Posts Tagged 'Chocolate'

Homemade Marshmallows with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut

My cousin has a daughter who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, in addition to the nut allergy the family has been aware of for years. She’s adjusting well, and there are lots of great gluten-free products these days, but it’s still not easy for a kid to have to be so careful about the things that she eats.

Easter sugar cookies were our tradition previously, but this year, I wanted to make a dessert that everyone could enjoy. After carefully checking my list of potential ingredients to make sure there wasn’t any risk of gluten cross-contamination, I decided to pull out a marshmallow recipe I’ve used previously and then dip the marshmallows in chocolate and toasted coconut. They were a great hit with the children and the adults (and would have been with the family dog, had he succeeded in his quest) – a perfect mix of sweet, chewy, and crunchy.

Homemade Marshmallows with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut
Makes about 60 (depending on how you cut them)

Ingredients:
Vegetable oil, for brushing
4 packages unflavored gelatin (or 3 tablespoons)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (use unsweetened, if desired)
6 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate

To make marshmallows:
Brush a 9-x-13-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom of the dish and to overhang the longer sides. Place the parchment in the dish, brush with oil, and set dish aside.

Pour 3/4 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer, and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let stand 5 minutes.

Place granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Set saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer, and cook until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (238° at sea level, 228° at my house at 5900 feet, about 9 minutes).

Using the whisk attachment, beat hot syrup into gelatin on low speed. Gradually increasing speed to high, beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Set dish aside, uncovered, until marshmallow becomes firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Place 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a fine strainer, and sift onto a clean work surface. Invert large marshmallow onto the sugar-coated surface, and peel off the parchment paper. Lightly brush a sharp knife with vegetable oil, and cut marshmallow into 1-inch squares. Sift remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and roll marshmallows in sugar to coat. Set aside.

To dip marshmallows:
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake coconut until toasted and golden brown, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully because coconut will burn quickly!) Place toasted coconut in a bowl and set aside.

Melt chocolate in a small bowl in microwave according to package instructions. (You could also melt chocolate using a double boiler, if desired.)

Dip one side of each marshmallow first in chocolate and then in toasted coconut. Place chocolate-side up on a rimmed baking sheet.

Once all the marshmallows are dipped, place baking sheet in refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow chocolate to set. Cover loosely with foil until ready to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.

Marshmallow adapted from MarthaStewart.com

Homemade Marshmallows with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut

Holy cow, are these ever good. What really makes them awesome is the combination of the soft marshmallow with the crunchy, sweet coconut – it’s textural heaven. I love chocolate, so that certainly doesn’t hurt things either. They’re the perfect little size – just a bite, which is great for kids or adults who struggle with dessert guilt.  (I am not one of those adults.)

The dipped marshmallows are definitely best day they’re made, before they’ve spent any time in an airtight container. As we discovered in the backyard fire pit, they’re good toasted, too, though you have to be careful about the coconut catching fire. Never fear if you have leftovers… Even though the coconut lost its crunch in airtight storage, Dr. O still couldn’t stop eating them.

Chocolate Panforte Candies

Our gourmet club theme was really fun this month: lucky foods for the new year. We met last night and had a wonderful spread filled with all kinds of foods that should bring good fortune in 2013, including bacon jam (pigs symbolize progress and “the fat of the land”), smoked salmon dip (fish represent abundance), roasted grapes with rosemary (grapes are part of a Spanish tradition), Hoppin’ John risotto (black-eyed peas represent coins/prosperity), cooked greens (greens look like money), and honey cornbread (cornbread is the color of gold).

I was on dessert duty, and since there aren’t too many sweet foods that fall on the lucky list, I decided to explore the “round” theme for dessert. Round or ring-shaped foods represent prosperity (coins are round) and the idea of coming full circle. Bundt cake was a natural choice since it’s a popular ring-shaped dessert (I went with Martha’s Tangerine Cake with Citrus Glaze), but I wanted to add another element. Since chocolate and orange go so well together, I knew I wanted to make some kind of chocolate candy. Today’s recipe – Chocolate Panforte Candies – fit the bill perfectly. They pull together chocolate, orange, and several other unexpected flavors that work together wonderfully. Everyone liked the cake, for sure, but I think they loved these.

Chocolate Panforte Candies
Active time: 40 min. | Total time: 2 hours
Makes 14

Ingredients:
1/2 cup quartered dried black Mission figs
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons grated orange peel, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup (scant) hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
14 standard paper muffin baking cups

Method:
Cook first 5 ingredients and 1 teaspoon orange peel in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until liquid forms thick syrup that coats figs, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; mix in cinnamon, remaining 1/4 teaspoon orange peel, and nuts.

Melt chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on medium power until melted and warm to touch, stopping once to stir, about 1 1/2 minutes. Arrange paper cups on rimmed baking sheet. Spoon 1 mounded teaspoon chocolate onto bottom of each paper cup. Tap baking sheet on work surface to spread chocolate over bottom of cups. Top center of each with about 1 mounded teaspoon fig mixture. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Peel off paper. Let chocolates stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Source: Bon Appétit, December 2008

My notes:

  • I chopped the figs instead of quartering them and chopped the hazelnuts instead of leaving them whole.
  • I found hazelnuts in the bulk section at Whole Foods. I roasted them for 9 minutes at 350°F and then rubbed the skins off before chopping them. Some skins didn’t rub off entirely, which wasn’t a big deal.
  • The recipe makes about twice the amount of topping that you need, so I would recommend halving the topping or doubling the chocolate.
  • The microwave instructions in the recipe won’t completely melt the chocolate. Just stir, stir, stir until the chocolate is smooth.
  • I’ve made these with both semisweet and bittersweet chocolate; Dr. O and I like the bittersweet the best.

Chocolate Panforte Candies

These candies are ridiculously good. Who knew figs and chocolate went so well together? The crunch of the hazelnuts is pretty special as well. Like one of the recipe reviewers, I was worried that the clove and nutmeg might be overwhelming, but everything blends together beautifully in the finished product. And I do mean beautifully… Both times I’ve served these, people wondered how I created such a gorgeous edge on these chocolates. Muffin cups work wonders!

These probably aren’t going to satisfy a crowd that wants Oreo balls and peanut butter fudge, but they’re perfect for foodies, adventurous eaters, or anyone who enjoys a little something unexpected. I’ll be making them again next December (if not sooner!) for sure.

Recipe link: Chocolate Panforte Candies

Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies

“Mayhem” (the only way I can describe my May!) is almost over. Hallelujah. It’s been fun, but traveling every weekend really puts a damper on my cooking, and I’m ready to get back to it.

Today’s recipe – Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies – is a treat I’ve enjoyed at my friend Christopher’s house numerous times. Until I actively sought out the recipe, though, I didn’t realize that (a) I’ve had it in my possession since September 2009, and (b) it’s been on my list of must-try recipes for months and months.

The cookies are super simple to make; there’s only six ingredients, and prep time is minimal. The first time I made a batch, though, they did not look like the cookies I’d enjoyed before. Christopher’s had relatively smooth but still slightly crackly tops, while mine were very uneven. I had ignored my kitchen instincts when I made the batter and didn’t beat the egg whites before adding them to the dry mixture (the recipe said nothing about it), so I figured this must have been my problem. This time, with lightly beaten egg whites, the cookies turned out perfectly.

Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies
Makes 12

Ingredients:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (sub chocolate chips if desired)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or other type of nut)
4 large egg whites, room temperature (I say lightly beaten)

Method:
Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Add egg whites and stir until just incorporated (do not overmix).

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake until cookie tops are dry and crackled, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)

Source: Everyday Food, September 2009

Image

These are one of my top three favorite cookies, easy. The crisp, crackly outside gives way to a chewy, brownie-like center and the combination is absolutely out of this world. The cookies are large (about the size of my palm) and visually impressive, which makes them great for gifts or entertaining.

The quality of cocoa powder used definitely affects the flavor of the cookie, so if you try the recipe, go with the best. I’ve had good results with Savory Spice Shop’s cocoa (I mixed their basic Dutch-process cocoa with their Black Onyx) and with Ghirardelli; Christopher swears by Droste.

Recipe link: Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats

I’m a big dessert person, but I don’t always want to make a big effort in order to have it.  When my friend Christopher came over for dinner recently, I was looking for something that would be fun, delicious, and easy.  The answer?  Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Food.  I love Rice Krispies treats – they so remind me of my childhood – and the chocolate element of this recipe elevates the flavor to something adults can really appreciate. Plus, the treats came together in 10 minutes flat.  Perfection!

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats
Makes 16

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 bag (10.5 ounces) mini marshmallows
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
6 cups crisp rice cereal
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Method:
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.  Line bottom and two sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on both sides.  Butter paper; set pan aside.

In a large saucepan, combine butter, marshmallows, and cocoa.  Cook over medium, stirring frequently, until melted, about 6 minutes; stir in rice cereal.  Press rice mixture into prepared pan; drizzle with melted chocolate.  Let cool to room temperature; cut into 16 bars.  (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 5 days.)

Source: Everyday Food, October 2008

Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats

These are so good!  I’ve never really been a chocolate Rice Krispies treat kind of girl (I love the original recipe), but I’ll totally make these again.  The texture is perfect, with just the right amount of butter and marshmallow, and I love, love, love the rich flavor of the chocolate drizzle on top.  This would be such a fun dessert for a dressed-up comfort food dinner party.

TIPS:  I was always under the impression that Rice Krispies treats got pretty stale if you didn’t eat them the day they were made, but these keep beautifully.

Recipe link: Crispy Chocolate-Marshmallow Treats

Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange Peels

I made candied orange peel for the first time last year and loved it.  This year, I decided to make a double batch and use it for Christmas stollen, today’s recipe (Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange Peels), and general nibbling.

Today’s recipe has its own instructions for making candied orange peel, but I just went with the tried-and-true process from last year.  If you already have candied orange peel (homemade or store-bought, really), this recipe is a fast way to turn out a really elegant, edible holiday gift.

Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange Peels
Adapted from FoodandWine.com

Ingredients:
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bars)
3/4 cup candied orange peel
1/2 cup shelled, salted pistachios

Method:
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a double boiler set over a pot of simmering water, heat the bittersweet chocolate until two-thirds melted.  Remove from the heat.  Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until it is completely melted and registers about 90°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Spread the warm chocolate on the parchment paper to a rough 9-x-13-inch rectangle.  Working quickly, so the chocolate doesn’t set, scatter the orange peels and pistachios evenly over the melted chocolate.  Gently tap the cookie sheet on the work surface to flatten the chocolate and allow the toppings to sink in slightly. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, just until firm.  Cut or break the bark into 2-inch pieces and serve.

Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange Peels

Heavenly!  This bark is a chocolate-y, salty, and sweet treat.  The original recipe calls for unsalted pistachios, but the salt adds so much to the flavor profile.  Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Plus, the bark is just gorgeous for gift giving.  I didn’t think it would break very evenly since the orange peel is chewy, so I cut mine with a santoku knife.  I really like the look of the hard edges.  I’m making this one again!

TIPS:  I was worried that my chocolate wouldn’t melt completely (we’ve all been there, right?), so I think I let it melt a bit too long in the double boiler.  This didn’t hurt the chocolate, but it did get pretty warm (about 120°F) and took some time to come down in temperature.  After extended stirring and letting it fall in ribbons to cool it down, my patience ended when the chocolate hit 97°F.  I was afraid that it might be a bit too loose and spread too far, but everything turned out just fine.

Also, if you don’t know what a double boiler is or want to rig up your own at home, check out this post.

Recipe links: Candied Orange Peel and Bittersweet Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange Peel (the original)

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Candylicious!

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

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This challenge was pretty wide open in terms of what kind of candy we had to make to satisfy our requirements.  We had to make one chocolate candy (an incredibly broad category itself), and one other candy that could be whatever we like (chocolate or non-chocolate).  For my chocolate candy, I was partially inspired by the S’mores Squares I made earlier this month.  The marshmallow component is so good!  So, I decided to make some marshmallow, cut it into little square slabs, and sandwich peanut butter between two halves.  (Pardon the blurry photo.)

Marshmallow Sandwich

Tempering chocolate was an optional part of the challenge this month, and I just didn’t have time to deal with it.  (I’m posting late as it is! 🙂 )  I ended up melting some Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate (I think it balanced the sweetness of the marshmallow and the peanut butter nicely) in a double boiler, dipping the sandwiched marshmallows in that, and then adding a chopped peanut garnish.  The candies turned out amazing!  My husband loves them so much that I’ll have to start making them regularly.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Marshmallow Candies

For my other candy, I made lollipops.  I’ve had a molar lollipop mold (totally ironic, right?) sitting in my pantry, waiting for its moment to shine.  I used the DIY Lollies recipe from Oprah.com with all corn syrup and orange extract.  (I didn’t have any flavored oil and preferred to use what I had in the pantry, so I was able to determine that one part flavored oil is equal to four parts flavored extract.)

My first try was a flop for two reasons: I only made a half recipe (there just wasn’t enough candy to go around!), and I followed the part of the recipe that told me to transfer the hot candy to a measuring cup (glass, of course) before pouring it into the molds.  So much heat was lost in the transfer that my candy started to set in the glass measuring cup before I had managed to fill my lollipop molds.  The second time, I made a full recipe and poured the hot candy straight from the pan. Things worked out much better, though I still had some difficulty getting my lollies out of the molds (hence the broken root tip on the molar).  Broken or not, they were really tasty.

Tooth Lollipop

So I’ll definitely make the chocolate candies again, and I may try lollipops again if I’m feeling brave.  Thanks for a great challenge, Lisa and Mandy!

Recipe links: S’mores Squares (for marshmallow only) and DIY Lollies

Chocolate Ice and Vanilla Milk (aka The Most Fun Way to Make Chocolate Milk Ever)

Has anyone around here been reading this blog long enough to remember the request line?  It fizzled out around the time we made our move from Dallas back to Denver, but a friend from college singlehandedly (and unknowingly) revived it by sending me a recipe a few weeks ago.  Since he specifically said I should try it and blog about it, I’m going to happily interpret that as a request.  And it’s a good one! The recipe was simple and quick (minus the milk chilling time, but that’s hands off) and so much fun.  Thanks, Mike, for reminding me that I love chocolate milk (and should enjoy it more often!).

So, the premise behind the recipe is to make what basically amounts to chocolate ice cubes, and to serve them with milk that has been “enhanced” with a bit of sugar and vanilla.  Kids would love this treat (without the instant coffee, I’m sure) and I think this makes a fun dessert for adults as well.  Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Ice

Ingredients:
200 ml milk
50 ml water
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee (optional) (I used Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso)
70 g dark chocolate (66% cacao) (I ignored the cacao recommendation and used Cadbury Royal Dark because I like it and it was on sale)

Method:
Finely chop chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl.

Pour milk and water in a saucepan; add sugar, cocoa, and coffee and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps.  Bring to a boil over medium heat then remove from heat.  Pour over the chocolate, set aside for 5 minutes, then mix gently with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.  Cool and pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Vanilla Milk

Ingredients:
600 ml milk
60 g sugar
1 vanilla pod

Method:
Pour milk into a large saucepan.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Slit the vanilla pod down the middle, scrape out the seeds, and add them to the pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat then remove from heat.  Cool, then refrigerate several hours or preferably overnight.

To serve, place chocolate ice cubes in glasses (3 – 4 cubes per glass, depending on the size) and pour the cold vanilla milk over the cubes.

Note:  I used the measurements indicated in the recipe because my liquid measuring cups have cup and milliliter markings.  I also have a kitchen scale, so I was able to just weigh my sugar.  Fifty milliliters of water is a little under 1/4 cup; 200 milliliters of milk is a little over 3/4 cup; 600 milliliters of milk is about 2 1/2 cups.  Seventy grams of dark chocolate was all but five squares of a Cadbury Royal Dark bar.  Sixty grams of sugar should be slightly over 1/4 cup.  Thankfully, this isn’t baking, so the recipe should be forgiving of slight variations.

Chocolate Ice Cubes

Chocolate Milk

Holy cow, was this ever delicious!  It’s rare for me to just sit down with a glass of milk (especially chocolate milk), and I feel like I’ve been missing out.  A cold glass of milk is actually pretty refreshing, and I especially loved the depth of flavor the espresso powder brought to the chocolate and the way the milk got more and more chocolatey as the cubes melted.  Mmmmmm.  The flavor possibilities are pretty endless too…  I can totally imagine adding some chile powder, powdered ginger, or cinnamon to the mix.

What else do I love about this recipe besides the fact that it’s delicious?  It’s easily made ahead.  The chocolate cubes can just sit in the freezer (though I would recommend storing them in a freezer bag to minimize freezer burn) and I’m sure the milk will keep just fine in the refrigerator for several days.  Perfect for treats on demand!

Again, many thanks to my friend Mike for reviving the request line.  If you have a recipe you’d like me to try, post a comment or send me a message at sweetandsaucy.wordpress.com@gmail.com.

TIPS:  I ended up getting 27 chocolate ice cubes out of the recipe with about 1 tablespoon of liquid each.  Next time, I would probably double the milk recipe to make more servings since four chocolate cubes per glass was just about perfect.

Recipe link: Chocolate Ice and Vanilla Milk

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

I make an awful lot of sugar cookies.  (I swear, I could make them in my sleep!)  I make so many, in fact, that I rarely even think about making any other kind of cut-out cookie.  When the recipe for these Chocolate-Ginger Cookies came through my inbox the other day, though, I just had to make them.  The chocolate-ginger flavor combination really feels like fall, and I already had the adorable fall cookie cutters used in the photo on the Martha Stewart Web site.

I went into this thinking that I’d be able to mimic my sugar cookie routine with a different dough, but I had to change plans quickly; the dough is pretty soft.  The downside of this is that I had to flour the heck out of my counter, the surface of the dough, and the rolling pin to make cutting and transferring the cookies possible.  The upside, though (and it’s a big one!), is that the dough produces a very tender cookie.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies
Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I left this out)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup dark unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Method:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk together flour, cocoa, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg, molasses, and grated ginger; mix until combined. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until just combined.

Halve dough; flatten into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour. Transfer disks, one at a time, to a lightly floured surface; roll out to 1/4 inch thick. (If dough gets soft, freeze until firm.) Use 3-inch acorn or leaf cookie cutters to make shapes; place 1 inch apart on sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Score designs with a knife; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2004

My notes:

  • As you can see from the ingredient list, I left out the leavening agents.  I find that cutout cookies tend to hold their shape better (especially at altitude) when I omit them.
  • I was tempted to squeeze the moisture out of my grated ginger because it was pretty wet, but I didn’t.  Baked goods usually benefit from a little extra moisture at altitude anyway.
  • The recipe said to refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes before baking, but I froze them for 20 minutes instead.
  • I tried scoring the cookies with the designs both before and after freezing (I’m a rebel like that!).  Scoring them after freezing definitely resulted in cleaner lines.
  • My cookies were done in about 11 1/2 minutes per batch.

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

I still love sugar cookies the best, but these were pretty tasty.  I liked the balance of ginger and chocolate, and I really enjoyed the light crunch of the sanding sugar. I’m not sure if the cookies were supposed to be tender (the Martha Stewart site indicated they’d be crisp), but mine certainly were.  They weren’t soft in a flexible way – they held their shape perfectly – but they had such a delicate crumb.  I’ll try this one again in December as gingerbread men.

Recipe link: Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Hooray!

I always get really excited when one of my favorite baking recipes from Dallas works here in Denver without any high-altitude modifications.  Today’s recipe – Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies from the March 2005 issue of Everyday Food – is one of those recipes.  I loved these cookies so much when we were in Dallas and got so many compliments on them…  I’m just thrilled I can share them here as well.

And let me tell you something, folks: These cookies are not only delicious, they’re ridiculously easy.  Like, you-don’t-even-need-a-mixer easy.  Here’s how I made them.

In a large bowl, I stirred together 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of table salt until well combined.  Next, I stirred in 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of roasted salted peanuts.

From here, I deviated a bit.  The recipe says to use moistened hands to roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls.  I used my 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop for the first batch (with the dough leveled instead of heaping) and my hands for the second batch so I could see which method gave me the best cookie shape.  (The scoop won by a mile!)  The recipe also said to bake all the cookies at once with one rack in the top third of the oven and one in the bottom third.  I feel like I get more consistent results when I bake my cookies in the middle of the oven, so I decided to do separate batches.  With that said, I placed the dough balls about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  (I ended up with 21 cookies.)  I baked each batch at 350°F until they were golden and puffed (13 minutes in my oven).  I cooled them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Oh, heavens.  They were just as I had remembered, except maybe ever so slightly less puffed than they were in Dallas.  No matter…  The Queen of Portion Control (me, as often as I can stand it) has already eaten two of these and it isn’t even 5 p.m. yet.

The cookies are very peanut butter-y, and I love the chunky texture created by the whole peanuts in the dough.  They aren’t soft and chewy but they certainly aren’t crisp either…  They’re somewhere in between.  They’re a little bit crumbly like a good shortbread, which is another thing I can hardly resist.

So anyway, if you like peanuts and chocolate, make these!  You’ll enjoy them.  And my fellow high-altitude bakers can rest easy knowing this won’t be yet another batch of cookies that spread into sad, crispy discs.

Recipe link: Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

My Mexican-themed party is rapidly approaching, so I tried a second dessert recipe yesterday.  After last week’s disappointment with Everyday Food’s Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies (they’re just not made for high-altitude baking!), I was so excited to discover that my Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes were a-ma-zing.  I feel like I cheated a bit because I used box cake mix as a base again (like with the Margarita Cupcakes), but I did add spices and I made my own icing.  I was inspired by The Perfect Pantry’s “Diablo” Cupcakes and Billy Reece’s Chocolate Buttercream; here’s my final recipe for the cake and the icing.

(Note: This recipe has been adjusted for high altitude.  If you want to make it at a lower elevation, just add the spices to the cake mix and follow the instructions on the box.  No adjustments are necessary for the icing.)

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 3 dozen regular cupcakes or 6 dozen minis

Cake ingredients:
1 box (18.25 oz.) Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil’s Food cake mix
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon New Mexico red chile powder
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 large eggs (room temperature)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a light-colored metal muffin pan (regular size or mini) with cupcake liners.

Pour the dry cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk in the cinnamon, chile powder, salt, pepper, and flour.  Add the water, oil, and eggs and mix with an electric mixer at low speed until moistened.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.  (Use a cookie scoop to make this easier.) Bake full-size cupcakes for 17 minutes or mini cupcakes for 11 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean).  Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely before icing.

Icing ingredients:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled but still liquid (chocolate chips are OK)
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons New Mexico red chile powder, plus a pinch for sprinkling
5 cups powdered sugar

Method:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes).  With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined.  Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, chile powder, and powdered sugar; mix on medium until well combined, being careful not to overmix.  Ice cooled cupcakes and sprinkle a pinch of chile powder on top.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are absolutely heavenly!  I know it seems strange to put chile powder and pepper into baked goods, but the flavor combination really works.  I felt like I could really taste the cinnamon, but the chile powder came through more as a bit of heat in the aftertaste.  The cake was moist, light, and fluffy; the icing was smooth, creamy, and had a rich chocolate flavor.  As much as I enjoyed the Margarita Cupcakes, I think these will be the star of the party.

TIPS:  Technically, you could probably use any boxed cake mix, but I really feel Duncan Hines makes a superior product.  The cupcakes crowned beautifully and the cake texture was fantastic.




The Daring Kitchen

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