Tag Archives: Chocolate

TWD: Best-Ever Brownies

Before you say “What? brownies the week of Thanksgiving and just before Christmas? How boring.”  Oh, wait a minute, that is what I mumbled to myself as I began today’s project. Boy was I wrong!

Twice a month a group of 400+ bakers join together, bake the same recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Baking With Julia.  Recipes are chosen by nomination and I was surprised when this week’s recipe turned up to be brownies, even though the title states “Best-Ever” Brownies.

TWD bakers have a chance to share what they like and don’t like about the recipe before we actually post our experience.  This time many bakers complained that the brownies did not bake in the specified amount of time, which is 25 to 28 minutes. For some the brownies were still soupy at 60 minutes.  I decided early on that I wanted to try this recipe in my little mini-muffin pans. Boy am I glad I did!  Read on …

The recipe calls for 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate and 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate.  I had 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate on hand, a package of bittersweet chips, semi-sweet chips and some white chocolate chips.  I ended up using: 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, 2 ounces bittersweet, 3 ounces semi-sweet chips and then I added in about 2 ounces of finely chopped white chips before baking.


The chocolate (except the white chocolate) is carefully melted along with unsalted butter.  I turned the burner on low, stirred as it melted and it did fine.  A cup of sugar is then stirred into the melted butter/chocolate mixture. Vanilla is added after the chocolate has melted and is removed from the stove.

While the chocolate is melting I stirred together the remaining sugar and 4 eggs.  Half of this mixture is then whisked into the chocolate/butter mixture.  Constant stirring keeps the eggs for actually cooking from the heat of the chocolate.  The remaining half of the egg/sugar mixture is whipped on high-speed until it is fluffy and doubled in volume.
Mixing the chocolate into to the whipped eggs and the brownie batter begins to take form.  Flour and salt are folded in to complete the process.
I folded in the chopped white chocolate just to mix slightly. Brownie batter doesn’t like to be over-beaten so each step is mixed keeping this in mind.  Next time I will leave out the white chocolate and add walnuts! Yum.  The original recipe directs the batter be poured into a 9″ square pan and baked for 25 to 28 minutes.  Do yourself a favor … get out your little mini-muffin tins, grease lightly and fill 3/4 full.  Bake 18 minutes.
The result will be some of the “best-ever” brownies you will ever make or eat! I got 60 mini brownie-bites out of the recipe.I drizzled some with white chocolate, some with melted semi-sweet chocolate and some I left plain.  These little brownie bites are fudgey without being gooey.
They will keep covered for 2 to 3 days at room temperature and can be frozen for up to a month.
I promise you they will be the hit of any office potluck, Christmas open house or neighborhood gathering.  I started out fussing about making brownies when there are so many exciting Christmas treats to be made.  I ended up with some of the best-ever brownies and these treats will be showing up all over my holidays!
The Chief and my sous-chef dish-washing mom got the honor of the first bites.  As they grumbled about gaining weight during the holidays this small plate was devoured in short order amid a variety of oohs and aaahs!

The recipe can be found in full thanks to Monica of A Beautiful Mess, this week’s host.  You can find the recipe on her site or on page 331-3321 of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers.  The results from other bakers can be seen by visiting the TWD blogroll.

~Many Blessings and Happy Cooking! Catherine

Win with a Chocolate Chip and Walnut Mini-Pie

When my Chief Culinary Consultant won second place in his age group at the Southern Tennessee Plunge Half-Marathon on Saturday I set off straight to the kitchen.  After a cold-drizzly rain, falling temperatures, and an increasing wind I knew we would all need a good meal with a winning dessert. I started with the one ingredient I always start with when I want to give him a special treat — chocolate.  In this case, chocolate chips.
Trust me when I say it was cold — 48 degrees, drizzling rain (see the wet pavement) and you will just have to take my word for the wind.  Apparently the weather was only bothering the athletic supporters.  That would be the three M’s.  Me, Mom, and our friend Marilyn.  We are the ones shivering cold on the sidelines, but cheering none-the-less.  Lee and his running buddy Tom both love to run.  It is beyond my ability to even imagine why.  I am the one on the sidelines behind the camera and I like it that way!

I did run to the kitchen following Lee’s 2nd place win so that I could try out my first time purchase of Kirkland chocolate chips from Costco.  If you shop at Costco these chocolate chips are wonderful.  They cost less than Nestle chips and are much richer in taste and bigger in size.  They are perfect for the chocolate chip mini-pies I had racing around my head. I started with a batch of Flaky Pie Dough.  I wasn’t exactly how many mini-pies the chocolate chip dough would make and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of pie dough.  This recipe makes 4 single crusts so I knew I would have enough for my mini-pies.  My five little pies used the equivalent of 2 crusts.  I still have enough dough left for two 9″ crusts. While the pie dough rested in the refrigerator I mixed up the eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla.  Oh my word this stuff is so finger-lickin’ good.  Not that I dipped a finger in there ….
I honestly don’t know how he can even be breathing let alone smiling :)

 
Finely chopped walnuts and my new-best-chocolate-chips go into the mix.
13.1 miles later he is smiling on the inside and very glad to be crossing the FINISH line.
One cup of chips go into the mini-pies, this handful … well, these are for the baker to taste test :)
 
I rolled out this lovely dough and shaped it in my mini-pie pans.  My sweet marathon runner is sleeping deeply in his favorite chair. What a surprise when he wakes up.

My mini-pie pans hold 3/4 cup.  This recipe filled 5 mini pans or one 9″ pie pan.
I sprinkled Turbinado sugar on the top of the little pies before baking.  This is totally optional, but I love the warm brown crystals shining on the top of the pie.
My sous-chef dish-washing mom, friend Marilyn, and our Chief runner.  Me? behind the camera, of course.
After the win, this chocolate chip & walnut mini-pie was a big hit with everyone!
This pie is best served slightly warmed with whipped cream or ice cream on the side.  Whether it is a regular sized pie or these little mini’s — every bite packs a flavor not soon forgotten!

VIEW and PRINT the Chocolate Chip and Walnut Mini-Pie recipe from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box.

~Blessings, Catherine

Weekend RoundUP with Squash Relish

Last spring my neighbor Gaye was telling me about a squash relish that she makes and serves with pinto beans and cornbread.   Growing up in Nebraska my mom would make white navy beans and ham with cornbread, but it wasn’t until I married my Southern-born husband that I actually cooked pinto beans.  I was a very, very picky eater as a child (wish I were a little pickier these days!) and beans were never of any interest to me.  I have had a good 20+ years of practice making pinto beans and cornbread and today I like them.  I asked my main-man-gardener if he would grow some yellow squash so that I could make this relish. The idea of a tasty relish on the side with pinto beans intrigued me.

The squash grew beautifully and I bought sweet Vidalia onions to use in the relish.  Sweet peppers, red or green are good in this recipe too.  Ours weren’t quite ready from the garden when I canned the relish so I didn’t use them this time.


I diced the squash and onions, added some canning salt and let them sit overnight.  The salt brings out the liquid in the squash and then is drained off.

Vinegar, sugar and spices are added and then everything is simmered for about 30 minutes.

At this point the relish is ready to be canned.  I like to can.  I get a lot of  satisfaction when the jars are cooling and I hear the little ping –plunk – plunk – as the lids are sealing.


I am by no means an expert canner but since I want to share some of my best canning recipes with you, I suggest that you follow experts on “how to can”.  I like to use my Ball Blue Book or the best website I have found is at PickYourOwn.org.  This website has a huge amount of information and follows the latest updated techniques as outlined by the USDA.

This batch makes 5 pints, so you’ll need 5 pint-sized canning jars with lids and rings. The relish is canned using the water bath method.  Each pint will serve 4-5 depending on how you are using the relish. This relish is a good choice to serve with chicken, fish, pork or beans!

PRINT Squash Relish Recipe from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box

Recipes from the kitchen this week include a side dish pie, a dessert pie and awesome  birthday cupcakes!

Yummy Vidalia Onion and Parmesan Tart
TWD:BWJ Blueberry-Nectarine Pie
Black and White Irish Cream Cupcakes with Bailey’s Cream Frosting

Many Blessings and Happy Cooking ~ Catherine

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“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV

Black and White Irish Cream Cupcakes and Bailey’s Cream Frosting

August.  My husband, my Chief Culinary Consultant, my talented gardener, my friend and the love of my life. It’s his birthday. In our house that has always meant one thing — CHOCOLATE and lots of it! Black and white – dark chocolate cake and white chocolate tossed with some Bailey’s Irish Cream.  The chocolate is for him — the Bailey’s for me :)

Last year a good friend sent my husband a beautiful birthday card with the following sentiment.  This came a Day Spring card and I saved it thinking one day I would share it.  Today is the day.

God is writing a book about you.
The pages tell of your life
and the lives you were created to touch.
No one else will take exactly
the same path as you, meet the same people,
or have a chance to show
the love of God in the same way.
YOU are unique and so is your story …
and it’s one of the Author’s favorite reads.

I love this sentiment and in my mind’s eye I see the book with the story that is being written about each one of us.  It is one of my favorite reads. I hope it touches you as well.
I adore making cupcakes. Cupcakes satisfy the need for cake but also gives me delicious frosting in every bite!   I also like making 24 cupcakes, using what I need and putting the rest in the freezer for a little surprise ending to dinner, at a later date!  This recipe is just such a recipe.  To make my “black and white” cupcakes I started with these luscious white chocolate chips.
For ease and speed I use a Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Cake mix.  I followed the ingredient instructions on the box but then added 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur.  The extra 1/2 cup liquid did not change the over-all texture of the cake except to enhance the flavor.
As you can see the cupcakes baked up really nicely shaped.  I filled the cups about 3/4 full making 24 cupcakes.
The frosting is a combination of butter, Bailey’s Irish Cream, vanilla and powdered sugar.  It whips up smooth and creamy yet full-bodied.  The frosting can be piped on with a decorators tip, or topped like I did using my Decorator but without a tip or just slathered on as you will.
Sprinkles or colored sugar kick the decorating up a notch!  All-in-all this is such an easy recipe to make and yet the cake will take made-from-scratch.

Click here to PRINT the recipe from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box!

How to Store Cupcakes

After the cupcakes have cooled, I keep then in large Tupperware-style containers.  Food safety experts recommend that cupcakes with whipped cream, buttercream, cream cheese, or ganache frostings should be refrigerated.  Refrigerated cupcakes should always be brought to room temperature before eating.

Freezing Cupcakes

When freezing baked cupcakes,you want to prevent the common problems of freezer burn, dryness, and gummy tops. Because the texture and consistency of frosting and icing can change drastically in the freezer, only plain (unfrosted) cupcakes should be frozen.  Once thawed, they can be topped or decorated as desired. Freezing a cupcake that is already frosted can be done, but the frosting can degrade and become runny when thawed.

I have found the best way to store cupcakes is to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then place them in an air-tight storage container, like Tupperware.  This double wrap helps keep freezer burn at bay.

Once the cupcakes are removed from the freezer the wrapping needs to come off and they need to be thawed on the counter at room temperature for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  If the wrapping is allowed to stay on while thawing this allows condensation to form between the wrapper and the tops, which turns gooey.

Those that are unwrapped before thawing are as good as new. I have had success of storing cupcakes for up to a month in the freezer with little to no difference in the taste.

I adapted this recipe from www.RecipeGirl.com.

~Blessings,Catherine

If you are reading through the Bible in one year with me, you will find this week’s reading plan listed to the right of this post.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114 NIV

It’s My Blog’s 1st Birthday! Cake Pops For Everyone!

Walk Through The Bible In One Year
Week 19 reading plan 2 Chronicles through Nehemiah 7
Click on the colored link to read each day’s scripture.
Monday 2 Chronicles 30-32, Tues 2 Chronicles 33-36,
Wed Ezra 1-3, Thursday Ezra 4-7,
Friday Ezra 8-10,
Saturday Nehemiah 1-5,
Sunday Nehemiah 6-7
Blessings as you read!

Are you reading through the Bible with me this year? If you haven’t started yet today would be a great time to jump right in. If you are already reading then you will know the story is coming alive! Blessings for week 19!

June 4, 2011 – my first blog post at My Daily Bread Body and Soul. The recipe was Asian Salad and did not include any pictures :)  365 days later – 236 blog posts, 200+ recipes posted, a bazillion pictures, 536 comments, 100+ followers, and 15,028 page views.  Oh, and a Facebook Fan Page with a growing number of “Likes”!Praying, cooking, photographing, blogging is such a big part of my day I can’t quite remember what I did with all my time before.  Maybe it was all just the same — except for the blogging.  The creativity, learning, and  challenge this blog brings just fills my soul with peace and happiness.  I am thankful when I receive comments on a blog post.  I am thrilled when my family gets excited over breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I have lots of fun meeting kindred-spirit food bloggers through Foodbuzz and Tuesdays With Dorie.  Wherever you fit in,  I am so thankful you are here and joining me on my  journey to share food — for the body and the soul.  Blessings!

I am behind-the-times when it comes to “cake pops.”  You may have already been making them but for me I recently heard about this fun activity from a friend.  I have found there are entire websites with recipes, designs, baking equipment, “sticks” and much more just for CAKE POPS!  This was my first go and mom and I had fun making them.  As per usual with our first time adventures we learned some does and don’ts along the way.  My recipe will include lessons learned!

These cake pops are easily made with a cake mix, a can of frosting, almond bark or candy melts and decorating sprinkles.  First- bake a cake mix.  Any one you like.  I chose chocolate cake.  After it has cooled, crumble it up!
This part is fun :)
Add 1/2 to 1 can of frosting.  If you add 1/2 a can to one cake mix the pops will end up more like cake.  If you add 1 full can the pops will end up more like fudge truffles.  Mixing by hand is the only way to go!
The mixture is then made into little balls.  You can make these any size you want.  We made them bigger than a walnut and smaller than a golf ball.  Here is where we made a rookie mistake.  We stuck the sticks directly into the little balls.  We should have melted a bit of our almond bark or candy melts, dipped the stick in the melt and then stuck them in the middle of the cake ball.  This would have “glued” them in place.  Ah well, next time.  At this point we put them in the freezer for a couple of hours.  If we had glued them properly the candy melt would have hardened making the dipping much easier.  I used white almond bark and chocolate almond bark.  The white I melted in the microwave and the chocolate on the stove.  I wanted to see if one was easier than the other.  Turns out both melt nicely.  The trick is not to “over-melt” or the bark turns into little hard chunks of over-cooked candy. (I know this for a fact, that is all I am saying.)
Carefully twirl the cake ball in the melted candy.  Use a spoon to help support the ball as you coat it.  Tap lightly on the side of the pan to let some of the candy drip off.

Sprinkle on decorations or in this case just drizzle some of the candy coating on the cake ball.  The coating is drying fairly fast and the cake pop can then be placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.

Here are a few things I learned on my first try at cake pops.
(1)  Be sure and “glue” the sticks in place with melted candy coating.
(2)  Store pops in a container at room temperature if you are serving that day.
(3)  If serving the next day, just cover and place in the refrigerator, let come to room temp before serving (coating remains hardened.)
(4)  Pops can be place in a container and frozen for up to two weeks.
    My mom came up with this clever way to store the pops in the freezer using an egg carton, until we are ready to use them.  We are going to transport them to our family reunion and needed to conserve space yet keep them from getting smooshed.  Since making them we have taken 3 out each day for a little dessert treat.  I wonder if there will be any left by reunion time?
I used a whole can of frosting and the cake pops are decadent like chocolate truffles.  We are definitely going to make them again.  I’m thinking carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, devils food cake with some coconut pecan frosting, or how about a strawberry cake mix with vanilla icing?  The possibilities are endless!  After I made the pops I found a website called Miss Little Momma and let me tell you this little momma knows her cake pops – they are really cute.  I can only aspire to do so well.  Click HERE and take a peak.

Tomorrow is Tuesday’s With Dorie and we are making Oasis Nan!  I hope you will join me for the next installment from the Baking With Julia cookbook.

Be sure and join me on Thursday as I am kicking off a birthday celebration giveaway! I hope you will come back for the details on how you can enter to win

Happy a blessed week and happy cooking!

Cake Pops

Serves 48-60
Cake pops are the perfect treat for a birthday, shower, or dessert. A fun cooking session with kids and grandkids!

Ingredients

  • 1 Favorite Cake Mix (chocolate, carrot, white, anything you like!)
  • 1 Can of Frosting (chocolate, white, cream cheese, whipped, vanilla)
  • 48-60 Cookie sticks
  • 1 Package Chocolate Almond Bark (or candy melts)
  • 1 Package White Almond Bark (or candy melts)

Optional

  • 1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Directions

1 DSC04260
Bake cake mix according to package directions. Thoroughly cool then crumble in a large mixing bowl.
2 DSC04262
Add 1/2 to 1 can of your favorite frosting to the crumbled cake mix. Start with 1/2 a can and add more if the cake doesn't stay together when made in a little ball. Choose a frosting that will blend well with the flavors of the cake. This will mix best by hand.
3 cake pop balls
Using a small to medium scoop dip into the cake/frosting mix. Roll the mixture in your palm into a nice uniform ball. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
4 Slowly melt 1 package of either the white or chocolate almond bark or candy melts according to package directions. I like to do this in the microwave because it is fast, but you have to be careful not to over-melt as they will burn and harden quickly. The bark or candy melts can also be melted on the stove top or using a double boiler. You will only use a bit of this to "glue" the stick to the cake ball.
5 When candy is melted, Dip a stick about 1" into the candy melt. Then place it into the center of your cake ball. This will act as a glue keeping your cake pop and stick attached. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours to help solidify the cake and the stick.
6 cake pop candy melt
When ready to dip cake balls, melt both chocolate and white candy according to package directions. (Re-heat the candy used to glue the sticks in place.) * While melting 1/2 cup chocolate chips can be added to the chocolate bark for a deeper, richer flavor.
7 cake pop twirl in chocolate
Remove cake pops from freezer and gently swirl in the melted candy, allowing excess to drip back into bowl.
8 cake pop drizzle
Sprinkle with decorations or drizzle with opposite colored candy (white on chocolate or chocolate on white). Let your imagination run wild as you decorate!
9 cake pop half birthday
These cake pops can go back into the freezer until ready to use, or they can be left on the counter for use later that day, or refrigerated for use within a day or two.

Note

If bark or candy melt is too thick, a tablespoon of Crisco can be added to thin.

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