Tag Archives: chocolate

July Daring Bakers: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

Why hello there. I’m stopping in for my monthly update to bring you an ice cream treat. Not that the San Diego weather this summer necessitates ice cream relief from the heat — it’s been cloudy and cool here for the last million weeks. I am really tired of it. Sunny San Diego, my rear.

Anyway, on to more pleasant things like sugar and cream! The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Mmmm… mess…

So when I first saw this challenge, I was a little deflated. For one thing, I’m not a huge fan of ice cream desserts. (I really just like ice cream by itself. Or on top of warm pie or cobbler or cake.) And for another, when I hear “swiss rolls,” I think of Ho-Hos, which makes me think of my freshman year of high school, which was pretty much the worst year of my life. So two strikes against this Swiss Roll bombe, through nobody’s fault but my own. But after I checked out the recipe and the procedures, I started to look forward to making it. It looked pretty easy overall, and it involved hot fudge and lots of cream, and those are good things.

So let’s talk about the procedure. There are five different components to this recipe: the swiss rolls (basically a chocolate sponge cake), the roll filling, the chocolate ice cream, the vanilla ice cream, and the hot fudge. While making all of these different things wasn’t especially time consuming, the amount of freezing time and assembly time called for a two-day process. On Saturday, I made the ice creams and the swiss rolls, and on Sunday, I made the filling and the hot fudge. I don’t have an ice-cream maker, so the ice creams required lots of freezing time and they also required me to remember to stir and re-freeze them three to four times, which I’m not sure I managed to do correctly because I went out on Saturday night and totally forgot about the tasty treats waiting for me to attend to them in the freezer.

I am not sure if my ice cream neglect is what caused my chocolate ice cream to be… more like a Frosty from Wendy’s. It tasted amazing, but it never, ever firmed up. The vanilla ice cream did, and it tasted and looked just like regular ice cream. But the chocolate… not so much. Now, I freaking love melty ice cream, so I didn’t have a problem with the results, but it did make for a melty mess when I went to invert the bombe and slice it up.

Let’s see, what else… Okay, so the recipe called for the Swiss rolls to be baked in 11 x 9 pans, which I have never heard of. Have you? Where do I find these magical pans? So I ended up using a rimmed 11 x 15 cookie sheet, and I think that resulted in rather enormous Swiss rolls. Oh well. They still tasted good.

Um, I don’t know what that splotch is on the right. It looks like a cocoa eye.

I mixed it up a little by throwing some mini chocolate chips into the roll filling and adding a layer of strawberries on top of the hot fudge. I thought I was being all clever with the strawberries, but they weren’t such a great idea. They just froze and tasted kind of like chewy, tart ice cubes in the middle of the cake.

Hello, sweet strawberries! You sure did taste good before I foolishly froze you.

One more thing before I send you to the recipe: it seems like everyone else who made this had beautiful end-results. Mine was an eyesore. I don’t really know what I could have done differently to make it prettier (other than not take hurried photos at night in bad lighting), but I urge you to explore the other daring bakers’ results to see what this *should* look like.

“He’s an ugly little spud, isn’t he?”

I’m not recopying the whole recipe here, b/c it’s incredibly long and I’m feeling lazy. I will tell you this: the ingredients are cream. Also, cream. And sugar and cocoa, then more cream. Go here to see the whole recipe!

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Frosting

Oh, decadence.

That’s really all there is to say.

Also, this: Dense, peanutty-caramelly blondies, slicked with thick, creamy, indulgent chocolate frosting. Heaven.

Now that’s all.

From Joy the Baker
Makes about 40.

For the blondies:

10 T. unsalted butter, cut into 5 cubes
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 9×13-inch pan, then line the pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper. (No worries if you don’t have parchment paper. Just grease the pan.)

Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the peanut butter. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 more minutes, then quickly stir in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Whisk together salt, flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the peanut butter mixture and stir until just incorporated. Spread the batter, which will be thick, into the prepared pan and smooth over with a spatula. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Allow blondies to cool to room temperature before frosting.

For the frosting:

6 T. unsalted butter, softened
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar (and 1/2 cup more if needed)
3 T. milk
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted*

*Melt the chips in a glass measuring cup in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds.

Beat together the butter, cocoa, and salt with an electric mixer. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, then stir in 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat well. Add another cup powdered sugar, followed by 2 T. milk. Add the melted chocolate chips and beat to incorporate. If you need more thickness, add another 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Spread evenly over the cooled blondies, then cut into 40 pieces.

Chewy Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes: About 2.5 – 3 dozen, depending on the size you make them

Every year for Christmas, I love to make Mexican wedding cookies. Powdered sugar, butter, flour, and pecans: you really can’t go wrong with that. I’ll certainly be making those sometime soon. But I think I have a new holiday cookie tradition in these chocolate toffee cookies. I made them for the first time last year around Thanksgiving, and I’ve made two batches in the last week alone.

So, these cookies are good. These cookies are very, very good. Let me tell you why:

1. The dough tastes like actual fudge.
2. There is half a pound of chocolate in one batch. And you know how I feel about chocolate.
3. There are big, crunchy, buttery chunks of Heath bar in almost every bite.
4. There is a marvelous contrast between the chewy, brownie-like cookies and the crunch from the candy and the nuts.
5. While they are chewy, they’re not excessively so, and as you chew the chocolate flavor just blooms in your mouth.
6. The sea salt sprinkled on top cuts the chocolate in just the right way so that you’re not completely assaulted with richness.
7. They make your kitchen smell like a chocolate factory as they bake.
8. They keep really well, if you can resist eating them all in one day.
9. They won me “Best in Dough” in a cookie competition at work.
10. Seriously, the dough tastes like fudge.

For the chocolate, I used half Ghirardelli bittersweet chips, and half Scharffen Berger semisweet chipped from a bar. I wouldn’t recommend Nestle for these babies — no, they deserve the splurge of nicer, smoother, fancier chocolate. Try to think of these as the first date of cookies. You wouldn’t wear your comfy flannel pj pants on a first date, would you? Flannel pjs are great and all for sitting around the house while you eat peanut butter out of the jar and watch reruns of The Office (I mean, not that I do that or anything), but special occasions call for special pants. That’s all I’m saying.

(Um, better photos forthcoming…)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
generous 1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 6 T. brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 1.4-ounce Heath bars coarsely chopped*
scant 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped**
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (I use Maldon brand, but fine-grain sea salt will work too)

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a small, metal bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Place over a pan of simmering water and melt chocolate mixture, stirring frequently. Make sure you don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the simmering water — you essentially want to melt your chocolate by steaming it.

(You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave (in a non-metal bowl, of course); zap it at 15-second intervals, stirring each time.)

Once chocolate is melted, set bowl aside and cool mixture to lukewarm.

In an electric mixer, beat eggs and brown sugar until thick, about five minutes. Beat in vanilla and chocolate. On low speed, add flour mixture. By hand, stir in toffee pieces and nuts.

The dough will be very soft — now it’s time to chill it for 45 minutes. Don’t skimp on the chilling time!

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I would encourage you to invest in parchment paper for these cookies if you don’t already have it on hand. It makes dealing with them so much easier once they’re baked. You’ll see.

Now, this next part deserves a little elaboration: I use a regular spoon to scoop the dough into rounded balls, about 1.5 inches in size. I also keep a little dish of water nearby to dampen my thumb and forefinger, so I can more easily push the dough off the spoon and onto the cookie sheet. It’s a strange dough, both sticky and dry, but if you use the water technique, you shouldn’t have a problem with the scooping. Once scooped, give the cookies about an inch-and-a-half between them on the baking sheet. Sprinkle dough with sea salt and lightly press salt into dough with your fingertip.

Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, until cookies appear cracked and dry on top, but are still soft to the touch. Cool cookies on baking sheet for one minute. Then — this is important — slide the parchment paper with cookies still on it onto a cooling surface. Now let the cookies cool completely on the parchment. Be sure not to take them off the paper until they’re completely cool, otherwise you will tear out their sweet, soft middles.

Now, if you can, wait a few hours to eat them. They really get better once they’ve had time to cool and rally their molecules to awesomeness.

*I’ve only used Heath bars with this recipe, but I imagine Skor bars would work as well. I’ve upped the amount of Heath bars from the original recipe, so if you’d prefer fewer fantastic toffee bites, cut it down to 2 or 3 Heath bars.

**To toast almonds: preheat oven to 350. Spread almonds in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 5 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.

Fudgy Family Brownies

field of chocolate3

One-bowl (really, one-saucepan) brownies are one of the first baked treats I learned to make on my own. My mom and I made brownies together with such frequency that once I was allowed to man the stove by myself, our family-recipe brownies were my fail-safe choice. They were a simple combination of a stick of butter melted with two ounces of unsweetened chocolate, with a cup of sugar, 1.5 eggs (yes, 1.5), a teaspoon of vanilla and a cup of flour all poured into an 8×8 or 9×9 pan and ready for devouring in 20 or so minutes. Eventually, they became my oh-dear-God-I-NEED-chocolate-RIGHT-NOW brownies, because they are so easy to whip up, and because the combination of salted butter, chocolate, and sugar (before you add the eggs) is, I think, better than cookie dough. Yes, I said it.

The chocolate base in my mom’s traditional brownies has always been Baker’s unsweetened chocolate blocks. They were a staple in our kitchen throughout my childhood, and I learned very quickly that even if it smells like chocolate and looks like chocolate, it tastes like bitter, bitter disappointment. I had a gleeful I-told-you-so moment with my best friend in 7th grade when she grabbed a cube and insisted that it would be delicious, because it was chocolate, for goodness’ sake. She tried valiantly to eat the whole thing to prove me wrong, but not even stubborn tweens can get through a one-ounce hunk of unsweetened chocolate.

Anyway, my point is that the butter-sugar-unsweetened chocolate mixture is the holy trinity of the recipe I’ve been using for twenty years, but recently, I started experimenting a little.

And I made it better.

That’s a big statement from me, people, because my family recipe brownies have ever been my favorite brownies in the whole wide world. I’ve tried fancier, richer, more chocolate-y brownie recipes. I’ve tried two-bowl recipes, three-bowl recipes. I’ve tried 8-ounces-of-chocolate-in-a-little-square-pan brownie recipes. And I’ve always gone back to my family favorite. And I probably will again, because it’s easy, and always always good.

But with a few (admittedly very minor) tweaks, I’m pretty sure I’ve created my best brownies ever. A little more chocolate, a little more egg, a little less flour. They are not crammed full of butter and chocolate, but they taste like they are. They are just the family recipe, glammed up for a night on the town.

Try them. Cut them into little pieces. Refrigerate them. You’ll see.

field of chocolate1

Ingredients:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 ounce high-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger)
1/2 C. salted butter
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C. flour

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.

In a saucepan over low-to-medium heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring frequently. You could probably be a purist and use a double-boiler for this step, but I’ve never had a problem with scorched chocolate. Once your butter & chocolate are melted and smooth, remove the pan from heat and stir in one cup of sugar. (Taste this combination. If you have an incorrigible sweet tooth like I do, you will love it. If you don’t, well, I feel sorry for you.)

In a small bowl, beat eggs well. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and stir quickly. Add vanilla. Gently stir in flour until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with crumbs still clinging to it.

Cool, cut, and eat. Or eat before they’re cool. You’re welcome to do that, you know. (But do try them chilled — I put these in the fridge after I cut them and they turned into little fudgy squares of awesome.)

stacked

Don’t kind of wish those fingers were yours, reaching for a brownie?

Cupcake Friday: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Source: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Makes: 22

tray

Ahhh, chocolate. Have you ever found yourself in a casual conversation with a group of people, and the news comes out that one of them doesn’t like chocolate? And then there’s this rabid flurry of “You don’t like chocolate???” like the person just confessed that they don’t like breathing air? If you’re a chocolate fiend, you expect others to commiserate and relate, am I right?

But not all chocolate is created equal, as I’m sure you know. If you don’t, well, get yourself a $9 bar of fancy chocolate and compare it to Hershey’s. Go on, I’ll wait. I promise it’s worth it.

See?

Hershey’s has its place as an icon of chocolate, but it doesn’t hold a candle to, say, Scharffen Berger. Or Wilbur’s, in my opinion, but that’s another post for another time. (Okay, just quickly: Wilbur’s and Hershey’s chocolate are both local to where I grew up, so I had plenty of time to compare the two as a discerning chocolate-eating youngster. The Wilbur factory is, in fact, about five blocks away from Husband’s childhood home, so I like to think that maybe, when we were little, just maybe we were there at the same time. Isn’t that romantic? Anyway, the flavor of Wilbur’s chocolate beats the pants off Hershey’s, but then again, Wilbur’s doesn’t have a theme park, so… um… I think I’ve lost sight of where this was going.)

Anyway, the point is that chocolate is awesome, and I’m always on the lookout for the chocolate-themed dessert that is going to blow my mind.

These little flourless cupcakes are… not it.

They are good, mind you, and lushly chocolatey enough without being so dark and rich that you start to wonder if you’re actually eating something the devil concocted to blind you to evil-doings. No, these are not that kind of rich. They are quite light, too, thanks to the whipped egg whites and the smallish amount of added fat in the recipe. They are mousse-like, airy and inclined to dissolve once they hit your tongue.

My mom and I baked these when she was visiting recently, and the picture in the cookbook led us to believe that these little cakelets would come out of the oven with a crusty, cracked meringue crunch on top. They did not. It’s possible that we didn’t bake them for long enough, or maybe we didn’t whip the egg whites to the proper stiffness, but regardless, these cupcakes were not what we expected.

I think I’ve also determined that I prefer my chocolate in chewy brownie form as opposed to airy mousse form. I need some more heft to my chocolate desserts, thank you very much, especially if I’m going to pair them with ice cream.

But I will recommend these cupcakes for a light, easy chocolate dessert. They were pretty quick to come together, and they’re not going to attack your waistline with the vengeance of, say, a ganache.

So tell me: what’s your favorite chocolate dessert? And by the way, “chocolate ice cream” is not an answer ’round these parts.

bite

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

6 tbsp (3/4) stick of unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips)
6 large eggs, separated, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar

*I halved the recipe and made 12 small cupcakes. If I make these again, I might up the temp to 325 degrees and see if that crisps up the tops a bit…

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Melt butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave — just do 30-second intervals, stirring after each one.) Stir to combine, then remove bowl from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry (do not overbeat). Whisk one quarter of the beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten, then gently fold mixture into remaining whites.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes are just set in centers, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes (their centers will sink). Try them warm with vanilla ice cream, or eat them later at room temperature. Best eaten the day they are made, but they’ll keep for a day or so.

Cookie Friday: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Source: The back of a whole wheat pastry flour bag
Makes: 3 dozen or more, depending on the size you make them

stacked

Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. You’re all “Man, if Jill is turning this blog into a healthful-baked-treats blog, I am so leaving.” At least, that’s what I’d be thinking if I were you. I love me some healthy, whole-grain food, and I generally try to put good things into my digestive system, but we all know that an abiding love for baked goods can never be squelched, and especially not by the (non)temptation of whole wheat. Continue reading

Cupcake Friday: Chocolate & Peanut Butter. Mmmm.

Source: Enlightened Cakes
Makes: 24?

on rack2

For the last couple of weeks, I have been craving chocolate and peanut butter so much that I’ve started to wonder if it’s a sign of some deficiency. It can’t be protein, because I’ve recently discovered Greek yogurt, which is freaking awesome and way high in protein. And it can’t be antioxidants, because come on — I’m not craving a restrained piece or two of the darkest of chocolate.

No, I’ve been craving the pure, unadulterated, utterly ideal combination of salty-sweet peanut butter and smooth milk chocolate. I’ve been craving Reese’s peanut butter cups, people, and I finally surrendered last weekend with the giddy excuse of making cupcakes for my friend Jake’s birthday. Continue reading