Versatile Blogger Awards [Double Chocolate Chili Cookies]
I woke a few weeks back to an email from a fellow food blogger, Barb from Profiteroles and Ponytails, informing me she had nominated/awarded me with the Versatile Blogger Award. What a lovely way to wake up.
Barb’s take on food is refreshing, convivial and it’s tremendously obvious that she adores cooking (and baking, oh her baking!) home-cooked, soul-soothing meals for her husband and the ponytails (a nickname for her adorable daughters). Thank you, Barb, for sharing the love with me. It’s truly an honour.
So in true Versatile Blogger spirit, I would also like to share the love (before I share some badass cookies with you!) and nominate a few folks I think are truly deserving of the award.
A Heartful Mouthful; Kaitlin and I have become friends in the last little while and I’m so proud to call such an innovative, talented, well spoken woman my friend. She continually impresses and delights with her culinary prowess and kitchen expertise. Her blog is thoughtfully written, fun to read, and delicious to look at.
It Ain’t Meat Babe; Jennifer’s blog houses such a superb collection of expertly written vegan recipes, but that aside, the stories she tells make you feel like you’ve been friends with her forever. She’s well spoken and an obviously passionate writer. I am so looking forward to reading more of anything and everything she writes.
Pretty Plate; One look at Jennifer (yes, another Jennifer. Turns out they are a talented bunch) blog and you’ll see why I’m nominating her. Her blog is beautiful to look at, fun to read, and her recipes are delightfully inspired.
In order to complete my portion of the Versatile Blogger award, I’m not to tell you 7 things about myself that you might not already know. This is a difficult task for me since I’m typically such an open book. But here is my stab at it…
1. I have a hard time reading books.
Books and I, we don’t always see eye to eye. Literally. I am easily distracted by shiny things and find myself reading the same sentence umpteen times before finally absorbing what I’ve actually read. It takes a REALLY good read to draw me in.
2. I didn’t start cooking until I was about 2007/2008.
I didn’t really grow up in a family that was mad about food. We did have dinner together as a family most night, but the food wasn’t really the spotlight of our meals (not that it wasn’t delicious! Don’t kill me Mom & Dad!), it was about family. And so, food’s entry into my life has been quick and dirty and passionate.
3. I’m far too easy to please.
I sometimes joke that I would make a terrible, complacent food-critic as I tend to just like everything. I can tell if something is under-seasoned, over-cooked, or just plain bad…but there is a pretty good chance I’ll happily eat it anyways. I just love food. In all it’s forms. I imagine this is a result of growing up with a father who, upon finding mold on food, would just cut it off and continue eating. Waste not, want not. Right? No?
4. I’ve lived in Western Canada twice.
Never for very long, as my dad pokes fun at me often about. I lived in Fernie, BC and Canmore, AB for about 4 months each time. It’s been an escape of mine when things get tough here at home in Ottawa. I haven’t run away in a long time, but if I were going to again, there is a good chance you could find me in the mountains.
5. I drink a lot of tea.
Usually before bed. I drink about 2-3 pots of tea to myself most days. I know full well, while drinking it, that I am going to end up paying for it at 3am, but I can’t help myself. The Toasted Walnut tea from David’s Tea is my most favourite and I am never without it for very long.
6. I am painfully shy.
Despite my loud and chatty exterior, I am really very shy with new people. I tend to overcompensate for it by awkwardly talking non-stop. Going to new events and networking is something that shakes me right to the core. I’m working on it.
7. I am a homebody through and through.
I enjoy going out at times and often feel disappointed in myself when I miss events and gatherings when I don’t, but I really just love being at home. Give me a bowl of pasta, a glass (bottle) of wine, and a good movie and I am at my happiest. Add my boyfriend and our 2 cats and dog, and I’m in heaven. Home is truly where my heart is.
And now… for the GREAT part. The part I’ve been thinking about all week. Double Chocolate Chili Cookies. You hear that? Let me say it louder. DOUBLE.CHOCOLATE.CHILI.COOKIES. For real. That just happened.
I got this recipe from Elizabeth of Guilty Kitchen. I doubt there is much I have to tell you about since you and everyone you know already know her and her awe-inspiring blog. She consistently gives me something to work towards. Something to keep raising the bar for. Her photos, her writing, her recipes…they are everything I’d someday like to be.
These cookies are the Johnny Depp of cookies. They are dark, rugged, and deliciously bad. You want to hoard them all to yourself in a dark room and have your way with them. A few times. And then again in an hour.
Oh no. I think I’ve stopped talking about cookies. I’m sorry. I digress. Make these. As soon as you can. They are spicy, but not enough to make you break a sweat. Just enough. Dark, cocoa-y, gooey and a touch salty from the salted caramel dark chocolate I used in them, they are the perfect companion to a BIG, cold glass of milk.
Double Chocolate Chili Cookies
adapted from Guilty Kitchen
I used a Mexican chili powder that I got at a natural food store and Camino cocoa powder in the cookies. Use what you like best, but try to use the best quality products you can afford.
1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, \t room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
7 oz dark chocolate, cut into small chunks
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Sift the first 6 ingredients into a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and cream until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and scrape down the sides of the bowl after each is mixed.
Add half the dry ingredients and mix on lowest speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix again until fully incorporated.
Stir in the chocolate chunks using a sturdy spoon, the batter is quite thick.
At this point you can do one of three things;
1. place the dough in the fridge for 12-24 hours. This helps produce a thicker, chewier cookie.
2. Place batter in the freezer for 1 hour. This isn’t as effective as the fridge method, but it’s what I did and I was happy with the results.
3. Bake right away. The cookies might be a little on the flat side, but I’m sure they’ll still be delicious.
When you’re ready to bake, roll the dough into golf-ball sized portions and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15-17 minutes being very careful not to burn, because they will. Quickly.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes, pour a big glass of milk or tea, and enjoy!
I decided I didn’t need them all, so decided I would gift a few. Not because I’m nice, but mostly because I’m looking out for my own ass. Literally.
Dear Santa [Chocolate-Bourbon Eggnog and Felix & Norton Cookie Dough Review]
Can you believe we’re less than a week away from Christmas? Can someone tell me how on earth this happened? 2012 is less than two weeks away, too. Doesn’t it seem like we were just welcoming 2011 a month or two ago?
I’m really not sure when November left us, but here we are, panicked and anxious, counting down the days until Santa squeezes his plump little body down your chimneys and crams a few billions cookies and 38495438932859023 liters of milk down his gob. How that guy avoids lactose-intolerance and heart-disease is totally beyond me. I do, however, agree with his present-giving policies.
I haven’t been as on-the-ball as previous years so my offerings to Santa this year come thanks to Monsieur Félix and Mr. Norton cookies! When they offered to send me some samples to test out, I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Not only did it mean getting to eat cookies, it meant some of my Christmas baking would be done FOR ME. How awesome is that? It’s really awesome.
I’m pretty sure I had the Styrofoam cooler in my hands and ripped open before the delivery guy even had a chance to say ‘sign here, please’. It was an exciting day, which might not say all that much about my social life, but I’m comfortable with who I am, cookie-obsessed and all.
Now, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a cookie-connoisseur. Probably something more along the lines of “Will eat any cookie, any day” style. I’m not picky. I don’t like cookies ‘this way’ or ‘that way’. I just like them. Period. Most, if not all, of them. And Felix and Norton make great cookies. I’ve been lucky enough to try them at the Old Port in Montreal, where they sell from their Mobile Bakery, but when I found out they were selling pre-portioned frozen cookie dough, I was floored to say the least. Could it really be true that I could have one of their gooey, bursting-with-Belgium-chocolate, crisp around the edge cookies any time of the day (or..ahem…night)? There really is a Santa! And he must have gotten my wish-list.
Felix & Norton are bringing the happiness of fresh cookies into your homes, to make at your will. Sure, it’s a little dangerous to have them at the ready 24/7, but we all need to practice self-control at some point, right? Right. I think.
The inviting smell of the warm, freshly baked cookies is enough to send me over the edge. I brought out 2 of of each flavour (Milk Chocolate Chunk, Ménage-à-trois, & Ebony & Ivory) for Mr. GL and I to sample last week and as we bit into the Ménage-à-trois variety, we were both whisked away into a euphoric state by the melty, buttery, warm cookies packed with white, milk and dark chocolate chunks. They were a little on the thin side, but personally, I’m a pretty big fan of a thin lacy cookie that’s soft through the middle. Each variety was perfect in it’s own right. The Ebony & Ivory was extra rich and satisfying, boasting a dark chocolate cookie filled with white chocolate chunks, and the Milk Chocolate Chunk was just as you’d imagine it to be, the quintessential chocolate-chip cookie. If, like me, the idea of having cookies at the ready any time of day appeals to you, Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton cookie dough is available in the freezer section of select Foodland and Sobeys in Ontario and IGA on the Quebec side. They’re awesome for last-minute cookie-cravings when you don’t have time to plan, or anytime you want a tasty little treat.
Because I’m hoping Santa will be extra generous when he visits my apartment, I thought it wise to be extra generous to him in return. Not only will I be leaving him a plate of Felix and Norton Cookies, I’ll also be jazzing up some eggnog for him to wash the delicious cookies down with.
Those that know me well, know that I’m not much for Eggnog. It’s just one of those things I can’t get into, despite so badly wanting to love it. But rather than write it off completely, I thought I would dress it up a touch in hopes that I might fall madly in love as I’ve always hoped.
Mission accomplished! Success! HUZZAH, I say! If I knew all I needed was a little bourbon and melted Swiss dark chocolate, I would have been doing this ages ago. No longer will I stand on the sidelines of holiday parties, left-out and ashamed, as everyone chugs back their boozy eggnog. NO LONGER, I SAY!
Chocolate Bourbon Eggnog and M. Felix & Mr. Norton Cookies
adapted from a recipe given to me by Claire, the wine blogger from foodiePrints
Granted, I boozed the eggnog up just a little too much, but I’ve adjusted the amounts so that Santa doesn’t get a DUI after visiting your house. We wouldn’t want that.
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulate sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup Bourbon
1 tbsp dark rum
Cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, for garnish (optional)
In a blender or with a hand-mixer, beat the eggs on high for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat again for 3-5 minutes, until very pale yellow.
Pour the cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, bourbon and rum into a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Do not let it boil. Whisk often until chocolate is melted and mixed in with the cream.
Pour the egg mixture into a large bowl and whisking constantly, add 1 tbsp at a time of the warm cream mixture to temper the eggs. If you add it all at ones, you’ll make a big bowl of boozy scrambled eggs. BLECH! Once you’ve added 4-5 tbsp of the warm cream, you can pour the rest in slowly while whisking.
Ladle into mugs and top with a pinch of cayenne pepper nutmeg and cinnamon.
And don’t forget to leave Santa some of your tasty Felix and Norton Cookies!
Disclaimer: Felix and Norton did not compensate me beyond providing the cookie dough. The reviews and opinions are mine and mine alone.
Tasty Repeats [Nutella Souffle]
I think I might have said something about ‘trying new things’ in 2011, right? Maybe a few dozen times? And you’re probably a little tired of it? Lucky for you this isn’t something new. In fact, it’s quite similar to something I wrote about…oh…five days ago. So really, the complete opposite of trying something new. I’ve brought you some of the same old same.
I hadn’t planned on making anything last night, but while looking into souffles and what sort I wanted to try out next, I came across a recipe that shot me out of my seat and right into a carton of eggs. I had everything it called for on hand, and it appeared to be even easier than the simplest dessert. Nutella Souffles! Can you imagine? I forgot about Nutella completely until last night. And coincidentally, my boyfriends mom had just given us a jar! It was written in the stars that I make these puffy little treats.
Instead of the typical custard base used in souffles, this recipe called for a base of Greek yogurt. The tang and texture it gave the finished product was almost comparable to cheesecake, but still soft and fluffy like a souffle. What a combo. I added a little shaved bittersweet chocolate for some extra oomph, and a little more Nutella than called for, but other than that it was followed to the letter.
They rise a little more than I’m used to which I liked. Makes for a really pretty treat. My boyfriend and I plowed through them in about 13 seconds… and it was totally worth having a raw burnt tongue for the next few days.
If you’re looking for an impressive dessert that takes about 10 minutes to throw together, try these out and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
adpated slight from Baking Bites
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (regular yogurt tends to be too thin) Preheat the oven to 375F.
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup Nutella
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4oz bittersweet chocolate, shaved of chopped (optional)
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
butter and sugar, for ramekins
Butter six 6-oz (I did about two 2qt + one 6oz) ramekins. Pour a small amount of sugar into each and roll the ramekins to coat (just like flouring a pan). Set on a baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg yolks, flour, salt, vanilla extract and Nutella until smooth.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually stream in sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until all sugar has been incorporated and egg whites have reaches stiff peaks.
Working in two or three batches, gently fold egg whites in to yolk mixture. This can be done with a whisk or with a spatula. Make sure all egg whites have been fully incorporated and no streaks of white remain.
Divide mixture evenly into ramekins, using about 1/2 cup in each and leaving ramekins on the baking tray.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until evenly risen and lightly browned on top.
We didn’t enjoy them. Obviously.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Dirty Little Secrets [Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle]
I’ve been telling you for over a year now that I don’t like sweets. I was the kid who would trade my chocolate bar for a bag of chips. But it occured to me last week that I have been lying to you. I’m a bad friend.
I realize that at this point in our relationship, there shouldn’t be any secrets kept between us. We should be putting it all out on the table. So here it is, all of me…
I would sell my first born (aka: Ryder, my chocolate lab) for a square of cold, and it has to be cold, dark chocolate. I don’t eat a lot of it, but when I do, it’s a production. One that’s best kept between me and my couch. There a lot of content sighing, eye-fluttering, and mmmmmmm’ing. Totally shamless and inappropriate behaviour from a salt-toothed gal.
When I say dark chocolate, I mean something around 70%. Which I suppose is technically Bittersweet chocolate. I like the texture to be almost chalky, which probably doesn’t sound appealing, but ohhhh it really is. For me, the cocoa-ier the better! So you can only imagine my delight when I picked up this months Bon Appetit and saw that there was a large section on Cocoa Powder.
Keeping with my promise to be more adventuous in the kitchen in 2011, I thought the souffles would be largely appropriate. I have never made one before which I attribute largely to the fact that I have always been told they are extremely tempermental and difficult.
My verdict? I have been missing out for no reason at all. Perhaps this souffle was easier than others or is not made in a traditional way, but it was extremely easy, and extremely delicious. The best part was the option to make the batter a day in advance. It can be chilled over night in ramekins and popped in the oven when you’re ready. Does it get any better than that? Let me answer for you. No, it doesn’t, Kelly. It really doesn’t.
It came out fluffly, satisfyingly chocolatey, slightly sweet, and soft in the middle. The inappropriate enjoyment was out in full force.
Bittersweet Cocoa Souffles
Adapted from Bon Appetit
The original recipe called for an Orange Blossom Cream, which I had fully planned on making. But apparently if you don’t buy whipping cream, it makes it extremely difficult to make whipped cream. Go figure. I also neglected to add the chopped chocolate, which I attribute to laziness mostly. It was still fluffly, rich and delicious without either of these things.
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup atural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Butter 4 large ramekins. Dust with sugar, completely coating to top edge.
Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, flour, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small saucepan. Pour 2/3 cup milk into measuring cup; whisk enough milk from cup into saucepan to form thick paste (2 to 3 tablespoons), then gradually whisk in remaining milk from cup. Stir over medium- low heat until bubbles begin to form around edges of pan. Continue cooking until slightly thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add cocoa powder, remaining 2 tablespoons milk, egg yolks, and vanilla; stir until smooth, thick paste forms.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, beating on high speed until firm peaks form.
Add 1⁄4 of whites to chocolate mixture; fold to blend. Add remaining beaten egg whites and chopped chocolate and fold until whites are just blended into batter.
Divide batter amoung ramekins. If making ahead, cover and chill overnight.
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake soufflés until puffed above rim of ramekin and toothpick inserted into center comes out with thick batter attached, about 12 minutes or 15 minutes for chilled soufflés.
Share with a friend at your own risk. It’s a naughty little treat.