avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

Avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

A couple of weekends ago we did something crazy, we went out and bought a power boat. After an endless wait of two weeks (which isn't that long but we are both terribly impatient), the boat was finally delivered to D.C. late last week and of course, we spent every day of the entire weekend taking it out on the Potomac. As a kid, I'd been on the ocean on a few ships and a fishing boat once but this was much different. Fresh waters are so different from the sea and it smells less too which is nice, though I would not mind the ocean one bit! Snoopy is still adjusting and we hope that eventually (more like sooner) we can stop carrying him on and off the boat as he is too scared to make the jump himself and believe me carrying 45lbs on and off a boat after a few days is tiresome! On day one he whined a bit which I assumed to be his getting acclimated to an unfamiliar rocking motion on the boat (while we were docked), however by day two, he barked to say hi to every person that passed by. He enjoys the speed of the boat once it picks up and likes to stretch his head out to sniff the air and catch the wind. Snoopy is still struggling with the existence of some of the wildlife such as the flying herons and the swimming ducks and I think he will soon come to terms with it. He likes to do things at his own pace. Our dog runs our life, house, and now the boat!

boat

I'm curious to learn fishing but for now one license at a time is good, first I need to get my boating license so I can learn to drive. It is interesting to see how the waters get so busy here but I enjoy the people watching part while they boat and kayak their way through. More than anything, I am really looking forward to docking in Old Town Alexandria and eating out at some of the waterfront restaurants. 

Snoopy on the boat

I've been trying to do better this year by consuming a few avocados a week to gain some healthy fat in my diet. Consequently, avocados were bound to make their way into my food and they did just that by occupying a spot in these delicious dark chocolate madeleines. This was my first time baking madeleines as well as using avocados as a butter substitute. Everything turned out delicious and I was excited to use my madeleine baking pan that I found at an antique store in North Carolina a few months back. To stick with theme of using less fat, I sprayed the pan's molds with a light neutral cooking spray oil which worked out perfectly, instead of greasing it the traditional way with butter. Make sure you use a soft and ripe avocado and puree it to complete smoothness to avoid any fibrous textures or clumps of avocado meat. Since the traditional technique to prepare madeleines involves the use of melted butter, I warmed up the avocado puree in a water-bath to help solubilize some of the fat. Another tip while working with the batter, spoon it in and spread it a little to fill the mold, it will rise during baking and puff up well. 

butter-free madelines1

Overall the entire weekend was a set of first firsts for me and each one of these experiences from boating to my baking experiments. I've realized that I am always happy when I bake!

madeline pan and avocado1

avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

yields: 16-18 large madeleines

ingredients

3/4 cup unbleached cake flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a little confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. 
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and keep aside. 
3. Mash and puree the avocado to get a smooth paste (you can use a food processor for this). Seal the puree with cling film in a glass bowl and place the bowl with the puree in a warm-water bath at 70C till use (this helps to melt out some of the fat and make it smoother).
4. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs for 5 minutes on medium speed until light and foamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk for an additional 5 minutes on medium-high speed until thick and creamy. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand mixer. 
5. Sift the flour-cocoa mixture into the whisked eggs and carefully fold the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula using a circular motion. Fold the pre-warmed avocado puree into the batter. 
6. Generously coat a madeleine baking pan with a neutral cooking oil spray. Spoon and spread out the cake batter into the molds. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The madeleines are baked and ready to be removed when the center is firm and springs back when pressed with the fingers. Remove the madeleines from the tray and allow them to cool on a wire rack. You can store them in an airtight container.
7. Before serving, dust the madeleines with a little confectioner's sugar using a sieve. 

damson plum clafoutis


Last week was a fun. We had a wonderful cookout as a sort of "bon voyage" for a few of our close friends that are going off on a long holiday to the Mediterranean coast. My friend Eduardo made us these wonderful Argentinean Alfajore cookies that were dusted sugar for the dinner. I fell in love with them because of their salty and sweet flavors against the caramel taste of the dulce de leche. I had a couple of left-over cookies from the dinner that I stretched out during the entire week to dip in my coffee. Needless to say, I was marveled by my own self-restraint over the cookies. These cookies made me a stronger human being!


I have to say I am excited about labor day weekend and I do wish we had more longer holiday weekends here. National and public holidays need an update and it would be good to increase their number. Last weekend I had picked some fresh Damson plums at the Dupont Circle's farmer's market. They look like large blueberries and have a wonderful sweet juicy flavor. You want to get plums when they are firm and ripe. If they are too soft, the texture becomes mushy and intensely sour. I normally just discard the overripe plums and use only the firm ones that are just right to eat or cook with. I completely forgot about these plums and had them sitting behind in my refrigerator. Honestly, I had no burning desire to eat that many plums straight-up and I thought of a few ways to incorporate them into a dessert. 


A couple of years ago I made a French batter pudding called Clafoutis using fresh cherries. Though cherries are traditionally used to make this pudding, I figured that these sweet delicious Damson plums would be perfect in this pudding. I like this pudding because it is easy and simple. It also has a very beautiful rustic look to it and the colors of the fruit juices spread through the pudding forming little delicious red craters. 


This batter pudding will rise during baking in the oven and then slowly sink as it cools. You should serve it warm with a generous dusting of icing sugar. It also goes wonderful with hot tea or coffee. This recipe has been adapted from "The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook"


damson plum clafoutis

ingredients

butter for greasing baking pan
1 lb damson plums
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar for dusting 

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Lightly grease a 9 inch diameter baking pan with the butter. 
2. Wash and slice the plums, remove and discard the pit from the center. Flip each plum and place the skin side upwards in the greased pan. Cover the base of the pan with the plums in a single layer. 
3. Sift the flour once in a mixing bowl, break open the eggs and add to the flour. Whisk until smooth. Add the sugar, milk, cream, and melted butter by whisking until completely combined. Do not overbeat the batter. Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the pudding. Allow the pudding to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. It should be warm but not hot before serving. Generously dust the confectioner's sugar over the clafoutis before serving (you don't need to use all of it just a little).