Dark Chocolate and Ricotta Pancakes

dark chocolate ricotta pancakes

 

Chocolate or coffee?  Which ingredient controls my mind the most?  Coffee may win out just a hair with its zero-calorie-yet-complex-and-indulgent attribute, but chocolate comes in at a close second.  I received an amazing cookbook for Christmas from Matt.  The Mast Brothers Chocolate cookbook.  It’s stunning.  A voyage in pictures and recipes in the lives of Rick and Michael Mast – two brothers who make and sell chocolate in New York City.  The pictures are dark and stunning and the stories are as wholesome and exciting as the product they sell.  Everything from a sustainable source, every ingredient in their chocolate from a farmer they literally know and have probably had dinner with.  Nothing they do is the easy way out and it’s an amazing way of life to aspire to, and a joy of a book to read through like a novel.

One of the recipes that caught both Matt’s and my eye was the dark chocolate and ricotta pancakes.  I’m usually on the lookout for something special to fix us for breakfast on Saturday and that recipe just jumped off the page.  The picture showed these nearly-burned pancakes (although not burned – just super dark chocolate) and browned butter frothing around the edges.  Sold.  All the recipes in this book (if you can procure some really great chocolate) are simple and straight-forward.  Hardly any recipe takes up more than a paragraph and so it all seems so accessible.  I used Lindt 70%, our favorite dark chocolate that you can actually find in a grocery store.  The results were amazing – your classic chocolate chip pancake bumped up a notch.  Enjoy and take your Saturday morning a bit slower!

Dark Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes*
makes 10-12 small pancakes

3 eggs, separated
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
2/3 cup AP flour
3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with ricotta cheese, milk, sugar, and salt.  Add flour and chocolate and combine.
In a separate bowl using a handheld mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the flour-ricotta mixture.

Melt one tablespoon of butter for each batch of pancakes in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Ladle batter onto pan in 4-inch circles.  When the edges brown and batter bubbbles, flip pancakes.  They are pretty messy, so just do your best.

Serve with maple syrup and a cup of black coffee and rejoice.

*adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

Mexican Dark Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Mexican Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Cream

As I was drifting off to sleep after our New Year’s Eve party, I suddenly shouted out, “Mexican chocolate waffles!  Wouldn’t that be great?! And served with cinnamon whipped cream!”  “or dulce de leche,” Matt said.  YES! It was one of those ideas I knew would work.  I had some Mexican chocolate in our pantry that I hadn’t used, yet, and I usually like to think of a fun breakfast when we are all home together.  So New Years Day seemed like the perfect morning for a fun breakfast, laced with chocolate.

It worked as good as it did in my dream-like state at 1:30 a.m.  The chunks of Mexican chocolate gave the waffles a chocolate/spice/sugar grit throughout, and the waffles were crispy and as I brushed them with melted butter, I knew we had a winner.  I’d recommend these for any time you want something a little out of the ordinary.  The girls at the grocery store seemed to think me mad for buying Ibarra brand instead of Nestle’s Abuelita.  I really am not well versed in Mexican chocolate, but next time, I’ll avoid the scorn and buy Abuelita brand.  However, for tasty little chunks in a dark chocolate waffle, Ibarra worked just great 🙂

You can serve these with the simple cinnamon vanilla whipped cream, or like Matt suggested, I think some warmed dulce de leche would be amazing.  Or even some simple chocolate syrup.  No matter what you do, these waffles stand delicious on their own!

Mexican Chocolate Waffles

Mexican Dark Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream*
makes about 6-8 small waffles, or 4-6 Belgian

3-1/2 oz AP flour (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
1 oz. (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 TBS dark cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large egg, separated
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Ibarra Mexican chocolate (half a baking bar), chopped fine

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 200F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the milks, oil, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract and blend well.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg white with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.   Set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with a few simple stirs, then mix in the chopped chocolate and then gently fold in the egg white until fully incorporated.  Don’t overmix!  The egg white makes these waffles crisp!

Cook the waffles according to your waffle maker directions.  I use a stove-top waffle maker and it takes about 1-2 minutes per side over medium high heat and I use about 1/2 cup waffle batter spread over my waffle iron per batch.

As you bake, place the finished waffles directly on your oven rack to keep crisp and warm until ready to serve.

For the whipped cream: In a tall cup with an immersion blender, or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, blend the heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste and sugar until soft to medium peaks form.  Give a generous dollop per waffle and top with shaved chocolate or cinnamon.  Enjoy!

*base waffle recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Banana Chocolate Bread

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate
We are experts at wasting bananas.  I blame it on the Redhead.  She always says she wants one, takes one or two bites, and then plays with the peel and leaves the rest.  She sometimes takes a bite out of the SIDE of the entire banana, then is done.  I usually cut up the bananas beforehand, but I feel like I’m always a bit of a chump when she asks me for “a big one!” and I give her a whole banana and the situation mentioned above happens every single time.  So, I very often turn left-over bananas into smoothies with a bit of plain yogurt, but by the time I’ve been played twice, I give up offering her bananas, and at least three turn brown before the week is over.

Enter banana bread.  This recipe called for exactly three, old, brown bananas!  I wanted to use up our produce and stuff in the fridge before we left town for Christmas travels because I hate wasting food, and banana bread helped use up those old bananas, my yogurt that was about to go bad, a couple eggs and some milk.  We enjoyed this bread going down the road to Tulsa for snacks and breakfast and it was one of the best banana bread recipes I’ve used.  Obviously, as it came from Cooks Illustrated’s awesome cookbook, The New Best Recipe.  I always feel safe using their recipes.  They had a variation for adding chocolate to their banana bread, and as you may have seen on this blog, I won’t pass up an opportunity to use chocolate in a baked good.

Banana Chocolate Bread

Banana Chocolate Bread
makes one 9″ loaf

2 cups (10 ounces) AP flour, plus more for dusting the pan
10 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped very fine
3 very ripe, large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5″ loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and chocolate together in a large bowl; set aside.

Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a whisk in a medium bowl.  Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky.  Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about an hour.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temp for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

I was paid $25 to make this recipe.  Well, technically,  I was paid about $12.50, because Matt was paid the other half to make a loaf of his awesome bread.  Why?  Because an old co worker from his previous job had a Christmas party to go to and a twenty-five dollar limit to spend on a gift.  So he contacted us and said, “Make a couple things.”  The fun thing about these office party gift-exchanges is that the person whose gift got the most steals, or trades in the game, wins $100.

Gary won.  🙂 So I guess you could say these are $75 brownies.  Or $37.50.   Or probably less, because as I well know, it was most certainly Matt’s bread that won the contest.  Hey, Matt – guess what?  You won 1st place for your bread.  Only this time, instead of a $6 check like at the fair, some other guy got $100.  That’s better, right? 😉

The brownies were indeed, great.  I followed a recipe from Fat Witch Brownies (a most awesome brownie book) for an espresso brownie, and then I thought, “What could make this more show-worthy for a gift exchange?”  Covering it in a rich chocolate ganache!  Then, with some sprinkles of cocoa nibs, these brownies become a huge version of a chocolate-covered espresso bean, which in my opinion, is the ultimate adult candy.  They’re like one big “congratulations” for getting older.

And so are these brownies!  Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies

Chocolate Covered Espresso Brownies*
worth $37.50

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 recipe dark chocolate ganache (see below)
cocoa nibs or crushed up coffee beans for sprinkling

Grease a 9×9″ baking dish with butter.  Dust with flour.  Or use that awesome flour spray.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments, stirring with a rubber spatula after each time, until smooth and melted.

Cream the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, then add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beating until incorporated.

In a small dish, mix the espresso powder with the hot water until dissolved.  Add it to the chocolate mixture and continue to beat until well combined.

Measure the flour and salt and then sift together directly into the batter.  Mix the batter gently until well combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 1 hour.  Make your ganache while the brownies cool.  After they cool, cut them into 16 squares and gently remove and place on a drying rack, or on sheets of waxed or parchment paper.

Dark Chocolate Ganache*
makes 1 cup of goodness from the heavens

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Over medium heat, place the heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove the saucepan from the heat immediately after it has just started to boil.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let them sit for a minute.  Then, with a rubber spatula, gently begin mixing the chocolate in tiny circles in the center of the bowl.  You will think it will never incorporate.  Keep mixing.  You will think your cream wasn’t hot enough.  Keep mixing.  Chocolate demands patience.  Then, just like magic, the chocolate will deepen its color instantly and you will only have a few more stirs, incorporating the sides and scooping down to the bottom of the bowl, to end up with one, big, glossy, gorgeous bowl of thick, dark chocolate ganache.  Take this and spread over the tops and sides of your cut brownies and sprinkle the tops of your brownies with the nibs or crushed beans and let it cool till the ganache firms up.

*both recipes adapted only very slightly from Fat Witch Brownies.  Go buy this book for someone for Christmas.

EAT! ENJOY!

Flourless Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Flourless Cookies
I’m going to post about chocolate, again on Saturday, most likely.  Because a friend from Matt’s old job just paid us $25 to bake him something for their company Christmas party.  We thought it would be last Friday, so I made these flourless chocolate cookies.  You can win any gift exchange or White Elephant situation with chocolate.  Unfortunately (but fortunately) the party was cancelled due to ice and so I had to make a different chocolate indulgence today.  It was hard, but I got through it.

These cold days beckon rich, dark, warm chocolate.  One of my favorite things in the cooking world is the moment when you’re stirring hot cream into chocolate chips and you think it’s never going to melt the chocolate, but then suddenly, a rich pool of blackness forms in the center of the bowl and in about ten more seconds, the whole bowl is transformed into ganache.  This happened, today, as I was making the ganache to go on top of my little brownie creation (to be posted this weekend!) and I found myself grinning like an idiot.  Transforming something good into something even better is one of the perks of working with chocolate.  It never fails to please.

Like these little cookie gems!  Flourless, fudgy, dense, chewy and melty bits of chocolate throughout.  My one and only friend with celiac disease will be so happy 🙂 You’re welcome, Heather.  I can’t imagine a world without flour, but if I had to, these cookies would be repeat visitors to my kitchen, for sure.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Flourless Double Chocolate Cookies*

makes about 2 dozen
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Stir together all of the ingredients till smooth. This is hard.  The batter gets so gluey, you will be certain you have made a mistake.  You haven’t.  Just keep stirring.  If I could do it over, again, I’d use a stand mixer. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again till smooth.
Drop the batter-like dough onto the prepared baking sheets by heaping tablespoons.
Bake the cookies for 8 minutes; they should spread, although mine didn’t much, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.

*recipe from King Arthur Flour

S’mores Pie

S'mores Pie

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did, too!  I got to spend it with my whole family!  Both my brothers came down with their children and with them and my parents, there were 16 of us bedding down in our old childhood home! I got to see my grandmother and my sweet Aunt Mary, too!  I really don’t think I’ve seen that much family in one weekend in several years. It was good for the soul and I don’t feel like I even overate as much as I usually do, which enabled me to enjoy the heck out of this pie I created on Friday night.

S’mores pie!  When we showed Olive s’mores for the first time this summer, we made them with dark chocolate.  I loved the balance the dark chocolate gave to the super sweet marshmallow and graham cracker.  So when thinking of a pie to make for Thanksgiving, I thought of doing the darkest chocolate pie I knew how to do and topping it with my favorite meringue and then torch the heck out of the top.

Best.  Chocolate Pie. Ever.

Seriously, if you want to win some kind of chocolate pie award, this is your pie.  Make it with a traditional crust and serve it with soft whipped cream and that is all you’ll need for ultimate bragging rights.  I nearly skipped out on the meringue, but I wanted that dramatic torched effect so I went with it.  I think if I were to do this pie over, I would give it more s’moresy flavor by just dumping a bunch of marshmallows on top and burning them to a crisp.  Because I’m that s’mores gal – the one who likes to eat slightly sweet bits of char instead of marshmallows.  I’d say most people aren’t like this or don’t have a coal deficiency or whatever, so I erred on the side of not-too-burnt.  The results were great and I will definitely make this pie again at Christmas!

torching the smores pie helping torch the pie
My nephew, Landon, helped me torch it!

aerial s'mores pie

S’mores Pie

2 eggs, beaten
1-5 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS instant coffee granules
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS corn meal
For the crust:
1 and a half packages of graham crackers, crushed fine (12 large)
2 TBS sugar
4 TBS butter, melted
2 TBS water
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, salt and butter until it’s well combined.  If it doesn’t hold together when you press it between your fingers, add the tablespoons of water.  Press into a 9″ pie plate and set aside.
Combine the eggs, evaporated milk and sugars until smooth.  Put the cocoa powder and instant coffee in a small cup and add a tablespoon of water and whip it into a paste.  Whisk this paste into the egg/milk mixture.  Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a microwave at 30 second increments, stirring after each time until completely smooth and glossy.  Add the chocolate and butter to the egg mixture and then whisk in the corn meal until smooth.
Pour into the pie shell and place your pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the middle doesn’t jiggle anymore.  Let the pie come to room temp before making the meringue!
For the meringue:
5 egg whites, room temp (room temp is important)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup water
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil till the temp reaches 250 on a candy thermometer.  While it’s boiling, put the egg whites in a mixer at medium speed and beat with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.  When the sugar is up to temp, remove from heat and while the mixer is going on medium, drizzle the syrup in a very thin stream until completely incorporated and then increase speed to high and whip until the bowl cools down.  This takes a while so be patient.
Assemble!
Dump ALL the meringue on top of your ROOM TEMP pie and with a blow torch (such a great addition to any kitchen) or a dainty creme brulee torch (not as fun) torch the meringue until evenly browned.  If you have neither, you can brown it in the oven under the broiler but you have to be VIGILANT as to not burn the meringue.  A broiler works scary fast.

Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal


Back when I was still a fairly new mom and my night’s sleep was a fun game of Russian Roulette, I started putting my breakfast on the stove the night before so that I wouldn’t have to use my brain in the morning. I bought these fancy steel cut oats and the side of the can said that they would take 40-60 minutes to cook, but THEN, at the very end of the directions, it said, “For quick-cooking method, let the oats soak in water overnight and then boil for 10 minutes.”  This was the answer to needing breakfast after a who-knows-how-much-sleep kinda night!  I would literally add everything to the pot the night before – the butter, the pinch of salt and even stuck my stirring spatula in there so that I would not have to use even one iota of brain cells to make breakfast.

I’ve been doing this a few times a week ever since!  On days that I run out of steel cut, I just use plain rolled oats, except I don’t soak them overnight.  I just like the steel cut – they are chewy and interesting and they don’t turn to glue and mush after they go cold, so they are perfect for making a big batch on Monday and then warming them up with a splash of milk the next day – it’s always a great texture!  Most commonly, I make chocolate oatmeal.  It’s Olive’s favorite and I love hearing her request it the first second she sees me in her room in the morning “Chock-ate oatMEEEEL?!”  I’ll add that recipe to the end of this one for those who saw it in my Week in the Life post!

For today I recreated my favorite dessert bread at our grocery store – Apricot White Chocolate!  I had a little of everything and so I went for it, and it was amazing!  What’s fun about oatmeal is the various toppings you can add – so if you have guests for the weekend, make a huge pot and set out an array of dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruits or syrups and let them add what they want!  Great for kids, for people watching their diet and for picky eaters!
apricot and white chocolate oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal with
White Chocolate, Apricot and Toasted Walnuts

2 cups water
1/2 cup steel cut oats (or one cup of rolled oats and skip the night before step)
pinch of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract
tablespoon of fat – I use butter, but it’s GREAT with coconut oil and it’s probably just fine without it)
splash of milk or cream
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, pecans, almonds – whatever you have on hand

Right after Top Chef is over, before you check Facebook for the 75th time, put a large saucepan on the stove and add the steel cut oats, water, butter, vanilla and salt.  Place a rubber spatula in the pot, too, so you won’t have to think at all in the morning.  Go to bed.
First thing in the morning, or 10 minutes after your toddler starts talking in her crib, turn on the burner to medium-high heat and bring oats to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.  Add a splash of milk or cream if it gets too thick and taste for texture.  If it’s to your liking, remove from heat, place a small portion in a bowl and stick it in the fridge to cool a bit for the toddler while you assemble yours.  Stir in the white chocolate chips till they melt and then top with the dried apricots and walnuts.  Take the kid’s portion out of the fridge, stir again, and then add a few chips so she can stir them around or pick them out herself and discard the rest.  That’s at least how it happened to me.

Chocolate OatMEEEEEEL version:

same as above, except add:

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
sliced banana or dried cranberries

I love banana and chocolate.  Near the end of the cooking time, I add the cinnamon to the pot and stir to incorporate.  I take the pot off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until an adequate darkness is achieved.  This may call for more chocolate.  Because I use 70%, I have no guilt and no shame.  Top with sliced bananas and eat! Sometimes I shake it up and stir in dried cranberries.  The cranberry/chocolate or banana/chocolate combo is always a winner.  Do what you feel with the toppings, but more often than not, we just do plain chocolate oatmeal!  Olive is never disappointed.

Mexican Chocolate and Horchata Risotto

Horchata Risotto
I really can’t think of a better day to make this dish than today.  It’s cold, cloudy and all I want to do is eat complex carbs, sprinkle cinnamon on them and then take a nap.  The other day, I found a recipe in my cute little French non-diet diet book for a simple chocolate rice pudding.  I started improvising and adding cinnamon.  Then more cinnamon.  Then some cream, then more vanilla.  It started tasting exactly like horchata, my favorite Mexican beverage, and I was happy.  I even thought, “Why ruin this horchata by adding the chocolate the recipe calls for?”  So I ladled out half of the rice pudding and added the chocolate to the other half.  Woah.  Insanely good.  The intense cinnamon and vanilla, mixed with the dark chocolate was a revelation.  Such a depth of flavor you wouldn’t really expect from something as seemingly bland as a rice pudding.  It was amazing.  And with just a little extra cream to loosen up the consistency, it was exactly the way risotto should be, only sweet!  Dessert risotto – you heard it here first, folks.  I think it should be a “thing” if it isn’t already.  It’s going to be a “thing” in this house, at least!

Mexican Chocolate Risotto

Horchata/Mexican Chocolate Risotto
serves 4 as a dessert

2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup Arborio rice (this is risotto rice that plumps up and absorbs a lot of moisture.  I’d really recommend not using any other kind)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbs cinnamon
– then, for Mexican Chocolate, stir in 3 ounces dark chocolate chips (the darker the better – I used 70%)

Pour the milk, sugar and salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add the rice and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the milk is absorbed.  You may need to add  a few more splashes of milk or cream to keep the rice creamy.  It may take more time and more milk in order for the rice to not be crunchy anymore.

Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon and taste.  Revel.  Feel happy.  Then, when you’re ready, add in the chocolate to the entire batch or just half, like I did.  Stir until fully melted and incorporated.  Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and a sprinkle of cayenne if you dare.  Serve with a warm cup of hot chocolate and be sure you’re wearing fuzzy slippers.

Enjoy.

Espresso Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Cream

Espresso Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
I’m a pretty big fan of the combination of chocolate and cinnamon.  They compliment each other so well in baked goods and the combination nearly exudes warmth.  This flourless indulgence boasts the rich flavors of espresso, as well.  And if there’s anything the first year of motherhood has taught me, it’s that coffee is from the Good Lord.  Chocolate is, as well, but coffee has really become a friend in need this year.  Together, they have become our go-to desserts.  This cake should be enjoyed with coffee if you are into that kind of supreme happiness.  The original recipe doesn’t call for cinnamon, but lately I’ve been adding it to just about everything including the fresh whipped cream I made for this cake.  I put more cinnamon than I thought I should and it turned out perfect.  And then I sprinkled it with cinnamon.  Maybe I have a deficiency?

Either way – try this cake.  And don’t leave out the whipped cream.  It was extra special.  Happy weekend and happy baking!

Flourless Espresso Chocolate Cake

Flourless Espresso Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Cream*
makes one, 9″ round cake

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for cake pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent cacao, chopped
  • 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbs cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a springform pan. Melt butter and chocolate in a glass or other heat proof bowl in the microwave at 30 second increments until melting and stir together to fully melt and incorporate.  Set aside.

Beat together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add espresso powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and salt; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and melted-chocolate mixture; beat about 1 minute more.

In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase speed to high; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture in 3 batches. Transfer batter to pan and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan; transfer cake to a serving plate. Serve whipped cream alongside cake.  To make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream in a mixer on medium-high until soft peaks form.  Sprinkle in the cinnamon and whip a little longer, but not too long – you want the cream to stay soft, not get clumpy (which happens from too much whipping.)  Serve with coffee and be sure and save some for yourself for breakfast tomorrow!

*adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Cooking on the Road

map

They made up their minds, and they started packing.
They left before the sun came up that day.
An exit to eternal summer slacking,
But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

muffins009

I think we might be crazy.  But we’ve made up our minds to drive from here to Seattle in an RV with some really good friends, good music, and good food.  We’re bringing the coffee maker, some good quality beans and our guitars, so I think we may survive. 🙂  We have  friends who live in Seattle, and so we decided to make the trip part of the vacation.  In preparation for a few days on the road, I decided to get to baking.  No one likes to decide what to have for breakfast, so I took it upon myself to make it a no-brainer.  I consulted Annie’s Eats, of course, because that woman knows how to prepare for anything.  She has a wonderful selection of baked goods on her blog, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her.  (I may be older but that’s not the issue, here.)

I chose from her blog, the peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins,(they looked so great but I refrained from taste-testing) the chocolate cherry muffins and the bacon and cheddar scones.  We were forced to taste-test the chocolate muffins because they looked too chocolately for their own good and so what else were we going to do?  Leave it to chance?!  They can hardly be called muffins, in my opinion.  They are nearly flourless chocolate cakes, but just enough flour to make them decadent brownies.  In fact, next time I want to make brownies, I’m using this recipe.  So they might be more for snack time instead of breakfast.

muffins003

Chocolate Cherry Muffins*
(I doubled the recipe and it turned out great)

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped if desired

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 350º F. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups or grease wells.

In a small heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a small saucepan and melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth and blended. Let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla until light in color and doubled in volume. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the dried cherries. Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the prepared pan and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25-30 minutes.

Makes 7-8 muffins.

*didn’t adapt this at all from Annie’s Eats, except for doubling it and using half dark chocolate, half milk because that’s what I had on hand!

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The scones I prepared up until baking and just froze them raw.  Then, I will put them in that tiny RV oven and add a few minutes on to baking time and we will have an amazing breakfast heading down the road!  I can’t wait for our adventure and I can’t wait for all the amazing food we will try and the sites we’ll see and the memories we will make.  And with any luck, we’ll all still like each other when we get home.  🙂  I’ll be sure and take lots of REAL, non-iPhone pictures and have a few posts about our gastronomical adventures when I return.

Bacon Cheddar Scones*
makes 8-10

For the scones:
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.  (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.

Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture.  Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated.  If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk.  Cut with a 3″ biscuit cutter into 12 circles, place on a greased cookie sheet, wrap in plastic and freeze till ready to eat.  Before baking, remove from freezer, brush with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

*slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

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