A Little Tempering this Week

Another fun week in the kitchen. We had some tried and true, chicken. Some not so often, crab. Something new none of us have ever had, bulgur. A little somethin’ somethin’ from Texas, casserole. Plus a couple of desserts, one being a special one in honor of Valentines Day, the other a classic.

Below are pictures of each item, except, of course the one new grain none of us had ever had. I forgot to take a photo of the herb-marinated chicken with bulgur. The bulgur reminded me of couscous in its look, but it was definitely more grainy, in a good way, in its taste. The cherry tomatoes and parsley helped add some good flavor as a balance to the graininess.

Crab cakes are pretty much a hamburger patty, just a tad bit more salty. I did learn a new trick that is probably a no-brainer for all of you. Putting the crab cakes in the refrigerator for a bit before deep frying them, helps them to not break apart when hitting the oil. Mind-blown!

Of course the aioli is almost always a companion to a crab cake. The ketchup almost always a companion to fries. But, in our house, chile goes with almost anything, and a crab cake is not exception, especially when made from New Mexico Hatch chile peppers by the hubby.

Crab Cakes with Chipolte Aioli

Although the King Ranch Chicken is classified as a casserole, it is more like a skillet enchilada to me. One of the first things my kids said when they tasted it was it reminded them of an enchilada. I agree. It didn’t really matter as we all had seconds. It made for some good lunch the next day too!

King Ranch Chicken

As you all know by now, I like to bake things for my team and colleagues at work. Although it is nice to take tried and true like brownies, peanut butter cookies, or macarons, sometimes I like to shake it up. When going through my pile of recipes for this week, I came across a recipe for one of my favorite Little Debbie Treats, oatmeal crème pies. Those and the Swiss Rolls are my Achilles heal of treats.

Because the cream pies can be so big, well, the perfect size to me but not everyone, I did make them a little smaller than called for in the recipe. They came out just the right size and everyone who has had them raved about them. Yes, I’m tooting my own horn for a moment. Plus I got to work with marshmallow crème fluffier for the first time—never a sticker substance has ever graced my kitchen like this stuff. Duct tape and Gorilla Glue have nothing on the the fluff!

Oatmeal crème pies

Admittedly, all of the above dinners and dessert were home runs for this week. But, they all pale, at least to me, to the dessert I made for Sunday’s dinner. While binging one of the many cooking shows I have saved for streaming, one is a contest using chocolate. The latest episode was all about tempering and molding chocolate.

I have tempered chocolate before, but never using a mold. While watching I decided I had to give it a try and make something special in honor of Valentines Day. I pulled up Amazon and ordered some heart-shaped molds, which will come in handy for many things. They are made of silicon because I wanted to make it easy to get food out in the end. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do so in a hard mold.

After tempering the chocolate, I followed the method I had seen on the episode for molding. Pour the chocolate in the mold. Move it around so that it covers the entirety of the inside of the shape. Pour out the excess and scrape off the top so the chocolate will come out easier. After setting in the refrigerator, I made my attempt at removing the hollow shells. I actually got four of them out without breaking. The other two broke a little on one side, but were still quite usable, and made for a lesson learned for the next time—use something to push the chocolate better up the side and/or to do a second coating quickly after the first so the chocolate doesn’t really melt, but hasn’t quite set yet either.

While waiting for them to set and cool, I made the filler. Using my banana cream pie filling recipe, I added a bit of smashed banana to add to the vanilla pudding. Next time I’ll purée the whole mix after adding the fruit. It was a little lumpier than I had wanted it to be.

Before our dinner guests arrived, I piped the filling into the shells. This was followed by some diced strawberries as a nice surprise. Topping it all off with some homemade whipped cream. The final step was to add a sliced strawberry on top with a tempered chocolate heart. I was quite proud of the end result, and as pretty as it came out, I enjoyed eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.

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