Tag Archives: baking chocolate

toFurst Time, Be Gentle

In my pantry today:

  • 1 package/block of extra firm tofu
  • 2/3 package whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 2 half-jars of spaghetti sauce from the fridge
  • 1/4 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 c Parmasean cheese
  • 1/2 c mixed shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp jar pesto mix
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper

First, pray. You have never before cooked with tofu and things might get crazy.

Carefully extract your block o’fu and place between two clean/paper towels for squeezing out the extra water. My plan going into this whole shebang was to simply make fried tofu. That is what the internet primarily suggests for extra firm. Maybe this block didn’t read its own label. This alleged “Extra Firm” crumbled into little bits and I was so not in the mood to make a simple scramble. This was my first time and I wanted it to be special.

And what’s more special than an Italian girl making lasagna, too, for the first time? Yes, I am ashamed to admit that. It’s very “40 Year Old Virgin” of me to have never, not once in my life made lasagna. That’s bad and I should feel bad.

So crumble that tofu with a fork and reserve a cup (for recipe below) before seasoning. Take your two ass-jars of sauce from the fridge and combine them, adding cayenne and black pepper. Then go to town on your tofu: add in the rest of your seasonings and feta/Prmasean. Fork it all, gently, to hell. Pour a little sauce into the bottom of a 6×6″ pan. Put in a layer of uncooked noodles and top it with a hearty portion of your tofu mixture. Do another sauce/tofu/noodles series and top with more sauce, a few extra crumbles of tofu and some shredded cheese. Cover and put in a 375° oven for an hour. Let it sit for a few minutes upon taking it out, then take that first bite and have a moment to remember that will stay with you the rest of your life. Go ahead, you deserve it. In fact, if you could shake your own hand while still holding that fork, you would.

Also in my pantry:

  • 1 c crumbled extra firm tofu
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 squares Ghirardelli 100% cacao baking chocolate
  • 1 c white chocolate chips

Put the tofu and sweetened condensed milk together in the food processor and allow them to make sweet, smooth love until silky. Pour into small pot, add broken chocolate pieces and stir over MH. When all is brown, pour into greased 1″ glass pan, sprinkle chips and press into the stuff then let set in fridge for a few hours. Then regret not putting it either into a pie shell or little serving cups as you take an otherwise-delightful spoon. This ended up tasting like dark-chocolate brownie batter and should have gotten put out to set in a proper pasture.

Ultimately, that lasagna was good enough to make it not goddamn matter about this dessert attempt anyway.

Odyssey of The Salty Fucksticks

In my pantry today:

  • 1 bag of honey-wheat pretzel twists
  • 4 c crushed raw pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 c large rocks of salt
  • 1 bar of 60% cacao Ghirardelli baking chocolate

Also, aren't these cigarette pretzels I found on Google just adorable? No Smoking! No Salty Fucksticks!

Ok. So. I don’t really have any photo documentation of this process, but I cannot only commit to admitting my successes (or near-successes, depending) if I am to expect any genuine learning from my errors. And I like learning. So. Start out with a fantastic idea. Fashion a double-boiler from a sauce pot and large metal bowl, melt your chocolate. Mix your salt and nuts, and after carefully drizzling chocolate over the top halves of the pretzel rods then roll said rod in the pistachio-salt mixture.

Ok. So.

See that recipe up there? Don’t follow it. Do not use rock salt with rocks so large they barely stick. I mean they will stick. And perhaps it’s a blessing that they only stick so well; perhaps you might’ve thought to grind the rock salt into smaller bits beforehand the way you did with the pistachios. With that brand new food processor  in which you are currently besot with love. Well, congratulations and I wish you luck with all of your future first attempts; I, myself, live more by the graces of hindsight than I’d like to admit.

So. Upon tasting the first cooled rod of the two dozen or so now resting on parchment paper, I gagged and threw it back down on the counter. When the OMGSALTATTACK! ebbed and my throat reopened, the first thing that came out was a spitting curse from my lips: “SALTY! FUCK! STICKS! And that is what they were.

Next, they all journeyed together into a freezer bag. Where I punched them and was glad for it. When my knuckles quickly became sore, I transferred the whole mess into the food processor. I was sure I could do something with the pile of delicious failure before me.

And I had it! Make a simple toffee and turn it into an awesome toffee.

So. To make simple-as-pie toffee with some butter and sugar, you need a candy thermometer. Which I do not have. I cooked it diligently, the way I had seen my mother always do it. “This is working!” I thought with glee as my sauce pot churned what was surely to be a delightful Christmas treat. I was afraid to take it off the burner too early, but even moreso to burn it. I flipped a coin and went with God.

The first and most obvious flaw with this plan came to light when the hot toffee hit the ground pretzels and, of COURSE, melted all the baking chocolate off. Would this effect the setting? Crap. The 28x18x5cm and 3lb pan went into the freezer and I walked away.

And when I came back, of course it hadn’t set properly. I had most certainly taken it off the stove too soon, and not helping matters was the chocolate melted into it. I scraped it all off the pan and threw it back into the food processor.

This is where I am now — 2 dozen or so delicious toffee cookies and still a full gallon freezer bag of ground “salty chocolate pistachio pretzel toffee.” Once I cool off from my failure-shame about all this (Oh, how far I have come from that original fantastic idea!) I am certain the silver linings will be evident. Evident, and most assuredly delicious. Because it is really super good. Just nowhere from my imagination’s intent.

I am currently open to suggestions. Pretend we are on Iron Chef and your ingredient is announced: GROUND SALTY FUCKSTICKS! Already on the table are things like:

  • bake more cookies with it.
  • bake brownies with it.
  • put it on ice cream.
  • re-melt it into a single entity