Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

coconut macaron tastefood

~ Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons ~

The bane of my childhood candy experience was a Mounds Bar. I just didn’t get it. I would bite into the promising chocolate nugget, which would immediately give way to a chewy, shredded, nutty interior, that in, my opinion, had no rightful place in a chocolate bar. It was clearly the texture that I did not like. I was mystified by my friends who bought super-sized packages of Almond Joys to scarf down when we were at the movies. Every halloween when my brothers and I would pile our loot in the middle of the kitchen table, gloating and eyeing trade-ups, my chocolate covered coconut bars were the first to offer up with no regrets. Sadly, my brothers were not so keen on coconut either, so the negotiating could get ugly.

As a parent, it baffled me that my children loved coconut. But as chief cookie baker, I stepped up to the plate and used coconut more and more freely in bars, cakes, and cookies. And, you know what? I, too, developed a fondness for this tropical “nut”, appreciating its flaky fresh and nutty interruption in a sea of sugar. I guess you could say I grew up.

I eat coconut now, unforced, and prefer it paired with dark chocolate. Sometimes I make macaroons, a jumble of coconut bound together with egg white and condensed milk. Yes, the milk is icky-sweet, but it seems to yield the best  juicy soft interior, which is what prevents dryness and distinguishes a great macaroon. I’ve followed a recipe from Ina Garten from time to time, but switch out some of the sweetened coconut with unsweetened, which I find reduces excessiveness cloyness. Oh, and I always dunk them in dark chocolate, of course – which has a magnificent grounding effect on, well, everything.

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Makes about 24

14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces dark (70%) chocolate, melted

Heat the oven to 350°F (180° C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the milk, coconut, and vanilla in a large bowl and stir to blend.
Beat the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form and then fold into the coconut.

Drop heaping tablespoon-sized mounds of coconut on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack. Dip one half of each macaroon in the melted chocolate and transfer to a board or platter lined with parchment. Refrigerate until set.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Therapy

Chocolate Chip Cookie Therapy

Sometimes, life gets busy and a few curveballs come our way. Best laid plans are, well, put to rest. So, we go with the flow, chin-up, and carry on. In honor of life’s little bumps and interruptions, I offer this simple gift. It’s nothing new, but, rather, something familiar, comfortable, and oh-so sweet. You’ve seen these cookies here before in a 24-hour version, but this batch requires no such waiting, because there is a time and place for instant gratification, too. Especially when chocolate is involved.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 30 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate

Heat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Combine the butter and sugars together in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at high speed until light and creamy. Add egg and yolk. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla and mix again. Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl. Add to the butter and sugar and mix until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and chocolate. Drop rounded tablespoons of the batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until tops are light golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Chocolate Stout Pound Cake with Whiskey Cream

Chocolate Stout Pound Cake with Whiskey Cream

~ Chocolate Stout Pound Cake with Irish Whiskey Cream ~

When life hands you lemons you make lemonade. When life hands you lemons and Guinness Stout, I’d ignore the lemons and drink the stout. But be sure to save a bottle or two, because you can use any extra beer to make Irish Beef Stew and a decadent Chocolate Stout Pound Cake, which I’m including in a double post series this week in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. And just in case life has, in fact, been handing you lemons lately, I will post the dessert first. Simple things like chocolate, stout, and the phrase “dessert first” are guaranteed to make things better.

Chocolate Stout Pound Cake
Makes 1 large pound cake or bundt cake  (or 12 mini-bundt cakes)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup stout beer
12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and line a large loaf pan with parchment. Butter the parchment paper. If using a bundt pan or mini-bundt pans, butter the pans.
2. Heat the butter and stout in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the dark chocolate and stir until smooth.
3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
4. Whisk the eggs and sugar until light. Whisk in the sour cream and add to the chocolate. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine without over-mixing.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or mini bundt pans. Place on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the cake is set and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes clean, 55 to 65 minutes for a large cake or 25 minutes for mini-cakes.
6. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream.

Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Irish Whiskey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream in the bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk are visible. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to whip until soft peaks form.

Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins

Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins

Chocolate Therapy:
Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins 

As we tighten our purse strings, eat out less, purchase fewer perceived must-haves, it’s important to take a moment to focus on the simpler things in our lives that bring us pleasure: Family and friends? Absolutely. Good health and happy children? Of course! Beautiful sunsets and autumn foliage? Thank you very much. But right now what I’m most interested in is chocolate.

It’s not so long ago that I posted a recipe with chocolate on my blog. Perhaps this is reflection of the state of the world as I know it.  So call me repetitive or even a diet saboteur, but let’s be frank. Chocolate is good. When you taste it, you know it. More importantly, when you serve it to your friends and loved ones, it brings a smile to their faces. And, these days, generating smiles on the faces of people we know and touch is a very good thing.

Chunky Chocolate Cookies with Toasted Almonds and Raisins
Makes  30 2-inch cookies

14 ounces dark (70%) chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups  granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins

Melt  chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Beat sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until thick and very pale in color, 3 minutes. Add chocolate and vanilla to the eggs and mix well. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Add to the chocolate and mix to combine.  Stir in almonds and raisins. Refrigerate batter 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto the parchment. Bake until the tops are cracked and firm to the touch, 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven. The cookies will still be soft in the center and will continue to harden as they cool. Cool completely on parchment. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

More chocolate therapy? Then try these recipes:
Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Fleur de Sel from TasteFood
Miette’s Chocolate Sable Cookies from the Kitchn
Rich Chocolate Brownies from TasteFood
Chocolate Caramel Tart from My Baking Addiction

Flourless Chile-Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chile-Chocolate Cake

Add a little spice to your love life, I mean, chocolate, for Valentine’s Day. It’s never a bad idea to shake things up, and this flourless chocolate cake does just that. Laced with chipotle, cayenne and cinnamon, this dense fudgy cake has a naughty kick of smoke and heat cloaked in chocolate. Now that’s an exciting Valentine’s cake. To read more and for the recipe, head over to PhanPhatale where I have been asked by author (and new mother!) Jackie Pham to contribute a guest post. Happy Valentine’s Day!

This month I have the pleasure of guest posting on Jackie’s wonderful blog. When I discovered Phamfatale it immediately resonated with me. It shares a similar love for feeding friends and family, while influenced by our international family and life. Jackie’s Vietnamese parents, Parisian upbringing and vegetarian, sweet-loving husband create a kaleidescope of good eats which keep me coming back for more. And with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I can’t think of a more perfect way to share a little blog (and chocolate) love with her readers than with this guest post.

Flourless Chile-Chocolate Cake
Serves 10-12

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in pieces
3/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Powder sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch springform. Line with parchment paper; butter the parchment. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Whisk eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne. Mix to combine. Pour into springform. Bake until cake is set and top begins to crack, about 40 minutes. (The center will still be moist.) Cool completely on a rack. Remove the side of the pan. (Cake may be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve sprinkled with powder sugar.

Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Fleur de Sel

Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Fleur de Sel

Inspiration comes in many packages. These chocolate orange pots de creme are the result of a baking mistake. I set out to make them for a recent dinner party, however I forgot to cover the ramekins while they baked in the oven. Covering the ramekins allows the chocolate to set without a thicker top crust forming and detracting from a smooth and creamy consistency throughout the entire pudding. My pots de creme were smooth and creamy on the inside, all right, but the top had a firmer mottled texture. The taste was the same, but not the look. So, I decided to cover the surface with a granular topping which would provide a pleasing and distracting crunch while hiding my mistake. I rubbed the zest of an orange into a bowl of sugar. The sugar helped to separate the grains of zest and suspend them in granular animation, while the orange added a colorful tinge to the sugar. To serve, I garnished each ramekin with a dollop of whipped cream and showered the cream and chocolate with the orange sugar. To top it off I sprinkled a few grains of fleur de sel over each. It was delicious. The orange sugar added a confectionary crunch before dissolving in the mouth, leaving a lingering wisp of sea salt. I love it when mistakes like this happen.

Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Fleur de Sel

Begin 1-2 days before serving. Makes enough for 6 (3/4 cup) ramekins or 12 espresso cup servings.

For the pots de creme:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Cointreau or Gran Marnier

For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Gran Marnier or Cointreau (optional)

For the orange sugar:
Finely grated zest from one untreated navel orange
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Fleur de Sel (or flakes of another sea salt, such as Maldon)

Make the pots de creme:
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until blended. Add the cream in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Whisk in Cointreau. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into another bowl.  Cool 5 minutes. Pour into ramekins or espresso cups. Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the pan with boiling water half way up the ramekins. Cover ramekins with foil and transfer to oven. Bake until set, but still a little wobbly when jiggled, about 55 minutes for ramekins and 45 minutes for espresso cups. Remove from water bath and remove foil. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the whipped cream:
Beat the cream in a bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk appear. Add sugar and Gran Marnier. Continue to beat until peaks form.

Make the orange sugar:
Combine zest and sugar in a small bowl. Rub with fingers to evenly distribute the zest.

To serve, sprinkle each ramekin evely with the orange sugar. Spoon a dollop of cream over the center. Sprinkle with additional sugar and a few grains of fleur de sel.

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti


~ Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti ~

Biscotti are a twice-baked crisp Italian cookie, famously crunchy and perfect for dipping in coffee or milk. Many variations exist, including the traditional anise or almond biscotti, as well as cocoa infused chocolate biscotti. In this recipe I threw in everything I like in a cookie: chocolate, raisins, toasted almonds and orange zest. It sounds like a busy list of ingredients, but the resulting cookie was delightfully simple and not overly sweet.

Orange, Chocolate and Almond Biscotti
I added raisins to the biscotti as an afterthought for a little sweetness and texture; they may be omitted if you prefer a drier biscotti. I recommend using golden raisins for their color and flavor if you can find them.

Makes  approximately 30 biscotti.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest
3.5 ounces (100 g.) finely chopped or grated dark chocolate
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl of an electric mixer. Mix briefly to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, orange liqueur, vanilla and zest together in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the flour. Beat on medium speed until combined, 1 minute. Stir in chocolate, raisins and almonds.
Divide dough in half. Transfer to baking sheet and shape each half into a log the length of the baking sheet. Flatten each log into a 2 inch wide strip. Bake until firm and beginning to color, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 300 F. (150 C.)  Transfer biscotti to a cutting board. Cut in 3/4 inch strips with a serrated knife.  Arrange cut side down on baking sheet. Bake until they are lightly golden, about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.