Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Death by Chocolate Cookies

I just couldn’t resist! What better dessert for this past Mother’s Day than something chocolate. Of course Bob agreed because he could take some in his lunch everyday.

To make it special, I just served some cookies with vanilla bean ice cream and made a luscious chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top. Enjoy.

Death by Chocolate Cookies

2 packages (16 ounces) semi sweet baking chocolate
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (half a stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop 1 package (8 ounces) of the chocolate, set aside. Melt remaining 8 ounces of chocolate. Stir-in brown sugar, softened butter, 2 eggs and vanilla.

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture. Fold in chopped chocolate and nuts.

Using a cookie scoop, drop cookie dough scoops onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches in between each cookie.

Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are puffed and feel set to the touch.

Cool on wire rack for one minute then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely. Makes about 2 ½ to 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup half and half
1 stick cinnamon
½ disk Mexican Chocolate, chopped

Combine half and half and cinnamon stick in medium sauce pan and heat to scalding. Lower heat and add chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick before using.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chocolate Challah Bread

Chocolate Challah Bread

I wanted to experiment further with my new bread baking exploits. So, without a doubt, I made it chocolate, Mexican chocolate to be precise. My brother Jose is Jewish so I decided to make something in his honor since I couldn’t make it to his 70th birthday celebration.

Using my life-saving (and hand-saving) Kitchen Aid mixer and dough hook, I made this beautiful Challah bread that didn’t last long. The bread isn’t necessarily sweet although it does incorporate some brown sugar and bits of Mexican chocolate, but it was just sweet enough to have with a cup of coffee in the morning. It helped to do a coffee flavored glaze on top for good measure.

I also used a digital scale to measure out the dough to make the three ropes. Last time I tried making a braided bread loaf the various ropes measured differently and gave it a lumpy look.

Next time I intend to try that wonderful Apple Honey Challah that Martha Stewart had in her magazine a few months back. BUT, I think I’ll try it with some dried mango chips and a honey lime mixture instead. Who knows? It might come out pretty tasty.

Chocolate Challah Bread

3 ½ cups bread flour
1 packet (2 ½ teaspoons) of active dry yeast
¼ cup warm (110 degrees) water
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg at room temperature
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped Mexican chocolate, chopped into small bits

Coffee Glaze

1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
4 teaspoons of softened butter
Enough warm water (about 1 or 2 tablespoons) to make the glaze of drizzling consistency
¼ teaspoons instant coffee granules
Dissolve coffee in warm water. Combine all ingredients to smooth consistency.

Combine the yeast, ¼ cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in mixer bowl. Allow to proof for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together flour, cocoa and salt in a separate bowl. In a small saucepan, warm ½ cup water, butter, and brown sugar. Heat until butter is almost melted and temperature reaches 110 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 egg.

Add water mixture to yeast mixture in mixer bowl. Mix (using dough hook) on low just until combined. Add 3 cups of flour. Starting on low speed, incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients. Increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes. Add a little more flour (from the remaining ½ cup) if dough seems too sticky and is not forming into a ball. Add pecans and chocolate bits.

After the mixing (kneading) time, turn dough out onto a floured surface for final kneading. Knead dough by hand a few times until dough feels smooth and elastic.

Oil or butter a large mixing bowl. Place dough into bowl and turn over once to butter the top. Cover and let rise for 1 ½ hours or until double in size.

Punch dough down and turn out onto floured surface. Divide dough into three equal pieces. This is where my new digital scale comes in. The total dough weighed 33 ounces. I divided into three 11-ounce pieces.

Roll out each piece into a long rope. Make sure each piece is of equal length.

Lay out ropes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Braid the ropes and tuck in the end pieces. Cover and allow braid to rise a second time for about an hour.

Make an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water) and brush over the braid.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and then drizzle over the top with Coffee glaze.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Truffles and Lollipops for Valentine's Day

I was caught without a car to go to the store and with weather that was windy, rainy and blustery. So to make something special for Bob as a Valentine’s Day surprise, I had to make do with whatever I had on hand.

I’d come across this recipe from the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade site some time ago and thought I’d put it to good use. Normally truffles are made with good quality chocolate. But there’s nothing wrong with using a chocolate, like Hershey’s, to improvise.

Bob gave it a thumb’s up so they must be good. I can’t always tell with just my own opinion.

The lollipops are also another improvisation. I tried making these at Christmas but found that working with sugar is certainly a difficult thing to do unless you’ve been doing it for a while. In other words, I was just too slow and the candy mixture set too quickly for me to anything with.

This time I had everything ready and actually timed myself to make it happen. Lollipops are so easy and yet so difficult unless you have quick hands and prepare everything in advance, mise en place.

The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need any flavoring oils or coloring gels to make the pops. You use regular old Jell-O. Can you imagine the possibilities? I think I’ll make green (lime) shamrock lollipops for Saint Patty’s Day.

Hershey’s Kiss Truffles

(Inspired by Sandra Lee)

28 dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kahlua
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons whipping cream
10 pieces of chocolate candy (I used Rollos, caramel filled Kisses and M & M’s)
Red and white sprinkles
Cocoa powder

1. Remove wrappers from dark chocolates. Place the chocolates, cinnamon, Kahlua and whipping cream in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50% power) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolates are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Cover; refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until firm.

2. Remove wrappers from other chocolates. Using about 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate mixture for each truffle, shape chocolate around each separate chocolate piece; roll in hand to make ball. (Be sure to cover each chocolate piece completely.) Roll in sprinkles or cocoa powder; refrigerate until ready to serve. For best chocolate flavor, allow truffles to soften at room temperature about 5 minutes before eating.

Red Cherry Lollipops

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 (3-ounce) box cherry gelatin dessert mix
Nonstick cooking spray

Special Equipment:

20 (4-inch) lollipop sticks
Metal tablespoon-size measuring spoon
Candy thermometer


Butter 2 large baking sheets. Arrange 10 lollipop sticks on each baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and butter in small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue cooking for 7 minutes, or until candy thermometer registers 275 degrees F. Stir in gelatin until smooth. Using a metal tablespoon and working quickly, spoon syrup over 1 end of each lollipop stick. (I used heart shaped lollipop molds) Cool completely. Wrap each lollipop in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chocolate Chili and Beer Bread

With the crazy weather in El Paso lately, we’ll been sticking to soups and chili for a while. We have El Paso days with 60 degrees and above weather and we have unseemly cold days with snow, sleet and rain – not El Paso weather at all. With the chill in the air once the sun goes down, all you want to do is warm up. Now’s not really the time for anything served cold.

This recipe, Weeknight Chili with Chocolate, will be included in the new (print) Mi Chita’s Chocolate Recipes book that will come out this year, courtesy of of Copper Canyon Cookbooks (Gloria Chadwick). I’ve made it before but for some reason never got around to posting about it.

As time goes by, I will inform you more about the publishing of the new cookbook. For now, you can still purchase the Mi Chita’s ebook version  via the link on this blog.

Weeknight Chili (with Chocolate)

2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (8 ounce) tomato paste
2 cups water
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
1 12 ounce can of beer
1 to 2 tablespoons masa flour for thickening (optional)
2 cups cooked pinto beans (optional)
Grated Cheddar cheese, minced onions and sour cream as garnish, if desred

Brown ground beef and drain. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add remaining ingredients except for masa and beans. Cook mixture for at least 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Add beans and masa for thickening if desired. Serve hot.

What better way to serve this body-warming chili than with Beer Bread. I won’t lie to you. The bread pictured here actually came from one of those giant “Beer Bread” bottles they sell at gourmet stores. I bought one and stuck it in Bob’s Christmas stocking. It was actually quite tasty. You pour the mix from the bottle into a bowl and add a 12 ounce bottle of beer. Bake it for 45 minutes and it’s done. But I couldn’t give you a picture of the bottle and let it go at that so I found a recipe that might be just as good.

Beer Bread Recipe

There are a few recipes for Beer Bread out there, but none as simple (and tasty!) as this one. You can even mix it in the baking pan for easy clean up. This is sensational when served with soups or just as a snack, but don't expect it to be around very long when your family gets a taste of it!
by Gerald Norman

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can beer
1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients and beer.
Pour into a greased loaf pan.
Pour melted butter over mixture.
Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

I hope you all are staying warm.  Weather patters are a jumble right now and it's only the middle of winter.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kahlua Cake Cookies

Yep! Cookies. I wasn’t quite ready for another cake so soon after the Rum Cake, but since Bob decided he was going to finish off the last of the chocolate chip cookies I made, I decided on Kahlua Cake.

I knew there was a way to turn cake mix into cookie dough and I found it. The ingredients used for the cookies are a little different than for the cake, but the taste is insanely delicious, so I will probably be experimenting on other cake mixes and add-ins for more cookie adventures.

Kahlua Cake

1 box German chocolate cake mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
½ cup Kahlua
1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips or 1 disk of chopped Mexican chocolate
Powdered sugar
Freshly made whipped cream, optional

Mix first six ingredients then add chocolate chips and blend in well. Grease and flour Bundt pan. Pour in batter and bake in 350º F. oven for 1 hour. After cake is cooled, sift powdered sugar on top. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Instruction for Converting Cake Mix into Cookie Dough

Grease a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can also use vegetable oil spray or parchment sheets instead of grease, if desired.

Mix together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mixing the wet ingredients together first helps prevent dry pockets of mix from occurring in your dough.

Add the cake mix to the wet ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. You can use any flavor of cake mix that you prefer. Flavored cake mixes, such as lemon and strawberry, work just as well as the traditional chocolate, white and yellow cake mixes.

Include any optional ingredients at this point. You can add chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, oatmeal, shredded coconut or anything else to make your cookies taste as though they have been made from scratch. Mix well after adding optional ingredients.

Roll the cookie dough into small balls and place them on the greased cookie sheet. You can use a teaspoon to help you make the cookies a uniform size, or may want to use a cookie scoop. Place the cookies at least 1 inch apart to allow for spreading as the cookies bake.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven when they are slightly browned on the bottom and place them on a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating.

Note:  I followed these instructions eliminating the chocolate pudding and sour cream from the basic cake recipe. Instead of adding vanilla to the dough I added 1 (slightly overflowing) tablespoon of Kahlua. Then I continued to shape the cookie balls and bake as directed. It’s kind of Kahlua Cake To-Go. Enjoy.

Bob's given these a thumbs up, so I guess they're pretty good.  I love cookies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pinwheel Cookies

For Christmas I made some Hershey Kiss Cookies for my son and daughter. One batch with pecans one batch without. This is another cookie recipe that my son Mikey likes to have around the holidays. I did make a batch, but Bob kept eating them, so I had to place them in a tin with a big note saying “Do NOT Touch”.

I felt bad about it so I decided to make my honey his own pinwheels. I think I’ll surprise him with a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped off with a couple of these delicious cookies for dessert after dinner tonight. He can take the rest to work with him (or else I’ll just eat them all!)

(BAKER’S Book of Chocolate Riches)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 squares BAKER’S unsweetened chocolate, melted

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing well after each addition. Divide dough in half; blend melted chocolate into one half.

Roll chocolate and vanilla doughs separately between sheets of waxed paper into 12x8-inch rectangles. Remove top sheets of paper and invert vanilla dough onto chocolate dough. Remove remaining papers. Roll up on long side and then wrap in plastic. Freeze for 1 hour. Cut into ¼-inch slices and place on cookie sheets that have been been covered with parchment paper.

Bake at 375-degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or just until cookies have began to brown around edges. Cool on racks. Makes about 4 dozen.

NOTE: I made these with a sprinkle of cinnamon in the vanilla dough and used almond flavoring in both vanilla and chocolate doughs. I wanted to use Mexican chocolate, but I would have had to reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe and I have not experimented yet to see by how much. So for now, I just gave it the flavor essence of Mexican chocolate.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mexican Coffee Fudge

I know it's crazy.  It's past the holidays and I'm still craving chocolate.  But hey, I've lost 14 pounds over the last 4 months, so a little more chocolate isn't really going to hurt.  All things in moderation!

Look at that silky smoothness of the fudge.  AND I didn't even use marshmallows to make it.  A while back I realized I had accumulated way too many food and cooking magazines.  It kills me to give them away or to throw them out GASP!!!  But, in order for me to buy anymore, I really do have to weed out some of the ones I do have.

I found a couple of CHOCOLATIER magazines that I hadn't leafed through for a while and I found this little Mexican Coffee Fudge recipe.  A few ingredients (no marshmallows) a little time and TADA! you have delicious fudge cut into little pieces that you can eat without feeling guilty (like when you eat a big old slice of cake).    The only adaptation I made to the recipe was to reduce the amount of milk from 1 cup to 3/4 cup and add some Mocha Kahlua for the other 1/4 cup.  Came out really tasty.

It's a recipe you might want to keep in mind as Valentine's Day rolls around.  Enjoy.

Mexican Coffee Fudge
(Inspired by a recipe found in a 2005 CHOCOLATIER Magazine)

2 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup Mocha Kahlua Liqueur
3 cups granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped

Butter an 8–inch square baking dish and set aside.

Dissolve the espresso powder and cinnamon in 3 teaspoons of hot water. Stir until a paste forms. Set aside.

In heavy bottom saucepan heat milk, Kahlua, sugar, butter and chocolate over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Do not stir or scrape down sides.

Lower heat and add a candy thermometer. Heat without stirring until mixture reaches softball stage – 238 degrees F.

Remove from heat; allow to cool to 110 degrees F. and then with a spatula scrape in espresso mixture.

In an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat mixture until it loses its gloss and thickens.

Spread fudge evenly into prepared 8-inch square pan. Let cool 20 minutes and cut into small squares.

Note:  I just added some craisins on the plate cause I was snacking on some.


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