Category: chocolate

Chocolate toffee sea salt matzoh treats.

Getting bored of eating unleavened bread? Are you certain that you’re going to wind up with leftover Matzoh? Lemme upgrade ya.

Chocolate toffee sea salt matzoh.

You most definitely read that correctly; this is chocolate toffee sea salt matzoh. It’s like matzoh candy. Matzoh bark. I know I’ve left you guys hanging without any posts since April 1st. I hope this makes up for it, ’cause it’s pretty awesome.

Chocolate toffee matzoh with sea salt.

Matzoh, for those of you who don’t know (where do you live, under a rock?!) is an unleavened bread usually-not but not always- made for and eaten at Passover.

There are numerous explanations behind the symbolism of matzo. One is historical: Passover is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt. The biblical narrative relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the bread, when baked, was matzo. (Exodus 12:39). The other reason for eating matzo is symbolic: On the one hand, matzo symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also lechem oni, “poor man’s bread”. Thus it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. Also, leaven symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven “puffs up”. Eating the “bread of affliction” is both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances the appreciation of freedom.

Another explanation is that matzo has been used to replace the pesach, or the traditional Passover offering that was made before the destruction of the Temple. During the Seder the third time the matzo is eaten it is preceded with the Sephardic rite, “zekher l’korban pesach hane’ekhal al hasova”. This means “remembrance of the Passover offering, eaten while full”. This last piece of the matzo eaten is called afikoman and many explain it as a symbol of salvation in the future.

The Passover Seder meal is full of symbols of salvation, including the opening of the door for Elijah and the closing line, “Next year in Jerusalem,” but the use of matzo is the oldest symbol of salvation in the Seder.

Passover this year started on April 22 and is ending on May 1. There’s still a few days to enjoy this during the holiday, but you can even enjoy it long after. Who says you can’t have chocolate covered matzoh after Passover ends? No one. And if someone says that, don’t talk to them anymore. You don’t need that negativity.

Chocolate toffee matzoh with sea salt.

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Depression era hipster cake.

I’m all about old timey things. I always say I was born in the wrong era- I should’ve been born around 1900 so I could have been a “flapper.” I love everything about the 1920’s/1930’s and I am obsessed with vintage everything. I collect vintage Pyrex/Depression glass/jadeite and vintage cookbooks. And vintage canning jars.

I’m just an old soul.

Anyway, I saw this cake over at gbakes.com and I knew I had to make it. Women during the Great Depression (and during WWII) were the original hipster vegans. Just not by choice. They had Victory Gardens, used butter & eggs rarely. And meat? It was a treat. I myself haven’t made a “cake” in quite some time. So when it involved such little effort and no eggs/butter? Hey. I’m there.

Depression era hipster vegan cake.

The best thing about this, though, is that it’s relatively cheap. And you don’t have to go run out and make sure you have the ingredients. I mean, most people have all the ingredients on hand- whether you’re vegan or not. Vinegar? Everyone has it. Canola or vegetable oil? Same. And most folks have cocoa powder. Which, by the way, is definitely vegan, whether you choose to use Dutched or regular. I like Hershey’s Special Dark myself.

The finished product kind of looks like a composition book, doesn’t it? Haha. Also: darkest cake I’ve ever made. Yes, I used dark chocolate but still. This cake is so dark it’s black.

Depression era hipster vegan cake.

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Dark chocolate raspberry zombie brainy cakes.

(“Okay first things first, I’ll eat ya brains. Then imma start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs… cause that’s what a mothafuckin’ monstah do…”)

..

Walking Dead Valentine's Day cupcakes with brains!

When our friend Matt (of Best Wings LI fame!) approached me via Facebook message and asked if I’d be willing to make some Walking Dead inspired Valentine’s Day cupcakes (on about 3 days notice), at first I was like “Uhhh…” I didn’t know what to do. My first reaction was no. I mean, I had ideas, but then I was thinking how I could probably NOT pull them off because where do I get ANYTHING zombie-themed in FEBRUARY!?

However, I calmed down and came to the realization that I’m an artist. Seriously. Like Jack Nicholson said in (one of my favorite movies) The Departed; “Yanno John Lennon? He said: I’m an artist. Ya give me a fuckin’ tuba, I’ll get you somethin’ out of it.” Why would I worry about buying anything when I have 4+ years of art school, 1 semester of sculpture class, a childhood of Play-Doh and Sculpey experience and over 10+ years of baking experience? Plus, there’s this newfangled concoction called fondant- it seems to be a hit on The Food Network! I could use that to make whatever I needed.

Thing is? I never really used it before. *dum dum dummmmm*

How hard could it be?

First things first: what kind of cupcakes was I going to make? Next: what was I going to do for this “Walking Dead” theme? I decided on dark chocolate cupcakes with fresh whole raspberries mixed in. Topped with chocolate frosting, then some crumbled Oreo cookies – which is basically the cake world’s universal symbol of “dirt.” Not only is that appropriate  but it adds texture to the otherwise smooth & sweet frosting. I used these big, over exaggerated black cupcake liners to up the ante on the drama. And then…? What else??

Walking Dead Valentine's Day cupcakes with brains!

Brains.

Zombies, brains… it’s a no-brainer, right? Har, har. Plus, when you Google “Walking Dead cake” or cupcakes, there’s quite a few bloody brains included in the search. Good enough for me! Plus brains are way cooler than Sheriff’s badges or whatever. Confession time: I never saw the Walking Dead. Ugh. I know I know! I want to- but I have to start from the beginning, and like what happened with Dexter… basically, I need the series to be OVER so I can watch it all in one weekend, k. I can’t watch everything up to a certain point and then wait for a new season! IT’S CRUELTY!

But I knew enough about it to know what it involves. Duh. And Jay’s friend from work’s brother was a writer on the show back when it first started, so I definitely knew enough about it. Plus I have Facebook, and friends. I hear things. And see things. I know all about Glen. #spoilers

Walking Dead Valentine's Day cupcakes with brains!

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Rocky road (of life) brownies.

Guys, I’m sorry. I’m trying really hard to keep up the posts here, but honestly I haven’t been inspired. I’m hoping for some sweet Valentine’s Day inspo soon, but right now the rivers of ideas in my brain have run dry.

However, today, we shall feast like kings.

Rocky road brownies with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

So this happened. Yup. I was sitting home Saturday night, thinking how much I’d love a brownie. Then I saw the marshmallows I made. And the Oxo container filled with walnut halves. And I thought, “Why just REGULAR brownies? Why not SUPER BROWNIES?!” And then while writing this, I realized… rocky road… rocky road of life… because you know, I’m sitting here being dramatic and pouting that I haven’t posted enough at the blog this year (so far). *siiiiiiigh*

The really cool thing about these is that they’re 100% made from scratch. I mean, I didn’t grow the cacao or the walnuts. I probably could- I had an aunt who had a walnut tree in her yard. But I made the marshmallows from scratch, and the brownies. Pretty neat. They’re as homemade as you can get. Look at them:

Rocky road brownies; covered with homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Right? RIGHT?! Insanity. Insane in the membrane. Intensity in 10 cities.

Imagine, if you will, these babies crumbled- or just plunked- on ice cream. I know. Stop. Your brain is gonna explode. Calm down.

Do they make up for the lack of posts from me?

Rocky road brownies; homemade marshmallows, chocolate chunks and walnuts topping rich chocolate brownies.

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Joy-full madeleines.

Joy-full madeleines; almond madeleine cookies with chocolate coating and toasted coconut.

We all know that candy bar- the one with coconut and almonds surrounded in chocolate. Right? You totally know what I’m talking about. It’s one of my favorites. Definitely in the top 10, anyway, since my absolute favorites are anything with caramel.

Joy-full madeleines; almond madeleine cookies with chocolate coating and toasted coconut.

I made these with very finely chopped almonds, almond extract, toasted coconut and melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. I should probably also say I made these after shoveling for about an hour and a half, so at that point I was ready to throw everything in my cabinet into some kind of baked goods.

The restraint I showed is amazing.

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Classic Christmas chocolate chip cookies!

Wow, look at that alliteration in the title. Enough to bring a tear to an English teacher’s eyes. Okay, anyway… cookies! It’s that time of year! Everyone is baking away this month. Between Hanukkah and Christmas and all the parties and events that are going on, there are a LOT of cookies being passed around. Sometimes they’re traditional “Christmas” cookies- gingerbread men, gingerbread trees. Or maybe sugar cookies in the shape of a Star of David with blue icing. I remember making cookies and confections with my mom by the dozen- magic bars, sugar cookies, stroufala, gingerbread, Russian tea cookies, etc. It was the most fun thing ever.

But what about the classic chocolate chip cookie? How come that doesn’t have a bigger place in our Christmas baking?

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas cookie classic.

Who DOESN’T love a good chocolate chip cookie?! These particular cookies happen to have oats in them, which makes them a little heartier and not just your average chocolate chip cookie. The oats make them a bit chewier, which is nice. Plus they transport well, and are easy to store- not delicate at all!

Perfect for kids, teachers, whoever you want to bake up a gift for.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • one 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes for a soft chewy cookie or 12-14 for a more “Chips Ahoy” texture.
  5. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas classic cookie.

I like using wide mouth Ball or Kerr jars to gift them in. Just stack ’em up in the jars once they’re cooled, close the jars with lids & bands and then tie pretty ribbons and gift tags on them. I also like using cardboard pastry boxes from places like Pick Your Plum or Wilton. It just dresses them up a little.

Can I tell you that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever? They are. My co-workers are STILL TALKING ABOUT THEM and I brought them in the week of Thanksgiving. I am not joking. I’ve had requests for them every day since.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!

If you want to make them look a little more festive, you can replace the chocolate chips with either red & green M&M’s or Nestle’s red & green colored semi-sweet morsels. You can also add nuts if you like. They’re great the way they are, but a little cookie experimentation never killed anyone.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

  Suggestions for use: eat ’em!
Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas” – The Waitresses
Sources & credits: 16 ounce (pint) Kerr wide mouth jar; freshpreserving.com

This is Halloween!

Well I do sincerely hope you’re all decorated and ready for tomorrow. I hope you have your costumes, your candy and treats, and scary movies ready. And I also hope you’ve carved your jack-o-lanterns too! Don’t disappoint me, people.

My jack-o-lanterns are all carved up. See?

Trick or.... treat.

the 2015 jack-o-lanterns!

Every year I try and do something new or unique; last year I did Oogie Boogie & a dapper pipe-smoking pumpkin man in a fedora, the year before I did a cat and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and the year before I did Edgar Allan Poe. And before that I did the Bride of Frankenstein and more (sadly the photos were shit because my old camera wasn’t the best). Some of those just can’t be topped, really, so this year I decided on doing just text, or typography. They came out pretty cool, I think.

I especially like the background effect of the “trick or treat” pumpkin. How did I do it? I carved “trick or” backwards on the top of the back of the hollowed-out pumpkin- after carving “treat” on the front. Ta-da! Instant pumpkin magic. Just be careful, measure carefully. You don’t want to see the back text through the cut-outs in the front.

In case you’re also in desperate need of some last minute edible inspiration, I’m here to help. Halloween party? I got you. Just lookin’ for some treats for the kids? Gotcha. A more adult take on Halloween? Yep. That too. Take a peek:

Have a (safe and) spooky night tomorrow. In the spirit of such, here’s my mother and I in the early 90’s… the original Hocus Pocus?

My mom and I in the early 90's- the original Hocus Pocus!