Tag Archives: chocolate

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

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 ~

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.

 

Sinfully Rich Chocolate Brownies


~ Sinfully Rich Chocolate Brownies ~

Home, inspired, saturated: This sums up my present state on the heels of a 5 day retreat to the Allegheny mountains in West Virginia, where I had the honor and privilege of receiving a scholarship award from Chronicle Books to attend the Professional Food Writers Symposium at the Greenbrier Resort. (More to come on that soon, I promise!) In the meantime, my return home immediately collided with life as I had 24 hours in which to prepare and cater a beach party for 50 wonderful guests, while catching up on family, work and soccer games. As I catch my breath and collect my thoughts, dirty laundry and mail, I turn to the only sensible remedy for restoring any semblance of order and balance: dark Swiss chocolate. You will note that there are 4 brownies on my plate.

Sinfully Rich Chocolate Brownies

Makes 32 dense, fudgy small squares

1 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
12 ounces high quality dark chocolate (70%), coarsely chopped such as Lindt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Butter the paper.
Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl until the mixture lightens in color. Add chocolate to the eggs and stir to combine well. Add flour to the chocolate batter, stirring with a wooden spoon, until combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 25 minutes, or until top is set and sides begin to pull away from pan.  Brownies will be fudgey and a wooden pick will not come out clean.  Cool completely on rack.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. To cut, remove brownies from pan by lifting paper at sides. Cut in small squares. (The brownies will soften at room temperature.) Keep them stored in the refrigerator, and they will last for up to one week – if they last that long.

The Cookiepedia and a recipe for Chocolate Crinkles

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I received a new cookbook today, and I am smitten. It’s called The Cookiepedia: Mixing, Baking and Reinventing the Classics, written by Stacy Adimando. I must confess that I was somewhat skeptical of what a classic cookie book could show me. I am a straightforward baker when it comes to cookies. I rely on a short list of traditional goodies, often made at the spur of the moment without much thought except to quell a craving for something sweet, buttery, chocolate and uncomplicated. I’ve been making my family’s favorite cookies for so long I rarely use a recipe, relying on memory and simple ratios. Why would I need another recipe for my tried and true favorites?

Well, maybe I don’t need another recipe, but perhaps I do need a kick in the butt. For so long I have been making cookies by rote, with a little tweaking here and there to shake things up. While I know what I am doing, I realize that I have forgotten why I am doing it. The Cookiepedia is the perfect reminder that instructs and informs in a bright and friendly manner – just like you were baking with a friend or sister who happens to know a lot about a cookie. It has all the usual suspects (nearly 50 in all, including mint thins, snickerdoodles, blondies, and meringues), doled out with a healthy measure of tips, facts, tweaks and variations. Just like a girlfriend who knows your dirty laundry, real life is taken into consideration with time constraints, picky eaters, potential mishaps, even weather glitches in its guidance. It takes your hand, keeps you company and strikes up a conversation, while you do what you love to do – bake cookies. Consider this a Betty Crocker Cooky Book for the modern family. In fact, I bet Betty would take a few notes.

Chocolate Crinkles

These plump chocolate morsels didn’t crinkle so much as poof for me. The results were a  fudgy, brownie, cake-like cookie which tasted fabulous. (Who can argue with a description like that?)  Makes about 30 – 1 inch cookies.

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for rolling

Combine chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. (Be sure thhe bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.) Let the chocolate start to melt, then stir occasionally until it’s smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
Beat the sugar and eggs in a bowl of an electric mixer until thick and smooth, 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Beat on medium-low speed until they’re combined.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Add the mixture in 2 batches, beating each time until just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Roll 1-inch balls of dough in a bowl of powdered sugar, coating them completely. Place them 1 1/2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-10 minutes until they just feel firm. (The cookies are best when slightly undercooked in the center.) Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Note: I found that most of the powdered sugar melted while baking, so once the cookies were fully cooled, I rolled them again in the sugar.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Cookiepedia. Written by Stacy Adimando and photographed by Tara Striano. Published by Quirk Books.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Cookiepedia from Quirk Books. 

Banana Chip Bars

Banana Chips, Coconut, Dark Chocolate

This time I blame the banana chips. Due to a last minute panic-induced purchase for a school event, I had a bucket of them sitting in my refrigerator. You might understand the situation which led to this:  Worried that (heaven forbid) not enough dessert would be provided for a tropical-based menu for a lunch at my daughter’s school,  I threw a few, er, many packages of banana chips into my shopping basket on the way to the lunch – just in case the mob inhaled all 47 other dishes represented in the school-wide buffet and were up in arms about not enough sugar to complete their smorgasbord. (As if banana chips would be sufficient to stave off an angry sugar-deprived crowd – what was I thinking?)  As it turned out, any testy unrest was avoided, since we (naturally) had too much food in the first place.  And so the banana chips came home with me and have been patiently waiting in my refrigerator to be put to use – until today.

It was a baking kind of day today, and I decided to throw together a simple bar cookie. Normally I include coconut and chocolate chips in my bars, and figured the banana chips would make a nice addition. I chopped a bunch up in my food processor (you may want ear plugs for this) and folded the chips into the batter. They added a wonderful chewy texture with a mild buttery flavor to the bars, without an overpowering banana flavor or excess sweetness. Toothsome and chewy, they almost made the bars feel…healthy? Ok, that may be pushing it.


Banana Chip Bars
Makes 24 – 2 inch bars

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut, plus extra for the topping
1 cup coarsely chopped banana chips
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Whisk sugars and butter together in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Add to the sugar and butter and mix well. Stir in coconut, banana chips and chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with additional coconut. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Flourless chocolate cake is the little black dress of desserts. Minimal, simple and universally pleasing, this go-to recipe is a classic. With a short list of ingredients, minus any flour,  you can whip this cake up in an hour. It’s a lighter version of my Sinfully Rich Chocolate Cake, which makes it more of an every day cake and a guaranteed hit with children. Serve simply naked or adorned with a dusting of sugar and a scoop of whipped cream.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

With so few ingredients, quality makes a difference. If possible, use a European-style butter such as Lurpak or Plugra and a high quality dark chocolate. I prefer Valrhona or Lindt. Serves 12.

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300 F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over just-simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl; cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolks.
Beat egg whites in a bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue to beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Mix 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate. Gently fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake until edges pull away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.


Chocolate Pots de Crème with Gran Marnier

Pots de Crème are an entertainer’s best friend. They may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and are very easy to make. With just a little finesse, and some high quality chocolate, you can be sure to wow your guests. Depending on the vessel in which they are served, they are an appropriately small shot of rich chocolate following  a heavy meal, or a moreish serving for the chocoholics at the table. Keep it simple with straight-up chocolate, or dress it up with Gran Marnier. This recipe is a keeper.

Chocolate Pots de Crème with Gran Marnier

This recipe requires refrigeration before serving for at least 6 hours. For best results, prepare at least one day before serving. Makes 6 large or 12 small servings.

1  3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces high quality dark chocolate (70-72%), finely chopped
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier or Cointreau (optional)

Gran Marnier Whipped Cream
Candied orange peel and/or raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Combine cream and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove and add chocolate, whisking until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly add chocolate to the eggs, whisking constantly. Mix in Gran Marnier if using. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another bowl. Blot foam from the top of the chocolate with a paper towel or skim with a spoon.
Pour chocolate into demi-tasse cups or 3/4 cup ramekins. Cover each cup with foil. Place cups in a large baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan until it reaches half-way up the side of the cups. Bake until the chocolate is set but still wobbles in the middle, about 40 – 50 minutes depending on the size of the cups. Remove and transfer cups to a wire rack; cool. Cover and refrigerate pots de crème at least 6 hours (or overnight). Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with Gran Marnier Whipped Cream. Garnish with candied orange peel or raspberries.

Gran Marnier Whipped Cream:
Before serving, beat 1/2 cup heavy cream in bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar and 2 teaspoons Gran Marnier and beat until stiff peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.

Holiday Dessert: Chocolate Terrine with Orange Crème Anglaise

Chocolate Terrine with Orange Crème Anglaise is most worthy of the holiday table. Not only is it appropriately elegant and sinfully rich, it may be prepared up to 3 days in advance, allowing you to get on with your Christmas shopping and preparations for house guests.

Also known as a Marquis au Chocolat, this popular French dessert is like eating a truffle in the form of a brick. I first made this recipe as a finale to a cheese fondue party, when I wanted a simple yet rich chocolate dessert with a French twist. I scoured my cookbooks and found inspiration in a recipe for Marquis au Chocolat by Thomas Keller in the Bouchon Cookbook. I  paired the chocolate with orange which proved to be a match made in heaven. Slivers of dark chocolate nestled in a pool of cool orange-infused crème anglaise, studded with Gran Marnier macerated fruit. Not only did the orange add a bejeweled touch, its citrus notes brightened the chocolate, elevating this classic to celebratory status, befitting the holiday table.

Chocolate Terrine with Orange Crème Anglaise and Gran Marnier Oranges
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook

Serves 10 to 12

For the Chocolate Terrine:
Canola oil
12 ounces (350 grams) 70% dark chocolate
1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (125 ml.) heavy cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Lightly oil a 6 cup terrine mold or loaf pan.  Line mold with plastic wrap.
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Add 8 egg yolks to cooled chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.  Sift together confectioners’ sugar and cocoa.  Stir into the chocolate mixture.
Beat cream in bowl of electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Transfer to another bowl and refrigerate until use.  Beat egg whites with sugar in clean bowl of electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in whipped cream.
Pour into terrine mold and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 12 hours.  (Terrine may be prepared up to 3 days in advance.)

For the Orange Crème Anglaise:
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup (250 ml.) heavy cream
1 cup (250 ml.) whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2 teaspoons grated untreated orange zest
5 large egg yolks

Combine the cream, milk and 4 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan.  Add the vanilla bean with seeds and orange zest.  Heat to a simmer, stirring.  Remove pan from heat, cover and let sit 30 minutes to let flavors infuse.
Whisk egg yolks with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl until mixture thickens and lightens in color.  Whisking constantly, pour 1/3 cream mixture into egg mixture.  Return egg mixture to the saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes.  (To check if done, run a finger down the back of the wooden spoon.  The line should remain clearly intact without the custard running.)
Strain custard through a fine meshed sieve into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water.  Cool custard, stirring occasionally.  When completely cool, pour into a container.  Place plastic wrap over surface of custard.  Cover container and refrigerate.  (May be prepared up to 3 days in advance.)

For the Gran Marnier Oranges:
2 navel oranges
2-3 tablespoons Gran Marnier or Cointreau
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut away peel and pith of oranges with a knife.
Slice oranges horizontally, about 1/4″ thick
Cut out orange segments.  Toss segments with Gran Marnier and sugar in a bowl.  Let sit at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (Cover and refrigerate until use.)

To serve:
Remove terrine from mold.  Run a knife under hot water and wipe dry.  Slice terrine in 1/4 inch slices.  Arrange 1-2 slices on a plate.  Drizzle Orange Crème Anglaise around terrine.  Garnish with Gran Marnier Oranges.

Easy Weekend Baking: Coconut Blondies

Coco blondies tf

Coconut Blondies are the perfect antidote for a rainy weekend day. They are simple to make, kid-friendly and sinfully delicious. Filled with chocolate chips and flecked with coconut, these buttery rich squares will make you want to stay inside and bake. Make a batch on your own or with the kids, curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and enjoy the sound of the rain outdoors. Bliss.

Coconut Blondies

Coconut adds a bright crunch to these chewy bars. Makes 48 (1 1/2 inch) squares.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, divided
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a rectangular (13 x 9 inch) baking pan. Line bottom with parchment and butter parchment. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and whisk together; set aside. Whisk sugar and eggs together in a medium sized bowl. Add butter and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in flour until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut and chocolate chips. Spread batter in pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut evenly over top. Bake until golden brown on top, 30 minutes.