Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Christmastime is for Cookies again…

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Last year I went kind of crazy with Christmas cookies, but between following Weight Watchers and how busy things have been, holiday baking just hasn’t been a priority. Which is not to say that I haven’t made some delicious treats.

As a repeat of last year, I made Alton Brown’s Paradise Coconut Macaroons. They turned out well again, and David’s still happily munching on them. The one hiccup was that as I went to make the cookies, I realized I was out of sweetened condensed milk. Luckily, I found a substitution recipe online that worked perfectly, using ingredients we already had on hand. Success! Check it out at the bottom of the page if you’re interested.

I also made peppermint bark again, and my friend Cara came over and made mock-turtles. Very tasty, very simple, and with her perfect football-shaped pretzels, very cute. You may hear more about that soon.

But the point of this post is the new recipe I tried this year: Shortbread. The most recent issue of Food Network Magazine had an awesome little pullout booklet of 50 cookie recipes. The gist of the pamplet is summed up here. What I liked about it is that you started with just a handful of classic, straightforward recipes, followed by several creative variations on the same recipe. I took the classic Shortbread recipe and doubled it, making one batch of Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread and one batch of Lemon Shortbread Squares. I tweaked the basic recipe to get the texture that I wanted, and was very happy with the instructions below. It’s for the Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread, but if you want plain shortbread, skip the chocolate dipping steps, and if you want it to have a little bit of bright, lemony flavor, add a little bit of fresh lemon zest with the flour mixture.

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread

  • 2 sticks butter (preferably unsalted. If using salted butter, omit additional salt below)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradhelli)
  • flake sea salt

Beat 2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Whisk 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir into the butter mixture. Press into a buttered 8-inch square or 9-inch round tart pan. Score into strips with a fork, then chill 30 minutes. Bake about 1 hour at 300 degrees. Cool, then slice along the scored lines.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler. Dip cooled shortbread pieces in chocolate, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

  • 1 cup instant non-fat dry milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

In a blender, combine ingredients and blend until smooth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Makes the equivalent of one 14 ounce cane.

      Title: SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK SUBSITUTE
 Categories: Misc, Sauces
      Yield: 1 Servings

      1 c  Instant non-fat dry milk
    2/3 c  Sugar
    1/3 c  Boiling water
      3 tb Melted butter

  In a blender, combine ingredients and blend until smooth. Store in
  refrigerator until ready to use. Makes the equivalent of one 14 oz.
  can.

Chocolat Mint Meltaway Cookies

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

My mom, sister, and my sister’s boyfriend David came over on Saturday to do some baking. They chose a number of tasty treats and then we spent all day making them. It was a long day, but a lot of fun. And I got to try a few different recipes, which is always fun!

This recipe came from my Bon Appetit Cookbook. The finished cookies taste a lot like Mint Milano cookies, which is a good thing. The cookie itself is light and airy, with a soft crunch. We piped the cookies, as the recipe suggests, though I’ve read in other places now that other people just roll them into balls and flatten them to get round cookies. Seems like that would probably work. The ganache we ended up with was a bit thin. Not sure if it’s because we didn’t use as high-quality chocolate as the recipe suggests, or if something else went wrong. We ended up with a thin layer of the ganache, and then because it was so sticky, we just drizzled chocolate over the bottoms, instead of trying to dip the cookies. The instructions below are for the correct method, which I think would turn out prettier than ours. The good news is the cookies tasted fantastic—we didn’t mess that part up!

meltaway cookies

Chocolate Mint Meltaway Cookies
Adapted from
The Bon Apetit Cookbook

Ingredients

For Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For Ganache Filling

  • 1/4 cup whipping cream, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 9 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped (such as Lindt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

For Chocolate Coating

  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (we used chips)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

Directions

For Cookies:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Butter 2 heavy large cookie sheets. Using electric mixer, cream butter and extracts in medium bowl until light. Beat in sugar. Beat in half of flour. Stir in remaining flour. Place the dough into a piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe into two inch ovals onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake until golden brown on edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and cool.

For Ganache:

2. Bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy small saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Mix in extract. Refrigerate just until firm enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

3. Line two cookie sheets with foil. Using a small metal icing spatula, spread 1 teaspoon ganache over the flat side of each cookie. Arrange ganache side up on foil-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.

For Coating:

4. For coating: Melt bittersweet chocolate and vegetable shortening in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from over water.

5. Grasp cookie on sides and dip ganache side into bittersweet chocolate; shake cookie to remove excess chocolate. Place cookie on same sheet, chocolate side down. Repeat with remaining cookies. Chill until chocolate sets, 30 minutes. Remove cookies from foil.

(Can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Refrigerate in single layers in airtight containers. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.).


Halloween Brownie Bites

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

These tasty mini-treats are perfect for bringing along to a halloween party, especially if you’re looking for a healthy option. They’re still brownies, but they’re actually very low-fat and have a decent amount of fiber due to the added pumpkin. (Don’t worry, they don’t taste anything like pumpkin!)

I’m not always a big fan of these low-fat baking tricks, but this one worked out very well. Perhaps because I started with a good quality brownie mix (mmm…Ghirardhelli!)

photo(6)

Halloween Brownie Bites
Makes 48 mini-muffin sized brownies

  • 1 standard brownie mix
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 egg whites
  • sprinkles or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat your oven according to the package directions on your brownie mix. Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with mini-cupcake wrappers. Set aside.

2. Using a the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree and egg whites until well combined. Add the brownie mix  and continue to beat on medium until the dry mix is fully incorporated. Important: Do not add anything else to the mix, no matter what the back of the box says. No oil. No whole eggs. No water. The batter will be very thick, but that’s okay.

3. Scoop into mini-muffin pans. I had enough batter to fill my 24-cup pan twice, and just baked two batches. If you have two mini-muffin tins, you could probably do both at the same time. If you plan to use any nuts or sprinkles, now is the time to add them. I used orange sprinkles  on one pan, and I pressed a walnut half into the top of each mini brownie in the other pan.

4. Bake according to package directions, adjusting the cook time if your package doesn’t call for mini-muffins. The mix I used wanted to be cooked for 40 minutes in a 9×13 pan, but the mini-muffins only took 20 minutes. Just keep a close eye on them. Allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes or so, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: The nutritional information based on the mix that I used and the directions above is 55 calories, 1 gram of fat, and .5 grams of fiber per brownie bite.


Follow Up: The Ultimate Autumn Cookie?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
So, last week, Cara and I tried to bake an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie she’d had once–but all she knew was that the recipe had pumpkin in it. So I researched recipes, but then the store didn’t have pumpkin. You can see how that turned out here. Cara decided to try again, and has been kind enough to share the results here. I tried these “cookies” last night, and they were quite tasty, but at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the crispy cookies. These were soft, and fluffy–more like a muffin than a cookie.
Anyway, Cara’s here to tell you the story of her muffin-top cookies:

Ok, so that title is a little vague because I didn’t want anyone who doesn’t like pumpkin to not click. I generally don’t even like pumpkin myself! Or so I thought. But that was until I had these magnificent Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, introduced to me by an ex-boyfriend.

These puppies are meant to be soft and chewy, bordering on almost cake-like (but not quite) – in other words, the perfect cookie, IMO. Since the ex and I didn’t really stay ~friends~ (hahaha… wait, that’s not funny, is it?), I did some Googling to try to find a similar cookie recipe… and found several different ones. I ultimately ended up Frankensteining a few – perfect for Halloween, am I right?! – to create this delicious fall treat. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)  (Note: most recipes list 1 cup; I accidentally used the whole can, but they taste great!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (I used 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon & 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice – whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cream cheese icing (optional)

Yield: about 3 dozen

Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg in large bow. Mix well.
(Oil will separate; just re-stir before you need to add more ingredients later in the recipe.)

In another, smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Dissolve baking soda with milk, then stir into flour mixture. Next stir in oats.

Mix together flour mixture with pumpkin, slowly adding more flour mix and stirring each time. Mixture will thicken. You should be able to stick your spoon in the middle and have it stand up on its own.

Add vanilla and chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 on a greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes until tops of cookies are dry and spring back when touched lightly (I find 12 mins. on the nose is perfect). Remove from baking sheet and cool on racks.

If you like, while cookies are still slightly warm, ice them with the cream cheese icing (I used the Pillsbury whipped variety). The warm cookie and the melty icing is perfection. Seriously. I’ve never iced them all and then eaten the pre-iced cookies later, so I’m not sure how that would taste, but I have nuked a cook or two in the microwave for a little bit and then iced them to re-create that fresh-out-of-the-oven goodness. Works pretty well actually.

These “cookies” were so moist and crumbly they tasted like the top of a really delicious muffin. Definitely muffintop-ish.

Your turn! Hope you enjoy – let me know if you do!

pumpkin cookie
Thanks for stopping by, Cara. And extra thanks for bringing leftover cookies last night. Yum!

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Though I am generally a pretty good cook, sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. This is one of those times. Luckily, the results were tasty, just not quite what we had in mind. My friend Cara came over to bake something last weekend. She wasn’t too particular, but had an idea of a cookie she’d had once before, and I did my best to cooperate. Except first, I think my recipe wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, and then the grocery store was out of a key ingredient, so I had to make substitutions. The cookies we ended up with were so far from what we initially planned that it doesn’t make sense to talk about what we tried to make. Instead, here’s what we ended up with: buttery, crunchy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

When it comes to oatmeal cookies, I’m more of a raisin girl. I’m also a chewy fan. That doesn’t mean that these weren’t good cookies. Once we got over the initial disappointment, I realized that they were actually delicious. Awesome dunked in milk–kind of like a Chips Ahoy, but with oatmeal.

cookies

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats, uncooked
1 teaspoon baking Soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup applesauce
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheets. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and applesauce, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, until browned and crisp at the edges. Let rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes or so before removing to a metal cooling rack.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

This weekend, David and I attended a wedding in Iowa. On our way out of town, we stopped at a small-town restaurant for “Brunch” which turned out to be just plain lunch. The food was good, if homey, and reminded me of every church pot-luck I’ve ever attended. Green Bean Casserole. Four kinds of Pasta Salad. Brownie bars. Fried Chicken.

I mentioned to my friend Sarah that this was “church-lady food” and she agreed whole-heartedly. This refrigerator pie from The Pioneer Woman is another example of “church-lady food,” which isn’t a complaint! My grandmothers are church ladies, and they make awesome food for pot-luck dinners.

But back to the pie. It was super-easy to throw together, and surprisingly rich. One friend (Hi Cara!) said it tastes exactly like Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal, and she might be right. Again, not a complaint (Yum!). I do have to warn you that it’s rich, however. A small slice is enough!

IMG_2258

Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Pie
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 25 Oreo Cookies
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (chunky or smooth–whichever you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. In a food processor, crush the Oreo cookies until the mixture is all one color and all the white has been incorporated into the crumbs. Place in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with the melted butter. Stir to combine. Press into a pie plate and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until crust is set. Cool completely.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese. Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth. Carefully add the powdered sugar (start your mixer on low to avoid the sugar cloud!) and beat again until smooth. Add the Cool Whip and, once again, beat until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.

Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Chill in the freezer for at least an hour before serving. Let rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before cutting into the pie. Or…well..lets just say your pie won’t be very pretty if you don’t. Right mom? Liz?

Easter Cake Pops!

Monday, April 13th, 2009

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter…I sure did. We went to my Grandma’s house for a big Easter lunch, before heading over to Dave’s Aunt and Uncle’s house. I had a nice time, even though I was pretty tired by the end of the day. After all, I spent most of Saturday cooking…cake pops!

Once again, I borrowed Bakerella’s cake pop method. Everyone loved them!

They were almost too cute to eat!

Almost.

Cake Pops!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I’ve seen these Cake Pops all over the place online…and really, it’s not surprising. Rich, moist balls of cake, dipped in chocolate? Irresistible. They’re adorable, they’re delicious, and honestly, they aren’t that hard to make.

After reading about them for weeks, I finally took the plunge this week and made a batch of these lovely treats to take to work for St. Patrick’s Day. Since I came home empty-handed, I’d have to say they were a hit.

They were really cute…see?

Here’s how to make them:

Chocolate-Covered Cake Pops
Adapted  from Bakerella

  1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (You can use a spoon, but because I dyed my cake green for St. Patrick’s Day, I really needed to mash it all together. I just put on a pair of latex gloves and smashed it up with my hands). Also, you may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to. When the cake was well mixed with the frosting, I added a green food coloring, a drop at a time, until I got the cake to the bright green color I wanted.
  3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)
  4. Melt chocolate in the microwave per directions on package. (30 sec intervals, stirring in between.)
  5. Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert a little less than halfway.)
  6. Place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up.
  7. Once firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too.
  8. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.
  9. T0 make green candy to decorate with, I also melted about 1/4 of a package of candy melts with a small amount of green food coloring to drizzle over some of the cake balls. Others I sprinkled with green sugar crystals or colorful sprinkles.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cake

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I found this recipe on the Food Network website about a year or so ago. I made this for David last winter (maybe around his birthday?) and I knew that we’d be having this again someday. When I was trying to think up a dessert for our big family dinner last weekend, it came to mind again and I thought I’d give it a try. For a cake from scratch, I think it’s very forgiving. This was the first “from scratch” cake I ever made, and I didn’t have any problems at all. I did cheat a little bit when it comes to the garnish, but I don’t think anyone really noticed.

This cake is rich and dark. The texture is heavy like a brownie (not that that’s a bad thing!). If you like York peppermint patties or Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, I promise, you will not be disappointed by this cake. It even looks like a giant Thin Mint cookie!

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cake

Serve with whipped cream, cocoa fudge sauce, and a drizzle of mint syrup.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 14 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) small-diced peppermint patty candies (I used York mini patties, cut into sixths).

Ganache Topping:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Whipped cream, for serving

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Reserve.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whip, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about 5 minutes). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix until just blended. Add the flour, salt, and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. The mixture will be quite thick.

In a clean mixing bowl, with a clean whip, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites and the place batter in the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the cake will feel set and very fine hairline cracks will just start to form around the edges. Remove and cool in the pan on a rack.

To make the ganache topping: Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, cook the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours. You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead, refrigerate it, and allow it to come to room temperature for several hours before using. You can also hasten the cooling process by placing the melted ganache over an ice bath and gently stirring it till thickened; however, the resulting texture may not be quite as smooth and creamy.

Place the cooled cake upside down on a cardboard cake circle or a service plate. Remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, decoratively spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and a drizzle of mint hot fudge sauce.

Note: The original recipe calls for making your own cocoa fudge sauce and mint syrup to drizzle over the cake when serving. I cheated both times. When I made it for David the first time, I used a store-bought mint chocolate flavored hot fudge, which worked well. This time, I made my own mint-flavored hot fudge by adding a teaspoon of peppermint extract to a jar of store-bought hot fudge. It was delicious, and hard to imagine that all the extra work of creating my own sauces would be worth it. Maybe I’ll try it someday though. Of course, homemade whipped cream is best, but I skipped that too. I didn’t want to make my guests wait around all day while I whipped cream for the cake. I think David got real whipped cream the first time though.

Dark Chocolate Fondue

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Mmm, Chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? The crown on our delicious fondue feast from last weekend was a rich, dark chocolate fondue that couldn’t have been easier. Or more delicious.

img_1461

img_1463

Dark Chocolate Fondue

  • 12 ounces dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate (60% ) chips)
  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream

1. Heat the chocolate and cream in a Pyrex bowl over simmering water. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

2. Stir gently until the chocolate and cream are combined, about 3 minutes.

3. Transfer to a fondue pot with heat source lit (or, in our case, a crockpot on warm (not low, warm)).

4. Enjoy!

Note: As I said before, I don’t have a fondue pot, so we had to enjoy our fondue out of a regular old crockpot, with regular forks. So what? It turned out great: rich, dark, and creamy. It gave me another chance to admire my new fancy crockpot from Christmas, also. The multiple inserts were awesome for this; I just swapped crockpot bowls between the cheese and chocolate. I’ll bet your “real” fondue pot doesn’t do that!

I served this chocolate fondue with apples, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, pretzel chips, and chunks of pound cake. Yum!