Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Growing up, my mom would on occasion, usually around the holidays, buy a bag of Hersey's mini chocolate bars. My sisters and I would play this game where we'd have to reach into the bag without looking and take out a candy bar. You had to take the one you got. I remember there was a very specific pecking order in the way us kids ate those chocolate bars. Krackel was King. All of us wanted the Krackel bars. If we got a Krackel bar out of the bag, would it eat slowly with great relish. All this was done to cause as much torture and jealousy as possible to those that didn't have a Krackel bar. The Hersey bar was next in line, followed by the Mr. Goodbar. That left the Hersey's Special Dark, which none of us wanted. Those were the only bars that we allowed each other to toss those back into the bag to try our luck again. Mom always offered to eat the Special Dark bars. We thought she was a great mom for settling for the reject candy,while we feasted on Krackels. Nice job, Mom. We all fell for it. You had us fooled for all those years, but no more!  Now I'm with mom, you can have the Krackel, the milk chocolate, even the peanuts, I'll happily take those Special Dark Chocolates off your hands. These cookies are like those Special Dark bars, they are for serious chocolate lovers. They are a delicious dark chocolate cookie studded chocolate chips and tart cherries,  The perfect balance of bittersweet. All that's needed is a glass of ice cold milk.
Just for fun, I dipped  some fresh cherries in chocolate and then into sprinkles. Cute and tasty!

Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Source: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book
Printable Recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried sour cherries


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg, mixing well. Stir in the vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture n three batches, mixing until incorporated after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and cherries down the sides of the bowl.
Refrigerate the dough for a few hours until firm.
Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Roll out into 2 uniform logs about 12” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate again until firm enough to slice. At least 1 hour. (I left mine overnight).   At this stage you could wrap the log again in foil and freeze for up to 1 month.
Place one rack in the top third and one in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line the bottom of 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place the slices about an inch or so apart.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the dough looks just baked . Don’t over bake, the cookies should be tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cookies cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Great for Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ombre Petal Cake

Ombre is in, in a big way. Ombre, which just means a gradation in color, has been everywhere in fashion this this year.  Even in hair color. Which is great for me because now I can just pretend that the three different shades my hair has grown out is because I'm totally on the edge of fashion. It's not at all the fact that I'm several weeks overdue for a visit to the salon. Think anyone will buy that?? Anyway, like most popular fashion trends, it's not long before you start seeing some form of it translated into cake. Ombre cakes have started popping up all over the internet. I love the look of the fading shades of color and wanted to try it for myself.

I had a small cake and a lot of purple butter cream leftover from another cake I made this week, so I decided to play around with and attempt an ombre cake. I loved the effect.

I started with a  basic white cake that I filled and crumb coated. Then divided the frosting into three equal parts (you could do more shades if you want but I think three colors gives a nice effect.) and tint the frosting with gel color. Tint each one a shade darker than the one before, until you have three shades of the same color.
I used a simple confectioners sugar butter cream for the frosting.

Confectioners Frosting:

4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons milk or light cream

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.Mix in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar.Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the milk and beat to combine. Then, on high speed, beat frosting until it is light and fluffy.  If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap.

I decided to pipe around the cake with a petal design. It's a simple but pretty pattern that I saw on My Cake School's blog. Here's the link to her tutorial .
 When I finished the cake it looked a little naked so I threw some sprinkles on the edge. So cute! Wouldn't this cake be perfect for Valentines Day?

 Have fun and get your ombre on!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus Dip

Yes you read that title right. It says hummus ... please don't run away!

 I haven't lost my mind, well not completely anyway, but that's not what's going on here! This is hummus, that looks and tastes like peanut butter chocolate chip cookies! Sounds crazy right? I did a double take too when I came across this recipe on The Wannabe Chef. After reading through the recipe, I couldn't wait to give this a try. I mean it sounded so odd I just had to find out for myself. Luckily, I had everything the recipe called for in the pantry, so I whipped up a batch immediately! I liked it, a lot...I see me experimenting with other variations of sweet hummus dips in the near future.
Cookie dough hummus is not something I've ever thought to make but I'm glad I did. Not only is this stuff good (like eat the whole bowl good), but it's way better for you than eating a bowl of actual cookie dough. Chickpeas are packed with protein and fiber, not a claim your average bowl of cookie dough can make. Perfect those of us you that are still keeping your New Years resolutions to eat healthier foods this year.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus Dip
source: The Wannabe Chef

2 cups chickpeas
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Drain, rinse, and peel* your chickpeas. 

Yes, those are chickpeas!

In a food processor, add the first 4 ingredients and process for 3-5 minutes or until the hummus is very smooth. Remove the mixture from the food processor and stir in the chocolate chips. Serve with graham crackers, apple slices, or eat it right off the spoon, or like I did... 

Don't judge!
*  If you'd rather not peel the chickpeas, you don't necessarily have to. Peeling the chickpeas makes for the creamiest hummus and  is worth the effort. It also helps cut down on the earthiness of the chickpeas a little, which makes this taste more like cookie dough.

It also makes a great healthy snack for the kiddo's!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Apple Pie Oatmeal

It's a new year, the holiday's and all the non-stop eating that goes along with them have past. Fresh starts and resolutions abound. Eat more veggies, get more exercise, lose a few pounds ...Sound familiar? While all of those sound like perfectly wonderful things to strive for, I can't help craving comfort food when it's cold outside. On these wintry days, I crave hearty, stick to your ribs, kinds of foods. Rich hearty comfort foods and eating healthy don't usually have much in common. This apple pie oatmeal has the best of both worlds. It's a hearty, warm, comforting meal that's packed with all the goodness of oatmeal and apples. Isn't it great when you can have your cake (or apple pie) and eat it too!

Apple Pie Oatmeal

2 large tart apples
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or substitute Stevia or Stevia in the Raw)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or use honey, or just more brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
a large squeeze of fresh lemon juice, about a teaspoon or so
1/8 cup water

Cooked oatmeal. (I use steel cut oatmeal because I like the flavor and texture but  use whatever oatmeal you prefer.)

Core the apples and chop into small 1/2 inch pieces. In a skillet over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, apples and water. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes or until all the apples are soft and tender. 
The apples can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
To serve: I like to stir a spoonful or two (depending on how many servings of oatmeal I'm making) of the apples into the oatmeal when it's finished cooking then I divide oatmeal into bowls and serve with a dopple of apples on top. 

I suggest making a double recipe of the apples and keeping them in the fridge. This way on those busy mornings, you'll still have time for a bowl of apple pie oatmeal.
The apples are also delicious mixed into yogurt, on top of pancakes, baked into puff pastry for a quick dessert, or even served along with pork.