November 8, 2011

Chocolate Rules

I'm all about the recipe contests now. Not that I've entered any since the Callebaut chocolate recipe contest, but now I believe half the battle is just showing up.

Here's a contest that I think we should all enter: Elevate a classic dessert with Scharffen Berger Chocolate. Take a familiar recipe and give it a new spin by adding Scharffen Berger chocolate. The grand prize is $10,000.

I started crafting a list of rules for what makes a good recipe. This is for myself when I'm searching for recipes or, I suppose, for when I'm creating one. You can often tell by simply reading the list of a recipe's ingredients whether you should even bother with it. Here are a few of my rules for dessert recipes:
  • No Cool Whip or "frozen whipped topping." Just no.
  • Also no instant pudding mix.
  • Ingredients should be listed in the order in which they'll be used.
  • Should include a good photo (that doesn't use flash).
  • I'm turned off anytime a recipe calls for melting chocolate chips. Chocolate chips have additives to help them retain their shape. Buy chocolate and chop it.
  • Related: Chocolate should be listed by weight, not volume. "1/2 cup" of chocolate doesn't tell me anything, but "4 ounces" of chocolate, I can work with.
  • You get much more chocolate flavor if you use melted chocolate and not cocoa powder alone.
  • Be suspicious of margarine and shortening.
  • Reading reviewer comments is very helpful, but take reviews with a grain of salt. Look for clues to indicate whether the person has skills or not. Reviewers may rate a recipe very low but give themselves away by saying they prefer frosting out of can. Ought oh! We know you can't cook and we're questioning your taste.
Sure, you can ignore those rules, but chances are that the recipe will be closer to good than to amazing, and if you're going to the trouble of making a homemade dessert, why not aim for excellence? Or pick up something good at the supermarket instead?

Individual Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce

Any inspiration or ideas for the chocolate contest? Any recipe rules you stick to?

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