Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Favorite new candy: French Chocolate Bark

I printed out this recipe last year, but this year I finally made chocolate bark for the first time and OMG was it good. It was amazingly easy to make, beautiful to look at, and GOOD FOR YOU! Dark chocolate, dried fruit, and cashew nuts – what could be better? It was popular with everyone I shared it with.

French Chocolate Bark

Barefood Contessa’s French Chocolate Bark

8 oz. dark chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
8 oz. milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cashew pieces

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Draw a 10″x14″ rectangle on the paper; turn the paper over so the drawing side is down and set aside.

Place a stainless steel bowl over a medium saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water. Place chocolate chips in the steel bowl and stir till completely melted. Use a spatula to scrape the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread out until the rectangle is covered. Sprinkle the fruit and nuts over the chocolate and press lightly to adhere.

Set aside in a cool place for 2 hours (or in the freezer for 10 minutes) to harden. Cut into 1″x2″ pieces.

TNS: Chocolate Fondue

And another week whizzes by! I think it must be the cold we had last week – I was in no mood to do anything but come home from work, make and eat dinner, and curl up on the couch wrapped in a blanket. I need a laptop.

Anyway, today, it’s 69 degrees already in southeastern Virginia, so I have a lot more energy to do more than just conserve heat on the couch. So here’s my contribution to Thursday Night Smackdown: The Valentine’s Day Cliche Edition – Chocolate Fondue.

fondue-chocolate
I need to practice taking pix more, dang it. Too many of these came out blurry.

Dan and I typically don’t celebrate (St.) Valentine’s Day – I mean, I’m not Catholic and I love Dan every day, not just one day a year. But I guess I’m feeling lovey-dovey this year since we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in June. Awwwwww!!!

I don’t know why I don’t make fondue more often – it seems like such a pain, but it’s really easy once you get going. No more difficult than anything else I make regularly. Dan brought home this book for me some years ago – “The Book of Fondues,” by Lorna Rhodes. I’ve made a few recipes from it, but we definitely need to get into it more.

Dan actually made the fondue (see why it’s so easy?), but I told him how, so that counts, right? It was really good. We ate it with strawberries and bananas; other good dippers would be brownies, pound cake, and other fruits like pineapple. Definitely give it a try.

Mocha Chocolate Fondue

8 oz. semisweet chocolate (we used 4 oz. semisweet and 4 oz. dark chocolate chips)
1 tbsp. instant coffee granules (we don’t drink instant, so we left this out)
2/3 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp. Tia Maria (we used Kahlua to get that coffee flavor)

Break up chocolate (or use chips) and place in fondue pot. Add coffee granules, if using, and whipping cream, and heat slowly until melted, stirring constantly. Stir in liqueur and beat until smooth. Place over burner at the table and serve. Makes 6 servings.

fondue-fruit
It’s shaped like a heart! Awwwww!!!

Tasty Tools: Scoop

Well, unfortunately, I’m too late to enter this food blogging event (happens too often), but I really wanted to, so I’m posting this anyway.

Tasty Tools is a monthly food photography event hosted by Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. April’s theme was scoop – use any kind of kitchen scoop and photograph it. View the entries and winners.

Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of brownie-loaded chocolate ice cream (blame Dan – he brought home the first carton, and now I’m hooked). And last fall, while visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Oak Park, IL, near Chicago, we discovered this wonderful little shop called Olive and Well. It’s a specialty shop that carries mostly olive oils, balsamic vinegars and various gourmet condiments, breads and sauces.

They have lots of small casks of olive oils (probably hold a couple of gallons) with little paper cups for tasting. We tasted almost all of them and finally settled on one. Then I noticed the vinegars – and I’m a vinegar freak, just ask Dan ;-) – so I went over to see the flavors … and then I saw it – strawberry balsamic vinegar. I poured some into a little tasting cup and lifted it to my mouth – before I could even taste it, the aroma tingled my nose and my mouth watered instantly. I knew I was going to be buying this one :-) So I did.

And what goes better with chocolate than strawberries? That’s right – strawberry balsamic vinegar. Scoop out some brownie-chocolate ice cream and drizzle it with strawberry balsamic vinegar – a dessert truly to die for.

Brownie-loaded chocolate ice cream with strawberry balsamic vinegar, and scoop

Oh, about the scoop :-) Years ago, when we first moved into the neighborhood and I was on the board of the Civic League, it seemed like every few months, someone was having a Pampered Chef party – I had one annually for a few years myself. This is one of the gadgets I got during those years. Works great – it has anti-freeze in the handle that flows down into the scoop when you use it, to help melt the ice cream so it scoops more easily. I love it.

My second batch of from-scratch brownies

Hey, there, I’m back, again. March 2007 was a pretty bad month for me, so rather than dwell on that, on to more fun blogging topics :-)

My friends know I love to cook, but I don’t bake much. But a couple of months ago, this recipe for – love the name – “Man-Catcher Brownies” was printed in the local paper, so I decided to make them, even though I already have a man ;-) (Hi, sweetie!) I got great compliments on them from people who should know – my husband, my mother, and Paulie! I thought they were a tad gooey in the middle – actually, quite a bit – but everyone loved them anyway, because the chocolate flavor was so intense.

Then today, I went to Is My Blog Burning?, the central site for foodie blogging events, and there’s an event this month by browniebabe to blog brownies! And I just made the brownies again today! This time, I used a bigger pan, so they could spread out a bit more, and maybe cooked through this time. I’ll be cutting them later when they’re completely cool, but in the meantime, here’s a pic of my luscious brownies:

luscious brownies

And here’s the recipe:

Man-Catcher Brownies

3 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups cocoa powder, sifted (natural or Dutch process)
6 eggs
2 cups white sugar
2 cups light brown sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9″x13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add cocoa powder, stirring to combine. Let cool slightly. Whisk eggs together, then add sugars and vanilla extract, stirring to combine. Add the cooled butter-chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour and salt until just combined; do not overmix. Spread evenly in the pan to the corners.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a crust forms on the surface and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack; cool completely before cutting.

This was the original way I made them, with the gooey results. I used a 10″x15″ pan today.

And here’s a shot of a single brownie:

A brownie from my second homemade batch

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