A Passion for Chocolate

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Cake Truffles

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Today’s cake pop trend really has its roots on the rum ball family tree – for many, many years bakers have been using up their extra frostings and cake on these little dainties. When I used to do a lot of wedding cakes I did the same thing. I kept the extra ganache and buttercream, mixed it with cake trimmings, added some brandy and then gifted them to the serving staff when I delivered cakes. Call me a stick in the mud but I have a few beefs with the whole cake pop concept – one, things on a stick are cute but hard to eat gracefully and two, most of the recipes call for canned frosting. If you’re going to the trouble of turning a cake pop into a miniature frog or some-such, you might as well take an extra five minutes and make it taste way better.

I wanted to share a primer on these little treats, because they make very easy and chic mini-desserts or holiday gifts. Since these were for a group of ravenous teens, I’ve just covered them in ganache. But you can dip them in chocolate or roll them in nuts, cocoa, more crumbs, etc. They would be terrific as part of a holiday champagne bar.

Cake Truffle Recipe, Makes about 36

1 recipe Guinness cake, baked and crumbled (or just bake two 8″ layers of your choice)

1 recipe basic ganache

2 T. liqueur, rum or brandy if  desired

Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Pour the liquid ganache over the crumbs and mix until well-combined.

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Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to firm up. Form into balls (I just use my hands but a melon baller would work) and drop onto cookie sheets.

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Coat them as desired (see notes above). I’ll be doing a related post soon on chocolate dipping.

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Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Part III: The Icing on the Cake

Okay, so you have the cupcakes and the filling. Now all we need is the icing! I threw together a quick and easy icing from one my favorite cookbooks, Baking by Dorie Greenspan.

Quick Chocolate Glaze (Frosts 10 cupcakes)

3 oz. chocolate (I used Hershey’s Special Dark chips)

1 T. confectioner’s sugar

2 T. butter, slightly softened

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Let cool slightly and stir in the sugar.

Then stir in the butter, until everything is smooth and glossy. Mine was spreadable immediately, but if your kitchen is warm you might need to put it in the fridge for a bit.

Assembling the cupcakes:

Cut a small core out of each cupcake with a small paring knife, put the cores in a bowl – you’ll need them again later. Fill the holes with fluff and use some of your cut pieces to cover the top of the fluff on each cupcake.

Ice half of the cupcakes with the frosting, ice the rest with the remaining marshmallow fluff, reserving 1/2 c. of fluff. Sprinkle the fluff-topped marshmallows with the leftover cake. Fill a piping bag with the reserved fluff and pipe it in swirls over the chocolate frosted cupcakes.

Next time I’m going to try and find some dessert glasses shaped like pints, and put the cake in the bottom with a “head” of fluff on top.


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Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Part II: Honey Marshmallow Fluff

So, we’re on to part two of the great Irish Hostess cupcake project! The cake recipe posted on Monday. I’m not sure I want to think too long about what is actually in the real filling of the cupcakes on the supermarket shelves. It’s super easy and fun to make your own fluff, and you know exactly what’s in it – sugar, just like nature intended. I’ve used honey here because it rounds out the stout nicely. This recipe will give you plenty to fill all the cupcakes plus some leftover. You can do what I did, and use the extra to frost some of the cupcakes or you can make a couple of the world’s best fluffernutter sandwiches.

Honey Marshmallow Fluff

2 egg whites

1/3 c. sugar

1/3 c. honey

1/3 c. water

1 t. vanilla

1 t. unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1 T. cold water

Beat the egg whites on high until you get stiff peaks. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, water and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook to 246 degrees, the firm ball stage.

 

Working quickly, turn on your mixer and beat the hot syrup into the egg whites on medium-high until well-combined. When you’ve poured in all the syrup, add the gelatin mixture and vanilla, turn the mixer to high and beat for another five minutes, until light and fluffy.

 

Now on Saturday just the icing and then we’ll be ready to put it all together!

 


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Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding, A Passion for Chocolate

There is nothing like pudding to sooth the soul, and after a crazy busy week it was just what the doctor ordered. Even without a box it is entirely possible to throw it together with the rest of dinner and get it to the table while still slightly warm. This also makes great filling for chocolate cream pie.

Chocolate Pudding (Six servings or filling for one 8″ pie)

3 c. milk (whole milk is best, but I used 1/2%)

2 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. sugar

2 T. cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark.)

2 t. vanilla

1/2 c. chocolate chips

Warm the milk over medium heat. Combine the dry ingredients together well.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the milk. Continue to whisk over medium heat.

It will thicken up, bubble and start to look like pudding.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat until combined. Spoon a couple large dollops of hot pudding into the eggs to temper them.

Stir together and dump it into the pan on the stovetop. Whisk briskly for another minute over the heat.

Take the pudding off the heat. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate chips, stirring until the chips are melted and incorporated. This final step is what gives you the richness of boxed pudding.

Pour into bowls or dishes. You can serve it right away or put it in the fridge. If you don’t like the skin on the top, just press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface before you put it in the fridge.


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Everyday Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Everyday Oatmeal Chip Cookies, Little House by the Dunes

Growing up we were more pie and cake people as I recall but I have always made a point of keeping a full cookie jar in our kitchen. It’s one of the things I hope the kids will remember when they set up their own houses. With a fast-growing 14-yr-old son and an active nine-yr-old daughter, our jar starts to empty as soon as I fill it up.

These oatmeal chip cookies have a lot of things going for them. This recipe makes a lot – I typically get around 60 per batch, you can sneak in healthy things like flax seed and quinoa flakes in addition to the oatmeal, and if you underbake them slightly they are good keepers.

They are classic homemade cookies, in search of a glass of milk.  I bake a batch nearly every Saturday afternoon, provided it’s not too hot to turn the oven on!

Everyday Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)

3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

3/4 c. white sugar

2 eggs

2-3/4 c. flour

1-1/2 c. oatmeal (whatever style you prefer – quick cooking tends to disappear more in the cookie)

2 t. vanilla

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Other mix-ins of your choice: flax seed, quinoa flakes, wheat germ – all good

Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat in the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients: flour, oatmeal, chips, baking soda and salt – include any extra mix-ins at this point. Beat on medium until everything in incorporated.

Drop by generous teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. I like to underbake them (for gooey centers) so I check them at 8-10 minutes. When they are done to your liking, remove them and let them cool. Make sure they are completely cool until stacking them in your cookie jar. It’s perfectly acceptable to taste them to determine the appropriate temperature for storage. . .

So because I was feeling a sprocky the other day, I added 3 T. of Hershey Special Dark Cocoa. If you like brownie-type cookies underbake them by 2-3 minutes. They will crisp as they cool.