Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spooktacular Souper Part II


I made this vignette to show you guys how the witch's fingers turned out...they were deliciously nasty looking and still yummy.

{Chedder Witch's Fingers}

(From Sunset Magazine, October 2006)
Preparation & Cooking Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 30 fingers

Notes: Keep dough cool as you work it to prevent stickiness.

INGREDIENTS
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 pound (about 1 cup packed) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt
  • 30 sliced almonds
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a food processor or bowl, whirl or rub together butter, cheese, flour, and cornmeal until the mixture has the texture of wet sand. Add egg and whirl or stir with a fork until dough holds together.
  2. Scrape dough onto a sheet of cooking paper or parchment, 12 to 14 in. wide and about 14 in. long. Top with another equal-sized sheet of paper and pat dough into a 1/2-in.-thick circle. Wrap in plastic and freeze 15 minutes, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
  3. Roll dough into a rectangle about 8 in. wide and 10 in. long, working carefully to avoid creases in paper. Return to freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°.
  4. Peel off top paper and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 30 strips, each about 1/2 in. thick and 5 in. long. Place each strip on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt to taste, then use your fingers to round the top of each strip into a fingertip shape. Use a sharp knife to score shallow "knuckle" lines in each finger, then press an almond "nail" into the tip. If you like, bend each finger in places to make it look knobby.
  5. Bake the fingers until an even light brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

MY DEVIATIONS, VARIATIONS & RESULTS

My witch's fingers were shorter & pudgier than the magazine's as seen in the picture, but they turned out looking splendid and tasting good. I also did not add additional salt and they were perfectly seasoned in my opinion as the butter already has salt added to it, but the kosher salt may have added a nice crunchy element to the fingers.


Now these desserts are rich and only for the gravest of chocolate lovers! Most people had to split them with someone else and still they didn't finish it. The Tombstone Cookies were fun to cut out freehand with a sharp knife. I made some crosses and some angled tombstones (in addition to the more classic shape pictured above) which reminded me of Tim Burton films. I only piped a few of the tombstones with RIP (badly) & it was a mess--next time I attempt these I will have more than a ziplock bag.

{DARK CHOCOLATE GRAVEYARD POTS DE CRÈME}

(from Sunset Magazine, October 2006)
Preparation and Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes chilling time.
Yield: 8 servings

Notes: This method uses a microwave to heat the cream until it's hot enough to cook and thicken the eggs, but you can always make it on the cooktop. Heat the cream over medium-high heat until it boils, about 6 minutes. Proceed with step 3, but heat the cream-egg mixture as needed in the saucepan until it reaches 160°. Then proceed with step 4.

INGREDIENTS
  • 14 ounces (about 3 cups) semisweet or bitter-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 1/2 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  • Tombstone Cookies (recipe follows)
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a food processor or blender*, whirl chocolate until finely chopped. Pour into a bowl. Put eggs and yolks in the processor or blender.
  2. In a 4-cup glass measure, heat whipping cream in a microwave oven (see Notes) at full power (100%) until cream boils, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. With processor or blender on high speed, add boiling cream to eggs. Check temperature of mixture with an instant-read thermometer; if below 160°, pour mixture back into glass measure and reheat in microwave oven at full power until it reaches 160°, stirring and checking at 15-second intervals.
  4. Combine hot cream mixture, chopped chocolate, and liqueur in blender or processor (or whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl); whirl until smooth, about 1 minute.
  5. Pour chocolate mixture into 8 ramekins or glasses (1/2-cup size). Chill until softly set, 30 to 45 minutes. If making ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day. For creamiest texture, let desserts stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before eating.
  6. Spoon 1 tablespoon wafer crumbs onto each pot de crème. Insert a Tombstone Cookie into each serving.

MY DEVIATIONS, VARIATIONS & RESULTS

For the chocolate I did a mix of both semisweet & bitter-sweet chocolate. The sweeter you want the chocolate the less bitter-sweet chocolate.

*Blender--funny story. I was trying to whirl the chocolate in the blender and I thought I had ruined yet another blender. I have found blenders--even the best--can't handle too much ice or chocolate in this instance. I unplugged the blender, hoping against hope that it the motor was merely overheated because the blender in this instance is a Vita-Mix (and expensive!), and fortunately it was okay. I DO NOT recommend using a blender for chopping.

I have no instant read thermometer (but plan on purchasing one), so winged this one and it came out fine in my opinion. This is deeply, darkly chocolate! The wafers are hard to find too as here the grocery store keeps them in the ice cream isle along with ice cream toppings & ice cream cones, but they are delicious! I crushed a whole box of wafers and added as much cookie crumbs as I wanted--who needs to measure that?

{TOMBSTONE COOKIES}

(from Sunset Magazine, October 2006)
Preparation and Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes chilling time.
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen

Notes: Cocoa nibs, also called "cacao nibs," give these cookies a mottled look that resembles stone. We made the recipe with both chocolate-covered nibs made by Scharffen Berger and plain nibs from Dagoba Organic Chocolate, and both worked well. Find both types in gourmet markets. Or substitute 2 tbsp. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate if you prefer. Make up to 3 days ahead; store airtight.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (or cacao) nibs (see Notes above)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling cookies
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a blender, whirl cocoa nibs until each is about the size of a grain of rice. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy; beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa nibs; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly, to form a soft dough. Divide dough into thirds, cover each portion tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour), or up to 3 days.
  3. On a floured board, roll out dough, a portion at a time, to a thickness of 1/8 in. (keep dough refrigerated when not in use). With a sharp knife, cut out free-form tombstone shapes (about 1 1/2 by 3 in.; cut bottom edges at an angle to make them easier to poke into the pots de crème), and place slightly apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
  4. Bake cookies until edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely before handling.
  5. Using a pastry bag with a very fine tip, pipe the letters "RIP" in chocolate on at least 8 of the cookies. Stick these cookies into the Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Crème and serve the rest of the cookies alongside.

MY DEVIATIONS, VARIATIONS & RESULTS

The search for nibs was extensive and ultimately not very successful. We found a candy bar with nibs and cinnamon oil so the cookies had a definite cinnamon flavor so I dubbed ours Mexican Tombstone Cookies. I did like the cookies and they are terribly appropriate for Halloween. Next time I make these I think I will first purchase nibs online.

One last thing: Happy Halloween!!! Eat a little candy, watch a spooky movie, wear a wig and just delight in a holiday were you can let your inner demon out to party!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

shay - thanks for sharing your recipes (as requested!) hope to try those fingers next year.

tina's space said...

This is so cool. I bet they taste delicious