June 12, 2008

I guess some like it hot

I can't believe it. My most favorite snarky single girl librarian blogger is engaged to be married. Where am I supposed to go for sarcastic spinster talk now? Another one bites the dust. The world needs a place for sharing nightmare blind date stories, set up attempts, and the well-meaning but outrageously rude comments that we singles get. Ah, the life. Why would anyone want to give that up? What the heck, let's perpetuate some more stereotypes!

I again resort to adding spice to my life through cooking. Trying a new recipe tonight: Vegan Chocolate Pepper Cookies. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Cookie Update: Mixed reviews. I liked licking the batter bowl better than eating the cookies. I added some ginger to half the batch, and that worked well. I am pretty sure that chipotle or some other type of chile pepper goes better with chocolate than black pepper. I'd make this cookie again with more ginger and no black pepper or a good dose of chipotle pepper.

Chocolate Pepper Cookies

June 9, 2008

Yada Yada Yada

Katie's BirthdayKatie's birthday dinner was pretty good, yada yada yada, the quarter-life crisis Graham Cracker birthday cake wasn't. So much for trying to expand my horizons and find new recipe sources. The cake itself had a rather strange texture; Dad compared it to cornbread. My amendments to the whipped cream filling didn't turn out well. It was short on chocolate flavor and was an unappetizing grey color without the coffee. I ran out of time and didn't get to prettify sufficiently, either. Not a cake I'll be scrapbooking about. I am seeking a new hobby, but I don't think I'll sink to scrapbooking yet.

This F Minus comic totally reminded me of Taiwan, where the garbage man plays music like the ice cream man:

June 6, 2008

Quarterlife Crisis

Katie's the one having the birthday today, so how come I'm the one having the quarter-life crisis? It seems like the things I expect to make me happier usually do the opposite. Who was the goober that said something about happiness coming from the inside? Bob Loblaw? Also I'm a weirdo and nobody gets me. I think I'll go eat worms. No more philosophizing.

Katie's birthday cake: my take on this Graham Cracker Cake recipe from Great Cakes by Carole Walter. I'm changing the mocha whipped cream filling to cherry chocolate. I'm topping it with cherries instead of raspberries; Katie's not a fan of raspberries (blasphemy!), and maybe I'll put chocolate covered cherries around the perimeter or on the serving plates. I hear Porter likes those.

On the menu: Scott is grilling steaks and chicken. We're also having salad, baked potatoes, roasted corn, and 50 Yard Line Blueberry Muffins. Scott will probably also grill up some S'moritos. Never heard of them?

S'morito /smō'rē'tō/: a flour tortilla, spread with peanut butter, filled with mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips, heated through in the microwave, in a skillet, or on a grill. Origin unknown: possibly Scout camp?


June 5, 2008


Summer does terrible things to a baker. Who wants to turn on a 350º oven when it's already 100º out? Summer heat melts chocolate and turns fluffy buttercream frostings and whipped creams into sad puddles. Who wants to eat a heavy, sweet cake during swimsuit season?

What is there for me to do but dishes? Awful!

My sweet co-worker Kim gave me a bottle of Chambord yesterday. The bottle is so darn cute I didn't want to open it. But I ended up using a couple of tablespoons in a seasonally-appropriate recipe that doesn't require you to turn on the oven: Chocolate Raspberry Mousse. I'll grant that it is relatively rich and caloric for those of us who are trying to reduce, but you only need a couple of bites to feel satisfied. Another wonderful thing about this recipe is that in can be whipped up in half an hour, much quicker than your average layer cake + frosting. My upcoming plans for the Chambord include raspberry ice cream, chocolate truffles, and berry Tiramisu or trifle.

Chocolate-Raspberry Mousse
Cook's Illustrated | Makes 3 1/2 cups (6 to 8 servings)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
2 tablespoons Cocoa powder , preferably Dutch-processed
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Chambord
2 large eggs , separated
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup heavy cream , plus 2 more tablespoons (chilled)
1. Melt chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and water in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in Chambord.

2. Whisk egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and salt in medium bowl until mixture lightens in color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour melted chocolate into egg mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Let cool until slightly warmer than room temperature, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, increase mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute. Detach whisk and bowl from mixer and whisk last few strokes by hand, making sure to scrape any unbeaten whites from bottom of bowl. Using whisk, stir about one-quarter of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it; gently fold in remaining egg whites with rubber spatula until a few white streaks remain.

4. Whip heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 15 seconds longer. Using rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into mousse until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into 6 to 8 individual serving dishes or goblets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set and firm, at least 2 hours. (The mousse may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Serve mousse with fresh raspberries, if desired.