Quadruple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

At the end of each month, the Operations team at my day jobs works extra-long hours to ensure all sold equipment is processed, packed and shipped.  Since I’m limited in what I can do to help, I typically bake something special that gives everyone an extra boost of energy.  This month’s treat is my quadruple chocolate brownie cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the butter, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips.  Cook until mostly melted, about 4 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Cool for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the eggs, the granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes, until fully combined.  Add the vanilla, the baking powder and the salt.  Mix for 1 minute.  Incorporate the flour in three additions.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture.  Mix for 1 minute.  By hand, stir in the milk chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by the tablespoonful onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets (you should have about 12 cookies per cookie sheet).  Bake for 10 minutes – no more!  The cookies will still be a bit giggly in the middle.
  5. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets then place on wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Notes: If you don’t have milk chocolate chips, simply replace with semi-sweet chocolate chips and call the recipe Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies!

 

National Chocolate Mousse Day – Celebrate with Tofu

National Chocolate Mousse Day – Celebrate with Tofu

National Chocolate Mousse Day is today and thought I’d share a delicious, yet healthy, way to celebrate.  While traditional mousse and pudding recipes often require large amounts of whipping cream and butter (delicious in many instances), using tofu provides a healthier alternative that’s still decadent in flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package 14 oz. House Foods Soft Tofu
  • ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup of milk (can substitute coconut milk)
  • ½ Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)

Directions:

  1. Open the tofu package and strain water.  Remove the tofu from package and pulse in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. With the stove on low, melt the chocolate chips and milk in a pot, stirring until smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tofu to the chocolate mixture and stir until completely incorporated.  Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom, if using.
  4. Quickly remove from heat and spoon in 4-6 individual cups.  Cool completely then refrigerate until it becomes thick like a mousse, about 2 hours.

Serves 4-6.

Notes:  Add your own personal twist to this recipe by considering some of the suggestions below:

  • Top the pudding with toasted slivered almonds or other nutscoconut shavings, or cocoa powder
  • Replace the 1 tsp. ground cardamom with ½ tsp. chili powder for a spicy Mexican Chocolate Mousse
  • Add a little agave nectar for an even sweeter pudding

 

Maple Sucre a la Crème

Maple Sucre a la Crème

This recipe is from my mom, Diane.  It adds a unique twist of maple syrup to a Québec favorite:  sucre à la crème, what I’ll translate to brown sugar squares.  This is a decadent treat that your loved ones are certain to enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 3 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional

Directions:

  1. Bring the syrup and butter to a simmer over medium heat in a heavy-bottom saucepan.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Carefully add the cream to the hot mixture (wearing an oven mitt to avoid possible splattering burns when adding the cream to the hot liquid is recommended).  Cook until the mixture reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the nuts (if using).  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat mixture for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the beaten mixture in a buttered 8×8 pan and allow to cool completely before covering with foil and refrigerating.  Cut into 2” squares.

Makes 16 squares.

 

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Nutella, the delectable chocolate and hazelnut spread, is a favorite in my family.  My sister and I grew up on the chocolaty elixir and we’ve found many ways to use it throughout the years.  One of my favorite use for Nutella is in frosting that can be used on cakes or cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the Nutella to the butter and beat to fully incorporate (resist the urge to stick your finger in for a taste).
  3. On low speed, add the confectioner’s sugar, and beat to combine, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the milk, adding more if too stiff to use as frosting.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

 

World’s Best Meringue Recipe

World’s Best Meringue Recipe

I was searching for a fail-proof meringue recipe for my Baked Alaska and came across an easy-to-make and perfect version by King Arthur Flour.  No messy eggs whites, no egg yolk leftovers to worry about – just a beautifully glossy meringue.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water, boiling
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, stirring to incorporate.  Set aside until cooled.
  2. Add the cooled sugar/water simple syrup to the bowl of an electric mixer and add the meringue powder.  Whip the mixture for three to five minutes, depending on how stiff you want your meringue.

Makes about 3 cups of meringue.

 

 

Aunt Mary’s Caramels

Aunt Mary’s Caramels

Everyone at work knows I am a food and wine blogger.  At Christmas time, Judie, who I work with, brought me a tin of handmade caramels that she told me were a family heirloom.  Her Aunt Mary’s caramel recipe is loved by everyone in her family, but Judie is the only one to carry on the tradition of caramel-making.  Since the caramels were some of the best I have had, I implored her for the recipe, but alas, she would not part with it.

Come January, and my 40th birthday, Judie brought me a mini gift bag with, to my surprise and joy, a copy of Aunt Mary’s Caramel recipe in it.  It is with Judie’s approval that I share the recipe with all of you.

Ingredients:

  • 14-ounce can of condensed milk
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 sticks (½ pound) butter, divided
  • Fleur de sel or gray salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add the condensed milk, corn syrup, brown sugar, cider vinegar and one stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to medium-low and stir constantly for 12 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining stick of butter and bring back to a boil.  Continue cooking at a boil for 13 minutes, or at soft ball stage ~ 245 – 250 degrees F.
  3. Pour mixture into a buttered 8×8 or 7×10 metal pan and allow to cool overnight at room temperature.
  4. Once cooled completely, unmold the caramel onto a cutting board, cut into 1” squares, sprinkle with gray salt (optional) and wrap in wax paper.

Yields about 65 caramel squares.

Notes:  Do not double the recipe.  Make sure you wear a mitt when pouring the hot liquid into the pan to prevent burns from any splattering.

 

 

Easy and Elegant 4-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner

Easy and Elegant 4-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner

Need some inspiration for a romantic meal this Valentine’s Day (or any old day)?  Here are four, simple-to-make dishes along with wine pairings that are sure to show your loved one(s) how much you care.

BONUS – breakfast:  Strawberry and Nutella-Stuffed Crepes

Whichever dish you decide to prepare for your loved one(s) this Valentine’s Day, I hope your meal is paired with love.

Cheers,

Veronique

 

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Photo by Chris Absheer

It is thought the name “Hummingbird Cake” was penned as a result of people ‘humming’ after tasting the scrumptious dessert.  This delicious recipe is provided by St Louis guest blogger, Chris Absheer, who is on a quest to provide decadent desserts that are simple enough for the home baker.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self- rising flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Frosting Directions:

  • 1 pound confectioner sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. milk, more if needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 9 pecan halves

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour three 8” round cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl combine all the cake ingredients.  Stir by hand until smooth.
  4. Divide batter in the three pans.  Bake 26 to 28 minutes, or until cake surface springs back when touched.
  5. Cool cake pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and place on rack until cooled completely.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine confectioner sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk on medium speed until smooth.  If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time.
  2. Frost the cake and decorate with pecans.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

 

 

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Among my circle of friends, I’m typically the one cooking and baking (and loving it).  This weekend, my two girlfriends from Florida, Eileen and Gloriann, came to visit me to help celebrate my 40th birthday.  To their surprise and my amusement, I put them to work to make me a birthday pie.  The recipe below is inspired by a chocolate cream pie by Hershey and it’s delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate and 2 cups milk in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in medium bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining cup of milk and the egg yolks.  Stir the egg mixture into the sugar mixture.   Gradually add the egg and sugar mixture to the saucepan with the warm chocolate.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils, about 2 minutes.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust.  Press a sheet of shrink wrap directly onto the surface of the chocolate mixture to prevent a skin from forming.  Cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
  5. Top the pie with whipped cream before serving.

8 to 10 servings.

 

 

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Chocolate Caramel Tart

{photo by Andre Baranowski, via Saveur}

When Saveur showcased this dessert (from Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons) on its cover, I thought I’d go mad.  Wow, what a beauty!  At a friend’s request, I made it for my New Year’s Eve dinner party and it was as delicious and it is gorgeous.

Originally published in Saveur magazine

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups flour
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
  • 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. crème fraîche

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Gray sea salt for garnish

Crust Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350˚.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer dough to a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Caramel Directions:

  1. In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°.
  2. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and crème fraîche (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.

Ganache Directions:

  1. Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  3. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours.
  4. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.

Serves 8.