Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate espresso biscotti


My mother-in-law has a special spot in her heart for biscotti, and her passion has been passed down to her son and daughter. With both siblings’ birthdays in April and Mother’s Day in May, what better opportunity for the daughter-in-law?

And the best part is, my mother-in-law loves them.  They’ve been part of her Christmas gift for the last two years, and both times she called in January to tell me that she had hidden and hoarded them, enjoying one every few days to make them last.  She called me after she ate the last one and told me she needed more, pronto- the biscotti were helping her maintain her sanity.

When I first set out to make biscotti, I had my heart set on a “mocha” flavored cookie and I felt like I had won the lottery when I found this recipe.  I increased the espresso powder slightly, and the effect is exactly what I was looking for– crunchy, crumbly texture with an initial pungent punch of espresso, followed by the bitter/smooth combo of 60% cacao chocolate. Add in the ribbons of white chocolate on top and the occasional burst of white chocolate sweetness in the biscotti, and you’ve got heaven. Italian cookie heaven.


I use Ghirardelli chocolate chips, because the quality and taste is pretty consistent, I think they’re much better than some of the cheaper brands, and they won’t break the bank.  Target seems to have them every Christmastime, so I stock up for a few batches throughout the year.

Chocolate espresso biscotti
Adopted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3 T instant espresso powder (I used the darkest instant coffee powder I could find, because I couldn’t find instant espresso)
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1 t salt
6 T unsalted butter,  room temperature
1 c sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c (4 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips
2 c (16 oz) white chocolate, chopped or chips

Directions:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks funky; it gets better, I promise.) Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients gradually, mixing only until a dough forms.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in 1 cup of the white chocolate and all of the bittersweet chocolate.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean work surface.  Dust your hands with some flour – the dough may be very sticky.  Turn the dough out and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing, and then divide the dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 10-inch long logs.  Transfer logs onto the baking sheet.  Flatten both logs so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high and a couple inches apart.

Bake the logs for 20-25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm.  The tops should spread and crack during baking.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Then working with one log at a time, cut each log into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick– cut parallel to the shorter edge.  Slightly separate the slices on the baking sheet.  Bake the cookies again, this time for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

While cooling, melt the remaining white chocolate.  (I add 1/2 tsp. of shortening, if I’ve got it, to the melting chocolate to encourage a glossy consistency.) With a teaspoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the biscotti in ribbons. Let the chocolate set before serving or storing.

*These cookies can be stored in a sealed container for a few weeks, or indefinitely in the freezer- if they last that long. Enjoy!

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Ritz cookies

Is this even a recipe?

I’m pretty sure it’s not.  But I still think that besides being my husband’s favorite, it’s the easiest Christmas “cookie” ever.

I have never seen these outside of my family’s holiday gatherings, though I’m not surprised… they really shouldn’t count as cookies.  But for whatever reason, they’re always loved.  Something as simple a creamy peanut butter spread between two Ritz crackers and dunked into melted chocolate bark shouldn’t be this good.

And yet, it is.

Ritz Cookies

Spread approximately 1/2 T of creamy peanut butter onto a Ritz cracker; add another cracker to make a sandwich. Dip in melted chocolate bark and lay on waxed paper til cool.  Stores in an air-tight container at room temperature for about a week, or in the freezer for a month or longer.

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[fantastic] cocoa brownies

Deb wasn’t kidding when she titled these, “the best cocoa brownies.”  For the last few years, I have been a tempered chocolate snob. Cakes, cookies, biscotti… all of them have come from a chocolate recipe.

Let me tell you, that attitude is out.the.window. Gone. Because these brownies are THAT good.

That easy, too- one bowl! 

I made very few changes:  I personally love a subtle molasses flavor in my chocolate treats, so included dark brown sugar. I also doubled the salt, and instead of vanilla I used coffee liqueur.  I figured that a small amount of delicate vanilla might get lost under the rich texture and taste, whereas coffee would play a strong supporting role.  I definitely suggest it if you’ve got it in your liquor cabinet (and you should- White Russians are one reason for the season). Otherwise a teaspoon of leftover coffee or made with instant coffee granules would work nicely.

Cocoa Brownies
adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

10 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c. white granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
3/4 c. + 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. coffee liqueur
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Place the butter in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Add the sugars, cocoa, and salt.  Stir once the butter begins to melt. Continue stirring as the butter completely melts and the ingredients come together. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. [It may look gritty (photo belongs to Smitten Kitchen), but will it smooth out once the eggs and flour are added.]

Stir in the coffee liqueur with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.  Add the flour and stir until well combined, and then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon.  Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter; 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me 30 minutes. Let cool completely.  Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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Sourdough Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for my love on our first wedding anniversary.  Not only was it pretty and quite rich and delicious, there was actually a little thought and symbolism behind it.

Because the way I see it, our sourdough starter is a sort of pseudo-first child. We began our starter shortly after we moved into our first house together. And it started with three very basic ingredients- flour, water, and love. (Okay, so it was flour, water, and a nearly-neglected Amish friendship bread bag-o-mush picked out of the office breakroom. Which could be similar to love, to some people.)

We fed and watered our sourdough. We let it bubble and breathe. We stirred it gently with a wooden stick. We baked some of it every weekend, more and more excited as it became sourer and sourer.

And as we adopted a cat, tore down a garage, built a new garage, adopted a second cat, bought new furniture from a real furniture store (not a thrift store) for the first time… we nurtured our sourdough. It brought us closer together.  Really. It did.

Hence the cake. It was really delicious. And topped with love. And ganache.

Sourdough Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Sourdough Jack’s Cookery, via Orangette

1 c. thick sourdough starter
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 c. milk at room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. coffee liqueur
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 t. salt
1-1/2 t. baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Leave a cup of starter out overnight (this is called proofing).

Preheat oven to 350 (or 330 with convection). Cream the sugars and butter until fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in starter, milk, vanilla, liqueur, cinnamon, and melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer or a muscled arm for two minutes.  Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the top of the batter and then fold in gently. Fold in flour until batter is smooth. Pour into buttered and floured pan. (I used an 8-inch round springform; Mollie used a Bundt pan.)

Bake until cake springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean, 35-60 minutes, depending on the type of pan you use. Cool; frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar; serve to your love; savor the moments.

Basic chocolate ganache
Be sure your cake is cool to the touch before frosting with ganache, as it’s very sticky and can crumb up easily if the cake is warm.

8 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 T. butter
1 T. coffee or chocolate liqueur

Roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces, and place them into a medium glass bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan just until it begins to boil on the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk carefully until all of the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the liqueur. Allow the ganache to sit for a few minutes before frosting.

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CE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I. Need. A. Cookie. NOW.

Don’t lie- you’ve been there.  Everybody has experienced that kind of a day. The kind where you want to grab a package of E.L. Fudge double-stuffed cookies on the way home and just sit on the couch, watching old Grey’s Anatomy re-runs, while you eat 4/5’s of the package.  Not that I’ve ever done that.

I’m trying to stay away from packaged “junk-food,” rationalizing that if I reeeeally want something badly enough, I should have to make it myself.  Especially when you can substitute some healthier items… flax seed or applesauce for oil, whole wheat flour instead of bleached, natural sugar cane instead of white sugar.

These are pretty dang good for “diet” healthy cookies, except for one point: they’re fugly. Seriously. Once you get past that, they’re great! I looooove the dark chocolate chips, and the fact that the sucanat and vanilla combined make them taste a bit like cookie dough.

CE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies [aka Fugly Cookies]
adapted from The Cleaning Eating Mama

Note: This is clearly irrational, but there is something … pretentious?… in my mind about writing “organic” in front of every.single.ingredient. Use organic when you can, as much as you can, for a plethora of reasons.  But if you can’t afford or find organic honey or oats or whatever, this recipe will still go on. :)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar or natural sugar cane
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/4 cup whole-wheat (pastry) flour
  • 1  cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl, add applesauce and sugar and mix until creamy. Add egg, vanilla, honey and oil. Mix well.

    Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the dry to wet, mixing until moist. Mix in the oats, and if needed, add more oats or flour to get your preferred consistency.  Add the chocolate chips at the end.

    Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

    Serves: About 2 dozen cookies (if you don’t eat any batter! I got 22 cookies :)


    And finally, the most impressive part of this cookie-  the nutrition information:
    only 85 calories and 2.5 g. fat, with 2.5 g. protein,18 g. carbs, and 2 g. dietary fiber per cookie!

    YES! You can have your cookie without falling off the bandwagon!

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    Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Cookies, Desserts

    Car Bomb Cupcakes

    IMG_1462

    Named after the [inflammatory] drink, the Irish Car Bomb. The drink consists of a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Creme dropped (yes, the shot glass is literally DROPPED) into a half-pint of Guinness. This is one of the very last drinks I had on Spanish soil, and one of the first drinks I legally enjoyed in the U.S. Believe the rumors- it really DOES taste like grown-up chocolate milk, but better. :)

    filled and waiting for frosting

    I adapted this from Annie’s recipe, who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen. I did use Bailey’s in the ganache, but would love to do half whiskey and half Irish creme in the frosting and ganache both.

    *Update: I did another half-batch with whiskey in the original ganache recipe, and it’s TOO rich for us. N and I both prefer the below ganache recipe, with Bailey’s.*

    Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
    Yield: 12 cupcakes

    Ingredients:
    For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
    2/3 cup stout (Guinness)
    8 tbsp. unsalted butter
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat)
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 large egg
    1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used yogurt)

    For the Bailey’s ganache filling:
    4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
    2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream
    1/2 c. powdered sugar

    For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:
    4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ~2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    4 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

    Directions:
    To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the beer and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool 5-10 minutes.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer out of pan to cool completely.

    To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a glass bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate; whisk until smooth. The butter ought to be completed melted…. keep stirring! Add the butter and Bailey’s, and then the confectioner’s sugar, and stir until combined. Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. (I used the freezer to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)

    IMG_1466

    Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake. I used a small paring knife  and small melon-shaped 1/4 tsp. spoon to scoop out some middle, while ensuring cupcake remains on the bottom of the hole. Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag, and fill the cupcakes.

    To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes. Eat and be amazed.

    IMG_1443

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