Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Recipe Post Out of Temper by Amber Royer

 February 2 – My Journey Back – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE   

One of the most fun things about writing a series set in a chocolate shop is getting to write about the food produced there. My protagonist, Felicity, makes bean to bar chocolate in her micro-factory, and some of that chocolate is sold in bars and other shapes. In out of temper, she is selling special sample boxes of different origins of chocolate shaped into cubes topped with the images of various sea creatures. This is because she is doing chocolate-making demos on a cruise ship.

But some of the chocolate Felicity makes gets turned into truffles and other treats. I gave Carmen, the pastry chef at Felicity’s shop a specific cooking style, inspired by the cookbook my husband Jake and I did together when we were doing demos ourselves, for the local herb society. (The book is called, There are Herbs in My Chocolate. It was a ton of fun to research and write.) Carmen combines chocolate with culinary herbs and spices, whether she’s doing something completely new, or re-working a traditional recipe. In Out of Temper, there’s a crisis at the shop while Felicity is away on the cruise ship, and Carmen responds by taking charge and making minted pineapple chocolate empanadas to accommodate the unexpected crowd.

I love getting to riff on classic recipes, adding herbs and chocolate. This one took a few tries to get right. I wanted there to be enough chocolate flavor in the dough to be satisfying – but not so much that it would overwhelm the subtle taste of mint. I like these best accompanied by a strong cup of coffee.

Dough Ingredients

½ tsp. anise seeds

1 cinnamon stick

½ c. shortening, melted

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking powder

½ c. granulated sugar, for dusting

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon ground, for dusting

Filling Ingredients

3 c. pineapple, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. mint leaves, minced

¾ c. piloncillo or dark brown sugar

1½ Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. lime juice

Place the anise seeds and the cinnamon stick in a small bowl and pour in ¼ cup of boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain, to keep liquid. Discard spice solids. Add the melted shortening and stir to combine. Set aside.

Place the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined. Gradually add the shortening mixture to the flour mixture and mix until it forms a dough. If the dough is sticky, add a little extra flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Place the pineapple in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and lime juice and stir until the brown sugar melts. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the mint leaves and cook for an additional two minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pineapple mixture from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 ºF.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 24 1½-inch dough balls.

Place one dough ball at a time in a tortilla press lined with wax paper and flatten into a circle. Place 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the dough circle.

Fold the dough over the filling (forming a half-moon shape and press the edges of the dough together with a fork to seal the empanada.

Transfer the filled empanadas to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a shallow plate, combine the remaining sugar with the ground cinnamon. While still slightly warm, roll empanadas in the sugar mixture to coat.

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