Category Archives: chocolate

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

I’m pretty much obsessed with caramel. I wanted to create a new way to eat it. When I made this I over cooked the caramel and it turned out to be super thick. If this happens to you, add some more cream to the mixture before it is cooled to keep it from becoming a tooth breaking toffee.

Shortbread:
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, using a fork, mix all ingredients until the butter is fully incorporated. Press into the bottom of a 8-inch square pan. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until it turns light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Caramel:
1 cup sugar
1 cup cream
½ teaspoon salt

Heat the sugar, in a heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat. As the sugar starts to liquefy, swirl the pan to mix in the un-melted sugar. Once the sugar is a golden brown, add the cream. The mixture may boil and pop so be careful. Add the salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the caramel gets a tad bit thicker. Pour caramel over the shortbread and cool.

Chocolate:
½ lb dark chocolate

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put into a metal bowl. Heat a saucepan filled half way with water on medium heat. Place the metal bowl over the pan and mix the chocolate with a rubber spatula until it is just melted. Pour over the cooled caramel layer and refrigerate the cookies until they are cooled. Cut into squares and serve.

Raspberry Mousse Chocolate Cake

In preparation for my move, I need to eat everything out of my freezer. I always keep an emergency bag of frozen raspberries as they can be turned into an amazing fast dessert. They made a great filling for a rich chocolate cake. I brought this to work and make everyone’s day.

Chocolate Cake:
3/8 cup cocoa
21cups flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/8teaspoon salt
1 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter flavored shortening
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Grease 4 4-inch spring form pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the shortening, egg, milk and vanilla and turn the mixer on low. Once the flour is combined turn the mixer on high and beat for at least 5 minutes so that the batter gets fluffy.

Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake for at least 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Cut the cooled cake into two rounds.

Raspberry Mousse Filling:
10 oz bag frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cup heavy cream

Heat the raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir until all of the raspberries break down and are heated through. Run the raspberries through a strainer and into a new saucepan. Add the gelatin to the raspberries and heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it form soft peaks. Fold the cooled raspberries into the whipped cream.

Divide the filling evenly between the four cakes to make a double layer cake.

Ganache:
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
1 pint fresh raspberries

Place the chocolate and cream in a metal bowl over a pot of water on medium high heat. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is completed melted. Take the chocolate off of the pot of water and set aside till the chocolate thickens enough to work with it.

Place the cakes on top of the rack and cover with the cooled ganache. Decorate the tops with the raspberries and cool over night before serving.

White Chocolate Lavender and Lemon Truffles

Lavender and lemon are classic French flavors. Moreover, the scent of lavender was found to be an aphrodisiac so it makes it super fitting for a baby shower. The addition of the sugared flowers to the tops of the truffles makes them look 100% professional. They add a nice crunch as well.

White Chocolate Lavender and Lemon Truffles

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
peal of one lemon, only the yellow part
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 ½ pounds white chocolate
1/2 pound semi sweet chocolate
candied flowers, for garnish

In a small heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the cream, lavender an lemon peal. Bring the cream just to scalding. Turn off the heat and let the flavors steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain out the lemon and lavender.

Chop the white chocolate into small chunks. Place it into a large metal bowl. Add the cream, extract and salt. Place the chocolate bowl over a pot filled with water on medium heat. Let the chocolate steam over the water for at least 10 minutes. Using a whisk, once the chocolate is melted, start in the center of the bowl and slowly whisk to combine into a silky ganache. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let to cool to room temperature.

Using two teaspoons, spoon out balls of ganache onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Roll the balls into globes with your hands. If your hands are super warm like mine are, or if your ganache is still too soft, place the trays in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the confections.

Chop the semi sweet chocolate and place it into a medium size metal bowl. Place it over a pot of water on medium high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula intermittently. Let the chocolate melt completely. Pick up some of the melted chocolate with the spatula; drop it back into the pool of chocolate. If the falling chocolate sinks into the rest of the melted chocolate the temper is broken. If it still piled up on top of the surface, continue to heat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, move the medium size bowl into a larger metal bowl that is a quarter full of ice and cold water. Continue to mix the chocolate, paying special attention to mix in the hardening chocolate that is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Test the chocolate to see if the temper has returned, life some of the melted chocolate out of the bowl and drizzle it back into the pool of melted chocolate. Once the temper has returned, the chocolate will stack up on itself as opposed to sinking back into the bowl.

Drop the ganache balls into the melted chocolate. Roll them to coat and extract them using two small spoons. Place the coated truffles onto the parchment paper. Once you have finished dipping the truffles, break up the sugared flowers into nice size petals. Place a small bit of melted chocolate on top of each truffle and use it to affix one petal. Cool the finished truffles in the refrigerator. Store the truffles in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Bacon Truffles

I’ve always been a fan of salty sweet things. First it started with salty caramel then salt and chocolate. Last year something really interesting appeared at my local Vosges chocolate shop here in Soho: bacon and chocolate. It was good, but not amazing. I knew it could be better. So for this holiday season, instead of buying gifts, I decided to make a NYC delicacy and bring it back to DC for my family and friends, bacon truffles. It is important to get smoky bacon; it adds a much better depth of flavor. I choose a hickory smoked bacon but you could use apple wood smoked bacon as well. I also buy my chocolate in blocks from the specialty section of WholeFoods. High quality chocolate is what makes truffles so luxurious.

Bacon Truffles
2 12oz packages of hickory smoked bacon
2 ½ pounds great quality semi sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound semi sweet chocolate

The first step is to render the fat off of the bacon and make it into bacon bits for the final garnish. Chop the bacon into very fine pieces and cook it in a heavy pan on medium high heat. Stir the bacon intermittently to make sure that it browns and crisps easily. Once the bacon starts to get close to a dark red color and looks crispy, remove it to a dish lined with several paper towels. The bacon will continue to cook once it is removed, so make sure you remove it early enough so that it doesn’t burn as it cools. Set aside 1/3 cup of the bacon fat, without any bacon bits.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks. Place it into a large metal bowl. Add the cream, fat and salt. Place the chocolate bowl over a pot filled with water on medium heat. Let the chocolate steam over the water for at least 10 minutes. Using a whisk, once the chocolate is melted, start in the center of the bowl and slowly whisk to combine into a silky ganache. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let to cool to room temperature.

Using two teaspoons, spoon out balls of ganache onto baking trays lined with parchment paper. Roll the balls into globes with your hands. If your hands are super warm like mine are, or if your ganache is still too soft, place the trays in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the confections.

Chop the last block of chocolate and place it into a medium size metal bowl. Place it over a pot of water on medium high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula intermittently. Let the chocolate melt completely. Pick up some of the melted chocolate with the spatula; drop it back into the pool of chocolate. If the falling chocolate sinks into the rest of the melted chocolate the temper is broken. If it still piled up on top of the surface, continue to heat the chocolate. Once the chocolate is fully melted, move the medium size bowl into a larger metal bowl that is a quarter full of ice and cold water. Continue to mix the chocolate, paying special attention to mix in the hardening chocolate that is sticking to the sides of the bowl. Test the chocolate to see if the temper has returned, life some of the melted chocolate out of the bowl and drizzle it back into the pool of melted chocolate. Once the temper has returned, the chocolate will stack up on itself as opposed to sinking back into the bowl.

Drop the ganache balls into the melted chocolate. Roll them to coat and extract them using two small spoons. Place the coated truffles onto the parchment paper and sprinkle with a healthy amount of the bacon pits. If you really love bacon, roll the chocolates into the bacon to coat completely. Cool the finished truffles in the refrigerator. Store the truffles in an air tight container until ready to serve.

Fall Festival

My co-worker Karen went apple picking the other weekend. She was kind enough to bring back a ton of fresh apples and I turned them into this delicious and decedent pie.

Caramel Toffee Apple Pie

Caramel:
1 cup sugar
½ cup cream
1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat the sugar in a heavy medium size saucepan on medium heat. Swirl the sugar occasionally until it liquefies and turns golden brown. Quickly add the cream and salt and return the mixture to the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Let it boil to combine about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Crust:
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Separate into two balls and set aside.

Filling:
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 granny smith apples, pealed

Mix the sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice in a large bowl. Slice the apples very thinly on a mandolin. After each apple is sliced, add it to the sugar mixture and coat to toss.

Streusel Topping:
5 toffee bars, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
½ stick of butter
¼ cup milk chocolate chips

Mix all of the ingredients till combined and the butter is evenly distributed. Set aside.

Assembly:
Preheat the over to 450 degrees.

On a well-flowered counter top, roll out the first round and place it in the bottom of a 10 inch glass pie pan. Roll out the second half and leave on the counter until after the pie is filled.

Drizzle the bottom of the pan with some of the caramel mixture. Then fill the pie with all of the apples. Drizzle the tops of the apples with more caramel sauce. (You will most likely have caramel sauce left over, save it for a dip for apple slices.) Then pack the stop with the streusel topping.

Place the second crust over the top of the apples Fold the top crust over the bottom and then crimp the edges so that the juices do not escape. Place on a baking sheet and put into the middle over.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees then reduce the oven temperature to 350. Cook for another 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Better Than Store Bought

When Victor asked me to make a birthday cake for his best friend Ryan, I figured it would be a chance to show off my professional skills. Victor of course didn’t help me choose the flavor, so I went with my all time favorite, chocolate and raspberry.

Chocolate Raspberry Celebration Cake

Chocolate Cake:
¾ cup cocoa
2 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter flavored shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Grease a 13 by 9 inch rectangle cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the shortening, eggs, milk and vanilla and turn the mixer on low. Once the flour is combined turn the mixer on high and beat for at least 5 minutes so that the batter gets fluffy.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for at least 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Vanilla Cake:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
½ cup butter flavored shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Grease a 13 by 9 inch rectangle cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the shortening, eggs, milk and vanilla and turn the mixer on low. Once the flour is combined turn the mixer on high and beat for at least 5 minutes so that the batter gets fluffy.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for at least 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Filling:
½ cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup thawed frozen raspberries
1 jar of raspberry jam

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl. Beat with a balloon whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a pot filled with water and heat on medium heat. Keep beating the eggs to dissolve the sugar and the mixture will start to thicken and turn white. When the grit is gone from the eggs, about 20 minutes later, transfer the egg whites to a stand mixer and beat on high to form soft peaks.

Fold the room temperature butter into the eggs and continue to beat on high. Add the salt, vanilla and raspberries and beat one last time to combine.

Ganache:
1 16 oz bag semisweet chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
2 pints fresh raspberries

Place the chocolate and cream in a metal bowl over a pot of water on medium high heat. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is completed melted.

Take the chocolate off of the pot of water and set aside till the chocolate thickens enough to work with it.

Assembly:
Cut each cake in half to make four pieces, each 6 ½ inches by 9 inches. Cute each of the 4 cake pieces in half vertically so that you have two thinner layers from each piece. You will have 4 pieces of vanilla and 4 pieces of chocolate cake.
On a wire rack, alternate layers of vanilla and chocolate cake with the raspberry butter cream and the raspberry jam. This makes enough for 1 five layer and 1 3 layer cake or 1 giant 8 layer cake.

While still on the wire rack, ice the cake with the chocolate ganache. Gently transfer the cake to a cardboard cake square and finish decorating with the extra ganache and fresh raspberries. Refrigerate the cake overnight to set. Let the cake sit out for at least one hour before serving.

Birthday Wishes

This weekend was Sean’s birthday. He requested peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes. I knew I had the prefect plan. After a killer BBQ on his and Sabrina’s roof, these where a the perfect sweet ending.

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes:

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
1-1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c brewed coffee
2 t pure vanilla extract
2 T vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

2. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix the oil, water (or coffee), and vanilla. Slowly and gently pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and mix the batter with a whisk.

4. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls (and some bubbling) in the batter where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter (the color becomes more consistent throughout).

5. Pour batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes–testing with a toothpick. Remove to a cooling rack.

Peanut Butter Mousse
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

In a large stand mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Ass the peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Stir in the powdered sugar and salt and continue beating. Add the cream and whip the mixture until its fluffy.

Chocolate Butter Cream Icing
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

In a double boiler, heat the chocolate and cream. Stirring with a whisk to melt. Once the chocolate is all melted and there are no visible bits of chocolate. Place to top pan in a bowl of ice water. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate to cool.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter. Once the butter is fluffy, add the sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Add the cooled chocolate to the creamed butter and stir until fluffy. This should take at least 5 minutes. If the mixture is too loose, transfer into a large plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes before frosting.

To assemble to cupcakes, cut a cone out of the top of the cakes using a paring knife. Remove the piece and cut off most of the point of the cone so that you just have a thin cap. Using the knife, dig out extra cake from the cake to create a larger pocket. Set all cake aside for a different use. Using a small spoon, fill the cake with the peanut butter and replace the cap on top of the filling. Frost the cakes and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.