Easy Rocky Road Candy

I was licking the knife I had used to spread peanut butter on my sandwich when my gaze fell on an opened bag of marshmallows. It took me back to an easy recipe one of my Girl Scout troops once made. I don’t remember if any badges were involved but combining melted chocolate, marshmallows and peanut butter is a sure fire way to make the world a better place.*

Rocky Road Candy

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch Peanut Butter)
2 cups chocolate morsels (I prefer Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups small marshmallows

In a large double boiler, melt peanut butter, chocolate and butter. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the little marshmallows.

Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and refrigerate for two hours (if you’re desperate, place it in freezer for 45 minutes). Cut into squares and serve.

* Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to 
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie for Pi Day

I suffer from innumeracy (and numerophobia and arithmophobia) but I appreciate the work that mathematicians and scientists do/have done/are doing. I am especially grateful for those who teach math and science, even in the face of attacks from legislators and religious extremists. Here in Louisiana, we just had BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) vote to add a provision to the standards laid out in a poorly named state law (the Louisiana Science Education Act) to encourage teachers to challenge evolution and climate change in their science classrooms.

Is it a surprise that Louisiana ranks poorly in national comparisons of science testing results?

Anyhoo, I also celebrate March 14th because I like pie. This one is a recipe my mom took off the back of the cornstarch box many years ago.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Grated peel of 1 lemon, chopped fine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 baked (9-inch) pie crust (I prefer graham cracker)
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 cup sugar and corn starch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and butter.

Spoon hot filling into pie crust.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon corn starch and gradually beat into egg whites. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to edge of crust.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack at room temperature for 30 minutes; refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Oh, and before you make your own pie crust using a pie plate you inherited, make sure it is 9 inches. As you can see from the picture, mine is actually closer to 10 inches!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Press into a pie plate, being sure to press down well on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. Allow to cool before using.

Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

In my never ending quest to keep up with my sourdough starter, I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour site. They made a cake with a frosting and a drizzle. I made cupcakes and used my quick, fudge frosting to ice them.

lets-go-streaking-with-cupcakes

Wearing a “Let’s Go Streaking” cupcake t-shirt!

Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 large eggs

Feed your starter and remove one cup. Combine the fed starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. It will expand a little bit.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently combine the chocolate mixture with the starter-flour-milk mixture and beat gently until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared liners.

Bake the cupcakes for 30 minutes, rotating pan midway through baking. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Once entirely cool, frost generously.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Fudge Frosting

1 stick butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, and milk; bring to a boil. Add sugar and vanilla; beat well until smooth. Place in the refrigerator to cool before using. If frosting becomes too stiff, add 1 drop of milk at a time until it reaches the desired frosting consistency.

Darkly Chocolate Brownies

I woke up craving chocolate, so I started these brownies. They are mixed in a large double boiler, so there isn’t a lot of cleanup. Oh, and they get better as they sit (they are very gooey when first taken out of the oven but firm up with time) as the chocolate gets even more intense the next day.

brownies

Darkly Chocolate Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted cacoa nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large double boiler or in a large bowl over a saucepan with some water in it, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring occasionally. When smooth and melted, sprinkle on cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Using a hand mixer, mix in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Reducing mixer speed to low, mix in the flour. Add the chocolate chips and cacoa nibs and stir just until combined.

Pour the very thick batter into a buttered 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan (a square pan will result in thicker brownies). Smooth the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. Don’t leave them in there until the toothpick comes out clean, though, as that would be too long.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into small squares. The brownies are very rich!

Bailey’s Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

I saw this recipe in my Facebook timeline feed and figured that, with a few tweeks, that it would fill my deep and abiding, end of year chocolate needs. We used Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of vanilla extract. The 1 cup of boiling water made the batter super thin – it resulted in light cupcakes but, I don’t know about you but I want density with my dark chocolate. We also used my favorite frosting for a nutty, creamy finish.

cupcakes

Bailey's Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup very best quality cocoa (I used Droste)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 28 to 30 muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will thin out considerably). Pour batter into cups about 2/3 full.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or 22 to 25 minutes for cupcakes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

Chocolate Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz package cream cheese
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup good quality cocoa
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons Praline liquor or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all together. Frost cupcakes. Lick spoon. Dab a little bit behind your ears and celebrate the start of a new year!

Rum Chata Cocktails and Cheesecake

We have a bottle of a yummy cream liquor called RumChata and had a hankering to use it as more than just an after dinner drink. RumChata is made with Caribbean rum and cream with the addition of Horchata spices (including cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, etc).

Here are a couple of cocktails plus an alteration of Michelle’s cheesecake from my publisher, Bella Books , Thanksgiving blog (scroll down once you click through to find her recipe) to include bittersweet chocolate and RumChata.

au-lait

RumChata Egg Nog Au Lait

2 parts RumChata
2 parts egg nog
2 parts coffee
Nutmeg

Serve hot, cold or colder.

For hot, heat all the ingredients except the nutmeg in a small saucepan. Pour into a mug and sprinkle on nutmeg to taste.

For cold, whisk into a mug all the ingredients, except the nutmeg. Stir in a couple of ice cubes. Sprinkle on nutmeg to taste.

For frozen, place a mug of the cold RumChata Egg Nog Au Lait in the freezer for an hour. Stir with a fork and eat with a spoon.

creme-de-menthe

Mint Choco Chata Cocktail

2 oz RumChata
½ oz green creme de menthe
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Stir RumChata and creme de menthe together. If you don’t mind your drink to be a weird dark green, mix chocolate into the liquid. Otherwise, drizzle the chocolate into the glass in a creative pattern. Place in a couple of ice cubes and then pour over the cocktail.

cheesecake

Choco-Chata Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup sugar
4 package cream cheese, room temperature
4 eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Rum Chata

Mix the butter with the graham cracker crumbs and press into a well buttered springform pan. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add in flour. Alternate in the melted bittersweet chocolate and sour cream. Add in RumChata. Pour into prepared pan.

Spread the filling over the crust in the pan. Gently lift the pan and tap it down on the counter two or three times to settle the filling and help disperse air bubbles.

Place the cheesecake in a 200 degree F oven. (The lower-temp baking process makes for an exceptionally creamy cheesecake. The usual pan of water used when baking cheesecake is NOT used during this method.) Bake cheesecake for 3 hours. Remove from the oven. Crank the oven temperature to 500 degrees F. Return the cake to the oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes for a golden brown the top.

Take cheesecake from oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, without releasing the side of the pan, run a knife along the inside edge of the cheesecake to loosen it. Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake until chilled for 3 hours or overnight. 

This recipe is for a 10″ springform pan. If using a smaller size, drop out 1 package of cream cheese and reduce the graham cracker crumbs to just a cup with 3 tablespoons of melted butter.

Upside Down Apple Pie for Thanksgiving

We decided on good ole Apple Pie for Thanksgiving but, you know me and typical. Instead of the usual fussing with pie crust, I’m doing a version of Apple Tart Tatin using puff pastry. And, because I can’t leave well enough alone- I added pecans.

apple-slice

Upside Down Apple Pie

3-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters (you want enough apples to fill your skillet)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
pinch of salt
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (store bought is just fine)

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss cut apples with lemon juice.

In a large ovenproof skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and stir for 3-5 minutes until the sugar mixture is a golden caramel brown color, but still somewhat grainy in texture. Add the apple slices and cinnamon, stirring well to coat each slice. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring often. Add in the pecans and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer. Remove pan from the heat and let cool slightly.

Roll the sheet of puff pastry out until it’s large enough to cover the 10-inch skillet. Arrange the apple slices in a decorative circular pattern in the bottom of the sauté pan. Place the circle of puff pastry over the apples and tuck the excess dough down inside the pan.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown, puffed and crispy. Within 5 minutes of removing from the oven and using oven mitts, carefully invert the pie onto a large serving plate. The caramel sauce is very hot, so be careful not to get it on yourself. Serve the pie hot with vanilla ice cream.

full-apple-tart