Recipe: Carrément Chocolat

~ This is Day 167 ~

Although I do not have much of a sweet tooth, I do love desserts that are not sweet. Bittersweet is more my jam. So obviously I love dark, luxurious, luscious chocolate. My go-to chocolate dessert is this triple dark chocolate tart that I’ve made many times, usually during Friendsgiving. But I wanted something different today so I made this: Pierre Hermé’s Carrément Chocolat – a cake entirely made of chocolate, a play on textures and temperatures, between the soft, the smooth, and the crunchy.

However, I don’t have a square cake tin and I messed up on the chocolate sheet step but I love my ending result. I don’t have edible gold leaves but the wedge that I cut myself was very delicious!!

Forewarning: this cake takes a long time because of all the resting but you’ll be very satisfied with all your hard work!

Makes an 8-inch square or round cake.

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter your 8-inch cake pan, sprinkle with cocoa powder.

In a bain marie (which is a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water), place the chopped chocolate into the bowl and melt it. Remove from heat and whisk chocolate to completely melt it. Cut the butter into small pieces with a bench scraper and add that into the bowl, along with the sugar, eggs, and sifted flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared mold and place it in the oven for 20 minutes. The cake should look underdone. Unmold the cake onto a rack and let it cool. Clean and dry the mold, then wrap in plastic wrap. Put the cooled cake in the bottom of the mold.

For the Chocolate Cream

  • 70 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100 g whole milk
  • 100 g heavy cream
  • 50 g egg yolks (around 3)
  • 50 g granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until pale yellow. Off the heat, slowly temper the egg-sugar mixture by pouring the hot milk/cream slowly into the egg/sugar. Then transfer everything back into the pot and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is 185°F, be careful not to overheat or else the egg yolk will curdle.

Pour one third of the mixture over the chopped chocolate, stirring well. Repeat 2 more times then using an immersion blender, process the mixture thoroughly. Pour the cream over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then in the freezer for another hour.

For the Chocolate Mousse

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then remove from the heat. In a small pot, bring the milk to a boil. Pour the milk over the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is smooth. Lastly, add in the egg yolk and incorporate well.

In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff with a dash of sugar. Then as the whites begin to stiffen, add the remaining sugar. Incorporate one-third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Pour the chocolate mousse over the smooth chocolate cream in the mold. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Freeze this for 2 hours.

For the Thin Chocolate Sheet (or Crisps)

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then remove from the heat. Let the bowl cool at room temperature until the mixture reaches a temperature between 88°F and 90°F. Pour the chocolate over a sheet of wax/parchment paper and spread it out. Before it can set, cut out a square (or circle) of the same size as the cake pan. Place another wax/parchment paper on top and add weights to prevent the chocolate from warping as it dries. Refrigerate this while you move onto the next step.

For the Chocolate Sauce

Place everything into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until the sauce is thick enough a coat the backend of a spoon, nappant. Set aside.

For the Chocolate Glaze

  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 80 g heavy cream
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g chocolate sauce (from above)

In a small pot, bring the heavy cream to a boil and remove from heat. Slowly beat in the chocolate. Set aside to cool until 140°F before adding the butter. Once that is fully incorporated, add in the chocolate sauce and whisk completely.

To Finish

  • Maldon salt (optional)

Remove the cake from the mold and discard the plastic wrap. Put the cake over a rack lined with a sheet tray. Using a small ladle, pour the chocolate glaze over the center of the cake and tilt the cake to spread the glaze over the sides. Continue with the rest of the glaze and cover the top and sides of the cake. Using a small offset spatula, evenly coat the sides and edges of the cake.

Leave to set for a few minutes before transferring to a cake stand or plate. Remove the papers from the thin sheet of chocolate and place it on the cake. If you messed up like I did, crumple them into little chips and spread that over the top of the cake!

Set the cake in the refrigerator to defrost for 2 hours before eating. Cut with a knife dipped in hot water for clean lines! Sprinkle flaky sea salt over wedge/slice if you like that!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Recipe: Black Forest Cake

~ This is Day 165 ~

(Sorry, no pics yet. It’ll have to wait until I get another cake craving.)

My favorite cake growing up was Black Forest. I remember it fondly. My mother would buy it from a Japanese bakery when we were living in Hong Kong. I’ve had some American variations with the sickeningly sweet maraschino cherries, and those made me sick. I hated eating those artificial flavored cherries.

This recipe, just like the ones that I used to eat from the Japanese bakery, uses fresh cherries! Not only are the cherries naturally sweet, the cake and whipped cream are not overly sweet. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but when I do eat dessert, I like them very low in sugar and on the bitter or savory side of things.

Makes an 8-inch, 4 layered cake.

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 8-inch round baking pans lined with parchment paper.

Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Stir on low to combine. In a bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients. When adding the hot water, pour in slowly so you don’t cook the eggs. Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the stand mixer on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. The batter will look very thin, this is normal.

Pour evenly into the pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure perfection. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cherry Liqueur Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup cherry liqueur 

Place sugar and water into a pot to make simple syrup. Bring to a boil, simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat. Stir in the cherry liqueur and allow to cool completely.

For the Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy cream, cold
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted 

Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar in a cold stand mixer bowl until stiff peaks. Place into a pastry bag with a star tip.

Or if you have an iSi gun (pint size :: quart size), put everything in there with 2 NO2 chargers. You’ll need to split the recipe in half for the pint iSi.

For the Chocolate Bark

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 20-second bursts. Using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate into a thin layer on a large sheet of parchment paper. Roll up the paper from the width side and then place it into the freezer until firm. Unroll to create chocolate bark.

To Assemble

  • 3 cups cherries pitted, cut in half
  • 1 bar dark chocolate, for shavings (optional)
  • Cherries with stems, for garnish 

Cut each cake later in half horizontally. Place one layer of the cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush generously with the cherry simple syrup. Top with approximately 1 cup of whipped cream and spread evenly with the offset spatula. Top with 1 cup of pitted cherries and gently press them into the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and frost the outside of the cake. Decorate with chocolate bark, chocolate shavings (using a vegetable peeler), rosettes, and whole cherries!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

Crab Fried Rice

~ This is Day 125 ~

Not to sound elitist, but what do those people do during quarantine/lockdown if they “don’t cook”? Seamless everyday? My mind is baffled. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know how to cook.

So… Fish Cheeks opened up outdoor dining but I live uptown so it’s a trek to go down there during COVID-19. Also, I’m still skeptical about outdoor dining in NYC, there seems to be groups/crowds nearby your table… Even though I am used to the mask now, NYC is experiencing an intense heatwave and I can’t deal again. SO, if I can’t get Fish Cheeks‘ crab fried rice, I’ll make it myself!!! I mean, it’s just crab + cold jasmine rice + accoutrements. It’s not identical to their fried rice but fried rice is fried rice!

I have been ordering seafood from Pierless, a restaurant purveyor of all things seafood. Many restaurant purveyors started selling their products at wholesale price to home chefs since quarantine began. And I love that! You know you’re getting the best quality, compared to regular grocery stores! Although prices can be expensive sometimes, you just have to justify what you would want to pay versus what you can get in the regular stores.

In this picture, I have fresh Lump Crab Fried Rice with Scrambled Eggs, Sweet Corn, Scallions, and White Sesame Seeds.

5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci

This is probably my most ambitious homemade pasta project for #RontiniFriendsgiving #RontiniParties because I had to marinate the duck legs, cook the duck legs, hand-shred the duck legs, mince/grind the duck legs through a meat grinder, make the farce, pipe the farce into the freshly made pasta dough, fold/shape the dough…

I decided to make the pasta a weekend before the actual date because there was no way that I could make pasta dough from scratch and do all of that in one day along with the other day-of Thanksgiving prep!

So here you have Cappellacci (meaning little hats) filled with 5 Spice Duck Leg with Celery in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce with Fennel, Fines Herbes, Cured Egg Yolk, and Fennel Fronds.

Egg on Egg on Egg

*Biology Class 101: I know sea urchin tongues aren’t really the “roe” but they are the gonads of the creature; for the sake of this post, I am calling them “eggs”. The gonads/sex organs (sometimes also referred to as coral) produce the roe.

Originally, the first course was going to be tuna crudo but I scrapped that idea because I didn’t think it would be a show-stopper!

So here you have Soft Scrambled Eggs folded with Sea Urchin Cream on the bottom, topped with airy Potato Foam, garnished with Sea Urchin Tongues, Trout Roe, Chives, and Pumpernickel Soil.

Plans for Friendsgiving 2019

I’m very early this year for my Friendsgiving menu plans! Inspiration started and I decided to just go with it. I’ve been usually doing dinner for four for the past couple of years because that means less glassware to clean but I want to do six people total this year… Here is what I have so far; I expect menu changes…

Egg on Egg on Egg
Sea Urchin • Soft Scramble • Trout Roe
Potato Foam • Pumpernickel Soil
(1st course)

Quail with Autumn Mushrooms
Chanterelles • King Trumpet • Cremini Purée
Rosemary • Montegrato Pedro Ximénez
(2nd course)

5 Spiced Duck Leg Cappellacci
Celery • Brown Butter • Cured Egg Yolk • Fennel
(3rd course)

Dry Aged Duck Breast
Homemade Hoisin • Pickled Cucumber • Chive Oil
(4th course)

Pear Tart
Ginger Snap • Ginger Ice Cream
(5th course)

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Uni Foam

I am a big uni (sea urchin) lover. At work, there are these cute porcelain uni vessels so I asked to borrow one to take home and take pictures with it.

Inside this uni bowl: Soft Scrambled Organic Eggs with Uni Foam, Chives, and Shichimi.

I looked online to find the price for one and there are three sizes, ranging from $10-$15 EACH! That’s too expensive for me now. But it’s on the back of my mind…

Poached Egg with Asparagus & Speck

To the average person, this seems like a breakfast/brunch/lunch item, and it is. In many tasting menus, egg is a popular course to put on towards the start of the tasting.

So here is a Sous Vide Poached Egg, Asparagus, Smoked Speck, Crispy Shallots, Grain Mustard Dressing, and Micro Parsley.

Recipe: Maple Ice Cream

FYI, I make all my ice creams with gelatin sheets – it makes the ice cream smoother and it gives it better texture!

  • ⅔ cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 1¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 gelatin sheets

First prepare an ice bath. Also, bloom gelatin sheets in some ice and water, set aside.

Heat maple syrup and reduce by a quarter, about 5 minutes, then set aside. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream and milk. Turn on heat to medium-high and warm it up in order to temper eggs. It shouldn’t get to boiling, just heat it up so that it’s hot to the touch then turn off the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and salt until combined. Temper eggs slowly with heavy cream/milk mixture then return to saucepan and heat. Continue whisking custard mixture until the temperature reaches 168°F. Remove from heat, add in the bloomed gelatin and reduced maple syrup. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if you like your maple ice cream to be less sweet. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer and cool over the ice bath.

Spin according to your ice cream machine’s instructions.

Sample dishes:

Diver Scallop with Pickled Rainbow Carrots

Sometimes things work out but the cost of having it to come to fruition is another matter. I’m not talking about money in this sense of cost. I don’t know about you, but I despise cracking quail eggs because I suck at it. I am terrible with quail eggs, raw or cooked. I just can’t remove its shell without damaging the egg. A quail egg is leathery and doesn’t crack open easily, like a chicken egg is. When it’s raw, the whites always projectile-squirt out and then the cracked bits and pieces of the shell damage the yolk, thus breaking the yolk, and tiny bits of pieces of shell are everywhere. I know you’re supposed to use a knife but it doesn’t really work for me either. When it’s cooked, the first removal of the shell always ends up removing some of the cooked white so then the egg looks ugly.

I just can’t.

However, when I do manage to get it out of its shell intact, magic happens.

This is a seared Diver Scallop with a Carrot Purée, charred pickled Rainbow Carrots, a sunny-side Quail Egg, Bronze Fennel, and Espelette Pepper.