Sunday, June 8, 2008
Dear Chocolate, It's Me
Dear White Chocolate:
Though I know technically you're not actually chocolate, I also know that technically the blond hairs on my head are not actually all blond. Perhaps they were born blond, but somewhere along the way - it all became too much for them and they required coaxing to be light and buttery. So, white chocolate - I refuse to snub you, even though some purists consider you the white trash of chocolates. You are cloying, to be sure, but sometimes - I need over-the-top sweet - I crave give-me-a-cavity-now sugariness, I want that singular and simple taste. I think you're creamy and naughty and simple and I'm not ashamed to say I love you. Or, to call you chocolate - chocolate chocolate CHOCOLATE. WHITE.
Dear Milk Chocolate:
I know, I know. I don't eat you plain, ever. Do not despair, my darling - it's not you, it's me. Or rather, it's my childhood. You see, my Mom went through this nutball phase where she fed us powdered milk. I KNOW! For years, we drank this thin, almost blue-tinted liquid that was supposed to be milk - but it was more like milk water. Ever since, I cannot drink milk straight up - or even on the rocks. Also? Milk chocolate tastes too milky, too melty, too soft. It's too much like a cow. Make sense? No? Well, listen - go in peace and let's call it even because I still serve you to others and I DO still delight in you every now and then. I just really wish you'd take Milk out of your name, but I get the feeling it's too late. Is it?
Dear Dark Chocolate:
Where do I begin? If I could write a sonnet, I would. J'adore you. I think Adam Sandler should write a song about you like he did with "Red Hooded Sweatshirt" - but call it "Dark Chocolate Pantry Bar" or something. If I was stranded on an island, you'd be on the shortlist of provisions I'd want with me as I slowly lost my gourd. Also, I want to publicly beg - that if I ever end up in a prison situation where I need to choose a last meal - please, someone out there educate the guards on how to choose a quality dark chocolate for my last meal. Anyway, dark chocolate, where do I love thee? I love thee simply on your very own, in ganache, in frosting, in cookies, brownies, truffles, flourless cakes, lava cakes, mousses, tartlets, pies - I love you everywhere except out-of-stock. You are nuanced and interesting and sweet and complex and almost as necessary as oxygen. You just don't suck at all.
Love The One You're With,
Now....how to combine ALL three...read on...
Triple Chocolate Gianduja
Recently, I encountered double-chocolate Gianduja in a little gourmet shop - and it was delicious - rich, chocolate-y, just a tad nutty - but not overly. I'm not a big fan of nuts with chocolate - so I was so delighted to be delighted by this delightful little darling! I was told it was made with hazelnuts - but after searching 4 stores, without finding any hazelnuts - I went ahead with almonds and some cursing. A bit scary, I know - but who knew hazelnuts where so scarce? Well, finding a recipe was just as daunting - most were in Italian, or used hazelnuts, or just did not make sense to me - technically. So, I sort of winged this after finding a singular-chocolate gianduja (zhiahn-DOO-ya) recipe - but I decided to go for the trifecta, and am glad that I did. Beware: these do NOT last long - we couldn't keep our paws off of them. They are REALLY delicious, rich, creamy, thick - and are not cloyingly sweet - they are just right, as far as we could tell.
5 oz. white chocolate (the type w/ cocoa butter)
5 oz. milk chocolate
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
9 oz. almonds
2/3 c. powdered sugar
3 T. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 325F. Spread nuts on cookie tray in even layer and toast in heated oven until brown, about 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly. In food processor, pulse nuts until almost fine - add powdered sugar; pulse until mixture is fine. Add oil and pulse until paste forms. Divide mixture into 1/3 c. portions.
Over double boiler, melt unsweetened chocolate, then transfer to medium bowl and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, prepare 9-inch square pan by lining with aluminum foil; allow foil to overhang the sides. Take 1/3 c. of the almond mixture and add to the chocolate - mix with fork until combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Place in refrigerator and allow mixture to harden - about 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat the above process with the milk chocolate, and spread the mixture on top of the dark chocolate, allowing it to harden in the refrigerator. Repeat again with the white chocolate. Use foil to lift out of pan. Can be served cold or room temperature. Cut into whatever size suits you and enjoy!