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Entries in cocoa (3)

Monday
Apr162012

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

Summertime means lemonade and brownies!

Are they ultimate? Better than ultimate, even? I’m not sure, but in my house, they’re definitely better than ultimate. They’re dark, rich, and fudgy--with a hint of espresso and extra mini semi-sweet chips. Actually, they’re triple chocolate brownies, with unsweetened chocolate, dark cocoa, and mini chips. They also happen to be my new favorite. I’ve made them three times already, and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

These are the brownies that I used in my Mocha Toffee Brownie Chunk Ice Cream from a couple weeks ago. I mentioned in the post that I’ve never made brownies like these before, as far as the preparation method. They’re still very simple, but there’s some extra time in there, for mixing--and a little waiting, too. But this is ok, because it gives you time to do other things while you’re waiting! Like dream of the brownies coming out of the oven. Or you stuffing your pie hole with them. We’ll look away, don’t worry.

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

So while looking for a brownie recipe to try a while ago, I looked through my bookmarks and found this one at Gourmeted.com. I imagine I’ve had it bookmarked since it was posted--in 2009! The poster, Dan, got the recipe from About.com, and he had to make some changes to suit what he had on hand. Turns out, I had to do the same thing. I didn’t have exactly the same ingredients that he had to work with, so I made up for that, and then some.

Lemonade and brownies are an old-timey summer classic!

Did you know that if you don’t have unsweetened chocolate, you can use three tablespoons of cocoa plus one tablespoon of oil? You can! Just mix them together and use the same way you’d use a melted one ounce square of unsweetened chocolate. I fall back on this trick all the time! Seems I’m always out of baking chocolate. In the case of these brownies, I had to do this because I only had a couple of squares on hand. And the cocoa, I feel, adds a deep richness to the batter, along with the espresso powder. Also, something happens when you add the mini chips to the warm batter before it sits for the twenty minutes. Some of them start to melt into the batter, which makes it even fudgier.

The second time I made them, I used regular sized chips and added them right before baking. They were still fantastic, but not as good as when I use the minis and add them while the batter is still warm. Plus! And this is a big plus--this recipe makes a 9 x 13 inch pan. Big deal? Yes! In a family of six people, an 8 inch square pan of anything doesn’t last very long. So I get double the amount for the same work. Bonus in my book!

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies

Makes a 9"x13" pan. Yay!

I use a 10 oz bag of Ghirardelli mini chocolate chips in these. You're going to divide it--3 oz melted with the other chocolate, cocoa and butter, and the remaining chips will be stirred into the batter.

3 (1-oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate
3 tbsp cocoa (I use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
3 tbsp canola oil
3 oz of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 tbsp espresso powder or instant coffee
5 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
7 oz (remaining chips from the bag) mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, and lightly grease the foil.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the unsweetened chocolate squares, cocoa and oil, the 3 oz of mini chips, the butter, and the espresso powder or instant coffee. Set aside.

While the chocolate things are doing their thing, get the next step going. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. While not necessary, a stand mixer would do beautifully here--you can do other things while it mixes for you.

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl, along with the flour and salt. Mix until just blended, and them stir in the remaining 7 oz of chocolate chips. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. YES. Twenty minutes. I don’t really know why, so don’t ask me--but trust me.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on your work surface a few times to release air bubbles.

Bake for 27-30 minutes, and maybe even start checking after 25. The top should be shiny and the sides should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let them cool, then lift them out of the pan using the edges of the foil. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

  • Most of the prep time in this recipe is downtime for you. The ten minute mixing and the twenty minute wait time. The rest of the recipe is ridiculously simple, so don’t be scared off.
  • These will be your ultimate summertime brownies, with their fantastic texture and classic shiny tops. Bring them to the beach, cookouts, picnics, parties--you name it. Memorial Day and Independence Day are approaching--do you always get asked to bring a dessert? Bookmark these!
  • Make them for yourself, too! And if it seems like too many, give some away. But once you taste them, you may not want to. Freeze some. You know, for those emergencies when you need something chocolaty and cold. Warm it slightly in the microwave and have it with ice cream for a special treat!

Even Better Than Ultimate Brownies



Thursday
Oct272011

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)

Yeah, that’s right. Freak out your guests and serve them charred roaches! They’ll quickly figure out that they’re really just pecans roasted with super dark cocoa and some warm fall spices.

Don’t say that! It’s Halloween party food! It’s supposed to taste good, but have a gross name, ok? Admittedly, these could probably have used a couple less minutes in the oven. They’re not burned, though--just super crunchy. Like cockroaches. Mwahahaha!! Cockroaches covered in cocoa and tasty spices!

Super easy to make, and if you don’t have the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, don’t sweat it--use what you’ve got. I wanted the flavors of cinnamon, cumin and cocoa in these, plus a little warming cayenne and some classic fall spices in the form of pumpkin pie spice.

Make some today for munchies, and serve at your Halloween party!

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)

Makes 3 cups of crunchy roaches.

3 cups pecan halves
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (or whatever cocoa you've got)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
couple pinches of cayenne (or more if you like your roaches spicy)
1/8 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg white and the water until frothy. Stir in the pecans and toss to coat well.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle it all over the nuts and stir, coating them completely.

Spread the nuts on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for oh, 25-30 minutes, stirring at the 10 and 20 minute marks. I did mine for the full 30, but if you don't want them as crunchy, check after 25 minutes and see how they're doing.

Cool on the baking sheet and store in an airtight container.

 

I think we have an escapee…

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)

Halloween Charred Roaches (or Cocoa Spiced Nuts)



Wednesday
Apr022008

It's chilly! Let's have chili! And some cornbread wouldn't hurt, either.


Yeah, it's still cold. We've had high winds and even more snow. It didn't stick, but it was still cold! And is there anything better when the temp drops than steamy chili with a piece of oven fresh cornbread? Ok, maybe there are a few things better (or more fun) than food when it's cold, but food is definitely high up on the list. ;)

I love chili. I love it with beef, ground turkey, or pork. I like it with beans, because I'm a Yankee (The kind that lives up north--NOT to be confused with a Yankees fan, which I am not.) , but I also like it without beans, because my good friends in Texas have influenced my cooking over the years. And their threats of bodily harm finally hit home. Kidding! It's a hot topic, though, the beans vs. no beans debate.

Whether you like your chili with beans or not, it's a stick-to-your-ribs satisfying meal. Add warm cornbread and you're all set!

I have a few tried and true chili recipes in my files, but the other night, I had some pork chops that I wanted to do something different with. I took a tour of my pantry and fridge and came up with this recipe. It's not spicy, so if you want it hot, make adjustments. And speaking of adjustments, there are millions of chili recipes out there, and everyone's got their favorite. So if you want to use this recipe, feel free to change it to your liking. It's not carved in stone. We'll get to the cornbread in a minute.

Chili with Pork and Chickpeas

olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 - 1 1/2 lbs pork, cubed into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (or not seeded, if you prefer)
small handful chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.
Add onion and garlic, and saute for about 3 minutes, then add the pork.
Saute for a few minutes and get the pork nicely browned.
Stir in the next 8 ingredients (cumin through red pepper) and stir constantly for about 1 minute.
Add the beef broth and scrape up all the good bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomato paste, chickpeas, tomatoes and jalapeno, bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
Stir in cilantro.
Serve up with a healthy dollop of sour cream or my preference, Greek yogurt, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.



And don't forget your cornbread! I found this cornbread at Madeline's Adaptations. Hers had everything I like in mine--it's a bit sweet, it has cheese, and it has some corn.
It's a quick throw together bread to have alongside your chili, or with anything else might want it with. It's delicious! I'm always on the lookout for cornbread recipes, and this is one of the best ones I've found.

See the recipe here.