Bonjour de Paris. I find myself in a bit of a chocolate conundrum. Perhaps it's because I bought a 7 POUND bag of Valrhona chocolate?!?! What was I thinking?! I wasn't obviously... which is usually the case when I walk in to food specialty or culinary supply stores such as G Detou or Dehillerin. G Detou (pronounced: zhay duh too)is a play on words for "j'ai de tout" which means "I have everything (or all)". Clever, non? The French can be very whimsical...
Upon entering, my head starts spinning trying to take it all in. In G Detou, one shelf is literally floor to ceiling dragées (dra-zhay), those things they give away at weddings that we all throw out the window as soon as we drive away, er I mean, place in the proper receptacle. I guess they are très (pronounced: tray; means: very) popular here... There is chocolate everywhere you look, rows of purées, bins of beans, and the most expensive prunes in the world, Pruneaux d'Agen.
Dehillerin is the ultimate cooking supply store with the downstairs simply floor to ceiling copper pots. It's a cooks' version of Nirvana. I start shaking as I approach, anticipating the cubby holes of various sized whisks, stacks of frying pans, enough rings to start a circus strung from the ceiling, and gadgets that would give even the most sophisticated of restaurateurs heart palpitations
I of course had to buy a few of these rings...just in case I felt the urge to bake a few little tarts...pigs will fly before that happens but I digress... so back to the 7 pound bag of chocolate. Completely irrational purchase but the damage is done and now I must use this behemouth bag o'love. My friend Katherine from Kentucky is having a Halloween party tonight and is insisting that we dress up. Halloween is celebrated in France only since the invasion of EuroDisney. Their Halloween Night at EuroDisney posters are plastered over half of Paris, the other half being the opening of the new Nike store on the Champs-Elysées, but that's another story...
So her French friends think it is très strange but she is insisting so if the French are dressing up, then the Americans have no excuse. I am not a fan of Halloween, more specifically creating a costume, thanks to latent childhood trauma from my mother dressing me like Pippi Longstocking one too many times. It didn't help that I had long and very red hair that when braided around a bent hangar stuck straight out. Hello, Oprah...? I think I will don my chef's jacket and my paper toque that I saved from my internship at the George V and call it a day. Not original but about as much effort as I can muster at this point.
I also need to bring something to nibble which adds to the stress as people expect fabulous things from a "culinary professional" which means I burn water less frequently. So this brings me back to my 7 pound bag of chocolate. I spied my container of dried apricots and candied orange peels procured along with the above mentioned 7 pound bag of chocolate and thought pourquoi pas (why not)? So in honor of the orange and black, Halloween not the San Francisco Giants, I decided to melt some chocolate and dip the apricots and orange peels. And why not add some grated ginger to one batch and maybe some chili powder to another for a bit of a kick? And soak some raisins in Sauterne? And those candied ginger chunks...?! Hmmm...
A Chocolate Conundrum
300 grams chocolate (buy the best quality possible, mine is 70% Guanaja made by Valrhona, but not necessarily 7 pounds of it! )
1 package dried apricots
1 package candied orange peels (much easier to buy than make :-) )
1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
¼ cup candied ginger
1 cup raisins -- soaked in Sauterne or other spirit
2 teaspoons chili powder
1. melt the chocolate in a double boiler (a non reactive bowl set over a simmering pot of water)
note: I used 200 grams for plain chocolate and 50 grams each for the ginger-chocolate and the chili-chocolate
2. add ginger or chili to chocolate and combine thoroughly(optional)
3. dip the fruit and set on parchment paper on a tray
4. chill to set et voila!
It's très easy and fun, great for a hostess gift especially with the upcoming holidays, and also an easy way to get kids excited to be in the kitchen. Though if you're like me, you want them out of the kitchen. Anyways... bon appetit and Happy Halloween!
58 rue Tiquetonne
75002 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 42 36 54 67