Sur La Table Chocoholics cooking class

For my birthday this year I received one of the best birthday presents of my life from my little Hosanna Fuller. When she found a Chocoholics cooking class at Sur la Table, she knew that we had to do it (her chocolate addiction may be as bad as mine). My excitement was quite evident when she told me about it, and the class, as well as the food we produced, certainly lived up to these expectations. I had done a lot of cooking with chocolate before, but this class taught me new methods of tempering chocolate as well as new, delicious ways to use it. Throughout the course of two hours we were able to make balsamic cherry chocolate truffles, sea salt caramels dipped in chocolate, chocolate almond biscotti, and chocolate soufflés!
The chocolate truffles and sea salt caramels were very new to me, so I was excited to learn how to make them. I had never really attempted to make candies because I had always assumed that they were extremely difficult and easy to mess up. However, I soon realized that they are not as terrifying as I had thought, especially if you have a candy thermometer to us. For starters, the balsamic cherries blew me away. They were the perfect amount of savory and sweet. The cherries were simmered in balsamic vinaigrette and absorbed tangy flavor to complement their sweetness nicely. We made the truffle by melting 72% dark chocolate and adding cream to it after it had cooled for a minute or two, so that it didn’t seize. We let this mixture chill in the fridge until it was workable into round balls that we could fill with the cherries and roll in a bit of cocoa powder. It came out to a rich, chocolate truffle with a delectable surprise inside. The mixture of flavors complemented one another so that neither the savory nor the sweet overpowered the other. The chocolate was dark so it wasn’t overly sweet so as to taste like you were eating a Hershey kiss filled with cherries. It truly tasted like a culinary masterpiece, so if you want to impress your friends this is the recipe to use.

The same goes for the sea salt caramels. It takes only a few minutes to mix and heat the corn syrup and sugar to a medium-dark caramel color where it is time to remove it from the flame. Then, we added the butter in little pieces at a time with a whisk to make sure that it was all melted in evenly. Afterwards, this mixture was cooled and cut into bite-size candy pieces, dipped in chocolate, and sprinkled with sea salt to produce a delicious caramel. Caramel and chocolate is one of my weaknesses. I could probably have eaten this entire brick of caramels if I hadn’t shared them with my suitemates. The caramels were a chewy consistency that didn’t hurt your teeth to bite into and the flavor was out of this world. The butter and sea salt were a bit overpowered by the corn syrup and sugar to give a sweet caramel with a slight hint of salt. Plus, a chocolate coating never hurt any desert. These were Hosanna’s favorite recipe of the day because they “had a balanced taste and were easy to make”. This simple recipe will impress anyone and will be gone in the blink of an eye.
After the two candies we made chocolate almond biscotti which Hosanna and I preferred as an unscotti. The batter was made by creaming the butter and sugar, adding eggs and vanilla, and then adding a flour/baking soda mixture. It is a similar process to making cookies up until that point. But, the dough is a bit thicker than cookie dough so we were able to mold it into a think loaf (about 5×12 in.) and then bake it once. After it was baked the first time and cooled, we cut it into 1 inch slices, sprinkled with a bit of sugar and cocoa powder, and baked a second time. However, we tried this unscotti and were in love, it was gooey and moist with a little almond crunch mixed in. We weren’t loving the idea of baking it a second time to get a dry, crunchy cookie….so we didn’t! We learned that unscottis are a very popular dessert in Italy so we aren’t the only chocolate fanatics who prefer our cookies baked once as opposed to twice. We took home our unscottis enticingly moist and introduced our friends to the delectable unscotti.
Last but certainly not least, we made the chocolate soufflés. This was the only item on the list that I had made prior to this class. I have tried various recipes at home because they are the perfect way to end any dinner party as well as heavenly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They are all made in a similar fashion by beating the egg whites and sugar until fluffy and then adding in a melted chocolate, butter, and egg yolk mixture. The recipe I use at home uses bittersweet chocolate and a splash of Grand Marnier for extra flavor whereas this one used in class uses only dark chocolate. It produced a creamy, sweeter chocolate taste than I had expected, but it was nevertheless incredible.
All in all, the cooking class was informative, fun, and delicious. The chef running it was highly trained and knowledgeable about all sorts of cooking so we were able to ask a lot of questions during the class. It was a calm atmosphere where everybody wanted to learn to cook but there were all different levels of chefs there so even if you are a beginner you will be able to follow the course. Best of all, we got to take home everything we made in cute little boxes to share with our friends. Although the box of chocolates didn’t last me more than a few hours, the memories from this class will. So if you need a birthday present, an anniversary present, or an “I’m just feeling nice today” present, no girl is ever going to be opposed to attending this chocoholics cooking class.

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Vegetarian Enchiladas

One of my favorite Mexican dishes is Enchiladas. They are perfect for feeding large groups and are pretty simple to make. In this installment of Mexicali cooking, I make vegetarian enchiladas, and do so in less than an hour! I know that time is a precious commodity on college campuses. Since us college students don’t have much time to put into cooking (or sleeping),  we rely on buying pre-made food or walking to Chipotle. However, if there is a Westside, there is a way! Making these enchiladas is very simple, and should take only 10 minutes to prep, and 50 minutes to actually cook and bake. While some days, our schedules necessitates packaged pre-made food, I entreat you all to try this recipe on a Sunday afternoon, because Chipotle really isn’t  Mexican food.

Vegetarian Enchiladas
They are really, really good.

 

Ingredients

5 flour tortillas (use corn if you can!)

2 cups of Sliced mushrooms

1 can of Black beans (14 oz)

1 1/2 cup of frozen corn

1 large onion, diced

3 green onions (dice both the bulb and green stalks)

6 mini bell peppers

1/2 cup of Cilantro

1 bag of Sargento’s Mexican cheese

3 cloves of garlic, diced

 

Enchilada sauce:

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 teaspoon of cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can vegetable broth (12 oz)

6 oz of tomato paste

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup of water

1 tomato, diced 

 

Directions:

To make the Enchilada sauce:

1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add the flour, stirring for about 35 seconds.

2. Add chili powder, continue to stir for a minute to two minutes.

3. Add vegetable broth, tomato paste, tomato, cumin, oregano, stir very well, and reduce the temperature to low heat.

4. Cook for 10-15 minutes, the sauce will thicken itself. If you want it to be less thick, just add up to 3/4 cup of water and stir well.

 

To make the Enchilada mix

1. In a large skillets, grill the mushrooms for about 4-6 minutes, or until they are soft and have browned.

2. Add garlic and continue to cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add onions, cook them until they are soft, not translucent.

4. Add the corn, beans, green onion bulbs, mini bell peppers, and spices.

5. Add the cilantro and cook on low heat, mixing well.

6. Grease the baking dishes with a little bit of oil.

7. Warm up each tortilla on the stove top, then place about 1/2 cup of bean mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Wrap the tortilla, and place it so that the seam side is not facing you, but on the baking dish.

8. Once you fill the baking dish, with about 5 wraps or so, spread the enchiliada sauce over them.

9. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups of cheese over the wraps.

10. Place the baking dish in the oven, bake for 25-35 minutes.

11. Top with the green onion stalks, and serve!