"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chocolate Truffles and Croissant Dough

Among the very many ways one could spend Mother's Day, making Chocolate Truffles, taking a walk to the beach, and rolling out dough for croissants surely must be among the most pleasant. True, I was at work on a twelve hour shift, but that only points up what an awesome job I have.

Now, normally at work I don't whip up such luxurious items. This is a special situation because we have important guests coming this weekend to stay and I'm trying to impress them. Dr. S. is an important, even famous fellow, so is it the president? No. Is it the head of one of the many agencies he's been involved with? No.

It's his beloved granddaughter's new in-laws, who hail from Spain.

The Es live in Manhattan now, actually, and the only thing I know about their dietary habits is that they keep "forgetting" that their new daughter-in-law is a vegetarian when she comes over for dinner (so they are traditional carnivores) and that Mrs. E adores the chocolate from Maison du Chocolat.

Well, I just happen to have some Valrhona chocolate in the cupboard, some heavy cream in the fridge, and a recipe dictated by Robert Linx himself (founder of Maison du Chocolat) to the editors of Gourmet.

And you know what? I've never eaten fresh chocolate truffles before. I thought I had, but just having made them--it's a different experience.

This is what a fresh chocolate truffle feels like in the mouth: there's a very slight resistance to the teeth at first, which gives way to a creamy middle. Not like a cream chocolate, but just like the thinnest of thin shells. This is created by the smear of melted chocolate you rub around the chilled truffle to get the cocoa powder to adhere.

I'm not going to rhapsodize here about dark chocolate (though I could, easily) but I will tell you that once in your lifetime, if you are a fan of chocolate or know somebody who is--show them some love and order a box of chocolates from Maison du Chocolat. They are truly the most sensational chocolates I've ever had and this is from a who grew up eating Godivas in Belguim. They will blow your mind, and that's a promise.

I've never made croissants, but any recipe that involves a ruler and geometry appeals to me mightily.

Croissant dough is yet another recipe that takes a LONG time to make--there's a lot of chilling in between the folding and rolling, so you'd want to do it when you're hanging out in the house anyway doing something else. But it sure is fun to square it off into a rectangle and measure it exactly to 10 X 15 inches. I took Dr. S.'s 15 inch ruler from his office and he says he can't think of a better use for it.

I have one worry about this dough, and that's that it will chill longer than they advise (the recipe is from Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery)--the recipe states that it may not rise sufficiently when baked if chilled longer than 18 hours. And aside from that I was a little worried that the dough would pop right out of the tight plastic wrapping I have it--it looked pretty taut when I left it last night.

Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you how it all turned out!

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