Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dark Chocolate Chip and Currant Biscotti

It's winter again in the Bay Area, apparently-- after a few, long weeks of sun and seventy-degree weather, we're back again to the (relative) cold and grey storminess.  And by "cold," I mean chance of snow showers projected in parts of the Bay Area.  For this part of California (where houses, like mine, don't have heating!), at least, that means it's cold.

The return of the cold, combined with trying to desperately to fight off a cold and fast-approaching deadlines at work, has made me pretty much lose my appetite altogether.  All I seem to want these days is a big bowl of steaming hot Chinese chicken broth, warm pear juice (to prevent cold/sore throat--it works wonders), and caffeine.  It's been quite a while since I've had any desire to eat dessert, which, to a dessert-lover, is really nothing short of devastating--I feel as if I've completely lost my mojo and traded it for a never-ending pot of chicken broth sitting in the fridge!  (Though I must say, Chinese chicken broth, with just the faintest hint of ginger, is some delicious stuff.)

So after a few weeks of this going by and me just avoiding the kitchen like a plague, I decided that this anti-dessert mood I was in needed to stop.  And fast.  Yet, the only sweets I seemed to even vaguely crave were chocolate chip cookies--namely, something simple, homey, not overly-complicated or fretted over.  Something easy.  Like a dessert version of chicken soup for the soul.

Ultimately, once I got myself into the kitchen, these are what I made: dark chocolate chip and currant biscotti, which were exactly what I needed--  A no fuss, not-too-sweet cookie with just enough crunch.  Bittersweet chocolate for the days of darker weather outside.  Tiny little currants for pops of sweetness next to the dark chocolate (and, currants trump raisins in desserts any day.).  And just a little something that I could absent-mindedly dip in my tea and enjoy while writing papers at my desk.  Most definitely a huge improvement from a chicken broth-pear juice diet.

I've thrown in the Chinese chicken broth recipe below, too, because, let's face it, winter, flu season, and paper deadlines aren't over yet, and we can't all subsist on dark chocolate-currant biscotti alone!  (as much as we'd like to try.)

Read on for recipe...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

much ❤,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blood orange honey-glazed five spice tart with almond cream

There are few fruits that I am happier to see come into season than blood oranges. (Meyer lemons and maybe some of the rarer berries also top this list.)  There's just something about blood oranges that is so exciting, cutting into the fruit to discover a deep, dark, rich, red gradient inside.  And, in my opinion, they just taste better than regular oranges, like they're packed with even more orange-y flavor.

Usually, I'm too impatient with blood oranges to bother doing anything but eat them just as they are or, at most, muddle them into a cocktail to achieve a gorgeously colored drink.  But finally I was able to hold off long enough to actually make dessert with them--yay, self-restraint!  I'd been wanting to try this tart concept ever since my friend (of caramel brandy hard sauce fame) mentioned to me she had made a tart with oranges and Chinese five spice powder, and I thought it would be a perfect dessert for Chinese New Years: blood orange, honey-glazed tart with a Chinese five spice crust and soft-whipped almond cream. (--oranges, nuts, and the color red all being good-luck symbols for the new year celebration.)  I really loved how the tart came out, with the soft, candied oranges glazed in sweet orange-honey against the hint of spiciness in the tart crust itself.  And the soft-whipped almond cream adds the perfect touch of creaminess to balance out the intense orange and spice underneath.

Happy Lunar New Year!  and, as the Vulcans say, "Live Long and Prosper."  :-)

(p.s. five brownie points to whoever can post the Vulcan reply in the comments without looking it up!)

Read on for recipe...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Orange cinnamon Belgian waffles with dark chocolate hot fudge

I have never been one to let anyone tell me or dictate what I can or can't eat for breakfast.  "Recalcitrant."  That's a really good word to describe me.  So, why not have dark chocolate hot fudge on orange cinnamon Belgian waffles for breakfast?  I mean, most weekday mornings consist of a customary round of fruit (honeycrisp apples, as of late) mixed with skyr and generic honey nut cheerios, so I reserve my rights to serve up something extra splendid for the weekends.  So there.

These waffles are yeast based, which lends them the perfectly nice crisp on the outside that I really like about Belgian waffles (and why I prefer them to the standard leggo-my-eggo variety), and I sprinkled a bit of pearl sugar in during cooking, just for an extra sweet kick.  The orange flavor is strong, and the cinnamon flavor is mild, but, of course, the show-stopper is the thick, dark, melted-ganache-like hot fudge drizzled all over.  You really want to splurge and use the best chocolate and cocoa powder you've got for this one, because really, you won't regret it!

In other news, I must apologize for being more absent from this blog, the food blogosphere, and the twitterverse than I would like lately.  I feel so out of the loop.  Thankfully, my life has managed to settle into a routine again, but it's basically one where I'm madly scrambling to keep up with the 100miles-per-minute brilliance of the two chairs of my dissertation committee while still trying to keep my wits semi-about me--scrambling, trying, and probably failing pretty miserably, to be perfectly honest.  So in the midst of all this, there hasn't been much brain power left in me to even tweet about anything remote interesting, much less be in the kitchen or behind the camera or blogging away--sadly!  (I miss you, my foodie friends!)  But, at the very least, on the weekends, there are waffles....

...and chocolate.  Please don't forget the chocolate.

Read on for recipe...