Tag Archives: Chocolate

White Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies

We’ve got a lot of zucchini around these parts.  Your standard green zucchini and the special golden variety–lots of ’em.  Since Fritz and Eber (his sister) are hangin’ around this weekend, and both are notorious chocoholics, I decided to make them a special vegetable delectable treat.

White chocolate chip zucchini brownies.

They are fudgy, chocolatey, and incredibly moist, studded with walnuts and white chocolate chips.  You also can’t see the zucchini at all.  It’s a beautiful thing.

White Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies (adapted from Skinny Chef) Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 egg
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 2 C shredded zucchini (leave the skin on and use the small holes of the grater)
  • 1/2 C walnuts
  • 1 C white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and oil a square brownie pan. 

Combine the egg, oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon) and mix until blended.  Fold in the zucchini, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake on the middle rack until cooked through, 30-45 minutes.  The brownies were still a bit fudgy when I took them out of the oven,leaving some wet crumbs on an inserted toothpick.  Not only is that okay, it’s the best.  Do it. 

I was shocked at how high the batter rose.  I was afraid they would be too much like cake, but with the zucchini, they were super moist and dense.  Total brownie delight.

Plus, I got to use up two (smallish) zucchini to make the magic happen.

By the way, I just ate one that I microwaved for 10 seconds (I stored them in the fridge), and they definitely got even better over the last few hours. 

They’d be amazing with a little ice cream.

Thought I’d also show you the gorgeous green monster I made this morning: basically the classic green monster, but with the addition of a beet.

Magenta monster?

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Double Chocolate (Whole-Wheat) Banana Bread

(Ignore this: NYGKCEBBJVEG.  It’s a verification code for a website.)

Double chocolate whole-wheat banana bread.

It’s good for you, but it’s not.

There’s the banana and whole-wheat flour, but there’s also the chocolate and the oil and the sugar.

It’s called bread, but it tastes like cake.

You can eat it after dinner for dessert, or waaaaay after dinner for breakfast. 

It’s double chocolate whole-wheat banana bread!

Double Chocolate (Whole-Wheat) Banana Bread (adapted from this recipe at Former Chef)

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 C canola oil
  • 3/4 C skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t instant mocha (optional)
  • 1/3 C cocoa powder
  • heaping 1/2 C dark chocolate chips/morsels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the wet ingredients in your mixer bowl and mix on medium until bananas are mashed (alternatively, mash them first.  You don’t have to be lazy like me). 

Here’s where the important guys come into play:

Add the dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, mocha powder, chocolate chips) and combine until just mixed.  This should be more like brownie batter than bread dough.

Lick the spoon, and pour the batter into a sprayed bread pan.  Lick the spoon again.  Now the bowl.  Now steal another spoonful of batter from the pan.

Do this at your own risk.  There are eggs in there.  Raw ones. 

I’m willing to risk it.  I’m also willing to forgo lunch, because at this point I am full of banana bread batter.  Totally worth it.

Bake on the middle rack for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Don’t over bake it, ’cause no one likes dry banana bread, especially when it’s already dark brown.  Also, don’t mistake melted chocolate chips for wet dough on the toothpick.  Allow to cool, and run a knife along the edges and flip out of the pan. 

Technically, you should allow it to cool completely before slicing, but who am I kidding?  Your husband has probably been finding excuses to linger in the kitchen for the last 30 minutes (“oh, I’m just grabbing a, uh, towel to wipe down this here, um, counter”).  As if he’s ever wiped down a counter in his entire life.

So, cut him a slice.  Let him eat it warm.  He’ll pledge his undying, eternal, unconditional love to you. 

Allow him to eat another slice.  He may even wipe the counters down for you.

Yeah.  It’s really good.  Very moist and unexpectedly rich.  At first taste I thought it was a bit bland, but I think it’s because I tried it right out of the oven.  When I went for the second taste about an hour later…BAM!  Full flavor.  First intense chocolate, then a tiny bit of coffee, and finally the sweet, sweet banana carrying it all.

Definitely going in the top list of breakfast breads to make next time I’m invited to a brunch (hear that? Invite me!) .  And yes, there’s already a list for that.

As an aside, I am just getting over being sore from the gym class I went to on Friday.  Same class I go to every Friday, and usually don’t get sore from.  Must have thrown myself hardcore into that workout–my pecs, quads, adductors and hamstrings were on fire yesterday!  So weird.  I’m also planning on starting up yoga again now that my nerve problem seems to have settled down–I just have to remind myself that it’s not a competition and I don’t need to overstretch just to be the best in the room.

It’s all about what’s good for your body.  As far as reaching my happy weight–getting even closer to my goal (just goes to show–you can eat double chocolate banana bread, sweet potato cinnamon rolls, and have your chocolate chip cookies, too, as long as you balance, balance, balance!).

Wish me luck on my finals tomorrow!

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Double Trouble Chocolate Chip Cookies

Disclaimer:  These Cookies Are Almost Too Delicious To Be True.

They also aren’t healthy.  But neither is depriving yourself of beautiful things, such as a giant double chocolate bake sale cookie.

However, bikini season is coming up, so it’s understandable if you only lick the spoon and give half of your humongous cookie to your husband.  It’s not only understandable, but impressive.  I’m seriously shocked that I was able to muster up enough willpower to tear one of these suckers apart and hand half of it to Fritz.

It was hard.  But since I’ve gotten back on track with my eating and working out this month, I’ve lost two pounds!  And seeing results always helps that willpower grow.  Only six pounds to go ’till I’m back to my happy weight (those last three are so difficult to get past, though!)–and I can’t wait until I feel totally comfortable in my body (and jeans) again.

I also feel like I have so much more energy, what with all these green monsters in the mornings and quick workouts in the evenings.

Anyway, these cookies are the recipe I always fall back on when I’m making something to share with a big group of people or sell at a bake sale, because everyone loves them.  Everyone that loves crispy on the edges, gooey in the middle, double chocolate, walnutty chocolate chip cookies, that is. 

I know I sure do.  This recipe is from a Got Milk? cookbook that we had at home when I was growing up–I’m pretty sure I discovered this recipe when I was 14 or 15 and have made them ever since.

Double Trouble Chocolate Chip Cookies 

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/3 C cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 C bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 C nuts (I used whole walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, cocoa powder, and eggs together until combined.

Add the flour, baking soda, chocolate chips, and nuts and mix well.

Eat some dough (at your own risk).  I can’t be blamed for uncooked egg in your cookie dough (aren’t eggs pasturized?  Does that mean we can eat them raw? Is that a dumb question?).

Roll out the cookie dough into balls and flatten on an oiled cookie sheet.  Leave enough space for the cookies to grow, because they get rather large.  I made 14 large cookies, but you could halve them and have 28 cuter ones, too.

Bake them for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.  They will look like they aren’t done!  Let them sit on the cookie sheet for at least five minutes before touching them–that’s where they will finish baking.

These cookies are seriously the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.  Sometimes I purposely underbake them because I like gooey cookies.  A lot.

 I might as well just eat the dough, really.  Just slightly warm.  But for those of you weirdos who like a crisper cookie, go 11 minutes.  Probably not much more than that, since they still get a crispy edge at 10.

Either way, enjoy with some English breakfast tea poured in your favorite mug.  The kind of mug that holds waaay too much and weighs about 20 pounds, with thick ceramic sides that hold in the heat.  Even better if it’s from a cute flour/baking/spices mill.

Anyway, off to bed.  Toodle-loo!

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Three-Layer Strawberry-Filled Chocolate Cake

Wednesday is Fritz’s birthday!

We have a tradition every year in which I make a new kind of birthday cake–it’s a fun occasion for me to bake something extravagant and decadent, and to try something new.  This year he requested a black forest cake, but since I know he doesn’t like cherries I adapted his idea to something similar (but probably more delicious)!

For his past birthdays I’ve made:

22nd–Reese’s peanut butter chocolate cake;

23rd–Cheesecake with strawberry topping;

24th–Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting;

25th–Pineapple upside-down cake;

…and now:

It’s a ridiculous three-layer chocolate cake with strawberry filling (and fresh strawberries) covered in whipped chocolate ganache–and it was so much fun to make.

I wasn’t going to blog it at all, but once I saw the three cake layers just sitting there, I couldn’t resist.  I didn’t adapt the recipe at all (except that I whipped the ganache, didn’t puree the strawberry filling, and added a layer of fresh strawberries into each strawberry layer), so I’m not going to repost it–but here’s the original site from Baking Junkie.

And here, my friends, is where it all began:

Now let’s add some strawberries:

Another cake layer:

And some more strawberries:

Of course we need that last layer of cake:

And then we slather it all over with whipped ganache:

Top it off with some sliced strawberries and chopped chocolate:

I’m pretty excited to try this cake–but we are waiting for Fritz’s actual birthday to slice into this bad boy.  For now, it’s sitting in the freezer ready to be defrosted Wednesday afternoon (hopefully it’ll be just as good).  That’s not to say that Fritz didn’t get to enjoy an early birthday present–he got to lick the bowls.

We also received a box from my parents with presents!  Needless to say, it did not contain an evil cat when it arrived.

What’s your favorite kind of birthday cake?  I used to hate cake when I was a kid so my mom always made me “dirt cake” with pudding, Oreo crumbs, and gummy worms.

Hmm…maybe that will be next year’s cake for Fritz!

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Whole-Wheat Banana Marble Cake

There comes a time in every woman’s life when her grocery budget for the month runs out.

For me, that time was two weeks ago.  There’s still a ton of food in the pantry (whole-wheat pasta, beans, lentils, canned tomatoes, almonds) and the freezer (frozen pesto, pork chops, strawberries and mangos, and a loaf of whole-wheat bread), but we are seriously lacking in fresh veggies.  I made myself promise this time that I wouldn’t cheat and use next month’s cash because that’s what I usually do…and that’s why I’m stuck in a cycle of always running low at the end of the month.

But we do need vegetables. 

But I also can’t be trusted in a fresh produce section without going way overboard (so many exciting possibilities!), so after discussing the issue at length with my friend Lola, we decided it would be best for me to grab a few cheap packages of frozen vegetables and just make it work until April finally rolls around.

Nicely enough, Waldbaum’s had a 10 for $10 sale on frozen vegetables, but it even happened to be the good kind.  The steam-in-its-own-bag kind.  And they had some great mixes (such as Asian veggie mix) that were actually included for once.  So only $10 into next month’s budget, I’m a pretty happy camper.

And luckily I always have baking supplies in stock, so as per Fritz’s request for a sweet snack, I decided to bake a cake.  One that’s as healthy as you can get while still remaining cake-like.

Whole-Wheat Banana Marble Cake (adapted from Blue Ribbon USA)

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (I used three bananas)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting the top (optional)

Tharrie (Fritz’s mom) gave me this cookbook a year or so ago and until now I hadn’t made anything from it.  It’s a book containing State Fair blue-ribbon winning recipes from  the 50 states.  Since my first try of a recipe from this book came out so well, I’ve got my eye on a few more I’d like to try.  This cake came from good ol’ West Virginia.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9″ square pan (you could use a round one too, if you like).

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer for two minutes or until fluffy.  Add the vanilla, egg, and banana and mix until well combined.  While the mixer is running, slowly add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour and mix until no lumps remain–scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure you have everything in there.

Take out half of the batter and set aside.  To the remaining half, add the cocoa powder and mix again until combined.  Scrape the sides down once more to make sure all of the chocolate half is, well…chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls of the plain banana half into the greased pan, leaving spaces between for the chocolate batter.  Add the chocolate batter in spoonfuls, then swirl the two colors together using a knife.  Be careful not to overswirl, or instead of marbled you’ll just have a mess.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, though.

Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it (when baking a cake, by the time a toothpick comes out dry, so will your cake!).  Cool on a baking rack and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.

I did.

Enjoy!  The sweetness of the bananas come through nice and strong, and despite the whole-wheat flour it still tastes like cake and not banana bread.  The cocoa swirled through and the sugar on top really make this a perfect dessert that’s not too decadent.

Not that I’m against decadence by any means.  Sometimes I just like to have my cake and eat it too, without feeling guilty or weighed down by frosting.

I’m sure you can guess that Fritz was a fan.  He had his with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream he has squirreled away in the freezer (I hate nut-flavored ice cream, so it’s safe from me), and proclaimed the cake, “really flavorful–banana bread and sweet cake combined.” 

And Henry?

Well, he was busy catching up on the season finale of Jersey Shore. 

I think we were all ready for Sammi and Ronnie to just break up already.

Jeez!

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Chocolate Overnight Oats

I’ve never really considered myself a chocoholic.  I like chocolate, yes, even really like it; but chocoholic–no.  I mean, I grew up with a mother who is definitely a real-deal, certifiable chocoholic.  I’ve seen her take shots out of a Hershey bottle when the going gets tough, so I know chocoholism when I see it.  Me?  Not so much.

But last night when I was blogging, I put the movie Chocolat on in the background, and I discovered a stubborn remnant of that distant chocoholic gene.  Fritz gave the movie to me as a Valentine’s day present, and as I watched those images of cocoa powder, swirling and dripping milk chocolate, molded chocolate, truffles, drinking chocolate, cakes, tarts–I mean, I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I had the biggest chocolate craving ever.  And we had absolutely no chocolate in the house, except for Hersey’s cocoa powder.

Since it was much too late to start baking, I decided I could try to put my craving on hold until the morning, and I set up myself some chocolate overnight oats.  Desperate cravings call for desperate measures.

Lovely dish towel was a wedding shower present from Tharrie!

Chocolate Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 C old-fashioned oats (I may have added a few sprinkles more, I wasn’t measuring very precisely)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 C skim milk
  • 1 T chia seed
  • dash of vanilla
  • 2 t cocoa powder
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced

I like my overnight oats to be a little runny (like cold oatmeal soup? is that gross?) so you may want to omit the water and just increase the milk to a full cup.  Combine all the ingredients together, except for the banana, in a Tupperware container.  Shake it (shake it! shake it!), then stick it in the fridge and hit the sack.

The next morning, slice a banana into it, mix everything up…and swoon (but try not to drop your bowl).  This was so satisfying and hit my chocolate craving right on the mark.  It was sweet, but had a touch of that dark-chocolate seduction from the cocoa powder.  And you know how I feel about banana. 

I thought about adding peanut butter, but I didn’t want to go too nuts (ha! nuts!).  Maybe next time.

Trust me, they’ll go quick.

Also, for those of you who are interested, I recently got a Facebook message from an old friend of mine, Jeremy, from college.  He started movie review website, and if you are interested, it looks pretty cool.  Also, he’s a nice guy, and his major at college was film (cinema?) studies, so he knows what he’s talking about.  And he talks a lot about movies (or at least he did when I knew him).

Here’s his website: www.iamcinephile.com.

Go there and check it out.

Since I knew I would be posting this little blurb, I decided to look and see if I had any old pictures of us hanging out together and voila!

Makes me long for the beach, and sunny weather.  Also for a time when I could eat whatever I wanted and be that skinny.  But alas.

I also stumbled on a photo of two of my absolute favorite people in the whole entire world:

My two besties.  You just can’t beat the pure happiness on their faces, can you?

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A Visit to Choklat

Last night the Zietsman clan decided to head out to a “Choklat Snobbery 101” class in a store we had stumbled upon at the end of last summer, Choklat.  We had been walking down the street when the smell of roasting cocoa beans literally drew us in the door, and we tasted the best hot chocolate I had ever had to date.  When we discovered they offered a class about chocolate (including wine pairings!), we were in.  It started at 7:00 and we left about two and a half hours later, stuffed with dark chocolate and newfound knowledge (I definitely asked a lot of questions).

The small shop was packed (there were thirteen of us, and usually he only accepts ten reservations), but we started off on the right foot with a cup of the thickest, creamiest drinking chocolate you’ve ever dreamed of–complete with cinnamon and cloves and topped with whipped cream and nutmeg.  If you’ve read any of my fall recipes, then you know that was a fantastic spice combo to win my affection straight off.  Throughout the class we tasted a few other treats–a peppermint truffle dipped in dark chocolate (made with peppermint grown by the owner Brad Churchill himself), a raspberry truffle dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in crushed brownies and four different types of dark chocolate and one milk chocolate.  Throughout his shop we spotted several other treats–edible glitter lollipops, potpourri made from the shells of freshly roasted cocoa beans (waste not, want not, right?), hand-poured chocolate bars, and of course, their brownies and cupcakes.

So what makes this shop different from the multitude of gourmet chocolate shops scattered across Calgary, and really, all of Canada and the United States?  Choklat makes their own chocolate.  Like, really.  They buy the beans directly from growers, roast them on-site, then process the cocoa in their own shop, adding cocoa butter, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and sugar to create their one-of-a-kind truly Choklat taste.  

 

We saw every step of the chocolate-making process, smelled and tasted the beans, and worst of all–compared his chocolate to Lindt chocolate, a so-called high-quality company that makes their own chocolate as well.  You may remember me very recently touting my love of Lindt’s “supreme dark” 90% cocoa bar a few posts ago, and I very ashamedly had a bar of it in my purse when we compared the two.  Once you’ve been taught how, you can detect notes of burnt cocoa (that’d be the burnt rubber taste on the very back of your tongue), the dry-mouthed astringent taste of improperly fermented beans, and the jarring absence of any fruity notes whatsoever.

Did you know chocolate can (and should!) taste fruity?  Me neither…but now I do.  And I will never go back.

I also learned that 90%, 80%, and 70% cocoa doesn’t mean that percentage of ground up cocoa bean (hello antioxidants!) is suspended in your chocolate bar.  That percentage also includes any part of the cocoa bean, including cocoa butter (hello fat!), and therefore is basically meaningless.  Bummer.

We also did four wine pairings, and busted the myth that red wine and dark chocolate go together.  Yeech.  For the wine pairings we tried, go to their website.  

 Now let’s talk fair trade.  Fair trade means that cocoa beans are purchased from the farmer by a local co-op for a “sustainable” price.  Sadly, the World Fair Trade Organization price puts a ceiling on the amount that fair trade certified farmers can get, even if the world market price is higher–and the price they will receive keeps farmers near the poverty line.  Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?  Farmers also have a difficult time getting certified, because of costly fees and bureaucratic tape standing in their way as a barrier to entry.  However, when the market price drops below the ceiling price, they will continue to receive that same amount per metric ton.  That’s a good thing, right?  A second side to fair-trade certified cocoa is that fair-trade certified farms are inspected to insure that no forced child slave labor is driving the production of crops.  Because all cocoa beans are a product of third world countries (and we’ve established that they don’t get paid very much), slave labor is often the solution.

So to buy fair trade or not?  You decide.  Either way it is important that the consumer of chocolate (that’s us!), knows what we are buying and how it’s made.

Go visit Choklat at their website, and enjoy the best chocolate you’ve ever had–and be ready for a paradigm shift in how you think about chocolate.

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Almond Chocolate Fudge

This is the last candy recipe that I’ll have on here for a while–I made these to go with the Mocha Melt Truffles for the dental students, and since it’s such a quick and easy recipe I wanted to post it for anyone needing last-minute Christmas gifts.  It’s a basic but still yummy recipe, and looks great with the almonds on top–perfect for stacking in a jar and giving away.

Speaking of chocolate, Mom told me about Lindt’s Excellence 90% cocoa “Supreme Dark” bar, and I found some at Wal-Mart on sale today.  I am an instant believer.  It is bitter and sweet and so, so dark.  You should probably go out and buy some right now.  I also grabbed a bar of salted dark chocolate, because I’ve told Mom about it and I want her to try some ASAP.  I was thinking about trying a salted fudge recipe too, but that one will have to wait until I make a few non-candy recipes.

Almond Chocolate Fudge

  • 18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 3/4 C chopped almonds and a handful whole almonds for the top

Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat.  Once melted, mix in the almonds and pour into an 8×8 pan lined with wax paper.

I topped with whole almonds (because it’s cute), then stuck the pan in the fridge for a few hours while I made the truffles.  Once chilled, they can be cut into squares–they’ll hold their shape at room temp, so don’t worry about keeping them in the fridge.  However, since this is quick fudge, it doesn’t have the crystallized texture that old-fashioned fudge has, but a smoother, more creamy taste.  Can’t have everything!

It’s always fun to make presents for people.

In other happy news, I successfully finished finals week for the fall semester!  To celebrate (and save money by not going to PT Prom at $72 a ticket), we went to a fun dinner at John Harvard’s with the Jensens.  It was so nice to just hang out and chat with two of our favorite people and not feel guilty about the fact that I should be studying.  That dinner kicked of five weeks of vacation.

Five. Weeks. Of. Vacation.

Hoorah!

Jeff and Cait had the worst lighting possible...but they still manage to look good!

Cait ate as healthy as always with soup and salad, and I had a garden burger with mozzarella, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. Mmmm.  The boys celebrated the way boys do with giant smoked stackhouse burgers (or something like that) with carmelized onions and bacon.  In an evening full of classic girl moments, Cait and I did not order fries and instead snuck Fritz’s and Jeff’s fries all night.

Science has proven that fries are healthier when you didn’t order them.

The evening also consisted of some beer, wine, and good conversation–basically a perfect way to end a jam-packed semester.

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Melt-In-Your-Mouth Mocha Truffles

Hi there!

Tomorrow is my last day of finals week.

(That feels so good to say). 

Tomorrow is my last day of finals week.

(Just wanted to hear it again).

Despite the fact that I have studied more this week than the rest of my life combined, I still managed to find some time to do some cooking.  Actually, I did a lot of cooking.  I may have to take a week off from making food so I can catch up on all the things I want to blog about.

Anyway, today I wanted to make something for Fritz’s dental class (hi!).  They have a big test tomorrow and since it’s Christmas time, I thought it would be fun to try some new really-bad-for-you-but-so-fun-to-make recipes.  Not to mention that these are the guys that you can really trust to brush their teeth after eating all this junk…right?

I didn’t want to make your standard Christmas cookie (I needed a long, challenging recipe for better procrastination purposes), so I settled on these Mocha Melt Truffles.  They literally do melt in your mouth.  It’s pretty cool.

Mocha Melt Truffles (adapted from “Coffee Creams” from A Passion For Chocolate)

  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C skim milk
  • 2 T instant mocha mix (or even just 1 T instant coffee–I just used what we had)
  • 1 T light-colored corn syrup
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 T Smart Balance

Combine the sugar, water, milk, corn syrup, and mocha mix in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it’s boiling steadily at 234-240 degrees, about 20-25 minutes.  This is the “soft ball stage”.

When it reaches the right temperature, remove from heat and cool without stirring until the mixture reaches 110 degrees.  It will look like a thick, sticky caramel.  Add the vanilla and stir until it becomes very thick and starts to lose its gloss.  Immediately shape into balls and place on wax paper.  I used my hands–it cooled down quickly when you stir it!

This stuff is the weirdest texture ever.  It hardens into what looks like maple sugar, but the heat of your hand melts it into a malleable semi-solid, which hardens quickly as soon as it cools.  If you ever used to put cornstarch and water into a baggie when you were a kid and marvel about the weird liquid/solid state, this is kind of like that.

Leave these to harden for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and the shortening together in the microwave (or do it the right way in a double boiler.  Or don’t.)  This sounds insane, but it’s the easiest way to do it (I quickly realized)–scoop some chocolate into your hands, and roll a mocha-ball around in your hands until it’s covered in chocolate.  In a feat of amazing coincidence, the Pioneer Woman posted about truffles today too, and she does it the same way!  Lay back down on wax paper and cool until solid (I left them for a few hours while I did laundry).

If you are anything like me, and you’ve licked clean any surface that came into contact with the chocolate by this point, even the thought of adding more chocolate to these babies is going to make you ill.  But this is the best part–roll the truffles in unsweetened dutch cocoa powder.  Just the tiny bit of bitterness offsets the ridiculous sweetness of the truffles–and it looks awesome.

These were a little time-consuming, but definitely worth it.  Hopefully the baby dentists will enjoy a bit of chocolate/coffee heaven after their test tomorrow.

Before I go, I want to share one last photo.  I think Henry has realized that we are starting to get ready to go to Canada for a while, and that he is going to be left behind.  He doesn’t like that at all, so he’s starting a campaign to try to subliminally get us to want to take him with us:

It’s hard to resist those big green eyeballs.

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Filed under Desserts

Peppermint and Almond Rocha

This is probably one of the best Christmas gifts you will make, taste, give, or receive this holiday season.  The toffee is perfectly buttery, with silky chocolate and either crunchy toasted almonds or cool peppermint sprinkled on top.  Not to mention it looks perfectly imperfect.

Disclaimer: it is not healthy.  But it doesn’t matter–you’re giving it away!  Plus, it’s good for your body and your spirit to indulge in a treat every once in a while.  Just don’t eat the whole batch at once.

I made this over the weekend to give to one of our favorite couples, Bre and Zev, and as soon as they opened it we all couldn’t resist a taste…of both kinds.  It’s so simple to make and even easier to pack in a cute bakery bag, and the best part is that this recipe makes enough for several gifts–with enough left for you to snack on.

The book I took the recipe from is called A Passion For Chocolate, and this is the very first time I have used it since we received it as a wedding present.  Since this one turned out so spectacularly, all of my closest friends and family can expect to be seeing some other chocolate-themed packages in their near future.

Peppermint and Almond Rocha

  • 2 C butter
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 T light-colored corn syrup
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1 3/4-2 C semi-sweet or milk chocolate pieces (you could also use dark or white chocolate–try anything!)
  • 1 C toppings–I used 1/2 C crushed candy canes and 1/2 C chopped toasted almonds

Line a baking sheet with foil, covering the edges.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in sugar, corn syrup and water, and cook over medium-high heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan (I used a digital meat thermometer) and stir frequently, until the temperature reaches 290 degrees.  Be careful–it’s hot!  This is the soft-crack stage for the toffee, and should take about 15-20 minutes.

Pour the toffee onto the baking sheet, and spread evenly.  Cool for about five minutes until the top is set, then sprinkle with chocolate pieces.  After a minute they should be warm enough to spread over the top.  Sprinkle with toppings and press into chocolate.

Everything you own will be covered in toffee–eat what you can, then soak the rest in warm water.  It’ll come off easily.

Here’s another view of the process:

 

Cool the whole thing for several hours, or until it is fully set.  Break into pieces (the less perfect, the better!), and put into bakery bags or boxes, wrap ’em up, and give it all away!  You will never be more popular!

Don’t forget to save some for your husband, or he may never forgive you.

I’m off to study for tomorrow’s test, but I’m curious–what kind of baking do you like to give away for the holidays?

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Filed under Desserts