• 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

  • Orange Cake With Dark Chocolate Chips

    Orange Cake With Chocolate Chips.

    Orange Cake With Chocolate Chips.

    It’s January (frankly, a pretty crummy month) and we face a choice, should we start making resolutions or help people break them? Since most resolutions seem to involve people enjoying less food, drink and fun we favor “breaking” resolutions. (Unless you resolve to do more good things for yourself and others, in that case- carry on!) But if you are trying to rid yourself of an otherwise harmless and / or pleasurable indulgence and feel a bit of weakness, or lack of shame, or just admit that you want to live life without regret…well come on over, have a snack, grab a cocktail and enjoy some cake. We will be waiting here at the farm with open arms and a warm kitchen, always. And if you happen to amble by the farm in January, then you might be lucky and get some orange cake with dark chocolate chips.

    ocake3ocake4And thank heaven for citrus this time of year (and good chocolate any time of year). Just when you slog through that last bite of heavy (albeit lovely) holiday food, the oranges and lemons arrive to bring a burst of bright flavor back to winter. The Meyer lemons, cara-cara and blood oranges seem to save the light and bring it back to our houses, right when we need it the most (yeah, yeah, we are in California it isn’t that cold, but whatever ;-). The winter citrus gives us sorbet, cocktails, savory sauces, confections and this cake that combines fresh oranges and dark chocolate. Hard to go wrong.

    ocake5ocake6And very hard to go wrong if you use the best dark chocolate you can find. As a special Christmas gift, the boys and I gave Carolyn a big bag of Mast Brothers dark chocolate chips. The Mast Brothers hail from Brooklyn and have some of the best chocolate we have ever tasted. We are all for local chocolatiers, and many do excellent work- but great is great, and we can’t do better than Mast Brothers chocolate. Simply awesome, and worth a mention all the way out here on the left coast. We usually reserve our best chocolate for eating out of hand, but this cake combines chocolate chunks and a chocolate ganache glaze with sweet, bright orange flavor and a light “cake-y” texture. It is a perfectly balanced bite, and the better the chocolate, the better the cake.

    ocake9ocake10As for the recipe, we adapted it from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), who adapted it from the famous Hampton’s bakery and caterer Loaves and Fishes. Good recipes tend to travel well and this is no exception. There are no special ingredients or techniques in this recipe, it just asks for a bit of extra effort and good chocolate. The recipe for the cake is mostly standard, as is the recipe for the chocolate ganache you use to “glaze” the cake. The only extra step is to create an orange syrup and brush it into the cake. But this step does make a difference. Every bite explodes with the sweet oranges and a blast of deep, dark chocolate, but the acid of the oranges and slight bitter edge of chocolate balances the flavor. Good from beginning to end.

    ocake2So when you decide to give up on that resolution about cake, or sugar, or chocolate, or fun…try this recipe out. If you’re gonna break the resolution, it may as well be worth it. Or, even better, just bake the cake and share. No resolutions required (ever).

    Orange Cake With Dark Chocolate Chips: Continue reading