Chocolate Creme Brulee

February 15, 2011

I spent a lot of time in restaurants as a kid. My parents were major foodies back when it was called being a “gourmet.” Creme brulee is one of my dad’s favorite desserts, so I’ve had more than my share of it even though it’s just not a favorite on my own list. He orders it a lot in restaurants. It was everywhere back in the 70s and 80s and seems to be everywhere yet again. The textures are great – crunchy top with cool creamy pudding, but I am a chocolate girl through and through.

Martha to rescue. Martha recently whipped up chocolate creme brulee on her show (this is also in February Living) and I was hooked. Had to try it! And I rationalized, it could be my Valentine’s present to myself since Mr. MarthaAndMe and I don’t really go overboard for this holiday.

The pudding was easy to whip up and it cooked nicely in the water bath. So far so good. I was nervous about making the top though. I don’t have a torch, so I had to broil it. The sugar sort of melted and then hardened. It had the right texture, but not the right color. And a lot of the pudding itself got kind of warm – it only stayed cold down at the bottom.

Despite that, this was good and if you have a torch, it would really be a snap to make. I liked it, but I think I’ve just had too much creme brulee in my life maybe. I would rather just have chocolate pudding!

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Valentine Mystery Hunt

February 11, 2010

I always found Valentine’s Day vaguely disappointing as a kid. Sure, there was a party at school and the little classroom cards (which were disappointing in and of themselves!), but it was always somehow lacking. Some years my grandmother would send me a gift in the mail and that always added some fun.

Once I had kids, I tried to think of ways to make Valentine’s Day fun for them. This evolved into a family tradition we call the Valentine’s Day Mystery Hunt. I buy the kids some small gifts for Valentine’s Day and hide them. Then I write rhyming clues on the backs of extra classroom Valentine cards, which lead them from place to place. They they pick up a new clue at each location and end up going all over the house to find them. The last clue leads them to their gifts. The clues are easy to hide since they are small pieces of paper, so they can be hidden in drawers, under cushions, and even inside cups or socks.  The kids take turns reading each clue out loud and collaborate together to try to decipher where it is sending them next. I always make the clues rhyme, just to make it more fun (and to make them harder to write too I guess!).

Last year I was very busy with work and thought that since they were then 16 and 11 maybe they didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t put together the rhymes and just gave them their gifts. You should have heard the complaining! I guess it’s something they’re quite attached to! So this Valentine’s Day, my kids will be following the rhyming clues again.

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