Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pumpkin Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I always have some canned pumpkin puree on hand, partially because I have an irrational fear of not being able to get hold of any around Thanksgiving. Visions of empty supermarket shelves plague me. Well, this year my fears have been justified: the press has announced the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015, with pumpkin crops 

down by about half and making the supply of canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving tight. So, make sure you buy a few cans next time you’re at the store – Thanksgiving is just not the same without pumpkin pie, after all. And there are other great uses for it, as in this moist pumpkin cake. It’s a casual sort of cake, great for lunch, brunch, 

snacking or bringing to a friend’s house. I top it with a creamy White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, and a sprinkling of candied walnuts. Serve the cake right from the pan, at room temperature.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Theo Chocolate's Gooey Double-Chocolate Mocha Cookies

I’ve been a fan of Theo, the Seattle bean-to-bar chocolate maker, since they opened their doors in 2006. Theo is one of the only companies in the country making chocolate from organic, fair-trade cocoa that it sources itself.  Naturally, I was excited when I heard they had a new cookbook out. Theo Chocolate: Recipes & 

Sweet Secrets from Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker by Debra Music and Joe Whinney, co-founders of Theo (Sasquatch Books, 2015; $24.95), includes sweet and savory recipes for cooking with chocolate at home, along with the fascinating story of how Theo came to be (you’ll have to get the book to find out – no spoilers here!). 

Theo has also just launched a new line of organic, soy-free baking bars, so you can experience the recipes in this book with the correct chocolate. I chose an ooey-gooey chocolate cookie to try out from the book, and it’s a keeper that may just be added to my holiday cookie tray (hey, the competition is stiff!). I used a 70% 

chocolate, as directed, but it’s not Theo brand chocolate. The cookies still turned out wonderfully, all melty and ultra-chocolatey, but I am eager to try the new Theo baking bars.  It’s certainly worth checking out the Theo website to see the amazing line of chocolates from this smart and responsible company. www.theochocolate.com

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars from Flavorful

In my new book Flavorful, I wanted to present a collection of recipes in the most popular flavors – the ones that diners go for first on the dessert menu. Nothing too sophisticated or avant garde, just desserts in flavors that people love and return to

time and again. Chocolate is certainly one of the most popular flavors, and it may just be numero uno on the list. I know it is on mine. Inspired by the Almond Joy Candy bar, these indulgent brownies come from the Chocolate chapter of Flavorful

The fudgy brownie base is topped with a sticky coconut layer into which whole toasted almonds are embedded, arranged so that each portion gets an almond. The filling is then covered with a half dark, half milk chocolate glaze. If you love the magic combination of chocolate and coconut, these brownies are for you. Enjoy them at room temperature or chilled, as you prefer. They also freeze nicely, provided you wrap them well first.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Donald Wressell's Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake

Guittard is one of my favorite chocolates, and probably the one I use the most for baking and dessert making. I’ve used it for a long time, and over the years have gotten to know the Guittard family and the wonderful folks who work for them. One of these fine people is the great pastry chef Donald Wressell, who was running the 

pastry kitchen at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills when we first met. Donald is one of the calmest and nicest people in the business – there is nothing he won’t do for a friend or colleague – and he is also one of the most talented, particularly when working with chocolate. Donald is Guittard’s resident Executive Pastry Chef 

and has contributed a whole chapter of recipes in the newly released Guittard Chocolate Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2015; $25). There are several of his recipes I am eager to try, particularly his chocolate layer cake (Grandma’s Chocolate Cake), but I started with the simple Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake. It’s a moist, buttermilk pound cake that has lots of grated extra-bitter chocolate folded into its batter right before baking, a trick that makes it ultra-chocolatey and extra moist. Make sure to seek out Guittard chocolate and cocoa for this cake, it will make all the difference in the world.

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