It’s raining today in New York City, but that doesn't matter because it’s National Doughnut Day! This morning I stood in line with 30 other people to get a free chocolate-glazed doughnut at my local Dunkin' Donuts
is giving them away all day, too), and I might buy a mid-afternoon crème brûlée version from Doughnut Plant
(last Friday, I saw three New York City police officers on horseback outside the store—wish I’d taken a picture).
I might even keep the celebration going this weekend by making the Doughnut Holes with Raspberry Jam
(pictured) from F&W’s July issue and bringing them to a friend’s potluck on Saturday night.
to find more amazing recipes, like Doughnuts in Cardamom Syrup
, Spiced Cake Doughnuts
and Fluffy Yeast Doughnuts
I love cupcakes, and I love that they continue to be so popular—I was worried the trend would die out, but it's still going strong. This weekend, I attended an event called Taste of the Upper West Side and had what could be my favorite new NYC cupcake, from Joanne Gregory, the new pastry chef at Citarella. Joanne served mini versions of four cupcakes: coconut, red velvet, chocolate with fresh strawberry frosting and chocolate with chocolate frosting. Each cake was moist and light (the style I prefer) and capped with a thick, fluffy swirl of excellent, not-too-sweet frosting. For the sake of research, I will have to go to Citarella and buy some full-size cupcakes. If they're as good as the ones I had this weekend, they may be right up there with the incomparable cupcakes from awesome pastry chef Jennifer Giblin at Blue Smoke as Manhattan's best.
© Dove Chocolate Discoveries
Dove Chocolate Discoveries Party
Dove has come up with a new way to sell their delicious confections:the Dove Chocolate Discoveries
party. It's similar to a Tupperware party, except you can
actually have too much Tupperware. And unlike an Avon or Mary Kay party, you don’t have to lie to your friends and tell them they can’t live without that blue eye shadow that somehow makes their muddy brown eyes just pop! Anyone who decides to have a party can either be the host (and receive free treats) or take on the role of Chocolatier
. The Chocolatier earns commissions on everything sold at a party, like the addictive chocolate-covered almonds and pretzels and baking mixes (which make things like chewy chocolate chip gingerbread cookies or chocolate cupcakes). Maybe they’ll even add a chocolate-brown car as incentive, which I would drive over an eye-roll-inducing pink Cadillac any day.
I've had a small obsession with ice cream bombes ever since I saw a certain domestic mogul make one into a watermelon look-alike on TV. With summer coming up, I decided to start experimenting with them for fun. An ice cream bombe is really just layers of different flavored ice creams frozen into a bowl or other mold. When you slice it, you can see all the layers, and it really looks impressive. It doesn't require a recipe, but it's a method that can be creatively reinvented hundreds of ways. This week, I decided to do a riff on a Creamsicle using orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Once you have it down, create your own favorite combo—I think my next one will be a mocha bombe using chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate vanilla swirl and coffee ice creams. Here's how to do it:
Use a 1 1/2 quart mold, such as a metal or glass bowl, Bundt pan or kugelhopf mold, and line it with plastic wrap. Soften 3 1/2 pints of ice cream, sorbet or sherbet in the refrigerator, in any combination of flavors. Using the back of a large spoon, spread 1 1/2 pints of the ice cream into the mold to cover the entire surface. Freeze between spreading each layer to harden. Repeat with another pint of ice cream and then once more, creating an ice cream bombe with 3 layers. Once complete, freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve, invert the bombe onto a platter, remove the plastic wrap and, using a sharp knife, cut the bombe into slices or wedges.
(Note that a 1 1/2 quart mold holds 3 1/2 pints of ice cream. But you can use any size mold and adjust the amount of ice cream accordingly.)
It’s debatable who among the F&W staff is the ultimate foodie. F&W’s supertalented senior designer, Mike Patti, is definitely in contention for the title. His recent trip to San Francisco revolved entirely around food. Here, he shares highlights from his aggressive eating itinerary:
Perfect picnic: Sentinel's smoked salmon and fennel sandwich and spicy pork sandwich stuffed with sweet peppers and celery root made for a great, affordable lunch in Golden Gate Park.
Artisanal snacks: Tartine's oversize black pepper-cheddar gougère was the standout of my morning. I finished the day with two scoops of brown sugar ice cream with ginger caramel swirl from Bi-Rite Creamery.
Ferry Plaza food marathon: A basket of perfect strawberries from a vendor at the Ferry Plaza market and a cup of Blue Bottle coffee (each cup is individually dripped) was the ultimate breakfast. Dinner at the Slanted Door included a superlight, unexpectedly crispy Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and extraordinarily flavorful wood-roasted clams with pork belly, chiles and Thai basil.
Incredible pizza: At A16, Nate Appleman, one of our 2009 Best New Chefs, prepared fantastic grilled fava beans with chiles and an awesome pizza topped with lemon, asparagus, ricotta and prosciutto. We loved the little honey pot filled with chile oil that came with our meal.
Cocktail revelation. I decided to try Alembic, a cocktail lounge in Haight-Ashbury featured in our new F&W Cocktails 2009 book. My friend is still thinking about the surprising shot of celery juice in her gin-based Southern Exposure.
© Mike Patti
Pastries at Tartine.
© Photo Courtesy of Meg Connolly
Sandro Micheli creating chouquettes
Baking can be pretty intimidating—the precision and delicacy required to craft things like pâte à chou and soufflés leave many home cooks ambivalent about giving pastry a try. This past weekend, though, I got to see how simple and satisfying dessert-making can be with pastry chef Sandro Micheli of Adour, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in New York City’s St. Regis hotel. He led a class of 10 through the basics of French pastry, from financiers to pâte de fruit. Even though the creations we ended up with appeared precious, Sandro showed us the (relatively) easy steps required to make them, taking much of the mystery out of the process. When our chouquettes came out of the oven puffed and airy, I knew I would be making them again within the week.
While Sandro takes the summer off from classes, expect him to return in September with more, focusing on fall sweets like pies and fruit tarts. Call Adour for details starting in late August, 212-710-2277.
Michael Recchiuti is truly a chocolate master. One of his latest strokes of genius is the Asphalt Jungle Mix: "A riot of caramel hazelnuts and almonds, cherries two ways and peanut butter pearls." I keep wavering between which of the five pieces is my fave. While I love the caramel hazelnuts, I'm really torn between the crisp, tiny peanut butter pearls and the chewy dried cherries. The problem is that the box is just about empty. Clearly, I will need more to make this decision.
Lauren Rothman, our fantastic food intern and lover of Mexican foods, managed to dine on authentic Mayan dishes, catch a speech by Harrison Ford, and learn something about archaeology, all in one night. She reports:
Being a food intern at F&W has its perks: On Tuesday night, I got to attend the Archaeological Institute of America’s 130th Anniversary Gala held at the Chinatown event space Capitale. The dinner honored Harrison Ford, whose famous role in the Indiana Jones movie franchise, archaeologists at the event explained, inspired countless young men and women to join the field. Taking his inspiration from the exotic locales shown in the films, Capitale’s executive chef Jason Munger created a Mayan feast to celebrate the AIA, consulting with Mayan food archaeologist Patricio Balona. Having traveled—and eaten my way—across Mexico, I was excited to get a taste of the ancient foods that are the foundation for the country’s modern-day cuisine.
When I told friends that I was going to a Mayan dinner, a lot of them joked that I would be eating corn, corn, and more corn. I shrugged it off as a stereotype, but they were right about one thing: corn was central to the Mayan religion. In fact, Mayans believed that humans were created by maize gods out of a mix of the gods' own blood and corn flour. In light of this information, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the first course was a seared corn cake topped with sweet potato puree, roasted duck and tomatillo salsa. But the rest of the (amazing) meal was corn -free, including the dessert, a Mayan banana split. This south-of-the-border reworking of the classic featured soft, sweet fried plantains topped with three different sorbets--creamy coconut, spiced pumpkin and lush avocado--and was finished with crispy plantain chips.
Chloé Doutre-Roussel shares her black book of the world’s best filled-chocolate shops.
PATRICK ROGER: “He lets his imagination run wild, like Alice in Choco-Wonderland. At the same time, his chocolate has a sense of luxury and high quality.”
PIERRE HERME: "He is nicknamed the Picasso of pastry; he remains one of the best chocolatiers in Paris."
ARTISAN DU CHOCOLAT: “This atelier has exceptional-quality chocolate in surprising flavors and fun packaging. Try the caramels.”
WILLIAM CURLEY: “He makes a mostly classical range of chocolates from quality ingredients. Some of his range has a slight Japanese influence—his wife is from Japan.”
MELT: “Melt sells a chef’s line custom-designed for London’s top cooks, like Mark Hix.”
TOUT CHOCOLAT: “The chocolatier Ruis Robledo trained at the Valrhona School before opening this shop, where he sells a range of elegant, French-style chocolates in a country where there is not much quality chocolate.”
GUIDO GOBINO: “This shop is trendy in every way. And when I say trendy, I mean because he falls into the bean-to-bar category and because his packaging is modern (transparent/opaque, black/silver). All of the hazelnut-related products are outstanding.”
LA MOLINA: “I collect the packaging, a collaboration with designer Riccardo Fattore, and hang it on the wall as pieces of art. Standout products are small squares of chocolate that are aromatized with herbs or spices encapsulated in sugar crystals.”
CHOCOLAT DE H: “Hironobu Tsujiguchi trained in France and uses French couverture to make his French-style chocolates. Individual cakes are packaged like perfect Channel lipsticks.”
VASALISSA: “This cute, feminine shop was opened by Dadi and Federica Marinucci, a mother and daughter who are both photographers. They make the best chocolate possible from Argentina’s couverture.”
French chocolate authority Chloé Doutre-Roussel insists that being French hasn’t biased her palate. “French chocolate is just simply the best,” she says. Here, she makes her case:
France is still the best when it comes to chocolate, and it is not an accident that most of the good chocolate-makers outside of France use mostly French couverture (a high-quality candymaker’s chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter, usually 32% to 39%) and have trained with or copied French-style chocolatiers and chocolates.
I’m not saying all French chocolate is perfect. It can range from mediocre to very good. However, on average, French chocolate is often the best quality-to-price ratio for the following reasons:
1. High-quality couverture is expensive but still less expensive than any other country, and the best couvertures are made in France.
2. There are many talented chocolate technicians in France and more opportunities to train with chocolate-makers.
3. French chocolate-makers make small filled chocolates with thin coatings and a four-week shelf life. The longer the shelf life, the worse the quality. In France, people treat chocolate like a fresh product and buy it in small quantities to eat soon after. In the U.K., U.S. and Belgium, shelf life tends to be three to six months; people buy chocolate and it sits in cabinets.
For shopping, I suggest people buy chocolate from Patrick Roger, he is one of the best. And also Jean-Paul Hévin and Pierre Hermé.
Anyone interested in the chocolate-making process should call ahead and schedule a visit at the French factories of Pralus and Valrhona.
Find out what Chloé thinks about the rest of the world's top chocolate-making countries tomorrow.