Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot fudge sauce is one of those foods in which the homemade version blows the socks of the stuff you find in the store. The dense and silky dessert topping is actually very easy to make in your own kitchen and goes great with so many things.

I recently made a seriously sinful cheesecake for my brother-in-law’s birthday and the recipe called for a can of hot fudge. I used this version instead and I think the results were well worth it. This sauce packs an intense chocolate punch and is positively delightful (in small doses, of course). As Emeril would say, it really kicks things up a notch.

Stay tuned for the cheesecake recipe later this week. It’s a short post today. I am busy getting ready for my girlfriend’s bridal shower this weekend! :)

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone!

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium saucepan , combine cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of the chocolate over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. stirring until the chocolate chunks are fully melted.

Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Take the pan off of the heat.  Add in butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny. Cool the sauce slightly and then serve with whatever you desire. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Source: My Baking Addiction

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I cherish the solitude of spring mornings. When I can overcome my bad habit of hitting the snooze button, I like to get up and go for a jog around our neighborhood. It gets light out very early this time of year and it’s so peaceful watching the sunrise, hearing the birds wake up, breathing in the smell of freshly-cut bright green grass, and dodging emo middle schoolers who emerge to wait for the bus to pick them up.

Lemon is a quintessential flavor of spring. Whether it’s in a sweet or savory dish, lemon adds a bright punch of flavor. I used up an old bag of lemons and made these lemon poppy seed muffins to bring into share with my coworkers. They were a big success and I came home without any leftovers.

This is a recipe from Dorie Greenspan, one of my newly-found favorite bakers. Everything of hers that I have tried has been great and I am definitely going to add her baking books to my collection.

If you’re looking for a great spring breakfast treat, give these muffins a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Yield: 12 large muffins

Ingredients

2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12 cup cupcake tin with paper liners. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, use your fingers to mix the sugar and lemon zest together until the zest is evenly distributed and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir until just mixed. Sprinkle in the poppy seeds and fold into the dough. Don’t over mix! Divide the batter evenly among the muffins cups.

4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin from its mold.

5. To make the glaze, whisk together the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Place a cookie sheet under the cooling rack to collect excess glaze. Carefully drizzle the glaze over each muffin. Allow the glaze to harden slightly.

6. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Source: Kitchen Confit, originally from Dorie Greenspan

Cooking with Jess

It’s been awhile since my friend Jess and I have gotten together to cook. Jess and her husband, Greg, are getting ready to move into a new house and they are currently in the process of emptying out their kitchen. It just so happened that Jess had a frozen turkey in her freezer that she hasn’t had the chance to make, so she invited us over for sort of a spring-focused thanksgiving.

On the menu was turkey (of course), carrot soup, oven-roasted asparagus, sauteed sweet potatoes, rosemary and olive oil bread, chocolate stout cake, and a fresh strawberry tart. It was all very delicious, but my favorite dish was the carrot soup. Jess found it in a spring Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine and it was surprisingly scrumptious and easy to make. With minimal ingredients, the soup is a perfect meal for spring. And it makes super leftovers. The recipe is below.

Thanks to Jessica for another great meal.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Fresh Cream of Carrot Soup
Yield: 6-8 side servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • Salt and ground pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 8 minutes).
  2. Add flour and cook, stirring for about a minute.
  3. Add broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add carrots and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until carrots are very tender.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree until the soup is a uniform and smooth texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup to a blender in smaller batches and blend until smooth.
  6. Add milk or cream and heat over medium until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Barely adapted from Martha Stewart

Rosemary Focaccia

Oh, hey- big surprise here. I’m posting another recipe from my favorite bread book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I promise I am not gaining anything by repeatedly putting in plugs for this book. Everything I have made has been delicious and surprisingly easy to make (no-kneading!). It’s going to take a lot for me to stray from the methods in the is book.

I made this for Monday night dinner after I got home from work. I had about 2 ounces of energy left while I was making it, so I was happy to find how quickly and deliciously it came together. My brother-in-law, Kenny, gave it his seal of approval as well and he liked it well enough to accept me forcing the leftovers home with him.

This is a highly adapted recipe and I will definitely be making it again soon. Perhaps with parmesan, caramelized onions, basil, or tomatoes. The list goes on and on.

Rosemary Focaccia

Yield: The entire dough recipe is enough for 4 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (or 2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the topping(for one loaf):

  • 3/4 tsp dried rosemary leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with water in a 5 quart container or bowl.

2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon until just combined.

3. Cover the dough (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and then collapses, about 2 hours.

4. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

5. Grab a 1lb, grapefruit-sized hunk of dough and dust liberally with flour. Flatten into a 1/2-3/4 inch thick oblong shape with your hands or a rolling pin.

6. Sprinkle with rosemary, coarse salt, and black pepper. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the surface of the dough.

7. Allow the focaccia to rest and rise for 10-20 minutes.

8. After the dough has rested, place the dough in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned.

9. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Source: Barely adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Baking makes me so happy. I sometimes daydream of what it would be like if I could throw caution to the wind, travel the world, learn how to bake from the most talented bakers on the planet, and turn baking into a career. But then I drift back to reality and make peace with the fact that I am where I am supposed to be.

Hobbies are hobbies because they are a mental vacation from the everyday stress of life. I heard a segment on NPR a few months ago about people who turned their favorite pastimes into a career. Unfortunately, the theme of the story seemed to be that when a hobby turns into work, it…well… becomes work. The enjoyment of it often lessens. I would be so sad if I could not longer take comfort in the fact that, even after the most draining days, my battle-tested Kitchen Aid is always waiting for me on our kitchen counter, with no consequences or strings attached.

When I bake, things don’t always turn out as I’d hoped or imagined. But the satisfaction from creating something from scratch with my own hands is worth every second of time I spend. I bake for myself, I bake to show my love for family and friends, and I bake because it’s just plain fun. And that’s what a hobby should always be about. :)

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3-3.5 cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee

Directions

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees. Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add in the vanilla. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure proper mixing.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, alternately add in the flour and milk. Mix just until combined.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake tins evenly (I prefer to use a 2 inch ice cream scoop).

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack.

For the frosting:

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and mix well.

Gradually add in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar until combined. The mixture will be dry. Add in the milk and coffee. Mix well until smooth and shiny.

Pipe the frosting on cooled cupcakes (I used a 1M Wilton tip).

Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze for 2 weeks.

Source: Cupcakes- Martha Stewart, Frosting- Lolly’s Sweet & Savory Treats

Copper Mountain, Colorado

No new recipes for today. Things have been pretty simple in the meal department the past two weeks, but I wanted to share a few pictures from our ski trip to Copper Mountain, Colorado. My dad has been planning this family vacation out west for several years now. I remember he was even talking about it when I was still in high school. It’s been a long time coming. Finally, we were all able to make it happen. The trip was set in stone for over a year and, I must say, it lived up to the hype.

Having never been to Colorado before, I was taken back by the beautiful scenery. I can’t imagine living with a view of evergreen-studded, snow cap mountains through my back window. Simply amazing.

The altitude was a big adjustment for us Ohio folk. The first day we got in, we walked down to the village to get helmets and we could barely talk because we were so out of breath. Luckily, though, we were feeling better after a few days and none of us got too sick from the high elevation.

Robert and I were also able to meet up with Jeff, one of my friends from PT school, as well as one of his fellow engineering friends from college. I am a bit envious they get to live in Colorado year round, but I won’t hold it against them.

Another thing I noticed- everyone’s in good shape. I barely saw any overweight people. In fact, I think I may have been the plumpest one around. It turns out, Colorado is the thinnest state in the nation. Can’t say that about Ohio. :)

Aside from my mom’s injury on the last day, we had a wonderful time in Colorado. I can’t wait to go back again!

Oh, and how could I forget… we got to spend lots of quality time with this little leprechaun…

 

French Chocolate Bark

Whew! The past two weeks have been a blur. We vacationed out in Copper Mountain, Colorado with my side of the family and we had a wonderful time skiing and spending time together. Everything was great until Saturday afternoon, when we were at the airport ready to head back to Ohio, we found out my mom fell and fractured her tibial plateau while my parents were squeezing in some last minute skiing. The physician at the med clinic on the slope wanted her to go to Denver that day to have surgery, but we were able to scramble and find a last minute non-stop flight back to Columbus instead. To make a long story short, my mom was able to have surgery here in Columbus and is currently staying at our house recuperating. Unfortunately, the healing process after a tibial plateau fracture is a long one and she isn’t able to put any weight on her affected leg for about 3 months. As a result, my very active mother is assuming more of an inactive role for now. Luckily, though, it looks like she will be just fine when it’s all said and done.

So, after a short break, I’ve finally returned to the blog. I made this French chocolate bark as part of a care package I sent my Aunt Khaki for her birthday. It’s an easy treat to make and with cashews (or Kah-Shoes as Ina Garten would say), dried cranberries, apricots, and orange zest, it has to be a little bit good for you, right? ;) It’s highly customizable and it only took me about 15 minutes to make. I also made Khaki Dorie Greenspan’s rum raisin chocolate cake, whiskey oatmeal cream pies, and caramel sauce. Unfortunately, in my haste to get it sent out as soon as possible, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the other stuff.

I’ve said it before, but my Aunt Khaki has inspired me since a young age to be adventurous in the kitchen. She isn’t afraid to put her own twist on recipes and I admire her so much for it. She is such a wonderful hostess and I remember always getting so excited to go over to her house when she lived close to us. Whether it’s a birthday party, an Easter egg hunt, Thanksgiving, or just a regular old dinner, my Aunt Khaki has the incredible gift of making things fun and the food delicious. She is one of the most generous people I know and I love her dearly. Happy belated, Khaki!

French Chocolate Bark

Yield: About 24 pieces

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

Directions

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Melt the semisweet and bittersweet chocolates in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth and shiny. Set aside

Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, about 1/8 inch think.  Sprinkle the cashews, apricots, cranberries, and orange zest over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark into squares pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Source: Barely adapted from Ina Garten