Arsip Tag: dark

paris + a deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce – smitten kitchen

And so, we went to Paris for eight days, which is never enough. Eight days is long enough to get you entrenched in rhythms (morning café, long walk through old streets, afternoon pastry, nap and late dinner), long enough to convince you you cannot remember the place you were before, but also long enough for it to seem cruel when you finally have to leave.

red curb

afternoon, montmartre

It’s fun to be an observer, and partial participant, in a foreign country. You get to sit in cafes, unhurried by those needling things like work (though, from the sights of the cafés, this luxury is not limited to tourists) and watch someone else’s world from behind your cafe creme. Except, it is all so much more exciting to you. Everything in France tastes louder: the milk, creamier; the coffee, richer; the chicken, so much more “chickeny” kind of like when Julia Child had her first meal in France, sole meunière (“a morsel of perfection”) and was bowled over by the fact that it tasted so much more like itself. And their butter, oh baby… well, we’ll get to that soon.

jacques bonseargant

rue de tournelles

It is never fun to have to come home–I myself was kicking and screaming through Charles DeGaulle Airport, not only because my Suitcase of French Goodies weighed a ton but because American Airlines had unceremoniously canceled our flight. And people think the French are rude!

la tour eiffel

carousel

But do you know what helps? Having a delicious scheduling mishap with your apartment swap partners and having them home when you get there, ready to put out some pate and a French baguette and pour the Sancerre. And while it may be rude to say “even better, after they left…” it is actually true because that was when I finally opened the refrigerator and hot damn. They put Paris in there! Or, at least the Paris that I care about: comté cheese, homemade apricot jam, an apple from one of their parent’s backyard, sausage, coffee and some Poilâne bread and a seeded baguette in the freezer. I thought I had died and gone to a very well-stocked heaven.

Oh, and then I found the pack of Le Beurre Bordier. THUD.

le beurre bordier

***

One of my biggest French obsessions is salted butter caramel. Sure, we have it here now–heck, even Starbucks is in on it!–but they make it differently there. Much differently. The French always seem to cook their caramels longer, to a dark copper color, none of those golden browns we see here. This is, if you ask me, the secret to great caramel. The lighter colored ones just taste sweet and sticky but the dark ones are nutty and complex with a trace of bitterness. It is amazing what an extra couple minutes of cooking will do.

deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce

After have the most incredibly delicious, rich caramel sauce at the Breizh Cafe Tuesday night–Bretons are famous for both their butter and the dark caramels they make with them–I swore that I would eventually show you all how to make it at home, with or without Breton butter. When I saw that Buerre Bordier in the fridge, “eventually” became “right this very moment.”

caramel misesugar starting to meltgetting darkerperfect

And here we are! I’m not going to go into a lecture about how to make great caramel, because my friend David Lebovitz has already done so better than I ever could (see Ten Tips for Making Caramel and How to Make Perfect Caramel). Instead, I will tell you what you could use this batch for, which is, in short, everything: crepes filled with jam or chestnut creme (you know, if yours hasn’t been confiscated by airport security, not that I am bitter or anything), spread between cookies or, you know, this:

deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream

Just a thought.

[Update] Where we ate in Paris: Since a few have inquired about where we ate, I put the list of restaurants we checked out on a separate page. See it here.

Full album of Paris photos: (Not viewable in RSS)

Deep, Dark Salted Butter Caramel Sauce [Sauce au Caramel au Beurre Salé]

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) salted butter, the better you can get, the better it will taste
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat in a larger pot than you think you’ll need–at least two or three quarts, whisking or stirring the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a nice, dark copper color. Add the butter all at once and stir it in, before turning off the stove and pour in the heavy cream (The sauce will foam up quite a bit when you add it; this is why you want the larger pot.), whisking it until you get a smooth sauce.

You use it right away or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you take it out, it will likely have thickened a bit but 60 seconds in the microwave brings it right back to pouring consistency.

Serve over everything.

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dark chocolate tart with gingersnap crust – smitten kitchen

I know that a lot of you think that I break my back in the kitchen each week, slaving over the most exacting steps in this recipe or that. But the fact is, I get more lax every year. I don’t feel as badly when things don’t go perfectly and I don’t feel any need to prove my cooking prowess by making my own pâte feuilletée when it will probably keep me cooking until midnight.

gingery ginger snapsgingersnap crumb crustdark chocolatechocolate tart with gingersnap crust

And this is the perfect example. Each year, I make two desserts for each family and I take requests. This year, both asked for chocolate and that brought me to this recipe I’ve had bookmarked forever which is so easy, it almost felt like cheating. What would Thanksgiving be if I wasn’t tired from totally miscalculating how long it would take to cook everything on Wednesday night and pulling pies and cheesecakes out of the oven at 1 a.m.? Could I break with such glowy traditions?

You bet I could.

chocolate puddle

One year ago: Rugelach Pinwheels
Two years ago: Salted Chocolate Caramels, Zucchini, Ham, Basil and Ricotta Fritters

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2007

The tart has a shiny, almost crackly top light a brownie and an interior that is exactly like a truffle, which is to say that if you don’t like your chocolate desserts intense — like flourless chocolate cake or pot de creme-level intense — this is definitely not the tart for you. My family was in the former camp, nibbling at half-slices and pushing them away. But Alex’s family wanted seconds. Guess what they’re getting again next year?

The original recipe calls for an ingredient I loathe — candied ginger. If that’s your thing, by all means, go for it. Instead, I made this the way I saw fit, with a couple pinches of cinnamon and salted butter in the crust, and it came out exactly as I’d hoped.

Makes 10 servings

Crust:
8 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 32 cookies), coarsely broken
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted

Filling:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Softly whipped cream, for serving

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind gingersnap cookies in processor (yielding 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups). Add melted butter and process until moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

For filling:
Combine finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, ground black pepper, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Very gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth and blended. Pour chocolate filling into crust.

Bake chocolate tart until filling puffs slightly at edges and center is softly set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack. Cool tart in pan 20 minutes. Gently remove tart pan sides and cool tart completely.

Cut tart into thin wedges and serve with softly whipped cream. I’d keep it unsweetened, but that’s just personal taste.

Do ahead: Chocolate tart can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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white and dark hearted brownies – smitten kitchen

White chocolate brownies have it tough. They share a name with a baked good that needs no improving on; their chocolate is rejected by self-titled “real” chocolate eaters for being a pale imitation of the rich, nutty and bittersweet awesomeness of darker chocolates; this same chocolate is so sweet that you must dial back the sugar in your brownies to adjust for it, removing moisture, risking leaving them cake-like and if it couldn’t get much worse, they’re barely white. More like, pale-yellowish-beige. Yum, right?

white chocolate brownies
brown brownies

I was one of those white chocolate rejectors for a long time but I finally made peace with it when I stopped judging it through the lens of chocolate — which is bitter and complex in ways that white chocolate cannot be — and accepted it for what it is, a buttery sweet confection that, when used carefully, plays exceptionally well with others, like mint, berries, nuts and, well, dark chocolate. And since I’d come full circle with my reasoning, I made a batch of white chocolate brownies and a batch of dark chocolate brownies and hadn’t figured out what I was going to do next, only that nothing bad could happen from there.

ready to trade parts

I don’t know what came over me next — maybe the extreme cuteness that has descended upon our apartment for the last 16 months has finally drained me of any remaining trace of sarcasm, eye-rolling or groans around treacly twee things, but suddenly I was digging out a tiny cookie cutter and making heart-shaped belly buttons in my brownies:

heartless
puzzled

And swapping bellies:

reversed

And encouraging you to do the same:

nauseatingly cute

So, how long until I can start contributing to bake sales at the kid’s school? Because I think I’ve found my calling at last.

One year ago: Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with Mint White Chocolate Cream
Two years ago: Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage and Toasted Coconut Shortbread Hearts
Three years ago: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
Four years ago: Mom’s Chocolate Chip Meringues

Elsewhere: There’s more cute on Bon Appetit, where I made Heart-Stuffed Shells in a Ricotta Sauce as part of a Valentine’s Menu. If you’re an artichoke fanatic like I am, you’re going to melt over these. Instead of being stuffed with 16 cheeses (okay, I’m exaggerating) and swimming in more cheese, as I remember shells from the 1980s, these are stuffed with a bright lemon-Parmesan-garlic-artichoke filling, and the ricotta is saved for a bechamel-like sauce.

White and Dark Heart Brownies

So about the light brownies: as I said above, white chocolate brownies are tough. I looked at every recipe that I could find for them and rejected each on different accounts. (Those that had reviews were never reviewed well.) I finally started reverse engineering my old fallback, the one-bowl brownies I’ve been making since grade school that despite their absence of browned butter, imported chocolate, Dutched cocoa and paragraphs of direction, are really spectacular. I increased the chocolate, knowing that the flavor of white chocolate is hard to find in confections, even in larger quantities and top qualities. I decreased the sugar. I increased the thickness, just a tad. But I left the important part there, that it’s a one-bowl brownie, something that’s doubly important because you’ll be making two batches. Two bowls; we can manage that, right?

I’m not going to call this the best brownie I’ve ever made — in fact, I was so convinced that it wouldn’t work, I didn’t even take photos of the process of making them — but it exceeded my expectations. They’re chewy, their sweetness is not completely out of control and they each taste enough like their primary ingredient to earn their titles. But? They’re so much better in the context (or as the belly button) of their darker brownie compatriots. Also, cuter. Once a year, you can make something just because it’s cutest thing to do.

This recipe makes 16 2-inch square white or dark chocolate brownies. To make a pan of each and reverse the middles, you’ll need double the ingredients listed below. You will end up with 32 reversed-center brownies.

3 ounces (85 grams) semisweet or good white chocolate*, coarsely chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 1/8 ounces or 175 grams) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
1/4 teaspoon table salt or 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (83 grams) all-purpose flour

1-inch heart or other shaped cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over opposite sides of pan. Repeat with second piece of foil in opposite direction. Butter foil.

Melt white or dark chocolate and butter together in a large bowl over a simmering pot of water (or in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring between each) until it is 90% melted; remove from heat and stir the mixture until it is smooth. (I do this too keep things from getting too hot.) Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Add flour and salt together, stirring until just combined. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (for the dark chocolate version) and 30 to 35 minutes (for the white chocolate version).

Repeat this recipe with the other kind of chocolate and a second 8×8-inch square pan. If you don’t have two matching square pans (understandably) simply wait until you can remove your brownies from the pan as directed in the next step, and start again.

Cool pans on a wire rack in the freezer if you’re going to make cut-outs; frozen brownies are much easier to make clean cuts from. Once solid, transfer brownies in their foil “sling” to a large cutting board and cut each pan of brownies into 16 even squares, about 2×2 inches each. Still cold (and if they warm up and soften too quickly, pop them back in the freezer for 5 minutes), carefully, slowly, gently, press your cookie cutter into the center of each brownie and set the cut-out aside. Insert the dark cut-outs into the centers of the light brownies, and vice-versa. From here, you can let them warm up to room temperature or wrap them up in the freezer until you will need them.

* I generally dislike the qualifier “good” in recipes; it suggests that if you don’t use the very! best! olive oil, butter, wine, etc. your recipe will be terrible. Feh. But good white chocolate is a world apart from the cheap stuff. Namely, it is white chocolate, and not “white baking chips” which will melt into a yellow-oiled chunky… ugh, trust me. You’ll be glad you used something better.

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dark chocolate coconut macaroons – smitten kitchen

2014 has been mostly about the chocolate thus far, which is the kind of thing that happens when you outsource what-to-cook-next decisions to my husband and his Mini-Me. We bounced from Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts to Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake before landing on a Double Chocolate Banana Bread which, even a month later leads to the weekly “accidental” purchase of way more bananas that we’d ever eat, so we “have” to make more, no violins necessary. Thus, it would be easy to blame the boys in my family for what I did to an innocent coconut macaroon — that is, saddling it with not one but two types of chocolate, until it was intensely fudgy and brownie-like with an almost gooey center, seriously why aren’t you baking these yet? — but guys, this was all me.

grind the coconut
unsweetened chocolate wins

Because although I do not share my family’s perspective that if it’s not chocolate, it’s not worth eating, I feel adamant that if you’re going to eat chocolate, it should really, really taste like chocolate. And, pitifully, every chocolate coconut macaroon I’ve had, along with some other cookies that will no doubt cause you to storm out of here in disgust once and for all, failed this test.

dark chocolate coconut macaroon batter

scoop them tiny; they're intense
cookies might look underbaked

A few tablespoons of cocoa powdered added to a standard coconut is just not enough. It makes coarse, muddy-brown marbles with weak flavor. It’s for compromising, not aspiring, and I think we should all dream big in the kitchen, about macaroons and everything else. And so, I made a few changes. I know it’s less popular these days, but I really prefer sweetened coconut flakes for macaroons, as it packs in a tremendous amount of moisture; dry macaroons shouldn’t be a given. As I’ve done before, I began by grinding down my shredded coconut for a smoother and more nut-like texture. I used cocoa powder, but more than is usually recommended, and I underbaked them, just a little, for that tender-centered effect. But it was the melted chocolate that was the revelation. Semisweet chocolate was good, but deeply bitter unsweetened chocolate catapulted this cooking into a level of chocolate intensity that could only be likened to a truffle, or a brownie. A deep, dark, fudgy brownie. That’s butter-free, flour free and takes all of 10 minutes to assemble. Dark chocolate macaroons for lunch today, anyone?

dark chocolate macaroons
really dark fudgy chocolate coconut macaroons

Macaroons, previously: Raspberry Coconut Macaroons, Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart and a Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte we love so much, I made a massive version of it for my father-in-law’s 65th last month, where not a single person was gluten-free. We just like it that much.

Passover recipes: Mostly dessert, plus one brisket and matzo ball soup, over here.

Good Reads: Are back by popular demand. Productivity is overrated; reading blogs is not.

Facebook: Are you finding that new updates from the Smitten Kitchen Facebook page aren’t showing up in your News Feed? Try this: Go to the SK Facebook page, click “Like,” (thank you!) and then “Get Notifications” from the dropdown menu. Not so into Facebook? Smitten Kitchen can also be followed via Email, Twitter, RSS, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr. Smitten Kitchen would send you a singing telegram, but you might want to wear earplugs for that.

One year ago: Ramp Pizza
Two years ago: Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches
Three years ago: Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
Four years ago: Tangy Spiced Brisket
Five years ago: Empanadas, Homemade Chocolate Wafers + Icebox Cupcakes
Six years ago: Swiss Easter Rice Tart and Vegetarian Cassoulet
Seven years ago: Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad and Arborio Rice Pudding

Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Yield: About 4 dozen small cookies

4 ounces (115 grams or about 1/3 cup) unsweetened chocolate (sometimes sold as 99%), chopped small
14 ounces (400 grams) sweetened, flaked coconut
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (30 grams) cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt or level 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat approximately half of chocolate chunks in a small saucepan until just melted, then, off the heat, stir in the remaining chunks until they’re smooth. The residual heat should be enough to melt them and leave the mixture lukewarm; if it’s not, heat the mixture again until just melted, but not very hot.

In a food processor, blend the coconut for one full minute. Add sugar and cocoa powder, blend another full minute. Add egg whites, salt and vanilla and blend until combined, then the melted chocolate until smooth. With a tablespoon measure or cookie scoop (I used a #70 scoop), scoop batter into 1-inch mounds. You can arrange the cookies fairly close together as they don’t spread, just puff a bit.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes, until the macaroons are shiny and just set. Let them rest on the tray for 10 minutes after baking (or you can let them fully cool in place, if you’re not in a rush to use the tray again), as they’ll be hard to move right out of the oven. They’ll firm up as they cool, but still remain softer and less dry inside than traditional macaroons. Thank goodness.

I like to dust them with a little powdered sugar once they’re cool. They’ll keep in an airtight container until your family finds out about them, or one week, whichever happens first.

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deep dark gingerbread waffles – smitten kitchen

I know, I know, we just talked about gingerbread two weeks ago, in a biscotti, hot chocolate-dipping format. It’s too soon! I completely agree with you. But this was a request; a commenter asked if there was a way to transplant the intensity of everyone’s favorite gingerbread cake into a waffle format. Asking me this is like asking a Muppet if they like to count. I live for this; I thought you’d never ask.

what you'll need, plus a waffle iron
wet into dry, so much molasses

True enough, the so-called gingerbread waffles I browsed on the web seemed to be in name only; pale beige specimens, softly spiced, more gingersnap than gingerthud. Proper gingerbread should make an entrance, with no restraint in the ginger or molasses department. It should be dark and a little sticky. It should either be adored or reviled; there’s rarely any middle ground. Lucky for me, my family, both young and old, cannot get enough.

the start of something delicious

the pesky part
gingerbread waffles, dusted

Pretty much everything about these will remind you of the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread. The waffles are deeply spiced, colored, fragrant and yet harmonious and addictive. But, as I always strive for honesty here, I have to tell you that it might remind you of the worst part of the Gramercy gingerbread too — these guys really want to stick to the waffle iron. But they won’t. What they need is a little extra careful coaxing when you lift them from the waffle iron, little by little, being careful to avoid big tears (nobody will be the wiser to the small ones). You’re probably going to curse me a little. But, I want you to know that I would never put you through such a pesky retrieval if these were not absolutely, unwaveringly worth it. Plus, the moment they hit the plate, they begin to firm up. Within one minute, they’ll fulfill all of your waffle hopes and dreams: crispy edges, soft center, and a flavor that will make it impossible to have another winter holiday without them for breakfast ever again.

deep dark gingerbread waffles
deep dark gingerbread waffles

One year ago: Breakfast Slab Pie (the other way I’d feed houseguests for breakfast)
Two years ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Three years ago: Parsnip Latkes with Horseradish and Dill
Four years ago: Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Five years ago: Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes
Six years ago: Seven-Layer Rainbow Cookies and Grasshopper Brownies, two of my favorite sweets in the archives
Seven years ago: My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies
Eight years ago: Zucchini Latkes and Short Ribs Bourguignon

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Frozen Coconut Limeade
1.5 Years Ago: Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream
2.5 Years Ago: Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken
3.5 Years Ago: Linguine with Pea Pesto

Deep Dark Gingerbread Waffles

These waffles use more sugar than any other I’ve made, but they don’t end up tasting excessively sweet because the sugar is necessary to balance the intensity of the molasses. That said, you absolutely will not need syrup on top of these, despite my suggestion of it in photos. Just a dusting of powdered sugar and maybe, if you’re feeling fancy, a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche will make these even more perfect. Serve with a mixed citrus salad (favorites: 1, 2, 3) and crispy bacon, if that’s your thing. And if it’s not, you can send it here.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 15 small rectangular waffles; serves 4 to 5

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1/2 cup buttermilk, yogurt thinned with a little milk, fresh apple cider or even stout beer
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra for brushing waffle iron
Powdered sugar for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, molasses, sugars, egg and butter until combined. The butter will likely firm up and make little white splotches throughout; this is a-okay. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Heat waffle iron to a middle heat. Either brush waffle iron with melted butter or spray it lightly with a nonstick cooking spray. Ladle gingerbread batter into waffle iron until they’re about 3/4 filled out. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions. In my waffle iron, I like to cook them 1 to 2 minutes more.

To remove waffles: Open waffle iron. Wait about 30 seconds, giving them a chance to steam off a little. With tongs in one hand and a small spatula in the other, gently, carefully lift corners of each waffle section enough to slide the spatula underneath, then lift and slide some more until you can get the section out. Curse Deb, because these waffles are very sticky and eager to tear. Trust Deb, that they will be worth it. Spread them on a tray in a single layer to let cool slightly; within 1 minute, they should be crisp to the touch and easier to lift. Repeat with remaining batter. Try not to stack waffles — even though they’re firm, they will stick.

Serve immediately, dusted with powdered sugar and, if you’re feeling fancy, a dollop of barely or unsweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.

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