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Showing posts with label Cacao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cacao. Show all posts

Friday, February 9, 2018

Chocolate Oregano Cookies

I'm all about using what you have. Living cheaply is fairly easy once you have a decent amount of things stocked up, or a decent amount of things that are always growing. I have a slight gardening addiction, and I make that rather clear by the collection of houseplants that I hoard in my living room. I suppose that I somehow believe that house plants will make me healthier because it's recycling all of the CO2 that my household produces, as well as all of the methane, hydrogen sulfide, and amonia that we produce by our farts, and turning it into oxygen. Whether the plants do that to an amount that is truly beneficial I shall never know. It's still very relaxing, however, to have control over another living thing.

The oregano plants have just started coming back. It's winter here in the northern hemisphere, and that means that it's too cold for anything to be growing outdoors. That being said, we've had a string or two of unseasonably warm days in which I have tilled the ground and planted my winter crops, such as carrots, spinach, peas, kale, etc., and been able to spread mulch where there needs it. I'm glad that I was able to do this, of course, because right after planting we came down with a fair amount of snow, which is the poor man's fertilizer.

Inside, I have all of my starters going in planter trays, all sitting happily in front of my windows. I've got my houseplants, too, of course, but I'm very excited to see the plants that I've had in my planters outdoors (which I've brought indoors) happily bloom and grow again. The first to come back to life has been my oregano.

I love oregano. I think it is a wildly underutilized herb in the culinary world, especially when it comes to sweets. Oregano is an herb of luck and happiness, perfectly suitable as the first herb to sprout its pretty head for the new year. I love putting fruit and herbs together in pies and cakes, but what about cookies? The ultimate versatile cookie has to be chocolate chip. Here's how to make some chocolate chip cookies utilizing oregano!

Chocolate Oregano Cookies
yields 2.5 dozen

  • 2 sprigs oregano, about 10 fresh leaves
  • 6 oz vegan butter substitute (Earth Balance is my favorite)
  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 oz (by weight, if you please) good quality molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp fine coffee grounds or 1 tsp freeze-dried instant coffee
  • 7.5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz 100% Cacao chocolate, chopped fine
Layer all of the leaves of oregano atop one another and roll into a cigar. Slice quite finely, and then add to the butter. You can melt it together and let it sit, of course, to steep, but if you're in a rush and you just need cookies right now, go ahead and cream it in until it's light and lemon-colored. Add in the sugar and molasses, and cream until quite fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the egg until absolutely emulsified in, about 1 minute, and then scrape down. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and scrape any butter mixture off the beater with the spatula. 

Dump all of the ingredients in, all at once, and stir with a spatula until well-enough combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. The cookie does improve when left to rest overnight, but if you can't wait to eat these delicious cookies, just chill the dough in the fridge while the oven heats to 325 degrees F, which should take about 30 minutes. If you can find room in the freezer, even better.

You can also dollop these on to sheet trays and freeze them a few batches at a time. 
Drop dollops of the cookie dough on to a prepared baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silpat mat and bake for 10-12 minutes. If you have a small 1 oz disher, that's ideal. Let the cookies hang out on the sheets for at least 15 minutes before picking them up so they can set. Molasses is an invert sugar, so it's what makes cookies very chewy. In fact, if you're a big fan of chewy cookies, all you have to do to make it super chewy is substitute liquid sugars for granulated/solid ones in some part. I encourage experimentation in all fronts!

If you'd like to make this to be an extra sexy treat, melt some good quality chocolate gently over a double boiler to about body temperature and dip the bottoms of the cookies in, just to coat. Let them harden on parchment paper. You can do that with just about any cookie that you'd like to dress up. You can even straight-up dip half of the cookie and cover it with sprinkles if you're feeling extra festive. The sky is the limit!

I love this recipe because it's a simple and classic cookie with an extra special thing that is both readily available and incredibly tasty. The oregano works because the licorice-like qualities add to the chocolate, and lend a new and fragrant kind of depth to something that looks simple. This is a recipe that you can easily tuck away in your cupboard but still help you clean up at the latest fundraiser because it's just that delicious.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bitterness in Varying Degrees(Chocolate)

Chocolate tart, praline cremeaux, blanc mange, chocolate biscuit...just lots
of different things. It tasted amazing. 
Many people, too many people, think that chocolate is sweet. It's not. Chocolate is bitter. Cocoa is bitter. It is bitterness, in varying degrees, which makes chocolate unique. It's by far the most luxurious ingredient there is. Fuck truffle oil. Forget gold leaf. It's chocolate. Nothing evokes luxury and romance like chocolate. Nothing evokes depth like chocolate. Nothing. It stands alone.

If someone says they don't like chocolate, I immediately distrust them. My CDC(Chef de Cuisine) said once he's not a chocolate fan. I'm slightly uneasy leaving him in charge of my dessert things while I run to Restaurant Depot, because he told me that once over a year ago. I don't think I'll ever trust him truly, but he is a very good chef and has made some of the best soups I've ever had in my life. I mean, he's like the soup guy. But I still will never fully, truly, wholly trust him. I mean, not liking chocolate seems just fundamentally wrong. It would be one thing if he were allergic to it, but he's not.

Spiced walnut & chocolate verrine w/ cherry
Yesterday, I had the good fortune to attend a Chocolate Workship/Pastry Demo at Johnson County Community College, hosted by Barry Cacao/Callebaut Chocolate with the recipes/works of Chef Rocco Lugrine. He said fall was his favorite season(mine too), so he came up with all of these wonderful chocolate desserts that featured praline and pecans and walnuts and coffee and fruit...all of these gorgeous things. "And, and, and..."I wasn't very smart in my planning in going; I didn't eat breakfast so by the time I got to work I had eaten so much chocolate I couldn't stand without shaking. I clocked in and immediately made myself the saltiest pizza I could so I could hoark it down and be stable enough to work my shift without going into some sort of diabetic coma. I swear, I wasn't anywhere near the possibility of becoming diabetic before my career switch to Pastry Chef...but I think I'll get there by age 30.

Impending Diabetes aside, I love chocolate. And I love being a Pastry Chef. It's made me explore deeper parts of my psyche, and kind of helped me deal with a lot of stuff that I didn't know I could deal with on my own. I'm not saying that this can work for everyone, but cooking is and always has been very theraputic to me. I find comfort in cooking because I know the rules. I find comfort in knowing what happens when you add X to Y at temperature Z. Things like these are constants in my life when nothing else is.

I will never love any person as much as I love this dog. Just accept
that and be offended on your own time. Howl and I will be
chilling, enjoying each other's company. 
I also find comfort in my dog, Howl. He's a charming creature, magnificent in his derpiness, and a big pile of shedding love. I find it comforting that he will never care what I do for a living or how much money I make or if I snore or whatever. Dogs don't care if you're dumb or wise or funny or skinny or fat. Dogs love on a level which we are, I truly believe, incapable of. I see pictures of animal abuse or hear stories of it and I feel sick. A few people get slaughtered, I feel sad. An animal dies in a movie, I'm inconsolable. But when a human dies I kind of feel like... "Eh, that sucks, but they were probably an asshole at some point." Oh my God, how sick is that?

Love will come and go. Relationships come and go. I've learned to not make plans, since it seems like every time I do, something comes up. I've learned that the language of my life is one of fluidity, so it's best to just strap in and go with the flow. But life has also taught me that with sweet, comes bitter. Sometimes I fear that there is so much bitterness built up within me that none of the sweet will ever do any good. Am I palatable? Will I ever truly be? Why do I care so much?

Everybody wants to be loved. Is that so wrong? I am loved by my family and my friends and, of course, my dog. I feel love in the way the world works. I sometimes feel that I'm fooling myself when it comes to love. But I am coming to realize that it's because of my past. I'm letting my past hurt my future with my fear, my scars, my bitterness. This is something I've seen ruin every other love around me, and I had always vowed to myself I would never allow to happen to me. But I find that I'm making a conscious effort to not let my past bitterness destroy my present sweet.

Chocolate mousse, pecan caramel, short crust, etc...
I realize that this blog is turning into some weird, sappy, emo kid bullshit rant, so I'll sprinkle in a few pictures of the stuff we learned how to make at the workshop here and there. The things we learned about were so gorgeous, so perfectly executed. I learned that I need to use my immersion blender more, as it is, apparently, the Pastry Chef's greatest ally, aside from the knife and scale. I actually started using it for my chocolate stuff tonight at work and found it to be an amazing tool that I have seriously under-utilized. Maybe I'll post a blog about that in the morning.

But it's late, now, and I feel happy and hopeful and yet afraid. I wonder if this is how it's supposed to feel when you're my age? I wonder if there is any real such thing as "supposed to" at this point. I think we are coming to the realization as a collective mind that "supposed to" is a subject that is incredibly open to interpretation. God, I'm sleepy...