Salted Chocolate Chunk and Espresso

Rich dark chocolate with the acidic, dark bite of a shot of espresso- a match made in heaven. These are chocolate cupcakes topped with my espresso buttercream (my own recipe!!!), and garnished with salted semi sweet chocolate chunks.

2015-12-30 20.16.14

This is a link to the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever tried! Go give them some love and check them out yourself. http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/ultimate-chocolate-cupcakes/

My only alteration with that recipe is where it calls for a cup of boiling water, I use a cup of hot coffee (I used Lavazza Espresso Decaffeinato Ground Espresso in a French press). It makes a world of difference and is a great way to bring the batter together.

 

The Toppings:

Chocolate Espresso Icing

1 cup + one tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar (This may vary depending on how thick you like your icing)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 shot of espresso (I use Nespresso Decaffeinato Intenso)

  1. First, microwave the chocolate chips at 30 second intervals for one minute, mixing well with a fork after each interval to avoid burning.
  2. The chips should be soft but not totally melted yet. Here, add the shot of hot espresso, mixing vigorously.
  3. You should have a chocolate sauce now. It may begin to cease. If so, keep stirring and add a tablespoon of butter. Stir until butter is melted. Make sure there are no lumps and set aside to cool.
  4. Cream butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until pale and creamy
  5. While mixing at a low speed, add about a cup of powdered sugar at a time to avoid a mess.
  6. Once combined, add vanilla extract and chocolate-espresso syrup. Mix at medium to combine.
  7. If this isn’t the consistency you like, add milk to thin and add powdered sugar to thicken.
  8. Load in a piping bag and frost your cooled cupcakes.

Salted Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (This can be substituted to any chocolate you like. Please avoid white chocolate though. I would steer toward the richest dark chocolate you can find)                                                   1.5 teaspoons ground sea salt

  1. Chop chocolate
  2. Add salt and lightly stir to combine
  3. Sprinkle on frosted cupcakes

2015-12-30 20.27.47

Enjoy!!

12 Days of Cookies

2015-12-21 19.43.37-1Christmas is a time for generosity, cheer, and most of all, DESSERT!! This Christmas, I tackled a project that I like to call The 12 Days of Christmas. This entailed  12 different cookie recipes in the 12 days leading up to the last day of school; That’s about 288 cookies (2 dozen per day) to be passed out to my high school population. To make this project manageable, I premade and froze all of the dough. Each day, I thawed the dough and then all I had to do each night was drop the cookies. It cut the time and clean up in half!  It proved to be a wonderful way to spread joy.

*I have to give Sally’s Baking Addiction a big shout out! Her blog is where I find a lot of inspiration and base recipes. Her recipes are incredibly reliable and wonderful all around. She is amazing!! Please check her out! http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/

 

Day 1- Crystallized ginger cookies rolled in raw sugar. This one was a huge crowd pleaser. It is actually a recipe from the Cotillion, the bakery that I worked at this summer.

2015-12-07 20.56.52-1

Day 2- Dark Chocolate dipped toffee shortbread. I made the toffee myself, and finally mastered the skill of tempering chocolate! This one was delicious.

2015-12-08 21.03.59

Day 3- Gluten-free almond butter and chocolate chip cookies. These guilt-free cookies were amazing!! My dad, a die-hard tollhouse fan, raved about these. I made homemade almond butter by processing almonds. The dough was greasy; though, it was nothing a paper towel couldn’t take care of.

2015-12-09 20.29.20

Day 4-Salted caramel, pecan and chocolate chip cookies… NOT. Day 4 was a disaster. Thankfully, the only disaster day. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a huge advocate of making my own salted caramel- so that’s exactly what I did. My cookies proceeded to melt into a soupy, flat mess in the oven. In hindsight, I may had been able to fix this by baking the dough in a casserole dish and cutting them into cookie bars with a garnish of some caramel swirls and sea salt. However, in the moment, there was tears, yelling, and laying on the kitchen floor in self-pity. Needless to say, there was little problem solving thinking happening in this moment. 2015-12-10 20.22.54

My mom then swooped into the rescue! Thank goodness! It was 8pm and I was in full panic. Think of how many people I’ll be disappointing!! She went on to whip out a classic chocolate chip recipe. She helped me improvise a salted chocolate chip and pecan cookie. We used sea salt, chopped pecans, vanilla bean, along with vanilla infused sugar. It turned out caked and delicious- proof that there are such things as happy accidents. Also proof that Mom always knows best.

2015-12-10 20.53.21

Day 5- Cranberry pistachio shortbread wheels. These are easily one of my favorite. Buttery, fruity, nutty, rich, and ADDICTING. Filled with chopped craisins, chopped (hand-shelled) pistachios, and brown sugar. These are DELISH.2015-12-13 19.19.19

Day 6-Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut crisps. I have so many ideas for improvement for these. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t necessarily up to my standard. Improvements: Chocolate chunks instead of chips, CHOP THE MACADAMIAS. ALWAYS CHOP THE MACADAMIAS, fiddle with the leavening agents to make a cakier and richer cookie. These were too thin for my liking. Also, they weren’t super attractive. Not my favorite- though servable.2015-12-14 18.41.00

Day 7- Sugar Cookies. These are awesome! An eggless royal icing, almond extract in the sugar cookies, the ability to maintain the shape- All things great. Kids love these.

This is my favorite sugar cookie icing: Thanks again to Sally!

“Easy Icing

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup2
  • 2 – 2.5 Tablespoons (30-38ml) room temperature water
  • pinch salt

 

  •  whisk the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. It should be quite thick. If it is much too thick, add 1/2 Tablespoon more water. If it is much too thin, add 2 more Tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar. If you drizzle a little of the icing with the whisk, the ribbon of icing will hold for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That is when you know it’s the right consistency and is ready to use. If desired, add liquid or gel food coloring. You can pour some icing into different bowls if using multiple colors. If not decorating right away, cover the icing tightly and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.”

2015-12-15 21.45.07

Day 8- Snickerdoodles. Delicious!!! These are my mom’s favorite. They’re crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and very flavorful. Check out Sally’s Baking Addiction for this recipe.

2015-12-16 18.41.50

Day 9- Red Velvet? Sorta. These were supposed to be red velvet chocolate chip. Few people know that red velvet is simply chocolate dyed red. It’s not my personal favorite, however it is a crowd pleaser. The recipe called for an obscene amount of red food dye. I was uncomfortable with the amount of artificial, chemical based dye. So it turned into more of a soft-baked chocolate chip cookie with a twinge of red. Still good.

2015-12-17 20.01.36

Day 10- Strawberry thumbprints. These were AWEEEESOMEEE. Buttery, crumbly, flavorful, just crunchy enough while still being soft. Ugh one of my favorites for sure!

 

2015-12-20 13.44.46

Day 11- Espresso Chip- Similar to the Chocolate Chip Macadamias, these have a lot of room for improvement. I’d like to give it a shot or two of espresso to boost the flavor, add cocoa nibs for a chocolate-y crunch, switch out the chocolate chips for mini chocolate chips. They were alright though not quite as flavorful as I’d like. 2015-12-21 20.36.41

Day 12- Gingerbread men. I used that cookie icing I mentioned above to decorate. These were good as far as gingerbread cookies go. However, I’ve found that if you’re gonna eat a ginger cookie, go for day 1- Something with a sugary crust and wholesome, spicy crystallized ginger baked right in. BUT if you’re dying for gingerbread, go for a gingerbread cake, preferably with cream cheese icing.

2015-12-22 20.17.49Happy Holidays, you guys! How did you spread the holiday cheer this year?

The Big Apple

Oh Boy, have you every been to New York? The city is fast-paced, busy, and amazing in every way. I found myself looking forward to each meal on my weekend away. This place has some intense food. My favorite food of all time: bagels and lox, seems to be on every corner of New York City. nyc.jpeg

Let me just paint a picture for you: a huge bagel, as big as your face. It is seasoned with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and onion powder: everything spices. Scallion infused cream cheese is glopped on. Despite being drenched in cheese, the scallions maintain their crunch. Crunchy and tangy onions enhance the everything spices and give the dish a snap. Layers of pink nova smoked salmon is piled on the sandwich. The salty and savory nature of the fresh fish balance the beautiful vegetables. Also, the famous New Jersey tomatoes under the salmon gives it more of a push if freshness. Easily the most delicious bagel and lox I’ve had in my life. It puts my hometown Einstein bagel’s lox to shame.

Whether Chinatown dim sum, Rockefeller center French pastries, tomato and burrata salad with balsamic reductions and fleur de sel at Mastro’s, authentic Sicilian pizza in midtown, or cornbread madelines with homemade salted caramel dipping sauce at Blue Smoke Barbeque, New York is the culinary capital of the nation.

 

Week 9: Apple and Pumpkin

week9.jpeg

Half of these are apple butter macarons and the other half, pumpkin macarons. French macarons are so trendy right now so people were very excited to try these. Less people enjoyed them than expected. They are an intensely rich cookie. Macarons are an almond meringue cookie filled with creams or jams.

Week 7: Pumpkin, Brown Butter, and Salted Caramel

week7.jpeg

Pumpkin and brown butter mini cupcakes with salted caramel butter cream. HOLY COW… YOU HAVEN’T LIVED IF YOU HAVEN’T HAD HOMEMADE CARAMEL. Homemade caramel is a serious game changer. Caramel sauce, caramel lollipops, caramel apples, caramel corn, caramel hot chocolate… the list goes on. This recipe is flawless and the salted caramel sauce is something that just makes me so incredibly happy.

 

Please try making your own caramel. It will change your life.

Life Changing Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

1. Heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. Be patient and DO NOT ADD ANY LIQUIDS: it will melt on it’s own. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.

2. Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. I don’t use a candy thermometer (I just watch for the right color) but if you have one, this is where you can use it)

3. As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the sea salt. Do not use iodized salt. Sea salt is the only way to go here.

5. Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a Tupperware container and refrigerate. (Will thicken when refrigerated)