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Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

I made up this cookie recipe last night when I was craving something sweet and healthy. I’ve been trying to incorporate flax into more of my recipes since you can mix it into anything to increase the nutritional value and let me just say these are some of the best cookies that I have EVER made! The oats, flax, raisins, and walnuts add a HUGE nutritional punch to your diet and the coconut and chocolate give the cookie a sweet flavor that will leave you craving more and more and more. I think I ate 4 cookies within 4 minutes! I brought these to work today and they were a HUGE hit. A must-make for a BBQ, potluck, or just because!

Makes: ~ 48 cookies

Oven temp: 325 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
  • 2.5 cups oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ground golden flax (I use Flax USA brand from Costco)
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cream together brown sugar, white sugar, and butter. Add in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a another bowl, gently mix together flour, oats, flax, and baking soda. Add in slowly to sugar/butter/egg/vanilla mixture.
  4. One at a time, add in coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, and walnuts.
  5. Scoop cookie batter using a tablespoon onto cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies start to brown around the edges. Let cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet and then immediately move cookies to a cooling rack- this is the secret to making them chewy!
  7. Serve with milk or crumble cookies over ice cream. Yum!!!

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Lesson #1: It is critically important to taste test your product before serving it...sometimes this must be done over, and over, and over before being absolutely sure.

Whenever I get together with my friends Tori & Justin for a dinner party, Haley, their adorable two year old, excitedly requests to be my right hand woman in the kitchen; carefully helping to put the finishing touches on whatever dessert

Auntie Carol & Haley showing off their finished product

I’ve made for the evening.  We frost, caramelize, bake, slice, serve – you name it – she even gives me creative suggestions such as to add colored sprinkles to an otherwise dull chocolate cake to jazz it up a bit…I absolutely adore her.

So it should come as no surprise that when asked what Haley wanted to do while at Auntie Erin’s house for our Girls Night (while Justin & Tori attended Wine Down Wednesday at Town), her answer was “bake chocolate chip cookies!”  Done and done.

Last night Haley donned my great grandmothers apron and helped me assemble the spaghetti pie for dinner, and while that was in the oven, a batch of oh-so-delicious chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  I’m not gonna lie, I let her lick the spatula more than a few times during the process, but hey, what are good aunties for if not to spoil the little ones left in our care at least a little bit!  Everything was super yummy and Carol, Haley and I had so much fun together bonding over good food and Toy Story 3 that Haley requested we have Girls Night again very soon…anything for my little baking protege.

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Quick, easy, aromatic and moist (i.e. amazingly delicious), this cake was a favorite the first time around, just as Nigella promised.  Made with basic ingredients everyone has in their pantry, it’s the perfect go-to dessert when you don’t have much time or can’t make it to the store.  What I love most is the versatility….change it up with different preserves, serve it with fresh fruit, creme fraiche, ice cream…mmmmmmmmm.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/3 cups good, thin-cut marmalade (or any other flavor jam you like – I used apricot, Nigella recommends raspberry or prune puree)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup self-rising cake flour
  • 8 inch springform pan, buttered and floured

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over a low heat to melt.  When it’s nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate.  Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted.  Now add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs.  Stir with your wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated, pour into a mixing bowl and beat in the flour bit by bit.  Put into your prepared pan and and bake for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

You can eat it slightly warm or cold.  To dress it up a bit, dust lightly with confectioners sugar pushed through a super fine strainer.  Serves 6.

*Nigella suggests that if you use prune puree, serve it with creme fraiche to which you’ve added a few crucial drops of Armagnac.  You can also had a slug to the cake, or just pour a little over as soon as you unmold it.

This recipe is out of ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson and you can buy it on amazon HERE.

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My birthday is tomorrow, but my boyfriend got me my cake 2 days early, which I was really excited about. It is a raspberry white chocolate mousse cake. Light, airy, fruity, and delicious, it is the best birthday cake I have EVER had. It tastes like it should be wedding cake! For any of you in the Denver metro area, the bakery it is from is called La Patisserie Francaise. It’s located in Arvada and it is definitely worth the trip. They have breakfast items, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pastries, etc. You can check out their website by clicking here!

Look at all of that yumminess on the inside!

 

Mike knows one of the owners so she threw in these treats for free!

 

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Dusting the top with powdered sugar makes it look quite beautiful!

As my Tuesday work-day wore down, I was informed that Sky (one of our friends who is a wine distributor) had some “crazy stupid expensive bottles of wine open” from a tasting earlier that day, which needed to be consumed ASAP.  I wasted no time RSVP’ing to what I could see was quickly turning into another fantastic dinner party at the D’Olier residence.  Because drinks and food were covered, I offered to bring dessert and based on rumors that there would be a to-die-for dessert wine that needed some chocolate goodness to go with it, I went home on a mission.

I bee-lined for Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” and found  an entire section dedicated to chocolate.  Cookies, cupcakes, brownies – no, not right.  And then there was chocolate mousse cake.  Yes, yes yes.  I rushed out of the house and $40 later came home with slabs of gourmet chocolate etc. and got to work.  With the ipod blarring and my mixer whipping eggs and chocolate into moussey glory, I discovered that making this cake is quite possibly the most cathartic activity I’ve experienced in a long time – much needed in the midst of a very crazy week!

With minutes to spare before Tori picked me and Carol up, I had just enough time to wrangle the cake out of the water bath I baked it in (note to self: buy a turkey baster asap) and onto a tray for careful transport.  Following a delicious Greek dinner from Olive Tree in Kahala and some AH-Mazing wines, it was finally time for dessert – which between the wine and the cake turned into some kind of wonderful I never even knew existed.

Whenever I make something for the first time I am always super nervous to serve it – and because the cake had risen

Mmmmmm....SO delish. Although I clearly need to invest in and carry around a camera so I can properly capture these moments.

more than I had expected I was a little worried that it had overcooked and dried out.  Not so fast.  With fresh, sliced strawberries (with a little bit of sugar on them) and vanilla ice cream standing by, I sliced into what is quite possibly the most moist, perfectly balanced (between light and airy and ooey gooey fudgy), decadent chocolate cake I have ever seen.

As I served, Sky unleashed his perfect-for-chocolate dessert wine which is apparently impossible to find, prepared in a crazy cool way (freezing the skins without freezing the pulp anyone?), and hand carried back from one of his trips to Italy.  Liquid heaven in my mouth – the perfect amount of sweet, not too syrupy, it was mind boggling how good it was (I must get my sticky little fingers on at least a case of that stuff like yesterday).  And, much to my delight, the cake tasted even better than it looked – evidenced by Tori who sat there unabashedly licking her bowl when she was done, and Carol (the chocolate cake queen) simultaneously serving herself seconds.

The next night, as we polished off our portion of the leftover cake, Carol announced to me that she thinks it’s going to be hard for me to ever top this – and that the only thing left to do is make it again and again – like every single week preferably 🙂  Not gonna lie, it may just have to happen.

Nigella’s Chocolate Mousse Cake

Ingredients:

  • 11 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces best milk chocolate
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 9 inch springform pan
  • heavy duty, extra wide aluminum foil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the kettle on to boil.

Line the inside of the springform pan with foil, making sure you press the foil well into the sides and bottom of the pan so that it forms a smooth surface.  This will prevent water getting into the cake when it is cooked in its water bath.

Just out of the oven.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler, and let it cool.  In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugars until very thick and pale, as creamy as mayonnaise; the mixture should form and fall in ribbons when you lift up the whisk.  Stir in the vanilla and salt and then the cooled chocolate mixture.  In another, large bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Lighten the chocolate mixture by briskly beating in a dollop of the egg whites before gently folding in the rest of them.

Pour the cake batter into the foil-lined springform, which you have placed in a large roasting pan.  Add hot water from the recently boiled kettle to come about 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan and carefully put the roasting pan with its cargo into the oven.

Cook for 50 minutes – 1 hour (I stopped at 50 minutes).  The inside of the cake will be damp and mousse-like, but the top should look cooked and dry.  Let it cool completely on a cooling rack before releasing it from the pan.  This calls for a little bit of patience, because you will need to peel the foil gently away from the sides.  Just go slowly and remember that this is a very damp cake, and you won’t be able to prise it away from it’s foil-lined base – though it’s easy enough to tear off excess foil once you’ve set the cake on its plate.  Dust with confectioners sugar if you want, and serve with creme fraiche and maybe some raspberries (I went with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream).

Enjoy!!

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“Like stones rolling down a hill, fair ideas reach their objective despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.”

– Jose Marti, Statesman, Poet, Visionary and Cuban Revolutionary

We have been talking about trying Soul De Cuba Cafe since a dinner down the street at JJ Dolan’s way back in January….and after many failed attempts, I finally found myself there, sitting at a cozy corner table with Justin, Tori, my roommate Carol, and a large pitcher of soul healing mojito goodness.  After a less than stellar day, it was exactly what I needed.

Pollo Soul de Cuba - this lightly breaded chicken was the most moist, juicy and flavorful chicken I think I've ever had. Paired with the home made salsa of mango, guava, black beans pineapple and rum it was nothing short of amazing.

In a place where Korean BBQ, Japanese, Chinese and Pacific Rim restaurants reign king, and Cuban is rarer than rare, despite this places good reviews I feared that I would find myself in a situation similar to that of the Mexican food dilemma in Hawaii – there are few options to choose from and most of them miss the mark…by a mile.  However, with one dip of my spoon into the black bean chili Justin had ordered and I knew I was in for a spectacular meal.

The Eggplant Milanesa tatsted like a more fresh, healthy version of eggplant parmesan.

We started with an appetizer sampler and an order of the empanadas as recommended by our server.  Delicious.  After some deliberation about whether or not ox tail would make an appearance at our table that evening (I was vehemently opposed to eating it and so it was a no-go), we decided to share the Eggplant Milanesa, Pollo Soul de Cuba, and the Picadillo.  One word. Wow.  From the super moist, juicy chicken & homemade mango salsa, to the just barely still-crisp slices of tomato sauce smothered eggplant, to the slight and very welcome tang of the Spanish olives in the Picadillo, right down to the black beans, rice and the plantain garnish – not one bite was a disappointment.  We closed with a delectably moist, dense brownie capped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and, of course, flan with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and caramelized plantain.  Oh my.

Tori especially wanted to try the Picadillo because she said she makes it at home...I thought it was delish, but forgot to ask her how it stacks up to her own. Tori?

As usual, even better than the food proved to be the company.  At one point conversation turned from the current hapennings of our days to my new-found obsession with an under-ground, invite-only supper club here in Honolulu called Spork.  Tori told us all about their friend’s supper club on the east coast and a plan to form our own was born.  Still in it’s fledgling stage, I think it will take at least a pizza night or two for us to really flush out the details 🙂

It is always a good time for a fudgy brownie and vanilla ice cream. Always.

It is evident in everything from the atmosphere of the restaurant to the stories about the founders on the website, and especially in the food prepared from the home style recipes of their families, that there is indeed a soulfulness about this place.  All in all, Soul De Cuba Cafe has officially earned a place in my top 15 favorites here on Oahu…which is a pretty serious statement considering how much I love to eat.  Go, try it for yourself – I am positive you won’t regret it.  Don’t live on Oahu?  Drop in to their New Haven, CT location and let us know how it is!

Flan topped with fresh strawberries, caramelized plantains and whipped cream was super yummy....not gonna lie, I think the flan I make is better 🙂

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How beautiful is this birthday cake!? I got it for my boyfriend for his 30th birthday from our new favorite bakery, La Patesserie Francaise. It was so delicious- a combination of chocolate, whipped cream frosting, maraschino cherries, chocolate sprinkles on the sides, and shaved chocolate on top. Mmmmmmmm! Everyone LOVED it! We have definitely found our new go-to bakery for ALL special occasions! If you live in the Boulder/Denver metro area, I would definitely recommend stopping in at this bakery for breakfast, lunch, a sweet treat, or a cake for your very own special occasion.

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