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Sunday Food Porn: S’more in Action!

Doesn't this make you want some more s'mores?

Doesn’t this make you want some more s’mores?

Happy Summertime!

Mmm… Brownies

Delicious, delicious brownies…

Whoops! Not that kind of Brownie!

I’m talking about the delicious, fudgey treats that I spent most of yesterday baking.

Moist, melt-in-your-mouth, bittersweet chocolate brownies.

One thing that interests me about brownies is how versatile they are.  You can go old school classic with bittersweet chocolate and nuts like these:

The recipe (and more luscious, porny pics) can be found at Baked Bree.com. The ones I made were actually fairly similar, but sans nuts. They’re being offered in exchange for donations at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in my hometown this weekend. I love the idea of using chocolate to fight cancer.

Anyway.

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, brownies can be done in dozens – nay, scores! – of different ways. You can use milk chocolate instead of dark, add pecans or walnuts, make them fudgier or cakier, make them more like cheesecake in texture and then stud them with Snickers bars, use white chocolate alone or in tandem with milk or bittersweet chocolate, frost them and decorate with sprinkles:

like these ones from She Knows, or even completely ditch chocolate completely and make them with apples!

Me? I’ll stick to bittersweet chocolate, and I’m easygoing as to the nut question. I like nuts in my brownies, but I’ll be perfectly content to eat one without the contrasting flavor and texture of nuts. I prefer them without icing, but have been quite cheerful to eat them with, when there has been no other option.

The one thing I’m fairly adamant about is the fact that I am not ready to try cheese and potato brownies. Just… no.

Pickman’s Sampler

You, loyal readers, know how I am. Servicey. So when I saw the following cri de coeur on Twitter I knew I had to help.

Sorry, no cubular ice cream, but I DO have some non-Euclidean chocolates!

Pickmans Sampler: an unspeakable horror in every box!

Pickmans Sampler: an unspeakable horror in every box!

Think about it: doesn’t this explain That One Chocolate in every assortment that seems to have been puked up straight from the mouth of Hell?

Schlocolate!

Karl Lagerfeld and his chocolate lapdog

Karl Lagerfeld and his chocolate lapdog

It’s not as if Krazy Karl ever, you know, eats (or at least he doesn’t swallow), but he has designed an all-chocolate hotel room, including a solid chocolate (and apparently quite startled) roommate modeled on his own pet, Baptiste Giabiconi. He’s a pretty fellow, but really is a pity about the melasma. Still, I would recommend not just a condom but a full-body wetsuit if you’re going to get down and dirty with Blackface Boy here.

Sunday Food Porn: Black and White

chocolate in black and white

chocolate in black and white

I don’t know where they make this, but I want to go to there.

Anarchy in the UK

anarchy in the UK

I regretfully report that the Great Earl Grey/Chocolate experiment was not a success. Perhaps I should have put more gin in there? Nah, Gin doesn’t go with chocolate either.

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M&M, I want your pretzel inside me

While walking in Midtown Manhattan yesterday, I stumbled upon this…

A behemoth M&M, plopped down in the middle of Herald Square to promote the new pretzel M&Ms that are slowly making their presence felt on bodega shelves and check out lines around the country. With what is apparently the most ambitious launch of an M&M product in a decade, parent company Mars is hoping the crunchy little devils will be big. Way bigger than even the bright orange monstrosity parked on 34th and 6th Wednesday morning. Perhaps even bigger than the American Idol concert that I learned was part of the festivities  (you didn’t think the cops would block off traffic just for a float sized candy coated chocolate did you? Okay, I did for a moment. It was after all, very large.)

Sadly, I couldn’t stick around for the show, but it left quite an impression, so on my way home this evening I picked up these…

I am perhaps the target audience for these new candy covered buddies. In fact, it is within the realm of possibility that some observant Mars executive actually developed the idea for the confection while watching me partake in one of my favorite snacks — a couple of Rold Gold pretzel sticks and a couple of plain M&Ms, all popped into the mouth at once, therein creating a perfect harmony of salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth. I will continue to await my royalty check.

I do love pretzels with or without chocolate. In fact, I have a lot in common with the concerned looking M&M whose mug appears on the wrapper of this new edition…

On any given day, a doctor doing an x-ray of my belly would find that, I too, have a pretzel inside me (and probably some M&Ms as well.)

These new pretzel M&Ms are bigger than both plain and peanut, and as such a disappointingly low number come in each bag (which in part explains why the packet’s contents contain only 150 calories.)

Aside from the quantity problem that results from the larger size, the girth of the candies allows them to pack the necessary pretzely-punch. They have just the right balance of sweet, chocolate, and salt.

Looks like a malted milk ball but without the cloying sweetness. A very delicious dessert indeed. I am going to go have another right now. My insides are calling out for that sweet salty pretzel love.

Vegan dinner at the temple

For two weeks the Henry family has been traipsing across Japan, land of salty snacks and tepid green tea. Back home in New York they find that crunchy rice crackers (senbei with nori) inhabit each jacket pocket.

The trip’s one great discovery, found in the famous Kyoto covered food market street (Nishiki-koji), were dried umeboshi, the tart salt apricot-plum found in a bento box. Dried ones pack all the punch of fresh ones, but taste slightly sweeter, an amazing mouth experience that keeps the palate satisfied and amused long enough for the shinkansen to travel from Hiroshima to Osaka.

In case you go, be forewarned. In Japan there are very few internet connections, no iPhone service, and no trash cans, all the more remarkable because Japanese streets are immaculate. You could eat off the floor.

In the Ginza Mitsukoshi a fresh-faced young woman offered Mr. Henry a free chocolate truffle imported from Paris (over $1 each). Although excellent coffee is widely available ($5 per cup), fine dark chocolate is very scarce. After eating half, he passed the uneaten portion to his devoted consort who characteristically took no notice of him. The truffle dropped to the floor. Seeing no trash can nearby, confident in the cleanliness of Japanese floors, and unwilling to waste the precious truffle, Mr. Henry straightaway picked it up and popped it in his chocolate-deprived mouth. Her spine shivering, the Mitsukoshi woman squeaked in horror.

The one unforgettable meal took place in a 15th-century Buddhist mountaintop temple (Shojoin-in, Koya-san) partly converted for use as a ryokan. In a beautiful tatami room adorned with painted six-panel screen, a muscular monk with shaven pate served a vegan dinner comprising every conceivable fresh bean, mountain yam, and tofu preparation.

Koya-san signature fresh tofu had a toothsome custard-like texture and a slightly caramelized flavor. Cold boiled spinach had been quick-pickled in a light rice wine vinegar and seasoned with a sesame peanut sauce. Of the many pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables, the most unusual was the whole pickled kumquat. You eat the whole thing, seeds and all.

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