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Archive for 2013

NEW YEARS EVE: Chocolate Caviar Tart Or Tartlet

Dominique Ansel, the acclaimed pastry chef who invented the Cronut, has an entire store full of delicious things to eat.

For New Year’s Eve, anniversaries and other special occasions, we like his chocolate caviar tartlet*. He fills a chocolate tart crust with caramel coffee cream and tops it with chocolate caviar pearls and gold leaf.

You can use any chocolate tart recipe you like. Here’s a delicious coffee-chocolate tart recipe is from pastry chef Pichet Ong.


Chocolate caviar comprises small beads of chocolate that are formed to look like real caviar beads (which are also called caviar pearls—check out our Caviar Glossary). They provide a visual delight, toothsome texture and of course, intense bites of chocolate.


Caramel chocolate “caviar” tartlet with edible gold foil. Photo courtesy Dominique Ansel.

Chocolate caviar is typically made from cocoa powder, sugar syrup, water and alginate to hold it together.

Here’s the rub: Buying chocolate caviar in small quantities is costly. It’s sold as a gourmet novelty gift.

But if you can see your way to buying seven pounds of it—the commercial size from top chocolate manufacturer Callebaut—for $56, it’s an affordable $8 a pound, and leaves you with a lot of caviar pearls to repackage in 8-ounce portions as Valentine gifts. Check it out.

*A tartlet is an individual portion. A tart is a multiportion size, six inches or more in diameter.


Milk chocolate caviar pearls. Photo courtesy



  • Godiva Chocolate Pearls. This item from the Chocoiste line seems to have been discontinued; it’s no longer on Godiva’s website. But it is on Amazon. In addition to the dark chocolate pearls, you can find milk chocolate pearls, mint dark chocolate pearls and white chocolate pearls, among other flavors, while they last. These chocolate pearls are larger than chocolate caviar pearls.
  • Venchi Chocolate Caviar. This fine Italian chocolate maker sells 1.4 ounces of chocolate caviar
  • in a classic glass caviar jar: $16.99 (or $12 an ounce). However, these are not round “pearls” but irregular “pebbles.” And given the price, it makes sense to buy the Callebaut chocolate caviar in bulk: You get 112 ounces for $56, or $2 an ounce.


  • Then there’s Gourvita: a retailer that sells caviar pearls made by Sosa Ingredients and packaged in the classic blue metal caviar tin. Gourvita is a German gourmet food store that sells the chocolate caviar on but ships it from Germany. A 100g (3.5 ounce) package is $33.90. That’s $9.69 an ounce—better than Venchi, but nowhere as good as the Callebaut bulk chocolate caviar.

    Don’t forget the edible gold leaf.

    And don’t forget to save a tartlet for us!


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    Looking at a lot of leftovers today? Make a strata!

    A strata is a layered casserole, related by eggs and cheese to a fritatta or quiche, made from a mixture of bread, eggs and cheese plus any vegetables and proteins you have on hand. You can serve it for any meal, from breakfast through dinner.

    Wile it sounds Italian, the strata is actually American in origin. The earliest recipe has been found in a 1902 book, Handbook of Household Science. That first recipe used white sauce instead eggs.

    Today’s variations include everything from sweet stratas like French Toast Strata to savory stratas, like the recipe below. A strata can make good use of leftovers:

  • Breads: baguette, brioche, challah, cornbread, panettone, whole grain, seasoned bread crumbs for topping, stuffing or any type of bread
  • Cheese: any type at all, from blue, goat and feta to cheddar, gruyère and mozzarella
  • Seasonings: chile, garlic, pesto, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, berries, dried fruits (including raisins), pineapple
  • Meats: Bacon, chicken, ham, sausage
  • Onions: caramelized onions, chives, leeks,
  • Crab, smoked salmon, tuna, any leftovers

    Yummy layers of eggs, bread and any leftovers you have. Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, herbs, mushroom, spinach, potato, pumpkin, tomato, zucchini
    Here are hundreds of strata recipes.

    This recipe is from the National Pork Board, which has many delicious recipes at


    The National Pork Board says: This recipe is wonderful for Christmas morning or New Year’s Day because it takes advantage of the previous night’s leftover roast. You can substitute cooked sausage—breakfast or Italian—or even diced ham for the pork. On the side, serve a citrus and avocado salad and cinnamon-laced coffee.


    Don’t like goat cheese? Bell peppers?
    Whatever? Substitute an ingredient you do
    like. Photo courtesy


    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 12 ounces cooked roast pork, shredded or cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 5 cups)
  • Oil spray
  • 12 ounces crusty Italian or French bread, with crusts, cut or torn into 3/4-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
  • 1 7-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) spreadable goat cheese, crumbled*
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk (regular or lowfat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. SPRAY a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking oil. Arrange 1/2 of the bread in the dish. Top with 1/2 of the pork, 1/2 of the chiles, 1/2 of the cheese, and 1/2 of the sage. Repeat 1 time, making 2 layers. Set aside.

    3. WHISK the eggs in a large bowl; then whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over casserole and set aside for 20 minutes, pressing on the bread occasionally to help it absorb the liquid.

    4. BAKE until browned and the center is set, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

    *Don’t buy pre-crumbled goat cheese; it doesn’t melt as well.


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    No one knows when the first Christmas goose was roasted or the first Christmas pudding steamed. Some dates are very vague: the first bûche de Noël (Yule log cake), for example, “could have been as early as the 1600s.”* Other sources attribute it to an unnamed Parisian pâtissier in the Victorian Age, sometime after 1870.

    But we do know when our favorite Christmas songs debuted.

    This list was compiled by Marnie Hanel for the New York Times Magazine issue of December 15, 2013.


    1818: Silent Night
    1824: O Tannenbaum
    1857: Jingle Bells
    1866: Deck The Hall
    1934: Winter Wonderland
    1940: White Christmas
    1941: The Little Drummer Boy
    1944: Baby It’s Cold Outside
    1945: Let It Snow
    1949: Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
    1950: Frosty The Snowman
    1962: Do You Hear What I Hear


    A Christmas tree of white chocolate cabosses (cacao pods) by chocolatier Oriol Blaguer. Photo courtesy Oriol Blaguer.

    Whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday, or no holiday at all, we wish you a peaceful day.



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    FOOD FUN: Popcorn Snowman

    Take a bite of Frosty. Photo and recipe courtesy


    Make these today for Christmas Eve, or to enjoy instead of traditional Christmas popcorn balls.


    Ingredients For 5 Snowmen

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 package (16 ounces) large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Decorations: sprinkles, licorice shoelace, gum drops, cinnamon candies, etc.
    1. MELT marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn and stir.

    2. COVER your palms with butter and shape the popcorn into balls. Decorate as desired, using royal icing to affix candies. Let set.



    You can make the snowman’s hat from:

  • A miniature cookie and a large marshmallow
  • A nonpareil an a Rolo chocolate caramel candy
    Stick the pieces together with some royal icing, and use the same icing to affix the hat to the snowman.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pocky Biscuit Sticks

    One day we were squeezed against the crowded bar at David Burke Townhouse (when it first opened, as David Burke & Donatella). It seemed as if the entire, hyper New York foodie crowd was trying to get in the door. There was a 45-minute wait for our table. We consoled ourself with the bar snack: bacon wrapped around a delicious, slender breadstick.

    We couldn’t get enough of them, and the bartender told us the breadstick was actually Pocky Pretz, a Japanese snack.

    The first Pocky flavor, launched in 1966, was biscuit sticks coated in chocolate. The name derives from the Japanese word for crunchy (pokkin).

    Since then, as many flavors of Pocky have appeared as you can shake a biscuit stick at. Most are frosted in sweet flavors: almond, banana, coconut, milk chocolate, green tea, honey, strawberry and so forth.


    Some Pocky varieties are filled, this one with chocolate cream. Photo courtesy Glico.


    Hugely popular in Asia, they’re a fun snack and delicious with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea. The success has spawned imitators: Lucky, Pepero and Toppo, among and others.

    There’s even a “Pocky Day” celebrated in Japan on November 11 (because 11-11 looks like four Pocky sticks).

    There’s plenty of Pocky in the U.S. You can find them in the international section of many large supermarkets, Walmart and other retailers, in addition to Asian food stores. And of course, there’s a big selection on


    How great is this! See how to do it at
    Utry.It. Photo courtesy, which has
    gorgeous recipes.



    You can garnish just about any dessert with Pocky and enjoy the visual appearance as well as the crunch and flavor. Just a few ideas:

  • Decorate cupcakes
  • Decorate cakes (see photo)
  • Dip in fondue
  • Enjoy with yogurt
  • Substitute for ladyfingers on a charlotte or mousse cake
  • Serve in a vase or small pitcher for snacking
  • Serve with hot chocolate
  • Use instead of birthday candles

    You can also send a gift box of six assorted Pocky flavors.

    How do you like to use Pocky?


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