Monday, February 4, 2008
I've figured out how to make my fortune. It's a simple product with a broad base of people that need it. I haven't figured out all the fiddly details yet, but you will see my face on the cover of Fortune magazine as the inventor of The Cookbook Patch. Actually, I'm not the inventor. The lovely and brilliant Melinda thought it up, but I will shamelessly rip off her idea, make a fortune and then take her and her husband with us to Tahiti.
What is The Cookbook Patch, you might ask? Simple. It's a pocket-sized cookbook that you can strap onto your forearm. When you are in a bookstore and you reach out to pick up a new cookbook, the patch is there to remind you that you have far more cookbooks than you already need. In fact, you can personalize your patch cookbook to include all the recipes you have bookmarked in your cookbooks at home that you have never made. You could even include a speech module that has a recording of yourself or family member saying, "For heaven's sake- what do you need another one for? We don't even have room for all the cookbooks you already own!"
As you can see, this is sheer genius. I will provide a link at the end of the post to order your own copy. Think of it as an investment.
I mention the cookbook patch because I recently came home from the library with yet another armload of cookbooks. I like to tell myself that borrowing them from the library is better because then I will return them and they won't live in my home, fighting for shelf space with the other cookbooks. But then I fall in love with them, the title sneaks onto my Amazon wish list, and then Poof!, somehow they seem to magically appear in my house at birthday, Christmas, anniversary, and other notable times.
Included in my recent stack is Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts. It's a truly fun cookbook. Filled with seriously good information, it's presented in such a playful way (including anime drawings) that I can tell this woman is a kick in the pants. She takes favorite desserts, deconstructs them, and puts the flavors and ingredients together again in unexpected ways.
Although there are a ton of dessert recipes, one of the first I made from this cookbook was just hot chocolate. But not just hot chocolate. This is a chocoholic's hot chocolate. I wish my pictures could show you how delicious it is. Deep, chocolatey, rich, with vanilla bean and cream. I swoon just thinking about it! This is a hot chocolate to sip and savor with someone special. And if you want it to be a little more adult, you can put a shot of brandy or whiskey in it.
Strong Hot Chocolate
adapted from Demolition Desserts
1-1/2 cups (12 oz) whole milk
1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
2 Tbsp (about 1/4 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dagoba Organic)
2 Tbsp (1 oz) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70% cacao, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
a few grains of fleur de sel
8 homemade marshmallows or whipped cream
Combine the milk and cream in a 1-quart saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and, with the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds into the saucepan and then add the pod. Whisk in the cocoa powder and brown sugar, place over medium heat, and whisk the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it is frothy and simmering.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Remove the vanilla pod from the hot milk mixture (it can be rinsed and saved to make vanilla sugar). Pour the mixture over the chocolate. Add the salt (not more than 3 grains) and whisk until the hot chocolate is smooth.
Divide the hot chocolate among 4 cups, top each cup with 2 marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream, and serve. Or, allow the chocolate to cool completely; then cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently just before serving.