Tag: chocolate

The Perfect Pair: Macarons Two Ways

two flavors macarons


T-minus a week until the most over-manufactured, high-expectation-low-return “holiday” of the year: Valentine’s Day. That’s seven days until florists are ravaged of anything “long stem” and drugstores are depleted of all their heart-shaped candy. Greeting cards will clog up the mail system next week and classrooms everywhere will each host at least one sad, un-chosen kid who didn’t get a Valentine, or enough Valentines, or the Valentine that their little heart was waiting for. Now, before you go calling me a cynic or reaching deep into my psyche for why I hate Valentine’s Day, let me save you the time and effort: I don’t. (more…)

Chocolate Cake with Raspberries and Brown Sugar Creamcheese Frosting

I would wager that sometime in the near future you might have some friends over for dinner. Or maybe you’ll be invited to a party. As the excellent host that you are you’ll want to make a show-stopper dessert that your guests will love, and as a guest you’ll do as your mother taught you and ask what you can bring. Sure, a bottle of wine is great, flowers are a nice touch, but imagine if you offered to make dessert and showed up with this wicked beauty?

Uh huh. You’d be the hero of that dinner story. (more…)

Raspberry Galette with Dark Chocolate

This is the last post I’ll be tagging as “Summer” and what a sweet goodbye.

I’ll leave you with just the “recipe” today — a brief assembly of 5 ingredients. If you can get your hands on some perfect berries, make this before the summer is fully finished and revel in the jamminess of end-of-summer fruit. The chocolate helps it nudge towards fall, but at its heart, this is a summertime tart.

Raspberry Galette with Dark Chocolate

This recipe uses frozen puff pastry. Once it is defrosted, heat your oven to 425°.

1 block of frozen puff pastry, defrosted

½ a pound of fresh raspberries (or whatever fruit you wish)

2 tsp cold butter cut into teensy tiny cubes

2 Tbsp sugar

1 oz./28 g dark chocolate

On a sheet of parchment paper, roll the defrosted pastry out into a large, thin round, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place berries in concentric circles, points up all over, leaving a 1″ border. Roll the border towards the fruit to make a border like a crust on a pizza. Snip the border of the pastry with scissors so it can fan out as it bakes. Sprinkle the fruit with the butter and sugar. Using the parchment, slide the galette onto a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is browned. To check for doneness, lift the edge of the galette – it should be crisp and golden brown on the bottom. While it is still hot, grate the chocolate all over the surface. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Cherry Slice

Do people even make “slices” anymore? Is that a term we’re comfortable with these days? It seems to me that a ‘slice’ is a simple little dessert, the kind that is humble enough to be served straight from the pan – but maybe not as sturdy as a ‘bar’. I’m making this all up – who knows! Who cares. What this little number is, is delicious.

Chocolate shortbread {I’ll pause so you can heave that sigh of anticipation} smothered in sweet, tart cherries all topped with a crunchy nut and coconut topping. Uh huh. I know.

Summer isn’t over yet, but it’s starting to feel like the end. Just the other day I was leaving work at about 5:30 pm and the sun was low-ish in the sky, the light was that deep gold of a late summer, balmy evening and I heard some manner of insect chirping – something cricket-y, perhaps? – and I thought to myself, “Well it’s been nice … ”

I like summer well enough. Mainly because it means that the garden produces wonderful things, you can swim in natural bodies of water without becoming hypothermic and it’s often too hot to eat dinner inside, so evenings wind down slowly to the smells of grilling and the sounds of humming, buzzing and chirping critters.

I won’t lie though, autumn is my favourite season so I am fully prepared for the days to keep rapidly shrinking and for the light to get thinner and cooler, enough so that you can start to see your breath and there’s every excuse in the world to get a new sweater and/or a scarf. My friend Sheri has also promised to knit me fingerless gloves – the perfect accessory for long fall walks with the camera!

Although we’re well past the mid-point of August I think this summer still has some more to give. It has certainly delivered so far, though it’s slipping right by, and fast. While it’s beauty and bounty is in hand, make this slice. It doesn’t take long, it’s not painfully sweet and because of the tender chocolate cookie base it feels transitional – not fully ra-ra-ra summer, summer, summer. Instead, it has a late summer, nearing fall feel to it – all while still capitalizing on fresh cherries that are no doubt overflowing your green grocer’s bins.



Mocha Celebration Cake

If you are a home baker you likely get saddled with the responsibility (and joy!) of making birthday cakes for friends and family. My family has a few great bakers in it so I share the load with them, but when it’s my turn I like to pull out all the stops and try to impress. I’m not a very competitive person … except when cooking and baking. Nothing conjures ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaahhhhhs’ like a tall, towering, dark chocolate cake. Pair it with an easy chocolatey frosting and a flavorful mocha filling and you are set.

This particular cake is uncomplicated and delivers on flavor, texture and size – it feeds a crowd!  I recently made it for a friend’s birthday and upon first bite he declared ” I hope you’re blogging this!” and so here we are. Every baker needs a go-to chocolate cake (or two, or three …) and when I get the question, “Will you make the cake?” I often turn to this one because I know it can’t lose.

Chocolate Cake

This cake is a cinch to make (mix it by hand!) and bakes up perfectly like an old fashioned chocolate cake should. If you are making this cake and NOT making a mocha filling or frosting, you can switch the cold coffee out for milk without any ill-effects. However, the coffee imparts less of a true coffee flavour in the cake and simply enhances the chocolate flavour from the cocoa. I also sometimes fill it with a layer of strained raspberry jam (no seeds) and frost it with a vanilla butter cream. This recipe is also great for 24 cupcakes.

preheat the oven to 350° 

¾ C vegetable oil

1 C plain yogurt

1 ½ C cold coffee

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 ¼C flour

2 ½ C sugar

1 C cocoa

2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

Grease and cocoa 2 8×2 inch cake pans. Set aside.

Whisk together the oil and yogurt in a large bowl. Add the eggs, whisking to combine. In a measuring cup or small bowl, measure the cold coffee and add the vanilla and vinegar.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Once mixed, add ½ the dry mixture to the large bowl with the yogurt, oil and eggs. Stir to combine, adding ½ the coffee mixture. Repeat with remaining dry and coffee until the full batter is incorporated. Try not to over mix.

Divide the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 45 minutes at 350° or until a cake tester in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, invert and release cakes. Allow to cool completely before splitting, filling and frosting.

For the Chocolate Frosting and Mocha Filling

Keep things simple by using the same Master frosting inside and out – each tweaked to satisfy the flavours of deep chocolate and the balance of coffee.

In a mixer, whip ½ C unsalted butter with 1 tsp vanilla. Slowly add 4 C of icing (confectioners’) sugar.  Add 2 Tbsp cocoa. Beat until fluffy and well incorporated, adding milk, 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. You want it to be fluffy, spreadable and light.

Divide the frosting into 2 bowls.

In bowl #1 add 1 tsp super-fine espresso or instant espresso. This is the filling for between the cake layers.

In bowl #2 add 2 more Tbsp of cocoa and any milk you need to keep it spreadable and soft. This is the exterior icing.

To assemble

Place 1 split layer of cake (you should have 4 from the 2 cakes). Spread with one third of the mocha filling. Stack and repeat until all 4 layers of cake are assembled with 3 layers of filling. Frost with the chocolate frosting. if not serving immediately,  refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 30 mins before serving. Serves 12-16