Chocolate Dipped Waffles

Phew, sorry about that.  All that canning.

ALL THAT CANNING.  I canned it all.

There will be a post shortly featuring my library of canned goods.

For now however I give you chocolate waffles.

I love waffles.  They are so versatile.  Savory(ish) with chicken, waffle sandwiches, just plain old waffles with butter and syrup.

Can't go wrong!

In France waffles have a unique spin - they aren't breakfast or dinner, but a snack.

Des gaufres, often dipped in chocolate and/or sprinkled with crispy pearl sugar are widely available.

You can buy them pre-wrapped in the supermarche, about the same quality as your average Ho Ho (okay, maybe a little better).

You can get them in a patisserie with lovingly caramelized sugar baked in.

It's something I've been wanting to re-create for a long time.  But for a few years, try as I might, I just couldn't get waffles right.

They always came out...floppy.

Floppy waffles may occur naturally with aging, but I wasn't ready to give in to them just yet.

Anyway, long story short, the mighty Google has finally led me to this pearl (sugar) of a recipe.

The chocolate shell was my own creation.

The smiles on my kids' faces?  I'm taking credit for that as well.

Chocolate Dipped Waffles

The recipe that saved me here was the Waffle of Insane Greatness.  Where did it originate?  Who created it?  I don't know!  You can find it on all the big food sites *now*, but I salute the chef who created it.  And named it.  That name is a winner.

3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate shell:
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons coconut oil

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix together.  Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix well.  Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.

Cook on waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.  Couldn't be easier!

For chocolate coating, heat chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a double boiler.  When melted and completely combined, remove from heat.  Dip waffle quarters quickly, let dry on wax paper.  Mangez.

Canning Hiatus - Where does it end?

Canning canning canning canning canning canning canning canning canning.

I am canning everything!

Don't come to my house.  I WILL CAN YOU.

Sorry I've been gone so long - I am preserving everything that doesn't crawl away first.  It's becoming compulsive.

Here's what I've done - raspberry vanilla jam.  Amaretto cling peaches.  Habanero peach salsa (somebody gave me a 20 lb box of peaches...this is part of the problem).  Peach lavender jam.  Cinnamon pickles.

Here's what I'm going to do - pickled garlic.  Heirloom tomatoes.  Peach butter (using up all the peaches, there will be enough left over for a pie on the weekend).  And then maybe a break?

Pics to come.  Apologies in order.  It's all COMING.

Space Aliens Birthday Cake (Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache)

Argh, summer!  So busy.

It's been swimming lessons time for the kids, and they make it intense.  An hour a day, 4 days a week for two weeks!

It's always fine once we're there, but getting the swim bag packed every day and two kids plus self to the pool is just...consuming.

Once I got everything there except my own swimsuit.  Oops.

The up-side is, once you're in for swim lessons they let you stay all day.  

Nothing wrong with that!

Another great thing about summer is, my son's birthday is inside of it.

A July birthday!  The lucky guy.  

Me, I'm a January girl.  Ugh, miserable.  Usually I like to pretend January doesn't even exist.

He wanted a space-aliens party this year and I MAY have overdone it, with the papier-mache solar system and the internet-ordered aliens party plates.

But the cake was the most fun of all.

He won't hear of any cake flavor other than chocolate, so it's chocolate.  With chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache inside (I'm all about the ganache lately).

Little man is four.  I can hardly believe it.  The time, it flies.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Filling

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot chocolate (unsweetened, if you can get it)

Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt.  You don't need a stand mixer, just a great big spoon.  Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and hot cocoa.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For frosting, make this recipe (use milk instead of champagne, or use champagne...also add 1/2 c of cocoa powder)!

For ganache, make this recipe!  

Spread it all around and enjoy.

Sunflowers Cake (Yellow Cake with Chocolate Ganache)

Yes, sometimes I make cakes.

I have been known to plan them in great detail.  Usually while exercising.

I've found a good way to plan an original cake is to think one or two weeks ahead of where you're at, seasonally.  24th of July?  Think late August.

Late August?  Boom.  Sunflowers.

A yellow cake with a chocolate ganache - yellow like the day, chocolate like the night.  The equinox is coming, you know.

Is it a little brown around the edges?  Yes.

Don't think I'm not grumpy about it.

But the thick, chocolate ganache was perfect.

The flowers were fun - I was going for Van Gogh.

I like some texture on a cake, you know?

Summertime.  The livin' is still easy.


Sunflowers Cake (Yellow Cake with Chocolate Ganache)
(yellow cake recipe based on Joy the Baker)

For the cake:
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups milk

Butter and flour a 13x9 cake pan.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Set aside.  Measure out milk, add vanilla extract.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute between additions.

Add flour mixture, alternating with milk mixture, in 3 additions (so 2 additions of milk).  Stop beaters and finish combining with large wooden spoon.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan, smooth with spatula.  Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.  Test with toothpick in center for doneness.

Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then dump onto cake board.  Finish cooling.

Slice down the middle, as evenly as possible.

For ganache:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

Bring cream to a simmer on stove.  Place chocolate in heatproof bowl.  Pour simmering cream over chocolate and stir until combined.  Will be runny - let sit until desired consistency is reached (process can be speeded by putting in refrigerator, but keep a careful eye on can stiffen up quickly).

For frosting:
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter*
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk

Combine powdered sugar and butter and beat for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and milk and beat for a minute more.  Color as desired.

*for a stiffer, less melty frosting (easier to decorate with), replace 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup shortening

Dairy-Free Breakfast Nachos

You can have nachos for breakfast - why not?

Here's the thing, too.  These don't have cheese in them.

I'm keeping it quiet, because cheese is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  And I don't want to hurt its feelings.

But you know, some foods have enough stuff going on that they just don't need cheese.

Shh!  Hear me out.

Mexican food, with its lime, its cilantro, its salsa, its guac, its raw white onion.  Leave the cheese off, you won't even notice.

Observe that the most authentic Mexican food at most only uses a sprinkling of queso cotija.  It's a condiment, a light sprinkling.

In the summer I like my dishes light (if you can call something with guacamole and a fried egg on it light).

But please don't tell cheese - we have a scheduled rendezvous coming soon, and I wouldn't want things to get awkward.

Dairy-Free Breakfast Nachos

some chips
a egg
chopped white onion
1 can black beans
cilantro, torn
lime juice

The nice thing about nachos is you really can make them to taste.  I created the guacamole here by mashing up avocado, lime juice and salt (about 1/2 lime and a generous pinch of salt per avocado).  Put it together how you like, fry an egg and put it on top.  Ta da!  Breakfast.

Cocoa Beans.

Food is good.

Food is so good.

I recently went a day without.  

Longer than a day, even.  36 hours.  I was aiming for 48.

Why?  Lots of reasons.

We are in a precarious life-stage and fasting helps me think clearly.

I've had a recent resurgence of a health issue that makes certain delicious and beloved food groups off-limits (sugar, bread, dairy).  Makes me want to pout and throw the towel in on all food.

But in those last hours, somewhere between the headache and the full-body weakness I thought, 'Why am I doing this again?'

My kid drew a face in the nib bowl with his finger and said, 'look mom it's me made out of chocolate!'
So I had some potato chips.  And, like the return of the Nile flooding the farmland of Egypt, all my faculties were back again.

Food is good.  It just is.  All food is.  Vegetables and fats and meats and cheese and fruit, sweet, fresh fruit.  Just get the best quality you can and trust your body.

Don't let anyone tell you any different.

I am experimenting with bean-to-bar chocolate now.  It's quite a process.  The beans need to be fermented, roasted, hulled, cracked (that's where these pictures are at), and processed.  Squished down and their fat/juice squeezed out of them (delicious cocoa butter), then added back until you get the flavor and texture you want.

I think I'm going to like mine rough.

More on this project to come.  It will be good news, the remainder of my quickly evaporating, fast-induced intuition is telling me so.

Things I've Done in the Summertime or, What Happened to the Melba Toast?

So hot.  So sweaty.  So love.

I just got back from a vacation to home, to home.  To my mother's house.

I was tooootally gonna blog while I was there.  Totally was.

Now I'm back in Oregon with just bits and pieces of a beautiful trip on my camera.  Places I went, things I did.

Things I made and things I ate with my family and my friends.

Sometimes we just stayed home, in the house I grew up in.

A meat plate with lamb ham.  Part of a 14 course dinner I threw for friends.

I was totally going to blog that.

Some kind of racoon attack, maybe?

One hard, one soft, and one blue.  Those are the rules.

Cloudy meringues that were later filled with peaches and cream.

I was super going to take a picture of that.

A cold beet soup with yogurt and pumpkin seeds.

This is the sort of classy crowd I hang around with.  And that is a homemade ginger ale taking center stage.

Happy 4th, happy friends, happy heat, happy summer!