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El albergue

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oh, my love


When I was in Finland this August, I tasted some of the most amazingly, lusciously delicious chocolate I’ve ever had the pleasure of indulging in. I mean, normally I’m a straight-up purist – give it to me real dark and real simple. That’s the way I like it. But sometimes, I find myself seduced by tantalizing flavors that tempt me by their surprising originality… and I stray. The unadulterated wonder of my pure dark chocolate slips from my fingers as I reach out in a childlike daze for the shimmering unknown beckoning me with the mere idea of… I don’t know what, otherwise it wouldn’t be unknown, would it?

This Finnish chocolatier – Fazer*, to state the name – makes a number of incredible chocolates (cue Salted Cashew), but the one that completely stole my heart was the Dark Chocolate with Pear and Roasted Almonds. The idea of putting pear in chocolate was really what made me reach out for that beautifully wrapped bar of chocolate as I passed it in the aisle of the supermarket underneath the Helsinki Central Station. Of course fruit and chocolate go well together…. but I HAD to see how they managed to match the mellow flavor of pear with the raw power of dark chocolate.

Oh. My. Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln. I just about died when I ate it. As I savored, the delicate pear didn’t back down from the strength of the cocoa – it teamed up with the depth of the roasted almonds in a mind-blowing contest of flavors storming across my taste buds, both undermining and enhancing the complexity of the chocolate. Let’s just say that I was more than a little sad as I finished off the last square of the bar I brought back to Madrid.

Well, just last week was a going away party for a friend from church, and as I sat there, pondering what on Earth I was going to bring to the party, I was struck by the lightning of inspiration and thought, “Wait a minute! That chocolate from Finland! Cookies! What is this magic going on in my brain?!”

Yes, I made Dark Chocolate Pear cookies. And they were awesome.

I didn’t think to write the recipe down until after I had already thrown all the completely un-measured ingredients together into the most heavenly of doughs, but this is the basic outline more or less of what I did, in case you’re feeling curious…

Finely chop those two ripe pears that have been hanging out in your fridge for a while and toss them in a big bowl with ½ cup packed brown sugar.
Slosh in some vanilla extract.
Stir in a pinch or two of salt and roughly two teaspoons of baking soda.
Dump in the last of your bag of oatmeal, which is probably about 1 cup.
Set that aside.
In a saucepan, melt about ¼ cup butter and 100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate.
Throw in a generous dash of rum because it’s sitting on your counter, begging to join the party, and you feel like being nice.
In a small bowl, whisk up two eggs.
Once your chocolaty goodness is all melted and perfect, take it off the heat and drizzle a little into your eggs, whisking the whole time.
Now that your eggs are more the temperature of your chocolaty goodness, slowly and steadily whisk them into the mixture in the saucepan. (You had better be whisking like your life depended on it the whole time!)
Next, pour your newly created chocolate custard into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix it up good.
This is where you add the flour. How much? I really don’t know. Start out with a bit more than 1 cup, then just stir in about a half cup at a time until the dough is looking really thick, but still pretty sticky.
Use teaspoons to measure out small two-bite balls onto the greased cookie sheet.
Bake for about ten minutes at 150C (300F).
Let them cool for as long as you can stand before greedily shoveling these piping hot puppies into your soon-to-be-burned-yet-happy mouth.


*Chocolates are actually only a small part of the entire Fazer operation. The empire includes many cafés, restaurants, bakeries, and confectioneries. 

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