Tag Archives: chocolate

Sesame Seed & Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

So there is an explanation why Sam and I have been doing a little less cooking…we’ve been busy packing!

Our exciting news is that we’ve sold our condo, and we’ve bought a new home!  We’re still staying put in Washington, DC- but we’re moving to a new neighborhood.  The best part is- our kitchen is getting bigger & brighter!  We’re both very excited for improved photos, how far we’ve come since the start of the blog!

We’ve been packing and trying to clean out our cupboards the last couple of weeks, so we have less to move.  One of the things I had made were these “clean-out the cupboards” chocolate chunk cookies.  They’re a little different- a bit of a nutty flavor from the sesame seeds, and a little extra salt from the soy sauce (yes, you read that correctly).  But they were delicious and soft, not just straight from the oven, but also the next day for an afternoon snack with some tea.

What do you like to eat when you’re packing up and moving?  Any ideas of what should be our first home-cooked meal in the new house?

Sesame Seed & Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Sesame Seed & Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from: Joy the Baker

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp soy sauce
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 3 oz dark chocolate bars, broken into small chunks
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Set up the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat together the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Then add the egg and egg yolk, and beat until fluffy for about a minute.  Next, beat in the vanilla and soy sauce.  Then, add in all of the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat all of the ingredients until they are mixed well, about 3 minutes.  Lastly, add the chocolate and sesame seeds, and fold together with a spatula.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Once you’re read to bake them, preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray.  Then scoop out a tablespoon of the dough, roll it into a ball and place it onto the cookie sheet.  Continue to do this until you run out of room on the cookie sheet, or the dough.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges.  Remove them from the oven, let them cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Baltimore & a Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake

Two of my close friends from Iowa (go Hawks!) also live on the East Coast.  Beth lives in Baltimore, and Becky lives in Boston (lots of B’s).  When Sam and I went up to Boston in April we visited Becky and her husband Gary, thanks to them we stopped by the Sam Adams Brewery and checked out some great food in Boston!

This past weekend we had a little reunion in Baltimore to run the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K with Beth.  Coincidentally, last week Becky turned another year older, so I thought this would be a great excuse to make a birthday cake!  Of course, I had to find one that was easy to carry on public transportation (the bad part about not having a car!).

Before I get to the cake, which was delicious, I want to tell you about some of the places we checked out while in Baltimore:

Friday night dinner was at Mother’s Federal Hill Grille.  I’ve been here before, and always enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and great food.  Definitely a place to grab a quick burger or a couple of beers.  From my many visits to Baltimore I’ve noticed that there are always people there, but it’s never too crowded!

If you yelp “brunch” in Baltimore, the top restaurant will be Miss Shirley’s Cafe.  And it’s definitely a place everyone should check out just once.  The menu is very creative, as you will find out in just a second!

This was the Key Lime Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast.  Very decadent and can satisfy someone’s craving for key lime pie, although they are nowhere near Key West!

This was the Soft-Shell “BLT” Benedict: poached eggs, corn-meal encrusted soft shell crab, tomato, lettuce and bacon on sourdough rounds with Old Bay.  I did take a bite of this, and definitely enjoyed it!  The only complaint we had was that it was served on iceberg lettuce- it would be nice if there was something a bit more nutritional.

One of us also ordered Eggs, Bacon & an Onion-Potato Hash.  They have gluten-free bread here, so feel free to make the alteration if needed.

Lastly, I ordered a Lunch Combo (1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad).  The sandwich (which I can’t wait to replicate) was a Summer Strawberry Grilled Cheese and it had: goat cheese, strawberries and spinach.  It was perfect with the salad- and a great way to enjoy a lovely Saturday with my friends!

Our last stop, which I really want to share, was at The Abbey Burger Bistro.  I wish I had taken pictures of our food- but that will have to be for another time (I definitely want to go back!).  They have a great selection of beers, and a very relaxed atmosphere.  But what makes this place great (in my opinion) is that you can make your own burger!  They have a great checklist, and you can “build it” any way you’d like.  For example, the meat choices are: bison, black angus, kobe beef, chicken, lamb (shenandoah valley), elk, kangaroo, turkey, wild boar and meat of the month!  Definitely not just your regular burger bar.

Alright, now it’s time for the cake.  I really enjoyed this dessert since it wasn’t overly sweet and the fruit I added to it can be anything you’d like.

Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake
Adapted from: Orangette

Cake:
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
2 cups all-purpose white flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup 2% milk

Topping (this is optional):
8 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 tbsp half ‘n half
fruit
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Then add the eggs, vanilla extract and rose water; mix well before adding each new component.

Add in half the flour and mix well.  Then add the baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cocoa powder and milk.  Beat the batter well, then add it the rest of the flour and mix again.

Pour the batter into the springform.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the middle and it comes out clean.

Optional: Once the cake has cooled off, then prepare the chocolate topping.

Heat water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Once it is boiling, place a bowl on top (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t be touching the water) to create a double-boiler.  Add in the chocolate and let it slowly melt.  Every couple of minutes add in a teaspoon of the half ‘n half.  As the chocolate melts, keep stirring and adding the half ‘n half.  You might not need as much liquid to get it to the consistency you’d like.  Once it’s ready, drizzle over the cake or spread it out (like I did).  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Since my cake had a bit of a dent in the middle, I added some cherries- but any kind of fruit would be perfect.  Also, if you’d like, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

Book Club: S’more Cookie

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

I’ll skip around the book club menu a bit to tell you all about the dessert.  I do have a reason- today it’s my Dad’s birthday, and I think he’d love this dessert.  Happy Birthday Dad!  One of his favorite desserts are chocolate chip cookies, and this is equally good.

I found this recipe thanks to Pinterest, I kept seeing recipes for s’more bars or cupcakes, and since it is an American dessert, I thought this would be perfect.  Although s’mores tend to be eaten near a bonfire or while camping, this is the perfect indoor substitute.

Growing up I spent a couple of summers at Cedar Lodge Summer Camp, in a tiny town of Lawrence, Michigan.  It’s mainly a horseback riding camp, but there were some that attended and didn’t ride.  I have very fond memories of my summers there, especially at the campfire at the end of each week!

Every Saturday night, all the campers and staff would gather around the bonfire with their blankets, bug spray, flashlights and sticks to make s’mores.  First we would eat dinner (burgers, hot dogs, or sloppy joe’s) and then we would find a great place to sit to hear stories.  My first week there, I remember Eddy, the owner of the camp, told us a scary ghost story which kept me awake that night in the cabin.  After he passed away, Amy (his daughter and Camp Director) continued to keep us entertained.  With night settling in, all of us would make s’mores and huddle together.  It was the perfect way to close a week of camp, before the new set of campers arrived.

S’more Cookie
Adapted from: Wit & Whistle

I basically did the same recipe, although I made it in a bigger pan.  It’s possible to make it smaller as well.  Best served when it’s cooled off, maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6-8 blocks)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 King-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars
3 1/2 oz marshmallow puff*

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Using about a tablespoon of butter, grease a 9′x13′ baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg and vanilla, beat well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Slowly incorporate it into the large bowl, mixing at a lower speed until it’s combined.

Divide the dough in two chunks.  Press the half into the baking pan, an even layer.  Then place the chocolate bars on top, try not to break the bars.  Spread the marshmallow puff onto the chocolate in an even layer.  Press the remaining dough onto the layer of marshmallows.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly brown.  Cut into pieces after this has cooled off.

*Do not use melted marshmallows!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you take away all of the commercial hype about Valentine’s Day, I think it can be quite a nice day.  Take a few moments to spread some love!

I hope you called your friends and family to tell them that you love them!  Wore socks with pink and red hearts, and enjoy some delicious chocolates!

This was a perfect recipe- it had 2 servings (so there were no seconds to worry about)!  Although if Sam wasn’t going to eat his portion, I was willing to “take one for the team” and eat it for breakfast tomorrow…with some ice cream on top!

Lots of love and hugs to all of our readers- thank you so much for sticking around!!!

Next up- Lobster & Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese!  Double yum!

Chocolate Mini Lavas
Adapted from: A Meandering Mango

pinch of butter
2 tbsp sifted flour + 1 tsp flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar + 1 tbsp more for decoration
1 tsp half and half (or milk)
3.5 oz dark chocolate*
1 tsp espresso, ground
1 tsp vanilla
scoop of vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  While the oven is heating up grease 2 small ramekins (size: 4 oz) with butter.  Then dust the inside of the ramekins with 1 tsp of flour (1/2 tsp for each ramekin).

Add the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Slowly, add the powdered sugar while mixing the ingredients.

In a double boiler, melt your chocolate and add the half and half.  Once the chocolate is melted, add the ground espresso.  Mix it well before adding it to the egg-sugar mixture.  While mixing the chocolate-egg-sugar mixture, add the vanilla.  Finally, slowly add the flour.  Once all of the ingredients are mixed together, divide the mixture between the ramekins.

Bake for 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and allow them to rest for about 5-10 minutes.  Then tip them out of the ramekins onto your serving dish.  Sift some powdered sugar on top for decoration.  Feel free to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream with this delicious treat!

*We used a fair trade Costa Rican chocolate- 71% Cacao Dark Chocolate; try using the best you can find*

Travel Photos- Bonn, Germany

My second part of the trip included the area around Bonn, Germany.  Here is the photo version of the trip:

I took the train from Frankfurt to Bonn.  Although it is winter, the trip wasn’t as pretty as it could be, but I can imagine how beautiful it is here during the summer.  Along the way, there are small towns on the Rhine River:

I really didn’t get much of a chance to walk around Bonn; but I did get to explore a bit.  Just steps away from the Bonn Hauptbahnhof (Bonn Central Station), is the Münsterplatz.  It’s a large plaza, filled with a lot of shopping (H&M, department stores, chocolate stores, etc).  It also has:

the Beethoven Monument!  This bronze statue of Ludwig van Beethoven was unveiled in 1845 in honor of the composer’s 75th birthday anniversary.  Bonn was his birthplace.

On the other side of the plaza is:

is the Bonn Minster, one of the oldest churches in Germany.

I couldn’t leave Germany without having a delicious pretzel!  There are so many bakeries, almost on every corner, which sell fresh bread, pretzels and sweets.

At the hotel I stayed in, I had some delicious meals:

This was a chicken and egg sandwich.  The chicken was breaded and fried, with an egg on top.  Another dish I had was:

a salad with a schnitzel (a boneless, breaded, fried piece of meat) and another fried egg!  There is something to be said about egg yolk on top of of some fried meat and salad- I think we should try this for dinner sometime.

I did stop in a grocery story, got an extra large Ritter chocolate (hazelnut and milk chocolate), and some strawberry-rhubarb jelly (my favorite!).  I almost never see this in the US, so I had buy some to bring home.

And that is how my Europe trip ended!  I wish I had some more time to explore (and a partner in crime!) but we’ll save that for another time!