Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Chocolate: My new frontier

Let’s be honest…chocolate is not a new frontier for me. I LOVE CHOCOLATE…probably more than is actually acceptable. But hey, it’s a love that started when I was little helping my mom in the kitchen. I always helped because I was rewarded with the beaters from the stand mixer (and I didn’t get salmonella…knock on wood).

However, I haven’t done much cooking with chocolate. In general, I haven’t done a lot of baking. But in an effort to be more domestic (and in reality because I enjoy being in the kitchen so much), I’ve started trying new dessert recipes.

For Thanksgiving, I was tapped bringing a dessert. I (obviously) wanted to do chocolate and settled on a dark chocolate tart with a gingersnap crust. Initially, the recipe called for using crystallized ginger on the top of the tart, but not everyone in my family is a fan. So I swapped out the crystallized ginger and subbed in fresh raspberries and made a red raspberry sauce to go along with it. If I do say so myself, it’s pretty much to die for. The chocolate I used was actually bittersweet and the raspberry sauce cuts the richness just enough and really balances the flavors. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos, but when I make it again, I’ll be sure to post.

Another epicurious recipe.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust
8 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 32 cookies), coarsely broken
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

For crust: Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind gingersnap cookies in processor (yielding 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups). Add melted butter and salt; process until moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

For filling: Combine finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, ground black pepper, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Very gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth and blended. Pour chocolate filling into crust.
Bake chocolate tart until filling puffs slightly at edges and center is softly set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle chopped crystallized ginger over top. Cool tart in pan 20 minutes. Gently remove tart pan sides and cool tart completely. DO AHEAD: Chocolate tart can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Cut tart into thin wedges and serve.

Red Raspberry Sauce

  • 2 12-ounce packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, with juices
  • 1 cup sugar

Purée raspberries with juices and sugar in processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to strainer set over bowl; press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids in strainer. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)


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A Thanksgiving Abroad…

Happy Thanksgiving!
I apologize for not posting sooner, but several events transpired over the weekend that prevented me from fully explaining to you the wonder that was … “A Thanksgiving Abroad”.

To start, I’d like to give you some very well know, but easily forgotten (and without a doubt, crucial to the story) facts about Thanksgiving:
1. It is a completely American holiday. (That means no one else remembers or celebrates the “day” that pilgrims brought diseases from the old world into the new world and then slaughtered some Native Americans, or you know, we all sat around the table and gave Thanks for the new world.)
2. It is a holiday devoted ENTIRELY to eating. Now it may not have originally started as an eating holiday, but now it most certainly is. (Meaning that it is a marathon, not a sprint, as some non-Americans quickly learned.)
3. Finally, it is the ONLY holiday in the entire year where every American (unless they opt otherwise) regardless of religion, gender, race, etc. observes a family oriented holiday (because the 4th isn’t an entirely family oriented holiday– which I will get to in a later post – and New Year’s isn’t either).

Now perhaps from the fact reminders that I have just laid forth you can guess certain parts of the coming story…

I started Thanksgiving this year by…going to work! It was definitely a weird experience to be far away from the U.S. for such a fundamental holiday. But unlike Election Day where everyone around the world was so enthralled by the election and there was still an intimate connection with the U.S. on that day, Thanksgiving seemed MILES away. Fortunately, as Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, it was the beginning of the weekend here.

As a large office group, we went to the Beach Rotunda Hotel for a Thanksgiving buffet. The U.S. Embassy had reserved several tables for the meal and we attempted to turn an original reservation in the Embassy section of 8 people into a reservation for 18 (we had an additional reservation for the buffet but not in the Embassy section). We were not successful.
However! Through some skillful haggling and yelling by one of my co-workers, we all received the Thanksgiving special that the U.S. Embassy group had (it included a free glass of sub-par wine).

As this is a holiday devoted to eating, the buffet was a lovely spread filled with typical Thanksgiving food. As a group of Americans, what item do you think we went for first? Turkey? Stuffing? Cranberries? Wrong!

SUSHI! But that statement by itself is what made it Thanksgiving. We indulged our completely American pleasures and went for sushi first, as the buffet also had non-typical Thanksgiving food like sushi, Arabic Traditional, as well as an extensive seafood buffet (which consequently allowed me to try caviar for the first time – not bad…).

The turkey was ok, a little dry. The mashed potatoes were delicious and there was even a garnish of crispy garlic pieces on top (several of my favorite foods rolled into one). I also had some delicious cold potato soup from the seafood bar. The wild rice wasn’t great (I definitely missed my mom’s wild rice as well as her broccoli puree thing…yum!). Finally, the cornbread was apparently horrible. And the stuffing looked like an uncooked Tollhouse roll of cookie dough.
As for dessert, the pumpkin pie looked remarkably similar to some sort of tart. I went for the flourless chocolate cake with small currant berries. It was just as good as it sounds.

To finish off, we had a couple additional glasses of sub-par wine. All in all, it was no Thanksgiving in the States, but I got my mashed potatoes and wine, so I was a pretty happy camper.

We did have a couple Brits join us for dinner who upon completion of the meal, realized that they had not paced themselves enough and felt slightly ill (rookies).

I hope that everyone’s Thanksgiving was as wonderful as they hoped it would be. But please know that I missed all of you immensely!

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The Remainder of my Thanksgiving abroad

I know that most American Thanksgivings involve football (American football…not the fake kind that they play here ☺) whether it be watching or playing. Unfortunately, the Emirates do not have any sort of American football. Never fear! I did go to a rugby tournament!
Never having seen a complete rugby match, it was quite an enlightening experience. We spent the day in Dubai sitting in the sun, watching match after match. I did see the U.S. play…and then lose to England, but it was still enjoyable.
I picked up a Scottish jersey, but other than that it was fairly uneventful. I would choose an American football game over rugby any day. The crowds are a lot more lively and intense.

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