Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Killer Chocolate Sauce

Here’s a simple yet killer Chocolate Sauce you’ll want to have up your culinary sleeve whenever you want to dress up a dessert. Whether you’re spooning it over your favorite ice cream, serving a small puddle of it alongside a sliver of a decadent torte, or drizzling it over a champagne semifreddo (recipe for THAT coming soon!), I’m convinced that this is likely to become your go-to chocolate sauce. This sauce is like that perfect accessory that pulls an outfit together, adding a classy distinctive touch without overwhelming the rest of the ensemble.

Most chocolate sauce recipes I’ve found involve butter and/or cream, but this ridiculously easy one from David Lebovitz involves neither. The richness comes from both unsweetened cocoa and bittersweet chocolate, and it doesn’t leave you feeling heavy afterwards since it doesn’t contain any dairy. It’s practically diet food. Okay, I realize that’s a bit of a stretch, but perhaps I’m trying to justify the fact that I’ve already made this chocolate sauce twice this week. Whoops…

I am having intense chocolate cravings these days that are most definitely emotionally-triggered. It’s not surprising, considering that the Broadway show for which I played in the orchestra these past months just closed on Sunday. It was a real blow, for though we knew it would be a limited run, it wasn’t supposed to be quite this limited. Our quirky musical didn’t enchant all the edgy New York critics, but every night we saw countless audience members welling up with emotion and enthusiastically singing along with the title song at the end, and people loved it. I was genuinely thrilled to work there each night, playing that gorgeous musical score with hilarious and lovely colleagues in the pit, not to mention a fabulous cast that included two leads who gave me serious goosebumps every single time I heard them sing. (Click here to hear what I’m talking about it.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crispy Kale Chips With Smoked Paprika

Okay, let’s get back on a healthy eating track. After last week’s Butterscotch Pots de Crème incident, I think I’d better give you something to offset that craziness. Check out these Kale Chips. They may not be the most photographic chips, but what they lack in visual pizzazz, they certainly make up for it with a big nutritional punch. They also happen to be very tasty, and they have become my new favorite guilt-free snack while watching television late at night.

I’ve gotten hooked on “Downton Abbey” lately, as many of you probably are as well. I’m a little late coming to this party having never seen it until recently, but I got totally swept up in the Upstairs/Downstairs intrigue of it all two weekends ago, bingeing on the complete first season over a 48-hour period. I had a total Pavlovian reaction when I first started watching, for as I drooled over the characters’ gorgeous period costumes and their grand English manor, I immediately began craving tea and scones with clotted cream and jam. After one night of indulging that craving with a little bowl of whipped cream dotted with big dollops of raspberry jam (who even needs the scones and the tea?!), I knew I needed to figure out a healthier alternative quickly. Since it is January and I’m still doing post-holiday damage control, I began making roasted kale chips to go along with my Season 2 “Downton” episodes.

It couldn’t be easier. The kale, when roasted with olive oil and sea salt till crisp, takes on a texture similar to Lay’s potato chips. I’m not kidding. The papery roasted kale shatters when you bite into it, just like a mouthful of extra-thin crunchy chips. I’m finding that it’s the ideal salty snack for my late-night movie watching these days. While I’m perfectly capable of inhaling an entire large bag of Lay’s potato chips in a single sitting, I feel much better in every way after eating a equally large bunch of kale.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Butterscotch Pots de Crème

Hello there. I’ve missed you all these past few months, I really have. Let me make it up to you by sharing a divine recipe for Butterscotch Pots De Crème, which was definitely one of my best culinary discoveries in 2011.

If December is typically a season of much merriment and revelry, January is traditionally the time to jumpstart my commitment to becoming a healthier and more vibrant person. Most January magazine issues are filled with empowering articles with titles such as “Two-Week Detox For Foodies!” or “Ten Steps To A Newer Healthier You!” Don't get me wrong,  I have no problem with committing to regular exercise and all of those other good things that I know I should do.  I do love eating vitamin-rich greens and nutritionally dense whole grains, and in January I usually try to post recipes here that help facilitate the post-holiday-party-season detox process.

But it’s been a long time since I’ve been here on Kitchen Fiddler for a whole variety of reasons: cranking out thousands of truffles for CocoaRoar, being locked-in to a new show, still trying to navigate many of the things I wrote about here, etc. I’m confident that you will find enough inspiring healthful recipes elsewhere to permit me to share this totally decadent dessert with you today. I know you won’t be sorry once you try it for yourself.

A pots de crème is essentially a rich custard. The ingredients for this particular recipe are simple enough: two kinds of brown sugar, cream, egg yolks, and a bit of vanilla for flavor. (Next time I’m going to substitute bourbon for the vanilla, just to see what happens.) The custards are gently baked in a water bath at a low temperature, which guarantees that their texture will be impossibly silky and smooth. After they’ve baked and cooled, these little butterscotch pots are topped with a generous dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a pinch of flaky sea salt. We’re talking heaven in a ramekin.