Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

With a plethora of Christmas desserts in recipe books and on the Internet, sometimes it’s hard to choose which most people will enjoy. Since classic sugar cookies are well, classic, I decided to bake up some chocolate snowcap cookies with a hint of espresso. They not only have a wintery look to them, but a festive taste as well.

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

The recipe was taken from Martha Stewart.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 4 teaspoons instant espresso
~ 1 teaspoon baking powder
~ 1/8 teaspoon salt
~ 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
~ 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
~ 1 large egg
~ 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
~ 1 tablespoon milk
~ confectioners’ sugar, for coating

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined. Mix in cooled chocolate.

2. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.

4. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, about 12 minutes. Cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack and enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake Parfait with Peppermint

It’s Christmas time and like everyone else, you’re probably trying to figure out what the best festive dessert to bring to the holiday party is. Well, look no further for a chocolate lover’s holiday dessert. What originally started out as mini flourless chocolate cakes turned into a piece of art.

Flourless Chocolate Cake Parfait with Peppermint (3)

The recipe for the flourless chocolate cake was taken from Sur La Table’s The Art & Soul of Baking.

~ 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
~ 5 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
~ 5 large eggs
~ 1/2 cup sugar

Flourless Chocolate Cake Parfait with Peppermint (2)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a mini bundt cake pan or a 9-inch square pan with melted butter or cooking spray.
2. Bring 2 inches of water to boil in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the chocolate and butter in the top portion. Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the chocolate mixture on top. Stir frequently, until melted and smooth. Set aside.
3. Whip the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer on high. With the spatula, scrape the eggs on top of the chocolate mixture and gently by thoroughly fold in until no streaks of eggs remain.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of pan, until firm to touch and a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Note: The cake will fall in the center a bit and look uneven, however this is normal.

Once the cake is cooled, remove it from the pan and crumble it into small chunks. In a serving bowl, preferably glass so that the layers can be seen, place one-third of the cake in the first layer. Using pre-packaged chocolate frosting, make a frosting layer and sprinkle with crushed peppermint (candy canes work well). Repeat the layers two more times to make three layers of each the cake, chocolate frosting and crushed peppermint.

Serve and enjoy! If a glass of milk is not needed for the dessert, you’ve got some major chocoholics in your bunch!

Nutella Fudge Pops

What better way to beat the summer heat than with chocolatey popsicles? Better yet, these popsicles are made mainly with banana, nutella and chocolate. The simplicity makes the flavors stand out. When I served the fudge pops, I asked the lucky dessert-eaters if they could identify what the ingredients were – they identified all of them.

The recipe was taken straight from Chocolate-Covered Katie, the healthy dessert blog.

~ 3 frozen bananas
~ 1 tbsp cocoa powder
~ 1/2 cup Nutella
~ 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until super smooth. (A blender may also be used.)
2. Eat as ice cream, or scoop into popsicle mold and freeze for fudgsicles.

Note: The bananas are best thawed a little so that they blend easily.

The recipe makes 6 to 7 servings. Each serving has 95 calories, 5g fat, 12g carbs and 5g protein. Not too bad!

These delicious fudge pops are decadently delicious. Even chocoholics will want a glass of water or milk at hand.

Raw Brownies with a Twist

Every so often I come across a recipe that inspires me to do something different. I stray from the tried-and-tested recipe completely to give my own recipe a try. After making the raw brownies with avocado, dates, pecans and of course chocolate, I decided that I wanted to try making a different version of raw brownies. I loved the consistency from the sticky dates and crunchy pecans, but I wasn’t too sure about the flavor from the avocado.

To change it up but keep a similar consistency, I thought of ingredients of similar texture to the original ingredients. Banana replaced avocado, dried apricots replaced dates, walnuts replaced pecans and the chocolate stayed the same! Since I was trying something new and just wanted to get the ratios right, I made a small portion.

~ 1/2 banana
~ 7 dried apricots
~ 1/3 cup walnuts
~ 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1. In a food processor, mix all base ingredients.
2. Press down the mixture of base ingredients in a bowl.
3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

While the ingredients created a slightly different consistency, overall I liked the flavor of the raw brownies with a twist more. Anything with banana flavor is going to lure me in. If I were to try the recipe again, I would use dates instead of apricots because the apricots were too dry and didn’t have the adhesive sticky component as well as the sweetness that the dates added to the original recipe.

What do you think of the raw brownies with a twist? What ingredients would you try if you created your own version? Share in the comments section!

Chocolate Ricotta Mousse

This is the summer of experimenting with different types of desserts. In the past I have tried cookies with various ingredients from chocolate chips and butterscotch chips to dried cranberries and almonds. Cupcakes and brownies have also been fun to explore. However because of a desire to eliminate gluten from my diet, I no longer bake cookies, cupcakes and brownies unless they are solely for someone else to consume. But sometimes, I want to make something just for me.

Ricotta cheese has an interesting consistency which apparently makes it a good ingredient for pudding. I wasn’t very familiar with ricotta cheese, but before I knew it I was eating the stuff by the spoonful. This chocolate ricotta mousse as it’s called is more like a pudding to me. It has just the right combination of chocolate and creaminess that isn’t overpowering at all.

This recipe is from Real Simple Magazine, because it’s really simple!

~ 15 ounces (about 2 cups) ricotta cheese
~ 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
~ 4 oz semisweet chocolate, plus more for topping

1.  Melt the chocolate in a double broiler.
2. In a food processor, blend the ricotta, sugar and melted chocolate until smooth.
3. Divide among bowls and top with the shaved chocolate. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

It’s as easy as that. This simple recipe is a great one to try out since it requires such a short list of ingredients and is so quick to make. I loved the consistency that the chocolate and ricotta had together. Once again, chocoholics rejoice!

Raw Brownies

When you see the name raw brownies, what does that make you think of? I was initially drawn to this recipe when reading The Oprah Magazine because I love chocolate but also because these health movements are all the rage right now. The raw food diet is one of the most extreme in which you can’t eat foods cooked above 104 degrees. Other than the raw food diet, recently gluten-free diets have risen in popularity. Initially gluten-free eaters were only those who suffered from celiac disease. Now some people are choosing to eliminate anything with wheat in it, purely for health benefits.

So when I saw raw I knew it was going to have veggies in it. How do veggies and brownies go together? Simple. Lots of cookies and other baked goods incorporate veggies into their ingredient list such as cookies with zucchini and sweet potatoes. The raw brownies that I made have avocado as their vegetable ingredient.

The recipe was taken from The Oprah Magazine.

Base:
~ 2 cups pecans (or walnuts)
~ 13 oz pitted dates
~ 1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
~ 1/8 tsp orange zest
~ 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
~ 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
~ 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Frosting:
~ 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
~ 1/8 tsp sea salt
~ 1/2 cup cocoa powder
~ 1/2 cup agave nectar, plus more to taste

Note: The original recipe calls for 3 avocados in the frosting. I used two and there was a heaping amount of frosting to cover the brownie base.

1. In a food processor, mix all base ingredients.
2. Press down the mixture of base ingredients in an 8-inch square baking pan.
3. Puree all frosting ingredients in a food processor and spread on base.
4. Cover and freeze at least 3 hours. Cute into 2-inch squares and serve cold.

Because there is no liquid component in the base, mixing the ingredients in a food processor can prove difficult. Instead make sure that the pecans, dates and avocado and broken into small enough pieces to be integrated; then mix by hand in a bowl.

This recipe is good for those who want to have a decadent dessert to serve but don’t have time to prepare it right beforehand. Beware that if you tell people what is in the brownies, they may be resistant to eat them. In reality, the brownies don’t taste like they have avocados in them if the base mixture is integrated well enough. Also be sure to taste the frosting before covering the brownie mixture as extra agave nectar may be required to offset the avocado flavor.

On another note for those who love to eat healthy (even when you’re eating dessert), these are perfect for you. While dessert without fat is sometimes hard to avoid, these brownies have healthy fats from the nuts and the avocado. Indulge because you can feel good about what you’re eating.

Would you try these brownies if you knew the ingredient list? Comment with your answer below!

Creamy Secret-Ingredient Frozen Treat

When I saw the recipe for this rich creamy pudding, I thought it would be the perfect treat for a hot summer day. I had never made pudding before, so this was an entirely new adventure for me, stepping into an unknown world. Following the directions to a T, something happened along the way because the pudding didn’t solidify and instead it was a chocolate soup. While chocolate soup is delicious, I decided to improvise as you sometimes have to do when things don’t turn out the right way. I stuck the pudding in the freezer, forming a decadent chocolate frozen treat.

You’re probably asking What’s the secret ingredient? That’s up to your imagination. To me the secret ingredient is the soy milk since most pudding recipes use whole milk. The soy milk makes the recipe a bit healthier and suitable for lactose-free eaters. (In each serving, there are 170 calories, 3 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat and 2 g fiber.)

The creamy secret-ingredient pudding recipe is from Fitness Magazine. To make the frozen treat version, just stick it in the freezer once it’s made.

~ 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
~ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
~ 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
~ 1/4 tsp coarse salt
~ 2 cups plain light soy milk
~ 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Gradually whisk in soy milk until mixture is smooth.
2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes, or until mixture begins to bubble and thicken. The consistency is perfect when the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Whisk in melted chocolate.
3. Pour into six 6-ounce ramekins. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over surface of each pudding to prevent a skin from forming.
4. Chill 2 hours, or until well set.

If you’re looking for a decadent, refreshing dessert for the chocolate-lover, this is sure to satisfy.