Posts Tagged ‘Formaggio Kitchen’


How is it possible that I don’t yet have a tag for “chocolate” after 10 months of blogging? Consider that remedied with today’s post, and hopefully many future posts will follow suit. Before I get into the Mexican Chocolate Tart, though, I thought I’d do a pictoral recap of Thanksgiving. Credit where credit is due — the ONLY thing I contributed to Thanksgiving dinner was the chocolate tart — the rest of these lovely photos showcase my amazing aunt’s efforts.

For starters, we had a crudite of radishes, celery and black olives; my grandmother’s famous Pepper Clam Dip; and crostini topped with goat cheese and orange-fig preserves (below). The crostini were fabulous, easy…and therefore highly recommended for your next party!


For me, the star of the show this year was the turkey itself. Incredibly moist with perfectly golden skin…Yum.


And then there’s the stuffing. Stuffing will ALWAYS be my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. This year, my aunt shook things up a bit, and in addition to her usual sausage and water chestnuts, added a medley of dried fruits — cranberries, blueberries, cherries, and plums. Delicious!


On to potatoes. Rules for good mashed potatoes:

1. Use cream. If you’re gonna do it, do it all out.
2. Use a ricer. No more gluey potatoes!
3. Use horseradish. Yum.

Rules for FANTASTIC mashed potatoes:

1. Do all of the above…then add pancetta. Oh wow.


For the artistic component of the program, may I present Bobby Flay’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates and Vanilla-Pecan Butter.


There was, of course, also gravy, squash, creamed onions, and (ahem) cranberry sauce, but those don’t make for nearly as exciting photos, so let’s move on to the pies, OK?

My family generally likes to go for a minimum 1/2 pie-to-person ratio, and I think we outdid ourselves this year. All the usual suspects were there: pumpkin, pecan, chocolate, pumpkin cheesecake….


…and apple. Second only to blueberry in my personal hierarchy of pies.


Finally, I brought my spicy Mexican Chocolate Tart, featuring Taza Chocolate from Somerville, MA. I originally made this tart for a holiday pot luck last year, and fell in love with the recipe. A forewarning: while it’s amazingly and utterly delicious, it’s also very rich. So this recipe gets filed in both the “Impress Your Guests” AND the “Eat Only Once A Year” categories of my mental recipe box.

We start by preparing our pecans for the top of the tart. Mix the sugars and spices with an egg white, and stir in the pecans.


Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes (or less). The recipe says 30 minutes. It LIES!  Once toasted, we just put the pecans aside for later and start in on the crust. It’s a simple crust of cookie crumbs, a hint of cinnamon, sugar, salt and melted butter pulsed together in a food processor. Here’s what mine looked like after being mixed up.


Pat it into the pan (recipe calls for a tart pan with a removeable bottom — I don’t have one so here we go! No big thang.) Bake for 20 minutes. Here it is cooling. Notice how super neat and perfect my edges are 😉 Again, it doesn’t matter. It’s chocolate and it tastes good. And THAT matters.


Prepare your filling while the tart cools. The recipe calls for an imported Mexican chocolate like Ibarra, but I simply couldn’t resist trying to incorporate a more local ingredient, so I headed down to Formaggio Kitchen to pick up some of Taza Chocolate’s Mexicano Chocolate Discs. The recipe calls for 3.1 oz., but Taza’s bars come in 2.7 oz packages, so I had fun playing a little mix-and-match, and used 2.7 oz of the cinnamon discs and the guajillo chili flavor for the remaining 0.4 oz.

Once you’ve made your filling, you just pour it into the pie and chill for 20 minutes or so for it to set. Now it’s decorating time! Use your pecans to create a pattern of concentric circles on the top of your pie. I start off by dividing the pie into quadrants as shown and then fill it in from there.




Now comes the hard part. You need to chill your pie for 4 hours before serving. Oooh, waiting is hard. The worst part is, once you unveil your pie, you will very quickly only have this remaining:


It really is wonderful…and popular. The cayenne in the pecans gives it a subtle kick, while the cinnamon in the filling and crust adds a spicy warmth to the tart. The texture of the filling is a cross between a truffle and fudge — dense, chocolately, melty. I’m really sad it’s all gone.

Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans
from Bon Appetit, Feb 2007


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 T. light brown sugar
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. pecan halves


  • 1 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package cookies, finely ground in processor)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, melted


  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 (3.1-oz.) disk Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra), chopped*
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt

* If you can’t find Mexican chocolate, you can substitute semi-sweet chocolate and cinnamon, 1/2 t. cinnamon per each oz. of chocolate. I did this the first time I made this recipe and it came out great!

For pecans:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk all ingredients except pecans in medium bowl. Stir in pecans. Spread in single layer on sheet, rounded side up. Bake until just browned and dry, about 30 minutes (*OR LESS! I did 20 minutes). Cool on sheet. Separate nuts, removing excess coating. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are moistened. Press crumbs into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, to within 1/8 inch of top. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

For filling:
Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolates; whisk until melted. Add butter, 1 piece at a time; whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour filling into crust. Chill until filling begins to set, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange nuts in concentric circles atop tart. Chill until set, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil and keep chilled.


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This crafter sure has been hungry! My poor computer is overflowing with photos of food, so I thought that I ought to just share some en masse. So, here goes: my summer, in food pictures:

First we have the ever delicious rice & chickpea salad from Sofra (available at the Siena Farms market stand). Must get more for lunch today as soon as I finish this post. Edit: only made it halfway through the post before running down to the farmer’s market to get some. The best part of this salad is that they play around with it a bit week to week. This week — no basil, yes broccoli!

Ah, memories… Fava bean season is long gone, of course, but at least I can reminisce about these beautiful beans sauteed in butter over toast with Ombra cheese on top. Sigh.

This here (Well, yes, it’s chocolate. Obviously.) is a base for a chocolate peanut butter ice cream I made for fourth of July. It turned out to be a disaster, actually, but tasted good nonetheless. It had the consistency of frozen fudge. Yes, I ate it anyway. With my fingers. Wouldn’t you?

On the far more successful side was this vanilla bean ice cream, midway through churning in the photo. Very very yummy. Recipe from David Lebovitz (the guru of all things ice cream). Topped it off with the salted caramel from Formaggio — amazing!

On another indulgent evening, I was craving some good old fashioned meat and potatoes, summer style. Enter steak tips, roasted red bliss potatoes with fresh herbs, and of course, some fresh corn on the cob.

And that’s just scratching the surface of my summer in food! My computer needs a break now, though. And so do I. Because I’m suddenly very hungry. Again.

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Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention as — abracadabra! — yesterday’s leftovers turn into today’s grilled slices of ciabatta, warm mushrooms, and shaved Ombra cheese right before your eyes!:

Fantastic! (My kingdom to not have killed my parsley plant five times over already, but that’s another story…) Even without the parsley, the leftovers were better than the first go round. The Ombra cheese was a much better pairing, although it probably doesn’t hurt that Ombra is just about my favorite cheese ever.

This past weekend, I found myself down at my favorite Boston specialty shop, Formaggio Kitchen. Last time I was there, they were out of Ombra, so I instead went home with a well-aged Gouda (with the delicious little crystallized bits — swoon!). As stunning as that was, I was nonetheless super excited to see the Ombra back in stock this visit, so I was sure to snatch up a wedge along with some other goodies:

Two of these are also old favorites of mine:  In the middle, there’s Formaggio’s homemade crostini made from day old Iggy’s bread. The cranberry walnut bread makes an amazing crostini when rubbed with olive oil and herbs! To the right are the “Chocolate Salty Oats” cookies from Kayak Cookies. Huge, thick chocolate cookies loaded with oats and the occasional chocolate chunk, topped off with sea salt. Outstanding.

I first discovered Kayak Cookies at the Food & Wine festival at Foxwoods in 2008. I mention this only as an excuse to write about the Pain D’Avignon booth that included the cookies in their display. For my Cape Cod relatives — please go visit Pain D’Avignon on my behalf!!! Let me see if I can scrounge up a photo so you can see exactly why I’m pretty much convinced that this bakery is the mecca of bread.

Getting back to my recent trip to Formaggio, however, let’s just admit that both the crostini and cookies are long gone, and move on. The last item in there is a French salted caramel. Haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with that yet, but I’m thinking that may warrant some homemade French vanilla ice cream.  Yes, yes…ideas are brewing now…  Hmmmmmm.

to be continued…

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