Posts tagged holidays
I needed some chocolate therapy this weekend so when a friend of mine passed along a recipe for chocolate cake with the subject line “OMG best cake ever” I had to give it a try. Thanks Jessie!
This recipe for Double-Deep-Chocolate Hanukkah Layer Cake from Gourmet makes for tasty cupcakes. The batter came together fast and filled 28+ cupcakes. (I did 20 then a small-sized loaf for a neighbor.) These are the moistest chocolate cupcakes you’ll ever eat! Even if you’re not a coconut fan, don’t worry, the flavor is slight.
I upped the flavor of the coconut in the frosting with coconut extract.
Prep time: 30 minutes + baking
Servings: 28 cupcakes
3/4 cup vegetable oil plus more for greasing pans
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) plus more for dusting pans + 2 tsps. dark cocoa powder (you can also use Espresso powder or my favorite, Black onyx powder)
1 cup water
3/4 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (I use the 14-oz. Light Coconut Milk can from Trader Joe’s)
3 large eggs, warmed in shell in warm water 5 minutes
1 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
Remaining canned coconut milk (about 1 cup)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)
4 tbsps. butter
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk the oil, water, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla.
- In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Blend the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth.
- Fill cupcake holders 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Microwave all of the frosting ingredients except the vanilla in a glass measuring cup for 1 minute on high.
- Stir and continue microwaving at 30-second intervals until the chocolate is smooth; stir in the vanilla.
- The frosting will be thin; cool it in the refrigerator until it gets thick enough to spread on the cupcakes.
A few weeks ago I was able to visit with Jenny Harper, the Chief Cookie Officer for Nestle Kitchens for a story I was working on. Does that sound like a dream job or what? Jenny is the one who comes up with the recipes on the back of Nestle Toll House morsels and other Nestle baking products.
So when I needed to make a quick treat for an event I was going to I thought of Jenny and turned to the back of a bag of Nestle’s Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels for inspiration. The recipe for “Magic Mint Chocolate Bark” was simple and fun to make with my kids. I doubled the recipe to make sure we had extras. (Use a 11 x 9″ brownie pan and half of the morsels to make the standard batch.)
Mint Chocolate Bark
Prep time: 5 minutes
2 10-ounce bags Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels (I did one bag of the mint morsels and another bag of dark chocolate)
3/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Line a 9×13″ cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Dump the chocolate chips onto the lined pan. Spread out the chips so they fill the pan.
- Bake the chips for 4 minutes; they’ll be shiny when you remove them from the oven and won’t appear to be melted.
- Use a kitchen knife to swirl the chocolate together (you won’t see any more of the green color).
- Top with chopped almonds, or pretzels, potato chip pieces, or dried fruit.
- Here’s the fun part: to help the toppings sink into the chocolate hold that pan about 3 inches above the counter (I put a large cutting board down for this) and then drop the pan.
- Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour and then break apart the pieces.
This year’s Thanksgiving theme–cowboy style!
While we’re keeping our meal fairly low-key, each year we try to do a little bit of a twist on traditional recipes. So this year we’re trying to infuse each dish with some Southwest flavor.
Here’s what’s on the list so far:
Grilled turkey–We’re marinating a boneless turkey breast in chipolte mojo sauce (courtesy of Goya) and then grilling it outside.
Yummy potatoes–Also called “funeral potatoes,” I’m mixing in sliced jalapenos and sharp cheddar cheese
Smokin’ gravy–As long as the we’re turning up the heat on the barbecue and the smoker, the plan is to make the gravy and then put it in the smoker to infuse it with hickory
Bacon green beans–Instead of fried onions, I’m topping my green beans with chopped up bacon (and a dash of cayenne pepper)
Chorizo cornbread stuffing–Spicy sausage called chorizo melds perfectly with cornbread
Your turn–are you making any new recipes for Thanksgiving this year or tweaking traditional favorites?
Our house was full of princesses, fairies, and a vampire this weekend. My youngest planned out her own Halloween party, from sending out the invitations to planning games and setting up a spook alley. My assignment was to take care of food (yes!). I had planned a dramatic spread of various creepy crawies. But after failing in my original cupcake idea I took my daughter’s lead and kept things simple.
The key: labeling your food with gross names and letting the kids take it from there. They were adding mustard to their mummy dogs, saying, “What should we call this?” “Ghost boogers,” said one (probably my daughter). “Or Goblin drool?”
Here are a few ideas if you’re planning your own monster bash:
Spider cupcakes. I tried making the awesome alien cupcakes from Betty Crocker, but I just couldn’t manage to get the Kix cereal-marshmallow mix right. My “aliens” ended up instead as “alien brains” on our Halloween buffet. (See directions below for the cupcakes.)
Eyeballs. Whole black olives.
Mummy brains. Cheddar cheese rice cakes.
Mummy dogs. Hotdogs wrapped in crescent roll dough, then baked. The recipe calls for you to make mustard “eyes” but I ran out of time–I noticed the kids didn’t even notice.
To make your spider cupcakes:
- Bake one cake mix using the directions for cupcakes. (I ended up with 24.)
- Top each cupcake with frosting of your choice.
- Melt 3/4 cups chocolate chips in the microwave.
- Use a spoon to place the melted chocolate in the corner of a thick, Ziploc bag. Make a small cut in the corner of the bag.
- Create chocolate spiders: on the frosted cupcakes make a dot on the center. Then draw with the chocolate four legs on each side of the dot.
- Place a mini, orange Nilla Wafer on the top of each dot (this is a great job for kiddos), then add two, small chocolate dots for eyes on each.
One more idea: You can also create spider webs to add to your cupcake display. I had extra melted chocolate left over so I made the webs on waxed paper (looking at images on my iPhone of spider webs as a guide), let them harden and then carefully peeled them away from the paper.
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. Around here I happily spent very little time in the kitchen. Mr. Squid took over and made a Mexican feast. I wanted to pass along a few pictures, but I’m saving the recipes for 2012–after all, it’s time to start baking holiday cookies!
Our meal–Mole is a complex, hearty sauce that melds dozens of spices with chiles, chocolate, and nuts. The red mole (mole poblano) we make is traditionally made with turkey. Mr. Squid seared a bone-in turkey breast and then cooked it all day in a mole sauce in the crockpot. After cooking for hours the meat literally fell off the bone–no worries on how to carve the bird! To finish off the meal, he served it with whipped mashed potatoes (my job), fried white and blue corn tortilla strips, ranchero beans and garnished the dish with Mexican crema and fresh cilantro. I wish there were still leftovers!
A few weeks ago I tried out crustless quiche on a whim and it was a big hit at my house. I became a fan too–the recipe was so versatile and fast that I could make a meal in under 10 minutes (well, baking time took longer, of course). Serve a slice of quiche with a generous salad and dinner is done.
But then I wanted to get a little creative, try out spinach in the quiche, or maybe roasted veggies, breakfast sausage in some and ham in another. I wondered if I could use ramekins in place of a pie plate so that each person could have their own quiche and choose what ingredients they wanted. It was kind of like make-your-own pizza, but with quiche.
Putting the ramekins together takes a little more work than a single quiche, but not much. You’ll need to lightly coat each ramekin with baking spray. Put about 1/8 cut of ingredients into the bottom of the ramekin and then pour the egg mixture on top.
I filled a pan with various ramekin sizes (4 and 7 ounces) and quiche flavors–spinach and gruyere, cheddar and sausage, ham and potatoes. And yes, you can make these a day ahead and reheat them. Plus they slide right out of the ramekin so if you want to serve them out of the dish, you can.
So if you’re looking for something fun for New Year’s Day to serve to your crew, try out these mini-quiches. (And then next week when you need a quick dinner–yup, you can try these out again just with different fixins.)
Here’s a few tweaks to the crustless quiche recipe to make the mini version.
- Instead of greasing a pie plate, use 6, 7-oz ramekins or 8, 4-oz ramekins (or a combination)
- Fill each ramekin with about 1/8-1/4 cup fixins of your choice (sausage, spinach, roasted veggies, diced ham)
- Pour the egg mixture on top of the fixins.
For more fun brunch ideas perfect for New Year’s Day (or breakfast for dinner)–like french toast fondue, check out these Come To Brunch ideas. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates.
I’d always wondered what the holiday song meant, “Here we come a-wasailling/ among the leaves so green.” That is, until my mother-in-law offered me a mug of wassail years ago. The spicy, tart drink reminded me of a punchier apple cider. And the simmering wassail on the stovetop made the whole house smell like Christmas (no wonder, it has a full tablespoon of allspice in the mix).
When I tried to hunt down a recipe for wassail online I was surprised by all the entries. Wassail has some history! Apparently, wassail dates back to Medieval times. (Possibly even farther. Scratching your head at just when ‘Medieval‘ would be? Try 5th to the 15th century. Still scratching? Me too. Think: Monty Python and the Holy Grail . The word ‘wassail’ comes from a combination of ‘was hail’ which is how the Saxons would greet each other–and say good-bye. I guess a modern day equilvalent might be, “Whassup?”
But it seems there’s even more to the story. I’m no historian, but doing a little Google digging led me to entries about how wassailing, which is now also a term for ‘caroling’, may date back to a feudal custom practiced during the winter solstice. There was a tradition for the feudal lords (think: land owners) to offer food and drink in exchange to blessings from the pheasants who lived on their land. The whole idea in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” of “Now bring me some figgy pudding” makes more sense when you have this in mind (I’d always wondered about that line).
While I find the history of wassail intriguing, what I like is the whole idea of inviting over friends to go Christmas caroling, then coming back for mugs of warm citrusy cider. I think I’ll try that this year, but as far as the figgy pudding, I’ll pass.
Have you ever tried wassail? Did you like it? What about going a-wassailing?
Here’s Mama G’s recipe for Wassail
Prep time: 30 minutes
2 quarts water
1 c. sugar
6 sticks cinnamon
1 T. Whole allspice
2, 12 oz. cans frozen orange juice
1, 12 oz can frozen lemonade
1 gallon apple cider
- In a large cooking pot bring the water, sugar, and spices to a boil (the mixture will become syrupy). Boil for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to a simmer for half an hour.
- Remove the cloves and cinnamon.
- Add the concentrated juices and cider into the spiced syrup.
- Heat together. Serve warm.