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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

February is a month for love….and chocolate.

Or maybe for loving chocolate (sorry, Nate, I’ll go back to loving you in March).

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone or alone, it’s appropriate to treat yourself to some extra chocolately goodness.

Ever since I went with Nate and his family to The City Bakery, near Union Square, I’ve been dreaming of their rich and thick hot chocolate.

They’re really well known for their amazing hot chocolate. In fact, every day in the month of February they have a different flavor of hot chocolate as part of their Annual Hot Chocolate Festival.

But honestly, you really don’t need anything but their original flavor. It tastes like you’re drinking liquid chocolate. It’s seriously amazing.

Anyway, after drinking it I searched online for thick hot chocolate recipes. It’s not the watery consistency of hot chocolate you make from a packet. It’s so thick that you could eat it with a spoon. Consitency-wise, it’s kind of like in between instant hot chocolate and chocolate pudding.

I found this one recipe from Southern Living and finally got around to making it for Nate (and me). It was totally as awesome as City Bakery’s!…which is good to know since they charge $5 a pop.

This month’s #chocolatelove is brought to you by the following lovely hosts:

ASTIG Vegan ~ Richgail ~  @astigvegan
Bon a croquer ~ Valerie ~ @Valouth
Easily Good Eats ~ Three Cookies
Oh Cake ~ Jessica ~ @jesshose

Click here to enter your recipe and view the rest of the bloghop ones!

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Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate
Slighlt adapted from Southern Living

Print this recipe!

serves 4

2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 cups milk, divided
2 (3-oz.) dark chocolate bars (at least 70% cacao), chopped
1/3 cup honey (or more depending on how sweet you like things)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.

Cook remaining 3 1/2 cups milk in a large, nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around edge of saucepan (about 4 minutes; do not boil). Whisk in chocolate, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until blended and smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture.

Bring milk mixture to a light boil, whisking frequently (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. (Mixture will thicken as it cools.) Serve immediately.

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Sorry I’m a little late with these cookie recipes. I realize Hannukah is today and Christmas is this weekend, but maybe you’re a baking procrastinator? I hope so. But you see, I’ve been a busy girl. I found my perfect wedding dress this weekend! And I think bridesmaid dresses too…and I picked a florist. I feel very productive 🙂

Anyway, whenever I’m creating my list of cookies/candy that I will be making for my annual holiday cookie-baking, I try to get a good assortment of flavors.

I feel that it’s necessary to have at least one “seasonal” item, like a spice cookie, something fruity, something nutty, and most definitely something chocolate.

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to my cookie-making. Although I love trying new recipes, when it comes to baking the cookies, I don’t usually have the time or energy to try a new recipe and risk it turning out awful.  Because the cookies I’m making this year are mainly just for Nate and a few lucky friends, I figured what the heck!

For the chocolate cookie, I usually default to a recipe my mom discovered a few years back called Chocolate Truffle Cookies. They are even more delicious than their name implies. But since I wanted to branch out a little bit this year, I went with a different cookie I found in my mom’s recipe box called Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

I wasn’t sure what they’d taste like, but the picture on the notecard indicated a pretty presentation. I think I must have made the cookies a bit bigger than intended, because they took longer to cook, but the result was like a crispy, chewy brownie! It’s going to be a tough call deciding whether I should make these again next year or go back to my old favorites. Luckily, I have 365+ days to decide 🙂

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
From my mom’s recipe box

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makes 4 dozen

2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
4 egg whites

Sift flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a large bowl

In med sized saucepan, combine chocolate and oil on low heat, stirring frequently until just melted. Remove from heat, let cool slightly.

Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla til well blended. Using whisk, beat in egg whites until no lumps of brown sugar remain.

With spoon, gently stir chocolate into dry ingredients just until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 2 1/2-8 hours until firm.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease pans.

Put remaining confectioner’s sugar in bowl. Dusting hands with additional sugar, roll dough into 1″ balls. Dredge in conf. sugar til heavily coated. Arrange on sheets 1 1/2″ apart. Bake 8-10 min til almost firm when tapped. Let stand 2 min. Transfer to wire rack with spatula.

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For as long as I can remember, my mom used to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas vacation making at least 10 different kinds of holiday cookies. It was something I looked forward to every year, both because I loved helping and because my brother and I got to sample them!

When I was younger my mom would package up the cookies beatifully in little boxes or platters and bring them around to all of my brother’s and my teachers (we went to a very small school). When I was grown and out of the house but still in college, I always missed helping make the cookies but didn’t have a big enough kitchen to make them on my own.

So when I finally was in grad school and working at my internship and therefore had a place I could actually bring the cookies, I started the same tradition of my own. I hope to continue doing it when I have kids so that they can have the same wonderful memories I have 🙂

I like to bake at least 8-10 different types of cookies. I make sure they’re all cookies that freeze well since I begin baking several weeks ahead of time.

Sadly this year I couldn’t make as many cookies as I normally do because I’ve been so busy, but a few different kinds did get baked up, and Nate was more than happy to sample them all.

I found this particular recipe in my mom’s recipe box. I’m pretty sure she’s made them before but I couldn’t remember. They were simple to make, and so buttery and delicious! The photos don’t do them justice, as they were taken after taking them out of the freezer. When room temperature or hot out of the oven, they’re super gooey!


Chocolate Pecan-Pie Bars
From my mom’s recipe box

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makes 48

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Caro syrup
1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease bottom and sides of 15″x10″x1″ baking dish.

In bowl, at medium, beat flour, 1/2 cup sugar, butter and salt til course crumbs. Press into bottom of pan. Bake at 350 for 20 min.

In 3 quart pan, stir corn syrup and chocolate on low til melted. Remove from heat. Stir in rest of sugar, eggs, vanilla til blended. Stir in pecans.

Pour filling over hot crust. Bake at 350 for 30 min or til firm around edges but slightly soft in center. Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.

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The weekend that Nate and I went up to beautiful Mohonk Mountain to rock scramble, we also attempted to pick some apples.

Unfortunately neither of us realized that apple season is September til early October and that the apples are pretty much gone by late October (at least in NY). Although it wasn’t quite as fun, they had barrels of apples for purchase. Since I already had my heart set on making some tasty apple treats, we grabbed a huge bag that probably had 2-3 dozen apples.

We also grabbed some hot cider and cider donuts while we were there, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Anyway, I’m not exactly sure what I thought I’d be making with all those apples, but this recipe is one that I made last year and it was so good I knew I wanted to make it again.

The cake is super moist and not too sweet. It could seriously be one of my favorite desserts. So if you still have some apples left from your apple picking, or you just want to make this since it’s so good, head on over to Smitten Kitchen’s website where I got the recipe.

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The weather in NYC is finally starting to feel like it should for this time of year. I’ve had to wear long sleeves AND a jacket, when I only needed one or the other up til now. And I’m loving it!

The leaves are changing, the air is crisp and it smells so good out! Nate and I went up to New Paltz this past weekend to go rock scrambling and the leaves were totally gorgeous. It was quite a hike up to the top, but when we got there, the view was absolutely worth it…

…don’t you think?

Despite working up a sweat during the climb, as soon as we got back to normal walking I was chilled to the bone. Weather like this makes me crave a thick, steaming bowl of something comforting. I’ve been wanting to make chili but Nate doesn’t like beef and we both love vegetables so much that I decided to go vegetarian all the way 🙂

I have to say that this came out a bit less “meaty” than I typically think of chili, but it was good none-the-less. I think perhaps adding more beans would have bulked it up and improved on the lack of meat, but I’m not a huge fan of beans.

You can totally customize this by adding whatever veggies you want. I bet anything would be delicious! I served mine over pasta because Nate needs something besides veggies to fill up his belly…and I happened to have some pasta in the fridge. Over rice would be great too.

*Disclaimer: if you live in a teeny apartment like mine, your whole place will smell like chili for the next week.

Smoky Vegetarian Chili

Recipe by Me

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Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large sweet onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped (or red if unavailable)
2 yellow summer squash, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves separated but both chopped
10 oz. frozen corn kernels, thawed
1.5-2 cups vegetable stock (i actually used chicken but that obviously would make it non-vegetarian)
Three 15-oz cans diced tomatoes with chiles
One 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 bottle dark Mexican bear
2 tsp liquid smoke (can be found in all supermarkets)
Sour Cream, shredded cheese, limes, avocado as desired for garnish

Preparation:

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and saute until they’re beginning to caramelize, about 8 min.

Add squash and garlic, and saute til tender, about 5 min.

Add cilantro stems and tomatoes to pot and bring to a simmer. Add beans, salt, chili powder, cumin, beer and the stock (start with 1.5 cups and add more if you like your chili thinner). Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently until the chili thickens and the vegetables soften, about 30 min.

Garnish as desired, and dig in!

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I was on my way to my friend’s apartment recently, and as usual was running seriously early. I never really understood people who are always fashionably late. I get so nervous that the subway will be delayed or the walk will take longer than expected that I allow WAY too much time.

It doesn’t really bother me, though, because I’m pretty good at keeping myself entertained. Sometimes this involves window-shopping, other times I find a good place to sit and either read the book that I always carry with me, play on my phone (i.e. pretend I’m doing something really important so people don’t look at me weird), or just occupy myself with my own thoughts.


It’s amazing how many random thoughts are going on in my head at any one time. Nate can attest to this, as I blurt out irrelevant things that makes sense to me at the time (Duh, I’m thinking about them!), but make no sense to Nate. He actually caught my incoherent blabbering on video the other day, unbeknownst to me. After watching it played back for me, I gotta say that I feel pretty bad for the guy and don’t know how he puts up with me.

As you can see, I’m very good at going off on a tangent! Aaaaanyway, so the other day when I was early and needed to waste some time in the Times Square area, I saw a store called World of Chocolate and could not refuse a quick time-wasting trip. I have to say, the name of the store was quite deceiving. It was a pretty big let-down considering it was all of about 100-200 sq feet of space and only had Hershey’s products.

While perusing the aisles, I came across a bag of mini Reeses Peanut Butter cups. Not only were they totally adorable (I love anything miniature!), but I imagined they’d be absolutely perfect for a cookie recipe. I was thinking pb or chocolate base but hadn’t made a final decision yet.

So I took these adorable chocolates home and waited til I had a spare moment to create something. I started with the recipe I had created for the Chocolate Chocolate chip cookies, but to add some extra pb flavor, I subbed peanut butter in place of the butter in the recipe. I wasn’t exactly sure whether this would work or not.

As I started to blend the batter I realized how dry and thick it was, so I threw in another egg. Again, I had no idea what this would do.

While the batter was still rather thick, I put giant 1/4 cup balls of dough on the sheets a

nd baked them up. When I took them out of the oven and onto the drying rack I was a little worried since each cookie felt like a brick. I swear, so heavy! So don’t get worried when your cookies turn out heavy too.

At this point I was slightly worried that they’d be all dried out on the inside. But lucky for me, this recipe ended up a win! They were the fudgiest chocolate cookies ever. Nate gave them a giant thumbs up!!

If you can’t find mini pb cups, you could easily chop regular pb cups into 1/4-1/2 inch sized pieces.


Chocolate-Peanut Butter PB Cup Cookies

Recipe by Me

Print this recipe!

makes 18-ish LARGE cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini reese pb cups (or chopped reeses pb cups)

Heat oven to 325 degrees and have racks on upper & lower middle positions. Put parchment paper on 2 oversized cookie sheets (or do it in batches with smaller cookie sheets).

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt & baking soda in medium size bowl. Set aside.

Mix peanut butter,  butter & sugars until thoroughly blended by hand or with electric mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Stir in pb cups.

Roll scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Put ball on cookie sheet leaving 2.5 inches between each ball.

Bake about 15 – 18 minutes, switching sheets halfway through reversing sheets front to back and top to bottom. Cool cookies on cookie sheets. When cool, peel from parchment.

*Note, cookies will be very heavy when cooked!

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For those of you who don’t know, later in this week is Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year.

The traditional food that one eats at Rosh Hashannah is honey, for a “sweet” New Year. So in honor of the holiday, I made this honey cake that my mom recommended.

Honey cakes are very often  made on Rosh Hashannah so there are a lot of recipes going around out there, but most of them are pretty average. I have to say that all the spices in this one made it really flavorful.

I can’t write too much more because this has been a long day…I got engaged!!!! What a sweet way to start off the new year!

So this short post will have to do. I hope you enjoy this, while I go admire my ring 🙂

Levana Kirschenbaum’s Honey Cake

Taken from Levana

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Makes one 10-inch tube/bundt pan

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup honey (see note)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup very strong warm tea (2 tea bags steeped in 1 cup hot water)
1/2 cup ground almonds, optional
3 tablespoons sliced almonds (add only if using the ground almonds)

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon an set aside.

In a food processor, process the eggs with the sugar, honey, and oil, just until combined. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the tea. Pulse 2 to 3 times after each addition, just to incorporate. Add the ground almonds, if desired.

Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch springform pan or tube pan. Top with the sliced almonds, if using. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Invert the cake onto a rack to cool. Turn right side up to serve.

Note: If you measure the oil for the recipe first, then use the same measuring cup to measure the honey, the honey will slide out easily.

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