Dark Chocolate Dipped Rice Krispie Treats {Valentine’s Day Edition}


You know it was a good day when you have chocolate under your fingernails.

Today it rained and I wasn’t upset by it, except while walking to class while holding an umbrella and trying to eat one of these…I just wanted to stop and say “Can you hold on just one second so I can finish this, please?”

I use to really hate when it rained. I think I was stuck in that SoCal “oh my god this is not sunshine, what do I do” kind of mentality. Or maybe after all of these environmental classes I’ve finally realized that rain is good and it’s sole purpose isn’t to ruin our day. Or maybe I just like wearing rain boots. Whatever the reason is, I like the rain now. Progress.

I completely forgot that I was given a whole bunch of different chocolate transfer sheets to play around with from the head pastry chef at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, so I decided now was a better time than any to give that a try. Chocolate transfer sheets are sheets of acetate paper that are printed with fun designs in cocoa butter. When you spread the chocolate onto the sheet and let it cool, it picks up the design onto your chocolate. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can find them on Amazon.

Pardon the quality. Taken with iPhone.

They look really impressive, but don’t require a huge skill set to master it. The key to making it look nice is spreading it as evenly as possible (unlike mine above). I used a little heart cookie cutter to make the hearts, but you could also use a knife and score whatever shape you want into it.

Pile ’em up, pile em up!

I cut them into squares and then dipped them into the chocolate. You could also leave them in the pan and pour the chocolate on top, but then you’ll have harsh lines on the sides when you cut into it. It’s just a matter of preference.

More things should be dipped in dark chocolate. You know we have come a long way when chocolate dipped bacon is now considered acceptable, but theres always room to grow. 

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day fellow sugar lovers,

Madeline

#67 Superbowl/Football Themed Chocolate Cupcakes

I like football, I really do. My problem is that I need someone to say “Hey, lets go watch the Raiders game” otherwise I’m not going to watch it. I make an effort to watch College Football, particularly USC, but I’m not so great at watching the NFL. Maybe it is because I can relate more to College Football, who knows but there is just something less exciting about the NFL to me.

Anyways, even though I’m not a crazy NFL fan, I was born into a Raiders family so that is just who I root for. It’s kind of like being raised a certain religion; I was raised to worship the Raiders and the USC Trojans.

Since the Raider’s didn’t make it to the Superbowl, my second option was to root for another California team to make it. That didn’t happen either. Now it’s between the Giants and the Patriots, and I frankly don’t really like either of them.

Instead of deciding which non-california team I should care about, I made some ridiculously delicious Football Cupcakes that will be festive regardless of which team you may support, yay!

I know I could have done an adorable little grassy patch on top of this cupcake and topped it with a fondant little football or a helmet, but I am not a fan of fondant. Why put something on a delicious cupcake that tastes like crap? I just don’t get it at all. Say no to fondant!

Besides, this is rustic.  Rustic tastes better. Rustic feels better. Rustic sounds better.

This recipe is from the New York famous Magnolia Bakery. They put out a cookbook with their recipes, which I question how true to the real thing they are, but they’re fabulous. The cake itself isn’t very sweet. Yeah, I ate a cupcake without frosting. This frosting is so beautifully silky and chocolatey, I just wanted to slather it on everything. On its own, the frosting is pretty sweet but combined with the cake, it matches up together perfectly.  Then I ate another cupcake with frosting and I’ll probably have another one later on this evening. The life of a sugar addict/food blogger; when eating 3 cupcakes in a 2 hour period is considered acceptable.

How amazing does that batter look?

Don’t have Buttermilk? Neither do I, ever. At my store, the smallest size of buttermilk you can get is too much for me. This is a buttermilk substitute that I have used time and time again and it has yet to fail me. Take 1 cup of milk and add 1 tablespoon of White Vinegar to it and let it set for 5 minutes, then it’s ready to use. Beware, it will be a little chunky, don’t worry.

Enjoy!

Madeline

#64 Caramel & Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to get out all of the ingredients out of the pantry and plug in the mixer. Sometimes I am out of necessary ingredients such as sugar/flour/butter and I just really dont want to go to the store. Sometimes I just want something sweet, salty and crunchy that doesn’t require baking, cooling, and frosting.

Alright, so sometimes I’m just really lazy, but the laziness doesn’t overpower my desire for sweets.

This quick dessert is also really great for people who may not have access to an oven or fancy baking equipment. It takes practically no time to do, and it can be made all just using a microwave! For my version, I used the stove to melt down the caramel and chocolate just because I can control the heat better on the stove than in the microwave.

The most traditional way to make these is just dipping them in caramel and then chocolate and calling it a day. Isn’t that boring though? So here are some ways to make it more exciting.

  • Melt down some white chocolate chips in the microwave. First for 1 minute, stir, then 30 second increments until melted. Spoon into a plastic sandwich bag and cut off a small piece of the corner of the bag.
  • Crumble up your favorite candy bar, I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. After you dip the pretzels into the chocolate, press the crumbled up candy into it.
  • Sprinkles are always fun too. 🙂

If you leave about 2 inches at the bottom uncovered, it makes a nice little handle to hold on to without making your hands a mess covered in chocolate. At first when you bite into this it’s chewy and chocolatey, and then the salt from the pretzels sneaks up on you and makes it perfect. It is kind of like you’re own home made candy bar!

Enjoy!

Madeline

#60 Toffee Chocolate Cupcakes

I swear I think I used about 7 lbs of butter the past 2 weeks. It has reached the point where when I am at the store, I cruise by the butter section and just grab an extra pound because hey why not, right?

After Christmas I needed a few days to recuperate after the days of eating dense, chocolate, amazing, delicious desserts. It was just too much! It was like that Groundhog Day movie every morning: afternoon in kitchen, huge dinner, amazing dessert, pat your stomach like you have a chocolate food baby growing in there, sleep, repeat.

Finally after a few days I started to feel withdrawals from not baking, but still not craving anything special. I had to make something for New Years Eve, I knew it would be wrong if I didn’t. I book marked this recipe from Annie’s website a while back, and every time I go through my bookmarked recipes/cookbooks to decide on what I want to make, the picture of these cupcakes makes me drool.

These. Were. So. Good!

I’ve been on a cupcake break recently just because there wasn’t enough texture going on for me, my mouth felt bored…does that make sense? You know what I mean. This cupcake wins in the taste and the texture category.

Details: chocolate cake with espresso undertones in it (amazing), then it is dipped in a ganache and rolled in toffee (I used left over toffee from my English Toffee Recipe but you can use toffee from the store too) and topped with this ridiculous Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Ahhhhh….delicious

The one thing I did change from the recipe on Annie’s site was that I didn’t add the caramel sauce to the frosting. I tried the frosting right before adding the caramel sauce and it was already very sweet on its own and I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming. I think it turned out perfectly this way, but if you want to give the caramel sauce a try go ahead!

Environmental Side Note: I bought these environmentally friendly cupcake liners by If You Care (what a cute name for a company) a month or so back and finally had a chance to try them out! As many of you know, I’m a big supporter of being responsible in taking care of our environment. I understand that we all can’t be perfect and compost everything and be zero waste, but the little things do count!

These cupcake liners are unbleached, biodegradable, and safe for our landfills and compost bins. Even the packaging for the product is made from recycled cardboard, and uses vegetable based inks for the writing.  All in all, its a great product and environment friendly, which makes me very happy, and it does its job for my cupcakes. And hey, I think they’re cute. I’m into really simple stuff, sometimes those cupcake liners are just nuts with designs that just bake away in the oven. Go try them out for yourself 🙂

Happy New Year! 2012, lets do something exciting!

Enjoy,

Madeline

#56 English Toffee [Homemade Holiday Gift]

I love this time of the year. All of the wreaths, the little gingerbread men, and nutcrackers – I love it all. Christmas decorations just make the house look complete to me. Whenever it hits the new year, and the decorations get put back into their sad little boxes, the house just looks so cold and empty.

On the left is my baker nutcracker, he’s quite adorable. And on the right is my gingerbread man that I made when I was in Kindergarten. He’s looking a little ratty these days since he comes out every year. I think he use to have buttons on his eyes…poor guy.

Whenever my Granny visits she always brings with this amazing toffee. I sadly didn’t know how amazing this toffee was until a few years ago because my parents always told me that I wouldnt like it. Turns out that they were just trying to keep me away from it so they had more for themselves!

Since I had issues last time I made anything with a candy thermometer, I was a little apprehensive about making this. I used the holiday’s as an excuse to just go for it and I was surprised how simple it really was. All you really need is a candy thermometer! I have this cheap one from the grocery store, it isn’t great but it does the job well enough for how little I use it.

Break it up into pieces and put the toffee into little bags, voila! Makes a lovely home made gift for the holidays 🙂 and it’s quite delicious too.

Enjoy! I’ll be posting another home made holiday gift soon! 🙂

Madeline

#55 Salted Chocolate Pecan Cookies

This year I participated in a cookie swap and not just some amateur local one. This my friends was put together by the lovely ladies over at Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. The idea is genius really. Combine the powers of the amazingly talented food bloggers all over the country, ship a box of cookies to three different people, you get three different boxes of cookies, and in the end everyone writes a nice little post about! Fun! [If you’re interested in participating next year, sign up for their emails here]

Well here I am at stage three writing a nice little post about this event. This event was a lot more than just shipping your cookies to random people around the country. Blogging about anything can seem really closed off sometimes. You don’t get to see the people who are reading your blog or interact with them like you would if you were cooking for a group of friends. This event brought together about 500 food bloggers over the common love of cookies. Personally, I went on Twitter way more just to look through all of the tweets about the cookie swap. It was nice to bond virtually over the trials and errors of making the perfect cookie, and through the process I found a few more people to follow online.

My cookies ready to ship

I want to give a shout out to the three blogs that I sent cookies too:

KarmaCucina – my new go-to “real” cooking site! Lots of different variations on delicious food.
Life of a Bama Girl – another young chef blogging about life and food 🙂
From My Sweet Heart – a lovely woman living her life the best way possible – through sugar 🙂

The bloggers that I received cookies from:

Addicted to Recipes – she sent some yummy Gingerbread Snickerdoodles which was so appropriate. I love the two of them separately this season, so combined it was heavenly.
Grumpy’s Honey Bunch – she sent two different types of cookies [a nice result from reading directions when stressed :)] One was a peppermint bark filled bon bon (Mom loved these!) and some Cardamon Sugar cookies (yum!)
Decadent Philistines Save the World – she sent Maple Walnut cookies, which sadly must have been man-handled by the USPS because the box of cookies was opened inside when i got it and the cookies were a little hard 🙁 BUT I did try them and they tasted good regardless!  There should be a stamp for packages that says “HANDLE WITH CARE – COOKIES INSIDE”

I should probably tell you about the cookies I made now, huh? Recently I have fallen in love with the idea of sea salt on desserts, like cookies and chocolates. I know some people who havent experienced it yet are a little hesitant about the idea, but trust me, you’ll be hooked.

I was going to make a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt, but that was too simple. So these cookies ended up as a mixture of a few different cookies. I only got to eat one of them because I didn’t make enough to devour myself, but that one cookie was mouthwatering. These will be made a few more times this holiday season, that’s for sure.

Enjoy!

Madeline

#52 Chocolate Cream Pie with a Cookie Crust

I think Thanksgiving this year was my favorite yet. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I was so involved in cooking this year’s feast, or maybe because it was a more intimate Thanksgiving. Whatever it was, I have never been so happy with this holiday.

I dont know about you guys, but I felt like I lived in the kitchen the day before and the day of Thanksgiving. The grocery store, the kitchen, and me — we were the three best friends.  (I go through self check-out when even I go to the store now because I’m embarrassed by how often I frequent that place.)

Although Thanksgiving tradition generally requires Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie, this family needs chocolate. (Don’t worry I made Pumpkin and Apple too) I made a Chocolate Cream Pie last year for Thanksgiving, which was good, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it. The major difference between the two recipes is the crust. This time, I chose a cookie crust, rather than a pastry dough crust. This pie wins, hands down.

While making the filling, dont walk away! You’re cooking eggs here people! If you aren’t watching this pot of love, you’ll have scrambled eggs in your pie. Imagine that. Seriously. The thought is just repulsive.

As you were looking at that last picture you were probably thinking that I forgot the chocolate. 🙂

Before you put the filling into the fridge, press down some plastic wrap onto the filling. This way you wont have any film on the top when you take it out. I wish I knew this when we made pudding when I was a kid. I would always scoop off the top of it because it was so weird!

After it has chilled a little bit, pour it into the pie crust.

Tip: If you’re serving the pie right after making it, go ahead and whip up the cream and put it on top before placing it all back in the fridge. BUT if you’re making this ahead of time, wait to whip the cream until serving. Also, remember to keep a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pie while in the fridge to keep that film forming on top!

Side note: I slightly overwhipped the cream (awkward), but it still was amazing. Just don’t make the same mistake as me, and you’ll have a beautiful pie!

 

You’ll love this pie!

 

Enjoy

Madeline

#49 Caramel Pecan Brownies

A friend asked me the other day what my favorite dessert is and instantly I float into this fake little dessert world. In this world, there is a big plate with a slightly undercooked brownie in the center of it, dripping with salted caramel, topped with toasted pecans, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Im melting into my chair as I think about that….give me a second…

Alright I’m back.

But really, how delicious does that sound?

So you know what, I made it! Well, a slightly less decadent version…but the taste has not been sacrificed, I assure you that.

Since we (sadly) don’t all have that time to sit down with that giant plate of dripping caramel, this brownie has a layer of caramel and chopped pecans on top. This way, you can chop it into a square and grab it as you go sink into the couch, under a warm blanket.

My favorite part of brownies - the wooden spoon!

Bubbling sugar

Let it get to an amber color (a little past this point)

Video of Bubbling Sugar. I just had to include this.

After you’ve made that caramel topping, you’re going to look at that pan and think “Oh man this is going to be a pain in the butt to clean”. Fear not, I have a great tip!

TIP TIME: Fill sugar encrusted pot, and any utensils covered in sugar, with water and heat to a boil. This will boil away the hardened sugar and make it easy to clean off.

Enjoy,

Madeline

 

PS: I apologize in advance for the future delay in posts. It’s college essay time! Bear with me 🙂

 

 

 

 

#48 Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cupcakes


Happy One Year Anniversary to Thursday Night Baking Blog!! 

I can’t believe it was a year ago today that I decided to start on this crazy adventure! The positive feed back I have received from all of you has been beyond humbling. I love this blog, I love you guys. In the past year I’ve gone from a spare time Wordpress blog to having my own domain name and making it on to FoodGawker and TasteSpotting. I smile so big just thinking about it. Thanks for being so awesome! Cheers to going strong! ::clink::

In honor of this fabulous day (although it’s raining here in So.Cal) I thought I would share with you these absolutely delicious cupcakes! Chocolate and Peanut Butter is the ultimate combination for me. I could bake just Chocolate and Peanut Butter goodies for the rest of my time and be quite happy. But imagine Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or Tagalongs if you’re a Girl Scout Cookie eater (so good…). This is a moist chocolate cupcake with a silky smooth Peanut Butter Frosting. It’s heaven in your mouth, I kid you not. I’m considering making this frosting and keeping it on hand to put on oreo’s when I am too tired to bake – it’s that good.

 

#41 Lamington Cupcakes

When its a baking day, I end up going to the grocery store multiple times that day. It’s embarrassing really. I read through the entire recipe, I make a list, and then I forget the eggs/sugar/something. I of course don’t realize I am missing these things until ingredients are opened and poured already. Tip: I suggest always using the self check out to spare yourself from ultimate embarrasement of going to the same check out guy twice in a 1 hour span of time, multiple times a month…

With that said, I forgot to buy eggs.

These cupcakes are on the front cover of “The Craft of Baking” cook book by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox and are absolutely delicious. They kind of taste like a cupcake donut, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in toasted coconut. Awesome, I know. I love these cupcakes because they are a little different than the normal cupcake. Aside from the fact that it is steering away from the traditional swirl of luscious frosting on top, the cake itself is a little denser, which gives it more of an old fashion donut taste. They’re delicious, don’t worry.

Toast the coconut first, let it cool, and then smash it up so its in small pieces and not the long strands

Since you will be dipping these in chocolate after they have cooled, there is no need to waste your cupcake liners. Melt some butter and use a brush to butter each pan. Then, dust with flour. The trick with that is to spoon a little flour into each cupcake well and then shake the pan around. You can tap out any excess flour in the sink.

Use a knife to scrape around the edges and flip the cupcakes out of the pan. Don't try and turn the pan over, it wont work the way you imagine it should.

Dipped and Rolled waiting to be eaten

Mini Lamingtons

I hope you enjoy!

Lamington Cupcakes

Printer Friendly Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
1 tbs vanilla
¼ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
½ cup whole milk
4 large egg whites

¼ cup 3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups confectioners sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp vanilla

Instructions:

Set oven to 300° F.

Spread coconut on baking sheet and put in oven until golden, 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. After cooled, crumble up the coconut and put into a wide shallow bowl.

Increase oven temp to 350. Butter and flour muffin tins.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds on medium-high until light and fluffy, 5 mins. Scrape down sides of bowl.

With mixer on medium speed, add milk and flour mix, alternating in 3 additions.

Transfer to another bowl. Clean the bowl to the electric mixer (I know, what a pain), and add the egg whites to it. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, 4 mins. In 3 additions, fold into batter.

Divide batter among muffin cups, ¾ full.

Bake for 20 mins, rotate halfway. Use knife to separate cupcake from tin and flip them out of the pan. Let cool completely

In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa powder,confectioners sugar, and salt. Add ¼ cup plus 2 tablspoons water and the vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

Dip cupcake into glaze, coating entire cupcake. Immediately roll the cupcake in the toasted coconut. Transfer to a wire rack placed on top of a cookie sheet to catch the drippings.

Enjoy!

 

Madeline