Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Two years ago I was in Panama drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. Last year I was in the Alps hanging out with this guy…

And this year I imagine I shall be celebrating somewhere out in France. Funny how this has turned into such an international holiday for me! Being over in Paris, I know a lot of my friends are planning on heading over to Dublin for the weekend. I cannot wait to hear the crazy stories that I’m sure will come out of those adventures!

With St. Patrick’s Day in the air, I figured a cookie with a beer reduction added to it seemed quite appropriate. These are some super delicious cookies – they have 3 types of chocolate in them! I might not be the most authoritative figure on beer tasting, but I couldn’t really taste the beer. It’s definitely in there though, so if you want to make something with alcohol in for this beer drinking holiday, I promise you, this has beer in it!!

I know some people don’t really like white chocolate, but it’s the perfect compliment to this chocolate cookie. The beer reduction certainly gives the cookies their deep brown color even if the taste doesn’t shine through. I’m really missing my mix master a lot these days, as I know these cookies would have been that much better if I could have whipped the butter just a little more than my poor arm, which was trying as hard as it could with a simple little whisk. Of course, these was almost a whole sheet pan of these that didn’t even make it to the cooling rack before they found their way into my mouth 🙂

ST. PATRICK’S DAY CHOCOLATE BEER COOKIES

(Adapted from The Galley Gourmet)

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 (12-ounce) bottles of Guinness extra stout or draught
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 extra large egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

1) In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce the Guinness and the brown sugar, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until thick and syrupy and measures 1/3 cup, about 30-45 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (OR WITH YOUR OWN ARM!), cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

4) With the mixer on low, gradually add the cooled beer syrup, mixing until combined.  Gradually add the dry mixture until no flour is visible.

5) Fold in both the white and milk chocolate chips.

6) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours, preferably overnight.

7) Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), scoop out portions of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet spaced 3 inches apart.

8) Bake the cookies until the edges are set, about 15-17 minutes.

9)  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

10) Enjoy!

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A Day of Love

Valentine’s is right around the corner and in my opinion, the Hallmarkification of this holiday is fine because it just means that I can bake all that much more without any remorse. “It’s Valentine’s Day? Chocolate? No problem!”  It’s great! I’ve also spent many hours making holiday cards and plan on running to Michael’s the moment this holiday is over to stock up on discounted Valentine’s craft things for next year. So whether you’re not a Valentine’s Day fan, or are going to be having an amorous day about town – these recipes are bound to please.

I believe that I have written of the famous Julia Childs mousse in a previous posting. Well, I have made it yet again with this sublime recipe. This mousse is just slightly labor-intensive but so worth it. It comes out the perfect texture: between light & airy and thick & creamy. And after all: isn’t chocolate the ultimate aphrodisiac?

Chocolate Mousse

(Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark-brewed coffee
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbs sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1) Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.

2) In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise.(3-4 minutes) Beat in orange liquer.

3) Continue to beat mixture over an ice bath for an additional 3-4 minutes.

4) Beat the chocolate into the egg yolks and sugar.

5) In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed.

6) Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.

7) Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

8) Enjoy!

But of course, mousse wasn’t enough for this holiday: I also made these sumptuous Red Velvet Cake Balls. After a trek through New York City to find red velvet cake mix on Valentine’s Day (it’s worse than finding a pumpkin on Halloween!), I was able to purchase the last box the store had. The deep, lustrous red of the cake mix was really necessary for these cake balls. The rich and chocolatey texture of the inside (my roommates even referred to them as truffles) with the firm white chocolate outside made for a perfect Valentine’s combo. I even sprinkled some pink luster dust for a festive finishing touch.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

(Adapted from Bakerella)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
  • 1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
  • 1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)

DIRECTIONS:

1) After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

2) Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

3) Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet.

4) Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)

5) Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.  (Or over a double boiler as I did, being careful not to burn the chocolate)

6) Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

7) Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It’s snowing once again in New York. I don’t think it snowed last year for the first time until February and now it only the beginning of January and we’ve already gotten almost 30 inches of snow this winter. Crazy! It’s a good thing I don’t have anywhere to be today, because I don’t plan on leaving the house.

I would love to say that I plan on staying tucked in my bed all day, but given the extreme heater that I have no control over, my room is actually boiling hot, making it necessary that I get out of bed. It’s insane how hot my room gets. It used to be an actual sauna, but the steam seems to have been turned off, thank goodness! No matter the heat in my room, as the idea of cold snow outside still makes me just want to bake.

These cookies pack in a few of my favorite ingredients – pumpkin, oatmeal, and dried cranberries. With the addition of both regular and white chocolate chips, these cookies are a sure crowd pleaser for every taste bud. I didn’t actually have enough of either dark or white chocolate chips, so I just decided to mix them both in instead of just white. I’d say it was a good idea. These were the perfect treat to make on a day stuck indoors. I almost thought I was going to run out of sugar, but luckily had enough, as I would not have been a happy camper going outside just for a cup of sugar.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • Dash of allspice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt.  Whisk to blend.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  Beat in the pumpkin puree until well incorporated.

4) With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Beat in the oats until combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries until evenly mixed.

5) Drop in small scoops (about 1½-2 tablespoons) onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2-3 inches apart.

6) Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.

7) Allow to cool on the sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

8) Enjoy 🙂

5 Minute Cup of Heaven

You know that feeling when it’s 10:30, you’re in the midst of a mound of homework, it’s cold and snowy outside and you just must have a piping hot cup of hot chocolate/something incredibly chocolatey or else the world might just stop? Ya, I know you know what I’m talking about. Somehow, I find myself in this situation often and that was exactly where my roommate and myself found ourselves this evening just as the start of what is hopefully going to be an epic snowstorm begins.

Instead of turning straight to the Swiss Miss box, like we usually do, I opted instead for a microwavable cake. No, not the kind you buy in the box at the store like a Lean Cuisine, but an actual, homemade microwave chocolate cake. Within ten minutes of taking the initiative to eat cake, my roommate and I were sitting in bed eating cake. I decided to add some white chocolate to counter the dark and as my roommate so aptly put it “it was like a guilty pleasure in a poodle mug.” Make sure you keep an eye on the microwave, because it will puff up quickly if you’re not careful. This is now my go to treat when I don’t want to labor at baking a more elaborate treat, and need a quick fix.

5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

(Adapted from Not Quite Nigella)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coffee powder (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil (Opted for melted butter instead because I was out of oil)
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (I used white chocolate)
  • A small splash of vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1) Mix dry ingredients together.

2) Pour in the egg, milk, oil, chocolate chips or flakes and vanilla extract and mix well.

3) Pour batter evenly between two microwave safe mugs.

4) Do one mug at a time. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 1 minute on medium heat. Let rest for a few moments. Then microwave for another 30 seconds on medium heat.

5) Check on the consistency-it should be cooked but still moist and gooey. If it is still not cooked, microwave on another 30 seconds on medium heat. Remember, it will cook further on standing.

6) Allow to cool a little, then enjoy 🙂

Rocky Ledge Bars

So I’m back to baking in my tiny little dorm room kitchen. I guess I can’t really complain given that most dorms don’t even have kitchens, but after the luxury of using my oven back home last weekend, I guess I still feel a little bit spoiled. That being said, I’m super happy to be back in NYC. I had a great time in Israel and North Carolina, but it was still so nice coming back and seeing my roommate and suite-mates. Classes are back in full swing and I’m already swamped with homework even in the first weekend.

That being said, Friday night we still had to have a bit of fun 😉 We had a big game night – mostly involving cranium and a super intense game of charades. There were about 11 of us and we all had loads of fun. I decided to make rocky ledge bars for our little soiree. I was almost going to make cupcakes, but then realized that those were way too involved for the hour I had designated for baking on Friday afternoon. They were super easy to make – although the brown sugar we had was rock solid and I had to spend 15 minutes softening it up in the microwave – but otherwise it was basically just dumping a bunch of chips, caramels, and marshmallows and a bit of cookie dough and popping in the oven.

I only got time to take a picture of the mixture, since they were all gobbled up during game night. As you can see, it’s just a jumble of amazing things. I kind of skimmed the recipe and decided to add more or less of whichever chocolate/caramel/marshmallow I liked. A+

ROCKY LEDGE BARS

(Adapted from Martha Stewart Cookie Book)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 18 soft caramel-candy cubes, coarsely chopped (I used these nifty little caramel balls that I found instead and used 1 cup)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the longer sides. Brush parchment with butter (not overhang)

2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

3) Using an electric mixer (I used a wooden spoon, since I didn’t feel like taking out the mixer), mix butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined.

4) Mix in flour mixture until combined. Fold in half of each of the marshmallows, chocolates, butterscotch chips, and caramels.

5) Spread batter in prepared pan. Scatter remaining marshmallows, chocolates, butterscotch chips, and caramels on top.

6) Bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

7) Let cool on a wire rack. Lift out of pan, and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes.

8 ) Remove parchment, and cut into about 16 triangles. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.