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archive for chocolate

the year of the monkey

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Recipe: chocolate soufflé

I wrote a short piece for Lands of Plenty on Chinese dumplings if you’d like to hop over and read it. The illustration was created by the talented Melanie Kwan.

Happy Chinese New Year! While everyone was getting ready for their big game parties on Sunday, we were busily cleaning the house and prepping food all weekend for our New Year’s Eve feast. It was just as well since the winds were horrible here, so we didn’t feel as if we were missing out on anything outside. I figured the lunar new year could mean something new for Neva, too! It’s her first Chinese New Year, after all.


a pretty new collar for her to encase in mud…

high winds can sometimes deliver dramatic cloudscapes



For some reason, this year’s cooking went more smoothly than previous years and I had the bulk of it done by Saturday night. I also think as I get older I’m okay with letting some things slide. For instance, I usually try to make stir-fried Chinese rice cakes, but instead of making yet another dish and having even more food to finish before it spoils, I just tossed a few of the rice cakes into the cellophane noodle soup and called it good. I’m slowly learning to let go of ridiculous expectations that are only in my mind and trying to focus more on reducing stress. Also? I have a terrible habit of making too much food, so I made a concerted effort to make the dishes in smaller quantities and I sent Jeremy with some of the scallion pancakes and potstickers to our favorite neighbors. It’s good all around.

fragrant pears, satsuma mandarin oranges, and a red envelope

lucky ten ingredient vegetable before mixing

making scallion pancakes

frying up some pork potstickers

our small feast

so good to finally sit down and enjoy



Now with Chinese New Year cleaning and cooking done, I can sit back and take a load off my feet… sort of. What’s that you say? Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up. We don’t really do that around here. There are no gifts, no surprises, no unauthorized expenses, no nothing other than our typical hugs and giggles and I-love-yous. But for those of you who like to cook or bake for those people you love dearly, I can get behind that. This gluten-free chocolate soufflé has been sitting in my archives for several months and it seems appropriate right about now. We start with a chocolate pastry cream.

egg whites, egg yolks, vanilla extract, unsweetened chocolate, sugar (twice), butter (twice), powdered sugar, cornstarch, cream of tartar, cocoa powder, salt, and milk

whisk the yolks, milk, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt together over medium heat

stir the chocolate, butter, and vanilla into the mixture

chocolate pastry cream



**Jump for more butter**

there’s a surprise

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Recipe: pistachio surprise truffles

Someday, I will catch up on sleep. Jeremy and I have both had several nights in a row of staying up late to work and getting up early to work (or ski). Of course, we both recognize the importance of getting enough sleep, so one night we made a concerted effort to get to bed before midnight in the hopes we’d be able to sleep in until 7 am. Except we have been experimenting with Neva’s sleeping arrangements where we leave her crate door open overnight and have a regular doggy bed in another corner of the bedroom. Neva had other ideas, as Neva usually does. She decided to leap up onto the bed at 2 am – scaring the hell out of both of us since she doesn’t really worry about where she’s landing. After gradually pushing us to our respective edges of the bed, Jeremy put her back in jail (her crate) and shut the door. By 5:30 am she was rattling the door, clamoring to be let out. Puppy training has morphed into a quasi roommate training.


inner peace… inner peace… inner peace…



Back in December, I discovered some frozen homemade pistachio paste while counting my bags of huckleberries in the chest freezer (I do this periodically – it makes me feel better). Pistachio paste is like almond paste, but made with… pistachios. And it’s green. I kinda love the stuff. Since it was the holidays, I took the pistachio paste out to make some truffles to give to friends. I’m not much of a truffle person because of all that chocolate, but I’ll make an exception for these.

pistachios, cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, almond extract, water



Pistachio paste can be hard to find, although Love’n Bake makes a nice one if you can get your hands on some. I’ve resigned myself to making my own pistachio paste as it is pretty straightforward with the exception of peeling the pistachios. If you can find unsalted, raw, shelled, and peeled pistachios, or you don’t care about peeling your pistachios, then the paste is as simple as placing four ingredients in a food processor and pushing the ON button. If you are compelled to peel your pistachios, this is the method that has worked best for me: boil the pistachios, dunk them in ice cold water, pat them dry, peel the skins off. The skinning is the tedious part that takes an hour or more depending on how meticulous you are about the peeling. Play your favorite podcast, radio show, music, whatever. It helps to take your mind off of the crazy.

boil the nuts for a minute or two

submerge the nuts in ice water

pat them dry on a dish towel

the skins should peel off easily



**Jump for more butter**

holidaze

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Recipe: pistachio cream puffs

We are in snowy (it’s snowing right now!) Crested Butte and just delivered our last bag of cookies and confections to friends in our neighborhood this evening. After this post is done, I am officially on holiday! That means I’ve also completed our annual greeting card, which I invite you to view here (click the link): http://jenyu.net/newyear/.


baby puppy neva is ready to welcome 2016!



So let’s get this party started. This recipe is one for entertaining or for those of us who love pistachio cream puffs. There are a lot of shortcuts you can take to make this scrumptious dessert a reality, but I’m going to go through all of the steps here and you can decide where you don’t have the patience or time to deal with certain parts of the recipe. The most time consuming step of all is peeling the pistachios. You absolutely do not have to do this, but if you like the color green the way I like the color green, it’s almost mandatory. Peeling took me over an hour and the process made me a little crazy. If you should choose to peel your pistachios, blanch them in boiling water for a minute, then drain the nuts and plunge them into ice water until they are cooled throughout. Drain the pistachios, spread them out on a kitchen towel, and start peeling the skins off. They should come off easily, but like I said – it is a most tedious task. The main components of the cream puff are: the pistachio pudding, the puffs, the chocolate glaze, and the filling (which includes the pudding).

the pudding: sugar, more sugar, egg yolks, almond extract, vanilla extract, salt, pistachios, butter, cornstarch, water, milk

make a paste with sugar, pistachios, and water

pulse the ground pistachios with the sugar and water

pistachio paste



**Jump for more butter**