November 25, 2007

a month to go

perhaps what turns out to be one of the shortest month of a year...
Bearista Penguin and Snowman sharing Creme Brulee Latte with Chocolate and Raspberry Eclair and Orange and Ginger Muffin. Getting a little too chilly for a coffee at an outside table!

November 17, 2007

chocolate truffles with love, withour sugar

As the days becoming shorter and the air chillier, the idea of treating yourself to a nice bit of good chocolate seems more appealing than ever. And the darker the better in my book - 100% cocoa chocolate, bring it on!

And yet, I'm not quite into biting into a pure, 100% cocoa solid all the time, so I'd turn it into something a little more palatable - a lot of times dark, chocolate-y chocolate cake, and sometimes chocolate truffles like these. Here, in addition to using sugar- and other additive-free chocolate as an ingredient, the truffles themselves are altogether sugar-free.

The recipe is from Love, Eric: Delicious Vegan Macrobiotic Desserts (Eric Lechasseur, Mugen, 2005). Like all other beautifully-presented, tempting desserts that appear in this book, these chocolate truffles do not use sugar or dairy products, not to mention yucky chemical-loaded ingredients. Instead, they are sweetened with rice and barley malt syrups. set with a help of soy milk and agar, shaped with my own hands (that is why they look so clumsy!), and rolled in pure cocoa powder and roasted chopped hazelnuts. Not sounding very convincing? Well, you have to give it a try yourself, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I would have had them with a nice cup of strong espresso had I had the choice, but today I made myself some thick green tea instead. I pretty much followed the recipe all the way, but it would also be nice infused with spices or other flavors. In fact, the book offers some interesting combinations of flavors such as Watermelon Thyme Granite and Blueberry and Pine Nut Pie, in addition to straightforward classics such as Tart Tatin and Tiramisu. I've tried a fair share of recipes from the book, which haven't made it to this blog as of yet... maybe sometime, hopefully.

While these truffles eventually made me a little treat for a quiet tea time in the hazy Saturday afternoon, I actually made them to personally celebrate some great news I got today; not that I could actually bring these to them, yet I still wanted to congratulate them, even if it may be nothing but self-complacent and practically insignificant. All for the best.

November 3, 2007

trio of the season

Chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and kabocha pumpkin together make hands down the three biggest favorite tastes of autumn in Japan, especially among girls, old and young. They taste great either sweet or savory, yet as they say girls like it sweet... so why not.

Flesh of chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, cooked, pureed and sweetened, and then shaped into small balls; this type of sweets is usually called chakin shibori, which may literally mean "wrung in a tea towel" - you take a small amount of the mixture, place it over a damp napkin or tea towel, wrap up to shape into a ball, and gently "wring" the top of the ball - I guess I might have gone through the process with some photos a long time ago, here.

These are great to nibble on as is, but I went one step further and dressed them up a bit:

Melted chocolate over the chestnut morsels, honey over sweet potato, and gyokuro (type of green tea considered to be of highest quality) jelly over pumpkin. Still looking rather bare? Might as well putting a final touch...

Cacao nibs on choc-covered chestnut morsels, toasted black sesame seeds on honeyed sweet potato, and chopped roasted pistachios on green tea-grazed pumpkin.

All went down pretty well with a cup of green tea- I wish I had some of these now, but alas these photos are from mid September... oh well. That said, I've been devouring these autumn bounties for the past good two months, and I will hopefully do a post about some of them if I get a chance. For now, there is this about pumpkin sweets; a belated Halloween post updated with more text and photos. Boo!