Manquer Le dîner à San Francisco

We always look forward to attending Le diner à SF and have only missed one over the years. Weeks before the event we find ourselves scouring recipes in our cookbooks and on-line. Then as the day gets closer, we spend hours in the kitchen preparing  for Le cuisine de jour, whipping up madelines or some other confection at the last minute, wondering the whole time where it is we’ll have to schlep it all. Over the years we’ve contributed a coconut cream cake that tilted a little, an array of white vegetable crudités, and an assortment of white candies and desserts. And always plenty of wine, usually sparkling.

However, and more importantly, it’s the wonderful time we have with friends that keeps us coming back each year. We hope all who attend have a wonderful time. We’ll be missing this year’s Le diner en SF, but for good reason. Instead of waiting for our day-of-event location alert, we’ll be attending the SF Crafts Spirits Carnival, where we’ve been asked by Bulleit Bourbon to bake 500 of our tasty Bulleit Pecan Bites. We’ll miss our picnicing friends and hope they have a great evening in white, wherever it may be.

One of our most favorite confections is a simple white chocolate caramel popcorn. A little herbs de Provence adds the perfect touch of France to this American standard. The recipe is a little odd, directing you to boil chocolate, butter, and brown sugar for 5 minutes. The first time we made it we thought it would be a complete disaster, but it all came together beautifully. This is hot caramel, so always be careful when tossing the popcorn and keep a bowl of ice water on the side near you in case of burns!

Bon Appetit!

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White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn
Recipe from McCormick
Makes 13 cups (16 servings)

10 cups plain popped popcorn
2 cups coarsely chopped mixed nuts
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 225°F. Mix popcorn and nuts in large bowl. Spray foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan with no stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring sugar, butter, corn syrup and chocolate to boil in medium saucepan on medium heat. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in Herbes de Provence and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture. Toss to coat evenly with spatula sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Spread evenly in prepared pan and place on middle rack of preheated oven.

Bake 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Break into clusters. Store in airtight container

Boca Negra

Are you looking for a chocolate dessert for your next potluck party that will leave friends and family licking their lips and asking for more? This holiday season, try Boca Negra, literally it means ‘black mouth.’ I found the recipe in the cookbook Baking with Julia as I was looking for an unusual and impressive chocolate desert that I could take to Thanksgiving dinner. It took only minutes to throw together in a food processor and baked for only 30 minutes. The dessert is easy enough for the beginner baker, but it’s impressive enough to be on the menu of any four-star restaurant.

The dark chocolate, pudding-like cake is served with a white chocolate ganache. Both the cake and the ganache are spiked with bourbon, a perfect companion to any chocolate dessert. But if you’re opposed to whisky or alcohol you can omit it from both recipes, or replace the bourbon with a different liquor of your liking. A dark rum would be a great substitute.

So if you are running out of time to make that perfect dessert and have a stockpile of chocolate in the kitchen, don’t run to Wal-Mart and buy a pre-made cake. Try making this decadent and rich dessert instead. You’ll be able to tell that everyone is enjoying the cake by their dark mouths as they tell you how wonderful it is. Of course, if you don’t hear a word from them and you see their plates are licked clean, you’ll know you hit the mark.

Instead of reproducing the recipe, here’s a link to Boca Negra, compliments of Dorie Greenspan and Serious Eats!


Bon Appetit!