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Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

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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Originally I started this blog because I loved the idea of being able to share my favorite or newly-discovered recipes with others. I love that you can usually know that if a recipe is posted on a blog, it’s a good one and making it won’t be disastrous.

But in posting to my blog for the past 11 months (WOW, has it really almost been a year since I started this thing?!), I realized it has an even better purpose. It has become a place to which I can go to find my favorite recipes and keep things organized.

Before putting in fridge...

For the past couple years, I’ve started new traditions about things that I make on certain occasions. One of those occasions is Christmas Day when I bake cinnamon buns. Last year I scoured the internet searching for a bun that could be made the day before and simply baked in the morning. I combined several recipes, pulling the best parts of each: dough, filling, frosting. They came out perfectly.

So I was upset this year when I realized that I had printed out the recipe last year but hadn’t written it down to save anywhere. I, luckily, had an email trail of when I sent it to Nate and his mom to check it out.

This year, I wanted to share this amazing recipe with you…and now I know that next year when I go to bake these tasty treats again, I will be able to find the recipe in the spot where I now have all of my favorite recipes listed, my blog 🙂


Overnight Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

Print this recipe!

makes 1 dozen rolls

Dough:
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter, softened

Frosting:
4 oz.  cream cheese, softened (1/2 of an 8 oz container)
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 Tbsp milk

Preparation:
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Add the butter and stir until melted; let cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk mixture. Add the sugar, 3 cups of flour, salt and eggs; stir well to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10x 14 inch rectangle. Lightly brush the far edge with water. In a small bowl combine the filling ingredients and sprinkle/spread evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough into a log (it should have the length of the long side) and seal the seam.

Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces; place the pieces in a greased 9×13 inch baking pan, or 12 inch deep dish pizza pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight. *note that they can be put in the fridge for longer than just overnight. I usually put mine in around 4pm.

The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Take the rolls out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes-1.5 hrs. I think that they’re better if they sit out for longer than 30 min because they still have to rise a bit. Don’t expect them to rise a ton sitting out, as they do most of their puffing up while in the oven.

Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine the frosting ingredients; set aside. Spread the frosting over the rolls when they come out of the oven. Enjoy hot out of the oven!

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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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I don’t think she’s going to forgive me for this…

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Nate and I went down to PA this weekend to visit his mom. We also went to an open house at the venue we wanted to possibly use for the wedding and loved it. So we put our deposit down and officially booked the venue and have a date! So exciting. I can’t believe we’re going to be married next October!

While there, we went pumpking picking because Nate had decided that I was going to carve a Where the Wild Things Are pumpkin. There were slim pickins at the pumpkin patch this year. I think maybe all the rain we got wiped out their supply?

I did a lot of walking around and comparing, assessing my canvas, until I found one that would be perfect for carving the image I wanted.

Nate found a good one too.

I spent a little while browsing pictures online til I found one I liked:

I then removed the pumpkin top and scraped it out. I saved the seeds and roasted them with some salt, paprika and garlic powder…taaasty! Totally reminds me of carving pumpkins when I was little because my mom would roast the seeds for us.

Next I sketched out the image freehand on the pumpkin with a pen.

Then I used some wood carving tools I got at Michaels to scrape away the image to the best of my ability. I realized that you have to kind of carve a reverse relief. The parts that you want to look the closest have to be the deepest, and hence the brightest. I found putting the pumpkin in my lap made the carving easiest.

And here’s the final product, all lit up on the front porch!…Nate chose to do a traditional Jack-O-Lantern 🙂

Now, what should I carve next year. Ideas?!

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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

Print this recipe!

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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