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.

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German’s Sweet Chocolate Birthday Cake

For Michelle’s upcoming birthday, I made her a German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. I used the recipe for both of those off the box of Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. Because it is a sweet chocolate, I made a dark chocolate cream cheese frosting for the between layer. It also went on top of a recipe of German’s Sweet Chocolate cupcakes.

Baker's Original German's Sweet Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Pour melted chocolate and butter into a bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed of electric mixer after each addition until well blended. Add vanilla; mix well.  Add 1/2 cup of the flour; mix well. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups flour alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

Divide into buttered and floured 9-inch baking pan.

Bake cake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cupcakes take 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Frost between the layers with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Frost the top and sides with Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

Sift together powdered sugar and cocoa to remove any lumps.

With an electric mix beat the cream cheese and butter. Add in the vanilla. Slowly add the cocoa-powdered sugar mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until combined.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 – 7 ounce package coconut (about 2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Whisk egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with wire whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature and of desired spreading consistency.

Frost top and sides of cake.

 

A Fine Strawberry Eton Mess

Both Prince Harry and William attended Eton. It seems only fitting, as the older brother is best man when his younger brother gets married to Meghan Markle, to make another British dessert created at that school. The Eton Mess has layers of whipped cream, meringues and rough chopped strawberries.

Strawberries in whipped cream can be pretty darn romantic. At least as romantic as when the prince says to the commoner, “I’m so lucky.”

I could probably come up with a recipe but, seriously, this is a super easy dessert to make, especially if you use store bought meringues. Whip the cream with a little sugar and vanilla. Mix the chopped strawberries some sugar to get them juicy and to keep things sweet.

Crumble the meringues and mix with the whipped cream. Your choice to either mix the strawberries with the cream to make a more traditional mess or to layer the whipped cream and strawberries in glass for a prettier presentation. In any event, prepare to gobble this up!

If you’re like me and make yours in a glass, you can raise it to the newlyweds. My toast to them is: “A toast to love and laughter, and happily ever after.”

Sticky Toffee Pudding

In celebration of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I decided to make a decidedly British dessert. Of course, I’m going to put a southern American twist on it, too. Sticky toffee pudding is one of those things I’ve read about in novels and thought that it would good to eat in the early morning hours.

I started with this recipe from the BBC’s Good Food but then had to make a number or substitutions and conversions (and translations). I don’t have treacle, but I did have molasses. I don’t have the demerara or muscovado sugar but I did have brown sugar. I had no dates but I did have figs.

The result is a figgy spice cake that is very rich with complex flavor.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 cup whole dried figs
¾ cups boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour, sifted
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 stick butter, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses (or black treacle)
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon rum

For the toffee sauce

¾ cups light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon molasses (or black treacle)

Chop the figs into small and pieces and then put them in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water over and leave for about 30 mins until cool and well-soaked. Use a potato masher or a fork to mash the figs. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.

Use two tablespoons of the butter to butter and flour seven ramekins or a small bundt pan and sit them on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda together. Beat the remaining 6 tablespoons of the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for a few minutes until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the molasses. Gently fold in one-third of the flour, then half the milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour and milk is used. Mix in the rum. Stir the soaked figs into the pudding batter. The batter will be soft and thick. Spoon it evenly between the containers, allowing room to rise. Bake for 20-25 minutes for ramekins and 35-40 minutes for a bundt pan, until firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, put the sugar and butter for the sauce in a medium saucepan with half the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the molasses, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 5 minutes or until it is a rich toffee color, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the cream.

Remove the puddings from the oven and set on a wire rack for 5 minutes before loosening them from the sides with a small knife before turning them out. They can be served now with the sauce drizzled over, but they’ll be even stickier if left for a day or two coated in the sauce. To do this, pour about half the sauce into one or two ovenproof serving dishes. Sit the upturned puddings on the sauce, then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Cover with a loose tent of foil so that the sauce doesn’t smudge (no need to chill).

When ready to serve, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Warm the puddings through, still covered, for 15-20 mins or until the sauce is bubbling.

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding

I’ve been trying to find more recipes for my sister that are lower in sugar and friendly to diabetics. I’m still working on desserts she can enjoy but, in this recipe, the bananas (high in fiber) and peanut butter (low glycemic index) are a good start. I put them in small ramekins to help with portion control, too.

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups 2% milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium banana, one smushed the other sliced
1 1/2 cups ‘Nilla wafers

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and milk and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into eggs before pouring the eggs into the pan. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the peanut butter, butter and vanilla. Stir in smushed and sliced bananas. Let cool slightly while you prepare the dessert dishes.

Crush all but 6 ‘Nilla wafers and sprinkle them into ramekins or pudding cups to cover the bottom. Pour in peanut butter and banana pudding. Place any additional crumbs and a single ‘Nilla wafer on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes With Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

You know that part of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where Arthur gets the ship’s Nutri-Matic machine to make him a drink that is “something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea?”

That’s what this recipe is.

I saw a cake on the web and didn’t have the ingredients for most of it (the original had cashews and a salted caramel layer) but the chocolate cake and frosting intrigued me enough to give the rest of it a try, with some substitutions, of course. I also switched it to cupcakes because readers of my blog know I think cupcakes have a better frosting to cake ratio.

The results are deliciously chocolately cupcakes that are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Anna Olson’s Caramel Cashew Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hot coffee
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Kahula or vanilla extract

Frosting
2 cups confectioners sugar
⅓ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 package cream cheese (4 ounces), softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Place 24 cupcake liners in muffin/cupcake pans.

In a medium bowl, place the chopped chocolate and pour the hot coffee over top, letting it sit a minute to soften. Whisk gently to combine.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a stand mixer, beat the brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and Kahlua (or vanilla) together until smooth. Add the flour mixture to this and mix well. Pour in the chocolate mixture (the batter will be fluid). Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake cups.

Bake for about 15 minutes and switch and rotate pans. Cook for an additional 10 -15 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes and then turn them out to cool completely.

For the frosting, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Remove from the heat. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and vanilla. Add in the chocolate butter mixture. Scrape down the bowl well and then add the sugar cocoa mix and beat until smooth. Frost the cupcakes with a generous amount. Eat any extra with a spoon.

 

Strawberry Dumplings

Some of the strawberries we picked up on Thursday got a little frozen in the refrigerator overnight. While that does make them a little mushy when they thaw, it also makes them perfect for this dessert. I’ve cut it down from the usual serving and we still had three generous servings.

Strawberry Dumplings

1 pint strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar
1 small can biscuits
1/3 cup water

Quarter and mash strawberries. Combine with sugar and water and cook in a wide saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Stir often until berries and softened and begin to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low. If biscuits are large, cut into quarters before adding to berries. Cook for 10 minutes, then flip over the biscuits. Cook for five more minutes. Serve warm.