Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cooking Club.

I hosted the first cooking club meeting at my house last week.
A few members weren't able to make it, so it was just five girls.
It was nice meeting new people, and talking food.
I think that this endeavor is going to be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to our bi-weekly meetings.

Since a few people couldn't make it, and we hadn't discussed the layout of how the group would work, I invited the girls over for some wine a cheese. I made my honey gorgonzola crostini, L brought some cheese and A brought killer tarts. They were in a store-bought crust, which is understandable as busy as she sounds, but the filling was amazing. Not very sweet. Sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. We were all swooning over them! So, she divulged what she put in them. Equal parts sour cream, cream cheese and chunk of white chocolate. Really, really, simple too, gotta love that!

I'm going to be honest, I don't like working too much with white chocolate. First of all, it's not chocolate. It is composed of cocoa butter, sugar and milk. Here in the U.S. white "chocolate" must be at least 20% cocoa butter with a high content of milk solids and fat. Although, I've never had any problems with white chocolate (probably because I rarely use it and when I do it's for decor) there are some risks when baking with it. Because of the higher content in cocoa butter, the chocolate can separate more easily when melting it. If this happens it needs to be re-emulsified by adding additional butter or chocolate to this mix. Not fun. Plus, in this town, it's difficult to find anything better than a bag of Nestles white chocolate chips. And I'm an avid user of high quality ingredients, so not having options doesn't sit too well with me. On top of all of that, I don't much like the taste of it (on it's own at least) and neither do my closest friends and family. Therefore, I don't have reason to use it too often.

I must say that I am growing accustomed to it. I have been seeing it more and more in recipes and other baked goods about town and have grown more interested in using it in my kitchen. So after that heavenly filling A brought to our first meeting I decided I must try it for myself! When I first told Thomas about it he was v-e-r-y skeptical. He hates white chocolate. He gave me that face I get from him when I suggest something he's not all that fond of, but is trying to seem interested and positive. I know that face all too well. Often when I get that face, and I go ahead and do what I want anyways, he eats until he's sick. Needless to say, I've learned not to trust that face. These tarts were no different. They were a hit and a half. He claimed to enjoy the shortbread crust more, but he scarfed more of these than I can count. They were so, so good! I am going to incorporate the elements of this filling into a frosting. This white fluffy goodness on top of a moist chocolate cupcake would be heaven. Simple, but heaven.

I wish that these were topped with something more exciting than one lone strawberry. Unfortunately, our berry season in the Northwest was all around disappointing this year. We have a wonderful climate for berries, I guess that's why they grow like kudzu here. Raspberries and blackberries in particular can be very intrusive. Many of our sidewalks are lined with berry bushes. People will park their cars and just walk along the side of the road eating berries off the bush. But there wasn't much of that this year. I don't why. Perhaps because we didn't get enough sun this year, and the warm weather we did get was unusually hot, not mild. The berries haven't been as sweet, or as juicy. And thus, not an attractive choice for tartlette toppers. Berries are often the star of tartlettes, sitting prettily on top. Not so much this year. In my opinion, at least. I can be a bit of a berry snob, thanks to Norway!

For 8 to 10 tartlettes:


4 oz room temp cream cheese
4 oz whole sour cream
2 oz heavy whipping cream
half bag of white chocolate


1. Mix cream cheese and sour cream in a mixer until combined and smooth (appx. 2 minutes)
2. Melt white chocolate in microwave (I prefer to use a double boiler)
3. Cool slightly and add to cream cheese mixture with the mixer on slow/medium speed.
4. Add whipping cream and whip until fluffy and light.

*Note: I like this recipe less sweet. To sweeten it up a bit, add additional melted white chocolate.

For crust recipe search blog for "tartlette". A few to choose from. This is the shortbread recipe.



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