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Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake

I’ve finished the second week of school…and am just about to begin the third week. On Friday, one of my third graders gave me three pears from a tree in her backyard. Such a nice gift! So, I made this chocolate and pear cake over the weekend and it is delicious! My pictures can’t do it enough justice, so you’ll have to go check out the original for yourself, from Smitten Kitchen.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

There is a reason this cookie is featured on the cover of the Martha Stewart’s Cookies recipe book. Don’t let the “gingerbread” in the title fool you: This is not your grandmother’s classic Christmas gingerbread house cookie that is a little bit cardboard-like. Dang, these are to die for! So chewy, spicy, and crunchy-sweet, they are a wonderful dessert to any meal. The chocolate can be a gooey rich treat but can also be left out if you’re a pure ginger cookie enthusiast. You don’t need to splurge on the (beautiful!!!!) book itself to get the recipe – you can find the recipe here.

Coconut Lime Ice Cream

Thank you, Bi-Rite Creamery for making a cookbook with pictures good enough to eat and enticing enough to make. Thank you, summer, for weather warm enough to call for the making of ice cream. Delicious ice cream. This recipe is fantastic – creamy and rich, with deep coconut flavors, crunchy sweet coconut bits, and a zesty lime aftertaste. Perfect for summer, perfect on it’s own or paired with fresh mango chunks, or I can imagine it would be a good ice cream sandwich filling with a chewy ginger or chocolate cookie. I added the lime – otherwise, the recipe below is exactly as the Bi-Rite goddesses invented.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
¼ cup sweetened dried shredded coconut
2 cups heavy cream
1¼ cups 1% milk
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
5 large egg yolks
1 lime, zested

Toast the coconut:

Toast the coconut on the stovetop in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast the two types separately, and stir constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat and let cool.

Infuse the milk/cream:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, half of the sugar, and the salt.
  2. Put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges, stir in the unsweetened coconut. When slight bubbling resumes around the edges of the pan, remove from the heat and cover the pan. Let steep for 15-20 minutes, or until a distinct coconut flavor has infused into the liquid. Taste it to monitor the progress.
  3. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on the coconut to extract as much liquid as possible. Rinse the pan, and return the infused cream to the saucepan.

Make the base:

  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up then whisk in the remaining sugar. Set aside.
  2. Uncover the cream mixture and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Carefully scoop out about ½ cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another ½ cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
  4. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, one to two minutes longer.
  5. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least two hours or overnight.

Freeze the ice cream:

Freeze in your ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you will use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Add ¾ of the sweetened coconut and all of the lime zest in the last minute or so of churning, or fold it in by hand after transferring the ice cream to the chilled container.  Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least four hours. Sprinkle the remaining sweetened coconut on top of each serving of ice cream.

Not Your Average Oatmeal Cookie

A few years ago, I bought the Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook. I bought it mostly because the pictures are amazing, and make me want to eat the cookies right off the page. The index is my favorite part; complete with a mini-photo of each type of cookie in the book, with its recipe’s page number. I’m a very visual person, and often have a hard time using cookbooks that don’t have pictures of the food (if I can’t see it, how will I know if it will work? Obviously, a picture tells me that the dish will taste great…). This book suckered me into buying it, even though there are no vegan recipes and I was vegan at the time. I altered some of the recipes to make them vegan and they were fine. But now I’m not vegan anymore (I know, I talk about this all the time…Sorry), and I made these cookies using real butter and real eggs like the recipe calls for and dang. They were good!

I can never make a recipe as is, I have to have at least one alteration and make my own version. I used this Martha original recipe, but added generous sprinkles (maybe two or three) of cloves and nutmeg to the batter. The cookies came out chewy in the middle, crisp on the outside, and deliciously spicy. Martha recommends adding raisins, toffee bits, or chocolate chunks. I opted for chocolate chips. Yum!

Warning: This recipe makes a ton of cookies! My friends were over one night and we ate a lot of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies for dessert, I ate some in the following days at home, I brought a bucket of them to school to share with other teachers, and there were enough left over to freeze for a rainy day. It’s not raining right now, but hey, I might just go dig one out of the freezer right now…What better way to start out the day?

An Old Favorite, Revisited

Have you ever been to the Cheeseboard or Arizmendi? If you have, you know these corn cherry scones are a staple. I just had to make them again…And they were just as delicious as the last time I made them.

The first time I made these scones, I veganized the original recipe because I was vegan (duh). I also added almond meal and millet flour, and it tasted great, but this time I really just wanted the original. So, a few weeks ago I tried making them again. I used the Cheeseboard recipe, because I’m not vegan anymore and I thought of course the recipe filled with butter would be way more delicious. Somehow, they were a total flop: they were flat and spread out all over the pan, the medium-grind cornmeal was too crunchy, and I was confused.

Ultimately, I resorted back to the vegan version and I tried them this week and used a very finely ground cornmeal, and wow, they were good. The best part was that I made them small, much smaller than the Cheeseboard originals, so you could eat one, then another, and another and still feel okay about your tummy. Or thighs. Or whatever.

Corn Cherry Scone Ingredients:


2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


1/2 tsp. baking soda


1 Tblsp. baking powder

2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup cold Earth Balance, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup dried sweet cherries


1 1/4 cup almond milk


1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

Combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup and stir together quickly. Let stand for a few minutes till good and curdled. While you are waiting, sift the flour, soda, and baking powder together into the large bowl for your mixer (you can also use a pastry cutter and do this all by hand). Add the 2/3 cup sugar and cornmeal, and stir with a wooden spoon till combined. Add the cubed Earth Balance and mix using the paddle attachment (or cut it in with a pastry cutter or 2 knives) until it is the size of small peas.

Mix in the cherries. Make a well in the center and add the almond milk-apple cider vinegar mixture. Mix briefly, just until the ingredients come together; some loose flour should remain at the bottom of the bowl. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes so some of the liquid soaks into the cornmeal and millet.

Gently shape the dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (they should have a rough, rocky exterior) and place them on the prepared pan about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar on top of the scones and place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the scones are golden. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.

Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Rich, dark, dense, delicious.

This was a chocolate-almond-ginger cake for a good friend’s birthday. Everyone enjoyed it, and it seemed like the kind of cake that would still taste great a few days later…if it possibly lasted that long! The recipe was from here, and here’s how I adapted it:

I used half regular cocoa powder, and half black cocoa powder (purchased from a specialty baking supply store).

I put a thin layer of marzipan in between the two cake layers, along with the chocolate frosting slathered on and small pieces of crystallized ginger sprinkled on top of that.

*As you may have noticed, I’m not using a fancy camera anymore — Just my plain ol’ iPhone camera. One day I’ll get myself a nice new digital camera that takes quality pictures and this blog will be reinvigorated. For now, we’ll all just have to deal with silly phone features (which are kind of fun to use, but maybe not as appealing food-wise)

Heath Bar Toffee Cookies

Yum.

Do I need to say more?

Just head on over to SimplyRecipes to make these Heath Bar-filled delicious cookies. The only change we made was to substitute brown sugar for half of the white sugar, to create a more caramel-like treat. We used the Trader Joe’s versions of Heath Bars (they came in a little tub like other candies), but I don’t think that made much of a difference in taste. The dough is delicious, but the soft-gooey-warm-right-out-of-the-oven-cookie is incredible.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ©cookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!