You know when life is so crazy busy that the only thing keeping you going is a good dose of dark chocolate? Well, that's how my life has been lately. I've had too many irons in the fire. It's why I haven't been here in a more than a couple of weeks…
Happily, I'm back now. And I have something really important to share. You see, I've been keeping a secret from you, but now I can finally tell—I HAVE A NEW COOKBOOK IN THE WORKS!!! It's all about flavored butters, a subject I'm passionate about because I use flavored butters in place of sauces all the time. I began to write about them in my first book Seared to Perfection, and now I'm going to have a book dedicated to flavored butters! My kitchen has been a frenzy of buttery recipe testing. Compound butters. Brown Butters. Drawn butters. Butters, butters, and more butters! Every meal I've made, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, has been anointed with a melting slice of flavored butter. My manuscript, which includes over 50 recipes for sweet and savory butters, is done now, and I couldn't be more excited because my publisher Harvard Common Press has already accepted it (my editor may have used the words "love it" when he told me). And on top of all that, they're considering hiring me to do the photography for the book! Over the next days, my agenda is to photograph flavored butters in all their luscious glory so that I can present them with a couple of sample images good enough to win the job. Keep your fingers crossed for me because I want nothing more than to do the photography for my book myself.
And as if that wasn't enough to keep me frantically busy, I was asked to teach an introductory baking class at Mount Hood Community College. I took on the job even though I was given only half a week to prepare for the term. What can I say, I just can't pass up a teaching opportunity!
A couple of other announcements…In case you've been wondering about that new footer you see down there, I accepted an invitation from The Daily Meal to become a member of their culinary network. It's a very cool website for food-minded people, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Check out the From Culinary Content Network section to see my last post about Savoy cabbage from the farmers market featured. Also, I'd like to thank Sweetspot.ca for featuring my Tuna Salad Niçoise.
Anyway, it's time for another dose of chocolate therapy to keep me going.
And off to work on that butter photo shoot!
Mint Chocolate Bars
For the shortbread crust:
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for greasing the baking dish
7 ounces all-purpose flour
¾ ounce cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 ounces sugar
For the chocolate layer:
3 ounces heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or scant 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Make the shortbread crust:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish and line with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl, place the bowl over a medium pan of simmering water, and heat, stirring frequently, until melted. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium until blended. Beat in the chocolate until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough comes together, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to the baking dish and press into an even layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the chocolate layer:
Bring the cream to a bare simmer in a small, heavy saucepan. Place the chocolate into a small bowl, add the hot cream and peppermint extract, and whisk until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the shortbread and spread evenly. Let cool for a couple of hours, or until set.
Using the parchment paper, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into portions and serve.
Makes 12 bars. For a professional-looking presentation, cut the bars using a hot knife and wipe it clean between cuts. Bars keep for several days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.