chocolate coconut pie

chocolatepie

chocolate coconut pieOk, if you like coconut and dark chocolate, then this is the pie for you.  It’s seriously like eating a chocolate covered macaroon.  This is my new Thanksgiving pie. I’ve been making it each year for Thanksgiving, and honestly it’s the first pie to get devoured, so move over pumpkin and apple pie, because there’s a new pie in town and it’s rich and oh so chocolatey! This is a great Holiday or party pie because it serves a crowd and looks fancy with the shiny gnache filling and the crispy coconut crust.  People will be impressed thinking you spent hours slaving over this pie, when in reality you didn’t. It’s an easy pie to throw together and requires only 4 simple ingredients, plus its gluten-free to boot.

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pumpkin muffin poppers

pumpkin muffin poppers

pumpkin muffin poppersPinterest is one of my new favorite places to find fun recipes.  I found my favorite heirloom tomato soup there and now these pumpkin poppers!  Pinterest rocks!  When I saw the photo of these muffins, I just had to make them.  They reminded me of my sugar-crusted popovers, and I knew if they tasted anything like those, then they would be a winner.

I have made these 3 times so far and they are gone, like gone, in a heartbeat.  The muffins are unbelievably moist and when you cover them all over with the sugar and cinnamon mixture, you have yourself a killer snack.  They’re crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.  We’ve been eating them for breakfast, after school with some warm chai tea and even after dinner for dessert.  They are so versatile!

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easy chocolate mousse – cooking with kids

potsofchocolate

Hi everyone!  Zoe here!  Now, I know you’re used to my wonderful mom writing these posts, but today I’m posting on her blog.  This post if for all of you kids out there that want to start cooking. I’m going to show you how to make the best, and easiest chocolate mousse ever.

I remember how I found this recipe. We were down in Carmel at this restaurant and for dessert we all split a chocolate mousse pie. It was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten. I decided then and there, that I needed to make this recipe. So about a week or two later we were in the library, and I saw this kid’s cookbook from William and Somona.  For fun I flipped through the pages, but then something caught my eye. It was their chocolate mousse recipe. Immediately, I checked out the book solely for the mousse recipe. I went home and whipped it up that same afternoon. Everyone in the family loved it and I have been making it ever since.

This recipe is so easy. It only requires two ingredients; semisweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Really, almost anyone can make this delectable treat, even my brother Eli.

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homemade dark chocolate magic shell – cooking with kids

hardshell

I‘m starting a new series on my blog called, cooking with kids.  I have a lot of families that read my blog, therefore a lot of kids. Some of my readers are actually kids, believe it or not.  Moms come up to me and tell me their children look at my blog, and then come up to them with dinner and dessert requests.  I love that!  Zoe and I decided that it would be fun to have a kid’s series of posts for this blog, recipes that Zoe loves to make with her friends and by herself.  We want to inspire kids to get in the kitchen and cook more.  All the recipes are things that any child over a certain age (with adult supervision) can handle.  We hope you enjoy this new series.  

Here’s a super simple, 2 ingredient (yes only 2 ingredients are required) classic summer dessert idea. Remember the chocolate magic shell that you would buy and squeeze over your ice cream, and it would instantly harden? Remember how fascinating that was? Well, I have figured out how to make a homemade version that is a bit healthier than the squeeze bottle variety. All you need is dark chocolate, coconut oil, oh, and some ice cream to slather it over.

dark chocolate magic shell:

recipe from NY Times 
serves 6-8 scoops
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 7oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • your favorite ice cream
  • optional – toppings and cones 

Below are some of the ingredients that you will need to make a killer ice cream treat.  You’ve got your ice cream of course, some cones, sprinkles and the two main ingredients for this recipe; virgin coconut oil and bittersweet chocolate chips. 
Now that you have all the ingredients, go grab your kids and lets get started. 
Meet Zoe and her buddy Madelaine.  They are today’s chefs.
Measure out 7oz of chocolate chips.
Pour the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Note: You can also throw the chocolate chips and coconut oil into a microwavable heatproof bowl and microwave them for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until they are melted.
Melt your chocolate chips, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula to prevent burning.
When the chocolate chips are almost melted, add the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
Stir in the coconut oil until its dissolved.
Turn off the heat.
Pour your sprinkles into a small bowl.  
Now its time for the magic to begin.
Get out your ice cream and your favorite ice cream scooper, and scoop the ice cream into a bowl or onto a cone.  It’s your choice!
Zoe will demonstrate how to put the magic shell onto an ice cream cone.  
Take the ice cream cone and tip it to its side over the pan.  Take a large spoon or small ladle and dip it in the chocolate.  Pour the chocolate over the ice cream and keep turning the ice cream cone until you have covered the whole scoop of ice cream.
 The chocolate will harden into a shell within a few seconds when spooned over ice cream.
That is the magical part!
Dip the cone into the sprinkles before the chocolate fully hardens.
Madelaine is demonstrating how to pour the magic shell onto a bowl of ice cream.  
Take your spoon and pour the chocolate sauce over the ice cream.  
Top it with some sprinkles before it hardens. 
Be sure to make one for the rest of your family, and then go out and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than ice cream.  This was such a fun way to spend a hot summer afternoon, and the kids were so proud of themselves that they whipped up this treat.  The kids were amazed at how instantly the chocolate sauce hardened.  It was a math and science experiment all in one.  
If you have extra sauce, (and you will if your just serving up the family) just put the leftover sauce into a microwaveable small container with a lid, and refrigerate till needed.  All you have to do is microwave it briefly till it melts, (stirring between intervals) and then you can recreate the magic again!
My kids start school on the 22nd, so I’m going to take a small blogging vacation, so I can be present with the family and enjoy our last week of summer.
 I’ll see you all soon.

no campfire s’mores

photo[1]
photo[1]

Everyone loves a good old s’more. S’mores and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly. There’s nothing better then roasting a marshmallow over a campfire till it’s browned and crisp, and then mashing it between two graham crackers and a hunk of chocolate. The marshmallow and chocolate ooze out over the sides, and you just have to get in there and devour it before it spills out all over the place. Am I enticing you? Do you want a s’more?

S’more’s are not just for camping anymore. They can be made at a moments notice in the comfort of your kitchen (though it’s not as fun as roasting them over a campfire). The hardest part is coming up with a clever name to call these favorite childhood treats. I am calling them no campfire s’mores, but I’m willing to create a merit badge for all you Boy and Girl Scouts out there who can come up with a better name. Send me your suggestions, and I will change the name. I would call them homemade s’mores, but I’ve already done a post on that where I actually made the graham crackers from scratch (Ok, I love s’mores!). I reserved that recipe for the fall and winter because honestly, I’m not much of a cookie baking gal in the summer. I would rather be out enjoying the outdoors than baking away in the kitchen.

All you need for this recipe is a broiler, a box of graham crackers, chocolate and some marshmallows. I keep these ingredients on hand for those last minute dessert ideas which come in handy for those last minute sleepovers.

no campfire s’mores:

  • your favorite brand of graham crackers
  • your favorite brand of marshmallows
  • chocolate – we prefer the dark chocolate carmel squares from Ghirardelli

Below are your run of the mill s’more ingredients but with a slight twist. We chose to use these Ghirardelli dark chocolate carmel squares. They take your basic s’more to a whole new level. The melted chocolate and carmel oozing together with the marshmallow is pure bliss to your tastebuds.

DSC_0118Turn on your broiler.  

Get out a baking sheet, and top one half of the graham cracker with the chocolate and marshmallow.
Put the s’mores under the broiler, and broil till the marshmallow browns and the chocolate starts to melt.
Take the s’mores out of the oven and top them with the other graham cracker half.  
That’s all there is to it. 
No stick or campfire needed for these s’mores and the clean up is a cinch!

These could also be called the lazy mama or city mama s’mores.
Got a better name? Let me know!

Like s’mores, then you have to try my frozen s’mores.

frozen s'mores (1 of 1)

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
This is a celebration cake so lets celebrate! I baked this cake to celebrate my blog being in the Marin IJ today. 
OMG, I just saw that I’m on the front page!  
You can click here to see the article if your interested in viewing it, come on, check it out!

This chocolate cake was actually one of the first recipes I posted on my blog, (way back in October) and I wanted to post it again with some updates because it’s just that good folks!  Seriously, this is the best chocolate cake and it’s pretty famous among my group of friends.  I am always getting requests to bake this cake for dinner parties, birthday celebrations or just for plain old enjoyment.  I’m a cake gal.  Give me the choice of cake or ice cream and cake will always win hands down.  I have since made this cake into cupcakes and honestly they taste just as good as the cake and don’t dry out like typical cupcakes.  
chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
This cake is so chocolaty and moist and the cream cheese frosting adds a perfect balance to the cake making it not too sweet!  Zoe brought a piece to school the other day to share at lunchtime and there was a long line for a bite!  Zoe has actually made this cake by herself by going through the steps-by-steps below on my blog.  She wanted to practice making it with me overseeing her, so she could make me this cake for my birthday (since I always get the store bought version).  Isn’t that sweet?  

There is a secret ingredient to this cake and that is…

You guessed it coffee!  I actually brew a strong batch of Peet’s coffee (love that stuff).  When my kids first saw me add coffee to the batter, they were like, “Mom what are you doing adding coffee to the batter, the cake is going to be sooo gross.”  I smiled and told them to “trust me” and they did, and loved it.  So now when they see me adding a bit of wine or vodka to a dish, they do not question me, they may make a yucky face, but they just go with it.  
 Anyway, I am getting off track here, below is the recipe for the actual cake. 
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting:

for the cake:
  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed good quality hot coffee-  Don’t be turned off by the coffee in the recipe, you honestly don’t taste it at all. The coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cake, not a coffee-flavored one. 

cream cheese frosting:

  • approximately 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar – this is to taste – You will then sift the confectioners sugar so there are no lumps in the frosting
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2  8-ounce packages of cream cheese (1 pound), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Let’s start out by making the chocolate cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I have 2 oven’s so I preheat both).  Butter two 8-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.  
Tip:  I trace the pans on the parchment paper to get the correct size, and then cut out the circles and place them on the bottom of the buttered pans.
Butter and flour the pans. 
 Tip: I use cocoa powder instead of flour when making this cake.  It totally works and you’re not left with any white flour on your cake.
Here are 2 more quick tips before I go on!
 Tip: In order not to waste that precious and expensive cocoa powder, measure over a bowl and parchment paper so the excess can be put back in the container after.  
Tip: To make sure you always have fresh baking soda, fill out the “change by” section on the box when you open it.  I have started doing that, and found it really makes a difference.  I mean who honestly remembers when they bought their baking soda.  It really helps to have fresh baking soda when baking. 

In a large bowl whisk the following ingredients together until combined:

 1 3/4 cups flour
 2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In small bowl combine the following:
1 cup buttermilk – make sure the buttermilk is well shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 room temp eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
 Looks appetizing right?  
With either a hand held mixer or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  
This is what your batter will look like once the wet and dry ingredients are combined and before you add the coffee.  It will be pretty thick.
Now it’s time to add that freshly brewed coffee.  
I always use a good strong coffee like Peets.  I don’t know if that’s what makes the cake taste so rich, but I’m sure it has some part to play in it.
With the mixer still on low, add the 1 cup coffee and mix until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  
Sidetrack here, doesn’t that coffee look good?  I always make sure I make enough for an extra cup to drink!
Below is what your mixture will look like before you pour it into the pans. See how much thinner it is once you add the coffee?   
Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Make sure you make them even.
Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.  I have 2 ovens so my cakes are done at exactly 35 minutes. 
Baking tip:  It’s hard to give an exact cooking time when it comes to baking because every oven, pan and even geographic locations, can command a slightly different cooking time.  A great way to know when a cake is done, is to do the finger test. Press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake, if it’s done, it should puff back up automatically on it own. If it stays dented, then the cake is not ready to come out yet. Also, a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean as well.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.  
After those cakes are completely cooled, it’s time to make the frosting.  The frosting recipe was passed down from my dad.  He’s actually a wonderful cook, as well as my mom. 

Pour 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar into a sifter and sift the sugar into a large bowl and set aside.  Sifting the sugar helps to ensure you don’t have lumpy frosting. Put your softened butter and cream cheese into a bowl and get your handy dandy mixer out.  Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until well blended. Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then slowly add the confectioner’s sugar to taste.  Pour in at least a cup or two and then taste it.   

If you add to much confectioner’s sugar it will be really sweet and you won’t really get that cream cheese flavor.  Just keep adding and tasting it till it reaches a flavor you like.  You want it to be sweet, but not too sweet.  I usually taste it and have my kids taste it as well.  They are pretty accurate when it comes to the finished product!  

Below is what your finished product will look like! Yum!  Scrape off the mixers and then save them for the kids to lick!Put one cake layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal.  With a frosting knife or spatula, spread the top with frosting.Then the side.DSC_0058-3Once you spread the frosting on the top of the first (bottom) layer, its time to place the 2nd layer on top. 

 I like to the place the top part of the 2nd layer (rounded part) upside down so that the flat side (bottom side) is up. It makes the cake look taller and prettier because you have the natural flat top.   

Now, frost away, making sure to spread the frosting around evenly on all sides and to get a nice fluffy layer on top.  
Tip: Warm your frosting knife/spatula under hot water then dry. This will help get sides of your cake smooth.  
This is what your cake will look like when you’re finished frosting it.  Now, comes the fun part, the decorating!
I didn’t decorate this particular cake because I was photographing it for the blog.  
Slice off a piece, (or two) and dollop it with some fresh vanilla ice cream or enjoy with a tall glass of milk.  
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting
This cake is so easy and so good.  
As Barefoot would say, how easy is that?
I have also made a cupcake version of this cake and I have to say that the cupcakes taste just as moist as the cake.  Give them a try!
chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (1 of 1)
chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

    for the cake:
  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed good quality hot coffee - Don't be turned off by the coffee in the recipe, you honestly don't taste it at all. The coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cake, not a coffee-flavored one.
  • cream cheese frosting:
  • approximately 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar - this is to taste - You will then sift the confectioners sugar so there are no lumps in the frosting.
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (1 pound), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Let's start out by making the chocolate cake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I have 2 oven's so I preheat both).

Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

Tip: I trace the pans on the parchment paper to get the correct size, and then cut out the circles and place them on the bottom of the buttered pans.

Butter and flour the pans. Tip: I use cocoa powder instead of flour when making this cake. It totally works and you're not left with any white flour on your cake.

In a large bowl whisk the following ingredients together until combined:

1 3/4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl combine the following:

1 cup buttermilk - make sure the buttermilk is well shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 room temp eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

With either a hand held mixer or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

Your batter will be pretty thick at this point.

Now it's time to add that freshly brewed coffee.

I always use a good strong coffee like Peets. I don't know if that's what makes the cake taste so rich, but I'm sure it has some part to play in it.

With the mixer still on low, add the 1 cup coffee and mix until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The batter will be much thinner with the coffee added to it.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Make sure you make them even.

Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. I have 2 ovens so my cakes are done at exactly 35 minutes.

Baking tip: It's hard to give an exact cooking time when it comes to baking because every oven, pan and even geographic locations, can command a slightly different cooking time. A great way to know when a cake is done, is to do the finger test. Press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake, if it's done, it should puff back up automatically on it own. If it stays dented, then the cake is not ready to come out yet. Also, a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean as well.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

After those cakes are completely cooled, it's time to make the frosting.

Pour 3-4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar into a sifter and sift the sugar into a large bowl and set aside. Sifting the sugar helps to ensure you don't have lumpy frosting.

Put your softened butter and cream cheese into a bowl and get your handy dandy mixer out. Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until well blended.

Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then slowly add the confectioner's sugar to taste. Pour in at least a cup or two and then taste it.

If you add to much confectioner's sugar it will be really sweet and you won't really get that cream cheese flavor. Just keep adding and tasting it till it reaches a flavor you like. You want it to be sweet, but not too sweet. I usually taste it and have my kids taste it as well. They are pretty accurate when it comes to the finished product!

Put one cake layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a frosting knife or spatula, spread the top with frosting.

Then spread some frosting on the side.

Once you spread the frosting on the top of the first (bottom) layer, its time to place the 2nd layer on top.

I like to the place the top part of the 2nd layer (rounded part) upside down so that the flat side (bottom side) is up. It makes the cake look taller and prettier because you have the natural flat top.

Now, frost away, making sure to spread the frosting around evenly on all sides and to get a nice fluffy layer on top.

Tip: Warm your frosting knife/spatula under hot water then dry. This will help get sides of your cake smooth.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/chocolate-cake-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie

cookiepan
Here was my Friday.  It was crazy raining and the kids had the day off from school so what did I do?  I baked 3; count them 3 things in my cast iron skillet.  I was cast iron crazy!  

I started off the morning making the kids a big dutch baby (recipe soon) via the skillet.  I did not of course eat this, I had a bite, teeny tiny.  I am a creature of habit in the morning.  I either have a big bowl of grapenuts topped with cafe fanny granola and some fiber one or a big bowl of oatmeal.  I also always have to have at least 2 cups of Peets coffee, the stronger the better.  I proudly admit it; I am a carb girl in the morning and always have been.  Protein alone does not work for me.  

So my kids happily ate the big dutch baby for breakfast along with some eggs for protein.  For lunch I prepared them my sausage & arugula skillet pizza, (sans the arugula as it was just for them).  They happily ate that along with some fruit and a few bites of kale salad (I pushed this last part on them).  My 12-inch skillet was getting lots of attention and my 10-inch was sad, so I decided to bake a GIANT chocolate chip cookie in it!  Bring on the sugar folks!

Please don’t criticize me, it’s been raining cats and dogs all week and my kids came home with amazing report cards, so they deserved this Friday treat, right? 

Have you picked up a cast iron skillet yet?  If so, have you ever made a cookie in it?  I didn’t until today, and I am so glad I did as this cookie was YUMMY and super easy to make.  Way easier in fact than baking up a bunch of cookies.  This is the way to go folks if you want a quick and easy dessert.  It could even be a great birthday cake.  Just throw some candles on top and singHappy Birthday!  

skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie:

recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda & 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 1 1/2 sticks of butter, 1/2 cup sugar & 3/4 cup brown sugar until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the egg and the 2 teaspoons of vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated.
Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.  A note about chocolate chips, my family prefers dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so we use these Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.  They are amazing, and they do say that dark chocolate is good for you, so that may help take some of the guilt away.  Try them in your next recipe that calls for chocolate chips.  
Transfer the dough to a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet (if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, then you can use a pie dish).  
Press the dough down with a spatula to flatten, covering the bottom of pan.

Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40-45 minutes.  My cookie took 40 minutes to bake to perfection.  Don’t over bake, as it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. 

Transfer to a wire rack or oven top to cool, 15-20 minutes.

Cut into wedges and enjoy with a glass of milk or top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
  • As you can see, the kids and their friends got to the cookie and were all part of the clean plate club.
This cookie went fast, but we did have leftovers.  
To keep those leftovers tasting out of the oven fresh, I re-heated individual slices in the microwave for about 12 seconds.  The cookies got warm and the chocolate chips were all melted again.
Make sure you wrap your leftovers up tightly as big cookies can tend to dry quickly.

What is the most exciting or favorite thing you have cooked in your cast iron skillet?

BTW, I wrote post for Paradise Foods, (which is a local fine foods grocery store). Check it out here...

pots de creme

potsdecream
TGIM (thank goodness it’s Monday), I know people are use to TGIF, but I wanted to change things up here a bit.  I’m so happy that it’s Monday and also so very happy that my kids are back in school.  Yippee!  I really enjoyed having them at home last week, but honestly I didn’t accomplish a single thing.  I didn’t cook anything new or get any work done on my blog.  It was a nice and much needed vacation for all of us, but I am ready to get back to work and ready to cook again!  Routine works best for me as I’m a creature of habit.
 
I honestly missed cooking for my family and I missed my “mommy” healthy lunches.  We were on-the-go so much last week that I either crammed a PB& J in my mouth for lunch or we ate out.  I can only eat out so many times before it gets old and I really like eating at home.  Home cooked meals are usually healthier and the portions are smaller.  I find that we eat way more when we go out to dinner as opposed to eating in.  The portions that these restaurants serve these days are enormous.  What’s up with that?  
 
Anyway, here I am talking about portions and healthy eating as I am showcasing this utterly decadent and chocolaty dessert.  Doesn’t make much sense does it? 

This is definitely the easiest dessert in my recipe book. Now, it does need to chill for 2 to 3 hours before serving, so it does require a tiny bit of planning, but the preparation couldn’t be easier, so easy in fact that your child could make this entire dessert!  You might have to supervise on the coffee pouring part, but otherwise it’s easy-peasey-lemon-squeezey (that is another one of my favorite sayings)!  

 
Serve this dessert up at your next dinner party and your guests will be impressed.  They will think you spent all day slaving over this dessert, when all you actually did was throw 5 ingredients into a blender and blend away (shhhh… they never have to know how easy it was). This dessert is very rich so you will definitely want to add some fresh whipped cream to the top.


pots de creme:

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman 
Makes 7 to 8 desserts

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup (8oz) very hot and strong coffee - You can always use a good strong decaf  if your worried about the caffeine, especially if you have kids
Place the chocolate chips in the blender.  Crack in the 4 eggs and then add the pinch of salt and the 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  
 Blend all the ingredients together till combined.  
Grab some very hot freshly brewed coffee—as in, hot-hot—and slowly drizzle it through the hole in the blender lid while the blender’s on. The mixture will slowly expand and rise in the blender, but do not fret, just keep the blender on a low speed while adding the coffee.  Once the coffee is added, put the top back on the lid and blend away until the mixture is pureed and smooth.  
Note: The coffee will heat the eggs so you will not be eating a raw egg dessert.  
Pour the mixture into some glasses, small mason jars or ramekins.  You can use whatever you desire.  I actually used some 9oz glasses and some recycled jam jars.  I actually loved the way they looked in the recycled jam jars.  
Place the glasses and jars in the refrigerator and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.  
 
Now you just need to add some whipped cream to top these off.  This whipped cream is the perfect topping for any dessert from chocolate mousse to pumpkin pie.  I even use it to top ice-cream sundaes!  
 

sweetened whipped cream: 

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Note:  Whipped cream is best served fresh, so if you’re just serving dessert for your family then you may want to cut the above recipe in half. 
Beat the cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it becomes frothy.  
Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.
Do not overbeat.
When you’re ready to serve up the pots de creme just place a fresh dollop of whipped cream on each one!  You could also be fancy and add some chocolate shavings on top.
These are rich little desserts so don’t make your portions too big.  I actually had to cover and refrigerate mine for the next day as I was stuffed halfway through eating it.
 My kids devoured theirs though!  Eli was even licking his glass.  
Here’s to a fancy no fuss dessert!

gingersnap cookies

gingersnap cookies
gingersnap cookiesIt’s Monday and most likely cold, snowy or rainy where you are so I thought I would treat you all to a sweet today rather than an entree.  Sometimes we need a little sweet to kick start our week. I’ve always loved gingersnaps and molasses cookies and this cookie is a combination of the two.  This is not a true gingersnap cookie, which tend to be thin and crispy.  This cookie is more of a molasses cookie with a spicy ginger flavor.  It’s chewy, spicy and dark.  I know gingersnaps may not be the most exciting cookie to people, but they are to me, and they have always been one of my favorite cookies.   
 
I was perusing through my borrowed copy of Marin Organic, where I found my butternut squash soup recipe, and saw this gingersnap recipe from Table Cafe.  Table Cafe is another one of my favorite local lunch spots.  The owner is always there and greets you with a smile.  Her food is all local and organically grown and her signature item is a dosa.  A dosa is a delicious gluten free wrap (which resembles a crepe, but it’s not sweet like a crepe) filled with delicious ingredients such as, marinated & grilled chicken breast with wilted spinach & goat cheese or smoked wild salmon with grilled frisee and onions, and aioli.  There are many different options as well as some amazing vegetarian ones.  The cafe also has wonderful salads, soups and of course, sweets.

gingersnap cookies:

Recipe from Organic Marin
makes about 36 cookies
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses – I used blackstrap here
  • Sugar in the raw – optional - I used this to top my cookies
 I have heard wonderful things about blackstrap molasses so I picked up a bottle.  These molasses give gingersnap and molasses cookies their dark rich color. 
I poured the molasses into a dry measuring cup, as the molasses are thick and gooey and would be difficult to measure out in a glass measuring cup.  Also, they have the consistency of honey and I always pour honey into a dry measuring cup as well.
Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt and white pepper in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to blend.
Cream the sugars and butter together in a large bowl using either a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer, do this for about 4 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. 
Beat in the egg and then the molasses.  
Don’t the molasses look like fudge?
Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until well combined.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.  I actually refrigerated my batter for 2 hours.
 
I wanted to top my gingersnaps with some sugar to make them sparkly and pretty so I pulled out some Turbinado (sugar in the raw) for that.  It is light brown in color and coarse grained, with a slight molasses flavor.  Pour some into a shallow bowl and set aside.
Once your dough is chilled, preheat your oven/ovens to 350 degrees.  
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  
 
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and gently dip the top of each ball into the raw sugar. Be careful not to get too much on there.  I drenched one batch of cookies in the sugar and they were way to sugary for our taste.  Less is more if you know what I am saying.   
You don’t have to top them with sugar, as they taste great without it.  John actually prefers his cookie sans the sugar.
Place them on the baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  
 With the bottom of a small glass, flatten the cookies slightly.  
 
Bake the cookies for about 12 -14 minutes or until they feel dry and firm on top.  Maybe check them at 11 minutes to see where they are at.  Everyone’s oven has different cooking times so your cookies might take longer or less time.
Note:  The original recipe called for 8-10 minutes of cooking time, but when I first did that, my cookies war raw, yuck!  I cooked the next batch for 12-14 minutes and they were perfect.  So as you can see, my cookies took a bit longer than the original recipe called for.
 
Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. 
Transfer the cookies to a wire track to cool completely.  
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
gingersnap cookies
 I know it sounds strange, but these cookies actually taste better the next day.  Isn’t that weird?  They get a bit chewier and spicier.  
These cookies are my kids favorite after school snack. 
Pair it up with a tall glass of milk and your in heaven!

homemade s’mores

smores
 
Who says you can’t have s’mores in the winter?  Marin mama is saying you can!  These s’mores are are a bit more fancier than their campfire cousins but just as rich and delicious.  The only thing missing from here is the campfire and the mosquitos.  
 
The kids and I recently visited Modern Cookie Company, a local cookie shop in Larkspur, where we ordered these decadent s’mores on homemade graham crackers and we just about flipped out of our seats they were zoo good.  The s’mores were so amazing that I wanted to turn this experience into something I could replicate at home, so I challenged myself to creating a version of my own.
 
I already made and posted the recipe for homemade graham crackers.  If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making your own graham crackers, then check out my no campfire s’mores. 
It’s really an easy recipe and worth making.  These graham crackers are more buttery and cookie-like than the store-bought variety.  They are sweet but not to sweet.  Once you try this homemade cracker you may never go back to the store bought variety again.
 
Now it’s time to assemble the s’mores.   There is a secret ingredient to these that makes them so special and rich and that ingredient is, (drum roll please)
Ghiradelli dark chocolate caramel squares.
 
The combination of the homemade graham cracker cookie, topped with the dark chocolate carmel and homemade marshmallow (homemade by Whole Foods that is) is what makes this s’more like nothing you have ever tasted.  
I used these marshmallows below from Whole Foods.
Are you ready to get started?  Well, lets go….  
First off, get a baking sheet out and build your s’more like the photo below.
The marshmallows were huge so I cut them up in thirds.
 Maybe you should make up 2 s’mores while your at it.
Turn on your broiler and place the s’mores underneath until the marshmallows brown and the chocolate melts.
 
 Let it cool for just 1 minute and then I give your permission to devour!  
One bite, two bites, gone!  
These are just to good for words and something that I will be making over and over!  You can use other types of chocolate as well like milk chocolate caramels or regular milk or dark chocolate.
 
Want a bit of summer, then try these s’mores :)

Homemade Graham Crackers

graham

Ever thought of making homemade graham crackers?  The thought never crossed my mind until recently when we visited Modern Cookie Company, a local cookie shop in Larkspur.   We ordered these decadent s’mores on homemade graham crackers and we just about flipped out of our seats they were soo good.  The s’mores were so amazing that I wanted to turn this experience into something I could replicate at home, so I challenged myself to creating a version of my own.


Update:  I have posted the s’more recipe and you can see it here.  It’s wonderful because it’s something you can make year round.  It also has a unique topping.  Enticed are you?


I didn’t even have a clue as to what ingredients even went into a graham cracker so I googled homemade graham crackers and stumbled upon Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.   Her recipe looked easy enough and I like the fact that they had some whole-wheat flour in them as it made them seem a bit more nutritious that I had originally thought.  The other bonus was the ingredients required were all things I had on hand at home.  I wanted to replicate the graham crackers I ate at the cookie shop so I used a cookie cutter here instead of making them into the traditional graham cracker shape.  If you like the look of the traditional graham cracker then link over to Tracey’s site and she will show you how.  


These graham crackers are more buttery and cookie-like than the store-bought variety.  They are sweet but not to sweet.  Once you try this homemade cracker you may never go back to the store bought variety again.


Graham Crackers or should I say cookies:
Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Makes about 36 cookie sized graham crackers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  
In a large bowl, combine the butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey.  
Use either a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer.  Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. 
Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, letting the first fully incorporate before you add the second.

Lay out some plastic wrap on your table, place the dough on it, and roll it out into a large rectangle.
Roll up the flattened dough tightly in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes or up to 2 days.  I refrigerated mine for a day and it felt like a log when I took it out (don’t worry the dough will soften from the heat of your hands when rolling it out).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
 
Unwrap the chilled dough, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out till it’s about an 1/8 inch thick.   Note:  I didn’t roll out all the dough at once.  I rolled it out in smaller sections and then used my cookie cutter on each section. 
Please ignore the brown spots in the dough, that is just my brown sugar that didn’t incorporate.  Take your cookie cutter and cut away.
Keep re-rolling the scraps of dough and repeat the cutting process until all of your dough is gone.  Place all of the cut crackers on your two prepared baking sheets.  Note:  At this time you can top each cracker with some cinnamon and sugar or just sugar if you want.  I didn’t add anything as I knew I was going to make s’mores with most of them and didn’t want the added sugar.    

Bake the graham crackers, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until they are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Oven cooking times vary, so just keep your eye on them after 12 minutes.  I had one batch that was perfect and another that was a bit crispier, but still great!
Cool crackers on a wire rack. 

 They were just too good that I had to take a bite :)
Store your graham crackers in an airtight container at room temperature and they should keep for a week.
I had just finished lunch so I helped myself to that glass of milk and 2 graham crackers.  
They were the perfect afternoon treat.