Frazzled by the holiday hubbub? A little chocolate cookery could help soothe those frayed nerves. Three chefs share their tips for cooking with chocolate, plus a recipe for mole sauce.
1. Make it shine Brian Conn has made thousands of melted chocolate truffles since he started his company, Ruby Moon Chocolates. To make an eye-catching batch, he paints his molds with a thin layer of edible glitter.
"When you pour the chocolate, it transfers whatever design or color it is onto the top of the chocolate," says Conn.
Conn uses a product called Luster Dust, available at cooking stores such as Kitchen Window in Minneapolis.
2. Keep it level To prepare chocolate tarts, Haute Dish's pastry chef, Christian Aldrich, uses a simple, inexpensive tool that nonetheless catches the eye of home cooks: an offset spatula. Intended to spread icing or level batter in a pan, the offset spatula is a quick and accurate way to level dry ingredients in measuring cups and spoons. They should cost $10 or less at kitchen supply stores. Sur La Table even includes an offset spatula in its "Things Cooks Love" product line.
3. Mix it up
If you need an expert recommendation to indulge, Fabulous Catering's Dawn Drouillard casts another vote in favor of the $599 Vitamix blender.
"I'm amazed at how excellent this mixer is," says Drouillard. "I was making butternut squash soup, and I didn't have nearly enough liquid. I walked away from it for a second, and then the machine was just pouring smoke. We thought the blender was done. The next day we came in and turned it on. It worked just fine."
When Drouillard makes mole verde (recipe below), the blender helps her speed the cooking from the traditional time of several days to a matter of minutes.
1 large white onion, chopped 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped 1 cup pumpkin seeds 1 cup white sesame seeds, raw 3 tbsp. olive oIl 3 large poblano peppers, seeded and chopped 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, seeded and chopped 2 tbsp. tequila 2 lbs. tomatillos, roasted 2 bunches cilantro, chopped 2 cups chicken stock 2 tbsp. bittersweet chocolate powder 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1/4 tsp. cinnamon Salt and pepper to taste
1. Toast whole garlic cloves, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds on a hot, dry cast iron skillet until golden brown and aromatic. Set aside to cool. 2. Sauté onions, poblanos and serranos in hot oil until carmelized. Deglaze pan with tequilla. 3. Add toasted nuts and garlic. 4. Add roasted tomatillos to hot pan and cook together for 3-4 minutes. 5. In a seperate bowl, whisk chocolate powder into chicken stock until blended. 6. Add chicken stock/chocolate mixture and spices to pan. Bring to a boil. 7. Add cilantro and immediately blend in high speed blender until smooth.
Serve with chicken, fish, pork or shrimp. Olé!
These chocolate cooking tips and recipes are courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, shared at a workshop in conjunction with its chocolate exhibit, on display through January 2, 2011.