7/29/2010

The School of Essential Ingredients - Chocolate Fondue with Pineapple

 Our current Cook the Books Club selection is The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister.  A charming tale of  intertwined  lives, brought together through a cooking class, with careful character depictions and individual stories, well thought out, and woven seamlessly into the whole novel.  I truly enjoy reading good fiction, especially that which also triggers creativity, and fires my culinary enthusiasm.  I won't go into great detail and spoil it for those of you who haven't read this wonderful book yet.  Just go out and get your copy!

The story of the Restaurant owner, and chef-instructor of the evening classes, Lillian, and her childhood relationship with her mother, reminded me a bit of Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone, Growing up at the Table.  Especially the cover photo of a young Ruth, standing at the stove cooking.  I loved that book. I loved this one too.  So, why did I have such a hard time trying to decide what to cook?  Everything they prepared in the cooking classes sounded so fantastic, I want to make it all. And, I will!  Being as the idea here was the importance of simplicity and the best of ingredients, I asked myself, what is just about your favorite ingredient - an essential, in other words?  The answer would have to be chocolate.

I have my own tree, process the cacao and incorporate the product into my cooking occasionally.  Though mostly I just use it for a morning cocoa drink or homemade truffles, since buying the equipment necessary to get cacao nibs to chocolate factory smoothness, is not going to happen.

Another essential ingredient for me would be whatever delicious fruit is happening, fresh and ripe at the moment.  That right now would be our fabulous Hawaiian white pineapples.  Must really be tasted to appreciate fully. Stop by, and I will let you try some.

So, put the two together, with a few wee strawberries, which are ripe now as well, and we get Pineapple and Strawberries in Chocolate Fondue!  Do we need an occasion?  Well today is my brother's birthday, so as a virtual celebration, we'll eat this in his honor.

I used Rachael Ray's recipe from her Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals, just for reference, so I felt more secure, but it's so simple you don't even need a recipe.  What you need are really good ingredients.  The best chocolate you can buy, and the best cream.  And, of course, the best fresh fruit.  Bananas are also good here.

Chocolate Fondue

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (organic preferably) (reserve 1/4 cup to thin fondue, if necessary)
4 bittersweet chocolate bars 31/2 oz. each, chopped (14 oz. total)
2 tablespoons  Frangelico or Amaretto liqueur (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds (optional)
fresh pineapple, cut in large dice
strawberries, stemmed
bananas, cut in chunky slices, pieces of shortbread or cake

That is her recipe - I didn't include the optionals, keeping to simplicity, and letting the essentials shine.

Heat the cream in a heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until cream comes to a low boil.  Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, allowing it to stand in the hot cream, 3 to 5 minutes to soften, then whisk together with the cream.  Stir in the liqueur and or chopped nuts here, if you are adding them.  Transfer to a fondue pot or set the mixing bowl on a rack above a small lit candle.  If fondue becomes too thick, stir in reserved cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.

Arrange your fruits on a platter by the chocolate fondue with fondue forks, bamboo skewers, or seafood forks for dipping.  Oh Boy.  Let me at it.

11 comments:

Rachel said...

A terrific addition to our Cook the Books roundup! I am so impressed with the fruits of your tropical garden and can only imagine this luscious fondue treat. Glad you enjoyed reading this wonderful novel.

girlichef said...

You have your own tree!? I'm so jealous =) I'm right there with ya, I wanted to make EVERYTHING from the book, LOL! Delicious fondue!

Foodycat said...

I can't believe you grow your own chocolate! That is the most awesome thing I have ever heard.

WendyGK said...

Now that's my idea of local food. Forget the corn and tomatoes of the Midwest. The fondue entries are tempting me to take a trip back to the 70s.

Cook of the House said...

Chocolate and bananas are one of my favourite combinations. To have your own "chocolate" tree and access to fresh bananas is a wonderful thing. Your fondue looks decadent! Kelly

Pierce said...

I'm with Girlichef, so jealous that you ahve your own tree! The fondue looks very inviting. So nice :-)

Joanne said...

Whoa I think it is SO cool that you have your own cacao tree! That's amazing. One of the perks of living in paradise I guess...

This fondue looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

Debinhawaii said...

I love the fact you have your own tree--how fun! Love the chocolate fondue--chocolate and pineapple is a perfect pairing too. A great CTB pick!

Foodjunkie said...

This is quite decadent, especially since you actually GROW your own chocolate. Unbelievable!

Simona said...

When I was in Hawaii last January, I had the pleasure of holding in my hands, for the first time, a cabosse. Chocolate is also essential for me, so great choice of dish for Cook the Books!

Claudia said...

Thank you CTB'ers. I've planted another cacao tree, just in case anything happens with my main guy!