Tag Archives: chocolate

chocolate cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting

chocolate cake with white chocolate cream cheese

Birthdays sometimes go unnoticed in my office, and while I can’t bake a cake for everyone, I try to do something. We hired a new project assistant a couple months back and we kind of forgot her birthday. My excuse was that I was working from home because of my never-ending knee problems. But I decided I would bake a cake for her 25th birthday + one week.  You know, keep everyone on their toes about whether or not there was going to be a cake.

I didn’t really know what kind of cake she liked, but I figured that most people like chocolate (how can you not?) and I had seen this stunning cake on tastepotting. I was a little thrown off by the ingredients because I was unfamiliar with golden syrup. I knew it was popular in England (coincidentally, I had read about it just the day before I cake across the recipe), but I didn’t want to go from store to store trying to find it. I have since learned that it’s actually available in every single grocery store I shop in. Oh well.

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perfect chocolate chip cookies from cook’s illustrated

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cook's Illustrated

A few weeks ago my sister, Jessica, and I were talking on the phone when she asked me if I had any good chocolate chip cookie recipes. She was asking because she said she had tried several recipes and while they were good, they just didn’t really compare to the classic Nestle Toll House recipe. I can’t tell you how many times we made those cookies together as kids, but I’ve probably made them close to 100 times by now. The Toll House cookies and the apple pie I made every Thanksgiving were the most significant recipes of my childhood. But while I only made the apple pie once a year, the cookies we made whenever we wanted to bake, which was often.

brown and white sugar

As the younger sibling, I got stuck with the easy stuff: the dry ingredients. The wet ingredients always seemed so much more glamorous. Looking back, I’m not really sure what Jessica and I were doing, because those cookies seemed to take forever to make. I think we must have spent at least an hour making the dough, whereas I can now throw it together in about 10 minutes or less. So I really don’t understand what I was doing that took me so long, especially since my main task involved mixing flour, baking soda, and salt together. Perhaps it was because we were climbing on the counters trying to reach the ingredients and we had to stop to snack on the brown sugar and chocolate chips?

butter into browned butter

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chocolate angel food cake

I love baking for other people.  There’s just so much satisfaction in giving someone one of your favorite treats, like chocolate glazed gingerbread cakes, chocolate raspberry cake, apple cider cake, or a cranberry upside-down cake (can you tell I like cake?). But what about when that person is on a diet?  You’d hardly be a good friend if you showed up with these sinfully delicious, rich, gooey, brownies.

This chocolate angel food cake has become my answer to that.  It’s light and and airy and chocolatey and oh so very good, and the best part? There’s no butter, no egg yolks, no oil, and hey, it’s half air! How bad can it possibly be? It’s a much healthier alternative but it’s still so good, especially served with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.

So when I said I’d bring dessert to a dinner party to celebrate the birthday of a friend that has lost over 30 pounds through several months of hard work and dedication, this is the dessert I immediately thought of.  But I was still pretty wobbly after knee surgery and was a little nervous to committing to that much time standing in the kitchen. What if I got halfway through and just couldn’t stand long enough to finish it? Continue reading


springtime sampler

We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.

The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.

We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries.  We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem.  Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.

Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass.  Anyone want any winery wine glasses?  We have enough to stock a small restaurant.

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chocolate peanut butter macarons

Well, as I mentioned a couple days ago, I took an awesome class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts taught by Master Pastry Chef Delphine Gomes.  Macarons are clearly the hot new (well, not as new now…) thing, and I love them, but I just can’t afford to keep up the habit with the prices shops charge for them.  Besides, it’s much more fun and rewarding to make your own!

The problem was that the first recipe I tried was a little more complex and I probably should have read up a little more ahead of time to really figure out what I was doing.  I guess I thought since I could handle meringues, macarons wouldn’t be too much harder.  I was wrong.  Macarons are notoriously finicky, are fragile, and crack easily.  My first attempt, did not go so well…. Continue reading


chocolate raspberry cake

Let me get straight to the point and tell you that this is one of my very favorite cake recipes.  It’s chocolate (which scores it several points right off the bat) accented by a delightfully tart raspberry filling.  The layers are moist and rich and the three of them piled up together give it some impressive height.

The cake is a little more complex and the ingredients are a little pricier than the average cake (especially because I always seem to accidentally buy twice as much chocolate as necessary because the original recipe calls for a ganache filling instead of raspberry), but it’s definitely worth it.  Still, I currently only make it once a year for the annual February get-together for the birthday celebration of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

This year’s family get-together was especially fun with the addition of Jill, an old college friend of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and because my niece, Amelia, is now nearly 2 1/2 years old. We don’t get to see Amelia nearly often enough and each time we see her it’s like I’m looking at a whole new person!  She grows and develops new skills so quickly and it’s so cool to see how much she has changed. Continue reading


moist individual spiced chocolate cakes

chocolate and cinnamon

The seared duck dinner we made for Valentine’s Day was a bit more involved than usual for a weeknight for us (especially after a full day at work and then going to the gym), so I wanted to make a pretty simple dessert.  The good news is that there are a ton of recipes out there for indulgent, decadent chocolate cakes that are really easy to make.

chocolate and cinnamon

I already had plans to make something along the lines of individual chocolate desserts of some kind and then when we were on the chocolate tour at the Taza chocolate factory, I snagged a card with a recipe for molten spiced chocolate cakes.  It was perfect timing.

spices in spiced chocolate cake

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a weekend of food love

Taza Chocolates

One of things that I really love about Joseph is that we both really enjoy and value food.  It’s not enough just to like food, to like to eat it.  Who doesn’t like to eat?  To be the man that I’ll spend the rest of my life with, he has to really appreciate what went into a dish to make it what it is, he has to celebrate the flavors and the way they work together, and he has to have a curiosity and genuine interest in what makes a dish so special.  It doesn’t hurt to also be an amazing cook who also does a heck of a job washing dishes.  Joseph is all of that, and more.

Valentine's at Taza Chocolate

We spent the weekend before Valentine’s exploring local food treasures including the Danish Pastry House (absolutely incredible pastries), Fastachi (nuts, chocolate, and more), Penzeys Spices, John Dewar & Co. Butchers, and the Spirited Gourmet for a sake tasting.  Then we had a fabulous dinner at Hungry Mother, one of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area, where the highlights were the braised beef tongue appetizer, the french gnocchi (I always have to order their gnocchi), and the outstanding bourbon upside-down cake with butter pecan ice cream.  I can’t stop thinking about that sweet, salty, rich, nutty caramel goodness.  And that was just Saturday.

cacao pod

Sunday, we trooped off to Taza Chocolate for a tour at the factory.  If you aren’t familiar with Taza Chocolate, they’re located in Somerville, MA, just outside Boston and they are the only direct trade, organic, stone ground, bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the country.  You’ll find plenty of chocolatiers in the States, but finding one that buys the cacao beans and does everything else from roasting the beans, to tempering, to making the bars, wrapping them (by hand no less!), and selling them is much more rare.  I knew it was a really cool company, but being there and actually seeing and hearing more about it, well, I’m completely smitten.

Taza Chocolates

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chocolate stout cake

Chocolate Stout Cake

Want something a little more grown up for the Super Bowl than brownies?  How about chocolate stout cake anyone?  Now, this is for the more sophisticated crowd since it does kind of require a fork and plate.  I know, we’re just getting highfalutin over here!

butter, stout, cocoa

But it does seem pretty fitting for a football game, right?  I mean, chocolate and beer!  Now, I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about football, but I certainly think that beer and chocolate make any football game a heck of a lot more interesting.

mixing chocolate stout batter

The sour cream in the cake makes it delightfully moist and the cake isn’t too sweet.  If you’re not a beer person, or even if you are but you’re not a stout person, don’t worry you’ll still be clamoring for more of this cake.  The beer makes the chocolate flavor more intense and brings out a bit of nuttiness. Continue reading


chewy brownies

chewy chocolate

My sister specifically requested a recipe for a Super Bowl dessert and at first my mind drew a blank.  Thinking of main courses and appetizers are so easy (turkey burger, spicy sweet potato fries, turkey chili and corn bread, smokey chipotle salsa, guacamole, and chips are just a few), but desserts? Well, chocolate came to mind really quickly and the idea of brownies quickly followed.

chopped chocolate

Here’s my logic.  Chocolate goes with nearly everything, especially winter when everything’s cold and dismal.  Can you tell that I live in Boston and have had enough snow storms to last a lifetime?  Also, brownies are so easy to transport if you’re going to a party and they’re easy to handle.  Just grab one of a platter (or straight out of the pan), grab a napkin or plate to catch the crumbs (or let them fall freely), and you’re good to go.  No forks or knives to deal with! No need to look away from the TV. Just dig right in!

mixing chocolate batter and sugar

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