17 February 2015

Amaretto Truffles

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up book, is all the rage right now. There was an opinion piece in today's Times referencing it, and a profile/closet visit with Marie Kondo, the self-taught Japanese author, in New York magazine last week. It's blowing hot and--because it deeply challenges people and their stuff--cold. Those close to me know I've been prone to living with little, hesitant to take on new objects that aren't painstakingly considered, and of course, to engage in fits of discarding. I picked up the book for other reasons of intrigue, though.

While discarding is a big part of the method, Kondo also aims at something deeper than physical clutter, which is perhaps the public's real root of attraction to the phenomenon; for instance, if you find yourself re-doing the same tidying over and over, perhaps something is amiss in how you've tidied to begin with? This is pretty challenging. What about washing and putting away the dishes or wiping down the same counter, you ask? That's pretty, uh, repetitive. 

Half into the book, I'm learning this isn't exactly her point. The point is to live with only the things that "spark joy," place them wisely, and thus reboot your entire mindset about your surroundings and in turn foster respect. The point is to cultivate your lifestyle and personify it rather than have it topple over on you. And what is amiss about washing the same pan again and again? Perhaps some batch cooking is in your future. She doesn't say this, but it's my conclusion.

Nothing has been mentioned in the book about food, yet. But, I've been thinking about it as I cook. Decluttered cooking is often satisfying on multiple fronts, and that is why truffles have become my new favorite thing. When breaking off piece by piece of the same chocolate bar for dessert begins to get tedious, flavor and heat some cream, pour it over the chopped chococlate, wait 2 minutes, stir, chill a few hours, then scoop, roll, and stash the truffles in the fridge for something a little more elegant. It feels silly that I previously thought making truffles at home was a complicated affair. 

Happily, it's not. Make, eat, live with the things that spark joy. Print your iphotos. Can it be so simple?

Amaretto Truffles

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Notes: Use good chocolate, quality cream and amaretto. BA's truffles were rolled in coarse ground coffee beans and as much as I like coffee, I just couldn't do it. I went the traditional cocoa-dusting route, but also pulsed up maybe half a teaspoon of chocolate-covered cacao nibs I had on hand, in the coffee grinder for a compromise, and I like how it all worked together. 

4.5 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, rough chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp amaretto liqueur 

*Cocoa powder for rolling, about 1-2 Tbsp, and infused with some ground coffee, cacao nibs, or minced chocolate-covered cacao nibs, or a combination of all, if you wish

Place chopped chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Heat cream and amaretto in a small saucepan over medium heat just until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Pour over chocolate. Wait 2-3 minutes. With a whisk, stir the mixture until completely smooth. Cover and chill 3 hours or up to 2 days. You've made a ganache! When ready to roll, mix cocoa powder and flavorings, if using, on a plate. 

Remove bowl of ganache from fridge, and scoop out teaspoon sized dollops. Roll between hands into balls and roll through cocoa mixture until dusted and coated. Set onto a parchment-lined container and chill for a half hour or so to set cocoa before serving. Truffles will keep a few days covered in fridge. It's a good idea to remove from fridge 10 minutes before eating so they can lose their chill. 

12 February 2015

Banana granola

We're all in the market for another overripe banana use! Earlier in the week, I found myself with a few of the browning fruits, and after I baked off some mini loaves of our favorite Banana Graham Bread, I opted to mash up the last half of banana into a granola batch and it was simply delicious. The smell emanating from the oven as the granola bakes becomes more and more like banana bread as it crisps up, but your end result is something totally different. Adding fruit or vegetable puree (try MB's with pumpkin puree, too!) to granola mix is a revelation. You can cut just very slightly your oil/sweetener ratio, tailor your flavor based on what you have and learn a few things about how wet and dry ingredients interact. Here's the thing though: when adding the banana puree, you want to take out your measuring cup or scale and dole out the proper amount. If you just throw in a jumbo brown banana and don't measure, it will throw off the ratios. You want this granola to crisp up enough, and it does when all the ingredients work in tandem. This crunchy vegan/gluten free addition to your morning is sure to satisfy when you've had your fill of banana bread. I spiked it with ground ginger but you can use another spice like cinnamon if you prefer. Try it spooned on yogurt or soak it with almond milk!

04 February 2015

Whole Grain Blueberry Scones

Hey all, just a quick pop-up this week. I'm posting on ShopRite's blog this month as part of a group of menu ideas for Valentines Day. And since it falls on a Saturday, I thought I'd contribute some delicious berry scones for your cozy morning convenience. Take my advice and make the dough ahead. Something tells me that no clean-up, and warm, fresh scones would beat out a holiday brunch wait by a mile. As far as the dough for these goes, it's a simple blend of all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour, egg and half-and-half, a formula I go to most often because it creates a nice inner crumb and I always have the ingredients. If you have only buttermilk, make these. Heavy cream? Try these. I use a combination of blueberries and blackberries, or just blueberries depending on what I have. I carefully froze a bunch of August Jersey blueberries and have just started ripping into the supply. They work nicely here. If you are feeling really pink, try raspberries!  Click here for the recipe to my scones and check out the other posts as well! XO