Christmas cues : Chocolate teff puddings

(Gluten-free chocolate teff puddings)

Dear Santa,

As usual, my request for Christmas this year boils down to five simple words. Less spam, more world peace.

But if the elves happen to have time, I would also love it if your reindeers could deliver more butter to Norway. It doesn’t seem like a huge ask because no one deserves to suffer from a butter crisis during the festive season. Also if possible, I’d love to have chocolate declared a health food, the way frozen pizza is now a vegetable.

Oh, and wouldn’t it be great to have Happy Valenbirthaversary declared as an officially celebrated holiday? Promise me you’ll think about it.

Thanks and Merry Christmas,

Chocolate teff Xmas puddings :
(makes 12 mini puddings)

125g 55% dark chocolate buttons
90g unsalted butter
55g teff flour
20g brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
60g brown sugar
60g dried sour cherries or cranberries
20g whiskey or brandy
105g egg whites (from 3 eggs)

Preheat the oven to 150’C (300F). Grease your popover pan (or mini muffin tin) and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. In another bowl, place the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine, then mix in the wet ingredients, followed by the chocolate butter mixture.

Divide the mixture between the holes of the popover pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into a pudding comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack before removing the puddings from the pan.

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Black Forest Skillet Cookie

(Black forest skillet cookie)

Have you ever tried doing a skillet cookie, she asked.

Well no, actually I hadn’t, and was kicking myself that I didn’t think of it sooner. It seems almost a logical conclusion to reach, from skillet cakes to cookies. I suspect skillet cookies are the ultimate lazy but impressive dinner party dessert, brought to the table in all it’s piping hot glory, and served straight from the pan.

Try baking your favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe in a skillet by pressing the cookie dough into the skillet and baking for about 30 minutes or until just set. A standard chocolate chip recipe yielding roughly 24 cookies should be sufficient for a large 9 inch skillet. Or try my recipe below, which is based on Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s Black Forest Chocolate Cookie recipe as appears in Baked.

This skillet version of their cookie is best described as an amplified version of a brownie. A brownie cookie on ‘roids, if you will, with a crackingly good crust (my favourite part of any brownie) and slightly oozy interior (especially if you dig in while it’s still warm). Serve with vanilla ice-cream if you have no hips to speak of and would like some.

Black Forest Skillet Cookie :

220g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
75g unsalted butter
85g brown sugar
120g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
55g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
80g dark chocolate chips (60% – 70% cocoa)
80g milk chocolate chips
80g dried sour cherries (or dried cherries/cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 175’C. Arrange a rack on the lower third of the oven.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the 220g dark chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a bain-marie (or in the microwave). Stir and set aside to cool.

In an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugars on high speed until the mixture is pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract and cooled chocolate mixture and beat until just combined.

Fold the flour into the chocolate/egg mixture, then both the chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Scrape the mixture into a 7 1/2 inch skillet (if your skillet is larger or smaller, adjust baking time accordingly) and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the edges are well browned and the top is set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve straight from pan.

(With thanks to chocolatesuze for the inspiration.)

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And sous it is..

-When is the part-time thing happening?, this sous chef asked.

I told him I had to wait until the end of the month to hear back from the powers above.

-You must feel special. They’ve never done anything like that for anyone before.

Yeah, special, I said, rolling my eyes.

I respect this sous chef a lot. He cares about the job he does, and in this very stressful environment, he does it extremely well. He treats everyone in the kitchen fairly, and is very level headed, despite the impossible number of coffees that he drinks and cigarettes he smokes. He buys Gatorade for the boys, and watermelon for me. Away from work, he also has twin baby girls and probably the world’s most understanding wife. How he juggles all this, is, really beyond me.

To tell you the truth, the one thing I really feel is maybe a bit guilty. Guilty that I can feel the tiredness scratching the back of my eyes. The loop of the blue striped apron hangs like a noose around the neck. Call it a derivative of Stockholm syndrome or whatever, but I still love my job, and can’t imagine ever doing anything else. Probably my one big problem is that I’m not good at the whole juggling thing.

This week, I will be mostly :

1 Listening to Heart by Stars
2 Reading The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3 Missing the boy, who flies to Vegas soon, “for work”

Last week, I finished reading a book. The first one in ages. I realised a long time ago, that one of the sad things about growing up is that I no longer have time to lounge around all Summer, sucking down chocolate Paddle Pops, surrounded by a sky-high stack of books. It was through many youthful (and pallid) years of avoiding the hot sun and the tyrannies of a sandy beach, that I discovered Hunter S. Thompson’s letters, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (ironic, isn’t it) stories.

In fact, these days, I kind of wonder what the 14 year old version of me, would think of myself now. Would I be disappointed to discover that I’m not that veterinarian or forensic scientist?

I think the 32 year old me will probably say to the 14 year old : Listen, the first thing you need to know, is that Chad Allen is never going to reply to your fan letter, and not just because it turns out that he’s gay. Secondly, life, is going to be nothing like you expected it to be. Disappointingly to your parents, you will not have “Dr.” in front of your name, nor will you sport a fancy ring on your finger or 2.5 kids at your hip.

No, it’s actually going to be even better. You will go to University and even though you will end up doing nothing related to your resulting degree, you will relish the experience. You will make friends there that you still count as some of your closest to this day. In your first year, you will also get your first computer account and through it you will meet even more new people, including one guy who will start out as a friend and eventually turn into someone who means so much more to you.

Today, he will come home from work and you will have soy glazed pork with slaw and potato fritters, followed by a frozen chocolate mousse cake. Whatever happens after that, and the day after, doesn’t matter, because it will be just as wonderful and unexpected as the days have been so far.

So, breathe, relax. It’ll turn out okay. Although, maybe you might want to learn how to juggle a little bit..

(Frozen chocolate mousse cake : chocolate sauce, sour cherries (compote and sorbet), peanut butter powder, peanut and banana tuille)

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