Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Mouth Watering Experience

I first made the discovery of the Bacon and Chocolate combination while wandering around SoHo in New York City last year. I stopped into Vosges on Spring Street to browse the latest and greatest in Chocolate trends, as you do, and was wowed by the new top seller, Bacon Chocolate, (they even dedicate an entire page to it on their web site!)

Now I personally am not a fan of bacon. I never eat it, don’t like the taste of it, don’t like the smell of it. My mouth will not water upon discovering that someone has woken up and cooked me bacon. I might just hit them over the head for poisoning my home with those smells, but novelty is something I am a big fan of, and so of course I found myself purchasing two bars – one dark chocolate, one milk.

The chocolate that made the factory un-kosher

I knew I had a good audience to test this product on – my bacon-loving boyfriend – and I was not disappointed by his excitement at the find. Of course I had to take a nibble, and was quite surprised to find that Bacon Chocolate is both delicious and crave-worthy! It is not so much the bits of bacon you find scattered throughout as the saltiness they add to the chocolate that catches you and sets your sights (and stomach) on more.

So with this thought in mind, I decided to be a thoughtful girlfriend, and in preparation for A’s arrival to Berlin 2 weeks ago, I made him Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, (a mouth watering experience.)

The process began by taking about 8 strips of bacon and frying them on the stove with oil. I have never made bacon before, so this was a first experience, but from what I gather you simply wait for the edges to curl and crisp up, so that the bacon has a nice crunch. I then set the bacon on a plate covered by a paper towel to let the grease drip and to let it cool. 

I then moved on to a typical Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (you can pick your favorite, but this is definitely mine!) The ingredients are:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups  Chocolate Chips (of course on their recipe they say to use Nestle Chocolate Chips, but I am in Germany and bought generic!)

They also say you can add in nuts, if you choose. I never really like chocolate chip cookies with nuts, and I knew I was adding in bacon, so I abstained. My kitchen assistance, Kora, helped me to mix up the ingredients for the cookie dough – mixing together the dry ingredients first (flour, baking soda, and salt,) 

Flour, etc

and then by melting butter and mixing it in with the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the vanilla extract. Eggs were then added in one at a time and she gradually poured in the flour et all to the mix.

Ingredients for Making Bacon Chocolate Goodness

While Kora was mixing the dough, I was cutting the bacon strips into small, crunchy morsels. We then mixed in the bacon bits and the chocolate chips to the (delicious) dough. I had to add in a bit more flour, as I think my measurement of butter may have been a little bit off and it needed to be less liquidy for baking. But once I got the right combination of moist, but not wetness, the dough was ready for action!

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

I preheated the oven to about 170 Degrees Celsius (about 350 F) and put the cookies onto greased baking sheet (even though the directions say ungreased…it’s a new oven and I had no idea how it would work on this dough, so I took my chances.) I discovered that my larger cookie sheet did not fit into my new oven, and attempted to make half the batch in glass and the other half in the small cookie tray I own, so the first round came out a bit mishapen and funny looking, (though no less delicious!) The cookie tray needed to cook for about 9-11 minutes, and the glass pans took a little extra time. I still follow the “stick a toothpick in it and if it comes out clean, it’s done” method of cooking.

Poor Mishapen Deliciousness

But my second attempt, with extensive learning from the first, gave me perfectly round, delicious, Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. No one believed me that they would be delicious, but I brought some in to my German class and to the office and people were impressed, mostly by the salty flavor infiltrating the sweet sugary chocolate. Most importantly, my surprise cookies were a hit with A and his friend, who had just traveled 5 hours in the rain from Prague to get to Berlin and were in need for something delicious.

Moral of the story, Bacon and Chocolate go together.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies!

A Ray Worth Celebrating

Since moving to Berlin in March, I have experienced a wide array of weather conditions. It started out cold and heavy jacket worthy, and then soon moved into one of the most beautiful springs I’ve had in a while. Trees and flowers bloomed, green sprang up all around the city, people were roaming the streets content in the sunshine.

Then about midway through June something changed. The weather in Berlin started to take a downward turn, giving us some days at 85 degrees and others at 50. I thought this was manageable so long as the 85 and sunny days were mixed in intermittently. But for about the last month (or more) I have found myself always with an umbrella and rain coat in hand, (and plenty of plastic bags and paper towels for when I come to work on bike.)

Berliners call it crazy, it’s never been this bad, they don’t know what’s happening. My colleagues call it climate change. And I call it depressing! 1 month of neverending rain, well that is not actually accurate, since it is just rain everyday, but not for the entirety of the day. There may be 1 hour of bright hot sunshine sprinkled in to 20 minutes of torrential downpours. It is truly just crazy and unpredictable. Even when the weather says 20% chance of rain and bright sunshine, you are bound to wake up to raindrops on your patio, or to get heavily sprayed at lunchtime

So with this crazy weather in mind, and a forecast claiming gray skies and rain all weekend, I managed to snap this beautiful and serene shot while at Tiergarten Park in Western Berlin last weekend. It was as though the rain was never threatening, and sunshine was abound for the true summer season.

A gorgeous day in Tiergarten

A Chai to Die For and Other Berlin Cafe Adventures

Since I started my language classes in Rosenthaler Platz, I have been casually eating my way around the neighborhood during my 10:30 break. Given that it’s so central, there are a ton of great cafes and delis in the neighborhood, and I have succeeded in trying the Chai Latte in at least…all of them. I should probably just start a ranking for all of the Chai Latte places throughout Berlin, since I am completely addicted (and yes, I recognize and admit that my favorite brand of Chai powder that is most frequently used around the city comes from California.) However, I feel it would be prudent of me to give my reviews of Chai, and other things for those navigating the ecclectic world of cafe dining in Berlin to help narrow down your choices when you just want a bite to eat, or a cafe to lounge in for a few hours. Let’s start with the good, the great even – and then I’ll let you in on the list of the ones you can pass up without guilt.

Starting with…

 Cafe Syndicato on Weinbergsweg almost at the corner of the plaza. This has quickly become my favorite cafe in Berlin. It is cozy with clean and simple “farmhouse white” furnishings, and tables outside so you can enjoy the warmer weather and watch the foot traffic passing you by.

The Good Stuff!

Guilty Pleasures: Chocolate Croissant – I have yet to try one from this cafe that has not tasted fresh out the oven, with delicious chocolate that doesn’t threaten to overspill the croissant, but stays put waiting for each determined bite. The croissant itself is perfectly flakey and sweet to compliment the warm chocolate. And then the Chai…Oh, the Chai! I don’t know what they use to mix this up, but I can categorically say it is the best Chai I’ve had in Berlin to date. I can’t get enough and find myself wandering blindly over to Syndicato almost daily just to get a hit of it. Any downsides? Just that there is no WiFi, which doesn’t bother me, (and is actually quite common in Berlin,) but might discourage some tourists.

Relaxing at Cafe SyndicatoQuiet, Pretty AtmosphereThe Good Stuff!

Quiet, Pretty AtmosphereThe Good Stuff!