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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

I’m slowly getting back into a writing routine after the holidays. Writing is hard work, and of course glucose is critical to brain function. That means I have an excuse to bake:)

I worked up this cookie recipe for a friend who is gluten-averse. It’s based on a recipe from MasterChef Australia contestant Harry Foster and produces rich chocolate cookies with a satisfying cake-like texture.

Brownie + Cookie = Brookies

  • 350g [12 oz.] 70% dark chocolate
  • 45g [3.17 T.] butter
  • 80g [8.5 T.] cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g [~¼ C.] chocolate chips (more or less as you like; I use three chips per cookie)
  • 225g [1 C.] superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
2. Melt dark chocolate and butter in the microwave on low (30% works for me). Stir and set aside until lukewarm.
3. In a medium-size bowl, combine remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Add cooled butter mixture and mix until combined.
4. Scoop ~1-inch balls onto cookie sheets.* Gently press chocolate chips into the tops of each ball.
5. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Let cool two minutes before transferring to rack.

Makes ~33 cookies.

* If your butter-chocolate mixture is too warm, it may look and act more like batter. Pop the bowl into the fridge for a few minutes to chill and you should be able to scoop as needed.

I’d show you a photo of the cookies but, well, I ate them all. Instead, here are some pretty examples of other lights in the darkness.

Enjoy!

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Target: Caaaakkkkeeee!!!!!

Another year, another cake:) For this year’s birthday I wanted a little visual contrast, plus a way to use the last of summer’s fruit. Also, pretty. I went with that classic good time, chocolate, and a buttercreamcheese frosting.

Two layers, baked and cooled and torted to make four. To shake things up a bit, I added a thin coating of raspberry jam before frosting the first and third layers, to bring out a touch of fruit flavor. Crumb coat. Thick frosting top. Chocolate ganache trim, topped with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and mint, with a buttercream flower to wrap it all up.

Cutting it was scary, but worth it.

So tasty!

Cake!

 

 

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It’s like this: for the past couple of weeks I’ve spent a wee bit (ok, a lot) of time perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe.

(It also strikes me that I do a lot of recipe-related posts on Fridays. Food is definitely on my list of #ThingsILike:)

When I moved north of the border everything changed, including my usual butter, flour, chips, and oven. Mr. Man also likes his cookies with a bit more cakiness than I had with my previous recipe, so it was time to rethink, rewrite and retest.*

I know, I know, hard duty. How I sacrifice! But now Mr. Man (and you, fine readers!) have a new recipe to enjoy. Hope you like it!**

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups [280g] flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt [a pinch less if you use salted butter]
2 sticks [8 ounces or 228g] butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups [300g] brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, large
1 cup [175g] semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper if you hate stuck-on cookies.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt [I sift, some prefer a whisk or fork, use whatever works for you].
3. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mix until well combined.
5. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Scoop ~1-inch balls onto cookie sheets.***
7. Bake for 11-13 minutes depending on dough temperature and preferred crunchiness factor. Let cool two minutes before transferring to rack.
…………
* I’m still playing with this a tiny bit (for the greater good, you understand, not because I want to bake more cookies… ok yeah, I just want to bake more cookies:). I’ll add any updates here.

** If you’re interested in how tweaking various ingredients and other factors influence cookie characteristics, Handle the Heat’s Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies (parts 1 through 4) is a good place to start.

*** At this point you can either bake immediately or chill to allow the flavors to develop. I’ll chill if I have time, but I don’t always have the patience:) My compromise strategy: bake a sheet right away, then make balls with the rest of the dough and freeze on a lined cookie sheet. When hard, store the dough in a plastic bag and voila, you’ve got almost instant cookies for the next couple of weeks days whatever:)

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Subject: Cake, variation birthday
Year: 2015
Mission: Simple, elegant, tasty (natch)
Goal: Achieved

This year’s cake was chocolate, four layers, with a chocolate-cream cheese frosting. Sure, my original plan involved crazy complicated construction, multiple colors, and improbable royal icing designs, but in the end I wanted a good old-fashioned birthday cake. Nothing stressful, nothing so complex that it would interfere with family time. This fit the bill to perfection.

I used raspberry jam alternated with frosting in the filling, plus raspberries and their leaves on top for decoration, served with Pennsylvania’s own Yuengling Black & Tan ice cream.

Damn fine cake, if I do say so myself:)

Cake2015

CakeSlice2015

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In my tradition of sharing recipes I like (and not incidentally storing copies in one easy-to-access place), here is a flour-less peanut butter cookie recipe. This version of the classic recipe has chocolate as well as peanut butter and is very easy to make. I like it. I hope you do too.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

2 cups [500g] peanut butter
2 cups [400g] brown sugar
4 Tablespoons [30g] cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 350F.

2. Mix peanut butter, sugar and cocoa powder until smooth.

3. Add baking soda, salt and vanilla.

4. Add eggs one at a time. The mixture will be stiff.*

5. Roll into 1-inch balls, lay out on ungreased cookie sheet, flatten with a fork.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They will be soft; let cool five minutes before transferring to racks.

* If your mixer isn’t up to this I recommend a potato masher.

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I was pleased to see Mary Robinette Kowal’s recent recipe for dairy-free faux parmesan and thought I’d chime in. As a recently-discovered lactose intolerant, I’ve spent more time than I’d like looking for lactose-free recipes. Sure, you can take pills but isn’t it nicer not to? Instead of timing your medication precisely and watching the clock to make sure you haven’t over-eaten your lactase welcome, or realizing too late that you’ve forgotten your pills, avoid the problem in the first place.

Lactose-free options also make life easier for hosts. I still wince at a dinner party we gave in my pre-intolerance days, where a guest who accepted the invitation with a breezy “Oh, no, I can eat anything,” looked at her cream soup and asked if I had anything without lactose. Whoops.

This modified version of Mark Bittman’s Mexican chocolate pudding recipe is rich and creamy, flour-less and lactose free. This isn’t one of those “good for an I-have-to-eat-this-way” recipes, it’s just good.

If you’re avoiding soy this isn’t the dessert for you, but otherwise I recommend it without reservation. It is fast, easy and delicious.

(Not All That is Creamy is Milk) Chocolate Pudding
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 pound silken tofu*
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. Heat sugar with 3/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly while the chocolate melts.

2. Put all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides to combine everything completely. Chill for at least 30 minutes, although longer gives a denser final pudding.

Garnish with raspberries and fresh mint or eat directly from the container with a spoon, your choice. Serves 4 to 6. Or one very hungry writer.

Recipe notes:
* My grocery stores carry tofu in Tetra Pak boxes or water packed, but the important point is to find the silken variety. If you can only find 12oz boxes, I recommend getting two and increasing the recipe 1.5 times.
** Double boil if you like but I have good luck melting chocolate in my microwave at 20-30% power. I do this much chocolate ~three minutes at a time, stirring in between zaps. The chocolate taste is dominant so better is… better. While Valrhona is sure to be delicious I’ve had very good luck with a short ingredient list generic chocolate from my local grocery, so don’t feel constrained by the tyranny of premium labels. Look for one without added milk ingredients and off you go.

A final comment on lactose: I was surprised to find that a lot of the foods I thought were off-limits actually contain very little lactose. Imagine my joy to find that brie and many other aged or fermented cheeses are essentially lactose free, not to mention butter and long-fermented yogurt. Find your own comfort level, of course, but that was a game changer for me. A quick crib for cheese is to check the nutritional information chart on the label. Grocery chain Wegman’s put out a post on this, and also lists other cheeses with low lactose levels:

An easy way to check for lactose in cheese is to look at the Nutrition Facts under “Sugar” Since the sugar in cheese is lactose, you can easily see how much lactose the cheese contains. If the sugar is listed as zero, then the cheese contains no more than half a gram of lactose per ounce. Compare to 12 grams of lactose in an 8 ounce glass of milk.

Enjoy!

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Every year I make a cake for my birthday. This year I decided it was time to try tiered layers, plus butterflies, fondant flowers, pearls and gold dust (those last all technically edible but we know better; save your taste buds for the good stuff). What you see here are two 9″ layers supporting two 6″ layers, all in chocolate with a ridiculously decadent Grand Marnier frosting. Delicious!

Cake2014

/not a lie:) Also, what better fuel for writing than cake?

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