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Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

Cobblers and crisps are the highlight of summer desserts for me. I love that so much fresh fruit is available,  that you can mix and match fruits based on what you have on hand and I love how easy they are to prepare. If I had to pick a favorite, it would definitely be peach cobbler. After all, I did grow up in Georgia!

The farmer’s markets here have been overflowing with South Carolina peaches. After a few weeks of eating peaches plain, with yogurt and on oatmeal, I developed quite a craving for peach cobbler with ice cream. I prefer cobblers with a biscuit topping rather than the pie crust topping and this recipe from Southern Living looked perfect for my peach cobbler craving.

It was very easy to assemble (like the name implies) and the most time intensive part of the whole process was peeling and slicing the peaches. I halved the original recipe because it would be trouble if we had a whole batch in the house! The half recipe was perfect for about five servings.

This peach cobbler was wonderful served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream! I will be keeping this recipe on hand for when I need a quick cobbler fix!

One Year Ago: Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
Another Favorite Peach Dessert: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Easy Peach Cobbler
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter and pour into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar (I reduced this a bit – used more like 3/4 cup), peach slices and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm with ice cream.

Yield: 10 servings

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My mother in law celebrated a birthday last week and of course I volunteered to bring the cake. (Remember last year’s Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling?) Typically, the girls in the family prefer fruitier desserts while the guys are all about chocolate. I am firmly in the fruity cake camp so I knew that was the direction I wanted to go with this cake. I’ve mentioned before that I have a tough time deciding what to make (I will browse recipes for hours) so I was excited when my sister in law suggested a cake with fresh blueberries.

Luckily, my Google search for blueberry layer cake didn’t yield too many results. I trust anything that Epicurious posts on their site so I was sold on Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting as soon as I saw it and noticed it received over 100 positive reviews.

I totally must disclose that this is not a light and fluffy cake. It’s pretty dense and I was scared to death when I was removing it from the pan and frosting it that everyone would hate it. I typically prefer a light, airy cake and this is not that. I was so surprised that it ended up being moist and the texture worked with this cake. Everyone really enjoyed the cake and raved over the flavor. My friend Catherine also made the cake for her mother in law’s birthday after reading about it on my healthy living blog, Peanut Butter Runner, and it was also a hit with her family.

The only modification that I made to the recipe was to increase the lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the frosting. I knew that I wanted a pronounced lemon flavor and some of the reviews suggested increasing the lemon. I will most definitely be baking this cake again. It’s such a fun (and ridiculously delicious) way to use fresh, local summer blueberries.

Make this before blueberry season ends! You’ll be happy you did! :)

One Year Ago: Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (double for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

FOR THE FROSTING
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar (I used a little less)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for more lemon flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8- or 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and butter paper. Dust pans with flour and set aside.
Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to separate bowl and add fresh blueberries. Toss with flour to coat and set and blueberries and remaining flour mixture aside.

Stir together whole milk, vanilla extract and grated lemon peel in small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat butter in until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.) Gently fold in blueberries with a spatula. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes and then run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar (tasting as you go – you might not want all four cups of powdered sugar due to sweetness). Beat in lemon peel, juice if using and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until just firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

TO ASSEMBLE CAKE
Transfer one cake layer to platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with another cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake can be prepared up to one day ahead of time, covered and refrigerated. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.) Decorate cake as desired and serve.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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Confession – I just finished a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a chopped Reese’s cup, chocolate syrup and caramel sauce. I’ve been thinking about blogging these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars all day and my craving for peanut butter and chocolate was out of control. Craving satisfied. I can now blog about these delicious bars without wanting to eat the screen.

Do I even need to state that peanut butter and chocolate is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations after the above commentary? I’m a bitembarrassed by the number of starred items in my Google Reader involving peanut butter and chocolate. This recipe was one of those items.

We went to a family reunion in the Western North Carolina mountains over the July Fourth weekend (read about it here and here). There were about 60 people in attendance and our family was in charge of dinner one night. I contributed these bars, brownies and oatmeal raisin cookies to the dessert spread.

These bars were incredible and definitely lived up to my high expectations. Of course, the first night I made them Brandon had to sample them warm with ice cream on top (a recurring theme if you read this blog!). I thought they were great plain. Don’t shy away from adding the salt to the recipe even if you’re using salted peanut butter. The salty/sweet flavor is part of what makes these so good. I will actually probably add a little extra salt next time.

I doubled the recipe to accommodate a 13 x 9 pan. They took quite a bit longer to cook than the original recipe stated so I would recommend checking them every five minutes after the suggested baking time until you reach your desired doneness.

This is definitely the best blondie-type recipe I’ve tried for peanut butter chocolate chip bars and I will be making them again in the future and plan on playing around with mix-ins next time (chopped Reese’s anyone!?).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe source Bake at 350)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter, salted or unsalted (I used Trader Joe’s chunky salted)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (might want to add a bit more if using unsalted peanut butter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan. (Note that I doubled the recipe and used a 13 x 9.)

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the sugars until mixture is lightened in color and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and then add vanilla. Reduce mixer to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips, stirring until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Remember, you might need additional baking time so just keep checking. Cool completely before cutting.

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Let’s get straight to the point. These are without a doubt the best homemade brownies I’ve ever had. Ever. They are chocolaty, fudgy, rich and indulgent. The best part about these brownies is that I didn’t have to make them! We visited my parents in Atlanta several months ago and my dad had these ready for us when we arrived. We actually had dinner reservations that night at Top Chef contestant Kevin’s restaurant, Woodfire Grill, but I couldn’t resist sampling them. Totally worth slightly spoiling my appetite over! :)

Over the course of the visit I ate my fair share of these brownies. We took the leftovers home with us and made them even more ridiculously indulgent by serving them sundae style with ice cream and chocolate syrup. There was no brownie left behind.

All brownie lovers must try this recipe – even if you usually rely on boxed mixes. They are truly outstanding and will put any boxed brownie mix to shame. I will admit that I used to use boxed brownie mixes until I realized several years ago how easy homemade brownies are and produce far tastier results. They are so worth the little bit of extra effort required!

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
(Recipe source Cooks Illustrated, May 2000)

Ingredients :

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (either Dutch-processed or natural cocoa works well in this recipe)
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 12-inch pieces of foil lengthwise so that they measure 7 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan. Fit the second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. The foil overhangs will help you lift the brownies out of the pan.

Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of almost-simmering water. Melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Alternatively, you can melt chocolates and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on 50 percent power, stopping to stir ever 30 seconds, until mixture is smooth.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners and level surface with rubber spatula. Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes.

Completely cool brownies on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. (This is a very crucial step – I know it’s hard but you have to let them completely cool!) Remove brownies from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1-inch squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve; brownies can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 67

Apologies for my disappearance the last week but I’m back with the final two recipes to wrap up 68 Days of Gourmet. And promises of lots more deliciousness to follow after the project is complete. I also want to point out the newly created 68 Days of Gourmet page (found above) that categorizes all of the recipes from the project.

Now that the housekeeping details are out of the way, let’s talk about the Warm Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake. I saw this cake while browsing The Gourmet Cookbook and loved that it was elegant but relatively easy. This is the type of cake that would be perfect for a dinner party or date night dinner. Another plus is that it can be made ahead of time and reheated.

The frosting is poured into the bottom of the cake pan and the batter is poured on top. When you invert the cake from the pan your frosting is all melted and gooey on top of the cake. This cake is very moist and the raspberry jam in the frosting and cake adds a nice flavor dimension. The only change I would make next time I bake this is using a higher quality jam to really step up the raspberry flavor.

This is an impressive cake that requires minimal effort and is sure to be a crowd pleaser – especially with the chocolate lovers!

One year ago: Crash Hot Potatoes, Chocolate Biscotti

Warm Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 1999)

Ingredients:

FOR THE FROSTING
3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), roughly chopped
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup heavy cream

FOR THE CAKE BATTER
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (about 3 ounces)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.

FOR THE FROSTING
In a small heavy saucepan over low heat bring jam, cream and chocolate to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Pour frosting into cake pan.

FOR THE CAKE BATTER
In a bowl whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth and whisk in milk, vanilla, and jam. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time,  beating well after each addition. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt and add to egg mixture in batches alternately with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating well after each addition.

Pour batter evenly over frosting mixture and bake in middle of oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean (frosting on bottom will still be liquid). Cool cake slightly in pan on a rack, 10 to 20 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edge of pan and twist pan gently back and forth on a flat surface to loosen cake. Invert a cake plate with a slight lip over cake pan and, holding pan and plate together with both hands, invert cake onto plate. Frosting will cover cake and run onto plate.

* Cake may be made 1 day ahead, cooled completely in pan and left in pan, covered, at room temperature. Reheat cake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 66

North Carolina strawberries just came into season and Brandon sweetly picked up a flat for me at the farmer’s market last week. Strawberry is my favorite flavor of ice cream and ever since I received the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment last Christmas, I’ve enjoyed trying homemade ice cream recipes. I was thrilled to see that Gourmet had several no-cook strawberry ice cream recipes.

We had friends in town visiting last weekend and I thought this Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream would be the perfect dessert for our cookout Friday night. It was so easy to put together since it didn’t require any cooking. You just throw all the ingredients in a blender then into the ice cream maker to freeze. I made it on my lunch break the day I served it. Not surprisingly, the ice cream was a hit. Who doesn’t love homemade ice cream?

One year ago: Baked Eggplant Parmesan, Mississippi Mud Pie

No Cook Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 2000)

Ingredients:

3/4 pound (1 quart) strawberries, chopped
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Place strawberries, cream cheese, sugar, milk, lemon juice and salt in a blender. Blend until just incorporated. Stir in the heavy cream and chill. Follow the directions on your ice cream maker to freeze ice cream.

For the KitchenAid I slowly added the chilled ice cream base and mixed on the lowest speed for about 15 minutes, until the ice cream was the consistency of soft serve. Place in an airtight container and put in freezer to freeze completely.

Note, you may want to take the ice cream out to soften 10-15 minutes before serving.

Yield: about 8 servings

And I can’t resist sharing this picture that shows you how good the ice cream base tasted but I won’t reveal how much unfrozen ice cream I ate!

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 49

And yet another dessert recipe makes its way into 68 Days of Gourmet. I told myself that I wasn’t going to make any more desserts and that I really needed to make appetizers instead but then I found myself with a serious craving for an apple dessert last night.

It was totally worth it. Does it get any better than warm apple pie/cobbler/crisp and vanilla ice cream? So basic but so satisfying. Comfort food dessert.  I love how easy crisps are – no fooling with pastry crust. I think this was ready to go in the oven in less than 20 minutes – including peeling and cutting the apples. There is nothing fancy about this recipe – it’s just basic and delicious.

I must recap my weekend for you. It was definitely jam packed on the fitness front. Friday morning I attended hot vinyasa at Y2. I am convinced that this is the perfect way to start off a Friday and kick off the weekend. I literally pop out of bed when my alarm goes off at 5:45 and I am NOT a morning workout person!

I taught BodyPump Saturday morning. I was still pretty sore from teaching last Thursday (I guess my body was a little weak coming off of the sickness) but there’s nothing like seeing 21 people up bright and early on a Saturday to get you motivated! I’m really loving that I’m starting to recognize faces and get to know some of the regulars in my classes.

Saturday afternoon was all about the yoga. Last week I signed up for a 3-hour yoga boot camp at Y2. It was 2 hours of hot vinyasa and one hour of long slow deep (holding positions for 5+ minutes). Being relatively new to my practice, I was pretty nervous. I am so happy to report that the class was awesome and I not only survived but felt great. I even managed to be one of 3 or 4 people to hold a plank for 5 minutes! I love the feeling I have at the end of a big fitness achievement (finishing a race, surviving yoga boot camp, etc). It’s great to know that you’ve given it everything you have!

So maybe that gives you a little more background on why I was so ready for my apple dessert last night! :wink:

One year ago: Spicy Thai Noodle Bowl with Tofu

Apple Crisp
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE TOPPING
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/8 teaspoon cinnamon (1 just kind of eyeballed it – probably more like 1-1 1/2 teaspoons)
3/8 teaspoon salt (again, probably used more like 1 teaspoon)
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into tablespoons
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped

FOR THE APPLES
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 pounds apples (recommended fuji or jonagold)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 navel orange

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3 1/2 to 4 quart baking dish.

FOR THE TOPPING
Combine flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms large clumps. Transfer to bowl and mix in pecans with your fingers. Alternatively, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt and work in butter and pecans with your fingers or a pastry blender.

FOR THE FILLING
Whisk together sugar and cinnamon. Peel, quarter and core apples and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Add apples, lemon juice and orange zest to sugar mixture and mix until well combined.

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
Spread apples in prepared baking dish. Crumble topping evenly over apples. Bake until topping is golden brown, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool a bit and serve warm.

Yield: 8-10 servings

*Note: I easily cut this recipe in half and used a smaller baking dish.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 42

Sometimes having a food blog has its perks. Like when I have a perfectly valid excuse to make chocolate cream pie on a weeknight. What kind of food blogger would I be if I didn’t give you guys some chocolate dessert ideas for Valentine’s Day? I am so glad that I selected this recipe to feature. It is simply just amazing. And this is coming from the girl who is firmly in the fruit dessert camp and not the biggest fan of super chocolatey desserts. The homemade pudding is definitely the “pièce de résistance” in this pie. And when paired with the chocolate wafer crust and freshly whipped cream – home run! Make this for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day – I promise you won’t be disappointed :)

And on to news on the fitness and nutrition front (so appropriate in the same post as chocolate cream pie). Last weekend was definitely an over-the-top indulgent weekend for me. Lots of dining out, dessert and Super Bowl snacking. But I also attended a hot vinyasa yoga class Friday night, taught BodyPump Saturday morning and ran five miles Sunday afternoon. About the running…I am so frustrated with it right now. It’s been almost two months since my last last race and I took the biggest running break that I’ve taken in years. I’m one week into my new training program and having terrible pain in my left leg in the achilles tendon/lower calf area. It feels like there’s a big knot there and it hurts when I run and stays sore for days after I run. I’m really bummed and hoping if I keep icing it and try to rest it that it will get better. Fingers crossed.

Stocked up on lots of healthy foods, fruits and vegetables at the grocery for the week. Putting last weekend behind me and moving on! It’s all I can do. We all have to splurge sometimes!

Chocolate Cream Pie
(Recipe source Gourmet, February 2004)
Printable Recipe: Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 26 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers or Oreos with cream scraped off)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

FOR THE FILLING
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE TOPPING
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together crumbs, butter and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

FOR THE FILLING
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks until combined well.  Add milk in a slow stream, whisking and bring mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute (filling will be thick).

Pour filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least six hours or overnight.

FOR THE TOPPING
Just before serving, beat cream and sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Spoon on top of pie and serve with a dusting of cocoa powder or with fresh berries.

Yield: 8-10 servings

*Note: give yourself plenty of time to make this pie. You’ll want to make it the day before Valentine’s since you have to build in chilling time.

Other Valentine’s Day Treats
Lady Strawberry Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Jamwich Cookies

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 35

Hot fudge sauce is the perfect desperation dessert. I always have the ingredients in my pantry and it just really takes ice cream to the next level. Brandon was wanting dessert and we really didn’t have anything but ice cream. I whipped this up in about 10 minutes and it totally hit the spot! So chocolately and delicious!

This has been a pretty solid week on the health and fitness front. Here’s a quick fitness overview:
Monday: taught BodyPump AM, 60 minute power mixed yoga class PM
Tuesday: 75 minute hot vinyasa yoga (this class was SERIOUSLY hard!)
Wednesday: 75 minute power mixed yoga class
Thursday: taught BodyPump (launched the new release!!!)
Tomorrow (Friday): 60 minute hot vinyasa

Now…I know you’re wondering where the cardio is. I totally admit that I’ve been on hiatus. And the funny thing is that I feel really good. The yoga has been exactly what I need. I’m looking forward to starting a new half marathon training program on February 1 rested and restored. I’m running the Charlotte RaceFest Half Marathon on April 10. I’m following a 10 week training program from Runners World that will hopefully help me improve my time. The training plan is pretty aggressive but I’m excited about it and looking forward to some hard work. Can’t wait to run on some beautiful spring days and for the days to get a little longer!

It’s been a good nutrition week too. For whatever reason, I just haven’t had my normal appetite. This is bad considering the amount of exercise I’ve been doing. I don’t know if it’s the lack of running or something about the yoga but my eating habits are definitely a little off. Also, I’ve been craving healthy food (which I’m not complaining about). I’ve just been all about the fruits, whole grains and veggies this week.

We have a pretty indulgent weekend coming up. It all starts with a pizza party at work tomorrow for lunch. I’m planning on having one slice of veggie and bringing other healthy snacks. Then tomorrow night my in law’s are taking us to BLT Steak for Charlotte Restaurant Week. So excited to try it. It’s the new hot spot in Charlotte. And then Saturday we have reservations as another steak house. I’m planning on hitting up the fish selections and steering clear of the beef!

So go get your workout in and then have a hot fudge sundae! :)

Hot Fudge Sauce
(Recipe source Gourmet, February 2004)

Ingredients:

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt and half of chocolate to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla and remaining chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth.

Sauce can be made and stored for one week. Just scoop out what you need and heat!

Yield: 2 cups

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 24

This biscotti was the second item in my Operation Baking Gals holiday package. I blogged about Operation Baking Gals and the Pecan Sables I made in my last post. I thought that biscotti would be the perfect thing to make since it’s pretty sturdy and has a longer shelf life than a drop cookie. I decided on the Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti after seeing it in The Gourmet Cookbook. I looked the recipe up online and saw that it was originally printed in 1994 and had received around 250 positive reviews. That sealed the deal on making this recipe.

Despite the double baking, biscotti is pretty simple to make. I love the thick dough and the process of the initial bake and then slicing and baking again. It’s fun to see the actual biscotti take shape!

I didn’t sample the biscotti but Brandon and my grandmother did (I sent her a package of extras). I know I’ve mentioned this before but super chocolaty desserts just aren’t my thing.  They both ate it for breakfast and said it was great – the chocolate flavor is definitely the star here. This would also be a nice snack or dessert anytime of the day!

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, originally printed in Gourmet December 1994)
Printable Recipe: Double Chocolate Biscotti

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I have subbed white chocolate chips for walnuts)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs on the prepared baking sheet. Each log should be about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake 35 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, leaving oven on.

On a cutting board, cut logs diagonally into 3/4-inch slices to form biscotti. Arrange cut sides down on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

Yield: About 30 biscotti

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