Friday 10: Pies, Poison, a Podcast, and Passes

This week has flown by! I had my birthday on Tuesday and pretty much ate my way through it. Then on Wednesday, S and I went to a Toronto Maple Leafs game. I think it was my first game at the Air Canada Centre and we had a great time. The Leafs destroyed the Bruins. We paid approximately 1 zillion dollars for me to have a collectors cup full of Coke Zero. I drank it all. I don’t think I ever want to drink Coke Zero again. We stayed up way past my bedtime and I think I’m still paying the price. I am old now, what can I say?

So figured it was a good week for a link roundup! There’s some Ham, some Histoire, and some Travel. 

The Ham

#1  We received a huge pile of carrots in our CSA box this week. Melissa Joulwan’s recipe for Cumin Roasted Carrots came highly recommended to me. It seemed perfect for the season, so I’m giving it a try tonight. 

#2  On the less healthy side, Serious Eats’s list of 11 Must-Try Pies Across America seems like a good reason to go on a road-trip, right? Not to be biased, but I’d probably start in DC for the Baltimore Bomb which is described by Dangerously Delicious Pies as “loaded with Berger Cookies (a Baltimore specialty) that melt down and swirl into a sweet vanilla chess filling.” Sign me up!

#3  Italian master barista Ettore Diana gives coffee at McDonald’s and Starbucks a thumbs up. Take that coffee snobs!

The Histoire

#4  My favorite video and link of the week. Vince Speranza, a WWII vet, tells the story of returning to the French town of Bastogne 65 years later and finding out he’s a legend. It’s a must-see! You’ll probably want to check this out after you watch, too. 

#5  A look at the strange, fascinating history of poisonous Victorian clothing (link via Stuff You Missed in History Class). The exhibition that inspired the article, Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Centuryis on at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum until June 30th, 2016. 

The Travel

#6  I’m daydreaming of staying in the Ufogel (€120/night), a Tyrollean house and "spatial wonder." I can just imagine cozying up with hot drinks to watch the snow fall on that beautiful landscape after a long day of attempting to ski.

via  Apartments for Sale Paris  and Paris Perfect |  Saint Aubin

via Apartments for Sale Paris and Paris Perfect | Saint Aubin

#7  I’m also daydreaming of buying this fully-furnished Paris apartment. It’s located in the 7th arrondissement and has an Eiffel Tower view. I’m not sure if €915,000 (approximately $1.2 million) is a deal or not, but it seems like it after seeing what Toronto prices have been doing lately. 

#8  I have been looking into the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France a lot  lately and this lovely post about the seaside town of Collioure from Girl in Florence has only sparked my wanderlust more. 

#9  Are those museum passes worth the money? I generally skip them because we don’t hop from museum to museum fast enough. The New York Times takes a look at Amsterdam, Madrid, Florence and Paris to see what kind of bang for your buck you are actually getting. 

The Wildcard

#10 And, finally, I’ve been completely mesmerized by a podcast called Serial. This season (I say that in hopes that there will be more) is all about the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a young high school student in Baltimore. If you are one of the few who has not heard of it, give it a listen.

That's it for this week! The flurries were flying as I wrote this. I think I'll go settle down with some tea, a book, and a down throw!

I hope you have a happy and warm weekend. 

Homemade Mint Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans

In my Christmas stocking I got a tube of mint chocolate-covered espresso beans. They were so good that I would savor just a couple every day to make them last as long as possible. Well, a couple of weeks ago as I was getting one, the bottom fell out of the tube. I watched helplessly as they all scattered across my floor.

After I stopped shaking my fists at the sky and crying out "nooooooo," the thought of eating them anyway did cross my mind. 3-second rule right? Then, I remembered how much dog and cat hair I vacuum up every week. "But I could rinse them," I thought.

Don't worry, I didn't. I came to my senses and they all went into the trash as I whimpered.

The next day, as I mourned those beans, I realized that I could try to make some. It ended up being a fairly easy experiment. Here's how I did it.

Since this was an experiment, I used whatever chocolate I already had. If you're a chocolate/coffee snob, by all means use whatever you prefer, it will only make them better.

First, I pulled out all the ingredients and tools:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Coffee or espresso beans
  • Mint extract
  • Cocoa Powder (optional)
  • Medium pot
  • Medium metal bowl
  • Heat resistant spatula/wooden spoon
  • Slotted spoon or skimmer
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • A fork
  • Mesh strainer/sifter (only if coating them in cocoa powder)
  • Small bowl (only if coating them in cocoa powder)
  • A jar/container to put them in

I was originally going to cover them in chocolate and drizzle them in white chocolate, I but decided against it in the end. My Christmas beans were dipped in both, so if that sounds good to you, go for it.

My measurements this time were:

  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. coffee beans
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract (This wasn't quite enough for me. I'll bump it up next time.)

I began by making a double boiler.  I just filled a pot with a couple of inches of water and put a medium-sized metal bowl on top, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.

I then put that on the stove over medium heat and added the chips. I forgot to add the extract at this time which caused the chocolate to seize later. Make sure to add the extract with the chips, but I'll show you how I "fixed" it.

I used a heat-resistant silicone spatula to stir the chocolate constantly as it melted, a wooden spoon would be fine, too.

If you forget to add the extract at the beginning, the chocolate will seize and look like this:

Don't panic and don't add any other liquids. You have two options. Start over or add a bit of fat to bring it back. Adding fat, like butter or shortening, will make it more like a ganache. I chose the latter and added tiny bits of shortening until the chocolate was smooth again. Doing this will change the way it sets up and make the chocolate a bit softer, but it worked out in the end.

After the chocolate was completely melted and smooth, I pulled the double boiler off of the heat. Then, I threw in my 1/2 cup of beans and stirred them around until they were well-covered.

Once all the beans were covered, I pulled them out in groups with the stainless skimmer. They drained for a few seconds over the bowl and then I transferred them one by one to the parchment-covered baking sheet by using a fork to push them off.

Once the beans were all on the parchment-covered baking sheet, I let them set up a bit. If your chocolate didn't seize you can let them harden completely for a couple of hours. At that point you can be done and put them in a jar. Or you can do the process again and coat them in a layer of mint-flavored white chocolate, drizzle them with white chocolate, or even roll them in cocoa like I did.

Since my chocolate was more of a ganache, it was softer and I knew it would not harden into beautiful shiny chocolate. I could have left it to harden as much as it could, but then they would melt quickly in the hand. What I did was wait until it was set-up/substantial enough to handle but still malleable, rolled them into nice bean shapes, and then sifted them in cocoa powder.

Once they were all hand-rolled, to coat them in a fine dusting of cocoa powder, I put groups of them into a sifter, added cocoa powder and then sifted the excess out into a cereal bowl.

That's all there is to it! To finish up, I put mine into a small mason jar. Now I can enjoy them without worrying that the bottom will fall out. The great thing about making your own is that they're pretty easy and you control the ingredients. Use your favorite chocolate, favorite beans, and experiment with flavors. After making these, inspiration hit and  I now want to try making caramel covered coffee beans.