May 16, 2020

Cacao Butter Chocolate Candy

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The food grade cacao butter wafers which I used eons ago for homemade lotions and other facial stuff had been sitting in the pantry and already passed the best by date. The wafers looked good so I experimented with making candies. The recipes online seem simple enough to make. Unfortunately, making chocolate candies from scratch using cacao butter is definitely not a piece of cake. It's complicated and frustrating because powdered sugar, powdered erythritol, and powdered milk don't melt that easily. You can whisk it until the end of time and you'll still end up with gritty candy that has cacao butter sitting at the bottom and sugar/milk on top because it needs an emulsifier. Yes, the much maligned lecithin emulsifier.

I had an ancient, maybe 5 years old, small package of soy lecithin granules in the fridge. I threw that away and got sunflower lecithin powder. I didn't know that health nuts take this powder as a supplement. So why not add lecithin if it is not harmful and may even be helpful, if true. It helped bigly in emulsifying specially the white chocolate candy. Also, instead of powdered sugar and milk, I made sweet condensed milk with erythritol and a little white cane sugar 3:1. The sweet milk with the help of lecithin made the candy smooth. For the dark chocolate I added chipotle powder in half of the mixture and chopped homemade candied orange fruit in the other half. Both flavors are delicious!

April 29, 2020

Ñora Pepper Flan

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This Spanish flan using the pulp of hydrated dried mild red peppers called ñora is a bit odd but it is quite good with a teensy bit of bite. The flavor as a dessert flan is a combination of chocolate, prunes, and coffee. Ñora pepper is used to flavor Spanish sausages, savory dishes, and Romesco sauce. One of the recipes I found in a Spanish website is flan. Yes, sweet dessert flan. I couldn't find the link to the recipe anymore but I still remember it has no milk just like Flan de Naranja which is in one of my Spanish cookbooks. I followed that recipe substituting the pepper pulp and the soaking water. I believe you can also use the more widely available, cheaper, and also mild ancho dried pepper which has a very similar chocolate-y and prune-y flavor.

April 23, 2020

No-Knead Bread

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No-knead bread became popular in 2012, if I remember correctly, when Jim Lahey made a demo and published a cookbook. I've never made it until today to know if it really makes flavorful bread. The Jim Lahey method leaves the dough to ferment for 12 hours at room temperature then the dough is shaped and baked in a covered preheated cast iron Dutch oven. He updated it to shorten the fermentation to 3 or 4 hours by using very hot water, about 130°F, and adding ¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar.

April 16, 2020

Key Lime Mousse

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I love the flavor of Key limes more than the regular limes either to flavor desserts or as a dip and marinade for fish or meats. I was craving for pie but was too lazy to bake and also didn't want extra carbs. I made mousse instead with whipped cream, cream cheese, and homemade sweetened condensed milk. The light as feather dessert whips up in no time. It's tart and not too sweet. I love it!

Key Lime Mousse
4 ounces softened cream cheese
4 ounces sweetened condensed milk
a pinch of fine sea salt
4 ounces heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
4 tablespoons key lime juice
1½ teaspoons key lime zest
candied key lime for garnish, optional

  • In a small bowl, beat together softened cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and salt until smooth. 
  • Beat in juice and zest until fully combined. 
  • Stir in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Spoon into 4 ramekin dishes. Smooth tops. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 2 hours. 
  • Garnish with candied Key limes before serving, if desired.

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