• Chocolate Granola

    gran8Happy New Year! Amazing how time flies. We are still cooking and mixing our drinks, and have some new favorites- so time to get back to blogging. And why not start with something so good we have to give it away to spare our waistlines…chocolate granola. Yes, that’s right. Chocolate. Granola. Both great on their own, but even better when combined. Pure awesomeness.

    grangran1And even better if you use Mast Brothers chocolate. The recipe comes from the Mast Brothers Family Cookbook, and it is an instant classic here at the farm. If you are unfamiliar with Mast Brothers, they are chocolatiers from Brooklyn (Williamsburg, just to make them super-cool). Now, being from California, and usually liking to buy local, you may not expect that we favor chocolate from Brooklyn. But good is good, and Mast Brothers rocks. The flavor and consistency of their chocolate truly stands out. We were lucky enough to visit their shop last fall and it was a delight. Hard to get us to leave.

    gran2gran3But we did return to California with a good stockpile of chocolate and just had to make this recipe. Not only is chocolate granola easy to make, but it works both for breakfast and dessert (and also makes for a tasty pre-surf snack). And if you don’t have Mast Brothers chocolate, and good quality dark chocolate will do.

    gran4gran5gran6gran7Otherwise, you are making basic granola with nuts, oats and honey and then adding cocoa, cacao nibs, chocolate, dried cranberries and butter. Pretty hard to go wrong here. But what may surprise you is just how well the bitter edge of the cacao nibs and the tart dried cranberries work with the granola and chocolate. You end up with a surprisingly complex dish with layers of flavors and textures. So good it is hard to stop eating it…in fact, we didn’t…;-) Continue reading

  • The Election Is Over. Now Have Cupcake.

    Double-Chocolate Cupcakes.

    Regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, you deserve a cupcake. A double-chocolate cupcake. With buttery chocolate frosting. The cupcake can be a celebration, or a consolation. Either way, this cupcake will be tasty and you will sigh and smile. Perhaps one more might be even better…you deserve it.

    And this is no ordinary cupcake. This is a killer cupcake. Moist, sweet and with a wallop of dark chocolate, this is the kind of cupcake you get at the best bakeries (after you waited in line). And that is where the recipe comes from. The recipe is Carolyn’s adaptation of a cake recipe from the Miette cookbook. Miette is a small chain of bay area bakeries that features world-class cakes, cupcakes and confections. The Miette cookbook is a favorite in our kitchen, not only for the recipes, but some of the techniques that make for moist and flavorful cakes. The “Cake-Baking Essentials” section of the book should be required reading for bakers who want to take their cakes to the next level. Some of the “essentials” are a bit fussy and exacting, but with baking, “fussy” is what often makes the difference.

    And this recipe uses a few of these techniques for a better cupcake. The recipe uses oil instead of butter, as butter has extra water content that evaporates and makes for a dry, crumbly texture (we love butter, but it is better for crispy, rather than tender baked goods). Oil keeps the cupcake moist. The recipe uses both melted chocolate and cocoa power for deep chocolate flavor. And the recipe has you sift dry ingredients, very lightly mix the batter and then strain the batter through a mesh strainer to avoid lumps, and minimize mixing and gluten formation. In the end, you have a little extra work, but a very moist and flavorful cupcake.

    Otherwise, the basic steps for making the cupcakes are familiar. Line your muffin tin with cake cups and preheat the oven. Sift and mix the dry ingredients. Melt the chocolate and prepare the wet ingredients. Whip the eggs in a mixer, then add the oil, chocolate and other wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients, mix lightly and run the batter through the mesh strainer. Then put the batter in the cake cups and bake. After about twenty to twenty-five minutes you will have cupcakes. Then you have to wait for them to cool…and those minutes can be painfully slow.

    Continue reading