Todd once mentioned that he makes banana bread with cocoa nibs. The idea stuck with me, and I’ve been eager to try. I grew up on my grandma’s Southern banana bread- a dense cake, with lots of sugar and buttermilk. I love her recipe, but I thought that our nibs would pair better with bolder flavors and a lighter texture. So, I worked from recipes from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen, adding in our nibs.
The bread was wonderful. The cocoa nibs softened in the oven, but maintained a bite. They accentuated the flavors of the spiced batter without adding an overpowering chocolate taste. The bread was a little like my grandma’s; it was still sweet, with the tang of buttermilk. But, the layers of flavor in this recipe went far beyond a more typical version. I’d make this again any day- it’s a delicious variation on one of my favorites.
1/2 cup butter at room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan, set aside.
2. Cream butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, buttermilk, vanilla, bourbon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves; mix to combine. Stir in nibs, and pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
posted by alice
Recently I visited my friend Steve and he mentioned a classic Brazilian treat that I had never heard of. A brigadeiro is kind of like a truffle, but a thousand times easier to make. You simply take a can of sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and sugar, and then cook them in a saucepan until some of the moisture evaporates. When cooled, this creates a gooey, sticky ball that you can coat in whatever you like.
Recently, we worked with a machinist to develop a cocoa butter press and I’ve been left with a lot of excess cocoa powder. This seemed like a perfect excuse to try out something new. There are many different variants of the brigadeiro online, many of them using Nestle Quick as the powder. Since our cocoa powder has no added sugar, I decided to add sugar and reduce the cocoa powder in our version.
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
For the toppings:
… or anything else you like
1) Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
2) Keep stirring until thickened (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds after each scrape).
3) Pour into a small glass pan (3x5), set aside to cool.
4) Once cooled, roll into small balls and coat with a topping.
That’s it. It really was a simple and easy treat to make. It didn’t taste quite like anything I had tried before, but was very tasty… sort of like a gooey, sticky toffee ball. The pearl sugar added a nice crunch but made it very sweet. The ones I coated in cocoa powder had a nice, chocolate-y punch. I tried a version coated in nibs, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it was a bit overwhelming.
On the chocolate making front, it was good to try this recipe as learned something new about our cocoa powder. The germ is a dense part of the bean that we usually remove as part of our winnowing process. This cocoa powder was made from some quick test chocolate that we hadn’t winnowed fully and so you could actually taste small bits of germ in the center of the brigadeiros. It wasn’t bad actually, they were almost like small, chocolate poppy seeds, but definitely something we will thoroughly remove next time unless we are specifically aiming for that texture.
posted by todd
Back in October I had an opportunity to visit the Salon du Chocolat in Paris with Clay Gordon and a number of other chocolate enthusiasts. We spent the days ambling the conference hall, sampling single origin mousses, taste-testing new formulations, and meeting famous French chocolate makers like Bonnat and Pralus.
At the back of the conference hall was a small demonstration kitchen. After watching a few presentations on filled chocolate bars, I decided it would be fun to adapt one of my favorite desserts, the s’more shot, to bar form. I’ve been meaning to try this for a while now, and just recently I realized someone had beaten me to it! So here then is my humble attempt at the s’mores bar.
To start you will need chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows. I made the graham crackers and marshmallow meringue from this recipe, but that’s really extra credit. For the chocolate, we had some 70% Dominican Republic in the temperer, but you can use whatever you have handy.
1) Temper some chocolate (more info here). You don’t have to get fancy with this, simply melt the chocolate in the microwave, stopping every 30 seconds to stir it.
2) Fill a bar mold with chocolate all the way to the top.
3) Let it cool at room temperature for about 1-2 minutes, then flip it over, tap the chocolate out of the mold, leaving behind a thin shell. Let cool completely.
4) Pipe a layer of marshmallow into the molds and lightly toast it with a mini butane torch.
5) Press a graham cracker (or graham cracker pieces) into the marshmallow.
6) Spread another layer of chocolate over the back of the bar, let cool completely.
7) Eat and enjoy!
In the factory, we usually stick to roasting individual beans and keeping everything super simple in our chocolate (just nibs and sugar), so this was a fun challenge. Next time, I would make the graham crackers much thinner and pipe twice as much marshmallow into each bar. I also let the chocolate cool too long before emptying the mold, making a very thick top. I think these bars would benefit from just a touch of chocolate, so I wouldn’t let too much chocolate solidify before emptying the mold.
posted by todd