I got some awesome books for Christmas! So far I haven’t started the biography that I was so excited to receive (Goforth of China), but I’ve read three others cover to cover and in this order:
The knitting book (A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting – tragically I don’t have any needles long enough to start a mobius loop project right away!)
The cookbook (see below)
The comic book adaptation of Exodus-Samuel (Manga: Melech, covering post-Red-Sea through David’s death and following on the heels of Manga: Mutiny, my copy of which is missing right when I’m teaching my students about Genesis!)
Yeah, this is me, the woman who not only READS cookbooks and such, but reads them FIRST.
Today I made two recipes from Jenifer Reese’s book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What you should (and shouldn’t) cook from scratch to save time and money. We don’t share a personality but she’s a woman after my own heart in the kitchen at least – it seemed like often her verdict was “it’s actually not simple but it’s totally worth making this from scratch.” And often I would agree with her! Not that I have time to make most of the things she lists from scratch, but today I threw together a no-knead bread dough she listed as everyday sandwich bread and a batch of her hot chocolate mix.
The oven is right now pre-heating for the bread to go in. She says it “will rise at its own pace” over 2 to 5 hours; it’s been six and I’m out of patience as it has MAYBE risen a quarter inch. This loaf’s not going to reach the top as promised! The mystery is the cause. Did the freezing temps in my kitchen kill the yeast? Or was it the almond milk I decided to sub in for 1/3 of the liquid? Those are my only guesses. I’ll try it again next time I have whey on-had for the liquid, but I’ll be more traditional and let the yeast proof in warm-ish liquid first rather than dumping everything together cold as the recipe says. (Well, it says “room temperature,” but room temperature in a Chinese kitchen in winter is pretty cold. But yes I had it in the house to rise, right below the radiator, so it had its chance.)
The cocoa mix performed better. It’s not nearly as good as the gourmet cocoa mix my students’ mothers gave me for my birthday last year and which I saw at the import grocery store for around $15US (the can holds about a dozen servings), but it does taste JUST like Swiss Miss. So if you’re in love with Swiss Miss, it’s perfect. If I were in love with Swiss Miss, I would probably try putting my next scraped-out vanilla bean pod to sit in brown rather than white sugar so that this recipe could be made without the need to add vanilla extract when you’re mixing a cup.
One other note I’d make on the recipe is that it’s not quite as easy as she lets on – who on earth would think to mix moist brown sugar into a dry mix and then put it through a sifter? MY sifter’s holes are too small for sugar or salt to go through, so I mixed the sugar and cocoa powder in the sifter with my fingers to get them well worked together and then dumped them into the bowl and whisked in the salt at the end. The texture did seem to be OK; time will tell if it dries in clumps or stays powdery.
Oh, and I’m thinking of opening a new bag of marshmallows and chopping them to bits then leaving them on the counter to dry for a week or two – when I got some out of the opened package in the cabinet to put into my drink and bit into one first, I almost broke a tooth! Perfect Swiss Miss dry-and-flaky marshmallow texture.
from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter
Make it or buy it? Make it.
Hassle: None at all (hah! says I)
Cost comparison: Swiss Miss charges about $0.38 per 1-ounce packet of cocoa (and more here in China, I might add). One ounce of homemade cocoa costs about $0.18 (though probably also more here in China – all 4 ingredients are actually special purchases in my kitchen, though table salt and a wetter, more clumpy brown sugar are available cheaply as local purchases. The marshmallows, not officially part of the recipe, were the only thing really local in my cup!)
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1. Sift the ingredients into a bowl. (Or work it together with your fingers till smooth.) If any salt or sugar gets left in the sifter, just pour it into the cocoa mix and whisk to blend. Keeps indefinitely in a lidded jar.
2. To make hot chocolate, use 2 tablespoons per cup of hot milk. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Makes 2 1/2 cups mix, enough for about 20 cups of cocoa.