Decadent Desserts

German chocolate fudge

German chocolate fudge with a bite picThank you Kris Bordessa at Attainable Sustainable for introducing me to this fabulous fudge recipe. I put my own spin on it this Christmas season by infusing it with some of my favorite ingredients–coconut and walnuts.

 

Recipe

Servings: 1 9×13″ pan — plenty of thick pieces

 

IngredientsGerman Chocolate Fudge Piece pic

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butter

4 1/2 cups sugar

7-oz. jar marshmallow creme

12-oz. can evaporated milk

2 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (divided–if you have time, toast it!)

1 tsp. Espresso powder or black onyx powder

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. Ghirardelli are my fav)

 

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate chips, butter, and marshmallow creme in a large bowl.
  2. In a large cooking pot, heat together the evaporated milk and the sugar. Bring the mixture to a slow boil then keep it simmering at medium-high heat. Stir the mixture for 8 minutes. (Watch it! It can boil over.)
  3. Pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the chocolate chips.
  4. Beat the mixture using an electric mixer until it starts to thicken.
  5. Stir in vanilla, coconut extract, 1 cup coconut, walnuts, and mini chocolate chips.
  6. Prepare a 9 x 13″ pan by lining it with parchment paper, coat lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Spread the fudge mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Gently press the coconut into the fudge.
  8. Place the fudge into the refrigerator until the fudge becomes hardened.
  9. Cut into smaller 1″ pieces using a sharp knife.

Tip: I like to place the pieces into mini paper muffins wrappers. The perfect bite-sized pieces ready for eating!

 German Chocolate fudge pieces pic

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Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Flourless chocolate cookie with bite pic

Holiday cookie time. Who’s ready to start baking? I wanted to make the richest, darkest cookies I could find. I aimed for a recipe like flourless cake that left all the flavor to the chocolate. This IS it. WARNING: These are dangerously chocolatey. You can roll the dough balls in powdered sugar for a hint of sweetness. For more of a truffle taste, roll the cookie balls in unsweetened cocoa–the darker, the better.

 

Recipe

Servings: 18 cookies

 

Ingredients:Stack of flourless chocolate cookies pic

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 1/2 cup

3 egg whites, room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. espresso or black onyx powder (optional, but soooo good)

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat baking pans with cooking spray.
  2. Melt 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth; allow to cool. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until they start to form soft peaks. Add in 1/2 cup powdered sugar and beat until it becomes thick and creamy.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder, black onyx powder, cornstarch, and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients into the egg white cream at low speed until combined. Stir the melted chocolate into the egg-white mixture.
  6. Stir in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Batter will be stiff and thick.
  7. Roll batter into balls. Next, roll balls in either powdered sugar or cocoa powder.
  8. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until cool.

Tweaked from a recipe from Culinary Couture.

 

Powdered sugar fudge cookie pic

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Fancify Friday: Fork Brownies

I only wish I’d thought of this one first!

Chocolate Vanilla Mousse cake

When I was served this impressive dark chocolate and vanilla mousse cake at a recent reception at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, my thought was simply, “Oh yeah, I can do this at home!” (The design, that is.)

Fork browniesHere’s how you can too:

  1. Plain plate–the bigger the better!
  2. Place a fork and/or spoon in the middle of the plate.
  3. Find a sieve with the finest mesh possible.
  4. Add powdered cocoa to the middle of the sieve. Gently tap the side of the sieve to create a pattern on the plate.
  5. Take off the fork and/or spoon.
  6. Place your brownie on the plate.

This is a perfect kid assignment–prepping the plates for the brownies.

 

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Guest Post: Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

Thanks Dr. Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators for sharing your family’s favorite recipe for DIY froyo!

 

We love yogurt–and even make our own. One of the things I love to do with yogurt is to make frozen yogurt! It’s delicious, capable of so many flavor changes, healthy, and purely addictive. I’ve combined and adapted a few recipes from Downton Abbey Cooks and David Lebovitz to create this mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt recipe.  I have to say, we make frozen yogurt a few times a week, especially in the summer heat. Enjoy!

 

Who wants a scoop?

Who wants a scoop?

Recipe for Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:

1.5 cups milk

Huge handful of fresh mint, washed well (spiders aren’t as tasty as chocolate chips)

½ c sugar (or more, to taste)

3 T cornstarch

1 c yogurt (regular or Greek)

¼  to ½ c Chocolate chips – I love the dark chocolate chips (more on chocolate goodness to come)

 

Directions:

Mint steeping in milk

Mint steeping in milk

  1. Combine milk and mint in a medium saucepan, and heat over low until milk is barely at a simmer. Remove from heat and cover for 1-2 hours. You’re steeping the mint in the milk. Don’t worry – the green color is to be expected. When the milk has cooled and the mint has steeped, squeeze out the mint and throw it away. Pour the milk into a jar and refrigerate until you need it.
  2. Combine the minty milk, cornstarch, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture all of a sudden becomes very thick, like pudding. Remove from the heat, and then stir in the yogurt. Pour into a container and chill in the refrigerator for several hours (ideally, overnight).
  3. Get your ice cream maker going, and pour in the minty goodness. Freeze until your ice cream maker can’t freeze it any more. If yours is like mine, it will be sort of soft and runny, but still quite edible (especially if you are impatient). Now, you have chocolate choices. You can sprinkle in the chocolate chips in the last few minutes of the ice cream maker going.
    Layer of chocolate

    Layer of chocolate

    Small chocolate chips are so cute in this! Or, you can take out half the ice cream, put it in a freezer-safe dish, and work some magic. Melt some chocolate chips in the microwave, and decoratively pour half of it on top of the ice cream in the dish. Put the rest of the ice cream on top, and then artistically pour the rest of the chocolate on top of that. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour (ideally, overnight, but seriously, who can wait that long?). Scoop up and enjoy!

 

Now, to the variations…

 

Rich chocolate frozen yogurt

Add in 3 T dark cocoa powder to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture. You can also add in an additional ½ c chocolate chips at the end, if you desire.

 

Peanut butter chocolate frozen yogurt

Add in 3 T cocoa powder and ¼ c peanut butter to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture. When the ice cream is almost ready, you can add peanut butter chips, or chocolate chips.

 

Cardamom frozen yogurt

Add in 1 T cardamom to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture.

 

Vanilla frozen yogurt

When you take the milk mixture off the heat, and stir in the yogurt, also add in 1-2 t vanilla.

 

What flavors will you come up with?

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Braces busting brownies

Someone waiting to eat her first caramel in 18 months.

Someone waiting to eat her first caramel in 18 months.

This week my tween got her braces off (round one at least). To celebrate we made brownies featuring her favorite ingredient that’s been on the no-no list for the past 18 months–caramel.

 

You can use either individual caramels, or I found these handy caramel “bits” at Target.

 

Recipe for Coconut Caramel Brownies

 

Ingredients

1 family size brownie mix or your favorite DIY 9×13″ brownie mix

2 cups individual caramels or caramel chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds–or both!)

Handy way to use caramels--no unwrapping required

Handy way to use caramels–no unwrapping required

3/4 cup coconut (I toast mine before baking)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. hey, we’re celebrating)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix up the brownie according to package directions.
  3. Line a 9×13″ baking dish with aluminum foil and then coat generously with cooking spray.
  4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and spread evenly to the corners.
  5. Bake the brownie bottom for about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the caramel until smooth. I put the caramel in the microwave at 30 intervals, stirring after each time. Usually, it takes around 90 seconds.
  7. Remove the brownie bottom from the oven and add caramel in glops followed by nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
  8. Top the caramel with the remaining chocolate. Don’t worry if the top isn’t even.
  9. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely before cutting.

Warning: Eat with braces at your own risk.

Layering coconut caramel brownies

 

 

 

 

 

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Hamburger cake

Hamburger cakeJust in time for Memorial Day–the hamburger cake! We had a blast putting this together as a family and the grandparents even joined in to add the finishing touch…the olive on top.

 

Here’s how to put the cake together.

First, the bun:

Mix up a boxed yellow cake mix and divide into two 8″-round cake pans. Bake until golden. One cake will be the top of the bun and the other the bottom. Let your kids choose which cake looks the most like a bun top. Put them in the fridge (the cake, not the kids).

 

Now for the meat:

Bake a brownie mix in a 9″-round cake pan (or you can use the same 8″, I just like having the “meat” hang over the side). Yup, in the fridge it goes. Note: You will have extra brownie batter if you use a family-sized brownie mix.

 

The fixins’:

You can’t have a decent burger without the fixins’ mayo, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. I bought 1 can of ready-to-go vanilla frosting. Divide the frosting evenly into four bowls.

 

In three of the bowls mix in 1/4 cup melted, colored chips (I buy mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics or Micheal’s) in red, yellow, and green.

Watching the hamburger cake

Spread the red-tinted frosting onto a piece of waxed paper making two, large circles for the “tomatoes.” Put the tomatoes into the fridge. For the lettuce smear the green-tinted frosting onto a piece of waxed paper with a spoon trying to make the texture uneven, like lettuce. Finally, the yellow-tinted frosting is smoothed onto a piece of waxed paper (you’ll cut it later so the edges don’t need to be even). Into the fridge for all the fixins’.

 

Burger assembly:

I recommend having a burger assembly team–there is flipping involved, folks! Make a circle just smaller than the bun bottom with a piece of cardboard. Put your bottom bun piece onto the cardboard circle (this will make assembly, cutting, and moving the cake much easier.)

Break up the green-tinted frosting lettuce into large pieces and lay half of them around the bottom of the bun. Spread a little bit of the leftover white frosting (remember that fourth bowl we haven’t used yet?) and carefully place the brownie “meat” onto the bun bottom–this will hold the “lettuce” in place.

 

Add more lettuce around the edges of the brownie “meat” and then carefully add more white frosting onto the center of the brownie. Lay the two tomato slices on top of the lettuce. For the cheese, use a kitchen knife to slice the yellow pieces into squares that look like American cheese. Place two pieces of your “American cheese” on top of the tomatoes. Use the rest of the white frosting to smear over the bottom side of the bun top for the “mayo.” It’s flipping time! Flip the bun top onto the cheese layer–carefully (this is a two- or three-person job). Gently push down on the bun top.

Hambuger cake full image

Finishing touches:

With the remnants of white frosting, stick crispy rice cereal pieces onto the top of the bun to look like sesame seeds. We had leftover red and green pieces from constructing the lettuce and tomato so we made it into a green olive for the top of the burger.

 

Voila! It’s hamburger for dessert.

Hamburger cake side view

 

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German chocolate mini parfaits

German chocolate mini parfaitsIs there a German chocolate cake fan in your family? Making an entire cake can be an overwhelming endeavor, especially for pint-sized cooks. Easy solution? Make German chocolate cake in a cup.

 

Ever since we made mini chocolate raspberry chocolate cups, we’ve been trying out other combos. This one has become a fast favorite. I’ve included lots of make-it-quick steps in the directions.

 

Recipe

Servings: 12

 

Ingredients:

1 recipe chocolate cake mix

1 recipe coconut dream frosting (or packaged German chocolate frosting)

1 cup chocolate syrup

Whipped cream or ice cream

Toasted coconut (opt.)

 

You’ll also need:

Mini Irish coffee mugs (4.8 ounces)

Mini glasses (plastic mini champagne glasses work well, too)

 

Directions:

Photo courtesy: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

Photo courtesy: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

  1. Cook the cake according to package directions. You could also use leftover brownies, or bake up a batch. (You will have extra cake.)
  2. Place a handful of cake into the bottom of all the cups, press it down to make about 1-inch. This is a perfect kid job!
  3. Drizzle the cake with chocolate syrup (Hershey’s is fine; even better melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips with 1/4 heavy cream in the microwave and let it sit until thickened).
  4. Add a heaping spoonful of coconut dream frosting into each cup.
  5. Put another inch of cake into each cup and repeat the process–drizzle chocolate, then add frosting.
  6. You have a few options for the top of the cup–whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream. My recommendation: finish it off with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in salty caramel. Sprinkle each cup with toasted coconut flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Coconut dream frosting

Toasted coconutAlmost German chocolate cake frosting, but not quite. That’s how I like to describe my coconut frosting.

Softer and creamier than your standard, sticky German chocolate, toasting the coconut and the pecans is the real secret (well, that and a generous helping of heavy cream).

 

Recipe

Tweaked from 365 Great Chocolate Desserts

 

Ingredients:German chocolate cake

2 1/2 cups coconut

2 cups pecans, chopped

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Dash of salt

 

Directions:

  1. Place the coconut and nuts onto a nonstick skillet (or if the skillet isn’t big enough work in batches). Bring the skillet to medium-high heat, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon occasionally to avoid burning, about 3 minutes. As soon as the coconut begins to turn color on the ends, remove from heat. Allow the coconut to cool on the pan–it will continue to toast as it cools.
  2. Mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch and then pour into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
  3. Whisk the heavy cream into the powder sugar mixture until blended; bring the cream to medium-high heat, whisking vigorously.
  4. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from heat.
  5. Stir in the toasted coconut and pecans.
  6. Cool to room temperature before using to frost cakes, cupcakes, or for mini-parfaits.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how to use this yummy frosting to make mini German chocolate parfaits that are perfect for Mother’s Day.

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Celebrate Pi Day!

Tween with pieIt’s 3.14–yes, Pi day! My tween needed to make a pie to take into her class so we brainstormed something that included some of her favorite ingredients: Nutella, pears, and white chocolate. Since the pie is headed to school, I, of course, had to make one for us to sample at home (sans the white chocolate and speckled with pecans and cranberries instead).

 

I tweaked this recipe from The Lovely Cupboard for my version.

 

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes baking

Servings: 8 pieces

 

IngredientsPi

1 unbaked pie shell

2 pears (apples would work well too)

3 tablespoons Apricot perserves

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup Nutella (or more!)

Toppings: white chocolate chips, pecans, cranberries

 

Directions

  1. Place the unbaked pie dough into your pie or tart pan and press around the edges and up the sides to create the crust. Prick the crust with a fork a few times.
  2. Spread the Nutella over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. This took more time than I thought it would–Nutella is sticky!
  3. Put the pie crust into the fridge while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Peel and slice the pears into thin pieces.
  5. Take the pie crust out of the fridge and layer the pears onto the Nutella.
  6. Mix the lemon juice in the preserves and warm in the microwave. I heated it for 30 seconds on high. Use a cooking brush (or spoon) to spread the preserves over the pears.
  7. Sprinkle the pears with topping, if using.

Kids’ reactions: The tart without the white chocolate chips was definitely the frontrunner versus the pie. My kids preferred the thinner crust too. I think next time I’d toss the pears in the marmalade and lemon juice before putting them on the pie to minimize the amount of liquid on day two.

Here's my version--I made mine in a tart pan and added a dash of nutmeg before baking.

Here’s my version–I made mine in a tart pan and added a dash of nutmeg before baking.

 

 

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Mini chocolate raspberry cake cups

Chocolate cake shotsLately, I’ve noticed little cake desserts popping up from tavern-themed restaurants to Italian restaurants. I like it. They’re akin to a deconstructed cake–all the flavor, much less work.

 

This weekend I made my own version using cake leftover from my daughter’s birthday party cupcakes.

 

Note: I found mini Irish coffee mugs at Bed, Bath & Beyond, $19.99 for a set of eight. (Use a $5 off coupon and they’re just $15.)

 

Recipe

Servings: 8

 

Ingredients:

Cake: 2 cups cooked chocolate cake (it doesn’t need to be pretty you’ll be making it into chunks anyway)

Warmed Raspberry sauce or raspberry jam

Chocolate custard

Whipped cream

 

Chocolate custard ingredients:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tbsp. butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups milk

3 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. cocoa

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract (opt.)

1 tsp. Black onyx or Espresso powder (opt.)

 

Chocolate custard directions:

  1. In a medium-sized sauce pan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter then stir in the sugar.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the milk.
  3. Stir the milk mixture into the melted chocolate and add in the cocoa, salt, and Espresso powder.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stir frequently until it thickens.
  5. Take the pan off the hat and stir in the extracts. Spread the butter over the top of the thickened chocolate to avoid developing a skin.
  6. Cool the chocolate custard.

 

To assemble the mini chocolate raspberry cups:

  1. Press about a tablespoon of chocolate cake into the bottom of the cup.
  2. Pour about 1/2 tablespoon raspberry sauce over the cake.
  3. Spoon a tablespoon of chocolate custard in next.
  4. Repeat cake, sauce, custard and finish off with cake.
  5. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder or an extra drizzle of raspberry sauce.
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