Monthly Archives: February 2011
Last year, Eric and I went to New York City for the first time. While we were there, we ate at Serendipity 3 and had the most amazing meal. I still think about the meatloaf and mashed potatoes we ate, but the frozen hot chocolate was the most memorable item we had that night. It was unlike any dessert I’ve ever tried. While it was definitely large enough for each of us to have a generous serving, I’m pretty sure I could have downed the entire thing on my own. Seriously.
Shortly after returning from our trip, I tried unsuccessfully to replicate this delicious dessert. Unfortunately, most of the recipes I found called for store-bought hot chocolate mix, which didn’t yield the drink I remembered. I was thrilled when I found a recipe that actually called for making a mix with real chocolate and cocoa powder before turning it into frozen hot chocolate. I used a blend of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, but I think semisweet on its own would work just fine. The flavor of this will greatly depend on the quality of chocolate you use, and I recommend using the best chocolate you can find. I was afraid the ice would diminish the flavor of the chocolate, but this drink, despite being icy, is actually quite rich. Although I can’t remember exactly how the one I had tasted, I feel like this one is pretty close. And hey, since I can’t go to New York to have one whenever I want, this is a pretty good alternative. I think Serendipity has a couple varieties of this drink, and I can’t wait to try making it again with mint or peanut butter!
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I want to spread a little love in the form of a $25 gift card to Bake it Pretty. They have adorable straws that would be perfect for drinking this frozen hot chocolate, and I especially love their sprinkles and cupcake liners. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me about the most memorable dessert you’ve ever had. The Rules: One entry per person, U.S. residents only. The giveaway will close on Tuesday, February 15 at 11:59 pm, EST. Please make sure to leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Friday. I can’t wait to read your responses! Good luck and happy Valentine’s Day from me to you!
Frozen Hot Chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice
freshly whipped cream and grated chocolate for serving, optional
Combine butter, cocoa powder and sugar in a small bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. Whisk until a paste forms. Add chocolate and continue whisking until chocolate melted completely. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of milk. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Once chocolate mixture has cooled, combine it with ice and remaining 1 cup of milk in a blender. Blend until ice is crushed and mixture is thoroughly blended. Do not over blend, as the texture should be somewhat icy. Top with whipped cream and grated chocolate, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 generous servings
Heavily adapted from La Belle Cuisine
I know I’ve only posted chocolate recipes this week, so I thought it would be fun to change it up a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a holiday that celebrates chocolate. This recipe looked too good to pass up, though. It’s definitely festive, and I think its bright red color makes it fitting for Valentine’s Day.
This dessert consists of tart raspberry granita layered between scoops of sweet lemon ice cream and topped with raspberry sauce. On their own, the ice cream and granita both taste fabulous. When combined, they come together to create a surprising treat. I never considered pairing the two together, but the icy granita and creamy ice cream actually go together quite well. Plus, I love the raspberry lemon combination (almost as much as I love the coffee chocolate one). Although the recipe called for store-bought ice cream, I decided to make the ice cream at home. It tastes so much better, and I think it makes the dessert that much more special. Another perk of making the ice cream at home is that you’ll have extra to enjoy even after the sundaes are gone. :) Either way you go, this dessert is excellent and would make a fantastic Valentine’s Day dessert.
Lemon Ice Cream
Zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
Whisk together the zest, lemon juice and sugar and salt in a medium, nonreactive bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Place egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and gradually whisk into egg yolks. Pour egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until completely chilled.
Combine lemon mixture, custard and heavy cream and stir thoroughly. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Allow to freeze overnight to harden.
Adapted from Use Real Butter and Tartlette, originally from Ultimate Ice Cream in Asheville, NC
16 ounces frozen unsweetened raspberries (about 3 cups), thawed
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
Purée raspberries in a food processor until just smooth. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Strain raspberries, using a rubber spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer 1/3 cup of purée to a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir to combine. Cover and chill.
In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, boil water just until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. Stir sugar mixture into remaining purée and place into an 8- by 8-inch glass dish. Freeze until mixture begins to set, stirring every 45 minutes for 2 to 3 hours. Cover and freeze until firm, about 6 hours. Sauce and granita can be made 1 day in advance.
Using a fork, scrape surface of the granita to form crystals.
To assemble sundaes:
Place 1 scoop of ice cream into each of 2 dessert glasses. Top each with 1 scoop of granita and drizzle with raspberry sauce. Repeat for a total of 2 scoops ice cream and 2 scoops granita. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2011
Fondue is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things. There’s just something satisfying about dipping bread or fruit into a pot of melted cheese or chocolate. Fondue is versatile in that it can go from being a fun party food to a romantic dessert, all depending on the setting. I couldn’t share my favorite Valentine’s Day recipes and not share one for chocolate fondue, which, to me, is the quintessential Valentine’s dessert.
Chocolate fondue is incredibly simple to make. All you have to do is melt the chocolate and cream together the same way you would to make ganache. Once the chocolate is melted, add in your choice of liqueur and you’re set. It takes more time to prep the things to dip in it than it does to make the fondue. Don’t have a fondue pot? No problem. After melting the chocolate, you can simply pour it into a dish and serve immediately. The fondue pot will keep the chocolate melted, of course, but this fondue is so delicious that I can’t imagine it thickening before you’re able to finish eating it. This fondue is intensely chocolaty, and you can add different flavors to it by using different liqueurs. Like I mentioned yesterday, I can’t resist the combination of coffee and chocolate, so it should come as no surprise that I add either Kahlua or Starbuck’s Coffee Liqueur to my fondue. I bet this would also taste amazing with Grand Marnier. It’s really up to you. Regardless of which liqueur you decide to use, this fondue will make an elegant, romantic and luscious dessert.
Chocolate Fondue for Two
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or broken into chunks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons liqueur
Fruit, pound cake, cheesecake, etc., for dipping
Combine chocolate and cream in a medium bowl. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer over medium-low heat, then reduce heat to low. Set the bowl of chocolate over the pot of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Stir frequently until all the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and stir in liqueur.
Transfer the chocolate to a fondue pot and keep warm over low heat or a low flame. Alternately, transfer to a small serving bowl. Serve immediately with fruit and other items for dipping.
Adapted from The Everything Fondue Cookbook by Rhonda Lauret Parkinson
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite Valentine’s Day recipes with you this week. For me, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating everyone you love, not just your significant other. Though I’m not really a fan of gifts on Valentine’s Day, I am all for a day that encourages you to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. In my opinion, cooking a delicious meal is a great way to show someone how much you care, and I hope the recipes this week will inspire you to make something special for someone you love. :)
First up is the cover recipe from February’s Bon Appétit. As soon as I received this issue in the mail, I knew I had to try this recipe. I’ve never been a huge fan of brownies, but these called to me. Browned butter and walnuts? Yes, please! These brownies are fudgy on the inside, chewy on the outside, and perfectly moist. The browned butter is the most unique aspect of this recipe, and it adds a slightly nutty flavor to these. I love the walnuts and the crunch they add to each bite, and I bet macadamia nuts or pecans would be fabulous in these, as well. The brownies aren’t nearly as sweet as some varieties I’ve had, and I prefer them that way because the chocolate comes through so much more. These are rich and decadent, way different than the cake-like brownies I typically make. The only change I will make next time is to add espresso powder because I just love espresso and chocolate together. The recipe called for baking the brownies for 25 minutes, but mine were substantially underdone after that amount of time, and I actually had to bake them about 10 minutes longer. I have reflected these changes in the recipe.
Browned Butter and Walnut Brownies
Vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces
Position oven rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325º. Line an 8- by 8-inch metal baking pan with foil. Press foil firmly against the sides of the pan and leave a 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray and set pan aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter has melted, continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring often, until butter has stopped foaming and has turned a light brown color. Remove from heat and immediately add sugar, cocoa, vanilla, water, espresso powder (if using) and salt. Stir until combined and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs to chocolate mixture one at a time, whisking well after each addition. When mixture is thick and shiny, add flour and whisk until blended. Continue whisking vigorously for 60 strokes. Stir in nuts and pour batter into pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan set on a wire rack. Using the foil, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve immediately or store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days.
Adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2011
With a good part of the country facing below freezing temperatures and snowy/icy conditions, I thought this would be a good time to post the recipe for the coconut lime rum cake I served at my 24×24 party. I’ve gotten quite a few requests for the recipe, and I think the cold weather might have something to do with that. I realize a slice of cake isn’t going scrape the ice from your car or shovel the snow piled up in your driveway, but maybe it will at least help you forget about those things for a while.
I love any type of coconut cake, but this one is especially wonderful because of the addition of limes (oh, and rum). Though the recipe called for Key limes, I used standard limes with no problem (though I’ll be trying it again with Key limes when I find them). This cake is incredibly moist and has a wonderful balance of coconut and lime flavor. The rum comes through, too, which may have to do with me brushing the cake with rum shortly after removing it from the oven. I used coconut rum, but you could certainly use light or gold rum. Even Eric, who is not a fan of coconut, absolutely loved this cake. Toasting the coconut is the key, as it transforms the coconut from stringy to crunchy. Eric thought it was a little odd at first that I was putting toasted coconut inside the cake, but I promise it works. The glaze for the cake is tart and pairs perfectly with the cake. Instead of topping the cake with additional toasted coconut, I decided to use an idea from another coconut cake recipe and make fresh coconut ribbons. I loved the ribbons and knew as soon as I made them that they would be the star of the table (and they definitely were). Not just for presentation, they added an additional layer of coconut flavor and texture that everyone loved.
Coconut Lime Rum Cake
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (Use 1/2 cup if not planning to top cake with toasted coconut.)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour*
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon rum (plus more for brushing, optional)
For the coconut ribbons:
1 medium coconut
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
*If you don’t have self-rising flour (and I never do), add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Whisk together, sift, measure and use.
Preheat oven to 350º. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. In a small baking pan, bake coconut for 8-12 minutes, stirring halfway through, until toasted. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour and 1/2 cup coconut, reserving the remainder for topping if using. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, granulated sugar and lime zest on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add 2 tablespoons lime juice to the milk and stir well. With the mixer on low speed, add flour and milk mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with the flour.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly in pan, then turn onto a wire rack. Brush with rum (about 1 tablespoon), if desired. Cool completely on the wire rack.
If making coconut ribbons, leave oven on after removing cake. Pierce one eye of the coconut and drain coconut water. Save for another use. Bake coconut in a shallow baking pan for about 15 minutes. Using a hammer, break the shell and remove from flesh. Leave oven on. Using a vegetable peeler, peel coconut into thin slices (enough for 2 cups). Toss with confectioners sugar and bake until dry but not toasted, 5-10 minutes. Place on top of cake after glazing.
To make glaze, whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and rum. Slowly pour over cooled cake. Sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut or coconut ribbons.
Serves 8-16, depending on how large you cut the slices
Cake recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet, March 2009
Coconut ribbons adapted from Epicurious
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