Beyond baking – Real food and drink – cocoa to drink and parmesan puffs to stuff your face

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Sometimes people turn up at my house, and I have to offer them something other than cake. Likewise I sometimes have ingredients around that I need to use. Sometimes these things converge.

Examples…

Why use a nasty powdered mix when you could whip up your own rich, dark cocoa?

Cocoa! (I had a whole lot of milk and cream about to expire after my final bake)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cream

In a small saucepan, mix cocoa, sugar, salt and boiling water. Whisk constantly while simmering mixture for about two minutes. Stir in the milk and heat until very hot but do not boil.

Remove from heat, add vanilla. Add cream to the mixture. Serve. You can garnish with whipped cream, marshmallows, marshmallow cream, chocolate sprinkles, nutmeg, cinnamon or whatever you want.

Parmesan puffs! (I had a bunch of Parmesan and Romano cheeses after Thanksgiving as well as a lot of eggs)

Neutral flavored vegetable oil for frying
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium until 360°F.

While oil heats, mix cheese, flour, pepper and salt in one bowl.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks. Fold in 1/2 cup cheese mixture; add in remaining mixture gently but thoroughly.

When oil reaches temperature, drop batter into oil 1 teaspoon at a time; fry 8 per batch until lightly crisp on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove to paper towels. Serve with marinara sauce.

I can't tell you whether any of this tasted all right… but the ingredients are gone.

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