Tag Archives: chocolate

40 by 40

30 Dec

Because I’m not busy enough, I let myself be goaded into one of these birthday 40 by 40 challenges – no, it’s not to lose 40 pounds by the time I’m 40, or do some sort of amazing feat of fitness like running 40 races.  While that would be a wise move, it’s nearly the opposite.  Although, maybe if I do both 40s by 40 I’ll unlock some sort of rockstar status life badge.

What I really suck at – is baking.  Well, anything involving following rules and having patience really.  So, you know, baking, candy making – that sort of thing.  I have plenty of exhibits to share with the jury, but just take my word for it.  I have more baking failures than I do successes.  This is all odd since I loved science and performing experiments in school, but for some reason, I cannot slow down and follow the instructions necessary for flawless baking.

And so, likely to benefit himself really, my husband challenged me to bake 40 things by the time I’m 40 (we agreed this could include candy making).  This might just be because he got me two new baking cookbooks for Christmas and this challenge makes them that much more relevant, or maybe because he loves baked goods, but it still seems like a fun way to challenge myself and learn a new skill in the process.  Maybe I’ll EVEN learn patience – but that seems less likely.  And so, with a pile of baking books, and a list of things to try on Pinterest (and even in the archives of this blog) a mile long, I set out. . .just like Frodo. . .to cast my burden into the fire and hopefully emerge with perfect fudge. . .


First Up: Fudge

For my mother, it’s just not fudge if it’s not Fantasy Fudge.  I would argue, but since I made this with her in mind, it just made sense to provide her with what she wanted and save any holiday disappointments.

Because Fantasy Fudge is a Kraft Foods recipe, and features all of their own stuff, I felt safe in straying a little bit from their recipe (I realize this is awfully cheeky for my first foray into following directions, but what can I say).  You will also note that my version is walnut free.  To each their own

  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli chips)
  • flaky sea salt for finishing


Line 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides.
Bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to full rolling boil in 3-qt. saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until melted. Add vanilla; mix well.

gearing up


Pour into prepared pan; spread to cover bottom of pan. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt for a super delicious salty punch.  Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift fudge from pan before cutting into 1-inch squares.
And because I’m a real wild child, I also made a peppermint version for the first time.  Same as above, but I swapped out the 1 tsp of vanilla for 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp peppermint extract; and topped with crushed candy cane instead of salt.  Winner!  There was a BIT of grit to the fudge – I have never been able to make it perfectly smooth, even when using a candy thermometer, but I didn’t mind the bit of grit at all really, and neither did anyone else based on how quickly it disappeared.

fudgey goodness


10 Nov

No, not that kind.  And not the real stuff either.  The CANDY stuff.  After having this in Colorado last Christmas, and determining it is very similar to a Violet Crumble or maybe more like a Crunchie, both of which are delicious and remind certain people of their home country, it was only a matter of time before our household became filled with honeycomb connoisseurs.  Patrick is the expert maker, I’m the expert taster (some recipes leave you with an awful, bitter, baking soda flavor which is GOOD TO NO ONE), and Stitch is the expert who looks longingly up at Patrick hoping that once all is said and done it will result in something to crunch on adorably under the dining room table.

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 generous tbsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate
  • Spray a non-stick cookie sheet with spray on oil of your choice.

    Combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, and ¼ cup water in a large saucepan. We actually use a big old soup pot because once you add the baking soda it poofs up to like, three times the size. Not so convenient for the usage of the candy thermometer, but much better than getting hot sugar all over the stove. Stir the ingredients together until the sugar is completely moistened. Using a wet pastry brush, wipe the sides of the saucepan to remove any stray sugar crystals.

    Insert a candy thermometer and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, without stirring, I know it’s tempting, until the temperature reaches 300 degrees.

    Then, remove it from the heat and add the baking soda all at once. Immediately whisk the candy to incorporate the baking soda, and now is when you’ll be glad you listened to me about the super big pot. Hot sugar is HOT. And then STOP whisking! Pour the candy onto the cookie sheet and don’t touch it or you’ll deflate it. It’ll still taste good, but it’ll be a little bit flat. You could also use some other vessel that had a smaller base and higher sides, but that just seems too difficult. When you’re working with hot sugar, you just want to deal with it quickly and get away. And please, do NOT think that while the whisk has been out for a while but the candy is still soft that it’s okay to press your tongue to it for a lick because surely it has cooled down by now. YOU WILL REGRET IT. Wait until it’s completely hardened and cool, and then break it into small pieces (or scrape it off the whisk with your teeth). We usually just whack the cookie sheet against the counter.

    You can eat it just like that, and probably will, while you dip the rest.

    While the candy is cooling, melt the chocolate in the microwave (30 second intervals, stirring in between) until smooth, then dunk your candy pieces into it. If you’re fancy, you can sprinkle a little fleur de sel on top because salt and chocolate, well, salt and sweet really, are secret lovers and you will not regret it.

    More s’mores

    8 Aug

    Maybe it’s just because it’s summer, but I’m being drowned in an avalanche of s’more inspiration.  I’m certain there are worse ways to go, but in an effort to empty my mind of its marshmallow madness, I figured a post was in order.

    It all started with Martha, as it seems to do.  I mean, how I can go on living without making my own graham crackers with cute little star cutouts in them for the marshmallow to ooze through and get all over your fingers I just don’t even want to know.

    Photo: Johnny Miller, from MarthaStewart.com

    AND THEN . . .to celebrate the promotion of a coworker, Sprinkles damn cupcakes arrived, and they had a s’more one, which was made just exactly how I have mentally made them many a time: a layer of graham on the bottom, chocolate cake, with a bruleed marshmallow frosting.  The graham though?  Was salty, and therefore, like heaven.  Salty grahams are where it’s at.

    S’mores pudding parfait from Foodnetwork.com

    AND THEN . . . Sandra Lee appeared on my television this morning, telling me about her S’mores Pudding Parfait, and that got me thinking.  I mean, her recipe looked a bit, well, awful, but what if I just took that idea, along with the salty grahams, and heck, if I’m making those ones Martha told me about, I’ll have those cute little star shaped middles and off cuts that will make perfect crumble fodder, well, two birds you see.

    So, follow me down this path, and we’ll end up in a delicious cloud of s’mores two ways – one for by the campfire, and one for when you get home and realize you still want s’more (I had to).

    For the grahams, we’ll listen to Martha, but maybe kick up the salt a little bit:

      • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
      • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
      • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt (3/4 tsp sounds better)
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
      • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
      • 2 tablespoons honey
      1. Whisk together flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
      2. Beat together butter, sugar, and honey with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; beat until combined.
      3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface, and divide in half. Roll out each dough half to 1/8-inch thickness, and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out squares with a 3-inch fluted square cutter. Cut a star out of the center of half the cookies using a 1 1/2-inch star cutter. Reroll scraps once, and repeat.  And now, don’t you go throwing those scraps away! Those will be the crumble for our next dessert.
      4. Place squares 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, keeping cookies with cutouts together. Refrigerate until very firm, about 15 minutes.
      5. Bake cookies until dark brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through (star cookies take about 1 minute less). Let cool on sheets 10 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.
      6. Make your s’mores as you will, hanging on to all of those delicious scraps and any cookies that break up on ya in production or transport.

    Once you’re home, and clean, and you’ve checked for ticks and emptied out the cooler (I’ll wait. . . . ), and you’re ready for round two, here is what I’m proposing. Remember that amazing 5 day chocolate ice cream I made? That started with a pot de creme base? Well, what if that, married your graham crumbles, with either a bit of homemade marshmallow fluff if you’re feeling like Martha Stewart herself, or your trusty store bought standby (which you probably have in your pantry, with smudges of Nutella all over the top if your household is anything like mine) if you’ve already made enough stuff from scratch.  I know which way I’m leaning at the moment, especially if I’ve just finished putting away all that camping gear.

    In any case, pot de creme + fluff + graham crumble + pot de creme + graham crumble + fluff + torch time = s’more parfait incroyable.  Hope to update this post with photos of the finished product by the end of the summer (which here in Northern California is October).  Stay tuned!

    Five Day Chocolate Ice Cream

    12 Jul

    Much like the $5 shake, this ice cream recipe professes to be worth it.  Now, I have never made chocolate ice cream before.  All sorts of fun, and various flavors, yes, but just plain old, blow your socks off chocolate?  Never.  I have also never made custard before.  I have used a double boiler to melt chocolate.  I have whipped egg yolks and sugar into ribbons.  I have made hot chocolate with cocoa powder and milk.  I have made caramel.  Yet altogether, these steps seemed so daunting!

    Friends, what an undertaking.  It nearly took me five days just last night to get through all the steps.  I certainly dirtied every surface and bowl and utensil in the kitchen in my efforts.  (admission: I burned my first batch of caramel because I was distracted watching this, and please let the records show that we can confirm that I do not like Tori Spelling.  What a condescending brat she is as a host.  Also, glitter!  Woo!)

    Some things I can tell you.

    • If your Kitchen Aid standing mixer is like mine, it does not appear that the whisk attachment really gets in there to involve itself with the sugar and yolks.  It just sort of skips across the top of it.  Well, not if you turn it up to 10.
    • Melting chocolate makes boyfriends and dogs come into the kitchen to see what’s up and hang about begging to lick some spoon or whisk or bowl ANYTHING with chocolate on it.  Use that knowledge as you will.
    • The part about letting the custard come up to 175?  Takes.  For.  Ever.  Like, “am I doing something wrong here” amounts of time.  Maybe I did something wrong.
    • Don’t take your eyes off the caramel.  As soon as you do, it will burn, and then you have to find somewhere safe to pour the molten lava so you can use the same pot again (bully for you if you have many acceptable pots you can use; I do not).
    • Add salt.  Like, a big ol’ pinch of fleur de sel if you’ve got it.  Or some other yummy, big, flakey salt.  It just does something.  I for one, do actually like to be able to JUST make out the salt flavor.  I don’t want a mouthful of chocolate sea water, but I love that little hit of salt in something that you expect to just be sweet (please see also, chocolate chip cookies, and caramel).  Espresso powder is also good, since anything with chocolate seems to benefit insane amounts from having a little espresso powder in it.  I was all out, or I would’ve.  I suppose you could crush up some chocolate covered espresso beans to stir in as you make the ice cream too – yum.
    • I didn’t have dark enough chocolate – just dark chocolate, not EXTRA dark (only 50something% in mine).  It’s good, but I think the extra dark would be better.
    • I will certainly try serving it with a drizzle of caramel and another pinch of fleur de sel.  You had better believe it.  Thanks for that obsession, Pizzeria Picco. (and Bill & Krysta)

    Chocolate Ice Cream

    7 ounces dark chocolate (70% to 75% cacao), finely chopped
    2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
    1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    6 large egg yolks
    13 tablespoons sugar, divided
    1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

    Place chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Set melted chocolate aside; let cool slightly.

    Whisk milk and cocoa powder in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat until mixture begins to boil; set aside.

    Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 7 tablespoons of sugar in another medium bowl until very thick ribbons form, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add hot milk mixture to egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Add melted chocolate and whisk to blend. Stir over low heat until slightly thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 175° about 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate custard to a large bowl and place over another large bowl of ice water. Stir until chocolate custard is cool.

    Bring remaining 6 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water to a boil in a small heavy, deep saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush (do not stir), until a dark amber color forms, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk caramel into chocolate custard. Strain into a large container; cover and chill for 2 days.

    Process custard in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to another container; freeze for 3 days before eating. DO AHEAD: Ice cream can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.


    Anyone know why they’d suggest that I keep the custard in the fridge for two days?  Because all it accomplished was that I snuck spoonfuls of it out of the bowl for two days.  In any case, I would’ve taken photos for you, but it disappeared far too quickly.  I saved one pint for a dinner with friends, and served it with caramel and fleur de sel on top (and HOLY MOLY it was delicious).  The other, not quite a pint, got a swirl of mini peanut butter cups and peanut butter swirled through for Patrick.  I don’t even have to tell you that that one was delicious as well.

    Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

    7 Feb

    While not “healthy” I’m sure, these gluten free (and fairly South Beach friendly) cookies from Elana’s Pantry were MUCH better than I had feared – delicious even.  This recipe made about 20 cookies, which five of us devoured while warm and falling apart, and continued to devour over the next day.  To stay a bit more SB, I did not use the white chocolate, and only kind of used milk.  I used nearly a full bar of Ghiradelli 70% dark, and a bar of Scharffenberger Extra Rich Milk (one of our faves, and not strictly just milk, because it’s extra rich, see).  So like I said, not necessarily healthy, but super rich and delicious – you could just have one and be satisfied because they’re so decadent (though having three is always more fun. . . . . )

    2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
    ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder (I used Ghiradelli)
    ½ teaspoon sea salt (her recipe called for Celtic sea salt, but I had fleur de sel from France which I used – in fact, I might even add a little extra next time)
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    ½ cup vegan palm oil shortening (I didn’t have this, so I used 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c canola oil)
    ¼ cup honey
    3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
    3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

    1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour and cacao powder
    2. Stir in salt and baking soda
    3. In a medium bowl cream together shortening and honey
    4. Stir wet ingredients into dry to combine
    5. Fold in all chocolate chips
    6. Scoop dough 1 tablespoon at a time onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets
    7. Flatten dough with the palm of your hand
    8. Bake at 350° for 7 to 10 minutes
    9. Cool and serve

    Makes 24 cookies



    Peanut Butter S’more bites

    13 Sep

    Oh Sunny Anderson.  Sometimes you just speak to me so directly.  With summer drawing to a close, and me having had very few s’mores this season, it’s nice to know I can bring it all back (plus peanut butter!) as the year wears on.

    2 cups crunchy peanut butter
    1 1/2 sticks of butter
    5 cups powdered sugar
    24 oz (4 cups) milk chocolate chips, melted
    2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    1 cup marshmallow fluff
    1 cup coconut flakes (optional)
    2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies (optional)

    In a large bowl, add the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar and beat with a whisk or electric beater until smooth. Using a teaspoon measure, scoop the mixture and form into balls, then press into a coin shape the diameter of a quarter. Refrigerate to set up dough cookies, about 30 minutes.

    To make bites, dip peanut butter coins in melted chocolate then toss in graham cracker crumbs until coated, double dip and double coat if you feel dangerous. Arrange the coated coins on a wire rack and refrigerate for about 30 more minutes to set. Add the marshmallow fluff to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Remove the coins from the refrigerator and squeeze about 1 teaspoon of marshmallow fluff into the center of half of the coins. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a plastic bag, fill it with fluff and cut 1 corner off and dollop that way. Then top each half with another coin to make a sandwich and place return to the refrigerator to set, about 1 hour.

    Options: chop coconut flakes and add them to the graham cracker crumbs to use for coating.

    Add puffed rice cereal into the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar for a bit more texture and crunch.