Poached pears in spicy Moscato and silky chocolate ganache

What matters to you most when having dinner with others –  great food or a great company?

I’ve been asked that a lot, so the situation is usually something like this: When I’m invited to dinner I always bring something I cooked or baked. My mother has taught me to never visit friends or family empty-handed.

delicious poached pears with chocolate glaze

So good friends of ours invited us for Thanksgiving dinner and here is the problem:  I usually eat at home before I go. I am not being rude, I simply do not eat the food that’s been served because…well…some of my friends, as hilarious as they are, simply don’t know how to cook. I’ll nibble here and there sure and I will also admit, that while I’m very social and love to meet people, I find myself hard to impress when it comes to food. Wow! I think I just became my mother.

delicious poached pears with chocolate glaze

Listen, cooking is not everyone’s cup of tea I get that (my oldest daughter knows how to boil water really well), but if I had to switch great company with so-so food I rather keep the company. We have hilarious friends we can laugh with on anything, sometimes I wish the food was just as funny. And this Thanksgiving has been filled with reminders that we have dear friends who care enough to remember our own holiday celebration, Hanukkah, when they decorated the dinner table with chocolate money and Hanukkah gifts just for us. I am more grateful today then I was yesterday.

Back to the million chocolate money question: great food or great company? I choose the last two. Great company compensates on a lot of so-so’s…great company makes me forget I’m hungry…great company makes a so so food and life – awesome.

delicious poached pears in chocolate ganache

The poached pears dessert I made for Thanksgiving dinner was an absolute treat and my mouth thanked me when I had one at the time of the photo shoot. Yours will too. A treat I tell you.

poached pears in moscato wine

Easy, delicious and guess what? low in fat. The big deal here is Moscato wine. I use it for its unique fragrance, light-body and low in alcohol. Moscato is refreshing and crisp and makes any dessert feel good.

delicious poached pears

So…shall we:

ingredients:

5 medium firm pears, peeled, halved while stem still attached and cored
1 cinnamon sticks
3 c. Moscato wine
1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. white sugar
5 cloves

chocolate ganache:

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

garnish:
sprinkles “cookies and cream”

*     *     *

In a heavy pan combine pears, liquid and spices. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer on low, occasionally turning them over, until pears are fork tender. Let pears cool in the syrup.
At this point, you can refrigerate the pears in the syrup for a day or 24 hours. The pears will become darker and much richer in flavor.

Meanwhile, on low heat bring heavy cream to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and chocolate chips, let sit for 3 minutes then stir to combine until the chocolate melts. Whisk to smooth. Pour sprinkles on a plate. While chocolate is still warm, gently deep each pear in the ganache, then in “cookies and cream” sprinkles and arrange on a serving dish. Serve warm or chilled.

Do not discard the pears’ syrup just yet. Add hot water and you got a new hot beverage for those cool long nights. Take a sip……Ahhhhhhhh…….

Creamy hot chocolate Kahlua beverage

Food of the Gods

If you like it hot. Smooth. Spicy.

Hot chocolate. Think about it.

It’s not only for red-cheeked children after a long play in the snow Or little old ladies who sit by the fire knitting a sweater, no. Delicious hot chocolate is for those who understand ingredient, quality and…life. It’s for grown ups in particular. Why? because we can use any chocolate we like which means high-quality not the syrup kind. And, we can add any liquor we want instead of…what do you call them again?…oh yeah, marshmallows. I don’t do hot chocolate and marshmallows. You see, I wasn’t born into a family that craves sweets but I like to have something sweet every once in a while. Mr Sense of Hummus on the other hand has a sweet tooth but he is not a hot chocolate lover. Until a week ago (not sure if it’s the hot chocolate drink or what the hot chocolate drink made me do), when I felt the need to have something hot…something silky and warm…something that will boost my mood and stimulate my body… something that will make me groan. Yes baby, this hot chocolate does it. Even the gods use to have hot chocolate rituals.

homemadehotchocolate-1No matter what the weather, it’s rich and delicious, smooth and spicy, hot and comforting. Mmm it was a ten minute Happy Hour for me.

delicious hot chocolate beverage

delicious hot chocolate beverage

Remember, with three main delicious ingredients you can’t go wrong.

delicious hot chocolate beverage

I love how the shaved chocolate melts as soon as its sprinkled on top and the cinnamon turns into a reddish puddle sinking ever so slightly into the hot milk foam…this is a goodness waiting to fill up a drooling mouth. Mine included.

So…shall we:

Serving: 2-3 persons**:

**Remember it’s a hot chocolate beverage so don’t do what I did: if you’re making it and you’re not alone make sure you have enough to share. I had to do it twice more the same night because I thought no one will smell it or ask to “taste it”. I was wrong.

Ingredients:

3 cups cold low-fat milk
2 oz. high quality semi-sweet chocolate (plus a little extra for shaving)
3 tbsp Kahlua liquor (coffee liquor)
2 tbsp white sugar
1 pinch of cinnamon powder
pinch of kosher salt

Brake the chocolate to small pieces and over medium heat in a small saucepan combine milk, chocolate and salt. Whisk ingredients to a smooth consistency while the chocolate melts. Continue whisking to prevent the chocolate from scorching. Whisk gently until bubbles begin to appear and the milk is hot enough (you’ll know). Add the Kahlua, stir and remove from heat.

Divide hot beverage among a couple of pretty cups, top each with shaved chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve, drink and…enjoy.

Tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcakes

Big name
but
little effort.

Does it ever happen to you that you crave for something to eat and don’t know what it is? sweet? savory? home cooked meal or just that something to satisfy your desire? it happens to me a lot maybe because I simply want to try a lot of things at one time. So it’s a new day and a new day calls for new something. Something sweet and comforting that reminds me my childhood home…or my sisters’ homes (they baked a lot when their kids were young). Do I have a treat for you.

I was in a mood for a dark, deep, rich color with smooth texture. How did I come about it? While I rearranged my living room today (which happens quite often) and I laid my new rug on the floor, it came in these beautiful deep silky earthy hues of browns that the colors naturally triggered my cravings to – you guesses it – chocolate.

But not just chocolate. I craved warm, silky, melting chocolate with just the right amount of crunch. Petite in size zapped with a touch of sour red berry. Oh, my juice buds are exploding as I write this.

tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcakeDon’t you feel the same now? than go ahead and make this super simple yet light and so tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcakes. It requires minimum effort – if you have nutella chocolate spread – then you have almost everything you need.
tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcake
tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcakesyou can serve it like this
tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcakeor like this

tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcake

or eat it straight out of the paper…like me.

tasty chocolate melting crunchy berry cupcakeServe it to guests and I promise they will think you worked very hard on it. I just can’t promise how many will satisfy you or them: three…five…

Shall we:

ingredients:
about 6-8 medium size cupcakes:
3/4 c. nutella spread
1 whole egg
1 egg white
4 tbsp white flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
handful of any kind of berries
1/2 c. chocolate chip (optional – fun for kids)
medium size paper muffin cup

preparation:

In a large bowl combine whole egg, egg white, vanilla extract and nutella. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour and whisk gently until well combined. Set a side.

Heat oven to 350°. Meanwhile cut the berries to small pieces.

Insert paper muffin cups into a tin muffin pan (if you have one, it simply helps with support). Spoon the nutella batter into the paper muffin cups about 3/4 full. Top with chopped pecans, or chocolate chips or both. Insert a few pieces of berries into the batter filled cups. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out soft and sticky. For a drier consistency bake 5 minutes longer. Let cool in paper cups for 10 min. Serve warm and enjoy this delectable treat.

 Bon apetite.