Guest Post: Kent on Dating and Chocolate Tortes

Let me introduce you to Kent.  When I first met Kent he was quiet; I was quiet.  I had just started my new job and didn’t really talk much (hard to believe, I know.)  Then one day, when I was literally up to my elbow in cake batter, he offered to spray my arm off with the dish hose.  I guess that’s how we first started talking.  It was a pretty normal friendship until I decided to start a game of “Would You Rather” and Kent’s “Would You Rather” was “Would you rather have tiny baby hands for teeth or teeth that you had to file down constantly to keep from growing?”  Who thinks of this stuff?  KENT DOES!  And that’s what makes Kent one of the funniest and most imaginative people I know.  After that, our friendship just got real.  When I asked him to guest blog for me I told him he had to stick with something that would be safe for even my grandma to read and so he wrote this…

Here is a recipe for a folded chocolate torte. I say recipe because this isn’t the be-all-end-all of tortes. It’s a good base. With this you can add your fancy amaretto, or simple vanilla flavoring. You could even hollow it out and use it as a soft shell for a strawberry cream pie. This recipe cost me two days and I made it without any mixers – so approximate times for mixers will be given. It’s best that you just eyeball every process from folding to baking, because this can be easily ruined. If you don’t like the way some whipped eggs look, question it before you throw it in with the perfectly good ingredients.

In most cases, if Julia used her hands then I’ll use mine too. I personally don’t love gadgetry. This isn’t bad news though. Nothing says romance like indentured servitude. Use your date and trade off whipping duties. Lean in over the dubious mixture and discuss it in heated breath. Make them feel that their opinion is valid and meaningful. When you look for approval, you might be close – so close to their expecting face. Oh, they are good looking, aren’t they? Tell them to work harder and save the heat for when the cake is cooling. See what I did there?

A word on ingredients:
The torte I made cost 20 dollars in raw ingredients (tax included). I lost a good amount of value by buying ‘premium baking chocolate bars.’ It’s a little snooty to poo-poo gadgets and then buy these, but chocolate choice matters. I think Guittard is too granular, and Hershey hasn’t always worked out for me. Nestle chips are a cheap alternative (I use them for the topping). Try things out. If you don’t like the taste of it on its own, then you won’t like it in the torte (an exception is made for the raw eggs).

For the sauce, please try the frozen raspberries first. There is a lot of variation in frozen foods, especially discount frozen food. I’ve had Walmart brand frozen berries covered in frozen dirt and Hannaford berries have been bland. Since these berries are going to be separated from their juice, you don’t need to be picky about packages that might have ice crystals (a sign of being refrozen), but bricks are rarely a good sign.

RECIPE

For the ‘cake’:
16oz Semi Sweet Chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs

Topping:
1 cup White Chocolate Chips
8 oz Whipping Cream
8 oz Cream Cheese (softened – well, not frozen)
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar

Sauce:
10oz packet Frozen Raspberries (most packets come in 12oz)
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/3 cup Red Currant Jelly

‘Cake’:

Melt the chocolate and the cup of butter, stirring constantly until dissolved. Remember to never add chocolate to direct heat – it will burn. Leaving you an exhibit for an anti-smoking campaign. Put water in a large pot and then use wide sauce pan to melt the chocolate. Do not let the sauce pan touch the water. The steam from the water is a more even heat source. When it’s melted, take it off the heat and let it rest for at least 35 minutes.

In a separate bowl, beat 6 eggs until triple in volume. A mixer might take five minutes to do this. By hand you might take 10 to twenty five to eternity. It depends on your commitment. If you do this by hand you might not get ‘triple’ in volume. It should be double and the froth should stick to the sides of the bowl like this:

Now fold the eggs into the cooled chocolate-butter mixture. Folding is a way of mixing while maintaining a fluffy texture. Stirring would burst your carefully whisked air bubbles and flatten the batter.

Folding is another chance to look longingly into your lovers eyes or watch Shawshank Redemption on TV for the seventh time. However you spend you time, know that there will be a good amount of it. And in this case, over-folding the batter is hard to do. Pour in a little less than a cup of the eggs (eyeballs). The pool rests, anticipating your spatula.

Take your silicon spatula (I use a wooden spatula – not ideal because it can’t get into the curves of the bowl easily) and stick it straight down to the bottom on the side farthest from you. Slowly drag it along the bottom in your favorite direction (clockwise of counter), after halfway around the bowl, slowly bring up the contents on your spatula out of the depths and smooth it across the top.

Which should look like this:

I liken the feeling to dragging a heavy, wet carpet across itself as you fold it into a taco. Other people would say its just like folding mousse. No judgments, we’re all human in the end. The mixture is thick, and you must be gentle and slow. Remember that the gentle folds maintain the air bubbles and the texture.

Once this is well mixed, add a little more eggs. Repeat the folding. When the second round is well mixed, add the rest. As you fold in the final amount of eggs, be sure to scrape the entire bottom of the bowl. The dense chocolate tends to linger down there and not incorporate itself. Sure, you could have dumped it all in at once, but I have a feeling deep down that the denser chocolate flattens some bubbles under it’s gluttonous weight. By mixing a small amount in to start the chocolate lightens up for the rest of the eggs. Send me donations and I’ll do some experiments.

Now you can pour this into a spring-form pan that is coated in non-stick spray. That would give you a nice free-standing torte that you could display. I used a 9-inch pie pan that was buttered and lightly floured. My torte wouldn’t come out of the pan. Not a terrible scenario, just serve it out of the pan like you would a pie. Always have a back up plan. If everything fails, just throw down some spoons and dole it out with ice cream. This is how I rescue most ruined foods (imagine burnt chicken slathered in ice cream).

Bake at 400 degrees for…I don’t have an exact time. Sometimes it’s done in 5 minutes, other times it takes 20. It depends on the oven. The torte is done baking when the edges rise and set, but the center still jiggles. Do not over do this. If the center sets and rises, then the torte will not be as rich, and it’ll have a rougher, more granular texture.

After five minutes in my oven, the edges were set:



Notice the slight ring around the edge. The crust will have small cracks and will have pulled away from the edges slightly.

Cool for 1.5 hours and then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. After 2 hours you can freeze the torte for a later date (up to a week).

Topping:

I think this topping is not sweet enough. It taste very much like a cheese-cake topping and if you don’t like that, you should be ready to use more sugar. I’ll put my deviations in [BRACKETS].

Beat the cream cheese with 1/3 cup powdered sugar [1/3 cup granulated sugar. It’s like creaming butter. The sugar granules punch holes in the cream cheese, adding air and fluff to the topping. This isn’t overkill with the whipped cream, but it’s your choice.] until smooth. If you’re doing this by hand, take a wooden spoon (slotted or not), and push the sugar into and through the cream cheese. As it becomes more incorporated wiggle it from side to side as you press toward the edge of the bowl. That will break up any clumps of sugar. And it’ll look like this in the end:

Melt the white chocolate with 3 tablespoons of the whipping cream. Remember to use indirect heat like you did with the semi-sweet chocolate. Stir frequently.

Once it is melted, add the chocolate to the cream cheese mix and beat it smooth. If by hand, use the same wiggling motion as before.

In another bowl, beat the remaining whipping cream until stiff peaks form. You know stiff peaks. When you stick the whisk into the cream and pull it out, the cream will form a stiff peak when held upside down:

Stiff peaks does not mean you turn the whipping cream into cottage cheese:

The difference between stiff peaks and clumps is very small mount of beating, so when you have peaks, stop beating. This doesn’t take too long by hand. Clumps are stubborn and will not mix well, leaving flavorless pockets in your topping.

Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/cream cheese mix like before, working slowly and gently. Add a small amount to start. [If you added granulated sugar, this is a good time to sift, SIFT, powdered sugar into the topping until it is sweet enough for your liking. I used a 1/3 of a cup. Powdered sugar dissolves well in cold mixtures well and has a different sweetness to it, so don’t skip it. Otherwise the topping will be bland. You’re trying to avoid blandness by reading these brackets.]

Spread over the cake and return it to the refrigerator for at least one hour. You won’t use all the topping, so save some in case other people do.

Sauce:

Defrost the raspberries on a plate, spreading out each berry as much as possible (it’s faster). Drain them and collect the juice. The drained berries look like a heart:

Very romantic.

Measure the juice and then add enough water to make 3/4 cups total. Mine took 1/4 cup. Pour into a sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/3 cup of red currant jelly:



The red currant is replaceable. Just keep it a jelly, because the recipe needs the pectin to help the cornstarch thicken up the sauce. red currant happens to pair very well with tart raspberries without adding too much sweetness. The leftovers make a great spread for biscuits.

Mix until the cornstarch has dissolved. Heat over medium heat until the sauce is thick and clear (no jelly clumps remain). Dragging your wooden utensil across the bottom should leave a temporary path:



The clear patch lingers for the Chosen Pipple to cross safely.

Take off the heat, add in the raspberries and refrigerate until you serve the torte:

This torte will keep for a week in the fridge and should make you breath awkwardly after having a slice or two. That is the sign of rich chocolate or that your date is tired from all the forced labor.

Guest Post: Elizabeth Returns with Apple Crisp

Happy Labor Day weekend, foodies!  Hope you have some great end-of-summer plans to help wrap up this awesome season.  As I mentioned before, I am road tripping to my new home in Miami.  Currently I am in Salisbury, MD (home of the steak maybe?) and will be heading to Ocean City and then to Virginia Beach.  I will have so much to blog about and can’t wait to share!  Until then, Elizabeth is back with another great recipe!  Warm apples are such a comfort food for me and always the first sign of fall!  Bring it on Liz…

So, Irene. You blew through town and left me with a small stream in my basement, an intense barometric headache, and a cat who suddenly prefers the comfort of his carrier to anywhere else. You also left me with no way to get to work and one really long, weird, plasticky white hair growing right out of the top of my head. I need some comfort food. Bring on the apple crisp.


My husband is a huge fiend for apples. So much so that when he saw a bag of the first locally grown Ginger Gold apples of the Fall at the grocery store the other day, he couldn’t resist it. When we realized that neither of us would be going to work for a few days due to mudslides and floods, he innocently said, “Ya know, we have a lot of apples,” and then he hopefully peeked around the kitchen door at me. The beauty of an apple crisp is that you almost always have everything you need for it already in your kitchen. And since we’ve got a lot of apples, we’re going to have an apple crisp.



This recipe has been in my mom’s family for generations. Most apple crisp recipes are pretty similar: apples + a crumb topping (I’d eat almost anything in the world if it had a crumb topping. I’d even eat my own feet if you baked them with a crumb topping). Some recipes call for seasoning the apples with
a cinnamon sugar mixture, while others call for seasoning the apples and starting them off on the stove before going into the oven. Some recipes also get jazzy and throw dried cranberries in with the apples and chopped pecans in with the crumb topping. All of this sounds delicious. But my recipe doesn’t call for any jazz. It is tried and true, rustic and delicious, and exactly what I need right now.

Ordinarily, I’d use McIntosh or Cortland apples, especially since Ginger Golds might still be a bit firm this time of year. But hey, desperate times.


1/3 cup butter, cubed (mine was somewhere between cold and room temperature)
½ cup oatmeal
¾ cup brown sugar (I used dark brown, but light brown is also fine)
½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Four or five apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (I used five apples since Ginger Golds are a bit wee)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 9 baking dish. Kind of embarrassed to admit I don’t have a 9 inch x 9 inch baking dish, but my 11-ish inch x 8-ish inch CorningWare dish works fine.

Peel and core the apples. A neat trick to removing apple seeds involves using a melon baller. See? You get a much nicer shape.

Slice your apples between ¼ inch and 1/8 inch thick. The thicker they are, the longer they take to bake.

If they’re too thin, they could turn into mush. The most important thing is to try to make the slices as uniformly sized as possible, so they bake consistently. Also, the tidier your apple slices are, and the tidier you keep the apple slices after you cut them (i.e., keep ’em stuck together), the easier it is to deposit them in the baking dish. You just pick up the whole thing, plop it in the dish, and then fan it out a bit. I decided to double-decker my apples. There are no rules with apple crisps.

Whisk together the dry ingredients for your topping. Once everything is well mixed, use your hands to rub in the butter. This doesn’t have to be super well mixed; different size pieces of butter are fine. If your butter’s on the colder side, you’ll have lumps of butter. If your butter’s on the warmer side, you’ll have streaks of butter. Again, there are no rules. Sprinkle the topping evenly on the apples.

Bake that bad boy for 35 minutes or until the apples are tender (I use a skewer to test the apples). The topping will be brown and crispy and delicious. Your house will smell like Fall, which is especially handy if your basement has recently flooded and might be on the verge of releasing some pretty gnarly smells.

I like apple crisps the most when they are warm. I will probably eat this for lunch. There probably won’t be enough left over for dinner.

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