Tag Archives: chocolate

In the kitchen on St. Stephen’s Day.

Today was a cooking day, mostly. I baked a few more of the cookies I already showed you, and started in on several more kinds…

1) Rich chocolate cookie from the Fine Cooking website. The best flavor, but overly tender and crumbly for my use. I wanted a cookie to fill with the Ghirardelli peppermint chunks I had bought. Did a lot of experimenting, baking three or five cookies at a time.

2) Spiral Green Tea Cookies that turned out kind of blah, in both color and flavor. Maybe they would be a brighter green if my matcha powder were newer?

3) Black Walnut Icebox cookies from Linda of The Task at Hand blog. These are really good!

4) Peanut Brittle from Suburban Jubilee. What drew me to this recipe was that it didn’t require a candy thermometer. It was easy and delicious.

5) The first batch of Licorice Meringues were a product of the kitchen last week; I didn’t get to making a second today. The recipe is from Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus, a cookbook that Kate gave me.

The flavor depends on dried licorice root powder, and the color comes from stripes of black food color gel that you paint on the inside of your piping bag. I want to make more of these because I think they could use more of the licorice element, and because I hope to get closer to making my cookies resemble the gorgeous ones in the book.

 

Oh, and I did cook three sweet and stripey squashes that came in my farm box. My next farm box is coming soon so it’s good to clear out the shelves. I ended my dinner with one of them, and they are pretty enough to close out my foodie report.

Almond Chocolate Macaroons

Of Christmas cookies, one of our family’s recent favorites — that is, in the last ten years — is this intense chewy marzipany one, the recipe for which I found on the website of the Odense company. When I use a different brand of paste that comes in an 8 oz. package, I just nibble a little to make it come out even.

ALMOND CHOCOLATE MACAROONS

1-7 oz box almond paste, grated
1 cup confectioners sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup cocoa, firmly packed [I don’t how one might pack cocoa]
2 tablespoons flour
Pinch salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For topping: 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine almond paste, 1 cup of the sugar, cocoa, flour and salt in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer beat on a low speed until all ingredients are incorporated.

Add egg whites and vanilla. Beat on a high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until a smooth, shiny paste. *Cover and chill dough for one hour.

Add remaining confectioners sugar to a small bowl. Drop dough into sugar by a level tablespoon measure (not flatware) [I use flatware], or a lightly oiled cookie scoop. Quickly turn dough (it is sticky) to cover with sugar. Roll into a ball between palms and drop onto cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until firm on top. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Best if eaten within 3 days.  [Stored in the freezer or our cold garage they keep well for longer than this.]

The recipe says it makes 18 cookies, so I always mix up a double batch.

*Dough can be chilled for up to 24 hours. [I have saved it for days] Make sure it is covered well to avoid picking up refrigerator odors.

Merry Christmas Cookies to YOU!

Gingerbread Experiments

gl-chips-etcOne of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and ginger. Years ago my friend Madalyn served a chocolate chip gingerbread that I loved, but I guess I lost the recipe at some point. I found a substitute online, and I started baking it as a bundt cake, but it’s often a problem….

No matter how thick the batter, the chocolate chips like to sink through it as the cake bakes, and they may all end up on the bottom of the cake and maybe even burn. 😦 To prevent this Madalyn used to put the batter in the 9×12 baking dish and sprinkle the chips on just before putting it in the oven.

If you want to try this cake you can also find a recipe online. I will tell you some things I have learned from mgl-gingery many experiments:

1. Don’t use silicone bakeware. I was given a set of this once, and the silicone bundt pan was the worst for burning on the bottom, which becomes the top when you turn the cake out, and has to be sliced off before glazing or frosting.

2. The recipe online doesn’t have enough ginger for me. I tripled the powdered ginger and added some fresh grated ginger as well.

3. I thought a little more butter would be better – of course! – so I used a whole cup, instead of 3/4 cup. I don’t see the purpose of whipping the room-temperature butter with the sugar, etc. if you are going to melt it all by adding hot water shortly, so I might combine some steps. To get a thicker batter I should use less hot water.

4. The recipe has more sugar than is optimal. I used one cup and that made a cake that was plenty sweet.

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5. If you want a black cake such as I made this time, use the Fair Trade Black Cocoa Powder sold by Frontier. I think it has a very odd flavor, not like chocolate at all and more like chili powder, but I had it on hand, and its flavor goes okay with all the spices that are in this recipe. I regret buying it, however!

6. My next experiment will be to make this recipe as cupcakes; I will try to make a thick batter so that the chocolate chips I sprinkle on at the last minute might not sink all the way to the bottom. If I could find some small and extra-dark chocolate chips it would be helpful; the Ghirardelli 60% cacao are very big and that no doubt causes them to sink through the batter faster.

7. If I perfect the recipe I will post my Best Version. And if any of my readers already bake a similar cake, I’d love to hear about it.

My cake was rather mangled by the time I got it out of the bundt pan where so many of the chips were burnt and encrusted on the bottom. But it didn’t fall apart. I was able to slice it and put a large dollop of whipped cream on top of each serving, and everyone thought it was a gastronomic success.

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Double Dark Chocolate Pudding

chocolate pud & whiskMany months ago I wrote the draft of this post, when I was making pudding frequently for my husband. In the last week of his life he ate little else. Cancer and chemo had made meals a challenge, and toward the end, this was the best solution to the various food-related problems.

He needed the extra-extra nourishment that is in this rich chocolate confection. For him I added additional egg yolks, which you might do, too, if you are cooking for someone who is anemic, or who can’t eat much at one time, and needs the mega-nutrition that is in each bite. Unless someone doesn’t like chocolate, they will probably find it easy to eat.

chocolate pud Lindt

Though it is a truly delicious dessert to serve to anyone — even the healthiest people! — I myself surely do not need super rich nutrition, and after my husband died I couldn’t imagine what might move me to cook it again.

I found my motivator recently when a friend was in the rehab hospital after a painfully tedious ordeal. On the phone  I arranged to go visit her and asked, knowing that the institutional meals were likely to fall short of fully satisfying to the whole person, if I might bring her anything. She requested chocolate pudding, having in mind a prepared version from the grocery store. I wasn’t familiar with that sort anyway, but since I had become such an expert at this version, I immediately knew that I would make it for her.

It really is not difficult, and you don’t have to practice as much as I did to find that out. I had a good system going for laying out my ingredients and working through the steps quickly. One day I even produced two batches, one in the morning and one in the evening! Any other dessert I’ve ever made has been rare enough that I wasn’t comfortable and familiar with the process in a way that let me experience that flow. At the time, I might add, I was consoled and cheered by being able to create something that was pleasing and and useful, even though I knew that its powers were limited.

Chocolate Pud eggs

This recipe is special because of the dark chocolate bar that is mixed in at the end. Before that addition it is more of a milk chocolate experience. Considering the amount of chocolate in the final product, the sugar is at a minimum. For that reason I just at this moment decided to add “Dark” to the name. You might find similar recipes that have more butterfat and no egg yolk — I reject those in favor of versions that include that lovely and elegant food, the egg, which has such a vast nutritional gift to give.

Double Dark Chocolate Pudding 

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (I like Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks (or more)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, plus shavings (85% or 90% Lindt is nice)

Place a fine-mechocolate pud dry ingredsh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.

Whisking constantly, heat over medium until you notice some thickening at the bottom of the pan, 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate; stir until smooth.chocolate pud doubling

Divide among 4-6 small bowls and smooth the surface of each one with a swirl. Garnish with more dark chocolate shavings. Eat warm or cover and chill.

Other than adding more egg yolks for my husband, and using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, I didn’t make any changes to this recipe I found on Martha Stewart’s website.

My friend was quite happy with my gift. I brought enough for two servings, in a bag with some ice on the bottom, so she could eat half later. It was very comforting.

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