Tag Archives: chocolate

Sweet and Salty Crunchy Nut Bars

Sweet and Salty Crunchy Nut Bars

I had agreed with my friend that we would do an Easter dinner together. I would make a fabulous dessert and there would be a grand turkey with all the fixings. The Easter dinner turned into a fondue party and the fabulous dessert? Well I just moved to a new place and didn’t have a mixer and most of my baking equipment available.

I lamented to R that I probably wouldn’t be able to bake anything.

“There is stuff all on our counters. I have no counterspace!”
“I’ve seen you bake in worse situations.” he said reassuringly.
“We have no groceries! I can’t make anything!”
“The grocery store is right beside us. As long as you don’t need quail eggs from South America, you’ll be fine.”

Ok, maybe I was making up excuses. The truth is, the place is such a mess and hardly room to do anything, I felt uninspired with no motivation.

I decided on a dead simple Nigella recipe (from Nigella Kitchen) that she describes as the kitchen equivalent of crack cocaine. After getting the ingredients at the grocery store where it’d look like I’d gone on a sugar binge (8 chocolate bars were in my shopping basket), I got home and went to work.

If you are looking for an easy recipe that’s no-bake, this is it. If you are looking for a dessert that can be put together in mere minutes, then this is it. It’s so easy that I can hardly classify as “making” it.

The ingredients are simple: butter, chocolate, salted peanuts, corn syrup and Crunchie bars. The longest part of this recipe is waiting for the chocolate to set (about 4 hours) and after that the next hardest part is crushing the Crunchie bars with your hands. If you crush them into bigger pieces, you’ll get more of that texture in your dessert.

Recipe here.

Notes:
– I used all milk chocolate and it tasted well-balanced. I don’t know if I’d go with a dark chocolate.
– I’d also make this in a rectangular pan and cut it into small slices as a whole slice is a bit too rich for most people.

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Robert’s Brownies

Robert's Brownies

I’ve picked up snowboarding now that I live so close to the mountains. Being a beginner means a lot of falling and unfortunately I took a particularly bad fall the most embarrassing way possible…

I hurt myself falling off of the chairlift.

With 3 out of 4 tendons of my rotator cuff injured, I was given the bad news of not snowboarding again until I healed up.

This disappointing information required a hefty dose of chocolate. I chose Robert’s Brownies My Way by Alice Medrich
because she uses the phrase “densely creamy and intensely bittersweet”. I didn’t find them intensely bittersweet, but these brownies are lightly sweetened and they are fudgy to a point where you think they haven’t been baked long enough. As long as the toothpick comes out mostly clean, you’re in the clear.

Recipe here.

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Melting Chocolate Meringues

Melting Chocolate Meringues

This is one heck of a cookie. It’s an intense chocolate, crisp exterior and when your teeth sink down into it, it turns into a rich fudge. Magical.

I made these during my true Nervous Chef days when I was setting off the smoke alarms. Somehow I didn’t screw these up. Surprising, as meringues have been failing me as of late.

Melting Chocolate Meringues

You need good chocolate (aim for something you would eat on its own, quality matters here), sugar, pecans and egg whites. Everything comes together quickly, so when the oven is done preheating your cookies are ready to go in.

Melting Chocolate Meringues

Melting Chocolate Meringues

Most of my cookies look a little more rough than the ones I’ve seen on the web. I’m not sure the reason why. Maybe not enough mixing?

These are from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet, but you can also find them in Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.

Melting Chocolate Meringues (makes about 30 2-inch cookies) From Bittersweet

Ingredients:
4 1/2 ounces 70% chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large egg whites (1/4 cup), room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, I think toasted hazelnuts would work well too)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Melt chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. I make a make-shift double boiler by placing the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with simmering water. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla. When soft peaks form, slowly add the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Be careful not to beat too long or they’ll be dry.
4. Mix up the chocolate and nuts into the egg whites and fold with a rubber spatula until the colour is uniform.
5. Drop tablespoons of batter 1 inch apart onto the cookie sheet.
6. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies should look dry and have a bit of give to them when pressed on. They’ll still be gooey inside. Cool completely.

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Bittersweet: Review

Best Cocoa Brownies

I’ve been craving chocolate like crazy for the last while. I’ve been anxious lately and the anxiousness has been channeled into making chocolatey baked goods. I first made a self-saucing chocolate pudding which didn’t have the chocolate punch I was going for, so I turned to the book on chocolate, Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet.

The book goes into great detail about chocolate including the cocoa percentages, this site gives a good explanation. I believe cocoa percentages should be mandatory for all recipes now as there are so many different kinds of chocolate floating around. We’re not just dealing with Baker’s chocolate anymore. Using the same amount of butter and sugar for a chocolate that is 80% cocoa will yield much different results from one that is 50-60%. What I really like about this book is that she gives substitutions if you don’t have a certain percentage available. So if you have a 70% chocolate when you only need a 50%, she’ll give directions on how to work with it.

The level of difficulty varies. I would say it could be used by a beginner as this was the book that really got me into baking. This book is also suitable for the more advanced and I’ve grown with this book. The first recipe I made were bittersweet decadence cookies — powerful cookies that will make your knees weak. When my sister requested a chocolate cake for her baby shower, I turned to this book. It was my first complicated multiple layer cake complete with a ganache glaze. While it didn’t look quite as elegant as the picture in the book, it got rave reviews. I did like the extra ego boost when I overheard someone say “This is the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.”

With my chocolate craving, I was looking for something deep and chocolately, something that could satisfy with a few bites. Enter classic cocoa brownies.

I’ve never been able to get a smooth consistency when mixing the batter. It’s supposed to smooth, but mine always ends up looking like this:

DSC_5478

Grainy and gross.

But they always end up turning out like the picture up at the top. These brownies actually lasted for awhile in our household because a little goes a long way.

This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn more about chocolate. If you’re a fan of the cocoa bean, I suggest you pick this up.

Recipe for brownies here

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