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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The Brownie-Cake Borderline

February 27th, 2012 · 20 Comments · Cakes, Chocolate, Recipes

brownies sideshot

So I was leafing through the latest issue of Donna Hay and came across this nigh-irresistibly named-and-photographed Caramel Crunch Brownie. A brownie covered with a crunch-filled caramel and a layer of chocolate ganache sounded like something that needed to be coming out of my kitchen posthaste.

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Happy Valentine’s: Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Chocolate, Framboise

February 14th, 2012 · 18 Comments · Cakes, Chocolate, Recipes

molten cake unmolded

Happy Valentine’s Day! This dessert is a little brainstorm I got last weekend when I realized it was three days from Valentine’s Day and I hadn’t thought of anything to make yet. I wanted to take a classic V-day dessert and give it a little modern spin. Molten chocolate cakes came to mind…perennial lurkers on Valentine’s “romantic” menus.

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A Chocolate Mint Tart to Round Out the Year

December 30th, 2011 · 26 Comments · Chocolate, Recipes, Tarts

Dark Chocolate and Peppermint Cream Tart on dessertfirstgirl.com

Hello dear readers,

In a couple of hours I’ll be boarding a plane to fly back to the US, so I’ll be ringing in the new year at home. It’s been a great two weeks in Vietnam and Hong Kong, filled with family and, as always, a surfeit of good food. Below is one of my favorite photos I took during my trip, on a bus ride rounding the Hong Kong harbor – one of the prettiest views in the world, in my quite-biased opinion:

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A Little Night Circus Cake

November 21st, 2011 · 30 Comments · Books, Cakes, Chocolate, Recipes

Darkness to Light Cake inspired by The Night Circus on dessertfirstgirl.com

I rarely mention my non-food-related reading here (and judging from the pile of new cookbooks on my kitchen table, leisure reading time is at a premium these days), but I thought I’d have to mention The Night Circus as I haven’t made any literature-inspired recipes recently . (By the way, for all you Song of Ice and Fire fans, this is the most amazing fansite out there.)

The Night Circus is a novel about magic, but a kind of magic far removed from the carefully delineated, all-encompassing sorcery of the Harry Potter world. Magic in this world is a mysterious, shadowy phenomenon practiced by a rare few. Although at least one character has certain “systems” for wielding magic, no elaboration follows. I found this nebulousness frustrating, but in the end I realized that the author wasn’t really interested in exploring the hows and whys of the feats of fancy in her book. Magic is a conduit to create some fantastical and evocative imagery, and lead the reader into a world where everything is deliberately, delightfully, extraordinary.

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