Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chocolate Bouchons

This dessert wasn't supposed to be next in line. In fact, I have two other recipes to write about that were made before this. All that changed when I was walking through Williams-Sonoma the other day and saw this. Apparently Mr. Keller owns Williams-Sonoma now, because you'll see his name there more often than the stores name. After picking up these molds I was given a free little book of waffle recipes, designed by Keller himself. Seriously.

Bouchon is a French word that translates to cork in English, so it's not hard to guess why these desserts are named how they are. It's a little bit of a longer jump to connect the name of the restaurant to these desserts, but the connection is there, I promise. According to Keller:

"...the first proprietors put a pine branch or bouquet--called a bousche--above their doors, a reference to Bacchus that announced that they served wine"

So wine is the connection between the restaurant name and this seemingly unrelated chocolate dessert. Anyway, I made these for dessert after Christmas dinner. And then again for New Year's Eve. That probably gives away the ending a little early.

The ingredients here are pretty simple. You probably have all of it already, with the possible exception of 6 oz of semisweet chocolate. And all of the butter you need. The rest of the stuff is vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, flour, and eggs.

That's not a joke. That's 3 sticks of butter. That's a step in the right direction, right? The first thing I did was chop the chocolate into tiny chips. I used a 61% chocolate I found at Whole Foods (the recipe calls for 55%), and to me it was an improvement. But I'm a dark chocolate fan, so do what you like....

I put the 3 eggs and most of the sugar in the mixer and beat it on medium speed for about three minutes, until it looked roughly like this:

I added the vanilla and mixed it until just combined. To this mixture I added the dry ingredients, which had been sifted:

and 24 tablespoons of butter, alternating 1/3 of each mixture at a time. The last step was to throw in the chocolate pieces and stir it until they were evenly incorporated. Batter complete. And tasty.

A couple of hours after Christmas dinner we decided it was time for dessert. I took the batter out of the fridge and did...nothing. The batter had hardened to the point that I wasn't about to do anything with it for the next 30 minutes or so.

After it softened some, I poured the batter into a ziploc bag I had cut one corner off of and piped it into the mold I bought:

Here's another shot so you can revel in how perfectly consistent I was filling each mold:

I figured they'd melt and settle some (they did), and things would be ok. They mold, placed on a baking sheet, went into a 350 degree oven for about 22 minutes. The tops, which are really the bottoms, looked kind of like a brownie when they were finished.

I took the mold out and moved it to a cooling rack. After letting it cool for just a couple of minutes, I flipped the mold over and let the cakes finish cooling upside down (or right-side up I guess). Since this was a fancy silicone mold, they cakes popped right out, and they were ready for serving.

I dusted them with confectioners' sugar and served them with some homemade vanilla ice cream. They were fantastic. Very chocolatey, moist, and rich. For a total time investment of maybe 45 minutes, it's a dessert you probably can't beat. It's probably at the top of the list of Bouchon desserts, at least for now.

As usual, I don't post recipes here, but this one is readily available other places on the net. Check out this for more info. There are some discrepancies on the yield depending on what size molds you use, but it'll all taste the same...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cauliflower Gratin

This is part 2 of about 4 in my attempt to catch up writing about the dishes I've made. Trusty iPhoto says I downloaded the pictures in this post from the camera on October 5th. This dish was inspired by a mediocre-sized head of cauliflower we received in our CSA. You can see it below, hidden slightly behind the horseradish. Notice that it's not nearly as pretty looking as the store-bought head next to it, but hey, it also didn't travel 5,000 miles to get to my cutting board. It's probably a good thing we got it in the CSA. If we hadn't, this dish was in jeopardy of never getting made. See, cauliflower just doesn't do it for me. I'm not sure why, I just don't really like it. I think it smells weird, tastes weird, and feels funny. All that said, I promised to myself I'd keep an open mind throughout all of this.

The other ingredients in the picture are, kind of from left to right: butter, cream, parsley, nutmeg, bay leaf, vinegar, panko, curry powder, horseradish, Emmentaler cheese, and shallot.

The first step was to prepare the cauliflower. I did this by removing the leaves and cutting away the florets. The cores were set aside for use in this dish, and the florets were chopped into smallish pieces:

There is kind of an odd skin on the core, so I peeled that off and chopped the remaining core before placing it in the food processor:

I let the processor run for a solid minute to puree the core, only to find myself a little short of the required 1 cup. In went a few florets, and a few seconds later I was all set:

That's the end of the prep work associated with this dish. From this point on, it's pretty straightforward. I blanched the florets in a pot of water, salt, and vinegar (the vinegar keeps the florets white).

I added butter and shallot to a saucepan and let that cook for a minute or two to soften the shallot up:

I added to that some seasonings, the bay leaf, thyme and parsley. I added to that the cauliflower puree, and to that I added a little under a cup of water. That all turned into a milky white sauce that didn't really smell that good:

After that had cooked down a little bit, I added the cream and simmered the mixture for two minutes. I took the sauce off the heat and fished out all of the items that don't belong in a sauce.

The sauce made its way over to the blender and received a few gratings of curry powder. It looks kind of like egg nog, but trust me, it's not:

Once the mixture had cooled a little bit, I added the horseradish and blended everything until it was smooth as silk. Not really. I gave it about fifteen seconds and called it good. I tossed this sauce with the florets and seasoned the whole things with more salt, pepper, and some fresh nutmeg.

It all fit nicely into a medium-sized casserole dish, which I placed in the fridge for about an hour to let the flavors meld. This is a critical step, lest the cauliflower-flavored cauliflower puree not blend well with the cauliflower-flavored cauliflower florets.

While that was chilling in the fridge, I heated the oven to 450 degrees. I took the dish out, sprinkled it with the cheese and panko, and put that sucker in the oven for about 25 minutes. The tops were looking deliciously browned, so I broiled it for a minute or two as well. Out came this:

The lighting in these last two pictures doesn't really do the dish justice. It looked great. There was bubbling cheese, browned cauliflower florets, everything you would expect.

Unfortunately for me, the list of things I expected did not include great taste. I make absolutely no claims that this was the recipes fault. In fact, in an unofficial survey, 100% of the other taster's that enjoy cauliflower though the dish was really good. It's just not for me I guess. I'll eat broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, but you can keep the cauliflower.