Drinking Le Chocolat Chaud While Doing Nothing on New Years

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I am always hesitant to post a blog at the first of a new year. It seems that one should say something profound or wise about the past year or the one upon us. I do not make resolutions to break, nor promises to myself that I have no intentions of keeping. Although it can be a time for reflection I approach it as a time to regenerate and pretty much do “nothing”.DSC_0307

How does one do “nothing”? The answer for me is very intentionally and purposefully. In fact I have been doing “nothing” with gusto! I have playing in my kitchen trying out recipes from my ever-growing list, watching BBC shows on cable on rainy days, reading, taking long walks, having lunch with friends, reading, having coffee in bed while reading, eating at new restaurants we have been intending to try all year, spending fun time with the family, seeing a movie or two! That is how I have spent a lot of the Holiday week…”doing nothing”…..really!

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One chilly morning this week, while again attending to my art of “doing nothing”, I made myself a hot cup of “Le Chocolat Chaud”. This very Parisian hot chocolate has been on my list of things to try for a long time. I had it in Paris many, many years ago and have never forgotten it.  My version is based on a recipe by David Lebovitz with my addition of a splash of vanilla and I used turbinado sugar instead of classic brown baking sugar.

Very good bittersweet chocolate is the starting place. I used Callebaut from Belgium.

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A large cup or mug, steaming hot milk, turbinado sugar and a splash of vanilla extract along with the chocolate is all you need to make the most heavenly flavored cup of hot chocolate you will ever drink.

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May your days be bright, your nights be cozy, and your 2016 the best year you can possibly have. Stay well.

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Drinking Le Chocolat Chaud While Doing Nothing on New Years

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: not at all
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hot milk (I use whole, but any including Almond milk will work)
  • 6 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • turbinado/raw sugar
  • options: vanilla extract; a pinch of cayenne pepper; a pinch of cardamom

Directions:

  1. Into two cups or mugs place 3 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate.
  2. Add turbinado sugar to each cup to taste.
  3. Pour steaming hot milk into each cup and let sit for 1 minute.
  4. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the sugar dissolved. Add a splash of vanilla if desired. Sip!

Note: You can also make this recipe by putting the ingredients (or doubling for 4 or more people)into a saucepan and heating over medium heat while whisking.

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz, living the sweet life in Paris his really fabulous blog.

Je Suis Charlie and Canneles de Bordeaux

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A few weeks ago I decided to try making Canneles after having one at a local coffee shop, Crema. I ordered a pan/mold and it has been sitting in my kitchen since. So France, this is my edible ode to you and yours. You have given us so much…the Statue of Liberty, Quiche, Cafe au Lait, Edith Piaf, Art & Style & Panache…inspiration for “An American in Paris”…pastries, pastries and more pastries. Our American lives would be so dull and not nearly so delicious without you. Vive la France.

Canneles are small vanilla pastries that have a custardy sweet inside with a crusty, caramel outside. Due to the cook time they will often be almost burnt looking but this just adds to their deliciousness. You will need a Cannele pan, but they are not expensive and are readily available online or in better cooking shops. A vast store of recipes are just a click away as well. I used as classic recipe from Bordeaux that appealed to me with a few of my own tweaks.

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A well buttered, sugared Cannele mold/pan awaits the batter splashed with vanilla & rum.

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Tres magnifique!

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Once many years ago I had my first Cafe au Lait sitting along the Champs Elysees in a small cafe. It was summer and I was in love with life and that coffee is the one I have remembered each morning as I drink my cup of coffee with milk. That was also my first Cannele and Croissant..both eaten after dipping into the hot creamy coffee. Merci Paris, Merci.

I AM CHARLIE
  I AM CHARLIE

If we cannot make art, make fun, demonstrate peacefully, talk and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly without fear of reprisal from those who disagree….we are all Charlie.

Canneles de Bordeaux

  • Servings: 18-24
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 split vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons good butter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 2-4 tablespoon dark rum
  • extra butter for greasing mold
  • granulated sugar for dusting mold

Directions:

  1. The day before you bake the canneles, boil the milk with the vanilla bean, vanilla extract & 2 tbsp butter. Turn off heat right as it boils and let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl mix the flour & sugar together. Add the whole eggs and egg yolks to the flour mixture stirring well.
  3. Add the flour-egg mixture to the milk mixture stirring with a whisk until smooth and fluid. Batter will be like pancake batter. Cool batter completely & add the rum. Cover and chill for 24 to 48 hours. I put the batter into a small pitcher so I could pour into the molds easily.
  4. To Bake: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  5. Melt butter for greasing the mold. Using a pastry brush coat inside of molds. Sprinkle each with granulated sugar across the bottoms and sides.
  6. Fill each mold 3/4 full with batter. No more please.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn heat to 350 degrees & bake 1 hour or until canneles have a dark brown crust and are still a bit moist in the middle. Immediately remove from pan to a rack to cool.
  8. Repeat with any batter that is left over. I made 24 canneles with this recipe, but depending on the size of the pan/molds you purchase you may bake more or less.

Note: These pastries are worth the bit of time it takes. Really one day you make the batter, put in the cooler, pull it out the next and bake. I got lots done while my canneles were baking. Tidied my office, made some calls, read my book and when the first batch was done I made a hot milky coffee and had a couple “dipped”. Bon Apetit

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com             foodonfifth.com

“Victoria Sponge & Strawberries”

“Old Fashioned Victoria Sponge Cake with Tennessee Strawberries”

This Saturday I bought a few pints of fresh picked Tennessee Strawberries at the Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market. This year’s crop is especially abundant and sweet. These small juicy  berries call out for a light sponge cake &  freshly whipped cream slightly seasoned with vanilla & sugar. I don’t often make desserts but as we were going to a dinner party and I was asked to bring dessert I wanted to make a special treat that would be a take off on the classic strawberry shortcake, but lighter. This dessert is easy to make from start to finish and is a stunner. It’s like eating air with a dash of sweetness.


To make a simple light sponge cake you will need the following:


2 sticks butter softened to room temp, use a little to grease cake pans (JD’s Dairy butter worked great for this cake.)

1 cup superfine sugar

4 eggs

(I used fresh local eggs from McDonalds that I purchased at the Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market as well)

1 3/4 cups self-rising flour & a pinch of salt (White Lily Flour is a good choice)

2 tbsp warm water

1 cup whipping cream + 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp vanilla

2 cups local, sweet strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar for dusting top of cake

To Make the Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease two 8 inch cake pans with butter & line bottom of each with a circle of wax paper.

3. Using a hand mixer cream together the butter & sugar until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Sift flour &  salt over the creamed mixture. Add warm water & beat together until well mixed. Batter is a thick, light & creamy texture.


5. Divide cake mixture evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until cakes are done in the centers. Remove from oven.  Turn cake layer out onto cooling racks until completely cool.

6. Using a serrated knife split each cake into two layers. Use three for this cake. Wrap &  store 4th layer for later in the week when you want to make strawberry shortcakes for two.

7. Whip cream with sugar & vanilla. Place one layer on cake stand or cake plate & cover with half the sweetened whip cream. Top with half of the strawberries.

8. Add 2nd cake layer and press down slightly. Spread remaining half of whipped cream over cake & top with remaining sliced berries.

9. Place 3rd cake layer on top of berries pressing down slightly. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar. Place in refrigerator to chill until ready to serve. This cake is best assembled a couple of hours before serving. Serve cut into wedges with additional dusting of confectioner’s sugar if desired.


This type of cake was originally called a “Victoria Sponge Cake” named for Queen Victoria. It sounds fancy, looks fancy but is one of the easiest desserts to make to show off Spring Strawberries.

A bit about Victoria Sponge Cake & Self-Rising Flour from Wikipedia:

Victoria sponge

The Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as sponge cake, though it contains additional fat. A traditional Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream, just jam is referred to as a ‘jam sponge’ and most certainly not a Victoria sponge. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated.

Self-Rising Flour

Leavening agents are used with some flours, especially those with significant gluten content, to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding small gas bubbles. Self-raising (or self-rising) flour is sold premixed with chemical leavening agents. The added ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the flour which aids a consistent and even rise in baked goods. This flour is generally used for preparing scones, biscuits, muffins, etc. This type of flour was invented by Henry Jones and patented in 1845. Plain flour can be used to make a type of self-rising flour although the flour will be more coarse. Self-raising flour is typically composed of the following ratio:

  • 1 cup flour;  1 teaspoon baking powder;  a pinch to ½ teaspoon salt
  • “Pick Your Own”

There are lots of farms in Middle Tennessee where you can pick-your-own berries for freezing, making jams & jellies or for creating your own desserts. Just go to the website listed below to find a farm near you.

http://www.pickyourown.org/TNmiddle.htm

eat more cake…….