Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hot Weather, Hot Fudge

Hot sunlight spills in across the kitchen, shining bright on baskets of peaches, nectarines, and plums it helped nurture. Hiding in the shadows cast across the counters are dark blackberries and blueberries, eagerly waiting with a tasty secret they are bursting to tell. All will take starring roles in my desserts, shining as bright as the summer sun they grew in. But surprisingly not one of these fruits will take the lead in my cast of summer flavors.

While it may be the height of fruit season, it's my chocolate dessert that diners are choosing most often. They scan the menu, passing by the Noyaux bavarian, a light, white island in a sea of vibrant apricot coulis. They scroll down, passing the profiteroles filled with bright lemon ice cream that peak from a cascade of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. They glance at the Buttermilk panna cotta served aside tree-ripe peaches and nectarines, bathed in syrah, move to the moist sour cream pound cake that towers over a thick blackberry compote and a scoop of brown sugar ice cream, and think, "I'm in the mood for chocolate!"



The chocolate dish does have it's place on a summer menu. Dripping with childlike fun, the chocolate is presented 3 ways in an ice cream cake. 3 layers of devils food cake sandwiches milk chocolate malted ice cream and caramel. To throw this over the top, the cake is smothered in a dose of hot fudge. A sprinkling of caramelized rice crispies crowns the top, an adult rice crispy "treat."

"These people are crazy!" I declare, stirring the large batch of hot fudge I make daily to keep up with demand. "It's the height of fruit season and all they want is chocolate!" I say as I pour the warm cocoa syrup into a container. "I have no idea what's wrong with them!" I mutter as I begin to lick the spatula I used to stir the hot fudge. "People!" You can barely hear me say as I spend the next 2 minutes using the spatula to transfer the last bits of hot fudge from the pot into my mouth. As I stare at the empty pot, my lips stained brown with chocolate, I think, "Maybe they are on to something."

Hot Fudge

1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1. Sift the cocoa powder into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir with a whisk to combine.

2. Place the cream in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.

3. Pour 1/2 of the hot cream into the cocoa mixture and whisk until mostly combined. Add half the remaining cream and whisk until combined, and repeat with the remainder of the cream.

4. Return the cocoa mixture to the medium sauce pan and add the butter and salt. Stir this over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture is thick and even. Never let this mixture boil, as the cocoa powder will burn very easily.

This can be stored in the fridge and rewarmed when needed.

Serve warm, over ice cream, or pound cake, or chocolate cake!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chikalicious

I first heard the name Chikalicious in passing a few years ago. It was just opening, and I was in the vicinity of a conversation discussing a restaurant who's counter seating would wrap around the chef's work space, much like a sushi bar. Interesting, but it was what this restaurant would serve that had my ears straining for more information. Chikalicious is a restaurant serving only desserts, the first that I had heard of.

I was, am, fascinated with the idea of high end, creative plated desserts taking center stage. A place meant to provide an unforgettable dessert experience without the trappings of a 2 hour multi course meal in a high end restaurant.

Since then the name has picked up momentum, and Chika the chef has been gaining a strong reputation. While I have yet to visit New York City and Chikalicious itself, I was thrilled to find this video, a window into an experience I can't wait to have myself! Enjoy.