Tag Archives: chocolate

The Cookie that beats up other Cookies

Recently I was watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Chocolate on the Food Network (one of the few remaining good shows on that network – jus’ saying). And what do you know, there was the Levain Bakery showcasing one of their most amazing and I’m sure incredibly delicious cookies. I don’t know because I’ve never actually had one before. I just keep seeing them on TV and each time I have to refrain from buying a plane ticket to New York for that very same day. This time they were showcasing their Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie. Dear God, I think I may have died and gone to heaven! And, at this rate I am going to have to change the name of this blog to “Let’s Talk Chocolate”. I think that is one of those good problems.

My version of the Levain Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie.

If you know anything about the Levain Bakery, then you probably know they do not share their recipes. Guess their moms never told them sharing is caring. Or maybe they did, except when it involved a cookie that likely makes them plenty of money, in which case, go moms!  Thankfully we have many other talented bakers out there who are willing to share what they believe to be a very close copy cat recipe. I headed back to the blogger who first introduced me to her copy cat recipe, Lisa Michele. Turns out on the very same page as her Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever recipe she also has a Chocolate Peanut Butter cookie, which can easily be adjusted to make a Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie.

And as luck would have it, I had just ordered two new cocoa powders from King Arthur Flour, their Double Dutch Cocoa Powder and their Black Cocoa. I was very anxious to give these cocoa powders a try in the cookie. (If you don’t have these, I’m sure the cookies will still be amazing, but do try to stay away from not-so-great cocoa powder like Hershey’s and store brands. Those poor quality cocoas will have a detrimental effect on your cookie.)

These are cookies, which means they are very easy to make. I used Lisa Michele’s recipe almost exactly, using the max amount of cocoa she suggests but also adding 1 TB of coffee. In order make them incredibly gooey, you will need to underbake them. However, if you aren’t a big fan of underbaked cookies, they will still taste delightful baked longer.

Fair warning, these are probably some of the most intense chocolate flavored cookies I’ve ever had. They could easily be a brownie. And they do require a scoop of ice cream or a big glass of milk. My dear hubby went crazy for these. I’m sure you will too!

Gooey chocolate chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of coffee ice cream.

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Modified very slightly from Lisa Michele

  • 2 sticks cold butter, cubed (cold is very important!)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TB coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 cup dutch process cocoa** SIFTED
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cup AP Flour, spoon and sweep method
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups good quality chocolate (I use guittard)

**I used 1/4 cup + 2TB KAF Double Dutch and 2 TB black cocoa. The black cocoa is not meant to be used all by itself, so you don’t want to use too much. Don’t forget to sift your cocoa powder!

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line sheet trays with silpat or parchment.

2. Scale all your ingredients. Put the butter back in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

3. Cream the butter and the sugar, along with the coffee in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Then add the cocoa powder (turn the mixer to low or off before doing this to avoid a mess!).

5. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chips and mix briefly.

6. Using a scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment. The size is up to you, but you will get a gooey cookie with a crisp crust if they are bigger.

The cookie before baking. Yes, the dough tastes good, I tried it.

7. Bake at 375 for 12 to 18 minutes depending on the size. Since they are chocolate, determining if they are done can be a bit challenging and may require a little experimentation. This experimentation will no doubt involve tasting the cookie. Baking can be such a rough job.

Hopefully someday I will be able to try the real thing. I know they ship, but it isn’t the same as getting it from the bakery. Until then, I will enjoy these fresh out of my oven!

Tip: I think I first read this on Lisa Michele’s blog, but I can’t recall for sure. If you are like me, you might just devour all of these cookies within 24 hours. Not a great idea! So to freeze them, scale them out on a sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, place the dough in a plastic baggie. Then whenever you are ready for a cookie (which is always, right?) just place the frozen dough ball on a sheet pan a bake. No need to defrost!

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Nothing says Love like a Chocolate Souffle

Happy Valentines (Hallmark) Day!

My hubby and I don’t really get into the whole Valentines Day thing. We celebrate year round (yes, we are one of those couples) but I will take any excuse to enjoy some chocolate. And what is more decadent than a chocolate souffle? Mmm. Technically I didn’t make these on Valentines Day, but over the weekend. Monday is a work day, and darn it if Congress hasn’t decided that Valentines Day should be a Federal Holiday. What are they thinking? Don’t they realize that we need to celebrate this Hallmark holiday with souffles?

 

The recipe came from The Bible, aka Bon Appetit Desserts. If you’ve never made a souffle before, you need to change that immediately. A lot of people are intimidated by souffles. They seem complicated. Light, airy goodness must be difficult, right? Wrong! Including bake time, this took me about 30 minutes. And several of those minutes were gathering up the ingredients which I am quite slow doing. You do need souffle bowls – can’t just use any baking cup. Souffle bowls have a straight edge which allows the batter to rise up, giving you the souffle look. But, souffle bowls are insanely cheap. You can find them on Amazon or at Bed Bath and Beyond. And then you can use them as prep bowls when you aren’t making souffles. But that won’t be often since you will want souffle all the time!

This recipe is very, very chocolately. It will satisfy even the pickiest chocolate lover. It actually made me not crave chocolate for at least 24 hours. That’s a long time, in case you were wondering. It is a very romantic dessert.

Now you can easily just have the souffle, or you can top it with ice cream, blackberry would be wonderful. But I wanted something special (and I didn’t have any blackberry ice cream!) so I made a Raspberry Goat Cheese Cream. Oh yeah, it is as good as it sounds. Don’t be afraid of the goat cheese. It is slightly tart but mostly it just adds to the creaminess. If you have friends who don’t like goat cheese, they won’t even know this cream has goat cheese. Give it a try and either add the Chambord or just add vanilla. Or add whatever flavor you think you will like. Orange would also be great. Make it yours!

Happy Valentines Day!

Chocolate Souffle

From Bon Appetit Desserts, page 386

  • 3 TB water
  • 1 TB instant espresso powder, or instant coffee powder
  • 5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61%) chopped
  • 1 TB brandy (key to the rich flavor, but won’t be the end of the world if you omit it)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites, room temp
  • 2 1/2 TB sugar

Note: Gather and measure all your ingredients before you start. It will make things much easier. Also, I only made two souffles and the recipe cut in half did quite nicely.

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter four 2/3 cup souffle dishes and coat with sugar. Stir the water and espresso powder in heavy small saucepan until espresso powder dissolves. Add chocolate and brandy. Stir over low heat until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in egg yolks. Cool to room temperature. Move mixture to a large mixing bowl. Be sure to scrape every drop!

2. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy with a hand held mixer. Gradually add 2 1/2 TB sugar and beat until medium firm peaks form.

3. Take about 1/4 of the egg white mixture and fold into the chocolate mixture. This is to loosen up the chocolate mixture. The egg whites are key to the souffle rising properly and if you dump all the egg whites into the mixture, you will likely lose a lot of air. Then, very, very gently fold in the rest of the egg whites. To properly fold, draw your spatula through the center of the whites and then down into the base while turning the bowl.

4. Divide evenly into souffle bowls. Clean up the edges a bit. If you want your souffles to go straight up, overfill the dishes and then scrape off the top and clean off the edge. If you want it to look more homey, just pour it in and let it rise!

5. Bake souffles until puffed but still very moist in the center. It will seem as though it is underdone – this is exactly what you want. Cake like on the outside, pudding like on the inside. Perfection. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Raspberry Goat Cheese Cream

Modified slightly from Bon Appetit Desserts, p. 265

  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp chambord liqueur, or vanilla or the flavor of your choice; add more or less to taste

1. Combine heavy cream, goat cheese, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add liqueur. Using an electric mixer, beat until mixture is smooth and peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat or mixture will curdle.

 

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Triple Chocolate Brownies

The other day I was browsing a magazine and came across a recipe for Chocolate tart. It looked amazing and immediately had me craving chocolate (big surprise, I know!). But I honestly was in no mood for the work a tart would require. However, I still needed to satisfy my chocolate craving. So I turned to my favorite brownie recipe, Martha Stewarts Double Chocolate Brownies. Yes, my title says Triple Chocolate. Well, I’ve made a few changes in the several times I’ve made these brownies. But the base is solid – always delicious and easy. So feel free to make your own changes as they suit you. After all, brownies can be a very personal thing!

Now what makes these triple chocolate? The three forms of chocolate in the brownies: semisweet chocolate, Dutch-process cocoa powder, and my addition, white chocolate. I know white chocolate isn’t technically a chocolate, but for all intensive purposes, we are counting it towards the “Triple” in the title. Here’s a summary of white chocolate, courtesy of Wikipedia. Basically, it is cocoa butter but no cocoa. And I personally still think it is delicious and makes a wonderful addition to these brownies. Add them if you like, or maybe add nuts if you like nuts in your brownies.

The other changes I made were adding 2 TB of coffee (a must in just about any chocolate recipe, in my opinion. Really enhances the chocolate), and for the first time, I sprinkled sea salt on the top, which I will be doing every time now. As Martha says, these bars are solid enough to take on a picnic, or to serve at the end of a dinner party. I’ve done that a couple times and they are always a hit.

The best way to eat this is with a scoop of ice cream – I prefer blackberry. It pairs perfectly with the chocolate. If you can’t find blackberry, then vanilla or coffee will work wonderfully! And of course, they are great all by themselves, no ice cream necessary.

One of the biggest reasons I love this recipe is because it is so easy to make. No need for a box mix when you have this recipe!

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Modified slightly from Martha Stewart Double Chocolate Brownies

  • 6 TB unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Guittard – remember to use good chocolate!)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TB strong coffee, cooled
  • 3 oz white chocolate chips
  • Sea salt, as needed

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a buttered 8 inch square baking pan with parchment, allowing a 2 in overhang.

2. Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering (not boiling!) water. Stir until butter and chocolate have melted. (Since you are melting the cocoa powder, there is no reason to sift. But normally, sift your cocoa powder!) Let cool slightly.

3.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Put sugar, eggs, vanilla, and coffee in mixer bowl and beat with paddle attachment (original recipe says whisk, I prefer the paddle for a denser brownie. If you’d like yours airier, then use the whisk) and mix until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture. Mix until well combined, making sure to scrape the sides. Add white chocolate and mix just until combined.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake about 10 minutes, then lightly sprinkle some sea salt on the brownies. Put back into oven. Bake until cake tester inserted into brownies (not in the center or edges, but somewhere in between) comes out with a few crumbs but not wet, about 35 minutes. However, a little wet will just make for gooier brownies, so if that’s what you like, then by all means take take them out early!

Let cool as long as you can, and satisfy that chocolate craving. Yummy!

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Spiked Eggnog Chocolates


Yes, I know. Christmas was last month and eggnog is meant for Christmas season. I’m still catching up, and these chocolates were too good not to share, even if it is the wrong season. As far as chocolates go, these are pretty easy. A little time consuming, but not bad. And they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!! They aren’t the prettiest chocolates in the world, but I’ll explain what happened there later. The important part is they tasted awesome!

As I mentioned, these are fairly easy chocolates to make and require no fancy chocolate making equipment. You just need a mixer, parchment, sheet pan, and piping bag with two different, but very versatile, tips. I used the recipe from Chocolate and Confections, page 169. It is the first and only recipe I’ve made. Most of the time, I am too intimidated to make the recipes, but this one seemed like a good starting point. The one special ingredient you need, however, is cocoa butter, which is very inexpensive from King Arthur Flour. I did not have cocoa butter, which is why the first picture has pretty swirls of chocolate. The ones below are what happened when I tried to dip them in just straight chocolate:

Yeah, ugly, huh? Lucky for me and the hubby, they still tasted amazing. But the butter ganache (filling) was too soft to dip in just straight melted chocolate. I live in a town where finding specialty items like cocoa butter is near impossible and I didn’t plan accordingly, so I had no cocoa butter. You’ll be happy to know that I now have two jars of cocoa butter waiting for me when the urge to make chocolates strikes again. They have a long shelf life in case you want to stock up.

Enough chatter. Let’s move on to the recipe. You need a scale for this one, so I guess I should add that to the list of tools needed.

First, you need to make 130 chocolate discs, which are the base for the chocolates. Feel free to cut the recipe in half, as I did. Simply take a piece of parchment and the back of a small pastry tip. You need 25 mm, which is about 1 inch. Trace the circle from the pastry tip onto the parchment with a marker or pen, and then flip the parchment over. You don’t want any marker or pen bleeding onto the chocolates (not that you’d be able to see it, but still!). Temper some chocolate and pipe circles. Go here for a basic instruction on how to temper chocolate.

Tempering chocolate isn’t difficult, so don’t be scared! Basically, take the amount you need, in this instance, about 15 ounces. Then set aside 1/3 of that amount, which is 5 ounces. Take the other 2/3 and melt over a double boiler. Take your thermometer (did I mention that in the list of tools needed? Ok, you need that too), and melt until 110F for milk chocolate, and 118F for dark chocolate. Watch the thermometer carefully because it will be slow at first, but it will burn if you aren’t careful. Then remove from heat and stir the rest of chocolate. Maintain the temperature because you don’t want it to cool off before you can use it. Put it into a pastry bag and pipe in the outline of your circles.

Let the chocolate set. Now, if you didn’t temper correctly or just didn’t want to, the candies will still be fine. The bottoms won’t be shiny, but who looks at the bottoms anyway?

After the bottoms have set, make your butter ganache. What is butter ganache, you ask? Only a mouth watering, delicious sugary center! It’s not really similar to chocolate ganache, except they are both delicious. This is my first experience with butter ganache.

Spiked Eggnog Butter Ganache, yield 130 chocolates

  • 170 g  (6 oz)  Butter, soft
  • 40 g (1.5 oz) Glucose syrup (corn syrup is fine)
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 500 g (18 oz)White chocolate, melted, tempered (bring to 115F)
  • 40 g (1.5 oz) Dark rum

1. Using a 5 q mixer, cream together the butter, corn syrup, nutmeg, and vanilla until well blended.

2. By hand, stream the white chocolate into the butter mixture, taking care not to allow chunks of chocolate to form in the butter mixture.  Also by hand, stream in the rum, stirring until mixture is homogeneous.

3. Using a larger star tip, pipe pointed stars onto the chocolate discs. If the ganache is too soft, let sit, stirring occassionally, or chill for just a few minutes. Too long in the refrigerator and the chocolate will set and you will have to start over. Let sit until firm.

4. Now comes the fun part, and if you have cocoa butter, this experience will probably go better for you. You saw my disaster up above. I tempered some chocolate and tried to dip, but was unsuccessful. I tried adding vegetable oil, still unsuccessful. So my darling hubby suggested just swirling the chocolate on. That was a pretty good idea, don’t you think? They look a little like Christmas trees!

But if you have cocoa butter, then temper some chocolate (I honestly can’t say how much, sorry!) and add cocoa butter until the chocolate is very thin. Then dip away!

Regardless of their appearance, these were mouthwatering delicious. They just burst in your mouth full of flavor and were silky smooth. And, they were gone in no time. So, if you are ready for the next Christmas season, or feel as though you didn’t get enough eggnog, give these a try! You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Chocoholics Beware: Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

I’ll be the first to admit I am 100% addicted to chocolate. I must have some every day, whether it be in the form of a delicious dessert or simply just a handful of my beloved Guittard chocolate chips. So imagine my delight when I found this recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies.

First, however, I need to discuss my new favorite book, Bon Appetit Desserts, given to me as a birthday gift from a dear friend. This book will now be referred to as “My Bible”. It is an astounding 689 pages full of baking instruction, equipment and techniques, and recipes ranging from cakes all the way to candy. I’m almost considering throwing out my other baking books because everything I need seems to be in this one book. (Of course I won’t do that, since I love my cookbooks.) And what a steal at only $25 on Amazon. That comes to about three cents per page. Well worth your money.

Back to the cookies! I was looking for a new cookie and one that was fairly easy to make. Chocolate is always a bonus too. These satisfy both of those requirements. The dough ends up being almost like truffles, because there is no flour (gluten free!) and no butter or egg yolks (cholesterol free!). I was very curious as to how they would turn out with no butter or flour. Turns out, pretty amazing! They are very rich and just one will satisfy your sweet tooth. Perhaps then we could also call them “Diet Friendly”?

The recipe is very easy and I did not modify it at all, which is on page 539 of the book.

  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate, about 9 ounces, divided
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1/4 Tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully to keep from burning.  Let cool slightly.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl (or use stand mixer) until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow cream (soft meringue). Whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder (sift first!), cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Dough will become very stiff.

Place remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in small bowl. Using a scoop, roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball; roll in powdered sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet, repeat with remaining dough. Cookies will spread, but not much. Bake cookies until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on racks 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.

Then pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!

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Chocolate, Caramel, and Coffee. Cupcakes, that is.

Yes, this post is about all three – chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Three of my most favorite indulgences, all in one beautiful little cupcake. Last week I was requested, er, told, that I was to bring the dessert for a work pot luck.  I love making a dessert that makes people smile, so I needed something good. Really good. And I’m afraid I’ve outdone myself this time. I don’t know how I will ever make anything better. I’m a serious critic of my food, and this time, I am really proud.

What could I have made that tastes so good? Chocolate cupcakes with caramel pudding and a coffee buttercream icing. Oh yeah. When people ate these they had a look of pure pleasure on their face. That amazing.

And then, at the same time, I thought, Do I really want to share these? Maybe I should just buy cupcakes so I can keep these to myself. I got the cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and she too writes that she didn’t want to share. In fact, she said “I kind of wanted to swat people off with a spoon.” I felt the same way! You will too. I promise.

Now these cupcakes didn’t come without heartache. I knew I wanted to put caramel pudding inside, but I had never made caramel pudding before. I’ve made pastry cream many times, but never caramel flavored. The first recipe I tried came out rubbery. I was worried because it didn’t have eggs like the traditional pastry cream. I was right to be worried. It was terrible. Bleh. Try number two I used a recipe from Hungry Cravings and I was fairly certain this recipe would work since it was a traditional pastry cream recipe. But, the first time I burned my sugar. Like black in my pan. Bad. Just a pointer if you do this, fill your pot of burned, hard sugar with water and bring to a boil. It will dissolve the sugar and then your pot will be clean! Second time though, the sugar didn’t burn and I had a delicious caramel pudding. Whew. Step one was done.

The pudding after chilling. Looks weird, huh? Stir first!

The cake went fairly smoothly, except I overfilled the cupcakes. I knew the cake didn’t rise a lot, but I still over judged how much to fill. So I had to very carefully peel each cupcake from the pan. If I wasn’t careful, I would tear the cupcake and it wouldn’t be pretty anymore.  And those “ruined” cupcakes, well, quality control is just terrible, huh? I couldn’t let them go to waste. Yummy.

Finally, the buttercream. I’m not sure why buttercream gives me such a headache, but alas, it does. I learned a very important lesson when I made this buttercream. My emulsion broke. Let’s chat a bit about emulsions. According to wikipedia an emulsion “is a mixture of two or more immiscible (unblendable) liquids.” What, that doesn’t make sense? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Examples of emulsions are mayonnaise and vinaigrettes. Mayo is a “permanent” emulsion. Once it is done, it’s done and it won’t separate if it’s done correctly. Vinaigrettes will have to be mixed each time since they will separate. An emulsion forms when the mixture is well, mixed properly. It is broken when it’s not. And you know when it’s broken because it just looks terrible.

Now, did you know that ganache and buttercreams are also emulsions? Yup, they are. This buttercream was made with egg whites, sugar, and butter. All was going well with the egg whites, but when I started adding the butter, I had a grainy, icky, horrible looking buttercream.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks.

Broken buttercream. Ugly, yucky, disappointing.

Drat. What to do? I didn’t want to dump it out and start over – what a waste! Thankfully, Baking 911 had pointers for fixing a broken butter cream. The site suggested if it is cold and broken, melt about 25% of the butter cream and rewhip. This didn’t work for me the first time. I tried chilling in the refrigerator and then whipping. Nothing, nada, zip. I was on the verge of a meltdown at this point. Why wasn’t it coming together? So, one more shot. I put the buttercream in the freezer for 15 minutes, then melted some again. I was so certain it wasn’t going to work that I just put the mixer on high speed, insanely fast, and what do you know – I had a smooth, silky butter cream. I did a little jump for joy! Yahoo!

Then, it was time to assemble. This was the easiest part. Step 1, cut out little holes in your cupcakes.

Cupcakes with holes.

Place all your cake crumbs into a separate bowl. Save for later when you are craving this cake. This may be immediately.

Mmmm….snack.

Next step is to fill the cupcakes. The absolute, easiest way to do this is use a piping bag. There is no reason to be scared of a piping bag here. It requires no skill whatsoever. You are merely filling the cupcakes and it will make your life a whole lot easier if you use a piping bag. If you don’t have one, they are super cheap at your local craft store (particularly if you use coupons!). I prefer the 14″ Wilton Featherweight bags because they are dishwasher safe (hooray!) and just the right size. And, all you need is a simple piping tip like this one and you are set. No need for couplers here since you are using a larger tip and you are just filling cupcakes.

Finally, time to top the cupcakes with that buttercream. I used a piping bag here too, but it isn’t necessary. Do whatever is easiest for you.

Heavenly. Oh, so good.

People will love you for these. If you are willing to share, that is. And if you aren’t, don’t worry, I understand. They are that good.

Caramel Pudding

from Hungry Cravings

I only used about half of this in the cupcakes. So, either cut the recipe in half or enjoy the rest as tasty snack.

  • 6 ounces sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 ¼ ounce cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ ounce unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine 5 ounces of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized (this only took about 5 minutes for me. The key is to watch very carefully! Do not leave the room!) The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two. Slowly stir in the milk. (The sugar may harden at this point. Just keep stirring on the heat and it will melt again).  Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1 ounce of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg and yolks. Continue whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture (all of it, not just a little) in a thin stream. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil. Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate.

Double Chocolate Cake

From Smitten Kitchen

The recipe below is for 2 10-inch layers or about 32 cupcakes.

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Guittard
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half King Arthur Cake Flour and half AP flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F. and prepare pans or cupcake liners.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Note: This is a very runny cake mixture. You will think you’ve done something wrong, but never fear, it is supposed to be like that.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Coffee Buttercream

from Martha Stewart

I doubled this recipe and had just a little bit leftover.

  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place espresso powder in a small cup; add the boiling water, and stir to dissolve. Let cool.

Bring a saucepan with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Combine sugar and whites in a large heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) simmering water. Whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place bowl on mixer stand; whisk on low speed until mixture is foamy. Whisk on medium-high until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture is completely cooled completely, about 10 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking to incorporate fully well after each addition (if buttercream appears curdled, at this point simply beat until smooth). Whisk in vanilla and espresso mixture.

Switch to paddle attachment; beat on lowest speed to reduce air bubbles, 3 to 5 minutes. To store, refrigerate airtight up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature; beat with paddle attachment on the lowest speed until smooth and pliable, about 10 minutes.

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Homemade Twix-Thousand Dollar Bars

King Arthur Flour has become one my favorite bread flour. I get a much better crumb when I use their flour as opposed to say, Sam’s Club or Costco, which is much cheaper. But when I started using KA Flour, I knew so little about them. I didn’t know they had a whole repertoire of recipes! However, I hadn’t tried any until I saw this recipe. They call them “Thousand Dollar Bars“. Others call them “Twix look-a-likes”. Whatever you call them, they are evil. Why evil? Because  you can’t stop eating them. That good. And yet, so simple! Just shortbread, caramel, and chocolate. These are such a good example of why simple can be so delectable. The hardest part is waiting for each layer to cool.

First, you make the shortbread:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups AP Flour

1) Preheat oven to 300F. Prep a 9×13 pan (or 8×8 if doing half the recipe) with cooking spray and then line with parchment. Leave overhang so you can take them out of the pan easily. This will make for easy cutting later.

2) Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour. Dough will seem stiff at first, but be patient! It will come together.

3) Press into a pan. If you have a small roller, that will help even it. Take a fork and poke holes to prevent bubbles.

4) Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramel. The KA recipe suggests melting pre-made caramel, but if you have 30 minutes, make your own! Much cheaper and so tasty. I also used the KA recipe for caramel:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Place all ingredients in heavy pan and bring to 235F. Obviously you will need a thermometer here. However, if you don’t have one you can check for “softball” stage. This is when you take a small sample, stick it in ice water and if it is ready it will form a ball. If not, you aren’t ready. Watch carefully though because you can burn quickly at this point. When it is done, pour over the shortbread and chill for about 30 minutes or until set. You will not use all the caramel. Any extra just pour onto a sheet pan and (spray or line with parchment first) and let set.

And finally, my favorite part, the chocolate. This part is easy, just melt 3 cups of chocolate over a double boiler and pour over the caramel. I used Guittard 52%, but milk would be tasty too! You can chill for a short time, but sometimes when chocolate is chilled it can take on an unpleasant appearance. It will still taste ok, but doesn’t look as pretty. Thus, just chill briefly then return to room temp. Cut into bars and enjoy!

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Filed under Cookies