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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

It’s that time of the month again: The Daring Bakers Challenge Post. The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!.  These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies!  This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Fortunately, I jumped right on this challenge and completed it 3 weeks ago! There’s no way I’d be making candy this weekend as we sit here waiting for hurricane Irene to hit. I’ll post soon about all the delicious things I’ve prepped for the promised power outages due to this big storm but for today, here are the sweet treats I made for this challenge.

My first ever attempt to temper chocolate. Not easy and not something I’ll be rushing to do again!

Tempered chocolate, shiny and smooth!

Making the innards of the truffles was a great deal easier and it was fun to be creative. I made an assorment and all were delicious

(From the upper left going clockwise) Mint ganache dipped in white chocolate, spiced nut bark, home made marzipan w/ dried cranberries dipped in dark chocolate, and chocolate dipped spiced carmelized nuts! Yum!

It was an interesting challenge and I’m glad I tried my hand at candy making but with a fabulous local chocolate shop close by (Munson’s) I think I’ll leave it to the experts.

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Last Sunday was my honey’s birthday and yes, there were cards and gifts. Yes there were expressions of love and well wishes from family and friends. But more importantly, there was fabulous food! Nothing says celebration like indulging in ridiculously delicious fat and sugar laden treats and we definitely did that with a hit parade of many of his favorites spread out over the weekend.

Pastry from Le Petite France

After a home cooked meal on Friday of simple pan fried chicken thighs, a potato gratin, rich with cream and aged asiago cheese and Caesar salad we were off to a great start for the culinary celebration of the completion of another cycle around the sun for my sweetheart. Saturday morning, we headed to Le Petite France (http://www.lpfbakery.com/), for a pastry pig-out that would tide us over until our reservation that evening at our favorite restaurant: Max Dowmtown.

Max’s is the place to go for consistently fine, top quality and beautifully presented food, particularly meat. We started with their famous chopped salad, a delicious mélange of fresh chopped veggies with excellent gorgonzola cheese in a sweet and tangy sherry vinaigrette. Feeling virtuous for choosing a salad over the lobster raviolis for our first course, we didn’t hesitate to dig into the enormous portions of sizzling animal protein we ordered for our mains. Mine was a double thick cut, bone in pork chop, the crusty, peppery sear encasing moist and amazingly tender pale pink porkiness. The chop was served with haricot vert and a brioche, cheddar, and cranberry stuffing. Sautéed tart apples and a pork jus reduction rounded out the plate and the flavors all combined perfectly to make this a fantastic choice.

Max’s double thick pork chop (remember you can click on the pics to enlarge!)

The birthday boy ordered the Brandt rib eye (http://www.brandtbeef.com/); an incredible treat that we’ll order any time it’s available. Brandt beef is truly something special, especially flame charred on the outside and bloody rare all the way through. Topped with pan wilted watercress it was served with a sampler of house made sauces including classic béarnaise, thyme jus, blue cheese, cognac peppercorn, and house made A-1. We also ordered a heaping pile of crisp and flavorful sweet potato fries, just to gild the lily.

Outrageous Brandt ribeye and swet potato fries

We tucked into this feast of meaty goodness, trading bites of the beasts and trying all the sauces. While we finished most of the sides, we realized that if we wanted to have any room for dessert, we’d have to quit while there was still meat left on the plates and ask for doggie bag. Woof-woof!

For dessert we went with something billed as Granny Twitchell’s Secret Chocolate Cupcake. Apparently, Granny’s recipe is no longer a secret but Max’s pastry chef has her own version where she cuts a hole in the top of the dense chocolate cupcake and fills it with heath bar toffee crunch, chocolate and caramel sauce and then frosts the whole thing with an insane amount of chocolate butter cream. Unable to believe this didn’t come with ice cream, we specially ordered a scoop to cut the intensity of all that chocolate.

Outrageous chocolate birthday cupcake

Let me take this opportunity to do a little rant on a pet peeve of mine. What’s up with those teeny-tiny scoops of ice cream that fine restaurants serve with dessert? They always seem to use a melon baller as opposed to an ice cream scoop! Am I the only one who doesn’t want to run out of ice cream long before the accompanying sweet is gone? I’m sorry but if it fits on the spoon and can be eaten in one bite, that’s not a scoop of ice cream.

Phew! I feel better. And I suppose it’s just as well that the ice cream was so scant since that prevented us from scarfing down the whole gooey, choclatey mess. We added the remains to our already hefty take away package and stuffed as I was, in my mind I was already creating the next day’s fabulous birthday dinner made mostly from leftovers!

Sunday started with my famous French toast and then I really went to work in the kitchen. Recycling is good for the environment! Maybe not so good for the waistline, especially in this case, but how marvelous to make a new and delicious dinner and dessert culled mostly from previous days goodies.

Birthday breakfast of my famous cinnamon French toast with crisp bacon

For an appetizer, we had fresh sea scallops in a citrus beurre blanc. Then I sliced the leftover pork into my homemade barbeque sauce, topped it with sautéed onions and served it on fresh baked sesame seed hard rolls. With Friday night’s scalloped potatoes and re-crisped sweet potato fries, it was a great Sunday supper. I felt a little guilty with no green on the plate but quickly forgave myself knowing that we’d be eating more than our fair share of veggies during the week to pay penance for a weekend of eating high off the hog (pun intended!)

Our first course of scallops in citrus beurre blanc

Barbecued pork on homemade roll w/ scalloped poatoes and sweet potato fries

To finish off the weekend and the birthday celebration, I invented a new dessert by baking a fresh vanilla cupcake, and stuffing it with Granny’s leftover chocolate mess, toasted chopped pecans, and serving with 2 big scoops of Ben and Jerry’s pistachio ice cream! Creative use of leftovers is one of my favorite pastimes and I outdid myself this time, making the dinner at Max’s a birthday gift that kept on giving!

Recycled birthday cupcake

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