Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lindsay's Amazing Chocolate Cake

I can't take credit for this dessert.  This comes to me by way of my fantastic sister-in-law, Lindsay.  It.  Is.  Delicious.  We all drool over it whenever she brings it to family get-togethers.  The recipe was created by her dad who played around with different versions of chocolate cakes and came up with about seven different ones.  This one is really called "Denise's favorite cake," and it may very well be my favorite chocolate cake I've ever eaten.  It is dark and moist without being one of those that you have to down a gallon of milk just to swallow (although a glass of milk does go very well with it).  It is also nice and easy since you start with a basic devil's food cake mix which you then doctor up with ingredients you probably have on hand.  If you're looking for an idea for a dessert to finish off your Valentine's dinner, this is the cake for you.

Lindsay's Amazing Chocolate Cake (aka Denise's Favorite Cake)

1 box Devil's Food cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)
3.9 oz. box instant chocolate pudding
2 cups sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (mini ones work best, but I use regular sized ones all the time with still great results)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix first 6 ingredients together (all but the chocolate chips) in a stand mixer* on low speed for 1 minute.  Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes more.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into a greased bundt pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out with only a few crumbs on it.  Cool on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then remove cake from pan and allow to cool for 20 minutes more.  Frost with chocolate icing (recipe below).

*I do not recommend using a hand mixer for this cake.  I tried it once and burned out the motor on mine.

Chocolate Icing
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil one more minute or until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Add semisweet chocolate chips and stir until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate has melted.  Spread or drizzle icing over cake.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Who's Afraid of Chocolate Chili?

I've gotta be honest--chili recipes with chocolate in them used to make me nervous.  Then I read this in my Our Best Bites cookbook:  "Don't be scared of chocolate in a chili recipe; it just add richness and depth in a very short amount of cooking time."  So I tried adding cocoa to a chili recipe I was working on, and I tell you what, I'm sold.  I think this chili would be fantastic on top of tortilla chips, taco salad style, but I loved just a big bowl full of it with a little cheese, sour cream, and green onions on top.  It had just the slightest bit of heat to it which was perfect for me since I'm pretty wimpy when it comes to spice, but you could add more heat if you wanted to by adding another tablespoon of chili powder.

Chocolate Chili

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. hamburger
1 16 oz. can whole tomatoes (I used half a quart of home bottled tomatoes)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Optional ingredients:
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese, grated
chopped green onions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onion, bell pepper, garlic, and hamburger until the meat is cooked through.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer for 1 hour.  Serve topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and green onions if desired.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

This would be a lot more timely if it felt a little more like winter around here, but I like hot cocoa year round, snow or no snow.  Now I don't know about all of you, but I often find store-bought hot cocoa mixes disappointing.  I usually get my mouth all set for warm, thick, chocolaty goodness and instead end up with a mouthful of something watery and chocolate-ish.  The solution:  make your own, and I think this recipe is just right for it.  For me it's just the right amount of chocolate, but you could certainly doctor it up to your liking using more or less chocolate or dark cocoa powder.  You could even play with the flavor of coffee creamer you use.  I'm drooling over the idea of using amaretto flavored creamer instead of vanilla. 

Be careful to use a good-quality chocolate bar (not baking chocolate, btw) or it won't melt as nicely as it should.  It would be great to put in jars and give away as gifts.  This makes about 3 1/2 cups of mix.

Hot Cocoa Mix


1 cup cocoa powder (not cocoa drink mix)

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vanilla flavored coffee creamer (the powder kind)

1 4-oz good-quality chocolate bar


Finely chop the chocolate bar.  Combine all ingredients and stir together until well mixed.  To make one serving of hot cocoa, heat 1 cup (8 fl oz) milk to almost boiling.  Add three tablespoons of mix.  Whisk or stir thoroughly until chocolate bits are melted.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Please don't pay too much attention to the frosting on the above photos.  A professional I am not.  The other day J rediscovered our bucket of cookie cutters and decided we should make some cookies so he could try them out.  I wasn't in the mood for cookies of the gingerbread or sugar variety, wanting something more chocolaty instead, so I did a quick search and found these ones on Smitten Kitchen.  Have you ever been to Smitten Kitchen?  If not, you should go there now.  I'll wait.  And hope that even though it is light-years cooler than what I've got going on over here, you'll still come back because most of you readers are family and you love me, right?

Are you back?  Good.  These cookies were really easy to make.  I tweaked them just a tad to my liking and they were great.  They would be even better dipped in dark chocolate, but alas, I had none in the house.  These would be great to whip up for a neighbor Valentine's gift or for the kids.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Very slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa until fluffy. Add flour mixture a little at a time, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, brushing loose flour off the top.  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Week: Chocolate Crepes

Hi everyone!  Remember me?  The one who hasn't written since November?  Sorry about that.  To make up for it, I'm giving you chocolate.  A whole week of it.  In the form of a week's worth of recipes that use chocolate in them.  Doesn't that sound nice for the week leading up to Valentine's day?  So to start with, here's today's recipe, Chocolate Crepes:

Mmm.  So good.  These are perfect if you're looking for a slightly unusual dessert (or a fancy-schmancy breakfast).  For regular crepes, leave out the cocoa powder and decrease the sugar to 1 tablespoon.  To really send these over-the-top, whip up some creamy crepe filling to go with them.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Crepes
Printable version

1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
Powdered sugar, if desired

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in milk, melted butter, vanilla, and eggs.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.

Lightly butter a small skillet (I use an 8-inch) or crepe pan.  Heat over medium heat until butter becomes bubbly.

For each crepe, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup of batter into skillet.  Immediately rotate skillet around until a thin layer of batter covers the bottom.  Cook until the top looks dry.  Run a wide spatula around edge to loosen; turn and cook on the other side until light brown.  Repeat with remaining batter, re-buttering skillet as needed.

Stack cooked crepes with waxed paper between each.  Keep covered.  Fill with berries, whipped cream, jelly or jam, or whatever strikes your fancy.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.