Cherry chocolate Gruyere galette

I’ve been hanging on this recipe for a while and couldn’t think of something to say about it.

I mean, it’s just a galette with a touch of bitterness from the super-dark chocolate, an unexpected salty bite from the Gruyere cheese, a rich and flaky crust, all capped off with sweet and juicy in-season cherries.

chocolate cherry Gruyere galetteDo I really need to say anything else?

Cherry Chocolate Gruyere Galette
Crust from Sweet Galette Dough by David Lebovitz for Fine Cooking

Serves 6-8

Crust
11 1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 oz. (about 2/3 cup) ice water

Galette
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Stir flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until crumbly, but distinct chunks of butter remain — really, big chunks are good!Add ice water, then process just until dough comes together, no more than 30 seconds. Turn dough onto work surface and gather and knead together just slightly. If is fine if you see streaks of butter on the surface, as this is what will give you delightful flakiness. Divide into two equal pieces and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (This galette only requires one disc of dough. Wrap the other very well and freeze for later use, thawing in the fridge for one day before using. [I used a leftover disc for this one.])

While dough is chilling, mix grated Gruyere and chopped dark chocolate into the cream cheese. Set aside.

Preheat oven with baking sheet or pizza pan in it to 400 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll one disc of chilled dough out into an approximate circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper.

Spread cream cheese mixture on the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Starting in the middle, place the cherry halves in a single layer, face down, over all of the cream cheese mixture. Fold the excess dough over the edge of the filling, pleating as you go. Brush the melted butter along the exposed crust with a pastry brush.

Slide the galette, parchment paper and all, onto preheated baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. When edges are browned, remove pan from oven. Slide the parchment paper and galette onto a wire cooling rack to prevent it from getting soggy while it cools.

Enjoy while slightly warm or at room temperature. Or, store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days and let come to room temperature before serving. If desired, garnish with curls of dark chocolate once cooled.

A mouthful in more ways than one: Thai-incense smoked chocolate cheesecake cupcakes with coconut cream frosting

So, it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted. There’s not a real good reason, just a lot of little, shitty reasons. At least I’ve got something amazing to come back with. May I present to you:

Some marginally complicated but incredibly delicious cupcakes!

A major component of these cupcakes is the Thai incense candle, which you may be able to find locally if you’re lucky. I had to order mine online. I first read about these little guys in a recipe from Saveur — in fact, the flavor profile inspired these cupcakes. These candles are used to smoke sweets, usually cookies, with  an essence of  “various aromatic ingredients” such as ylang-ylang and frankincense. It’s kind of spicy, kind of smoky, kind of floral… it’s hard to explain without tasting it. But Saveur’s move of smoking a cheesecake with it was absolute genius.

Because I’m into the portability of cupcakes, I decided to see if I could transfer the experience of the cheesecake to something I could easily cart along to a board game night. And you know what? It worked. It really, really worked.

Thai-incense smoked black bottom cupcakes with coconut cream frosting

The chocolate cupcake was far more satisfying than the slip of a cookie crumb base in the cheesecake version. The smokiness of the cheesecake is still there, but not overwhelmingly so. When I made the cheesecake, I got some complaints of “too smoky” (not that I agreed with them). The cupcakes? No complaints whatsoever.

And the coconut frosting I devised is a little more aggressive than the coconut cream used on top of the cheesecake. I personally like to pipe just a little squirt of frosting on each cupcake instead of doing sky-scraping swirls — too much and it overwhelms the smokiness of the cheesecake into nothing. (This recipe will have a bit left-over if you also go the less-is-more route — the leftovers are great to add to an Oreo or Joe-Joe, for those times when eating a sandwich cookie isn’t unhealthy enough.)

After I made these cupcakes, my friend told her trainer that she ate two cupcakes which prompted her trainer to say, “I hope it was worth it.” Her response? “Oh god, yes. I cannot explain to you how worth it it was.”

I can’t think of a better endorsement.

Thai-incense smoked black bottom cupcakes with coconut cream frosting

Incense-Smoked Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes
Adapted from Black-Bottom Cupcakes by David Lebovitz from The Great Book of Chocolate
Inspired by Smoked Coconut Cheesecake by Saveur

Filling
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature and cut into 1″ cubes
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
Thai fragrant incense candle

Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (chilled if needed to solidify)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons coconut cream
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Put a small, heatproof bowl inside of the bowl of your stand mixer. Put the cream cheese cubes in the mixer bowl around the smaller bowl. Light the incense candle, then put in the smaller bowl. Cover the mixer bowl tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. Let cream cheese smoke for 30 to 40 minutes, then remove the small bowl with the incense candle.

With the paddle attachment, beat smoked cream cheese and sugar until combined. Add egg and beat again until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Line 2 muffin tins with 16 paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Add brown sugar and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients bowl and add the wet ingredients. Stir gently until just smooth — do not over mix.

Divide the batter evenly throughout the muffin tin — cups will be 2/3 full. Then divide the cheesecake filling among the cupcakes, about 2 tablespoons added to the center of each. (I used one of those cookie dough scoops with the spring loaded getter-outter part, which made things go a lot more smoothly.) You may have a little bit of cheesecake filling leftover.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back if you lightly touch them. Set aside to cool completely before frosting — you can also refrigerate them for 2-3 days or freeze before frosting if desired.

To make the frosting:

Put butter and coconut oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until fully combined.

Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, beating to combine between each addition. Whip on medium speed until fully combined.

Add coconut cream and heavy cream, and whip again on high until frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Spread or pipe frosting onto each cupcake. I prefer a little squirt so as not to overwhelm the cake, but you can pipe on more as desired.

Refrigerate in a tightly covered container until ready to serve.

Make jalapeno popper dip to make people love you

So, this dip is everything you ever wanted from a jalapeno popper, only with way less active prep time. I love jalapeno poppers, so I don’t say this lightly. Make it. Just make it. Make it the next time you have some people over. They will love you forever.

Now, first things first, this recipe calls for a lot of jalapenos.

jalapenos

It may even seem like too many jalapenos, especially considering we’re leaving the seeds in. It’s really not. They’re sauteed briefly to mellow them out a bit, and they mellow out even more in the oven. Not to mention, there’s plenty of creamy stuff to balance the spice. Trust me.

There is one danger to making this dip. If you want to take a pretty photo of your completed dip, I recommend doing this before you set it out anywhere people may be able to access it. Otherwise you’ll turn around for a few minutes, and when you come back, you’ll be faced with this:

jalapeno popper dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Adapted from Jalapeno Popper Dip by Macheesmo

8-10 jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 heaping cups) cheddar cheese, grated (I like extra sharp)
2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 heaping cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Tortilla chips, for serving

Wash your jalapenos and remove the stems. Then quarter lengthwise, and dice ‘em up, seeds and all.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and find a 13″ x 9″ baking pan. No need to grease it. Really.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat until it easily coats the bottom. Dump in chopped jalapenos and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until jalapeno is slightly softened and vivid green — about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, stir together softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder and oregano until it’s all fully integrated. Stir in grated cheddar to combine, then repeat with cooled jalapeno. Spread evenly into the 13″ x 9″ baking pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together bread crumbs and grated Parmesan until combined.  Tip for melting your butter: microwave it for a lot less time than you might think — I did two bursts of 15 seconds each for a full stick — and stir around to let residual heat melt whatever solid pieces are still left. That way you don’t have to wait so long for the butter to cool to use it. Anyway, pour your perfectly melted butter over the breadcrumb mixture, and stir until fully coated.

Spread breadcrumb mixture evenly over the cream cheese mixture in the baking pan. Pop in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until bread crumbs are brown and toasty. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then serve with tortilla chips to ravenous snackers.