Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Creme

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Halloween is just over a week away, and I’m in full-on Halloween party food testing mode! Today I want to share with you this recipe for Chocolate Pots de Creme – with a spooky twist!

The recipe that inspired me to make these can be found over at MyRecipes.

To make 4 half-cup servings, you will need:

  • 7 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbs Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored) liqueur
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2c crushed Oreos
  • 4 Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies
  • (optional) Edible pen or black icing to pipe text on the “tombstone” cookies

Special equipment:

  • Food thermometer
  • Blender or food processor

Start by processing the chocolate in your blender or food processor until it is finely chopped.Β  Get all of the chocolate out of the blender you can. Pour itΒ  into a small bowl and set aside.

Put the egg and yolk into the blender or food processor and blend until just beaten. Leave it in there, and tell you’ll BRB.

This is the chocolate I used. You could, of course, get the more expensive stuff, but I always have this kind on hand.

Heat the cream in the microwave until it boils – about 3 minutes.

Now… this part is tedious. Pour a tiny bit of the cream (a few tablespoons)Β  into the blender with the eggs. Process. Keep going with about 1/3c of cream at a time. The goal is to not scramble the eggs with the hot cream. This process is called “tempering the egg.” Knowledge is power! Also, sorry for no pic of this – I was trying not to scramble the egg.

Check the temperature of the mixture with a thermometer (instant-read if you have one; I don’t). I left it in about 15 seconds and my mixture was only about 140 degrees F. If the temperature is under 160, pop it pack into the microwave in 20-second intervals until it reaches 160 degrees. I went a little over, to about 170 degrees, and panicked a little when the mixture had a couple of lumps – but don’t worry, it turned out fine after it was blended again.

Combine the chocolate, hot cream/egg mixture, Kahlua, and vanilla extract in the blender; pulse until smooth.

Pour out into small ramekins or glasses and refrigerate for about an hour before serving. This will make about 4 half-cup ramekin servings; the glasses I used for the photo were a bit larger, so it only made two. Which was convenient, because only had 2 of those glasses, and these were great for my husband and I to sit down and watch House with.

I ended up eating about a third and refrigerating the rest (covered with saran wrap) to have later. It is definitely chocolate overload (but in a good way)!

Anyway. Add the crushed Oreos on top before serving, and push a “tombstone cookie” into the chocolate.

I thought of also adding a gummy worm instead of (or in addition to) the Milano cookie! Have fun with it!

These can be made up to a day in advance of your party. Their texture is at its best after they sit out for about 30 minutes if they have been refrigerated overnight, which is perfect for entertaining!

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Caramelized Onion & Apple Mini Tarts

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These tarts are super simple to prepare, yet make for an elegant presentation. Not to mention the unexpectedly delicious flavor combination!

I was skeptical, at first, of how well onion and apple would go together; but give it a try, and you won’t regret it!

To make 6 servings (about 20 mini tarts), you will need:

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 2 tbs butter
  • half of a large onion
  • 2 apples (Granny Smith or another tart variety)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3c fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Start out with the prep work.

Slice/chop the onion very thinly.

Peel and core the apple, and chop it into pieces approximately the same size as the onion.

I learned a lesson here. I chopped the apple slightly larger than the onion, and some of the onion bits ended up burning. Don’t be like me!

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium. Once it’s melted, add the onions and 1/4 tsp of salt. Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the apples, and reduce the heat to low.

Cook over low for about 30 minutes. The onions should be nice and caramelized, and lightly browned. Stir in the pepper and remaining salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unwrap and unfold the puff pastry dough. If you find it’s too “floppy” to work with, give it a chill in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm back up a bit.

Slice along the folds already present in the dough, creating 3 even “strips” of dough.

(Note: In this pic, one of the strips is not pictured). Cut each strip into 3 squares, then slice diagonally through each square to create 2 triangles. This should result in 18 triangles from the entire sheet of dough.

Place each dough triangle on your prepared baking sheet, without touching.

Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the onion-apple mixture onto each dough triangle.

Sprinkle some of the grated fontina cheese on top. Sprinkle thyme on top of the cheese.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, and serve warm! Oops, as I mentioned earlier, some of the onions on my tarts burned. They were salvageable, though – I just picked off the badly-burned bits.

Yum! The great thing about these tarts is that you can caramelize the onions-apple mixture and store it in the fridge up to two days beforehand. You can assemble the tarts one day before you serve them, and just store in the fridge, wrapped in cling wrap or foil on a baking sheet. Just pop them into the oven when you are ready!

Hope you enjoy! πŸ™‚

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Shoyu Ramen

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I’ve been wanting to try to make Shoyu Ramen for some time now – ever since I first tried it at the amazingly good Japanese restaurant, Yama, in Morgantown. I’ve been gathering the specialty ingredients and planning how I wanted to make it for probably 3 months.

I finally went for it today. I had the pork in the fridge. I had the spinach, the noodles, the kombu and nori (seaweed), the shoyu, and some homemade chicken stock. I was planning to be home all day, so that I could babysit the broth and take my time with all preparations.

I figured if I was going to go to all this trouble, might as well share it with friends. So I invited a fellow ramen aficionado, Kel, and his friend Hayli over. Kel actually introduced my husband and I to Yama in the first place, so this was only appropriate!

This recipe makes eight servings, but you can save the broth for later (in the fridge for a week, or freezer for 3 months) and only heat up as many noodles as you want at a time if you wish.

I also want to point out that I’m including product links from Asian Food Grocer where possible. I know that a lot of these ingredients are hard (or impossible) to find unless you live near a well-stocked Asian market. I’m not affiliated with Asian Food Grocer in any way; it just happens to be where I shop for hard-to-find Asian ingredients , and I am trying to make your life easier. πŸ™‚

I used this recipe from Grace Parisi as a rough guide for cooking times, etc.

To serve 8, you will need:

For the broth:

  • 2 quarts homemade chicken stock + 2 quarts water (OR 4 quarts of water + 3 lbs of chicken parts to make the chicken stock on the spot)
  • 3 lbs pork loin, I used a filet (photo below) for maneuverability – also got it on sale
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced into 1″ discs
  • 1/3c ginger, peeled and roughly chopped or sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3c shoyu or other high-quality soy sauce
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • salt
  • 1 sheet of kombu (dried kelp)

For the ramen:

  • 1/4c shoyu or soy sauce, plus more for seasoning
  • 24 ounces curly chuka soba noodles OR 6 3.5-ounce packs of fast ramen noodles (noodles only, no flavoring)
  • 2c fresh baby spinach
  • 3 thinly-sliced scallions
  • 16 small sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
  • Togarashi seasoning (a spicy red pepper seasoning blend) to taste

Make the broth first. Begin with prep work, as usual. Slice the leek.

In a very large stock pot, add the chicken stock (or water + chicken), garlic, ginger, leek, and shoyu. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer while you prepare the pork.

Note: You could use a large slow cooker instead of the stock pot + stove burner.

This is the pork I used (yay manager’s special price!); try to find something in this shape that will be easy to slice later.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium- high in a saute pan large enough to accommodate the pork.

Salt the pork on all sides, and add to the pan.

Brown on all sides. About 12 minutes total. Transfer the browned pork to the stock pot.

Simmer the broth mixture and pork over low for 2 hours, or until the pork is very tender.

This is the Shoyu soy sauce I used, by the way. Made in Japan with real soy beans… none of this fake American crap. πŸ˜›

Once the pork is tender, remove it to a plate and refrigerate. Strain the remaining solids out and discard them.

Return the broth to the pot.

Add the kombu, and continue to simmer for an hour and a half.

Remove from heat and let the broth cool for a while, and rest. Skim the fat and/or “scum” (shown above) that appears on top.

At this point, you can either use the broth to make ramen right away, or you can refrigerate or freeze it and save it for later. Up to you!

Either way, now I will give you instructions on how to finish the ramen soup.

Preheat the broiler. Slice the pork loin into 1/3″ slices.

Brush the slices with shoyu. Heat under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Prepare the ramen or chuka soba noodles according to the package instructions, and heat up the broth (approximately 1 1/2 cups of broth per serving).

To prepare each bowl:

Add the noodles, and pour 1 1/2 cups of hot broth over them. Add 3-4 slices of pork, 1/4c spinach, 2 sheets of nori, and sliced scallion to garnish. The spinach will wilt in the hot broth, and the nori will hydrate and become soft.

Serve with Togarashi seasoning, and enjoy! πŸ˜€

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