Dark Chocolate Pots

Let’s just say, hypothetically, that you were invited to dinner at a friend’s house and you say “what can I bring?” and it ends up that you’re bringing dessert. And then let’s just say, for example, that you had bought a bag of lemons and were planning to make a lemon tart, but then the crumb crust that you put in the oven while your dear spouse is taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon starts leaking butter into the bottom of the oven and billowing smoke sending you running into the hallway with a towel to frantically wave under the fire alarm in the direction of the kitchen window that you flung open so that it doesn’t go off and wake everyone up. And then just say you are totally out of ingredients to make the crust again and your totally fed up with crusts anyway and are completely over pastry in general and don’t feel like going to the grocery store but are still on the hook for dessert in a couple of hours. What is one to do? Hypothetically, you know. Ahem.

Chocolate Cream Pots

serves 4

– 1 cup heavy cream

– 6 ounces dark chocolate (I used 72%)

– 2 egg yolks

– 2 tablespoons raw sugar

– 1 tablespoon strong coffee or espresso

– 1 tablespoon rum

– 1 1/2 tablespoons butter

– tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

– sweetened whipped cream*

Chop the chocolate into little bits. Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed pan until it comes to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the chocolate; let the chocolate sit in the cream for a minute or two and then whisk together until dark and smooth. Beat the two egg yolks together with the sugar and then pour a little of the hot cream into the eggs to heat them up. Put the pan back over low heat and whisk the egg mixture back in. Heat until the faintest wisps of steam begin to rise, stirring the whole time; it should only take a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee, rum, butter, and cayenne, whisking to melt the butter and blend everything into a silky smooth custard.

Pour the hot custard into small bowls, espresso cups, or ramekins (I used little jam jars) and allow it to cool. Because this is such a rich dessert, it only takes a small amount to satisfy; and because of this richness, it’s best not served cold, but at a softer, silkier room temperature.

Top with a generous drift of sweetened whipped cream. *I whipped the cream with sugar and a splash of rum and vanilla extract. The contrast of airy vanilla scented cream and meltingly truffle-like chocolate is heavenly.

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Burn Part Deux or Oatmeal Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies

In the last two weeks my wrist has progressed from a  ghastly greyish weeping blistered burn, dramatically  swathed in triple antibiotic ooze and enormous white  gauze bandages, to the shiny  pink of a healing burn, puckered and scarlet like a screaming infant’s face indignantly reminding me of my recklessness, demanding to be cosseted. It’s more sore and tight now than painful, but it is pretty persistent in making its presence known. Hence, in the spirit of circumspection,  I’ve been a little wary in the kitchen, mainly cooking things that allow a safe distance from open flame, a gingerness with red-hot cookware, a certain take-no-risk rote cooking.

I did bake some lovely cookies.

They are different from most cookie recipes I make in that they contain oil instead of butter;  this makes them crisp instead of soft and chewy like buttery cookies. But in the face of a looming cholesterol test in the family, I was trying to make a healthier treat that didn’t taste like a “healthy treat” – you know what I mean. But then, I know plenty of people who live with dietary restrictions all the time, whether for religious reason, allergies or health reasons or during pregnancy, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who can appreciate a cookie that doesn’t preach to you about how healthy it is, that is actually good instead of tasting like deprivation.

 

 

In the first recipe, I used raisins, which were fine, but I had a bag of chocolate covered raisins in my cupboard.  Thinking of Mexican hot chocolate infused with cinnamon, they went into the second go-round. It’s just a nice little upgrade, richer, a hint of cinnamon and chocolate with the raisins in a light crunchy oaty bite.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate-Covered Raisin Cookies

Modified from this recipe: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups oats (I used quick oats)

1/2 cup chocolate-covered raisins (use dark chocolate or dairy-free if you need to)

 

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Cover cookie sheets with either parchment paper or Silpats.

In a large bowl, mix oil, brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla with a whisk. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the sugar and oil mixture. Mix in the oats and chocolate-covered raisins last. it will make a rather dry, sticky dough.

 

 

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet. The cookies won’t spread much, so they can be fairly close together. I did about 12 per cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Depending on your oven, you may want to rotate the pans or switch shelves midway through. The cookies will still be a little soft on top but the edges should begin to brown a little. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

 

 

Dark family secret-

 

I’m at my in-law’s. There is a dangerous amount of cake  and candy in the house, enough to send the entire staff at Atkins into a diabetic coma;  there are a number of tubs of something called puppy chow that involves peanut butter, cereal and chocolate. There are enough at least five different kinds of candy canes, even a clove flavored one. There are Zots and Mary Janes and peppermint patties.  There are not, however, any brownies. There haven’t been any since I’ve been in the family and I think I may have finally stumbled upon the real reason why they seem to be contraband here. There have been rumors swirling around for years, and I had heard a vague and mysterious story by way of explanation a few times, something about voices and an overdose. But I think I may have finally gotten the real story on a dark family secret during my last visit.

First a little background: There are several refrigerator magnets and a number of mugs and aprons in the house proclaiming a deep and passionate love of chocolate. There are also several (and I mean several) candy dishes that maintain a pretty high level of chocolate candy occupancy scattered around the house and not just at the holidays. The most popular cake in my mother-in-law’s extensive repertoire is Chocolate Mocha Butter cake. People were pressing their fingers onto the crumbs of the chocolate and raspberry wedding cake she made when I got married so as not to waste even a smidge of it. She bakes a mean chocolate cake, this woman. Nothing gets her heart racing like an all you can eat chocolate buffet with a chocolate fountain. So let’s just say euphemistically speaking that there may or may not be a chocolate “issue” here.

I’ve heard bits of the story before, but during my last visit I asked about the brownies she made that made her hear voices in the night.

She made a large pan of her favorite brownies. Frosted.

There was the original “taste test” square that afternoon, just to make sure the recipe was still good. Then a couple more squares nudged out of the pan before supper, because the recipe was still good. Then just a tiny piece more to even out that side of the pan, not a whole brownie…just a sliver. Then a couple more for dessert. Pre – bedtime snack. Midnight snack. By 1 AM about half the pan of brownies is gone, like a lasagna pan sized pan.  And she can’t go to sleep. She’s tossing and turning for hours, buzzing, can’t turn her brain off, can’t go to sleep. Man, those brownies are good. It’s like they are calling her name from their pan all the way across the house in the pantry.

About 4 AM, she hears my father in law stirring in bed next to her.

“Hey – Johnny……”

………….

“Hey……Johnny…….. are you awake?”

“Hrrmph”

“I can’t sleep”

“Hrrmph….”

“You know how sometimes when you can’t sleep, you say maybe God is trying to tell you something?”

“Yes”

“Do you think God is trying to tell me something?”

“Yep”

“Well, what do you think?”

“He’s saying ‘Don’t eat any more brownies!'”

This is her recipe as she wrote it down for me – what I like to call “still small voice brownies”.  If you make it and hear voices, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“My Favorite Brownies

2 sticks butter or margarine

1/2 cup cocoa

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/3 cups plain flour

1 1/3 cups chopped pecans or other nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting

Melt butter and add cocoa, stir well. Beat eggs and sugar. Add to butter – cocoa mixture and then add vanilla. add flour, baking powder and nuts. Mix well. Bake about  24 minutes at 350. I use Baker’s Joy to prepare the pan. frost when cooled.

Frosting

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 pound powdered sugar

1 stick butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

Milk to right consistency

Mix all together over low heat. Don’t cook too long, just enough to heat thoroughly and blend.

Enjoy!”