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Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

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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This month’s challenge was to make sourdough bread! I had heard terms thrown around in the past about sourdough “starters” but had no idea what this actually involved. It’s pretty gross, actually. You basically mix water and flour together and let it sit in a warm place for a while, while “feeding” it every day to keep it alive and well. It ferments and bubbles, and eventually becomes so aerated and bubbly that it takes the place of yeast in the bread recipe!

It’s pretty amazing, actually, that you can create something that’s alive from just flour and water. My starter became my little pet for the week, as I had to take good care of it, make sure it didn’t starve and wasn’t too cold or hot. It was my baby.

Unfortunately I didn’t plan it very well. You were supposed to grow your starter for 4 days and then make the bread on day 5. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make it til I got down to Nate’s mom’s house for Christmas…so I stuck my starter in the fridge. I checked with the Daring Baker’s forum to make sure this step was ok and they assured me it was fine. I was just told to “freshen” the starter the day before I’d be using it.

On Friday I carefully packed up my starter to take to work with me, as I was going to be leaving on the train to Delaware directly after work. I knew it would be fine since it was meant to be at room temperature. The next night, in preparation for making the bread on Sunday, I freshened the starter. I think I must have added the wrong proportion of flour to water, though, as it seemed thinner than it was before. This was mistake #1 I think.

The next day I followed the directions, making the leaven and letting it sit for 4 hours to bubble. I think something happened in this step because 4 hours later I looked at it and there was no bubbling going on. I should have just given up here but I wanted to keep going.

I made the dough, but added 1/2 cup more water than I was supposed to. Oops! I tried to cover it up by adding more flour but knew this was the beginning of the end.

I left the dough to rest but it didn’t really bubble or increase in size. Because sourdough bread doesn’t use yeast, the doubling in size and aerating is kind of important. However, I knew I needed to finish what I started so I could at least get pictures of my sad attempt at sourdough…so I persevered.

When I went to put the dough on the sheet pan, I realized that it was waaay too thin and would never hold a loaf shape on a pan. I knew the bread wasn’t going to come out correctly at this point, but I put it in a cake pan instead and hoped for the best.

The bread did rise in the oven a bit, but for the most part it remained dense. When I took it out of the oven it felt like a brick.

In the end, the bread tasted a bit like sourdough but had a dense, doughy consistency rather than being light and airy. I kind of enjoyed it as I like doughy bread, but since it was most certainly not correct, I threw the rest out.

I thought about saving the rest of the starter to attempt it again in the future, but I really don’t think I have the patience. Hopefully the next challenge will go a little better!

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

This recipe is long and involved. Rather than type it all out here, I will link you to the Daring Bakers site when it’s up.

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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

Print this recipe!

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

Print this recipe!

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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This month brought another challenge to my kitchen thru the Daring Bakers.

You may be curious what exactly a Sans Rival is. It sounds like some sort of enemy.  Luckily, this wasn’t a 10 hour long process, but instead a fairly simple dessert.

A Sans Rival cake is a popular Filipino dessert. “Sans rival” means “without rival” and any Filipino will argue with you that this is true. Although it’s one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines, its origins are certainly French. In the 1920’s to 30’s there were many Filipinos who went abroad to study. A good number went to France and learned many French cooking techniques which they then brought home. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting.

As usual, however, it didn’t come out exactly as planned. While the flavors were delicious, I somehow didn’t get my meringue to completely crisp up. It was still tasty but we had to eat the center portion with a fork and knife 🙂

I did a slight variation on the original recipe. While the host, Catherine, already altered the traditional recipe by adding cocoa powder to the meringue, she kept the original cashew nuts as the flavoring for the frosting.

Because I made the meringue chocolate, I thought what better nut to pair with it but peanut! I used chopped peanuts around the outside and also substituted peanut butter for part of the butter in the buttercream frosting. I have to say that the frosting was an awesome combo…definitely a great idea, if I do say so myself. I seriously couldn’t stop sticking my finger in and eating it straight up.

If you do nothing else but make this peanut butter buttercream, you won’t be sorry. I think I may make a double batch of it to top a regular old chocolate cake.

Blog-checking lines: Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

Notes:
• Brushing the parchment paper with some oil will help you to peel it off after the dacquoise is baked.
• Do not grind the nuts down to a fine flour/powder. This recipe is better with the nuts in a grainy/sandy grind.
• It is important to peel off the parchment within a couple of minutes of it coming out of the oven. Certainly while it is still warm.
• After removing the paper, return it into the warm oven to dry out more as the oven is cooling down. You want crunchy layers.
I halved the below recipe and rather than cooking the meringue in cake pans, I piped it into four 6-in circles on parchment lined cookie sheets 

Sans Rival:
Servings: 12
Meringue:
10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted peanuts

Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.
1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)4. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.(Note the more finely ground for folding into meringue. The coarsely ground for is decoration of finished cake.)5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Peanut Butter Buttercream:
(recipe by Me)

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 sticks (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Preparation:
Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add peanut butter after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.

Assembly:
Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is easier to cut cold. May freeze.

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Nate, his mom, and I are up in Cape Cod this weekend for the marathon. He’s taking a break from his usual full marathons and only running the half. Yeah, this is like a piece of cake to him. Meanwhile, I doubt I could even run 1 mile right now.

I totally forgot about posting this for the Daring Bakers today so I’m getting this post up quick.

In case you were wondering, Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa), is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is usually served during the holiday season. It is also known as Nutroll, Potica, Kalachi, Strudia, just to name a few.  I’m not sure if it’s related to Babka, but it seems very similar to that as well. Each loaf is filled with a sweet filling and rolled, and weighs an amazing 2.5 pounds!

The traditional filling for this bread is an English walnut filling, but other typical fillings also include apple/cinnamon, apricot preserves, and a sweet cheese (like cream cheese). I chose to make one traditional and one with a chocolate twist on the traditional.

The recipe called for ground walnuts, but I used chopped, and it really messed up the traditionally-filled one. Rather than having a sweet paste in the middle, the sugar got absorbed by the dough and I was left with just a nutty bread.

For the chocolate one, I replaced one cup of the nuts with a cup of dark chocolate chips and decreased the sugar amount by half. It was mighty tasty!

You’ll have to excuse me for not writing much, as we’re about to head out to get dinner! Anyway, I took off work today and tomorrow so I’m psyched for this long weekend 🙂

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

The recipe was long and detailed, but if you’d like to make the recipe, visit here

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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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