Monday, March 31, 2008
Chocolate Espresso Lava Cake
From “125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes” by Julie Hasson
(From the book: “These cakes are really chocolate brownie soufflés that are baked in coffee mugs. They are truly delicious, embodying everything that a chocolate dessert should be. You can make them ahead of time, then pop them in the oven as your guests sit down for the main course.”)
Six 1-cup ovenproof ceramic coffee mugs, greased
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 tsp. espresso powder (note: I didn’t use this and the dessert didn’t suffer)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. almond extract
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and baking powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and granulated and brown sugars until well blended. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and almond extract. Whisk in flour mixture. Divide batter among prepared coffee mugs (about 2/3 cup in each). (Note: I used little soufflé cups). Top each with 2 tbsp. chocolate chips. Gently press chips into batter. Cover and refrigerate mugs for at least one hour or for up to one day. (Note: I had leftovers that I used two days later and they were fine.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Let mugs with batter stand at room temperature for five minutes. Bake, uncovered, until cakes are puffed and crusty and tester inserted into center comes out with thick batter attached, about 30 minutes. (Note: I put them on a baking sheet which was a good idea, since they overflowed a little.) Let cool in mugs on a rack for five minutes.
The recipe says to serve with espresso whipped cream, but we ate ours plain and they were perfect. I can only imagine if you paired this with whipped cream and raspberries or vanilla ice cream that it would just be complete and utter euphoria.
Mr. Goodbar commented that it didn't look like such a good idea. "The book says it's okay!" I snapped. It had already been a long day. I put the pans in the oven and 30 minutes later-- ding! The timer went off. The house was filled with a light, lemony scent.
And the plastic wrap seemingly disappeared.*
Like any normal person might suspect, I now had plastic-infused cheesecakes, two dirty mini-mufin pans and no dessert to bring.
I breezed through my cookbooks and decided on these: Chocolate Espresso Lava Cakes. Only I didn't have any espresso powder, so instead I used almond extract. Let me tell you, these were incredible. Seriously delicious. The crusty outside was like a crisp, chewy cookie and the inside was all fudgy melty gooey. Unbelievable. If I had to be stranded on a desert isle with only one dessert (not candy, of course, just dessert), I'd pick this. And no, it's not like your typical lava cake. This one was different, I promise. I can't believe I was able to make something so good. So unbelievably good. And it was easy, too. Way more easy than plastic cheesecake. I love you forever, Chocolate Lava Cakes.
*When we got to Sue MKAFFGGF's house, I related this story to them. The Golden Nose said he had just read about cooking with plastic wrap and showed me the book. It said only certain types of plastic wrap can be heated. All the others throw off carcinogenic toxins into your food. And NEVER EVER heat it over 170 degrees. Okay, so what the heck???!
First, I bought candy at the Christmas Tree Shoppe, thereby breaking my own rule about not buying edible stuff from non-food stores and--
Second, I bought quite possibly the freakiest assortment of candy ever.
Where do I even start? Well, I'd heard of the Yogurt Dots and the Chewy Atomic FireBalls and I have to say, they sounded intriguing. Disgusting, but intriguing. The Dots came wrapped in cellophane and when I tore it off there was a subtle, icky odor. Definitely not a sweet, candy aroma. I opened the box and took a good whiff. Ooooh. So not good. Kind of like a cross between sour dairy and an old spice cabinet. The first one I tried was orange. Actually, it wasn't bad. It was very similar to a Creamsicle. Then I moved on to lime. Egads. What a mistake. This is what I imagine Pledge would taste like. I vowed to stop there, but as I'm writing this, I see the flavors on the side and the others include strawberry, banana and blackberry. I think I have to try the banana. Oh. Imagine chewy banana babyfood with a medicinal kick at the end.
Moving on. The Chewy Atomic Fireballs are smaller than I thought they'd be. For some reason, I envisioned them having almost a white marshmallow kind of center, but thankfully they don't. These are like bigger, round versions of Red Hots. Not bad, actually. These I might actually eat.
So I thought I had scored the ultimate candy mix when there, at the checkout, were these "Limited Edition! Junior Fruit Cremes" in black cherry, orange and raspberry. On the package, the drawings of the cremes look all bright and shiny and oozy in the center. In reality, they're grayish, and the centers are dry, like a thin mint patty. I can't even describe the taste. Gross, like a bad grammar school fruit dessert. I'm not even sure what that means, but it's what comes to mind. I can't imagine how these passed through a taste test. Maybe they didn't. (Note to Junior Mints people: next time you have a new product, give me a shout. We'll talk.) So that was my fun for the day. But it wasn't a total waste because it turns out that the Dots make for a great cat toy. Now they're all over my floor.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
One of the wonderful readers who responded sent the link to her Flickr page where she has these fantastic photos of food from the 70s, including a picture of the original Tootsie Pop Drop package. So cool! I nearly fell off my chair, however, when I saw she had a picture of the plastic tooth filled with gum that I know I've written about before. (I just can't find the post.) My friend Melissa and I went to a store afterschool one day where we found these plastic teeth and she thought they were the funniest things. Check 'em out at Traci's retro site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tracis_retro
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I must admit, I've sort of had writer's block about these new Tootsie Pop Drops. ("Tootsie Pops without the stick!") I'm not sure why, because I really, really dig them. The kind folks over at the Tootsie headquarters sent me a gajillion of these; some to taste, some to give away. So yes, dear readers, it's another fun candy giveaway! The thing is, I can't decide whether to send the whole big shebang to just one person, or divvy it up and share the love. I still don't know. So here's what you do. Leave me a comment telling me what your favorite Tootsie Pop flavor is (or one that you'd like to see) and I'll pick one or maybe a few people to send these to. I need to clean off my desk, so let's say I'll pick the lucky popinator on April 4. Now, on with my comments.
Totally addictive. I know I say that about lots of things, but these are sort of under-the-radar addictive. As in, you wouldn't expect to keep going back for more, but you do. These are great because a serving size is four pieces and only 60 calories, so you can eat a bunch and not feel like you've gone overboard. I was a little nervous about these, because I totally hated the Blow Pop Minis, but here's the difference: with the Blow Pops, you're left with gum and you have to decide whether you want to chew the gum or have another pop. Here, you eat the Tootsie Roll center, then move on to the next piece. No hard decisions to make.
I brought a bunch of these to Easter dinner for No Nuts and her brother D-Sword to try out. They attacked them like a pack of ravenous, starving college students, which makes sense, since that's what they are. I casually observed them and noticed this: D-Sword ate all the orange ones, and No Nuts ate all the grape ones. "Orange are the best," said D-Sword. (Just like my little friend Alexander!) "I don't like orange," said No Nuts.
Now you'd think they'd team up and do a swap or something, but since, as I mentioned, they're siblings of college age, they make it a point not to talk to each other. So there, on the Easter table, were two separate piles of "leftover" Tootsie Pop Drops. (Not for long, however, as I really like all the flavors, including the blue raspberry which, strangely enough, was absent from both D-Sword's and No Nuts' bags!)So that's the story. These are new. These are yummy. These can be yours!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
BB: "Did you get my message to call Andy?"
Me: (Panic striken) "What's going on?"
BB: "Rich had a stroke."
Holy crap. This is my brother's best friend.
BB: "You have to find out what's going on."
Wait a minute. Me? Why me? Why am I always the go-to person when there's a crisis? Why am I always the one who has to make the phone call/pay the visit/ bake the cake/ schedule the shrink appointment/ bail the nieces and nephews out of jail?
Well, I got on the phone and did my civic duty. Thank goodness Rich is all right and I filled Andy in on the details when he got back from T-ball practice. But that's it, man. No more. I'm done. On strike. I have candy to blog about!
Which brings me to ... here. I just got a package of Hershey Bliss in the mail, and it's too early to review, but I will say this... it keeps calling to me. Smooth, melty chocolate--- mmmm! Stay tuned for the full report.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I remember when I was little the Ice Cube Queen had a giant chain she was making out of gum wrappers. It was the coolest thing ever. I wonder what happened to it?
A month or two ago when the Von Schokolats were here, I tried making a gum wrapper chain as part of our jewelry-making efforts, but no luck. I got the folding part right, I just couldn't figure out how to attach them. Lame, I know, considering it's an activity for kids. In fact, here are some instructions from that venerable children's magazine/doctors' office staple, Highlights Magazine.
Anyhow, in all of my meanderings around the Internet trying to learn stuff, I stumbled upon this frightening tidbit: there's a blog called "Vegan Yum Yum." Oh, the horror! I want you all to know that I'm in no way connected with it. I mean, seriously, can you get more opposite? Candy is all about fun and tastiness; vegans just suck the fun and taste out of everything. When you can't even have honey or Jell-O, for crying out loud, where's the love?
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
(adapted from Mark Bittman’s Butter Drop Cookies)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract
½ cup sour cream
Lemon Crème Hershey Kisses
Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in bowl. Place butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low until blended and creamy. Add the lemon extract and the egg and beat on low until well combined. Add about half the flour mixture, beat for a moment, then add sour cream. Beat for 10 seconds, then add remaining flour to make a soft batter that can be dropped from a spoon.
Drop rounded spoonfuls onto buttered baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges are browned. While the cookies are still hot, insert an unwrapped Kiss onto the top of each cookie.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
And here's some more info about everyone's favorite wee lollipop: in February, two new flavors were added, mango and tangerine. Sadly, chocolate, banana and coconut-pineapple will retire.
Tremendous kudos, though, to the Passion Dark Chocolate Tasting Square. This is going to be difficult to imagine, but give it a shot: picture smooth, rich dark chocolate combined with juicy (I mean JUICY, like a hard candy) passionfruit flavor. That's what you get here. It's very odd, almost like eating two different things at once. If you like passionfruit, then you'll be in heaven with these. As for me, well, I've always had a hard time with tropical fruit. When I was doing my sensory training, the tropicals-- guava, papaya, passion, mango-- always confused me. I remember someone likened the flavor of one of them to "dirty vase water," and that was a perfect description. I'm more of an everyday citrus kind of gal. But do try the Passion Dark Chocolate, and let me know what you think!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Yesterday, a nice sampling of the chocolates arrived.
Now, I will fully disclose that my sense of taste/smell is still off from the Great Flu of 2008, so I can hardly review them for you. But I'll do the best I can.
The first piece I had was a Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Truffle. I had to get my schnozz right in there to get a whiff of the chocolate, but when I finally did, it smelled like good stuff. I thought the inside would be a fluffy vanilla center, but it was actually rather solid. That threw me off. But it was good, and the chocolate itself has a nice snap.
Second piece, Milk Chocolate Chai Truffle. Okay, so I lifted my self-imposed ban for these. First off, they're cute. They're shaped like little upside down teacups. As for the flavor, I must say, I was very impressed. When you hear "chai," sometimes you just get a sprinkling of cinnamon. This, however, had a full array of cinnamon, clove and ginger. Very exotic.
The third piece I had was a Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffle. Frankly, I didn't really think this would wow me; I mean, big deal, chocolate and espresso. But hello! Kapow! This was one super tasty, yumtastic chocolate. I mean, deep, dark, chocolatey, espressoey love!
I stopped myself there, but next up are Milk Chocolate Caffe Mocha Truffles, tasting squares in Milk, Dark, Mocha Dark, Chai Milk, Passion Dark and Citron Dark, as well as Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans.
I really think this is a good thing that Starbucks is doing, because frankly they have the worst pastries ever. And what's a cup of coffee without a little nibble to go with it?
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
P.S. - Sorry for any politically incorrect wording or viewpoints that might offend the Witchen/Pagan readers in Candy Yum Yum. I will send Halloween Pictures to show my equal support of all religious holidays.
"A savory combination of rich coconut cream surrounding a sweet almond, within a delicate crisp wafer... topped with meringue and shredded coconut." It was very sweet, very yummy and very tropical. It reminded me of Jamaica, even though I don't think I ate any coconut there. Tasting these made me realize that I really give white chocolate a bum rap. Sure, it's not "chocolate," by definition, and it certainly won't satisfy a chocolate craving, but it's good stuff in its own right. I need to be more tolerant. In any case, these "confections" were a bright spot of happiness during an otherwise not-so-fun week.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The elder von Schokolats and I spent an evening tasting wines from the Baron's collection and we put the wee ones to work pouring for us. As a reward, I busted out some GudFud (sorry, I don't know how to make the umlauts) stuffed marshmallows that were kindly sent to me.
"Stuffed marshmallow?" you ask. Why yes. These little cutie-pies are like squished 'mallows stuffed with either chocolate, grape, strawberry or orange.
Gretl popped one of the strawberry ones into her mouth and literally shouted "Yummy!"
Liesel went for the chocolate one and very accurately compared the chocolate taste to a Tootsie Roll. I completely agreed with her. I had planned to try to roast some of them in the fireplace but I never got that far. The wine, you know.
I'd comment on the other fruit flavors, but they somehow mysteriously disappeared. All I could find were empty wrappers in Gretl's bed. Clearly *someone* loved them.
So here's the thing. If you're craving a candy bar, these won't satisfy that urge. However, if you're looking for something a little sweet but don't want to totally pig out, these are just the item. A package of three has only 50 calories. You can't beat that!