Double Ginger Chocolate Cookies


Last week I went over to a friends house for coffee. As usually happens when two single women get together, the conversation eventually turned to men. You’d think at this point in our lives we could manage a conversation without talking about them, but no. Long story short, we don’t get them.

You go out on a date (well she does, I think 95% of the population is un-datable), things go really well, and then a week goes by and he hasn’t called for a second date. Why? What happened?

We pondered the possibilities while eating these Double Ginger and Chocolate Cookies. Serious injury was ruled out because she saw him at the gym. He smiled and waved, so it wasn’t amnesia. The men in Montreal tend to be short, and this guy is 6’2”. My theory is he knows all the women in the city are fighting over him and the other four tall guys, so he doesn’t want to commit.

After eating several cookies and drinking too much coffee, we came up with an action plan. Call him, ask how his weekend was, and see if he mentions date number two. She put the plan in place  Sunday night. They had a great conversation, but no second date

At least there were cookies.

I’ll be honest, these were a little too gingery for me. Next time I think I’ll just use the ground ginger. I also think they could use some chocolate chips. The recipe isn’t perfect, but I think with a few more tweaks it could be really good.

Double Ginger Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from the January 2011 issue of Bon Appetit

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking  soda, salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the molasses, egg and fresh ginger until well combined.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
  5. Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, drop dough onto a cookie sheet about two inches apart.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I had an incredible headache Thursday morning when I woke up. The kind that makes me want to lie perfectly still because any movement feels like an explosion in my brain. I stayed home from work and just lay in my bed for a few hours. It hurt too much to sleep or read, and the light from my computer or TV just intensified the pain. I let my mind just wander, if I wasn’t in pain it would have been kind of fun.

Eventually the pain lessened so I got up and started to work from home. Unfortunately my remote access wasn’t working. All of the emails in my inbox were from 2009, nothing I sent went through, and I had no access to any of the network drives. Oh well, I tried.

So what’s a girl to do on a Thursday afternoon when the rest of the world is hard at work? Make muffins of course.

These chocolate banana muffins are an attempt at eating healthy. Sort of. They’ve got whole wheat flour and no refined sugar. I probably could have cut back a little on the butter, but I figured I’d go one step at time, you know?


Chocolate Banana Muffins

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, egg, butter, and milk together.
  4. Create a well in the dry ingredients, pour the wet into the well, then stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in the cinnamon chips.
  6. Pour batter into the lined muffin tin, about 3/4 full. Bake for 27-32 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely (if you can wait that long)

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas! Have Some Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Happy Holidays!

Christmas morning in my parents house is the same every year. We wake up, head to the living, open presents, then have breakfast. What we eat for breakfast is a tradition too. There’s a selection of Polish sausages, ham and other cold cuts, pate, rye bread and Babka. The meal isn’t fancy, but it says Christmas to me.

This year, since the Daring Bakers challenged us to make Stollen, we replaced the babka with it. Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread, made with dried fruit. Penny added a twist to the challenge by asking us to make it in the shape of a wreath.

I actually made the recipe 3 times. The first time was a test run; I halved the recipe and baked it in a loaf pan. Unfortunately I took the bread out of the oven too soon, so the middle was not cooked through. The ends tasted wonderful though.

The second time I made it for an office brunch. Once again I used half the recipe, and I replaced the dried fruits with chocolate chunks, cinnamon chips, and cranberries. I shaped it like the Premiere Moisson Chocolate Cranberry Christmas bread, several balls of dough placed in a round pan. It was beautiful, and my coworkers seemed to love it. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures.

On Christmas Eve I baked it for the third time. Part of the joy of Christmas morning is slathering butter on a slice of babka, so I decided to split the recipe in half, part of it became a wreath and the rest was baked in a bundt pan so that we could cut off nice slices. I used the chocolate cranberry mix for the wreath, and the traditional dried fruits for the bundt.

Both turned out great. I’m glad I took the time to do the test runs, they gave me a chance to figure out how the dough rises and bakes. The recipe calls for an overnight rise in the fridge, however I also tried just letting it rise in a warm draft free space for two hours. Both ways worked well, and the taste was identical. Thanks for a great challenge, Penny!

Stollen

(makes two loaves)

  • ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  • 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups dried fruits that have been soaked in rum or orange juice (I used cranberries, apricots and blueberries) OR 1 cup cinnamon chips, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries.
  1. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
  4. In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
  5. Then stir in (or mix on low-speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the dried fruit and knead for 8 minutes (6 if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook). If using the chocolate cranberry filling, start kneading with just the chocolate and cinnamon chips, then add the cranberries towards the end being very careful so that the dough doesn’t turn pink.
  7. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm dry place for two hours, or in the fridge overnight.
  8. Punch the dough down and form into your desired shape. Let rise for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350. The time to bake the dough will depend on the shape chosen. Using half the dough, the wreath took 35 minutes in my oven, and the bundt took 50 minutes.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Sometimes I think the only reason I have cable is to watch the Food Network. All weekend long I have the TV on as I do my cooking and cleaning. Ina Garten, Laura Calder and Bobby Flay are like the soundtrack to my weekend.

I’m not a huge fan of competition shows in general but one of my favourite cooking shows is Top Chef, which in Canada airs on Food Network Canada a few weeks after it begins in the United States. I love watching chefs come up with incredible (and sometimes terrible) meals, and seeing their creativity grow each week. I would also love to know the truth about the pea puree. Unfortunately, I got my December issue of Food and Wine before the finale aired in Canada, so despite all my efforts to live in a bubble, I knew who was going to win.

All this to say these cookies are from Food and Wine’s feature of Kevin Sbraga. The cookies all looked delicious, but I decided the first one I had to try was the chocolate biscotti. My dad makes biscotti every Christmas, but I had never made them myself. The batter is just as easy to put together as a sugar cookie. The only real difference is the baking process. First the cookies are baked as a log, the log is then sliced and the pieces are baked again until they dry out.

These biscotti were very tasty. The chocolate and pistachio go together very well, but to be honest with you, I prefer my dads. Just because.

I’ll be submitting these cookies to Cream Puffs In Venice for Magazine Mondays. Magazine Mondays are a weekly event designed to help us get through those stacks of magazine recipes we’ve put aside to make “one day.”

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

From the December 2010 issue of Food and Wine

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups raw pistachios
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Melted bittersweet chocolate, for dipping or drizzling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and rum beating until well combined.
  3. In separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Beat in the pistachios.
  5. Divide the dough in two, shape each half into a log. Brush the logs with the egg whites. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Cut the logs into slices, return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the cookies have dried out. Let cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Truffle Cake

You didn’t think I’d let my Moms birthday go by without a cake, did you?

I usually decide on a type of cake myself, but this time I decided to ask my mom what she wanted. She said chocolate, chocolate mocha. So I got to work looking for the perfect recipe. The perfect recipe turned out not to exist, but I was inspired by two chocolate truffle cake recipes, one from Food and Wine and the other from Anna Olson. I used Anna’s cake recipe so that the cake would have some coffee flavour, and I used the ganache filling from the Food and Wine recipe. I added espresso powder to the dark chocolate layer, and kahlua to one of the white chocolate layers. Unfortunately I don’t think I used enough coffee, the chocolate flavour kind of took over. Despite not being very mocha-ey, the cake was delicious.

Before I get to the recipe, I have a blog award to share. Alina at Russian Season was kind enough to give me the Stylish Blogger Award.

Alina’s site is full of great Eastern European dishes, if you haven’t already you should definitely visit her site. So I’m giving the award right back to her and to these blogs I’ve recently discovered.

All Day I Dream About Food

Amy Bakes Everything

Black Book Kitchen Diaries

Oil and Butter

Wilde In The Kitchen

Pretty Peas

 

Chocolate Truffle Cake

For the cake

  • 3/4 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup regular cocoa powder (not Dutch pressed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the White Chocolate Kahlua Ganache

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua

For the White Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 15 by 12 inch baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted then set aside.
  3. Sift sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs on high-speed for 1 minute. Slowly add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. Alternate adding the flour and coffee mixture to the eggs.
  6. Taste the batter, it’s like pudding.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, bake for 25 to 30 minutes then let cool completely.
  8. Make the chocolate ganache. Heat the cream until small bubbles start to appear. In a small bowl pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has completely melted and is shiny. Chill for 1 hour.
  9. Make the white chocolate Kahlua ganache: Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. Heat the cream and butter until small bubbles appear then pour into the melted chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Stir in the Kahlua. Chill for 1 hour.
  10. Make the white chocolate ganache: Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. Heat the cream and butter until small bubbles appear then pour into the melted chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Chill for 1 hour.
  11. Assemble the cake: Slice the cake into 4 equal parts. On the first layer spread the chocolate ganache, reserving some ganache for the top of the cake. Top with another layer of cake. Spread the white chocolate Kahlua ganache on the cake. Top with the third layer of cake, and spread the white chocolate ganache. Top with the final layer of cake and ice with the remaining ganache.
  12. Let the cake set for at least 1 hour. When serving slice with a hot knife.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Nutella Bites

The idea for these cookies came to me in the shower, which means it could have been genius or madness. A ball-shaped shortbread cookie with a Nutella filling, sort of like a cookie truffle. There were some technical issues that had to be addressed, namely how to make a ball out of a spread. My solution was to chill the Nutella for 30 minutes, scoop it out using a mini melon baller then freeze the balls for 30 minutes.

The next issue was would the cookie dough hold its shape, or would they turn into a leaky Nutella mess? The only way to find out was to try, and these were a definite success. They kept a fairly round shape, and the Nutella stayed put in all of them.

Best of all, they were delicious; the perfect blend of chocolate and hazelnut flavours.

I think these are destined to become a holiday tradition.

Chocolate Nutella Bites

  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • icing sugar for dusting
  1. Put the Nutella in the fridge for at least 30 minutes till hardened. Using a mini melon baller scoop out 24 balls, place them on wax paper then freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. While the Nutella is freezing, make the cookie dough. Melt the chocolate with the espresso powder, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Blend in the chocolate, followed by the cornstarch and salt.
  4. Mix in the flour until a smooth dough is formed.
  5. Eat some cookie dough (for quality control)
  6. Shape the dough into a log, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  7. Once the dough has chilled, slice it into 24 even circles. Take a circle, put a Nutella ball in the center then using your hands roll it into a circle, making sure there are no seems. Repeat for the remaining dough/nutella. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350.
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  10. While the cookies are baking put your face up to the oven window and watch. Pray your cookies don’t leak.
  11. Once cooked, let them cool completely then sprinkle with icing sugar.

Enjoy!

A Surprise Birthday Cake

I recently changed departments at work. My old department would collect a dollar from every employee on Friday’s and use the money to buy birthday cakes from Premiere Moisson. My new department does not. The switch from a cake department to a non-cake department hasn’t been easy. I often find myself craving a piece of Opera cake. Or chocolate mousse raspberry cake, which I will try to reproduce at home one day.

I have therefore decided to introduce cake to my new coworkers. Today is my bosses birthday, and I will be bringing a birthday cake to the office tomorrow to celebrate. I checked with Genevieve, and she thinks the department will sing Happy Birthday to her. I won’t, but since I’m making the cake I think that’s ok.


I decided to go with a classic, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, to be sure that everyone will like it. I used the same recipe as the last birthday cake I made, mostly because I didn’t have time to look for a new recipe. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any drama though! I decided to make the cake in a 9 by 3 inch spring form pan instead of baking it in two separate pans. My goal was to limit the domming effect that led to the lopsidedness last time. Bad idea.  About two minutes after I put the cake in the oven, it smelled like something was burning. At first I thought maybe some of the milk from the icing (recipe below) had landed on one of my stove burners. I looked but everything seemed fine. Then I opened the oven. The pan was leaking. Thankfully it was a slow leak and some of the batter had landed directly on the element so the smell of burning alerted me to the impending disaster. I pulled the cake out of the oven, poured the batter into two regular 9 inch pans, set the timer and walked away. Thirty minutes later the timer went off. I opened the oven and discovered two completely uncooked cakes. I had turned the oven off when I pulled the springform pan out and never turned it back on again. So I turned on the oven, reset the timer and tried to bake the cake for the third time.

Third time is the charm!

I won’ t repost the recipe for the cake, as you can find it here, and the only change I made was to soak it in a little Kahlua.

I will however post the buttercream recipe. The buttercream is divine. The recommended to me by Janice, who has the answer to all of my baking questions. She described it as tasting like chocolate milk, but I think its more like hot chocolate. It’s a pastry cream based buttercream, and is incredibly easy to make. If you’ve never made a pastry cream before, be careful not to curdle the eggs.

Chocolate Buttercream

Yields about 4 cups.

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 lb butter (4 sticks)
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mix egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and cocoa together with a wooden spoon.
  2. Bring milk and 1 1/2 cup sugar to boil in a large sauce pot over medium high heat.
  3. Once boiled, add a small amount of milk to the egg mixture, stir to combine. This will temper the eggs to avoid curdling. Slowly add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking constantly.
  4. Return milk and egg mixture to sauce pot over medium heat. Mix constantly but slowly for 2-4 minutes, until you see large bubbles come up. At that point mix quickly for 45 seconds to 1 minute. The pastry cream should have increased in volume and become quite thick.
  5. Whisk the pastry cream with an electric mixer for 5 to 10 minutes to cool.
  6. Once cooled, add the butter 1 tbsp at a time, thoroughly incorporating after each addition.
  7. Add the melted chocolate, whisk till well combined.

I’ll try to get a picture of a slice at the office tomorrow.

A Lopsided Birthday cake

It’s Frank’s birthday! Yay! Ok, it was his birthday a week ago, but we are celebrating tonight with a feast of beer can chicken and other things which I can’t remember at the moment. What’s for dessert you ask? Chocolate cake with mascarpone icing, topped with some berries. Frank is a man who loves dessert, and I hope this cake doesn’t disappoint.

The chocolate cake is one that I’ve made a few times now, and it is always great. It’s a moist, rich cake, that is very easy to make. I’ve seen the recipe in a couple of places now, so I’m not sure who to credit. Anna Olson has a version on the Food Network Canada site, and Epicurious also has a very similar recipe. The ingredients are the same, only the size of the pan and baking times change. The original recipes call for buttermilk, which I almost never have on hand so I used a combination of milk and plain yogurt.

The cakes bake up pretty domed, and I didn’t trim the tops to level either one of them. When I was done icing the cake I realized the cake was quite lopsided. I’m going with the theory that its whats on the inside that counts.

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup strong fresh-brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mascarpone Icing

  • 250 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar (or to taste)

Topping

  • Fruit of your choice

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (including sugar) in a medium bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches, mix until well combined.
  5. Pour into two 9 in pans, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Icing

  1. Add 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and 1 tbsp of icing sugar to the mascarpone. Beat until the mascarpone is smooth.
  2. Combine the remaining cream and icing sugar and whip until firm.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone.

Assembly

Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread half the icing on one cake. Top with some fruits. Place other cake on top, and spread the remaining cream on that cake. Top with more fruit.

Enjoy!