Tag Archives: Chocolate

Gingerbread Blossom Cookies

I know, I know. It’s very last minute to share this holiday cookie recipe with you. After all we’ve already lit the last Hanukkah candle, and Christmas Eve is upon us. But just in case you’re still looking for a delicious treat to enjoy this holiday season, I figured I’d still share these tasty Gingerbread Blossom Cookies. I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, but somehow 6 Hanukkah events plus 3 traditional holiday parties plus seemingly hundreds of potato latkes, a toddler, and a job got in between me and my blog. But anyhow, gingerbread is so good you can enjoy it well after the holiday season passes.

gingerbread blossom 1

I was lucky enough to receive a bag of Hershey’s Kisses from Influenster and I knew I wanted to bake something with them, though I have to say, I was tempted to unwrap one of those shiny little Kisses and dig in as soon as I opened my box from Influenster. I spent some time researching Hershey’s Kiss recipes. And believe me, there are tons out there on the internet. I know the Peanut Butter Blossom cookies are somewhat traditional this time of year, and even showed up in my Hershey’s cookbook, but since I really love the flavors in gingerbread, I figured I’d veer slightly off the peanut butter path (though chocolate and peanut butter in combination are pretty darn delicious too) to the gingerbread world.

gingerbread blossom 2

The final product is amazing. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside ginger cookies, complete with a smooth chocolate-y Kisses perched on top. I hope you enjoy a wonderful and sweet holiday season with your friends and family and I’m looking forward to sharing more recipes on The Dinner Pages in the coming year.

gingerbread blossom 3(I’ll make sure to come back and share my yummy Pistachio Blossom cookie recipe one day soon!)

______________________________

Gingerbread Blossom Cookies (adapted from Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice)

Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup turbinado (or granulated)

48-60 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Gradually add in the dry ingredients on low speed until fully mixed. Remove from the bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, coat all over in turbinado sugar, and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpats.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. The edges of cookies will just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and immediately press an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss into the center of each cookie.
  6. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

______________________________

Here’s another yummy ginger cookie recipe from The Dinner Pages!

 

What's Baking Badge

 

I received Hershey’s Kisses complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes but all opinions are my own.

Elmo Cake and Cookie Monster Cupcakes

My little boy turned TWO last week! To celebrate, we threw him a Sesame Street themed birthday party over the weekend. Since our house is totally not unpacked or visitor ready, we had the party at a local burger place where the kids had a fenced in astro-turfed yard to run around and I just had to provide dessert and decor. It was a fun time and I am pretty happy with how the Elmo and Cookie Monster treats turned out.

Cookie Monster cupcakes

For the Elmo cake, I bought the pan at Michael’s. I whipped up a batch of the same Martha Stewart white cake I use for my son’s smash cake for his 1st birthday and made buttercream frosting, which I tinted black for Elmo’s pupils and mouth, orange for his nose, and red for his furry face. I used a spatula to apply all the frosting except for the red. For the red face I used a star tip from my cake decorating kit but the great thing about it was that the imperfections in my decorating ability looked just fine because Elmo is supposed to appear fuzzy and loved!

Elmo Cake

Preparations for the Cookie Monster cupcakes started a day earlier with a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I just followed the recipe on the bag of chips and I tried to slightly overbake them because I wanted crisper cookies for Cookie’s mouth. The cupcakes were Martha Stewart’s chocolate chip cupcakes and I used another batch of the same buttercream, this time tinted blue for Cookie Monster’s furry face, again decorating the face with the star tip. For his eyes I used white Wilton melts from Michael’s. I bought one of those edible markers for the pupils but it didn’t work on the melt. I should have bought black icing but I didn’t and since it was after Michael’s closed for the night, and I already had completed an emergency supermarket run for more butter after a measuring mishap, I used leftover black frosting from Elmo’s mouth, piped on with a small round cake decorating tip. Don’t forget that Cookie’s eyes are supposed to be googly and uneven! I thought they looked better applied to the cupcake at a slight slant instead of flat.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

I didn’t get to do a ton of crafting for this party due to lack to time, but I’ll share the two things I did get to finish. First, I made a Cookie Monster holding a ‘2’ on the Cricut. Also, I made these cute little Cookie Monster faces with the Cricut (both from the Sesame Street fonts digital set) which I attached to a sack of cookies. I baked chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and honey cookies (recipe to follow soon) to fill up these favors. We also had Sesame Street books for the younger kids.

Cookie Monster sign

 

Cookie Monster favors

By the way, the white cake batter for the Elmo cake works great in other forms as well. I baked it into one of those big cupcake molds (a double recipe) last year for my son’s 1st birthday and it would be great baked into regular cake pans as well. It is such an easy cake to throw together that you definitely don’t need a mix!

1st birthday cake

I found so many great Sesame Street party ideas on Pinterest, most of which will remain in my Pinterest folder unattempted, but I’ll be adding these pictures to the mix in the hopes I can help out other parents planning their child’s Sesame Street party. Hope these treats will bring “Sunny Days” and “sweep the clouds away.” Happy Birthday to my adorable son!

______________________________

Elmo Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

Yield: 1 Elmo cake (serves 12)

For the cake:

nonstick cooking spray (I used Baker’s Joy with flour)

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wilton Icing Colors in No-Taste Red, Orange, and Black

light corn syrup (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat the Elmo pan with nonstick spray (either one that includes flour or dust with flour).

2. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and beat until just combined. Then add the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth and homogenous.

3. Pour the batter until the Elmo pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the cake is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes then carefully run a small spatula or knife around the edges, place a wire cooling rack against the cake and turn both the cooling rack and Elmo pan over. Carefully remove the pan. Now you’ll see Elmo’s face. Let the cake cool for at least 1 hour. Then carefully transfer to whatever dish you will be serving the cake on and slide 3 pieces of parchment under the edges to help with any frosting overflow while decorating.

4. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy. Then reduce the speed to medium and slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, increasing the speed to high for a few seconds every so often to help the frosting become light and airy. Then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

5. Remove 1/2 cup of frosting from the bowl to a smaller bowl and add black tint until desired color is achieved. Then, if desired, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of corn syrup to help thin the frosting (also it helps make it glossy). Smooth the black frosting over Elmo’s mouth with an offset spatula (it’s okay to color out of the lines a little because you can cover it up with red frosting later). Make sure to save some black for Elmo’s eyes too.

6. Next frost his eyes with the white frosting, again smoothing it with the spatula. Make room for his pupils and pipe/smooth a circle of black frosting onto each eyeball.

7. For Elmo’s nose, set aside 1/4 cup of frosting and tint it orange until desired color is achieved. Then smooth the frosting onto his nose.

8. Finally, tint the remainder of the frosting red and thin, if desired, with 3/4 teaspoon light corn syrup. Either smooth it onto his face with a spatula or use a star tip (I used Wilton #21) to fill in the remaining unfrosted areas with red buttercream. Remove the parchment.

9. Make your child really happy!

______________________________

Cookie Monster Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

Yield: 30 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

3 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour, divided

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk

1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

5 large egg whites (I attempted to use the liquid egg whites first but they didn’t beat up nicely so I’d recommend using real eggs)

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the decorations:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wilton Icing Color in Royal Blue

Wilton Candy Melts (white)-1 bag

Black frosting (either leftover from Elmo cake or purchased separately. Alternately, set aside some of the frosting before tinting it blue and tint it black)

Chocolate chip cookie fragments (see recipe below)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners (blue if possible, for the ultimate Cookie Monster effect). Whisk together 3 1/4 cups cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

2. Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla to the milk. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 additions, beating after each addition. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cake batter until just combined. Toss the chocolate chips with the remaining tablespoon of cake flour and gently fold into the cake batter.

4. Divide the batter among the cups, approximately 1/3 cup of batter in each. Bake for about 22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes are springy to the touch. Let cool completely before frosting.

5. For the frosting, beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy. Then reduce the speed to medium and slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, increasing the speed to high for a few seconds every so often to help the frosting become light and airy. Then add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Finally, add the blue tint until you have achieved the desired hue. I had to hold a stuffed Cookie Monster up next to my mixing bowl until I got the color just right!

6. Once the cupcakes have cooled, either spread the frosting on top with an offset spatula or pipe on top with a star cake decorating tip (I used Wilton #21). Gently insert the Wilton candy melts in at an angle for his eyes. Pipe black frosting for the pupils (remember his eyes are uneven). Pop a piece of chocolate chip cookie in for his mouth and enjoy the cuteness!

_____________________________

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (like Silpat).

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and the sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Add in the chocolate chips.

3. Drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until desired doneness. For Cookie Monster cookies, a little crispier is preferable.

4. Let cool on wire racks.

______________________________

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini M&Ms

When thinking about cookies, there’s nothing like the classic chocolate chip cookie. And you’re in luck because today, May 15, is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, so I am going to share a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe with you. Today is also my little brother’s birthday…so have a cookie on me, Scotty!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

These cookies bring you all the flavors you’d expect from a standard chocolate chip cookie–with a twist, teeny tiny little mini M&M’s. While these cookies are as chewy as a chocolate chip cookie should be, with the wonderful flavors of cookie dough ice cream thanks to a bonus of vanilla pudding in the batter, the mini M&M’s add just a touch of crunch. Delish!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

Just to highlight how yummy these cookies are, I was approached by one of my son’s daycare teachers who, after I gave her a batch as part of her holiday gift in December, asked me if she could pay me to bake her more of these cookies. Of course I was more than happy to oblige (and no, of course I couldn’t accept payment from one of my son’s favorite teachers). It made me happy though, because I’m not a professional chef/baker so I was thrilled that someone loved my baking that much that they would pay to eat these cookies!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

So give yourself and your loved ones a treat today, with Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini M&Ms!

M+M chocolate chip cookies

______________________________

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mini M&M’s (adapted from Mommy on Demand)

Yield: 6 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1.7 ounce box vanilla pudding (I used sugar free)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini M&M’s (the entire 12 ounce bag)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add in vanilla extract, then the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. Add the baking soda, salt, flour, and vanilla pudding and beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and M&M’s.

4. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
______________________________

Chocolate-Almond Souffle Cake

homebaker1

It has been a little while since I participated in The Home Bakers group. Unfortunately as work and family commitments have ramped up, the blogging has taken a bit of a nosedive, so I missed the last coffee cake bake along. I thought I was set to miss this one too because it fell right in the midst of Passover and really, how was I supposed to make coffee cake from a regular cookbook during Passover?! But the chocolate and almond combo intrigued me since both chocolate and almonds are just fine during Passover, as were most of the ingredients in this delicious cake, so I just had to come up with a few modifications to make it kosher for Passover.

Chocolate Almond Souffle Cake

Fortunately, my changes did not alter the moist and flavorful composition of this light cake and it’s definitely a keeper for years to come. And don’t get me wrong, no need to be celebrating Passover to enjoy this cake. It’s a winner year round! The almonds add an interesting texture to an otherwise airy cake, which I think would be fantastic topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

Chocolate Almond Souffle Cake

I started off by coating an 8-inch square pan with nonstick spray and a light coating of matzah cake meal. I toasted raw whole almonds at 325F for about 8 minutes, until fragrant then let cool slightly. Be careful not to let the almonds burn so you don’t end up with a bitter cake. Once cooled, I finely ground the almonds in a food processor and combined with finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and set aside.

Then I beat egg whites until foamy and added in salt and lemon juice (in lieu of the cream of tartar in the original recipe) and beat them until soft peaks formed. I added in brown sugar then beat the mixture until stiff peaks formed.

In a separate mixing bowl I beat the egg yolks until thick and pale then added in more brown sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract. I stirred matzah cake meal into the almond/chocolate mixture, then folded it into the yolk mixture, then folded in the egg whites.

I spread the batter into the 8-inch pan and baked it at 325F for 35 minutes until it was cooked through and the top sprung back when lightly touched. I let it cool completely before cutting into pieces to serve. It was a welcomed addition at our seder and for the week to come! It lasted throughout Passover kept wrapped at room temperature.

Chocolate Almond Souffle Cake

______________________________

Chocolate-Almond Souffle Cake (adapted from Coffee Cakes)

Yield: 1 8-inch square cake or 1 9-inch round cake

nonstick cooking spray

1 1/3 cups (5 1/2 ounces) slivered or raw whole almonds

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

6 large eggs, separated

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (instead of the 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar in the original recipe)

2 tablespoons plus 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup matzah cake meal (instead of 1/2 cup all-purpose flour called for in the original recipe)

Directions:

Please see Life Can Be Simple  for the full directions for this recipe. Other than the pan size and ingredient modifications noted above I followed the recipe as written.

______________________________

Check out The Home Bakers and see other interpretations of Chocolate-Almond Souffle Cake and other coffee cakes featured on The Dinner Pages

Ebony and Ivory: Passover Cookies Two Ways

Whether you celebrate Passover or not, try these Mexican Chocolate Passover Cookies and Passover Chocolate Chip Blondies!

DSC_0590

I was really excited about this month’s Improv Cooking Challenge and creating a recipe on the Ebony and Ivory theme. But, life happened, and I’ve got a lot going on right now so my writing has taken a bit of a back burner even though I’ve still been cooking up a storm and building up my repertoire of recipes to share later on. So I was going to bow out of the challenge. However when doing my Passover baking I realized the desserts I was already planning to make would be perfect. Alone, they both qualify as ebony and ivory. The Mexican Chocolate Cookies are lovely dark treats with a crispy outside and chewy interior, lightened in color by a coat of powdered sugar. In contrast, my Passover Blondies are, well, blonde in color (we’ll call it ivory) and studded with yummy ebony chocolate chips. So they’re both black and white and together, as you can see, they exemplify light and dark, ebony and ivory.

Passover Cookies Two Ways

Now as some of you may know, Passover can be challenging to bake for since a lot of my typical ingredients for baking are out of the question. No flour is a big one. So creativity is essential to come up with substitutions that don’t taste like cardboard. I’m proud to say that my Passover guests agreed that these desserts would be delicious year round. One other great thing about both of these recipes is that they’re both gluten free and dairy free too.

Mexican Chocolate Passover Cookies

Just as a heads up, both recipes take a little bit of planning ahead, the Mexican Chocolate Cookies because the dough needs to be refrigerated for several hours or overnight before shaping and baking, and the blondies because you need vanilla sugar. Now if you already have vanilla sugar you’re golden, but if not it takes 24 hours to make. But overall they are both easy without excessive hands on time.

Passover Chocolate Chip Blondies

These desserts are lovely to serve as a seder dessert (so pin for next year, I know I’m a little late for this year but I couldn’t get the cleaning, prepping, baking, AND blogging done in advance) but they are truly fantastic anytime during Passover or otherwise. Despite my Ebony and Ivory theme, no need to be strictly black and white and only enjoy these treats during Passover!

Passover Cookies Two Ways

______________________________
Mexican Chocolate Passover Cookies (adapted from The Holiday Kosher Baker)

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup potato starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl combine the oil, sugar, cocoa, eggs, and vanilla. Then add in the potato starch, salt, and cinnamon and mix until fully combined. Refrigerate overnight (I refrigerated mine for 7 hours which was enough).

2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll walnut sized pieces of cookie dough in confectioners’ sugar then place on the cookie sheet at least 1 1/2 inches apart.

3. Bake for 14 minutes. The cookies will still be somewhat soft, but not raw. Let cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

______________________________

Passover Chocolate Chip Blondies (adapted from The Holiday Kosher Baker)

Yield: 24 bars

nonstick cooking spray

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (see below)

3 1/4 cups ground almonds or almond meal

1/4 cup potato starch

1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray then fit in a piece of parchment paper to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Coat the parchment with cooking spray as well.

2. Beat together the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add in the ground almonds and potato starch and mix fully. Stir in the chocolate chips, then add the batter to the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool then remove the parchment paper from the pan and cut into bars.

______________________________

Vanilla Sugar

Yield: 1 cup

Slice a vanilla bean down its entire length. Add to a container of granulated sugar. Cover and let sit overnight.

______________________________

Check out other bloggers’ takes on the Ebony and Ivory Improv Cooking Challenge theme here:

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’ve been working on several treats to fit the theme of the day. You’ve already read about Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream and “Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix and there are more coming up this week. But this one here is the piece de resistance. Since I’m currently living south of the Mason-Dixon, what could be a more iconic red dessert than red velvet cake?

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream

I’ve made red velvet before, with okay results. The color is usually gorgeous but sometimes it’s just too dry for my liking. Making a molten lava cake definitely bypasses that issue! The ooey gooey cake batter just flowed, once releasing the individual cakes from their ramekins.

For me, though, the frosting makes the cake, not just for red velvet cakes, but for all cakes. It’s not infrequent that I’ll lick the frosting off a cupcake, just to chuck the rest of cake because it’s too dry or bland. So I knew I had to highlight the classic cream cheese frosting flavors that red velvet is also known for. As you know, I love making my own ice cream and trying out new flavors. And the cool creamy consistency of ice cream is the perfect match for molten lava cake batter!

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

So here’s a recipe for rich amazingly delicious Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes to be paired with Cream Cheese Ice Cream. Both are easy and not too time consuming to prepare, though I recommend making the ice cream in advance since it can be tough for ice cream freezers to work well in a warm kitchen, which might happen when heating up your oven to bake the cakes. If you make them concurrently, plan out your timing well, because you want to serve the cakes as soon as they’re ready and not be waiting around for ice cream to freeze while the molten lava solidifies!

Melt together white chocolate and butter, then add sugar and cocoa powder. Slow add in to beaten eggs.

Melt together white chocolate and butter, then add sugar and cocoa powder. Slow add in to beaten eggs.

Add in red food coloring and flour

Add in red food coloring and flour

Divide into 4 ramekins

Divide into 4 ramekins

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes

Run a knife around the edges then carefully invert the ramekin onto a dish. Let sit for 2 minutes then remove

Run a knife around the edges then carefully invert the ramekin onto a dish. Let sit for 2 minutes then remove

This is a gorgeous treat to cap off your Valentine’s Day dinner. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream

______________________________

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes with Cream Cheese Ice Cream (adapted from thespiffycookie.com and Epicurious.com)

Yield: 4 individual serving cakes and 1 quart ice cream

For the cakes:

6 ounces white baking chocolate

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the ramekins

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons red food coloring

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and butter until smooth. This will take approximately 2 minutes; stop the microwave to stir every 20-30 seconds to avoid burning. While the chocolate and butter are melting, use the remaining butter to thoroughly grease the ramekins.

2. Add in the cocoa powder and sugar and stir until combined.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add in a small amount of the chocolate mixture and stir together to allow the eggs to warm slowly (temper) to avoid scrambling. Repeat 2-3 more times then add in the remaining chocolate batter and stir until fully combined.

4. Stir in the red food coloring, flour, and pinch of salt. Divide the batter among 4 well greased 3/4-1 cup ramekins.

5. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges right away. Invert each ramekin onto an individual serving plate and let sit for 2 minutes, then carefully lift up the ramekin. Top with cream cheese ice cream (or whipped cream) to serve.

For the ice cream:

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

8 ounces neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese), softened

1 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixture with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, sugar, and salt until smooth. Then pour in the heavy cream and beat on low speed until just combined. You can also do this step with a blender or food processor.

2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freezer according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container to store. Let come slightly to room temperature before topping the Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes.

______________________________

“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

February is Heart Health month and today, February 7, is “Go Red for Women” Day, an event to raise awareness of heart disease in females. So to help support this cause, I’m sharing a recipe for a delicious snack mix that not only has beautiful red cranberries to help us “go red,” but also has some heart health benefits. Plus with Valentine’s Day only a week away, this is a great snack to share with your Valentine, young or old. And that’s excellent for your heart too!

"Go Red" for Heart Health Snack Mix

I’ve never thought too hard about “recipes” for trail mix or the like since you pretty much toss together a bunch of yummy snacks in a bowl or bag and go. But I came across this delectable combination of dried coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips in a packaged snack mix and loved the flavors and figured I could do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

Coconuts are pretty trendy in the food world now and there is lots of research going on in the nutrition and medical fields regarding potential benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and just plain old coconut. Some studies have shown advantageous effects on cholesterol from ingesting coconut oil. Point 1 for heart health!

Then we come to cranberries. Polyphenols, which are found in cranberries as well as other foods, are thought to be great for cardiovascular health also by improving cholesterol as well as through some anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Yay cranberries!

And finally chocolate. No one needs to give me any scientific argument to eat (and enjoy) chocolate. But just in case you need a heart healthy reason to indulge, here you go…just like cranberries, flavonoids are found in cocoa and chocolate. They have anti-oxidant properties which also have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also might help lower blood pressure which improves circulation to the heart. Yes please! Benefits are the best with dark chocolate (which includes the semi-sweet chocolate used here).

image from American Heart Association website

image from American Heart Association website

I recommend not using the shredded dried coconut from the baking aisle and rather finding actual dried coconut pieces from the dried fruit section. The flavor and nutrition benefits are so much better and since it’s one of only three ingredients in this snack, it is really highlighted, so the better quality coconut is totally worth it. I found mine at Costco but I imagine it’s available at some supermarkets as well as natural food stores.

"Cocoa"-Nuts for You Snack Mix

______________________________

“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

Yield: approximately 3 cups

2 cups dried coconut chunks (we found them at Costco), chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Share with someone you love! Store leftovers in an airtight container.

_____________________________

Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream

Wondermom Wannabe

Bring some heat to your Valentine’s Day with this Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream! I know it’s the middle of winter, but in my opinion, ice cream is a key part of a balanced diet year round. One of my best friends and I have a (not so) secret dream of opening up an ice cream shop someday. Granted right now we live on opposite coasts and are employed in a totally different line of work but we still talk about our future ice cream shop almost every time we chat. So each time I try out a new ice cream flavor I can chalk it up to future job training, right?

Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream

Anyway, I first made Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream a few years ago. It was actually my dessert entry for a chili cook off and I won for that category. This ice cream is smooth and very rich. Cinnamon adds most of the spice but if you really want to feel the heat, you can also add a crushed dried pequin chili pepper. Almonds and chocolate chips add texture to this otherwise silky dessert.

Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream

I started off by melting bittersweet and unsweetened baking chocolate in a double boiler while simultaneously bringing milk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan. I added the just boiled milk and cream to egg yolks beat with brown sugar, while whisking constantly to avoid scrambled eggs! Once combined I poured it all back into the saucepan and stirred constantly until it reached 170F on a candy thermometer, creating a custard, which I strained through a fine sieve.

Once strained, I stirred in the melted chocolate, cinnamon, and a touch of Kahlua, which is optional. Then I poured the mixture into the bowl of my ice cream machine and let the magic happen. I’m lucky enough to have a self-cooling machine, so I don’t have to let the mixture cool first (yay for less waiting for ice cream!) but depending on your ice cream machine you may need to let the mixture sit in your fridge to cool down for a bit before freezing.

Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream

At the very end of the freezing process, I added semi-sweet chocolate chips and toasted blanched almond slivers. This is where the crushed pequin chili pepper goes too if you’re using it. I skipped it this time around knowing that my toddler would be begging for a taste but I’ve used the pepper all the other times I’ve made the ice cream and it does add heat but is totally bearable since you have the cool creaminess of the frozen dessert to counteract the heat of the peppers. Just a note: make sure to wear gloves when crushing up the chili…the oil is no joke if you accidentally touch your face afterwards!

So spice up your Valentine’s Day, or any other day, with Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream! XOXO!

Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream

______________________________

Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream

Yield: approximately 1 1/2 quarts

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup skim milk

6 large egg yolks

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons Kahlua (optional)

1/3 cup toasted blanched almond slivers

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon crumbled pequin chilies (optional)–this is 1 chili pepper

Directions:

1. Melt the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the cream and the milk and bring just to a boil. In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the brown sugar. Add the cream mixture to the egg yolks in a steady stream, whisking continuously, then return the mixture back to the saucepan.

3. Cook the custard over medium-low heat, stirring continuously, until it reaches 170F on a candy thermometer. Strain through a fine sieve, then whisk in the melted chocolate, the cinnamon, and the Kahlua if using.

4. Let the mixture cool and freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. During the final few minutes of the freezing process, add in the almonds, chocolate chips, and crumbled chili pepper if using. Transfer to a freezer-safe container to store.

______________________________

Hot Chocolate Bread

I know a warm delicious loaf of Hot Chocolate Bread isn’t traditional Super Bowl fare. But here’s why I will be enjoying it this Super Bowl Sunday.

Hot Chocolate Bread

I have no particular loyalties to either team in the big game. I did live in Seattle for a summer in college doing some research and traveled back to Seattle as well as to Denver for work in the past few years. They’re both great cities. When in the Pacific Northwest I really enjoyed my visit to Olympic National Park (and this was before I got sucked into the world of Twilight) and of course the views from the Space Needle…

Space Needle…and shopping at Pike’s Place in Seattle.

Pike's Place

Hiking at Red Rocks was spectacular in Colorado.

Red Rocks

I distinctly remember looking at cookbooks in a souvenir store in Denver but somehow didn’t come home with one.

Denver

However, I do have one from Seattle on my bookshelf, so in honor of the Seahawks decided to try out a recipe from it. This cookbook is from a bakery in downtown Seattle called Macrina which we visited for a quick snack before sightseeing.

Macrina

The book is full of appetizing recipes for breads and other sweets but since I don’t have time for a sourdough starter right now opted to make a different type of bread.

Our local supermarket had a delicious chocolate bread with cherries in it about a year ago. We only had it once, but oh my it was amazing. We were so disappointed when they decided not to bring it back this year. The bread man (yes our store has a bread guy who always convinces us to try different types of bread…he’s really good at his job!) could not explain why they didn’t bring it back given its huge popularity but anyway this was my attempt to make it on my own and I succeeded.

Word of warning, this is a project. Most of it is not hands on time and it’s not a difficult recipe, even for a beginning bread baker, but you need to allow at least 5 hours of time from start to finish before you get to enjoy warm, melty, delicious fresh homemade bread. Totally worth it, just don’t start after work one night and expect to have fresh bread with dinner. I took advantage of one of our recent snow days to make this bread.

First I warmed some milk in a saucepan and added it to the bowl of my electric mixer with yeast, vanilla, and some sugar to allow it to bloom. Then I added flour, more sugar, cocoa powder, almond extract, salt, and eggs to the mix and combined them with the dough hook on low. Next I upped the speed to medium and dropped in chunks of room temperature butter, continuing to mix with the dough hook for about 12 minutes until the dough was smooth and silky.

Hot Chocolate Bread

During that time I lightly toasted almonds in the oven (watch them carefully…I burned the first batch) and chopped them coarsely. I also coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Once the dough had rested I added in the chocolate and chopped almonds and mixed for a few more minutes until incorporated.

I turned the dough out onto my counter, which I had lightly floured, and kneaded it slightly into a smooth ball.

Hot Chocolate Bread

I placed the ball into a bowl I had coated with nonstick spray and turned the ball of dough to coat it. I let the dough rise for 2 hours in the bowl covered with plastic wrap in the relatively warm kitchen. It almost doubled in size.

I then punched down the dough and again kneaded it slightly, folding up the sides until a ball formed. I placed this ball onto a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper and let it rise for another hour covered with plastic wrap.

While it was rising I prepared special cinnamon sugar (cinnamon, granulated and brown sugar, and a touch of freshly grated nutmeg). Once the second rise was almost done, I heated the oven to 350F, sprinkled the dough with a little bit of water to allow the cinnamon sugar to stick, the topped the bread with the cinnamon sugar which formed a lovely sweet crust when baked. I baked the bread for an hour. It was dark and crusty outside and soft and chewy inside. Let it cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, that is, if you can wait that long; I couldn’t!

Hot Chocolate Bread

Though the bread is chocolate through and through, it isn’t exceedingly rich. There are sweet chocolatey bites where the bittersweet chocolate chunks shine through and lovely texture from chopped toasted almonds but the bread itself still tastes like bread. It is delightful warm from the oven spread with butter. Thanks Seattle for making my snow day brighter with this uniquely delicious Hot Chocolate Bread!

Hot Chocolate Bread

_____________________________

Hot Chocolate Bread (adapted from Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook)

Yield: 1 loaf

1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (this is a little less than a whole packet, which is 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup whole almonds
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons special cinnamon sugar mixture (see below)

Directions:

1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan and add it to the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the yeast, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes to bloom.

2. Add in the flour, the remaining sugar (1/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon), cocoa, almond extract, salt, and eggs. Combine with a dough hook on low speed for 2 minutes then increase to medium speed and drop in pieces of butter one by one until combined. Continue mixing on medium for 12 minutes until the dough looks smooth and satiny. Let rest for 5 minutes.

3. While the dough is mixing, toast the almonds in the oven at 350F for about 7 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Let cool slightly then coarsely chop them.

4. After the dough has rested for 5 minutes, add in the chopped almonds and bittersweet chocolate and mix for 2 minutes until fully incorporated.

5. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, knead it slightly, and form it into a ball. Coat a bowl with nonstick cooking spray or oil and place the ball of dough into the bowl, turning it to coat it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a 70-75F room for 2 hours. The dough will almost double in size.

6. Punch the dough down again, then knead slightly, folding up the sides until a ball forms. Place the ball onto a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Let it rise for another hour covered with plastic wrap.

7. While the dough is rising prepare the special cinnamon sugar (below).

8. Preheat the oven to 350F. Once the second rise is complete, sprinkle the dough with a little water then top with 2 tablespoons of the special cinnamon sugar. Bake for 1 hour, until deep brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool for 30 minutes.

______________________________

Special Cinnamon Sugar

Yield: 1/2 cup

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Directions:

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

______________________________

Chocolate Mint Cookie Bites

I’ve been scoping out recipes for the holiday cookie season for a while and this one definitely caught my eye. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Yippee! These little chocolate-y cups looked so appetizing to bring to my potluck luncheon at work. I modified the original recipe just a little bit to make them more festive by adding hints of mint to each stage of the baking process.

Chocolate Mint Cookie Cups

First I made the dough, which had 2 types of chocolate, both unsweetened cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips, which added moistness and extra rich chocolate flavor when they were baked. The mint here was from a half teaspoon of peppermint extract. After chilling the dough, I divided it into 48 portions and rolled each one into a ball, which I placed in a mini muffin tin.

Chocolate Mint Cookie Cups

After baking the cookies for 11 minutes, I let them cool in the pan briefly, then carefully removed them to cool further. A slight indentation for the topping started to form during cooling.

Chocolate Mint Cookie Cups

Once cooled, I topped the cookies with a little bit of minty frosting (could add an extra festive touch with a drop of green food coloring) and decorated with the mint M&Ms. The frosting helped the M&Ms to stick better, since I had to transport the cookies to work.

Chocolate Mint Cookie Cups

The recipe makes a whole bunch of cookies so it’s also great for a cookie exchange. These cookie cups are super rich and cake-like and were well enjoyed by the crew at work.

Chocolate Mint Cookie Cups

______________________________

Chocolate Mint Cookie Bites (adapted from Alida’s Kitchen and Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009)

Yield: 48 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided

2 eggs

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

nonstick cooking spray

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

mint chocolate M&M candies

Directions:

1. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter and the granulated and brown sugars until fluffy. Then add in the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract. Add in the eggs one at a time, and beat after each addition.

3. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the the mixing bowl, beating on low until just combined. The dough will be thick. Add in the mini chocolate chips.

4. Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a mini-muffin pan with nonstick spray.

6. Divide the dough into 48 pieces and roll into balls. Place one ball into each muffin cup.

7. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies are cooked through. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before carefully removing from the muffin tin.

8. While they are cooling prepare the frosting by combining the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, and the milk in a small bowl.

9. Once the cookie cups are cooled, spread with frosting and decorate with M&Ms.

______________________________

%d bloggers like this: