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This Valentine, my love goes to, besides my family and friends and cats and dogs, to all my readers. Couldn’t have imagined a few clicks of the mouse could so dramatically add a new dimension to my blogging experience. I posted a picture in foodgawker more than a week ago, at the insistence of Numero Uno [my first born] and my site visits have spiked dramatically. The first day of the posting, I had almost 2000 more visits. Like the gift that keeps on giving, this single picture still brings in an average of 500 sites visits everyday.  

I have seen picture gallery badges in many blogs, but had never clicked on any of them. Just reading my favorite blogs and working on mine, even though it is very intermittent and keeping up with life and my cooking classes has kept me too busy to spend any time on photo sharing sites. All I can say is Wow! My picture was also consistently featured on the first page of the most favorited on foodgawker for a whole week since the posting! I might even venture to say it has gone viral at least by my standards!                                 

The posting also brought tons of interest from Pintrest and tumblr. It was stumled upon and even tweeted a few times! Oh, the power of social media. I have made it very hard for anyone to know that my blog exists, though not intentionally. My blog is very basic, no Facebook page, no postings on any other site, I am not on twitter nor on Pintrest, certainly no picture gallery of my photos exist, nor do I comment much on other blogs even though I love visiting them. This past week and a half has been like a shot in the arm, making me reevaluate things. May be I should be more active in the social media front, because frankly it does wonders to your vanity! So thanks to all of you who have visited from Foodgawker, Pintrest, tumblr [thanks to the charming witandelight site which directed about a 100 visitsors so far] and to all those who have posted and pinned and repined. Special thanks to all my regulars for being so loyal and most of all thanks to you my love, for harassing me for the longest time ever to post in foodgawker.                               

Keeping with the Valentine’s Day color scheme of chocolate brown and pink, I make these chocolate cups with strawberry/raspberry mousse especially for all of you. Literally from my heart to yours. There is no cooking or baking involved. No chickens were prevented from hatching! Just four ingredients, three of them primary. Simple, fun, delicious and good for you too, though who cares about that on Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate cups with Strawberry / Raspberry Mousse.

Makes about 12-14 small cups

Ingredients

6, 1 ounce squares of semi-sweet baking squares [chocolate chips will also work]

1 1/4 cups of strained yogurt [homemade or Chobani / Fage, any fat content OK]

Either 10 medium size strawberries or 15 raspberries, depending on which fruit you prefer to flavor your mousse with

5 tablespoons of icing sugar

Some strawberries / raspberries for decoration.

Equipment

Mini muffin pan

12-14 mini cupcake liners

1 pastry brush or a sponge brush

Prepartion

For the chocolate cups

Line a 12 cup mini muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Take 4 oz of chocolate and chop into smaller bits with a knife or grate it, whichever is convenient.

Set up a double broiler. If you don’t have one, improvise. Place a shallow and wide pan on the stove. Fill with water. Set a narrow and tall dish in the pan in which the grated chocolate will go. This is to prevent water condensation mixing into the melting chocolate.

Heat the water in the double broiler or the improvised pan. Let the chocolate melt in the indirect heat. When most of the chocolate is melted, turn the heat off. [ You can also melt chocolate in the microwave]

Work with 4 cupcake liners at a time. Spoon 1/2 a tablespoon of melted chocolate into each liner. Coat the bottom of the liner thickly and evenly with the melted chocolate. Then with a brush, drag the rest of the chocolate and paint the liners making sure the sides are coated evenly. Touch up any gaps.

Then work on the next 4 cup cake liners. The chocolate is still of melting consistency in the double broiler as it is sitting in the hot water. Once you have used up all the chocolate, refrigerate the pan for about 10-20 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

Now for the second round. This can be optional.

Take out the muffin pan with the liners from the fridge. Melt the remaining 2 oz of chocolate in the same dish as before. With the same pastry brush go over the cups especially the sides of the liners to get a thick coating. Refrigerate for another 10-20 minutes.

Remove the filled liners from the fridge and gently peel the paper off the chocolate cups. Voila you have perfectly ridged solid chocolate cups.                                

                 

For the strawberry /raspberry mousse filling,                                                                      

Take the 10 strawberries or the 15 raspberries, which ever you are using and put in a small blender like Majic Bullet and pulse till it liquefies.

Add the five tablespoons of icing sugar.

Then add 1 1/4 cups of strained yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Check and adjust for sweetness. This is your mousse.                                                                                                                                                        

Bet you didn’t think it would be this easy. You won’t miss the cream or the eggs or the gelatin. This mousse sets perfectly to a thick creamy consistency. Divide the filling amongst the chocolate cups. Decorate with rasperries /slices of strawberry.

Set it in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.

I adapted this recipe from my “No Cook’ themed cooking class that I taught a while ago. The participants ranged from 10 years of age to 60 +. Everyone enjoyed the simplicity of the process and the ensuing results and if people of all ages and all diets [except vegans of course] can enjoy this I thought it would be the best way to send my blog love to my readers.                        

  • Food Notes
  • The mousse cups hold up for a day or two in the fridge.
  • You can make the chocolate cups ahead of time and store in the fridge. For a week, why not?
  • I would recommend that you put the store bought strained yogurt in a cheese cloth for a couple of hours to remove some more of the moisture content as the fruit juices will thin it out a little bit. While not much whey will drain, the cheese cloth will absorb enough moisture. You can skip this step, but I think you will like the creamier consistency of the mousse.
  • I filled the raspberries with melted chocolate scraped from the sides of the pan it was melting in. A last minute idea that occurred to me while I was cleaning up, an idea I am sure to use in the future. You can see it in the picture.
  • I also made chocolate coins and glued starawberry slices to it, again another idea that just came to me. Drop some melted chocolate on the liner and spread it out with the back of the spoon. Set it in the fridge. Remove and brush some melted chocolate onto the chocolate coins and place slices of fruit. The melted chocolate acts as a glue and holds the fruit slice in place. Isn’t that cool?

Thanks for dropping by,

Happy Valentine’s Day, S.

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                             

        

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As I promised in my last post, here is the recipe for the wonderful Salted Caramel Lava Cake I made on the evening of my book club get together. Couple of months ago for my birthday, my children made me a wonderful lunch of Stuffed Gnocchi and Salted Caramel Lava Cake. I’d seen many molten lava cake blog posts, sighed at the beautiful pictures knowing that it was not in my destiny to make these exotic gooey cakes. Firstly, I am not into baking, secondly I avoid recipes with eggs. However I was so inspired by the kiddies effort and their creativity in making a salted caramel version [because I love salted caramel much, much more than chocolate] that I decided to give it a try. But they hadn’t saved the recipe!  

Well, that gave me an excuse to blog surf for lava cake posts. What a wonderful chore it was! I found two chocolate lava cake recipes which I used as a guide to make my Salted Caramel Lava Cakes.

I combined the method I found here [I simplified it further by skipping the step of seperating eggs] on Pioneer Woman’s blog and the recipe ingredients I found on Show me the Curry website. I chose the first for it’s simple dump and stir method and the second for the lesser quantity of ingredients used for 4 cup cakes when comparing other similar recipes. I slipped in bits of caramel squares in the batter and Voila! you have a dreamy,                                 

Salted Caramel Lava Cake.                                 

 

Ingredients

4 oz of semi-sweet baking chocolate squares [113 grams]

4 oz of butter [1 stick or 113 grams]

1/3 cup of sugar or icing sugar 

2  large eggs

1/3 cup A P flour [All purpose white flour]

Some butter for greasing 4, 3 inch diameter, ramekins

6-8 caramel squares

a little rock salt/sea salt

100% cocoa powder for dusting ramekins, optional

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 deg [218 deg celsius]

Butter the ramekins. Dust with cocoa powder[optional]

Cut each caramel square into a few smaller pieces and press some salt onto them and set aside. If you leave them whole they might not melt all the way through.

Microwave the chocolate squares and butter for one minute in a large bowl. The chocolate will not have completely melted at this point. Whisk till the chocolate and butter combine.

Add the sugar and mix it in.

Whisk in the eggs and incorporate.

Stir in the flour. Work the flour in gently to combine. 

Divide batter among the 4 ramekins.

Gently push the salted caramel bits into the batter covering them.

Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake between 10-14 minutes. The cake is ready when it has a domed appearance, the center is a little moist and the edges of the cake, dry and firm.                                                                                                                                                                                                        Remove from the oven, insert a knife and go around the cake, invert onto serving plates, garnish wth salt and serve.                                                                                                 

  • Food Notes
  • This is a very forgiving recipe and you can’t go wrong with this cake. Please do keep this in your repetoire. For very little time and effort you get outstanding results each and every time.
  • You can make the batter ahead of time and refrigerate it. I’ve baked it after 3 three days. Not necessary to get to room temperature, just leave it out for a little while. You can even put it in a prepared ramekin, refrigerate and bake directly after you have set it out for a little bit.
  • You can freeze the batter. Thaw and bake. You can also freeze in prepared ramekins, then thaw and bake, though the cake didn’t rise as much.            
  • You can spike it with liquor.                                                                          
  • If you have left the cake in the oven for a bit too long, it might not have a runny center but the inside will still be moist and fudgy and still yummy.
  • The same recipe bakes equally well in a mini muffin pan. I set the temperature to 350 degrees [180degrees celcius] and baked for 10-12 minutes.                           
  • For a chocolate lava cake, just omit the caramel squares.                  

Thanks for dropping by,

Best, S.

UPDATE; I used ‘Fleur De Sel Caramel’ from Trader Joe’s and I got much better results than Kraft Caramel Squares which I used originally. I didn’t have to cut up the caramels as I did with Kraft and the center was unbelievably gooey.

I am adding a link to  Grace’s blog post on this cake. She is a reader who has shown  step by step photos of the making of this cake. Please drop by her charming blog and see the recipe come alive.

http://graceyounglee.blogspot.com/2012/11/salted-caramel-lava-cake.html

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