Category Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Panettone Bread Pudding

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Hi friends!

I haven’t forgotten about you. I swear. Things are a bit backed up here–partially because of my schedule and partially because my camera’s having uploading issues. Hopefully, all will be resolved this weekend. Til then, here’s a quick recipe for a chocolate-studded panettone bread pudding. Sorry for the lack of pictures–these are the only ones that would load!

Happy eating!

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Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Granola

Dear Future Exam-Taking Self:

While I appreciate that you had grand plans to start outlining this weekend, you really made a wise decision by visiting Union and Eastern Markets with friend and foodie Amanda, doing laundry, getting ahead on reading, and, you know, choosing to make granola instead of opening those pesky class notes. While you may not actually understand the rules of evidence as well as you should, keep in mind how delicious procrastination was. One day, you may make those granola-crusted nuts that inspired you on Smitten Kitchen. But, until then, just remember to breathe and to take a bite of your latest creation. While it may not give you the answer as to what constitutes a Fourth Amendment violation, it will provide endless comfort in the form of mildly sweetened oats, chocolate, pecans, and cranberries. You. Are. Welcome.

All the best,

Present Outline-Avoiding Self

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“Stardust” Chocolate Pancakes

I walked into CVS yesterday morning and immediately spotted a wide array of bright pink and red decorations, cards, and bags of candy. Needless to say, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. It’s not difficult to get annoyed by the messages advertising “Couples Specials” or suggesting new ways to surprise one’s significant other. That being said, I’m not one of those people who completely shuns the holiday. I used to love Valentine’s Day as a kid. You got a ton of cards from people telling you how great you are, and all of those messages were conveyed through images of your favorite cartoon characters. What was not to love? Sure, it’s commercialized and makes me ever cognizant of the fact that I am, in fact, single, but it also gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude to all of the people that I love and to enjoy the general feel-good, happy thoughts floating around society. So, no bitterness here. That being said, I do still want a Lisa Frank card with a unicorn on it, so, if anyone feels the need to indulge, feel free to pass one along.

Anyway, here’s an idea for a cute V-day breakfast–either for yourself or for someone special. This recipe makes a lot of pancakes, but extras can be popped into a Ziploc bag and thrown into the freezer. Just toast them when you are ready to eat. Now, I must warn you, these are not the sweetest pancakes. In fact, I’m sure some of you may want to add more sugar. Feel free to do so! I personally like my chocolate on the more bitter side, so these suit me just fine. Plus, if you top them with fruit and powdered sugar, they’ll be sweet enough. As always, happy eating!

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Italian Hot Chocolate and Affogato

Sorry the picture is dark! I forgot my camera so we had to rely on Caroline's Blackberry ūüôā

My absolute favorite thing about winter (read: anytime) is curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. I love a steaming hot cup of thick, rich hot chocolate–which a lot of people find surprising considering I’m not the biggest chocolate person. That being said, I refuse to make my hot chocolate with anything but milk. None of that gross watery stuff for me, please!

While studying abroad, my friends and I discovered the joys of European hot chocolate. Now, the hot chocolate that we’re used to normally involves some cocoa powder, maybe a little chopped chocolate, and some sugar and salt. Good flavor, but about the consistency of a mocha. European hot chocolate? It’s like molten chocolate lava. No, seriously. The stuff is so thick and rich; it easily coats the back of a spoon. And churros. And pretty much everything else you can get your hands on and dip in there. It’s like fondue, but better. Yeah. I said that.

Anyway, Caroline’s and my favorite place to go for gelato and hot chocolate in Florence was this little shop called Vestri on the Borgo degli Albizi. Their gelato was always fresh and was also incredibly cheap (euro 1,70 for two scoops? I’ll take it!). But the best part about any gelato shop in Italy is the fact that you can get an affogato. What, you ask is an affogato? Well, friends, it’s a scoop of gelato or sorbet, topped with a giant ladle of hot chocolate or, in some cases, espresso. Needless to say, it’s heaven in the cup, and the variety of flavors you get as the gelato slowly melts into the hot chocolate is unbelievable.

Anyway, Caroline and I decided to recreate this treat last week when we made dinner at her house. We added some blackberries and used strawberry sorbet for a berry kick in our affogati. I hope this recipe warms you up as much as it did us! Happy eating!

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Christmas Cookies

If you’re like me, you’re having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. ¬†We put up our Christmas tree over Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve been listening to carols for weeks. ¬†I’ve been to holiday parties and have enjoyed the Christmas hymns at church. ¬†However, despite the music and shopping and cards, it just doesn’t seem like late December. ¬†Oh wait, maybe it’s this ridiculous weather. ¬†Right now, New York City is gross. ¬†It’s rainy, warm, and muggy. ¬†How can a girl dreaming of a white Christmas get into the holiday spirit with this disgusting weather? ¬†Well, here’s how . . .

Last Friday was my last week of teaching for the year 2011, so this past weekend, I devoted my time to Christmas cookies.  I cleaned my kitchen, I bought my supplies, I blared my holiday tunes, and I baked . . . and baked and baked and baked.  In the end, I made hundreds of cookies . . .

And then, I boxed them all up‚ÄĒcarefully, dividing the box into sections and placing the cookies into paper cupcake cups to make everything look fancy‚ÄĒand I sent them all to work with Brandon. ¬†I do this every year. ¬†Brandon receives a little popularity, I get to bake, and I get the calorie-filled, butter-and-sugar-stuffed treats out of my house.

Well, most of them. ¬†I kept a dozen or so, and I’m officially addicted to the mint fudge I made for the first time this year.

Every year, for the most part, I make the same cookies. ¬†I have three recipes that are top-notch‚ÄĒthe best: ¬†chocolate ganache thumbprints, cranberry-pistachio cornmeal biscotti, and giant ginger cookies. ¬†The chocolate thumbprints‚ÄĒBrandon’s most favorite‚ÄĒare rich with a slight saltiness that makes them sinfully decadent. ¬†The biscotti are crispy, light, and because they are filled with red cranberries and green pistachios, ultra Christmas-y. ¬†Last, but certainly not least, are my chewy ginger cookies. ¬†They might be the most popular: ¬†soft, spicy, and enormous.

In addition to the favorites, I usually make a candy of some sort. ¬†In years past, I’ve made peppermint bark, but this year, I opted for some peppermint fudge. ¬†Whoa, I had no idea how great this fudge would turn out. ¬†No candy thermometer required. ¬†It’s smooth, rich, and refreshingly minty.

And on top of that, I made sugar cut-outs. ¬†I was dying to do a little decorative frosting, so I made these the day before I made the rest. ¬†The dough was super easy, and the cookies turned out delicious. ¬†To color the dough and frosting, I used food coloring gel‚ÄĒsometimes called paste. ¬†This creates bright, saturated color‚ÄĒno pastel pinks and greens here‚ÄĒand doesn’t change the consistency of the dough or icing. ¬†Mine is from Martha Stewart, but I know Wilton makes it, too. ¬†Cake stores and other “fine kitchen stores” sell it. ¬†It’s definitely worth seeking out, and, because you don’t need to use much, it lasts a long time.

Well, needless to say, all of this cookie baking (and giving) put me right into the Christmas spirit.  I promise, any of the following recipes will get you and your family ready for the holidays, too.  Enjoy, and happy holidays! Continue reading


Peanut Butter Blossoms

I hope that everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving! From roasted turkey to goat cheese mashed potatoes to a delicious pumpkin cheesecake, I was a pretty happy (and ridiculously full) camper. That being said, I did come away with a few second degree burns on account of a (literal) run-in with sweet potatoes. As a result, my right hand is slightly out of commission as it recovers from my cooking misadventures.

Now that one holiday is over, I think I’ll take the approach followed by department stores and marketing agents everywhere and turn my attention to the next holiday: Christmas. Every year, I make a wide variety of cookies to distribute to our family and friends. Sugar cookies, chocolate ganache thumbprints, birds in a nest, rugelach, coconut macaroons–the list goes on and on. This year, I plan on incorporating¬† peanut butter blossoms into the mix.

I first had these cookies in the first grade when one of my peers brought them in as her birthday treat (this was before peanut allergies made this impossible). I had a hard time finding a recipe I liked, however, until the spring of my junior year when studying abroad. Peanut butter is a bit difficult to find in Florence, and my friends and I found ourselves missing it (even though none of us eat it normally…it’s funny what being away from home does to your tastebuds). Sam’s mom emailed her their family recipe, her dad brought us peanut butter and a giant bag of Hershey Kisses when he visited, and we spent an afternoon happily making cookies.

Here’s hoping you enjoy these as much as my friends and I do. Happy eating!

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Chocolate Lava Cakes

Dessert lovers, beware. Your diets are about to go downhill.

Who doesn’t love a spoonful of molten chocolate? Well, minus me. Sure, I generally opt for the fruit dessert, but even I can’t resist a warm chocolate cake sometimes.

After reading Megan’s last few dessert-oriented posts, I couldn’t help but think how great a spoonful of gelato would taste atop a warm chocolate cake. I first made this dessert when my friend Lucy came to visit me. Lucy studied abroad in Florence at the same time that I did, and I was lucky enough that she was already living with my host family when I arrived. She was a great resource when I first moved to Italy, and I’m glad to count her among my friends. I wanted to make a special treat when she came, so I chose to make these chocolate lava cakes as the perfect ending to our Italian meal.

This recipe produces a dessert that is quite rich, and the cakes taste great with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla (or cr√®me fra√ģche!) ice cream. The molten chocolate inside is always a great surprise to guests, and the instant gratification of a warm, gooey cake is hard to beat!

I hope you consider making these next time you are craving some chocolate. Even better, make this with some cr√®me fra√ģche gelato; I’m pretty sure that’s a pairing that’ll be hard to beat! Happy eating!

….and on a completely unrelated note: If you haven’t had any artichokes yet this season: RUN. I am currently eating a bowl of lightly braised baby artichokes with garlic and onions, and I am in foodie heaven. GAH.

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Chocolate-Almond Tart

I seem to have ended my pasta kick and moved on to chocolate. I don’t know how or when this happened, but something tells me that the housemates are not entirely opposed to this transition. I promise to move on to something less sugary (in my defense, I’ve eaten crazy amounts of salad for the last two weeks!). I’m thinking of making pide or attempting to recreate my mom’s recipe for tandoori chicken next time around.

In any case, I figured that the housemates and my friend Cara could use a post-spring break pick-me-up, and, knowing the food preferences of the roomies, I decided to go with something chocolate-y. The solution? Chocolate-Almond tart.

I was originally going to follow some sort of recipe, but I wound up just making one up as I went along. Now, as I’ve already noted, I am not the biggest fan of chocolate, so this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. My housemates, however, loved this tart. I highly recommend serving with a dollop of fresh whipped cream to help cut through the dense chocolate!

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Double-Chocolate Brownies


My house is oozing chocolate from its pores. 

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate. According to my housemates/almost every individual that I know, this is nothing short of blasphemy. Oops. This week, however, required chocolate. Tired after the last several weeks of the never-ending drudgery of school, I decided to treat my housemates and myself to a pan of warm brownies. I texted my friend Sam to find out what recipe she normally uses, and she suggested turning to my personal culinary goddess Martha Stewart for her version of Double Chocolate Brownies.

Oh. My. Goodness. These brownies are INSANE. The double-dose of chocolate makes these incredibly rich, so you can really only need a small piece. I recommend cutting through the chocolate with a tall glass of milk or, in the case of our house, a red wine with berry-tones. The best part of these, however, might be how quickly they come together. The batter took less than 15 minutes to prepare – and that includes the time it took to melt the chocolate and butter!

I hope that these satisfy your chocolatiest cravings. Have a happy weekend!


Chocolate Pots de Cr√®me

First of all, I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day!

My husband, Brandon, and I decided, once again, to forgo the restaurant scene and make dinner together for the holiday.  Knowing Brandon would probably be working the official night of V-Day, we chose to celebrate the evening before.

Celebrating over the weekend provided me with the extra time needed to prepare a special, indulgent dessert. ¬†With our dinner menu consisting of duck breast with orange gastrique, duck fat potatoes, and roasted broccolini, I wanted to whip up a French-inspired, chocolate dessert (what could be more romantic?). ¬†My first thought was chocolate mousse. ¬†I’ve made it before and enjoyed it thoroughly, but it requires melting chocolate and whipping eggs in several different bowls, and I just wasn’t in the mood for such a heroic clean-up effort. Continue reading


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