Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Orange Cake

I was asked to bring dessert to an Easter luncheon with my family this past weekend, and although I wasn't specifically planning on making a chocolate cake, after finding this recipe on Epicurious I just had to try it.

Here's the recipe in its original form:

Chocolate-Honey Tart

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 whole chocolate graham crackers (about 5 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons dried lavender blossoms*
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Grind graham crackers with 3 tablespoons butter and honey in processor until fine crumbs form. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not up sides) of prepared tart pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool.

Bring cream and lavender just to boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Place chocolate in medium saucepan. Strain hot cream mixture into saucepan with chocolate. Stir over medium-low heat just until melted and smooth. Add cocoa powder and remaining 1 tablespoon butter; stir until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over crust in tart pan. Chill at least 45 minutes (chocolate will be slightly soft after 45 minutes and firm after 2 hours). Cut into wedges and serve.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

* Also called culinary lavender buds; available at many natural foods stores and some farmers' markets and from Dean and Deluca


I made one major alteration to this recipe; instead of the dried lavender, I substituted 2 tsp. orange peel. I also mixed the peel straight into the chocolate instead of straining it as the recipe suggests; you couldn't taste the peel at all when eating the cake, and it had just the right hint of orange to it.

The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn't call for many ingredients, so you can experiment with lots of different things when making it. Overall, it was a huge success with my family, so much so that the entire cake was gone within a very short period. Victory!

And I still have half a box of chocolate graham crackers left over, so I'll just have to make it again ;)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chocolate berries

Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf, because while I'm not a huge fan of milk chocolate or strawberry-flavored things, when I saw this at Walgreens a few weeks ago I couldn't resist buying it:

Ritter Sport is an excellent brand of German chocolate that never fails to disappoint. I've had quite a few of their other chocolate bars and have loved every one (with the exception of the marzipan, which I was tempting fate in buying because I dislike marzipan). So even though milk chocolate and strawberries wouldn't normally sound very appetizing to me, I knew that I was getting something sure to be appetizing.

In the end, this poor bar went through a number of hardships: first it melted in my car, so I stuck it in the fridge to solidify it again, and then it melted slightly once more at work. Despite all of this, I thoroughly enjoyed it; the chocolate ended up being not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be, which I was relieved about.

If you're looking to try this or other Ritter products, I suggest World Market, which is where I normally get my Ritter. Good stuff!

Speaking of chocolate at Walgreens, I spotted this recently:

And of course I just had to buy it. Not only was it delicious, but it was really pretty to look at!

This bar was solid chocolate and didn't have any sort of filling, which I admit is not something I used to (I tend to be attracted to chocolate bars with filling). But it was a nice change from the caramel Godiva gems I bought at the same time as the Ritter Sport strawberry.

Fun fact, as a side note: if you type "Dove Raspberry Swirl" into google image search, you get pictures for Tori Amos' song "Raspberry Swirl." I love it!

Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Creme: 5/5
Dove Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Swirl 4.5/5

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Extraordinarily belated Valentine's post

I made a point of hitting up Target the day after Valentine's to check out their Valentine's Day chocolate stash, which was discounted. After passing up the usual suspects - Hershey's, Dove, etc. - I chanced upon some boxes of Choxie.

I decided to try this box of "dessert cups," which are essentially large truffles. And although they sounded amazing, the box was surprisingly deceptive:

Because when you open it (by pulling a tab at the top, which causes the front to slide down), you get four chocolates.

Needless to say, I felt a little robbed. I kept poking around the other parts of the box, hoping that there were an extra four chocolates hidden somewhere. Had I spent full price, it would have cost me $4.99. That's $1 per chocolate!

The box contained the following: dark chocolate espresso (top right), milk chocolate butter toffee (bottom right), milk chocolate hazelnut (bottom left), and dark chocolate orange flavored (top left). The espresso and orange were fairly good, but the toffee was my favorite. It had flecks of what I presumed to be toffee on the top that added a slight crunch to it, which I greatly enjoyed. The hazelnut was my last favorite owing to the fact that the hazelnut flavor was, at least to me, a little overwhelming.

The truth is, I would have enjoyed these much more if the cups weren't so damn large, because the quality of the chocolate wasn't exactly Lindt or Ghirardelli-quality. Choxie, I am disappoint!

Choxie Dessert Cups: 3.5/5