Tag Archives: chocolate

Overnight Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana (and Chocolate)

You guys are the best!  All day today, I felt like we were all standing around in the kitchen together, chatting about how to pull off a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s easy, you reminded me.  Stuff a winter squash, roast some veggies, make a soup or a good salad, put out cheese or olives. Easy is perfect.  And just as perfect were the reminders that it’s not the food that makes a holiday special; it’s the excuse to gather as a family and enjoy each others’ company.

And…that’s good.  Because we arrived to find our rental-with-kitchen unsavory, and decamped to a hotel suite with only a mini-bar fridge instead.  So no kitchen, no Thanksgiving cooking.  We’re going to have our Thanksgiving dinner this weekend instead, back in Seattle.  Which I already have planned now, days in advance—I’m so uncharacteristically organized!  But seriously, thank you–I am so lucky to have met so many wonderful cooks and epicures and readers and writers in this little place called the internet (interwebs?) and I’m thankful to know you all.In celebration of life with a mini-fridge, and especially for those of you on the road this weekend, I’m sharing my favorite hotel-room breakfast today.  Continue reading

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Banana Bread with Bittersweet Chocolate, Whole Wheat, and Olive Oil

I’m not going to disappoint anyone by telling you that banana bread is really cake, right?  And this banana “bread” is no exception.  It has a couple of healthful flourishes, yes–whole wheat flour replaces some of the white flour, and olive oil and yogurt stand in for butter–but it remains a sweet, dense, chocolatey cake.

And to be honest, I like whole grains in sweet baked goods at least as much for their hearty flavor as for any health benefit they confer (I mean, we’re still talking about cake here).  These whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, this rye flour zucchini bread (also a cake, of course)—the whole grains add a layer of flavor and texture that leave more refined baked goods tasting rather insipid in comparison. Continue reading

S’mores, or, In Praise of Not Cooking Sometimes, Too

I love cooking for my family, but it’s nice to have an occasional break everything, even things I love.  Like maybe once a year, when we go to family camp, stay in rustic cabins, and let the nice people there cook and clean up for us.

This is literally the only thing I made all week.  It was a good week. Continue reading

Chocolate Waffles

Oh, friends.  You rightly clamored for the chocolate pancake recipe to accompany that Summer Berry Sauce, but I have a confession: not only did I not make those pancakes, but I was probably still asleep when my mom made them.  (Thanks, Mom!)

But today was the Real Birthday.  I think was a good day on the four-year-old-birthday scale, as evidenced by the fact that the house is covered in glitter.  And that the day started, as requested, with chocolate waffles (and ended with chocolate cake).

I have had my eye on the “waffle brownies” from Tea and Cookies for a while, but in the end I decided that they seemed too decadent.  For breakfast.  For a four-year-old.  Instead I went with the first recipe that came up in my Google search, an Alton Brown recipe that seemed a little more like your standard buttermilk waffles but with some cocoa powder and chocolate chips mixed in.  Ok, a lot of cocoa powder and chocolate chips, and the chocolate chips melted and the waffle edges were crisp and it was a pretty great combination.  And then we served them with whipped cream and strawberries.

Obviously my healthier-waffles logic was not crystal clear here, but the resulting dessert-for-breakfast was just delicious.  I think you’ll forgive me about the pancakes. Continue reading Chocolate Waffles (click for recipe)

Crispy Chocolate-Granola Haystacks

Road tripping ain’t what it used to be, friends.

Gone are our lazy days of puttering down the coast, of long lunches with spectacular views, of starting and stopping and pitching camp where and when we like.

We’re all business now.  It’s I-5 all the way from Seattle to Northern California, aggressive packing of PB&J fixings so we don’t need long lunches, and hardly noticing the view because of the song and dance I’m doing in the back seat to entertain the girls.

That’s right, we packed the whole family into the minivan (which I like to call the “Man Van” now, both to distance myself from it and to convey to J how sexy it is for him to take the kids to swimming lessons).  And we drove all afternoon and night, and much of the next day, and lived to tell the tale.

Here are some of the things that we did in the car to entertain three children aged 1, 3, and 5: made a list of things to do, read books, sang songs, colored, napped, watched a video, ate snacks, played peek-a-boo, and let the baby pull out an entire package of floss.

Here is something we did not do in the car: eat these chocolately granola treats.  We meant to, we really did.  Hannah said they were road food and I’m inclined to agree, but once I made them we had to taste one and then, wow, another, and they were so crispy and chocolately and then it was the next day and J was asking me to please take a photo of the things already so he could keep eating them and just like that…gone, as fast as the miles roll by when you’re having a good time out there on the road.

Continue reading Crispy Chocolate-Granola Haystacks (click for recipe)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate is woefully under-represented on this blog compared to the role it plays in my life.  I’d say I eat chocolate almost every day, sometimes in moderation and sometimes, frankly, not.  But most of the chocolate I eat these days is in pure, unadulterated bar form.  I don’t bake with it much anymore because, in a perplexing twist of fate, I have a child who doesn’t like chocolate.  She spits out a cookie, face twisted in disgust, if she finds an errant chocolate chip in her mouth.  It’s unfathomable to me, but I work with it and mostly bake without chocolate.

So when I make something chocolate, I like to go all-out. These cookies are all-out. Are you still mulling over what nice thing to do for your dad for Fathers Day?  Skip down to the ingredients list and start baking.

The brookies (brownies+cookies=brookies) recipe on this site is one of my favorite chocolate cookie recipes. This is the other.  Those are chewy; these are a decadent, chocolatey, crumbly sable, packed with chunks of chopped bittersweet chocolate.  The recipe comes from French pastry chef Pierre Hermé, Dorie Greenspan published in her book Baking: From My Home to Yours, and I found it via The Splendid Table.  Thank goodness.

The only warning I will offer is this: the dough can be quite crumbly, and if it is too crumbly it will be difficult to slice into cookies.  I have read that using high-quality cocoa powder makes the dough easier to handle, but I used up some decidedly low-quality cocoa powder this time and the cookies came out fine.  If your dough is truly too crumbly to form into logs, stir in a spoonful of milk and the dough will come right together.  You’ll lose a tiny bit of the light, sandy texture, but the cookies will still be delicious. Continue reading Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies (click for recipe)

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know how I roll: it’s 10 p.m. and crap, I forgot to make the cookies I promised the PTA I’d bring tomorrow for Teacher Appreciation Week or some such made up holiday.  (Not that I don’t appreciate teachers, because I DO.  Bless them.  Thank you, teachers everywhere.  But do I really have to make cookies at 10 p.m.?) (Don’t answer that.)

This has become my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It’s barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen, a site that I like because I feel confident that Deb cares just as much as I do about food being very, very delicious.  And these cookies fit the bill: they’re classic, chock-full of chocolate, and chewy with a crispy edge.  What more can you ask of a cookie?  Well, I’ll tell you the final way in which they’re perfect: they’re made with melted butter.  If you, like me, never plan ahead to have softened butter waiting on your counter to make cookies, this will mean something to you.  And if it means nothing to you, lucky you, just go ahead and love these cookies for their other charms.

Continue reading Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (click for recipe)

Bittersweet Chocolate and Dried Apricot Cookies

There has long been a sweet little cafe in Seattle called Macrina Bakery. It has a few outposts now, and any of them are fortunate places to find yourself at lunchtime or when you need an afternoon pick-me-up.  Or for breakfast, of course.  Or whenever.  Freshly baked breads, good coffee, great pastries, a handful of equally decadent savory options to round out the offerings.  And lucky for us, they published a cookbook.

I was in search of a unique chocolate chip cookie.  Do yourself a favor and don’t waste time idly Google-ing “unique chocolate chip cookie.”  Sometimes the internet is useful, and sometimes it’s not.  I needed a cookbook.

My cookbook collection is largely geared toward the savory side of life, it turns out.  What are your favorite baking books?  I picked up one of the few I own, Leslie Mackie’s Macrina cookbook, and luckily it came through for me.

Chopped bittersweet chocolate and dried apricots certainly contribute generously to this cookie’s appeal.  But there’s another deeper, darker secret: the mere half teaspoon of finely ground espresso.  It lends a rich, difficult-to-place depth to the cookie’s flavor, firmly cementing its status as THE unique chocolate chip cookie I was looking for.

One friendly tip.  The recipe instructs you to chill the dough before baking it.  That is not the kind of thing I like to do.  If you know me, you know that I do everything at the last minute, which means that when I make cookies they are going straight into the oven because I need them to be ready ten minutes from now.  But in the spirit of experimentation, I also set aside a bit of dough and baked it the next day.  The cookies were even better.  The flavor was a bit more caramelized, deeper.  The original cookies were good.  The chilled batch was amazing.

So hey, what’s your favorite baking book?  I like easy, unfussy, not insanely decadent.  I can certainly recommend the Macrina cookbook (and not just on the strength of this recipe; I’ve made some others, and had still others made for me, all great).  I also love Rustic Fruit Desserts, by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson, and I am looking forward to pulling that one out more come summertime.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Dried Apricot Cookies: In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. finely ground espresso beans, 10 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate, and 3/4 c. finely diced unsulfured dried apricots.  Cream 8 oz. (2 sticks) butter with 3/4 c. granulated sugar and 3/4 c. light brown sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Add 2 eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla, scraping down the bowl as you go.  Add half of dry ingredients, mix until incorporated, then add other half and repeat.  Refrigerate the dough for one hour (or up to 4 days) if you can possibly wait.  Roll into 1″ balls, flatten slightly, and bake 8-10 minutes on parchment-lined sheets at 350, until the edges are golden brown.

Easy Beer Bread with Sweet and Savory Variations

I don’t want to get too personal here, but I have something to admit: if I had to pick only beer or wine to drink for the rest of my life, I think I’d pick beer.  So beer bread appeals to me for its flavor and slight bitterness–prominent at first, but barely there once it’s toasted and slathered in butter and honey–as well as for the seasonal fact that you may find yourself with a stray can of Guinness in the back of your fridge after St. Patrick’s Day is gone.  And a stout makes a very nice beer bread, especially with a few embellishments that we’ll discuss below.

I first learned of beer bread from a fellow preschool mom, who said she made it all the time with her kids by mixing 3 ingredients right in the bread pan before popping it in the oven (3 c. self-rising flour, 1/4 c. sugar, 12 oz. beer, in case you’re wondering–but it’s still only 5 ingredients if you add the baking powder and salt to the flour by yourself).  So you see why that appealed to me–one minute to make the bread plus 45 to bake it means you go from the idea to the reality of of a crusty, piping-hot homemade loaf in 46 minutes.  Genius.I’ve made a few refinements since then, like mixing the batter in a separate bowl because it’s easier to incorporate all the flour.  And I’ve experimented with different beers (each lends its own flavor, so keep that in mind; an IPA is pretty hoppy while a wheat beer, lager or stout can be milder).  And I wouldn’t feed a whole loaf to the preschool set, because contrary to popular belief, the USDA says that alcohol doesn’t evaporate entirely when cooked or baked.

One of the beautiful things about baking your own bread is that you can add any savory or sweet flavors you like.  Herbs, onions, garlic, cheese.  Orange zest, honey, dried fruit, chocolate.  Of the five loaves I made this week, my two favorites were both made with stout beer.  One was savory, with sharp cheddar cheese and dill.  The other was sweet, with chocolate chunks and vanilla.  These variations are included below, but feel free to tinker with the basic recipe to your heart’s content.

Continue reading Easy Beer Bread with Sweet and Savory Variations (click for recipe)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

First off, before we go any further, I want you to know that I do not delude myself into thinking that a sugar-filled, buttery, chocolate-laden cookie becomes health food when I make it with whole wheat flour.  And I will also tell you something else: these cookies are good.  The whole wheat flour gives them a nutty flavor and deep color.  The butter gives them a crispy edge.  And the chocolate chips anchor them firmly in the realm of kid-friendly cookies.

I had never made a bar cookie before tonight but I think they have won my heart.  No rolling, no cutting, no shaping, no scooping, no baking of multiple batches because I had to spread the cookies out on multiple cookie sheets.  This is pure, streamlined cookie production.  The only downside is that the bars in the middle of the pan don’t have a crisp edge, so if you are an edge person you may want to take that into consideration and shape cookies instead.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars: In a medium bowl, combine 3 c. whole wheat flour (I used Nash’s soft white whole wheat flour, but I have also used regular whole wheat flour, which comes out tasting a little whole-wheat-ier; I like both), 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.  In a mixer, combine 2 sticks cold butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces with 1 c. dark brown sugar and 3/4 c. granulated sugar* and mix on low speed for a minute or two to integrate the butter and sugar.  Mix in two eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Mix in a cup and a half of semisweet chocolate chips (or 8 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate, see below).  Butter a large rimmed baking sheet (mine is 12×17) and spread the dough evenly across it.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until the center is just set.  Remove from oven and allow the tray to cool completely, then cut the cookies into bars.

*The original recipe, from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook, calls for 1 c. granulated sugar and bittersweet instead of semisweet chocolate.  I used what I had, but if you have bittersweet chocolate I think it would be great, and you might choose to use the larger measure of sugar with it.

If you prefer to have a few freshly-baked cookies at a time, I’ve had good luck rolling the dough into balls and freezing them on a tray, then moving them to a freezer bag once they are frozen solid.  Bake them without defrosting; it will take a minute or two longer than usual.