Tag Archives: chocolate

White Hot Russians

Ah, San Francisco “winters”.  We have cold grey mornings where the tops of the high-rises on the hills are heavily obscured in frigid mist and the light is pale and diffuse.  The wan sun struggles to show around mid-day for a brief glaring hour then gives up with a moist sigh of vapor to return us to basement  bone chilling damp before 5:00 pm.

It is good weather to be inside, wrapped well in woolens and squishy cashmere plopped next to a blazing fireplace hissing radiator.

A few years ago I concocted this soothing boozy cocoa for nights just like tonight.    

White Hot Russian

1 cup low fat milk
3 T Ghirardelli sweet chocolate powder
1 jigger Sky vodka (I had this on hand but any vodka will do)
1 jigger Baileys Irish Cream
1 jigger Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
coffee ice cream (option but awfully nice)

In the microwave (or stovetop), heat milk in a pyrex cup until very hot (3 minutes in my micro). Mix in the chocolate well.

In a small jug, mix the liquors together. Pour half of the liquors between two mugs and top off with the hot cocoa. Scoop a generous spoonful of coffee ice cream and float it on top of cocoa.

Serves two if you have white hot Russian masculine company, or for one person with seconds on a frigid night after watching sappy Christmas movies and using up all the Kleenex in the house….

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Stay warm out there!

Eggless Baking: Luscious Chocolate Wacky Cake with Ganache

This Thanksgiving my family decided not to make our traditional pumpkin chiffon pie because of my current food intolerances. Sadly for me this year this amazing pie that was carefully crafted and perfected over 50 years by my maternal grandmother contains eggs, so it’s off my menu for a while.  How very thoughtful of my family to make this sacrifice on my behalf though, I was truly touched.

Before I could get too caught up in the guilt associated with voluntarily or involuntarily imposing my food limitations upon others my mom announced she would be making Wacky cake. This substitution for our holiday sweet was nothing short of stellar and we were all quite excited.

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(one bite left!)

You may have heard of the iconic Wacky cake, it has been around before the World War II. It is an eggless and butterless cake because eggs and butter were rationed during wartime and often the average family never saw these common staples. The necessity for cake, however,  did not diminish for those on the homefront and a delicious and suitable substitute stepped in to fill the gap and sweet tooth of the Nation. In today’s parlance wacky cake is vegan. It is also tremendously delicious!

I have fond memories of scarfing down still warm slabs of dense, chocolately Wacky cake in the cafeteria of my elementary school. Our highly gifted school cook, Frances, made Wacky cake at least once a month and served it heavily dusted with powdered sugar.

My sister taught me how to make Wacky cake  and I recall that she did this so that I could make it when I got home from school so that she could have it but she hotly disputes this! Mom recalls that she first received the recipe from her high school and college friend, Susie Jones.

Whatever the source, Wacky cake is a wonderful recipe. The cake has a very rich chocolate flavor from cocoa powder, like a devil’s food cake, and has a fine crumb.

Instead of getting its leavening from eggs the recipe uses baking soda and vinegar which produces a quick but short rising period. The lack of eggs and butter in the recipe results in the cake being less flexible than a egg-based cake so care must be taken if you plan to unmold it from the baking pan. The cake uses oil instead of butter and therefore one could conceivably say that this is a “heart-healthy” cake if a light olive oil or grapeseed oil is used, due to the oil’s antioxidant properties.

Traditionally the cake is mixed right in the baking pan, dusted with powdered sugar when cooled and served straight from the pan. This spared the cook additional dishes to wash up, saving money on soap powder.   My mom’s piece de resistance was to instead top the cake with a thick, rich, bittersweet ganache.

It was heavenly.

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Look how thick the ganache is on this slice of cake, how it glistens and shimmers. I do love chocolate.

Wacky Cake
1 1/2 c flour or cake flour
1 c sugar
3 T unsweetened cocoa (we used to use Hershey’s but mOm used Valhrona)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. good vanilla
1 T vinegar (white or cider)
5 T vegetable oil (grapeseed, light olive oil or canola)
1 C cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

If you wish to unmold the cake, butter the bottom and sides of a cake tin and line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper, and then butter that paper too. In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add on one side of the bowl the vinegar, on another the vanilla and on another the oil. Add all of the water and whisk together swiftly and quickly pour into the cake pan and bang it into the oven.

If you are going to serve it out of the pan, sift together the dry ingredients as above directly into your baking pan (an 8″ x 8″ square Pyrex), then make three holes in the dry ingredients. In one hold put the oil, the vinegar in the second and the vanilla in the third. Pour over the cold water and mix well with a fork and bake.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs. A bit of care must be taken when baking wacky cake to not over-bake it or it will be perilously dry.

Unmold after cool, if desired (using the wax paper lined pan) and cover with ganache, or sift over a blizzard of powdered sugar.

Great Ganache

Once you add ganache to this cake there is no going back. In fact, after making this ganache I feel like putting it on everything.

1/2 c + 2T heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. butter
5 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 T good bourbon (optional)

Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Heat up the cream until it is very hot but not boiling, and pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is smooth. Add the butter at this point and the vanilla and the bourbon, if using. If you are not using the bourbon in the ganache, shame on you and just drink that tablespoon.

Keep stirring the ganache with a spoon, not a whisk, until it begins to thicken. When it is thicker than gravy, pour/spread it over the cooled cake. If you want those attractive dribbles down the side of the cake pour it on when the ganache is a little bit thinner, slightly thicker than chocolate syrup or caramel sauce. I prefer it on the stiffer side so that I can spread it over just the top of the cake.

If you like, you can make a double batch of ganache, and spread half of it over the top, and then let the remaining ganache thicken a bit more so that you can spread the sides of the cake.

Be sure to do what we did and carefully clean the mixing bowl with our greedy fingers and tongues.

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The finished Wacky cake with ganache was utterly delicious and was perfect with the last bit of red wine from our Thanksgiving dinner.

The best part of Wacky cake is that it is so simple to make, you can bake it up right before dinner or as an after school treat like I used to.

Pop Tart Prowl

Sometimes an event comes along that you just can’t say no to, I mean, how can you turn down a pop tart?

Eating pop tarts has been a pleasure reserved for my adult life only. Growing up my mUm never allowed such things in the house, not that I felt deprived mind you, considering her baked goods and my own creations were far superior to a dubious box of fat, sugar and preservatives from the store.

Last year while languishing on my dearest friend L’s couch in front of a crackling fire in the wilds of Santa Fe (and I mean it when I say wild. The coyotes were circling the house that night and the Great Horned Owls were crunching away on the gravel on the roof, it was mind-blowing.) my dear pal asked me if I wanted a pop tart. It was 10:00 pm, we were watching silly movies and had consumed ridiculous portions of posole not all that long ago. Naturally I said yes and a few minutes later she delivered into my grasping hands a serviette with a steaming hot toasted apple cinnamon pop tart. It was flaky, with a well seasoned fresh tasting apple filling with plenty of cinnamon. We promptly had one more each and some tea and then just as promptly zonked out on our respective perches like a pair of tired toddlers.

Later, I was delighted to learn that the pastries came from Natures Path and that they were organic and pretty clean otherwise. My guilt felt assuaged somewhat but in my heart of hearts I missed my Mom’s jam turnovers, my childhood pop tart equivalent. I have never attempted them because of my dread fear of rolled dough but this is something I plan to rectify soon.

So fast-forward to the present day and to my meeting the tres charmant Rachel Saunders and her incredibly lush book on jam. Rachel created the Blue Chair Fruit in the East Bay and has been making and selling her incredible jams at various farmer’s markets in the Bay Area and online. I lucked into a copy of her newly released book and it is well littered with post its and slips of notes of the recipes I plan to try and photos I just cannot stop gazing upon. Her book has taken up permanent residence on my lap and I cannot wait to tell you more about it (soon!).

A local eatery in Berkeley announced they were having a pop tart party using Rachel’s jams and that she would be there in person to sign her incredible book so naturally I inked that invitation into my calendar and was delighted when my pal Luna of Luna’s Kitchen Magic said she could join me. Who better than my sister-friend, a trained pastry chef, to accompany me on a quest for pop tarts.

This Saturday, a bus trip, a BART train, another bus and a long walk later, we arrived at Summer Kitchen Bake Shop‘s door. It was most definitely worth the effort to get there to see the darling Rachel again, and to eat pop tarts! We received a warm greeting but Rachel had a line of eager fans waiting to chat and over her shoulder I spied trays of pop tarts so we sidled by and headed to the cashier.

We ordered one of each of Summer Kitchen’s pop tart creations to munch along with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee for me and an omlette sandwich for the both of us.

The eatery is adorable, high ceilinged and a long counter in front of the grill with a few tables in front on a charming stretch of College Street. We snagged a few stools at the counter and began watching the show, our sides warmed by the pizza oven that anchored the end of the space. It was really challenging to perch like vultures and watch the grill cook make plate after plate of gorgeous sandwiches knowing we couldn’t order everything.

But first we gazed upon the gorgeous pop tarts. Look. Drool. Don’t you wish you were there?

The sweet pop tart had slices of the first of fall’s new crop of Fuji apples topped with Blue Chair Fruit strawberry jam, drizzled with royal icing and dashes of sugar sprinkles. The savory pop tart was filled with Blue Chair’s spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and goat cheese, and topped with shreds of Parmesan. Holy cow! They were simply fantastic. Flaky, thin, buttery pastry, still warm from the oven, pleasantly plump with the fillings and so tender. My toes were wriggling with delight as I nibbled slowly, trying to make them last, washed down by the mother’s-milk of Bella Donovan blend from Blue Bottle. I was beginning to regret only ordering two to share.

Meanwhile, our deft grill cook had crisped thick slabs of my personal local favorite bacon from Golden Gate Meats, slivered an avocado and turned out a perfectly blonde curling shell of a four egg omlette awash with fresh herbs and butter into a soft torpedo roll. Why have I never thought of an omlette sandwich before? It was ridiculous, as Luna is fond of saying.

Nirvana.

I was distracted by the sight of the pastry chef making more pop tarts. Scrutinizing her technique and taking notes we watched her roll out sheets of pastry, top with the juicy apples and dollops of ruby red jam. How I coveted that huge bottle of jam! Behold, the birth of a pop tart.

While they were baking the grill cook made tiny sliders of beef patties topped with blue cheese, piled them into a torpedo roll slathered with tarragon aioli and heaped with mounds of steaming mahogany caramelized onions, slices of pink heirloom tomatoes and handfuls of wild arugula. I am smitten.

Sadly, most of pictures did not come out. The cook was grinning at me shyly as I tried to capture the action, occasionally pausing to let me snap a shot. Now more than ever I wish I had a camera!

Then, to my right, the pastry chef pulled out a huge tray of naked chocolate cupcakes and scooped huge spatulas full of cream cheese frosting into her KitchenAid to fluff up before piping it into graceful spirals on the cakes. Our seatmate, a precocious 5 year old, scored a spoonful of frosting, lagniappe from the chef, lucky thing. The chef scattered chocolate pearls on top of the cupcakes and popped them onto pretty cake stands. If only I could have eaten more!

Then the grill chef began making crispy chicken sandwiches and grinned when I piped up that bacon and avocado would go well with that sandwich, and more of that custard yellow aioli. I realized I wasn’t the only one watching the action. Intently peering through the counter and offering play-by-play was a young man, perhaps 10 years old. Young Jerry is a foodie in the making, he was commenting on the aioli and I explained what that was. He smacked his lips. We watched another burger torpedo being prepared. He hadn’t tried that one, he explained, and sidled over one stool closer to me. I remarked that I hoped the grill chef would make a chicken sandwich again, and then he did! Amazed, Jerry asked how did I know the cook was going to do that? “Magic”, I said, and grinned, then Jerry asked me if I played cards, like Pokemon… His dad laughed and asked Jerry to return to his seat and they finished their pop tarts. Little Romeo!!

Luna and I watched as another batch of fruit pop tarts got their slathering of icing and sprinkles and sadly bid the cooks adieu.

We were delighted to meet in person Charlene Reis, the owner of Summer Kitchen, with whom we had been chatting incessantly on Twitter, and made plans to have a craft night soon. Rachel introduced me to her charming husband and helped me select jars of her jams to take home. I was thrilled to score the last jar of the spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and we agreed bourbon was a magical ingredient, like vanilla, but better. I exclaimed over my last purchase of Rachel’s blood orange marmalade and told her how that jar, which I bought at her book signing at Omnivore, disappeared in two days with the help of an Acme herb slab, Manchego cheese and some prosciutto, quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever invented. Another jar of Rachel’s three fruit marmalade got stowed away in my bag and Luna and I made our farewells.

We strolled down the street and stopped into a sweet shop, several card shops and then to our next stop, Ici.

Ici is an ice cream shop that has an impressive pedigree, its owner worked at Chez Panisse no less, and they usually have a line several store fronts long. Somehow we chanced to be there at just the right time with no line and popped in for a scoop. I chose the lemon ice cream with pinenut praline and an ocean of hot fudge. The combination of creamy lemon and rich fudgy chocolate is truly magical. Luna hit one out of the park with her choice of pear huckleberry sorbet with burnt caramel sauce (picture here). We plopped on a bench in front, another minor miracle, and thoroughly enjoyed our little treat.

As we were leaving I noticed their decorations of crocheted ice cream cones and vowed to knit some soon.

We planned next to visit Amanda’s on Shattuck and decided to work off our breakfast by walking there.

Just like Calvin Trillin we decided to have a snack before lunch and stopped into Crixa’sCakes for tea and pastries.

Fall has arrived in Berkeley and I was regretting my sandals but was grateful for my new leaf-green velour fleece jacket. We sat outside at an iron table as leaves scuttled by on the cobblestones, sipping our steaming Moroccan mint tea and stunning Hungarian pastries. The Hungarian version of pirogue was very good, how can you go wrong with buttery pastry filled with potato, cheese and dill?

We fought a fork-dual over the last bite. Divine! But then we split a pastry amusingly called Fatima’s thighs. More of the buttery, flaky pastry was curled around a rich filling of walnuts, julienned apples, currants and scented with orange flower water, then heaped with powdered sugar. I dusted off my pants which were liberally dotted with sugar and was transported to a memory of eating beignets with a dear beau in steamy sticky New Orleans. We used to laugh that I should never wear black around powdered sugar, something that would have come in handy at Crixa’s!

Another reason to visit Crixa is a street sign pole outside that has been yarnbombed, it is just so adorable.

Awash in tea and feeling all buttery we continued our stroll through Berkeley, marveling at the odd fall clouds in the sky, a building decorated with sculptures of sea life, pots of tomato plants tucked away into doorways, and the unusual people who populate the area. It is so pleasant to stroll with a friend, to be able to walk without rushing. Luna slipped a small sack into my bag, a Springerlie cookie from Crixa, what a treat! We exchanged thoughts about soul mates, shared stories of our siblings and tales about ravens and crows as Brother Crow cawed above our heads.

Our next stop was Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric shop, a place awash with the cutest, kitchy fabric. An entire row of bolts was devoted to food designs and we danced down the aisle singing the Coconut Song, imagining an apron made with a coconut pattern and lime fabric for pockets. I could not resist a few yards of an adorable mushroom fabric. We are taking a sewing class there in a few weeks, and I will make myself an apron to cheer up my kitchen during our drab SF winter. Suddenly we imagined ourselves buying most of the store’s stock and sewing up creation after creation!

The imaginary budget depleted we headed out to Amanda‘s for their house-made spicy ginger aid and a crunchy garden salad. I was tempted by their array of spiced nuts, burgers, sweet potato fries and sodas but couldn’t manage another bite. Luna crunched her salad and shared her ginger ale, which was exceptional.

To my surprise it was nearing 4:00 pm! We visited the pretty library for a small break and then meandered to Trader Joe’s for dinner fixings. I treated myself to a rib eye and ingredients for a pizza dinner another night. How does pizza made of naan with smoked Gouda, Asian pear and prosciutto sound? I thought I needed to make a pot of caramelized onions next week too, and buy bags of sweet onions.

Lugging our goodies to BART, we luck out and the next train was in two minutes, and I was home in a half an hour. I quickly stowed my groceries before sinking gratefully down into a chair to slip on thick wooly socks and settle on the settee for a nap. Five hours later I woke up! Completely missing dinner means I can indulge in steak and eggs for Sunday breakfast!

It was great to explore a new area and have home-made pop tarts and all the other treats that day. I plan to borrow a friend’s kitchen soon to make jam from Rachel’s adorable book, and to make pop tarts perhaps on my next Girl’s Night In. Stay tuned!

…………………………..

Resources:

Blue Chair Fruit
Jam, jam classes and the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook here:
http://bluechairfruit.com/
Also at the Temescal and Grand Lake Farmers’ Markets

Summer Kitchen Bake Shop
2944 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705-2204
Open Daily 9am-9pm
(510) 981-0538

Ici
2948 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
Open Daily
(510) 665-6054

Crixa Cakes
2748 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703-1205
Open Tue-Sat 9am-6:30pm
(510) 548-0421

Stonemountain & Daughter Fashion & Quilting Fabric
2518 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704-2722
Hours: 11am – 5:30pm
(510) 845-6106

Amanda’s Restaurant (Feel Good Fresh Food)
2122 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
Hours: 11am – 9pm
(510) 548-2122
http://www.Amandas.com

Naughty but Nice

There is nothing more decadent than a bowl of homemade ice cream, especially chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate ice cream

A few months ago then a major online retailer offered a Cuisinart ice cream machine for $30 out the door, despite being very cash-poor at that time I pounced on it, and a brand new fire engine red machine was all mine! We have had possibly one of the coldest summers since 1938 and so my pretty machine has been slumbering away under a corner of my dining room.

Finally, a bit of warm weather arrived coinciding with a visit from my dear sister. She has been making the most amazing sounding ice creams for the past few years and has frequently tortured me with tales of Mexican chocolate, chile and chocolate, lemon custard and bing cherry ice creams.

After a chummy pajama day together I dusted off the pristine Cuisinart box and put the insert into my freezer. I was delighted (shocked) that it actually fit in there, given that I have probably the city’s cruddiest appliances in the current location of The Roost.

Under my sister’s expert tutelage I prepared a chocolate custard ice cream using our Mom’s vanilla custard base recipe.

As kids, mom would make fantastic ice creams in the old fashioned ice cream maker. She would fill the tall metal cylinder with luscious bases and our dad would layer the barrel of the maker with crushed ice and rock salt. Then, my sis and I and our friends would take over turning the crank handle round and round until we couldn’t turn it any more. We were always incredulous when dad would take over and like a hot knife through butter he would turn the handle a dozen times swiftly. Mom would check the consistency of the ice cream and then swaddle the maker, freshly filled with ice and salt, in our beach towels and newspaper to harden off the batch. The combination of the rock salt to ice creates a lower temperature which helps the ice cream freeze. Water with a higher salinity remains liquid under colder temperatures so as the ice melts in the ice cream churn it is colder than regular ice slush thus creating ideal ice cream making conditions.

In what seemed like an eternity, the ice cream maker would be unveiled and the frosted cylinder heaved out of the salty slush, gently toweled off, and the clear plastic lid would be pried off. Out came the metal paddle into our waiting paws, ready to slurp off the ice cream that adhered to the edges. Ah, heaven!!! It was always, without fail, the best ice cream ever on the planet.

My sis and I revised all of these memories, including the time mom made mint chocolate chip ice cream with large chocolate chips which were frozen like rocks in the ice cream. We all had bowls littered with chips at the bottom, then when they came to temperature we devoured them with our fingers.

With my sis’s supervision and encouragement, and some great advice from Neal Gottlieb of Three Twins fame (thanks Neal!), I scalded the cream and then melted 100% cacao mass into the cream with some vanilla paste, then dribbled in the beaten egg yolks, sugar and a tiny bit of flour and whisked it well. I cooked the custard slowly until it was extremely thick and rich, and then let it chill off in the fridge while we took yet another nap. I love pajama days!

It was getting close to dinner time and I preheated the oven for our roast loin of lamb marinated with rosemary and black garlic. While the lamb was coming to room temperature and the oven warmed up, I pulled out the ice cream base and began the final preparations.

The custard had set up into the best, thickest pudding you could ever imagine. Just dipping out a spoonful left a distinct hole, and it was impossible to shake it off the spoon. Yum!ice cream base collage

I added a dash of espresso from our morning caffeine jolt and a good slosh of creme de cacao, a liqueur that had been languishing in the liquor closet for years, which made me wonder why on earth hadn’t I been using it more all of this time? Then, I added a full cup of Strauss heavy whipping cream, and we had a taste. Wow. Just like when preparing a cold soup, you must “over season” ice cream bases as the cold dampens the flavors. I added a touch more liqueur and pulled out the ice cream cylinder from the freezer and set things in motion.

The directions say the ice cream maker takes up to 30 minutes to finish churning the ice cream, which comes out the consistency of a soft serve. If the cylinder is properly frozen, per my expert sister, you can freeze two batches of ice cream in the cylinder. For my first attempt however, I just make 3 cups of base and it did take almost exactly 30 minutes.

ice cream churning collage

When the ice cream begins to mound up on the beater and leave a hump of ice cream on the side it is finished churning. True enough, 30 minutes later my first batch of ice cream was done.

I pulled out the beater and almost all of the ice cream came out with it.
finished ice cream collage

I scraped it into a freezer proof bowl and then with a wooden spatula scooped out the rest of the ice cream frozen to the sides and bottom of the cylinder. Then, just like when we were kids, we cleaned off the churn with greedy slurping sounds and then repaired to the sink to wash off the chocolate smears from our hands and faces.

The ice cream went into the freezer to harden and we turned our attentions to dinner. The lamb loin was quickly roasted in a hot oven while I made a fast salad of lemon tarragon vinaigrette, local greens and a lemon cucumber. Earlier in the day I made some ratatouille with yellow squash, slow roasted tomatoes and lots of garlic, added goat cheese and baked some feta and artichoke ravioli in the sauce (recipes to be shared another day).

Perfectly sated, we watched silly scifi movies with snarky commentary and then bolted upright from our perches on the couch and chair and said, “Hey, we can have ice cream now!”

I pulled the ice cream out of the freezer to soften a bit before scooping. It was a beautiful sight. It scooped out just like the best premium grocery store ice cream and the first taste was divine. Rich, chocolately, enough butterfat on the roof of the mouth, the espresso accentuated the chocolate and the slight boozey component of the liqueur really came through. This is not your average ice chocolate ice cream! And, the best part was that we made it together, and it was a snap to do.

ice cream done collage

Funny thing though, some folks on Twitter asked me if I thought it was worth the effort to make ice cream at home. After a face-palm I tried to elucidate why I bother making *anything* at home. Sure, you can go to Costco and buy a great roasted chicken for $10, or buy Three Twins ice cream at their shop (or for a few lucky people, in the grocery store) and you know the product will be fantastic. I think this “why bother” attitude is what is pervasively destroying people’s will to learn to cook or do anything by hand. The sense of pride and accomplishment knowing you have successfully roasted a chicken or made your own ice cream *is totally* worth the effort. And, that effort really isn’t all that much work either. It is simple to scald some cream and take five minutes to make a custard base. It took no work at all to plug in the machine and let it do its thing for thirty minutes. How hard is it to rub a chicken with herbs and butter and toss it in the oven for an hour or so? Michael Ruhlman wrote a great post about this a few months ago. Why do so many people think this is hard? I think it is more of an issue of laziness and lack of confidence. Because I had a mom who cooked meals at home, who was not afraid to try new things, and a sister who leveraged this and took her cooking experiments above and beyond this gave me the confidence in the kitchen. My sister used to make eclairs with pastry cream filling after school, how many teens do that now?

It made me a bit sad but this feeling passed as I sucked the last of the ice cream off my spoon then surreptitiously licked the bowl clean. Like people who feel the need to summit mountains or ride a 300 mile bike race, I am my own iron man in the kitchen. I will make my own food and have fun in the process. The best part is that I get to enjoy and savor the outcome, like my first batch of chocolate ice cream.

Hats off to Derby Day

May 1st is celebrated in many ways throughout the US: May Day, Maypoles, dancing, ding-dong-ditch with bouquets of flowers, Beltane bonfires and this year the Kentucky Derby, which is always held on the first Saturday of May and it just happened to be on May Day this year. Derby Day is always a favorite event of mine.

My dear friend G___ has graciously opened her home to celebrate the auspicious occasion of the Run for the Roses for many years now, and she always puts on a lavish Southern feast. Her stylish and charming home is filled with great friends clutching monstrous tumblers of mint juleps or flutes of Champagne, her tables and sideboards overflowing with comestibles of every description. Hats are encouraged, although this year I was without, alas. There were a few fine specimens scattered here and there, although nowhere near the spectacle displayed on television.

The highlight of the party, besides G___’s charming conversation and hospitality, is the race itself.  Upon crossing the threshold, G___’s charming beau or her butler-for-the-day presses upon you to blindly select a slip of paper from a porcelain basket with a name of one of the 25 gorgeous beasts running the race that day.

It is incredible how the breeders and owners of the thoroughbred horses can come up with creative and unique names year after year after year. The Kentucky Derby has been run for 135 years and in Kentucky it is *the* social and sporting event of the year. Vast sums of money are spent on the horses and their training, the parties, the dresses, the amazing hats and the wagers on the race. We watched in amazement this year at a man with possibly the world’s worst toupee wagered $100,000 in *cash*, contained in a gleaming golden attache, on a horse called Super Saver. At 18:1 it was a pretty gutsy bet.

No betting is allowed at the party though, however if you selected the winning horse your prize is a bottle of Champagne, so the rooting for *your* horse is loud and impassioned, complete with genteel ribbing along the lines of “my horse looks peppier than your horse”, etc. We gather around the televisions, pretend to know the words to “My Old Kentucky Home” and sing it lustily, wrong words and all, and gasp with amazement and cheer for the longest two minutes of the year.

This year I pulled HomeBoyKris out of the basket, number 19, who placed somewhere around the bottom, sad to say… But Super Saver won! The gentleman with the immense bet did actually win and he was almost levitating with glee. Nothing compares though with the beaming face of Calvin Borel, the winning jockey, and the obvious affection he has for Super Saver as he alternatively stroked the horse’s mane and then pumped his fists in the air in victory.

Before the race started, we gathered around the bar in the kitchen for our choice of libation, and I always prefer a tall mint julep. The butler studiously crushed bag after bag of ice and packed them into highball glasses which were stored in the freezer until needed. The frosty glasses were filled with a dollop of simple syrup then a steady trickle of rich Maker’s Mark bourbon slid between the shards of ice. A large spring of mint leaves were tucked between the ice and the side of the glass and muddled gently. One sips this concoction, slowly, while discussing the merits of your horse, the dichotomy of rain in Kentucky and sunshine in San Francisco, and what delectable dish to start with from the buffet.

Finally, a mint julep!

I arrived a tad early and helped out in the kitchen by frying boneless chicken thighs soaked in buttermilk overnight, dusted with flour and coated with seasoned panko. Crispy, succulent and perfect, we all had to sample a bit of them once they cooled a bit, followed by tidbits of Fire and Ice Pineapple

Meanwhile, G___ had been baking and cooking up a storm and completely outdid herself. She baked tiny corn muffins, made a tangy broccoli and cabbage slaw, a traditional pasta salad with tiny crunchy vegetables, roasted fat asparagus spears with reduced syrupy balsamic vinegar, perfect baked beans, a zippy shrimp étouffée, baked balls of spinach and cheese, and pimento cheese – “the pate of the South” – my personal favorite. There were masses of gorgeous cheeses, a whole spiral glazed ham and tiny rolls to make mini sandwiches, garlic soaked carrots, fat green grapes, and deviled eggs. Can you believe the spread of goodies? It was amazing, and everything was jaw-droppingly delicious.

derby collage 1
(clockwise from top: crunchy fried chicken and a peek at the asparagus; shrimp, chicken and andoille étouffée; the voluptuous ham and rolls; a happy guest’s plate)

And then there were the desserts. The guests were encouraged to bring a dessert to accompany the cut crystal pitchers of G___’s homemade pink lemonade, and they outdid themselves too. Homemade cookies, Dottie’s incredible biscotti, homemade peach and blackberry cobbler, Italian cookies, a blueberry cream cheese crumble from Sweet Things, a fresh fruit topped cheesecake from Tart to Tart, and the best chocolate cake in San Francisco – the devils food ganache cake from Tartine. It was like a bake sale from Heaven.

Derby collage 2
(blueberry cheese crumble cake, Dottie’s biscotti and lemonade, Tartine’s to die for chocolate cake)

After the race we refreshed our drinks, nibbled on desserts and chatted. Invariably I end up in the kitchen with masses of friends, enjoying the breeze from the open windows punctuated by the pop of Champagne corks flying up roof-high from the yard below. It was wonderful to catch up with friends, long-time buddies and new acquaintances, and catch up on the happenings from our last meeting, a few lively discussions of politics and debate on the sad legislature passed in Arizona this week.

It was a beautiful spring day and a great day for a party. Belly methodically packed and a heart full of friendship, I said adieu to my hostess and friends, and sadly relinquished my tenuous grasp on my own southern heritage, and retired for the evening dreaming of roses.

Mint Julep

Happily, one does not have to limit the consumption of a mint julep for the Kentucky Derby. It is a great cocktail for any spring or summer afternoon or evening. Or anytime fresh mint is available! But it is best enjoyed when watching the condensation form on the outside of a tall glass is considered a pleasurable thing. In other words, this might not be the ideal cocktail when the fog is rolling over the City.

A Perfect Mint Julep

Crushed ice
A hefty jigger of bourbon (Maker’s Mark) or 2 1/2 oz
Simple syrup
Mint leaves
“fuzzy water” (sparkling water)

Simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a sauce pan pour in the water, then the sugar, and heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and store in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Besides being an essential for cocktails, it is handy to sweeten iced tea, should your southern roots demand this kind of thing.

For the julep, pack a tall highball glass with crushed ice. Add a tablespoon of simple syrup and then a full jigger of bourbon. With your fingers, gently crush a large sprig of mint leaves and push them into the glass and muddle gently. Add a few tablespoons of fuzzy water if desired.

Sip slowly. Beware of rapid refills.

As Dorothy Parker said:

“I wish I could drink like a lad.
I can take one or two at the most.
Three and I’m under the table.
Four and I’m under the host”

Cheers!

San Francisco 1st International Chocolate Salon

<<I wrote this last February but I thought you might enjoy hearing all about it.  It’s coming back next month, so perhaps this will whet your appetite!>>

I have to say this was one fun day!

The first International Chocolate Salon in San Francisco was at beautiful Fort Mason (now part of the Golden Gate National Park and Recreation area). It’s on the edge of the bay with three old army piers and several barrack like buildings which are now a center for artists, artist collectives, museums and Greens vegetarian restaurant – fun place! Despite the misting fog it was gorgeous on the bay. I liked that they called this event the “Chocolate Stimulus Plan”.

Chocolate Salon

My friend and I entered this massive hall filled with tables of local chocolatiers and related vendors, and a zillion chocoholics- what a mob scene!

Mobs of People

For the next several hours we methodically sampled all the delicious wares and made quite a few purchases – here is our haul:

The Haul

The big bags are Choffy, ground cocoa nibs that you brew like coffee. You get all the benefits of the wonderful chocolate flavor and antioxidants, this batch is from the Ivory Coast.   I’m having a pot now and it’s really delicious and better for you than coffee.

Some of my favorite vendors there:
Van Gough chocolate vodka, Chaya Brasserie’s bar manager Eric was making some wonderful chocolate martinis!

Chris Michael from Newport Beach came up to sell his amazing bars, I picked up his Sizzling Bacon Bar, with bacon, fair trade single origin Venuzuelan milk chocolate and popping candy for a sizzling sensation, man this is good!

Of course Ghirardelli was there with their new (salmonella free) peanut butter filled chocolate squares.

Bill of William Dean chocolates was there describing in tantalizing detail his creative process behind making unique flavor combinations for his truffles. They are like exquisite jewels – lemongrass, Mexican mango (with habanero), rosemary and bitter chocolate, rosewater and semi sweet ganache. wow.

Jim of Sterling Confections created a huge triangular bar of truffle in delicious layers and handpaints the outside. You thinly slice the bar at your dinner table or let the guests do it themselves, brilliant concept, gorgeous and so amazingly delicious! My favorite was the pineapple ginger macadamia nut bar, although the Rocky Road was a close second.

Here’s Jim:

Jim

I also met a 6′ Oompa Loompa, actually he’s the self-proclaimed King Oompa Loompa from Sacred Chocolates, in Marin of course. Despite being a complete ham he did not offer a bacon/chocolate combination (yet).

King Oompa Loompa

The gals from Foodzie, an online gourmet shop headquartered in SF, were there making custom S’mores with chocolate covered super thin graham crackers and homemade marshmellows. I plan to order some soon. Check out her wee blow torch! I use a plumbers torch myself at home and her “culinary” one looks like a darling toy. I’m looking forward to checking out their website to see what other goodies they offer.

Foodzie Gals

Socola Chocolatier hit the home run for me with their bittersweet salted caramel truffles (Burnt Baby Burnt) and Guinness ganache truffles. They ran out of their guava truffles (Give it to Me Guava) so I plan to seek them out sometime soon.

Another interesting concept was chocolate slabs created specifically for pairing with wine. Brix has 40%, 60% and 70% cacao bars blended to pair with wines and as they are from Rutherford you know they are good at their job! The chocolate is in a huge block that you break up with a parmesan cheese knife or the like.  We grabbed some wine from the new SF tasting room Winery Collective and did the recommended pairings, wow.

By this time my eyeballs were beginning to do the jig and we were flagging from too much sugar and chocolate, so we began to explore the art exhibits and other vendors. We ran across a beauty products booth, Sweet Beauty, based in Seattle.  They use organic chocolate in their spa treatment products, dark chocolate body scrub with demerara sugar anyone? I bought a pot of their “pot de creme” cocoa butter cream, it completely took away the winter crepeness on my hands. They weren’t selling their baby balm but the gals there claim it is the best thing for the face during winter and their skin was gorgeous. It has a lighter scent and, of course, good for babies!

Another fun surprise there was my old friend Chris Scott, an amazing makeup designer who used to work for Chanel. He did my makeup for the Opera’s opening nights each year and has written a wonderful book about how to buy makeup from department & drug stores, and has a tv show and website now! He glammed me up good right there on the spot, I forgot how talented he is with mascara and eyeliner!

So with gorgeous eyes and chocolate in the corners of my mouth (quickly remedied) we left the festival and headed for nearby Chestnut Street for some protein and a bloody Mary at the Squat and Gobble cafe, then home for a long nap. I swear I had a chocolate hangover! I usually don’t eat a lot of sweets but am becoming quite a chocolate addict.

So that was my day of fun~ this year it is on March 20, 2010.  Perhaps I’ll go! Anyone else up for it?

A Whirlwind of Fun, Part I

The last week has been a dazzling schedule of tweet-ups, dinner parties, classes and gatherings that almost boggled my mind. I really can’t imagine a week where I have had more fun or ate more incredible foods 0r hung out with more fascinating people.

I could spend the rest of the year writing up my experiences of this week, but there are more things scheduled between now and then, so instead here some highlights:

Bay Area Food Bloggers Tweet-up

The newly formed Bay Area Food Bloggers group had our first meeting for a Friday night happy hour at Horizon’s in North Beach. Chef Christopher Lee (@iplaywithfood) is the Executive Chef and very kindly offered us space to meet, drink and feast on his incredible Kobe beef sliders, bacon and truffled mac’n’cheese and a plethora of fries. I have been dreaming about this burger and mac’n’cheese for quite a while and the reality was even better than my expectations. Chris treated us to an enormous platter of amazing cookies and mini pastries that blew my mind, and local ice cream and sorbet artist Flash Freeze kindly provided a half dozen of incredible flavors to try, my favorites were the Blue Bottle espresso, the salted dulce de leche and the pineapple thyme. Thank you Chris and Flash Freeze!

After the fun of BlogHer Food and Foodbuzz (which I sadly missed), it was incredible to meet the wealth and diversity of our local food writers and bloggers. Best of all, they are genuinely fun people that I am so pleased to count among friends. Attending was @sstiavetti, @Jeters, @inuyaki, @LunaRaven13, @Biggie, @TastyTwosome, @lettuceeatkale, @cookingwithamy, @m_quinnMy @singleguycooks. Apologies if I missed anyone at the evening, we were enjoying our cocktails, and the after party gathering was a blast too. Somehow we ended up walking around North Beach wearing false mustaches (and it might have been my idea?); much hilarity ensued.

Thank you, Stephanie, for organizing this great evening!

#bafoodblog the evening has deteriorated. We are in a candy store w faux mustaches

More silly pictures….  And more Mustache Brigade videos…..

Family Meal Collective Dinner

The following Sunday was the long-awaited Family Meal Collective early winter supper. This incredibly talented group of people organize informal dinners for their guests, with perfect ambiance and incredible food. The proceeds help with a local non-profit. Chef Kris with the help of Charlene and Yuka prepared a wonderfully comforting dinner for an extremely soggy winter night. I was joined by 9 convivial diners and we noshed and sipped the night away.

  • Amuse: Parsnips and “Coffee” with Dolin vermouth de Chambrey Blanc with cranberries and orange peel garnish. A few sips of rich creamy heaven and the vermouth was a perfect match.
  • Starter: Lumpia- Basah: spring rolls with miso salt crusted pork belly, pickled kumquats, paired with an Antech Limoux Cremant de Limoux. The crisp veggies and unctious pork belly was incredible. This was a sublime bite. Or two. Or…. Yes, we had seconds!
  • Intermezzo: “Trou Normande”, a delightful glass of apple cider with Humphry Slocombe pink apple sorbet floating inside.- A “stomach conditioner” of barley and oolong blend tea. It was remarkable refreshing and really did set the palate for the main courses.
  • Giagandes and Christmas Lima bean stew, roasted sunchokes, 24-hour braised beef cheeks, a “garden of grains salad”, cabbage and roast potatoes. The bean stew was so delicious I could have made a meal on this alone. The beef cheeks were meltingly tender,so much so that you could have used just a spoon, and you really needed a spoon for the decadent savory fig sauce to spark up the flavors. The grain salad had all my favorites, and some new, quinoa, barley, millet, and raspberries for tang. Served with these family-style bowls of heaven was a Casa Castillo from Jumila, Spain, 2007.
  • Dessert: Chocolate in a jar; hazelnut chocolate pudding with 40% cacao, nutella and cocoa nibs. They came in small canning jars and we ate them all! The “One for the Road” was a perfect last glass of Buffalo Bourbon, Faretti Biscott Famosi, rooibos and agave.

I am delighted to offer you the recipe for the amazing amuse from Chef Kris. I hope to make it for my family for Christmas dinner.

Family Meal Collective Parsnip Soup

Yield: approx. 2 qts.

1/2 Spanish white onions (sliced thin, julienned)
2 each. parsnips (cut in half, sliced)
1 quart half and half
1 bay leaf
a sprig of thyme
salt to season
olive oil

Procedure:

Sweat onions very slowly at low temperature without allowing the onions to caramelized. Add in sliced parsnips, allow to cook slowly at low heat, until softened. Add just enough half and half to cover the parsnips and add in bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a slow simmer and allow parsnips to cook for 10 -15 min. Strain parsnips and place in a blender. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs and add just enough cooking liquid to the blender to thoroughly emulsify both parsnips and cooking liquid. Strain parsnip puree thorough fine sieve and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Can be garnished with: coco nibs, rendered pancetta, double smoked bacon,tempura fried oyster, poached quail egg

I look forward to more of their dinners in the Spring!

FMC collage
(The menu, the table, the Trou Normande)

Liquid Alchemy Molecular Mixology Class Preview

Tuesday I had the rare pleasure of attending a preview of an innovative class for bartending professionals and others, like myself, interested in the technical arts of cocktail craft.  Douglas Williams, a molecular mixologist and a classic cocktail consultant, also known as @liquiddouglas, is a fascinating professional, deftly mixing his creative cocktails with the most modern of ingredients, liquid nitrogen, alginates and other gastronomic chemicals along the lines of Ferran Adria and Wiley Dufresne. I was delighted to have Seletta (@LunaRaven13) as a table mate during the class, where we watched Doug safely manipulate liquid nitrogen and his cocktail creations and elevate them to sublime cocktail bites. Doug’s class covered safe handling of liquid nitrogen, proper storage and disposal, how to make frappes and cocktail bites. He discussed the various chemicals used in molecular gastronomy and mixology, proper measuring techniques and tips on how to experiment. Airs, foams, powders and emulsions were covered, including his gorgeous Kir Royale with cassis pearls floating in the sparkling wine like a lava lamp of tastiness. The best part was that Doug’s class is very hands-on so you can get right in there and try it yourself under his expert tutelage. Not to mention that all of his concoctions were absolutely delectable. With the proper training and attention to weights and measures anyone can play with molecular mixology.

My favorite was the ball of Root frozen with a shell of cream. It was an adult rootbeer float, a mouthful of fun! Doug also introduced me to about a dozen artisan liquors I didn’t even know existed and I am now on a quest to upgrade my liquor cabinet, starting with Root!

Doug and Jen(Doug and his assistant Jen, a bartender at Rye)

Molecular Mixology collage
(Our first sip, a lime mojito slush; liquid nitrogen; Doug making freeform frappes; finished Aviation frappe)

Doug will be offering more classes in January so keep your eyes peeled for the announcement. Thank you, Doug, for allowing me to attend! And big thanks to Traca (Seattle Tall Poppy) for introducing us!

After the class, Seletta and I visited Rye and visited more with the lovely Jen who assisted Doug during the class preview.  Jen makes a delicious and dramatic cocktail called Out of the Box, with a flaming orange peel finish.  Watch ’till the end for the explosive finale!

Thanks Jen!  I will be visiting Rye a lot more in future!

So, that is Part I of my amazing week, and there is more to come….

Joy of Bacon

Bacon, the Gateway Meat… The Glorious Pig… My favorite meat!!!

I confess it, it’s true. I love bacon. I love it such that I follow all kinds of bacony themed people on Twitter, including the bacon Jesus! A sample tweet, “Seven days from now it will rain bacon for forty days and forty nights, and I will feed every living creature I have made with bacon”, so hilarious.

However it happened, and I am by no means unique, I am a baconista. I truly believe that any dish can be enhanced with the addition of bacon. Some people say that this is a trend but I don’t believe it. I have always felt this way, just ask my mom! Bacon has a tendency to disappear around me, so much so that during my littlehood mom used to ration the bacon. If I was able to be served 2 pieces of bacon at a meal I counted myself lucky. Now that I am an adult I am able to serve myself as much bacon as I want. And I want! I take great pleasure in using bacon in unlikely places, like my BLT pizza. But that’s a story for another day.

Today, I was introduced to my newest favorite snack, bacon popcorn from the Chop Bar. I can’t begin to tell you how amazingly bacony it is, with a dash of Parmesan.

Bacon popcorn! i'm in heaven...(I am in love with their chef in a bad way. Bad!!)

A few years ago dear A___ read to me a passage from the Sweet Potato Queen’s book about pig candy, how a fan handed the SPQ a slightly greasy bag after a speech and whispered, “Don’t open this until you are alone in your room.” She did and found a dozen or so strips of sticky, dark, luscious porkiness enrobed in candied caramel, and crunched it down, furtively, propped up in bed.

Sitting there in A__’s car in the pool of light from a streetlamp, traffic signal forgotten, we were entranced and knew we had to try pig candy. And soon.

Later, giggling in the kitchen, we created a pound of heaven: thickly sliced bacon, heavily coated in brown sugar, baked until candied and crisp. And then the giggling stopped and so did all discernible sound other than crunching and soft moans. The pound of pig candy was consumed in short order, like ravenous hyenas over a Springbok. We were hooked. The next time we made it, we cooked up three pounds of bacon. Dare I say between us and several starving teenage girls the pig candy was all gone in minutes. And we ate it with mashed potatoes too. What is that, a triple sin?? It was at this point that we looked at each other and said, “We can never do this again”, pinky-sweared and immediately purchased massive piles of celery as our sole sustenance for the next week or two. Okay, there was a little wine in there too, shush now.

A year later, we made it again, and consumed the pig candy with such joy and abandon that we decided to lift the outright (and ineffective) ban and to instead limit ourselves to making the ritual of pig candy an annual event. We pretty well have stuck to it, until I started researching bacon recipes and discovered David Lebovitz’s maple ice cream with candied bacon, Seattle Tall Poppy’s toffee with candied bacon (one of the funniest posts ever written!) and bacon donuts at my own local Dynamo donuts. Somewhere down the line I read of bacon infused booze and, with the sage advice of Music City Missy and Seattle Tall Poppy, infused Black Forest bacon with Sky Vodka and with Maker’s Mark.

Somehow, and I really don’t know why (smirk), I developed a bacon reputation! Was it the bacon Manhattans? The Bloody Bacon Mary’s? The mounds of lacquered pig candy that I brought to parties? My constant quest for great bacon recipes?


(yes, guilty, I did knit a piece of bacon too using a piece of bacon from the meat counter at Treats as a model. Then I cooked it and ate it.)

Given all if this, I am so fortunate to have friends that recognize my bacon obsession and gift me accordingly. For a few years my dear pal S___ has gifted me with bacon for my birthday, and happyhappyjoyjoy this year was no exception. This year’s amazing batch of artisanal bacon is from Father’s in Kentucky, did I say amazing already?

She also suggested some amazing bacony ideas, one of which I just had to instantly start playing with:

Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies.

Yes, you read that right. And they are amazing. The gooey melted chocolate chunks, the chewy sweet savory bacon pieces, the nutty whole wheat buttery dough, they are heaven on a plate. And completely dangerous. I happily corrupted quite a few of my friends with these bad boys, including one friend who made me promise to freeze some for her until we got together next.

These cookies are so good I completely forgot to photograph them when they got out of the oven. I just pried off a few from the parchment paper, and with chocolate chunks dripping down my chin and forearms, slowly and placidly I crunched them into oblivion.

Of course some people out there think the concept of bacon with desserty things or booze, is unappetizing. These cookies just might change their minds. I highly recommend you give this recipe a whirl and help enlighten the rest of the world to the joys of bacon.

REC: Chocolate Chip Candied Bacon Cookies

(This recipe also gives you my exquisite procedure for pig candy! Don’t go crazy!)

1 # thick-cut bacon, preferably black forest cured bacon
2 c dark brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1/2 c AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick or 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened (best to leave out overnight)
1/2 c shortening (try to use trans-fat shortening, it lessens the guilt)
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T vinegar (I like unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar that I get in bulk at Rainbow)
2 pkgs Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate chunks (2 cups total)

Pig Candy

In a large deep skillet arrange the bacon in a single layer if possible, but technically if they overlap or do not all fit don’t worry. Add 1 c dark brown sugar and turn pan to medium heat. Fry bacon until cooked and thickly coated with caramelized sugar. Using a long handled fork, frequently turn over bacon strips and move them about the pan with care. The skillet will soon be filled with a seething mass of sugar and fat, and will slowly become quite dark brown and caramelized. By the time the fat in the bacon has been rendered out adequately and nears the chewy/crisp stage, the sugar will achieve that perfect lacquered mahogany brown hue indicating caramelization. Near the end of the pig candy’s cooking time it is important to turn the strips frequently.

Remove the pig candy from skillet onto a piece of foil or parchment paper and allow to cool. It will harden and crisp as it cools. Immediately pour off the boiling bacon fat and sugar from the cooking pan into a compost friendly container (an old milk cardboard carton is perfect) then fill pan with hot water and return to the stove to melt any remaining sugar for ease of cleaning. I use a Pyrex cup and sometimes nibble on the cooled bacon candy after the fat has cooled.

Picnik collage - Pig candy (clockwise: bacon and brown sugar in the pan; after 10 minutes; the dark candied bacon is done; cooled bacon, ready to chop)

Drain off the pan
(you can put this hot sugary fatty mass into a cup like this and pour off the fat, keeping the blob of sugar in the cup with a fork or spatula. Then, spread the sugar out on a piece of parchment paper thinly, stretching with your fingers when it is cool enough, for delicious bacon sugar candy. Just saying…)

When cool, chop into pieces, and try not to eat more than a slice or two.
Temptation: Fail
(hey, paws off!)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

For the dough, mix together the flours, baking soda and salt, mix well.

In the mixer, cream butter and shortening until light, then slowly add 1 cup of brown sugar and the white sugar and beat well. With mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla and vinegar. Add the flour mixture slowly and mix just until combined. Remove the mixing bowl and, by hand with a silicon spatula, fold in the pig candy and the chocolate chunks. It is best to chill the dough a bit at this point but generally I don’t usually bother.

Picnik collage - cookie dough
Finished dough

Drop dough using a tablespoon cookie scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Place into the oven and bake until the cookies are golden, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove and cool cookies on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ready to bake
Behold. Chocolate chunk candied bacon cookies!

That’s it, aren’t they gorgeous?

I really need to make another batch soon. I hope you try them sometime too.

Now, a note about hot melted sugar. Melted sugar can cause severe burns,which mean common sense and basic precautions must be taken when cooking. Wear shoes that cover your entire foot, long pants and an apron. If you are concerned or a complete klutz, please fill a medium bowl with cold water and a tray of ice cubes. If you get any sugar on you, immediately dip the body part in the ice water and keep it there for at least 10 minutes. I am just careful and, knock on wood, haven’t burned myself on sugar. If you are really worried about it, you can bake the bacon slices in a tray in the oven with brown sugar mounded on top of each slice, which is how every other recipe I have ever seen for sugared bacon recommends. I really prefer my method, obviously, and think that it makes the best Pig Candy. So you have options!