Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

Chocolate-Dipped Candied Ginger

Choc_ginger_1 Crystallized ginger dipped into melted dark chocolate

[EDITOR'S NOTE:   The words "chocolate-dipped" and "candied" signal special occassion, or more specifically, holidays, in my mind.  This "recipe" is an example of making a virtue out of pantry necessity.  Any dried fruit is worth dipping into chocolate.  And when the chocolate is good, it's hard to beat.  This recipe is perfect for those last its of random chocolate bars and the "bloomed" (white, dusty surface) of chocolate hanging around on your shelves.  Even though it's a simple dip, keep the chocolate quality good.  Bean-to-bar chocolate makers using good beans make a world of difference. And in a recipe like this where glory rests on the shoulders of two ingredients, it matters.  Brands I like:  Amano, Domori, Amedei, Patric, Valrhona and Pralus.  Let them rest on the baking sheet and serve immediately.  Once hardened you can wrap them into a plastic pouch in half dozen batches and call Christmas neighborly gift giving, good.]

One "simple" truth in the kitchen: simple is always good. Easy is not a cop-out. It's just reality. I pump my fist like Tiger Woods everytime I see a food writer put "Shopping is 50% of cooking," into print. Because it's so true. Buy a few good things and something, intuitively, can come together. Even when there are just two ingredients involved. In this case, crystallized (candied) ginger I bought for the holiday's gingersnaps and dark chocolate (because, well, do I really need an explanation for this one?)...

I came home from work with about half an hour to conjure up an offering for a Slow Food Utah meeting. I keep the company of many good home cooks and professional chefs. When we get together we always eat. And we eat well. So I had to show up with something—good. I poked my head into my small pantry and found the rest of the crystallized ginger and huge block of El Rey dark chocolate. I chucked them into my bag and made it to my friend's house a few minutes before the meeting with the intention to simply serve the things as is, a "rustic chocolate plate" if you will. But, maybe that was too lazy. I figured one step wouldn't hurt my energy level. So as soon I got to my friend Christi's house and had a glass of cava, I chopped up the chocolate and melted the lot in a makeshift double-boiler. (Who actually owns a proper double-boiler anyway?) I gave it a stir to make it shiny and smooth and got to dipping. By the time everyone showed up with the impromptu buffet, I had dipped the last of our would-be dessert. They looked like cartoon coins in their yin-yang way. The gloss muting down to a brown-velvet by the time we got to them at the end of the meeting. Choc_ginger_4 One bite = soft cooked ginger, crunchy sugar crytals, melting tangy chocolate, and the sweetest of heat at the very end.  Try a good hot drinking chocolate for a beverage pairing.