I found this German chocolate bar randomly in a discount store. The expiration date said 9/2015, so I figured, why the heck not to try this for $0.99. This Schogetten chocolate bar had both white and milk chocolate, with hazelnut crisps as well as gianduja milk chocolate. Quite the mouthful of words, which also ended up manifesting itself into a cacophony of flavors.
My first impression of this chocolate bar, divided in 18 squares, was that it was very sweet. The white chocolate and milk chocolate were not very subtly enhanced by the sugar and I spent a couple hours jumping around the house after a couple squares of this chocolate. Furthermore there were hazelnut brittle bits, which did little to quell my hyperactivity and a lot for the bacteria in my mouth. The chocolate content in this bar came out roughly to 30%.
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, hazelnuts, milk, cream powder, cocoa liquor, hazelnut crisp (sugar, hazelnuts, lactose, palm fat, glucose syrup), skim milk powder, lactose, sweet whey powder, butterfat, soy lecithin, vanilla extract.
Then, along came its darker counterpart the following week. I enjoyed this bar much more, for its deeper flavor profile of nuttiness and earthiness, and being less intense in the sugar factory department. I actually felt that the darker bar was a good representation of what German dark chocolate is like. For the same price of $0.99, I felt this bar’s price was quite the steal.
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, butterfat, soy lecithin, vanilla extract
Chocolate on sale! I love going to stores and seeing the yellow tag underneath the regular price tag, since these sales allow me to try many brands of chocolates. This week: Coconut Secret. This is the brand that does the coconut products like the coconut sugar, coconut flour, coconut aminos, etc.
The milk chocolate Ecuadorian Crunch bar was very chalky. I could barely taste the nutty milk chocolate itself, as the coconut quickly took over the palate. Not terribly sweet like some milk chocolates can get, but not completely unsweetened either. I picked up the taste of caramel, which I assume is from the coconut crystals since coconut sweeteners typically have that flavor profile. Ingredients: organic coconut crystals, organic cocoa butter, organic whole milk powder, organic cocoa mass, organic vanilla extract, organic coconut.
The white chocolate bar, Caribbean crunch, was very similar to the milk chocolate Ecuadorian crunch bar. Chalky, no cacao taste due to the white chocolate, and coconut all around. Not very sweet, with a slight caramel note. Ingredients: organic cocoa butter, organic whole milk powder, organic coconut crystals, organic vanilla extract, organic coconut.
Overall, an interesting find to try. Coconut Secret really did highlight the coconut in these bars as per its brand name, with coconut and coconut sugar’s caramel flavors taking the reins. As there was no homage whatsoever to the cacao they contained, I probably won’t be picking another one of these up anytime soon.
Back in my fit and sportsy days in college, I had made a post about black bean protein brownies. That recipe had included large amounts of artificial sweeteners and whey protein.
Since then, my tastes have changed and I very rarely use even Stevia as a calorie-free sweetener. Instead, I have been enjoying the natural sweet taste of regular sweeteners, such as honey and maple syrup. I’ve also cut down on the protein consumption, eliminating my use of whey. However, I still love using black beans in my brownie recipes.
While these brownies aren’t necessarily the nicest-looking on the block due to the mix of ingredients, the taste is a completely different story. In my experience, black beans have been excellent as a base for gluten-free chocolatey desserts, since I’ve found that cocoa doesn’t fit in well with coconut flour or rice flour-based recipes. Black beans enhance the dessert with an earthiness that pairs well with cacao, and one can argue they are much healthier than their grain-heavy counterpart.
After much experimentation, I’ve also figured out how to keep the brownies nice and moist despite the low fat content of the overall recipe. One of the keys is not to overbake.
The entire batch is 5g fat, 228g carbs, 76g fiber, and 69g protein. Behold, excitement, for the recipe is below.
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
3 Tablespoons quick-cooking oats
chocolate chips and nuts, to taste
(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish or muffin pan.
(2) Puree the beans, pumpkin, cocoa, maple syrup, coffee, vanilla, and salt in a blender until the mixture resembles paste.
(3) Fold in the oats and chocolate chips/nuts if using.
(4) Pour mixture into the baking pan or divide between 8-9 muffin cups. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the mixture comes out barely clean.
(5) Let cool for at least 10 minutes before consuming. Overnight is even better.
A while back I had compared two unsweetened baking chocolate brands and examined the flavors and mouthfeel capacities for snacking and using in desserts. Today I have two milk chocolate brands suited for the same purposes.
I had high hopes for the Madecasse chocolate since it was my favorite as an unsweetened chocolate. However, with the milk chocolate discs, they tasted more like a smashed up version of the 100% cacao with milk and sugar instead of a smooth blend of the ingredients. I also wasn’t entirely convinced that the fruity flavors of the Madegascar beans were a good fit with milk in the first place. Also, these discs also had some chalkiness in the mouthfeel which was slightly unpleasant.
Ingredients: cane sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla powder.
The Gaia discs were smoother and much less chalky than the Madecasse discs. The cacao flavor in the Gaia was more toned down and earthy, which made for a nice pairing with the milk and sugar. In my opinion, these discs represented a good, solid milk chocolate that is neither too sweet nor too milky, and is perfect for any kind of use and consumption.
Ingredients: organic sugar, organic milk powder, organic cocoa butter, organic chocolate liquor, organic soy lecithin, and organic vanilla.
The baking disc idea is pretty fun. I personally like discs better than chocolate chips. They melt in the mouth a lot easier, which then translates into an easy process when melting for a dessert recipe.
As my Throwback Thursday, I’m making a tribute to my “How to cook ‘Uala” post with a latke recipe.
Latkes are traditionally prepared with regular potatoes, for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. Basically they are potato pancakes that are comprised of a mixture of potatoes, egg and onions and pan fried until crispy, usually served with a dollop of sour cream or applesauce. I figured it was time that I put a spin on this by using my favorite starch: the ‘uala. Considering many island desserts use coconut along with this Hawaiian/Okinawan sweet potato, I chose to use coconut as the flour and oil accompaniments to this recipe. I could not have been happier about the coconutty and starchy results.
The latke pictured above is a little burnt since I was running low on oil for my last batch. I dislike using too much additional oil on final batches because any leftover oils left in the pan after cooking goes to waste. Plus, I was being a very silly and ravenous person and had already eaten the first batch while cooking the second. Directions below indicate proper amounts of cooking oil that don’t skimp like I do, assuming also using a pan big enough to fit enough batter for just two batches.
1 lb ‘uala
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp coconut oil
(1) Peel the ‘uala. Shred and squeeze out any excess moisture on paper towels. Combine with egg, coconut flour, salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
(2) Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil on medium-high in a pan. After a few minutes when it is hot, drop large scoops of the batter into the pan. Flatten to 1/2-inch thick rounds with diameter of approximately 4 inches. Cover and fry for about 4 minutes or when the edges start to brown.
(3) Flip the pancakes over and continue to fry, covered, an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer latkes to a plate.
(4) Heat the other 1 Tbsp of coconut oil in the pan and repeat the cooking process until the remaining latkes have been formed and cooked.
(5) Turn off stove and allow the latkes to cool slightly before serving.
One of winter’s best vegetables in traditional Chinese medicine is the lotus root. Its cold nature serves to counterbalance the excess of indoor heating, while being great for pushing blood through the system and clearing out the lungs for those winter colds. Starchy and filling, lotus generally makes a great comfort food in the winter, and this winter for me is no exception.
Lotus roots are pretty unusual-looking once cut. Filled with holes, the lotus can make dishes look pretty and delicate when cut properly at the cross-section. However, while most Chinese traditional dishes make use of the beauty of this vegetable, the recipe I’m presenting today is one that does not since it is whittled down through grating.
Lotus roots typically come in multi-sectioned sticks, similar to sugar cane. The one pictured is only one section of a root. At the Asian markets, they can be found both sectioned off or as a whole root. In order to select good ones, make sure that there are no deeply blackened or discolored spots on the root. Black streaks are typical since these are grown in mud.
Root vegetables are especially good for making crispy pancakes. Their starch helps to keep the vegetable stable during the frying process, which leads to a sturdy, yet crunchy texture. In the lotus root pancakes I’ve added carrots for some sweetness and color.
I had mentioned before that I’ve begun to use the shredder attachment to my food processor. It has been working wonders with shredding raw vegetables in very little time, with these root vegetables being no exception.
With the size and scope of the recipe below, I was able to fry eight cakes in two batches in my 14-inch skillet. I did not work hard to form all the cakes into nice, round shapes, but they cooked evenly just the same. For crispier cakes, these can be made into much smaller pancakes at smaller thickness in the same amount of cooking time.
1 section of lotus root, about 1/2 lb
2 medium carrots, about 1/4 lb
2 medium scallions, about 1/2 cup chopped
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp cooking fat (I used olive oil)
(1) Peel the lotus root and carrot’s outer layers. Shred each vegetable and squeeze out any excess moisture on paper towels. Combine in a large bowl.
(2) Roughly chop the scallion and add to the vegetables, along with the egg and salt. Mix well.
(3) Heat 1/2 Tbsp cooking fat on medium-high in a pan. After a few minutes when it is hot, drop large scoops of the batter into the pan. Flatten to 1/2-inch thick rounds with diameter of approximately 4 inches. Cover and fry for about 5 minutes or when the edges start to brown.
(4) Flip the pancakes over and continue to fry, covered, an additional 2-3 minutes.
(5) Heat the other 1/2 Tbsp of cooking fat in the pan and repeat the cooking process until the remaining cakes have been formed and cooked.
(6) Turn off stove and transfer to a plate. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
While browsing through the farmers’ market last weekend, I was reacquainted with an old friend. This friend’s name is cauliflower.
While the farmer had a huge batch of white cauliflower laid out on tables, the yellow and purple ones jumped out at me with their beautiful and unusual colors. I ended up taking home this yellow one due to two reasons. First was that the purple and yellow cauliflower bunches tended to have a higher mass in the florets rather than the stem. Stems are harder to “rice” than florets for cauliflower rice. Second was that the yellow ones I found at the market tended to be larger than the purple ones. If I buy a whole cauliflower for $3, I might as well look for a heavy one.
As I continued with my shopping at the nearby Whole Foods, I became reacquainted with a couple more old friends: liver and gizzard. I had not had any for the last couple of months and I felt that a heavy dose of vitamins was in order. A quick decision at the market and I was headed in the direction of dirty rice, low-carb style.
This time on the cauliflower I decided to save myself the pain of using the food processor’s pulse function and, instead, used the shredder attachment that I had stored in the back of the cabinet. I was quite surprised at the difference it made! Not only did I not have to worry about pulsing in batches, but I also did not have to put so much effort into cutting the florets into evenly sized pieces. I will definitely using my shredder in future cauliflower rice recipes.
The liver, while small in quantity, really gave the whole recipe a rich flavor boost. While it is possible to also add some sausage to a dirty rice dish, I wanted to keep the recipe a bit more neutral in flavor, especially since the recipe already had so many flavors coming from the vegetables and cajun spices. However, Your Mileage May Vary.
For the recipe below, the jalapeño is optional if spiciness is desired. I left it out in mine because I can’t handle spicy food very well.
1/3 lb chicken gizzard
1/4 lb chicken liver
1 medium onion, about 1/2 lb
3 cloves garlic
1 small jalapeño, if desired
1 red bell pepper, about 1/3 lb
2 large stalks celery
3/4 lb raw cauliflower, about 3 cups “riced”
1 Tbsp cooking fat (I used lard)
8-10 sprigs parsley, about 1/2 cup chopped
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
(1) Clean the gizzards and remove the membranes. Dice the gizzard and liver into 1/2″ pieces.
(2) Dice the onion and mince the garlic and the jalapeno, if using. Dice the red bell pepper and celery. Set aside.
(3) Rice the cauliflower via grater, food processor, blender, or manual chopping method. Set aside.
(4) Heat cooking fat on medium-high heat. When hot, add gizzard and onion and cook until the gizzards begin popping, about 4-5 minutes. Add liver and garlic, stir to incorporate, and cook an additional 4-5 minutes.
(5) Coarsely chop parsley and set aside.
(6) Add the bell pepper and celery. Saute an additional 3 minutes.
(7) Add the cauliflower and stir for several minutes, until slightly browned. Turn down heat to medium and add parsley, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and salt. Stir to combine.
(8) Turn off heat and let stand for several minutes. Serve warm.