My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Mousse in Cups 2

Posted on April 16, 2009 by crankycheryl


I’ve been preparing food for a baby shower I’m sort of catering, and we had decided to do chocolate mousse in mini-chocolate cups.  I was outraged that the tiny little cups I found would end up costing $1 each, so I decided to make my own.

If you’re a regular cranky reader you know that I spend much of my time distracted and overtired.  I offer this up as one explanation why I might have decided that the monkeyboys’ plastic eggs were a good first thing to use to make my very own little chococups.

I don’t know how I thought I was going to get them off, but I sort of pictured it being plausible once the chocolate had cooled in the refrigerator.

It didn’t work.  So for 3 days I’ve been moving this plate of chocolate-covered plastic around my kitchen, unwilling to admit that I had wasted all of this chocolate and time.  Then yesterday, my older tyke caught sight of them.  I heard a surprised gasp,  “Mommy! You’re a genius!”  I said, “Well thanks honey, but it really didn’t work the way I thought it would.”  He gave me a look that made it clear that he would not tolerate the suggestion that there could be anything wrong with chocolate enrobed Easter crap, and I can only imagine what he’s planning to do with them.   I suspect I should have the video camera ready.

makechoccupslikethis1Chocolate Mousse in Chocolate Cups
about 36 cups

For cups:

Melt 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the top of a double-boiler, or a pan set in a larger pan with an inch of water in it over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.

Lightly oil the insides of silicone mini-muffin pans.  (You definitely want something flexible like silicone.  I’ve also seen recipes where people blow up small balloons, paint a bit of one end with chocolate to make a sort of bowl, and then pop and remove the balloon once it’s set, which I’m sure is fun if you have balloon-aged children.)  Using a pastry brush, glop a bit around the rim of each cup, swirling to get a thick layer.  Give each part of the cup a couple of passes with the chocolate to get maybe 1/8″ thick.  Once the entire pan is completed, place in fridge for an hour to set.  When you want to unmold them, let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes, then press on the bottom of each cup, gently and firmly, to pop them out.  (Some will crack and break.)

Or for heaven’s sake you could just buy the chocolate cups.

carroll-shower-food-apr-09-008Chocolate Mousse

Oh, how I looked for a trustworthy recipe for mousse with cooked or pasteurized eggs that would be safe for the mom-to-be.  Finding none, I improvised, and was helped along with the discovery of Nasoya’s new chocolate silken tofu.

If you just want a chocolate pudding dessert, the tofu by itself would be fine.  But if you want a rich mousse type experience, you want the intensity of the melted chocolate, the creaminess of the whipped cream, and the lightness that tofu (or, normally, eggs) would give you.

  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted as above
  • 1 package (1 lb.) chocolate silken tofu
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped until firm peaks form.
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. rum, amaretto, coffee, or orange liqueur

Let chocolate cool to just warm, then place in large bowl with tofu.  Use handmixer to thoroughly blend, then add whipped cream in 3 parts, along with the vanilla and rum or liqueur, and blend very well.  Fill cups or place in bowls, then let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Why It Matters 0

Posted on March 05, 2009 by crankycheryl

I thought I had finally demonstrated my cooking nuttiness this week when I looked down in the sink one evening and saw every one of my 8  (8!) wooden spoons there.  There was the one from starting the sponge for sourdough bread, the one for the cake, the one for its icing, the oatmeal, the custard for the cohousing dinner, plus whatever else I’ve already forgotten.

But I realized that I didn’t feel nutty.  I was tired, but I felt kind of great.  And it made me realize that there’s something I haven’t yet said here:

I cook for the joy of it.  For the satisfaction and simplicity of feeding those I love.  For the pleasure of necessary thriftiness.  Because it’s art and craft and creation and primal and needed.

For me, cooking all the time – the daily grind of it, and the fanciest flights – is life.  To do it with a glad heart is to try to keep my own best self close.  That I can make people happy and engage in the organic magic of bread-making and fill the house with the smell of chocolate or melting butter and evoke memories and even save money is a pure and needed joy.

So every day, here we are, slogging along through money worries and perpetual lateness and ADHD and cabin fever and the rest of it.  But every day we can come back to this quiet, necessary, open-hearted act of creation and sharing.  And if that doesn’t make it all somehow worth it, I don’t know what could.

And in that spirit, I’m sharing some recent, unblogged creations:

New posts on my Blog! http://c… 0

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

New posts on my Blog!

The Chocolate Oatmeal Cupcakes 0

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

I’m equally compulsive and ambivalent about inserting stealth ingredients into the foods my kids eat. I don’t own the Jessica Seinfeld book, but I’ve heard it hotly contested – this idea that the best way to get vegetables into kids is to hide them in things they already love. After all, if the only cauliflower that tykes encounter is pureed in their beloved mac & cheese, how will they ever learn to really eat it?

It’s a good argument. And one I probably would have made before I met my strong-willed children. Maybe yours are different, but mine only eat things they actually like. And now that the 3 year old has discovered that he has his own identity, he likes to exert it by liking the opposite of everything his brother cares for.

Here is a list of the vegetables they’ll both happily eat in their pure form:

Well … this is a slight exaggeration. They both like marinara sauce.

After years of self-examination and head-shaking, I’ve decided that I do actually want them to consume vitamin A and fiber and things. So I stealth vegetables into baked goods. I did it long before Mrs. Seinfeld’s book, and I’ve got a few tried and true methods.

So when it was cupcake time the other day, I pulled out my 2nd most frequent technique: the pureed-spinach-in-chocolate-maneuver. Here’s the recipe, which I based on the Joy of Cooking’s Oatmeal Sheet Cake:

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (dark if possible)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered dried orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup steamed or thawed frozen spinach, very well drained
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vani.lla

Combine the oatmeal and hot water and let them stand for 20 minutes.

All of the rest of the ingredients should be at room temp. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease or line the cups in a cupcake tin (if memory serves, this will make 12 full size and 24 mini cupcakes).

Whisk together the flours, soda, spices and salt. In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugars until they’re lightened in color and texture. Years ago I learned that this step is the crux of baking – where your texture and rise and everything happen. Don’t wimp out here!

Add the eggs and vanilla and use a blender or immersion blender to mix in the spinach until it’s pureed to smithereens. And in the oat mixture, then the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 – 25 minutes. Let cool briefly in the pan, and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

I frosted the larger ones with dark chocolate fudge frosting, and then showed what a complete sucker I am by adding rainbow sprinkles, along with the M&M-ish sunflower seed candies that my little guy painstakingly removes from each one. The minis I left unfrosted so as to be more appropriate for morning snack, but then a friend absconded with them to a D&D game and that was the last I saw of those.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that these cupcakes don’t quite reach the level of Bad Ass. They’re a little bit crumbly, and the oatmeal makes the texture a little weird/chewy. But they’re chocolatey and reasonably full of nutritious things and the monkeyboys eat them so they’ll probably make repeat appearances.

Stealthmom Cupcakes Coming Soon. 0

Posted on December 14, 2008 by crankycheryl
Originally posted by Cheryl, Saturday, November 29, 2008

As we were driving home from crazyboy fun day at the Y and Shelburne Farms, I was thinking about how I hadn’t yet put any actual cupcakes on here. And when my little guys asked if we could make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies when we got home, I said, “Sure. But how about Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cupcakes?”

(And here followed an interlude of negotiation that involved threats of “Mommy! I’m going to hang a No Cupcakes sign in the kitchen AND on the door!”)

But because the small people are easily distracted by videos and the frozen mud outside, I was able to head into the kitchen when we got home.

So here they are under construction, and I’ll tell all about them and post the “after” pics after I get this frosting to set.

Ignoring the naughty black for… 0

Posted on December 13, 2008 by crankycheryl

Ignoring the naughty black forest cookies beckoning from the kitchen. Late! Bad yelling cookies!

Mmmmmmaple Walnut Pie 0

Posted on December 13, 2008 by crankycheryl

After having been shut out of buying Maple Walnut Pie for THREE years at the Craftsbury Antiques & Uniques Festival, at last I decided to make my own to bring to the Thanksgiving potluck.

I made Cream Cheese Pie Crust (mine was from the 1997 Joy of Cooking), which I’ll immodestly admit was the best crust I’ve made ever. It turns out that following recipes can actually pay off. So much for my usual ADHD approach to baking.

It’s hard to say just why Maple Walnut Pie is so much more delicious than my old favorite pecan pie, but it just is. Of course they’re very similar, but the smoky maple taste and the slightly tannic, bitter walnuts of this one create a sort of accessible complexity that is just terrific. (The mini one in the picture, by the way, is one made with pumpkin seeds for my friend who’s allergic to nuts. I would have pan-toasted the seeds first except it was Thanksgiving morning and there was zero chance of this level of attention to detail by then.)

It seemed the right thing to choose Yankee Magazine’s recipe for such a Vermont-y seeming dessert, and I think I’ll be making this often.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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