Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

We did it!! We successfully replicated a honeymoon staple!! Lemon-infused nutella, first mentioned here. You may remember, we were devastated to leave Amalfi without jars and jars tucked away in our bags, and this combination has since inspired many a torte and cookie.

But before I get too far ahead of myself… We’ve discovered recently that crepes are delicious, a great way to use up condiments, and also incredibly easy.  The batter is essentially a wetter pancake batter (from memory, I believe it’s 1 cup flour, 1.5 cups milk, pinch salt, optional tsp sugar).  Heat pan, butter pan, pour batter, swirl around.  When the top is dry, flip, wait 30-60 seconds.  Voila.  They have a short half-life, though, and really should be eaten immediately.  And when the kitchen is the place to congregate anyway, this doesn’t pose a problem.  What is a problem though is the stomach ache one gets from eating so much cheese and chocolate for breakfast.

Speaking of chocolate, we threw a crepe party two weeks ago for our very good friend and best man at our wedding Martin who had come a-calling for the 150th anniversary of the Yale Glee Club. We set up our crepe station at the stove with two varieties of cheese, two varieties of jam, and a heaping bowl of lemon-infused nutella.

Nutella is remarkably easy to make. It really just involves a bit of patience and the right equipment (a good food processor). A mini food processor or a Magic Bullet won’t quite cut it, but any standard good-quality food processor will do wonders. This will probably be equally delicious with peanuts or cashews in lieu of or in combination with hazelnuts. Because there are only a few ingredients involved, you’ll probably want to use the best quality of ingredients you can.

Lemon-Infused Nutella

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
zest of half a lemon
2 T canola oil

In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, liquefy the hazelnuts. Yes, liquefy. The hazelnuts pretty quickly go from cheery round things to finely ground nut-flour, but it takes quite a bit longer for the hazelnuts to be ground to the point of emitting fats and oils into true liquid form. At this point, an extra tablespoon or two of peanut oil or some other neutral oil will also help.

Add cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar, and lemon zest. Continue to blend until all ingredients are well mixed and the texture is similar to a nut butter.

Serve with crepes, on bread, in oatmeal, on pretzels, in heaping spoonfuls, etc.

* Note: confectioner’s sugar is very important in this recipe. Granulated sugar leaves a granular texture, whereas confectioner’s sugar blends much more finely with the other items.


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Based on the title of this post one might gather that this post will be about squash. One would be wrong. Squash Fest is a tradition now executed for the second year. The first year was fairly impressive — sweet dumplings, carnivals, acorns, butternut, and two pumpkins in which were carved “Squash Fest 2009”. It was pretty incredible. This second year we fell a bit short. We purchased a spaghetti squash but were wholly uninspired. We did make a pretty excellent curried butternut squash soup. Acorn squash wedges made an appearance as did garlicky greens and some mushroom risotto. The real star of the night, however, was a chewy sticky dark chocolate beet bundt cake.

I have to be honest, it wasn’t the most beautiful of cakes and certainly should have been spruced up with some confectioner’s sugar or something, but we were in too much of a rush to try it that presentation became secondary.

Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake

1/2 c oil
1 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
2 c sliced beets
1/2 c semisweet chocolate, chopped and melted
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 375F, and lightly oil a Bundt pan.

Cream together oil and sugar. Add beets, chocolate, and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet beet mixture, and stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared Bundt pan, and bake for 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely before turning out.

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I don’t mean to hate on meringue, but it’s true, I don’t have a particular affinity for it. It might be because of a small incident we had after I made the awesome chocolate stout birthday cake for the husband this year. In a fit of prideful curiosity, I asked triumphantly if it was the best birthday cake he’s ever had, and he responded (first, yes, and then) that the only other birthday cake memory he has is of a lemon meringue pie. Anyway, that threw me into a bit of competitive envy, and I guess I no longer enjoy meringue.

All that said, if you’re left over with lots of egg whites from your pasta-making endeavors, you may be interested in coconut macaroons. These macaroons are more in the French-style of macaroons (envision: rich, generous clumps of coconut flakes) as compared to the Italian-style of macaroons (crunchy little cookie-cakes made with ground almonds). These are type of macaroon I imagine Nora stealthily snacking on in A Doll’s House, as they seem far more indulgent and worthy of sneaking than the Italian version of the cookie.

These cookies are impossibly easy to make and involve just a few ingredients (fewer still if you choose not to dip in chocolate). They are incredible warm out of the oven, but a few extra minutes of cooling definitely helps them hold together better.

Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons

3 egg whites
6 oz. dried coconut flakes
1/4 c sugar
1/4 all-purpose flour
6 oz. good-quality chocolate (we used Fairway)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a cookie sheet with a Silpat liner or greased with butter.

In a large heavy pan, mix egg whites, dried coconut, sugar, and flour with a silicone  spatula. (Particularly if using a non-stick pan, do not use metal utensils, as they will scratch the pan!) Place over a low heat and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure it does not stick. When the mixture becomes the consistency of thick oatmeal, remove from heat.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture in round-ish piles on the lined baking sheets. Bake for ~15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

When macaroons are cooled, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, a bowl over simmering water, or the microwave. Dip cookies into melted chocolate and set on parchment paper or cooling racks to cool.

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From time to time I feel a little like Julie Powell of Julie & Julia. Just kidding, I hope I’m a little more endearing than she is. We watched this movie a few weeks ago and found her to be a little loopy and self-absorbed. I think she would agree. That said, from time to time, I do find myself fully engrossed in my blog, reading comments and brainstorming future posts while I should be hard at work at the very important work that my non-profit does. Now if only I worked at a dronish government agency, then I’d really get my blogging on…

But until then, enjoy these cookies! (As you know, I’m just a bit insecure about continuing to post cookie recipes well into the new year, but conveniently and rightly,  my last church fully celebrated all twelve days of Christmas.) That said, these are decidedly Christmas cookies, gooey rich chocolate treats with chewy little flecks of peppermint candy cane. They do expand quite a bit so keep that in mind when spacing them out on cookie sheets.

Chocolate Peppermint Puddle Cookies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 T butter
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
6 T cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1/3 c milk
2 candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan over simmering water or a double boiler, melt together chocolate and 3 T of butter. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in cooled chocolate mixture. On low speed, add half of flour mixture. Slowly pour in milk. Fold remaining flour mixture and crushed candy canes in. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. (This step hardens the dough to make it easier for shaping and to prevent excessive spreading while baking.)

Remove batter from refrigerator. Using a teaspoon and hands, roll dough into 1/2″ balls. (Caution: this may be messy!) Place on cookie sheets with 2″ between cookies and bake for 12 minutes. Cookies should still be a bit moist in the center so they retain softness. Place cookies on a rack to cool.

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Perhaps a bit cruel, bringing up memories from summer when it’s fully winter here in New Haven, but this past weekend we made an Amalfi-inspired chocolate torte for a holiday party at my boss’s house. Stepping back a bit…

This summer on our honeymoon we stayed at an adorable inn on the Amalfi Coast with a bottle of prosecco awaiting us when we arrived and an incredible view of the water from our balcony. Thoughtful gestures and enjoyable amenities, I suppose, but the best part about this inn was the breakfast provided daily by a small bakery in the main square.

For the most part, the breakfast was typical of Italian breakfasts — freshly baked breads, butter and jams, the occasional chocolate croissant (or cornetto, if you’re Italian), cappuccinos of course. But what was truly life-changing was the lemon chocolate hazelnut spread. Similar to nutella and contained in a very cute petite jar, this chocolate hazelnut spread had an incredible infusion of lemon zest in it. Every morning, we greedily dolloped it onto our bread, sometimes even spreading it into our chocolate croissants, not realizing that these few days of glorious lemon-chocolate-hazelnut indulgence were the only days we would ever have to experience this again.

Towards the end of our time in Amalfi, we eagerly inquired of the bakery owner we were might procure this treat. Surely, in Amalfi, where lemons abound in fertile volcanic ash (see photo above), this spread could not be too hard to come across. We were anticipating bringing home jars and jars, maybe for sharing, but definitely for us. Little did we know, that this one jar served to us came from a particularly abundant lemon crop (even for Amalfi!) from the previous year, and one ingenious entrepreneur jarred up just a salable amount of lemon-chocolate-hazelnut for the year, but that was the end of it. There was no more to be sold, no more to be had, a tragic loss to the world.

With that in mind, enjoy the following recipe!

Dark Chocolate Limoncello Torte

2 eggs
1 1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 t salt
1/2 c melted butter
4 T unsweetened cocoa
1 T vanilla extract
3 T limoncello
zest of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly butter a round 8” or 9” springform or cake pan.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until well-combined and pale yellow. Gradually mix in the flour and salt.

Stir cocoa and vanilla extract into melted butter. Add cocoa-butter mixture to batter, stirring well until any lumps are removed. Zest half of a lemon into the batter, stirring to combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Drizzle limoncello over the batter. Cook in 350º oven for 20 minutes. Check for doneness; the edges of the cake should be crisp but the center still moist and sticky. Garnish with powdered sugar, lemon zest, or ganache.

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Don’t worry, this is no sappy birthday post. (Speaking of sappiness, do you also secretly covet the friendship between Chewy and Han Solo? I keep trying to convince said husband that their friendship is admirable and we should similarly seek to be co-pilots fighting the evil empire, but he says no.) This is a post about chocolate and beer.

Now first of all, if you: a) live in New York, and b) don’t fear Brooklyn, please do yourself a favor and pay a visit to The Chocolate Room in Park Slope. This is far more than a dessert shop, more like a classy wine bar complete with jazz and mood lighting, but instead of wine, chocolate is served. More importantly, this is where we first discovered stout flouts. Imagine: a heaping scoop of chocolate-chocolate-chocolate ice cream (or maybe we had vanilla; not important) in a pint of Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout. Brilliant, isn’t it?

And while you hold that thought, since I now work for a non-profit that values replication and dissemination (of poverty intervention strategies), imagine the replicability of this genius idea! Any kind of ice cream can go in any kind of stout beer (or even non-stout beer for that matter) for incredible ice cream-beer floats!

But I digress… Chocolate and beer is what this post is about generally, and a chocolate stout birthday cake more specifically. (Also, the pictures that are clearly not of birthday cake are from a pre-birthday hike at Sleeping Giant.) Happy belated birthday, husband!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Ganache

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray two 8″ round cake pans. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

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