EMOTIONAL EATS

Getting Through Life One Recipe at a Time

Tag: Chocolate (page 1 of 2)

Rainbow Cookies

The rainbow cookie’s background is as difficult to trace as the cookie itself is to resist (I just ate six). While some believe the cookie was first invented in Italy and brought to New York, others maintain it is the product of Italian immigrants already in America in the  early 1900s, thus making it an Italian-AMERICAN invention. This more popular version of the story states that Italian immigrants missing home designed a cookie to resemble the Italian flag – green, white, red – makes sense. In addition to having a boatload of vague and difficult to confirm origin stories, the cookie has just as many names. The Rainbow Cookie, The Seven Layer Cookie, The Venetian, The Neapolitan, the list goes on.

Living in New York, frequenting Jewish delis and bagel shops, I had only ever heard it called the rainbow cookie and had wrongfully assumed it was a Jewish creation. As the cookie is usually wedged between hamentashen and rugelah in the display case, it is an easy mistake to make. So how did the rainbow cookie, an Italian cookie, find itself in Jewish company? Again, we are working in the world of guesswork; but, one idea is that the cultural treat transfer is simply the result of proximity. Jewish immigrants and Italian immigrants living in New York were often neighbors with neighboring businesses (bakeries) – again – makes sense.

Although my research left me disappointed by lack of a clearcut origin story, one thing agreed upon across the board is that they are a celebration cookie. Christmas, birthdays, housewarming gifts, new babies, anniversaries – these bright bites are often found on tables of joyous occasions.

Let’s review what we know.  We know they were invented sometime in the early 1900s, probably by Italian immigrants living in America. We know that they are often given as gifts and present at celebrations of Italian-American families. And finally, I know, and I hope you are about to discover, that they are delicious. I mean really delicious.

Here’s my recipe:

Measure out all ingredients – but you know that already.

Cream together butter, almond paste, and sugar being careful to break up all the almond paste. Add the egg yolks and almond extract.

Add the flour.

The dough will resemble sugar cookie dough. It will be thick and sticky.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the batter a little at a time. Be careful not to deflate them.

Divide the cookie dough into three equal portions and dye one bowl green and another red.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9×13 inch cookie sheets, line them with parchment paper and then grease the parchment. Spread each color onto its own cookie tray. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

Let each layer cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the red and white layers from their pans and transfer to cooling wracks to cool completely. Leave the green layer in its pan to cool completely. Once cool, slather the green layer with apricot jam. Slide the white layer on top of the green and press down lightly. Remove the parchment from the top of the white layer and cover it with apricot jam. Place the red layer on top. Wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap. Place a cutting board or cookie tray on top, weigh down with heavy plates or cans, and place in the refrigerator to press for eight hours or overnight.

Once the cookie has set, trim the edges to make clean lines.

Cover the top with melted chocolate and use a fork to make the wave pattern. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Once the chocolate has set, flip the cookie and repeat the chocolate process. Place in the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.

Cut that big cookie into cute little squares, about 1×1 inches.

There you have it – The Rainbow Cookie. I hope you’ll bring some to your next event and if someone asks, “What the hell is this?” you can tell them…kinda!

Rainbow Cookies

  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients: 
One 7 ounce tube of almond paste
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of all purpose flour
red food coloring
green food coloring
1/2 cup of apricot jam
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the almond paste, butter, and granulated sugar.

Beat in the egg yolks and almond extract.

Add the flour and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the egg whites into the cookie dough a little bit at a time.

Once the egg whites are incorporated, divide the batter into three bowls. Using the food color, turn one bowl of batter green and another red. Leave one bowl uncolored.

Grease three 9×13 inch cookie trays. Line each with parchment paper and grease them again. Pour each batter into a separate tray and place the trays in the preheated oven.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes.

Let each layer cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the red and white layers from their pans and transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Leave the green layer in its pan to cool completely.

Once cool, slather the green layer with apricot jam. Slide the white layer on top of the green and press down lightly. Remove the parchment from the top of the white layer and cover it with apricot jam. Place the red layer on top.

Wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap. Place a cutting board or cookie tray on top, weigh down with heavy plates or cans, and place in the refrigerator to set for eight hours or overnight.

After chilling, remove the cookies from pan and trim for a clean edge.

Melt the cup of chocolate chips and slather half of it across the top of the cookies. Use a fork and make small waves in the chocolate to create a pattern.

Place the cookies in the fridge so the chocolate can set. This will take 10 – 20 minutes.

Once the chocolate is set, flip the cookie over and repeat the chocolate process on the other side.

Return to the fridge to set again.

When you are ready to serve, cut the rainbow cookies into 1×1 inch squares.

They will keep for one week in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Bachelorette Brownies

Plastic cups, marshmallow vodka, pink beads, and phallic-shaped party favors – The Bachelorette Party.

Technically, it was a Bachelor/Bachelorette party, as both guys and girls packed into a house on the North Carolina coastline for a weekend of frivolity.

Per usual, I felt the need to bring something. It comes with my occupation of never a bridesmaid, never a bride – oh, I mean, once a baker, always a baker or something like that.

In addition to biscuits, cookies, and morning pancakes, I decided to make Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies – something a little special for someone little and special, the bride.

I am at that age, you know it, when people start to get married, have kids, buy houses, move away, lose touch.

But she has an often forceful way of keeping us all together.

I’ve always found that brownies accomplish the same. The smell of chocolate and peanut butter manages to dominate stale beer and salty bathing suits, bringing us all to the kitchen to eat together even if only briefly.

So these are for her.

Get out your brownie making ingredients.

Whisk together butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Add eggs in one at a time.

Fold in dry ingredients.

Fold in chocolate chips. Spread brownie batter in a 9in x 13in pan that has been lightly greased and lined with parchment.

Make the peanut butter swirl. Place powdered sugar, peanut butter, melted butter, and vanilla in a bowl.

Whisk until smooth.

Dollop that peanut goop all over the brownie batter.

Use a butter knife and swirl.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 35 – 40  minutes. Let cool completely before slicing and sharing!

I may not be a bridesmaid but I am so glad to have been included in the Bachelorette Weekend. I even kept the temporary tattoos and pink beads….just in case I need to dress like Ke$ha anytime soon.

The recipe –

Bachelorette Brownies

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 
2 sticks of butter, melted
3 cups of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Swirl:
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the brownie batter by whisking together the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Fold the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the brownie batter in a 9in x13in pan that has been lightly greased and lined with parchment.

Next, make the Peanut Butter Swirl.

Whisk together the butter, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla.

Dollop the peanut butter mixture over the brownies and use a butter knife to drag it through the batter creating the swirl.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until a toothpick come out mostly clean (maybe a few wet crumbs).

Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

 

Almond Butter Chipwich

The summers of my childhood were an orchestra of sensations. The smell of chlorine, the hot summer sun, and a delicate trickle of vanilla ice cream dripping down my chunky forearms as I stood barefoot in the cul de sac having successfully chased down the ice cream truck.

What an unbelievably magical scene – the sudden arrival of that unforgettable tune, the scramble of kids and mothers ripping through pool bags to find cash, towels rippling in the wind, slung carelessly across our shoulders as we ran for our lives out of the swimming pool complex and into the street, unashamed of our awkward preteen bodies. As a kid on the plush side, this run was likely the only strenuous physical activity I’d have all summer.

While my more sophisticated friends dabbled in Choco-Tacos, Firecrackers, and those ever-so-technologically advanced Push Pops, I was always a sucker for a classic, the Chipwich.

As we stood in line, there was a lot of “What are you getting?” “Well what are YOU getting?” Perhaps my unchanging answer of “Chipwich” never inspired any “oohs” or “ahhs” from the gang; but, when the transaction was settled and my Chipwich was in hand, I think the Push Pop crowd showed signs of reluctant envy.

Two chocolate chip cookies gently embracing a cloud of vanilla ice cream, it was absolute perfection. The sticky hands, chocolate-stained face, pool water stiffened hair, and full stomach were always the markers of a great day.

The classic is great but here is my slightly updated version, Chipwhich 2.0. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Almond Butter Ice Cream. The chocolate cookies are crazy rich and the almond butter ice cream is the perfect creamy complement.

Make some today and whisk away to your youth, even if only for a moment.

Get all your stuff out. Why a hammer you ask? I realized (too late) that I don’t own a can opener. So I used a hammer to access the evaporated milk and found it amusing.

Put all your ingredients in a bowl and whisk them, breaking up the almond butter and blending everything evenly.

Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’ s instructions. Spin it until it is the consistency of soft serve (that took about 35 minutes for me) and then place in an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours until firm.

While the ice cream is freezing bake a batch of my Chocolate Crush Cookies.

Once the ice cream is firm and the cookies are cool, make sandwiches! Act fast, or you’ll have melt on your hands.

Pool photos credited to the unbelievably talented Callie Broaddus. She’s more than a friend, she’s a photographer. My smile provided by the great Sanjida Rashid.

Look at that melt! After a minute in the D.C. heat the almond ice cream becomes incredibly soft and creamy.

Even after all these years, Chipwich is King!

Almond Butter Chipwich

  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients:
1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of natural almond butter
1 1/4 cup of whole milk
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of almond extract 

1 batch of Chocolate Crush Cookies 

Directions:

Whisk together all ice cream ingredients in a large bowl, breaking up the almond butter and dissolving the sugar.

Place mixture into an ice cream spinner and follow manufacture’s instructions. Mine took about 35 minutes to reach soft serve-like consistency.

Once the ice cream resembles soft serve, remove it from ice cream maker and store in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until firm.

While the ice cream chills, make a batch of my Chocolate Crush Cookies.

When the ice cream is firm and the cookies have cooled, assemble your sandwiches.

Eat!

Childhood Chocolate Honey Glazed Doughnuts

There’s a little doughnut shop, in a little town I have visited every summer since I was…well…little.

They make every variety of doughnut you can imagine: bear claws, cinnamon sugar, honey glazed, chocolate jimmy, jam filled. And when they sell out, sorry, they sell out.

When we were kids, my dad used to rouse my brother and me at the crack of dawn, load us in the car, and drive us there to stand in line and pick out our doughnuts.

As I stood there mean mugging people in front of me and snickering at those behind, I’d run the numbers to see if I’d get my flavor.

“Okay, four families in front of us, 16 people, 7 chocolate honey glazed left, if I put 10 over x, cross multiply, divide by the average of y, carry my decimal….yes okay, I should be able to get it.”

No matter the equation, it was never a guarantee, which made this family tradition exciting and terrifying for a young, chubby doughnut enthusiast.

We’d reach the counter, and I’d anxiously pull my dad’s sleeve, “Don’t forget the chocolate honey!!! Dad, remember the chocolate honey! Did you get the chocolate honey??”

Anticipation, stress, success!

We’d hop in the car with that grease-spotted, paper-lined, perfect box of doughnuts and will ourselves not to break the masking tape seal (though we usually would) until we were home and could finally dig in.

I think what I liked best about those doughnuts, other than the unique combination of chocolate cake and sweet honey glaze, was how they brought us together. As donuts can do.

We are grown. We have complicating factors. We can’t gather as easily around a box of doughnuts, but I wish we could like we did during my childhood.

For now, I’ll bake a batch of my own, hoping that when it is summer, my family will assemble—as we have every year—just the four of us, in that tiny town, with that perfect box of doughnuts.

Here’s my recipe:

Get your ingredients out and measured. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.

Add vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

Follow with 1/2 of the liquid.

Finish with second 1/3 of the dry, final 1/2 of the liquids, and final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Pipe into a lightly greased doughnut pan.

Bake for 10 – 11 minutes until puffed. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

To make the honey glaze, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, honey, and milk. Spoon over doughnuts. Let glaze set for 10 minutes.

If your family is like my family, the box of doughnuts won’t last long. Ours rarely made it out of the parking lot!

Chocolate Honey Glazed Doughnuts

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee, cooled slightly 

For the Glaze:
2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons of honey
4 tablespoons of heavy cream or whole milk

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine heavy cream and coffee. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs in one at a time and beat until just incorporated.

Add vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed sugar-butter. Follow with 1/2 of the wet stuff. Add the second 1/3 of the dry, the final 1/2 of wet, and finish with the final 1/3 of dry ingredients.

Scrape down between additions.

Mix until just combined; don’t over work it.

Lightly grease a doughnut pan and add batter, filling wells 2/3 of the way up.

Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 10 – 11 minutes until puffed.

The cake is ready when it springs back to the touch.

Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before flipping out onto a wire rack and cooling completely.

While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze.

Whisk together sugar, honey, and heavy cream or milk.

Glaze cooled doughnuts.

Let sit for 10 minutes until the glaze forms a shell.

Then enjoy!

 

Big Dreams Brigadeiro

Shhh…

Don’t tell.

I feel weird saying it.

Okay, here it is: I always wanted to be a writer. A food writer.

I know. Me? A writer? A paid writer!?

No way!

But I briefly lived that dream as a “reporter” for Gael Greene’s Insatiable Critic.

Notepad in hand, hair in a smart bun, glasses always sliding down my nose, I canvassed the streets of New York looking for that new hot food item, the inside ice cream scoop, the baked good buzz.

One evening, I stumbled upon a little bakery with a name I couldn’t pronounce and a smell I couldn’t resist. “Brigadeiro… this has to be good,” I thought.

Because, what the hell is a brigadeiro?

After a bit of investigating, i.e. tasting, I determined the brigadeiro is … well … it’s like a truffle … nearly … kinda … or maybe a caramel. It’s a Brazilian treat that is stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth decadent and incredibly cute.

I can’t remember what I liked more, the out of this world sweet or entering the bakery and saying, “Hi, I’m Kaitlin. A writer from Insatiable Critic.”

“A writer.” Love that.

Maybe it hasn’t turned out as I imagined, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.

In my mind’s eye, I am sitting at a sturdy desk, riffling through notes, making deadlines, accumulating bylines. Rumpled papers litter my floor and my works are bound in a thick three-ring.

“Give Me Shelter” plays around me as I chase down that next lead in my slightly wrinkled Ann Taylor pantsuit. It’s all black coffee and chewed on Bic pens.

A girl can dream.

For now, I have my blog, and another blog, and I edit a bit on the side.

And currently, I have this batch of Big Dreams Brigadeiro I whipped up to serve as a reminder that it’s never too late to make something of myself.

Here’s hoping, oh yeah and a recipe:

So few ingredients. Just 4.

Put the condensed milk, cocoa powder, coffee powder, and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Cook until thick and admittedly kind of gross looking. This will take about 6 – 8 minutes. Set aside and let cool completely. If you want to expedite the process, place in fridge for, ehhh 20 minutes.

Use a tablespoon to scoop mounds of mixture and roll into balls. Then roll them into the toppings you choose.

The classic is chocolate sprinkles, but coconut is great, a little pistachio, a rainbow sprinkle deal. Do what you want.

Here’s my little desk, where I dream my little dreams, hoping one day they will become reality.

Big Dreams Brigadeiro

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of butter

Topppings:
crushed pistachios
chocolate sprinkles
rainbow sprinkles
cocoa nibs

Directions: 

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan.

Cook over medium, while stirring, for 6 – 8 minutes until thick.

Set aside to cool.

Once cool, roll into balls and roll in toppings.

Eat!

If you aren’t going to serve immediately, keep in fridge.

Will stay good in an airtight container for a week.

Wanna read my original piece? Click here! 

Graduation Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

I’m a Spider for life. Though I only spent three years at the University of Richmond (after transferring from Chicago), that school, that town, for me, it’s home.

When I graduated, I was far from jazzed. Truthfully, I wasn’t even remotely happy. I didn’t want to leave the creepy little single dorm that had been my snug residence for two years. The thought of giving up my morning run around the lake was devastating.  More so, the reality of finally becoming an adult, of trading academic exploration for pencil pushing and rent paying, was starting to sink in and give me cold sweats. (As some of you know, I avoided adulthood by going to culinary school. Sadly, I have now run out of schools to attend but I continue to dodge being a grownup with a passion for pajama clad pizza nights in my parents’ basement and an intentional ignorance about nonsense like W-2s and health insurance.)

Not to be dramatic, but as I navigated the graduation stage with a forced smile, I died a little.

For my post-ceremony festivities, my mom and dad managed to book The Jefferson Hotel – very swanky, very special. My family gathered around a huge white cloth draped and rose adorned table, laughing, joking, all glad to have a reason to be together. Delicious dishes started to appear.

My mom had worked with the staff to create a menu highlighting all my favorites. She must have known I’d need a morale booster when she selected the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert, because with one bite all my graduation gloom disappeared. Crunchy chocolate crust, silky smooth peanut butter filling and a dreamy dark chocolate glaze. I finally felt calm, at peace. As long as I had this crew and this cheesecake nearby, I could handle adulthood – no problem.

Yeah – cheesecake. Begin by making the crust. Stir together cookie crumbs, butter, and brown sugar. Press into a lightly greased spring form pan that has had it’s bottom and sides double wrapped with aluminum. Place in the fridge and chill until ready to fill.

Next, make the filling by creaming together the cream cheese, peanut butter, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Once the cream cheese + PB mixture is smooth, add the crème fraîche. Mix that in.

Next add the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated. Finally add the vanilla.

Make sure all ingredients are nicely combined, no streaks of peanut butter or pockets of crème fraîche – just one smooth, velvety batter.

Pour cheesecake batter into prepared crust. Place the cheesecake in a large roasting pan filled with about 2 inches of hot water. This is a water bath!

Bake at 325° F for 75 – 80 minutes. The filling should be almost completely set except for a little wiggle in the very middle. Remove the cheesecake from water bath, discard the tin foil and chill completely, about 3 hours.

Once the cheesecake has cooled, carefully remove it from the spring form pan and make the ganache topping.

Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it nearly reaches a boil. Pour cream over chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.

Stir cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is melted.

Glob that ganache on top of the cheesecake.

Smooth it out real nice.

“Spiders (and Peanut Butter Cheesecake) 4 lyfe.” I’ve got that tattooed on my body but I won’t say where…. or do I? Or don’t I?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

  • Difficulty: ehh...moderate?
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Ingredients:
For the Crust:
18 oz chocolate wafer cookies, pulverized in a food processor
2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar

Filin’:
2 – oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
340 grams peanut butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup creme fraiche, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla

Ganache:
4.5 oz of dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Directions:

Wrap the bottom and sides of a spring form pan with two layers for aluminum foil. Lightly grease the pan.

Make the crust by mixing together, cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the prepared pan. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

To make the filling, cream softened cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Once fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, followed by creme fraiche and vanilla. Mix until completely incorporated.

Remove crust from the fridge and fill with cheesecake filling.

Place the cheesecake into a large deep pan and fill the pan with water. The water should come up the sides of the cheesecake about 2 inches.

Bake for 75 – 80  minutes until the cheesecake is mostly set except for a little wiggle right in the center.

Remove from water bath, discard the tin foil and set on a rack to cool completely – 3 or so hours.

Right before you are about to serve, make the ganache. Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Warm the heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it just reaches a boil. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stirring to a smooth consistency. Let the ganache cool for 5 minutes before spreading over top of the cheesecake.

Slice the cheesecake and serve!

Something More Muffins

I am becoming deeply domestic. I’ve just pulled warm muffins from the oven with a cat-patterned mit.

I am humming over the stove again. Oh no. Remember Ex’s Egg Sandwiches?

But don’t worry…I think it’s okay, (I am saying that more to myself than to you); this time it’s different. There is no resentment, no daybreak disappointment, no last ditch effort to fix something way broken with perfectly fried eggs and homemade English muffins, no wishing things were better, because – at least for now, with this guy – things are going well. And fingers crossed they continue to.

Maybe I don’t know what we are or where we are going, but I don’t necessarily need to, though maybe I’d like to. I’m not a girl who HAS to DTR; I’m just DTF (down to fun…obviously…). But, if I am being honest, there’s more going on here… there’s mornings, there’s feelings, there’s muffins. (Why are my palms sweating?)

I’ll admit, it’s nice to have someone to take care of again. A face to admire in the red-orange glow of sunrise light. A snore to break the sometimes seemingly impenetrable silence in my white-walled apartment. Hair to run my hands through and a forehead to kiss.

I dig his wake up grumble. The sound he makes when he reluctantly opens his eyes. He’s a creature. I am flattered by the sincere, or feigned for my benefit, expression of surprise when he finds me wide awake, whisking, folding, baking and brewing coffee. I love when we brush our teeth together.

More, unlike my last, this guy doesn’t expect it. He isn’t spoiled. He genuinely seems to appreciate it. I don’t feel like the girl I once was, the baked good queen bartering for affection. “Here’s a cookie, please love me!” There is no agenda. It’s just sleepy eyes, twisted sheets, instant coffee, and a half-naked guy I think – I know – I definitely like (and dare I be bold and say he might like me too?), willing to split a muffin.

Ah yes, the muffin. That’s what you came for. Dark, decadent, studded with chocolate, crisp exterior-ed, soft-centered and perfect to fill my face with on a lazy Sunday morning with someone who is certainly not no one. They are tasty, even drool-worthy… like… well… you know…. what happens before the morning. Each time I make them I am reminded of him and how carefully he chews.

Maybe he’ll be horrified. I’ve just admitted to my 61ish followers that he gives me butterflies. Or perhaps, in my case, he’s rustled my moths. And that, for what it’s worth,  I’d like to believe he’s not nothing, more than something, even if not everything just yet. Make sense?

Well whatever, here’s my recipe:

Measure out all ingredients.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and coffee.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and vinegar.

Mix together until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Look at that thick batter!

Scoop into buttered and floured muffin tins and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake in a 350° F oven for 18 – 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Well aren’t these just a few of my favorite things – the guy, the muffin, and the one good bra I own that gives the illusion of boobs.

I hope you’ll make a batch for your person and enjoy a lazy morning too!

Something More Muffins

  • Difficulty: way easy
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Ingredients:
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup of buttermilk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips
raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Butter and flour 12 muffin tins, or line with cupcake liners and grease the liners.

Place cocoa powder, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and instant coffee powder in a large bowl and whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar and vegetable oil.

Add the wet to the dry and whisk until combined. The batter will be very thick and you may need to switch to a spatula.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, place the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Fill each cavity nearly to the top.

Put the muffins in the preheated oven and bake for 18 – 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Immediately remove from pan and place on a cooling rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature and enjoy!

Welcome Café Warm Chocolate Cake

Ah, Paris – is it the city of light or the city of love? I can never remember.

What I do remember about Paris is the food… and the Mona Lisa… but mainly the food.

As a preteen, I was lucky enough to travel to France with my family. My mom would truck us through tourist traps and even some seedy areas like the Moulin Rouge. There I saw my first prostitute! My brother would insist we sit in the park and watch pickup soccer, hoping he’d get a chance to tag in. Me? I had one request. Get me the chocolate cake at the Welcome Café.

We stumbled upon the Welcome Café on one of those perfect Paris nights. Our feet raw from walking, knees sore from cobblestone trekking, my brother and I about to pitch a fit (as kids do) about being tired. It was close to our hotel, had open tables, and a cute little bistro feel. Why not?

I don’t remember the dinner – my prepubescent taste buds could only register and react to one thing – CHOCOLATE. At the time I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe the sensation I was experiencing. Frankly, I am surprised my little noggin didn’t explode.

This cake was perfect. It was warm and soft and gooey in the center. It was dark, rich, and just damn deep. Eating it was like a spiritual awakening, like a first kiss, correction – a great first kiss, like seeing your favorite group live from the front row, or firing a confetti gun into a crowd of people cheering your name.

I’ve pumped this one up a lot, haven’t I?

Truth is, this cake, this moment, made me take pastry seriously. On that day, any dreams of becoming an astronaut or news anchor or a veterinarian were obliterated. I knew I wanted to be in the business of baked goods. Sometimes I think that this cake was the first domino to drop in my pursuit of professional pastry production. It is one of the reasons I went to culinary school, worked as a pastry chef, and still dream of opening my own bakery (but that stays between you and me. Got it?)

So here it is, the Moelleux au Chocolat! Make it, eat it, love it, live it.

Measure out your stuff. Butter 6 ramekins. Lay a circle of parchment in the bottom of each ramekin and then butter that parchment.

Chop that chocolate!!!

Put chopped chocolate, butter, salt, and coffee powder in a heatproof bowl. Place over a sauce pan of simmering water to melt. Set aside and cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs and sugar.

Beat eggs and sugar until pale and thick. The mixture should form “ribbons” when it falls back on itself.

Add flour to egg and sugar mixture.

Add melted chocolate and look at that swirlllllll.

Mix until chocolate is fully incorporated.

Scoop batter into prepared ramekins, filling them nearly to the top, leaving about 1/4 an inch. Refrigerate batter for up to an hour.

When you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 400° F.

Place ramekins on a sheet tray and in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes until the top is just set. The inside will be very gooey. Let sit for 5 minutes before turning out on to a plate and serving.

Look at that molten, gooey, warm, oozing, chocolatety, sexy center!!!

Here’s my recipe!

Warm Chocolate Cakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
2/3 a cup of butter, cut into cubes
4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee powder
4 eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of flour

Directions:

Measure out all ingredients. Butter six ramekins, lay a circle of parchment in the bottom of each ramekin and butter the parchment. Set aside.

Place cubed butter, chopped chocolate, salt and coffee in a medium-sized bowl. Place the bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water and melt the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth.

Once the chocolate and butter have melted, set the mixture aside.

Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the the eggs and sugar until they are pale and thick. The eggs should make “ribbons” and fall back on itself.

Add the flour to the egg and sugar and mix in until incorporated.

Then add the melted chocolate.

Scoop the batter into the prepared ramekins filling nearly to the top, leaving about 1/4 an inch of clearance.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

When you are ready to serve, remove ramekins from fridge and place on a sheet tray. Put in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes until the tops are just set and the insides are still very gooey. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before turning out onto a plate.

If they need help getting out, carefully run a knife around the edges before flipping.

Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

 

No Sleep ‘Til Cupcakes

Truthfully, I didn’t want to leave. Obligations, prior commitments, endless mental nagging, the perpetual tally of to do and left undone unraveling in my mind. Work, bake, write, post, promote. Doubt self, doubt self, consider killing my blog, keep it anyways, move on. I am sure I had something to do but I couldn’t remember, I couldn’t tear myself away.

We’d seen the sun set and rise together. Innocent drinks slid into a heated make out in the Caddy – a deserted parking lot – 4 am – Virginia.  In the blink of an eye, we were back at my place, intertwined, deep breathing, a little giddy. He stretched comfortably across my bed, carelessly, confidently naked. And why not? That body… 6 am – D.C.

He ran his hands across my bare back as I yammered on in the throaty morning voice that is sometimes sexy. Cheek on chest, still tangled. Sunlight threaded my blinds, morning had come too fast. I wasn’t ready for the day, stuck in the …ahem…activities… of last night.

Then it hit me like a truck. Aw heck – I had cupcakes to make, a maxi dress to sport, a vineyard to tour, and a best friend’s birthday to attend. I had to go.

As he and I drove out of the city, we held hands. I closed my eyes at reds and asked him to wake me when it was green. We hadn’t slept at all.

He’d recover. I think he mentioned a nap. I’m sure he did but I was unable take my eyes off his perfectly formed jawline long enough to properly hear him.

“Mmmmhmmm,” I answered sleepily. I couldn’t stay in one lane.

I kept cool and collected until he left my car with a kiss and a coy smile – he’s cute – but as soon as I was clear of him, the panic set in.

I had one hour – 9:15am. No sleep ’til cupcakes.

I peeled out of the parking lot and sped home. I burst into my parent’s house, ripping ingredients off shelves, throwing pans on the counter.

Chocolate, sure, frosting, okay, buttermilk… yes I have that. Piping bags, piping bags, piping bags….

My mom, bundled in her best robe, shuffled in to see what all the ruckus was.

“So, how was last night? Is he cute? What did you guys do? That was certainly a late night,” she yawned.

“1/2 cup of sugar, sure that looks like 2 teaspoons vanilla, damn, where’ve I put the baking soda? WHAT ARE YOU GOING ON ABOUT, MOTHER?”

Somehow, I managed. I threw together some presentable cupcakes, ate one for breakfast, grabbed a shower, and inserted myself into a maxi-dress – whatever the hell a maxi-dress is. I had 15 minutes to get there – 10:15am.

To my relief, the caravan of ladies hadn’t left. I was in time, feeling like hell, covered in chocolate, but glad to see and be with my best friend on her birthday.

As the girls sipped Rosé and chatted merrily – I wondered if my No Sleep Cupcakes would pass muster with the group. Sure they were moist, deeply chocolately, frosted with my favorite buttercream. Yes – I even managed sprinkles and a cute box. But I guess I was already feeling self-conscious because I hadn’t redone my makeup from the previous night, I forgot deodorant, my maxi-dress was actually a weird pantsuit, and I worried I’d fall asleep mid-festivities.

Fortunately, I was able to stay awake long enough to see smiling faces smeared with frosting and to receive a special thanks from the birthday girl. The cupcakes had done the trick and no one had noticed me dozing between grape vines with my sunglasses keeping my secret. I could finally, truly rest.

On the ride home I fell asleep on my friend’s shoulder, exhausted to my core. I only roused once to yell “COMEY” as the girls discussed Hillary Clinton, and then I fell right back to sleep.

It was one of those hard sleeps, the kind that hurts a little when you wake up. But boy was it good sleep, filled with dreams of reddish hair, daybreak kisses, velvety frosting, and beds made out of chocolate cupcakes.

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Ingredientsssssss! Mix together dry stuff, put butter and sugar in a bowl, ya know, the norm.

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Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.

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Mix in vanilla.

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Combine coffee and buttermilk. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mix.

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Add 1/2 of the liquid.

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Add remaining flour in two more additions, alternating with one more addition of buttermilk.

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Line muffin tins with cupcake papers and fill 2/3 of the way.

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Place in a 375° F oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back to the touch.

While cupcakes cool, make frosting.

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FROSTING!!! 1. Cream together butter and confectioners sugar. 2. Add vanilla. 3. Add melted chocolate. 4. Add milk and mix until smooth. 5. Admire.

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FROST any way you please!

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So maybe you’ve got the world’s worst case of bed-head? Maybe you’re asleep in the middle of a party? Who cares! You’ve just hooked up with a handsome guy, made cupcakes, and celebrated your best friend’s birthday! Not to mention you’re a little drunk! Oh wait… that’s me. Make, eat, enjoy – that’s you!

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And that’s them! Look at this magical day with my great friends! Sheesh, I’m short.

No Sleep 'Til (Chocolate) Cupcakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of freshly brewed coffee

Frosting:
1 stick of butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
8 oz melted dark chocolate, cooled
2 – 3 tablespoons milk

Directions:

To make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 375° F.

Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. This will make about 20 cupcakes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.

In a measuring jug, whisk together the buttermilk and the coffee.

In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed sugar-butter. Follow with 1/2 of the wet stuff. Add the second 1/3 of the dry, the final 1/2 of wet and finish with the final 1/3 of dry ingredients.

Mix until just combined; don’t over work it.

Fill the cupcake papers 2/3 of the way up and place in the preheated oven to bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

The cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the chocolate slowly. Once the chocolate is incorporated, add the milk. The frosting will go from fluffy, to creamy, to smooth. You can add as much or as little milk as you’d like for the consistency you desire.

Frost cupcakes, sprinkle, eat, nap.

Backyard S’more Brownies

My happiest place is home, at my family’s house, sitting around our backyard fire pit on a fall evening. You know that smell? You smell it when you are taking a walk and say, “Smells like someone is having a fire,” I love it. Ash, crackle, blaze, fire, s’mores.

When I was in high school this was the thing, the weekend activity I always looked forward to. A few of my brother’s athletic friends, his girlfriend (my best friend), my parents, a box of graham crackers, king size chocolate bars and a bag of jumbo mallows. As night fell, we’d bundle up against the fall chill, grab the supplies and trek to the side yard. My dad would tease my brother as he tried to build a fire, mom made sure everyone was warm and toasty, I dug around for roasting sticks, just happy to be there, to be with people.

Sitting around the fire, I always had the feeling of, “It’s the weekend, we’ve made it, another week down.”

Looking back now it seems childish; but when you are in high school, everything seems like the end of the world. He dumped me, I failed that, she talked behind my back, this sweater-vest is making me sweat, I didn’t make the team. I’ve lost my Five-Star. Who am I? Do people like me? Is that a zit!?

Taking a bite of that s’more, seeing my friends’ faces smudged with chocolate, being with mom and dad in the happiest of places, always made the stress in life seem to just melt away.

So as an ode to those fire pit Fridays and the s’mores of days past, I made these s’more brownies. Crunchy graham, melty chocolate, gooey marshmallow – and just as toasty as the classic. And hey, no fire pit? No problem!

Make some today, relish in simpler times and be appreciative of the wonderful people in your life – not an order, just a suggestion.

Here’s my recipe!

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First make the graham crust. Mix together sugar and graham crumbs, add melted butter, stir until combined and finally press into a greased 8 x 8 brownie pan.

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Lezzz make the brownies. Get your ingredients flowing.

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Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and coffee.

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Place melted butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low until fluffy.

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Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition.

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Mix until just combined.

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Add the dry ingredients in two or three additions but leave one tablespoon of dry behind. Mix until just combined.

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Toss the chocolate chips in the reserved dry ingredients.

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Add the chocolate chips to the batter.

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Dump the brownie batter onto the graham crust.

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Spread out evenly. Place in a 350° F oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes. If the brownie has pulled away from the side of the pan and a cake tester comes out mostly clean (maybe a few wet crumbs) the brownies are done. Don’t over bake – we want these guys to be gooo-tastic.

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Let the brownies cool completely. Meanwhile, make the mallow topping.

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Preheat the broiler.

To make the marshmallow topping, place the egg and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Vigorously whisk by hand until the eggs are warm. Test the temperature with your finger.

Transfer the bowl to the mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium until the mixture is foamy. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until the mixture is glossy and soft peaks form. This will take 6 – 8 minutes.

Spread the marshmallow all over the cooled brownie. Place under the broiler for 1- 2 minutes until toasted. DO NOT WALK AWAY – this happens quickly.

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Let the brownies cool slightly before slicing and serving.

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Look at this scene – brownies, a fire, family. My dad pretended to be two roasters to make me look cooler – love him.

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Bonus shot of me getting deep into a toasted marshmallow, wearing a guy’s shirt and my mom’s jacket from the 80s.

S'mores Brownies

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted

For the brownies:
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee powder (optional)
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the marshmallow:
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Directions:

First make the graham crust.

Mix together the sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until combined. Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 brownie pan. Set aside.

Next, make the brownies.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and coffee powder in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the melted butter, sugar and the vanilla.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a spatula between each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in 2 – 3 additions, scraping down the bowl after each. Leave 1 tablespoon of dry mix behind to toss the chocolate chips in. Mix until just combined.

Toss the chocolate chips in the reserved dry ingredients and then mix into the batter. The coating of dry will prevent the chips from dropping to the bottom of the batter.

Spread the brownie batter on top of the graham crust and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The brownies are done when they have pulled away from the pan and when a toothpick is inserted it comes out mostly clean (maybe a few wet crumbs).

Set the brownies aside to cool completely while you make the marshmallow topping.

To make the marshmallow topping, put a pot with a few inches of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the water and whisk the egg and sugar together vigorously. Cook until the eggs are warm to the touch and foamy.

Transfer the eggs and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla. Put the mixer on high and whip until the mixture forms soft peaks, about 6 – 8 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Dump the marshmallow on top of the cooled brownies and spread into an even layer.

Place the brownie pan under a broiler for 2 – 3 minutes until the marshmallow is toasted. Do not walk away, this process happens very quickly!

Let the brownies cool then slice and serve!

 

 

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