Edible Chocolate Cups with Vanilla Cream

 

I was planning a baby shower recently and decided to challenge myself and not make the same old desserts. I saw these chocolate molds with beautiful sample pictures on the cover and thought, “I can do that!”  Little did I know that for the first time in my life I would be cursing the name of chocolate.

I read and re-read the instructions on the packaging and was confident that I could follow them.  Instead, I wasted an hour of my life standing in my kitchen with chocolate every where and every how, except in the way that I wanted it!! A phone call to a friend to vent about my predicament ended in me remelting the faulty chocolate cups and starting all over again.

So, it turns out you should NOT fill the molds completely with chocolate, put them in the fridge and hope they solidify from the outside inward, then pour out the liquidy middle, thereby leaving you with a lovely hole in which to pipe the beautiful vanilla cream. I followed the instructions and ended up popping out solid chunks of rock hard chocolate. These were not the delicate chocolate cups I wanted, instead I got a homemade chocolate candy shape with no filling. I need a home for my filling!!

The proper way to do this is below:

Edible Chocolate Cups with Vanilla Cream

2 trays of chocolate cup molds (each will make 8 cups)

1 package chocolate candy melts

1 box Jello instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup heavy cream

berries

 

Chocolate cups:

Melt your chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Meanwhile, line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper and lay a cookie wire rack inside.

Make chocolate cups by filling chocolate in each mold and wait about 2 minutes.  Pour out extra chocolate back into bowl, cleaning the top of the mold tray with a spatula.  Turn each mold tray upside down over wire rack to let excess chocolate run out. If the sides of the mold don’t look thick enough, redo the previous step.

Once the molds are your desired thickness, place in the freezer to harden.  When hardened, pop the cups out and place on a plate in the refrigerator to be filled later.

 

Vanilla cream:

Make the vanilla pudding according to package instructions.  Wisk your heavy cream into whipped cream and add to the pudding, folding with a spatula until incorporated.  You can spoon the cream into the cups or pipe them with a bag.  Place a berry on top of each cup.


 

Brownie Cookies

 

These are probably the most delicate cookies I’ve ever had.  And, I don’t mean delicate in flavor.  The flavor’s amazing! They’re physically very crumbly and light, but that’s also why they’re so attractive.  They have the taste of a brownie, without being too overpowering in the chocolate department.  This brownie cookie hybrid melts in your mouth and it really doesn’t take many chews before you noticed you’ve consumed the whole thing.

I kind of think that two of these cookies is the equivalent of one brownie, in size and thickness.  According to that logic, I can have 4 cookies easily, because really that’s only 2 brownies, right?  Like the way I did the math there?  When I was a teacher, I taught multiplication using Hershey’s milk chocolate bars.  I’m beginning to think that integrating chocolate into math is not a bad thing!

 

Brownie  Cookies

adapted from browneyedbaker.com

2 2/3 cups (about 16 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper of a silicone baking mat.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.  You could also use the microwave here.

In the meantime, stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine well. Slowly add the dry ingredients, folding them into the batter. Once all of the flour is incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips.

Wait for batter to harden in refrigerator 15 minutes, then scoop 1½ tablespoons of dough (#30 cookie scoop) onto prepared (with parchment paper) baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until they are firm on the outside. Like brownies, do not overbake! Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Makes 24 large cookies

 

Cranberry White Chip Oatmeal Cookie

 

I love making this cookie around Christmas time, mostly because of the beautiful holiday colors.  That’s not to say they aren’t good any time of year too.  I make this when I’m tired of chocolate chip cookies.  “Tired of chocolate chip cookies, are you crazy?!” you say? Yes, it is possible.

Cranberries are my favorite dried fruit to use in baking.  Red is my favorite color, so I guess that would make sense. The real reason is that cranberries have such a great sour sweet flavor.  It reminds me of eating sour tart candies as a kid, except these are actually good for you.  And what’s even more fun is that a raw cranberry actually bounces, like a ball, which also reminds me of childhood. Oh………the good ol’ days!!

 

Cranberry White Chip Oatmeal Cookie

¾ cup softened butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cup crisp rice cereal

½ cup white vanilla chips

½ cup sweetened dried cranberries

½ cup rolled oats

 

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a stand mixer, combine butter, vanilla and egg; beat well.  Add both sugars and combine until smooth. Add flour, baking powder and salt a little at a time.  When incorporated, add cereal, vanilla chips, cranberries and oats.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto sprayed cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Cool 1 minute.  Remove from cookie sheets.

 

 

Gnocchi with Butter Thyme Sauce

This is my first time making gnocchi and we had it for dinner tonight.  They were nice and pillowy and the recipe used enough butter to grease a runway.  I will definitely cut back on the butter next time.

I chose this recipe over others because of the use of thyme.  It’s one of my favorite herbs.  I also have three thyme plants growing like wild in my herb garden, so I thought I’d get some use out of them.

This was a great way to use up my leftover baked potatoes from our steak and potatoes dinner last night too. I consider myself a very conscientious recycler, so I recycled those potatoes.  I don’t think that helps the environment, but it helped my taste buds a lot!

 

 

Mix together the potatoes, egg, flour and salt.

Roll into a dough ball and cut into four sections.

Flour your counter top generously and roll the dough into a log.

Cut 1-inch pieces from the log and roll each nugget on the back of a floured fork.

 

You get these nice ridges that help catch the butter thyme sauce.  It’s okay if they don’t all look the same.  I personally like the rustic homemade look of gnocchi.  Do make sure that they are roughly the same size so they cook evenly though.

This buttery soft pasta is your reward for all the hard work.  Recycling really shouldn’t be this difficult, but is soooo worth the effort!

Gnocchi with Butter Thyme Sauce

from Giada De Laurentiis

 

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 (1-pound) russet potato

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano

 

Cook the butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme leaves. Set aside.

Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Mash in the salt and pepper. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the egg; discard the remaining egg. Sift the flour over the potato mixture and knead just until blended.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms and the work surface into a 1/2-inch-diameter rope (about 20 inches long). Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over a wooden paddle with ridges or over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water until the gnocchi rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Continue cooking until the gnocchi are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the hot thyme-butter in the skillet. Toss to coat.

Spoon the gnocchi and butter sauce into shallow bowls. Top with the Pecorino and serve.

Lemon Bars

Just looking at this lemon bar right now makes the floodgates of my salivary glands open up.

Excuse me as I wipe the drool off my face.  *wipe wipe*  Okay, I’m ready.

The sour creaminess of the lemon custard really compliments the crispy sweet crust so well too.

So, if you’ve read most of my posts, you can see I try Ina Garten’s recipes quite a bit.  I mean, she is the Barefoot Contessa after all.  What does that mean anyway?

The closest I’ve been to a barefoot anything is barefoot and pregnant.  Does that count for anything?

You gotta start with good ripe lemons.  These are the main ingredient, so they’ve gotta be good.

Juice those babies up!

Start with the dry ingredients.

Add in the eggs and juice.

You can tell I really got my fingers into the dough.

Bake the crust and make sure it’s nice and cooled before you pour in the filling.

Here’s the filling all baked up and nicely cooled.  The parchment paper was giving me some problems, so I ended up having to tape them to the outside of the pan to keep them from falling into the lemon filling.

Get out your fairy dust (powdered sugar) and sweeten the top of the lemon bars.

Enjoy these sweet and tangy squares of deliciousness!

Lemon Bars

from Ina Garten

For the crust:

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Blueberry Scone with Lemon Glaze

When you think of scones, do you think of hockey puck-like pastries that stuffy English people eat with afternoon tea? So did I.  I remember having them at a bridal shower tea and I had to slather so much of that clotted cream and curd on it just to make it go down my throat.

Well, these are not your English grandmother’s scones (if you have an English grandmother that is).  They are solid on the outside, put totally flaky and light on the inside.

My kids liked these so much they asked for them as dessert after dinner.  I figure, why not?!  We’re not English and we don’t drink tea in the afternoon either.

I’m not sure what the etiquette is on eating a scone for dessert, but until I hear otherwise, we’ll keep doing it!!

 

 

Get the dry ingredients and the really cold butter mixed in together.

 

 

Here’s the butter incorporated evenly.

The original recipe calls for fresh blueberries, but I would recommend using frozen ones.  They make the mixing and rolling process so much easier.

 

 

The blue color also won’t spread all through the dough (as much) and discolor it and your hands and kitchen counter and clothes.  Can you tell I had some issues?!

Cut them into good size triangles.

 

 

Place them on a baking sheet.  I did not grease mine because this has enough butter in it……..believe me!

 

 

Take them out and let them cool completely.

Meanwhile, make your glaze.

 

 

Zest two lemons.  I used a regular lemon (left) and a meyer lemon (right).  It’s what I had on hand.  You can just use two regular ones.

 

 

The ingredient that really makes this scone transcend your usual scone is the lemon in the glaze.  It’s like the feeling you get when pop rocks go off in your mouth.  You don’t expect to get these hits of sweet and sour tang……..it’s delectable!

 

 

Lay the scones on a rack in your baking sheet and glaze away.  Let the glaze dry completely and you are on your way to making best friends out of your neighbors……..if you choose to share!

 

 

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

from Tyler Florence

 

Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks

1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

1 cup frozen blueberries

 

Lemon Glaze:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 lemon, zest finely grated

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

 

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

Technically you should make this simple lemon glaze in a double boiler (i.e. over a pot of simmering water with a heatproof bowl set on top) but it’s even simpler to zap it in the microwave. Mix the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter. Nuke it for 30 seconds on high. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

Hawaiian Bread Pudding

To be honest, I’d never had bread pudding before this one.  Just the name of the dessert itself did not sound very appetizing to me.  Mushy, wet bread for a dessert?  I’d rather spend my calories on something with chocolate, right?

Little did I know that it is rich and decadent in its own right.  Bread pudding also takes on the flavor of anything you put into it.  This recipe calls for apple pie filling, but you can use other fruit flavors if you want.  You can omit that part altogether if you want.

I just love the golden raisins too.  Although I’m not sure how those renegade dark ones got mixed in.  It’s all good though!  I think that the secret ingredient, which is not really secret because it’s the main ingredient, is…….the bread. The sweet Hawaiian bread is good enough to just eat alone.  Can you imagine that used in this way?  Just Heavenly!

This recipe really isn’t complete without a nice scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream on top too.  The contrast of cold and creamy with warm and gooey are just in perfect alignment.

 

Hawaiian Bread Pudding

1 round loaf King’s Hawaiian bread

½ cup butter (1 stick)

2 cup milk

1 cup sugar

5 eggs, beaten

1 can Comstock apple pie filling

1 cup raisins

cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease 9×13 inch pan.

Cut bread into small pieces and arrange in pan.  Spread apple pie filling over bread.  Sprinkle with raisins.  Heat milk, sugar and butter until melted, medium heat (do not boil), then let it cool.  Add beaten eggs to the milk mixture and pour over the bread.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and firm.

Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream on top.