Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spiced Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pepitas and Sea Salt: Holiday Throwdown Part 1

Speaking of time management...
I haven't been taking full advantage of my lunch breaks, mostly because I would like to go home and have a short amount of time with Chocolate Lover and not completely lose my mind in the evenings. Finding time to cook is a different challenge all together, but with the slew of holidays and birthdays and Wednesdays coming I'm sure I will find an excuse.

Anyway, my point was that I'm going to try to be responsible and start updating and photo editing when I'm not completely slammed on my lunch breaks. See? I'm not completely terrible at being an adult.

I am trying to really get a handle on my finances, so step one was obviously finding something to do with the rest of those pepitas from the butternut squash soup. Step two is putting lighting equipment on my Christmas list since one may have difficulty coming across decent natural light in Nashville this time of year.

This turned out really nicely as a birthday present; down to business.

Spiced Dark Chocolate Bark with Toasted Pepitas and Sea Salt
from this site that does really nice photography. Jealous.

3 (3.5 oz) bars good quality dark chocolate*
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/8-1/4 tsp ground red chipotle**
1/2 cup + 2 Tbl roasted salted pepitas
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

*The original recipe called for 70% cacao or higher, but for the average consumer I wouldn't go any higher than that. Above 70% can be a little rough for the unprepared palate.

**Next time, I'm going to add closer to 1/4 tsp. I could barely taste any spice, and being a Texan I wanted it to be more like Abuelita with a kick.

To roast the pepitas, I scattered them on a parchment lined baking sheet and stuck them in the oven at 350 for about ten minutes. WATCH YOUR NUTS, PEOPLE! I always feel like I almost burn them :)


Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Break the chocolate into small pieces, and place 3/4 of it into a double boiler over medium heat- stir occasionaly. Remember with chocolate, always low and slow on the stove top. Once melted, add the rest of the chocolate and stir until everything is melted.

Stir in the spices and the roasted pepitas. Pour the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and sprinkle the extra 2Tbl pepitas over the top. Let it set for a few minutes... set in the southern sense and the culinary sense.

Sprinkle the sea salt over the top and stick 'er in the fridge for 45 minutes. Or, if you're short on time and you're brave enough to clean out your freezer in a mad dash, it should only take about 10 or 15 minutes.

Once the bark is solid, break it up with your hands and try not to lick your fingers clean afterward if you are in polite company. Give it away if you must, but I would recommend hoarding.

Witty Remark,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pepitas

Me 'n my fancy toast points...

Another one photo post today. To say I am trying to "perfect" my time management skills would be a gross overstatement. It's something more along the lines of holding on for dear life and screaming your head off on a rolly-coaster you're not properly strapped into. Who knew life could get so silly and busy. At least I got a crocodile in spelling.

Down to the business of SOUP! I haven't made this soup since I was in college, and the last time I did I enjoyed eating it so much that I became completely ensconced and didn't do dishes for a week. I found out how difficult it is to get rid of fruit flies. I recommend a vacuum attachment... or getting off one's ass and doing the dishes.

I really like this soup. It has lots of squashy fall flavor, and the pepitas and sour cream really add a lot of complex spice. The chocolate lover stated that the combination of flavors was "confusing", I think he meant that I'm a genius.

Pureed Butternut Squash Soup
2 Tbl Butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 two inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (ADVICE ON FRESH GINGER APPRECIATED)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2.75 Lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes*
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
Coarse salt & pepper
sour cream if you so desire

*Save your seeds! Most squash seeds can be tossed with a little olive oil, salt (seasoned if you like), and pepper, and toasted in the oven for just a few minutes for a tasty snack. You could also top your soup with them.

Spiced Pepitas
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tsp chili powder
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp lime juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the pepitas with the chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and lime juice. Spread the seeds out over a lined baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, seeds and nuts burn fast!

Melt the butter in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add ginger, garlic, and squash. Cook this mixture for 6-8 minutes. Stir in four cups of water, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You're looking for a tender squash that mashes pretty easily up against the side of the pan.

If you are lucky enough to have an immersion blender, I would recommend using it to puree the soup. Use caution while pureeing ridiculously hot liquids, keep the hand blender submerged and work slowly. You can use a blender if you cover the top with a dish towel so the heat can escape. Once the soup is at the desired consistency, stir in 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1 1/2 tsp salt.

Serve HOT!... In a mug!... Light a candle, and get a blanket, and watch Fear Fest on AMC!

Or, put it in whatever you like, top with a little pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and the toasted pepitas. You can thank me later.