For Christmas my husband gave me the cookbook Adventures with Chocolate: 80 Sensational Recipes by Paul A. Young. This is not the kind of chocolate cookbook that gives you ideas for your next school bake sale. Oh no, this book is full of strange and dark mysteries. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that Paul A. Young is a diabolical genius. Many of the recipes in this book, particularly the savory ones, make me ask: “Is this disgusting or awesome?” This is actually one of my favorite questions to ask of a recipe, and something I ask surprisingly often, so, naturally, I love this book.
Let’s consider some of these recipes:
- Wild mushroom ganache
- Sweet chocolate pesto
- Carmelized red-onion and rosemary truffles
- Salted black-olive bars
Are you starting to see what I mean? For my first adventure in chocolate, I made savory sandwich ganache. This is a barely sweet, very dark chocolate, melted with cream cheese, salt, olive oil, and–wait for it–Worcestershire sauce. The resulting product is best described as… intense. We tried it, as recommended, on a sandwich grilled with stilton and pear. The stilton was a little strong and in competition with the ganache. It’s actually surprising how cheese-like a very strong chocolate can be.
So far, my favorite way to eat this savory ganache is toasted on a slice of bread covered in a layer of jam. This spread has very little in common with that other chocolate spread, Nutella. Unless your Nutella grew up, developed an attitude, and started smoking and reading Sylvia Plath. It’s kind of like that. I would not serve this to my kids because a) the probably wouldn’t like it and that would be a waste of a heck of a lot of dark chocolate and b) if they did like it, I’d have to peel them off the ceiling afterwards.
There is a whole lot of 85% dark chocolate in this ganache. And now I can precisely measure that chocolate with the kitchen scale I also received for Christmas. Watch out, Alton Brown recipes, I’ll be seeing you soon with startling accuracy.
This recipe is slightly modified, because I was unable to get all that lovely chocolate to melt with the amount of liquid specified, so I used a little more. I also substituted brown sugar for muscovado sugar
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 9 oz. African 85% dark chocolate
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Bring ¼ cup water, the cream cheese, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt to a simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, whisking well until smooth. Cool for 30 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Pour into sterilized jars and use within one week, or refrigerate and use within a month.
On a separate note, I would like to acknowledge that I seem to be incapable of taking a cheerful, festive photo for my blog banner. I have tried to change the banner periodically with the seasons. In summer, I had tomato soup. In the fall, I had pumpkins. I’ve tried a couple different photos for winter, and while I’ve tried to go for festive, they’ve all been a little depressing. We’ve ended up with that striped ball ornament you see, but there were some other contenders.
I call this one Desolate Green Ball of Despair.
And now we have Desolate Red Ball of Despair (but sparkly!).
And finally, Desolate Red Ornament of Despair.
See what I mean? Maybe we can find something chipper around here by, say, Groundhog Day. Here’s hoping.