Chocolate Meringues

chocolate-meringues-chocolat

Light, fluffy meringue cookies…almost like the farts of an angel. No really! “Pets d’ange” is what the French call them – although doesn’t it sounds prettier in French? Vianne and Josephine share some in Chocolat at the counter of La Celeste Praline chocolate shop, but they are extremely simple to make at home, just 3 ingredients. Just make sure not to overbeat, I think I did just a little – they were delicious nonetheless.

Chocolate Meringues

From My French Kitchen: A Book of 120 Treasured Recipes by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde

For the meringues

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa

Heat oven to 275° and line a baking sheet with wax paper.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the cocoa with a spatula. Using 2 spoons, make 12 dollops evenly spaced on the baking sheet, and bake for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and leave for another 12.

For the Chantilly cream

  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whip ingredients together until soft peaks form. Serve dolloped on meringues, or make sandwiches.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 18: Chocolat

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Mendiants & Chili Chocolate ‘Bark’

Chocolat w cookbook & choc on top

After watching the movie again in preparation for this episode, I decided to make pistachio chocolates because that’s what stood out to me in the film. After I got The Little Book of Chocolate, the cookbook by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde, I discovered the chocolate and nut treats called mendiants. Then again, while reading the novel Chocolat, I learned that they are Vienne’s favorites! They really are so tasty and also very versatile to suit anyone’s palate–and very easy to put together!

The chili and sea salt chocolate is also found in The Little Book of Chocolat and I feel is very reminiscent of the film with it’s heavy inclusion of Mayan and Aztec influences. Also, I’ve always really liked the idea of salty and sweet and then throw in spicy? Yes, let’s!

 Tempered Chocolate

  • Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces of similar size
  • White Chocolate, broken into pieces of similar size

Bring some water to a very low simmer in a small to medium-sized pot. Place a heat-proof bowl over the pot (make sure it fits nicely/snugly & doesn’t touch the water) & put 2/3 of either the dark or white chocolate into it. Place a candy thermometer or digital kitchen thermometer into the bowl with the chocolate & heat until it registers about 131ºF for dark chocolate or 122ºF for white chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat & stir in the remaining white or dark chocolate pieces, continuing to stir until all of the chocolate is smooth & melted. Put the thermometer back into the bowl & let it sit until the temperature lowers to just over 80ºF for dark chocolate or just under 80ºF for white chocolate. Replace the bowl of chocolate over the gently simmering pot &, stirring constantly, let the temperature climb to about 88ºF for dark chocolate & 85ºF for white. Now it’s tempered & ready to use!

 Chocolate Mendiants

  • 3.5 oz or so of Tempered Dark Chocolate (I used a 72% bar of Godiva)
  • Tempered White Chocolate (optional)
  • Dried Fruits, cut into small bits (I used dried apricots, pineapple, & crazins)
  • Shelled Nuts & Seeds (I used pistachios, cashews, & pepitas–green pumpkin seeds)

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Using the back of a regular-sized spoon (a table spoon, like the kind you’d eat cereal with) spread circles of tempered dark chocolate onto the parchment, making them coin-size or biscuit-size–it’s up to you. If you’d like to marbleize them, spoon a tiny amount of white chocolate on top, & then gently swirl it ’round once with the back of the spoon. Tap the tray gently on the counter a few times to help the chocolate settle. Next, place nuts, seeds, & little bits of dried fruit on top, & then let the mendiants sit aside to harden.

 Chili & Sea Salt Chocolate ‘Bark’

  • 10 oz. Tempered Dark Chocolate (I used a bag of Ghirardelli’s 60% baking chips)
  • Sea Salt
  • Dried Red Pepper Flakes (I cut a dried red chili pepper into tiny bits

Spray an 8″ x 12″ pan (or similar size) with cooking spray & then lay a large sheet of plastic wrap inside. Pour your tempered dark chocolate into the pan & smooth it out & tap it on the counter to get out any air bubbles. Sprinkle the chocolate with a little bit of sea salt & pepper flakes (including seeds), & then sit aside to harden. Remove the chocolate from the pan by lifting up on the plastic wrap & then gently break the chocolate into pieces using your hands or cut with a knife. Eat it as is or use it for decorating other desserts (like cake!).

Chocolat chili bark w txtChocolat mendiant closeup

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 18: Chocolat

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Chocolat

alphonse-mucha-chocolat-ideal

Carrie and Diana discuss Joanne Harris’s novel Chocolat (which Carrie gobbled and Diana savored) as well as the 2000 movie – including witchcraft, the dark side of religion, fasting and feasting, a little history and lots and lots of chocolate.

Recipes

Referenced

Tasty Time

Main Episode

Intro music clip: “Minor Swing” by Django ReinhardtStéphane Grappelli, & The Hot Club De France Quintet, from the “Chocolat” soundtrack
Outro music clip: “Chocolate Pope” by the band Electric Six

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Marketplace Tea Eggs

tea-eggs

Some of my favorite scenes in Cinder took place in the market, where Cinder has her fix-it shop. I imagined crowded shops, charmingly messy displays, and lots of passersby. If you’re doing market shopping, you definitely need to keep up your strength with some market snacking, like some kids in the book who were munching on tea eggs. These are a classic Chinese street food, lightly salty and delicately flavored with spices and citrus. The striking spiderwebby pattern is lovely and interesting.

Tea Eggs

Recipe from Inn at the Crossroads

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tea bags (black)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 3 strips orange peel

Place the eggs in a medium pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring ta boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs (leaving the water in the pot) and let cool under cool water.

When cool enough to handle, gently crack the eggshells with the back of a teaspoon, being careful to keep the shell intact. The more you tap, the more intricate the marbled pattern will be.

Return eggs to the same pot with the boiling water and add in the soy sauce, sugar, tea bags, star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and orange peel. Bring to a boil then immediate reduce to a very low simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes, then cover and let steep for a few hours minimum, ideally overnight.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder-inspired Mini Cupcakes

Cinder cupcakes

Inspired by Cinder’s mechanic profession and partial cyborg body, these red velvet cupcakes, made rich with chocolate pudding and creamy, slightly zing-y frosting, are decked out with special gear and nut (like “nuts & bolts” nuts) sprinkles by The Geeky Hostess (available here). The cupcakes and frosting are based on recipes from The Dainty Apron and Wicked Good Kitchen respectively.

 Cinder-inspired Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

  • Cupcakes
  • 1/2 of a 16.5 oz package of Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1/2 of a 3.9 oz package of Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream (I didn’t have any so used 1/2 Cup Vanilla Yogurt + 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda. Cool reaction!)
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Frosting
  • 1 Cup Butter, just room temperature
  • 1 8 oz pkg Cream Cheese
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 – 4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Lemon or Orange Zest
  • 1/4 tsp. Fresh Minced Ginger (optional)
  • Silver Decorating Sugar
  • Steampunk Geeky Sprinkles

Cupcakes: Heat your oven to 350ºF. Grease a mini muffin pan with crisco. In a karge mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients on medium speed until combined. Scoop about 2 tsp. of the batter into each muffin cup & then bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven & let cool for a minute before placing the cupcakes onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy, & then add the cream cheese & vanilla & beat on high speed until fully incorporated & fluffy. Lower the speed & gradually add the powdered sugar in increments until it’s to your taste. Increase the speed for a minute or 2 to fluff. Spoon the frosting into a decorating/piping bag with a medium opening & pipe a thick spiral onto each cooled cupcake. Lightly sprinkle with silver decorating sugar & gear/nut sprinkles & voila! Fun to eat with chopsticks–keeps your fingers clean!

Cinder cupcake bite

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder-inspired Tea & Ginger Mocktail

Cinder drink

To go along with the red theme of the Lunar Chronicles covers (each cover has a red object in it) and the various reds and crimsons described in the story, I concocted this easy-to-make drink, great for a Cinder/Lunar Chronicles get together.

 Super Simple Cinder-inspired Mocktail

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3 Hibiscus Flower Tea Bags (I used Tazo brand that included other ingredients as well)
  • 2 Cups Ginger Ale (I used Segrams brand)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 Cup Vanilla Syrup (I used Torani brand)

Put the water and tea bags in a pot together & bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat & let steep for a few minutes. Squeeze & remove the tea bags with tongs & pour the tea into a large pitcher. Let the tea cool on the counter & then put it in the fridge to chill.

Add the ginger ale & vanilla syrup & stir. Taste test & add more ale or syrup as desired.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder

Cinder cover w quote

Diana and Carrie discuss the classic Cinderella fairytale –with a futuristic, robotic, cyberpunk twist!– in the Marissa Meyer novel Cinder, first book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

*Correction @ ~5:18: Marissa married her fiancé a few months before the release of Cinder, not after. Oops! But it still stands true that he was an awesome support throughout her touring 🙂

Recipes

Referenced


The intro and outro music clips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “In the Morning of the Magicians”, are both by The Flaming Lips.

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