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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 05/02/14

Friday, May 2, 2014

CHOCOLATE DREAMS!!

Recipe photo







Love deep, dark chocolate cookies? Daydream about crisp, melt-in-your-mouth goodness?

KAF friend and fellow baker Paul Basten, warmly known as "Paul in Ohio" by many, was kind enough to share his chocolate version of our mega-popular Vanilla Dreams. A few test kitchen tweaks, and a chocolate star is born. 

ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baker's ammonia, for best texture; or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa


directions

1) Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2) In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 1 minute, just to bring them together.
3) Combine the vanilla, baker's ammonia, and salt in a very small bowl. Stir to dissolve the ammonia; the salt won't fully dissolve. Combine the vanilla mixture with the butter and sugar, and beat until smooth.
4) Sift together the flour and cocoa. Add to the butter mixture and mix on low speed. The mixture will seem dry at first, but continue to mix for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough comes together.
5) Break off pieces of dough about the size of a large gumball; a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Roll the pieces into balls. Space them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2" between them.
6) Use the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar if necessary to prevent sticking, to flatten the balls to about 3/8" thick. Try using other kitchen items, such as a slotted spoon or a potato masher, to give different imprints.
7) Bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes, until the fragrance of chocolate begins to fill the kitchen. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. They will continue to crisp up as they cool. Store completely cooled cookies airtight for up to 5 days.
Yield: about 4 dozen 2" cookies.

SCOPPIO DEL CARRO FROM ITALY!!!









    The Scoppio del Carro ("Explosion of the Cart") is a folk tradition of Florence, Italy. On Easter Sunday, a cart, packed full of fireworks and other pyrotechnics, is lit and provides a historic spectacle in the civic life of the city.

A Little History on the Festival

    The event of the Scoppio del Carro has its origins in the First Crusade, when Europeans laid siege to the city of Jerusalem in a conflict to claim Palestine for Christianity. In 1097, Pazzino de' Pazzi, a Florentine from a very prominent family, was by tradition, the first man to scale the fortified walls that surrounded Jerusalem. As a reward for this act of bravery, his commander gave him three flints (fire starters) from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which were then carried back to Tuscany. These were and still are kept in the Chiesa delgli Santi Apostoli.













    It became the practice for a "holy fire" to be struck from these flints at Easter tide, which was then carried throughout the city by groups of young men bearing torches. In time, this tradition evolved into something similar to what is seen today.....a cart bearing a large candle was rolled through the city to the cathedral, from where the holy fire would be distributed.
    By the end of the 15th century,the Scoppio del Carro transformed into its present form.
    The ultimate origins of the event may be of pagan origin, since it involves a display of great noise and light to ensure a good harvest. Additionally, farmers from the Florentine countryside still observe the Scoppio del Carro with interest because of this.











The Main Event

    On the morning of Easter Sunday, the 30 foot tall antique cart ( in use for over 500 years), moves from the Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo. Hauled by a team of white oxen, festooned with garlands of the first flowers and herbs of spring, the cart is escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians, and people dressed up in their 15th century costumes.










    Meanwhile, a fire is struck using the historic flints form Jerusalem at ApoChiesa degli Santi Apostoli. It is then carried by the procession to the cathedral square by members of the Pazzi family, clerics, and city officials.
    The cart is loaded with fireworks while a wire, stretching to the high altar inside the churches cathedral, is fitted with a mechanical dove (the "columbina"). Shortly thereafter, at the singing of the song, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo", during Easter Mass, the cardinal of Florence light a fuse in the columbina with the Easter fire.  It then speeds through the church to ignite the cart of fireworks outside.











    During all of these stages, the bells of Giotto's campanile ring out.
The complex fireworks show that follows, last approximately 20 to 30 minutes. A successful display from the "Explosion of the Cart" is supposed to guarantee a good harvest, stable civic life, and good business.