a comment here; we’ll track it through Twitter).

4) Like sated on Facebook and leave a comment on the page for one entry (you do not need to post a separate comment here).

5) Sign up to be on sated’s mailing list for one entry (you do not need to post a separate comment here).

The giveaway will run until May 18, at which point we’ll choose two lucky winners at random to receive the very first issue of sated.


Thanks so much and good luck! Please stay tuned for more updates, including previews of issue one!

chocolate sables

Chocolate Raspberry Sablés

makes about 3 dozen cookies
  • 1 1/4 cups (156 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (29 g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 11 tablespoons (156 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup freeze dried raspberries
  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Beat butter in a stand mixer until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and cream for another 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add in egg and beat to combine.
  • Add in flour mixture and beat just until combine and the mixture starts to come together. Do not overmix - it should still be crumbly but if you press it together with your hands it will stick together.
  • Divide dough in half and roll into 1 1/2 inch diameter logs. The dough should hold together; if it does not you can mix it a little more in the mixer but try not to turn it into a completely solid ball of dough.
  • Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill for a couple hours until firm.
  • Preheat ovens to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using a sharp knife, slice 1/2" thick rounds from the cookie logs. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Five

April 24th, 2012 · 4 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

2012foodblooger bwob sf badge2

Before I finish off my mousse experiment, I want to remind all you faithful readers that this Saturday is the big Food Blogger Bake Sale! We have had a location change since my first announcement: the bake sale will be this Saturday, April 28, at Omnivore Books from 11-4.

Omnivore Books was the location of our first bake sale so I’m really excited to be back here! And, to continue a very fine tradition that started when Rose Levy Barenbaum was speaking the day of our first bake sale, Alice Medrich will be at Omnivore from 3-4 to talk about her new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts! I can’t think of a better agenda: stop by for a treat and then listen to a pastry master speak. If you’d like to see who’s participating in this year’s bake sale, go on over to the official website and see all the volunteer bakers listed on the side.

I really hope you all can come out – please Facebook/tweet/spread the word about our bake sale so we can get a great turnout! If you don’t live in San Francisco, check out the national list of blogger bake sales to see if there’s one near you. Thanks so much!

Now, onto the final mousse of the taste testing!

choc mousse 5

Chocolate Mousse #5: Sabayon based

Unfortunately I have to start off my notes about this last mousse with a little disclaimer: this recipe is called Pâte à Bombe chocolate mousse in the cookbook but I don’t think that’s correct. Pâte à bombe is made from combining hot sugar syrup with whipped egg yolks – the resulting ultra-rich and airy base can be used for everything from mousses to ice cream. It would undoubtedly have made an excellent chocolate mousse, but the recipe I made instead is really a sabayon based mousse, which is also a perfectly valid mousse method, just different.

Sabayon is also another wonderful pastry staple that has near-endless uses: it’s basically the French version of the Italian zabaglione, and is little more than eggs and sugar whisked and cooked into a buttercup-golden custard that can be layered in desserts or just eaten by the spoonful. In the case of mousse, it lends a gorgeous creaminess and fullness of flavor. This is the one other mousse recipe in my lineup that uses cooked eggs, and the extra steps in this method are indeed worth the effort, in my opinion.

You might be thinking that this method seems similar to the creme anglaise mousse #4 I made, and in principle they are very similar. But if you compare the ingredient ratios you’ll notice there is much more egg in the sabayon recipe. This makes for a much thicker and darker mixture. There’s also less dairy in this recipe, so the chocolate flavor is more pronounced, with less cream to soften out the edges. I found the mousse to be sweeter and creamier than #4 as well.  Zabaglione is traditionally made with Marsala, so it seems perfectly reasonable to splash a bit in this sabayon as well.

I really enjoyed this mousse – along with the first mousse, these two seem the most suited for straight eating. Just a couple more mousse-making tips – these apply to all the mousses I’ve made:

- Temperature is key. You’ll notice a temperature range for the melted chocolate in every recipe. When you are combining chilled whipped cream into warm chocolate, if the temperature difference is too great the cream will set the chocolate, creating little hard chips that ruin the texture of the mousse. You want the chocolate to have cooled down enough to avoid this temperature shock.

- Folding technique is also crucial. You’ve incorporated all this lovely air into the various mixtures – the last thing you want to do is mash it all out with over-vigorous mixing. That’s why most of the recipes feature steps where you incorporate a small bit of one mixture into another – for example, folding a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate – to help balance out the densities and make it easier to fully combine the two component together. Fold quickly and smoothly, and with as few strokes as possible – the more melt-in-your-mouth your mousse will be.

I hope this was a interesting tour of how many different ways mousse can be made. I would say that I could see uses for all of the five mousses I did try: #1 and #5 are great for eating, #2 is also good for milder palates, while #3 and #4 work well as dessert components. There’s still so many other methods I didn’t explore: pâte à bombe, meringue, Bavarian, or even the water-based mousse. I guess a second round is in order in the future? I’m going to take a little break from mousse right now, though, and let you all try and hand and tell me which one you like best.

Happy mousse making!

choc mousse 5 scoop

Chocolate Mousse, Sabayon Based

  • adapted from Cooking with Chocolate
  • 3/4 cup (200 ml) whipping cream, chilled
  • 6 oz (170 g) bittersweet (60-68%) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (45 g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • Place whipping cream in bowl of a stand mixer and whisk with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  • Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Make sabayon: Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, and water together in a large bowl until combined.
  • Place bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water and stir until mixture reaches 180 degrees F. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • When the chocolate mixture has cooled to 113-122 degrees F, fold in one-third of the whipped cream with a flexible spatula to lighten.
  • Fold in the rest of the whipped cream, and then fold in the sabayon.
  • Divide mousse among dessert glasses and chill for 12 hours. Mousse will keep for up to 2 days.

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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Four

April 20th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse lineup

Remember back with mousse #1, where I discussed how eggs enriched a mousse like nothing else? The only issue was that the eggs in the classic French style mousse weren’t cooked, so it should be avoided by those with health concerns. However, the next two mousses use eggs that are cooked, so you don’t have to worry about anything – except perhaps your waistline! I think they’re worth the extra effort.


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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Three + {Tool Review}: Tovolo Quick Prep Mixer

April 16th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

tavolo prep mixer

Apologies for falling behind on the mousse recipes – I wanted to add on a review of my latest kitchen gadget, one that’s very apropos for mousse-making.

The photo above is of the Tovolo Quick Hand Mixer. I picked mine up on sale from a kitchenware store – I’ll confess that normally I would have passed this by as unnecessary (I mean, all a good pastry chef needs is a whisk and some elbow grease, right?), but the price, plus the fact that it’s a perfect illustration of gear trains and the benefits of mechanical advantage made it too fun to pass up.


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Chocolate Mousse Methodology, Day Two

April 11th, 2012 · 9 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse spoon

Thanks for the feedback on my mousse project! As I anticipate typing the word “mousse” about a hundred times in the next couple days, I am totally waiting for “mouse” to slip into one of these posts and elude both the spellcheck and my mousse-addled eyes. If only I could blame Autocorrect when that happens…

Without further ado, mousse #2!


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Chocolate Mousse Methodology: Day One

April 10th, 2012 · 13 Comments · Chocolate, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

choc mousse board

Sometimes you find yourself in an inspiration drought. I know that seems practically impossible these days, when Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest means there’s all sorts of inspiration for the taking, all the time, but sometimes I find the reverse happening. When you’re surrounded by everyone else’s cool ideas, and it seems like everything original has already been done, it’s hard to have room for creative thoughts of your own in your mind. Sometimes I find I need to step away from the overstimulation and let my brain wander and percolate ideas on its own. Like the classic writers’ advice, to stop reading when you’re trying to write your own book, so you don’t let other voices drown out your own.

I can’t guarantee that the project I came up with is wholly original, but at least it was a happy kickstart.  I tried to re-organize my bookshelf for the tenth time (I keep coming up with new algorithms for determining hierarchy) and ended up picking out Cooking with Chocolate: Essential Recipes and Techniques, which was a nominee for IACP best baking book of 2011. I concur with the short-listing: it’s a comprehensive compendium of classic chocolate techniques, easy to follow, and written in English – that last criterion can be a real killer when searching for advanced/professional level baking books!


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