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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 14

Saturday was my one year blogiversary! On November 28, 2008 I made my blogging debut with my Dad’s chili recipe. To celebrate reaching the one year mark I decided to make the Flourless Chocolate Cake from The Gourmet Cookbook. I thought it would be a nice departure from Thanksgiving desserts and I can’t get over how easy it is to make this cake. It’s a perfect option for an impressive dinner party dessert when you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.

I am not the biggest chocolate dessert fan (I know, I’m crazy) but Brandon gave this cake two thumbs up and I consider him a chocolate dessert aficionado. He is known for always ordering the most chocolaty and rich dessert on the menu at restaurants! The texture is almost brownie-like (fudgy) but the taste is similar to a very dark chocolate cake. Brandon requested his with a scoop of ice cream but it’s also nice served with fresh whipped cream, a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder and fresh berries.

If you’re having a chocolate craving or looking for an easy dessert to impress guests give this Flourless Chocolate Cake a try!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

8 ounces good quality bittersweet (not semi-sweet) chocolate, roughly chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9 or 10 inch springform pan and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper (cut into a circle to fit bottom of pan). Make sure to grease the liner as well.

In a double broiler or in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water, add chocolate and butter. Stir constantly until melted. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Last, sift cocoa powder into mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with moist crumbs and top should have a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove sides of pan. Invert cake on a plate and then back onto the rack to fully cool before serving.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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rockyroadbrownies

I can’t think of a better way to kick-off 68 Days of Gourmet than with these Rocky Road Brownies. Last week I was really craving a sweet treat for dessert and more specifically, something that would taste great topped with ice cream. I thought brownies would meet my requirements perfectly. I was going to make a basic fudge brownie recipe but then I spotted these Rocky Road Brownies and abandoned my plans for simplicity.

The base layer really is similar to your basic fudge brownie but the topping is what really packs a punch. I personally love marshmallows so these were fabulous to me. Very chocolately and indulgent – especially topped with a scoop of ice cream!

rockyroadbrownie250(2)

Rocky Road Brownies
(Recipe source Gourmet, December 1996)

Ingredients:

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped and divided
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a heavy 1 1/2-quart saucepan over low heat, melt butter, unsweetened chocolate and 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. Stir constantly until smooth. Remove pan from heat and cool mixture for about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. The mixture should look glossy and smooth. Add in flour and salt and stir until just combined.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the batter in a separate bowl. Spread remaining batter evenly in pan and bake on middle rack of oven for 20 minutes.

While bottom layer is baking, stir walnuts, marshmallows and remaining 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate into reserved batter. Remove pan from oven and spoon walnut-marshmallow mixture evenly over partially baked layer. Bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until marshmallows are golden. Cool completely in pan on a rack before cutting.

Layer brownies between sheets of wax paper in Tupperware and store at room temperature. They will stay fresh for several days.

Yield: 16 brownies

rockyroadbrownies250

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choccakeandslice

I had a three week break between my temporary job with the American Cancer Society and my new full-time job that I started Monday. I’m not going to lie…I must admit that I enjoyed my brief stint as a housewife. The best perks were having plenty of time to work out (daily run and yoga classes!) and having time to cook and bake to my heart’s content!

Last week I was really craving a chocolate cake. I had a block of cream cheese in the fridge and so I decided a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting would be perfect. I used my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe, the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake, and a based the frosting off of a recipe that I found on The Cupcake Project.

It was a delicious combination. The Hershey’s cake is so moist and the chocolate cream cheese was to die for. It was kind of reminiscent of chocolate cheesecake for me. Brandon and I both enjoyed this cake for dessert multiple nights last week and also shared a few slices with family. I will most definitely be using this flavor combination again!

choccake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe sources Hershey’s and The Cupcake Project)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

FOR THE FROSTING
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch round baking pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about two minutes. Pour in boiling water and continue to mix until incorporated, batter will be thin. Evenly distribute batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Start checking the cakes around 25 minutes as oven temperatures may vary (and no one likes an overdone cake)!

Cool in pans for about 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges and gently remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool completely.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat all ingredients on medium high speed until light and fluffy.

To frost cake, place first layer down and frost top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Place second layer on top and frost top and then sides.

Yield: 8-12 servings

choccakeslice

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pbccbananamuffins

I know, I know…it’s been all about the baking posts lately. I promise I’ll get back to real food soon but I’ve just been in the mood to bake lately. Also, I recognize that I have a slight addiction to baking muffins that involve banana. I’ve shared the story before but I am a total peanut butter addict and peanut butter and banana sandwiches are one of my favorite lunches. But sometimes I just don’t use my bananas for the week and find myself making muffins with the overripe bananas. I’m a little strange because I cannot eat a banana plain. It literally makes me sick to my stomach but I love them in things…like PB&B sandwiches and banana pudding!

So I decided I was ready for a change from my standby banana muffin recipe and wanted to try to incorporate my favorite sandwich in a muffin. I found this recipe on Baking Bites. It was simple and so delicious…especially with a glass of milk! I will definitely be making these often!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Baking Bites)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 2)
6 tablespoons peanut butter (I used all natural crunchy but you can use anything you have on hand)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12-muffin tin or prepare with liners.

Whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together vegetable oil, brown sugar, eggs, mashed banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until smooth. Stir in flour mixture flour mixture mix well.

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin pans, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove muffins frompan and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 muffins

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cookiesandcreamricekrispy

Part two of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer bake sale that I posted about on Saturday. Read all about it here (or just scroll down to the last post).  I made Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and these Cookies and Cream Rice Krispy Treats. I saw these on Annie’s Eats a several months ago. For whatever reason, Rice Krispy Treats are always a huge hit at bake sales so I decided to put a twist on them with the Cookies and Cream version.

These were really not hard to make and such a delicous twist on your everyday Rice Krispy Treat. And who doesn’t love Oreos?

Cookies and Cream Rice Krispy Treats
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because it was all I had!)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces (1 small package) marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups Rice Krispies
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped, plus extra finely chopped for topping
4-6 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a small glass bowl, microwaving in 30 second intervals. Stirring after each 30 second interval, until completely melted. Set aside.  Grease a 9×13″ pan with butter or cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Turn off heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla. Gently stir in Rice Krispies and Oreos, mix to coat evenly. Press mixture into prepared pan, leveling the top.

Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stir continuously until completely melted. Spread melted white chocolate over the Rice Crispies and then sprinkle and press in remaining chopped oreos. Set aside to cool and let chocolate set completely. Cut into squares.

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pumpkinchocchipbar2

Every year at about this time the food blogging world goes crazy for pumpkin. Seriously…it’s everywhere, all everyone can talk about. I’m not quite in the fall mindset yet because a) I just love summer so much and all the fresh fruits and vegetables that come with it and b) it’s still 85 degrees here!

The big news this year is the canned pumpkin shortage in some parts of the country. I’ll admit that when I was at the grocery last weekend I couldn’t help but look to see if they had pumpkin in stock. Don’t worry – we’re fine here in Charlotte! No pumpkin shortage for us. I picked up a can and caved and decided to bake these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars that I spotted from Martha Stewart.

I’ll admit, begrudgingly, that these were awesome – especially fresh out of the oven. They have a cake like texture and are very moist. They were great served warm with ice cream on top!

And I’ll also admit…you’ll be seeing another pumpkin post from me soon!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe heavily adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (make sure you’re using 100% pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lining it with aluminum foil, shiny side down, leaving about a 1-inch overhang on the edges. Grease foil (I like to use the wrapper from the butter).

In a bowl, mix together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium-high for about 3 minutes, until lightened in color and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until just combined. Beat in pumpkin puree. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread to ensure it’s even. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the foil and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. About 35-40 minutes.

Let cool in pan. Once cool, lift foil from pan and cut squares.

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icecreamsundaepie

Brandon had been asking for and ice cream pie. I was tempted to make my standby, cookies and cream with an Oreo crust, but decided to look around to see if anything else caught my eye. I saw this Malt Shop Ice Cream Pie on myrecipes.com and thought with a few modifications it would be a winning combination. One of Brandon’s all time favorite desserts is a chocolate malt so I knew he would love this pie.

I think what sold me on it the most was the sugar cone crust. What a fun idea! The crust didn’t really hold together well but I think if I had crushed the cones a little finer I wouldn’t have had that problem. I substituted the strawberry ice cream in the Cooking Light recipe for chocolate and made my own fudge sauce to go in between layers and on top.

I’ll definitely be making this pie again but next time I’ll add more malt powder to get a stronger malt flavor. I think this would be great to serve to dinner guests topped with a cherry!

icecreamsundaewholepie

Malted Ice Cream Sundae Pie
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons  honey
2 tablespoons  butter, melted
12 sugar cones, crushed
2 cups low-fat chocolate ice cream, softened
1/4 cup malted milk powder, divided
1/2 cup  hot fudge topping, plus more for topping
2  cups low-fat vanilla ice cream, softened
Canned whipped cream

Directions:

Combine crushed sugar cones, honey and butter in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

Place softened chocolate ice cream and 2 tablespoons of malted milk powder in a bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth and creamy. Spread mixture evenly into crust and spread hot fudge over the ice cream. Freeze 30 minutes or until firm.

Place softened vanilla ice cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of malted milk powder in a bowl. Beat with a mixer at hight speed until smooth and creamy. Spread mixture evenly over first 2 layers.

Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm. Top with hot fudge and whipped cream just before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

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chocbiscotti

I made this Chocolate Biscotti along with some Strawberry Scones to send to my grandmother for her birthday last month. The biscotti holds up well when shipped and has a longer shelf life than regular cookies. My grandmother told me she stuck them in the freezer and takes one out when she wants a snack.

This was my first time making biscotti. It was fairly easy and I think it makes a great gift. It’s pretty versatile and can be enjoyed as a snack, dessert or even breakfast (hey, some people like it with coffee!). My husband would be one of those in the “Chocolate is okay for breakfast” camp.

I’ll definitely be making this and other biscotti recipes in the future.

Chocolate Biscotti
(Recipe source Proceed With Caution, originally from Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (followed recommendation to replace with cocoa powder since I didn’t have espresso powder)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched (or about 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
Sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Mixture may still be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Return mixer to low speed and mix in the dry ingredients in three additions. Mix only until dough comes together.

Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate and turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll dough into 12-inch-long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high and about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular. Carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will have spread and cracked a little. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Leave oven on for second baking.

Use a serrated knife to cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand slices up on the baking sheet (like the picture at the top of the post) and return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Yield: Around 25 bicotti

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mudpie

We had friends over for dinner Friday night and I wanted to make an easy dessert. Ice cream pie seemed like the perfect thing now that we’re having days with temperatures in the 80’s. This Mississippi Mud Pie did not disappoint. It was great! The recipe was recommended to me from Annie’s Eats.

The only change I would make next time would be to make extra crust. I didn’t have enough to go up the sides of my pie pan. I used a 9-inch pie pan. I’m reflecting that change in my recipe below. Otherwise, everything was perfect. The homemade chocolate mixture is sinfully delicious (I was definitely sampling the leftover chocolate sauce at 7 a.m. Friday morning when I was making the pie!)  and I think the toffee chips make this pie.

Mississippi Mud Pie
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats, originally from Williams-Sonoma)

Ingredients:

FOR THE COOKIE CRUST
2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE PIE
1/2 cup toffee bits
1 quart coffee ice cream, softened

Directions:

FOR THE COOKIE CRUST
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together cookie crumbs, butter and sugar until crumbs are well moistened. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Firmly pack in crumbs and work up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 5-10 minutes (depending on desired crust firmness). Note that the crust will firm up more as it cools.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
In a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips, butter, cream and corn syrup. Heat over low heat, stirring often, until chocolate is melted. If you do not have a double broiler, you can use a small metal bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Bowl should not be touching the water.

Alternatively, in a microwave proof bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, cream and corn syrup and melt in microwave in 30-second intervals at 50 percent power. Stir mixture well after each 30 second interval. Do not overcook! Chocolate can burn quickly in microwave.

Add powdered sugar and vanilla to the chocolate mixture and whisk together. Reserve 1⁄3 cup of the chocolate mixture for the top of the pie. Spread the remaining mixture evenly in the bottom of the cookie crust and sprinkle half of the toffee bits over the chocolate. Refrigerate until chilled and set, about 1 hour.

TO ASSEMBLE THE PIE
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened ice cream on medium speed until it is spreadable but not runny. Immediately spread in pie shell and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Reheat the reserved chocolate mixture in the microwave at 50 percent power in 30-second intervals, until it is spreadable but not hot. Use a spatula to spread it over the ice cream. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits and return the pie to the freezer until it is completely firm before serving, 3 to 4 hours.

To slice, run a knife under hot water, then dry it off. If frozen overnight, pie may need to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before it is soft enough to slice easily.ream

Yield: One 9-inch pie; 8 servings

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I wanted to make a dessert last weekend for the blog (and for our enjoyment on Friday night!). I needed to narrow down my options – it’s a little tough just to say “I want to make a dessert” – so I decided to focus on tarts. I bought a tart pan at Williams-Sonoma a few moths ago and hadn’t used it. I sent Brandon and a few friends an email with tart options and the overwhelming response was that I should either make a peanut butter tart or a chocolate tart. Brandon had the genius suggestion to combine the two. So off I went in search of a chocolate peanut butter tart. I found this recipe online on the cooking blog Alpineberry. It’s originally from Fine Cooking magazine.

This tart did not disappoint for my first foray into tart making. The chocolate and peanut butter flavors went together so well. If you love chocolate and peanut butter as much as I do, I highly suggest you give this one a try!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
(Recipe source Alpineberry, originally from Fine Cooking Magazine)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
1 sleeve of Oreos (with cream filling scraped out) or chocolate graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
3 oz  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 tbsp light corn syrup

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have an ungreased 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom ready.

Place cookies in a food processor and process until finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, you can place the cookies in a gallon bag and use a rolling pin to crush. In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and sugar until well blended. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Put the crumbs in the tart pan and use your hands to spread the crumbs so that they coat the bottom of the pan and start to climb the sides. Use your fingers to pinch and press some of the crumbs around the inside edge of the pan to cover the sides evenly and create a wall a scant 1/4 inch thick. Redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and press firmly to make a compact layer.

Bake the crust in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

FOR THE FILLING
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and salt to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, and flour until well blended. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a full boil, about 3 min. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 1 min. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla; whisk until well blended.

Pour the hot peanut butter mixture into the crust and spread evenly. Gently press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the filling’s surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the tart until cold, about 2 hours, before adding the chocolate glaze.

FOR THE GLAZE
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in a microwave or in a double boiler over medium heat. (If you don’t have a double broiler, place a small metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.) Add the butter and corn syrup and whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.

Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the top of the chilled filling. Drizzle the glaze over the filling and spread it evenly to cover the tart completely. Refrigerate the tart in the pan until the glaze sets, about 30  minutes or up to 12  hours.

chocpbtart

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