A Passion for Chocolate

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Chocolate Filled Macarons

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is my second macaron post! While the French method recipe is fine for a climate-controlled environment if you’re without air-conditioning and it’s humid, it can be unreliable.  So after finding lots of recipes agreeing on the proportions below I gave the Italian method a go. I’ve made this recipe many times, in all types of weather, and it’s close to invincible.

Macarons, Italian Method, Makes about 36

200 g almond flour

200 g powdered sugar

[Variation: Add 3 T. Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder for chocolate macarons]

200 g granulated sugar

50 g water

1/2 t. vinegar

150 g egg whites, divided into two 75 g portions

1/2 recipe chocolate ganache, or other filling of your choice

It’s easier if you pre-measure everything and have it ready. Combine the almond flour [cocoa if you’re using it] and powdered sugar in a bowl. Mix well, I use an immersion blender. Add 75 g of egg whites and stir it into a thick paste.

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Combine the water, vinegar and granulated sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to make sure all of the sugar dissolves. Let it boil while you put the other 75 g of egg whites in a mixer bowl.

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Beat the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Turn the mixer down to stir if your sugar syrup is not quite at the soft ball stage. When the syrup comes to temperature, turn the mixer to high and pour the sugar syrup in a steady stream. Try to avoid the whisk if you can.

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Continue beating on high until the mixer bowl is no longer hot. The resulting italian meringue will be very stiff. Fold the almond paste into the meringue.

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Take some strong strokes at first to knock a little air out and then keep folding for about another 20 strokes. It’s perfect when you can drop some of the macaronage back into the bowl and it will hold its shape for 15 seconds before starting to slump back in. When you get close to 20 strokes just evaluate it one stroke at a time until you’re there.

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Grease your cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper, or use a silpat. Pipe 1-1/2″ mounds. They won’t spread a lot so you can keep them fairly close. Drop each pan onto the counter three times to get any air bubbles out.

Preheat the oven to 300 and let the sheets sit out for about 15 minutes. The macarons will form a bit of skin on top.

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Bake for 15 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may want to change racks halfway through the baking time.

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Let the cookies cool completely on the sheets and then remove them with thin spatula. Sandwich two halves with ganache and store them in the refrigerator. Take them out 10 minutes or so before serving.

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The chocolate variation:

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Chocolate YOLO Grenades

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People say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity, for some of us that line disappears under smears of chocolate and cake batter. I myself was pushed across this line by Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, which my family gave me for Christmas.   It’s my favorite kind of cookbook, with tons of stories along with the recipes for things like liquid cheesecake, bagel bombs and the infamous crack pie.

So, when I went to make my old-fashioned chocolate crinkles today and finish off my cookie posts I asked myself, “What would Christina Tosi do?” If you don’t have a strong constitution it’s probably best not to ask yourself that question. I answered it with hazelnuts, almonds, coffee and sea salt caramels. If I had some good-quality chocolate jimmies I swear on all that is sacred I would have used those as well.

Chocolate YOLO Grenades, Makes 18

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. ground hazelnuts
1/3 c. almond flour
1 t. instant coffee (I used Mackinac Island Fudge coffee.)
1/3 c. dark cocoa
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 c. milk
5 large sea salt caramels
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. powdered sugar

Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the melted chocolate.

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Beat in the nuts and coffee.

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Combine the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Beat in half the flour mixture, beat in the milk, and then the rest of the flour. Chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.

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Cut the sea salt caramels into quarters, and put the sugars in separate bowls. Preheat the oven to 350.

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YOLO mise en place

Scoop out a spoonful of dough and mold it around a square of caramel.

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Roll it in the granulated sugar, then the powdered sugar.

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Leaving about three inches between cookies, place the balls on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. The centers should still be slightly shiny if you’re going for Tosi-gooey.

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There you have it. Check out that runny caramel in the brownie-like center. Brutal. Warm these a touch before serving.

I hope you’re happy Christina Tosi – I have a feeling you will be 🙂


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Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream Cake Roll

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These cake rolls are really versatile, as well as surprisingly easy and quick to put together. I’m going to use this recipe to show you the basic method, then you can go to town and customize it however you like.  The one above is packed with peppermint ice cream,  and I served with a hot fudge sauce. You can adjust the proportion of cake to filling, mine is slightly overstuffed but I was going for something cold and refreshing.

I have filled these with chestnut ganache for yule logs, filled them with ice cream, jam, mousse, you name it! As long it will firm up enough to slice it’s fair game.

The cake roll recipe is the basic sponge sheet from Paula Pecks’ The Art of Fine Baking. This little book is very unassuming from the outside, but it is a treasure and worth much more than many cookbooks twice its size. It’s out of print, but there are typically quite a few copies on ebay. Her sponge cake recipe is a great example. She found a way around the whole steaming it in a towel mess.

Basic Sponge Sheet, The Art of Fine Baking (Paula Peck)

4 eggs

1/3 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 c. flour

Separate the eggs.  Beat the whites to soft peaks, and then beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating on high for five minutes until you get a VERY stiff meringue.

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In another bowl beat the yolks and vanilla together with a fork.

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When they are well-combined, fold in 1/4 of the whites to lighten them.

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Pour the yolk mixture over the remaining whites. Add the flour and cornstarch. Fold until combined.

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Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment. Grease and flour it lightly then pour the batter into the pan.

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Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until barely colored.

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Let cool. The cake will be light and very flexible.

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When the cake is cool you’re ready to fill it! In our parts the peppermint ice cream is only available around the holidays, and the kids love it. So I turned the cake out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and spread it with a 1/2 gallon of ice cream that I whipped in my Kitchenaid to make it easier to spread.

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Begin to roll the cake up from the end. When you’ve finished, wrap it tightly in the plastic wrap.

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At this point I returned it to the freezer for an hour to harden since I was working with ice cream. To finish the cake. Unwrap it and turn it out on a large platter.

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Any tan crust on the cake will probably peel off with the plastic wrap, leaving you with a lovely light yellow sponge exterior. You could easily just dust it with powdered sugar and call it a day, but if you want to dress it up you have lots of options. For yule logs I ice it with a batch of chocolate ganache, and draw some bark lines in it with a knife. I was going to something a tad lighter this time, so I covered it in stabilized whipped cream with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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I typically slice it at 3/4″ intervals, which will give you about 12 servings. I sauced the plates with some bittersweet ganache before I set the slices down.

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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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Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

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Pudding cakes are one of those old-fashioned desserts that deserve to be more popular. My grandma didn’t make desserts all that often, but when she did this was one of them. I have always loved it. It looks like a hot mess when you’re putting it together, but in the oven that dark energy goes to work and magically separates the layers with a moist cakey layer resting on top of hot fudge.  This recipe is a hybrid of my grandma’s recipe and one that is in my BHG Family Desserts cookbook. I like this version because it’s a lot lighter on the sugar then the original, but they are very close in taste and texture. Plus it goes together in under 10 minutes!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake Recipe (Six Servings)

For the batter:

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

2 T. olive oil

1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. milk

1/3 c. sugar

2 t. baking powder

1 t. vanilla

For the fudge:

1 c. boiling water

1/3 c. brown sugar

2 T. cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all the batter ingredients in a bowl and stir quickly to combine. You could also add some chopped pecans here if you like.

Sorry about the photo, this time of year the sun comes straight in. Grease an 8″ square pan and pour in the batter.

Mix the fudge ingredients together. At this point it will look like something has gone horribly wrong, but that’s part of the magic.

Take a deep breath and gently pour it all over the cake batter in the pan.

I know, it’s not pretty. Just stick it in the oven and close the door. Bake for 30 minutes. When you take it out it will be “quivery” as my daughter says. That’s okay.


It’s best to rest this dessert 15-20 minutes, because the fudge on the bottom will thicken as it cools a bit.

Spoon it out into dishes. I like to flip it over so the fudge is on top, and add a scoop of ice cream because I’m a lily-gilder from way back. (This is happens to be cookie dough ice cream. . .ahem).

Hot fudge pudding cake – what’s not to love?