Posts tagged chocolate

Homemade Thin Mints

Stack of thin mints

My husband has asked me never to make these cookies again. Ever. They’re just too addictive. It’s impossible to eat just one and so we’ve been chowing down these homemade Girl Scout Thin Mints.

Thin mints with a bite

See, I had to make Thin Mints. We didn’t have any Girl Scouts come by and so I was left to come up with my own version. I used my favorite Chocolate Butter Cookie recipe as the base and added in peppermint extract. Now for the dipping! Looking through recipes online I saw plenty that relied on candy melts for the final dip. That’s a no-no. Candy melts have their place – a quick, fun addition to a dessert that you want to fancify, for instance. But you can’t rely on them. I like to mix them into semi-sweet chocolate chips to help it set, usually a 2:1 ratio. The better the chocolate wafers the better your cookies. I highly recommend Ghirardelli melting wafers.

Thin mints

 

Recipe

*Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion Cookbook

Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies (depends on thickness)

Prep time: Not gonna lie, it takes awhile to put these together – but it’s worth the effort

 

Ingredients

Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cocoa (*see note below)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 butter at room temperature (not margarine)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon black onyx powder (opt.)

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/2 tablespoon honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Dipping thin mints

Dipping Chocolate

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup dark chocolate melting wafers

1/2 teaspoon black onyx powder (opt.)

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

2 tablespoons shortening or coconut oil

Dipped thin mints

Cookie Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, water, honey and extract to the butter mixture. Blend well.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. Gently mix the dry ingredients gently into the batter just until incorporated. Place dough on waxed paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until solid.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie pans with parchment paper.
  5. Working with 1/3 of the dough at a time and leaving the rest refrigerated, roll out the dough, using flour and a rolling pin, to 1/4″ thick. The object here is to keep the cookies AS COLD AS POSSIBLE so they don’t melt much when you cook them.
  6. Use a circular cookie cutter, the open end of a glass, or my favorite – a Linzer cookie cutter – to cut out the cookie shapes.
  7. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes and then check on them. Let the cookies cool on the pan.

 

Dipping Directions

  1. Melt all of the chocolate dipping ingredients in a glass bowl in the microwave.
  2. Place the cookies into the dipping chocolate one at a time and smooth the top with a spoon. Move onto the waxed paper to set; I like to put the waxed paper on a cookie sheet and then into the refrigerator.
  3. If you want your cookies to have that perfect-Thin Mint edge try this tip from my neighbor who has her own candy-making business, Celestial Sweets. Once the chocolate coating is set use your vegetable peeler to trim the excess chocolate off the edges.

 

*Note: to get the dark color try using Hershey’s special dark cocoa at the grocers or order dark cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour.

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Easy Baked Alaska

Slice of Baked AlaskaLayered with two kinds of ice cream and topped with an impossibly golden meringue topping, Baked Alaska is an impressive dessert to serve to your family (invite guests for this one!). Here’s the secret: it’s really easy to make. The key? Be patient and have lots of freezer space. Lots.

So keep it cool for Valentine’s Day with this dessert.

Keep it fun: Around our house we have a bit of a competition when it comes to eating our slices of Baked Alaska. We serve them upright–no sideways slices. You try to see how small you can get your piece before it falls over.

 

Eating Baked AlaskaRecipe

Ingredients

Cake

1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust

2 containers ice cream (1.5 quarts or half gallons; I like a layer of chocolate and some kind of vanilla/caramel combo)

Meringue

8 eggs

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. pink food coloring (optional)

Chocolate sauce

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

Baked Alaska in the freezer

Directions

  1. Soften one container ice cream until just spreadable. Scoop onto the graham cracker pie shell trying to keep it in a dome shape. Freeze until hard. (Now’s the time to leave out the other ice cream container to soften.)
  2. Top the first layer of ice cream with the second just softened ice cream, keeping the dome shape. Freeze until hard.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, separate the eggs adding the whites into the bowl and discarding the yolks. With a blender whip the egg whites until they become frothy.
  4. Add the cream of tartar, food coloring, and powdered sugar into the egg whites, then gradually add in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff. (The mixture should form peaks when you dip a spoon into it and then pull it out.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and get everything ready. Clear out the freezer since you’re going to need to put your Baked Alaska inside in a hurry.
  6. Take the ice cream base out of the freezer and place it on a baking sheet. Quickly put the meringue all over the ice cream trying to cover it completely to the graham crackers edges. Have fun with it–create swirl shapes and peaks.
  7. Put the cake into the oven for 3 minutes. Watch carefully and remove as soon the the meringue peaks begin to cook.
  8. Stash in the freezer right away.
  9. Freeze overnight before serving.
  10. Make the sauce by melting together the chips and the heavy cream in a glass dish in the microwave. Allow to cool.
  11. Let the Baked Alaska sit out the freezer for 10 minutes before cutting. Run the knife under hot water before trying to cut each piece.

Making a Baked Alaska

 

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Fancify Friday: Easy Chocolate Almond Footballs

Chocolate almond footballs

Admission: I’m a Broncos fan and fully expect them to win the Super Bowl this Sunday (even though Peyton Manning has a 0-4 playoff game record when it comes to temps under 40 degrees).

 

These easy chocolate almond footballs are a fun way to dress up your Super Bowl party table or top game-day cupcakes.

 

Here’s how to make them.

  1. Melt a few wafers of white almond bark in the microwave.
  2. Use a toothpick to draw the threads on chocolate almonds (tasty football stand-ins).
  3. Place the almonds on waxed paper to set. That’s it!

 

Football cupcake

 

 

 

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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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Ohio Ice Cream Wars: Jeni’s vs. Mitchell’s

 

Ohio inspires ice cream makers. The proof? Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams started serving scoops in 2002 in Columbus and blossomed into an ice cream dynasty. Jeni Britton Bauer’s book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home has become New York Times Best-Selling cookbook teaching regular cooks to craft Jeni’s signature flavors like Brambleberry Crisp, Salty Caramel, and Wildberry Lavender (a personal fav). You can find 11 scoop shops here in Ohio along with several in Tennesse–plus a new local just opened in Chicago. Jeni’s ice creams have garnered national acclaim and awards (James Beard, check).

Close up of Jeni's Ice Cream

But Jeni’s isn’t the only ice cream shop in town. Mitchell’s started in 1999 when brothers Pete and Mike decided to shelve their degrees in psychology (that’d be Pete) and philosophy (Mike’s also the ice cream chef) for a pursuit of sweets. They have either stores dotting Ohio, with another coming soon in the burgeoning Ohio City area.

Mitchell's Ice Cream

Here’s what both shops are known for:

  • Taste all you want. Seriously. You can ask for little taster spoons of all the flavors available.
  • Locally sourced ingredients. Fresh-picked berries. Local ales. Mitchell’s even marks ice creams with a 100, meaning the ingredients came mostly from within 100 miles of where the ice cream is made.
  • Lines. Well, when you can get taster spoons of just about everything and the ice cream is fabulous, are you surprised?
  • Awesome customer service–shiny happy people all around

 

 

Mitchell's chocolate on the left, Jeni's on the right

Mitchell’s chocolate on the left, Jeni’s on the right

Now the differences:

Jeni’s

In Mr. Squid’s words, “Jeni’s is more of an experience than an ice cream.” Where else can you get Goat Cheese and Red Cherry Ice Cream or Bangkok Peanut (sadly this ice cream that heats up in your mouth hasn’t been available lately)?

  • Artisan spins on familiar flavors–Ndali estate vanilla bean not “Vanilla”
  • Hipster zibe abounds at the shop
  • $9.99 a pint

 

Mitchell’s

This is the place the team goes to after basketball tournaments, the place where you see you neighbors and people linger while savoring sweets. That’s not to say their ice creams are lacking in creativity–or quality–the newly introduced vegan line (I had salted caramel pecan last week) entices visitors to try something new.

  • Familiar favorites made better–hello, super-sized Belgian chocolate chunks in the Rocky Road and organic mint in the Chocolate Mint ice cream
  • Laid back feel and coloring paper for the kids
  • $5.99 a pint

 

The verdict around our house–when you want something a little different head to Jeni’s. But for the creamiest, richest dark chocolate Mitchell’s is our regular spot.

 

Your turn: Have you tried Jeni’s and Mitchell’s ice creams? Which one was your favorite?

 

 

 

 

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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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Fancify Friday–Add a smile

Smiling food

Do you see the smile?

My youngest likes it when her food smiles back at her. Apple slices, raisins, chocolate chips, they all make for ready smiles on a plate of food. Adding a smile to your food is easy.

 

Lately my youngest likes to make Greek yogurt sundaes for dessert. It’s a banana topped with Greek yogurt (strawberry this time), peanuts, and a chocolate chip smile.

 

 

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Lowfat, 2-ingredient brownies

Pumpkin browniesI wasn’t expecting much when I read about Yum Yum Brownies on Hungry Girl. Canned pumpkin plus chocolate cake mix. Sounded like Thanksgiving mixed with Ghirardelli. Eww. But, I had to give it a try–I mean, there’s chocolate in it. Add to that, I happen to love canned pumpkin–I never had it as a kid so now it seems like almost a delicacy (go ahead, laugh).

 

Looking online I discovered chocolate-pumpkin desserts have quite a following. I opted for Cookies & Cups version–one family-size box brownie mix and one can Libby’s Pumpkin. That’s it. Well, almost. I tweaked the recipe just a little bit.

 

A few notes:

  • The brownies end up with a fudge-like consistency. Nothing wrong with that! I cut them into squares and put them in the fridge. I think they’re better cold.
  • If you didn’t know there was pumpkin in the brownies, you’d wouldn’t guess it.
  • My tween loved these brownies–maybe because she convinced me to let her have them for breakfast, “They’re healthy mom, right?”

 

Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes + baking

 

Ingredients

1 family-sized box brownies (my fav is Duncan Hines)

1 can pumpkin puree

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl blend together the brownie mix and the pumpkin puree with a hand-held blender. Now, here’s where I had to do a few tweaks–I also added in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon chocolate extract.
  3. Coat a 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Spread the batter onto the baking dish and cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

 

Pumpking brownies with a bite

 

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