Friday, April 30, 2010

Sugared Cinema: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.

When their relationship sours, Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) decide to undergo a new procedure that will allow them to erase their memories of eachother.  As Joel revisits their past during the process, he has a change of heart and must find a way to reach out to Clementine before her memories of him are gone forever.

It's quirky, clever, bittersweet...and one of my favorite love stories.

Today we're making something out of the eye candy cookbook:

Here's what you'll need:

3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
sugar (for rolling)

Chocolate Flamenco Sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
4 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet)

Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed pot and slowly heat it to 370 degrees.

While the oil is warming up, combine the water and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Let it boil for a full 10 seconds then add in all of the flour.

Go ahead.  Don't be scared.  Dump it alllll in.

Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it forms a sticky batter.  When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, remove it from heat.

Transfer the batter into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on low for a few minutes to allow the batter to cool.

Add in the eggs a little bit at a time then beat well.  Give the sides of the bowl a good scraping after each addition.  And don't worry if the dough starts to curdle.  Nothing a few extra beatings can't take care of.

That didn't sound right.

Mix until the dough is soft and pliable.

Cut out strips of wax or parchment paper (we'll be piping the dough onto these.)  If you're feeling particularly creative, you can cut out circles, squares, Whistler's Mother, etc.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  I only had a medium-sized star tip (Wilton 1M) but I didn't want my churros to come out too thin.

So I gave each star point a little bend.

Guess I'll have to buy a new one.

Pipe the dough onto the pieces of paper.

Using a spatula, gently slide a few churros into the hot oil.

Use a set of tongs to flip and nudge the churros.  You want to make sure that each side gets equal browning time.

Cook them until they're golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.

Drain the churros on paper towels then roll in sugar.

Repeat with the remaining churros.

(I dare you to get through the entire cooking process without taking a bite out of one of the prepared churros.  I triple dog dare you.)

Don't worry, we're almost done.  We just have to make the flamenco sauce.

In a saucepan, bring the cream, butter, chili powder and cinnamon to a simmer. 

Pour over the chocolate and let it sit for a moment.  

Talk amongst yourselves.

I'll give you a topic:  Rhode Island is neither a road nor is it an island.  Discuss.

Stir the chocolate until smooth.  Feel free to add more chili powder and/or cinnamon.  I went ahead and added a healthy dose of both.

I don't typically do a lot of frying at home but for these, I'll make an exception.

Last but not least, thanks to all who participated in this week's giveaway!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's take on a "love story", whether it was their parents, their spouses, a book, a movie or a syringe.

The winner of Max Brenner's "Chocolate: A Love Story" cookbook is...

My favorite love story is "The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain."

Congratulations Alexis!
(Amelie is third in my Netflix queue.)

Have a great, sugar-coated, crispy, golden, chocolately, love-filled weekend, people.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A love story.

 There is something very fulfilling about adding a new stamp to your passport.

Monsieur Berry and I just got back from an amazing weekend in Montreal.  We sampled a variety of beer at Dieu De Ciel, walked up and down Saint Catherine Street, familiarized ourselves with the city's subway system, picked up late night burgers at Buns to inhale in front of the TV just hours after eating dinner at the brewpub.  For four days, we lived like locals.  Our French was a little rusty (guttural emphasis on the 'r') but locals, nevertheless.

The highlight of the trip was the day spent in Old Montreal.

I've never been to Paris.  But Old Montreal looks exactly as I would imagine Paris to look like.

There's a huge grassy field on the edge of Vieux Port where people hang out, bring their kids, walk their dogs.  Mike and I had been footing it around the city all morning and decided, right then and there, that we should take a break.  No, no...we deserved a break.  So that's what we did.

We took a nap.  

A NAP.  On the grass.  At two in the afternoon.  That sort of thing only happens when you're on vacation in a beautiful city with someone you dig.  It was the best part of the trip, hands down.

Unfortunately, while I was snoozing it up with dude in Old Montreal, my blog was idling in cyberspace.  I had jetted off to Canada with nary a peep.  No note, no voicemail, no Sugared Cinema post for two consecutive weeks.  I could blame the fact that I adhere to a strict "No Internetting" rule while I'm on vacation but to miss two in a row?  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

You deserve better than that.

To make it up to you, I'm sharing some love.

One part recipe book, one part papered eye-candy, Chocolate: A Love Story has become a permanent addition to my coffee table (when its not being used in the kitchen.)

Created by the masterminds at Max Brenner, this book contains 65 of their most coveted and creatively constructed recipes (including these Lipstick Bonbons.)  The artwork in this book is worthy of a space on your wall.


I wish I could be that sassy.

Pretty neat stuff, huh?

To win, answer the following:

What is your favorite love story?  

It can be a book, a movie, a rotoscoped 80's music video of a certain one hit wonder, etc.

Leave your answer in the Comments section.  The contest ends on Thursday, 4/29 at 9pm EST is now over.  Pass your Scantrons to the front.  One winner will be selected at random and announced in Friday's post.

Good luck, friends!

And on that note, I'm off to take a 6 1/2 hour nap.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This is your brain.

This is your brain on allergy meds.

Any questions?

What?  Oh, that's easy.  Team Edward.

Due to the obnoxiously high levels of pollen in this area, I have been a walking zombie (as opposed to, I don't know...the Riverdancing kind) for the past 48 hours.  I can't focus, I'm lethargic as hell, I can't tell if my symptoms are allergy- or cold-related.  And Claritin® isn't cutting it anymore.  It's about as effective on my allergies as Luden's Cherry Cough Drops are on a sore throat.

(Come on.  There's no way something that tastes like a cherry Life Saver is actually going to help soothe your irritated throat.  If that was the case, Nyquil would taste like a mint julep.)

Rather than succumb to my headfog, I decided to channel my crankiness into something positive and chocolately.  And positively chocolately.

Cheesecake Brownies.
Recipe by the Talented Mr. Lebovitz.

Here's what you'll need:

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 flour
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I omitted these)

And for the cheesecake layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9 inch square pan with enough foil to cover all four sides.  Lightly grease the foil.

This is where I whip a trusty can of Bake Easy straight outta of my holster.

Deadliest pistoleer since Wild Bill, they say.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat until smooth.


Remove from heat and beat in the sugar.  
Then the eggs.

Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt.

Finish with the vanilla and (if you decide to use them) chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly.

In a bowl, beat together cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until nice and smooth.

Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the brownies.

Whatever you do, do not use a graham cracker to scoop up some of the remaining cream cheese mixture and top it with a few chocolate morsels.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

When you're done eating your deconstructed cheesecake appetizer, grab a butter knife and start spreading the news.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the center is set.

Cut yourself a corner piece before anyone else snags it.

These turned out more cakey than fudgy but the creaminess of the cheesecake layer helps smooth them out.  I think these would be great with a small dollop of black cherry preserves (my kick, as of late.)

Claritin®, shmaritin.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I can explain.

I've spent the past two nights holed up in the kitchen, working on a gift to my parents at their anniversary party on Saturday.  I'm making a small two layer single-tiered lemon cake with lemon buttercream for them to cut into and red velvet cupcakes for the guests.

That being said, I didn't have time (or the counter space) to put together a Sugared Cinema post for today. 

I know.  I suck.  I promise I'll make it up to you in Lisa Frank stickers that I've saved from the 5th grade.

You don't want to know what the sink area looks like.  Shudder.

In addition to celebrating 40 years for my parents, tomorrow marks a year since Berry White and I decided to take the plunge into the crystal blue matrimonial waters of lurrrrrve.

I'll never let go, Jack!  At least not until this Journey song ends.

He makes me laugh.