Monday, December 23, 2013


 Will it snow this year? I find it extremely difficult to find that old holiday spirit while the rain beats against the windowpanes, as the hail clatters onto the balconies and the clouds hang low and menacing, the sky a steely gray. The lights glitter, diamonds in the shimmering black puddles, in the inky night, the branches crack and sway, the leaves spatter onto the sidewalk below as the wild wind whips the streaming rain cascading down in torrents across the square. Doors creak, we snuggle down deeper under the blankets; we love the coziness, the storms outside are romantic when one is safe inside, yet the approaching festivities call not for rain but snow! We awake to the gray, dismal morning, no sun appears at noon, and we search, alas, in vain, for that old holiday spirit.

 Snow somehow adds the jolly to Christmas, the happy to New Year. Slipping on the boots, buttoning up our warmest, snuggliest coats, burying our chins deep into mountains of scarf and, gloved hand in gloved hand, out we prance through the crunching white, the sun bright and cheerful and tip toe our way into town. Everything looks so sparkling clean, so lovely and festive to a backdrop of snow! The holiday songs carried to us on the wind and piped into every boutique somehow just sound merrier, the window displays more vibrant and playful, our fellow shoppers gleeful, convivial. Laden down with sacks and bags, boxes beribboned, we hurry home, noses red, cheeks rosy, giggling like children on Christmas morning, to curl up together in the corner of the sofa, hands cupped around steaming mugs to watch the snowflakes flurry in a Winter Wonderland on the other side of the icy, misty glass.

 One last day of shopping before Christmas and the gifts are all bought, piled up in secret places around the house. My baking has taken a festive turn and Stollen and cookies of all sorts have been tumbling out of the oven and lining themselves up prettily on the kitchen table. The magic of a real bûche de noël awaits, slathered in chocolate, dusted with snow. We’ve stocked the pantry with all kinds of simple, warming foods, enough to see us through the wintry week. My favorite Christmas films are stacked up on the coffee table, the old and the new, the real and the animated, each begging to be watched first, promising to fill our house with holiday music, laughter and good cheer!

 Tomorrow morning, Christmas Eve morning, we will wend our way to the market, bundled up in heavy coats, arms wrapped close around ourselves to ward off the blustery wind and the tat tat tat of wet flakes stinging our cheeks. We’ll push our way through the Christmas Eve crowds and fill our basket with oysters and a slice or two of foie gras, and maybe, just maybe, he will make a wonderful seafood choucroute for two. Or a cheese fondue for the boys. I’m rather a sentimental old soul, and as I step out into the flurries and chill, memories of Christmases past whirl up like a snowstorm in my mind and visions of icy white nights in Milan pulling smoky chestnuts out of paper cones, warming our hands, and popping them one by one into our mouths; excited little boys dashing up to greet le Père Noël who magically appears laden with gifts at their grandparents’ house; arriving late Christmas Eve to a balmy Florida town and being driven around up and down every street just to ogle the gaudy, outrageous Christmas decorations and the romantic luminaries all aglow, hands clapping and faces brimming over with delight, all intermingling in one glorious dance!

 The Christmas holidays have arrived in a blustery, wet haze, stomping in like an uninvited guest leaving filthy black shoeprints all over the new white carpet without even a bouquet of flowers to ease her unexpected intrusion. The chill winds of the holiday season whipped in unannounced when my back was turned, when I had least expected it.

 Christmas. The wind whistles and howls outside as the wet snow whips around through the trees, lighting up the square below and adding a festive luster to the treetops, while inside we sit cozy and warm. Like wide-eyed children on Christmas morning, we stare through the panes into the velvet night as the heavy plops of white thud against the glass and settle onto the inky black iron curlicues of the balcony railing for the night. The lamplight shimmers in the glistening snow blanketing the roofs of the cars and we snuggle up a little closer and whisper our prayers that it will last through the holidays.

 One blustery day leads into the next and as the rest of France is blanketed under an elegant stole of white, as images of Parisians standing amid flurries of flakes scroll across our television screens, we listen to the rain pound on the roof, watch it slide sadly down the glass panes, and the urge to warm up the kitchen with baking washes over me. The only feathery white powder I have the chance to feel against my skin is flour. Soft, fragrant flour blended with cocoa and sugar, eggs and cream, fill the house with the sweet scent of celebration. Thoughts of cinnamon and chocolate, nutmeg and orange fill my head as I skip into the kitchen and start pulling bowls and pans from the cupboard, as I sift through the drawers in search of teaspoons and tablespoons, measuring cups and zester. And as traffic in the City of Lights comes to a standstill in the frosty night, as grumbling tourists try and make light of closed roads and closed airports, as a warm glow emanates from a bustling workshop somewhere north of Lapland, I blend and stir, whip and fold. I toss in a little Christmas spirit in the form of mixed holiday spices: cinnamon and nutmeg, star anise, ginger and cloves, a dash of lemon and orange zest, a splash or two of rum, heady and wild, and it smells as if I am living in a white-icing edged, candy cane and gumdrop-trimmed gingerbread house.

 So while others dream of a White Christmas, while visions of snow-dusted sugarplums dance in their heads, we sit inside in the warmth, snuggled up together, listening to the rain and watching the darkness come much too early every afternoon. We cook, bake, eat and watch old films and are overcome with that wonderful holiday spirit that wraps its arms around us no matter the weather and no matter what is happening outside in the world, outside of our own existence. So slice another piece of cake, pour another glass of wine and turn up the volume of the stereo or the television just a little bit more and maybe this year we will even exchange gifts.

Plated Stories will be taking a holiday break and will see you in the New Year. 

We wish you one and all a joyous, merry holiday filled with peace and good cheer.

Monday, December 16, 2013




 The Florida sun is like no other. Morning breaks at the height of summer in a dazzling blaze of light, a haze of heat pulsing through the early morning hours already steamy. Blinding white light bouncing off of the sidewalk, searing light burning into one’s soul. Eyes squinting, sweat trickling down one’s back, peering through the light into the distance, an eerie oasis in the distance, stillness moving in the light. 

 Too much light.

 One searches for respite from the brightness but to no avail. Light much too strong, heady, powerful, allowing no shade under the trees. Feet burn on sidewalks, in the grass, the tough Florida grass, as unforgiving as the light, that bites into one’s feet.



 The watery winter light filters through the grayness, breaking through here and there in faded yellow bursts. A winter light that has no resemblance to the flashy light of my childhood winters. A light moody, blurred and dull, lacking definition and lacking inspiration. A light ineffably sad.

 Like the light outside, our own inclination fades and falters, lacking its own definition in the lazy light of winter. This weather, this nebulous light inspires nothing more than staying in, slouching on the sofa and letting one’s mind wander to ghosts of our past.

 A veiled light, at once weary and romantic.

 Night falls, the light is swallowed up into blackness so complete the memory of the day falls away into the unlit recesses of the mind, forever gone. The lights of the city dot the landscape, glitter joyously, shimmering in the glass panes of the window which are now misty against the cold.

 The Hanukkah candles are lit one by one against the backdrop of night. One by one a single flame catches and blazes up in a wonder of light. A warm glow fills the room as we gather around the menorah and chant on this Festival of Lights.


 The holiday spirit has invaded Nantes if ever so discreetly, understated elegance, so very French. The great swags of glittering lights in red and silver are already hung from lamppost to lamppost, shop windows have already begun adding to the display with shows of elves and polar bears, lush wreathes and bright garlands, trees green and beribboned or merely the suggestion of trees in delicate white lights. I love the holidays yet how I miss the vibrant, exciting, overdone American version of Christmas. Homes weighed down under millions of gaudy, whimsical, colorful holiday lights; Santa in his sleigh, drawn by a team of reindeer prance across front lawns or perch precariously on rooftops, in a halo of neon, a brilliant circle of spotlight. Over the top, ostentatious beauty infuses every observer, whether celebrant or not, with an energy and enthusiasm strictly reserved for December.


 Arriving late one Christmas Eve to a balmy Florida town, we drove my young boys around the city, up and down every street just to ogle the outrageous Christmas decorations and the romantic luminaries all aglow, all intermingling in one glorious dance, a sight neither had ever seen or experienced before. Hands clapping and faces brimming over with delight, faces bathed in the warm lights, my boys light up, astonished in front of the festivities, in front of such a celebration, to the music of Christmas.


 Too much indulgence. Too many rich, heavy meals topped with cheese and laden with sauces. Too many slices of cake, bowls of ice cream, chunks of bread slathered with butter. Comforted and warmed by spoonfuls of rice pudding, sweetened oatmeal and too much cream. A winter spent bundled up in sweaters and coats, socks and padding and hidden under shawls and scarves. As we slip off the layers one by one, as the temperature inches up and the days grow warmer, we see the damage done.

 Eat lighter, they exhort! Lighter than light, we fill our basket with lettuce and tomatoes, fruits and vegetables. We sidle up to the cheese counter and stoutly ignore the bleu and comté and request that la fromagère scoop up ladlefuls of low fat cream cheese into a tub.

 There is always a profound sense of deprivation when one eats light. Or is there? Fromage frais topped with seasonal fresh fruit, chunks of grilled meat swept through spicy mustard, the crunch of pickles and the sweetness of berries roasted in just a tad of sugar and a swirl of rum.

 The lightness of mousse, the delicate ethereal lightness of homebaked ladyfingers, the comfort of a bowl of Rice Krispies and lowfat milk, light indeed.


 We met in Paris, the City of Lights. Neon days and nights aglow in the flickering Eiffel Tower and the blazing Champs Elysées. By day, we would walk the quays along the Seine, the sunlight flashing off the water, turning our heads away from the glare. We would duck into a wine bar, lights dim. Glasses of red and plates of warm lentil salad were the only witness to our tryst. Light of his eye.

 We married on a July morning, a day bathed in light. I carried myself lightly, skipping to city hall on winged feet, lighter than air. The light filtered in through the windows suffusing the hall with a golden glow. Light of my life.

 We toasted our marriage with flutes of Champagne, giddy with bubbles and love. Lightheaded.

Whether winter or summer, there really is nothing better than an ultra-light dessert. Cool, tangy, ethereal Lemon Ricotta Mousse paired with melt-in-your-mouth light ladyfinger cookies is the perfect treat when a sweet tooth must be sated or as a light finish to any meal. I adore lemony desserts and the ricotta gives this mousse body and the taste of a light cheesecake without the heaviness. Beautiful topped with fresh berries. These ladyfingers are a favorite recipe, using them to prepare Tiramisu, a charlotte or with any kind of whipped filling, lining the pan or dessert glasses with them instead of a pie crust. My husband loves them dipped in milk as a snack.

Serves 4 – 6

1 cup (250 g) ricotta cheese, drained if wet
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon and more to taste
1 Tbs limoncello, optional
3 Tbs powdered/icing sugar and more to taste
¼ - 1/3 cup (100 ml) cold heavy whipped cream
1 egg white

Beat or whisk the ricotta with the lemon zest, lemon juice, limoncello and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat the cold heavy whipping cream until thick and soft peaks hold. Gently and delicately fold into the ricotta mixture.

Using clean beaters in a clean bowl (I prefer a plastic bowl for beating whites), beat the egg whites until opaque; add one more tablespoon of the powdered/icing sugar and beat until peaks hold. Gently and delicately fold into the ricotta-cream mixture until well blended. Do not overfold as the mousse should be light and creamy. Taste and add more sugar and/or more lemon juice as desired, to taste.

Divide into glasses, verrines, cups or even wine glasses or Champagne flutes and chill until ready to serve, at least an hour.


3 large eggs, separated
6 Tbs (75 g) sugar
¾ cup (95 g) cake flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
6 Tbs (50 g) confectioner’s/powdered sugar

Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in a large mixing bowl. Place the whites in a medium-sized metal or plastic bowl and add a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 large baking or cookie sheets with parchment paper ; “glue” down the corners of the parchment with a dab of softened butter or batter to assure that the parchment lies flat and won’t move when piping the ladyfingers.

Beat the egg whites on low for 30 seconds then increase the beater speed to high and beat until the whites hold soft peaks. Continue beating while sprinkling on about a tablespoon or 2 of the sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and the vanilla until thick, pale and the batter forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted up. Using a spatula, fold the whites into the yolk mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the flour, also added in 3 times, until smooth and well blended. Do not overfold.

Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a plastic freezer bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide tubes (or larger or smaller as needed) leaving about 1" space in between the piped fingers. Sift half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten.

After the 5 minutes, sift the remaining sugar evenly over the ladyfingers. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crisp top. Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes then turn the baking sheets around back to front and continue baking until the fingers are lightly golden, about 5 minutes more depending on your oven. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing them with a metal spatula onto racks to cool completely.

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Monday, December 9, 2013



 Saturdays were spent at the public swimming pool, whiling away the sweltering, muggy, lazy Florida summers. A gaggle of ten-year-old girls, we would ride our bikes to the trio of pools behind the high school (used during the school year for the swim team, on weekends and all summer long for those who desperately needed respite from the torrid heat), lean the bikes against the chain link fences that circled the pools like a Wild West corral, mosey in and spread our towels out as elegantly as ten-year-old girls could on the hard, scorching cement.

 I carried with me a little black leather coin purse embossed with Mexican designs, a gift my mother had brought for me from one of her many vacation cruises, in which I carried a tiny photo of my latest crush, a photo carefully snipped from the sheet of class portraits (the same frozen stare in kodachrome that I received from his living glance), along with several coins with which to buy something icy cold from the concession stand. When the heat became too much, the sun at its peak in the cloudy blue sky, when the sweat trickled down our necks, backs and legs in rivulets even as we swept out of the cool water, sweat mingling with pool water, we would hop over (foot to foot, hopping to keep feet from burning the cement) to choose our ice cream.

 But I never chose ice cream. Ice cream was for winter. In the heat of the summer, one needed ice. Sorbets, slushies, slurpees, sno cones, popsicles, Italian ices, frozen treats to put out the flames with ice. I would invariably ask for a Snowball. Sweet cold cherry ice in a cone-shaped plastic container, the frozen perfection would be pushed up and out for the eating with a squeeze of the plastic cone. Front teeth scraping across the frozen surface, scritch scritch scritch, I would be shivering well before I reached the last of the cherry-flavored ice now a puddle of sugary, sticky syrup to be slurped from the bottom of the cup, head tipped back, eyes closed against the sharp sunlight. And nestled in the bottom of that plastic cone was the added prize: a candy-coated gumball.

 It is quite possible that the single and only reason I ever went to the public pool – seeing as I do not particularly care for swimming – was to eat a Screwball.



 The ground was as frozen as I was as I tiptoed ever so carefully down the steps and across the campus, treading ever so slowly from paving stone to paving stone in my wedge-heeled summer sandals. I had transferred schools midterm, defying the wishes of my parents and all common sense, heading north for the first time in my twenty-some years after a lifetime in Florida. I arrived in snowbound Philadelphia early January, stepped from the airport terminal into a chill I had never known, a frigid northern winter. 

 I began classes in the bleak midwinter, a Siberian landscape stretched away from me as I wended my way to each building. I had very little with which to insulate myself from the arctic temperatures, the numbing wind, the raw winter weather. Splotches of snow covered the streets, sidewalks and green here and there, my open-toed sandals, so perfect for a Florida school year, were no protection, even as I layered on socks and leg warmers. I piled on thick woolen sweaters, Salvation Army purchases, hand-me-downs from my brother, over my light cotton dresses. I felt for all the world like a duck out of water, an eccentric misfit in the middle of this strange new land, this frozen tundra of a big city.

 I spent my first school holiday with my brother in Boston. The dead of winter. Philly is nothing to Boston, the glacial temperatures, the mountains of frozen white, the wind that would whip around you, push and pull you back and forth, irreverent, frozen wind. Yet, even indoors, where one expects some kind of respite from the wintry chill outside, where one expects a cozy, comforting, hibernal warmth, my brother kept his heating off. We would huddle around the oven, spending our days in the kitchen, cooking and eating and laughing and chatting. But come night, we would shuffle off to our bedrooms and crawl under the mountain of blankets and quilts. And freeze. My hat, that wooly bonnet my mother knit for me, pulled down on my head, over my ears, gloves on my hands, fully clothed, yes, but wearing my winter coat as well, I would slide under the covers and, shivering in the frozen night, try to sleep.


 The Snow Queen. I was enchanted. I spent hours staring into the shimmering hologram of a cover, the magic of the three-dimensional image of the brother and sister in their darling little livingroom, a chalet of warm wood and light white linens. My fingers caressed the photo, and I could stare into its depth for hours, fascinated. 

 A wonderland of a book, it’s heavy cardboard pages opened to reveal images played out in cloth dolls, recounting Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the Snow Queen and her frozen heart. 

 I was fascinated by the icy whiteness, the Queen’s sleek sleigh of white and the Queen’s prancing snow white horse dashing through a landscape of pristine white. Images frozen in time, frozen in space, yet so alive for the young girl that I was, driven by my wild imagination, longing for the strange and mysterious. I would have gone with the Snow Queen, hand in hand, accompanied her in her sleigh through the snowy fields like the little blond boy in the pages of the storybook. Her frozen heart was nothing to the romanticism of the frozen scenery, her frozen beauty. 

 Turn the page and the little boy is kneeling on the frozen lake, a chunk of shiny ice clutched in his hands, his sister begging him to drop it, leave it be before a frozen shard can stab his warm heart, turning it to ice. 

 A sweep of glowing Northern Lights like embers of a dying fire could not melt her frozen heart, warm the chill that numbed her heart. Nothing could save her.



 The valet stepped briskly over to the window, footsteps muffled by the thick carpeting, and drew back the heavy, elegant drapery with one graceful movement of his uniformed arm. "I apologize for the view," he carefully explains, "If you were to visit us again in the springtime the gardens would be green and the flowers abloom in a gorgeous riot of color. It is rather sad and gray at this time of year!" We step over to the French windows and peep over his shoulder and I gasp. I am gazing at a frozen alabaster landscape painted in shades of pearl and pewter and white, achromatic and silent yet somehow alive, stunning, breathing with the slight, subtle movements of light and shade. Standing here in this grandiose Parisian Palace Hotel in the dead of winter, the day after one of the coldest Christmases I can remember, I look down and behold a fairytale vision, a winter wonderland: the frozen Tuilleries Gardens are white, icy white, a heavy veil of mist covers everything as far as the eye can see and it is magnificently, mysteriously romantic. Bare trees and stone sculptures reach up like phantoms shrouded in mist and all is motionless, it is as if the world has come to a standstill leaving only the two of us to listen to the silence, and all the rest is still and forgotten.

 Later, bundled up against the frigid, intensely raw wind, arm in arm we leave the warmth and glow of the hotel and scurry down the barren streets of the city to find our favorite little hidey-hole of a restaurant. We step over the threshold into a blast of tropical heat where a noisy, joyous conviviality reigns as clients pack elbow to elbow at the little wooden tables, chattering loudly and slurping up great bowls of soup. We shrug off our coats and slide into chairs, leaving winter alone outside to blow her frozen breath on the windowpanes in puffs of foggy kisses.

Slice and cut fresh watermelon into cubes, put them into a plastic bag and freeze it, if you freeze some extra watermelon, you can drink it all year round - it can't get fresher than this! 

2 big or 4 small

350 g/ 12,5 oz frozen water melon in cubes
100 ml/ 0,4 cup rum (or more, it depends on how strong you want it to be)
1-2 tbs icing sugar or more. Optional
juice from 1 lime
mint leaves to garnish with

Put all ingredients except the mint (or why not include it?) in a mixer and run until it is nice and slushy. Pour into glasses, top with a mint leaf or two before serving.

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Monday, December 2, 2013


Fetish (fet -ish) n. 1. an object worshipped by primitive peoples who believe it to have magical powers or to be inhabited by a spirit. 2. anything to which foolishly excessive respect or devotion is given. 3. an object arousing erotic feeling. - Oxford American Dictionary Heald Colleges Edition

 Chocolate. Certainly an object worshipped by many, not all of whom are primitive, yet some of whom would absolutely extol its magical powers. I have friends and known others, fools or not, who flaunt an excessive devotion to this “food of the gods”, willing to forgo most other pleasures for this sacred delicacy. And as a true fetish, many have laid claim to its reputation as an aphrodisiac, seducing a lover with a drizzle of warm chocolate sauce or a box tied up in gold ribbon.

 Chocolate, that most mysterious of foods, both soothing and sinful, comforting and decadent all at once. Passionate and inspiring, it stirs up more emotion than any other food; it is the downfall of many. No wonder it has also often been called the “food of the devil”.

 Chocolate, whether bold and bitter or smooth and sweet, crunchy, crispy, hot, warm or cool, light or dark, has been the source and inspiration for books, films, forums, salons, clubs. And a multitude of medical studies. Some like to claim that they eat it for this healthful property or that, that it brings on a sense of wellbeing or even euphoria. But all that takes away from its underlying power, its seductiveness. Deep down, chocolate pulls us into a dark, almost spiritual realm, a source of intense craving that no substitute can appease.

 But whether chocolate is consumed for its psychoactive or cognitive-enhancing properties, its magnesium boost, as some kind of holistic medicine, as a tool of sexual conquest, or as a substitute for lunch dates with friends or lonely evenings in front of the television, savored with a glass of wine, neck-deep in bubbles, no one can deny the passion that it stirs up in each of us.

 Standing in the Home Ec room watching my very elegant 8th-grade French teacher Miss Moore roll up chunks of deep, dark chocolate in pale, moist, out-of-the-can biscuit dough, must have been my first experience with something I considered so sophisticated, so very French. I pushed myself up on tippy toes trying to capture each and every movement of her hands as she created this special treat for a roomful of impatient students anxious to savor their very first taste of France. Our only experience of that foreign, most romantic of countries was between the pages of our French book where a very properly dressed Sylvie went to the piscine with her brother and watched la télévision while maman prepared dinner. Photographs of lovers strolling along the Seine, tumbles of flowers spilled out of market stalls and the French Président going to work on a bicycle inspired me, instilled an urge, a wanderlust… it was all so beautiful, so chic, so far away from this beachside town, hot and unsophisticated. This treat, so French, transported me if only in my young mind, if only for the time of a class.

 Yet years later there I was, on the streets of Paris tenderly clutching a flaky, crisp pain au chocolat, rather stunned that I was actually, finally there. My very first day, I stumbled into the nearest corner boulangerie – as was the thing to do on one’s very first day in Paris, bien sûr -and pointed, grinning, at the plump, golden pastry, just a teasing hint of the chocolate peeping out from between the folds.

  Bread & Chocolate stirs up visions of tow-headed children on Parisian streets, elegant little children in shiny Mary Janes or black brogues dressed in pleated navy skirts and Loden coats, their excited after-school chatter filling the void between honking cars and city sounds, each enfant cheri clutching a hunk of baguette, dense, warm from the boulangerie, a long, narrow bar of chocolate sticking out for all the world to see. Watch them as they bite into the crispy crust, crumbs hurriedly brushed away, joyously ripping into the tender center, crack into the slender bar of chocolate Maman or nourrice has so lovingly tucked inside and all thoughts of sharing a crêpe and a glass of wine with a chic young parisien fall aside: this is picture-perfect French romance itself.

Childhood Delight, Adult Necessity

 I have one son that likes nothing at all. Oh, of course that is an exaggeration but when one’s parents and only sibling love almost everything, are open to new taste sensations, new cuisines, all foods with little exception, and one limits one’s likes to a mere handful of choices, it goes without saying.

 He has no sweet tooth. He could truly do without sweets, no cake, no cookies, no candy, no ice cream. He is quite content with a fistful of breadsticks, a bowl full of olives, a slice of bread smeared with hummous. A tuna fish sandwich, extra mayonnaise, please. Which is even odder what with all the desserts, tarts and sugary things the rest of us consume.

 Yet once in a blue moon, he will request a sweet treat, either for a special occasion, his birthday, or to carry to friends. And every now and then (when cows do fly) he actually has a craving. And it is without fail, unequivocally, unshakably chocolate. And more exacting, more demanding one child cannot be. A simple chocolate layer cake – just chocolate, no coffee, chestnut, rum or Cointreau blended in – with a very simple chocolate buttercream. The normal chocolate cake, if you see what I mean. A pan of brownies with, yes, chopped pecans but heaven help us nothing else, nothing foreign, nothing weird. A good, deep chocolate flavor, the texture neither too gooey nor too cakey. Just brownies. Or something chocolate chip… chocolate chip cookies will be gobbled up quick as greased lightening. Or chocolate chip banana bread, the tiny chocolate chips in perfect balance with, just the right proportion to the banana.

 And that’s it. Chocolate.

I drank this type of chocolate one damp and cold November afternoon in the north of Italy, until then I had only had the more licquid kind that you drink in Sweden (very good too, especially so when served with whipped cream on top) and my encounter with dense chocolate to drink resulted in instant love! Here in Italy you can buy it in powder and all you have to do is to mix it with milk and warm it up but I prefer the homemade version, mostly because I can make bigger portions!

2 rather big cups

4 tblsp high quality cocoa powder
3-4 tblsp sugar
4 tblsp corn starch
400 ml/1,7 cup milk
spices or some other desired flavour

   Mix cocoa, sugar and corn starch very well. Pour milk into a pan and then add the dry ingredients while you whisk. Bring to the boil under constant stirring until it has reached the desired density.

   Drink and enjoy!

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