Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Prescription Strength Chocolate Fix

I am an inveterate chocoholic. If I'm not actually stirring together some dark treat, chances are, I'm plotting the next recipe to try. And for those times when nothing but the most outrageously, gratifyingly, extravagantly chocolatey will do, I depend on the following favourites - potent shots in the arm for the incorrigible junkie. Given their extreme nature, modest doses are in order.

Bittersweet Decadence Cookies (based on a recipe from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich)
"Ultrachocolatey and richer than sin, slightly crunchy on the outside with a divinely soft center, these are not delicate or subtle, but the jolt of bittersweet is irresistible." says Alice Medrich of her phenomenal cookies in her fabulous book, Bittersweet. For the best effect, please skip the packaged chips (which will neither taste right nor be the ideal size) in favour of craggy chunks hewn from a premium bar you like. While winningly fudgy when cooled, the cook deserves to eat one (or more) warm from the oven, generously rippled with seams of molten chocolate.

1/4 cup plain all-purpose flour; 1/4tsp double-action baking powder; 1/8 tsp fine sea salt; 8oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped; 2Tbsp unsalted butter; 2 large eggs; 1/2 cup caster sugar; 2 cups pecans, broken into large chunks; 6oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks approximately the size of a hazelnut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and line several cookie sheets with baking parchment. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Sift and set aside. Melt the 8oz of chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir till melted and smooth. Remove bowl from pan and set aside. In another heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Set bowl over the pan of barely simmering water and stir till mixture is lukewarm to touch. Stir eggs into the warm (not hot) chocolate. Stir in flour mixture, followed by pecans and chocolate chunks. (Note: The batter is fairly liquid and not unlike a brownie batter in consistency. This is correct.) Scoop slightly heaped tablespoons of batter onto the prepared cookie sheets 1.5 inches apart and bake till surface is dry, set and glossy, but the centre is still gooey - about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cookies firm up on baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to racks to cool completely. Store in air tight containers.

Makes 36 cookies

Crème Chocolat (based on a recipe from La Maison du Chocolat by Robert Linxe)

La Maison du Chocolat is the quintessential Parisian chocolatier. Whether in Paris, Tokyo or London, the boutiques are exquisitely appointed, cocoons clad in sumptuous shades of cocoa brown, praline beige and caramel blond where the chocolate lover can indulge in the crème de la crème of confections. The packaging - sigh, the packaging - is without peer, the hue of the silkiest ganache and precisely trimmed in the recherche brown of the best bittersweet chocolate, crafted by the same box maker to that other venerable Parisian doyenne, the house of Hermès. The book, La Maison du Chocolat by Robert Linxe, as you would expect, is breathtakingly lush. Unfortunately, in the English edition published by Rizzoli, quite a few details and instructions appear to have been lost in translation (incidentally, not an uncommon occurrence in most of the French-to-English cookbooks I've come across). The Crème Chocolat recipe is one such instance in which a little culinary sleuthing is necessary to make sense of the instructions - the egg yolks mysteriously disappear after a cameo in the recipe's step 2. However, I am sufficiently enamoured with the book to overlook the oversights - viewing them as a practical opportunity to apply a soupcon of commonsense rather than a cause for grumbling makes my time in the kitchen that much more pleasant. Based on the deduction that the egg yolks should be stirred together with the hot milk to make a crème anglaise that's poured over the chocolate results in an unctuously rich cream that can only be described as onctueuse. Serve with a cookie-like thing on the side; I made some black-and-white sugar cookies, which being unobstrusive, know who's the star.

10 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped; 3 egg yolks; 1/2 cup caster sugar; 2 cups whole milk; 1/2 vanilla bean; 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; 1/2 cup heavy cream, very well-chilled

Place the chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in another large heatproof mixing bowl till well-combined. Stir in 1 cup of the milk. Place the remaining cup of milk in a small saucepan, along with the vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped into the milk. Bring slowly to the boil, whilst gradually whisking in the cocoa, stirring diligently to ensure it's absolutely smooth. Once it comes to the boil, take the pan off heat. Whisk 1/3 of the hot milk into the bowl of egg yolks to temper it, then gradually add the rest of the milk. Place this bowl of eggs and milk over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Push mixture through a fine-meshed sieve or chinois into the bowl of finely chopped chocolate, discarding the vanilla bean. Let sit a moment or two. Stir very gently until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Chill for 1 hour. Meanwhile, whip the cream till soft peaks form. Add 1/3 of the chilled chocolate mixture to the whipped cream and fold gently to combine. Transfer this cream-chocolate mixture to the remaining chilled chocolate mixture and fold gently until combined. Pour into pretty serving dishes. Serve chilled.

Serves 4

33 Comments:

Anonymous jeanne said...

A woman after my own heart! I worship the chocolate Aztec gods. A day is complete without chocolate--I am going to try the decadent cookies....love that photo too!

11:03 am, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Jennifer Maiser said...

Oh wow - I found your site via a comment on World on a Plate. Fantastic photography!

11:53 am, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Clare Eats said...

OH MY!!!!!!
that is crazy J, what are you trying to do to me, I think I am going to blow up and die from a chocolate overload ......

but beautiful as always :) *sigh*

2:51 pm, September 14, 2005  
Blogger babe_kl said...

gosh those goodies are to die for!!! i wished i'm staying in spore and get myself invited for all these lovely treats :p

3:11 pm, September 14, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi jeanne, thanks...i must say having discovered alice medrich's recipe, most other double-chocolate cookie recipes i've tried seem to pale in comparison...

hi jennifer, thanks for dropping by, and your kind words...glad you like the pictures

hi clare, thanks for your kind words...

hi babekl, anytime ;)

4:33 pm, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Pille said...

Aaaah, you're amazing, J! I'm a chocoholic myself, and your posts definitely do NOT help me to overcome that condition.. (well, but I can't stay away from your blog either:)

5:44 pm, September 14, 2005  
Anonymous Melissa said...

J, do you think we might be twins separated at birth? ;) I arrived home last night just desperate for chocolate and I actually wanted to make THESE EXACT COOKIES (which have been on my list since I bought Bittersweet) - but alas, I didn't have enough chocolate in the house and so brownies won out. The brownies were ok, but oh how I wish I had held out for these. Your photos are so beautiful, I'm just drooling at my desk... (p.s. I'm also so happy to see a creation from the Maison du Chocolat book!)

7:53 pm, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Ruth said...

Now I've added another book to my list of "must haves". Those cookies look awesome. Of course, my honey and I are not known to limit ourselves to "modest" portions.

8:37 pm, September 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anne said...

Oh my....... I am going to need that chocolate fix NOW!!!! Really enjoy your blog, and your pictures. Am a chocoholic myself.... but am caught short today without any in the house, sigh......

9:10 pm, September 14, 2005  
Anonymous Alice said...

wow...everything looks so good!! And I definitely would not say that your black and white sugar cookies are unobtrusive...they look awesome, too!

9:26 pm, September 14, 2005  
Anonymous spots said...

why do ur posts always look so delicious? i am so sad that i am not allowed to eat chocolate anymore (cos bad for breastfeeding)... :( WAAAAAH

9:37 pm, September 14, 2005  
Blogger soycap said...

Gorgeous again! I also have Alice Medrich's book and cannot but drool over her pictures each time I flip through it. And it is the same thing that happens when I visit your page and see your works of deliciousness :)

10:42 pm, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Skrat said...

Ah....lovers of chocolate unite! Looks like im not the only chocoholic around! Hey how did you make the black & white cookies pls? Love how pretty they look. Got a recipe to share?? :)

11:44 pm, September 14, 2005  
Anonymous joey said...

Those cookies look absolutely delicious...I love chocolate, especially bittersweet. Have been thinking about getting the book...your post just convinced me :) Will try making these cookies in the meantime...

Ooh lala, Maison du Chocolat! Their truffles are amazing! Had a "chocolate-overload" breakfast there once. I have been waiting for my favorite bookstore to restock the book...taking too darned long.

1:10 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger latifa said...

I have her book too. You should try the tiger cake, it's my family favorite. By the way when are you planning to launch your book?.

Happy Baking!

3:44 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger tara said...

J, it seems you, Melissa and I were in similar moods this week! I was originally going to make the Outrageous Chocolate Cookies by Martha Stewart this week, but ended up planning on Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies (starting with one pound of butter) for this weekend. I may have to reconsider, and consult Ms. Medrich instead. These look divine, and I love the contrast of crispy and melting insides. Heaven!

5:38 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi J, loved that pic with the cookie balancing on the glass of milk - priceless!

9:29 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi pille, thanks...i must confess it's a habit i have no intention of kicking anytime soon ;)

hi melissa, we certainly gravitate towards the same books and more often than not, the same recipes in said books ;) and thanks to your fabulous well-salted tart, the LMdC book finaly got unearthed. i really hope to use it on a more regular basis...now to go fill-in-the-blanks in those instructions...

hi ruth, thanks...i know exactly what you mean ... i virtually have to "hide" them ie.keep them out of sight so we don't end up finishing the lot in one sitting...

hi anne, thanks...it's time to re-stock then ;)

hi alice, thanks ... they are exactly the type of simple-but-tasty cookies to serve with creams, custards, mousses, etc...very accommodating!

hi spots, am sure you'll be coming back to eating chocolate with a vengeance once your period of abstinence is over!

hi soycap, thanks for your kind words...i love the pictures in the book too; if only there were more of them...

hi skrat, the checkered effect looks more difficult than it actually is to make; i made up a batch of buttery sugar cookie dough, flavoured/coloured half of it with plain cocoa, cut up equal-sized logs of each type and stack them up before wrapping the 4-to-a-bundle logs with more thinly sheeted cocoa dough. then all that's needed is to slice and bake.

hi joey, thanks. the bittersweet book, i must say, is fantastic - one of those you actually want to bake from cover-to-cover...

hi latifa, thanks for the heads-up; the picture of the tiger cake in ms.medrich's book does indeed look very tempting...

hi tara, sometimes nothing but the most outrageously chocolatey will do ;) glad to see you're a fan of crisp-meets-gooey too...

9:31 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi cath, thanks :)

9:32 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger JellyGirl said...

Thank you for the scrumptious recipes! I'm going to try making the bittersweet decadence cookies, they do indeed sound incredibly decadent. These would be perfect to cure any chocolate fix!

10:58 am, September 15, 2005  
Blogger Steffles said...

Hi J
I've decided, gonna attempt the bittersweet cookies recipe next! Can't resist!!!
Cheers
Steffles

1:31 pm, September 15, 2005  
Anonymous Mel said...

Great photos as usual! I want that Maison du Chocolat book, I can't seem to find it anywhere here. But -- thanks for posting a recipe from it, I will definitely try that one soon.

3:03 pm, September 15, 2005  
Anonymous keiko said...

Hi Joycelyn - let me join the chocoholic club too :) They both look great, I've been waiting for the MdC to get cheaper but I think I'll have to get it soon. I'm hoping to make something chocolatey for the SHF this week (is that tomorrow? argh!), I need to feed myself lots of chocolate - all the time!

BTW, did you get a 20D already? So are we canon fellows? ;)

4:30 pm, September 15, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi jellygirl, you are most welcome :)

hi steffles, have fun making them!

hi mel, i've spotted copies at kino and borders on occasion...there's always amazon ;)

hi keiko, thanks...being typically impatient, i got fed up of saving for the 20D and went for the more reasonably priced nikon D70S instead...which nonetheless busted my budget...the canon will have to wait...sigh

5:51 pm, September 15, 2005  
Blogger Nic said...

Everything looks great, but I think that those chocolate cookies might just be a little too over-the-top for me. I'll stick with the black and white checkered cookies (which I always love making), I think.

8:38 am, September 16, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi nic, i love making checkered cookies too; there's nothing like the gratification of slicing those logs...

12:07 am, September 17, 2005  
Blogger Amy said...

I really did not need to see these bittersweet cookies. I will so end up making these more frequently than I should! :)

8:55 pm, September 19, 2005  
Blogger Ruth said...

J, we just finished off my daughter's birthday dinner with some of your decadent (and they really are) bittersweet cookies. They were a huge success!!!

When I was making the batter I thought I had taken down the recipe wrong - only 1/4 cup of flour???? impossible - and yet - amazing.

Thanks so much for sharing

10:22 am, September 23, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi ruth, you are most welcome...glad the cookies went down well! when i first made the recipe, i was highly doubtful too given the unusual proportions...it's as if there's just (barely) enough flour to hold the batter together...

4:19 pm, September 23, 2005  
Blogger Chin Ru said...

I just received Bittersweet in the post from Amazon (surprise pressie from fiancee!)and have been treating myself to pre-sleep reads from this wonderful book. Can't wait to try recipes from it. have you tried any of the brownie recipes? there are so many variables that i simply dont know which to choose from!

2:41 pm, October 07, 2005  
Blogger J said...

hi chin ru, your fiancee has excellent taste in books ;) it's such a fabulous book, isn't it? i have only tried one of her brownie recipes so far, the black bottom pecan praline bars, and they turned out really well - if you're a fan of pecans, these are a must-try...

6:03 pm, October 07, 2005  
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2:54 pm, October 26, 2005  
Anonymous pumpkinpie said...

Thanks for the bittersweet chocolate decadence cookie recipe. I have been waiting for the right opportunity to make these, and they really hit the spot. I also love that they don't contain a lot of butter.

8:56 pm, May 17, 2006  

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