Chocolate Pâté

January 16, 2013


I made this recipe for the first time 25 years ago, when I didn’t know much about cooking.  Bittersweet chocolate was an exotic ingredient that I couldn’t find anywhere, and I couldn’t Google to find it.

Fast forward to last week when I promised to bring something chocolate  to  my book club meeting.  I wanted it to be rich and decadent, but super easy to make.  This recipe popped back into my head and I dug out the recipe.  25 years ago it didn’t seem so simple and foolproof to throw together, but I now realized it was basically a ganache with butter added for even more richness.  The recipe fit all of my criteria; in addition, I was able to throw it together at the last minute, having toasted the almonds and chopped the chocolate the evening before.

Use your imagination for things to serve it with.  Someone brought some wonderful coconut macaroons that made great Almond Joy-style treats when spread with the chocolate.  I also recommend assorted fruits and shortbread or digestive biscuit cookies.  I wouldn’t say no to chèvre either.

Instead of waiting 25 years, I should have been making this at least once a month!

Chocolate Pâté

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ⅔ cups heavy cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pats
2 tsp Amaretto, or ¼ tsp. almond extract
1 ¼ cups blanched almonds, toasted and chopped medium fine

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread almonds in a single layer on a pan and toast in the oven for 7-10 minutes.  Let cool and then chop.  Set aside.

Place finely chopped chocolates and butter pats in a medium-size bowl.

Place the cream in a saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until it is about to come to a boil, then remove from the heat (Alternately, you could heat the cream in a microwave safe container on High for about 3-4 minutes, watching carefully for the imminent boil).  Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter.  Whisk until the butter and chocolates melt and the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Stir in the liqueur or extract and the chopped nuts.

Spoon the chocolate mixture into a crock and cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

If the pâté is to be served within 2 or 3 hours, leave at room temperature. It will set to the consistency of thick frosting as it cools.  Otherwise, refrigerate, although it may then be necessary to add a bit of warm cream to the chocolate to soften and smooth the consistency, even after the pâté has been brought to room temperature.

10-12 servings

Alton Brown + The Mythbusters =

November 19, 2012

Alton Brown + The Mythbusters =

The ultimate hot-nerd trifecta!

Prune-Filled Donuts Are Bliss! Who Knew?

June 27, 2012

hartmans donuts by aharste
Hartman’s Bakery & Pastry
901 North 11th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220‎

On the way to Elkhart Lake last weekend we passed this little bakery on a sleepy corner in Manitowoc, WI. I demanded that we stop.

Inside there was a line and a lot of plaques on the wall awarding them Best Donuts in the County honors. Could we have stumbled upon a winner?

This is an old-fashioned bakery where they make a lot of regional specialties and you can still get a cookie or a bar for way under $1. This beautiful tray of 7 donuts was $5.

Up in the left hand corner is a divine frosted sweet roll with pastry cream filling.

Hiding underneath there’s a scrumptious apple fritter full of diced apple. There’s also a glazed confection the counter woman called a cruller, but was more like an old-fashioned donut, shaped like a banana.

The cake doughts had real chocolate frosting spread on them.

In the upper right hand corner is a Persian. Persians orignated in Thunder Bay, but have drifted down to the Wisconsin lakeshore. They are basically frosted cinnamon buns, but there’s nothing basic about them. This one was moist and chewy, frosted with maple frosting and topped with crunch. Swoon-worthy. I think my husband was groaning while he was eating it, but I couldn’t hear too well over the num-num sounds I was making.

With a nod to the Eastern-European heritage of the area, there were granuated sugar coated donuts filled with prune or poppyseed filling. Im a sucker for any kind of filled donut and I just had to try one. I chose the prune and it was a delightful revelation; one of the best filled donuts I’ve ever had. Sweet, but not too sweet. A mix of my favorite textures, chewy and moist donut, crunchy sugar, creamy smooth filling.

I’m going to be thinking about these donuts for a long time.

Quick chorizo tacos

June 6, 2012

taco by aharste

Slice or crumble 12 ounces of chorizo. Brown well over medium-high heat. Drain. Warm some corn tortillas and serve with your favorite condiments. In this case it was diced tomatoes, avocado and  ricotta salata, and salsa.

Dinner in under 15 minutes? Done!

FrozBroz Apricot Parmesan Ice Cream

May 21, 2012

I have been so busy that I forgot to post the results of the FrozBroz apricot parmesan ice cream challenge. In a word: spectacular!

If only all the people who wrinkled their noses at me when I told them my flavor could try it.

Both apricot and Parmesan have the potential to dominate, but the idea was interpreted in a way I didn’t think of. An apricot marmalade stirred into the ice cream base and also layered with the ice cream, and small chunks of Parmesan, or Wisconsin’s Stravecchio Parmesan, to be exact. The result was a truly decadent ice cream to savor slowly in order to appreciate the flavors and textures going on.

I love to eat ice cream when it is like a treasure hunt to find all the goodies hidden in it. The apricot marmalade had an intensely deep and concentrated flavor and a great sticky texture with pieces of candied apricot. Finding the crumbles of Parmesan, which gave bursts of salty, tangy flavor, was my favorite part of the treasure hunt. And of course the body of the ice cream itself was luscious and creamy, with a hint of the apricot and maybe cardamom?

To serve it, I made a shortbread crunch to sprinkle over the ice cream to replicate a favorite combination of mine, which is a shortbread cookie topped with a cheese and something really sweet, like apricot or caramelized sugar. The crunch was inspired by Christina Tosi’s crunches from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Shortbread Crunch

170 g Shortbread Cookies
40 g Milk Powder
40 g Brown Sugar
20 g White Sugar
4 g Kosher Salt
130 g Butter, melted 9 tablespoons

1. Heat the oven to 275°F.

2. Put the cookies in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the milk powder, sugars, and salt and toss to mix. Stir in the butter until the crumbs are coated and creating small clusters.

3. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. They should be slightly golden and crunchy when cooled slightly and chewed.

4. Cool the crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.