by Linda Cloutier

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hazelnut Mocha Custard, the Recipe

Hazelnut Mocha Custard

1 1/2 oz Ghirardelli unsweetened chocolate, chopped*
1 1/2 oz Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, chopped*
1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
1/2 cup strongly brewed hazelnut flavored coffee
1 heaping tbs hazelnut spread ( Nutella )
2 tbs sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
White Chocolate Cream (see below), optional
2 tbs finely ground hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 300.

In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm cream, coffee, hazelnut spread and sugar, stirring constantly, just until sugar dissolves completely. Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Slowly add warm cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Add melted chocolate and stir to combine. Stir in vanilla,

Pour mixture into four 4 to 6 ounce ramekins or custard cups. Place into 9 x 13 pan, at least 1 inch apart. Fill baking pan with hot water to about 1/2 inch from the tops of the ramekins.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Test for doneness by by lifting and tilting a ramekin; custard is done if the center bulges a bit when tilted. Don't over bake. I actually start testing at 35 minutes just to be safe.

Allow custards to cool; cover each with plastic wrap (don't let covering touch the top of the custard) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Optional: before serving garnish with a piped swirl of white chocolate cream and sprinkle with ground hazelnuts.
Optional White Chocolate Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup of strongly brewed hazelnut flavored coffee
1 cup Ghirardelli White Cholocate Chips
1 tsp vanilla

In heavy saucepan, heat cream and coffee until very hot. do not allow to boil. Pour warm cream over white chocolate chips in a bowl and stir until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla. Allow to cool and whip to desired consistency
*This recipe can easily be made with 3 ounces of either type of chocolate

Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship at the Colorado State Fair

It feels like it's been forever since I've done anything competitively (I've decided that submitting a picture to a web site DOES NOT count) and I realized this week that I've missed it. As I wrote about before, the Colorado State Fair opened yesterday, and last evening I had the pleasure of entering my Hazelnut Mocha Custard in the Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship.

The rules stated that all recipes had to be original; must include Ghirardelli chocolate and no more than 10 additional ingredients; from scratch, without using mixes or prepackaged items. Entries had to include 3 copies of the recipe and proof of purchase for the chocolate.

I've been perfecting the recipe over several weeks and was very pleased with it. When it was time to make the final, do-or-die version to be presented to the judges I felt confident about it and things proceeded nicely. What I hadn't anticipated was that there wasn't any extra custards to do a "just-to-be-on-the-safe-side" taste test so I had no idea if they had come out as good as the last time I made them. Sure-fire way to instill insecurity right there!

Upon arrival, I set up my dessert and took a few pictures.

Planning the presentation was as much fun as creating the recipe. Pier 1 has a fantastic Tasting Party line and after much angst and drama, I decided on the red and white custard cups. The were the perfect size for an individual serving and more unique than a traditional ramekin. I also got a set of absolutely darling itty-bitty tasting spoons. Served on a white tray lined with a red rose patterned felt cut-out placemat with a red napkin. Pretty!

There were four judges, one of whom was the Ghirardelli NATIONAL Champion. Initially, they walked around and looked at all the entries. The entries varied greatly, and included a cake, two different cheesecakes, parfaits (also mocha hazelnut, so much for my creativity), scones, brownies, stuffed and chocolate covered strawberries, a chocolate chip cheesecake ball, and ice cream. Everything looked fantastic!

The judges (tough job, right?) sat down and were presented with each recipe and dessert, one at a time. They really scrutinized the recipes, reading through each one carefully. They then looked closely at the items from all angles, smelled them, and finally cut or served them to be tasted. They all kept their poker faces throughout the process so there was no telling what they thought of each dessert during the tasting.  Talk about nerve-wracking! I was twitching and fidgeting, nervous as all get out! How do those people on Top Chef go through that every week?

The whole process took quite some time. It was well over an hour and a half after they started that they were finally finished and announced the winners. Soooo...

Third place...Cheesecake-stuffed, Chocolate-covered Strawberries...

Second place...Hazelnut Mocha Custard! Yay...happy dance!

First place...Who cares? I won second! No, just kidding! It was the ice cream.

And what were the prizes? Absolutely fabulous!

A Ghirardelli Chocolate apron, an AMAZING gift basket, $50 (for 2nd place) and a really pretty red ribbon! Here's a closer look at the gift basket, which included 5 bags of chips, 6 different 4 oz bars of chocolate and 2 containers of cocoa.

All three winners had their pictures taken wearing our new aprons. Everyone was so nice. We spent some time chatting with some other entrants during the judging and afterwards shared samples of our treats with each other. All in all, a very pleasurable evening!

Next week...C & H Sugar Cupcake Challenge! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gearing up for the fair!

Well, I'm gearing up for a couple of busy contest weeks as the Colorado State Fair approaches. It opens on the 26th.

This Friday, I'll be entering a dessert in the Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship. I didn't go with a cookie or a cupcake. I tried to think outside the wrapper but hopefully not too far out. Personally, I think it's delicious. We'll see if the judges agree. Oh, and I love what I got for the presentation. Has anyone checked out the Tasting Party line of goods at Pier 1? Fun!
Next Friday is the C & H Sugar Cupcake Challenge. My recipe has been tweaked and twitched and is hopefully perfect. I've aimed for creative but not strange; seasonal, using locally grown ingredients that are also readily available anywhere, year round.

This is a first for me. Except for some frostings and fillings and maybe fiddling with flavors of existing cake recipes, I've never formulated my own recipes before. I have to say, I really enjoyed the process. I've also never submitted to a TASTING contest, either, it's always been about looks.

Finally, on Labor Day, the last day of the fair, is the cake decorating contest. The theme is "Fabulous Fifties". I haven't even started on it. Believe it or not, I'm still knocking around ideas. I'll definitely be kicking it into high gear this weekend.

Details, pictures, and results coming soon!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Update on the latest online contest I entered...

Hi! I finally have an update on the online contest I entered in early July and posted about here. The winners have been posted and, as expected, my cake wasn't one of them. All the winners and honorable mentions were gorgeous and the 1st place winner was my personal favorite.

In the meantime, I've been busy tweaking and perfecting my recipes for the tasting competitions coming up at the Colorado State Fair. I've settled on the Cupcake Challenge and the Chocolate Championship and will skip the Great Cakes. My cakes taste as good as they look but the recipes aren't my own. I did try one but it was a flop. Maybe next year.

The theme for the Fair and the Cake Decorating Contest is "Fabulous Fifties" so I've also been working on design ideas for that.

Thanks for reading...I'll keep you posted!