Chocolate Popcorn

Sunday is game day and I needed something salty, crunch and chocolatey. What hits the trifecta better than chocolate coated popcorn?

My friends, Charlotte and Thomas, gave me a Swedish popcorn maker from Lekue. It makes perfect popcorn every time, with very little oil and only few unpopped kernels per batch. It is one of my favorite gadgets for the kitchen and I use it all the time.

Chocolate Popcorn

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup semi-sweet morsels
1 tablespoon butter

Make popcorn. Pick out any unpopped kernels (trust me, don’t skip this step). Salt generously. Melt chocolate with the butter. Stir in a large bowl until well coated. Gobble up a few handfuls while the oven heats to 260 degrees F. Place popcorn on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to recrisp the popcorn.

Serve in bowls with plenty of napkins.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

My girlfriend likes to woo me with cheesecake. After a discussion of the merits of different kinds, we found that Martha Stewart had just the ticket on her website. It was a little fussier than what either Michelle or I usually do, so she altered it a bit. First, by adding more peanut butter. Also, layers seemed like a better choice than swirling in order to make sure you get equal amounts of peanut butter and chocolate in every bite. I know we are not alone in never having good luck with a water bath, so Michelle used her patent pending method of cooking it low and slow.

Very complex and delicious flavor with the bittersweet glaze, peanut buttery and chocolatey layers and the chocolate crust. Just what Aunt Flo wanted!

I know that in some parts of the country it can be hard to find Famous Chocolate Wafers. Here is a recipe from King Arthur Flour for them. Just bake the rolled out dough if you’re making a crust instead of cookies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolate crust:

1 box Famous Chocolate Wafers
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Filling:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

Chocolate Glaze:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon whole milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a springform pan.

In a food processor, crush the cookies. Add sugar and pulse a couple of times. Pour in melted butter and pulse just until combines. Press mixture firmly into bottom of pan, and bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F.

Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Let cool. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in sugar in a slow, steady stream until combined. Beat in salt and vanilla until thoroughly combined and completely smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition (do not overmix).

Divide cream-cheese filling in half. Stir peanut butter into 1 half; stir melted chocolate into other half. Pour the chocolate layer over the crust and shake the pan lightly to settle it in. Pour in the peanut butter layer and tap the pan lightly on the corner to bring up in bubbles.

Bake for 3 hours in a low oven. Let cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the sides to release from the pan. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely before adding topping, at least three hours or overnight.

Unmold cheesecake and place on serving plate.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in milk and corn syrup.

Pour glaze over top of cake, smoothing with an offset spatula and letting it drip down the sides.

 

Cream Cheese Fudge

I like fudge. I first learned to make it with the recipe on back of the can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (ie Foolproof Fudge) but I didn’t stop there. I make Velveeta Cheese Fudge (ie Trailer Truffles) and Peanut Butter Fudge and, now, I’ve gotten Michelle to make me Cream Cheese Fudge.

Yum!

Nice and chocolatey without being too sweet. The nuts add a bit of texture with their nutty flavor.

Cream Cheese Fudge

1 -8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar



, sifted
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar until blended. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread onto bottom of lightly buttered 8-inch square pan.

Refrigerate several hours or until firm.

 

Brandied Peach Ice Cream

Summertime in the South means putting up with heat, humidity and mosquitos the size of small cars. As a consolation, summer also brings us peaches. It makes my soul happy when I hold its softly in my hand, breathe deep of its perfume before biting into it and letting the succulent juice run down my chin.

Saving a few of them for ice cream makes me even happier. And, adding a little brandy to the mix can make a person nearly expire from happiness! Of course, if you choose not to use brandy, you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

Brandied Peach Ice Cream

2 pounds peaches (about 5-6 large peaches)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy

Peel and pit peaches; cut into chunks. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.

After it has set for a while in the refrigerator, blend everything one last time to ensure it is well mixed. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to plastic container and freeze until firm.

Pecan Shortnin’ Bread

I’ve been told that the difference between shortnin’ bread and shortbread is the sugar. Typical shortbread uses fine, white sugar. Shortnin’ bread uses brown sugar. I decided to make my shortnin’ bread with pecans. Sort of like pecan sandies but richer.

And, if you’re anything like me, you are now humming, “Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’, shortnin’ Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’ bread.”

1 cup packed brown sugar
4 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup pecans, minced
1 lb unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or a light spray of oil.

Place the brown sugar in the bowl of the mixer and break up any lumps with your fingers. Blend into the sugar the flour and salt. Add in the minced pecans. Add the softened butter to the flour sugar mix and blend until you have a smooth dough.

On a pieces of parchment paper on a worksurface, turn out the dough. Press with your hands create a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. If dough is too soft, place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Cut into shapes and lay each piece on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Or, press directly onto the prepared pan and using a sharp knife, score the dough into squares.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool on racks for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Oatmeal Bar Cookies

I needed to clear out some room in my pantry to fit some can goods I had gotten on sale and the big container of oats (that was only a third full) had to go. I went to my bar cookie recipes as I didn’t want to stand around making my usual oatmeal cookies after having to deal with contractors for most of the afternoon. This recipe is an old favorite and not just because it has lots of chocolate. The topping is quite reminiscent of It’s-it ice cream sandwiches and that makes me happy.

I used semi-sweet morsels but you can use bittersweet or even milk chocolate, depending on your taste. You can also stir in a cup of butterscotch morsels into the melted chocolate right before spreading it on the bottom layer.

Chocolate Oatmeal Bar Cookies

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted plus 2 tablespoons
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter well a 9×13 baking pan.

In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt and the 2 tablespoons butter. Stir well.

In a mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 2 sticks of melted butter, vanilla and eggs. On low speed, pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the oat mixture. Once combined, remove 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and press the rest into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spread the chocolate mixture over the oat mixture.

Sprinkle the reserved portion of the oat mixture over the top of the chocolate layer. Try and co er as much as possible. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is a lovely brown. Let bars cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours or until set. Slice into bars and enjoy!

Cocoa Meringue Cookies

We made Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream yesterday and it left us with 5 egg whites. Perfect number for make some meringue cookies.

If you want a smooth, uniform appearance, sift the cocoa. I don’t because I enjoy biting into tiny spots of intense chocolate.

Cocoa Meringue Cookies

5 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 220 degrees F. Place parchment paper on two large rimmed baking sheets.

Make sure the bowl and whisk are well cleaned and dry. Place egg whites, salt and cream of tarter in the bowl. Starting on low and slowing increasing the speed to high, mix well. Once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar in 1/4 cup increments. Once the mixture is thick and shiny and stiff peaks have formed, fold in cocoa and vanilla.

Move mixture into a piping bag. I use a gallon plastic bag and cut off a little of one of the bottom corners. Pipe out drops or other shapes with the meringue mixture, twisting the bag as you go to keep pressure up.

Bake for one hour. Turn off oven but keep door closed and let cookies cool completely for 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how humid it is. Peel the cookies off the parchment paper and store in an airtight container.