I had a revelation this week: pastry cream is basically pudding, with perhaps an egg yolk or two more. Both start off with a milk/sugar base, thickened over the stove top using some combination of cornstarch/flour/egg yolks then flavored with vanilla, chocolate or any other flavor of choice. This recipe, in my opinion, can pass for both.
If you’ve been following along on social media (esp Instagram!) you’ll know I’ve had an exciting week: my little girl turned 7, my favorite fashion blogger of all time (Aimee Song!) showed my IG some love, and I discovered a classic Norwegian dessert called Krumkake.
In anticipation of my daughter’s birthday, I got to thinking what kind of cake should I make for her? Chocolate and vanilla can get tiresome when you make them almost every day. I thought, what about a Kit Kat cake? What would I need?
Chocolate, wafers, and more chocolate. I did some research on the filling of KitKat – apparently it’s some trade secret! Rumor has it the filling is made up of crushed KitKat?? That’s kind of dark. Like, candy cannibalism.
Anywho, that’s what got me started on my wafer journey. Looked up a wafer recipe, said recipe directed me to various presses. Instead of a waffle press, I went with this Norwegian Krumkake press, with it’s beautiful design, I couldn’t resist!
The simplest batter of butter, flour, eggs, sugar and milk gives you excellent wafers. The only thing is you need like 1 hour in the kitchen, baking each one for about 30 seconds each, and rolling them around the cone that the press comes with, or leaving flat if you want to stack them for a cake.
You can fill them with pretty much anything you like! Whipped cream, pastry cream, fresh fruit, ice cream. I opted for a dark chocolate ganache, whipped cream, blueberries and powdered sugar. They are delicious on their own, as well!
They are delicate, so take care handling them after they’ve dried. I found it easier to fill and decorate by placing them in tall glasses. Serve on a nice wooden platter and enjoy immediately!
- 2/3 stick (5 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- chocolate ganache (optional)
- whipped cream (optional)
- blueberries (optional)
- Melt the butter in a double boiler (a heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, not allowing the water to touch the bottom of the bowl), careful not to let it brown or get too hot. Add sugar + salt and beat on high speed with a handheld electric mixer until well combined. Add eggs one at a time and blend until mixture is a pale yellow color. Add milk, alternating with flour until all ingredients are combined. Add vanilla. Batter should be thick but drip off the spoon easily.
- Plug in your krumkake maker and set the color number to 4. Set out a kitchen towel and rolling cone. Spray the inside with non stick cooking spray. The red “baking” light will turn on. When the light changes to green (“ready”), drop 1tbsp of batter in the center. Close the lid and snap the latch shut. The light will switch back to red and when done, green again. Use tongs to carefully remove the krumkake and place over the cone, aligning the center of the krumkake along the length of the cone. Roll to form a cone and allow to set while working on the next one.
- Repeat (no need to spray additional spray) and remove previous krumkake from shaping cone. Adjust the color if you prefer a lighter krumkake*.
- When all the krumkakes have dried and keep their shape, place in tall glasses to fill. Fill with puddings, whipped cream, chocolate ganache and/or fresh fruit for a delicate, wonderful and tasty dessert.
*My manual suggests a setting of 2.5 but I was getting zero color at that setting.
The Last Chocolate Chunk Cookie
When I die, I want this recipe printed on my tombstone.
Just kidding, Muslims don’t do tombstones.
But this really is the cookie I’ve been searching for all my life. Free of all the silly things people add to chocolate chip cookies (CCC’s from here on out) to one up their game like extra SALT on top or TAHINI or the worst of all, NUTS. I don’t understand the need to muck up the most brilliant baking invention of all time with things that are not chocolate, flour, sugar, butter, leaveners, salt or vanilla. The original Nestle Toll House recipe, as brilliant as is, is missing a little complexity, and little texture.
I’ve tried SO many CCC recipes. Bang on a Pan. The Chewy. The Thin. Something from Buzzfeed. Tahini. Nestle. America’s Test Kitchen. And they all have their redeeming qualities. But for me, the NY Times recipe by David Leite is the closest I’ve come to perfection: a combination of cake flour and bread flour, one makes it tender, the other adds a chewy texture. A full 2 tsp vanilla for extra flavor. Refrigerating the dough to let the gluten relax.
I did need to tweak it to my tastes. I use my trusty OXO medium cookie scoop for perfect sizing. I use chocolate chunks in lieu of chocolate disks/feves/chips and I reduce the amount of chocolate from the original recipe. I know I make fun of my husband a lot for his critiquing the amount of chocolate in the original recipe, but he’s kind of right. The 16oz that I have here gives you a generous amount of chocolate (use good quality!) while allowing you to taste the nutty, buttery, chewy cookie.
This is the only recipe I use my scale for, mainly because the measurements are so fussy otherwise, with so many cup measures, plus or minus tablespoons. But this recipe is worth the fuss. Think of every delectable high quality CCC you’ve had at the best bakery – this one is it. Everything from the size (it’s big enough so the centers are chewy, the edges are crispy), to the proportions, to the wait time – it’s sheer perfection.
Pro tip – if your brown sugar hardens, don’t toss it! Place in a microwave safe bowl, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave at 30 second intervals at medium power until softened.
Final tip, I don’t know about your sieve, but salt doesn’t go through mine. So I usually sift the flours and leaveners together, then add the salt. Whisking to combine. Don’t let the butter get too soft, and that’s it. Happy baking!
- 2 cups minus 2tbsp cake flour (8 1/2oz)
- 1 2/3 cup flour bread flour (8 1/2oz)
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups (10oz) light brown sugar
- 1 cup plust 2 tbsp (8oz) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 16 oz chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, or a combination of both
- In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer cream the butter and sugars together at medium speed for 5 minutes. It should be light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time. Stop to scrape down the bowl before turning on mixer again. Add vanilla. Then, with the mixer on low add the dry ingredients, stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl. Finally, add the chopped chocolate and stir with the mixer if it can handle it, if not, use a wooden spoon.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1 3/4in cookie dough scoop (I use the OXO medium scoop), scoop out balls of dough until sheet is full. Flash freeze for 30 minutes. Take out then plop them into large ziploc bags or plastic containers. I recommend sticking them in the fridge to let the dough rest and the gluten to relax, as well as the flours to absorb some of the flavors/moisture. Refrigerate between 24 and 72 hours or freeze them if you’d like to bake them a week or two later*.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place on a parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet with plenty of space between each. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, at least 15 if taking directly out of freezer. Bottoms should be caramelized, nutty brown. Tops may look underdone but that’s ok as it continues to cook on the pan, even after taking out from the oven. After they cool completely, store in an airtight container and consume within 2 days.**
*I know I can’t help but bake some off right away, so please go ahead and do so (after the 30 minute freeze), but do save some for baking later so you can taste the difference!
**It loses freshness after that, but probably still edible dipped in milk.
Small Chocolate Cake
There are many a great chocolate cake recipes out there. Why, say you, post yet another? Take for example the great Beatty’s Chocolate cake recipe that I made for many years. All the elements of a great chocolate cake: good quality cocoa, buttermilk, coffee. The problem is, they’re quite big if you’re making something for an intimate gathering. I’ve learned an 8in cake feeds approximately 20 people, and 9 feeds about 25. So, if you’re looking for a small celebration cake for the family, this is the recipe for you. If you invest (~$20) in 3 6in round pans, you can have small, chic cakes any time. I always freeze my cake layers by inverting onto plastic wrap lined 6in cake board, then wrapping well with the plastic wrap. Small cakes can be kind of wobbly and difficult to decorate unless frozen solid. Then, let come to room temperature before serving.
I also recommend using a good quality cocoa powder for your chocolate cakes. You don’t have to break the bank. Rodelle from Amazon is really good quality for a reasonable price. You’ll get 6 to 12 servings, depending on how big you cut each slice.
I always find the best chocolate cakes are the ones with coffee in the batter. The batter will be quite thin – don’t let this worry you. It makes for a wonderfully aromatic and moist cake – doesn’t taste like coffee or mocha at all.
For the biggest chocolate fans, frost with a chocolate ganache, using a 1:1 weight ratio of chocolate to heavy cream. Otherwise this goes great with salted caramel, vanilla, chocolate or raspberry buttercream. Links to each below!
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed strong, hot coffee
1. Spray 3 6in cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pans on top of a big sheet of parchment paper and draw circles around the bottom of each pan. Cut out each circle and line the bottom of each pan with one. Spray the parchment lined bottoms of the pans with a bit more non stick spray.
2. Brew coffee. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add sugar to the bottom of a large bowl or the mixing bowl of your stand mixer.* Place a sieve over the bowl and add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda. Sift into the bowl. Add salt. Whisk to combine.
3. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine oil, milk, eggs and vanilla extract. With the mixer running on low, or by hand, slowly add wet ingredients to dry, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally, add the coffee, stirring slowly and carefully, until batter is combined.
4. Divide evenly between the three cake pans (I use a scale to determine this). Bake for 25-28 minutes in preheated oven or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool, then remove from pan and slice off the domes before stacking and frosting. Frost with my raspberry swiss meringue buttercream, american buttercream, vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, chocolate swiss meringue buttercream, chocolate ganache or your choice of frosting.
*I do this step first because I’ve forgotten to add the sugar too many times.
Mini Cap’n Crunch Chocolate Tarts
When my friend Jafreen and I entered a bake off during our undergrad years, we thought we had it in the bag. We were both good bakers, definitely spent more time in the kitchen than our peers, and would put together thoughtful, from scratch baked goods. Needless to say, we lost. Terribly. We were outbaked by Duncan Hines. I don’t remember who was on the judging panel, but this post is for you.
This past weekend we got to compete at the Islamic Center Professionals of NYU’s Bake Off. It was so fun. Secret ingredient was revealed 72 hours prior so research and experimenting time was limited. We were split into categories of cake, cookies, pies/tarts and puddings. My partner was the defending champ of the pudding category, with his cranberry creme brulee. This year we were in pies/tarts. So when they revealed the secret ingredient of breakfast cereal, my mind went into overdrive. If the secret ingredient were a single fruit, you’d have a lot less to work with. But there are dozens of cereals to choose from – all with different flavors and textures.
I knew I wanted it to be a tart rather than a pie – pies rely on the flaking crust to be considered a pie and are more often than not made with fruit. Tarts can have a little bit more flexibility – can be made with a shortbread crust, or cookie crust. Then in terms of fillings – should I do pastry cream and fruit? Chocolate and peanut butter? Should I incorporate the cereal in the crust? In the filling? On top?
My partner pushed me to go the extra mile. After all, when it comes to bake offs, presentation can be just as important as taste. So we thought of recreating the cereal bowl plus milk pour over experience. What is a pourable topping in dessert? Creme anglaise. What goes well with creme anglaise? Chocolate, souffles and cooked fruit desserts.
So the chocolate tart was born. Mini because we’d have to make portions for the audience to try (also they are more elegant). And pourable creme anglaise in mini bottles that I found in the wedding favors section of Michael’s. Cap’n crunch in the shell. Caramelized rice krispies on top so you have some crunch to balance the smooth chocolate filling. And garnished with a little berry.
We were proud of our entry. And I was proud of my friends who entered, particularly because they were overcoming challenges of their own to be there. My old friend Jafreen, as well as my new friend, Moni of Moni’s Kitchen.
My husband was there for support. Isn’t he cute? OK you can stop looking now.
Ultimately, the judges deemed our tart the winning entry for our category, and the audience voted ours the best dessert of the night! Grand prize went to an amazing honey ricotta cheesecake with a Honey Bunches of Oats crust, homemade ricotta and divine salted caramel drizzle. Very well deserved! Can’t wait til next year!
Feel free to make this without the addition of Rice Krispies and Creme Anglaise. If you’d like to make a traditional tart without the cereal, simply swap out the Cap’n Crunch for the same amount of flour. And before anyone else tries to take this idea – Salted Caramel Rice Krispies Cereal. I’m calling it! You heard it here first!
For the tart shell (recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table):
- 1 cup Cap’n Crunch Berries or regular Cap’n Crunch
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 18 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, diced
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 cold large egg yolks
For the filling (recipe from Epicurious):
- 9 oz bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa), in small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the topping (recipe from Food52:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 cups Rice Krispies
- pinch sea salt or fleur de sel (optional)
For the creme anglaise (recipe from Epicurious):
- 1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch cereal or cereal of choice (optional)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Make the tart shell: grind the cereal in a food processor until fine (if there are some slightly bigger chunks left, can crush them with fingers, careful to avoid the blade). Add flour, powdered sugar, salt and process until cereal/flour is evenly distributed. Remove the lid, add butter, and pulse 5-6 times to combine. Beat the egg yolks with a fork and with the machine running, drizzle the egg yolk into the dry ingredients. When you see clumps just starting to form, turn the machine off and dump out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead just until it comes together into a ball, divide in two and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a mini tart pan with non stick cooking spray. Remove dough from fridge. At this point you can either pull off golf ball sized pieces of dough and press into each of the mini tart molds, or you can roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/4 in thickness and cut out circles. I used a 3in diameter cutter for my tarts that are about 2 1/2 in in diameter. Push dough down and along the side so you get the pattern on the sides.
- Cut out little squares of aluminum foil and place in each tart shell. Pour some rice or beans to act as weights and blind bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from oven, remove aluminum and weights, and put back in the oven for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes remove from oven and allow to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. You should have at least 24 mini shells.
- Make the chocolate filling: in a medium to large microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Heat at 50% power at 1 minute intervals, stirring slightly between intervals until chocolate is mostly melted. Continue stirring until chocolate is fully melted.
- Whisk the egg whites with the vanilla and salt. Add a little bit of the chocolate mixture to the eggs to temper them. Then add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir or whisk until fully combined. Pour about 1 tbsp of the chocolate mixture into each cooled tart shell, so that it fills it up but doesn’t overflow. I use my 1 3/4in diameter cookie scoop for this. Bake for about 10 minutes until sides are set and middle is still jiggly. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Can serve as is or with caramelized Rice Krispies and creme anglaise.
- OPTIONAL Make the caramelized Rice Krispies: combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat at medium high. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. After it dissolves, only swirl the pan, never stick a spoon in there. Allow it to boil away until it becomes a light amber color. While the sugar boils, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease with non stick cooking spray, as well as your spatula.
- When the sugar has reached the desired color, add the rice krispies and stir very carefully to coat the cereal in the caramel. Dump onto baking sheet and spread and thinly as possible. Sprinkle on salt. Allow to cool, then break apart with hands.
To further break them down, pour into a large ziploc bag, and roll a rolling pin over several times. Sprinkle tarts with desired amount of cereal.
- OPTIONAL Make the creme anglaise: Add the cereal to the milk/cream and let it sit for 45min to 1 hour. In a small sauce pan, strain the milk/cream and discard (or eat) the cereal. Heat milk/cream over medium heat until it reaches a simmer (bubbles around the perimeter, but not a roaring boil). While that heats up, whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow. Add vanilla and whisk to combine. When milk/cream is ready, add a little bit to the eggs and whisk. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the milk/cream so as not to curdle the eggs. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Refrigerate until cool. Serve alongside tarts so folks can poured their desired amount.
Pistachio Layer Cake
I’ve been making pistachio cakes in various forms since my friend asked me to make one for her wedding last year. The truth is, it’s very difficult to make a strongly pistachio flavored cake. It’s not like ice cream where the nuttiness easily comes through the cream and sugar. In cakes, in its attempt to compete with all the flour, eggs and dairy, it struggles to maintain its flavor while maintaining a light, tender crumb we expect in a cake.
I changed this recipe from the original, to include pistachio paste (which you can get online). I looked at peanut butter cake recipes and saw they utilized peanut butter in lieu or in combination with butter, so I thought I’d apply the same principal here. It provides a rich, creamy pistachio flavor. The cake is then lightened with beaten egg whites to add lightness. The result is a light, nutty cake.
I’m not sharing an accompany frosting recipe, because in all honesty, I haven’t got one. I tried making the boiled milk icing from the original recipe, but oh my God did it die on me. It was a runny mess (perhaps my boiled milk/flour/sugar combo was too thin?). I spent all morning trying to salvage it – first by adding some confectioners sugar, then some more cream cheese, then butter, then more confectioners sugar. After removing a small amount to mix with pistachio paste (my last ditch effort to salvage at least some of it), I was able to make a concoction that held up JUST enough to fill the cake.
For the outside, I went with a tried and true (and quick) recipe: chocolate ganache. Which isn’t much of a recipe at all as it’s just some baking chocolate bars, broken up in chunks, then melted in the microwave at medium power with half its weight in heavy cream (so in this case, 24oz chocolate with 12oz heavy cream). Mixing every once in a while until completely melted and smooth. Not to say it’s straightforward to make ganache.
There are plenty of ways to muck it up. If you mix it before it is warm enough, it will start to get grainy. If you make it too hot, it will get grainy. Basically you need the Goldilocks temperature to get chocolate ganache just right (between 90 and 110 degrees). I recommend using an instant read thermometer to get your ganache just right, but if you don’t, just make sure it’s warm to the touch while you are stirring.
I then placed it over a bowl of ice water, whisking with an electric mixer until it was thick and glossy.
Finally, I decided to try decorating with pistachio sugar shards. I’m not sure if that’s what it’s called, but it’s not quite praline, not quite toffee, not quite caramel either. It’s just 1 cup sugar melted with 1/4 cup water until light golden in color. I then poured it over 1/4 cup shelled pistachios on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let it cool. Once cool enough to handle, I broke it up into big chunks to decorate, then further crushed the remaining chunks with my rolling pin and a ziploc bag.
It was surprisingly tasty. Next time, I will definitely add some salt to make them even better!
Recipe adapted from Handle the Heat
- 1/4 cup pistachio paste
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup shelled, raw, unsalted pistachios
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 8in baking tins with non stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper (place the pans on top a large sheet of parchment, draw a circle around the circumference with a pencil, and cut out). Set aside.
- Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until finely ground. Careful not to let it go for too long, since it will turn into a paste. Pour ground pistachios into a large mixing bowl.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, cream pistachio paste, butter and sugar for 2 minutes at medium speed.
- While that goes, combine the ground pistachios with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornstarch. Whisk until combined.
- Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, turn mixer back on. Add egg, then vanilla. Then alternately add the dry ingredients with the milk – 1/3 dry ingredients, 1/2 milk, ending in the dry ingredients. Periodically scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Stop mixing when dry ingredients are just incorporated in the batter.
- In a medium bowl, combine egg whites with cream of tartar. Whisk with an electric mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form when you pull the beaters up and out of the egg whites. Add a little beat of the beaten egg whites to the batter to thin out the batter. Then add half of the remaining egg white, folding in carefully so as not to deflate them. Add the second half and fold just until you no longer see white streaks.
- Divide equally between the three prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes until browned on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cakes and level them before frosting.
Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
I recall as a kid, I would get visibly angry if upon cutting into a cake at someone’s birthday party, the interior revealed a pale cake with fruit wedged between the layers. I mean c’mon! Save the fruits for the healthy afterschool snack. If I’m dressing up and buying you a present, the least you can do is serve up some decadent chocolately goodness. I mean as I kid I wasn’t on the hunt for swiss chocolate or anything, heck I’d be happy if they served the Entenmann’s double chocolate cake over any of those cakes from my childhood. The one exception I make: raspberries. But only when smothered in chocolate, no less. Chocolate and raspberry will forever be one of my favorite flavor combinations. The chocolate/raspberry mousse cake from my local bakery was a long time favorite of mine, until my palette changed and only my homemade chocolate cake will do. So I created this homemade version, using swiss meringue buttercream instead of mousse as they are similar in texture and sweetness. In traditional Naureen style this is chocolate ganache dripping all over the cake, the perfect accent to the raspberry and chocolate layers underneath.
This recipe makes enough to frost a three layer 6 in round cake in the semi naked style.
- 6oz. fresh raspberries
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3 egg whites
- 18 tbsp room temperature unsalted butter, cut into tbsps
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan over medium heat combine raspberries, 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice. Stir and allow to come to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to low and allow to reduce and thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mash with fork. Allow to cool.
- In another small saucepan bring a small (about 1in thick) amount of water to simmer. In the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large heat proof mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites with 3/4 cup sugar.
- Place over the simmering water and whisk occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and mixture is quite warm to the touch (you shouldn’t feel any granules when you stick your finger in). Remove from heat and start beating with the whisk attachment at medium speed. Beat for a few minutes, until the mixture cools down to room temperature and the mixture is thick and glossy. When the bowl no longer feels warm (test the temperature by placing the back of your hand on the side of the bowl), start adding the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. It will look weird. Feel free to stop and scrape down the bowl.
- Continue beating at medium to high speed until the mixture looks curdled. Keep beating until it comes together into a homogenous, smooth buttercream. Lower the mixing speed and add vanilla and cooled raspberry compote. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator, covered for 2 weeks. To use after thawing, re-beat with a whisk attachment until smooth.
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
There is no rhyme or reason to this cake. It is neither healthy, nor a proper dessert. It is simply for chocolate lovers. It is a glorious use of a bland, high water content vegetable that lends it’s moisture to the crumb of this perfect snack cake. It’s blandness acts as a perfect palette for all the wonderful cocoa and brown sugar flavor to absorb.
I’ve posted about chocolate zucchini cake before. This bread version is a bit heartier with whole wheat flour and almond flour – a little more substance to justify my classification of it as a snacking cake! I wasn’t happy with any of the recipes I found online for chocolate zucchini loaf, so I made my tweaks, including adding chocolate chips, and voila! Perfection.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup AP flour/1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup almond flour)
- 1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa plus extra for coating chocolate chips(if using natural cocoa, swap the amounts of baking soda and baking powder)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 12 tbsp melted butter
- 1 lb zucchini, grated
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly dust a 9inx5in loaf pan with cocoa powder. Stick in the freezer while preparing your ingredients.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Turn off heat and allow to cool down.
- Wash and cut off one end of zucchini. Grate, not completely finely, but not in huge slivers either. Place a large sieve over a bowl and place grated zucchini there to drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (everything except the eggs, butter and chocolate chips). Whisk to combine, breaking up any large clumps. Make a well in the center and add eggs and butter. Mix with a wooden spoon (Bengali alert: I used my hands to mix this batter!). Add all of the zucchini and stir until combined. In a small bowl combine the chocolate chips with sprinkling of cocoa (maybe 1/4tsp). Toss to coat the chocolate chips with the cocoa. Add to the batter, gently folding in. Take the loaf pan out of the freezer and add the batter, spreading evenly across the loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.*
- Allow to cool completely before attempting to remove it from the pan.
*It won’t come out completely clean due to the moisture of this loaf. A few crumbs are ok. You just don’t want it to come out with wet batter.
Chocolate Candy Cupcakes
After a startling reading on the weight scale towards the end of December, I swore off sugar. Just two years prior I worked so hard to lose my baby weight. Inspired by beach body coaches in my network, I vastly cut down sweets, decreased portion sizes, drank tons more water, swapped quinoa for rice in many of my meals, and began to regularly exercise using Fitnessblender, the only exercise I’ve been able to stick to thanks to the fact that I can choose from workouts of different durations and can do it from the convenience of my home. So I lost the 9 pounds of lingering weight, and 8 pounds on top of that.
And then I fell off the wagon. Slowly but surely I downward spiraled, picking back up my sweets habits and eating rice and curry without restraint. I kept up with the exercise more or less but it wasn’t enough with my slowing metabolism.
So I decided to stop eating foods with added sugar. It’s just one step, but surely it should help. But of course the universe has to align to make this impossible for me. Shortly after making my resolution, I attended a gingerbread house making playdate where I was SURROUNDED by candy and cake and all kinds of good stuff. Soon after that my daughter’s birthday rolled around and somebody’s gotta do QC and make sure things taste right. Amiright?
I did a good job holding off on tasting these, but then I needed a cross section for the blog, so guess where the other half went.
This is a really magical combination for the chocolate lover in your life. It’s reminiscent of the creme filled hostess cupcakes, but made even better with quality cocoa in the cupcake and chocolate in the ganache, homemade salted caramel sauce and delicious candy toppings. Remember we eat with our eyes first, and kids moreso than us. So if they see m&ms, they automatically think it’s a superb cupcake.
Enjoy the quick video tutorial below!
This is an adaptation of Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate cake. Because I used Dutch-process cocoa (which is alkalized, or less acidic than natural cocoa), I upped the amount of baking powder and decreased the amount of baking soda from the original recipe. I also used boiling water instead of hot coffee as many chocolate cake recipes call for, as it made for a way too tender a crumb. Perfect in layer cakes, but for cupcakes, you need something with structure.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa (I use Rodelle)
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin/cupcake pan with paper liners. You will need 15 in total. My cupcake pan only has room for 12, so I need to make these in 2 batches.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer add the sugar. Place a sifter over the top of the bowl and add flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda. Sift the ingredients into the sugar. Add salt. Stir to combine using the paddle attachment.
- In a 4 cup measuring cup or in a medium bowl, measure out the milk and vegetable oil. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well using a fork. With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in the wet ingredients into the dry. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer back onto low and slowly drizzle in boiling water. Stop the mixer and scrape down with a spatula to ensure the batter is homogenous.
- Using an ice scream scoop, scoop batter into the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way to the top. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- After they cool, hollow out the middle using a small circular cookie cutter. I used the smallest one from this set. I filled it with marshmallow creme using a piping bag and wide tip. I drizzled some salted caramel sauce over them. Then frosted them with chocolate ganache and garnished with chocolate candies.
Chocolate Wafer Cookies
If ever you’ve craved a cookie so intensely chocolately, with little to meddle with it pure chocolate flavor (no nuts, no eggs, and a high cocoa to flour ratio), then this cookie is it.
I first made these about 1 year ago when I made my first ice box cake…for 50 people. I must have made 4 batches. Probably could have made less if I hadn’t been snacking on them along the way.
These cookies mimic the famous Nabisco Chocolate Wafers that most icebox cake recipes call for. For some reason, they’ve been discontinued in store, and are only available online. Every time I attempt to purchase some, that little voice in my head goes “hydrogenated oils…preservatives” then I head to the kitchen to make my own. They are easy to make, hard to mess up, and I always have the ingredients on hand.
It’s hard to tell when these cookies are done, since they are so dark. I usually just go by 10 minutes, as the recipe indicates. Since the cocoa is the predominant flavor, quality really matters. And unfortunately, it is one of those slightly fussy recipes in that it requires dutch-processed cocoa (cocoa powder that’s been alkalized, making it less acidic than natural cocoa powder). You could try to use a natural cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli (I wouldn’t recommend Hershey’s for these), but you may need to increase the baking soda. I haven’t tried it yet, but if you do, please let me know!
As these cookies cool, they become crisp, which is why they work so well in icebox cakes, and in this week’s case, ice cream cake. More on that coming soon!
They absorb the moisture from the surrounding medium without getting too soggy. They aren’t as heavy as say a brownie or a chocolate chip cookie, so you can satisfy your chocolate craving with a fraction of the guilt.
Recipe from Cooking Channel.
- 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar*
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa (such as Rodelle)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda. Add salt and stir to combine.
With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Once all the flour’s been added, add the milk and mix until combined.
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Dump cookie dough directly onto the plastic wrap, in a log-like shape. Wrap up the dough with the plastic wrap and continue to shape into an even-width log. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Score cookie dough with a ruler 1/4in apart. Slice the log into 1/4in thick disks and place disks on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Refrigerate the remaining cookie dough. Then rotate baking sheet and bake for 2 minutes more. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Continue with remaining cookie dough. Wrap well and store at room temperature.
*I only had light brown sugar in stock, so I added half a tablespoon of molasses to substitute for the dark brown sugar.