Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate-Caramel Matzo Brittle

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This week is Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights.  Candles on the menorah are lit nightly, presents are exchanged and lots of goodies are consumed.  This is one of my favorite Chanukah sweets, brought to you by my lovely daughter and guest blogger, Libby Walter.

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Chanukah is under way so it’s time to load up on matzo crackers! Matzo brittle is something I’ve been making for a few years now.  Every time I bring this to parties everyone asks how I make it and they are always surprised at how easy it is!

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My Grandma Honey has made this recipe for me since I was born, so I got this recipe from her.  Once you taste a piece of this chocolate-caramel delight, you won’t stop eating it!  This is also a great use for leftover matzos.  Happy Chanukah!!

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1 year ago: Pomegranate Mint CrostiniLemony Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Chocolate-Caramel Matzo Brittle (makes about 4 cups of brittle)

5-6 pieces matzo crackers

1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar, firmly packed

12 tablespoons (170 grams) butter

3/4 cup (130 grams) chocolate chips


First, preheat your oven to 375º F (190º C) . Line two baking trays with baking paper and foil (to make sure no sticky caramel gets on the tray itself, trust me it’s hard to get off).  Place the matzo crackers on the lined trays.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a small or medium saucepan. Cook this on medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Then, pour it over the matzo and spread it so all the matzos are fully covered.

Put the trays in the oven to warm them up, carefully watching so that they don’t burn. As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the matzos. The chocolate chips don’t need to cover the whole thing because we are going to spread them out later. Next, after  the chips have melted, use a spatula to spread the chocolate using a back and forth motion.

After that just pop them in the fridge for a few hours and then break them up into small, odd shaped pieces!

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Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs

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Christmas countdown is under way.  Advent calendars are being ticked off (and chocolates eaten) daily; the Elf on the Shelf (Elfie McJingles, in our house) is keeping an eye on the girls sometimes from a new place each morning, sometimes not – I tried explaining to the girls that he broke his leg in a horrible accident and therefore must remain in one place the entire Christmas season but they didn’t buy it:); decorations are up (since we’re going back to the States there’s no tree, so decorating took a record 30 minutes!); and holiday baking has begun.

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Last year I posted a longtime favorite cookie, Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways.  This year I’m back with a new favorite – Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs.  They are like little bites of rich, chocolatey brownies!!  They’re chock full of ground pecans plus a hint of coffee really accentuates the chocolate flavor (it’s the secret ingredient in my brownies), enough to transport any chocolate lover to their happy place.

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Kids can easily help out with this recipe as well by measuring flour or sugar, grinding the nuts and/or dipping the snowballs in powdered sugar.  My girls especially like grinding the nuts with my Grandma Hallie’s nut grinder from the 1940’s and it makes me so happy.  She would love seeing us baking together.

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Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs make really nice Christmas gifts as well; they look a bit like truffles.  Put a dozen in a small cellophane bag tied with a decorative ribbon and you’ve got a lovely gift for a teacher, neighbor or hostess.  So crank up the holiday tunes, turn on the twinkling lights and bake something delicious.

1 year ago:  Barbecue Roasted Salmon, Orzo Pea & Feta Salad

Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs (makes 4 dozen)

2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups (220 grams) plain, all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant espresso/coffee powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups (200 grams) finely chopped pecans

Powdered/icing sugar for coating


In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Mix in the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and salt until most flour has been incorporated.  Mix in the pecans and continue mixing until all ingredients have been incorporated.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days (if refrigerating for more than an hour, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften slightly before proceeding).

Preheat oven to 325º F (160º C).  Roll dough into small balls about 1″/2.5cm in diameter, using about 1 tablespoon of dough (if you have a scale and are as anal as I am, 12 grams is a good size per cookie).  Place the balls about 2″/5cm apart on a greased cookie sheet or alternately line it with baking (parchment) paper.  Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are dry and have cracked slightly.  Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the tray, then remove to a wire rack or a piece of baking paper on a flat surface.

Once cookies have fully cooled, roll them in the powdered/icing sugar, then gently shake off excess.

Adapted from Food & Wine

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Chocolate Bumpy Cake

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Love isn’t always smooth and pretty.  It can be a bit bumpy at times.  So this Valentine’s Day, don’t just celebrate love’s sweetness, but embrace those bumpy bits as well.  Particularly if they’re formed of buttercream and smothered in chocolate fudge sauce.

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Detroiters will recognize this Sanders classic, which they’ve been baking for over 100 years!

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Though I grew up in the Detroit area, my parents were not native Detroiters, plus I can probably count on one hand the times we had store-bought cake at home.  So deprived child that I was, I never had bumpy cake until my 20’s.  Then I moved away – no more bumpy cake.  Fast forward to last summer, the girls and I are visiting friends in Detroit and what’s served up for dessert?  Bumpy cake!  I loved it, my kids went bananas and I knew I had to figure out how to make it.

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It’s composed of three components: chocolate cake, buttercream frosting and fudge sauce.  I made it for Molly’s 9th birthday party last year and it was the first cake I’ve served where every kid (and adult) was a clean plater.

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And if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Chocolate Bumpy Cake

Note: Vegetable shortening isn’t readily available in the UK, so unless you know of an American with a secret stash who will share with you, replace the shortening with butter (you’ll use 110 grams butter in total for the buttercream frosting).

For the cake:

1/2 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder

1/2 cup (120 ml) hot black coffee

1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup (150 grams) dark brown sugar, firmly packed

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

2 cups (280 grams) plain, all-purpose flour

For the buttercream frosting:

1/4 cup (55 grams) unsalted butter

1/4 cup (50 grams) vegetable shortening

2 cups (250 grams) powdered/icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the fudge sauce:

1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk

2 1/2 cups (310 grams) powdered/icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

1/3 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder

1/3 cup (115 grams) dark corn syrup or golden syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces


Preheat the oven to 375º F (190º C).  Grease a large baking dish (9” x 13″ or 23cm x 33cm) using either nonstick spray or butter.

For the cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cocoa and coffee, and beat on medium speed for approximately 30 seconds. Add each of the following ingredients, one at a time, and beat for approximately 30 seconds before adding the next: buttermilk, oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, eggs, sugars.  Add flour and beat about 5 minutes to remove any lumps. Batter may begin to bubble.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (my oven runs a bit hot and only took 25 minutes, but most recipes say 30-35 minutes – best to check at 25 minutes, knowing it may take up to 35 minutes). Transfer to a rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the freezer for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For the buttercream frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and shortening on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium-low, slowly adding the powdered (icing) sugar and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat 1 more minute. Frosting will be stiffer than traditional buttercream.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (if you don’t have a piping bag, put frosting in a large ziplock bag and make a 3/4″ (2 cm) cut in one of the corners).  If frosting is soft, refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.  You can test whether it’s firm by piping onto a clean surface and if frosting holds shape, it’s firm.  After test, just scrape up “test frosting” and transfer it back to the piping bag.

Pipe frosting crosswise into a 1″ (2 1/2 cm) wide line starting 3/4″ (2 cm) from one of the short sides.  Repeat making 7 total lines that are each 3/4″ apart; each “bump” should run the width of the cake, 9-inches long.  If you have remaining frosting after making the 7 bumps, go over any of the smaller bumps or fill in any gaps. Return cake to the freezer for about 15 minutes to set the frosting.  Frosting should feel quite hard to the touch.

For the fudge sauce: In a large bowl whisk together buttermilk, powdered sugar and vanilla and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine granulated sugar, cocoa, corn syrup, salt and 1 stick (115 grams) of butter over medium heat.  Stir occasionally to fully incorporate butter as it’s melting then bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat.

Cook until mixture registers 240°F (115º C) on a candy or instant read thermometer (a small amount dropped into cold water should form a soft, malleable ball), then remove from heat.  Should take 1-2 minutes. Pour saucepan contents into the buttermilk mixture, whisking constantly. Add remaining butter, a few tablespoons at a time, and continue whisking until fully incorporated and mixture has cooled (frosting must be only slightly warm).  Fudge sauce will be thin and sauce-like.  Transfer to a 4 cup (1 liter) liquid measuring cup, or any other pourable pitcher.

Remove cake from freezer and pour slightly warm fudge sauce over the buttercream bumps, covering them entirely.  The fudge will run down the sides of the bumps and fill in the spaces between bumps.  Any remaining sauce can be used to touch-up the cake or serve it along with the cake (don’t know anyone who’d pass up extra fudge).  Return cake to freezer for at least 30 minutes more to set. Serve chilled, cutting cake so that a cross-section of the bumps appear in each serving (see pictures above).  Store leftovers in refrigerator or freezer.

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Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways

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Tis the season!  There’s nothing I enjoy more at this time of year than jamming the holiday tunes and baking cookies while a chilly wind blows outside.  Speaking of Xmas tunes, I’ve got a sweet playlist this year – Straight No Chaser “Christmas Cheers”, She & Him “A Very She & Him Christmas”, Ella Fitzgerald “A Swinging Christmas”, Johnny Cash “The Classic Christmas Album”, Willie Nelson “Pretty Paper” and finally “Soul Christmas”.

Baking cookies is a ritual I’ve enjoyed with my mom and Grandma since I was little.  I can even prove it:  hanging in my hallway is a pic of my brothers, Grandma and me baking away when we were probably 2, 4 and 6!  Now the tradition continues as I bake with my two daughters (and will be soon baking with my mom in a few weeks!!!).  So with all the holiday craziness, and we have it x2 as we celebrate Chanukah as well, I still set aside time for at least one cookie-baking day (or at least cram it in after school!).

I started making Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways because I thought it time that I get my own annual Christmas cookie since my mom has our family’s cookie repertoire down-pat.  I didn’t have to look any further than double – chocolate – mint!!!!  This is a tender, shortbread-like cookie – a “meltaway” – coated with white chocolate then dipped in dark chocolate with a final drizzle of dark chocolate for good measure.  They’re quite rich, so I like that they are little bites.

The recipe makes a lot – almost 4 dozen cookies.  So plenty extra to give as gifts!  Or if you’re like my household, plenty to last through the weekend.  Oh well, we’ll just have to make a second batch for gifts.  I’ll start jamming the tunes.

Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways (makes about 48 cookies)

Note:  You may need to adjust the amount of peppermint extract.  When I made these cookies in the States they tasted mintier, which leads me to believe that not all mint extracts are created equal.  Best to start out with less and taste test to see if you want more.  The cookies should have a subtle mint flavor – not shamrock shake level.

Cookies:

2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered/icing sugar

2 cups (250 grams) plain, all-purpose flour plus extra for coating the fork

White chocolate ganache:

5 tablespoons heavy, double or whipping cream

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 ounces (200 grams) white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Dark chocolate ganache:

7 ounces (200 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract


Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C).   In an electric mixer cream the butter, vanilla extract and mint extract until light, about 3-5 minutes.  Beat in the sugar only until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat in half of the flour only until combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Stir in the remaining flour using a spatula or wooden spoon (dough will seem dry but keep mixing – it will come together).  Roll dough into small balls (if you have a scale and are as anal as I am, 10 grams is a good size per cookie).  Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with baking (parchment) paper (alternately you can grease the cookie sheet, though it’s not as effective).  Dip a fork in flour, shake off any excess, then press down on dough ball to flatten it to about 2″ (5 cm) diameter.  Bake until just beginning to brown at the edges, about 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the tray, then remove to a wire rack or a piece of baking paper on a flat surface.

While cookies are baking make the white chocolate ganache.  Bring cream and butter to simmer in a small saucepan over low heat.  Add white chocolate and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the mint extract.  Transfer the ganache to a small bowl and refrigerate until firm enough to spread (should be consistency of lemon curd), about 15 minutes.

Spread ganache on the flat side of the cookie (not the side with the fork marks).  Set cookies with white chocolate ganache facing up, on a cookie sheet lined with baking (parchment paper) or foil. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.

Melt dark chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Carefully remove dark chocolate from over the water (steam can be very hot).  Stir in the mint extract.

Dip one end of a cookie into the dark chocolate ganache.  Gently shake cookie to remove excess chocolate.  Place cookie with white chocolate ganache facing down back on the same cookie sheet.  When all cookies have been dipped, using a spoon drizzle excess chocolate over the fork-pressed side of the cookies.  You will probably have leftover dark chocolate ganache (the recipe makes more than you’ll need so it’s deep enough for dipping).  Chill until all chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.  Remove cookies from cookie sheet, place in an airtight container or two and refrigerate for up to two weeks.  Cookies can be eaten chilled or let sit out about 10 minutes at room temperature.

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