Chocolate Pear Tart

49 Comments

This recipe was shared with me by a well-known foodie who lives in my area. She’d received it after attending a cooking school in Tuscany about 25 years ago. The recipe never got published, so I’m sharing.

This is the only dessert my husband has requested on more than one occasion. Oh, there might be an occasional bananas Foster request, depending on the season, but this tart is hands down his favorite dessert. And for good reason.

The pie has a dense chocolate crust, a layer of raspberry jam, pears, and a chocolate, meringue-like filling. What is not to love?

Use canned or jarred pear halves for this tart. Home-made poached pears would be lovely, but the other flavors are strong and I don’t think it would be worth the poaching. Raw pears would not be soft enough.

Chocolate Pear Tart

1 stick, or 4 ounces butter
2 cups white flour
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
2 egg whites
3 ounces seedless raspberry jam
2 – 29 ounce cans pear halves, drained well, dried
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons baking sugar

Make the dough by processing the butter, flour, egg, sugar, and cocoa, adding a few drops of water if necessary. I have had to place the mixture in a large bowl to moisten the dough before; it’s a large amount of dry to uniformly turn into a crust.

Butter and lightly flour a 11” pie tin with a removable bottom. Form a crust in the bottom by pressing and forming as neatly as possible, and chill in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over barely simmering water until smooth. I remember reading that you are not “cooking” the chocolate when tempering, you are simply melting it. Set aside to cool.

Remove the pie tin from the refrigerator and spread the jam on the crust. Forming a concentric circle, place the best, most uniform-sized pears, inside down, on the jam layer. You can form one last pear into a round and place it in the middle of the tart.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick, about 5-6 minutes. Whip the egg whites until stiff and set aside.

Gently fold in the chocolate and egg whites into the yolk and sugar mixture.

Pour the chocolate filling over the pears and smooth. Bake for about 40 minutes.

If desired, serve with whipped cream.

When I mentioned that the recipe calls for an 11″ tart pan, it’s important. I could only find a 10″, and the resulting tart is not as pretty.

The tops of the pears should not be covered in chocolate meringue, the tops of the pears should be bare.

You can still see all of the wonderful elements of this tart, and know how good it is, but it’s just not as pretty as it should be. Plus, I slightly undercooked the tart, which accounts for some of the oozing chocolate and raspberry jam. But don’t be discouraged, because I’ve made this before with no issues at all, and I’m no baker!

Lobster and Haddock Casserole

45 Comments

This post was challenging for me to begin writing, which is not typically an issue. It’s just that so many memories came flooding back to me from when we were in Maine in October of 2021. But that’s exactly how this post came about, from an incredible day on a lobster boat.

Having never been to Maine before, a guide from Experience Maine recommended various activities, and one was spending a day with Linda Greenlaw on her working lobster boat. The day would end with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a lobster feast. I was certainly excited about dinner, but I knew the day would also be educational.

So, who is this Linda Greenlaw? This can’t be answered in one sentence. She is a daughter of a lobster fisherman, born and raised in Maine, lives on Isle au Haut, and certainly one claim to fame is being America’s only female swordfishing captain.

Here she is – small but mighty – second from the left.

From her website, Linda Greenlaw Books, Greenlaw first came to the public’s attention in Sebastian Junger’s book The Perfect Storm, where Junger called her “one of the best captains … on the entire east coast.” She was also portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

But it doesn’t end there. She also wrote the following books:
The Hungry Ocean, 1999, about her life as a swordfishing captain.
The Lobster Chronicles, 2001, about her life on a very small island.
All Fishermen are Liars, 2004, true stories from real fishermen.
Seaworthy, 2010, an inspirational story of her return to the sea.
Lifesaving Lessons, 2013, a memoir about her experience as an “accidental mother”.

Then, Ms. Greenlaw wrote mystery books! Here I’ve photographed 3 of many…

Because this is a food blog, I’ll get to yet another one of Linda Greenlaw’s achievements. Actually, two. Here are cookbooks written with her mother Martha, on regional Maine cuisine. Recipes from a Very Small Island was published in 2005, and The Maine Summers Cookbook, in 2011. Now do you see how I wasn’t too sure how to start writing about Linda?! She does everything!

The actual name of this recipe, one of her mother’s, is Head Harbor Lobster & Haddock Casserole. And I guess if you are married to a lobster fisherman, you get very creative with lobster!

Or, just serve it steamed. On a boat. As the sun sets.

Head Harbor Lobster and Haddock Casserole
Serves 10-12

2 pounds haddock filets
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 cup white flour
3 cups half and half
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces medium-dry sherry
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 pound, about 3 cups, diced cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Butter a shallow 3-quart casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the haddock in a skillet, add water to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook gently until the fish is no longer translucent in the center, about 5 – 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, break the fish into small chunks.

I ordered lobster tails so I prepared the meat by boiling them for 1 minute per ounce, placed in iced water, then removed the meat.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium to medium-high heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the half and half, bring to a boil, and cook, whisking for 1 minute. Whisk in the ketchup, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Whisk in the sherry and parsley and season with salt. The sauce will be very thick at this point; it will thin out with the addition of the seafood.

In a large bowl, combine the haddock and lobster meat with the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Transfer to the prepared dish, sprinkle with the crumbs, and drizzle with melted butter.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes.

I served the casserole with a cherry tomato salad in a zingy parsley vinaigrette with capers.

I love the flavors of the bechamel in this casserole. They were spot on. And what a delight to enjoy the fresh haddock and lobster in this way.

A nice green salad, perhaps with a lemon dressing, would also be good.

Alsatian Gugelhopf

16 Comments

This recipe is another one that I copied from a cookbook checked out from our local library maybe 30 years ago, and pasted on an index card. I have no idea what its origin, but I know there are many similar variations of festive gugelhopf and kugelhopf from France and Germany, with many different spellings, and probably in many more countries. In fact, it’s not too different from Italy’s Panettone or Pandulce, as far as ingredients go.

This particular recipe is a moist yeasted sweet bread with dried fruits, topped with nuts. Obviously, there can be many variations. I made this one specifically for Christmas morning, so I used only dried tart cherries and pistachios.

Alsatian Gugelhopf

1 cup dried tart cherries, cut in half if they’re large, about 5 ounces
1/2 cup golden raisins, about 2 1/2 ounces
4 tablespoons Kirsch or ruby port
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon orange oil
3 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup tepid whole milk
3 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup ground pistachios or almonds

Mix the dried fruits and the Kirsch in a medium bowl. Do not be tempted to add any more Kirsch; it could kill the yeast. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Combine 1/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over; stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast foams to top.

In large bowl beat 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, zest, vanilla, and salt until well blended. Add yeast mixture, milk, and 1 cup of flour. Beat until smooth.

Add in plumped fruits and gradually add remaining flour and beat until dough forms.

Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Butter a 10-cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the nuts, tilting pan to coat bottom and sides.

Spoon dough into pan. Cover with plastic wrap and damp towel. Let dough rise in warm place for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake about 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Turn onto rack to cool.

If desired, make a glaze for the Gugelhopf by combining 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of Kirsch and 1 tablespoon of cream. Whisk until smooth, then pour over the cake.

Personally, I don’t love powdered sugar glazes, and this bread is sweetened already, but I made a glaze for half the gugelhopf.

I love gugelhopf slightly toasted with butter.

Salmon and Mediterranean Potato Mash

43 Comments

Food photography has always been my thing. Not in a professional way, obviously, but over the years I often documented meals when we traveled. Then I would get home post-vacation and wonder why in the world I was keeping photos of meals I’d enjoyed, and get rid of them, especially in the pre-digital era.

What I’ve missed out on are not beautiful photos of pretty or unique meals, but the inspiration that these meals can offer. And memories as well.

Case in point, in 2012 my husband and I landed in Edinborough before beginning a magical 3-week trip around Scotland. That first night, in Edinborough, we chose a restaurant after I’d perused many menus, and this was my dinner.

It was grilled salmon over an lovely mash of potatoes served over pesto. It was exquisite. Somehow, even though this photo is terrible, I kept it.

If you haven’t been to Scotland, it’s everything and more than you expect. The scenery, the people, the history, the food. The seafood!

So there’s nothing especially unique about this meal, but it’s fabulous!

Salmon with Mediterranean-Inspired Potato Mash and Pesto Sauce
Serves 2

2 medium peeled starchy potatoes
4 ounces butter, cut into four pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream, or more if necessary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt
Pepper
1 1/2 ounces chopped Kalamata olives, or to taste
1 ounce chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 uniform filets of salmon
Salt
Garlic pepper or pepper
2 ounces pesto
2 ounces milk

Cut each potato into somewhat uniform pieces and place in boiling salted water to cook. When tender, drain in a colander, then immediately place in a large bowl. Add the butter and let melt. Then stir in the cream, garlic, salt and pepper, and mash the potato mixture. Add more cream if the mixture is stiff. Cover and set aside. (I used a very good garlic and herb butter.)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 filets and cook until some good browning occurs. Turn the filets over and reduce the heat to allow cooking on the other side. Cover the skillet with a lid to ensure that the salmon cooks though. Remove the skin from the filets while they’re in the skillet so you can season both sides with salt and pepper and brown under the skin. Keep warm.

To prepare the sauce simply mix the pesto with milk until the sauce is smooth.

To serve, divide the sauce on each of 2 plates. Using a ring mold, form 2 cylinders of potato mash and place each on the sauce.

Place the salmon filets to the side.

If desired, top with fresh chopped parsley and/or basil.

The combination is just wonderful!

You can place an amount of pesto on the plate and warm it, instead of the creamy pesto sauce. It’s whatever you prefer.

Banana Mousse with Butterscotch

52 Comments

Cookbooks make the best gifts, especially if you love to cook new recipes and learn more about cooking. My daughters have always gifted me cookbooks and they typically know my style and favorite chefs.

They know, for example, that I am enamored with Gordon Ramsay. He’s an expert chef, has had many restaurants, holds many Michelin stars, and he’s hysterically funny to me. And yes, he likes to yell and swear.

One Christmas my daughters gave me Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food. I know I read the book, because I’d never ignore a cookbook, but I haven’t picked it up since. It was published in 2008.

The part that didn’t “thrill” me was the fast food aspect. Why would I need to make fast food?! (Note that this didn’t affect my joy in receiving that cookbook as a gift.)

I know that a lot of busy young parents who care about putting meals on the table require the “quick and easy” style of cooking. But even when I was at my busiest with children and work and life, how fast I could put a meal on the table was not my highest priority. Putting good and nourishing food on the table was.

So, not to sound like I think I’m so cool for having done that. On the contrary, I worked hard! It wasn’t always easy. But every school morning I’d get up extra early and make something like whole-grain pancakes with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. My daughters never purchased lunches at school because I made those fresh every morning. And dinners? Even if I was dodging swim lessons or gymnastics classes, a heathy meal was always served, no matter how long it took to prepare.

So, when I re-read Ramsay’s cookbook, most of the recipes weren’t surprising to those of us who cook a lot. Pastas with olive oil, garlic, and breadcrumbs, or parsley, or tomatoes, or tuna. A lamb chop, a fish filet. Sandwiches. All to be expected in the fast food category.

I do give Chef Ramsay kudos, however, in that he writes, “Don’t skip meals or resort to junk food, however busy you are.” Amen.

So what did I pick to make from this book? A dessert!

Banana Mousse with Butterscotch Ripple
Serves 4

1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups whipping cream, chilled
4 large ripe bananas, chilled in the freezer for 1-2 hours
Squeeze of lemon Juice
Semisweet chocolate, for grating

Put the sugar, butter, and 2/3 cup of the cream in a pan over medium heat and stir continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted. Let bubble for a minute or two, stirring frequently, then remove from the heat and let the sauce cool completely.

Pour the remaining cream into a blender. Peel and chop the bananas and add to the blender along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Whiz until smooth, thick, and creamy.

Spoon a little sauce around the sides of four glasses, smudging some of it for an attractive effect. Divide the banana mousse among the glasses and top with more butterscotch.

Use a small teaspoon to ripple the butterscotch through the mousse. I’m not very good at this sort of thing.

Grate over a little semisweet chocolate and chill until ready to serve.

My husband loves bananas and he loved this dessert. Me? Not so much.

As much as I love butterscotch, the banana and butterscotch wasn’t a great pairing to me. I would have preferred a dark chocolate sauce.

But I wouldn’t tell Chef Ramsay that…

Chocolate Mousse

64 Comments

In my lifelong experience with chocolate mousse, thanks to my mother, two versions come to mind. One is thick and dense, almost like soft fudge. The other is like the first, but aerated with whipped cream or egg whites, or both.

My preferred version is the dense one. I mean, if you’re going to eat chocolate, eat chocolate!

This is so easy to make, and the individual servings are pretty.

Chocolate Mousse
About 8 servings
Printable recipe below

6 eggs, at room temperature
12 ounces dark chocolate
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
Splash of cognac
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
Whipped cream to top
Chocolate curls, optional

Separate eggs, placing whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. I go the extra mile and separate one egg at a time in a small bowl, and then continue with the remaining eggs. I still have the memory from a million years ago of accidentally having a bit of yolk in my whites, and of course the whites couldn’t be whipped. You never forget these things!

In the top of a double boiler, over hot water (not boiling), melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring constantly. Remember you are melting, not cooking.

Remove the top pan, and gradually pour the melted chocolate and butter into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Alternately, add one egg yolk at a time to the pan with the melted chocolate, but it needs to be off of the hot water.

Let the chocolate egg yolk mixture cool for 10-15 minutes, then stir in the cognac and coffee.

The coffee was always my mother’s trick. If you’re ever enjoying something chocolate, but it has some je ne said quoi… it’s probably coffee. It makes chocolate even more magical than it already is.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until almost stiff; you don’t want them too dry. Use a whisk or spatula to combine the whipped egg whites with the chocolate mixture. Make sure no white streaks remain.

You don’t have to be too gentle doing the folding. The mousse needs to end up dense, not fluffy. However, the egg whites prevent this mousse from being fudge!

Pour the mousse into a serving bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

Alternatively, place the mousse in individual serving dishes, which I prefer.

To serve, add some whipped cream, if desired, as well as chocolate curls, if you’re that artsy! If you don’t want to buy Ready Whip in a can, try one of these! They work great!

I served this mousse with cookies a friend’s daughter gifted me, and they were so good with the mousse, even though they ended up looking like tortilla chips!

The mousse can be made ahead of time, but cover tightly because chocolate can absorb refrigerator odors.

I also served the mousse with sherry. Just because. The cookies went really well with the sherry, too!

Monte Cristo Crêpes

67 Comments

A Monte Cristo sandwich is a ham and cheese sandwich with a layer of strawberry jam, that is then egg-dipped and pan-fried in butter. The sweet and savory flavors, along with the melty cheese and crispy bread are heavenly.

I’ve only had a Monte Cristo once, but I remember it well. My stepfather had come to Santa Barbara, California, where I was attending college, and he took me to lunch at a well known Mexican restaurant downtown called El Paseo, which was housed in a popular fiesta venue known for its retractable ceiling. I found this photo on Pinterest!

How I came to choose the Monte Cristo sandwich that day is beyond me, but I loved the flavor combinations.

The traditional Monte Cristo sandwich recipe is generally the following:
Firm sandwich bread slices
Sliced Swiss cheese
Jambon de Bayonne or other good thinly-sliced ham
Strawberry jam (not preserves) or red currant jelly
Mayo mixed with some whole-grain mustard
Eggs whisked for dipping
Butter for pan frying

The Monte Cristo is always sliced in half before serving, so the beautiful layers show, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. This photo is from Bon Appetit, although it doesn’t show the layers.

Thanks to general pandemic googling, I came across Monte Cristo Crêpes from Serious Eats, by Morgan Eisenberg, WOW! I was so excited to make these. From the recipe’s creator, whose blog is Host the Toast: “It’s a masterpiece of the sweet-and-savory genre, and it turns out it’s just as good in crepe form.”

Monte Cristo Crêpes
adapted by Morgan Eisenberg

1/2 cup strawberry jam (not preserves)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 basic crêpes, unsweetened
6 slices Havarti cheese
Grated Gruyere, about 6 ounces
12 thin slices deli ham*
1/3 milk
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, to dust
Assorted berries, for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together jelly and mustard. Spread a thin, even layer of the jelly mixture over each of 6 crêpes. Warm first if necessary.

Top each crêpe with 1 slice of each cheese and then layer the ham on top of the cheese.

Sprinkle some grated Gruyere around the outside of each crêpe to help everything to hold together – about 1 ounce each. I used my microwave on a very low setting to just get the cheese warm and slightly melted in order to hold the crêpes together before continuing with the recipe.

Roll the crepe up tightly and and set seam-side down. Press gently. Repeat for remaining crepes.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, egg yolk and salt. Have a non-stick skillet over medium heat, starting with about 2 tablespoons of butter melting. Using your fingers, briefly dip a crêpe into the egg mixture. Allow excess to drip off and transfer to the skillet, seam-side down.

Fry crepes until golden all over, turning once. Everything is already cooked, so you’re just looking for some nice browning.

Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes, frying one or two at a time and adding butter as needed.

Serve any remaining jam-Dijon mixture.

Dust crepes with powdered sugar, if desired.

Serve warm with berries. See the beautiful layers?

I might have made these extra cheesy, because the cheese “juice” as my husband calls it, just poured out of these!

But so did the cheese, which was lovely.

I have a lot of experience with crêpes, but with all of the ooziness, I didn’t think they looked very pretty free-form. I might make these again more in casserole form, even though I detest that word! I also think larger diameter crepes would have been easier to manage.

*Since I used Serrano ham, which is similar to prosciutto, I only used 6 slices total.

Colcannon with Crispy Leeks

26 Comments

Traditional Irish colcannon is a comforting and delicious potato mash that includes cabbage and green onions. There are many variations, however.

This recipe takes basic colcannon, and modernizes it with some cream, more butter, and crispy leeks.

According to Melissa Clark, from New York Times Cooking: “The fried leeks aren’t traditional: Usually, the alliums are stewed more slowly in butter, if they’re used at all. But they lend a deeper flavor, and a crisp, savory finish. For a full meal, crown it with a fried egg or some smoked salmon, or serve a simple green salad on the side.

Colcannon with Crispy Leeks
By Melissa Clark, slightly adapted

2 pounds potatoes, peeled if you like, cut into 2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 tablespoons butter, divided
Olive oil
1 cup sliced leeks
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups sliced green cabbage
Chicken broth, a few tablespoons
1/4 cup heavy cream
White pepper, not in the original recipe
Butter, optional

In a medium pot, combine the potatoes with enough water to cover them by 2 inches and a large pinch of salt. Boil until tender enough to easily pierce with a fork, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, along with a drizzle of oil, then add leeks and a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium heat for 5 or so minutes. When the leeks are golden, spoon some out onto a plate to use for garnish.

To the leeks in the pan, add the garlic cloves, and cook them for a minute until fragrant. Then, toss in the cabbage.

Season with more salt and cook, tossing them, until the cabbage and leeks are wilted and very tender. If the pan looks dry, add a splash of water or broth.

Now add the potatoes to the skillet and mash them (so they’re either smooth or chunky), cream, and the remaining 3 tablespoons butter.

Taste, and add more salt and lots of pepper. I used white pepper instead of black. You can see how creamy the mixture is.

Place the colcannon mash in a serving bowl, top with the fried leeks, and add more butter, if desired, to create little butter pools on the potatoes! See the pool?!

This colcannon mash would be fabulous as part of a turkey feast or ham, or sausage, or a midnight snack.

I served this colcannon with tri-tip that I cooked in the sous vide. Yummy combination.

If I were to make this recipe again, I’d double the amount of leeks. If you noticed, the leeks I’d saved to sprinkle over the whole dish of colcannon nicely covered my one serving shown in the photos.

Potted Ham

50 Comments

I love all forms of charcuterie, but I’m especially enamored with pâtés, terrines, and rillettes. It’s something about their rustic, picnic-like nature.

On my sister-friend’s cooking blog a while back, I saw something I’d not made before – potted ham! I knew I’d love it. It’s a simple recipe, not much different than making rillettes. And to make it simpler I used my food processor.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Linda Duffin, whose blog is Mrs. Portly’s Kitchen, you are missing out. First of all, besides being a professional cookery teacher, recipe developer, and writer, she’s a hoot!

I often read her blog posts out loud to my husband, mostly because we can’t figure out what she’s saying, with all of her Britishisms, but we still laugh out loud!

Here is Linda posed by her infamous Aga, and a shot of her beautiful English kitchen.

A post of Linda’s from May 3, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, had us rolling on the floor. You can read it here. My favorite line from the post is, “Get me a lobster thermador or I’ll cough on you.”

Potted Ham
Printable recipe below

5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small garlic clove, peeled
14 ounces lean ham, trimmed
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Clarified butter or duck fat

Add the butter, cream cheese, and garlic clove to a food processor. Run until the garlic is well dispersed. Chop the ham and add it to the mixture in the food processor, along with the parsley and spices. Pulse until combined, but not lose texture. This should be spreadable, but not baby food.

Taste for salt.

Add to crockery jars and top with clarified butter.

I considered getting fancy with mustard, but then just decided on a whole grain Dijon.

Serve at room temperature with toast and cornichons.

Lift off the chilled butter and dip into the wonderful ham spread.

Personally my adaptation of Ms. Duffin’s recipe is perfection. I’m sure hers is perfect as well, I just went a little fattier and a bit spicier.

Potted ham is basically ham rillettes. Add butter, spices and parsley to a meat and that’s what you get.

The potted ham would be fabulous with cheeses as well. Especially on a picnic by a creek in the Cotswolds. But for now I’ll just enjoy my potted ham in quarantine.

 

 

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

42 Comments

By definition, truffles, the chocolate kind not the fungus, are made of chocolate and cream only. These I call truffle balls, which are a throwback to the rum balls of the 1950’s.

I enjoy making truffle balls, because for one thing they’re way easier than real truffles. They’re also more “stable” and less temperamental, because of a cookie or cake base.

When I make truffle balls, I typically make a batch or two, freeze them, and then whip them out for when I have company. You can’t do that with real truffles.

This truffle recipe I came up with when I was doing the food for a charity event benefiting our local SPCA. So many people loved these things and fortunately I kind of remembered what I’d done, and thus, a recipe was born.

Ginger Spice Truffle Balls

6 ounces gingersnap cookies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons spiced rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Run the cookies though the food processor until fine crumbs. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, place the chocolate, butter, coffee, and rum. Over gently simmering water, melt the ingredients completely. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Remove from over the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cookie crumbs. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and the crumbs completely. Cover the bowl with foil, and place the bowl in the refrigerator for about four hours.

When you are ready to make the truffle balls, get the bowl out of the refrigerator.

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar well. Have a small spoon and a re-sealable bag handy.

Using the spoon, grab a little of the chocolate-cookie mixture and rub it with both of your hand in a circular motion to make a ball. It shouldn’t be larger than 1″ in diameter. Roll the truffle ball in the coating and place it in the bag. Continue with the remaining chocolate-cookie mixture. You can pour the remaining coating mixture into the bag if you wish.

Refrigerate the truffles or freeze them.

If you freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator first, then put them in a bowl about 30 minutes or so to warm up before serving.

It’s just as easy to double the recipe. Or triple it.

These are really nice for company. Just have some ready to eat at room temperature, and nobody has to eat a slice of cake to please the hostess/host!