Chocolate Cake Cubed

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Sometimes friends and family can’t get together for every celebratory occasion so we jumble everything into one giant fit-all party. When such parties occur I have to make a dessert that’s intensity and magnitude is squared or for this particular instance cubed. Doing this can be a challenge. I don’t know why I have to do it this way but I do. For example: a regular party gets a regular cake (even though my ‘regular’ cakes are kinda ginormous) Chocolate cake/chocolate icing. Pretty simple, right? A ‘squared’ event usually gets something a bit fancier like ultra vanilla ice cream and blueberry pie. A ‘cubed’ event requires a lot of oomf- power to the Mad Max- the Lord Humungus of flavor.

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Chocolate is, by far, the easiest dessert component to square or cube. I made a dark chocolate cake with whipped dark chocolate ganache icing, and encircled the cake with chocolate cigarette cookies. I also poured chocolate ganache on top of the cake for good measure. Because reasons.

If people were to pay me for this cake with cold hard cash instead of love and kisses I’d be rich. IMG_2470

Freshly Minted

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It is girl scout cookie season. Like every other food blogger out there I am now socially obliged to invent a dessert, featuring a cookie, that was sold to me by a 7 year old. AWESOME. It’s a right of passage. I’m walking through a portal, transitioning into hallowed territory.

Naturally, I have to make something out of Thin Mints. To be honest I just walked up to the girl scout table at the grocery store brandishing my money and asked for a box . I could have lingered at their stand pursuing over the cookie selection to iron chef, but making prolonged eye contact with children and or their guardians is awkward, at best. The fact that I didn’t want to interact was probably more creepy for them. Super sorry kids. I want you to get your badge, I think you’re building some great skills, I’m sure you’re an outstanding group of people trying to get money to travel where ever and I’d rather be thrown under a bus than have to make small talk.

I faced a delemia. I hate mint. It’s good in chutneys but that’s the only way I’ll eat it. It’s ok for my tooth paste and mouth wash but I don’t like the leathery herb. I cannot explain why but every time I eat it I sneeze. I don’t have anything against mint. I feel pretty sorry for it most of the time. It’s main feature in American food culture is as a garnish and a few boozie drinks. Ok- I’ll admit there are peppermint candies, gums, chcolates, cookies, truffles, ice cream etc. But, on average, most people don’t ever encounter the herb itself. I’m probably trying to justify why I don’t like it by undermining it’s influence and adoration by others. I guess it’s one of those days: 1) Creep out children 2) demean my audience. I’m on a roll.

I made tart crusts out of them. HOLY GUACAMOLE mint isn’t as bad as I thought it was! In fact, it’s darn right delicious. I left them out to cool etc etc and was going to put the pudding in them for some photos. But my family got to them first. These were the only ones left- there was no more pudding.

Sorry the picture is so crude. I guess I’ll have to go interact with some girl scouts again. More cookies… the mint ones!

After: The Pudding

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The Walking Dead pudding memes are all over the god damn place.

(SPOILERS)

After narrowly escaping walkers Carl casually scarfs down a gigantic can of chocolate pudding, 112 ounces to be exact. In the scene his legs dangle off the roof swaying willy nilly. He looks comical and child like after losing one of his shoes during his escape. He reclaims part of his innocence. Like he was stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. I’m not versed at conveying how cinematically poignant these few primetime TV moments are but It was amazing. It was just so human.

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A few weeks ago I made TWD cookies. Today I made some chocolate pudding to enhance my TWD viewing experience.

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Carl use to be one of my least favorite characters. I wanted him, Lori, and Shane to be devoured alive. However, Carl’s character has evolved. His experiences and actions reflect the black and white ideology children/adolescents believe.  His viewpoint is important because it radically contrasts the adults’ desire to go back to the way things were before the pandemic. Compared to the adults, Carl’s, and some of the other children, spectrum of morality is fundamentally different. I’m excited to watch where it leads the group. So here is some pudding to honor Carl. Hopefully he’ll survive the rest of the series.

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Midus Touch

It’s the middle of winter here in the Chicago-land area. Grey skies, bitter weather, wind gusts, and EPIC amounts of snow are all staples of an average mid-west winter. Global climate change has had it’s hay day here too but this particular winter will go down in the history books. A few weeks ago, parts of  Minnesota were supposedly colder than the surface of Mars. Way cool. Jack London eat your heart out!

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Unlike most mid-westerners I love the winter. I’d take a few feet of snow over sweltering heat any day. Plus I get to wear cool sweaters, ear muffs, and fleeces so it’s a win-win by me. However, by the time February rolls around everyone has the blues. We’ve only seen the sun for a handful of days. No blue skies around here, baby. So I thought I’d brighten up a family gathering with a bit of sunshine.

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They Might Be Giants made it quite clear that “The sun is far away. Its about 93 million miles away, and thats why it looks so small!” My 7″ tall chocolate cake might not fit a million earths inside but it will sure fill your belly.

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Chestnut Mousse

It’s getting chilly outside. You think I would use this as an excuse to turn on the oven but I’m a rather contrary person sometimes. Instead I’ve been spending the majority of my days curled up with my Portuguese water dog, Doodlebug.

Doodlebug  My flavor palate tends to lean toward rich dense flavors in the winter. I shy away from sweet and develop more of a taste for complex savory flavors. I am one of those people that loves savory flavors incorporated into my final course. One of my favorite parts about this time of year is the availability of nuts: Pistachios, walnuts, pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts. It’s like during the miraculous overnight shift from Halloween to Christmas Santa comes early (he’s trying to tell us he wants nuts in those cookies you’ll leave out for him). You go to the grocery store and there are barrels of nuts of every variety ready for you to toil away peeling. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Nuts are underutilized. I strongly believe that the immense dessert potential for nuts is un-actualized. We must think beyond the pie, people! Processing nuts for desserts can be out of the reach for those that don’t have the right equipment, though. I’m extremely fortunate to have an arsenal of tools that grind, juice, pulverize, and whip with simple on and off buttons

Chestnut Mousse

Chestnuts are the hallmark of the holidays. Their texture/taste is not as oily as other nuts so I thought it would work wonders in a mousse. I was right. I wanted something denser than cake so I made a flourless chocolate cake base. (This is one of the best gluten free desserts BTW). All in all this was a pretty labor intensive the dessert: Cook nuts, pulverize them, make a cake, make a mousse, wait to firm/chill etc. Regardless the ratio of calories to minutes is about 80:1, which is worth my time.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Fudge

Caramel Fudge

Every holiday season when my paternal grandmother would visit for x-mas she would bring dense homemade fudge in holiday tins. She made everything from scratch 1000 miles away and toted it across the country to bring it to us. Not the boxed cakes and bagged marshmallows I was use to. The only time I’d eat fudge was when she brought it from the family farm. I remember how it melted in my mouth.

I didn’t appreciate those gifts the way I would now. My strongest political belief on food is that the food you eat should be loved. Bitter, resentful, jealous and angry meals will never nourish you, regardless of how good they are for you. When someone uses food as a vehicle to express their feelings I understand the phrase “A way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.” A good meal builds your bones and will stay with you long after the meal is over. A truly divine meal fuels your memories for years.

Chocolate, Chocolate, where art thou Chocolate?

Chocolate Marshmallows

Why o’ why didn’t I make these sooner? Chocolate marshmallows! Why aren’t there more gourmet marshmallow suppliers? I have no doubt that I eat my weight (at least) in chocolate every year. What did people enjoy before chocolate? Maybe this is a supremely naïve worldview but a life without chocolate would be like never seeing a rainbow, experiencing fluffy snow, or smelling the rain. I just cannot imagine my life without it. What other types of flavors would we use to explain the fine notes that underline the earthy tones of wine and beer? The entire culinary field would be devoid of one of the worlds’ most influential ingredients! Relationships everywhere would fail because no one would have chocolate to emotionally regulate their overwhelming feelings. I cannot bear to think about it. I better eat more chocolate to ease my nerves.