Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

One year anniversary!

December 6, 2009

Basically Baked turns one year old today! I’ve enjoyed connecting with those of you who take the time to leave a comment and I enjoy visiting the blogs of those of you who author them.

To celebrate the anniversary I made the Chocolate Bon Bon Drops that Mary Jane Robbins recently blogged about on the King Arthur Baker’s Banter Blog. They’re very easy to make, very tasty and have a festive look to them. You’ll find the recipe here.

The only change I made to the cookies is to garnish them with Holiday M&M’s instead of the pretty chocolate pearls from King Arthur Flour. I don’t own a tiny teaspoon cookie scoop so when I was done mixing the dough I divided the dough into two equal portions, flattened each portion into a 4 x 3 inch rectangle and then wrapped each rectangle in it’s own piece of waxed paper and refrigerated it for about an hour. Then I cut each rectangle into twelve pieces and formed the pieces into balls and baked according to the directions.

The cookies are sort of a chocolate shortbread. I made my glaze with half and half instead of cream and I would have to agree with Mary Jane that the half and half yielded a thinner glaze than might have been desirable. I also thought the glaze was very good but it was very sweet. The cookies are good enough that I don’t think they need the glaze except for the decorative effect. I think some decorative stencils and powdered sugar might yield a pretty cookie and keep the focus on the cookie. By the way… those flecks you see in the glaze are from vanilla bean paste. Good stuff!!


Caramel Filled Brownies

November 9, 2009
Caramel Filled Brownies 020

Caramel Filled Brownies

These are some of the most decadent brownies I’ve ever made or had the pleasure to eat. They are full of chocolate, caramel and nuts, and it just about doesn’t get any better than that!

I followed the recipe from Cookie Madness pretty closely. I used regular butter instead of unsalted butter and decreased the salt by 1/4 tsp. I had the pleasure of using Abdallah caramel instead of unwrapping individual pieces of caramel. The Abdallah caramel appeared at my local grocery store this fall and I was hoping to get a chance to bake with it before it disappears from the shelves.

Every fall my sister-in-law treats the family to caramel apples from Abdallah Candies. When I saw that they were packaging caramel apple kits, I knew how convenient the caramel would be for baking. Wouldn’t it be great if they market it year-round instead of just in the fall?

My tips for making these brownies in addition to the directions from Cookie Madness are to use a teaspoon to scoop small spoonfuls of brownie dough over the caramel layer and then spread it out.  The other tip is not to panic if you dare to cut into these before they are completely cool. They will seem very gooey if you do that, but if you’re patient and let them cool all the way and then chill them before cutting you’ll see that it all comes together in a wonderful way. It’s interesting to note that the sugar and eggs are beaten for a full three minutes in this recipe before incorporating the remaining ingredients.

I made these late yesterday afternoon, and my husband started sampling them before they were cool all the way. That’s a testament to how good they are. He says they’re even better today than they were yesterday. What I know is that they’re just wonderful today. The brownies take a little time to put together but they are definitely worth it for a special treat.

Chocolate Cupcakes

August 31, 2009
Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ve been on the lookout for a reliable chocolate cupcake recipe and I believe I’ve found it in this recipe. The cupcakes have a tight, moist crumb, and and are chocolaty, but not over the top. The original recipe comes from Food and Wine. I made a few minor changes so I’ll write up the recipe as I made it. I made a different frosting recipe as well and while it was good I think it overpowered the cupcakes. I’d like to try the cupcakes with a plain vanilla frosting and see how the chocolate and vanilla play off one another.

I baked my cupcakes in silicone cupcake molds, which I sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. They slipped right out of the molds, but next time I’ll use paper liners. It seems that the batter had nothing to cling to as the cupcakes rose while baking so while they had nice little domes some of them were a bit off center due to slipping around in the cupcake molds.

Chocolate Cupcakes from Food and Wine with changes
4 T. butter ( I used salted)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. plus 2 T. cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 t. espresso powder
3/4 t. baking soda
dash of salt
1 large egg
1/4 c. yogurt
1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray silicone cupcake molds with vegetable cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
Measure vegetable oil and water in a glass measuring cup and add the butter. Warm in the microwave until the butter is almost melted. Set aside.
Into a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Add the butter mixture and beat thoroughly, scraping the bowl. Add the yogurt and vanilla and beat thoroughly scraping the bowl.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake molds and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after testing.
Let the cupcakes cool in the molds for 2-3 minutes and then tip them out of the molds to cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Frosting
4 T. butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 t. espresso powder
1.5 c. powdered sugar
2.5 T. milk
1/2 t. vanilla

Melt the butter in a glass mixing bowl. Stir in cocoa and espresso until completely incorporated into the butter. Add 1/2 of the milk and mix, then 1/2 of the powdered sugar and mix. Repeat until all of the milk and powdered sugar are mixed in. Stir in the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.

Frost the completely cooled cupcakes.

Tex Mex Chocolate Cookies

June 9, 2009

Tex Mex Chocolate Cookies 004Try these cookies! They’re like drinking a fine wine. There is a complex layer of tastes. A first taste, a mouth taste, and a lingering after taste. They might even pair well with a good red wine, but I didn’t have any around to try out that notion.  The recipe comes from Anna at Cookie Madness. I’m a devoted reader of her blog, and I don’t know why I waited so long to try these.

There is a surprise ingredient and it’s fun to let people guess what it is. Out of twelve friends only one came close when she guessed chili powder. The surprise ingredient is chipotle powder so she was very close!

I took these cookies on a retreat and everyone loved them. I also left some at home for my husband and his reaction was sort of humorous. His comment was that he wasn’t sure he liked them but he enjoyed every last one of them while trying to decide. He says I’ll have to make more! Too funny!!

I live in central Minnesota and chipotle powder was not to be found at any of the local grocery stores, so I got mine at Penzey’s in Minneapolis. If you can’t find it where you live you might consider ordering it from Penzey’s.

The recipe can be found here. I didn’t make any changes. When you look at Anna’s photo you’ll notice that she didn’t chop her nuts as finely as I did. Next time I’ll leave mine a little bigger too.

Another chocolate chip cookie!

May 15, 2009
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bailey's Irish Cream

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bailey's Irish Cream

One of my favorite cookies from Anna at Cookie Madness is the Masterpiece White Chocolate Chunk Cookies. There aren’t a lot of recipes that get an “Excellent” rating from me, but that recipe definitely deserves the excellent ranking.

I wasn’t going to blog about this variation but Louise provided a link in the comment section on Cookie Madness that declares May 15 National Chocolate Chip Day. Today I made a half batch of the recipe with a few toasted pecans left over from another baking project and chocolate chips. The dough makes a cookie that is crispy on the edges and chewier in the middle than some recipes. This version could use fewer chocolate chips and more pecans, but they’re a very good chocolate chip cookie. For the record I like Anna’s version with the white chocolate and macadamia nuts better, but these were made spur of the moment, so I used what I had on hand.

I rarely weigh my ingredients because I don’t own a kitchen scale, but today to satisfy my curiosity I measured 1 c. of flour with the dip and sweep method and then weighed it on my husband’s quirky postal scale. I did it several times to see how consistent I am, and one cup weighed 5 oz. Depending on your hand, flour, humidity levels etc., your 1 c. may measure differently than my 1 c., so if your cookies turn out flat or don’t spread enough you may need to make adjustments.

If it weren’t for an email from Anna I wouldn’t have tried this today, so thank you Anna! Now I have cookies to share with my kids when I see them tonight.

This is a half batch, and makes 24-28 cookies.

Update: Once these were completely cooled I could taste a nice hint of Bailey’s in the background so I don’t feel that the amount of chocolate chips is overpowering.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bailey’s Irish Cream

8 oz. regular butter

1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. white sugar

1 egg

1/2 t. vanilla

1 T. Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 1/4 c. + 1 T. unbleached all purpose flour

3 T. cornstarch

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

2 T. toasted and chopped pecans (I will use more the next time I make these)

1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and Bailey’s. In a seperate bowl stir together the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 11 minutes. Allow the cookies to set for a minute or so and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

May 13, 2009
One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

My husband really likes a brownie every now and then, and who can blame him? It’s good to have a recipe that makes a small batch that will satisfy that craving.  This recipe does that and has two other things going for it. It calls for natural cocoa instead of chocolate which makes it a bit more economical, and it only requires one bowl!

My first taste of these was while they were still warm. They are fine that way, but the texture improves once they’ve cooled completely. I used up the nuts I had on hand and was a little short. You can omit them completely if you prefer. You can also sub Dutch processed cocoa for the natural cocoa. Natural cocoa is much easier to find where I live and it’s much less expensive.

The recipe originally came from here, but since I made some changes to it I’ll type it up the way I made it.

One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

10 T. butter

1 1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. plus 2 T. natural cocoa powder

1/8 t. salt

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. (slightly rounded) espresso powder

2 cold large eggs

1/2 c. all purpose flour

2/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven 325 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper leaving ‘handles’ on two sides to facilitate removing the brownies from the pan.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the cocoa, sugar, and salt and reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir the mixture and let it cool slightly. Stir in the vanilla and the espresso powder.

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Thorougly mixing each one. Stir in the flour until it’s completely mixed in and then beat the mixture for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts.

Spread the dough evenly in the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with a toothpick. There should be a few moist battery crumbs on the toothpick. Cool the brownies completely on a wire rack. Transfer the brownies to a cutting board and cut into serving size portions.

Perfect? Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 28, 2009

Thick and chewy but not gooey in the center.
Thick and chewy but not gooey in the center.

Two days ago I received my May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated. On the front cover I could see “Chocolate Chip Cookies, Reinvented”. That alone was enough to pique my curiosity, but when I flipped to page 22 and saw “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” I couldn’t help but think it takes a lot of ego to call a recipe or a baked good “perfect”. Despite the arrogance of the title I had to make the cookies to find out what constitutes the title “perfect” in the test kitchen at CI.

Basically they’ve tweaked the Nestle Toll House recipe by browning most of the butter, removing some of the egg white, changing the ratio of brown to white sugar, and using a larger scoop of dough for each cookie. Does it yield a “perfect” cookie? The cookies are thick and chewy and are not gooey in the center. The edgesw are crisp. They aren’t greasy, and they have just the right sweetness without being sugary or grainy. The toffee flavor that I like in chocolate chip cookies is pronounced due to the browned butter and dark brown sugar.

In my vocabulary the word perfect doesn’t apply to food, but these are truly excellent cookies, and even if you have to buy the issue off the rack it’s worth the $5.95 to get the recipe, at least if you’re a chocolate chip cookie aficionado. Besides, there is a recipe for the “Best Blueberry Muffins” that looks very good. Apparently they aren’t “perfect”, but I’ll give them a try anyway.

 Thick and chewy, but not gooey in the center.

FYI the recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies appears on page 24 of the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

This post has been updated to include the recipe with permission from Cook’s Illustrated!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12- inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use#24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking seet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Send off Sweets

January 19, 2009
Chocolate Caramel Bars

Chocolate Caramel Bars

We sent these bars off with our son yesterday, had enough to pack some up for his sister, and kept just a few to have here at home. These are of course another kid favorite. With a little salt from the crackers and a lot of sweet from the caramel center and chocolate tops, they have a lot to offer kids of any age.

These are known by many names. We call them Chocolate Caramel Bars, but some people call them Twix Bars. I’m sure they go by other names as well. We prefer them chilled.

This is one of those recipes that went around like wildfire during the early 90’s, so I have no idea who gets the credit for it. Enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Bars

1 box rectangular crackers (such as Keebler Club crackers)

1/2 c. butter

1/3 c. milk

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1 c. graham cracker crumbs

2/3 c. creamy peanut butter

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a 9″x13″ pan with rectangular crackers edge to edge. Set aside

In a medium saucepan combine butter, milk, white sugar, brown sugar and graham crackers. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 5 minutes. Pour this mixture over the crackers in the pan. Place another layer of crackers edge to edge over the caramel layer.

In a double boiler melt together the peanut butter and the chocolate chips.  Spread this mixture over the top layer of crackers. Chill until firm and then cut into bars.

Chocolate Sundae Cookies

December 22, 2008
Chocolate Sundae Cookies

Chocolate Sundae Cookies

These cookies have been a Christmas treat for me since I was a little girl. My grandmother found the recipe in a periodical of some sort. A few years ago she sent the original clipping to me. It’s old and yellowed and she “laminated” it with tape to preserve it. At some point she wrote the measurements down in her own hand writing in the margin. I suspect she did this as her eyesight started to dim with age. 

Last year I shared this recipe with Anna at Cookie Madness. You can check out her entry here. Cookie Madness

These cookies are an anomoly of sorts. They’re actually better the second day. The cookie, marshmallow and frosting sort of meld together to become what they are meant to be. The original recipe says to bake for 12-15 minutes. I like to underbake them. On my insulated cookie sheets I give them about 10 minutes. The original directions also say to frost with your favorite frosting. For me that means trying something different almost every year which is what I did again this year. What I like about the frosting this year is that it is a fluid frosting but it firms up so that the cookies can be stacked.

I’ll type up the recipe as I made it. These look great on a holiday cookie tray.

Chocolate Sundae Cookies

Chocolate Sundae Cookies

Chocolate Sundae Cookies

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

2/3 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. butter

1 egg

1/4 c. maraschino cherry juice

2 T. milk

2 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1/4 c. chopped maraschino cherries

18 marshmallows cut in half

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Cream together the brown sugar and butter.  Blend in the egg until thorougly blended. Stir in half of the dry ingredients. Add the cherry juice and milk. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients until completely combined. Blend in the melted chocolate. Stir in the walnuts and the maraschino cherries.

Drop by rounded teaspons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Place one marshmallow half cut side down on each hot cookie. Cool on wire rack. Frost with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

1/4 c. butter

1/4 c. milk

1 c. sugar

1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Combine first three ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 30 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips until melted.