Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate & Chinese New Year

This year Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day fall on the same date. It got me thinking about how Chocolate fits into Chinese food.

I read an article last month about the Great Wall of Chocolate: Chinese Chocolatiers Build a Replica of the Great Wall of China out of Chocolate. This edible wall is totally out of chocolate and is 80 tons of chocolate spans 10 meters (not 4000 miles) and includes 'terra cotta' chocolate warriors on a layer of chocolate flakes. It's built from solid dark chocolate bricks mortared with white chocolate and is part of the World Chocolate Wonderland exhibition and trade show in Beijing. Read the full article HERE.

O.K. as interesting as the Great Wall of Chocolate is, it wasn't really related to Chinese New Year or eating chocolate. Since this is the Year of the Tiger, you'll be able to buy Chocolate Tigers at The Chocolate Vault or at local chocolatiers.

Lora Brody had a recipe for Chinese Noodle Nut Clusters at Epicurious a few years ago, and I've made this. It certainly looks like ChowMein, but tastes sweet and salty. Chinese candy bring joy. Of course, I'm not sure this is the candy, but I'm always joyful eating these!

Hint: Using chocolate chips here instead of bar or block chocolate makes a more viscous "batter," which makes the clusters easier to form. This chocolate does not have to be tempered. You can find cans of Chinese chow-mein noodles in the Asian food section of the supermarket. The ones you want are cooked and ready to eat like crackers.

2 cups (10 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (about 4 ounces) Chinese chow-mein noodles, broken into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces (vary the sizes)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) dry-roasted salted peanuts, shaken in a sieve to remove excess salt

Line a baking sheet with wax paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a metal bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave-safe bowl in a microwave oven. Stir the mixture until it is smooth. In a large mixing bowl, toss the noodles and peanuts together. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over them. Working quickly before the chocolate hardens, use a rubber spatula to mix and coat the noodles and nuts with chocolate.

Use 2 soup spoons (or teaspoons, depending on how large you want your clusters) to scoop up portions of the mixture. Set the clusters on the prepared sheet. Set the baking sheet in a cool place (not in the refrigerator) until the chocolate hardens.

The clusters can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Pichet Ong and Genevieve Ko
had a recipe for Chocolate Kumquat Spring Rolls at Epicurious. Haven't made these yet, but you might want to try them on Sunday.

Want to bake? Chronicle Books Blog has a recipe for Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Chiffon Cake. It's made with cinnamon, aniseed, cloves, ginger and fennelseed. Don't let that put you off, though, this recipe from the book Chocolate Cakes looks fabulous.
O.K. You know I'm always looking for the easy way out. You can always dip fortune cookies in chocolate? How easy is that? Want to be more festive. Dip the chocolate covered fortune cookies in sprinkles or colored sugar near the end)

Chocolate Covered Fortune Cookies

15 to 20 fortune cookies
1/2 cup dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Place the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a saucepan on top of another saucepan with simmering water on the bottom. Heat until melted.

Holding the fortune cookie by its end, dipping the rounded bottom of the cookie into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off (then roll lightly in sprinkles if you want). Place the chocolate covered fortune cookie on the wax or parchment paper. Continue with the remainder of the cookies.

Put the cookies in the refrigerator to cool. Store in an airtight container or eat. I would eat them right away, really... Candy brings joy, and maybe your fortune will be good. :-)

Gung Hay Fat Choy!


Bobbi Mumm said...

I love sweet and salty and crunchy! Thanks, Janet! Wishing you a healthful and prosperous New Year.

Janet Rudolph said...

And, to you, too, Bobbi!

Esme said...

Happy New Year and Valentine's Day

~~louise~~ said...

Such a clever post Janet. I LOVE it!!! Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Janet Rudolph said...

Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, and Mardi Gras on Tuesday. Nothing for President's Day because 'real' cherries are out of season.

Lynn said...

Love this Great Wall of Chocolate! Too funny!