Tag Archives: postaweek2011

The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake with Blueberry Compote

Recently when I was out grocery shopping at Earth Fare, one of my most favorite things to do, I noticed Organic Meyer Lemons were on sale. A really great sale, 10 for $2! What a steal! So I bought 10, realizing that perhaps they might be going bad soon, because why else would they be on sale like that? But I knew I had plenty of baking options, one was the Can’t Eat Just One Sugar Cookie and then the Cake. This recipe came from Saveur Magazine and while I don’t know if it is the best cake, it is pretty close. It’s honestly more of a quick bread than a cake, but it is so tasty. Pretty easy too, as far as cakes go. The hardest part is not eating it until the next day. It’s best to let this cake sit for a full 24 agonizing hours before digging in. Now that is hard. I hope you enjoy!

The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

I didn’t change a thing! It was perfect!

  • 1 tbsp. butter, plus 8 tbsp. melted
  • 2 tbsp. fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. lemon extract (I didn’t have enough extract so I subbed lemon juice)
  • Zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons

1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan (do not use a non-stick pan or glass pan) measuring 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ with 1 tbsp. of the butter and dust it with the bread crumbs (I just used flour). Invert and tap out excess crumbs; set aside.

2. In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 1 minute; sift and set aside. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

3. Put the remaining butter into a large bowl and add 1 cup of the sugar. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes total. Mix in the lemon extract. With the spatula, fold in the lemon zest and ground almonds. (The mixture will be thin.) Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry, about 65 minutes.

3. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Prepare the glaze: Combine remaining sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. (Do not boil.) Brush the glaze over the hot cake. (The excess liquid may pool along the sides of the pan; it will absorb completely as it sits.) Once the cake has absorbed all the liquid, turn it out of the pan and allow it to cool upright on a rack. Once it’s cool, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.

Blueberry Compote

Really, really easy. Leftovers can be used on pancakes!

  • 2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries, sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until berries burst, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup berries. Cook until compote coats spoon, stirring often, about 8 minutes. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.) Serve warm.

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    The “Can’t Eat Just One” Lemon Sugar Cookie

    It’s spring time. Spring time screams for refreshing tastes, even in our cookies. Enter the Lemon Sugar Cookie. I don’ t know what it is about these cookies that makes them so good. I challenge you to eat just one! They are light, airy, lemony, and downright delicious.

    And they are so fast to make. Like an hour, tops, including bake time. Can’t beat that, right? I got this recipe from culinary school, so I’m not sure of the original source. This cookie was also my first hands on baking test (and I got an A, in case you were wondering. I know you were!). And, these are not your traditional slice and bake type sugar cookies. These are drop cookies (so please don’t use this recipe for cut out cookies. It won’t work!) I used a scoop that was 1 1/2 TB. These would be perfect for a spring time picnic. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

    Lemon Sugar Cookies

    Yield: about 2 dozen

    • 8 oz butter (2 sticks) room temp
    • 7 oz sugar (just under 1 cup)
    • 1 TB Brown sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 TB lemon zest
    • 1 egg, room temp
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 10 oz flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • Additional 1 cup sugar as needed for rolling

    1. Preheat oven to 375F.

    2. Cream together the butter, sugars, salt, and zest in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed for 5 minutes. Set a timer – the 5 minutes is very important to the fluffiness of the cookie!

    3. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.

    4. Whisk the flour and baking powder. Add to wet mixture and mix until combined. Careful not to overmix.

    5. Line two sheet pans with silpat or parchment. Scoop cookies and roll in sugar. Place onto sheet pan and chill for about 10 minutes. Then flatten cookies slightly. Using a glass or ramekin is the easiest way.

    6. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden on the edges. Watch carefully – they can overcook quickly!

    7. Let cool on rack.

    8. Eat.

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    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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    Leaning Tower of Red Velvet Cake

    I thought I’d share my “oops” cake with you. As you may remember, I made Chocolate Soufles the weekend before Valentines Day since it fell on a Monday this year. While I was out for a run on the afternoon of Valentines Day, I was thinking about cake. Yes, I think about food constantly while I run. After all, I run so I can eat more. Oh, and yeah, that being “running is good for me” stuff too. Anyhow, I thought my dear hubby would really appreciate a red velvet cake on V-day. It is his favorite and I figured I probably had time to make a small cake and surprise him. There would be no time for fancy stuff, just a cake. I used the same recipe from Smitten Kitchen but cut the cake recipe in half for a six inch cake and used the full icing recipe.

    This is what happened:

    red velvet cake

    I took a teeny tiny short cut. Some of the cake stuck to the pan and instead of patching it up or at least trimming the cake, I just tried to fill it in with more icing. And the cake started leaning! I tried to get it to stay upright but it was too late at that point.  It’s pretty funny, don’t you think? Thank goodness it was just for the two of us, and even more thankfully, it was DELICIOUS. My best tasting red velvet yet, I kid you not! It was so incredibly moist and yummy, I’m actually sad right now that it is long gone.

    But this was a good lesson for me. One, minor patches on cake are a good thing, time permitting. And two, a less than perfect appearance does not mean less than perfect taste. Apparently I don’t always have to be a perfectionist to make good food. Lesson learned.

     

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    An introduction to Earth Fare plus a $50 gift card giveaway!

    Note: Contest is over. Please see the bottom for the winner!

    As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently moved from the Southwest US to the Southeast.  I was very set in my ways in the Southwest with Sprouts and Trader Joe’s. I was devastated that my new location had neither of these stores and worried that grocery shopping would never be the same again.

    Then I met Earth Fare.

    What is Earth Fare, you ask? It’s like a small Whole Foods, which makes it more my style. I tend to get lost in the giant Super Markets that have become America (Wal-mart, Publix, Safeway, etc). So much food that isn’t really food, but rather chemical concoctions made to look like food and fool us. I don’t need any of that nonsense. Now, don’t get me wrong, Whole Foods is a great store with great products. But it is big, too big for me.

    Earth Fare is perfect for your weekly grocery shopping. It has an excellent produce section, most of which is local and/or organic.  They have a bulk section for grains, nuts, and legumes.  Also in the bulk section is freshly roasted coffee, with the roast date. A must for any coffee lover. And for the tea lovers, an entire wall of tea, plus a bulk tea section. And, to my delight, an excellent selection of King Arthur Flour products, including bread flour, AP flour, and cake flour, all at prices comparable to places like Publix, and even a good supply of their gluten free products! Finally, my most favorite part on the grocery side: the cheese section and olive bar. Right next to the great wine selection. It’s my little slice of heaven! (You may think I only do desserts but I am a huge fan of wine and food that compliments wine.) This is just a sample. They also have a huge herbal remedy section, dry goods, a meat counter, dairy (aside from the speciality cheese section), olive oils, etc. I’m wondering how they cram so much good stuff into a little store!

    Now, if all that wasn’t enough, they also have an excellent deli, salad bar, and bakery section. They’ve got who knows how many hot foods to chose from, paninis, and I don’t even know where to start with their bakery section! Great place to pick up a healthy dinner on the run, or to sit and enjoy breakfast.

    Oh, and I almost forgot the most important part. Earth Fare does not sell anything with high fructose corn syrup (sorry, don’t believe those corn commercials sayings sugar is sugar!), artificial sweeteners or preservatives, animal by-products, and a really long list of bad, artificial things that you don’t want in your body. You can find that list here. If you eat like I do, you avoid these kinds of products which is very hard to do if you shop at places like Wal-mart or other gigantic stores. If you’ve never looked at the ingredients of the items you are buying, give it a shot. You will be blown away. Bread does not need 50 ingredients. Pasta doesn’t need anything but flour, eggs, and water. Yogurt doesn’t need a list of 20 things I can’t pronounce! We need real food for our bodies. Earth Fare makes that easy. Now to hop off my soap box.

    As you can see, I like Earth Fare. So much so I think you should give it a try. For the awesome $50 gift card giveaway, tell me why eating healthy is important to you and what you’ve done to make changes in your life in the comment section.

    Rules:

    1. You must live within 100 miles of an Earth Fare.

    2. You must make a comment in the comment section regarding healthy eating.

    3. Contest ends on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 11:59pm.

    4. Winner will be chosen at random and announced Monday, February 28, 2011.

    Good luck, and happy shopping!

    Contest is over!

    Thanks to Random.org, the winner is:

    Hoppy!

    Congrats and please email me at lets.talk.cookies @ gmail.com to claim your prize!

    Thanks to everyone who entered – really great responses and so glad to see everyone making an effort to be healthy and support their local Earth Fare! Keep working towards a healthier you!

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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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    Granola Bars

    I’ve been making granola for a couple of years now. It’s great to sprinkle on yogurt or just have as a snack. However, this was my first time making granola bars. I was browsing through an old Food & Wine Magazine and found a delicious  recipe for granola bars. However, I didn’t have everything in the ingredient list, nor did I want everything in the ingredient list. So I modified it and came out with a very addicting granola bar. It’s not perfect, in fact, they are a bit gooey, but for a first time making these, I’m in love!

    Here’s a link to the original recipe, Sticky Oat and Pine Nut Bars

    I like pine nuts, but they aren’t my favorite. And I love pepper, but just not in my sweets. I can’t seem to get into the pepper and sweet thing (though I love chocolate and chilis…). So I took both of those out and substituted almonds and cinnamon. Ah, that’s more like it! Oh, and instead of dipping the bars in white chocolate, I put the chocolate in the batter.

    These are super easy to make, the hardest part is waiting for them to cool!

    Almond & Cinnamon Granola bars

    Modified slightly from Food & Wine Sticky Oat and Pine Nut Bars

    • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
    • 3/4 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2 cups old fashioned oats
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • Pinch of salt
    • 4 oz white chocolate

    1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

    2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the honey and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until an amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes.

    Stir in the oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate. It will melt. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

    Bake for about 20 minutes, or until bubbling and brown on the edges.

    It will smell absolutely intoxicating at this point, but you must resist the urge to remove the bars from the pan! They need to cool completely in order to have any hope of staying together. Mine were gooey, so I probably should have let them cool longer, but it was just about impossible! They smelled  so yummy! After they are cooled, lift parchment from pan and move bars to cutting board. Cut into whatever size you desire. I did pretty small squares since they are sweet.

    I found these to be a great pre-running snack, but I think they’d be great just about anywhere. Just wrap a bar in parchment and away you go!

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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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    Filed under Cookies