I love to cook. Love it. It’s the perfect balance between art and science, and when done properly, it can change the mood and atmosphere for those who partake. There’s something primal and organic about it…which may be why I can’t be bothered to properly measure rather than eyeball things. I’ve developed somewhat of a reputation for using 2 key ingredients: cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I feel like they’re “heart” spices; they trigger tastes that warm you to the core. Life’s too short to eat boring or bland food. You’d be hard pressed to find a creation of mine that doesn’t include at least a dash of one of them.
I don’t cook a lot (mainly because I don’t like to do it if I don’t have time to really do it well), but when I do, I seldom use recipes. More often than not, I’m making it up as I go along and then trying to remember what I’ve done at the end. It’s not a fantastic method for passing along recipes, but it works for me.
A few years ago my mom and I came across this place that sells designer chocolates. There were normal ones with cinnamon or nuts, and more creative ones with cayenne pepper or ginger. That, coupled with ogling Johnny Depp a few too many times in Chocolat (the man played a guitar playing gypsy philosopher – aka my ideal man), planted the idea for this next recipe in my head. It’s become a signature, and a fan favorite, so I thought I’d share. (It’s cocoa/powdered sugar based rather than baking chocolate based so that I’ll be able to find the ingredients anywhere in the world at any time of year, so don’t feel left out if you’re across the pond.)
1 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons water
Cayenne pepper (to taste)
Combine powdered ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. The important thing is that you have 4 cups total powdered ingredients, so if you like Milk Chocolate add less cocoa and more sugar, and if you like Dark Chocolate add more cocoa and less sugar. I like really dark chocolate so I’ve been known to use equal parts sugar and cocoa.
Melt the butter. Fold whipping cream and melted butter into powdered ingredients. Mix until smooth. It’ll be a consistency that’s a cross between pudding and play-doh (appitizing, no?). Use water a little at a time as needed to get it to the right consistency. Sprinkle the first of the cayenne during this step so it’s mixed all the way through. Start with a little and taste as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out, so be careful! The desired taste isn’t “spicy,” but enough cayenne to open your taste buds.
Once it tastes the way you want it to, spread it out and let it set. I usually use a wax paper lined tart pan or a springform pan so it’s pretty when I take it out, but if you’re planning to cut into squares or shapes, you can spread it evenly on a cookie sheet or lined cake pan. Smooth the top with a knife dipped in water so that it doesn’t stick. Place in the refrigerator to set. It’ll take at least an couple of hours, but I usually just leave it over night.
Cut and serve! Make sure to warn your friends that it’s Cowgirl Fudge so they aren’t surprised when it has a kick!
Recipe Mondays are fun…this may be the beginning of a trend.