Archive for chocolate

Tuesdays with Dorie – Cherry Something Cobbler

Posted in baking, food, tuesdays with dorie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by uglydudefood

cobbled

The comment turn-out was huge for my last TWD entry.  Maybe if I make stuff explode every time, people will continue to love me.  I just got back from a five-day vacation, so I have a lot of reading to do.  I’ll be meme-ing and reading your blogs in the near future.  At any rate, I should fail more often!  At least I know people will read what I write!

This week’s recipe was Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler.  I was super pumped, because I love fruit; I love cobbler; and I’ve not yet had a chance to taste rhubarb.  Looks like I’d have to wait a little longer for my last dream to come true.  I walked to the spot in my grocery store that I KNEW had rhubarb the other day, and it was all gone.  Same in all the other grocery stores.  No rhubarb!?  What if I wanted to throw a late-summer rhubarbeque?

Dorie sez: “The biscuit topping is a great crown for almost any kind of cobbler or crisp.”

Emboldened by the words of the second-most-powerful Greenspan in the world, I decided to replace the rhubarb with Granny Smith apples, which I happened to have sitting around.  12 oz. of peeled, cored Granny Smiths replaced the directed 12 oz. of rhubarb.

I made the filling according to recipe.  I made the topping according to recipe.  Everything really, truly was going swimmingly.  And boringly.  How was I supposed to draw the readers back into my ugly website?  I’d have to create a ruckus.

So I punched my sister in the head

cobblerAfter that?  Well, the cobbler tasted fantastic.  And despite the fact that I am in my mid-twenties, I was grounded for three months.

By the way, I made another batch of last week’s Chocolate Pudding over the weekend.  I replaced the whole milk with 2% (just because it was handy).  Excepting the leaky food processor, nary a mess was made and it was a huge hit with my family.

For 1/12 of the recipe:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 108.8g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

206
Calories from Fat

57
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

6.3g
10%
Saturated Fat

3.8g
19%
Cholesterol

16mg
5%
Sodium

151mg
6%
Total Carbohydrates

35.7g
12%
Dietary Fiber

1.3g
5%
Sugars

11.2g
Protein

2.2g
Vitamin A 6% Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 6% Iron 5%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation.

Advertisements

Tuesdays with Dorie – Chocolate Pudding Disaster

Posted in baking, food, meme, tuesdays with dorie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2008 by uglydudefood

Last week’s Double Crusted Blueberry Pie was DIFFICULT.  I was so happy to hear that this week’s would be chocolate pudding, a recipe I’ve made dozens of times.

1)  Open packet of pudding mix.

2)  Add milk and/or water.

3)  Shake shake shake shake shake.

Okay, so it’s bound to be more difficult than that, but not much, right?

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

I didn’t have to buy any new equipment for this recipe, which is nice after last week’s $50 investment.  I picked up some whole milk (I am trying to follow these recipes to the letter at the moment).  Otherwise, the rest are pretty standard pantry items.  I typoed earlier and wrote “panty items,” but I swear it wasn’t Freudian.

I substituted semisweet chocolate chips for the bittersweet chocolate chips, which didn’t seem like it’d be too big of a problem.  It’s better than another emergency run to the grocery store.  Gas ain’t cheap.

What follows is a testament in my ability to ignore instructions totally; make the biggest messes; and have the worst luck in the world.

MISTAKE #1: Dorie Sez:  “Add the dry ingredients.”  I add the pre-mixed dry ingredients (cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, sugar), and then for some reason I also add the chocolate chips and the butter (which come far later in the process).

MISTAKE #2: When adding boiling milk to the food processor through the top hole, be sure to remove the “pusher” from the hole–otherwise the milk will go all over your food processor, counter, floor, pants, etc.

MISTAKE #3: Not so much a mistake as a capper to the whole thing.  I tried to salvage my batch of pudding, and in the step where you pour it BACK into the saucepan, I missed the pan with half of the pudding.

It wasn’t all my fault though.  I was blessed with the leakiest food processor ever.  The end result?

This:

And this:

And this:

That’s right.  That was my end result.  It looked and tasted like chocolate porridge–not entirely unpleasing, but not entirely pudding either.  I was devastated.  I didn’t want to do Tuesdays with Dorie anymore.  I didn’t want to bake.  I didn’t want to blog.  I just wanted to go to sleep.

While I could easily have gone with the “ugly food for an ugly dude” excuse, I had to prevail.  After some cleanup, it was round two.   After chastising myself and rereading the recipe multiple times, I was good to go.  I followed it to the letter.

Success!  It felt so good to actually do something right.  Sure, my food processor is still leaky.  And sure, my floor has reached levels of stickiness as of yet unknown to mankind.  But I HAVE SIX CUPS OF PUDDING.  Tastes pretty good, too.  Far better than that instant pudding, no matter how fun it is to shake it all up.

The rest will go towards the dinner I’m cooking for my girlfriend Rachel tomorrow.  The menu:  baked chicken breasts, corn on the cob, salad, chocolate pudding.  I’ve never cooked anybody a real dinner before, so wish me luck.  If all else fails, I’ll have a lot of extra pudding.

Things I’ve Learned

1.  Read carefully.
2.  If at first you don’t succeed, etc!

For 1/6 of the recipe:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 138.3g
Amount Per Serving
Calories

252
Calories from Fat

144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

16.0g
25%
Saturated Fat

9.2g
46%
Cholesterol

120mg
40%
Sodium

174mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates

23.0g
8%
Dietary Fiber

2.3g
9%
Sugars

18.5g
Protein

6.8g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 12% Iron 3%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation

Tuesdays with Dorky (and the temple of chocolate)

Posted in baking, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2008 by uglydudefood

Gold, I tell you! Everything I touch turns to gold! I’ve been winning grand awards left and right!

I recently won a contest at Tuesdays with Dorie, giving me a free baking cookbook (and a seat among the hallowed TWD blogroll). TWD is a baking event. Every week, a recipe is picked from the pages of Baking:  From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Then, every blogger and their mother bakes their own version of that recipe.

I’ve not done a particularly good job of baking in the past. Most of my baking is f’aking, and then there’s some that just kind of falls apart (Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cupcakes, Amazing Black Bean Brownies).

Until I receive the book in the mail and get to babble endlessly about my failures as a baker and as a human being, here’s a mega-update about my adventures in chocolatey things.

I’m a…hungry girl?  That can’t be right!

In my neverending quest to eat delicious treats that somehow don’t bust my gutline, I stumbled across a newsletter called Hungry Girl. Is it run by a hungry girl? Is it a site for hungry girls? Either way, I’m emasculated by e-mail messages five days a week.

Now that we can put aside all of that macho posturing, I’ll inform you that Hungry Girl is the real shizz. I’ve been perusing years and years worth of bizarre recipes and bookmarking almost every page. The recipes are fast and easy; frequently they are made with junk you have laying around.

My first completed recipe was Yum Yum Brownie Muffins (click that link for the recipe). It’s pretty simple–a box of dry cake mix and a can of 100% pumpkin. I used Pillsbury Reduced-Sugar Devil’s Food Cake Mix, which is sweetened with a mix of sugar and Splenda. In the end, the muffins were each 153 calories. That, my friends, is a drop in the bucket. The muffin bucket.

The muffins were dense, and fudgy. Nothing in the flavor indicated that they were “diet muffins.” They were subdued enough to eat as a breakfast treat, but substantial and chocolatey enough to frost in cupcake form.

Reactions weren’t glowing, but generally positive. My mom and sister scarfed them down, and coworkers enjoyed them too.  For a quick-fix recipe, that’s really all you can ask for!

More photos of Hungry Girl’s “Yum Yum Brownie Muffins.”

Mano Amano

You may remember that I blogged about $21 of free Amano chocolate that I received.  I asked for suggestions as to what I should do with the bars, and I received some interesting ones.  While I considered Conor’s suggestion of intravenously feeding myself, I ended up following Joli’s advice and letting the shizzle dissolve in my mouth.  It’s about as close as I’ll ever get to snooty “chocolate tasting” given my level of patience.

Amano creates chocolate in three forms–Madagascar, Ocumare, and Cuyagua.  All three bars have 70% cacao content.  Texturally, these chocolates were heads above “similar” items from both the mass-market brands and the more widespread organic options.  When it comes to flavor–eh.  Some were better, some were worse.  The Madagascar was revelatory.  Amano says it “includes hints of citrus and berry,” and I’ll be damned if my untrained palate actually found them!  This is by far the best dark chocolate I’ve ever eaten.  The Ocumare was pretty good.  Although the tasting notes mention “hints of plums and other red fruit,” this one tasted (to me) pretty close to a generic dark chocolate bar.  Cuyagua (including “notes of spice”) was my least favorite of the three.  The spice seemed to be nonexistant.  The chocolate seemed somehow blander than the other products.

Are any of these products worth $7 for a bar?  I don’t think so.  I can appreciate the amount of work and care that went into each of these bars, but when you can get a (larger) bar for $2.50 in the organic section of your supermarket it seems like an awful waste to pay triple that for similar quality.

More Free Chocolate Crapola

I received a free sample of Betty Crocker Warm Delight Minis:  Molten Chocolate Cake.  It’s the Easy Mac of cakes!  Just add water, stir, microwave, and you have fresh, steamy cake.

The pack comes with a small packet of cake mix, a condom wrapper filled with fudge sauce, and a small plastic bowl.  Prep was fairly easy, requiring only two minutes of work.  The end result wasn’t bad.  It was cake-mixy and clearly not baked from scratch, but the fact that it was fresh from the “oven” improves the little cake’s value tenfold.

At 150 calories, it’s a nice (albeit expensive) calorie-cheap dessert.  It has trans fats, with partially hydrogenated oils in both the cake mix and the fudge.  Despite its caloric value (which is more a measure of its diminuative size and not its “healthiness”), this is not for the dieter.

More photos of Betty Crocker Warm Delight Minis:  Molten Chocolate Cake

In the near future, you’ll be seeing a lot more failed baking (and, presumably, a little bit of success)

And…well, maybe everything I touch doesn’t turn to gold. I have a feeling there will be a lot of baked goods that turn to black before this strange, mystical journey is over.

Inspiration

Posted in fiction, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

I am writing again. And not silly blog-writing, either (although that will continue at my normal, leisurely clip). I’m going back to my training in creative writing and actually putting things down on paper.

I was inspired, in a way, by a lot of these weekly/monthly food challenges on the Internet (see especially: Tuesdays With Dorie, Cupcake Hero, Vindicate the Vegetable). If I had to fall flat on my face coming up with a title as clever as the above, I would call it something like “WriteRight” or “Write or Wrong.” Or “Writer Wrong.” What do I know?

Here’s the skinny. My friend Nichole and I are writing a piece every week in response to a prompt (which one of us originates every week). The piece could be a story. It could be a poem. It could be visual art. Anything. Just creative output springing from the prompt.

I decided to jump right into it and do a short story (or, I guess, a “short short story”). It’s due on Thursday, and by posting this I’m obligating myself to posting writing her every Thursday from this point forward, no matter what happens to this silly challenge thing.

Other things that are inspiring me:

Joli’s blog, which is full of fantastic stuff lately. Even the posts she uses as filler until she writes new stuff are incredible.

THE AMERICANS ARE THE ONES WATCHING OUT THE WINDOWS TO SEE IF THE PLANE IS BEING LOADED. THEY ARE THE ONES SCOWLING AS THEY SPEAK OF BABIES GROWING UP. THEY ARE THE ONES ANNOUNCED ON THE INTERCOM WITH NAMES LIKE “ELEGANT”. THEY ARE THE ONES SINGING NURSERY RHYMES. MY PASSPORT SAYS SO MANY THINGS NOW BUT THE BIGGEST ONE IS STILL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I AM EATING BELGIAN CHOCOLATE THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SOUVENIRS.

Violent Femmes’ cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Gnarls Barkley covered the Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone” on their first album, and I guess this is the Femmes’ way of returning the favor. I have the 12″ single in hand, and the CD is forthcoming. The music is raucous and unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. They’ve even managed to work the theremin–best known for kitschy ’50’s sci-fi instrumentation–into the mix. I’m not the biggest Gnarls Barkley fan (although “Crazy” was a fun, easily-digestible pop song), but I’m a huge Femmes fan and was not disappointed by this release. I’m also generally encouraged by the fact that they’re recording again after an ugly lawsuit between the lead singer and the bassist regarding music rights.

That’s it. Be back on Thursday-ish with a story about flamingos.

Loco for choco

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2008 by uglydudefood

I used to love milk chocolate. Then I went on a crazy, obsessive diet and cut all chocolate out of my life for a period of years. When I finally decided to return to the realm of the healthy and the sane, the typical Hershey’s bars (even the Special Dark which contains more milk and sugar than any good dark chocolate bar should) left me with a nasty, saccharine taste in my mouth.

One day I was wandering through the “health food” section of my grocery store–although really, how much healthier is “organic” macaroni and cheese compared to a blue box of Kraft Dinner?–and I passed a rack of chocolates I had never seen before. They all had weird numbers on them and they told me where they were from. What the what? I picked up a 55% dark chocolate Chocolove bar. It was exquisite. Instead of an overload of sugar or almost-artificial creaminess, there was depth to this candy. This candy had secrets.

I couldn’t get enough. As I continued on my journey, the percentages kept getting higher and higher. 70%. 80%. My life changed the moment I put a chunk of Endangered Species 88% dark chocolate in my gob.

But there was a problem.

The numbers stopped going up. My grocery store didn’t carry any chocolate darker than that 88% bar. I wanted more! More complexity! Would I live my life forever chasing the dragon, trying to relive my first 88% cacao experience?

Not if the baking aisle had anything to say about it. I marched right up to the unsweetened baking chocolate rack–which, in hindsight, probably looked pretty silly–and I grabbed a bar of Hershey’s finest 100% chocolate. It had to be good, right? I mean, my experience has done nothing to discourage the belief that higher cacao percentage equals higher deliciousness percentage.

Mistake.

I guess this post is meant to say that I love dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate ever so much. In fact, I may be the only living proof of going retarded over chocolate that you’ll ever actually see.

Amano Artisan Chocolate produces some of the most wonderful, complicated dark chocolate flavors out there.   I was lucky enough to receive over $21 worth of their chocolate for free from BlakeMakes.

Via Amano’s website:  “In a world of mass-produced merchandise, Amano strives to return to chocolate’s roots by making the chocolate slowly and in very small batches while concentrating on developing the finest flavors possible. There is much fine chocolate made throughout the world. Each company or artisan has its own unique vision. We hope that you will share Amano’s vision of quality without compromise.”

Due to the fact that this is probably the most expensive chocolate I’ll ever eat, I feel like I need more ceremony than just chomping on the bar.  Any suggestions on what to do with some really, really good dark chocolate?  Should I use it to bake something? Share it with work friends and gauge reactions in some sort of faux-wine-tasting?  Or should I just chomp on it?

Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day…to me!

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2008 by uglydudefood

I went into work today to find a big frigging gift bag smack in the middle of my desk.

BLAM.

My first thought was that I missed my birthday. Turns out that today is Administrative Professionals’ Day. Take a moment to laugh at the professional spin they gave the old-time “Secretaries’ Day.”

Out of your system? Good. Because apparently those of us who bust our humps day-in and day-out to file your paperwork are special. How special? Special enough to get lots and lots of glorious stuff!

There are some negatives to having your coworkers know about your crazy, obsessive-compulsive dieting. There’s those that express concern–either fake or sincere-but-misguided. There are people that will ask and comment about your diet incessantly. However, all of that goes away when people get you a big ol’ bag of food.

Granola from Dingeldein Bakery. There is no official webpage for the Dingeldein Bakery, but it’s probably the most costly bakery in the city of Harrisburg, PA. I was really, really looking forward to crunching on this stuff. I opened it immediately after work and ate a serving. I’ve never had plain granola before (only in super-saccharine bar form), but this stuff was incredible. Raisins and nuts and what I’d assume to be honey combine to form this delicious, dense conglomeration. Now I will stop describing something that everybody else already eats.

Sugar-free candy! Included were packs of Extra Spearmint gum, Sweet ‘N Low Sugar Free Brand hard candies in both Fruit Flavors and International Coffee Flavors, and “Just Chocolate” hard candies.

And, if that’s not all, there was a $25 gift card to my grocery store. That will come in handy, whether it’s just to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables (cherry season is coming up, after all) or to gas up my car for the frequent hour-long commutes to my girlfriend’s house.

I’ll certainly be remembering this come Bosses’ Day!

What happens to those people right gob in the middle of the totem pole? We celebrate the head-honchos on Bosses’ Day (October 16) and the bottom-feeders on Administrative Professionals’ Day. Do the sandwich-meat (whatever menial position they tend to hold) just get to live day-to-day, happy in the fact that they’re benefiting from the knowledge and hard work of their supervisors and secretaries?

Amazing Black Bean Brownies: good for your heart, make you etc.

Posted in baking, food, recipes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

My last post was a recipe post, I guess. More, it was just a suggestion post. This here is my first post where I actually experimented with ingredients and made foods that did not taste like crunchy water!

I have an ever-increasing backlog of recipes that I kinda-sorta want to try, but will probably never get to. Homemade Marshmallow Peeps. Vegan, fat-free carrot cake. Pumpkin muffins recommended by my friend Silliker. Various veggie burger recipes. They all incite some sort of interest in me, but not enough to send me right to the oven to work the ol’ Spoodles magic.

I was blogrolling on Monday; The moment I saw the phrase “Black Bean Brownies” on 101 Cookbooks, I knew. The words made absolutely no sense to me. I mean, sure. I knew what they all meant individually. Black–an absence of color. Bean–a protein-filled treat that develops in pods. Brownies–chocolatey delights. When you put the three together? The phrase “Black Bean Brownies” sounded like “Cotton Ball Checkbook” or “French Fried Pants.” The words simply did not go together in any decipherable way. I was going to have to create this recipe. Immediately.

Closer inspection of the recipe showed that black beans were not the only experimental item. These brownies were sweetened with agave nectar, a sort of natural, healthier (although, obviously, by no means healthy) corn syrup.

The recipe initially comes from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener, which at $11 is actually close in price to what you’ll pay for damned agave nectar in this one recipe. For the sake of trying new things, I did spring for the organic agave nectar, but 101 Cookbooks says that you can easily replace the nectar 1:1 with honey.

I won’t reprint the recipe here (as I probably don’t have permission), but here are my notes. This was only my third time baking, so I was prepared for it not to go…smoothly.

THE PROCESS

  • The recipe stated that canned black beans worked just fine for this project. I bought canned, no salt added beans, and they seemed to work fine. With the usual, high-sodium canned stuff, you would probably want to spend a good amount of time rinsing the beans.
  • I made the decision not to include the walnuts. My family is fairly picky when it comes to such things, and I thought these brownies were weird enough due to the beans and the sweetener. Didn’t want to rock the boat too much. As mentioned in “Final Thoughts,” this may have affected my final batch.

THE TREAT

  • Inexperienced as I was. I was unsure what the instruction “Bake…until the brownies are set” meant. Did I want them to come out of my oven looking like I wanted my final product to look? Or did I want to take them out a little soft (still solid), and the heat from the baking process would finish it all the way? I checked on my brownies at thirty-five minutes and they seemed a little…shiny. Internet research seemed vague at best, although if I had followed Slashfood’s direction I probably would have fared better. At forty minutes , I removed the pan and hoped for the best.
  • After cooling (and after refrigerating, as specified by this recipe), my brownies were still gooey. Not uncooked-gooey, and not inedible-gooey, but certainly too gooey to cut out of the pan with any confidence. I knew that if I put these things back in the oven after they’d cooled, they would only burn. I was left with some extra-gooey fudgeypuddingbean brownies.
  • That said, these things tasted really good. There was no bean taste to them at all. They tasted like super-decadent, fudge brownies. The coffee flavor was pretty strong, but not bad at all. Even the consistency wasn’t terrible. Certainly softer than I would have liked–and softer than any brownie I’d ever eaten before–but I could pick them up with my hands without them falling apart, so that was good enough.

THE REACTIONS

  • Mom: “Is there coffee in this?” She didn’t seem entirely unimpressed, but didn’t enjoy the flavor all too much. I offered her another the following day, and she accepted. Conclusion: not poison.
  • Dad: “I’m not that adventurous.”
  • Brother: I didn’t even bother asking. He ate a cheeseburger instead.
  • Coworker 1: “I’m impressed!” “This is more like fudge than a brownie.” Later, “I have a brownie craving!” As one of my better friends, she might have been tempered by pressure not to hurt my feelings.
  • Coworker 2: “Those brownies were…interesting.” After some hesitance, she came out and said, “I think I’m so used to [regular sugar] that these just don’t hit my craving.” She also expressed that she liked my previous two baking attempts far better (Toll House Cupcakes and Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cupcakes). Note to self: less adventurous baked goods for the office. This was actually my favorite bit of feedback, simply because it was actual, constructive criticism. I’ll come back to her because I know she’ll actually tell me how she feels about the food. I’m hoping it will be complimentary, but I know it won’t be needlessly so.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I’m wondering if other types of beans would work in this mixture. Black beans seem to be a common Internet trend in this brand of baked goods, but the flavor of a canned black bean tastes fairly similar, for instance, to a canned pinto bean or a canned white bean. This is one thing I would change if I ever made this recipe again, just to learn whether these are acceptable substitutes. Maybe white bean “blondies?”
  • I loved the taste of these brownies, and specifically how the instant coffee offset the chocolate flavor. However, the coffee did tend to come front-and-center. I think the amount of coffee could stand to be cut in half (unless it was used to mask some sort of beany aftertaste that I didn’t sense at all). This would, I think, make my family far more receptive to these brownies.
  • I left the walnuts out of the recipe, and now I’m wondering if they would have helped to bind the mixture and make for a more cohesive and less goopy brownie. I don’t believe nuts actively bind food, but you never know. Since my family didn’t eat more than one of these apiece anyway, I would probably leave the nuts in next time for a more full and textured brownie.
  • I was too much of a wuss to pull a fast one on people. When consumers asked me about the brownies, I came right out and told them they were full of beans and alternative sweetener. It would have been interesting to put these brownies to a blind taste test. Would these just seem like “super-fudgy” brownies, or would people notice something awry?
  • I really like the idea of using beans in a recipe instead of flour. It adds a world of protein and fiber that you aren’t going to get in a regular brownie. This makes them more substantial, more filling, and–dare I say it–more satisfying than a normal baked good in a lot of respects.

NUTRITION (for 1/45th of batch)

via Caloriecount.about.com

Serving Size 30.0g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
98
Calories from Fat
53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
5.9g
9%
Saturated Fat
3.5g
18%
Cholesterol
30mg
10%
Sodium
11mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates
10.8g
4%
Dietary Fiber
1.1g
4%
Protein
1.6g
Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3% Iron 7%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet