Fresh Mint & Dark Chocolate Tart

For whatever reason, I’ve never been able to truly enjoy a mint-flavored anything. Whether it’s ice cream, cookies, or candy, I have always steered clear of mint chip, thin mints, and peppermint patties, respectively. If it registers as the same flavor of my toothpaste, I’m not into it. However, I will say that the difference between the flavors of fresh mint and bottled peppermint oil or tictacs is too immense not to call them by completely different names. The fact that all mint is considered to be on the same playing field is devastating, my point being that I enjoy desserts made with fresh mint, and do not enjoy desserts made with artificial mint flavoring. In the title, I made it my business to clarify: this is strictly fresh mint and nothing else.

Make sure the pastry of your tart shell is cooked all the way through before filling, or you’ll have a hard time making clean slices. Also be sure to leave some excess dough around the edges, as the puff pastry will shrink as it bakes.

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Make the tart:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy cream (+ more for whipped cream)
  • 10 oz dark chocolate, chopped (or 10 oz chocolate chips/chunks)
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 cup of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out a sheet of thawed puff pastry dough and lay it in a 9 in pie plate, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. (The middle will puff up, but once removed from the oven, press it down with a spoon.
  2. To make the mint syrup, crush the chopped mint with the sugar in a small saucepan with a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 cup of water and turn the stove on medium-low. Let the mixture simmer until it’s thickened slightly and is tinted light green. Strain the syrup through a sieve and set aside.
  3. In another saucepan, heat the cream with the corn syrup until bubbles form around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes, then stir until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons of the mint syrup and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the puff pastry shell, cover and refrigerate for an hour (or until completely cool). Make whipped cream and add 3 tablespoons of mint syrup to the cream before whipping. Spread the whipped cream over the tart and refrigerate until set.

Enjoy! <3, B

DIY: Making Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade

You’ve probably been there before: the mental debate you have with yourself regarding whether or not making a cake from scratch is worth the time and effort, rather than simply following the 3-step instructions found on every box in probably the most artificial section of the grocery store. There’s always an easy way out, giving in to the oil, egg, and water recipe, but it’s lazy. Then, there’s the more complicated and time consuming way, the eggs, sugar, flour, butter, baking powder, vanilla, etc. recipe, but it’s tedious when you don’t have all the time in the world. Don’t settle for the watered down flavor of death, but don’t go to great lengths if the pay off isn’t worth it! Instead, upgrade the boxed cake mix with easy substitutions so there’s a happy medium (or be an overachiever and make a cake from scratch, but no one likes overachievers. How dare you) (But use one of my cake recipes if you decide that’s what you want to do) (no pressure)

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Make the chocolate cupcakes/cake:

Ingredients (depending on the cake mix)

  • an extra egg (I used 4 eggs)
  • 2 tbsp of sour cream (it makes the cake moist)
  • milk instead of water
  • 1/4 cup of coffee (you won’t taste the coffee but it enhances the chocolate)

For the frosting: Beat together 4 oz of softened cream cheese and a can of frosting.

Follow the instructions on the box, but only beat the mix for 30 seconds instead of 2 minutes.

Enjoy! <3, B

Dark Chocolate Balsamic Truffles

A couple years ago, I decided that making candy store-style truffles at home is impossible. Whenever there’s a recipe online for truffles, what it is actually most likely referring to is a combination of cream cheese (or butter) and chocolate, formed into balls and rolled in cocoa powder, then chilled to firm. At See’s Candies, Lindt, or any shop of that nature, truffles are a creamy filling encased in a shell of hardened chocolate, which is the candy I was always looking to recreate.

The other day I had a groundbreaking realization. If you make a buttercream, pipe it on wax paper in rounds, chill them, coat them in chocolate, then let them sit at room temperature until the insides have softened, you have a candy store truffle. It took me a while to realize this, and it’s probably a method many people use already, but I was still excited about my discovery. To kick things up a notch, I reduced balsamic vinegar to give them a tangy quality (that you wouldn’t normally find in a candy store truffle. It’s the best of both worlds.)

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Make the Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp light corn syrup
  • Semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and stir in the corn syrup. When bubbles begin to form around the edges, remove from heat and add dark chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.
  2. Reduce the balsamic vinegar over low heat in a saucepan until it has a syrup-like consistency. This should take about 5-10 minutes, but make sure you swirl it occasionally so it doesn’t burn!
  3. Stir the balsamic reduction into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture and beat in softened butter. Fill a piping bag with a plain round tip and pipe small circles or squares onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet then chill until firm.
  4. Coat the chilled truffle fillings in melted semi sweet chocolate, then chill and repeat the process. Let the truffles sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving so the filling has time to soften.

Enjoy! <3, B

Golden Carmelitas

(Also referred to as “please end my suffering” bars and “I cried harder eating these than I did watching Bridge to Terabithia” bars.)

Whenever I’m on Pinterest, like the white mom I am, I see beautiful things. There’s always photos of promising recipes and DIY ideas, and I always pin stuff hoping one day I’ll get around to recreating all the mouthwatering projects I come across. This morning, since it actually is, in fact, a rainy day, I decided to turn the tables a bit and not let gloomy day laziness get the best of me:)

Whilst scrolling through the food tag on my pinterest, (still not positive how the site works in general btw), I was reminded of a pin I pinned a phile pack. (That sounded so much funnier in my head I’m so sorry..) There was a recipe for “carmelitas” with a short description, “Chocolate and caramel sandwiched in an oatmeal cookie crust. No mixer needed!” Almost immediately, with only 12 words to guide me, I knew exactly what had to be done.

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Make the Carmelitas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 glass pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat white sugar and 5 tablespoons of water and swirl over medium heat until golden. Add 1/2 stick of butter and heavy cream, stir until smooth. Whisk in flour and baking powder, then set aside.
  3. Melt butter until brown in another saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add rolled oats and stir until combined. Press the mixture into the pan in an even layer, then bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour caramel into oat crust and add a layer of chocolate chips. Sprinkle more oats on top, then bake until golden for about 15 minutes. Let sit for a few hours before cutting into squares!

Enjoy! <3, B

Homemade Spiced Hot Cocoa Mix

It’s officially Christmas Eve’s Eve Eve! As you know, when you get in the spirit pretty early in the season, Christmas day itself seems almost surreal. I don’t even want to get into post-holiday feels. So the past few posts have been my version of a countdown of sorts, all things holiday leading up to the big hoorah. For this next giftable item, I decided I wanted to go for a traditional holiday staple: hot cocoa. Unfortunately, however, I’ve found myself growing tired of your basic, everyday milk chocolate hot cocoa with gummy marshmallows and a condensed, syrupy bottom. So I was inspired to kick it up a notch and spice things up (pun extremely intended).

This recipe fills a half-pint jar and serves two people or one ambitious person with big dreams and motivation.

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Make the mix:

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

(1 cup of half & half = 5 tbsp. of cocoa mix)

  1. Process the chocolate in a food processor until it’s grainy and sand-like. Add sugar and cocoa powder and blend until powdery (it won’t be super smooth).
  2. Add cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and blend until combined.

To make the hot cocoa (2 servings): heat 2 cups of half & half or milk in a small saucepan until the edges begin to bubble, stir in 10 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix and stir until smooth, pour into two mugs.

Enjoy! xo, B

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes

The cocoa powder I used in this recipe was a special blend I found when I was in Australia over the summer..or winter…Anyways, when I bought it, I had no idea it was made with all these different “Christmas spices.” So these aren’t really suited for summer, but they’re pretty fun to make and even fun-er to eat. The idea was to remake Hostess cupcakes, but the spices in the cocoa were so strong. Instead of buying your own chocolate spice (and paying for shipping & handling), I made it so you too can twist this classic cake into an unmistakable Christmas-in-the-summer treat.

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Make the cupcakes

Ingredients:

5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup hot brewed coffee

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (not displayed in the picture, my apologies)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 1/3 c flour

Small splash of vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 3 mini cupcake tins (or 2 regular sized cupcake tins)
  2. In a smallish bowl, stir the coffee, cocoa, and chopped chocolate until smooth. Let sit for 3 minutes, then move to the fridge and let chill for 15 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, blend the flour, all the spices, & baking soda. Then in a third bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and vinegar.
  4. Add the oil mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined, then whisk in the dry ingredients.
  5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes if you’re using mini pans, and 15-20 minutes if you’re using normal-sized pans.

Enjoy! <3, B

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while..I actually meant to post this the other day I just got really busy and completely forgot. I wanted to make something nutella-ish and chocolate-ish, so here it is.

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Make the mousse

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups semi sweet orr dark chocolate chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. cup cocoa powder
  • 2 giant heaping tbsp. of nutella
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to bubble around the edges. Pour in the chocolate and make sure all of the morsels are under the cream. Turn off the heat, let it sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.
  2. Add the cocoa powder and nutella and make sure the mixture in combined well.
  3. Put the saucepan in a bowl/tray of ice and begin to beat it with a hand-held mixer. At almost full speed it should take about 7-10 minutes before the mousse is thick. Beat just until you can flip over the saucepan and it stays inside.

Enjoy! <3, B

French Chocolate Macarons

(Sort of.)

I constantly use this recipe, but for some random reason they didn’t turn out the way they always do. Usually, when you make macarons, they’re baked with a little “foot” on the end of the cookie. HOWEVER, these did not bake with a foot, they were cracked on the top, and the cookies came out very delicate. (Still delicious, just not the same.) I think the reason they came out differently was my oven, which has been acting strange, or the fact I might have over-whipped the egg whites..in any case, I’m giving you my classic recipe and hopefully you’ll find success with it. 

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Make the macarons

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 cup ground up almonds (4 oz of sliced almonds in a food processor)
  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 10 tbsp. white sugar
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350. In a food processor, grind up the almonds, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. 
  2. In a kitchen aid, whip the egg whites until they begin to stiffen, then gradually add the white sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Stop whipping when the mix can hold soft peaks. WIth a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mix.
  3. Fill a piping bag (with a plain tip) or ziploc bag (snip off a corner) with the batter and pipe 1 inch circles onto the lined baking sheets. Bang the sheets on a flat surface a few times to flatten out the circles. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes.

Ganache (filling) Ingredients:

  • 4 tps. light corn syrup
  • 3 tbsp. butter (cut into small chunks)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz dark chocolate
  • drop of vanilla
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the cream, vanilla, and corn syrup. When the edges begin to bubble, remove from the heat.
  2. Add the chocolate, wait 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Add the butter and whisk.
  3. Refrigerate or just leave the ganache at room temperature until it thickens. (1-2 hours)
  4. Pipe or spread a layer of ganache between two macaron cookies and sandwich them together.

Enjoy! <3, B

 

Easy Chocolate Icing

I had some time on my hands today so I decided to do a simple recipe that’s easy to put together.

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Make the Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 2 sticks of butter (unsalted & softened, 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Beat the butter on high speed until fluffy. Scrape the bowl and add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  2. Add the milk gradually 1 tbsp. at a time, then beat in the cocoa powder.
  3. Frost your cooled cupcakes.

Enjoy! <3, B

Chocolate Chip Challah Bread

I saw someone the other day eating challah from a bakery and it a.) made me extremely hungry & b.) inspired me. I’m taking it back to the roots with a twist; chocolate, naturally. Challah is typically eaten on the Sabbath, or Shabbat, which is Friday through Sunday. But it’s also amazing for breakfast on weekdays. So, without further ado..

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Make the Challah (2 loaves)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 7 cups of flour (& more for kneading, etc.)
  • 4 tsp. active dry yeast (2 packets)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1-1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Egg wash (egg yolk + water)
  1. In a small bowl, bloom the yeast in 1 cup warm water with a sprinkle of sugar. In a medium/large bowl, combine half of the flour (about 3 1/2 cups), sugar, and salt. Use a large spoon and mix in the oil (stir), 1 egg (stir), and 1 cup of warm water (stir.) Slowly add the rest of the flour until it’s doughy.
  2. Add the chocolate chips, then take out the dough and put it on a floured cutting board or smooth surface. Knead it for about 5 minutes. Spray a large bowl with pam or non stick spray, and add the dough. Cover with a moist towel and leave it in a warm area for an hour (until it’s doubled and swollen.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375.
  3. Divide the dough into 6 balls, then roll them into ropes (about 14 inches). Braid 2 loaves by taking 3 strands and crossing the outside dough piece into the middle. Put the 2 loaves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush them lightly with egg wash, then bake them for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy! <3, B