Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

Yum! I do love oatmeal raisin cookies, but what I like more about them is when they also contain chocolate. This recipe does this fairly well and are extremely lovely right out of the oven. They’re good a few days afterward too because they are cookies, but newly out of the oven is incomparable.  Continue reading

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Recipe Round-up: Treats for holiday parties

Every week (or so) I post a list of recipes that have caught my eye from other food blogs around the web. Here are some that I’m itching to try for the holiday parties we are hosting and attending this weekend.

We’ve got blue cheese and fig crackers, brownies, pecan pie, toffee and pralines!

Continue reading

White Fluffy Icing

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This icing, which I love on these cupcakes from yesterday, takes a little bit of work, but it is a fun change from run-of-the-mill buttercreams. It is light, and actually doesn’t have any fat in it (although it does have sugar and my nemesis, corn syrup, in the mix).  You’ll also need some slightly special equipment for this; mainly a hand-held electric mixer and a double boiler.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 2/3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

What to do: 

  • Set up your double boiler. I don’t have one, technically, so I used a glass bowl that would fit over a medium sauce pan. Here’s what it looked like mid-way in, when I decided I should take a picture for you.
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  • Start the water boiling in the bottom half of the double boiler, while you mix together all of the ingredients except the vanilla in the top bowl. Also make sure your hand-held mixer has a long enough cord to reach the stove. If not, find an extension cord.
  • When the water is boiling, place the icing mixture on top and start mixing with your hand-held electric mixer on high speed. The egg whites will start to cook and become opaque, and the consistency will become thick.
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  • When the mixture is thick enough that when you shut off the mixer and pull it out of the icing, the icing forms peaks, then you’re done.
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  • Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla.
  • Allow to cool and then spread over a cake of your choice.
Cupcake!

Cupcakes!

Cupcake!.

This is a cupcake version of one of my family’s favorite cakes, the aptly named “Chocolate Cake with White Fluffy Icing”

The name says it all, really. This is a delicious chocolate cake with a whipped marshmallow-y icing on top. There is surprisingly little fat in these delicious creations– just 1/2 cup of oil for over 18 cupcakes, but there is plenty of sugar so I don’t feel comfortable calling them “healthy”. Instead, they are simply “less bad”.

The cake is moist, and has a rich chocolaty flavor. I’m pretty sure the original recipe comes from Hershey and can be found here (where you can also find the recipe for low altitude).

I’m going to post the recipe for the cake here today and the recipe for the icing tomorrow so as not to overwhelm you. This cake would also be tasty with a little whipped cream on top, chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream or any of your other favorite icings.

What you need:

  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered cocoa
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Icing

What to do:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl.
  2. Add the eggs (beaten), milk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed (or just use a whisk) until all the lumps are incorporated.
  3. Stir in the boiling water and mix again until it is incorporated. You’ll have a very soupy concoction at this point– that’s what you want.
  4. Now pour the batter into 18 lined cupcake tins– fill about 3/4 of the way up– or, into a greased and floured 13″ x 9″ x 2 ” pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes for cupcakes (or until a toothpick comes out clean) or 35-40 minutes for a cake.
  6. Allow to cool before frosting.

Magic Cookie Bars


These are pretty much “seven layer bars” but there are only six layers because I don’t like the butterscotch chips. This recipe is so easy and based on this recipe.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick of butter, unsalted
  • 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the stick of butter into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and place it in oven– let it melt, but make sure it doesn’t burn– about 5 minutes.
  3. Pound some graham crackers in a large zip-lock bag until you have a cup and a half.
  4. Take the melted butter and baking pan out of the oven
  5. Mix the graham cracker crumbs into the butter in the pan until all the crumbs are buttered, then press into an even layer at the bottom of the pan
  6. Cover with the sweetened condensed milk.
  7. Cover the milk with the chocolate chips
  8. Cover the chips with the coconut.
  9. Cover the coconut with the nuts.
  10. Lightly press down on the conglomerate with your fingers or the back of a clean measuring cup.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan before cutting.

*The edges will be quite crispy which I like, but if you don’t, you can line the pan with aluminum foil.

Sugar Cookies


Edward’s dad loves these cookies, particularly when they’re covered in a colorful glaze of powdered sugar icing. I forgot to take a picture of these guys once they were decorated for some reason so use your imagination. Here’s a picture of the icing production, if it helps:


What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter- softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk

What you do:

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until nice and creamy– depending on your mixer, I mix mine for about 5 minute. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Add egg to the butter mixture and beat well
  3. Add vanilla
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk– alternating about 3/4 c. of dry then 1 T. milk until it’s all gone.
  5. Mold the dough into a ball, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (but over night is fine too)
  6. After it’s chilled, set the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Place a little bit of flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough until it’s about 1/4-1/8th of an inch thick.
  8. Dip your cookie cutters into a bit of flour, then cut our your cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the cookies about a half and inch apart on the sheet.
  9. Bake until golden brown for about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookies you cut.
  10. Remove from the cookies sheet and let cool on a wire wrack before icing.
  11. Eat with coffee or tea!

The BEST chocolate chip cookies

This recipe takes a little bit of forethought, because you have to refrigerate the dough for a day, but they really are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. A sprinkle of fleur de sel (French sea salt) sounds strange, but it’s seriously good. The official original recipe calls for using the dark chocolate fèves (big ‘ole chocolate ovals), which I used some of, but didn’t want to spend $10 on a pound of chocolate so I used some disks and some chocolate chunks and it worked out fine. Maybe one of these days I’ll even do it correctly.

Here are the beauties:

And here is the recipe which from the NY Times

What you need:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt.

What you do:
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie with Crème Fraîche Topping


I have made this pie twice. The first time, I couldn’t find crème fraîche so I just made some good ole’ whupped cream and let people top the pie off themselves. It was fantastic, and oh so incredibly rich! The pie is amazing. I thought, my dad would LOVE this. So, I made him this pie for his birthday and this time I followed directions because I love my dad and I wanted it to be EVEN MORE PERFECT. Except, it turns out that it wasn’t better. In fact, it wasn’t even as good as the first time! I didn’t like the crème fraîche topping. It was actually too rich for the pie and didn’t complement as much as the plain Jane whipped cream. And so it goes. Regardless, I will supply you with the recipe as it is supposed to be (copied directly) from Bon Appétit, January 2008. And I will encourage you to ignore the part about the crème fraîche and just get a little bit of whipping cream, and whip it up with a little bit of sugar.

What you need:

Crust:

  • 1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package; about 23 cookies, finely ground in processor)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 1 cup chilled crème fraîche*
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Bittersweet chocolate shavings or curls (optional)

What to do:

Crust:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Blend cookie crumbs and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Bake until crust begins to set and no longer looks moist, pressing gently with back of fork if crust puffs, about 12 minutes. Remove crust from oven, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over bottom of crust. Let stand until chocolate softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Using offset spatula or small rubber spatula, spread chocolate over bottom and up sides of crust to cover. Chill crust until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.
Filling:
Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt to blend in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add 1/3 cup milk, whisking until smooth paste forms. Whisk in remaining milk, then 1/4 cup cream. Using flat-bottom wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom and sides of pan until pudding thickens and begins to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in rum and vanilla. Pour hot pudding into crust and spread evenly. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.
Topping:
Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl just until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread topping decoratively over top of pie, swirling to create peaks, if desired. DO AHEAD: Pie can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.
Sprinkle chocolate shavings decoratively atop pie, if desired. Cut pie into wedges and serve.
* Sold at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.