Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Very Intense Chocolate Slab

This recipe comes by way of my friend Jody Witkop Shepson who makes it so often her friends refer to it as "Jody's Chocolate Slab." It's kind of a chocolate ganache loaf, similar to a chocolate paté.

Here's Jody's story:

"This recipe came from a great cookbook, and the great cookbook came from my sister, Cindy. She read a book years ago called “A Trip to the Beach” about (and written by) Melinda and Robert Blanchard, from Vermont. They took a trip to Anguilla, and ended up creating a restaurant, and a life, in Anguilla. Cindy was so taken with the book and the story, that when she and Barry planned a vacation, they included Anguilla and visited the restaurant, had wine with the Blanchards….and then went back the next year, I think. The cookbook is called “At Blanchard’s Table” and it’s one of those really pretty cookbooks with interesting notes about the recipes. They’ve since written a few other books, about doing what you love in life….I think you would enjoy them, and relate to them! Their most recent cookbook is “Cook What You Love” which pretty much sums up their philosophy.

Chocolate Slab was the first recipe I tried from the cookbook, and I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I’ve made it. It’s ALWAYS a hit, every time I serve it, and people usually call the next day begging for the recipe. I made it for the first meeting of my book club when I moved here, and when my turn to host rolled around again I made an Apple Crostini and the women said “Where’s the slab!? You were supposed to make the slab!!” When my friend Katrie had her second daughter, our other friends were making quilts and one painted a beautiful painting. I thought “Uh oh…I don’t quilt or paint….” So I made her a slab and she acted like I was handing her a gold brick. “My very own slab?!! I’ve never had my own slab before!” She made it last almost 2 weeks.

It’s just a great recipe. I’ve exchanged emails with the Blanchards, explaining that I feel guilty because people call it “Jody’s Slab” but I always give them credit, and often, when people ask for the recipe, I buy them the whole cookbook, so it’s not as if I’m not helping them sell books!!

I’ve tweaked it a little. I ladle some of the Kahlua custard sauce onto a plate and put a slice of slab on the pool of sauce. Then a dollop of real whipped cream and some fresh raspberries on the side. The recipe doesn’t call for whipped cream, but I like it and the raspberries go really well with the chocolate. I have lots of recipes I love, but this would have to be the all-time favorite. And I enjoy making it as much as eating it. It’s very simple and quick, but stirring that big bowl of warm, dark chocolate is one of the great joys of life! If anyone is home with me at the time I always bring the bowl over and let them stir a few times. I would feel guilty having all the fun and not sharing. "
Thanks for this, Jody!

Bob and Melinda Blanchard
Serves 8-10

• 2 cups heavy cream
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
• 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and long sides of a loaf pan. It should hang over the sides by a few inches. (You’re going to use this like a sling to remove the slab from the pan.) Don’t worry about the short ends of the pan.
In a large pot, bring the cream to a boil. Make sure to use a pot that’s large enough so that the cream does not overflow. Remove from the heat as soon as it boils. Whisk in both chocolates until they are completely melted. Add the almond, vanilla and butter and whisk until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, being careful to keep the paper in place. Chill in the refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight.
When the slab is very firm, run a knife around the ends to loosen and lift out by holding the ends of the paper. Slice into 3/4-inch slices using a long, thin knife. It will be easier to slice if you have a damp cloth or paper towel handy to wipe the blade clean in between slices.
Place each slice on a dessert plate and pour enough of the sauce around it to cover the plate. Grate or shave some semi-sweet chocolate onto the sauce and serve.

Kahlua Custard Sauce
Makes 2 cups
½ cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbl Kahlua

Put the milk and cream into a large saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in about half of the sugar. In a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, egg yolks, and salt and set aside.
Return the cream mixture to the stove over medium heat. When the cream starts to simmer, reduce the heat, add the yolk mixture, and whisk for 3 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the vanilla and Kahlua and blend well. Pour through a strainer into a shallow bowl and refrigerate until cold.
(I usually serve it with raspberries on the side and some real whipped cream. I put a puddle of the sauce on the plate, then a slice of slab, a dab of whipped cream, and some berries alongside. It’s a winner.)

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