Tintin and Cocoa

chocolate

God bless all things chocolate.

There was a time (I’m not going to mention that it was six years back) when one could still find me gobbling up the pages of Tintin and Asterix and washing them down with cold cocoa. It was a time when I thought my curly hair cropped short was the hottest thing ever. It was a time when arguing with my Mother was the boldest thing to do ever. And a time when I used to walk like I was gliding on ice.

Yes…there was a time I used to walk like I was gliding on ice. Don’t ask me why…I have no explanation.

Lately, I’ve been hit by the Tintin bug again. Don’t know why, but I’ve pulled out all the bound up editions of the classic that I had stashed at the back of the book cabinet, with all its yellowing pages with their folded ears, glue prints left by Post-its that were used as book-marks, and the occassional coffee mug print.

I remember what was in those coffee mugs. No coffee, all cocoa…cold and chocolatey. My childhood was spent in believing that drinking chocolate simply had to have a warm milk base…there could be no cocoa without steaming mugs of milk. Its colder cousin was never something I was aware of. Seriously.

I was reluctantly introduced to it in college. At this point, I know many of you are snorting in disbelief. But its true. The laariwala (the “cocoa” cart guy) served up crushed ice dressed in a sickly-sweet green syrup and topped it with chopped cherries. Fauri and I hogged the whole thing down. The she ordered cold cocoa. I looked on in surprise and undivided curiosity when a tall glass of silky chocolate in milk turned up with a garnish of milk chocolate chips. It looked milky and was delicious. I was hooked. And spent the rest of First Year curled up with a mug of cold cocoa and enchanted by a man with weird golden hair and an even weirder pair of trousers.

cocoa

Cold Cocoa with Cayenne

Ingredients:

Four simple things –

  • 1 cup whole milk…chilled
  • 2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper…for a stronger tang make it 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (this is optional…if you don’t prefer the natural taste of your cocoa powder)

What to do:

Nothing much really. Throw everything together in a blender and blitz at high speed for a minute (make it a couple of minutes if bits of cocoa remain). I don’t usually seive the mixture, but if its too bitsy strain by all means for a smoother drink.

I wouldn’t mind adding half a shot of white rum to make it an adult cold cocoa!


Truffles

rain

Yep, monsoon’s still here. No more about that.

It is more than a serious problem when you’re still learning how to cook and are allergic to following recipes, at the same time. Its still manageable when either of the above is true. But when both are obvious and you happen to be adamant not to change any of it, its bound to get downright dangerous…..and hopeless.

But no, I’m not adamant or anything. I’m more than willing to actually follow one of the recipes out of one of the many brilliant cookbooks I have. I’m just plain lazy. Every time I start with one, some tiny voice inside me wrecks havoc till I tweak the recipe in some way or the other. And I would rather learn the hard way. The really hard way. Doing what I do is hazhardous. You could end up with burnt pots, singed palms, cut-up fingertips, dish towels on fire and sometimes food without seasoning in it. There have also been times when I’ve had to feel my way through thick smoke just to get to the stove-top.

I’ve heard Aditya declare (for about the millionth time) how he follows a cookbook recipe word for word the first time, and then experiment with it in his own sweet time and come up with something new and different.

Liar. They’re always the same and never any different.

 I once fed cold macaroni tossed with tomatoes and cloves of garlic, all raw, uncooked, mashed up together in a sad brass mortar and pestle. It was horrible. And that’s an understatement. The mortar and pestle led a brassy taste to the tomatoes and along with the strong garlicky twang, not to mention the undercooked pasta that stuck to your teeth, the outcome was so puke-worthy that I was banned from my friends’ kitchens for the next four months. They begged me to learn how to cook knowing what a champion-eater and mess-creator I have been all my life.

At the time, I was using this blog as a showcase for my graphical endeavors and writing about college. Everything changed when I called up my Mother and asked her to guide me through a simple meal of eggplant curry with cut-up sausages! Then came okra and brown rice. That’s right…I couldn’t boil rice to save my life. My mother was too kind to guide me through basics.

Out came the digital camera, out oozed some fatty brainwaves, 18 months later and I’m still struggling to be moderately good at whipping up a decent meal.

This weekend I tried to relive last year’s Diwali truffle-happiness. Recovering from a relapse of typhoid can punch quite a lot of air out of you. But the truffles were worth the effort — they always are. Three sorts, not much work, a whole lot of mess and gastronomical divinity in the end.  I don’t know why I keep putting myself down as a cook….these truffles rocked, you know.

dark chocolate truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles

What you need:

  • 1 and half cups dark chocolate (70%), chopped into approximately equal sized peices
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar (optional…I like my truffles to be distinctly bitter so I didn’t add any)
  • 1 cup double cream
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper for the Chili Truffles
  • 20ml espresso shot, for the Coffee Truffles
  • 20ml dark (or white) rum, for the Coconut and Rum Truffles
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • Cocoa powder for coating

How-to:

  • Divide the chopped chocolate equally into three glass bowls.
  • Heat the cream till its almost about to boil. At this point, you can add in the sugar, if necessary, and stir to dissolve it in the cream. Take it off the heat and pour equal amounts into each bowl carrying the chocolate.
  • Let the mixtures stand for 60 seconds, before gently stirring them(from center towards the edge) till all the chocolate has melted.
  • Add the cayenne pepper to the first mixture and stir in gently. Add the espresso to the second and rum to the third and gently stir. Cover each bowl with cling film and chill in the freezer for about a couple of hours or till the ganache has set.
  • Set each bowl in an ice-bath(so the ganache doesn’t melt) turn by turn. Use a spoon or a scooper to scoop out the chocolate and roll into truffle balls. I spread cocoa powder and rolled the chili truffles in them to coat. The rum truffles were rolled in dessicated coconut.
  • Don’t forget to eat ’em!

 

truffles

What the fudge…?!?!

terrace_floor

The first droplets of rain in Mumbai, left streaks across the tiled terrace floor, almost washing away the dirt my gardener leaves behind every alternate afternoon. You could hardly call it “rainfall” since the drizzle was nothing compared to what Mumbai usually faces.

We’re all gearing up for the washout due 23rd or 24th of the next month. How lovely.

Meanwhile, I’m getting deliciously absent-minded, day by day.

I released the wrong set of drawings to the wrong consultant yesterday and then made his assistant drive back to the office and collect the right set. Not to mention the madness with which I cursed at myself while he was paying full attention to my instructions. His spectacles almost fell off the edge of his nose, I swear.

I typed a fantastically raunchy text message meant for the Lieutenant and then sent it to his best friend. Don’t ask me how that happened. I’m only thankful that M. is a very understanding guy and wasn’t really scandalized by the message.

I got inspired by the new book on chocolate that I bought and decided to try out the orangette recipe….I know, I know its technically not orange-season in India, but the tangy green ones are out. I just couldn’t help it.

It was destined to get all fucked fudged up really. Sorry Mom.

And hurriedly read through the directions, and instead of letting the peel strips cool in the sugar solution for 6 hours, I strained them out and left them in the open. By the time I came back from office, red ants were yelling out “Thank You Amrita!”

I know, I’m smart.

And if you’re wondering, then no, green peels don’t work as well as orange ones…they’re just not as sweet or easy.

Continue reading “What the fudge…?!?!”