Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chocolate lovers talking about mug cake

By Darragh Doiron
Port Arthur News
When I was on assignment, readers were chatting up the mug cake featured in Monday’s News.
It’s alled The Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in the World, because this recipe for baking a cake in a coffee mug and the microwave puts you just five minutes away from heaven.
Nederland bakers Stacy Gentile and her 8-year-old daughter, Grace, are the Sweet Girls. They loved the project, and my family did, too. Make some for gifts.
The Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World
Five-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

1 coffee mug
4 tablespoons flour (plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Nuts (optional)
Small splash of vanilla
Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla and mix again.
Put the mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed.
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
This will serve two, if you want to share.

Tips from Stacy and Grace Gentile:
Stacy Gentile says it’s okay to fling flour and dribble oil on the counter, especially when working with young bakers. In her book, it’s required.
“You always have to make a mess if you want something good,” she said.
She and Grace, a third grader at Helena Park Elementary, found this recipe easy and fun, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t think of variations. One is to give the recipe and dry ingredients in a mug, so the recipient can bake it up and enjoy it warm.
“It’s very good and those are wonderful teacher gifts,” Gentile said.

Add a tad of
• coconut
• Almond Joy or other candy bar
• toffee
• caramel
• peanut butter
• crushed peppermint
“It’s endless. Whatever you really like with chocolate, you could do,” Gentile said.

Favorite holiday oyster spread is writer’s gift to readers
I’m an oyster lover who craves them even more around the holidays.
I found a recipe using smoked canned oysters, which generally end up in my daughter’s Christmas stocking.
Try mashing some into cream cheese for a quick holiday spread to go on sturdy wheat crackers. It may be just the thing for a holiday hostess table.

Flavor Forecast
I’ve already teased readers with some picks from the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2009 top 10 flavor pairings. Here’s the whole list. Ask your holiday guests who will experiment and invite you over for a meal.
1. Toasted Sesame and Root Beer: An iconic soda is rediscovered for its versatility as a cooking ingredient, paired with the bold nuttiness of toasted sesame seed.
2. Cayenne and Tart Cherry: The flavors of two superfoods — the heat of cayenne and sweet-sour tang of tart cherry — pack a multi-layered punch.
3. Tarragon and Beetroot: This hip pair creates a sensory feast that is anything other than predictable or restrained.
4. Peppercorn Mélange and Sake: Japan’s notable rice wine finds a new partner in the quintessentially French unison of multicolored peppercorns.
5. Chinese Five Spice and Artisan-cured Pork: Hand crafted artistry merges with a harmonious Asian blend to create an innovative taste sensation.
6. Dill and Avocado Oil: Mild avocado oil finds an elegant partner in clean, minty dill – reflecting the healthy goodness that comes from pure, natural ingredients.
7. Rosemary and Fruit Preserves: Fresh-picked fruit flavors fuse with aromatic rosemary for a progressive interpretation of sweet and savory.
8. Garam Masala and Pepitas: A beautifully matched global combination of an intoxicating spice blend from India and a prized seed popular in Latin America.
9. Mint and Quinoa: Nutritious, whole-grain quinoa is taken to new heights when paired with the exhilarating, cool taste of mint.
10. Smoked Paprika and Agave Nectar: Smoky sweetness from the purity of nature celebrates a union of Spanish and Mexican ingredients.

Drink up
Some say the holidays shouldn’t be a time to consider healthy food and drink options. I say if you can sneak in the good stuff, now’s the time. Open up a can of something different with Hank’s Gourmet Infusions line of all-natural sparkling beverages with vitamins B12, C and E, calcium and antioxidants. It’s got real sugar, skim milk and cream, so it’s like a sparkling cream soda. If you want to add liquor, Hank has tips. I tried berry and green apple straight up, but here’s Hank’s recipe for something new:
Hank’s Very Berry Cocktail
1 ounce chocolate liqueur
1 ounce raspberry liqueur
4 ounces Hanks Gourmet Infusions – Berry flavor
Pour liqueurs over ice, and top off with Hank's Gourmet Infusions. Serve garnished with a fresh raspberry.

Sister Schubert
I’d hoped to surprise my mother with Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls, but her club ladies had already tipped her off to their quality. So I served them to a friend who bakes and she’d also heard of them. Maybe she felt a little threatened when she said, “They’re okay.” Just okay? She sure did eat a bunch of them. But hey, I ate the rest.
If you are the reader who is hearing from me that the sister can make some rolls, great. Yeasty rolls and cinnamon rolls are in the frozen section of the store and I love that you can cook a few at a time and don’t have to wait for them to rise. A mom in Troy, Alabama developed this company and apparently people weren’t waiting for me to introduce them. It’s a multi-million dollar company.

To your health
Sambucus nigra L, or black elderberry, is the new health rage. Toast your New Year’s health with spoonfulls of Sambucol Black Elderberry Immune System Support. I’m trying to get my whole sick office involved. It’s like the good kind of cough syrup you never used to mind getting. Native to most of Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia, these berries got tame. Makers share data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting elderberries have twice the antioxidant capacity of blueberries and significantly more than the capacity of cranberries. Throughout history black elderberry people have used it to treat colds, flu, fever,
burns, cuts and more. Sambucol makes tablets, but I like the syrup.

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