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Missing Majorca: Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Crumble Muffins

30 Aug

Oh, sweet summer, where did you go? I long for the lazy afternoons lounging by the pool, soaking in the golden sun rays, the mornings when I would wake up with no plans- those days are gone now as the school year has officially begun. Say goodbye to popsicles and impromptu weeknight barbecues and hello to piles of homework, furious studying, and curfews. One of the most memorable weeks of my vacation was spent on the beautiful Spanish island of Majorca, where my family and I hiked miles to secluded island coves, ate simple meals of fresh seafood, and disovered a quaint citrus stand selling marmalade of oranges plucked from the nearby groves.

We happened upon this stand while strolling through the tiny, mountain village of Deía and knew that we had to purchase a jar to take home with us as a souvenir. I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to capture this fun foodie moment. In classic blogger fashion, I whipped out my Canon and began snapping away photos.

I first sampled the marmalade with a dab of butter spread on a crusty French baguette. The citrusy flavor was so pronounced and vibrant, unlike the overly-sweet jarred stuff we’re used to in The States. I immediately began dreaming up ways to incorporate the marmalade into a baked good and after much deliberation, I ended up with these awesome Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Crumble Muffins. 

The orange flavor really shines in this recipe without being overbearing, contrasting well with the slightly bitter dark chocolate chunks. The interior of the muffin is tender and subtly moist and crowned with a generous crumble topping. Since marmalade is the key ingredient in this recipe, make sure you invest in a quality brand- maybe from your local farmers’ market.

Recipe barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman 

For the muffin batter:
4 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tblsp baking powder 
1/2 cup cold butter  
1 3/4 cups orange marmalade 
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 eggs, beaten 
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

For the crumble topping:
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tblsp, plus 1 tsp melted butter 
1/4 tsp salt 

Makes around 24 muffins.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or fork to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix the marmalade, orange juice, beaten eggs, and vanilla extract in a small bowl and add the mixture to the dry ingredients.   Gently mix all the ingredients together, using fewer than 10 large strokes with a wooden spoon. Do not overmix; the batter should be just barely combined. Before the last few stirs, fold in the chocolate chunks. In a small bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together (the mixture should be clumpy).
2. Fill the lined muffin tins almost to the top with batter. Sprinkle one heaping teaspoon of topping over each muffin. 
3. Bake the muffins for 20-22 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack. 

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

23 Aug

While I love summer’s bounty of stone fruits and berries, all of which make lovely pies and cobblers, I crave chocolate all year round. A reliable chocolate dessert is an item that should be on your repertoire no matter the season. Enter chocolate soufflé cake: a pillowy, simply chocolate delight that can be whipped up with just five ingredients. 

The texture of this dessert really sets it apart from the overly-dense and sticky flourless chocolate cakes I have tried. This one is soft and perfectly moist, the pieces crumbling as you remove a slice and almost melting on your tongue. The secret to this cake is in the technique: the whipped egg whites provide a beautiful lift and airiness. You know your egg whites are stiff when they hold their shape on the beater or they don’t fall when you invert the bowl. Do not fall victim to perfectionism when folding the batter together in the final step; work smoothly and efficiently just until the egg whites and chocolate are combined. Since there are so few components to this recipe, good-quality chocolate is essential. I recommend Scharffen Berger or Cordillera, both of which can be found at Whole Foods. 

Chocolate is a wonderful canvas for other flavors; you can dress this cake up according to your personal preferences. Serve it with a dollop of lightly whipped cream and fresh berries, a scoop of vanilla bean or coffee ice cream, or simply a tall glass of cold milk. 

Recipe courtesy of The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories 

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
1/4 cup water 
4 egg whites 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
5 egg yolks 
1/4 tsp salt 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter. 
2. Place the 1/4 cup water and chocolate in a medium bowl and melt the chocolate over a double boiler; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they reach the soft peak stage. Slowly stream in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form; set aside. 
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on high speed until the batter forms a ribbon (about 5 minutes). Add the melted chocolate to this yolk mixture and beat on medium speed for an additional minute just to incorporate the two. Fold the egg whites into this mixture in thirds, making sure not to overfold. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25 minutes. The center of the cake should be moist but not raw. 

San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour

2 Aug
A wide array of chocolates fill the display case at Swiss chocolatier, Teuscher. 

Last weekend, my sister Lena and I embarked upon a three-hour gourmet chocolate walk around the beautiful city of San Francisco, where we sampled chocolates from some of the world’s finest chocolate purveyors. 

Our journey began at The Ferry Building, where we learned proper chocolate tasting technique and tested our skills at our first stop:  Scharffen Berger. Of the bars we sampled, my personal favorite was the dark chocolate with sea salt. We then moved on to La Cocina, a business incubator that provides young entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen space and technical advice. The kiosk we visited sells products engineered by many of the students in the program, including a wide array of hand-crafted chocolate confections. My favorite item from La Cocina is the cinnamon truffle: a silky smooth chocolate ganache interior coated in an additional layer of chocolate and dusted with spicy Vietnamese cinnamon. Our third destination, Recchiuti, offers Parisian-inspired chocolates handmade in San Francisco. As someone who prefers rich, unhindered chocolate flavor over fruity and herbal concoctions, I was completely blown away by the jasmine tea truffle. 

 Scharffen Berger’s giant chocolate chunk cookie is to die for. Paper thin and crispy, blotted with pieces of the classic 70% cacao bar. 

We then walked a few blocks over to Fog City News, San Francisco’s most plentiful newsstand and candy store. Not only does Fog City offer an extensive selection of magazines, newspapers, and periodicals, but it boasts one of the largest chocolate collections in the country. We really saved the best for last, though, as we concluded the tour at Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland and CocoaBellaBiting into Teuscher’s Champagne Truffle is chocolate heaven: a thin chocolate shell dusted with confectioner’s sugar surrounds a center of creamy chocolate ganache and Dom Perignon champagne cream. CocoaBella is a gourmet chocolate carrier, sourcing its products from the world’s acclaimed chocolate artisans. The store is divided into two sides: North America and Europe. The European chocolates contain traditional flavor pairings and simple presentation whereas the North American offerings are more adventurous, including options such as a cayenne spiced truffle and a bleu cheese truffle. 

Aside from all the taste-testing, I learned quite a bit about the history of chocolate, chocolate composition, and even the political controversies surrounding chocolate production. It was also a pleasure to chat with the other foodies on the tour and to analyze the different items we sampled. Whether you are a chocolate lover or a curious foodie (or both!), this gourmet chocolate tour is a real treat. 

Berry Cream Cheese Tart with Chocolate

12 Jul
Tart filling courtesy of The Sun, crust courtesy of Annie’s Eats

For the crust:
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface 
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar 
1/4 tsp salt 
8 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

For the filling: 
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 cup heavy whipping cream 
12 oz. mixed berries 

1. To make the tart shell, whisk together the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; process to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 one-second pulses. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least one hour or up to 48 hours.
2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  (If refrigerated for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.)  Unwrap and roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan. Mold the dough to the sides of the tart pan and remove the excess off the top. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12-inch square of foil into the frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes longer. Transfer the shell to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double-boiler over simmering water. Spread the chocolate in a thin, even layer over the bottom of the cooled tart shell, reserving some chocolate for drizzling. Keep the remaining chocolate heated over hot water to use later. Refrigerate the coated tart shell until the chocolate hardens. 
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the whipping cream. Spread the cream cheese mixture into the cooled tart shell and chill for one hour. Arrange the berries on top of the filled tart, starting on the outside and working toward the center. Drizzle the reserved chocolate over the top of the berries, if desired. Chill the tart until you are ready to serve. 

For my family’s Fourth of July get together last week, the dessert spread was a group effort. My sister and I baked a fabulous Ricotta Cheesecake courtesy of David Lebovitz, my cousin contributed a decadent Chocolate Pudding Pie, and my aunt whipped up her famous Berry Cream Cheese Tart. I first tried this dessert at another summer barbecue a couple years back and immediately loved it. The combination of the buttery, tender crust with the rich cream cheese filling and fresh berries is simply irresistible. The dark chocolate shell adds a subtle note of bitterness and ties the whole tart together. In celebration of The Fourth, my aunt opted for a patriotic red, white, and blue star design. However, this dessert would be appropriate for any special occasion throughout the seasons and you can use whichever berries you prefer. 

Double Chocolate Pudding

18 Jun

Recipe slightly adapted from Lauren’s Latest

1/4 cup granulated sugar 
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted 
1/4 cup good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1 cup fat free half & half 
1 cup milk
2 oz. good quality, chopped semisweet dark chocolate, such as scharffen berger  
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Freshly whipped cream, for serving 
Milk chocolate shavings, for serving 

Makes 6, half-cup servings

1. In a small saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt together until combined. Slowly stream in the half & half and milk, whisking to prevent lumps. Place the pan over medium high heat and whisk until the mixture starts to steam. Sprinkle in chopped dark chocolate and continue stirring until it has melted and the pudding has bubbled and thickened.
2. Remove the pudding from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean extract. Pour the pudding evenly into serving cups of your choice. Place plastic wrap directly onto the pudding and refrigerate it until completely chilled, approximately two hours. Remove the plastic wrap and top the pudding with whipped cream and milk chocolate shavings. 

Light and airy, filled with tones of decadent dark chocolate, and topped with freshly whipped cream and milk chocolate shavings, this pudding is the chocolate lover’s dream. It is the ideal item to satisfy your sweet craving and can be thrown together in less than 15 minutes. Unlike the store-bought puddings that are packed with sugar and artificial flavorings, every bite of this homemade snack tastes like pure, unmasked chocolate. This would be a wonderful dessert to prepare for a summer barbecue, placed in vodka glasses and served with colorful, mini plastic spoons. For a bit of added crunch, sprinkle cocoa nibs or mini semisweet chocolate chips into the warm pudding while pouring the pudding in the cups.