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Archive for February 25, 2017

RECIPE: Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds

February 25th is National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day.

While you can easily head to the nearest store to pick up some chocolate-covered nuts, nut clusters or turtles, chocolate-covered nuts are something that you can easily make at home.

Prefer to buy them?

Our favorites are the Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates, coated in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

They’re also made in Mint Chocolate Almond and in Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts.

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-COVERED SEA SALT ALMONDS

The recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction, a wonderful place to find delicious baking ideas.

Prep time is 25 minutes, plus setting time; total 1 hour.

Ideally, use the 3-pronged tool from the chocolate tool set to lift the nuts out of the chocolate pool and shake off the excess chocolate. We used fondue forks; but if we make these again, we’re going for the chocolate tools.

Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, high quality*/li>
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raw, unsalted whole almonds*
  • Sea salt
  • Turbinado sugar or other raw sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the almonds by spreading them on a large baking sheet; bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 300°F oven. Allow to slightly cool before coating with chocolate.

    2. LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

    3. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl at 30-second increments. Stir every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

    4. STIR the almonds into the chocolate, making sure to coat each one. Using a dipping tool or a fork, lift the almonds out one by one. Gently tap the fork against the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place the nut onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining almonds.

    5. SPRINKLE the almonds with a bit of sea salt and turbinado sugar. Allow the chocolate to completely set. You can place the baking sheet in the fridge to speed up the setting.

    6. STORE the almonds in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, in an airtight container.

     

    Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds

    Chocolate Covered Almonds

    Sally's Candy Addiction

    [1] Warning: addictive!. Photo and recipe © Sally’s Baking Addiction. [2] For you or a friend: Sally’s Candy Addiction, the cookbook. [3] Our favorites to buy, Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates.

     
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    *Dark, milk, white: Use whatever chocolate you prefer, as long as it’s a premium brand. Ditto with the nuts: You can substitute hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, mixed nuts, etc.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Aïoli, The Original, The Modern & A Party

    Aioli Dip With Seafood

    Basil Aioli

    Aioli Platter

    Saffron Aioli

    Habanero Aioli

    [1] As a sauce or dip with boiled potatoes (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] Tarragon aïoli as a dip with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Real Simple). [3] Le Grand Aioli: make a platter for your next gathering (here’s a story from Edible Seattle). [4] Just open the jar and use these flavorful aïoli from Delicious And Sons: Basil Lemon Aïoli and Saffron Orange Aïoli. [5] Southern Europe meets South America: Habanero Aïoli from Salsa Maya (remember that in Spanish, salsa is a generic word for sauce).

     

    Americans eat a lot of mayonnaise, but not enough aïoli: garlic mayonnaise.

    The word is pronounced eye-OH-lee from the French word for garlic, ail (pronounced EYE).

    What we think of as a bread spread is used as a dip and sauce from Catalonia (the northeast tip of Spain; think Barcelona) through Provence (Marseilles along the coast through Toulon, Cannes, Nice and Monaco.

    It hopped the border of Monaco to the Liguria region of Italy. It spread to the south of Catalonia to Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia, and offshore to the Balearic Islands. It crossed the sea to Malta.

    In fact, mayonnaise was invented in France by the great chef Marie-Antoine Carême, around 1800. You may think of mayo as a spread, but it was created as a sauce (the history of mayonnaise).

    But before then, the original sauce was made with just garlic and olive oil, which, by the way, was not an easy combination to emulsify into a sauce in the centuries before blenders.

    Later, possibly inspired by Carême’s mayonnaise, Provençal cooks incorporated egg yolks and lemon juice and voila: a richer, more flavorful, more stable mixture than mashed garlic and olive oil. (When you look at your food processor or blender, remember that everything prior to modern times was done in a mortar and pestle.)

    There are numerous seasoning variations. In France, it can include a bit of Dijon mustard. In Malta, some tomato is added.

    Everywhere, aïoli is served at room temperature.

    Ingredients vary by region, too. Catalan versions leave out the egg yolk and use much more garlic. This gives the sauce a more pasty texture, while making it considerably more laborious to make as the emulsion is much harder to stabilize.
     
    AÏOLI USES

    Yes, you can put it on your sandwich or burger; but aïoli can be used instead of mayonnaise anywhere, from canapés to to dips to potato salad.

    You can even plan a luncheon or dinner party around it. And you can buy it or make it.

    Then, serve it:

  • With escargots, a French favorite.
  • With fish and seafood: boiled fish (in France, cod and aïoli are a popular pair), bourride (Provençal fish soup).
  • In the U.S. with broiled, poached or grilled fish and shellfish, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail
  • Spread on hard-cooked eggs.
  • On vegetables, especially artichokes, asparagus, boiled potatoes and green beans.
  • As a substitute for butter, oil or vinaigrette.
  • Fries!
  • Salted boiled potatoes and bay leaf (a Ligurian specialty).
  • Mixed into chicken salad, egg, tuna and potato salads.
  • As a crudités dip.
  • On Mexican corn (elote).
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    SERVE LE GRAND AÏOLI

    In Provence, Le Grand Aïoli (a.k.a. Aïoli Garni or Aïoli Monstre) is a special-occasion dish consisting of boiled vegetables (artichokes, beets, carrots, green beans, potatoes); salt cod or other poached fish, snails, canned tuna, other seafood; hard-boiled eggs, and a large dish of aïoli.

    In Provence, the dish is served in a celebration around August 15th, after the garlic has been harvested. If you like the idea, plan an occasion.

    You don’t have to wait until August. A room-temperature dish, Le Grand Aïoli delightful in the spring or summer with a lightly-chilled Côtes de Provence rosé or a red Bandol.

    If you like crème de cassis (cassis liqueur, made from blackcurrants), it’s a local product; so serve a Kir or Kir Royale as an aperitif.
     
    AIOLI HISTORY

    Aioli, aïoli, alhòli, aiòli or allioli, arjoli or ajjoli: Depending on the country and region, they are different spellings for a Mediterranean sauce (in southeastern Spain, it’s called ajoaceite or ajiaceite).

    Made of garlic and olive oil—two staple ingredients of the area—the name means garlic and oil in Catalan and Provençal.

     
    There are numerous flavored mayonnaises. Since the expansion of specialty food producers in the late 1980s, it became fashionable for producers and chefs to call all flavored mayonnaises—basil, chili, cilantro, red pepper, saffron, etc.—aïoli.

    While purists insist that only the garlic-seasoned recipe should be called “aïoli,” we think, logically, that as long as there’s garlic in the recipe, it can still be called aïoli. Consumers will understand.

    Otherwise, you’ll find even purer purists who insist that only the original garlic-oil sauce—no egg, no lemon juice—be called aïoli.

    RECIPE: A QUICK AÏOLI WITH STORE-BOUGHT MAYONNAISE

    If you want to make your aïoli from scratch, here’s a recipe.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil or other herb*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional: 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (to thin)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLANCH the basil in boiling water for 15 seconds. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    2. REFRIGERATE, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight, to allow flavors to meld.

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    *If you want a spice instead of an herb, season to taste.
     
      

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