On Cooking Southern: Give Me Valentines. Give Me Chocolate

chocolategroup-DSCN6355-300x225Southernism of the Week

Lean as a hoe handle: That person is so trim there’s nary a bulge or sag in the profile… like The Old Bride’s 6’5” hubby at age 22, when he had a 28-inch waist. A state or condition that usually results from hard physical labor and not snacking on too many sweets.

What is it About Chocolate?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. I say forget the fluff and flowers (although they are lovely). Nothing says love to this old romantic like a chunk of chocolate.

NOTE: Some clichés are based in fact. Women and shoes… Women and jewelry… Women and chocolate…. It’s our go-to-snack when depressed or frustrated or celebrating… in other words, on most occasions.

Most women agree that chocolate in one form or another is addictive psychologically, if not physically. Even some fellows crave it. The males in my family certainly did.

I grew up with a brother and birthed a son who could smell an ounce of chocolate the moment it was brought into the house. No hiding place was safe from their extraordinary sense of choco-smell. Even our dog, a highly expressive toy poodle who thought he was the alpha puppy in my litter, had a nose for chocolate, which is poison to most animals. He defied veterinary science the time he won the tug-of-war with my 4-year-old for a giant Hershey’s kiss. (Or perhaps the 9-pound dog’s messy survival after consuming about 2 pounds of chocolate reflected the higher percentages of sugar and fat compared to cacao in that particular confection!)

At any rate, I give thanks almost daily to the great Mesoamerican pre-columbian cultures for identifying the medicinal, culinary, and financial potential of cacao. I sing praises to the Spanish conquistadors for exporting cacao to Europe, and to the Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten for inventing the process that led to the development of solid chocolate as we know it now.

CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ

souffle-sprinkled2A soufflé is a lightly baked cake  confection of egg yolks and egg whites combined with a few other ingredients. NOTHING is more decadent to a true chocoholic than consuming hot chocolate soufflé, with its crusty exterior and almost molten interior. 

1 stick (1/2 c) butter

White granulated sugar

10-oz pkg of dark chocolate chips (barely sweetened)

6 egg yolks

1 c white granulated sugar

6 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Grease a 3-qt casserole dish or six 3- or 4-inch ramekins with butter. Sprinkle sugar in the dish(es) and roll around to coat all buttered surfaces. Pour off excess sugar.

Souffle in bath.

Souffle in bath.

Preheat oven to 325˚F

Melt chocolate chips and rest of the stick of butter in top of a double boiler, stirring to blend and using a spatula to scrape chocolate off the bowl sides. NOTE: water in the saucepan should not touch bottom of the double boiler bowl. Remove bowl from pan to cool and pour the boiling water from the saucepan into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. (Add hot water in pan up to 1-1/2 inches.)

While chocolate is cooling, beat egg yolks and sugar until light lemon colored. In a chilled bowl, beat egg whites and cram of tartar until mixture holds stiff peaks.

Temper the egg yolk mixture with a spoon full of cooling chocolate, and with mixer running, scrape rest of chocolate steadily into the eggs until completely blended. Fold beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture, turning vigorously on low speed, until completely blended. Ladle batter into the prepped dish(s). If using ramekins, do not fill more than half full because the soufflé will rise.

souffleserving-DSCN6353Place large casserole dish in the pan of hot water and bake on center rack in oven for 1 hour until center is set and soufflé pulls away from dish sides. (May require a few extra minutes.) Adjust height of hot water downward and reduce time for cooking if using ramekins, which require less time to cook. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Spoon out servings immediately and top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. YIELD: About 6 to 8 servings.

RED VELVET MUG CAKE

redvelvetmugcake-DSCN6347There’s a whole world devoted to recipes for mug cakes made in the microwave. These quickie cakes tend to get tough rapidly if not consumed immediately after nuking. But they are loads of fun for dorm dwelling students. Most mug cake recipes call for one egg, but they make enough batter for two regular-sized mugs.To test this particular recipe, I made up two batches — one for a larger mug, and one for two Ole Miss Band mugs. In both instances, the batter rises several inches above the top of the mug when baking. 

1 large egg

3 T vegetable oil

1 tsp red food coloring

3 T buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 c white granulated sugar

2 T natural cocoa powder

1/4 c self rising flour

Pinch of kosher salt

1/4 tsp white distilled vinegar

Whisk the egg and oil and add in the food coloring, buttermilk, vanilla and sugar.  Combine the cocoa, flour and salt together in a small bow, using a whisk to blend. Whisk into the wet mixture and add the vinegar, whisking until smooth.

Spray interiors of two regular sized mugs with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide the batter between the two mugs, making sure not to fill more than half way.

Microwave each mug separately for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes, until the cake has risen and tests firm. (I nuked for 1 minute and 45 seconds for the regular mugs, and 2 minutes for the larger mug, but everybody’s microwave is different. Start with less time and add in 15 second increments if more is needed.

Top while hot with traditional cream cheese frosting, powdered sugar, chocolate sauce, or whipped cream.

COUSIN ROSE’S MISSISSIPPI FUDGE PIE

Mississippi_fudge_pie-serving-DSCN6345Rose Price May was my father’s first cousin from Vicksburg. She was a fabulous cook and a respected historian. Both passions run deep in our family. Her fudge pie is a winner, and it freezes well.

1/2 c (1 stick) butter

3 squares unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

3 T white Karo corn syrup

1-1/2 c white granulated sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In top of double boiler, melt butter and chocolate, stirring with wooden spoon and scraping chocolate off the bowl sides. Cool slightly. In a separate bowl, mix 4 eggs for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until light. Beat in the corn syrup, sugar, salt and vanilla until completely blended. With mixer running on medium speed, add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture in a steady stream. Mix thoroughly.

Mississippi_fudge_pie-DSCN6348Pour into an uncooked 9-inch pie crust. Bake on a cookie sheet on center rack of oven for about 30-40 minutes, until top is crusty, and center of filling doesn’t jiggle.  Remove to rack to cool and set before cutting. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and fresh berries.

 

 

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’  author’s weekly column on www.hottytoddy.com and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).