Mochaccino Sparkle Cookies

These fudgy, sparkling cookies were my favorite holiday baking recipe this season. I wanted to bake an assortment of cookies that would hold up for packing and shipping across the country as gifts and they worked perfectly.

Also in the mix were my go-to Lemon Biscotti flavored with pistachio; hazelnut shortbread and peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies. The sparkles were my chocolate pick – I love their crackled tops, chewy-crunchy texture and layers of spice and espresso in each bite.

I promised a few people I’d share the recipe, so here it is!
Happy New Year – I hope it’s a sweet and delicious 2012.

Mochaccino Sparkle Cookies

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

Based on a recipe from BHG

Ingredients

  1. 2/3 cup (11 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  2. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  3. 1 cup natural cane sugar
  4. 1 ½ cups cocoa powder
  5. 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  6. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  7. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  8. ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. 4 egg whites
  11. 1 cup plain yogurt
  12. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  13. 1 cup sanding sugar, turbinado sugar or granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Beat the butter in a standing mixer bowl on medium-high speed until light, about 1 minute. Add the sugars, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, spices and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the egg whites and yogurt.
  2. Slow the mixer speed to stir and add flour in 1 cup additions until just blended - do not overmix. Cover the mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator until the dough is easy to scoop.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop balls of dough (I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon size scoop), roll them generously in sugar and arrange on the baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake cookies in batches about 12 minutes or until the edges are just firm. It's okay to underbake the middles slightly if you like a more chewy center. Cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/01/mochaccino-sparkle-cookies/

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

chocolate-truffle-ice-cream-recipe

I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream; not a fan of those what-the-hell flavors that pose as ice cream but are actually a totally different category of dessert – pumpkin pie, cotton candy and wedding cake come to mind.

I avoid distracting mix-ins like swirling candy rainbows, chunks of cake, cookies or even chocolate chips. That stuff just gets in the way.

When I indulge in ice cream, I want to be focused on the very essence of it: cream, air and sugar. I want smooth, super-luscious cream floating in my mouth; sweet, butterfatty custard in easy to understand flavors like vanilla, strawberry or chocolate.

chocolate-truffle-ice-cream-recipe

Making homemade ice cream isn’t difficult, but it does involve some patience and maybe a tiny bit of bravery during certain delicate steps such as making the custard base on the stovetop (scrambled eggs are not fun in ice cream, and neither is throwing them out and starting all over).

The demand and production of ultra-premium “artisanal” ice cream is growing. If you live or visit a city that has small shops like Jeni’s in Columbus, Ohio or Van Leeuwen in New York City, well lucky you. Bypass the recipe below and go out on the town!

But if you have some time, an inexpensive electric ice cream maker and the desire for indulgence, you can make this rich, not-too-sweet ice cream in your kitchen. The texture is very much like the inside of a chocolate truffle, only much colder…

chocolate-truffle-ice-cream-recipe

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

Serving Size: 1 quart

Ingredients

  1. 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  2. 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  3. 8 egg yolks
  4. 1 cup brown sugar
  5. 2 cups heavy cream
  6. 1 cup whole milk
  7. 1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus more for serving
  8. 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes on medium-high speed.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture just to a boil - when little bubbles form around the edges of the pan, you're done. Transfer to a container with a pouring spout (like a Pyrex liquid measure) and slowly drizzle into the egg mixture on low speed.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook for 5 - 7 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a trail in the pan. If you want to be sure, the temperature should read 175 degrees on an instant thermometer.
  5. Whisk the melted chocolate into the custard until completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold - at least 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Scrape the mixture into an ice cream maker (it will be thick) and churn according to directions. You can serve right away, or transfer to a container to freeze for a few more hours. Scoop truffle-sized servings and dust with cocoa powder.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/07/chocolate-truffle-ice-cream/

Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

rosemary-chocolate-bread-recipe

My favorite baking book this year has to be Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours. The recipes are wholesome, accessible and appealing; the photography has a warm, rustic simplicity that I love. When I browse through the book I want to make – and taste – just about everything in it.

I’ve been experimenting with switching out butter for olive oil in baking, which led to Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies a few weeks ago. I’ve also had this recipe for Olive Oil Cake from Kim Boyce’s book flagged for months, and after making it a few times I can say it’s definitely a keeper.

These are perfect little breads to give as gifts, or to snack on when you crave a bite of something not-too-sweet.

rosemary-chocolate-bread-recipe

I have a special place for rosemary in my cooking, so any time I see an opportunity to highlight its distinctive piney-lemon character I jump in to explore.

The first time I baked this lightly sweet cake (to me it’s actually more of a quick bread than a cake), I threw in some freshly grated lemon zest. Lemon is a nice partner with the fruity taste of the olive oil and chocolate, but it got a little lost in there.

Next, I tried adding some ground coriander, a spice that has essential elements of citrus and balsam. You barely notice it in the background, but I think it naturally unites the slightly unusual pairing of chocolate with rosemary and olive oil.

I couldn’t help gilding the rosemary, so I sprinkled rosemary sugar leftover from my Italian Greyhounds over the tops just before putting them in the oven.

Rosemary & Bittersweet Chocolate Quick Bread

Yield: 1 standard loaf or 4 mini loaves

Ingredients

  1. 3/4 cup spelt flour (or use an equal amount of all purpose flour)
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 3/4 cup sugar
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  7. 3 eggs
  8. 1 cup olive oil
  9. 3/4 cup milk
  10. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  11. 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces
  12. Rosemary sugar

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat 4 small loaf pans (5" x 2") or one regular loaf pan with olive oil. Place the pans on a baking sheet. If using a single loaf pan, you can skip the baking sheet.
  3. Put the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and coriander in a large bowl. Use a whisk to blend the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk together. Add the milk and rosemary and mix again just to blend.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, stirring gently to combine. Stir in the chocolate until evenly distributed.
  6. Divide the batter among the pans and smooth the top. Sprinkle tops evenly with some Rosemary Sugar, about 2 teaspoons each, or regular sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes for small loaves; 45- 50 minutes for standard loaf or until the tops are domed and a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a rack before slicing either warm or cool.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/rosemary-bittersweet-chocolate-quick-bread/