Archive | chocolate

Nutty Nutella Mochi: The Asian Ferrero Rocher

Nutella on crack — as in, Nutella made with more hazelnuts! Creamy, crunchy, and chewy Nutty Nutella Mochi (mochi = sticky rice cake) is like an Asian version of one of my guilty-pleasure chocolate, Ferrero Rocher. It’s very easy to make and lots of fun!

I used to be hooked on Ferrero Rocher as a child. I would have these gold foil-wrapped chocolates in my school bag and the pocket of my school uniform. When I discovered Nutella, it was like manna for my insatiable chocolate-loving young palate and definitely a much cheaper option than Ferrero Rocher. I would eat it mindlessly by the big spoonfuls (prior to Nutella, I consumed jar after jar of extra creamy peanut butter!). At some point I did learn to restrain myself…sometimes. Nutella lovers — you know what I mean, right? It’s just physically straining to not give in to the craving! Ha ha.

It is with glee that I will participate in World Nutella Day (hosted by these lovelies: Ms Adventures in Italy, Bleeding Espresso, and World Nutella Day) with this Japanese-inspired  treat:

Nutty Nutella Mochi or Asian Ferrero Rocher

Nutty Nutella Mochi: The Asian Ferrero Rocher

I’ve always wanted to make stuffed mochi (addendum: I grew up with mochi or sticky rice cake, but we just call them by different names in the Philippines), so I thought I’d combine that with Nutella. And guess what? They are perfect together!

It’s very easy to make. Crushed hazelnuts and nutella are combined, lumped into balls and placed in the freezer to keep its shape when molding the rice cake around it. The rice cake is a combination of glutinous (sweet) rice flour, water and a little sugar. A little food coloring if you want to make it interesting. You can add flavors as you wish. The resulting paste is zapped in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then the wrapping begins!

The stickiness is the tricky part and it’s easy to solve by keeping your hands and work surface generously floured. Put in the freezer again to set. And voila! You got yourself some Asian Ferrero Rocher to snack on. No spoon needed.

I loved this experiment so much that I’m going to make more over the weekend. This will be a fun Valentine’s treat for friends, family and lovahs.

Happy World Nutella Day and Happy Friday!

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Posted in chocolate, dessert, experiments, original Gourmeted recipe, sweets22 Comments

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

I love biscotti. For the longest time, I sat back in awe, envious of friends (on- and offline) who make it look like it’s a walk in the park to prepare. For me it was intimidating, especially the fact that it has to be baked twice. I don’t know why, but just the thought of that thwart any attempt at it! Enter Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox’s book, “The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Own“. I pored through the pages, checking the ingredients and processes, and unapologetically drooled over the sweet delights. Then, like cowlick on a well-manicured lawn of a hair, 3 recipes stood out: those of the twice baked cookie variety called the Biscotti. Hello, self-imposed yoke.

It’s crazy to think that some of us have mountains to move when it comes to baking:

  • Mt. Cake
  • Mt. Macarons
  • Mt. Pie
  • Mt. Jelly Rolls…I’m still talking about baking here…
  • Mt. Cinnamon Rolls
  • Mt.Homemade Bread

What else? What’s your baking nemesis?

My friend is leaving to go back to her new home across the border, and I wanted to give her something for their long flight. Biscotti would make a perfect travel snack: light, TSA-friendly, and will survive the journey. And there it was, my work cut out for me and I was ready to face another fear in the kitchen. Luckily, my first try worked like a charm. DeMasco’s recipe is a winner.

Of course I had to try making the chocolate first. Priorities dears.

Biscotti with coffee

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti with Coffee. The coffee was just there for props. I haven't had coffee in 13 days. THIRTEEN! Days! And I'm ok. Really. Did I tell you I'm okay?

The dough was sticky and fragile to work with, but incredibly good to eat. I’m a dough/batter-eater. I cannot resist tasting it, unless it is yeasty. It pretty much goes that if the dough tastes good, the baked product will be good, too. So I do intensive testing. With my mouth. Do you? If not, you’re missing out. Well, unless you’re pregnant, then don’t do it if it has raw eggs like this one.

The trick to transferring this dough from the floured counter to the baking sheet is the speedy lift-and-support-entire-length action. It does have the risk of sagging and breaking apart.

Biscotti

Making biscotti and proof that I may have taken Karen DeMasco's"generously floured work surface" too far. It really didn't stick. At all. I mean, how could it?

The hardest part in making these is the baking time. Your kitchen and its surrounding open spaces will be filled with the come-hitherto aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and a hint of something that tickles your nose, trying to let you in on a little secret. You know what it is? Espresso. The book says the cookies will fall flat in taste without it, and I’ll have to agree. No, I don’t even want to try it without!

Biscotti Council

The Biscotti Council

These biscotti are not too sweet, and would make a perfect companion to coffee or plain milk. Thinking of tea? This is your mate. It’s not too overpowering, even for a light tea.

There are only a few left of this batch, and the generous bag of biscotti I gave my friend for the trip is on the verge of missing the flight, I was told. If that isn’t the best compliment for it, I don’t know what is.

If you’re looking for a biscotti recipe to start you baking, look no further. This newbie approves. And for the seasoned biscotti bakers, this is a worthy addition to consider for your repertoire of old favorites.

For me, honestly, I can’t wait to make more that will last long enough to make it past the front door without being eaten, so I can mail them to friends! I love sending care packages of food, and it almost sounds selfish because I get such sheer pleasure in doing so. :-)

The full recipe can be found online (it’s the 3rd recipe down), and that’s the exact one in the book. I thought I’d just link to it because it’s a long one, plus I didn’t change anything in the recipe.

Happy baking this weekend!

Posted in baking, books and publications, chocolate, coffee buddy, cookies, dailies, dessert, snacks, sweets18 Comments

“Healthier” Ultimate Brownies

Dare I tamper with our Ultimate Brownies?

Healthier Ultimate Brownies

Yes, yes I did!!!

Hop on over to Craftzine for my guest post about the “healthier” version!


Here are the ingredients of the two versions, side by side:

Battle of the Ultimate Brownies

Download the Original recipe:      Download the PDF recipe for the ORIGINAL Ultimate Brownies

Download the Healthier recipe:   Download the PDF recipe for the HEALTHIER Ultimate Brownies

Posted in articles, baking, chocolate, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, snacks, sweets9 Comments

Update: Dobos Torte

I dropped off the universe, didn’t I? And left you hanging about my Dobos Torte. It wasn’t intentional. I had just been busy with work, entertaining house guests, taxes (lovely), health issues, and catching up with friends. Sorry lovelies!

So finally, here’s a slice of the Dobos Torte shot to show off its fabulous layers. This gives me flashbacks (I almost said backflash…hmm) of the dreadful sinking feeling when I discovered that each layer will be baked individually. And in the process, perfect the technique to: quickly change the cookie sheets, run the hot one with cool water, wipe it dry, put new paper with the circular pattern to follow, and spread another layer of batter thinly…precisely. After baking the second layer in the oven, it began to feel like an assembly line and I was working in the kitchen from one counter to another in orchestrated moves. I really did not want it to end. But as with any Daring Bakers challenge, just when you start enjoying it, you move to the next one! Hey, I’m not complaining. I’m always relieved after I finish each challenge.

Dobos Torte

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel, although you may find variations with 6 to 12 layers. József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, invented it in 1885 and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was Download the PDF recipe for Dobos Tortea secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

The Dobos Torte or Torta entails baking the sponge sheets, making the caramel wedges, preparing the buttercream, and assembling the cake. As per the recipe and notes of our hosts, Lorraine and Angela, I heeded their advice to cool the layers in the fridge first, separated by parchment paper and well-wrapped. I made the buttercream while the layers were cooling, at three in the morning. That’s how I roll when I couldn’t sleep. Let’s make buttercream while the rest of the world is in deep sleep! As I said in my previous post, it was heavenly and I was pointing my toes as I walked in delight. I had to restrain myself from eating the bowl of buttercream. I wrapped the bowl and put it in the fridge before I could commit that sin.

Caramel wedges -- Dobos Torte

The next evening, I took out the best sponge layer to create the caramel wedges. This part is tricky and requires that your mind isn’t sleeping: you pour caramel made of sugar and water, with lemon juice, over on sponge layer, let it cool for a bit, slice, and fully cool. I cut the sponge layer into 12 slices first before pouring the caramel. I think that saved me half a woe of cutting. After the caramel solidifies enough to be cut, you use a heated and well-oiled knife to cut through the caramel. I didn’t heat the knife because I couldn’t think of how to do so, but I oiled it before making my first attempt at cutting. After a few light strokes, it had become evident to me that it would not work out because not only was the caramel sticking, it was breaking and the sponge cake was tearing apart. Look at the center of my caramel layer on the right (iPhone shot!) and you will see the slight tear in the middle right there.

The knife just won’t cut it, no pun intended. I had to think of another way to cut it without breaking it. My next brilliant idea: use a pizza cutter. Oiled.

And it worked! The oiled pizza cutter made cutting these wedges a breeze, if I dare say so! I wiped it regularly with a paper towel that’s been well-dampened with oil and it was like magic. So there…that was my A-HA! moment with the caramel wedges.

Once the wedges were cut, I placed 12 toasted and peeled hazelnuts/filberts on the top of the cake for the wedges to lean on. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect. I had to move them around several times.

Now onto the finished product.

You’ll notice from the first photo above that the butter cream looks shiny and gooey. I tried eating it cold (check out the cold cake with dull-looking buttercream) and at room temperature, and I’m all for the latter. It looks, tastes, and feels better in the mouth. The sponge layers are soft-er, and the flavor of the chocolate buttercream tastes like Christmas morning in your mouth: it will make you smile because it’s so smooth and rich. The chocolate layered with sponge cake creates a good balance of textures. The lemon-y caramel wedges were (I think) meant to counteract the sweet cake.

Dobos Torte

I have to say that the sponge layers were a bit dry. It could be my baking, the cooling, or something, but it lacked the softness and moisture that I wish was there. Even with the buttercream, it was lacking in overall cake moisture. The caramel wedges were a bit too tangy for me, but our house guests LOVED them. It was too strong of a contrast for me. Perhaps next time I make this (if I will), I will decrease the lemon juice, and add a dollop of crème fraîche when served. It’s already making me drool.

Somebody asked me how food on this site seem to look perfect, and if they are really perfect. The answer? They’re certainly not. The topmost picture? I didn’t even notice the dark spot behind the caramel wedge until I was resizing it. I did try to take a photo of the slice at another angle, but that didn’t turn out well because of the chocolate right here. Oops. But I’m showing it here to show you just one of the many food styling gaffs I make. When the chocolate softened, the wedge slipped and I had reposition it again and I didn’t even check the back. Hehe. I think I’ll have to check my camera in case I accidentally wiped chocolate on it!

Dobos Torte

Just like the headshots you see in magazines, these food photos are not as perfect in real life. I just try to emphasize the good features. :-)

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, coffee buddy, dairy, Daring Bakers, dessert21 Comments

Dobos Torte

I joined this fantastic, dedicated, inspiring and fun group of bakers last March: The Daring Bakers. I wanted in on the amazing and hugely popular–yet highly secretive–monthly challenge. You can’t “reveal” the recipe and results until the designated date.Let me tell you, most of the recipes the “hosts” (it’s different every month) pick ones that I would not willingly subject myself to by my own choice. That’s the beauty of it. Even if you can clearly see the recipe is The Tome of recipes, you still go ahead because you know that several hundreds of the other members are doing it with you…through days, nights, arm/back/leg pain in the kitchen, several trips to different markets to procure all the ingredients, thinking of variations to make,…until you all come up with the results, take a bite and pat yourself on the back.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Every month, I tell myself that I’m going to finish the challenge way ahead of the 27th deadline and reveal. Then I think about having to keep it to myself for days or weeks! That’s hard. I finished this last Tuesday and took photos, then more photos of the sliced cake the next day. Then forgot to post. Haha. This is classic.

The finished cake was a beauty to behold!

Dobos Torte -- August 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge

I’ve never made buttercream in my life, and having a taste of this cake’s fresh chocolate buttercream was dreamy. I was Mmm-Mmm–Mmm-ing at 3am while gliding in the kitchen.

Download the PDF recipe for Dobos TorteAnd that’s all I’m going to say for now. Wait until I post more photos later. Sorry, foodies, cooks, bakers, and food voyeurs, it’s a busy day ahead. Please come back later. :) I will also let you know what I did to have an almost stress-free slicing of those pesky, sticky caramel slices!

Posted in chocolate, Daring Bakers, dessert, sweets29 Comments

4th of July Munchies

I rarely make lists as posts, so consider this a treat.I didn’t even make one for Canada Day! Shame shame. Anyway, if you’re still looking for ideas for the weekend, here are some easy peasy suggestions, ye American neighbors.

Here are recipes for dessert (or snack) that require a little more work, but you will get a lot of love from the people who will enjoy it:

Or if you want to bake something that’s easy and still be good, try these Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes or Honey-Cheese Corn Muffins.

Yes, it’s true, when you come to my party you won’t see the usual fares. :p

Happy Independence Day weekend, friends!

Posted in appetizer, chocolate, dessert, dips and sauces, events, frozen treats, fruits, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, poultry, quick & easy, salads, sweets0 Comments

Better Than Ultimate Brownies

** You may also want to check out the Easy Fudge Brownie recipe **

Every now and then, an idea will spark for me from even the smallest triggers in life. This in particular was the result of a discussion about surprises. Mine was to be about dessert. The person that this surprise was for is someone special, so one cannot simply buy something from the store. I wanted to know what would make the best of the best. A kind of channeling of Tyler Florence, if you will.

I gave it a thought and I knew exactly what to do. Since my brother does not like cake, and my nieces and nephews tend to be picky, and my sister will eat generally anything with a sweet tooth, the only thing that made sense for me to prepare were brownies.

A quick google search led me here, The Ultimate Brownie Recipe. And I thought I had all the ingredients listed.

The result is this:

Ultimate Brownie

What was I missing? 3 unsweetened cocoa squares. Over 25% of the ingredient I needed was already used from what I thought was a full box of unsweetened cocoa.  What did I do? I dug up some semi-sweet chocolate chips and measured out on the scale 3 oz of the sweetened stuff.  I also reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4th cup to compensate for the sweetness coming from the chocolate chips.

Another thing I did differently was the choice of flour. I didn’t know the immediate impact on brownies but I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. I am also not a fan of nuts in my brownies, so I omitted the walnuts.

The result is this adapted recipe:

Better Than Ultimate Brownies Download the recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5 1-oz squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 9 x 13 pan.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate squares and chips, and butter; set aside.

3. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. [I definitely recommend a stand mixer for this.] Add melted chocolate mixture, salt and bread flour and mix until just blended. Let the batter sit on the counter for 20 minutes before pouring into the greased pan. Let air bubbles escape by tapping the pan.

4.Bake for 30 minutes and test with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, take the brownies out to cool before serving.

I believe my substitutions made these brownies above and beyond that of the original Ultimate Brownies! Each square is dense and chocolate-y, and has a nice chewiness to it. It’s better than store-bought or just-put-in-the-oven brownies. If you happen to be lucky enough to have some left over after a few days, you’ll be fighting over the the last few bites of super-moist and ultimately soft and chewy brownies. A little sacrifice of instant gratification truly pays off for these. ;-)

Give them a try in your kitchen and let us know how they turn out!

Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, dailies, dessert, food g33kery, healthier choices, reviews, snacks, sweets42 Comments

Bailey’s Cafe Mocha Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I always talk about one of my common indulgences during the week: coffee with Bailey’s Irish creme. So I thought, why not put those lovely flavors in a cheesecake? After all, the Daring Bakers Challenge this month calls for playing with a basic cheesecake recipe.

For those of you not familiar with the Daring Bakers, it’s a group whose members undertake monthly baking challenges. :) I was crazy enough to join. Haha. It is so much fun. Last month was my first time and I had an initiation by fire with the spinach lasagna. This month is a sweeter challenge. Yumm…cheesecake!

I’ve made many cheesecakes before because it’s been requested so many times. My “signature” cheesecake was a no-bake one that is light and not anywhere as decadent as your average cheesecake. So it’s nice to go for something different. I took the good things from my old cheesecake and used that for this month’s recipe–lemon juice and zest in the crust and my foil-wrapping  technique that makes cooking and cleaning with the springform pan much easier.

Admittedly, although I knew what flavors to incorporate in my cheesecake, I wasn’t quite sure how until I was making it. And I’ve had a few Uh-Oh (not A-Ha!) moments. I separated the cheesecake batter into 3 parts for the 3 flavors: coffee, dark chocolate and Bailey’s. They tasted right individually, however I ended up with 3 liquids with different viscosities, with the coffee liquid as the least viscous — and I want that the most dominant flavor because I want it to be mainly coffee cheesecake. Hmm. I guess I should have thought of that when separating the batter because the most dominant liquid I had was Bailey’s. Not that I’m complaining, Gimme more, I say.

In the end, I just poured the liquids from the most, to the least, thick. I wasn’t ecstatic about the top:

Before I combined all the liquid mixtures, I saw that the coffee batter was too thin so I added an additional egg. Haha. Bad move…look at that top!!! The dark spots were from the cocoa powder that I thought to add at the very end. Yet another Uh-Oh moment. I should not have added it directly to the mixture.

But then here comes the A-Ha! moment: The Taste and texture! The cheesecake was a nice, smooth indulgent bite that melts into a comforting silk mousse of coffee, chocolate and my favorite Irish creme. Wow.

And three taste testers agree! :-)

I still need to work on my viscosity issues, but this is a winning cheesecake overall. My cake-top problem could easily be ‘fixed’ with a dusting of cocoa.

The basic cheesecake recipe is here, and I’ll be posting my recipe tonight. Done! Thanks Jenny! And thanks to Abbey, too.

Now I can relax again until the next challenge. But for now, here’s the recipe: Continue Reading

Posted in baking, cheese, chocolate, coffee buddy, Daring Bakers, dessert, experiments, fun40 Comments

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This is an Irish Chocolate cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes: Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with Bailish Irish cream cheese frosting. It’s very good! If you’re anywhere near one of their shops and want to try this (I highly recommend it), it’s available only until today. We’ll post a review later…but for now, enjoy your St. Patty’s day and party responsibly! :-)

Posted in chocolate, dessert8 Comments

Low-Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Low-Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let me tell you now that these are by far THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES I’ve ever made and tasted, even better than the full-fat ones. And I really wish I have myself to credit for the recipe, but alas, no. It’s from Cook’s Illustrated Light Recipes. This is the 2nd recipe of the two that I’ve tried from that issue and I’m continued to be impressed with it.

Seriously. Make this. It’s worth the hassle of cooking and straining the dried pitted dates. You read that right. I know it doesn’t sound so palatable now, but trust me on this: You won’t even know it’s there but boy oh boy this tastes magnificent. It’s like the magical switcheroo, which will have you clamoring for more.

The recipe makes 18 big cookies and it only contains 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 and 1/4 cup of light brown sugar. The chewiness is phenomenal, the full chocolate-y and there’s-something-else-so-good taste is something you’ll remember for days and weeks to come.

I just made this again while I’m here in Vancouver. I would have to emphasize the importance of using a really good cookie sheet to get the best results. When I first made it, these chocolate-y mounds came to life on an insulated cookie sheet [we got ours from Crate & Barrel and I highly recommend it!] and they came out PERFECT — as perfect as gourmet cookie store-bought cookies can be. I used regular cookies sheets the second time around and the results weren’t as stellar. It was disappointing. So, please, invest in a good insulated cookie sheet or use your trusty silpats and bake away. You won’t regret it and the cookie lovers in your household will love you more for it.

I’ve taken the liberty to take step-by-step photos for your viewing (and learning/cooking) pleasure.

Go bake ‘em! This is sure to be a hit at your next picnic. Or just enjoy it at home or pack it in your brown bag and make your co-workers jealous.

Here’s the recipe: Continue Reading

Posted in bakeware, baking, chocolate, coffee buddy, cookies, dailies, dessert, healthier choices, snacks, sweets16 Comments