Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hot chocolate on a stick!

Here's a cute idea I ran across this year when making my homemade gifts. This whole website is fun and creative!

Take chocolate (milk, semisweet, and bittersweet all work), cocoa, and powdered sugar. Melt together and pour into ice cube trays and insert craft sticks. Cool to room temp. Tie up in little bags with labels. The receiver just adds milk! I used these as Christmas gifts, but who wouldn't love a hostess gift like this anytime this winter?

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
makes 10 cubes of chocolate
8 oz. chocolate (any kind), chopped
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
a few ounces of a contrasting chocolate, for dipping
festive sprinkles

In a double boiler (or a glass bowl set over gently simmering water), melt chocolate. When it is about 2/3 melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted (this just keeps it from overheating).

Add cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt and stir until well combined. Don't stop until it's all incorporated! It'll start to look better/smoother after a few minutes of stirring.

Either pipe the chocolate mixture into a clean ice cube tray (a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off works well) or use a small cookie scoop, being careful not to make a big mess of the ice cube tray so that the resulting pops will look clean and professional. Tap the ice cube tray mold on the counter to ensure that there are no air bubbles.

Add a stir stick (I found some at A.C. Moore) to each cube. It should stand up straight without any issues.

Cool to room temperature (or in the fridge if in a hurry).

Once hardened, to remove from the mold, twist the ice cube tray the same way you would to remove ice cubes. They should come right out.

To make the pops a bit more festive, I melted a small amount of white chocolate and dipped each pop in at an angle then topped with some Christmas sprinkles. Be sure to have some tall glasses or vases ready so you can prop up the dipped pops so they can dry.

They can be stored at room temp, but I recommend making them nearly the same day as you give them—my milk chocolate pops started getting speckled at room temp because I think I waited too long to cover them with plastic wrap.

If these are gifts, be sure to provide instructions for the receiver. Each ounce of chocolate should be melted into a cup of milk or cream, but since these ice cube tray pops are 3/4 ounce, they should be stirred into 3/4 cup of milk or cream when making the hot chocolate.

Bailey's/Kahlua/Schnapps/Godiva/Creme de Menthe/fluffy Williams-Sonoma marshmallows optional. ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spritz (aka Swedish Pressed Butter Cookies)

I'm going to admit this up front. Many countries proudly claim these cookies. Many of those countries are Scandinavian ones. I'm going to put a little blue and yellow flag on them and claim them for Sweden, m'kay?

I know that the holidays are now over. But you likely know by now that I'm too preoccupied with other things to get a recipe up in time for someone to actually use it during the correct season. :) However, the holidays just aren't complete for me without these cookies. Fortunately, my husband is used to having them as part of his holiday repertoire as well. Spritz cookies are buttery, delicate, and pushed through a cookie press. (Miss A, I ended up with this one. My grandmother's looks just like this!)

I will also be the first to admit that they can be a real pain to make! They will not stick to a greased or nonstick cookie sheet or Silpat. The dough does not fall off the cookie press. The dough, being mostly butter, warms up VERY quickly. Tricks abound including putting the cookie sheet in the freezer, putting the cookie press barrel in the fridge, the general consensus that a metal barrel keeps the dough colder than a plastic one. But I don't want this post to turn into cookie press 101. If you have one already, you KNOW these cookies. If not, here's the recipe that came included with my new press. ;)

makes about 4 dozen cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg, vanilla, and salt. Mix in the flour, in batches, until just combined.

Pack dough into the cookie press and fit with desired disk shape. Press dough out onto ungreased cookie sheet, spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Decorate with sprinkles.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light golden. Cool on wire racks.

Merry Belated Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easiest chocolate cupcakes with glossy chocolate glaze

First, I am alive and well. I just have a gazillion pumpkin recipes that will be ready to post next fall that I never got around to posting before Thanksgiving (i.e., the last day I want to see or eat pumpkin until September 1, 2010).

Switching gears to Christmas, the season of chocolate, I have so many recipes I look forward to sharing and only a few days to do it. Whoops. But let me start with this one.

Husband forget to tell you about his office holiday party where he signed up to bring cupcakes?* Need a quick recipe to wow your family that is descending on you for the holidays? Feeling unstable and need a supremely fudgy treat?

With the exception of the Baker's unsweetened chocolate, you are likely to have all of these ingredients in your pantry! (And, if you're an avid baker, you will have it all.) When does that ever happen?! You don't even need more than a whisk, a bowl, and a saucepan.

This recipe is from one of my favorite blogs. She even provides a link so you can print it all pretty!

*Purely hypothetical :) He was good this year. ;)

Easiest chocolate cupcakes with glossy chocolate glaze
1 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. hot water
1/2 c. canola (or vegetable) oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in hot water, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the egg, whisking until well blended.

3. Pour into prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack. Frost when completely cooled.

1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 1-oz. square unsweetened Baker's chocolate, grated or chopped very finely
dash of salt
1/2 c. boiling water
1 1/2 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, grated/chopped chocolate, and salt. Add boiling water and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, whisking so it will be smooth.

2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

3. While frosting is still hot, dip the cooled cupcake tops into the glaze one at a time. Top with sprinkles and set on a cooling rack. Devour, with milk. You'll need it!

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