Chocolate


Today is a blustery day. Wind howls, the sky growls, and I wish we had a fireplace.

Despite this lack, I will fight this chill! It is time for hot cocoa. I have two recipes, one which is much more akin to the cocoa everyone is used to (you can make a lot of it, store it in some kind of airtight container, and then all you need is hot milk and some vanilla). The other is by far my favorite, and it is actually a very thin ganache.

For those days when I have no bar or chip chocolate in the house, I keep this tupperware in my cabinet. Emergencies! Pour:

2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa (the better the cocoa, the better the cocoa!)
1 pinch salt

Put the lid on this, and shake it thoroughly.  When cocoa is desired, fill favored mug with hot milk and a bare splash of vanilla, along with a heaping spoon of mix. Hoorah!

However, if one does have chip or bar type chocolate in the house…

Ganache is a simple thing. It’s no more than heavy cream with chocolate melted in until it shines. It’s quite thick, and used as filling for truffles, or as a frosting. However, if made thin – with regular ol’ milk, and more of it than usual – it is the singular most decadent hot cocoa. Ever.

Take your favored mug. put in chocolate chunks. Halfway up the side makes it pretty thick, if you like that sort of thing. 1/4 of the way up makes it much closer to the texture of good hot cocoa, and even one lone chip will flavor the milk a little. Dark chocolate is always a good idea, but if milk chocolate is what you have, this is still by far better than any other cocoa!

Add a splash of vanilla to the top of your chunks, and pour milk over the top. Microwave for 30 seconds. (You can do this in a double boiler too, especially if you’re doing it for a lot of people. I’m usually just making for me.) Stir, and if there are any chunks left, microwave for a bit more. When you’re done stirring, it will have a glistening chocolate sheen.

Heaven.

I would drink up, right there, but if you’re the kind you can add a lot of things. Bailey’s makes a great addition, if you’re of the mind – Bailey’s mint and Bailey’s caramel work just as well (Housemate, who has now left us, would attest to the caramel variety!) If you’re looking to keep your cocoa non-alcoholic, mint, candy cane chunks, a candy cane stirrer, a cinnamon stick, candy caramel topping….The possibilities, how endless they are. 

 You can add whipped cream or marshmallows, but I don’t find either necessary.

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Wonton wrappers are a staple of this particular household. We love rangoons: crab, garlic, chocolate raspberry…..!!!

To begin, you’ll need at bare minimum the following:
Wrappers: Egg roll wrappers cut in quarters work as well as Wonton Wrappers, so get whichever gives you more for less. 🙂
Cream Cheese (1/2 a pack will make enough for Josh and I, but we eat a lot. 1 pack for a party of 4-6 people, depending on how heavily you feature them. These would make a great “tapas” type party! Make like 5 different kinds, but it’d be like making one appetizer.)
White Sugar (2 tablespoons per pack cream cheese)
Frying oil
Pot for frying in (or deep fryer, if you’re lucky like that. I don’t have that kind of space)
Microwave safe bowl for cream cheese
Small dish of water for your fingers

The kind that I made this time were garlic, so I also needed:
1 small TEFLON COATED (very, very important!) pan (this precludes the bowl for the cream cheese, as well)
5 cloves garlic (We like garlic a LOT. If you are not a garlic fiend, 2 is plenty.)

First, you’ll make the filling. This is relatively easy — if you are making the garlic kind, you saute the garlic in the pan until done. Then cut the heat, but before the pan cools down, put in cream cheese.(Cleaning this up is where the teflon comes in serious handy)  Stir it until it melts and mixes with the garlic. Taste – if you underestimated your desire for garlic, garlic powder can be added now. If you overestimated, add more cream cheese!

If you instead want a crab rangoon, get to this point, and then add about 1/2 a pack of Krab. Yes, Krab. This is not the time for that super-expensive real stuff, make crab cakes or something else more deserving with that. Other great add-ins to the garlicky stuff: scallions, chicken bits (BITS! TINY!), cheddar, bacon (!)….etc. I think I’ll make bacon/cheddar/scallion this evening, actually, that sounds good.

If you want chocolate raspberry, whip out that microwave safe bowl. 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (again, rangoons are a great place to crimp on cash, and you won’t notice cheap chocolate here.) to every pack of cream cheese – and don’t forget your two tablespoons sugar. A little less chocolate or a little more won’t hurt you. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, and add 2 tablespoons jam of your choice — we’re fond of both strawberry and raspberry here.

Rangoons are a great place to play, too! Just start with a package of cream cheese and 2 tablespoons sugar, and then add whatever you think will go well in a very creamy base.
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Now that you have your filling, you’ll need your wontons. If you haven’t already, cut the egg-roll wraps into quarters, so you have little squares. Put a teaspoon or so filling on the wonton:
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Then  dip your finger into water and draw it around all four edges of the square:
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Then fold it in half diagonally and press down, hard, on the edges – hard enough to leave a pretty crimp.
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Fold up your corners and if there are any holes, feel free to fold over any extra bits so there are no gaps.
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Then, deep fry in oil that’s been heated to medium-medium high. You want it hot enough to cook to crunchy quickly – everything here is already safely edible, and the less time the wonton is in the oil, the less chance there is for an explosion. Simultaneously, however, if it’s too hot, it’ll explode on principle. If you toss in a little peice of wonton and it takes about 15-20 seconds to turn white and crisp, you’re good.

After you’re done, dust with salt or sugar, depending on your filling. You could, if you were feeling fancy, even drizzle with something indicative – like chocolate, or orange glaze, or drizzle with cream cheese and sprinkle with bacon, or the like.

Delicious!

(My apologies for the really bad pictures, but my camera is cantankerous at best. Sometimes I think it’d honestly be better to just take them with a camera phone. Not that I have a camera phone. But that’s why I don’t normally post photos.)

Last night, instead of choosing to post, I chose to make cheesecake. This is not to say that you, my reader, will not WHOLEHEARTEDLY benefit from this decisionmaking process.  The cheesecake was quite tasty.

Okay. So I started off with a semi-recipe ganked from the box of cream cheese. (so unofficial, I know). The crazy people at the cheesecake place think this will only make 1 cheesecake. If you’re making a cheesecake like a new york with the spring pan and the sides, this is true. If you are like me, however, and desire more crust, and thus make it in a normal pie pan…..the filling makes 2, with space for a little to go into the mouths of whomever is not bothered by raw egg.

Pie crust! Be lazy/cheap and get the 44c premade piecrust at the grocery store, or buy graham crackers and add 2 tablespoons of butter. If you go the work-intensive route, add a small amount of orange zest, would you? Oh, and save the rest of that orange.

So, on to the delicious and yummy part! Take 3 packages of (softened) cream cheese. I am wholeheartedly impatient, and can never actually find it in my heart to wait until everything is actually softened. So I just do the extra work.  Beat this in a bowl. Add 1 cup of sugar and 3 eggs, slowly while beating. Starting to be delicious! Add 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Now for something truly spectacular.  Add at LEAST one full tablespoon of orange zest, or until you can’t fathom getting any more zest off that darn orange. Be irritable at aforementioned darn orange for not producing more zest. Be irritable at self for eating other orange.

(or you can skip those last two steps. I’m not sure they affect the deliciousness at all)

Right, so then go rummaging in your kitchen cupboard for the chocolate. No, not the week-old tortilla chips for the party you had, or the baking soda or the flou….there. The chocolate! mmmm. 3/4 a bag.

Well, either way, use a 1/2 bag of chocolate chips (dark if you’re extravagantly delicious) and stir those in.

45 minutes in my oven set at 400, so it’s really 350. Start checking at 30 minutes. Feel free to make some kind of orange chocolate sauce. This is entirely unnecessary.

And there you have delicious cheesecake. Now excuse me, my cheesecake  er, breakfast, is calling!