Friday, June 08, 2001
as promised, here's now the second, simplified, no-cook recipe for torrone. . .
you'll find it makes about 20 thin slices. do use the best quality ingredients for this:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (try the valrhona gran couva 64%), chopped small
1/4 c. unsalted Plugra/Keller's European Style butter
1 egg white
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 c. almonds or your favorite nut, ground coarsely in a food processor
5 tablespoons dried fruit, chopped small (optional)
1/4 c. unsalted sliced or slivered almonds, or your favorite nut, toasted
melt the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler. or in the microwave, with the power on high, stirring every 30 seconds. attach the wire whisk to your stand mixer, and beat the egg white at speed 7 or 8 with the cream of tartar until stiff. with the whisk still attached, beat in the melted chocolate.
with a spatula, fold in the ground almonds, the toasted almonds, and the optional dried fruit. pour this mixture onto a large piece of baking parchment. fold the parchment around it and use the parchment to shape the mixture into a log or triangle. when you like the shape, twist the paper tightly around the mixture and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. voila!
if you like, you can make a nice fancy coating out of milk or white chocolate and more almonds:
6 oz. white or milk chocolate, chopped small
1 c. sliced almonds, toasted
melt the chocolate in the microwave or double boiler. take the now-chilled torrone out of the fridge and unwrap. with a knife or small spatula, quickly spread the melted chocolate over the torrone like icing. working fast, press the sliced almonds into the chocolate coating. chill again for another hour.
that's all there is to it! serve sliced thin with coffee for an excellent light dessert!
Thursday, June 07, 2001
i haven't forgotten about the torrone! i have recipes for two kinds: one, the traditional cooked nougat; the other, a simplified version that isn't cooked, but merely molded and chilled. . .
here's the traditional version first. it's not as difficult as it seems, since you can just attach a $7 candy thermometer to the side of the pot containing the honey and stir a bit every 5 or 10 mins. (or use your microwave!) most candy thermometers have a line indicating "hard ball" stage, which makes it much easier. i want to warn you though that honey in excess of 300 degrees can really give you a bad burn! so be careful handling the hot honey for your own safety. the recipe takes some time, but very little actual work. just stir the honey 10 times, beat the egg whites, melt the chocolate into the sugar syrup. . .most of it is, as usual, the waiting!
1-1/4 lb (18 oz. by weight) hazelnuts (traditional, but you can use your favorite unsalted nut, such as silvered almonds, small shelled pistachios, etc.)
9 oz honey
1 cup (4 oz) sugar
9 oz semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
paper-thin cardboard wafer sheets, baking parchment, or nonstick cookie pans sprayed lightly with cooking spray
cook the honey in a double boiler or microwave, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until it reaches the hardball state (more than 1 hour). you'll need a candy thermometer to tell you for best results. meanwhile, place the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast in a 325 degree oven for 5-10 mins, stirring two or three times, just until you can smell them. if you like, remove the skins by rolling the warm nuts in a fluffy towel and kinda of "scrubbing" them.
dissolve 3 tbsp of sugar in 3 tbsp water and cook over low heat until it thickens, or again, use your microwave. add the chocolate to the syrup, stir and cook until creamy. set aside and keep hot. dissolve the remaining sugar in a little water and caramelize it. be careful, because the sugar will brown quickly and continue to darken as it cools. it's possible to get it so brown that it will burn even after you've taken it off the heat.
whip the egg whites in a stand mixer on speed 7 with the wire beater until stiff. you might want to add a pinch of cream of tartar. when the honey has reached the hard-ball stage, slowly add the egg whites to the honey and stir to obtain a soft white cream. immediately add the caramelized sugar and the chocolate mixture.
fold to combine and add the hazelnuts. arrange the wafer sheets or parchment paper on a board or counter; you can also use a nonstick cookie sheet. using a spatula dipped in water, spread the mixture on the wafers in a layer about 1 inch thick and let it cool for 15-20 minutes. with a sharp knife, cut the nougat as desired. cool completely and wrap each piece in foil. store in a cool place.
these keep forever and are great to serve guests with coffee as an alternative to biscotti.
Wednesday, June 06, 2001
as you may remember, i've started a little yoga program at my job for all the employees of the software company where i work.and for a long time i've been wondering how to attract more guys. . .
yoga does seem overwhelming to be perceived as a female activity, even though the majority of the better-known teachers are male. strange, isn't it? then flipping through newsweek this morning, i saw the article that could change everything. . .
the giants football team now requires yoga as part of its off-season training regimen. isn't that cool? finally i will be able to beat the "sissy" thing once and for all when talking to guys about yoga!