Tag Archives: chocolate

S’mores Cupcakes

19 Apr

S'mores CupcakeMy favorite part of summer is sitting around a campfire and eating s’mores. After a long day of swimming and running around, there is nothing better than curling up in a flannel blanket, watching the night sky and consuming this sticky delight. The smell of toasting wood, combined with the fluff of the marshmallow melting into the creamy chocolate that’s barely being supported by crisp graham crackers is a staple at any outdoor gathering. I always compete with others to see who can get their marshmallow the most caramelized without burning it, dropping it, or setting it on fire. Naturally, there are always a few fluffy casualties in the process.

Making s’mores indoors has never been a successful experiment for me. I’ve blown up far too many marshmallows in the microwave. Plus, I miss the smell of the firewood that goes along with the great taste. As a quick fix to tide me over until summer arrives, I came up with the S’mores Cupcake to satisfy my cravings. Although I can’t promise an authentic camping experience from consuming one of these, it will make you feel better until you can get your hands on the real thing.

If you had any meringue left over from making our Lemon Meringue Pie, you can use it to top these cupcakes!

S’mores Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcake

1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk
4 graham crackers

In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder and the water until the cocoa powder is dissolved and let the mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, and a pinch of salt. In another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the whole egg and the egg yolk, mixing until batter is smooth. Alternate adding cocoa with flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.
Crumble graham crackers and add 1 1/2 Tbsp to each unlined cupcake pan. Press graham cracker down firmly and fill the rest of the tin with the cupcake batter; about 2/3 full. Bake in a 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meringue

6 egg whites
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of cream of tartar

Whip whites and cream of tartar until frothy, and slowly stream in sugar. Whip until glossy, soft-peaks form.

Assembly

When completely cool, top with meringue. Happy Trails!

Mexican Hot Chocolate

29 Mar

Mexican Hot Chocolate

I can already predict that after Easter my apartment will remind me of Willy Wonka’s factory. I will be knee deep in chocolates that I know will last me until Halloween, unless I start using them in the kitchen. One of my favorite chocolate-centric recipes is a Mexican Hot Chocolate.

When I was 17, I left home for the first time to become a brand-new student at culinary school. Being an only child, this wasn’t as easy as I expected. One day, I was feeling particularly homesick. On top of that, I was in kitchen class and it seemed that everything was going wrong. I kept burning my sugar and over whipping my eggs. I was seriously overwhelmed.

When all hope seemed lost, a very kind classmate brought over a steaming mug to my station. I looked down and there was a thick cup of cocoa with a sprinkle of cayenne. I took one sip and I was instantly warmed from the inside out. The gentle spices and creamy chocolate instantly made the kitchen a little less scary.

The amount of spice is just a guideline, you can make it as spicy or as mild as you want. You can also add whipped cream, or a cinnamon stick for flare. If you’re feeling gutsy, you can also add a splash of rum or Bailey’s liquor.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
2 oz chocolate (I like 70% for this but Hershey Kisses are great too!)
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Heat milk on stove until hot (don’t boil). Add spices, pour over chocolate. Stir and sip!

Whoopie Pies

15 Mar

moonpies

Whoopie Pies, also affectionately known as Moon Pies, were definitely a childhood favorite. These chewy, chocolate cookies cushioning a pillow of marshmallow fluff were the coveted snack of my elementary school lunchroom days. Luckily, becoming friends with Shauna meant that I had a constant supply of my favorite goody.

I’m going into my archives for this recipe which comes from Shauna, who was the queen of Whoopie Pies. Her’s were by far the best and most desired by classmates. We would hide them under our desks during class so we wouldn’t get caught snacking by the teachers.

I’ve seen versions of this recipe where people use frosting or buttercream filling, but there’s nothing like chewy, sticky marshmallow fluff for a Whoopie Pie. I definitely give this recipe an A+.

WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 stick soft butter
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 cups marshmallow fluff

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add egg and mix on low until combined. Alternate adding ⅓ of dry ingredients and ⅓ milk as to not overwhelm and clump mixture. Repeat on low speed until batter has barely come together. Spoon onto greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and sandwich with fluff.

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

25 Feb

SONY DSC

I’m going to confess something: I have a really bad habit of buying really nice loaves of fresh-baked bread with all the good intentions of making delicious sandwiches and then totally forgetting about them. This past weekend, my guy Stephen was pretty bummed when he went searching for bread and found a dry, week-old slab that just wasn’t cutting it as sandwich material. It seemed like a total loss until I found some chocolate chips lying around and decided that making bread pudding was the perfect apology and fix for such a sad situation. I grabbed a serrated knife and got to work. A little while later, I had a much happier companion and no stale bread!

Not only is this recipe great for using up older bread (fresh bread is perfectly okay too!), the add-ins and even the type of bread can be different every time. For example, chocolate brioche with dried cranberries makes an amazing wintry treat, or you can use sourdough and add nuts. If you really want to go out on a limb, cut the sugar amount in half to make a savory bread pudding; sausage and fennel with a cheddar cheese topping is my favorite. The options are unlimited.

For this recipe, the temperature is set to 325 degrees, but I prefer to aim lower at 300. It’ll take a little longer, but it will ensure that your eggs don’t overcook and nothing burns. You will also have to use a water bath, but don’t worry; find a baking dish that the bread pudding will sit comfortably in, set it in the oven and pour water to fill the pan, only halfway up. When it’s time to take it out, use oven mitts to extract only the pan with the bread pudding in it. Leave the water bath in the oven until it cools and can be safely taken out without burning yourself. Also, the timing on this has a little wiggle room since the bread needs about 15 minutes to really soak up the custard mixture.

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups of cubed bread (I like using challah for this recipe because it’s a rich bread)
3 eggs
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup chocolate chips

Combine all wet ingredients and spices and whisk together well until it is a smooth mixture. Put bread in 6-8 inch pan and pour egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle chocolate chips and put in a 300 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm!

Valentine’s Day Dessert – Chocolate Pavlova

13 Feb

photo

With Valentine’s Day comes the planning, sending (or receiving) flowers, buying candies, picking out overly-sentimental greeting cards, and of course assembling a killer outfit. It’s enough to make even the most sane person go a little crazy. But even after all of that is figured out, you still have a tiny problem: what can you possibly serve for dessert?

The solution is a chocolate pavlova. A delicious and quick treat, it’s bound to impress your date, your friends, and your taste buds. It’s simple, but will have even the most finicky foodie falling in love. This baked meringue boasts a hard shell with a chewy center that’s surprising and satisfying. I like to finish mine with a deliciously light orange mascapone cream and a sprinkling of candied pistachios.

Chocolate Pavlova with Orange Cream

Pavlova

8 1/2oz egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp vinegar
1tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa
2oz 55% chocolate

Orange Cream

2 cups mascapone
1 orange juice & zest
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cream

Pavlova

Sift all dry ingredients (except cream of tartar) and set aside. Put whites in medium bowl/ mixer and set to medium speed. When lightly frothy, add cream of tartar. Slowly stream in sugar and whip until soft peaks form in the meringue. Stream in wet ingredients, mix until combined and remove from mixer. Gently fold in sifted dry ingredients. Spoon dollops (you can vary the size to your liking) on a siltpat or a sheetpan with parchment. Bake for about 7-9 minutes or until hard shell forms.

Cream

Lightly whip all ingredients together until cream is smooth & can hold it’s shape.

Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Norwegian Crunch

17 Dec

IMG_8569

The holidays are a great time to let yourself indulge in all of those rich foods and sweets you probably wouldn’t normally eat with frequency.  Norwegian Crunch is one of my favorite holiday indulgences and a special treat I have enjoyed since my mom scribbled down the recipe from a friend years and years ago.  Now, I am in charge of making this delicious toffee-like bar.  It’s an easy recipe that yields an abundance of this decadent dessert.  Norwegian Crunch is also the perfect treat to wrap up in a box or tin and give out as a gift to loved ones during this time of year. Continue reading

You can’t go wrong with chocolate (especially Halloween chocolate)

1 Nov

“Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.”

-Jo Brand

Speaking of chocolate: Here is our food writer Emily’s go-to Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe for banishing cold weather blues and using up holiday chocolates!

Thin Mints (Obama’s Favorite Girl Scout cookies)

15 Sep

Despite living in the White House and being the president of the United States, Barack Obama is just like us.  He rides his bike through town, splashes around at the beach, goes to church, and even buys Girl Scout cookies!  He recently revealed that thin mints are his favorite, and we’ve got a recipe for you to make these cookies at home so you, too, can feel like the president.  They do take a bit longer to make than your average chocolate chip cookie, but they’re so worth it—have you ever heard of anyone making their own thin mints?

Homemade Thin Mints Recipe

Ingredients
For chocolate wafers:

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups cake or all-purpose flour

For chocolate peppermint coating:

1 package mint chocolate candy melts, OR 1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. peppermint extract

Directions

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and continue to cream.  Stir in the vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder.  Mix until the cocoa powder is fully integrated and batter is smooth and creamy; it should look like thick chocolate frosting.  Add the flour and mix until the batter is a little crumbly.  Gather dough into a ball and knead it into a smooth mass.  Divide the dough in 2, flatten into disks, and cover in plastic wrap.  Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Roll dough out really thin, about 1/8 inch, between two sheets of plastic, or on counter dusted with flour.  If dough is too hard to roll, you can microwave it for 5 seconds.  Cut out cookies and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove them and let cool on a rack.

As the cookies bake/cool, you can prepare the chocolate coating.  Using a double boiler, slowly melt the chocolate (or mint chocolate candy melts), stirring occasionally until smooth.  Or, you can heat it in the microwave in short intervals, about 15-20 seconds each time.  If it’s too thick, you can add 1 tbsp of shortening.  Stir in peppermint extract (unless you’re using mint chocolate candy melts).

Carefully drop cookies one at a time into chocolate coating, making sure to coat all sides.  Lift cookie out of chocolate with a fork, and hit fork on the side of the pan to get rid of any extra chocolate.  You want the cookie to have a thin coating of chocolate.  Place cookie on a parchment covered baking sheet, and repeat for the rest of the cookies.  Place cookies in refrigerator/freezer to set.

Adapted from In Katrina’s Kitchen.

Photo by carol (CC-BY-2.5), via Wikimedia Commons

Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies

30 Aug

Though the Bushes have been out of the White House for some time now, and a bit removed from the public eye, Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies are unforgettable.  Imagine if you could combine all of your favorite cookies into one—the result would be the cowboy cookie.  With the mixture of cinnamon, oatmeal, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips, you can’t go wrong.  Your Democratic and Republican friends alike will easily devour the three dozen cookies that this recipe yields.  Serve them at your next get-together (an election day party, perhaps?) or send them with your kid to sell at the school bakesale.  With prep time around 25 minutes and baking time around 20, these will be out of the oven and onto the cooling rack before your episode of The West Wing is over.

Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups packed light-brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Gradually beat in sugars, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.  Beat in vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconuts, and pecans.

Roll dough into balls, about ¼ cup each and put on ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart.

Bake in oven for 17-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Rotate sheets halfway through. Take cookies out of oven and place on rack to cool.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

20 Aug

In honor of Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, I’m posting my favorite recipe for the occasion and the story behind it. My mom has adapted it from Daisy King’s cookbook, Gracious Entertaining, Southern Style.

Will you be celebrating by making your own chocolate pecan pie today?

If you saw my mom on the street, you would think that she’s been a New Yorker her whole life.  But she is a Tennesseean and proud of it, and she loves to remind us every chance she gets.  We tease her about the way pronounces certain words—for example, “pen” and “pin” sound exactly the same but she swears there’s a difference—and the fact that as soon as she’s talking to her relatives or someone else from the south, her accent comes on full force.  She also celebrates her background through her cooking, and when that happens, we all bite our tongues.

Usually referred to as “Kentucky Derby Pie”, a trademark pie by Kern’s Kitchen, is one of the South’s best kept hidden secrets, and when I mention it to my friends up North, I get blank stares in return.  Don’t be fooled by the name; you don’t need your sun hat and pearls to enjoy a slice of pie.  But if you’re feeling fancy, there’s no shame in dressing up.  You just need to love pecans, chocolate, and whiskey.  (Okay, you can’t actually taste the whiskey that much, but if you do like it, it’s a plus). This pie is traditionally made with bourbon; however, as a proud Tennesseean, my mom feels obligated to use Jack Daniels, which is technically a Tennessee whiskey.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Jack Daniels
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 9-inch pie shell
Directions

Preheat oven to 375°.  Cream sugar and butter.  Add and mix eggs, syrup, salt, Jack Daniels and vanilla. Pour pecans and chocolate chips into pie shell.  Pour filling into shell.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

What is your favorite chocolate pecan pie recipe?

Photo by Markmark28 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Common

%d bloggers like this: