Posts Tagged ‘chocolate

06
Nov
11

On Board the Crazy Train of Inspiration

Inspiration. I love that word. I love the idea of inspired thoughts and action. As human beings we are inspired by our world around us, every day, every moment. We just have to be aware of it.

For example, a few weeks ago as I was quickly breezing through the produce department on my way to the time clock, I overheard a snatch of a conversation between two co-workers. They were talking about Ozzy Osbourne. Bam! It hit me. I knew what I was going to be for Halloween this year. It was that simple and inspired.

Vampire Gran as Ozzy

Ozzy as Ozzy

A little scary

I’m not the only one lookin’ a little old

This was everyone’s favorite shot

Looking at some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl this morning, I knew some baking had to occur today. Would it be muffins or waffles? I’ve fallen in love with two recipes lately and have been making them weekly. The muffins won the mental coin toss, so I commenced to prepare the pan, mash bananas, and gather my ingredients. The last time I made these muffins I added some sweetened flaked coconut. Everyone raved. I always put chopped nuts in the muffins, usually walnuts or pecans. Inspiration reared up and the bright light came streaming in. I heard the faint angelic voices in my head sing out in unearthly splendor. What if I add cocoa powder today? Chocolate, coconut and pecans = German chocolate goodness. German Chocolate Banana Muffins!

 

Holy breakfast break though, Batman! These are some fantastic treats. But are they really muffins? Or are they naked cupcakes? Cuppins? Muffcakes? (oh, that sounds kinda naughty). Breakfast cupcakes? Whatever we call them, they are inspired goodness. You be the judge.

German Chocolate Banana Muffins

1 ¾ cups spelt flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt (Kosher or sea salt)

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 ½ cups ripe mashed bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)

2/3 cups pure maple syrup

1/3 cup canola, sunflower or extra virgin coconut oil, melted

½ cup chocolate chips (use dairy free if making vegan muffins)

½ cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375° Prepare 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or light coating of oil

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cocoa powder in large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl mash bananas, oil, and maple syrup together.

Stir wet into dry ingredients until just mixed. Add chocolate chips, pecans and coconut.

Divide evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container for up to 3 days. These freeze beautifully. Double wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer Zip Lock baggie.

Crazy full of chocolaty coco nutty Germany goodness

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28
Jan
11

Triple Chocolate Threats

Evil temptress chocolate treat

 

Sometimes I question which is it that I am most addicted to, the consumption of sugary

goodness or the creation of such treats?  I enjoy both, but if I had to choose but one, I’m

pretty sure that creation would win.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I would have a really hard

time shaking the sugar monkey off my back.  He’s been with me for deep.  But, I know I could

do it.  I’m just not ready yet.

Now, the thought of never baking another cake, cookie or pie strikes fear into my very soul.

Severe depression would be inevitable if I could never bake again.  Ya’ know, let’s just

not go down that path.

Many posts ago I shared a recipe and pictures of Lemon Coconut Pixies.  The recipe came from

the Hershey Company.  I have a recipe tin that was given to me as a birthday gift in 2009

and it sat on our kitchen counter for 10 months  before I ever made anything from it.  That

post was 13 months ago, so it’s time for another recipe from the tin.

HERSHEY’S Triple Chocolate Cookies

48 Hershey’s Kisses Milk chocolate or Milk Chocolate with Almonds (that’s what I used)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened (I used butter, of course)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa (I used cocoa powder form that bulk bins at WinCo)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips ( I used Safeway brand)

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

What else was I going to do with all this candy left over from Christmas? I did play poker with it the night before I baked the cookies!

 

Mmmmm.......chocolate!

Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium

speed in a large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs and milk; beat well.
3.  Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture,

beating until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

Make all the comments you want, it still tastes good

 Shape dough into 1 inch balls. 

Oven bound

Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Fresh out of the oven and hot

4.  Bake 10 – 11 minutes or until set. 

Press kisses into the center of each cookie while still hot

 Gently press a chocolate into center of each cookie.  Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

VARIATION:  For vanilla cookies, omit cocoa powder and add an additional 1/3 cup all-purpose flour.

I made the recipe verbatim, but I wanted to see how they would look with a little added sparkle.  I rolled the dough balls in granulated sugar before I baked another round.  Here is what that looked like.

Roll in granulated sugar for added sparkle

Both versions taste great. 

So good when they're still warm. The chocolate kiss in the center and the chocolate chips are all soft and gooey.

I can clearly state, with authority, that these are delicious.   After all, chocolate, chocolate AND chocolate?  How could they not be tasty?  These beauties will be added to my chorus line of confection.

Oh, great!  One more sweet memory to send packing with that monkey.

30
Aug
10

Zucchini Zombies

“Lock your door” advises my little old lady and gardener extraordinaire next-door-neighbor.  “Don’t answer the door during zucchini harvest.”  Why not?  Are there Zucchini Zombies that I am unaware of?  Will they be shuffling down the middle of the street, lugging baskets full of the dreaded green phallic vegetable?  Will they be scratching and thudding  their grubby dead hands on our doors and windows trying to force us to eat our vegetables? 

Well, all I’m sayin’ is, if you hear something mucking about on your front porch, you best answer the door.  Yours truly, Vampire Gran, could be standing there with a tray of these: 

 

I have admitted in the past to zucchini being one of my least favorite vegetables and now I am literally eating my words.  Or at best, I am eating the zucchini from our garden.  Oh, I am fixing it in healthy ways for meals, but I just can’t help adding sugar and chocolate to it and baking it into something delectable, like these Chocolate Zucchini Walnut cupcakes. 

Dude, look at these things!  They are so moist and oh, so bitable! 

Lick the frosting. Lick it, I say!

Go to this post, Vampire Gran’s Perfect Chocolate Cake and get the recipe for the cupcake base, then add 2 cups of shredded zucchini and 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  Line your muffin pan with cupcake papers, scoop in the batter about 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes.  Toothpick inserted into the center of cake should come out clean when done.  Cool on rack.   They are the perfect foil for cream cheese frosting.  

Now, here’s another “grate” way to use zucchini.  Today I made some savory muffins to enjoy with our Sunday brunch on the deck.  Look at this plate and tell me it doesn’t make you just a little bit hungry. 

Now, that’s a healthy brunch

I whipped up a tofu scramble using fresh tomatoes, peppers and leeks from our garden.  The yellow stuff is polenta with butter and pure maple syrup drizzled over the top, a bit of sweet cantaloupe and a zucchini basil muffin. 

Very similar to a popover, but more sturdy

  

ZUCCHINI BASIL MUFFIN 

2 cups all purpose flour 

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped 

2 eggs, slightly beaten 

1 cup buttermilk 

3 oz butter, melted 

2 medium zucchini, shredded 

1/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into large mixing bowl.  Add basil and mix.  Make a well in the center of the bowl.  Combine eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and zucchini in another bowl.  Pour zucchini mixture into the well and mix just until all of the dry is incorporated with the wet ingredients.  Batter will be lumpy. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Either grease a 12 cup muffin pan well, or use paper liner.  Evenly divide your batter among the twelve cups.  Top with chopped walnuts.   Bake for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for about 5 minutes before enjoying. 

Well, I better be shuffling off now.  I’ve got a basket I need to haul down the street.  Oh, what do vegetarian zombies eat?  GRAAAAAINS!

My GranSon - cute, ain't he?

04
May
10

For the Record, This One takes the Cake!

It’s been a year exactly to this date since I posted the Elephant Cupcake entry.  Who knew that post would become, up until the triple evil devil cake, my most viewed entry?  As of today, that post has had 2,008 visits. Amazing!  In 1 week, my triple evil devil cake had 3,410 visits.  Even more amazing!  But, I digress.  Some of you may remember those elephant cupcakes.  They were pretty dang cute.  I’ve linked that post for the rest of you, or those who have already enjoyed it, to refresh your memory.   But that’s not the point of this post. 

I was once again hired to create something fun and different for Celia’s 4th birthday.  Her third birthday party theme was “Zoo Animals,” hence the Elephant Cupcakes.  She’s growing up fast and more sophisticated.  This year I was handed the theme “Dance Party/DJ.”  Albeit the dancing we’re talking about here is the Hokey Pokey and Musical Chairs, I believe I came up with a real winner this time. 

That's right, I have my own record label!

Miss Celia wanted her own chocolate cake for herself and her friends.  The vanilla and red velvet cupcakes were for the grown-ups and babies at the party. 

So, I made a record cake.  Four layers of chocolate buttermilk cake, each with an alternating color of frosting in between to match the frosting on the cupcakes.  The label was made from Wilton’s Pink Candy Melts.  I melted the pieces down over a water bath, then poured it into a stainless steel ring mold and let it set.  Before it hardened all the way, I used a pastry tip to create the center hole.  The ring was placed on a Silpat, so the label had a nice texture to it.  I’m not giving away all of my secrets here, so I’m not telling how I got the printing on the label.  A girl’s gotta have some mystery, ya’ know. 

The whole spread

Katie and I had a lot of fun with this photo shoot.  It’s a good thing we have tons of vinyl in our massive music room and concert quality speakers, to boot! 

Hand made treble clefs visually imply music

I’m sure glad I paid over $19,000 for culinary school.  How ever would I learn to temper chocolate without that training?  But temper chocolate I did and made these treble clefs and a few musical notes to top each of the cupcakes. 

Here's a pretty pink one

When Celia saw the cupcakes, the first words out of her little mouth were “Music!”  What a sweetheart.  The next utterance was, “I want that pink one!” 

I don’t know if you noticed, but all of the cupcake papers are blue, pink and green to co-ordinate with the frosting colors.  I do like to pay attention to all of the details. 

A nice shot of the blue ones

A fun shot of the green ones

I couldn’t help but notice as I’m putting this piece together that the treble clefs on both center cupcakes are dyslexic!  Guess I’m not quite as detail oriented as I fancied myself to be.  Opps! 

I thought I got them all right but, no, there's a dyslexic one in there too. Oh, snap!

One last look, just for fun

This total project was pure joy for me.  Lots of work but totally worth it, even down to the photo shoot.  Katie and I had a blast picking out the different albums to use.  Check and see if you recognise any.  I’m sure you will.  And yeah, the music was blasting the whole time.

02
Oct
09

Chocolate Banana Toasted Hazelnut Ice Cream

I had surgery on Tuesday.  I am not telling you this to illicit any sympathy from my readers.  No, it’s just the prelude to this next recipe.  Anyway, in preparation for said surgery, I made sure to lay into my pantry the necessary ingredients for my comfort food.  Cheddar cheese, bread, butter, dill pickles, tomato soup, crackers, etc.  I really looked forward to my meal of grilled cheese and dill pickle sandwich with tomato soup and crackers.  For me, this is the ultimate recovery food I crave.

I also made a special treat that may well become my new comfort food.  Home made chocolate banana ice cream with toasted hazelnuts.  So rich and decadent.   We had to eat a little the night before the surgery, just to make sure it had healing abilities, ya know?

When I was being prepped for the surgery, I found myself babbling to the nurse about this ice cream.  I know I saw her salivating in my mind. 

You know when you come out of the anesthetic and start talking nonsense?  Not me, I started telling the recovery nurse all about the ice cream that I was going to eat.  I described it to her in great detail.  How I made it.  All about my Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment.  Oh, she got her ice cream lesson for the day.

Later that evening, Katie scooped up that frozen delight and topped it with perfectly sliced banana and toasted hazelnuts.  We enjoyed that recovery treat, cuddled up on the couch, watching a silly movie and I started to feel much better.  It was either the ice cream or all those pain meds……….

Best recovery food ever!

Best recovery food ever!

 

CHOCOLATE BANANA TOASTED HAZELNUT ICE CREAM

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (75% cocoa solids)

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

2 ripe bananas

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

Put the milk and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate.  Let sit for 10 minutes to allow chocolate to melt and then stir until mixed.

Beat egg yolks with sugar until light and fluffy.  Pour chocolate mixture over the eggs and pour combined mixture back into the pan.  Stir over gentle heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Allow to cool.

Once cooled, pour into food processor or blender along with cut up banana.  Blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until cold.

Lightly whip cream and stir into chilled chocolate banana mixture.  Place in ice cream maker and churn until thick and frosty.  Add chopped toasted hazelnuts the final few minutes of churning.  Put in container and freeze for at least two hours.  Allow to sit out for about 10 minutes before serving.

24
Sep
09

Ganache Topped Mocha Cheescake

What can I say?

What can I say?

I love to barter.  The idea of trading talents goes back to the beginning of time.  Imagine if we did not have to depend on money to get the goods we needed or wanted.

I love farmers markets.  All of the fresh produce and home made baked goods cry out to me.  The live music, ethnic food and beverages turn an ordinary Sunday morning into a party every week.

One Sunday we were chatting with a vendor who owns Dante’s Pesto. I happened to mention to him that I am a pastry chef and he became quite excited.  “Do you barter?” he asked me.  “Sure, what do you want?” “Do you make cheesecake?” “Of course, what kind so you want?”  Without hesitation, he blurted out “Mocha cheesecake covered in chocolate!  This guy was serious about his cheesecake.  I told him I would bring him one the following weekend in exchange for $30.00 worth of pesto.  Deal!  The above picture is my part of the barter.

Mocha Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate cookies

1 cup sugar

3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

1 # cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream or mascarpone, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, room temperature

pinch of salt

1/4 cup espresso

1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

 

Prepare 9″ cake pan:  Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of pan.  Spray pan liberally with non-stick spray and place parchment paper into pan.  You may use a spring form pan if you prefer (I can’t stand them for cheesecakes!!) just be sure to double wrap with heavy duty foil before placing in water bath.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter in small bowl.  Press into the bottom of prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees.

Beat cream cheese and sour cream or mascarpone in a food processor or with an electric mixer until smooth and lump free.  Add sugar, egg, and salt and continue mixing.  Add espresso and melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.

Pour cream cheese mixture over baked crust.  Place pan in a larger roaster type pan and add water until it reaches half way up the side of the cheesecake pan.  Bake in preheated 200 degree oven for 2 hours.  This low temperature and longer baking time keeps the cheescake from developing those annoying cracks in the center.

Allow cheesecake to cool on the counter until it is cool enough to wrap with plastic and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.

 

Remove cheesecake from refrigerator.  Cover a dinner plate with plastic wrap, make sure it is pulled taut.  Turn on your gas or electric burner.  Warm the bottom of the pan to warm the cheesecake slightly so it will release from the pan.  It may take several turns at the burner until it reaches this point.  Make sure you don’t just sit the pan on the burner.  Hold it over the heat, close enough so it will warm the pan.  I set my pan on the electric burner and spin it slowly, always keep it in motion.  Do this if you are comfortable with this method.  Place plastic covered plate on top of cake pan and invert.  The cake should slide out of the pan.  If it does not, go back and heat again.  If you have a blow torch, you can skip the stove method and just heat the pan bottom after you have inverted it onto the plastic covered plate.  Place serving plate on top of crust and turn back to upright position.  If the plate sticks to the top of the cheesecake, remove the plate from the plastic and peel the plastic off the cake.   Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator until you are ready to top it with the ganache.

Ganache

1 # bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup heavy cream 40% fat

1 TBSP corn syrup or glycerine

Combine the ingredients in  double boiler and melt over simmering water until completely smooth.  Let sit, stirring occasionally, until the ganache is thick enough to pipe.  This does not happen quickly, so please be patient.  Using a star tip and pastry bag, decorate the top of the cake.

I wish I had a little video to insert in here so I could demonstrate how I did the top.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble or are unsure of how this is done, you can opt for just pouring the thickened  ganche over the top and smoothing it with an offset spatula.

  

 

 

 

23
Sep
09

Vampire Gran’s Perfect Chocolate Cake

Perfect Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

Perfect Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

I received a comment on my last post asking for my Chocolate Cupcake recipe.  I like to share and am pleased to pass this recipe on to my blog fans and followers.

Vampire Gran’s Perfect Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

.75# AP flour

.75# granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp vanilla

3/4 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup HOT strong coffee

Sift over mixing bowl flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Using an electric mixer, add oil and mix.  It will be a dry paste.  Stir eggs and vanilla together and add to the mixing bowl.  Mix in buttermilk.  Scrape bowl often.  Carefully and slowly, add hot coffee, a small amount at a time.  The batter will be very thin.  Be sure the bowl is well scraped and all of the solids have mixed in smoothly.

Using a 1/4 cup disher, portion out into paper lined cupcake pans.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 23 – 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Makes approximately 24 medium cupcakes.




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