weeknight gourmet

Category : Chocolate

Christmas Cookies: Cocoa Thumbprints

In case you are still in the baking mood, here are some chocolate cookies that are a nice take on traditional thumbprints!  This is not my favorite chocolate Christmas cookie recipe but they are tasty.  I think I like a richer chocolate flavor.  For those of you who are not chocoholics, this might be the Christmas cookie for you!  Tim thinks they are delicious!

Cocoa Thumbprints
Food Network Magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Sprinkles, mini marshmallows, mini candies or dried fruit, for filling

Whisk the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in 2 separate small bowls. Roll scant tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners’ sugar. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch-wide indentation in the centers with your thumb. Place your choice of filling in the indentation.

Bake the cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Christmas Candy: Dark Chocolate Almond Bark

I’ve never really made candy before.  I associated making candy with other recipes that require you to be more precise than I really enjoy being.  I assumed you always needed a candy thermometer and I already have way more kitchen equipment than either of my kitchens can handle.

But this Dark Chocolate Almond Bark changes everything!!!  It was amazing and so easy to make!  The caramel – which is the only thing you actually have to prepare — comes together quickly.  I could not find Marcona almonds so I used blanched and slivered almonds.

I think the key to the bark though is high quality chocolate and not to forget the coarse sea salt!  I used Guittard 63% Extra Dark Chocolate Chips.  Yum!

I plan to make another batch tonight using pistachios in my attempt to recreate Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee.  Unfortunately I’m out of Guittard chocolate so we’ll see how Trader Joe’s dark chocolate does.

Note: Thank you to Bon Appetit’s website for the photo.  I didn’t have my camera when I made the bark.

Chocolate-Almond Bark with Sea Salt
Bon Appetit

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted Marcona almonds (not in oil)
  • 1 pound good-quality dark chocolate (62%–70% cacao), finely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt (for sprinkling)

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or foil. Combine sugar with 2 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is dark amber, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately add butter; whisk until melted. Add almonds; stir until well coated. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading out to separate nuts. Let cool. Break up any large clumps of nuts. Set aside 1/4 of nuts.

Stir chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted. Remove from heat, add nuts from baking sheet, and stir quickly to combine. Spread chocolate-nut mixture on same baking sheet, keeping nuts in a single layer. Top with the reserved nuts; sprinkle with salt. Chill until chocolate is set, about 3 hours.

Break bark into pieces and store between layers of parchment or waxed paper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled.

Makes about 1 3/4 lb.

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

My friend Emily made these cookies for Thanksgiving and they were delicious!  I needed to make a holiday treat for Tim’s office so I decided to make them.  What says Christmas more than chocolate + peppermint?!

Do not overbake the cookies.  I followed the instructions exactly and the cookies were so moist and delicious.

To make the chocolate – peppermint filling, all you need is butter, chocolate chips, and some peppermint extract.  You can pipe the filling through a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off.

The cookies were a hit in Tim’s office.  I think they were all gone within two days!  I was a little sad I didn’t save any for myself but my waistline probably thanks me.

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints
Everyday Food

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove sheets from oven; with the small end of a melon baller or the bottom of a small round measuring spoon, make an indentation in center of each cookie.

Bake until cookies are just set but still look moist, 4 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool on sheets on wire racks. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and ¼ cup butter in 10-second increments until melted; stir in peppermint extract. Let cool until thick enough to pipe, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top bag; snip 1/4-inch hole in one corner. Pipe chocolate into cookie indentations. (Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week.)

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes + cooling

Makes 4 dozen

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps

Not a lot of comments on this recipe other than that these are DELICIOUS!  I used semi-sweet chocolate rather than bittersweet.   The cookies are amazing chocolate-y bites.  Soft and chewy!

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps
Everyday Food

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for coating
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour confectioners’ sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.
Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crinkles

Here is a delicious chocolaty cookie for the holidays!  They are so chewy and rich!  I had splurged and bought some Scharffen Berger Cocoa Powder which gave these cookies an amazing flavor.

Next time I might try rolling half in regular sugar and the other half in confectioners sugar.

Chocolate Crinkles
Real Simple

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Form the dough into balls (each equal to 1 level tablespoon). Roll the balls in the confectioners’ sugar and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are firm and the tops crack, 13 to 15 minutes.Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies.

Spooktacular Halloween Cupcakes

In honor of Halloween and as a pre-NYC marathon dessert for my sister-in-law Julina, I decided to bake some cupcakes.  I turned to the Cake Mix Doctor for a delicious and easy recipe.

This recipe “doctors” a devil’s food cake mix by adding a little cocoa and buttermilk.  The cake was super moist!  The icing was a simple buttercream and very tasty!  I added some yellow and red food coloring for a nice orange color.  I skipped the spiders in the recipe and just decorated with some red sugar.

The cupcakes were a hit!  I’ll definitely be making these again.

IMG_3819

Many thanks to Judy & Irv for the adorable cupcake plates.  They were perfect!

Halloween Spider Cupcakes
Cake Mix Doctor

Makes 24 cupcakes (2 1/2 inches each)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Spider chilling time: 30 to 40 minutes
Baking time: 16 to 20 minutes
Assembly time: 15 minutes

24 silver or foil liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)

CUPCAKES
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FROSTING:
Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
6 drops yellow food coloring
2 drops red food coloring

GARNISHES:
24 Chocolate Spiders (recipe follows)
Tiny round decorating candies (optional)
Brown decorating gel (optional)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with silver paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spoon or scoop a heaping 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool completely, 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the Buttercream Frosting. Place G cup of the frosting in a plastic sandwich bag and set aside. Add the yellow and red food coloring to the remaining frosting. Blend well so the frosting is evenly orange. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely.

5. Garnish the cupcakes: Cut off a small piece from one of the bottom corners of the plastic bag holding the frosting. Pipe 2 eyes on each of the Chocolate Spiders. Place a small round decorating candy in the center of each eye, if desired. Place a spider on top of each cupcake. There will be 6 extra spiders for additional platter garnish or simply to enjoy. If you wish, pipe a web on the platter using brown decorating gel. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Store these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake saver, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the unfrosted and undecorated cupcakes in a cake saver for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before frosting, decorating, and serving.

CHOCOLATE SPIDERS
You can make these spiders up to two days before you bake the cupcakes. The six extras make wonderful platter decorations or sweet treats by themselves.

1 1/4 cups chow mein noodles
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup crispy rice cereal

1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside.

2. Measure out 1 cup chow mein noodles and break them into small pieces. Break the remaining noodles into 2-inch pieces. These will be the spiders’ legs. Set the noodles aside in separate groupings.

3. Combine the chocolate chips and milk in a medium-size saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar, cereal, and the small chow mein noodle pieces until blended. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Drop the chocolate mixture by tablespoons in a slightly oblong shape (the body of the spider) onto the prepared baking sheet. You will have about 30 bodies, about 2 inches in size. Immediately insert the noodle legs into the spider bodies, 4 on one side and 4 on the opposite side. Space them evenly apart. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the spiders until hardened, 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Once chilled, remove them from the waxed paper by pushing up from the underside of the waxed paper.

Store the spiders in a plastic storage container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

the Cupcake Doctor says . . .
Here’s something to remember when you’re making orange-colored frosting: Use drops of yellow
and red food coloring in a 3 to 1 ratio, adding for example, 6 drops yellow and 2 drops red.

the Cupcake Doctor says . . .
Once the frosting for the cupcakes is made, reserve a small amount of it to pipe on each spider for its eyes.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Makes 2 1/2 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes (2 1/2-inch size)
Preparation time: 5 minutes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (see “the Cupcake Doctor says” below)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla.

2. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

Grilled Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Tropical Fruit

Looking for a truly decadent summer dessert?  Look no further than grilled pound caked topped with delicious mango and papaya drizzled in a rich Mexican chocolate and topped with homemade whipped cream.

What a wonderful combination of flavors and textures!  I love the rich chocolate with a touch of spiciness from the cinnamon and ancho chile powder.  What is tastier than sweet, ripe mangos!  The usually delicious pound cake is taken to a whole new level when grilled!  And, the whipped cream has a wonderful tropical taste from the run and vanilla.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times and everyone has raved about it.  I typically only use mango because I like mango better than papaya.  And I either use store bought pound cake or make one from a Betty Crocker mix.

Don’t forget to use high quality chocolate and vanilla.  I like to use Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips and Nielsen-Massey Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract. They do make a difference!

Impress your guests and get transported to a tropical locale with this unique and decadent dessert!


Grilled Pound Cake with Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Tropical Fruit
Food & Wine

WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE SAUCE

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FRUIT SALAD

  • 1 large mango, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch wedges
  • 1 medium papaya—halved, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch wedges
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

POUND CAKE

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Six 1 1/4-inch slices of homemade or fresh bakery pound cake (about 10 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, softly whip the heavy cream. Add the confectioners’ sugar, rum and vanilla and whip the cream until firm peaks form. Refrigerate the whipped cream.

MAKE THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer over moderately high heat with the cinnamon and chile powder. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 minute, then whisk to blend; keep warm.

MAKE THE FRUIT SALAD
In a medium bowl, toss the mango and papaya with the basil and vanilla.

PREPARE THE POUND CAKE
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Butter both sides of the pound cake slices. Grill the pound cake over moderate heat, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

Set a slice of grilled pound cake on each of 6 plates and top each one with 3 tablespoons of the warm chocolate sauce and the fruit salad. Top each serving with a dollop of the rum whipped cream and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Pass the remaining chocolate sauce at the table.

Make Ahead
The whipped cream and fruit salad can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours; whip the cream gently before serving. The chocolate sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; rewarm before serving.