Category Archives: Chocolate

crunchy chocolate quinoa bars

A while ago I was at a little coffee bar on Spadina for one of their most excellent Americano’s and I picked up a little chocolate bar for a bite.  This little bar was full of crunch and was otherwise solid, melt in your fingers chocolate.

aDSC06838

I learned of this coffee bar, Sense Appeal, from a friend of a friend after a discussion about where to get good coffee in Toronto. There are so many delicious coffee bars in town who roast their own beans that it is incredibly hard to say which is the best, but some of them definitely stand out.  Sense Appeal is one of those and I’ve been missing it terribly since my office relocated from that area about a year ago. (Although, we moved to a new area with a different terrific coffee roaster just up the street!) However, this post is not about coffee so back we go to the chocolate.

If I were to have a cookbook, there would be a whole category called Heaven and it would contain this recipe , among others, all catering to the tastes of chocolatophiles everywhere.

So here is my version of the toasted quinoa bar.

Toasted Quinoa Bar (By Sense Appeal, as modified by me!)

Ok, this recipe is more of a guideline as I wasn’t very specific with many of the measurements.

Ingredients
10 oz dark chocolate (70% is a good place to start)
1-1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup toasted quinoa

Other suggestions:
chia seeds
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
dried fruit – I’ve used dried raspberries, apricots, cranberries, prunes and dates – chopped
shredded coconut
cocoa nibs
smashed coffee beans

aDSC06800

These are all things I keep in my pantry so you can substitute for anything you like based on your current supplies.

aDSC06795

aDSC06794

Dry toast the quinoa in a frying pan over med heat – keep watch and swirl the pan to keep them from burning.  They are finished when they are crackling and jumping and smell like toasted grain.

While you are toasting the quinoa, melt the chocolate until smooth in a double boiler or heat poof bowl and set aside. Stir in coconut oil. You will add all your ingredients to this bowl.

aDSC06729

 

aDSC06724

I didn’t want to overwhelm the bar with quinoa but you want to use enough to get the crunch.  I filled in space with the chia seeds. They add a second level of crunch more like that of crispy rice. I used plenty of chia seeds.

aDSC06771

After those two main ingredients just add the others in a ratio favourable to you. I added a handful of each and stirred until it was a smooth mix of everything. There should be more than enough chocolate to coat everything but the mixture should be lumpy.

aDSC06754

aDSC06768

aDSC06779

Pour into a 9×9″ pan and refrigerate until solid. Sometimes I top it with some toasted coconut.

aDSC06784

aDSC06809and here is one I made with toasted coconut on the top.

aDSC05856

 

Advertisements

Fudge. Fudge? Fudge!

Full of guilt for not posting in ages, I finally logged on today with intentions of writing and skimmed my feed.  I read the first bit of a few posts and a surprising number of them began with ‘Well, I’ve been a bit quiet lately because of, you know… life’, and I started to feel a little less guilty about disappearing myself. I’m pretty sure my fan base consists of only my mom and my girlfriend at this point, but hey, its a start!

I’ve had some time to bake a few new things lately and they’re worth posting for sure. Plus, chocolate looks so good in pictures!DSC05795a

This past long weekend I made some fudge from a recipe I’ve been saving for too long.  I say too long because if I had known what I was missing this whole time, I would have made it the day I found the recipe.   Fudge is amazing in its regular sugar filled creaminess, but it has long since started to hurt my teeth just looking at it. Now, fudge is just a distant memory of a love for sweetness no longer realized.  /le sigh.  However, after this recipe my faith in fudge has been restored. It isn’t exactly the same as the original, but it will make you forget about it.

First of all, its dairy free. ❤ for lactose intolerant people, like me. Also, no processed sugar and it’s gluten free! wheeee!

OK, OK, OK! Without further babble, here it is:

DSC05823a

Fudge (AKA Raw, vegan, gluten-free fudge)

Layer 1:
2 cups cashews – (raw if you can find them but otherwise, roasted, unsalted – preferably organic)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut – organic
240g (approx. 10 large dates) very soft medjool dates, pitted *
1 cup raw organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
pinch of sea salt

Layer 2:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup raw organic cocoa powder

I used my large and small food processors for this recipe.

Starting with the large food processor, add the cashews and process until very finely ground. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t turn into butter.

Add the coconut and process again until well combined.  The recipe suggests it should be fine in texture, but it doesn’t mention that it will also be clumpy and sticky. It threw off my definition of ‘fine in texture’… 

Add the dates and process into a soft paste. I soaked my dates for 20 or so minutes to make them softer. Not sure if this was necessary, but it helped me peel them a bit, since the peel sorta freaks me out… I have a love hate relationship with dates. 

DSC05791a

Mine never really formed a soft paste…

Add cocoa and process again.

Lastly, add the maple syrup and a pinch of salt and process until a creamy texture.

DSC05815a

Firm… but creamy.

Press into a parchment lined pan or mold, (I used a 9 x 9 pan) and place in the fridge while you make the “ganache” for the top.

DSC05819a

In the mini food processor process the maple syrup and coconut oil until combined.  I have a feeling this is supposed to be fluffier, but it was 31°C when I made this and my oil was nowhere near solid.

DSC05820a

Scrape down the sides and add in cocoa powder. Process until smooth.  Pour over the first layer and refrigerate for at least an hour. Keep leftovers (if they survive) refrigerated.

DSC05842a

I think I’d really like to add some crushed coffee beans to the top. Cause everything needs coffee. But until I do that, I’ll just have to eat it with my coffee. 🙂

 

*Edit:
My mother took my “approximately 10” very literally, and even though she had tiny dates, used only 10. which turned out to be barely 50g.  They were tasty squares, but not what I would call fudge. Use as many as you like but the fewer used the less creamy and ultimately fudgey yours will be.

Wedding Cupcakes

Early this year, maybe even near the end of last year, I agreed to two rather immovable events.  Vacation in Europe with my girlfriend and making cupcakes for a wedding.  I did this without confirming dates because I thought “Hey, there are 52 weeks in a year and there’s no way they could be on the same day”. Guess what? They were.  The vacation had to happen to coincide with a conference in Milan, Italy, which started the day after the wedding.

Seriously. I make two major plans for a whole year and they fall in the same timeframe. Someone, somewhere is laughing at me!

Anyhoo, it mostly worked out, but the evening after I got back from Europe I was at the Bride’s sisters place prepping for 4 types of cupcakes.  We only had to make 100. It sounds a bit daunting but easily falls into the category of ‘Oh, its only a few batches’ (8).

Day 1 – made the ganache, spicy ganache, bacon (yes, bacon) and strawberries.

Day 2 – 8 batches of cupcakes and begin icing with ganaches.

Day 3 – Panicked and made another batch of strawberry to replace the little ones. Iced all remaining cakes.

Day 4 – Ruin 8 cupcakes. Wedding.

When we got the the venue in the evening I asked the staff for the cupcake tower I had been told about. A few minutes later someone materializes with 3 12″ square plates and a small metal stand. I stared at it for a bit before telling them that I had 100 cupcakes. The guy’s eyes got really big for a second and he said “Oh. Ok, I’ll go see what we have.” He came back with enough stuff though, so it wasn’t a big deal. I guess I just assumed a cupcake tower might be larger than that.

Everything after that was smooth.  The wedding was fantastic, the cupcakes and cake were a hit and the couple is happy!

All in all we made:  Whiskey Maple Bacon, Spicy Chocolate Surprise, Chocolate, and Strawberry Vanilla.

DSC05161

DSC05155

DSC05158

DSC05163

DSC05169

DSC05176

DSC05301

DSC05303DSC05346DSC05338

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Does your other half ever go into such intense chocolate cravings that they inspire you to make the biggest baddest chocolate cake you can? Mine does.

She would see the Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake box at the grocery store and stop me “Sweetie, can we make one of those?” “No no, I’ll make you a chocolate cake”.

This is the result of that adventure in chocolate.

DSC03822

It’s deliciously rich without being too sweet. To die for? Yes.

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup warm espresso
1 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).  Butter 2 9″ cake pans and line the bottom with parchment.

In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, bakings powder and soda and salt.

Whisk together the eggs, coffee, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Add to dry ingredients and whisk until combined.

Divide the batter between the two pans – I weigh them to make sure.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.

DSC03816

Cook on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pan to cool.

Place one cake on a large plate.

Ganache:

10 oz dark chocolate
10 fl.oz whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a large bowl.

Bring cream just to a boil and pour over chocolate.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and stir until combined.

I separated about half of it to cool faster in the fridge. When it was solid enough I whipped it until light and fluffy.  Spread this over the cake on a plate. I tried to spread the surface flat with the chocolate, but I probably should have just flattened the cake but cutting the dome off. 😛

DSC03818

Top with second cake.

If the other bowl of chocolate is still warm enough, pour it over the middle top of the cake and let it spread over the edges. Reheat it over a pot of hot water if it isn’t melty enough. Let cool.

Cut yourself a slice. Devour.

DSC03824

 

Cut yourself a second slice.

 

DSC03830

Mo’ Staches

DSC03236a

Movember is upon us again! Its still early, but I’ve been up to my knees in staches since a few days before the month started.

My plan was to start the cookie baking on the Tuesday before the 1st .  Get the dough done and bake a few batches, too. But, low and behold… I was missing my ‘stache cookie cutters! /despair

After a good hour of tearing apart my pantry and periods of standing in the centre of my kitchen lamenting my forgetfulness through some cathartic cursing, I remembered that I had lent them to someone last year. I managed to pick them up from her on Wednesday and although my plans were a day behind, it all worked out. Although, I can’t say I saw a lot of my bed…

Again this year I was making them for a Mo bake sale we do at my office but I was also selling them at a Movember event: Close Shave 2: The Next Generation. (Pictures here!) I think Nov 1st was a pretty good day for the Mo campaign!

DSC03229a

DSC03220aDSC03241a

20131101_015618

20131101_015335

This weekend I got in the mood to make meringue cookies, so why not meringue moustaches! I used my chocolate macaron recipe and my trusty Fuzzy Ink cookie cutters and was pretty surprised with the results.  At first I actually tried to make the staches freehand… but I didn’t have the right tip for what I had envisioned, so I went for the cookie cutters to help with the shape.


DSC03255a DSC03260a

They’re a little rough looking, but still pretty awesome! Some of them even have a bit of a pied.  They’re perfect texture, crispy with a little soft in the centre. If I make these again, I would use star tip to give them a bit of a moustachey texture… But these are just for me to munch on, so fancy isn’t a requirement.

DSC03271a

Cupcake Flowers

I went to visit my friend Carla last Thursday to see her adorable little son.  He was born all the way back in May on the day I left for Italy.  Somehow I never managed to get to see him until now. So sad!

What a munchkin he is. Round little head, big bright eyes! Oh, so adorable.  Somehow, I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the kiddo. I got plenty of the cupcake cake we made, however!!

After a very tasty Indian dinner we set upon decorating the chocolate cupcakes she made before I got there.

DSC03207DSC03209

DSC03213

I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the result, even tho I had never made anything like it before.  Cakes really aren’t my thing, but I do like icing things.  The yellow icing was softer than I would have liked, but it turned out pretty cute anyways!

Saturday Night: Inniskillin & Venchi

What did I do this saturday night?

I poured myself a bottle of wine and ate the best chocolate I’ve ever had.

I was recently in Europe for 3 weeks, specifically Italy, Spain and France.  While there I tried some pretty fabulous food; and maybe this is the wine talking… But Venchi chocolate is the most amazing chocolate I have graced my taste buds with to date. It’s soft and creamy and the flavour… oh the flavour.

The hazelnut tastes like you’ve put a real hazelnut in your mouth. They leave you satisfied but yet desiring – not too rich and perfectly velvety.  Your lips maintain a soft sweetness that you don’t notice at first and that makes you want to taste it again…

Had I known they would be this good, I would have bought more.

sweet treats

I guess I should talk about the wine too? ok.

It was a 2012 Late Autumn Riesling. Sweet but not overwhelming; smelled like apples with a bit of citrus which is a pleasant balance against the sweetness. *pours another glass and sips* It’s quite nice  – not too dry; the initial sweetness is enjoyable and not overpowering. (It isn’t a particularly good match for the chocolate, but I wasn’t planning on eating the chocolate when I opened the wine! ) I think it would go well with some goat cheese or a spicy indian chicken dish… I might have to test that theory.