Posts tagged ‘Chocolate’

April 5, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Passover is quickly upon us, and I’m excited to be hosting this year. With a challenge to make a spread of delicious Passover dishes for my guests, I push thoughts of serving crostini with prosciutto out of my head. Do you remember my run-in with Alan as I wrapped chicken in bacon for Rosh Hashanah? I know I can make him proud this year.

Passover seders growing up were infrequent at best. It seemed we weren’t able to pull it together every year, but when we did my grandmother made a spread of all her finest fare. I can still picture my grandfather sitting at the table, in charge of the seder, yelling at my grandmother to sit down and promulgating assertively when it was time to drink the wine. I can recall at a very young age grandpa telling my mother it was fine for me to drink the wine, it would just make me sleepy. Was he trying to silence me? I certainly wasn’t missing any important Jewish lessons at our seder table, that’s for sure. He would usually lead the seder like this, “The Jews crossed the desert. Drink the wine. Forget it – let’s eat!” While other families spent hours going through the Haggadah, page by page, in painful detail, our seder was more like the abridged version of the cliff notes. In retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t be complaining but I know there’s a happy medium out there. I didn’t learn about the plagues until I bought my daughter a Rugrats Passover book when she was a toddler. Not normal! Come to think of it, this whole Passover experience might have been what led me to join our shul.

The last Passover seder with my grandparents I can remember, I was in my twenties. In a rush to get through the one page of the Haggadah my grandfather would commit to reading, we jumped right into the pot roast and ate ourselves sick. While we sat drinking coffee and eating dessert, proudly rubbing our full bellies, my grandmother leaped up from her chair and announced that she had forgotten that there was a turkey in the oven! Really?! I guess we know now where I get my inability to make small quantities of food. We didn’t even miss that turkey. I guess we ate it for lunch the next day. We are a family of crazy foodies going back for generations.

My father’s favorite food was anything with coconut. I discovered this recipe for coconut macaroons, originally adapted from the Barefoot Contessa and they are the perfect Passover treat. My dad would have loved them.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 25 cookies)

  • 14oz sweetened shredded coconut
  • 14oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites to beautiful peaks, not too stiff. In a second bowl, combine the coconut, condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture a little at a time, being careful not to overmix. Drop the batter onto parchment lined baking sheets using a cookie scoop. You want them to be fairly large, about a heaping tablespoon. The recipe should make about 25 cookies.

Bake the cookies for about 18-20 minutes, switching the cookie sheets around halfway through. Bake until the cookies are nicely browned on the tops. Remove and cool on a rack. Meanwhile, to melt the chocolate, place the chips in a glass bowl and microwave for about 60 seconds. They won’t look melted, but give them a stir and put them back in, turning on the microwave for 30 second intervals, until the chocolate is just about melted. Stir again and it should be properly smooth and glossy. Watch it closely in the microwave. You don’t want it to heat up too much. Only until it is just coming together.

Place a sheet of fresh parchment paper on a cookie sheet and dip one half of each cookie in the melted chocolate. Place the chocolate dipped cookies on the parchment and put the sheet pan in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is set. I usually make half of my macaroons chocolate dipped and leave the other half plain. So yummy!

* Here’s the recipe for my grandmother’s pot roast if you are planning a holiday meal or just want to make something special for dinner tonight.

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February 11, 2012

Be My Cherry Valentine Sundaes

Cherry Valentine Sundae

Sweets for your sweetie. When I think of Valentine’s Day, the color red comes to mind. My favorite candies were always anything cherry flavored. I can remember growing up buying the assorted rolls of life savers and digging through to find the few lonely cherry sweets in the pack. We used to have this awesome penny candy store in our little town. You would grab a small brown paper bag and pick your candies from huge barrels. I think they were all a penny apiece. So many barrels of cherry candies to choose from! For a quarter you could leave with a bag of cherry flavored loot.

I used to love sitting down as a kid to a big bowl of fresh cherries. I can hear my dad telling me if I swallowed the pits, a cherry tree would grow in my stomach. I knew better. My love of cherries has brought me to make this decadent dessert. The base of the sundae is Cherry Vanilla ice cream. Buy your favorite brand, I used Breyer’s. This cherry sauce has an adult twist, due to the Grand Marnier. You can leave it out if you prefer. It adds a depth of flavor to the cherries and makes it that much more delicious. As far as these chocolately cookies go, they’re perfect to make anytime, anywhere, and especially for no reason at all.

INGREDIENTS FOR CHERRY SAUCE

  • 16oz bag frozen cherries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)

Place the thawed cherries, sugar, and lemon juice in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes until the cherries release their juices and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Set aside and allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator, covered until cooled completely. Serve over ice cream – yum!

INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE COOKIES (makes about 3 dozen cookies)

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Parties

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar, mixing until fluffy and light in color. Add the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in the cocoa. Add the dry ingredients in three parts. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. To make drop cookies I use an OXO cookie scoop, which I love. It makes perfectly uniform cookies. After you place all your scoops on the cookie sheets, dampen your fingers and gently press down the tops of each cookie. Bake for about 15 minutes – you want them to appear underdone. Allow them to cool a little, remove to a rack to completely cool. I bake on the convection setting in my oven and these were done in closer to 12 minutes.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE HEARTS… I baked one large cookie. After it cooled a little I used a small cookie cutter to cut out the hearts. Pretty cute, don’t you think? I should mention I made most of the batch as regular drop cookies and only a few hearts. Cutting out the cookies makes a lot of scraps – which are still delicious, but not so pretty.

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