Chocolate is good/bad for you

My good friend Osman is in town (all the way from Pakistan!) and I have not done anything special to welcome him other than providing a futon to sleep on. So I decided to make him some chocolate, a favorite of his, while he is away in Cornell this weekend.

Chocolate is quite a peculiar food. Its melting temperature and other properties like its sheen and tendency to "seize up" upon touching water make it sometimes a big pain to work with. However, very good chocolate is worth the work and money. Find any chocolate lover, he'll tell you how a piece of chocolate melts silkily across the tongue (thanks to the cocoa butter) and also about the intoxicating aroma, kind of like coffee, but more seductively sweet. Even though recent findings suggested that chocolate has health benefits, it's almost gratuitous. People don't need any more reason to eat chocolate. Deep down we all like it partly because it's sinful. Food this delicious is good for you? Puhleeez, it has got to be a bad thing, and that's why we love it.

Recipe: Chocolate-covered Pistatio Cookies
(from Martha Stewart Living Magazine)
Makes 15 cookies

2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 oz bittersweet chocolate

8 oz salted pistatios (already shelled)
1 large egg white
1/4 sugar
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extractpinch of coarse salt

6 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbsp vegetable shortening (I used butter instead)
15 good-looking unsalted pistatio slivers

I. Making the filling
1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. After it melted, leave it on over water but turn off the heat.
2. Mix water and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer until all sugar dissolves. Let it cool.
3. Put yolks in a electric mixer bowl. Place the bowl over simmering water but not touching the water. Constantly stir the yolk with a whisk until it feels warm to the touch.
4. Place the bowl back on the mixer stand. Beat on medium speed while drizzling in the sugar syrup. Turn it on high and beat until fluffy -- 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Turn mixer back to medium and slowly drizzle in melted chocolate. (Be sure to dry the bottle of the chocolate bowl so no water drips into the mixer)
6. After it is well mixed, put in an air-tight container for at least 45 minutes or overnight until ready to assemble.

II. Making the cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Ground pistatios into a paste in a food processor.
3. Place pistatio paste in the electric mixer. Mix with the sugar on medium speed with the paddle attachment until smooth.
4. While mixer is on medium-low, add in egg white, salt, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
5. Put mixture in a pastry bag. Pipe 1-inch circles onto a cookie sheet covered with silpad or parchment paper. Place each circle at least 1-inch apart.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes until edges are golden and cookies are firm.
7. Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool.

III. Assemble cookies
1. Spread about 1 to 1.5 tsp of filling on the bottom side of one cookie, and make a sandwich with another cookie. Place all assembled cookies in an air-tight container in one layer and freeze for an hour.
2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate over simmering water. After it is melted, add shortening and mix it well. Turn off the heat but leave it over water to keep warm.
3. Use a fork to hold one cookie over the chocolate bowl and pour chocolate over the cookie until all surfaces are covered and let excess chocolate flow back into the bowl. Place chocolate-covered cookies on a rack set over a cookie sheet (wrapped in foil for easy clean-up). Place a pistatio sliver on top to decorate.
4. After all cookies are coated, refrigerate them on the rack for at least 10-15 minutes to set.
5. Cookies can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.


charles said…
where is the picture?

don't tell me that you guys ate 'em all before you could even snap a photo ;)
Albertitto said…
I was on my way out so I didn't upload the photos right away. 90% of the work was for the look. You think I would forget to post the picture? ;)

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