Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Decadent Cocoa Terrine (Gluten-free!)

Funny how easy it is for me to go from healthy snack lady to evil decadent dessert witch in a matter of days. Last week I brought you Soft Baked Breakfast Bars, but this week it's a whole different song.

I can't stay away from the decadent very long. It's like a drug... I'm not ashamed to admit.

Why do you think the Cookie Monster was so manic? He wasn't pregnant. He was a super addict! Duhh. It's so obviously clear that he was hooked on the sweet stuff.

"Me want cookie, me want cookie! BAHHHHH!" Come on. And he always had them... I'm not sure if I've ever seen an episode where he had one of his cookie attacks and never actually got his share of cookies in the end (and I watched my fair share of Sesame Street in my day). That's not a very good lesson for children now, is it? 

They should've at least shown him go through withdrawal and then have a painful yet rewarding recovery period. Let's teach kids to have some will power and not give into temptation!

Will power and not giving into temptation are probably not the best themes for this post, however...

This cocoa terrine is the epitome of all cocoa desserts. It is intense, it is dark, it highlights the brilliant bitterness of pure chocolate and just like Donald Trump, it is rich!

You'll be surprised to know that there's no chocolate in this recipe! Not a smidgen  This is made 100% with cocoa powder and...butter. Not to say a chocolate terrine isn't magnificent,  but this is just another way of doing it to get an intense, over the top cocoa hit. Plus cocoa is high in fiber. Unfortunately butter and sugar are not. Sigh...

Have you ever come across a recipe that uses 1 1/4 cups of cocoa powder?

Yes, that's one and a quarter cups, 105 grams or 3.7 ounces of cocoa powder.

That means, use the best one you can find! I actually like to veer away from heavily Dutched cocoas because they can have an overpowering smokiness and bitterness. Use a natural cocoa, like Hershey's, for this. Natural cocoa has a more well-rounded, fruity and chocolaty flavour. I'm not sure where in history Dutched cocoa got so famous. Other than providing enhanced colour, most of them don't hold a candle to the well-balanced flavour of the natural stuff.

Let me comment on how dark this batter is... It's black! And this will happen with Dutched or non-Dutched cocoa! Talk about intense. This dessert is also completely gluten-free, so there's no need to write a separate menu for your "special" friend.

At first your batter will not look this glossy. It won't get this way until you stir in the sugar. It's almost like magic. The sugar will pull the moisture from the eggs in the cocoa/butter/egg mixture and help everything come together to create this sexy shiny batter. You'll see.

Once baked, the "cake" (and I use that term very loosely) will feel just slightly firm to the touch, but should still give a little. If it springs back when pressed, it may be over-baked. Do not over-bake this black beauty!

As it cools, it will sink just a bit and that's how you know it is baked to perfection. It means "I'm heated through, but not entirely set firm like a jube-jube".

Ok, Ok. I'll shut up now and let you get started. Considering this simple recipe uses all pantry ingredients, I'm only assuming you're running into your kitchen right now.

Good idea.

Decadent Cocoa Terrine
Makes 8-10 servings

1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 tbsp (60 ml) milk
1 ¼ cups (105 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
 ¼ tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 4x8-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine butter and milk and heat until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder. At this point the mixture will become very thick and you might think you've done something wrong. Don’t worry. It will come together soon.

Add an egg and stir it in until combined. Repeat with the second egg. The mixture will still look stiff. Stir in half of the sugar and watch as it becomes smooth and glossy. Add the remaining sugar, vanilla and salt and stir vigorously until the mixture is very smooth and glossy.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake until set but still slightly soft in the center, about 25-28 minutes.

Set aside to cool completely and then refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with ice cream or whipped cream and berries.
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