Saturday, December 24, 2011

All I Want for Christmas

1chocolatesAfter searching the entire island of Hawaii and Internets of Amazon.com for 2 months we have finally bought an acceptable computer desk.

I was stoked. I would finally get to blog. I only have photoshop for my raw photos on my desktop.

But no! The table is unfinished and has to be stained. Jake says it will take a week. He could tell I was disappointed and got started on making it right away.

I couldn’t take it. So I am sitting on the floor with the keyboard, sweating after dragging all of my desktop computer parts out of the extra room where 20 unpacked boxes still sit. The computer is covered with furry dust and is screaming at me to update five billion virus scanners and security updates and also wants to reformat my camera card.

I don’t care. I am blogging. And we finally have curtains. I am happy.

photo (1)I got an early Christmas present when Dianne Jacob came to give a workshop on food writing.

I don’t recommend moving and trying to organize a workshop at the same time, just FYI, but it was totally worth it in the end. About 5 bazillion people had to help me out, a lot, to make it happen, and I owe them so many favors that I will be repaying in baked goods for the rest of time.

Dianne was even better in real life, which is really hard to believe, I know, because I already liked her so much. She was warm and funny and really has such great taste, as she loved my Lantern Ilima lei. It matched perfectly.

We picked her up at the airport before the workshop and ran into Chinatown to get some food. She bought my friend and I each two char-siu buns (which are ten thousand times better in Chinatown than 7-11) and we got a couple of smoothies to go.

At the workshop she prompted our creativity with writing exercises, examined a favorite post, told us the hard truth about cookbook writing, and we shared our frustrations with blogging. photo (2)

I think the advice that stuck with me the most, weeks later, has been: “Have an opinion. it’s so much more interesting.”

She has lots of opinions and she conveys them in a smart and funny way. It’s possible to be positive without being gushy, I’ve decided. I was really trying to learn from that. I’ve been fired up again to write more and write well. 9dianne8dianne

Dianne bought me lunch nearby. We ate some garlicky ong choi and some stir fried mochi (only in Hawaii!). Dianne said that the mochi had great char from the wok. She told me the technical term but I can’t remember. My internet research led me to Wok Hei.. That smokiness was the smooth edge between burnt and savory. It made me want to go to Chinatown every day. 6dianne7dianne

Catherine Toth met us for the last five minutes of lunch and gave us cake pops. I unfortunately had to share with my kids. I have no idea why I didn’t take a picture of how cute she is and how cute her cake pops were. Shame on me.

After the workshop we went to eat again with the ladies and gentleman from Les Dames I drove Dianne to the airport again, and raced home with a head full of food writing. I have too many New Year’s resolutions that have nothing to do with dieting.

I have been making way too many of these.

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In between batches there are neighborhood kids trying to “Catch That Chicken!” whilst scrambling underneath our house.

Then there’s the Jackson chameleon in our car port. He must’ve been looking for his relatives.

We are alive, eating, and Hawaii-living.

1chameleon5chameleon

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?

Island Style Filled Chocolate Bon Bons

Lilikoi Filling

  • 1/2 Cup lilikoi puree
  • 1/4 Cup white chocolate chips
  • 5 marshmallows
  • 1/2 Cup powdered sugar

Heat the lilikoi puree, white chocolate, marshmallows, and powdered sugar in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring after each. Once it is completely melted, whisk in the powdered sugar. It should be very thick soup. Let cool for 5 minutes and then put in the fridge until you need it. If it is too liquid you can add more powdered sugar. I put in even more lilkoi puree to one batch for extra punch.

Christmas Style Filled Chocolate Bon Bons

Eggnog Filling

  • 3 Tbsp eggnog
  • 1/4 Cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Cup powdered sugar

Heat the eggnog and white chocolate chips in the microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and return to the microwave for 10 more seconds if needed. Whisk in the cream cheese and powdered sugar and beat until thick. Put in the fridge until needed. Add more eggog for stronger flavor (but you’ll need a little more powdered sugar).

Peanut Butter Bonbons

  • 1/2 Cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 Cup natural style peanut butter
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar

Combine the melted chocolate, peanut butter, and cream cheese in a stand mixer (with the regular paddle). Beat it together for 30 seconds, scraping the sides twice. Add the powdered sugar and mix again until it is crumbly but can be rolled together in your hands.

Making Bonbons2dianne

You’ll need some plastic molds that are dome shaped. I had success with many different domes. Milk chocolate is the hardest to unmold because it is so soft. Darker chocolate and even white chocolate for some reason is easier.

For the chocolate, it does work with chocolate chips but I recommend going with something a little better. I used Trader Joe’s huge dark chocolate bar (well, just a part of it) with good success.

Get a glass bowl with a lip and place it over a sauce pan that has an inch or so of water in the bottom. The bowl should not be touching the water (this is a double boiler). Heat this over medium heat until the water is simmering. Place about 1 Cup chocolate pieces in the bowl, and stir with a silicone spatula until melted and very shiny. If you have a candy thermometer heat the chocolate until about 110 degrees. To tell the truth, I don’t use mine usually. I heat it until it’s pretty hot when I stick my finger in it, but I can still barely stand it.

(Don’t you love my instructions?)

Then remove the chocolate from the heat, throw about 1/3 cup more of chocolate pieces in there, and stir it around until the chocolate is all melted.

Immediately put a little dollop of chocolate into a few of the molds (work with only a few at a time as to not let the chocolate cool down too quickly) and then start brushing it (yes! with a paintbrush!) in the inside of the mold. You don’t want the light to show through the chocolate. You may have to do two coats with a cooling in the refrigerator session in between.

Once you’ve painted the inside of the molds (up to the top! But not over the edge.) place them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

When the chocolate is hardened in the molds then add the filling. Fill just under the top level so you have room to drop a little more melted chocolate over the filling. You will probably need to reheat the chocolate to hot again over the double boiler before doing this. If the chocolate is too cool with this last step, the chocolate will not harden properly and will feel too soft.

Put the chocolate molds back in the fridge and wait until they harden. Then pop out the chocolates. Usually I have to kind of tap and press a little on the molds to pop them out. The milk chocolates were the hardest—I ended up freezing them for a little while to get them out.

Clean your molds between batches. Do NOT put them in the dishwasher even though you just got a new dishwasher and you think it’s a miracle. Lesson learned.

Now, what do you do if you have some leftover chocolate?

Why, I can think of at least one thing. 5chocolates

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16 comments:

A Mermaid said...

Fantastic friend! Well worth the wait. And I am so glad to have that delicious chocolate tutorial on paper so to speak. Whew. I was having a last minute urge to make oreo pops using this kind of method and I think I'll do it!

A Mermaid said...

Oh and thanks again for all your hard work on the workshop. It was absolutely fantastic and just what I needed. I loved having a day out with good, inspiring, positive people learning and thinking and EATING!

Robbie said...

Mozely is just the most amazingly handsome little boy! An angel, I must say, even though that's cliche! Congrats on the great workshop!

liko said...

this is the post i have been waiting for!!! i have been dreaming of those chocolates!! you made me braver in wanting to attempt candy! i never thought i could make something so cute and yummy!
and thank you for putting that workshop together! it was my first experience attending one and i really enjoyed it!!
and you are lucky you didn't have to pay $20 for that chameleon! we spent lots of time as kids trying to find one in the wild, all for nought. but i bought two for faith's seventh birthday and the boy died but the girl is still going strong. we like catching all kinds of bugs to feed to her. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

sophia said...

Aw, Dianne definitely sounds super cool.
and lilikoi!! I have lilikoi butter that a friend bought for me from Hawaii. I used it into a green tea spiral cookie.

And there is absolutely no such thing as "making too many bon-bons." :-)

Merry Christmas, dear Mariko!!

K and S said...

happy holidays!

Mariko said...

A Mermaid: You're very welcome. Thank YOU for letting me take over. I felt a bit bad about that later.

Robbie: :) You guys were way cute in the Christmas card.

Liko: I didn't know you could buy them! We actually gave it away to a friend. We didn't want to bother catching bugs. But it is cool.

Sophia: Ha ha. You're right. I guess there is "eating too many bon-bons" though. I can pretty much drink lilikoi butter. If I could learn to can properly I could send you some.

K&S: Happy Holidays to you too!

jalna said...

Welcome back!! Such a diverse, interesting post and all I can think to say is, "YOU FOUND THAT LIZARD IN YOUR CARPORT!!"

FOODalogue said...

Best wishes to you and your beautiful family for 2012!

P.S. The Diane Jacob meet-up sounds great.

Nippon Nin said...

Everything but not chameleon looks delicious! Even and especially Mozely. He is so handsome. He must have good gene.
I hope you could share the knowledge you learned from Dianne.

Amberbop said...

Those Lilikoi bon-bons have Valentine's day in Brooklyn written all over them ;)

Dianne Jacob said...

Welcome back to blogging! So glad to see this post and the links. And the photos of me! Too much.

Yes, that's the term: wok hai. Good for you for looking it up. I loved that mochi dish. I've never had anything like it.

Thanks again for everything you did -- all the planning and schlepping -to make our day of food writing successful. I'm surprised you were able to get anything out of it, being so dedicated to everything turning out so well. Happy New Year to you.

Rosemary Mark said...

Lovely to hear the 'back story' of Dianne's class. We walk together nearly every week, so I'd heard about it. Your charm added to the adventure! Good luck blogging. Your blog is lovely and the photos gorgeous.

Nate and Mags said...

Hi Mariko, I haven't been here for awhile, but I think I will stop by whenever I get homesick for Hawaii! I see you guys met in the Queen Emma Gardens, and then went to Little Village for food? Stir fried mochi is a shanghai dish and northern Chinese restaurants cook those up anywhere there's some good Chinese food ; ) I love that dish. We should have ate together when I was still in Hawaii!!

FootPrints said...

jjeezzz i leave the blogging world for a minute and Moz goes and grows up! he's so handsome!! Happy New Year Friend!

rolling computer desk said...

Ooo What a fabulous find!! :)

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