The recipes have a nice sense of simplicity about them as well. These aren’t tricky or complex chocolatier’s confections. And, it isn’t a requirement that Mast Brothers chocolate be used for them to work. But, they are all recipes for high quality, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs. There are Classic Chocolate Brownies with almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; Chocolate-Covered Pretzels with homemade, yeast-raised, pretzels; Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt; Chocolate Chip and Ricotta Pancakes; various chocolate cookies; chocolate sauces; a couple of versions of hot cocoa; cakes; pies; and that’s just some of the sweet stuff. There are also savory uses of chocolate throughout the book. I’ve already tried the Cacao Nib Salad with Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette and was delighted. The vinaigrette was made by grinding cacao nibs, chopped rosemary, cocoa powder, salt, and pepper in a mortar with a pestle, and then balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil were added. It was tossed with a salad of frisee, arugula, spinach, and blood orange wedges, and topped with more cacao nibs. The flavors were balanced, the cacao nibs were nutty, and subtle cocoa flavor paired well with the blood orange. Some other savory recipes include mole sauce, of course, a cocoa dry rub, a Savory Chocolate Cream Sauce for pasta, and a Spiced Cocoa Butternut Squash Soup. It’s like I’m transfixed by these recipes. Whether the uses of chocolate are novel or classic, everything in book looks like something I want to make right now.
First, I made the Chocolate Crunch because I had the ingredients in the house and could actually make it as soon as I read about it. It was a simple matter of melting chocolate with butter, adding peanut butter and honey, stirring in puffed rice cereal, pouring it into a pan and waiting for it cool. The result was like the best possible version of a Nestle Crunch bar. Next, I had to try the Chocolate Caramel Tart which I made as tartlets. The chocolate tart dough was made with cocoa powder, butter, flour, egg yolks, and just a little bit of sugar. It wasn’t a very sweet dough, and that worked well with the caramel filling. The crusts were blind-baked and left to cool. The caramel was made with cooked sugar, cream, butter, creme fraiche, and salt. I made four-inch tartlets, had enough dough for eight tartlet shells, and was able to fill six of them with caramel filling. The recipe is written for a twelve-inch tart, so I expected the crusts and filling might not match up perfectly. After the caramel filling set in the crusts, the tartlets were drizzled with ganache and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. As a huge fan of all things caramel, this was an ideal dessert for me. And, now I need to re-stock my chocolate supply and pick which recipe to make next.
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