Monday, February 22, 2016

Uber Dark European Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Whipped Cream and Sea Salt

For purposes of full disclosure, I've never been to Paris or Italy and I've never drunk European hot chocolate made by an actual European. All I've done is drooled over Pinterest pictures of things people say are European hot chocolates, which seems kind of sadly American. Until you taste this hot chocolate and then you won't feel American and sad anymore. Well, maybe you'll still feel American, but you won't feel sad. At least in the moments you're drinking this. After that, I guess it's up to you (helpful hint: don't read the news feeds; just drink chocolate beverages).

Truthfully, you can make this as dark or light as you want to. We went with dark. You're going to choose 5 ounces of whatever level dark chocolate you want (or you can mix and match). Our first time we went with about 60% and the second time we went darker with 70%. It's easiest to use chocolate bars as they melt better than chips, but the truth is that decent-quality chips will work too (especially if you give them a little extra time to melt--tip below), and then you add milk.

But what really takes this above and beyond amazing is the chocolate whipped cream and sea salt. I'm going to be honest--the chocolate whipped cream is not very sweet on its own and I thought that putting that on top of an already very dark, thick hot chocolate was kind of a recipe for disaster, but they just really work well together. The creamy compliments the dark even without being overtly sweet. And now I want to put barely sweetened chocolate whipped cream on everything (note: this is not the best healthy choice). So don't be too afraid if your hot chocolate tastes a little dark and your whipped cream tastes a little unsweet--they work together. Especially when you add the sea salt to the top, which acts to accentuate the sweetness of the chocolate--it's like bringing out the color of your eyes. Maybe they're blue and kind of average until you put that shirt on and then they're blue and not average. That's how the sea salt works in this. It brings out the sweetness and the flavor. Although I have to say that if you hate dark chocolate and hate the whole sea salt trend, this dessert probably isn't for you (and you can go back to watching the presidential debates and living your sad and lonely life). But seriously, if you taste this and think it tastes like eating cocao beans, just sprinkle in some sugar or honey to balance your world again, and all will be well.

Dark European Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Whipped Cream and Sea Salt
adapted from Adventures in Cooking
Makes 4 small or 6 very small servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: $3.20
chocolate: 2.00 (that's on the cheap side; I actually got mine for $1 because it the high quality chocolate was on clearance and I pillaged the store, but $2 can get you an okay chocolate; $3 will get you a perfectly good one and more will make this phenomenal), milk: .10, cream: 1.00, cocoa: .10

Note: This might look like normal hot chocolate, but it is thick and filling. Do not fill up a mug and think you can polish it off without getting a tummy ache. Pretend your Parisan and get one of those tiny espresso cups or something.

Note on using chips instead of bars: This can work, but you'll want to melt it all on the heat, then let it sit for a while--ten minutes or so--and then heat it again. When we did this, we had a thoroughly melted cup of cho despite the chips we used in our first batch.

Note on chocolate: You don't have to use the best chocolate in the world, but you can't use junk if you want this to taste good. Save the generic waxy chocolate for some kid's birthday party and use something better for this.

For hot chocolate:

5 oz dark chocolate (I suggest 60-50%, but if you're brave, you can go 80% or 90% and if you're a wimp, try a nice semi-sweet 50%)
3/4 C milk

For whipped cream:

1 C heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp sugar (I used about 1 1/2 T because I was afraid)
chunky sea salt for sprinkling

To prepare hot chocolate:

Heat a small saucepan on medium or medium low. Heat chocolate in it until melted (watch it at this phase; you don't want to burn your chocolate; just mix it almost constantly and this will be fine). When it's melted or nearly so, whisk in the milk. Whisk until ingredients combined and then heat until smooth. I like to let it sit for a few minutes. I feel this helps the chocolate get silky smooth (especially if you used chips, but even if you used a bar).

To Prepare whipped cream:

Add cream to a bowl and blend away. Start on a lower speed and make it higher every 30 seconds or so. When it's starting to get lots of air bubbles, add the cocoa powder (turn the speed down or you'll dust your house in cocoa powder). This will make it thicken faster (no, I don't know why, but it does). Then add the sugar.

To assemble hot chocolates:

Pour chocolate into a tiny adorable cup. Add a generous scoop of chocolate whipped cream. Sprinkle with chunky sea salt. Drink. Or spoon it out if you'd rather (that's totally what I did).


(Look. I was playing with my camera and I made a senior picture of my hot chocolate. In a slightly disturbing way it reminds me of the cover on Drinking: A Love Story. Except this is chocolate. We all know chocolate isn't addicting. Okay, well, at least we know we can drink this and drive.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snickerdoodle Bars

Just so you know, this month I plan to kill you with sweetness.

You'll notice that even with the veritable deluge of cookies on this blog, even with my clear obsession with cookies, even with my clear and unhealthy addiction to all things cookie, you cannot find a recipe for a snickerdoodle among its virtual pages (though you will find this fantastic Lemon Doodle, which you should make and love with your immortal soul). That is because, until now, I hadn't found a snickerdoodle recipe that I really truly super loved. Oh, the ones I tried were all fine; I would eat them and stuff. But most were a tad bit ho-hum; they weren't great enough to make the cut for this blog. And you see, I'm super picky with snickerdoodles. Because Kip doesn't much like them. Which means that when I make them, I'm going to get "stuck" eating the bulk of them. And I only want to do that with a recipe I truly super amazingly awesomely love. Guess what? I found it.

These bars were everything a snickerdoodle should be--crisp cinnamon sugar crunch between your teeth on the outside, delicate buttery almost ooey gooey middle, pop of cinnamon, depth of vanilla, butter baby. The texture was fantastic, the flavor was deep and perfect. Aaaaaand, how about not having to roll 50 tiny balls into the sugar cinnamon mixture. My lazy cook self can totally get on board with that. Especially when the end product is so mouth-meltingly other-worldly as this.

Snickerdoodle Bars
adapted from Baked by Rachel
Makes 1 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Cost: $2.75 (or about $.11/bar--take that Starbucks)
butter: 1.25, sugar: .20, brown sugar: .40, eggs: .20, flour: .35, spices and vanilla: .20, topping stuff: .15

1 C butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar
1 C brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 C granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. You can line your 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper--in a way that makes removal easier, but it also slips around when you put the thick batter in so you might just want to grease your pan well instead.

In a large bowl, cream butters and sugars. Then add eggs and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated (but don't mix the poor cookies to death.

Spread it out in the pan (it will be thick and fabulous). (You can grease your hands and press it in if this makes life easier.) Mix up the topping ingredients and sprinkle that over the top. Don't be stingy now--add it all on; you won't regret it (unless you're dieting; then you'll regret it, but if you're dieting, seriously--just skip making this all together, okay).

Bake 25-30 minutes or until you can stick a fork in and have it come out clean or with moist crumbs.

You can serve warmish or cool. They're seriously fabulous either way.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Vegan Valentine--Chocolate Coconut Mousse

No, I'm not a vegan. But I have deep, passionate feelings for coconut cream/milk. What better inspiration for Valentine's Day than some good food love. If you are vegan or just a lover of creamy coconut, then this is the perfect food for you on the day of love and chocolate (or any other day).

This mousse is also super simple and comes together extremely quickly.

Chocolate Coconut Mousse
adapted from Cafe Delights
Makes 4 small (shot sized) servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Coconut milk: 1.90, sugar: .05, cocoa: .10, dark chocolate: .45

Note: You'll notice there's a big range with the amount of sugar for these. The original recipe called for the small amount. This leaves you with a mousse that has barely any sweetness at all. That totally works for some people--they just want the creamy, coconuty flavor of this mousse. However, if you're expecting/wanting the more traditional sweetness of a more traditional mousse, then you'll need to use more sugar. So mix in and taste as you go, then decide how sweet you want it. The chocolate shavings will add a bit of sweetness, but not a significant amount.

1 can coconut cream or coconut milk (just the thick creamy parts)
1-4 Tbsp powdered sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 oz dark chocolate, chopped or shaved (optional)

Whip the coconut cream (or the thick part of your coconut milk) in a bowl. Add the cocoa powder, then the milk.

Chop your dark chocolate and then fold it in.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Secret Recipe Club--Banana Coconut Bread

It's time for a Secret Recipe Club recipe again. This month I had Cookaholic Wife who has a ton of lovely Valentine's recipes up right now (unlike someone else we know) who a) forgot about the super bowl and b) keeps forgetting to make something amazing and heart-shaped. Alas. We'll have to let Cookaholic Wife do it for us. In searching for the perfect recipe, I made a delicious barley soup, annd I was going to post it. But then I made her banana coconut bread and decided to kill you with sweetness. Except that it's actually kind of healthy too--so now you can have your cake and eat it too. Mostly though I was just intrigued by the combination of flavors--banana, coconut, and chocolate. Perfect. You could doll it up with a glaze and a dusting of coconut if you want, but we just ate it deliciously as it was for breakfast.

Banana Coconut Bread
adapted from Cookaholic Wife
Makes 2 loaves
Prep time:
Cook time:
Cost: $4.25
sugar: .20, coconut oil: .50, eggs: .20, bananas: .50, buttermilk: .15, flour: .70, chocolate chips: 1.80, coconut: .20

1 C sugar
1/2 C coconut oil (I used extra virgin as should you if you want it to taste and smell coconut-y)
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 C chocolate chips (let's be real; I totally used more than that--probably a whole bag)
3/4 C sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two loaf pans.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and coconut oil. [Note: Coconut oil is liquid over 72 degrees and solid under that. So, if your oil is warmish, mixing will be easy--you'll just mix. If it's not, you can either warm it, or combine it by cutting it into the sugar with a pastry cutter like you would cut butter into a pie crust]. Stir in eggs, then bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.

To this add your dry ingredients. Don't overmix them (meaning--mix until they're just combined with the wet ingredients and then stop mixing).

Add chocolate chips and coconut (again just mix until combined).

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out to cool the rest of the way (if you don't do this it might get stuck in your pan).

We ate ours the next day for breakfast and it was fantastic.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Local in Evansville: Chocolate Deals

Happy Day Evansvillians!

Today when I went to Schnucks for a quick run, I um, accidentally found myself in the chocolate aisle. It was a happy "accident" since they had a ton of really good chocolate on clearance. 

Naturally I sold my soul and stocked up. I don't know if it's on clearance at all locations, but at the Schnucks on Green River, south of Lynch, it's a steal. This is especially fantastic nine days before Valentine's Day when chocolate tends to skyrocket. Here's what I got (only, um, I got more than one of each item). 

-6 full sized Heath bars (8.4 oz): $1.00 
-Butterfinger (huge bar thing 4.4 oz): $.8, 
-Godiva minis (4.4 oz bag): $2.00 
-Green and Blacks (organic 3.5 oz): 2.00 
-Chocolove (3.2 oz): $1.00 
-Culinaria (2.15 oz) (which I've never tried before, but figured what the heck) $1.00 except the Butter Cake one, which was $.50 (whaaat?), 
-Dagoba (2 oz): 1.00 

They also had Godiva bars on sale 2 for $5 and the bags of Godiva squares (I think; or maybe Lindt) 2 for $7 (?). But I didn't buy any of those because the other things were such a fantastic deal. 

I got about a jillion of them, which I plan to freeze (not eat right away; pinky promise) and make into a little Valentine's baggy for Kip. These bars are usually $3-4 each.

Love you guys! Happy Valentine's Day from me. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Photo Re-Do: Lime Coconut Cake

Find the recipe here. 

This week I'm doing a tiny little sugar fast until Friday. I usually disapprove of such craziness. In fact, generally I'm sort of a moderation snob if I'm any kind of a snob at all. But ever since Christmas, the sugar in this house has been out of control. Usually I consider that a problem my kids have, but lately I've gone from my bit of dark chocolate after dinner to two large pieces of chocolate after dinner, oh and maybe a brownie after lunch, and a few bites throughout the day, and let's not forget that lick of Nutella off the spoon. It kind of adds up and I was starting to crave sugar, which seems like a bad sign. So I thought to myself, "I'm just going to take a breather until I go to my friend's baby shower on Friday."

Taking a breather has been embarrassingly hard. I've got to say if you can't do a tiny little sugar fast, you've probably got a tiny little sugar problem. Hopefully, a few days of abstinence will nip it in the bud and I can go back to my slice of dark chocolate at night. But let me tell you this post didn't help.

Oh, sure, it needed doing. Last week when I made these Coconut Lime Cupcakes for my friend's birthday, I looked up the recipe and saw my sad little pictures for this fantastic bit of cake. That just didn't seem right. So I took new, prettier pictures in an effort to do them justice. And now I'm blerging and drooling all over the keyboard. Oh dear.

You can leave them plain like this. They're perfectly delicious.

But to doll them up for my friend, I mixed up a bit of lime zest and a bit of coconut. It was pretty and delicious.


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