Tag Archives: chocolate

#Snowday Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate-chip cookies with Sea SaltSea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I heard that today was the first official snow day of 2014, I decided that it should also be the first SnowBakeDay of the new year.  Fortunately, I had just enough supplies on hand to make a batch of Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These should probably be called “Kim E’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies,” because I first developed this recipe for a former co-worker of mine, as chocolate chip cookies are his favorites.  He loves the taste of the deep dark chocolate combined with the crisp, toffee-flavored edges and that pop that the sea salt gives to the cookies, as it dances on the tongue, highlighting even more of the richness of the chocolate along with the soft, buttery interior.

Chopped chocolateChopped Chocolate

They were well-received when I brought them to an appointment I had this afternoon at the International Culinary Center. The staff had trudged in through the snow and the frigid temperatures to get things up and running for the students.  It was a bit of a risk to serve them to folks who work at a culinary school, but as I wasn’t a pastry grad, I thought I could take that chance!  These are a wonderful treat to make anytime, not just on snow days, so they are a great addition to your catalogue of cookie recipes.

IngredientsIngredients

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time:  about an hour, including baking time

Serving size:  yields 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter (I used Kerrygold), softened

1/4 c., plus 1 Tbsp. White Sugar

1/4 c., plus 1 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 c. All-purpose Flour

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

1.5 oz. 70% Cocoa Solids Chocolate Bar, chopped

Sea Salt (like Maldon) for finishing

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine butter and sugars in mixing bowl until smooth.  I am very low-tech about making cookies, preferring to mix everything by hand, using a wooden spoon.  Then, mix in one egg and the vanilla extract and stir until the batter is light and fluffy.

Wet Ingredients Mixed TogetherWet ingredients mixed together

Mix together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir to combine them thoroughly.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Chocolate chips mixed inWet and dry ingredients mixed with chocolate chunks

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray.  Scoop teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto the baking sheet.  I actually purchased a small ice cream scoop to try to keep the amount of dough I was baking per cookie consistent.  When I made the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle for the NYC food bloggers holiday cookie swap, I found that it helped me to create fairly uniformly-sized cookies. 

Scooping cookies on trayScooping out cookie dough

Then, sprinkle the sea salt on top of the cookies, after they are on the tray.  I actually crumble the sea salt a bit, so that there aren’t large chunks of salt on the finished cookies.  Bake them for 5 minutes, turn the tray around and bake them for 5 minutes more, until they are, as we would say in the prep kitchen, “GBD” (Golden Brown and Delicious).  Remove them from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Try to keep from eating too many of these, as you decide with whom you are going to share them.

Cooling cookiesCooling cookies (spatula courtesy Kim E & Rich)

Buon appetito!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate & PeppermintChocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle

This past Saturday, I took a few hours out of the craziness that is the holiday season working catering dinners and parties in the evening and helping out in a prep kitchen during the daytime to join fellow bakers at Cookie Swap NYC, put together by the wonderful Lillian Huang of Sweets by Sillianah. The proceeds from the event tickets went to City Harvest, so we were able to enjoy our sweets and to feed others as well.  As in past years, bloggers and bakers gathered together to exchange season’s greetings and to sample each others’ culinary creations.  I’ve brought Millionaire’s Shortbread and White Chocolate-Cranberry-Macadamia Nut Cookies to share.  This year, I decided to take a crack at making a chocolate-peppermint combination.

Candy Cane dustCandy cane dust

I took a recipe that I’ve been fiddling around with for chocolate-chocolate chip cookies with white chocolate chunks and converted it to include a more seasonal flavor profile.  The tricky part was that I wanted to get just enough peppermint infusion to come through without going overboard and having it become too overwhelming.  A couple of months ago in the prep kitchen, the pastry chef was working on some holiday peppermint meringues.  The aroma that permeated the kitchen as they were baking was almost suffocating.  I think we were on the fence as to whether we felt like we were in a toothpaste commercial or drowning in essence of breathmint.

Sprinkling candy cane dustSprinkling on candy cane dust

So, when I was mulling over how to avoid that same overly-aromatic fate for my Cookie Swap contribution, I asked the pastry chef what she thought.  Her advice was to take the chocolate chunks, melt them down, add peppermint extract to them, re-harden the chocolate, and then break it up and add the peppermint-infused chocolate pieces to the cookie dough.  I opted for the easy route and decided to add peppermint extract to the dough and to top it with crushed candy cane, hoping that I’d get enough of the mint flavor for the cookies to be festive but also keep the deep, rich chocolatey component.  I think this recipe succeeds in doing just that, especially given the fact that when I dropped off the leftovers with the guys at the front desk in my building, they actually called me to tell me how much they liked them (which they had never done before).

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle

Serving size: Makes 4 dozen 2- to 3-inch diameter cookies
Prep time: about 1 1/2 hours, including baking and cooling time

Ingredients:

12 T Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 c. Unrefined Cane Sugar
1/4 c. Light Brown Sugar
1/4 c. Dark Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Peppermint Extract
1 c. Flour
1/2 c. Droste Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 c. Semi-sweet Chocolate pieces
1 c. White Chocolate pieces
Crushed peppermint candy canes (about 2 whole candy canes’ worth)

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix butter and sugars together until they are completely combined. Add the egg and extracts and stir to incorporate.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter, egg, sugar mixture. Stir until there are no traces of the dry ingredients. Mix in the semi-sweet chocolate pieces.

Chocolate chunks mixed into batterDough all mixed together

Bake the cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and cook them for 5 minutes more. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.  While the cookies are cooling, crush the candy canes by running them through a food processor until they become a fine red and white dust (see photo above).

White chocolate drizzleWhite chocolate drizzled on cookies

Melt white chocolate pieces over a double boiler until smooth. Place the melted chocolate in a pastry bag or a resealable plastic bag and make a cut at the corner of the bag to create a small opening. Drizzle the chocolate in random patterns over the baked cookies.  Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the chocolate cookies. Allow the white chocolate to harden before serving them, if you can resist the temptation to bite into one right away!

Cookies finished w candy caneCookies finished with candy cane dust

Buon appetito!

Salame al cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)

Salame al cioccolato slicedSalame al cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)

Yesterday, as a thank you to the supporters of her recent Kickstarter Chocabaret project, Jackie Gordon (aka The Diva That Ate New York) hosted a chocolate-themed gathering at her home.  When the reminder for this event flashed up on my phone on Friday, 24 hours before it started, I had a mild moment of panic.  Oops!  I realized that I was supposed to make something chocolate inspired to bring with me.  Then, that idea lightbulb went off, just like in the comics, and I thought, “Hey, why don’t I make a chocolate salami.  That will be different.”

Chocolate spreadChocolate spread

This dish proved to be a hit, which gave me some relief, as I’d only made it once before in culinary school for our buffet, where it came out just so-so.  One of the guests kept going back time and time again for slices of the salami.  It was hard to resist it, I know from having put it together the night before.  Inspired by Italian meat products, it combines smooth and creamy chocolate mixed with chunks of cake (to represent the fat that is usually in meat salami), pistachios (like in mortadella), and dried cranberries for a bit of tartness all rolled into a log and then dusted with powdered sugar to mimic a log of cured meat.  Given the reception that this recipe had at an event full of food people and chocolate-lovers, I think I’m going to be bringing it to a few more parties this holiday season!

Ingredients

Salame al cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)

Prep time: 20 minutes to put it together, plus time overnight to set

Serving Size: about 25-30 slices

Ingredients:

125 ml Heavy Whipping Cream

2 tsp. Instant Coffee

1 Tbsp. Brandy

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

350 g Semi-sweet Chocolate (70% cocoa)

85 g Vanilla Cake (or cupcake), cut into 1/2 cm cubes

20 g Pistachio Halves

30 g Dried Cranberries

Powdered Sugar for dusting

Assembly:

Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over low heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Add coffee, brandy, and vanilla extract to the cream.  Then, add chocolate and stir into the cream until thoroughly melted and smooth.

Chocolate mixtureChocolate mixture

Gently fold the cake pieces, pistachios, and cranberries into the chocolate mixture.  Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface.  Pour out the chocolate mixture onto the center of the plastic wrap lengthwise.  Fold one edge of the plastic wrap over the chocolate mixture and then fold the opposite edge over top of that one twist the edges and roll the mixture into a log using the plastic wrap, like you would do for making a log of compound butter.  You will end up with something that looks like the below.

Wrapped up and ready to go in the freezerChocolate Salami

Place the chocolate salami in the freezer to set.  Once firm, it can be put in the refrigerator and kept there until ready to serve it.  I left the log in the freezer overnight and moved it to the refrigerator in the morning, as I needed to travel with it to the party, so I didn’t want it to be come too soft before it got to its destination.  Just before getting ready to serve, dust the chocolate salami with confectioner’s sugar on all sides.  Cut into thin slices to serve.

Remains of Salame al cioccolatoThe remains at the end of the party

Buon appetito!

Valrhona Chocolate Seminar

1 - Bahibe display with fevesValrhona Bahibe Chocolate display

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a chocolate seminar set up by Valrhona chocolatiers.  We had the opportunity to hear from their cocoa sourcer Pierre Costet about the company’s work in the Dominican Republic and a chance to marvel at the pastry craftsmanship of master chocolatier, Oriol Balaguer.  We were treated to a tasting of several of their blends, the highlight of which was a taste of the new Bahibe 46% Pure Origin Milk Chocolate, the first time this has been available to sample in the U.S.  To round out the afternoon, two pastry chefs worked with the chocolates to create a fabulous, sweet spread for us to eat as we all networked after the seminar.

2 - Pierre Costet speaking to the group Valrhona cocoa sourcer Pierre Costet

To set the stage for our trying some of their chocolate blends, Pierre Costet led us on a journey to the Dominican Republic, where Valrhona has been working with local farmers to grow cocoa trees and to produce cocoa beans using sustainable and environmentally-responsible methods, while incorporating the local traditions.  “A good cocoa comes from a good terroir [like wine]”, he explained to us.

3 - Tainori display with fevesValrhona Tainori Chocolate display

As he walked us through each of the stages of harvesting and production, from planting the trees, making sure that the right shade trees are planted to protect the young cocoa seedlings, to the cutting of the pods from the trees, to the fermentation process (which is specific to the Dominican Republic), to the drying racks, it was extremely evident that Mr. Costet is passionate not just about the quality and taste of the final product but also about ensuring the care of the cocoa at every step along the way as well as of the people with whom he works.  The process is very highly monitored, he assured us: “This traditional cocoa will be traditional but of a good quality.”  As we were treated to samples of the Bahibe, Tainori, and Otucan chocolates, each with its own tasting notes, we could appreciate this attention to detail in the end product.

4 - Oriol Balaguer discusses pastryOriol Balaguer

After the chocolate tasting, we had a chance to listen to Master Chocolatier Oriol Balaguer talk about his exquisite pastry work.  We watched a slideshow of some of his creations and then had the chance to ask him some questions about his work.  For him what is important is to: a. find the best product; b. produce the best flavor; and c. work with the aesthetic to bring this out.  “The most important thing is this.  The mouth is the boss,” he told us.  “I am an addict – pastry, bread, chocolate, this whole world.”  Listening to him and seeing photos of his creations, made me want to hop on the next departing plane for Barcelona so that I could try them for myself.

Alison Eighteen - Sarah Sutherland DessertsDesserts by Sarah Sutherland – Alison Eighteen Pastry Chef

Fortunately, I did not have to travel that far to enjoy some delicious pastries and sweet treats.  Two chefs had made trays of gorgeous desserts, using Valrhona’s various chocolate blends, for us to try.  These delectable creations showcased the variety of flavors of the chocolates themselves as well as the combinations, tastes, and textures for which they could be used.  One of my favorite items by Alison Eighteen (our host location for the event) pastry chef Sarah Sutherland was the Opalys Strawberry Trifle (second one down on the right), featuring local tri-star strawberries and using Valrhona’s Opalys white chocolate.  The dish reminded me of a more refined version of that English classic teatime treat – Strawberries and Cream.

Valrhona Pastry Chef Desserts - Shelly AcunaDesserts by Shelly Acuna – Valrhona pastry chef

It would be difficult to select a favorite among all the dishes that Shelly Acuna, pastry chef for Valrhona, set out for us to try.  She used the Bahibe, Tainori, and Otucan chocolates that we’d tried earlier to create her selections.  I might, however, have to go with her Otucan Translucence (second one down on the left) as the winner for me.  A Gran Cru Venezuelan chocolate, Otucan contains 69% cocoa and has a strong, slightly bitter flavor that blends well with other ingredients, mellowing a bit to leave a long, silken finish.  As I scraped my serving cup dry, my only regret was that I didn’t have enough room to eat one of every item.  I look forward to having a chance to taste more of these chocolates at another event.

Buon appetito!

Thank you to Ruskin International for inviting me to participate in Valrhona this Cercle V event.  I look forward to being able to attend another one of these fascinating programmes in the future.

Chocabaret by The Diva that Ate New York

Chocabaret.Now_.On_.Kickstarter_.588px_Support Chocabaret! (from The Diva That Ate New York website)

Artisan Chocolate + Cabaret Show?  Really?  What is this all about?  This upcoming live spectacle is the creation of friend, fellow food blogger and community-builder extraordinaire Jackie Gordon (aka The Diva That Ate New York).  You’ve read about Jackie’s wonderful food events like Pie Party Live and Cookie Swap, which bring together bakers and bloggers in real life to eat, drink, and network.

Fine & Raw ChocolateFine & Raw chocolates

Now, she’s launching a new venture: “CHOCABARET: Where An Artisan Chocolate Tasting Meets A Cabaret Show,” combining her love of food, her marvelous singing voice, and her talent for hosting fabulously-delicious events.  It will be taking place at the Metropolitan Room in New York City on October 20, 2013.  To fund this, she’s reached out to her community, like this website, to help get the word out about her Kickstarter project which will make this “eatertainment” (her description) evening possible.

Roni-Sue ChocolatesRoni-Sue Chocolates

Set to music and intertwined with stories, anecdotes, eating tips, and lots of chocolate, Jackie will be walking attendees through a tasting of artisan chocolate bonbons and bars made by New York chocolatiers.  The mouth-watering list of participating companies includes: Bond St. Chocolates, Fika Chocolate, Fine and Raw Chocolates, Fruition Chocolate, Oliver Kita, and Roni-Sue’s Chocolate.  In addition, Jackie will also be exercising her own confectionery skills by crafting a signature chocolate for the show.

Oliver Kita chocolatesOliver Kita Chocolates

CHOCABARET will introduce its audience to:

  • The making of chocolate – from bean to bar
  • Tales from the deliciously sordid history of chocolate
  • Tips for tasting chocolate like a professional
  • Ways to select a great chocolate
  • The stories behind the chocolates in the tasting

FIKA 7 Deadly SInsFIKA Choklad

For chocolate fans and lovers of live entertainment, this will be an amazing evening, I have no doubt.  To make it happen, Jackie needs folks to support her Kickstarter project, which you can do by clicking here.  At each level of support, there are incentive offerings for your donations.  The website also gives more information about Jackie herself and describes her past “eatertainment” events.  If the project is fully funded by the deadline on the website, then the event can take place as planned this coming October in New York.

Buon appetito!

Millionaire’s Shortbread for Cookie Swap NY 2012

Side view of layersMillionaire’s Shortbread

Crisp, buttery cookie base, topped with gooey, rich, creamy caramel, covered with deep, dark chocolate, what could be more irresistible in a cookie?  I’ve been wanting to try out this recipe for ages, so this year’s Bloggers Without Borders Cookie Swap NYC on Sunday, a gathering of bloggers, writers, and bakers all with sweet treats in hand, seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.  I’d first heard of this confection through an English colleague who declared at work one particularly extra-stressful day that she had a craving for them.  Sadly, I never got to make them while we were still in the same office, but maybe I can swing a trip to the UK soon for us to get together to share a plate of them over mugs of steamy, milky tea and a good gossip.

Barbecue Chicken, Brisket, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn Pudding, Mac ‘n Cheese – Oh, my!

This year we were again hosted by the wonderful folks at Hill Country Barbecue (cookies + barbecue & fixin’s = perfect Sunday lunch).  We took over the downstairs of their restaurant, located just off of Madison Square Park, and piled up the cookies on the tables they’d sent up just for us.  More than only an excuse to indulge our respective sweet teeth, this gathering also highlighted the work that BWOB has been doing with Why Hunger?, which is dedicated to providing food resources through grassroots and community organizations, and a portion of the entry fee went to supporting their work.

Some of the fabulous cookies

Chocolate anything seemed to be one theme this year with several folks making various chocolate-chocolate creations.  Colleen of Souffle Bombay brought these gorgeous Chocolate Chambord cookies.  By the way, her phenomenal Caramel & Chocolate Tart with a Shortbread Crust from the Pie Party in October is now up on her website, too. Jersey Girl Cooks Lisa brought Cherry Toffee Cookies with drizzled dark chocolate and sea salt.  Then there were the gooey creations like the Pecan Bars from BK Baker and Sharon’s Wedding Squares by Abby Dodge that just made your eyes open wide as they passed by you on the way to the table.  Gail from One Tough Cookie, my cookie-decorating idol, brought beautiful venue-appropriate, cowboy-themed creations.

With the holiday rush in full swing, it was really nice to have a chance to take an afternoon out of all the shopping and planning madness to catch up with these talented and amazing folks.  Kelly of Kelly Bakes came up to the city from Philadelphia.  Betty Ann of Mango Queen and her husband Elpi drove in from New Jersey, where they’d been really hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.  I also got to catch up with Tara of Chip Chip Hooray, whom I’d only caught in passing at the Pie Party. Given how upside down our lives had all gotten with weather-related incidents the past couple of months, I think that seeing each other in person, safe and sound, might also have been a bit therapeutic, I mean, aside from bonding over our mutual love of baking and sweets.

Millionaire’s Shortbread on display

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Prep Time: A few hours (each layer has to cool and set before the next one is added)

Serving Size: Makes one 8″ x 8″ pan, so I’ll let you be the judge of how many servings

Ingredients:

Shortbread Layer: (this follows the classic 3-2-1 ratio of flour-fat-sugar)

1 c. All-purpose Flour

1/2 c. Salted Butter (1 stick), softened

1/4 c. White Sugar (regular, not superfine/caster)

Caramel Layer: (see this helpful tutorial by David Lebovitz)

1 c. White Sugar

1/4 c. (4 Tbsp.) Unsalted Butter

1/3 c. Heavy Cream

1/8-1/4 tsp. Sea Salt (I used Maldon)

Chocolate Layer:

Two 3 oz. bars Semi-sweet Chocolate (72% cacao)

1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter

Assembly:

Shortbread Layer:

Mixing all the ingredients together

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix together butter and sugar until creamy.  Then, add the flour and combine it thoroughly.  In an 8″ x 8″ pan (I used a Pyrex one and left it ungreased), pat in the crumbly shortbread dough.  Unlike pie dough, this one is very forgiving, so you can patch it together to create the dough layer in the pan.

Shortbread dough in pan

Bake dough for 25-30 minutes, turning around halfway during the cooking time so that it bakes evenly.  The outer edge should be a medium golden brown when it is taken out of the oven.  Set aside to cool down while making the caramel layer.  You can also bake this part in advance and add the other layers later.

Caramel Layer:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, put one cup of white sugar and turn the heat on low.  Wait.  Be patient.  Let the heat, sugar, and chemistry work their magic.  (here’s a tutorial to watch before attempting to do this)

Sugar starting to brown

Don’t walk away from the stove.  Wait some more.  Be patient a little bit longer.  After maybe ten minutes, if that, you will end up with a dark amber liquid with all the sugar melted completely.  Turn off the stove and move the pan to another burner.  The range between perfectly melted and a burnt, dark, mess that has to be thrown out is about 10 seconds, if that, as Tara and I discussed on Sunday.

Sugar melted

Then, quickly stir in the butter.  The mixture will foam up once the butter is added.  Once the butter has been fully incorporated, mix in the heavy cream.  The caramel will thicken up the longer it is left to sit.  I placed the caramel in the refrigerator overnight.  To loosen it up again so that I could pour it over the shortbread, I gently stirred it while re-heating it over a low flame until it was more viscous.

Pouring the caramel over the shortbread

Pour the caramel over the cooled shortbread.  (seeing this photo, Kelly said, “I want my mouth right there under that stream of caramel.”)  Spread it with a rubber spatula or use the tilting the pan side-to-side method to make sure the caramel covers the shortbread completely and is in an even layer.  Sprinkle with a light dusting of sea salt.  The caramel doesn’t have to be completely coated in salt, but the pop of a little bit of salt brings out the other flavors in the layers.  Let the caramel layer set for 10-15 minutes before adding the chocolate layer.

Chocolate Layer:

Break the chocolate into chunks, if using bars of chocolate.  In a double boiler (or in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, which is my usual method), melt the chocolate until it is completely liquid.  Remove the bowl from the water, and stir in the butter until it is completely incorporated and the chocolate is glossy.

Adding butter to the chocolate

Pour the chocolate over the cooled caramel layer.  Use a spatula or the same tilting the pan side-to-side method to make sure that the mixture coats the top of the caramel evenly so that the cookies will have three distinctive layers.  Let it set for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

Adding the chocolate layer

Before cutting the cookies into pieces, let them come to room temperature for 5 minutes or so.  The shortbread and caramel layers are rather firm, so it will be difficult to cut through them if the cookies are really chilled.

Cutting the cookies

Once the cookies are cut and plated, you can return them to the refrigerator to chill and to maintain their three-tiered shape.  Kept out at room temperature for an extended period of time, the caramel layer will warm up, and the cookies will start to sag, as you can see in the photo of them from the Cookie Swap.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Hide a few pieces for yourself, as once these are put out for everyone to enjoy, they won’t last long.

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

The butter I used throughout this recipe was Kerrygold.  I’ve long been a fan of using this brand for my baking projects as I think it gives the most consistent results and has the right fat-water ratio to make them come out exactly right (unless I mess up another part of the recipe that is).  I also have to give them a special nod as they were a sponsor for the Pie Party this year and provided us with free butter to take away at the end of the evening in addition to a coupon for free butter or cheese – any baker’s dream!