Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Silk Pudding

Chocolate pudding on the porch with spring strawberries
Though I am not usually a pudding person, a craving hit me last week and I sprung into action. I made (who else?) Smitten Kitchen’s version and threw some fresh strawberries in at the end to spruce it up.

I don’t think I cooked mine for long enough because it was *very* liquidy, but I actually really enjoyed it like this.

Chocolate Silk Pudding
The recipe below is nearly verbatim from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for chocolate pudding. I loved it without adaptation.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
~6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped roughly
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk. Use a heatproof spatula to combine milk and dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Whisk occasionally to prevent lumps. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture has thickened and coats the back of the spoon (without dripping), add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.

3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. You can place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent pudding skin or you can just cover the top of the serving dish with plastic wrap to encourage pudding skin–your choice.

Double Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Whew! I have been absent for a month because I have been cooking crappily and uninspiredly 🙂 But I’m back now with some delicious (albeit somewhat time-consuming and labor-intensive) cookies to share.

Good morning to you, too, cookies!

I found this recipe via Tastespotting a few months ago and have been meaning to make it ever since, but since the dough needs at least a few hours in the fridge I’ve just not had the opportunity. It was my duty to bring cookies to the tutors’ meeting today, though, so I had some notice in advance and got to it last night!

The cumulative review was “sparkly, cakey, amazing.” These are almost as rich as brownies, but with a nice chewy, sugary crust. (And I don’t like brownie edges!)

Double Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
Adapted from Brownies for Dinner’s recipe for Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. I just realized I took my pictures this morning and was thinking that these made really good BREAKFAST cookies…I guess the truth is that cookies are great any time of day 😀

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon peeled ginger root, minced fine
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses (weird spelling comes from my blackstrap molasses bottle!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon boiling water
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about half a bag or just under 1 cup)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, and cocoa powder until well mixed (I used a fork). In a separate bowl, beat the butter and ginger with an electric mixer (or stand mixer, or your muscles) until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes if using electric. Add the brown sugar and beat for another minute until well combined. Add molasses and beat until combined.

2. Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water in a small cup; set aside. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine (careful that the flour doesn’t fly out!). Add dissolved baking soda, beat to combine. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

3. Turn the dough onto one half of a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap and gently push the dough down into a 1-inch-thick disc. Place in a freezer bag or wrap in more plastic and chill until firm, at least 2 hours…I did it for about 3 with great results.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. Roll the dough into 1.5 inch balls (bigger than you think!) and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 deg F while you’re chilling the balls.

5. Roll the balls in the granulated sugar and replace on the baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly cracked on the top. If you’re baking both at the same time, rotate halfway through. When they’re done, let cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

Oh yeah, I measured the balls and the distance between (thanks, physics homework!):

No, I don't keep a clear ruler nearby for any reason at all...

Daring Bakers January 2010 Challenge: Nanaimo Bars

I am known for my…ahem…tardiness. I have historically done a terrible job of predicting how long it will actually take me to complete a task. I also hate to tell my friends that I’m going to be late, so I used to tell them how long it would be until I would *like* to get there (even if I suspected that it might be a bit longer).

For whatever crazy reason that’s changed in the last year or so. I mention this because this is the first month I’ve actually completed my Daring Bakers challenge not only on time, but 3 WEEKS EARLY! (Though I’m posting along with everyone else). It was a lucky coincidence that I would also get the input of a real live Canadian in assessing this month’s dessert, which hails from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

These are very, very sweet and rich. They’re best in small pieces…that way you can pop them at intervals instead of getting overwhelmed by big ones! They also freeze well (and I preferred them cold); I wrapped mine individually in plastic wrap, then threw them in the freezer a day before the event and they held up perfectly in transport.

Give yourself a couple of days to make these, since the graham cracker dough needs to refrigerate for a while. You can also cheat and buy graham crackers, but these are really cool to create, so I’d recommend it if you have time and the inclination. I made only a half batch of the crackers and still had leftovers for the Nanaimo Bars, by the way.

For Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted butter (cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together.
3. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster–check early and often, because these can burn quickly.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziploc bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Graham Crackers

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened cocoa
1 Large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Graham cracker crumbs (see previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (any type, finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy cream (or whole milk with a thin pat of butter)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla custard powder (Such as Bird’s)– Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Powdered sugar

Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted butter

Directions:
1. For bottom layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For middle layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder (or pudding mix), and powdered sugar together well. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For top layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool to a bit over room temperature (give it maybe 10 minutes). I let mine cool too much and it didn’t spread well! It should still glisten when you pour over the middle layer. Chill until firm, about 20-25 minutes.

Homemade Nanaimo Bars

Peppermint Bark

I love to make desserts, but I don’t love to leave dessert on my kitchen table for snacking on every time I walk by. I’ve been building up my list of holiday desserts for weeks now, but one was pleading for making: peppermint bark!

Simple and Elegant Peppermint Bark

After staring at the words “peppermint bark recipe” in my bookmarks toolbar for the longest week of all time, I finally got down to work and slapped it together. It turns out this recipe is really, really easy…and the product is *so* beautiful. No one believed me when I told them it took less than an hour and only three ingredients!

The best compromise on quality and price for white chocolate that I could find was Whole Food’s 365 Everyday (the house brand) white chocolate chips. The second ingredient is indeed cocoa butter, but instead of the $9/lb for Callebaut, they were only $4/lb. I used Cadbury Royal Dark for the chocolate base, but I think I would use more bitter chocolate next time–maybe 70% cocoa or more–to balance the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Peppermint Bark
Adapted from Use Real Butter’s recipe for peppermint bark.

1 pound dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 pound white chocolate chips
12 candy canes

Press a piece of aluminum foil flat into a jelly pan, being careful to get the corners down. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in bursts of 20 seconds on low power, stirring between each heating period. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. When melted, pour onto the tinfoil and spread with a rubber spatula to even thickness throughout. The edges do not need to be perfectly square. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until hardened.

While dark chocolate is in the refrigerator, break the candy canes in half then place in the food processor. Pulse briefly a few times until pieces are no bigger than 1/4 inch across. Place a sieve over a bowl and shake the crushed candy canes into the sieve so that the powder collects in the bowl.

Melt the white chocolate, careful not to overcook. Stir in the powdered part of the candy canes using as few strokes as possible. Spread the white chocolate-candy cane mixture over the hardened dark chocolate using a CLEAN rubber spatula. Sprinkle the larger pieces of candy cane over the white chocolate and gently press them down with your (clean) hands. Refrigerate for another 20 minutes or until hardened.

Once firm, remove from the pan by lifting the tinfoil. Cut the bark into pieces of your choosing and serve! These will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

An Amazing Cookie Baking Experience (Chocolate Walnut Cookies)

To make up for the giant fail-tastic post of my October Daring Bakers’ challenge, I’m posting an ode to Smitten Kitchen’s (adapted from David Lebovitz’s) chocolate walnut cookies.

This was about all that was left after a few minutes...

After a thrown-together dinner of grilled steak and steamed broccoli last night, Mike and I sat down for a night of TV (him) and homework (me). But instead of doing my Orgo pre-lab, I made cookies per his suggestion!

OH MY DEAR GOD. These were some of the best cookies I’ve ever made. A major difference was using cold butter, sliced up into 1/2-inch pieces, instead of softening it in the microwave. I also used my new electric beater (YAY! $7 on craigslist! several types of beaters! BEAUTIFUL and life-changing!) to mix these and I think that resulted in a better mixing job. I used half cake flour and half all-purpose, by virtue of running out of one. I ALSO chopped up the walnuts more finely than I normally would, which took care of the problem I’ve had with walnuts making the cookies too bitter. The toasted-walnut flavor infused the cookies and it was *great.*

Cliched but YUM

We ate a bunch last night–dipped in milk of course–and then Mike brought them to his office today, where they were another big hit. Natalie and Becca can attest to my singing the praises of these cookies all night.

My pictures suck, but that’s largely because I was too busy wolfing down cookies instead of taking pictures and experimenting with my new lighting setup (hence the funny changes in lighting here). REGARDLESS…go make these. Now!

Update: I’ve made these 4 or 5 times since I originally posted this recipe. I’ve found that the 1/2 cake flour, 1/2 all purpose flour combination is best. They are also much better with chopped up dark chocolate than with semi-sweet chips (or even semi-sweet bars). Good luck!

Amazing Chocolate Chunk Walnut Cookies
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Great Book of Chocolate.

Makes about 24 good-sized cookies.

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped dark chocolate (I used Hershey’s special dark)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine

Preheat oven to 300F.

Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.

Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chunks and nuts.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Mine spread a lot so you should DEFINITELY give these plenty of space!

Bake for 15 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven, let rest for a minute or two on the pan, then remove and cool on a wire rack.

October 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge: French Macarons

Oy.

I was excited to try this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, French Macarons. But to make a long story short, mine turned out terrible (say that in a French accent!)

I know I did a bunch of things wrong: I didn’t grind my almonds fine enough, I didn’t carefully measure my proportions when I split everything by half (by eye) in order to make two flavors, I used a too-high setting to aerate the egg whites, and I overmixed the batter. You can see the many symptoms of my mistakes in this one picture–huge bubbles, chunks of flour, and spread-out dough that required some manual separation:

The batter spread a ton :(

The final product LOOKED terrible:
French macaron fail

But it turned out well–the chocolate-flavored cookies and the cinnamon-flavored cookies both turned out TASTING great and with a quick little dark chocolate ganache they were not bad at all!

I think I’ll try another version of these sometime, probably from Audax, whose detailed baking instructions are great and I’d imagine very helpful. It’s through his posts about other people’s problems with this challenge that I figured out what went wrong for me.

Aw, shucks. Here’s the recipe in case you want to try it yourself!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen.

Banana Scallops with Caramel Ice Cream and Grated Chocolate

This is the big finale of my dinner party from last week, and I am so excited to write about it and mentally savor it again!

My tastes have changed so much through college and since I started cooking with some food-knowledge. If you asked me 5 years ago if this is a dessert I’d want, I think I’d actually turn it down…and anyone who knows me is probably shocked to hear that I’d say no to ANY dessert.

It turns out, though, that bananas are actually *really* good when ripe, and homemade caramel simply OWNS the weird, store-bought, grainy stuff I ate as a kid. Together, the bananas, caramel, and chocolate are a fantastic, balanced, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, rich, simply amazing dessert. Can I say enough about it?

It’s best to start the ice cream the night before, but as long as you give it a good 6 hours to cool in the refrigerator, you should be okay.

As for the caramel, it’s a bit of a learning process. David Lebovitz’s How To Make the Perfect Caramel was hugely helpful, and I slightly modified his technique for making caramel praline (from a recipe for salted butter caramel ice cream). I had a similar snafu with my first batch of caramel as David–I stirred too much and it looked like this:

But after some long low-medium heat, it turned back into the nice liquid it should be. And there’s really no joke about immediately pouring it out (for the praline) or adding the cream (for the ice cream) after the 2-3 seconds of smoking. I let one batch smoke for about 10 seconds and it was too burnt…had to throw it out, boo.

But enough of that! Go forth and experiment, because these recipes were new to me last week and I’m excited to play around with them at dinner parties to come.


Caramel Ice Cream with Praline Chips
Modified from Epicurious.com.
Serves 4-6

6-8 egg yolks (I used 7 for super-rich ice cream)
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water. Do not stir. Every couple of minutes, use a heat-resistant (eg, wood) spatula to pull sugar on sides of pan toward the middle and swirl the pan. After several minutes, melted sugar will turn amber, then will begin to slightly “smoke.” After 2-3 seconds of “smoke,” turn off heat and quickly stir in the heavy whipping cream. **BE CAREFUL–this can bubble vigorously, so it might be a good idea to hold up a mesh splatter screen between you and the caramel at first.** Stir cream and caramel over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until all caramel bits have dissolved. Add milk and bring to a simmer.

Slowly dribble caramel mixture into egg yolks, stirring constantly to prevent curds from forming. Once combined, return to saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens, leaving a “nap” on the back of the spoon (see here for picture), about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Strain custard into a clean large bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24.

While custard is chilling, make praline by making a second batch of caramel, with 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water, exactly the same as the first. This time, have a large piece of parchment paper lining a cookie sheet near the stove. About 2-3 seconds after the caramel begins to smoke, immediately remove from the heat and pour onto the parchment paper. Quickly lift the pan and tilt it nearly vertical to spread the caramel into a thin layer. Let rest until cool, then crush into small pieces.

Once custard is chilled, churn in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. I like to use one bowl for the first 20 minutes, then transfer to my second bowl for the last 5 or so–it helps give it a little firmness that’s lacking otherwise. Once finished churning, stir in praline chips and set in freezer until ready to serve.

Banana Scallops
Serve 3-4

2-3 bananas, sliced into 1.5-inch thick pieces
Sugar for coating
1 Tbsp butter

Cover a small plate with granulated sugar. Tap the top and bottom of each banana slice (but NOT the sides) in the sugar and set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a saute pan until just barely browned, then carefully place each banana slice in the pan in an order you will remember (in rows, in a circle, etc). Each banana should have only about 1 1/2 minutes per side, so once you’ve finished placing them all, they will probably be ready to be flipped in the order they were added. Be very careful when flipping; they’re hot! Again, once you’ve finished flipping, the first ones are ready to come off. Serve while hot.

I also grated some dark chocolate over the whole set-up to give it an extra sharpness. Better quality chocolate is definitely worth investing in, especially since you use so little. My personal favorite is Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate.