Posts Tagged ‘chocolate

19
Jun
10

transitions

A friend asked me to make some cupcakes for her brother’s graduation a few weeks ago.  I made chocolate cupcakes topped with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and whipped caramel ganache.  H and I ate the extras and they were delicious.  I think I finally have a few recipes down that I can rely on every time.  It’s kind of scary to think how fast the time is flying by these days; another round of graduations come and gone.  Graduation…one of those major life transitions where I thought, “What now?”.  Well, another one of those major life transitions is coming up for me again in a few weeks and the same question keeps popping up in my head.  I just keep reminding myself that it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  It’s for not being stressed out and tired all the time.  It’s for hopes of finally expanding our little family.  It’s for an opportunity to do what I’ve always been passionate about.  It’s for the best.

Advertisements
13
Mar
10

cupcakes and mini bundt cakes

Here are some photos of recent cupcakes and mini bundt cakes.

These are some cupcakes that H and I got at Joan’s on Third in LA.  I think the one up front is the snickers cupcake and the one in the back is the cream filled chocolate cupcake.  I didn’t get to try the snickers cupcake; H probably finished it off in 3 or less bites.  The cream filled cupcake was ok; the filling was very sweet.

Joan’s on Third cupcakes

I brought red velvet cupcakes to work the week before Valentine’s Day.   They had cream cheese frosting and were sprinkled with lip-shaped sprinkles.

red velvet with lips sprinkles

The banana bundt cake I posted before has become one of my favorites.   I’m one of those people who will only eat bananas with very few or no spots.  Once they become spotty, I just leave them alone on the counter and let them get uglier and more rotten looking.  Ugly bananas don’t go to waste in this house.  The uglier they get, the more I look forward to baking something with them.  H knows that I will only eat bananas with very few spots, so when he sees me buying a big bunch of bananas, he knows that I have an ulterior motive.

I finally decided to try out my mini bundt pan that I received as a wedding gift (almost 4 years ago!).  I registered for the pan, but never knew what I should make in it.  Go figure.  I wasn’t sure how much batter to put in each mini bundt and ended up slightly overfilling each one.  I was shocked when I checked on them at the halfway point and saw cupcakes!

they look like cupcakes…

…but they’re not!

Fortunately, their little bottoms weren’t so puffed out that they couldn’t stand on their own.  A nice thing about overfilling them slightly was that instead of having a hole in the middle of each bundt for the lemon icing to run through, there was a small cavity to hold it all in.

drizzled with lemon icing

I recently made chocolate cupcakes for a friend’s birthday.  I made a last minute decision to make the caramel ganache frosting from the book Baked.  I really liked the caramel ganache and it was so easy to make!  I also got to use the Valrhona chocolate pearls that I recently bought at a restaurant supply store in LA.  I was having trouble piping nice round swirls and was too lazy to squeeze out all my frosting just to change tips so I ended up just piping out small mounds of frosting.  It’s not the prettiest because the frosting wasn’t smooth enough; next time I’ll use a star tip.

chocolate cupcakes w/ caramel ganache frosting and crunchy chocolate pearls

12
Mar
10

two-bite chocolate cream pies

A few weeks ago, H and I had dinner with some friends – a finger food potluck.  H loves to create appetizers and I love making mini desserts so we were both looking forward to what we were going to make.  I scoured through my cookbooks and magazines trying to find something that jumped out at me when I remembered seeing these mini chocolate cream pies in the February issue of Sunset magazine (one of my favorites). Not only did these look yummy, but the recipe looked pretty straightforward too.

My only advice is don’t over press the cookie crumbs and don’t over bake the crusts.  I was intent on making sure the crusts didn’t fall apart so I did both.  The result was VERY hard crusts that were almost impossible to bite into. I didn’t really think about the fact that egg white would probably provide a much stronger bind than melted butter. Well, they were still delicious even though everyone had a hard time biting into them.

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

cookies, sugar, salt, egg white whirled to make the crust

10 lb. slab of chocolate

breaking into the slab

melted chocolate and butter

sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and milk

cook over medium heat

add melted chocolate and butter

ready to bite into

Two-bite Chocolate Cream Pies

From Sunset magazine, February 2010

Makes 24

  • Cooking oil spray
  • About 30 chocolate cookies, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. course salt
  • 2 large eggs (1 separated)
  • 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 5 tsp. Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 mini-muffin trays (12 muffin cups each) with cooking spray.  In a food processor, whirl cookies into fine crumbs.  Measure; return 1 1/2 cups crumbs to food processor, along with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar, the salt, and 1 egg white.  Pulse to blend evenly.

Spoon 1 tbsp. crumb mixture into each muffin cup. Press crumbs over bottom and up sides of cups. (Don’t press too hard.) Bake until set, 15 minutes. (Don’t over bake.)

Put chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe container and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring often, until melted.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and 4 tsp. cocoa. Pour in a few tbsp. of the milk and whisk into a smooth paste; whisk in remaining milk.  Transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened and large bubbles appear, about 3 minutes.

Put reserved yolk and remaining egg into a medium bowl.  Whisk in about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture.  Scrape egg-milk mixture into milk mixture in pan and cook, whisking, until just starting to boil, about 30 seconds.  Whisk in melted chocolate and butter.

Spoon hot filling into chocolate shells.  Press plastic wrap over surface of mini pies to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until set, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Remove pies from trays. Whisk cream with remaining 2 tbsp. sugar into soft peaks. Spoon a dollop of cream onto each mini pie. Dust pies with remaining cocoa.

27
Feb
10

the best one-bowl chocolate chunk-pecan cookies

H and I were watching a movie a few weeks ago when I started craving chocolate chip cookies.  I needed a fast and easy recipe; no way was I going to wait for the 36-hour chocolate chip cookie.  I found a recipe for one-bowl chocolate chip cookies in Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.  The 36-hour chocolate chip cookies are still my favorite (hands down), but these were perfect for a quick cookie, with little clean-up required afterwards.

toast the pecans

stir granulated and dark brown sugar into melted butter

stir in salt, vanilla, and eggs until smooth

stir in flour, baking soda, and baking powder into batter

just until incorporated and a soft dough forms

fold in chocolate chips and cooled toasted  (chopped) pecans

mmm…cookie dough

use a 2-ounce scoop to measure out the dough

place dough balls on a baking sheet

Ok, there is some waiting time for this cookie – but only 45 to 60 minutes.  I washed the dishes and watched more of the movie during this wait.

refrigerate until firm

place 6 dough balls on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees

enjoy!

The Best One-Bowl Chocolate Chunk-Pecan Cookies

Modified slightly from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

Makes 18 Large Cookies

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast until they are warm and fragrant, 6 to 9 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Place the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove from the microwave and stir until completely melted.  Using a large wooden spoon, stir both sugars into the melted butter.  When combined, add the salt, vanilla, and eggs.  Stir until smooth.  Stir the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into the batter just until incorporated and a soft dough forms.  Carefully fold in the chocolate chips and cooled toasted pecans.

Use a 2-ounce self-releasing scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out the cookie dough.  Place the cookie dough balls on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, 45 to 60 minutes. Toward the end of the chilling time, return the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chilled dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets.  (The recipe said to put 9 cookies per sheet to allow for spreading; I only put 6.)

Bake until the cookies are crisp and golden around the edges, but still a little soft in the centers without being gooey, 15 to 18 minutes.  Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool slightly.  Using a large metal spatula, tranfer the cookies from the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool to room temperature.

Stored in airtight containers, these cookies will keep for 2 days at room temperature.  They can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks.  You can prepare the cookie dough balls and, after they are chilled, store the unbaked cookies in the freezer for up to 1 month.  The cookies can be baked straight from the freezer, but will take a few minutes longer.

(I still have some dough balls in my freezer for when we get chocolate chip cookie cravings.)

27
Feb
10

where to begin?

It’s been so long since my last real post that I don’t really know where to start.  I’m still working on a new header and it looks like I might have to go back and fix some of my previous photos to work with the new template (yeah…we’ll see if that happens).  Unfortunately, since it’s been so long, I can’t remember what some of the stuff is that I made and took photos of.  Oh well, I’m going to post them all anyway.

I’m planning on posting recipes now – not all of them, but a few here and there to make things more interesting.  H said that people don’t want to just look at food photos, they want to know how to make them, too.  True.  I look at a lot of baking/food blogs and I love it when I can get some recipes.  My first one, which I’ll post later, will be of some chocolate chip cookies I made a few weeks ago.

Well, I have tons to show you, so I better get started. (I promise, this ‘months of recapping’ won’t be a yearly thing…)

June 2009

pineapple upside down cupcake

vanilla cupcake w/ chocolate glaze and sprinkles

July 2009

This is a birthday cake I made for one of the older ladies at church.  I can’t remember what kind of cake it was or how I made the buttercream :(.  The flowers look kinda funny because this was my first time trying to make roses this way (not the way I learned at my Wilton class).  For these flowers I took a small ball of fondant, pressed it into a petal shape and layered it.  It wasn’t the best time for me to experiment, but I thought it would be easier than it turned out to be.  My fondant was way too soft for this.

happy birthday!

banana bundt cake w/ lemon glaze

the lemon glaze was a surprisingly nice contrast to the banana flavor

My friend asked me to make some bridal shower cookie favors for her friend’s bridal shower.  The theme was orange and purple.

T + J cookies

pile of wrapped favors


Since it was a bridal shower, my friend also asked if I could make a cake just for decoration.  Well, between the two of us, H is usually the designer/sculptor so I left it to him.  His idea was for an open gift box overflowing with bras and panties (geez, I’m embarassed to even write those words on my blog, but just remember – BRIDAL SHOWER!).  The idea seemed ok.  I imaged some classy/elegant lingerie spilling out of this box…and then I saw his creations starting to come to life and my eyes almost bulged out of their sockets.  They were more like Frederick’s of Hollywood than Victoria’s Secret.  Ahhh!!!!!  I am laughing as I write this, but I vividly remember how mortified I was.

Be warned that the following photo may be considered PG-13.  I tried to take the photo from the most “conservative” angle.   I don’t want to explain this cake, but I’m afraid if I don’t you’ll just be examining everything and getting the wrong idea.  Up front is a stacked heart G-string (I never imagined I would be writing that word), to the right is a white one, and the shiny orange thing on the right is supposed to be some leather thing.   I wanted there to be something (anything) classy on this cake so I had him make the pearl necklace.  Are you blushing yet?

H is GREAT when it comes to things he knows about (cars, kung fu panda, thomas the tank engine, etc.), but let’s just say that next time there’s a request for a bridal shower cake, I’ll be doing the designing.

Rated PG-13

Continue reading ‘where to begin?’

24
Mar
09

salted caramel

I’ve been wanting to make salted caramel cupcakes ever since I saw this recipe on cupcakeblog.  This past Christmas one of my friends gave me a jar of fleur de sel so I made some salted caramels and salted caramel cupcakes for her birthday.

salted caramel gift

I originally planned to make the salted caramels in Chocolate Obsession which are covered in tempered chocolate and splinkled with fleur de sel.  Then I saw this recipe for chocolate salted caramels on Gourmet.  These had the chocolate mixed into the caramel and I could avoid trying to temper chocolate for now.  I read through a lot of the reviews, trying to make sure I didn’t end up with caramels that were too soft or too hard.

making caramelIt seemed like most of the reviewers had different temperatures that worked for them so I decided not to rely on temperature alone.  In addition to temperature, I also spooned small amounts of the caramel mixture into an ice water bath to see how it set up.  I’m glad I did it this way because the temperature at which I stopped the caramel was different from the temperature in the recipe.  The caramels were perfect but then hardened a few days later so I had to put a warning on my gift tag that the caramels needed to be microwaved for a few seconds.

salted caramels I ended up with an extra treat after making the salted chocolate caramels.  Instead of filling the caramel covered pot with water to get all the gooey caramel off, I filled it with milk and enjoyed a salted caramel hot chocolate.  I couldn’t waste all that good stuff!

When it was time to make the cupcakes, I couldn’t decide on what kind of chocolate cupcakes I wanted to pair with the salted caramel frosting so I made 2 batches: one batch of the chocolate cupcakes from cupcakeblog and another batch from a different recipe.

chocolate cupakes

In the end, I decided to go with the darker, more delicate chocolate cupcakes.

salted caramel cupcakes

I froze and cut up some of the extra salted caramel to place on top of the cupcakes just like chockylit had but after a few minutes it was melted and runny.  I didn’t want to leave it like that so I cut up some of the chocolate salted caramels and stuck them on.  These cupcakes were really good – I can’t wait to make them again!

12
Mar
09

chocolate croissants

I’ve been wanting to try to make puff pastry ever since I saw this cool demo on Artisan Sweets.  She makes it look so easy!   I haven’t made puff pastry yet, but I *tried* to make croissants a few weeks ago.  My real agenda was to make chocolate croissants because I had been craving them ever since I had one in San Francisco.  I make enough sugary, buttery things at home so I usually refrain from buying myself croissants.   I actually don’t know why I choose to refrain from them – it’s not like I really refrain from eating cupcakes and other things.   It’s not that I don’t like them that much.  When I was in college, I worked at a coffee shop and I had no problem eating them whenever I wanted – plain, chocolate, ham and cheese, bear claws – any kind, any time of today.  But that was how many years ago now?  That was when I was actually active and ran around campus all day.  I have a desk job now and sit on my behind for 8 hours a day.  I try to exercise “regularly”, but for me “regularly” usually ends up being once a week so I have to refrain from something…right?

I was fascinated by the folding, turning, and rolling of the puff pastry demo and I figured croissant dough would be fairly similar.  Plus, I had splurged on some Plugra european butter after I won a $25 shopping spree at Trader Joe’s and I have tons of chocolate and yeast that I need to use so I decided to just do it.  I read a review that the recipe in Baking with Julia was very rich so I went with the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II.  (Did I ever mention that I love Julia Child?  I started watching her show before I started kindergarten!)

This was quite a process, but I was adequately forewarned, “The minimum time required for making croissants is 11 to 12 hours.” It actually took about 36 hours before I actually baked them.  Something was wrong right from the beginning.  I don’t know if my yeast wasn’t fresh enough (it wasn’t expired yet) or if my house was too cold.  I think it’s the latter.  The recipe said that the dough needed to rest at about 72 degrees for about 3 hours to rise 3.5 times its original volume.  Well, mine sat in my 65 degree kitchen for  almost 8 hours and it only rose 2.5 times its original volume.  I had all kinds of problems – rolling my dough out to the correct size, “smearing” the cold butter onto the flattened dough, shaping the dough, accidentally par cooking the shaped croissants in a warm oven (I was trying to help them rise)…

The croissants came out spongy instead of flaky and they were very buttery even though I had used the minimum amount of butter called for.  I have to say though that I didn’t think they were that bad for my first attempt and they did hit the spot.  I’ve eaten a couple more croissants since this trial, examining what a “real” croissant should look like and how it should taste.  (I kind of use that as my excuse – experiencing them will help me next time I try to make them, right?)