Tag Archives: chocolate

Hazelnut caramel bars with candied orange and chocolate

I’ve had a series of baking mishaps. I don’t really want to talk about it. Except to say that my labmates have been going without recently. Until I happened upon a recipe for hazelnut caramel bars with candied orange and chocolate.

I don’t have an elaborate story to accompany these bars. Sometimes food is food, and baking is fun. They are tasty. The candied orange is unexpected and delightful. In one of my aforementioned baking mishaps I made candied orange peel for the first time and fell in love. So easy! How had I not made it, or utilized in my baking before? A problem easily remedied with these bars.

And so ends my baking slump…

Hazelnut caramel bars with candied orange and chocolate
from Bon Appetit, December 2010
makes ~30 bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + plus 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
5 ounces hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel (recipe below)
4 ounces 60% chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil. Mix flour, brown sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add 3/4 cup butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms. Transfer to pan; press firmly and evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Bring 6 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup sugar, cream, honey, and finely grated orange peel to boil in heavy small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Boil until candy thermometer registers 230°F, about 6 minutes. Stir in nuts and candied orange peel.

Spoon hot nut mixture evenly over crust in pan. Return to oven and bake until entire surface is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Using foil as aid, lift cookie from pan. Carefully peel foil from edges. Cut warm cookie into 1 1/2-inch squares. Cool cookies completely.

Melt chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until warm to touch. Remove bowl from over water. Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over bars. Chill until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

Candied Orange Peel
from Bon Appetit, December 2008
makes ~2 cups
2 large oranges, 1/4 inch of top and bottom cut off
4 cups sugar, divided
3 cups water

Cut peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (including white pith) in 1 piece. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.

Bring 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.

Toss peel and 1 cup sugar on rimmed baking sheet, separating strips. Lift peel from sugar; transfer to sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry.

Baking therapy

Let me tell you little bit about myself. There are times in my life when I am a complete stressball. This week was one of those times. It’s absurd because the causes of my stress are good things: my science is really cool and I am spending the weekend in Washington. I hold high expectations of myself and what I can accomplish and when things are going well, the expectations get pushed higher and higher. Add a weekend out of town and the desire to tie up loose ends and the pressure mounts. Throw in an unexpected deadline for silly, but necessary, paperwork and that’s how I became a complete stressball.

I was like the cartoon tasmanian devil on Wednesday. Whirling around the lab and the office leaving a wake of destruction. I don’t hide my surface emotions well. I don’t even try. When I am excited you know about it. When I am frustrated you know about it. When I am stressed you know about it. And I was stressed out.

So, as thank-you to my labmates for allowing me to be me, stressball and all, I made a little something to brighten their Thursday. No wack-a-doodle flavor combination here – just straight up chocolate and hazelnut brownies. I had spied this recipe in a recent issue of Food and Wine and had tucked it away for just such an occasion. These brownies are decadent (as you can see by the amounts of butter, sugar and chocolate in them) and must be shared. It will make your friends and co-workers love you, faults and all.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies
adjusted for size from Food and Wine
makes 16 LARGE brownies
4.5 ounces toasted and peeled hazelnuts
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5/8 teaspoon salt
470 g (~2 cups) granulated sugar
2 sticks + 6 tablespoons butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with alumininum foil.

Combine hazelnuts, cocoa powder, salt and 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar in a food processer and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until it is brown and smells wonderfully of nutty caramel, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Take off heat and add chocolate. Let sit undisturbed for two minutes and then whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly.

Using a stand mixer, beat remaining sugar, eggs and coffee until very light, fluffy and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Blend in chocolate butter mixture. Add hazelnut cocoa mixture and stir until combined.

Bake for about an hour, or until tester comes out clean.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting

I got an email in the middle of Saturday afternoon from a grad student in the lab declaring that one of these cupcakes saved his Saturday afternoon. Such things make me smile. In fact, that was precisely the reason why I woke up extra early in the morning to make just this batch of cupcakes earlier this week – to save afternoons.

With the arrival of spring and my bicycle brake cables replaced, I started biking into work again. It’s six miles, one direction, and thanks to the greenway and the general lack of topography in Minneapolis, not all that difficult. But it is six miles and five months since I commuted by bike. So a chocolate cupcake at 4 pm can be a lifesaver. For some reason, it needed to be chocolate + orange + coffee. And a little boozy … Kahlúa in the cupcakes and Grand Marnier in the frosting, which is an added bonus.

 Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting 
Makes 12 cupcakes
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1 orange
 1/4 cup Kahlúa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting
1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons mocha sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375º. Line muffin pan. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, oil, egg, orange juice, zest, Kahlúa and vanilla. While mixing the dry ingredients, slowly add the wet ingredients until just combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Grand Marnier Mocha Frosting:

Beat butter, powdered sugar, mocha sauce, orange juice and Grand Marnier together until light and fluffy. This frosting will be a little loose at room temperature (I think it might have to do with the amount of mocha sauce) but a quick chill (10 – 15 minutes) in the refrigerator makes it perfectly suitable to frost.

Turtle Brownies

Do you know what I love more than baking?

Baking for somebody other than myself.

I was in Florida for a couple of days. Which meant Scott bore the brunt of my baking addiction. I try to be thoughtful and make things that appeal to him.

Like these turtle brownies.

Chocolate. Caramel. Pecans. Even if they were a flop, I am pretty sure they would be a delicious pile of goo. A timeless combination, which makes it appropriate for Florida, as the weather here has been somewhat undefinable, in terms of seasons.

These are intense. I have no other words. Not a quick and simple brownie by any means, but well worth the commitment. And let’s face it, Scott is worth it.

Turtle Brownies

adapted slightly from Gourmet
Brownie batter
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 60% cocoa chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pecans for about 15-20 minutes. Leave oven on and line an 8-inch square glass baking dish with aluminum foil.

Make brownie layer:
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Melt chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, then stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until mixture is glossy and smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour batter evenly in baking dish and bake for 30. Cool completely in pan on a rack.

Make caramel-pecan layer:
Bring sugar, water, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, until mixture turns a golden caramel color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add cream and vanilla (mixture will bubble and steam). Pour over brownie layer, spreading evenly. Sprinkle pecans over the caramel layer. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Prepare garnish:
Melt remaining chocolate chips in the microwave (heat for 30 seconds, stir and heat for 30 seconds more). Drizzle melted chocolate decoratively over brownies.

Chill brownies, loosely covered, until caramel and chocolate are firm, at least 4 hours.

Vanilla Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

It’s a mouthful, I know.

Trying saying it 5 times quickly.

Or don’t. Maybe just make the ice cream instead.

Once upon a summer, I had a thriving mint plant in my windowsill. Then I went out of town one too many times and my mint plant died. But not before I had a chance to make vanilla mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I am so glad that I didn’t let the opportunity pass me by.

Chocolate chip mint ice cream was my all-time favorite as a kid. If we were lucky, my brother and I could convince our parents to stop at the ice cream shop where my father would get whatever caught his attention, my mother would get chocolate peanut butter, my brother would get something truly disgusting like bubblegum and I would get mint chocolate chip.  If I were really lucky I would get it in the form of an ice cream cake for my birthday. But seriously, what’s not to love about mint chocolate chip?

So how could I resist the temptation to make my very own homemade vanilla mint chocolate chip ice cream?

I couldn’t.

Since this is like my 87th ice cream since July, I am practically an expert now. Cook some dairy with sugar, a split vanilla bean and gobs of mint leaves. Let steep for at least an hour so as to infuse your cream with minty goodness. Stir into some egg yolks and slowly cook until thick. Strain into some more cream. Freeze in an ice cream maker. Fold in some mini chocolate chips. I could do this with my eyes closed.

This ice cream was phenomenal. Some ice creams I like to make in super small batches because while their flavors are good and interesting, I don’t want to be eating more than about 3 servings of it. Not so with this vanilla mint chocolate chip ice cream. I could eat gallons of if, day in and day out. Maybe it just brings out the kid in me, I don’t know.

Vanilla Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

makes about 1 quart

adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Warm 1 cup milk, sugar, cream and salt in small saucepan until sugar is dissolved and steam rises from the milk. Stir in the mint leaves until completely submerged. Add split vanilla bean. Cover and remove from heat. Let steep for at least an hour.

Strain mint-infused mixture, pressing down on mint leaves to extract as much mint flavor as possible, return to saucepan and rewarm over medium-low heat. Pour the remaining 1 cup of milk into a large bowl and set strainer on top.

Whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour in the warm mint cream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return to saucepan and cook until thickened. Pour custard through the strainer and stir into the milk. Chill thoroughly before freezing in the ice cream maker.

Once churned, fold in mini chocolate chips.