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Melissa

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99% Cacao Dark Chocolate

My name is Melissa. I live in the St. Louis, Missouri area and work for the US Government in the field of aviation.

When I’m not doing something airplane-related, I enjoy cooking and baking, dabbling in photography, and find I spend way more time than necessary on the internet.

How long have you been a Daring Baker/Daring Cook and what’s your favorite thing about being in the group(s) so far?

I have been a member of the Daring Kitchen for only a few months, but have wanted to join the group for quite some time. I love the idea of making something new and different every month.

What’s your favorite kitchen appliance?

I can’t live without KitchenAid. I scraped together the cash to buy a giant KA stand mixer while I was still in college. That was probably around ten years ago and the mixer is still going strong (and believe me, I give it a workout). I more recently acquired their wide-mouth food processor and now I’m not sure how I lived food processor-less for all these years.

Are you known for making a certain dish or dessert? If so, what is it?

Anything involving chocolate! I even named my blog after it (although there’s more than just chocolate desserts posted on it). Cake, cream pies, brownies, cookies, you name it. On the savory side, the family says I’m pretty good at pulling together something-out-of-nothing dinners, too. (You know, what’s in the fridge – what can we make out of it?) Those are harder to blog about because the quantities are less consistent and I’m not the greatest at remembering to write down *exactly* what I did to achieve the final product.

Is there any recipe and/or technique that we haven’t covered yet that you’d really like to make/learn?

I’d like to learn to make tortillas…or perfect puff pastry…or become more skilled at decorating with a pastry bag…

What’s your favorite cookbook for desserts/baking? What’s your favorite cookbook for savory/cooking?

For day-to-day cooking, I do find I go to my Martha Stewart cookbooks if all I want is general menu inspiration. In particular, for quick weeknight meal ideas, I often refer to her Everyday Food magazine and cookbook. The internet is a pretty useful resource too – I’m on epicurious.com quite a bit. I have “serious” cookbooks too – Bo Friberg’s Professional Pastry Chef is valuable if I really want a showstopper of a dessert.

What’s your favorite flower and/or plant?

I have a little garden of herbs which I keep in planters on my patio steps. I’m not the greatest at gardening, but the herbs end up being much less expensive and much better tasting than the available store-bought versions are. I have been experimenting with my pineapple mint plant lately, but basil is probably my favorite herb. I love pesto.

What is the ultimate comfort food to you?

I know this is kind of childish, but to me there’s nothing quite like Macaroni & Cheese. Warm, creamy, gooey, cheesy pasta…

Who taught you how to cook and/or bake?

I learned to cook at a very young age by watching my mom cook. Although I was probably playing more than I was helping, I think I learned a lot of the basics just by being there to soak it all in. My sister and I played restaurant as we grew older, but we’d often argue over the proposed menu more often than we’d do any actual cooking. I didn’t really start creating my own (edible) meals until about the time I moved out on my own. I still consult my mom for ideas and opinions all the time.

What’s your favorite holiday and why?

Strictly considering the food, I love Thanksgiving because I love to host and cook the meal. It’s a great excuse to come up with something ridiculously elaborate and fun to make. It’s a production: I start cooking days in advance. I enjoy coming up with unique twists on traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

You can visit Melissa on her blog 99% Cacao Dark Chocolate