Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chocolate Mondays: Heart 2 Heart

Nope this is not a homage to the 80's show Heart to Heart ... No Robert Wagner or Mysteries here(loved that show btw!). I'm Hosting a workshop for "Respect for All Week" It's an effort to encourage kids to be buddies not bullies. We all can use a lesson in being humble, kinder and compassionate from time to time. We get stuck on "why" children do something, instead of "what" we can do to help children manage their inner self so we see less and less of cruel outward behavior. Understanding how to meet a child where they live...what makes them tick. Everyone wants to be loved...bottom line, but not everyone knows how to give or get it!
A Tried and true way to get people being more friendly is a gesture of kindness or appreciation...specially made for them. When that happens to someone unexpectedly, sometimes they open get to see the inner core of the person that's underneath all the ruff and tuff exterior.  Below are a few of the treats I'm suggesting as home made gifts that I hope parents can easily make with their children..almost anyone really. Using a few ingredients that aren't very costly and we sometimes have in our pantry or refrigerator. Inexpensive, Accessible ingredients and supplies.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chocolate Mondays: Maya Angelou's Fudge

Wow who's got pix of the snow...I took a few today. I missed the whole thing, testing recipes and such in my kitchen. Enjoying my quiet time and busy time with my family! But here's a look at the aftermath!  A lot of digging out for a...while!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

C.M. Gallery

Layered and Mini Cakes 



Cup Cakes (simple and elegant)


The Beloved Sheet Cake

Chocolate Mondays: Cacao Shopping

Hello Everyone...You know 
Last week while I was out I made time to check out another Organic
Market in Queens on Broadway around 34. Sorry for being so vague! The place is hopping by the way around 11:30 I think it's all because of the gourmet Buffet and of course all the other goodies they have. Like a wall of Chocolate! I love finding the unexpected and even with Queens wacky street number system that drives the best navigators mad. There are many a treasure in Queens...
Well this place has quite a little selection. Godiva, Lindt... and Chocolates eh hem.. Cacao I'd never seen before. The people at the register seemed quite puzzled at my taking pictures until i told them I was a cake decorator looking for Chocolate to use. Forgot my manners for a second. Always ask and be clear what your doing. 

I honestly couldn't decide at the last min. what to get. I think I will buy the Lindt for 
Chocolate Bark but I did buy the Ghirardelli 100% Cocoa Powder While I decide which Cacao to purchase. I let you know soon!

I used this 100% CA Cocoa for a recent marble pound cake.
Actually the Co. Started during the Gold Rush and they still
make chocolate today. Do you know what Company?

This one was just a little over 4$

3$ the less percentage of cocoa or cacao the less expense

I really have to watch ...the amount of sugar intake. I can almost taste these
just by smelling good...I imagine. I think I'm getting at least

10-11 $ Rupunzel is another organization that encourages growers '
to forgo pesticides, but I want Cacao which isn't heated like cocoa,
which take away a good bit of the compounds we talked about last

9$ I guess nuns in Holland know and love the benefit of Cacao.
I really want the seeds/beans, so I wasn't very tempted to get this one.
I just thought it was an interesting box
Why is she on the box of the box and the cup!? Is she omnipresent? a bit of humor?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

About C.M. Notes

Cacao, Cocoa, Chocolate
I love! Why not study about what I love, chocolate (at the top of my short list) and talk about what I learn.
Can anything be more intrigue than cultivation of Theobroma Cacao. Why is it called the food of the Gods and only elite peoples were able to taste it...?? Now we are all gods, because we can all get to drink, taste and wear cacao! So we have this area where everyone is on the same playing field. I like that! Special? Everyone is special enough to have a bit of chocolate or any food that is beneficial. 
Our first project should be to taste cacao from around the world! without leaving home...
Here is a map of where Cacao comes from... I found the map below on a really informative Cybrary, hosted by Cornell University. We can use this as our very flexible guide as I sample, experiment and share here.
What do you notice? It's such small sparatic portions of the world!
and below the equator...but I found another site that has bean
to bar Chocolatiers that use cacao, in Germany, Belgium
Finland and the Czech Republic, most European Countries, maybe there are some imported chocolates here. I'm thinking it'd be near impossible to grow Cacao trees in a green house? 

Cookie of the Week: Roll/Cut Butter Cookie

This weeks Cookie of the week is Butter Cookies.

Timing is seriously the main ingredient in all cooking, baking especially. If you are going to be multi-tasking don't bake cookies. It's not one of those Stick and forget it pastries...can't think of one that is. As a matter of fact any dish with butter needs to be watched because of the milk solids...once they come to temperature they like to caramelize quickly.  That said let me say butter cookies are very nice to have on hand...not as rich as chocolate chip and they can be filled or served in any shape along side tea, cold or hot. I like to have something to munch on in the middle of the day between meals and these have a mild sweetness.

I decided to work with the drop butter cookie recipe because they can be rolled out to classic shapes and even cracker size to sandwich anything  my heart desires. This time I used toffee, since I couldn't recall what it tastes like. It's a milder cousin of caramel, in my opinion. We enjoyed them tremendiously with green tea, not to mention easy to work with when baking with children.

Butter cookies are fun for Children to cut and roll

my adorable baker

Toffee filled butter cookies

From Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. Read the instruction all the way thru. to get an idea of what you'll need and which cookies you'd like to make.

Cut-Out Butter Cookies


Basic Butter Cookie Dough 

Any type of dough that uses cold butter is reminiscent of a biscuit dough. So I didn't use a processor for these. I prefer to use my hands with biscuit type cookies. I get a better feel of how the dough is supposed to feel and look. Yes I could get the same thing from a processor and maybe finish a millisecond faster, but it's a preference for me.
Once you add the eggs and vanilla it seems like the dough will be dry but it's not...don't be tempted Keep kneading on a flat surface until it gets combined. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Process

  1. Place flour, sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of a food processor(or a mixing bowl); (mix with two knives or pastry blender)process until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. 
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and vanilla; with motor running, add to food processor. Process just until a dough forms.( for hand mixing, mix until the dough comes together) 
  3. decorating sugar and sprinkles, (optional)
  4. Divide dough in half; form into two 1/2-inch-thick disks. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a piece of floured waxed paper, roll one disk to a thickness of 3/16 inch(translation: a bit thin); chill. Repeat with remaining dough.

Flouring cutters as you go (to prevent sticking), cut dough into desired shapes; carefully transfer to baking sheets. Re-chill rolled-out dough if difficult to work with.

If you're decorating, brush with egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles. Bake until edges are firm (not brown), 15 to 20 minutes for 3-inch cookies. Cool 1 to 2 minutes on baking sheets; cool completely on a wire rack.

A cookie that can be more than one is more fun....try these if you have the tools for the spritz or want a ready to go ice box cookie , which is a cookie in Martha Stewards Baking Handbook.

What is Chocolate?

Theobroma cacao...What or Why is it called that? What has science learned to teach us about Chocolate that has determined it's benefits! Dig into the Chocolate minds with me and let's find out...
Let's start by answering a few of the main questions I have posed first.

  1. Theobroma cacao is the genus name or the Sir name for the tree species we know as Cacao, it means Food of the Gods. Used by Ancient people like the Mayans and Aztec, as a drink...worshiping and more...thankfully someone decided to combine a mixture with sugar! 
  2. Trade was one of my favorite subjects studied in history. What was used for currency is always fun to know, seeing how we use it today. One Cacao could be used to purchase small item, while a larger amount would get you and the family a nice turkey!  
  3. Talk about a multipurpose food, versatile as rice and beans...well it's sort of a bean but actually seeds. Similar to the past now we drink it, eat it, and use it for body wellness! Goes to show good things come in small packages!

To a great extent there is a lot of chemicals that go into the care and keeping of the Cacao trees, but thanks to associations like "Fair Trade" and other organizations that promote farmers being paid fairly and being good stewards. We can have cacao free of chemical pesticides. So we can have the all the benefits, this euphoric inducing treat has to offer..with an honorable mention, that's nothing to sneeze at, being a heart healthy as well as anti-aging treat. One of those rare occasions when you can say eating your veggies is good for you and delicious.

Cocoa verses Cacao: Have you ever eaten cacao nibs, to learn more about their different taste and benefits.  What I have tried...well it's an acquired taste for some but done well it is delicious.

Cocoa isn't Cacao...but Cacao can be processed to become Cocoa thru a heating process(we can talk about next time)...and we all know now how heat can have an affect on certain elements in the any food. Follow the link above to learn more about the 300! compounds in Cacao! 300! The book Cocoa Ice. Have you read it? In the story you may recall the family placed the beans (peas? seeds?) on Banana leaves and covered and stirred them for days in the Sun, until they were ready to make cocoa.

Raw Caco
I loved this chart, because it shows what I've known all along but didn't have the science to sell it...I mean prove it, prove it! 
The information can't be substituted for medical advice but you can be aware and talk to your provider about how cacao can benefit your diet.

Here are a few of the ways I've used Cocoa and will switch with Cacao...definitely click on Mousse below for the recipe and website to have for reference. Follow me on Pinterest (by clicking there on the sidebar) to see what other simple ideas I pinned.

Cacao Powder
*Smoothie: soft tofu blend with coconut milk and honey
*Candy: fudge (I know moderation)
* Mousse: one of the most decadent desserts that's I've loved since childhood!
* Bar.B.Q.  Chipotle (amazing how chocolate loves spicy;)

Cacao Seeds ... Nibs
*Cake decorations
*Candy decorations
*Covered Pretzels in cacao/cocoa sauce!

Here are some books of the Chocolate persuasion...this is one I thought was quite intriguing, while out looking for Book Nooks!

There is a second Edition of this book
I had no idea this was such an old company and they revamped their recipes to accommodate the market for more cacao .

Take note of the chemical make up and formula, that shows why dogs can't eat chocolate. Please be mindful to keep such treats out of their reach. They really don't know any better :)

I hope you enjoyed this food for thought! Until Next time
Follow your Dreams!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Two method:Flower Demo

First I want to say, Happy Chocolate Monday
for the New Year!
Second  I want to give a little demo of how to make a rose using modeling Chocolate with a bit of Gum paste. I wanted to try this mix because, I learned that gum paste can make the chocolate a bit thinner. So I wanted to try it and show how it came out using the ball method I learned here and the method I learned making more tailored flowers at Sugar Flower Cake Shop..but combining them.  So let's begin.

Method #1 Tools you'll need... for the ball and fingers press and smoothing method
  • clean cool fingers ;)
  • a plastic cutting board or 
  • cutting mat used for sewing
  • 20 g modeling Chocolate
  • 12 g of gumpaste ( a total 32g clay)
  • small offset spatula

Using 12g of gumpaste to 20g of modeling Chocolate, you should have 32 g.
Combine the two mediums together to get a uniform color. Then separate
the balls into 16 equal size balls .Then press the balls flat and
smooth one side. This flattened side is the top of your petal.
1st. first petal becomes the bud
2nd placing and wrapping the secon
The second petal covers the bud

From left to right "gently" with your offset spatula pick up one of the petals,
then roll it in on itself creating a bud like funnel. Once you've done this you
may need to put the chocolate mixed clay down, because of the
heat of your hand. You may want to create others while
 the first bud rests. After it rests for a few min.
Pick it up again and take another of your flattened petals,
place and wrap it at the opening crease of your bud.
Try to center it in the petal as seen in the middle picture above.
Then finally roll the petal around your bud. let it rest.

The petals of a rose are odd numbered sets, 1 for the center but then 3, 5 and 7 for that large rose and so forth for a mojumbo rose!

the result varies on how rustic or tailored
the rose looks. This example
is more rustic in the petal aren't as
tapered smooth because I believe
the clay was too thin and the heat of my hand too.
Method # 2 Tools you'll need for ....ball tool and cutter method
five petal cutter

  • clean cool fingers ;)
  • a plastic cutting board or 
  • cutting mat used for sewing
  • a medium ball tool
  • medium to large five petal cutters
  • 20 g modeling Chocolate
  • 12 g of gumpaste ( a total 32g clay)
  • small offset spatula
This method is quite similar, because your taking each petal to form the rose as before but you will need to combine and roll out the modeling chocolate and cut out the petals...remove each one from the collective five and place them individually on the rose bud first. The trick here is to roll the dough out to the perfect thickness first.
Ready for the cutter

Ball tooling the cut and separated petals. Aim for just the
top of the petal rolled like a balloon or mushroom
shape...not so much the bottom because it is
going to wrapped and most likely removed 
after placed to work the flower into the shape you

Here is the bud, tear drops become flower buds xxoxx
 You will now take one of your petals and wrap it around the top of the rose bud, to cover the top completely I hope you can get a sense of how small and tight this should be
it weighs less than 1 gram..:) so tiny!

You will continue the same order of odd numbers as in method #1, placing the petals on the rose or... you can line each 
petal in this fashion give the petals the right hight...
I saw this on Pinterest...
A set of five petals for the second row
of petals, (looks like lunch meat..I'm getting hungry o_0) 
just place the bud carefully in
the center, same as we did when placing the 
second petal on the bud and wrap the petals 
around. Tucking the last petal under first.
Easy right? 

looking at a rose in nature 
the symmetry is circular in its circumference, but the petals aren't the same...everyone of them are 
rarely without a spit or some imperfection, but soft and subtle.
    The two methods side by side... left is #1 and #2 is on the
    right. I think the cutters give a cleaner looking petal if
    it's not handled too much and manipulated too thinly.
    I still find the 1st one appealing
    because I can make a flower quickly and several at
    a time or just a few buds and have a sweet bouquett...
    I think I'll go do that now :) until next time!