Cocoa & Black Cherry Brownies

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3/4 c. unsalted butter

1 1/4 c. caster sugar

A pinch of salt

3/4 c. dutch process cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 c. AP flour

large handful of pitted and halved black cherries

350 F / 180 C

-In a bain-marie, melt butter and add sugar, salt, and cocoa until you have a grainy mushy mixture.

-Remove from the heat and stir quickly for 2-3 minutes to cool the mixture down. Stir in the eggs one by one. Then add vanilla.

-Once you’ve added the wet ingredients, stir in the flour and pour half into a lined 9″ tin.

-Place half of the cherries on top and then add the second half of the brownie mix over them. Add the rest of the cherries over top and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.

-Serve with 10 tons of vanilla ice cream over the top until you feel your heart shutting down.

 

Gluten & Diary Free Chocolate Strawberry Cake

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Before you start wondering to yourself if this is some kind of sick joke, it’s not! And before you start wondering whether it tastes like cardboard or wet shoes, it doesn’t! It tastes like….well, like chocolate cake!

Turns out, after months of stomach aches and bloating, I’m allergic to wheat and dairy.

Great.

My solution is that I eat gluten free. Being wheat intolerant isn’t mutually exclusive with being gluten intolerant, but one eliminates the other in my case.

Anyway, this cake is my saving grace. I took a page from another bloggers book with it, and will gladly give her credit where it’s due right here. I made only a couple changes based on what I had already in the cupboard but have made it her way as well. They’re both great. Honestly.

The only thing I would further recommend is topping it with avocado chocolate frosting. Or, you know, real chocolate frosting works too. Guess my options are a bit limited these days and an avocado frosting seems to suffice.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE (Again, with my VERY slight alteration from her recipe.)

150 ml coconut oil (melted)

50 g organic & fair trade cocoa powder

125 ml boiling water

2 t vanilla

3 medium organic eggs

140 g good quality organic brown sugar

150 g ground almonds (almond flour)

½ t baking soda

a pinch of salt

350 F/ 170 C

  1. Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan
  2. Put the cocoa powder in a bowl, and whisk in the boiling water and oil until it forms a smooth paste. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl crack in the eggs, then add the sugar and coconut oil. Using an electric whisk, whisk the ingredients together for 1-2 minutes, the mix will thicken slightly. As noted on her site, doing this by hand will cause the cake to lose height.
  4. Pour the chocolate mix into the egg mixture and combine.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the almonds with the bicarb of soda and salt till the ingredients are well distributed.
  6. Pour into your cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake springs back when you push it.
  7. Top with fruit or cream

 

Classic Soft Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’m not feeling so chatty these days so, I’ll get you right to the point. Make these. Eat these. Thank me later!

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COOKIES:

3/4 c. melted butter

1 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. caster sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/2 t. vanilla

1 3/4 c. flour

1/4 c. dark cocoa powder

1/2 t. sea salt

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 c. white chocolate chips

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

350 F / 180 F

  1. Combine sugar and butter in stand mixer. Add eggs and beat until mixture lightens in color. Add vanilla.
  2. Sift in dry ingedients and combine until a dough forms.
  3. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. With a large ice-cream scoop, scoop balls of dough onto a lined cookie sheet closely together. When the dough is finished, freeze the balls of dough on the trays until they’re rock hard.
  5. Store the ones you’re not going to bake right away in a freezer safe bag and bake the rest for 15 minutes. The cookies should be a bit raw still. As they cool, the dough will cook further and become a soft cookie in the end.

Iced Chocolate Ale Bundt Cake

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What kind of person would I be if I didn’t make something with ale on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been to the Guinness brewery and the best thing I tasted there wasn’t the beer, believe it or not. It was the Guinness chocolate bar they had in their gift shop. My brother and I were mid-argument, something about directions, and this bar alone brought us together again. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I took my last bite, and this is a cakeafied version of it.

That said, confession time. I didn’t use Guinness. Oops. I had to get you this far so you’d listen to me when I tell you that it’s equally as good if not better. Instead, I used a dark bitter chocolate ale that I found in a local market. The real kicker here is the molasses in the recipe. It keeps the ale very much alive, which gives the cake a real depth of flavor.

This is my second post in a row about chocolate cake, I know, but come on, what was I supposed to do? I even sprinkled a little gold dust on top. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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CAKE: (recipe used from Fine Cooking)

1 1/4 c. dark ale, like Guinness or chocolate ale (I used Old Tom)

1/3 c.  molasses

1 2/3 AP flour

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

  1. Line your pan with butter and dust it with cocoa powder (not subtracting from the specified in the recipe).
  2. Melt in a small saucepan on medium heat the molasses with the stout and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl sift the dry ingredients together and set aside as well.
  4. In the mixer, beat the butter until smooth and then add sugar. Beat again until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding another.
  6. Then, alternate stout and dry mixture on low until both are gone and the batter is smooth with no lumps. Scrape down the sides if you have to.
  7. Pour evenly into a bundt pan and bake 40-50 minutes. the middle will spring back up.
  8. Release the cake from the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.

ICING:

icing sugar

milk

vanilla

  1. Starting with at least 2 c. of the icing sugar and vanilla, pour milk in, a tablespoon at a time until you get a thick paste like consistency. It shouldn’t fall easily from a spoon, but drip slowly.
  2. Drizzle over the middle of the ring and let it fall down the sides naturally.

 

Salted Vanilla Mocha Cupcakes

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I have to confess that this is sort of a recycled recipe. It’s almost exactly my pistachio cake recipe, but there’s more coffee and a different frosting. I came home with a longer lunch break than usual and couldn’t resist the need to bake. I’m an addict. The Kitchen Aid is my trigger. Once we lock eyes, it’s all over. Creepy, I know.

I used dark cocoa for this recipe because the dark, almost black color of the cake is as appealing as a red velvet cake. When you see it, you just know that you want to eat it. I’d call them black velvet, but that sounds a little dark and scary, which is not what these are. They’re pillows of goodness. Try and convince me otherwise.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE: (from here)

1 3/4 c. AP flour

1 3/4 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. dark cocoa powder

1 t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. hot water with 5 T. of instant espresso powder

350 F / 180 C

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients ACCEPT coffee.
  2. Next, sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Add espresso mixture. The batter will become very wet, almost watery.
  4. Line 2 cupcake tins with papers and fill each one just over halfway. Bake 15-20 minutes until middle springs back when you push it.

SALTED VANILLA BEAN BUTTERCREAM:

3 c. icing sugar

1/2 c. room temperature butter, unsalted

2 T. whole milk or cream

1 1/2 t. vanilla or the seeds of 1-2 vanilla beans

1-2 generous pinches of sea salt

  1. Beat butter and sugar until combined.
  2. Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
  3. If you want a frosting that is thicker or thinner adjust the sugar or milk amounts.
  4. Sprinkle tops of cupcakes with cocoa powder and more sea salt.

 

Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Bean Icing and Pistachios

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I’ve been craving cake. I tried to avoid the situation with hot chocolate, oatmeal, chocolate milk, but nothing worked. Today while the students were doing their reading I was sneaking a little research session and found a chocolate cake recipe I wanted to adapt. As it turns out, I didn’t adjust a thing because it was that good. Really. Total perfection. The link to the original is below and she deserves full credit. Just talking about it now makes me feel the need to go to the kitchen and shove my face directly into it. I’ll try to resist, but probably not. Actually, definitely not.

This cake is perfection all on its own, but I had to make it mine somehow. So, I whipped up a vanilla bean buttercream frosting and garnished the sides with some beautifully green crushed pistachios. The crunch of the nuts, sweetness of the icing and richness of the cake is sort of enough to make you want to commit to this cake. I’m already married to mine.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE: (from here)

1 3/4 c. AP flour

1 3/4 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1 t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. coffee

350 F / 180 C

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients ACCEPT coffee.
  2. Next, sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Add coffee.
  4. The mixture will be very wet, almost watery.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes in two 9″ round cake pans until the middle springs back.

BUTTERCREAM

3 c. icing sugar

1/2 c. room temperature butter, unsalted

2 T. whole milk or cream

1 1/2 t. vanilla or the seeds of on vanilla bean

1/2 c. finely chopped pistachios for garnish

  1. Beat butter and sugar together.
  2. Add milk and vanilla until it comes together.
  3. If you desire a mixture that is thicker or thinner adjust the sugar or milk amounts.

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

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I normally don’t dare cross fruit with a brownie because I take my brownies very seriously. I guess you could say that I’m a brownie purist. In fact, there are rules. One, it must be gooey. Two, it must be nut free (because gross). And, three, there must be multiple elements of chocolate involved.

Well, check, check and check.

Since Valentine’s Day is this weekend I wanted to make a sexy little combo with these and what better than a fresh raspberry jam to do the trick?!

So here it is. It’s ooey, gooey, chewy, make your heart skip a beat good.

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RASPBERRY JAM:

1 c. fresh raspberries

1 c. caster sugar

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and berries on medium heat. As the berries begin to release juice, turn to medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and jam-like.
  2. Run through a sieve to remove seeds and set aside to cool.

BROWNIES:

3/4 c. salted butter

1 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. good quality DARK cocoa powder

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 t. vanilla

1 t. instant expresso

1/2 c. flour

1 T. rice flour

1/4 t. sea salt

raspberry jam

optional: bittersweet chocolate chips as desired

325 F / 160 C

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add sugar and stir until the mixture begins to combine
  3. Then add cocoa, stir for about 30 seconds more.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a cold mixing bowl.
  5. Beat in the eggs followed by the vanilla and espresso and then by the dry ingredients.
  6. Transfer to a greased and lined 9″ tin (circle or square)
  7. Randomly drop little rounds of the jam on top. Swirl around with a toothpick.
  8. Bake 30-35 minutes until you get a clean knife from the center.

 

Espresso Meringues w/ Cocoa

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These meringues are the best alternative to coffee I’ve ever had. I don’t even like coffee. Dessert for breakfast, however, is another story. If it happens to be coffee flavored, I guess I’ll live.

They’re easy, quick and basic. On a day like today, I need basic. The energy boost isn’t half bad either.

ESPRESSO MERINGUES: makes 15-20 meringues

3 egg whites

1/8 t. salt

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1-2 T. instant espresso powder

  1. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the whites and salt to stiff peaks. When you lift the whisk from the mixture it should keep it’s point.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and espresso powder.
  3. Still whisking, gradually add the sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is stiff, fluffy and glossy. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with desired tip.
  4. On a baking tray lined with parchment paper, pipe small/medium mounds. As you near the end, pull up quickly to get the little curl on top.
  5. Bake at 285 F / 140 C for 30-40 minutes or until they appear crispy on the outside. Depending on the size of them, you may need more or less time.

Maple Pecan Butter Turtles w/ Homemade Nut Butter

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Cancel your plans, call in sick, pray to the snow day gods, do whatever you have to do to stay home today and make these. They’re some seriously badass chocolates.

I had leftover pecans yesterday and decided to blitz up some butter from them. Then it occurred to me. I have never seen pecan butter sitting on the shelves with it’s older, more established nut brothers. I’ve seen it online and in gourmet food stores before but never have I seen it in an ordinary grocery store where most of us shop. What the heck?

A good raw/organic nut butter with no sugar or other preservatives added is worth the extra couple of bucks. Jif isn’t gonna cut it, folks. I remember when Justin’s nut butter showed up in the local grocery store here. I threw a small personal party in aisle 9 out of sheer joy that some real quality nut butter had been conveniently added to my life. Wahoo! Just to get you my level, Justin’s is an impressive company that was just a little Colorado startup not too long ago. Check them out here if you’ve never heard of them. Justin’s is doing great things with sustainable initiatives and a real team oriented business model. It’s the kind of company you want to contribute to. If none of that matters to you, just buy it based on how genius the packaging is. It is sheer simplicity in a world of clutter.

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Anyway, the pecan butter. Making nut butter is easy if you have a higher powered food processor. You simply throw nuts in, add flavor if you want and process until the oils release from the nuts and form a smooth creamy butter. Voila!

After all this you’re probably thinking, this better be good. Well, it is. Damn good. Then you add chocolate to it and holy crap. Just one bite and you’ll be high on happiness. I promise. If you’re not, contact me so that I can forward the number of a support group to you that helps people rebuild their empty souls. Kidding. Kind of…

VANILLA MAPLE PECAN BUTTER:

2 c. toasted raw organic pecans (toasted optional)

1 t. organic vanilla paste or extract

1 T. pure organic maple syrup

1/2 t. ground organic cinnamon

sea salt to taste

  1. (optional step) Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the oven at 350° F /  180° C for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients. Process on high for 2-4 minutes depending on the power of your machine. You want it to be smooth and spreadable. Before it reaches this point it might form into a ‘doughy’ ball but will loosen up as the oils continue to release from the pecans.
  3. Salt to taste and store in airtight container.

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VANILLA MAPLE PECAN BUTTER CUPS:

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 – 1/2 c. vanilla maple pecan butter

sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt the chocolate.
  2. On a piece of wax paper, make teaspoon-size circles and spread them out slightly. Place a small dollop of pecan butter on top and top with more chocolate. Sprinkle top with sea salt.
  3. Let the chocolate set at room temperature.

 

Vanilla Shortbread with Cranberries, Pistachios and Orange

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I bought some new vanilla paste and Irish butter yesterday because things like that get me excited. To each their own, I guess. Anyway, since cookies were on the agenda, vanilla cookies with butter were now on the agenda. Shortbread it is!

On my way to make my vanilla shortbread I got sidetracked by some pistachios, and then cranberries, and then oranges. By the time I got to my mixer it looked like a Harry & David gift box had thrown up on my counter. Just like that, my vanilla shortbread got an upgrade

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For something so simple, they are flawlessly delicious. Butter is better as they say. Not to mention, they’re quick and easy to make. If you’re like me, it’ll be your savior when you laze around all day dreading a party you never fancied in the first place and you now have only 2 hours to pull your shit together. So, from my procrastination station to yours, I gift you these cookies. You’re welcome.

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SHORTBREAD COOKIES: makes 12-14 cookies

1 c. good quality softened butter (not melted)

1/2 c. granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1 1/2 t. vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans worth)

2 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. dried cranberries or cherries

1/2 c. shelled pistachios

1 t. orange zest

350° F / 180° C

  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla.
  2. Sift in the flour and salt and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute until it comes together. You may wonder if you’ve done it right because it starts out very crumbly.
  3. Add the cherries, pistachios and zest. Mix until just combined.
  4. Form dough into an even log about 12 inches long and roll in parchment paper.
  5. Either freeze or chill until dough is firm all the way through.
  6. Slice cookies off at your preferred thickness and bake for 10-15 minutes until just golden brown. Cooking time depends on how thick you cut them.