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Entries in chocolate (34)

Thursday
Oct072010

Coconut Lime Macadamia Cookies

Coconut lime macadamia cookies

I know.  I know!  Coconut Lime Macadamia Cookies are not a new idea.  They’re certainly not very Autumn-ish.  But--they are one of my all time favorite cookies.  I love anything with lime.  And macadamias?  Such a treat for me.  We don’t buy them very often--they come in such teeny jars, and not with a teeny price.

A short while ago, I was contacted by Sam at Oh! Nuts.  He wanted to know if I’d be interested in sampling some of their products.  I said I’d love to!  By the way, we’re not just talking nuts here--they’ve got quality dried fruits and tons o’ candy and chocolate, too!  I know, this site could be dangerous.  Dangerously GOOD!  They even have snack mixes, granola, ice creams, and baked goods if that’s what you’re looking for.

I gave Sam a list of what I’d like to try, he placed my order, and get this--it arrived in just a few days!  Super fast shipping. 

macadamia-cookie-5

We tried California Medjool dates, popcorn kernels, roasted salted macadamias, sweet and salty peanuts, and chili lemon pistachios.  Everything was outstanding and so fresh--what great quality!  The dates?  They were the creamiest, most velvety dates I’ve ever had in my life--and we’ve tried a lot here.  They were truly decadent, and at only $7.99 per pound?  Totally worth it.  The popcorn kernels popped up so fluffy and really large, too!  We noticed the difference right away--and there were barely any unpopped ones!  Those sweet and salty peanuts are completely addictive.  I’m serious--you’ll have to have someone take the bag away from you if you want to stop.  Chili-lemon pistachios are incredible!  They take pistachios to a whole new level!  But be warned--the heat really creeps up on you--and still, you don’t want to stop.

I knew I was going to make cookies with the macadamias as soon as I ordered them. I think if you have macadamias in the house, it’s some kind of law that you make cookies. And who am I to break the laws of baking? Truth be told, when we first tasted them, I didn’t want to make anything with them.  I just wanted them straight from the bag!  You don’t get macadamias like this in grocery stores.  They’re golden brown and so flavorful--not all pale and blah like the ones we usually see.  Try some for yourself and taste the difference!

Oh! Nuts Macadamias

My cookies had to be full of flavor.  I toasted the coconut, used a whole mess of lime zest, and some lime juice.  I even used Lindt White Coconut Bars.  All of those things added up to cookies that are packed with great taste and  texture. 

Coconut Lime Macadamia Cookies

adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 17 (4") cookies, plus 19 (3") cookies.
Your amounts may differ if you're not weird like me, making all different sizes of cookies from one batch...

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
juice of half a lime
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
zest of one lime (I'm pretty sure I grabbed a bit out of the freezer and threw it  in, so maybe zest of 1 1/2 limes)
1 cup chopped macadamias 
1 cup toasted coconut
2 (3.5 oz) Lindt White Coconut Bars, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar.  Add the eggs, both extracts, and lime juice.  Blend well.

In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and lime zest.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and mix well.  Fold in the macadamias, coconut, and chocolate.

Bake larger cookies (made with a 2 inch cookie scoop) for about 16 minutes, and smaller cookies (dropped by rounded teaspoon) for about 11 minutes, on parchment covered baking sheets.  Move to cooling racks to cool completely. 

  • They’re crunchy on the edges, and chewy in the middle--like a cookie should be! 
  • There’s also crunch from the nuts and toasted coconut, and pretty flecks of lime zest. 
  • Though these aren’t traditionally a holiday cookie, I think they’d be right at home on your holiday cookie trays.  Like a taste of summer along with the traditional holiday flavors. 
  • Do yourself a favor and get on over to Oh! Nuts to check out what they have to offer.  With holiday baking coming up, I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of things you need.  Or want.
  • Seasonal Bonus:  Look at their Halloween and Autumn/Thanksgiving candy!  Be prepared for the upcoming holidays and have a look at their Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holiday assortments, as well.

Coconut lime macadamia cookies  

Disclaimer:  I received my full size samples from Oh! Nuts at no charge, and was not paid for my opinion.  I just really like nuts. Ha! 

Thursday
Aug122010

Tamarin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tamarin?  What’s Tamarin?  No, I’m not talking about Tamarind, the funny looking pods from Tamarind trees.  I’m talking about Tamarin Spread

Tamarin Spread Cookies

It’s this amazingly different and delicious spread that’s an alternative to good old peanut butter.  It’s creamy, slightly sweet, and cinnamony.  The flavor is based on the traditional European Speculoos Wafer.  Tamarin Spread was introduced to Europe in 2008 and has been very popular there, and guess what?  Now it’s our turn to enjoy it, too, in the US! 

What’s in it?

Our ingredient list is simple: flour, sugar, rapeseed oil, baking powder, soy lecithin (for smoothness), salt & spices.

Tamarin is 100% natural, and contains no eggs or dairy so an excellent choice for both vegans and vegetarians.

Tamarin Spread

I was contacted by the folks at Tamarin Spread a little while ago, and they were wondering if I’d like to sample a jar.*  I had a look at the site and immediately said yes when I saw that it was all natural, and good for vegetarians and vegans! 

When it arrived in the mail, it was a Friday afternoon, and those can be busy around here.  I’d decided to set the box aside and wait until Saturday morning to open it--but my husband** had other ideas!  I let him open it, and oh my gosh, we were blown away by how good it was!  Creamy, sort of sweet, hints of cinnamon and other things we couldn’t quite nail down--that would be “spices” portion of the label.  All subtle, but deliciously subtle.  This would be great on bagels, croissants, muffins, toast--anywhere you’d put peanut butter.  And cooking with it?  My mind was spinning in one hundred directions.  I had to put it away before we ate all of it right out of the jar.

Tamarin Spread

Fast forward to this past weekend.  We went out to dinner, and skipped dessert.  I know!  What was I thinking?  When we left the restaurant, all I could think of was a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie.  I  had to have one.  Or three.  Seeing as it was kind of late, there were no bakeries open, and I was out of luck.  B didn’t give up, though!  We drove all over and racked our brains.  I love that guy!  I finally realized I’d just have to make my own.

Which reminds me--someone really needs to open a chain of quality, late night bakeries!  I can’t be the only one that gets these cravings!  We could have headed down to Boston--there are a million late night craving solutions there, but it was already late and we needed to be heading home.

So!  Cookies it is, then.  I couldn’t think of a better way to give the Tamarin Spread a try in baking.  (Though I’m positive there are many.)   Chocolate chip cookies, with cinnamony good Tamarin, and the kicker--candied pecans from Trader Joe’s.  You don’t need to use candied pecans, but if you’re using regular pecans, it would be great to toast them first, for extra nuttiness.

Tamarin Spread Cookies

Tamarin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 40 3" cookies

2 1/2 cups   all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Tamarin Spread
1 cup chopped candied pecans (or regular toasted pecans)
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and set aside.

Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix well, then mix in the Tamarin Spread.

Add the flour mixture in, about half at first, then the rest, and beat at low speed to mix well.
Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips.

To bake, I used a 2 inch cookie scoop to make large cookies--9 per sheet, baked for 18 minutes--makes about a 3" cookie.
You can also drop by a teaspoon on the sheet and bake for about 10-11 minutes. 

Don’t over bake--just let the edges get a nice golden brown.  The cookies will continue to cook as they cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet.  They’ll be nice and chewy in the center this way.  So--let the baked cookies sit on the sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

  • The cookies are perfect by my standards.  Crispy edges, chewy centers, and fully loaded with nuts and chocolate.   Also a slight hint of cinnamon, but nothing overwhelming.  More like a “mystery ingredient.”
  • My kids love them.  Yeah, I know-what kid doesn’t like cookies?  You’d be surprised!
  • The cookies themselves aren’t vegan, but that could easily be done with a switch to Earth Balance Sticks, egg replacer, and vegan chocolate.  The Tamarin already is vegan, so no worries there.

Tamarin Spread 

As if cookies weren’t fun enough, there’s MORE!

The generous folks at Tamarin Speculoos Spread were very cool and offered to send TEN of you each a jar of Tamarin to try!

There is one catch:  you must be willing to use the jar to create a recipe using the Tamarin Spread.  Get your thinking caps on! 

##Since I've reached 10 willing participants, I've decidede to end the giveaway today, Monday the 16th.  That way none of them get left out.  So the giveaway is now officially closed>  Thanks for entering!

The recipes will  be added to their blog, and one winner will be chosen to receive a case full (that’s 12 jars!) of Tamarin Spread! 

That’s 12 jars to bake and cook with, eat right out of the jar, or share with friends and family if you like.

*I did receive a free jar, but my opinion is not in any way influenced by this.  I am not receiving any compensation for my post or opinion.

**Who shall now be referred to as “B” on my blog.  I feel way too formal typing out “my husband,” and really cannot stomach calling him “hubbie.”  His name is Billy, if you’re wondering.  Or Bill, to everyone else. ;)



  Tamarin Spread Cookies

Tuesday
Jul272010

Chocolate S’mores Muffins

As it so often happens, my kids wanted a snack.  Same with all kids, isn’t it?  They’re all about the snacks!  I didn't really have anything they wanted, so it must have been time to hit the grocery store when I made these. 

Chocolate S'mores Muffins

Let’s take a trip through the pantry, shall we?  Hmmm…besides all of the regulars (flour, sugar, baking stuff, cooking staples, etc.), I managed to scrounge up a small amount of mini marshmallows, a few lonely graham crackers, and big bonus--two Hershey bars! 

How in the heck had all four of my four kids missed the chocolate bars?   I must have hidden them really well!  I should work in witness protection or something where you have to be ridiculously good at hiding things that people really want.  “What?  You witnessed a major crime and need to go into hiding?   Let’s put you up on the top shelf in the pantry behind the grown up cereal.  No one will ever check there.  It’s true!”  Ha!

These are super easy to make.  It’s the usual method--stir the dry, whisk the wet, add the two together.  I toss the extras (marshmallows, chocolate, and grahams) into the dry ingredients just to make sure everything’s coated and not stuck together when they hit the wet ingredients. 

I decided to make the muffins themselves chocolate.  Chocolate overload paired with the Hershey bars?  No way!   There’s never too much chocolate in any one thing.  Ever.  They’re not sweet at all, either--just right!  You get hits of the milk chocolate, the pieces of graham cracker (which you want to be able to see, so don’t pulverize them, ok?), and the sweet, little bursts of marshmallows.  Which,  by the way, are the reason you don’t want to leave these to sit in the muffin tin for too long.  If there are any melty mallows on the edges of the muffins,  they’ll hang on to that pan for dear life once they’re completely cool.

Chocolate S'mores Muffins
makes 12

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup mini marshmallows
2 (1.55 oz) Hershey milk chocolate bars, broken into chunks
3 whole graham crackers, broken into chunks, but not too small
2 eggs
1 cup milk
6 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
In a medium bowl, stir all of the dry ingredients together (flour though brown sugar).
Gently fold in the marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and graham cracker pieces.

In a smaller bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients (eggs through vanilla).
Stir the wet mixture into the dry, and gently fold till everything is incorporated.
Divide mixture between the 12 muffin cups, and bake for about 17-18 minutes.
Do the toothpick test.  Should be clean.
After baking, cool on a rack for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, remove the muffins from the pan, and continue cooling on the rack.

YOU MUST remove them from the pan after the 5 minutes or so, or they'll want to stay in the pan forevaaah!
Trust me.

The verdict:

  • The kids (and grown-ups) loved these!  They’re a quick snack that incorporates the elements of a S’more without the sticky mess. 
  • They’re not too sweet, believe it or not!  The cocoa in the batter adds the chocolate without the sweetness. 
  • These make me want to bake with milk chocolate more often, which is something I rarely do.
  • All in all, a nice little tasty snack that comes together very quickly.  

Chocolate S'mores Muffins

Thursday
May062010

Got Bananas? Then you’ve got the easiest ice cream!

 

banana-pb-ice cream

My local grocery store sells spotty brown bananas.  They take them out of the bins when they start getting those tell-tale brown spots that all bakers covet--the ones that mean those bananas are bursting with sweet.  They package them in nice big bunches for a steal--less than one dollar for about 10 bananas on average.  Do your stores do this?  If not, they should!  Make sure you ask the produce guy/girl about it.  Maybe they can start setting some aside for you.  Even if you don’t need them at the time, they freeze well.  I usually peel and smush them, then freeze them flat in Ziploc bags.  Hello, banana bread!

A couple of weeks ago, my store didn’t have any brown bananas out for sale.  I asked the nice produce guy, and he said he’d go pack some up for me.  I’ve gotta love this guy.  Five minutes later, he brought out 2 large bunches--about 17-20 bananas total--all for just over one dollar.  “Is this too many?” he asked me.  Truthfully, I didn’t need that many, but how could I say no?  He took the time to package them up just for me.  I knew I could find ways to use them, so I said “No way is that too many, thanks so much!”

I made banana breads.  We used some in smoothies.  The kids ate a couple.  Still, we had brown spotty bananas, and they were getting spottier by the day.  I hit Google and typed in bananas.  I looked at all kinds of recipes.  But only one hit me like a pack of brown bananas.  How To Make Creamy Ice Cream with Just One Ingredient!  from the kitchn.   Amazing website, and if you haven’t seen it yet, get your butt over there and immerse yourself in it’s awesomeness!  Well, after you read this first, that is.  I always find the coolest things there--it never fails.

One ingredient ice cream?  I know what you’re thinking!  Insert sarcasm here --> “Yeah, right.  That must be great.”   You also need a food processor.  Unless you have a Vitamix.  (I don’t, but my gosh, they’re the coolest things ever!  I’m always available to review one, you know, just in case the Vitamix people are reading this. hehe!) A regular blender just won’t cut it with this recipe. 

Move over heavy cream and dairy!  Go away, ice creams with a gazillion calories and fat grams!  (Well, at least for this post--you can all come back later.  Please?)  This banana ice cream, at first, is like creamy soft serve.  Put it in the freezer for a while, and it’s like premium, creamy dreamy ice cream.  I’m not kidding!   Keep it simple with just bananas, or get creative, take a look in your pantry, and add some stuff in!

So I made a batch (the step by steps are here!) and it blew my mind.  I kept it pretty simple and added organic honey and organic peanut  butter.  The kids?  They loved it, too!   That night, I sat down with a little bowl of it.  I felt so guilty!  Like I really shouldn’t be eating this creamy, rich ice cream.  I actually had to remind myself that it was just bananas, honey and peanut butter! 

banana-pb-ice cream-crop 

I told a few twitter friends about it.  First, Renee at Flamingo Musings.   Go see the delicious creations she came up with!  Then Heather, at He Cooks, She Cooks, We Cook.   She mentioned she was making ice cream that weekend, so I forced her to make this one, too.  (Her post will be up later today, so check it out!)  Soon, Kathy at A Good Appetite was on board, and then we dragged  Barbara at Vino Luci Style along for the ride. 

I only had time to make two more batches that weekend.  Not because it’s time consuming, because it sure as hell isn’t.  My kids were on Spring Break, and we had tons of fun to squeeze into the weekend before it was back to school on Monday.   Poor kids! 

I decided to add more fruit to one batch, just to see what kind of texture I’d get.  Frozen pineapple and frozen strawberries were the lucky fruits!  You know, like banana split-ish.  I processed the banana, then added the other frozen fruit till it was smooth and creamy.  I also added a bit of agave, since the pineapple and strawberry weren’t very sweet.  Chopped chocolate stirred in at the end, and that’s it--you’re done!

Banana Split Ice Cream, below.  This one’s really fresh tasting and also reminds me of a smoothie.  It’s not as creamy--I guess because strawberry/pineapple are sort of watery?  Bananas are creamy and have trace amounts of fat that give you the creamy texture you want in an ice cream.

banana-split-ice-cream-2 banana-split-ice-cream

The second batch was not my favorite.  I added toasted coconut, chunks of graham cracker, and some cinnamon.  No exact measurements, I just eyeballed it.  In theory, it sounds good, but in reality ehh, not so much.  

banana-graham-ice-cream

Imagine making this ice cream for your vegan or lactose intolerant friends!  They’ll love you forever.  Heck, even if you just make it for yourself, think about a creamy ice cream that you can indulge in and not feel guilty about.  Your kids will love it, too!   And the possibilities?  They’re endless.  Chunks of fruit, chocolate, nuts, nut butters, extracts, spirits, cookies, candy chunks--you’re only limited by your imagination.  Try this!!!

Friday
Apr092010

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Candied Bacon

Peanut butter.  Bacon.  Ice cream.  Chocolate.  All four are incredibly tasty treats on their own.  And for some people?  The Four Food Groups.  I mean-seriously, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to eat any of those.  

PB-bacon-ice-cream-3

My friend Nick, author of the awesome all peanut butter--all the time blog, Peanut Butter Boy, is currently having The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #8-Delectable Duo.   The idea behind delectable duos is to pair any ingredient of your choice with--you guessed it--peanut butter!  He’s got a very cool prize package to award to the winner, courtesy of Peanut Butter & Co.   Go check it out!  You’ve got until noon (EST) on Monday, April 12th if you want to submit an entry.

I thought for a while about what I’d like to pair with peanut butter…the usual things kept coming to mind--like chocolate, chocolate, and um…chocolate.  I know!  What can I say?  That’s a perfect pairing!  Then peanut butter and bacon entered my train of thought, and that lead to candied bacon, which I’ve been hearing a lot about, but never tried. 

--Look at that gorgeous piece of candied bacon there!

PB-bacon-ice-cream-4

So that was the basis for this ice cream.  I love using my ice cream maker and just don’t get to as much as I’d like to.  Which, as it turns out after making this ice cream, is probably a good thing.  Why?  Because it’s just so good!  It’s super creamy peanut butter ice cream, which has been graced with the addition of sweet/salty/crunchy/chewy candied bacon and chopped peanuts. 

--And more candied bacon. It’s a candied bacon explosion!

candied-bacon

The sauce on the ice cream?  Was supposed to be salted caramel.  That just didn’t work out.  I made two batches and burned them both.  I was totally off my game when making that, I guess.  Or just really suck at making caramel sauce!  My friend Heather came to my rescue, though, and suggested I make Dulce de Leche and just get it over with.   I was a little nervous, because, you know--exploding cans and all that.   Guess what?  No explosions--it was easy as can be!  Like, “the easiest recipe you’ll ever make” easy.  Can you believe I’ve never had Dulce de Leche?  It’s true!  Now I know what I’ve been missing.  Heather has created a monster.  I wasn’t satisfied with just the caramely sweet goodness.  I split the batch in half, and made Salted Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chocolate Dulce de Leche.  Someone please send help.  I may eat all of it.  In one sitting.  Then make more.  And dip stuff in it.  Like cookies and fruit.  And cookies.  And my face.

--Various stages of Dulce de Leche…just after opening, adding the chocolate, salt and butter, the PB version, and last-the velvety salted chocolate version.

dulce de leche

 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Candied Bacon
adapted from a Ben & Jerry's recipe
makes a little more than 1 quart

Make the candied bacon and set it aside to cool.  Click here for the recipe.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half or milk
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used a natural organic pb)
1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts
1/2 cup crumbled candied bacon

For the Dulce de Leche:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 TBSP butter
generous pinch of salt
2 generous spoonfuls of peanut butter (super creamy if you want smooth sauce. I used an organic pb with teeny little peanut pieces in it)

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl for 1-2 minutes.
Add the sugar a little at a time, whisking after each addition, then continue to whisk for about a minute more.
Pour in the cream and half & half or milk, whisk to blend.
Pour 1 cup of the cream mixture into a separate bowl and add the peanut butter.  Carefully whisk until it's all incorporated, then add this back to the rest and mix to combine.
Keep this mixture cold until you're ready to use it.

When you're ready to make the ice cream, and really, why wait?  Set up your ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.  Add the peanuts and bacon in the last 5 minutes or so of the churning process.   Continue churning until the ice cream is ready.
Transfer to a container and store in the freezer.

For the Dulce de Leche, here are Heather's instructions that I collected from her tweets:

"Can of condensed milk. Stock pot of water. Put can in pot, covered by at least a inch of water and bring to a boil.
Boil for 90 minutes for a nice loose caramel. I let it go as long as 3 hours for a firm caramel you can slice.The can is sealed. If you let the can be exposed to the air it can blow. Never had this happen however.
When I do it I do it at a pretty good boil. Not a turmoil boil that will knock over the can but not a wimpy one either..."

It’s that easy!  I let mine go for 2 hours--it was perfect.  OH!  Very important!  Let the can cool for at least an hour or so.  I don't want to know what a boiling hot sweetened condensed milk burn looks like.

After it's cooled, open the can and pour out the sauce.  Well, you can't really pour it, because it's so thick and rich.  So get your rubber spatula and transfer the sauce to 2 separate bowls.  Or use it as-is (velvety caramely goodness!)  and leave it one bowl. 

To make Salted Chocolate:  Add the 3 oz chocolate, butter and salt, and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each time--until it's all velvety chocolate goodness.   I'll look away while you eat it with your hands.

For the Peanut Butter version:  Add the peanut butter and follow the same microwave instructions. 

 

That’s it!  Amaze your bacon/peanut butter/ice cream loving friends with this, and they’ll be your slaves forever.  You could rule the world with this ice cream!!  It’s true. 

PB-bacon-ice-cream-6        

 PB-bacon-ice-cream-2