Friday, June 15, 2007

Cabernet Spice Rub

I have been messing around trying to make some spice rubs and chocolates to go with specific varietals so that the company my husband works for can include them with larger wine orders. It's too hot to deal with chocolate today, so I gave a spice rub a try.

I decided to focus on the smoky, leathery, spicy flavors you find in a Cab and to let the Cab itself take care of the fruit part.

2T Roasted Chili Powder
2T Smoked Sea Salt
1T Freshly cracked Black Pepper
2T Freshly ground, toasted Fennel Seed
2t Freeze-Dried Roasted Garlic, ground
1T Toasted, minced Dried Onion, ground
5pc Freeze-Dried Tomato, Frozen again, then ground in the spice grinder
1T Bamboo-Smoked Black Sesame Seeds, ground

I rubbed 1T olive oil over a tri-tip, then rubbed the spices over the entire surface. I put it on a broiling rack in a 375F oven until the meat reached 125F, around 20 minutes. I rested it for 10 minutes, then sliced it.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Previously, I promised I'd figure out how to fix the broken hi-hat recipe that is all over the internet. Tonight, I came much further toward accomplishing my goal. I was able to fix two of the three fundamental problems and came up with some creative improvements to implement on my next attempt.

The first problem with the recipe was that the marshmallow filling turns out gritty. The recipe requires that you put a ridiculous amount of sugar into three egg whites and a scant 1/4c of water and whip them continuously over a rolling double boiler until the mixture achieves 160F. The issue seems to be that it is impossible to get to 160F, so the sugar never melts, resulting in a gritty, heavy, sticky, nasty, mess.

My solution was to take the sugar and water and create a simple syrup which I then incorporated into the partially whipped whites prior to putting them over the double boiler. I never got to 160F, but my filling was perfect.

The second issue with the recipe is that the chocolate glaze is too thick and melts the marshmallow topping and often pulls it right off the cupcake.

This one was more of a challenge and I lost a few cupcakes to trial and error. First, you need to have very cold cupcakes. I cooled mine in the refrigerator, but I think they were still not quite cold enough. In the future, I may try partially freezing a batch in the freezer prior to dipping in the chocolate glaze. Secondly, the glaze is too thick and heavy for the delicate marshmallow filling. My solution was to increase the ratio of oil to chips until I acheived the desired consistency. The third issue seems to be the method of dipping. I found I was more successful tilting the cupcakes over the glaze bowl and pouring the glaze over with a spoon than dipping them into the glaze head-first.

Additionally, I don't know that I need to mention this, but you can make pretty much any chocolate cupcake recipe you like. The original recipe has you making a sour cream cake, which would be a nice foil to the intense sweetness of the topping, but tonight I made the classic Hershey's recipe and it was just fine.

Here are the cupcakes, waiting for the goods:

The topping:

The glazing process:

Freshly glazed and into the fridge:

Cooled and complete, they look like this:


12 chocolate cupcakes, unfrosted (use your favorite recipe)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups chopped (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil


Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is incorporated, then leave on the heat until the sugar is melted and the mixture is transparent.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Continue beating and pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites 1/8c at a time until completely incorporated. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and almond extracts, and beat for 2 minutes more.

Transfer frosting to a large disposable pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain pastry tip. Leaving a 1/8-inch border on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of frosting into a 2-inch-high cone shape, using about 1/2 cup of frosting per cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet, and refrigerate while preparing the chocolate coating (or longer, if needed).


Combine chocolate chips and oil in a medium heat-proof bowl and microwave until until melted and smooth, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Do not overheat. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool about 15 minutes. If the glaze is too thick, add more vegetable oil, 1T at a time until the appropriate consistency is obtained.


Remove cooled cupcakes from refrigerator and one at a time and while holding them at an angle over the glaze bowl, carfully spoon the glaze over the topping, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Do this until the entire marshmallow topping is coated. Place the glazed cupcakes on a sheet pan in the refrigerator to cool and harden.