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Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Today, as I drove home I listened to a tribute to Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Café playing on CBC radio. It was a show about love stories, encounters, and friendships. It was all about companionship. One of the stories was about a couple who had magical chemistry, and they would send each other photos of them eating cookies. It reminded me of what role food plays in many of our lives. Not only is it what sustains us, but it is often something that brings people together. Often it is not necessarily the food itself, but the fact that it is shared, that makes it special.

I can remember even when I was a very small child looking forward to meals with our family in France. It was always special. Meals often took hours, but we didn’t notice the time going by.

When I was in undergrad, meals brought friends together, many of whom are still very near and dear.

When I lived in The Gambia, not a day went by without food being shared. I could never keep up with the enormous generosity of the village where I lived, until one day I learned that I could share the food that was brought for me. We would nurture each other.

These past few weeks I’ve had a lovely time in a clinical rotation, working with a special team dedicating themselves to providing the best possible care for their patients, at a level which I have rarely seen. Witnessing such dedication, I wanted to give back, so I made these delicious cookies to help fuel us through the day. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did, and that it serves as a backdrop to many tea parties, work afternoons, or any other pick-me-ups you might need.

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Ingredients – for approximately 40 cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted and softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal – I use old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease them
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. I use a stand mixer but you can also beat it by hand. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for a few more minutes, until pale and well incorporated
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix
  5. Stir in cranberries, coconut and chocolate chips
  6. place spoonfuls of the dough in your hand and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart and bake for 13-15 minutes
  7. Cool on wire rack

Hope you enjoy these little treats!

Sitelle

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I am not a big sweet tooth, but there is something special about Christmas baking – the deluxe ingredients, the warm atmosphere, the special company.  As a child, I always knew Christmas baking season was upon us by the quadrupling of butter quantities in our fridge.  As per tradition, we would make the same six cookies: swedish pastries, candy cane cookies, pecan puffs, icebox, gingersnaps,  and shortbread. I continue to absolutely love these family classics, but for a cookie-exchange I wanted to try something new.

Sitelle came to my rescue and suggested this divine recipe.  It combines two of my favourite flavours – ginger and dark chocolate, in a soft and sparkly cookie. The dark chocolate gives these cookies a richness and the candied ginger gives them spunk.  In one word, amazing!

The recipe comes from the Holiday 2015 LCBO Food & Drink magazine.

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Chocolate Ginger Sparkle Cookies

Makes ~40 cookies

 

Ingredients

8 oz (250 g) dark 70% chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

2/3  cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup approx. coarse white sugar (or granulated sugar)

 

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water.  Stir until smooth and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add cooled chocolate, oil, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Stir in flour mixture until blended.  Stir in ginger.  Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place coarse sugar in a shallow  bowl.

Scoop 1-tbsp sized prices of sough and roll into balls.  Roll in coarse sugar to evenly coat dough and shake off excess. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Keep remaining dough and rolled cookies cold while baking the previous batch.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 or 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, starting to crack and edges are just set (the centres will still be soft).  Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Store cookies between layers of parchment paper in a cooking tin at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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I am a firm believer that the birthday girl should always get to choose her birthday cake. So when my friend Kaitlyn recently celebrated hers, she requested that I make a cake using this recipe, an old family favourite.

I was a little dubious – a gluten-free chocolate cake that claimed to be moist and intensely chocolately.  Boy was I ever proven wrong – this cake is amazingly rich, with one of the best structures I’ve ever tasted for a gluten-free cake.  It’s also super easy to mix up.  I decided to frost it with a White Chocolate Ganache, but the cake is tasty enough to stand on its own if you are in a pinch for time.

Best of all, my friend said that the cake easily converted to lactose-free too – all that’s needed is to substitute the butter for vegetable oil and milk to almond/soy milk.

 

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Carson & Rose Chen

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Carson & Rose Chen

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

(Original recipe from Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood)

No one will believe this chocolate cake is made with cooked quinoa —
no flour required. It is kid-friendly and gluten-free.

Serves 8-16

Ingredients

2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1-1/2 cups white or cane sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce  to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the  covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a  fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round or square cake  pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add  2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and continue to blend until  smooth.

Combine sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on the centre rack for 40 to 45  minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to a month.

Bon appetit!

 

– Catherine

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One thing we do not lack for in medicine is exams.  As such, finding ways to make studying more exciting is a constant occupation.  Somehow carrot sticks just don’t aways cut it.  A surefire way to liven up any study session is cupcakes.  Who doesn’t love cupcakes?  They are the perfect sugar boost in anyone’s day – especially when covered in delicious chocolate icing!

This particular study session happened to fall on my cousin’s birthday, so to make them more fun, I decided to add sprinkles to a Martha Stewart Recipe.  The chocolate buttercream icing is a time-tested family recipe.  I suspect the confetti will be a regular addition to my future cupcake baking adventures 🙂

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Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

 

Ingredients

Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

Multicoloured sprinkles

 

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

3ish tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2-3 tablespoons of cold coffee (the stronger, the tastier)

A lot of icing sugar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.  Add as many sprinkles as you desire (I used about 1/4 cup).

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and coffee.  Incorporate icing sugar until chocolate-mocha icing is thick, yet spreadable.

When the cupcakes are cool, generally frost with the chocolate buttercream icing.  Top with a few extra sprinkles.  Delicious with a cold glass of milk!

– Catherine

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I mentioned we’re working on emptying our pantry, and the result is big baking extravaganzas every so often when the weather cools off enough to justify heating up the oven.

Ice cream sandwiches have been a favourite easy dessert of mine for a long time now. They can easily be made according to your schedule: you can make the cookies or buy the cookies; you can make the ice cream or buy the ice cream, or use any permutation in between. Just as long as you have a bit of time to soften the ice cream and then give it a good freeze again, you’re in for a treat!

Ingredients – 8 ice cream sandwiches

16 cookies (plus a few more for snacking on during prep if you’re that type of cook)

1 batch ice cream or one tub (maple-walnut or your favourite flavour from the store)

Directions

Let ice cream soften a bit (leave it out for 10-15 minutes depending on how cold your freezer is). Place cookies in the freezer in the meantime.

When cookies are frozen and ice cream is softened, use a spoon to scoop some ice cream onto one cookie, and slap another cookie onto the other end! It’s that easy. Place in a tupperware container and re-freeze for another hour or so, so they don’t squish everywhere when you serve them to your guests/friends/children!

Bonne appétit.

-Sitelle

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This cookie recipe is somewhat notorious among our friends: somehow, in second year, they acquired the nickname “broccoli cookies” – not because they are made with any part of broccoli, nor because they are green, nor because they do not taste good. On the contrary – they got their name being made almost entirely with whole-wheat flour, which makes them healthier than their all-purpose flour counter parts but are absolutely delicious. They’re super easy, and fast to make. With a cooking time of 8-9 minutes, there’s no excuse not to make them!

Originally the recipe was a classic from the Joy of Cooking – Chocolate chip cookies. Now it’s been altered somewhat, right into the cookbook, in pencil of course. It may just be the page where the book naturally falls open to, at least half of the time.

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
pinch or two salt if butter is unsalted
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped blanched almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl mix the butter, sugar and egg until well combined. Add salt and vanilla and mix well. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix with hands. Add chocolate chips and blanched almonds.

Form teaspoon-fulls of dough into balls and place on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Cook for 8-9 minutes, then carefully remove with a spatula onto cooling racks. They are pretty soft, so they can break if you’re not careful!

Hope you enjoy these simple delights!!

-Sitelle

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There was no question in my head as to which snack I should prepare for a weekend of rock climbing in Kingston at the Kingston Mills. Co-incidentally, this snack is equally well suited to my most lovely co-blogger’s current occupation: successfully summiting Mount Kilimanjaro! (congrats girl, you rock!!).

So, as a tribute to our somewhat extreme activities these days, I thought I’d post one of my very favourite outdoors snack recipes, which is loaded in energy. Keeping a tupperware with a few of these delicious bites at the top of a daypack on a long canoe trip results in instant joy and energy, even at the prospect (and then the end) of a gruelling multi-kilometer portage. Just don’t risk forgetting it in there at night, as the animals are sure to come and feast if you allow them the opportunity!

The best thing about it, aside from its delicious taste and the amount of energy it packs in, is that it’s ridiculously easy to make, totally versatile, and will last as long as your trip (well, until supplies last!).

I originally found this recipe in the trailside cookbook, and this snack was called Chocolate Kickers. Since that fateful day where I first tried these I’ve taken the recipe and made a few changes, but it’s pretty much the same idea. It won’t take you more than 30 minutes to prepare, 15 of which are resting time. Ready? Go ahead, you’ll be done in no time. You probably can even make it at the camp site, but they’re so easy to make I’d just bring them fully made from home and keep the campsite cooking time for other delicious adventures like baked stuffed apples or blueberry pie.

Ingredients – makes about 20-25 bites of energy

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1.5 cups crunchy peanutbutter

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2/3 cup powdered milk

1/2 cup to 1 cup dried cranberries or desiccated coconut

1-2 Tbsp water (approximately)

Directions

Put all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well with two forks and probably your hands. Shape into bite-sized balls or press to 2/3 inch thick sheet and cut out with your favourite cookie cutter.

Let the chocolate kickers rest for 15 minutes, then pack into tupperware or airtight bags.

Hope you enjoy these!

-Sitelle

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