Tag Archives: chocolate

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

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In middle school, Georgia and I used to make homemade truffles to give to our friends around the holidays. Actually, Georgia started this practice—I remember being in awe of her cocoa-dusted truffles neatly packaged in tiny Chinese takeout boxes that she gave me one Christmas. I thought it was a genius idea to give out homemade treats and started doing the same. Some years I made chocolate peanut butter cups, packaging them in cheap holiday mugs for my family. They were probably melted by the time the recipients opened them, but I remember being quite pleased with my handiwork.

Despite living in New England all my life, I think I have a bit of Southern girl in me, as I believe that the best way to show people you care about them is by cooking for them. A simple omelet, a box of dark chocolate truffles, and a birthday cake all become more special if you’ve made them yourself.

Sophie, one of our closest friends, recently turned twenty. To celebrate her special day, we gathered and feasted upon a truly decadent red wine chocolate cake, topped with a mascarpone cream and fresh, juicy strawberries. Although it was simple to prepare and not grandiose in the least—the cake is only one layer—it was one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever eaten. The cake is rich, chocolaty and punctuated by pockets of deep red wine flavor, but perfectly complimented by the cool cream and sweet strawberries. It’s sophisticated enough to serve after a formal dinner, but easy enough to prepare that you’ll want to make it for every occasion.

If you haven’t thought of something to get your dad for Father’s Day, I recommend making this cake. It requires no more than an hour of your time, a few ingredients, including good red wine, and endless love.

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Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg & 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder (we used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour both the sides of the pan and surface of the parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and yolk, beat well, then add the wine and vanilla. The mixture might look a little lumpy, but fear not, this is totally normal and your cake will be fine.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Sift the dry mixture over the wet, then beat until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the topping, beat together mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form–don’t over-beat. Smooth over the surface of the cake and garnish with fresh strawberries or raspberries.

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Chocolate and Ginger Scones

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Happy Post-Exams, everyone! Now that the first semester is over, we can actually post on the blog again! Rejoice!

On this lovely, warm January Saturday, Caty and I decided to incorporate both ginger and chocolate into a batch of sweet milk scones from The Best Recipe. Unfortunately, there was a small –shall we say– miscommunication regarding baking soda in the first batch, so we were forced to whip up a few more after discovering our light and fluffy scones were not, as promised, light and fluffy, but instead lay flat and dense on the cooking sheet like flaky, unappetizing little hockey pucks. Yum.

No matter. The correct recipe brought us some simply delicious scones, which are well worth making. But I suggest learning from our mistakes. Add baking soda the first time. It’ll save you a bit of frustration.

The zingy ginger combined with slivers of chocolate dot these scones, adding an interesting flavor perfect for a winter brunch. Enjoy.

Chocolate and Ginger Scones
Adapted from The Best Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup whole milk

  1. Preheat oven to 450 and position a rack in the middle of the oven
  2. Whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add ginger and chocolate. With fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Make a well in the center and pour in milk. Working quickly, blend ingredients together with a rubber spatula into a soft, slightly wet dough. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface.
  4. Roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick. Use a lightly greased and floured 3-inch biscuit cutter (alternatively, you can use the rim of a glass) to shape the dough into small rounds.
  5. Place the dough rounds 1 1/2 inches apart on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes and serve immediately.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

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Yesterday we celebrated the 18th birthday of Maia, one of our very good friends. So we made a cake!

Homemade cake is fun because people think you’re some sort of culinary genius, even if it took super-simple ingredients and twenty minutes to mix the ingredients.

The easiest way to frost a cake, which I have learned from various food websites and from personal experience, is to cut four strips of parchment paper and form a square on the edges of a plate. Place the cake in the middle and frost as messily as you would like. It’s like magic. You can get as much frosting and sprinkles on the parchment paper as you want, but pull out the parchment paper when you’re finished and… voila! A squeaky-clean plate to display your cake.

I have a pretty stocked cabinet of sprinkles. I’m kind of obsessed, if I haven’t mentioned that already. We used brightly colored sugar crystals and dinosaur sprinkles (thank you, Georgia!) to decorate Maia’s sophisticated 18th birthday cake. It was a big hit. Some of our friends even told us it was better than one of our local restaurant’s!

The cake is a two-layer chocolate cake made using Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake (the recipe comes from their container of cocoa powder) and frosting adapted from Kitchn’s Double Chocolate Sour Cream Cake. Layering chocolate chips in between the cakes makes for a nice crunchy, chocolatey surprise.

Make this for your best friend’s birthday and he or she will love you forever.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake
From Hershey’s

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottoms two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides. Lining the pans with parchment paper makes the cake look cleaner when it’s time to remove it from the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix together eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in boiling water and separate the batter equally into prepared pans
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Remove the cake from the pans and let cool completely.

 

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from The Kitchn

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, sift the powdered sugar. Beat together the sugar, butter and yogurt on medium speed until combined. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla and mix until the frosting is uniform in color. Adjust the sugar to taste.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

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Tis the season for gingerbread cookies!

But of course, this is Wright Time for a Schnack, and we had to be a little different. Yesterday we spent the afternoon whipping up these chocolate gingerbread cookies and listening to the very wonderful She & Him Christmas album.

Last year I made Martha Stewart’s chocolate gingerbread cookies which were amazing, but making cut-out gingerbread men and decorating them is way more fun. Chocolate and gingerbread may sound like an odd combination of flavors, but it’s actually quite wonderful. And, even better, they’re really fun to decorate with rainbow nonpareils, colored sugar, frosting, or whatever fun holiday cookie decor you have on hand!

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Good Life Eats

3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 egg, room temperature
3/4 cup molasses
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the butter pieces; mix with an electric mixer at medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.
  2. Whisk the egg and molasses together. Reduce the speed to low and, with the mixture running, gradually add the molasses mixture. Mix until the dough is moist, then increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface covered with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour until firm enough to work with without becoming sticky. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it is 1/4 inch. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment paper, stack the dough on a baking sheet and freeze about 15 minutes until firm, or refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer and place on a work surface. Peel off the pieces of parchment paper. Using cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as possible and arrange them on a baking sheet 3/4 inch apart. Roll the scraps together and reuse to make more cookies.
  6. Bake for 8-12 minutes on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Frost as desired once cool.

Oh noooo!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These little rounds of deliciousness from Better Homes & Gardens magazine are pretty phenomenal. They may, in fact, be my new favorite cookies. (NOTE: I do not say this lightly–I take my baked goods very seriously). Caty and I whipped them up for a bake sale along with a few other baked goods, but I ended up liking their mocha-y taste so much that I actually went to the bake sale after I dropped them off and ended up buying back my own cookies. That’s right. These are magical little pastries. Something about their melt-in-the-mouth consistency in conjunction with their coffee/chocolate flavor… God, don’t get me started. I could go on for a while.

Anyway, here is the recipe. Beware, they do have coffee in them, so prepare to be a little wired/hyper, depending on how many you eat and how caffeine affects you. I might have been a little loco after eating them, but personally I don’t find that a bad thing.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
1/3 cup sifted cake or all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (we used white)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter; heat and stir over low heat until mixture is melted and smooth. Cool for 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs and ground espresso beans; beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until well cooled and color lightens slightly. Add cooled melted chocolate, beating until combined. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Cover surface of dough with waxed or parchment paper. Let stand for 20 minutes (dough thickens as it stands)
4. Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil. Using a 3-ounce scoop (or 1-2 tablespoons) scoop dough in mounds 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
5. Bake in preheated oven about 13 minutes or just until tops are set and the cracks on top do not appear moist. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet on a wire rack for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire rack; cool.
(Makes about 24 cookies)

Chocolate Pie: Inspired by The Help

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Last month, Food & Wine (yes, another Food & Wine recipe.. I can’t help it!) featured a section on food inspired by The Help. Originally, we had a fantastic idea of throwing a mini-party and making all the recipes. That didn’t happen, because everybody’s so busy lately. I know, it’s summer, isn’t that crazy?

We decided on a chocolate pie (sans Minny’s special ingredient. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read the book. Then see the movie!), for two reasons: 1, we both love chocolate and 2, I’m not sure if either of us would be able to stomach Crisco-fried chicken. No, that recipe’s for another day, when brothers and fathers are able to take part in food-blog sampling.

The pie was absolutely delicious, as one would expect a recipe combining pie and chocolate to be. We used the pie crust recipe from Food & Wine (featured in a previous post)–the really easy one, with only 3 ingredients (if you use salted butter). Remember that one? Yeah? Of course you do! And of course, no pie is complete without a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Georgia whipped that one up.. just some heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. A tip when making whipped cream: I find it helpful to use a stainless steel bowl, and to stick that and the beaters in the freezer before whipping.

Chocolate Pie
From Food & Wine, August 2011

1 packaged pie dough crust, such as Pillsbury
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.
  3. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center. Cover the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.
We had some leftover evaporated milk after we finished. Not wanting to waste it, we consulted the internet for recipes using the small amount we had left over. (Question: what is evaporated milk anyway? Such a strange ingredient.) So we made lattes. At 8:30. To see The Help at 9:30. Guess which two girls were awake all night? If you ever have evaporated milk leftover, which you will after making this pie, just mix it with some chocolate syrup and microwave for about a minute. Then, put the mixture in the blender and blend for about another minute to get it frothy. Finally, pour over some instant coffee and stir. All of the measurements depend on how much milk you have left–and your taste buds.

Because every food blogger needs a whisk keychain