Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Darker Than Dark Chocolate Cake

Good morning Taipei! I was craving for some hot you tiao (deep fried dough, 油条), but ended up getting some chocolate cakes instead when I saw 2 interesting looking cafes. Just a side track, and it's purely my guess:- I noticed there are plentiful "Yong He Dou Jiang"s (永和豆浆) in Singapore, China and Taiwan. Please don't quote me on this, but I think I have chanced upon the place of origin. Yong He (永和)is a district in southwest Taipei, and yes I witnessed more than a handful of shops with the same name, with almost the same palate of delightful morning snacks, with a steady stream of patrons on scooters and regulars from the neighbourhood.

Yes! Back to the cake. And no, I have not added a black filter over the picture. I had a shock when I unwrapped the translucent wrapper, (though I had expected it won't be a regular choc cake since it's named Black Chocolate Cake "黑炭巧克力蛋糕" and I hope I remembered that correctly as I don't read traditional Chinese too well). It revealed to be charred-er-than-charred-brownie cake! Pleasantly amused and not-too-hungry, I decided to keep it back in the fridge for some better photos tomorrow morning.

Having bought 2 cakes from 2 shops just 3 metres away from each other (added some night shots of the 2 when I passed them again), it is interesting to find similar looking packaging in similar colours. I got home with a choc mousse cake from Cafe 85°C and a dark (a-hem, i mean a really dark) choc cake from Cafe 8. The cakes don't come with ribbons actually (sorry to mislead!). They are some of my rewards from 2 hours of ribbon shopping at the wholesalers'. I am not sure if anyone of you reading this share this fetish (or being anal, as a friend has put it), but I really have this thing for double faced ribbon; They do a neat job of completing a knot effortlessly. You need to twist and turn single faced ones to have the shiny-sides-up! If you bother, that is. ^__^

I am overall very impressed with the cute and chic appeal of the cake boxes. They are especially neat in such small packages. I don't do them justice with such bad lighting and photography. If someone have some good tips on photography (especially for food), please do drop me a note!

On a finishing note and a prelude to some sweet dreams, I will try to hit the Taipei store of Dean & Deluca tomorrow. It would be tempting not to window shop, and almost insurmountable to exit the shop without aa long and big lunch, but we should always press on when we are in a city with such a street-food galore and some of the best Chinese food around yeah? (in my opinion that is!)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Amazing Cocoa Discovery

I attended my first ever chocolate workshop last week, and it opened up a whole new world. Had a peep into some chocolate handling techniques, chocolate tempering process and had my first bite into a 45 minute old ganache coated with Valrhona Equatoriale Dark 55% (ganache not prepared by myself unfortunately, but of which recipe I do have). I got to bring the entire box (as above) home! If you are a baker or chocolatier reading this, and think my work (remember it's just an hour of experience) is worthy of consideration for an entry into your kitchen, please doooooo let me know!

Marvelicious... I cannot describe well enough how satisfying that feeling was. Melting ganache in the mouth, with freshly chopped and toasted nuts on the outside to add good texture and a swelling sense of pride; these really made my weekend.

The rest of the week was spent reading about the subject. I have just gotten hold of The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes from Scharffen Berger Chocolate Makers and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg, and Deborah Jones and Chocolate: The Definitive Guide by Sara Jayne-Stanes. I can't wait to get hold of some equipment to try making my first Devil's Chocolate Cake. (Is it a valid excuse to replace good old Kenwood for Kitchenaid?) I shall continue eating the self-made chocolates in the meantime.

Oh... by the way, if you love macadamia and milk chocolates, you might love Meiji's. I find it a little too sweet but it's a generous dose of nuts in a small box. I would have some friends going to New York next week, I am hoping they can help bring back a box from Kee's Chocolates and Marie Belle (can't resist great packaging).