Tags: baking, banana bread, Chocolate, chocolate popovers, First Love, grated chocolate, peanut butter cheesecake, popovers, quick breads, Recipe
These are what I made for this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge..Popovers, but not just any popovers, popovers with flecks of chocolate in them. Cool, huh? Even though you can barely see the flecks until you split them open.
Below was my original plan for this months Daring Baker Challenge. That original plan is now known as minor failure.
I have a tendency to experiment at the last-minute..always confident that it’ll work out – no problem! More than half the time, there’s some kind of problem that I can either fix in time, or I end up making something else – quickly. I’ve always been a last minute person and I’d like to say I thrive under pressure, but I’d be lying. When it doesn’t work out the way I hoped it would..major potty mouth may ensue.
My plan was to add chocolate chunks, then pipe peanut butter cheesecake batter from this recipe, into a really great banana bread batter. It worked as far as taste, texture and flavor went, but it sunk in the middle because I think I used too much peanut butter cheesecake batter, and frankly, it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing – which is pretty important when you’re a food blogger. BUT, I will have a refined recipe for it eventually.
SO, when you have only a few hours to pull something off, something quick is your saving grace. What better than popovers? Honestly, who doesn’t love popovers? Not only are they easy to put together, but the dramatic appearance usually elicits oohs and aahs when you pull them from the oven. Just look at how tall and whimsical these are!
There’s a supposed secret to getting them this tall and crazy poofy, well, two secrets really, maybe three – ok, four. One, baking powder – just a little bit. Two – bread flour instead of AP flour. Three – room temperature eggs and milk. Four - letting the batter rest an hour before filling and baking
I usually use a simple formula of 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup milk, 3 eggs and a pinch of salt – foolproof, beautiful popovers..every.single.time. However, after trying this new recipe,, and seeing how some of my popovers did the crazy dance once they rose above the rims (maybe it was the chocolate?), has certainly made me want to use it again. It’s amazing how much higher they would have risen had I not added the chocolate. There are photos of the popovers at the linked recipe, so you can see how high.
Another key to tall, crazy and dramatic popovers is giving them some interior drying time in the oven. You poke a tiny hole in the side of each popover (the bottom part – I call it the ‘stand’) to let the steam escape. If you don’t do this, they will eventually slump and the interior will be soggy.
Once you pierce them, give them 5 to 10 more minutes in a low oven on a baking sheet to dry. They will now hold shape, no shlumping and no soggy interiors, just crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside with lots of wonderful air pockets.
I froze some grated chocolate, tossed it in flour (shaking off the excess in a strainer), and added it to the batter just before I filled the wells of the pan. I love the slight speckled effect and the streaks of chocolate on the inside, but most importantly, they’re tasty – like pulling apart a pain au chocolate, with less chocolate (and a lot less butter!) Those little bits of chocolate dispersed throughout the fluffy interior and crispy, golden exterior, will make you really happy.
The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was Lis (my wifeypoo). Lis stepped in last-minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites, encouraging us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles. That’s right up my culinary alley. I never fully follow a recipe.
I served these with leftover vanilla bean cream cheese spread and fruit. You can serve them with whatever you want, or just eat as is. I wanted to eat them all. I didn’t. Shock.
Once again, it’s time to continue my ‘Bad Boy First Love’ series. Series? Yep, that’s what it’s come to because so many details have risen from the hallows of my brain. If I tried to finish it off in one or two posts, it would swallow my whole blog.
NO IDEA. Use your imagination.
After I broke out of my happy stupor (much, much, much better than the year of sad stupor, obviously), I invited the girls to stop by our glorious beach penthouse to hang out with us. One of the sisters had a new boyfriend from upstate NY, and he was coming down. Plus, a few of their friends were coming by, could they bring them too?
“Sure!” *there’s plenty of room in our 10 by 12 ft kitchen with a couch!*
I ran back to our luxury pad, almost busting the rickety stairs as I stomped up them rapidly – man, I was one happy chick.
I threw open the door excitedly. The girls were setting up the place and it actually looked cute..for a kitchen with a couch. We would share the bunk bed levels, two on each level. A little squished, but no big whoop. The bathroom was the size of a closet. This could be a problem with 4 girls, 4 blowdryers, 3 curling irons, loads of lotions, oils, deodorants, make-up, powders…not to mention all of our shampoos, conditioners and cream rinses. Yep..we were girls, and a schedule would have to be worked out.
We decided that make-up and blow drying could be done in the kitchen with mirrors, since there were plenty of outlets, so if someone had already staked claim of the bathroom mirror, that’s what we’d do. We definitely wouldn’t be cooking in this kitchen.
“He’s here guys, he’s working on the pier” I said as calmly as I could..my heart doing yet another somersault as the words spilled from my mouth.
They all stopped what they were doing. Then a barrage of hugs, high-fives and happy exclamations.
One friend took me by the shoulders and stared deep into my eyes.
“Lisa, just think..after a year, you’re going to SEE HIM TONIGHT!”
Tonight? Uh uh..no way. Not only was I nervous he might not want me anymore, but I’d rather postpone the possibility that he might be seeing someone, for the next night, after I was able to spend some time on the beach to get some color. I wanted to ‘at least’ look hot for the inevitable throw-up and die. Dreamboat was too gorgeous not to have someone. I was suddenly convinced that would be the outcome.
I expressed this to them. They disagreed and tried to convince me otherwise, but I wasn’t budging – NO WAY.
We showered and dressed. To further prove my point that there was no way I’d set foot on the pier that night, I put on a pair of raggedy cut-off jean shorts and a faded red t-shirt. Not ‘first sight in a year’ attire, by any stretch. I let my hair dry naturally, shaggy and messy. This would prevent me from even sneaking to take a peek in fear he might see me this way.
The pounding up the steps was loud as our local girlfriends, their friends and one of the new boyfriends came-a-calliin. They had bags of cheap wine and a case of beer (the boyfriend from upstate NY was 21). Our kitchen with the couch was like a sardine can with a few stray fishies seeping into the bedroom.
I guess we were having a party. Good – no boardwalk.
I needed to relax since I was now absolutely convinced I’d be rejected for leaving him without a word, or even worse, another girl.
After half a paper cup of apple wine, since we didn’t have any Baccarat crystal wine glasses on hand, I was feeling pretty relaxed. Another half cup, I was buzzing. I’m a lightweight aka a cheap date. I hold booze about as well as a plastic bag holds cement blocks.
Soon I started to hear buzzes of..
“Let’s do something, go somewhere, it’s too crowded in here and it’s only 9 o ‘clock.”
Lots of affirmatives. I just sat there, loopy and mum, waiting to hear anything BUT, boardwalk.
“Let’s hit the boardwalk!”
“Yeah..let’s walk around and just see where it takes us”
OH, please, I know where it’ll take us, but there I was within minutes, walking up the ramp to the boardwalk with everyone. It was either that or stay home alone. Besides, there were so many places, so many things to do, that the Casino Pier could easily be avoided. We could go to the other pier further down if they feel like going on rides, although the rides were pretty lame on that one, outside of the log flume.
When we hit the part of the boardwalk near the carousel, next to the Casino Pier, I inwardly pleaded with everyone to keep moving.
“Just keep going..just keep going…don’t even look at the pier..nobody, please!*”
Suddenly a brouhaha of voices broke through my attempt to guide everyone past and away from the pier via telekinesis.
“OMG! Hiiii! What are you guys doing here??”
I looked up. Two of my friends had run straight into some upperclassmen from school who had just graduated and some who had graduated the year before, about 8 of them.
There was excitement, disbelief, like, OMG, we live in the same town and we just ran into each other at the beach, 2 hours from the ‘same’ town we live in!! This is so amazing, so unexpected, so rare! Yeah, okay, if this was Paris, I could see it, but come on.
Not only that..none us of knew any of these people very well, outside of muddled ‘Hi’s’ in the hallway at school or the occasional 5-minute bathroom chat;
“I love that lip color, is it MAC?”
But, since we lived in the same town and we ran into each other in another town two hours away, naturally, we had to hang out for a bit! This is just SO COOL! We’re from the same town and here we in another town, so now we’re friends for a few hours!
Yeah, the fear of running into Dreamboat looking like I did, made me a little cranky.
Of course, they wanted to go on the Casino Pier and hit the rides.
“SH*T.” I muttered audibly
They all looked at me.
A cacophony of..”What’s wrong? “Do you not like the rides?” “Do you get sick on rides? “OMG, I used to throw up every time I rode the Jet Star and…” came shooting at me like bullets.
Our new hometown besties were hurling so many questions and stories at me, I started to feel really woozy. Finally, with a look of approval from me, one of my friends chimed in and started to give a quick synopsis of my situation – then another chimed in, and soon the Full Monty was out and swinging like a pendulum.
One of the hometown guys, whom I actually had a crush on for about 3 days when I was 14, stepped forward, very close to me. He smelled like pot. Scratch that, reeked of pot.
“As a guy, I’m going to give you a little advice. We don’t care if you’re not tan or wearing a ratty t-shirt, okay?” THEN…
“If he isn’t with someone already, tonight could be the night he meets someone he really likes. There could be another you on that pier this very moment, scoping him out or vice versa.”
That second gem of advice hit me like a boulder to the cranium. Suddenly I was completely sober. This was the sagest advice ever. My fear was quickly replaced by panic, and I needed to see him now, ugly or not.
“Let’s go” I said to everyone, leading the way to the pier. I was an apple wine induced General Patton leading my troops into a life or death situation, except the only life or death situation was mine – after throwing up, if necessary.
I turned left onto the pier – away from the Tilt -A-Whirl. I needed time to work up to this….
Part 7 coming in a few very short days!
Chocolate Flecked Popovers
1 recipe for these popovers – dijon mustard omitted plus 2/3 cup grated or finely chopped chocolate, frozen, then tossed in flour, shaken in a strainer, and stirred into the batter.
If you have a moment, please check out some fantastic quick breads created by other Daring Bakers members, by clicking on the links to their blogs, HERE. For some great quick bread recipes that Lis compiled for the challenge, click HERE.