Tuesday, February 2, 2010

guittard chocolates - the motherlode- part I

Have you ever received a really great gift that was truly a surprise? Something you have never thought of asking for but that turns out to be one of the bestest gifts you have ever received? A gift you know you will remember forever and ever -- even when you are old and gray and living with 100 cats and the neighbors have called the authorities, numerous times? Well, this is what happened to me last week when I opened my door to find a box on my doorstep marked, "Guittard Chocolates". Now while this label was terrific in and of itself, it’s always happy times when chocolate shows up at your door, what made it truly exceptional is another marking that read, "eleven (11) lbs." Eleven lbs of chocolate. Do you have any idea of what 11 lbs of chocolate looks like? I will tell you what it looks like – it looks like you’re going to have a good day – or week, depending on how long the chocolate lasts.

Enclosed in the box were chocolate bars, cacao wafers, cocoa powder, drinking chocolate and chocolate chips, basically everything a chocoholic needs in case of a natural disaster.

Clearly, in order to review them all properly I had to immediately start on sampling them individually (and due to the quantity of chocolate, this review will span more than one blog post).

The first things that caught my eye were, the big boxes of E.Guittard Cacao Wafers: White Chocolate (31%), Milk Chocolate (38%), Semisweet Chocolate (61%) and Bittersweet Chocolate (72%). The boxes were nice and hefty, which I found deeply satisfying. I liked lifting them up and wielding all that chocolate. It gave me a sense of power and invincibility.

The wafers are marked “for baking and eating” and they are also outstanding just by themselves. All the chocolates are creamy and have a luxurious chocolate/nutty aftertaste. If you were so inclined to share, they would be lovely in a candy dish for guests. However, I was more intrigued by the recipe on the back: E.Guittard Chocolate Cupcakes and White Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (though I used Milk Chocolate instead of White Chocolate for the frosting though.)

The recipe is very simple but produced great results (I have copied it below because I can’t find it currently on the Guittard website, but I encourage you to visit their site for other recipes created in their own kitchens). The wafers all melted so easily in the double boiler and the cupcakes turned out “delish.” The cake part of the cupcake was moist, flavorful but not too sweet and the sour cream frosting had a great balance of sour and sweet. The only thing lacking was my frosting skills, a deficiency that was probably were exacerbated by the fact I just let the frosting cool and didn’t beat it and refrigerate it overnight as the recipe calls for. But as my mother always said (while my sisters and I were beating each other for the best slice of frosted birthday cake, which is the corner slice that has the flower), it all looks the same when it’s in your mouth

While the cupcakes were cooling and awaiting frosting, I decided to make some drinking chocolate. You have to have something with your chocolate cupcake – right?

The drinking chocolate is heavenly from the moment you open the canister and inhale the rich chocolatey aroma to when you are sipping the unusually rich drink. Usually when I make hot chocolate, I make a mini paste of cocoa, sugar (& sometimes cinnamon) with a small amount of milk and then add it to my heated milk. But no matter how I beat the mixture, I always end up with sad little clumps of chocolate at the bottom of my pan. In contrast, this drinking chocolate just mixes so easily with no clumping – a real treat on many levels, including the assurance that you've got all the chocolate.

I know what some of you are thinking: hot drinking chocolate with a chocolate cupcake with chocolate sour cream frosting...chocolate overload. But for me, I say, bring it on.

Recipes

E.Guittard Chocolate Cupcakes
A rich chocolate cupcake is complimented with the color and flavor of white chocolate sour cream frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) E.Guittard 72% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake forms with paper liners

Melt wafers and butter in the top of a double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and beat in sugar, then eggs and vanilla until glossy. Stir in flour just until incorporated.

Fill lined cups ¾ full. Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until tops are rounded and puffy. A toothpick inserted in center will still have moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool completely before frosting tops.

White Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
1 cup (6oz) E.Guittard 31% Cacao White Chocolate Wafers
½ cup sour cream
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Melt white chocolate and sour cream in the top of a double boiler over low heat stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in vanilla, transfer to a large mixing bowl and chill for 2 hours or overnight. Whip for about 1 -2 minutes at high speed, stopping to scrape bottom and sides as needed, until frosting lightens in color and a good spreading consistency is achieved. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Frosting can be prepared in advance.



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