Friday, March 25, 2011

When the occassion demands chocolate....

Recently, the Dadster had a birthday.  The Hubster and I were invited to my parents' house for lasagna.  As always, I offered to bring dessert.  At first, since dinner was going to be kind of heavy, I thought I would bring something light and lemony (and, well, the parents had also just given me a dozen GIGANTIC lemons from their backyard).  However, the Dadster sort of had something else in mind.  You see, the Dadster is a first-class ice cream maker, and lately he'd been messing around with ice creams that contain booze.  He really wanted to make some Bailey's ice cream to share with us that night.  Since lemon and Bailey's don't really play well together, I decided to change my plans.

Now, I have a whiz-bang recipe for chocolate cake (found here), but I always want to try new things, and I didn't want to make a big cake for four people.  I thought about making brownies, or something else cake-like, but nothing was really calling to me.  Until I came across a recipe for chocolate souffle. 

I had only made souffle one other time (spinach and cheese, in case you were wondering), and I am totally in love with it.  So fluffy. So delicious. So impressive-looking.  And, since it would be served hot, it would be really great with cold, melty ice cream.  The bonus was that these can be assembled ahead and baked off when you want to eat them, since I would make them at home, and eat them elsewhere.

These were so good.  Slightly crunchy top, light and fluffy inside.  The original recipe came from Nestle, but I made a few alterations, which I have put in the recipe that I have here.  A few things to note:  I used 7 ounce ramekins, and it only made 5.  This worked out okay for us, since I only needed 4 for that night, and the last one we used as a tester.  When I baked my tester, I cooked it at the recommended temperature, and I found when I dug into it that the top was set (even a little over cooked) and the inside was still gooey in some parts.  So I recommend dropping the oven temp.  I baked the remaining ones at 375, for about the same amount of time and they were fantastic.  Also, I noticed that these didn't puff up as much as I would like.  They looked like the photo on the original website, and they were delightfully fluffy, so I probably shouldn't complain. 

Anyway, let's get on with the recipe!!

Make-Ahead Chocolate Souffles
Should make 8 servings.

Nonstick cooking spray
Granulated sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I used Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup baking cocoa
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar

  1. Spray 8 (or 5, if you are like me) 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups with nonstick cooking spray; coat lightly with granulated sugar.
  2. In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder in a large bowl, stirring until smooth.  Stir in egg yolks and vanilla extract.
  3. Beat egg whites in a large mixer bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup granulated sugar until still peaks form.  Stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg white mixture gently but thoroughly.  Spoon into prepared ramekins, filling about 3/4 full.  Cover souffles individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  4. Preheat oven to 375. Remove plastic wrap from souffles.  Place souffles on baking sheet. Bake on center oven rack for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and center still moves slightly. Serve with a scoop of ice cream. Serve immediately. 
Note: if you want to bake them immediately, just reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Winner of the day

"You win today". 

That is what Peter said to me after eating one of these cookies.  Like a lot of the things I bake, I took these cookies to work with me on a morning when we had a particularly early call for a rehearsal.  I thought the guys could use a little picker-upper.  And I was right.  And you know what else?  These cookies did win that day.  They are so good.

The cookies are called Jumbo Hot Chocolate cookies, and I originally found them here.  I liked the original recipe, but when the blogger mentioned using hot cocoa mix with tiny marshmallows in it, I knew I had to make a modification.  You see, I adore marshmallows.  I especially adore them when they have been melted onto a cookie.  The first time I did that, it was for s'mores cookies, which are also good and I may post someday.  For those cookies, you bake the cookies naked until they are a few minutes from done, then put mini marshmallows on top and allow them to melt while the cookies finish baking.  The end result is a cookie with a melted blop of marshmallow on the top.  So good.  Since I like the marshmallow on the s'mores cookies, I figured I would also like it on these hot chocolate cookies, and I was right!

If I had had white chocolate chips in the house, I would have added them to this.  As it was, I went ahead with milk and semisweet chips and I liked the combo.  I think white chocolate chips would have made a nice addition.  The next time I make these, I may add other things, like peanut butter chips, or mint chips.  Mint would be especially nice around the holidays, at least in my world. 

These cookies really are jumbo.  The amount of dough you end up with will make about 22 really big cookies.  I used just shy of the 1/4 cup of dough the recipe calls for, and mine came out about 4" in diameter, and about an inch thick.  These cookies are not messing around.  But man, are they good.

Jumbo Hot Chocolate Cookies
makes 20-24 large cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cup flour
1/2 to 2/3 cup of your favorite hot cocoa mix (don’t use sugar-free)*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
20-24 large marshmallows (optional)

* fp note: i used 2 packets of regular old hot cocoa mix (trader joe's brand), and it was between 1/2 and 2/3 cup.  i could almost use more of that flavor, so next time i think i'll add a 3rd packet.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, hot chocolate mix, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients slowly, making sure it is all incorporated. Then fold in the milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips (and white chocolate chips, if using).
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop, place the dough on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Give them space to spread - 6 cookies per sheet is good.
  4. If topping with marshmallow, here's what you do:  bake the naked cookies for 12 minutes, or until they look like they are about 4 minutes from being done.  After 12 minutes, take the pan out of the oven (or just slide the shelf out) and stick a marshmallow on its side on each cookie.  Return to the oven and bake for another 3-4 minutes until the marshmallow is melted, puffy, and a little browned on the edges.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the pan for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Another note:  the marshmallow makes these sticky.  Don't stack them on top of each other or they will all stick together.  Still tasty, just messy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

He didn't want cake

For the Hubster's birthday, I asked him to pick a dessert for me to make.  His choice? Tiramisu. Now, I've never been a fan of desserts that taste like booze, and I've never made tiramisu.  So, I took this as an opportunity to challenge myself, and make what the Hubster wanted.  I looked through my cookbooks, and found a recipe in The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009.  Since I am basically an ATK devotee, I saw no need to look further.

I have to say, I was shocked at how easy this was to make.  And, because it has to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, it's great to make ahead for parties!!  Since I was just making this for 2 of us, I made a half batch, and I still had about 9 servings.  A whole batch would have made a ton of the stuff. 

If you make this (and you should), please use the ladyfingers you can buy in the store.  I couldn't find them, so I made my own, which is also easy.  The only problem is that homemade ones are too soft to hold up against the dip they take in the coffee and rum mixture, and then they get all soggy. Hence the relatively thin cookie layer in the photo above.  Also, you can decrease the amount of rum used in the coffee/rum mixture for the dipping if you want.  I decreased the amount by at least half (again, boozy desserts aren't really my thing).

And a couple more appearance notes:  When I went to serve this, I wanted to grate some chocolate on it, and I thought I had some dark chocolate bars in the house, but sadly, I did not.  I turned to the closest available option:  a chocolate Santa.  It was milk chocolate, which is why it looks so light in the picture.  Chocolate Santa took one for the team that night.  And yes, that is a small paper drink umbrella in the picture.  It was a birthday, and I couldn't find any candles, so the umbrella had to do.  And no, I didn't light it on fire before serving.

Serves 10 to 12
Note: Brandy and even whiskey can stand in for the dark rum. The test kitchen prefers a tiramisu with a pronounced rum flavor; for a less potent rum flavor, halve the amount of rum added to the coffee mixture in step 1.  Do not allow the mascarpone to warm to room temperature before using it; it has a tendency to break if allowed to do so.

2 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso granules
9 tablespoons dark rum
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds mascarpone
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
14 ounces (42 to 60, depending on size) dried ladyfingers
1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)

  1. Stir the coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons of the rum in a wide bowl or baking dish until the espresso dissolves; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the yolks at low speed until just combined. Add the sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In the now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean the bowl), beat the cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks, 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set the mascarpone mixture aside.
  4. Working one at a time, drop half of the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to a 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture; the entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Following the photos, arrange the soaked cookies in a single layer in the baking dish, breaking or trimming the ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into the dish.
  5. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers; use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture to the sides and into the corners of the dish and smooth the surface. Place 2 tablespoons of the cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and dust the cocoa over the mascarpone mixture.
  6. Repeat the dipping and arrangement of the ladyfingers; spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and dust with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe the edges of the dish with a dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Birthday Tradition

The Hubster recently had a birthday, and we have begun a tradition here in Chez Flourpile: I send him to work on his birthday with cupcakes to share with his coworkers.  He likes it, I like doing it, and his coworkers certainly seem to enjoy it, if the absence of leftovers is any indication. 

This year I sifted through cupcake recipes I had seen on various blogs, or in cookbooks or magazines, and found an idea that was just crazy enough to make the Hubster happy: The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lover Cupcake.  This baby is a devil's food cupcake, with chocolate chip cookie dough frosting, and a chunk of chocolate chip cookie dough in the center.  Here is a mediocre picture of the center of one, minus the frosting:

I got the original idea, and the recipe for the frosting here.  As the original source says, you can make this as homemade as you would like/have time to.  You can do a mix for the cake, premade dough for the center, and there's even a way to make the frosting out of canned frosting.  Since I'm of a baking challenge junky, I made everything from scratch.  I got the recipes for the cake and the cookie dough from America's Test Kitchen "Family Baking Book".  (by the way, the recipe for the cookies is my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  it's fantastic.)  The frosting recipe I took from the original source listed above.  I'll give you all of the recipes that I used.

I do have a few notes about these puppies.  First, for the cookie dough, I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips, because that's what I normally have in the house.  They taste great, but they are kind of wide, and since the balls of dough have to be pretty small, I had to make sure that there was at least a chip in each ball.  I wouldn't say go as small as mini chocolate chips,  but if you are buying chips for this, buy some that are a little on the smaller side.  In the frosting, I thought a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips on top would be really cute, but in order to get them to stick I had to sort of press them into the frosting.  Not a big deal, but I think next time I do these, I will mix the mini chips into the frosting before I pipe it on.  Also, I think maybe my frosting could have been a little looser.  It was a little bit hard to pipe on, but not so much that I wanted to add more liquid. 

On to the recipes!!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
For the cupcakes, you will need one inch balls of dough.  This recipe will make plenty for that, plus about a dozen and a half regular sized cookies.  Make the whole recipe. Keep the left overs in the freezer (scoop them into balls first). You won't be sorry.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(fp note: i can't leave well enough alone and just put in chocolate chips.  i almost always add whatever extra goodies i have in my pantry, like white chocolate chips, toffee bits, etc.)

  1. Adjust and oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. (fp note: ignore that last sentence if you are making the cookie dough to go in the cupcakes, but pay attention to it if you are just making the cookies on their own.)  Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the melted butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. 
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the chips until incorporated.*
  4. Working with the 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and beginning to brown but the center and still soft and puffy, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
  5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
*At this point, if you are using the dough for the cupcakes, roll them into 1-inch balls and set aside for the cupcakes.  I used a melon baller for the scooping, then rolled them in my hands to make them round.  I also made them the night before and just put them in the fridge.  Worked like a charm.

Devil's Food Cupcakes
This makes 3 8-inch rounds, or about 28 cupcakes with the cookie center

Note: For an accurate measurement of boiling water, bring a full kettle of water to a boil, then measure out the desired amount.

1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water (see note above)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners (you may need a few more, but I don't know anyone that owns more than 2 standard cupcake pans).  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water, chocolate, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, and instant espresso together until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on a medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.
  3. Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half the chocolate mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining chocolate mixture.  Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
  4. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined.  

Fill paper-lined cupcake tins about 1/2 full with batter.  Add a ball of cookie dough, and press down slightly.  Add a little bit of cake batter on top.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until the tops are set.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cookie Dough Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar. Sift in flour and salt and mix until combined. Add in milk and vanilla until frosting is smooth.  If you want to, mix in the mini chocolate chips. 

Pipe or spread onto cupcakes, and ENJOY!