Tag Archives: Chocolate

Boston Food Finds Tour of Beacon Hill/Back Bay

16 Oct

On Columbus Day weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure to attend a Boston Food Tour of Back Bay & Beacon Hill courtesy of  Audrey at Boston Food Finds. Never heard of Boston Food Finds? Well Audrey has developed some amazing relationships with Boston area restaurants and specialty food stores to create some amazing food tours. Her tours include Beacon Hill/Back Bay, Greenway, and coming soon, Harvard Sq & Downtown (which includes Quincy Market & the North End). They are great for the tourist as well as a local!

I was excited to try the Beacon Hill/Back Bay tour. When Joe and I moved in together, our first apartment was in Beacon Hill, so the stroll to and from each place brought back some nice memories.

Our first stop was at Lydia Shire’s famed restaurant Scampo, which is located in the beautiful Liberty Hotel. I had heard so many fantastic things about Scampo so I was very eager to start our tour.

We were given a menu of what we would be sampling while we were at Scampo. My mouth was watering the second I looked at the menu! Gnocchi and pizza?!? Two of my most favorite things!

Obviously any restaurant that has it’s own slicing machine is a great place in my book.

But first! We were able to take a tour of the kitchen. It’s fairly small, but very efficient. Many of the chef’s were working on prepping for dinner service. Yum-mie.

While we waited for the food to be served, we got to munch on some tasty homemade bread sticks. These aren’t your run of the mill boring packaged bread sticks that are served at sub par restaurants. These were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, so-good-I-ate-3-of-them-breasticks.

We were sitting at the chef’s table, so we were able to see everything as it was made. I LOVE sitting at Chef’s tables. It’s so interesting to me to see how the food comes together to become something truly amazing.

And let me tell you, our first course did NOT disappoint. Fresh arugula, fresh tomatoes, with gooey mozzarella paired along side gnocchi served with chestnuts, Parmesan cheese reduction, and a browned butter, garlic and sage sauce.

I pretty much ate this in about 5 seconds. So amazing. And I remembered to sop up all the sauce with a fourth breadstick. Don’t judge me.

Next we tried Scampo’s world famous Lobster pizza. Um, hello? Lobster AND pizza. I might just have to live at Scampo (much to my wallet’s detriment). This pizza was amazing, tender and crispy crust, juicy and big pieces of lobster. My only teensy tiny problem with the pizza was that it was a little on the oily side. But still didn’t detract from the amazingness.

This tour was obviously off to a good start.

Our next stop was at Beacon Hill Chocolates. I have to admit, I’d walked past BHC while I lived in Beacon Hill, but never went inside. For shame. For inside contained….happiness.

BHC was in full Halloween mood. But you won’t find boring candy corn here. Sweet potato pie bars. Halloween inspired candy apples. Truffles. Lots and lots of truffles.

We were able to sample a variety of chocolates. And not just boring chocolate. Milk chocolate with lime and chile oil. Dark chocolate. All of it fantastic. And we got to take home some delicious S’Mores pops and some brownie pops. And I may have bought a couple pounds additional items.

The next stop on our tour was Bacco’s wine and cheese shop. Bacco’s opened this year and it has just been flourishing. This was another place I had walked by and was curious to see what it was all about.

Cheese? Check. Pâté? Check. Craft beers? Check. Awesome wine selection? Check. Delicious and affordable meals from Pigalle restaurant? Check. Meat and Cheese BENTO boxes?!?!! CHECKITY CHECK.

Yep. Awesome.

For this stop we got to sample some amazing Dukkah from Lydia’s Handcrafted Foods, which is an Egyptian nut and spice mix. Grab some bread, dip it in some fabulous olive oil, dip it in the Dukkah, repeat 1000 times, and fall into complete bliss. Next came the most amazing almond macaroons I’ve ever had. Made by an older gentleman, St. Emilion’s macaroons have an intense almond flavor that is out of this world. You cannot just eat one of these. We also tried 2 different varieties of cheese, plus a sweet pino grigio that was pretty amazing.

Up next was Sabatino & Co. I literally felt like I was walking into a perfume store, not a specialty food store (which is why I walked right past it!). Sabatino’s definitely belongs on Newbury St., with decadent olive oils (truffle infused olive oil anyone??), to the most amazing pistachio cream I’ve ever had in my life. I may have single handedly eaten about half of the jar.

Besides the sweets, we got to sample an intense black olive tapenade, a delicious eggplant caponata, and some delicious espresso cream.

The orange and strawberry chutney was one of my favorites. One of the most interesting products they had was truffle infused honey. Alone, I didn’t really care for the taste, but after I heard some of the things it can be used for, I would totally try it. Unfortunately, most of the items at Sabatino’s were out of my price range ($26.00 for an 8oz bottle of lemon infused olive oil????? Ouch) I didn’t buy anything.

Our second to last stop was at Turner Fisheries for their legendary clam chowder. To make their chowder, they use rice flour instead of regular flour because it produced a better consistency to the chowder. They even provided us with a copy of their recipe! Yum!

Their chowder definitely had a silky feel to it which I liked. The potatoes were great, not too soft, not too hard. Was it my favorite? Probably not, as I would have like more chunks of clam, but I will definitely take their advice on the rice flour.

Our last stop of the tour was at Sweet, because obviously we need to end with dessert. I’ve never really bought into the whole cupcake craze that has taken over Boston, as most of the time the cupcakes are overpriced, overly sweet, and overly dry.

With that said, I had a hard time picking a cupcake though. Do I go with a classic chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting? Do I go more Bostonian with a Boston Cream Pie cupcake? Do I go Fall with a Pumpkin Pie cupcake with cream cheese frosting? Decision Decisions.

In the end, I went with the Caramel Apple cupcake, complete with apple compote in the middle, vanilla bean caramel frosting, and a Popsicle stick to finish it off. It was pretty much the perfect ending to an amazing tour. Joe ended up getting the Molasses cupcake with crystallized ginger frosting, but saved it for later.

Thanks so much to Audrey and Boston Food Finds for such an amazing tour! And if you haven’t checked one out yet, you totally should!

Disclaimer: My husband and I were given 2 complimentary tickets for this tour. However, as always, all opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way shape or form.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 Aug

So in one of our recent CSA pickups we received a couple of zucchinis. I was at the point where I was sick of just sauteing them or roasting them in the oven. Which made me then think of dessert.

My father in law makes a mean zucchini bread. He doesn’t put chocolate in it but it is still delicious. I’m going to have to steal that recipe from him someday.

Seriously, I’m always in awe when I use vegetables in my baking on how amazing and moist and flavorful it turns out. You mean I can put veggies in my desserts and it’ll be healthy AND taste good?!? Um, yes please.

This zucchini bread was exactly what I was craving for these zucchini’s. I made them the day I took the tour at America’s Test Kitchen, and as I tweeted that it was currently in the oven I received a tweet from Megan jokingly asking if I would bring her a slice. Well, of course I said I would bring her a slice! That’s was friends (and food bloggers) are for.

Well, needless to say she told me I needed to blog this recipe ASAP. And here it is, two weeks later (that’s pretty good for me).

I need to tackle more veggie baked good recipes. Maybe Black Bean Brownies or Beet Cake is next on the list?

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Recipe from Eating Well

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
Directions:
 – Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat one loaf pan (mine was 9×5) with cooking spray and set aside
 – Spread walnuts in a pie plate and toast them in the oven for 57 minutes, until fragrant
 – Whisk flours, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl
 – In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, applesauce, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate to combine.
 – Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients using a spatula and fold to just combine
 – Fold the zucchini and walnuts into the batter
 – Spoon the batter into your greased loaf pan and smooth the top. Add some extra walnuts and/or chocolate chips to the top if you’d like
 – Bake the loaf in the oven for 55-60 minutes until the top is set and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean.
 – Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the pan then invert onto the rack and let cool completely
****DON’T FORGET!! Today is August 1st so wear PINK today to help support Fanconi Anemia. Tweet, email or Facebook me your picture if you want to be included in the album!!******

Homemade Nutella Tart

10 May

At one point in time Nutella was always available in our apartment. I’m pretty sure it was a National Crisis if the Nutella jar was empty at any point. Husband loves Nutella so much he would just eat it out of the jar. With a knife. Yeah, I know, he’s weird.

Then, one day, we just….stopped. Stopped buying Nutella. I would ask Hubby if he wanted any Nutella and he would just shrug and say “Nah.” Perhaps he was trying to reduce the amount of Nutella crust surrounding his heart? Maybe.

Well, let me tell you, one bit of this homemade nutella tart and you will NEVER WANT TO BUY NUTELLA AGAIN. Partially hydrogenated oil? Pah. How about cream, butter, chocolate and ::gasp:: hazelnuts. Granted, it’s not exactly HEALTHY for you, but it’s better than the jarred stuff. Maybe. Probably. Just go with me here.

I made this Nutella tart for Easter and it was consumed so quickly I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of a slice. The crust came out a little harder than I wanted, given that once someone attempted to cut a piece of the crust it would projectile itself across the room. (This seriously happened every.single.time someone tried to cut the crust with their fork) Whoops. Let’s just say my crust technique isn’t very professional. I tend to just cram the crust into the mold and let it sort itself out.

I had a ton of nutella leftover (OM NOM) because I used an 8″ tart pan instead of the called for 10″ tart pan. Feel free to drizzle the homemade nutella on ice cream, spread it on toast, add to your milk, or just eat out of the tub. With a knife, of course.

Homemade Nutella Tart

Adapted from the Flour Bakery Cookbook

  • Your favorite tart crust – I used the one from the Flour Cookbook as well but I’m too lazy to write it all out (Be honest, you’re only looking for the Nutella part anyway)
  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 lb milk chocolate, chopped
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet on medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until dark brown and fragrant. Let cool. Set aside 16-20 hazelnuts for garnish. Pulse the remaining hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
In a small saucepan, combine cream and nuts and scald over medium-high heat. Do NOT bring to a boil. When the edges start to bubble, you can stop.
Remove from heat and let sit for about an hour. Then, strain the cream through a mesh sieve into a bowl or pitcher.
Place both chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over barely simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have it) and heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream until fully combined. Add the hazelnuts, salt, and vanilla and whisk to combine.
Pour the mix into your baked tart shell until filled to the rim. Let the tart chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. If you’re in a pinch, place in the freezer for about an hour and you should be fine.  Remove from fridge about 2 hours before serving.

Mazurek – Polish Easter Cake

27 Apr

For those of you that celebrated Easter this past weekend I hope it was fabulous for you! It certainly was for me! It was nice to see family, eat some fabulous food, play some wiffleball (even hubby’s grandmother has a few swings!) and go on an Easter Egg Hunt! We managed to lose one of the eggs. It’s a good thing we used plastic eggs otherwise the back yard would start to smell!

It’s not too late to post about Easter food, right? I mean, even though this cake is traditionally served for Easter, it’s a cake that can and should be enjoyed year round. I had a lot of fun making this cake, and you can definitely make it your own by changing up the design.

I was originally going to write Happy Easter in Polish (which is Wesołych Świąt in case you were wondering) but I was literally baking and/or cooking for 6 hours straight on Friday night and about 2-3 hours Saturday morning that I was too lazy to write it out. But I like the simple design on this, and there were a lot of compliments.

The reason I picked out this cake was not only because it is traditionally served on Easter, but also because since my husband’s family is Polish, I pretty much HAD to make this cake. And they loved it!

Aren't they (we?) a nice looking family

Mazurek

From A World of Cake

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 9 egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The original recipe calls for a 10″ square or round baking pan. I used a 9″ round and it came out fine, I just let it bake for a few extra minutes. Butter and flour your pan and set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add ground almonds, vanilla and orange. Gently stir in the flour until combined. Pour into another bowl and set aside.
Make sure you wash and dry your stand mixer thoroughly before doing the egg whites. With the whisk attachment, add the eggs and beat on medium speed until frothy. Then bump it up to the highest setting and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned. If you press your finger in the middle, it should bounce back.
Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Chocolate Ganache
  • 2.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Using a double boiler, or a small sauce pan with a stainless steel bowl on top, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chocolate chips and honey and stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Remove from heat and stir the vanilla.
At this point I let the ganache cool slightly and then using a spoon I spooned the ganache onto the cooled cake and spread evenly.
At this point, the rest is up to you! You can decorate however you want. I used pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and candied orange peel. But feel free to use cookies, icing, different nuts, dried fruit, whatever you can think of! You are only limited by your imagination! My only advice is that if you are planning on using icing, make sure the ganache has cooled overnight before piping.
Don’t forget! Bloggers Bake for Hope Virtual Bake Sale is May 2-4. I’m making a Cream Cheese Coffee Cake from America’s Test Kitchen and there are TONS of other delicious offerings! Don’t forget to check it out!!!!

BCAE: Let’s Bake a Cake!

21 Apr

I have to be honest, I’m definitely a better cook than baker. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come a LONG way in my baking skills, but they still need some work.

Take cake for instance. I’m always frustrated when I make a cake. I get cake envy from those brilliant bloggers I read that can make huge thick layers of cake. My cakes never turn out like they do in the pictures. Their always sad and small.

So I decided to sign up for a cake baking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. I had previously taken a cooking basics class there and really enjoyed it so I thought with a 3 hour cake baking class I could figure out just what the hell was wrong with me and cakes.

Our teacher was Michelle, and she has an extensive and impressive background. She is a former bakery owner, went to culinary school and is currently earning her Master’s degree at BU. I was definitely impressed.

The first thing she taught us was how to make a simple syrup. It was crazy easy. You basically add sugar and water, leave it along, and voila,  simple syrup is made.

Then it was time to make cake! We made 2 different kinds, a traditional vanilla cake and a chocolate cake. I learned that you can basically mix the crap out of the cake for as long as you want until you add the flour, then you want to make sure you don’t over mix. By mixing the butter and sugar thoroughly, you incorporate air, which makes the cake big and tender. I think this was step 1 in my cake problem.

I think we mixed the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes. I know that I’ve never done that when I make cakes, so I know the next time I make cake I’ll let my mixer go for a LONG time. Michelle basically said to mix it for longer than you think.

Both cakes called for the milk/flour or sour cream/flour alternating technique. At this point we mixed the batter until it almost came together. Then, using a spatula, we incorporated the rest.

We made them into cupcakes because they don’t take as long as a cake, and the cake wouldn’t have cooled down enough for us to frost it. But don’t worry, she baked extra.

Both sets of cupcakes came out fantastic! The crumb was tender and moist, and I had a hard time not eating them all!!

Next up we made an Italian Meringue Buttercream. And when I say butter, I mean butter. This frosting has almost 2 POUNDS of butter in it. They aren’t kidding around.

This buttercream involved making another simple syrup, but this time it had to be brought to a specific temperature (242 degrees). I had never made this kind of frosting before, and it was a really interesting process. Basically you whisk the egg whites until frothy, add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Then, you turn the mixer to medium low and pour the sugar syrup in. Then you stir on high until the mixing bowl is cool to the touch. And believe me, it gets hot!!! A tip she gave us is that if you don’t have a ton of time, you can use a wet towel to cool the bowl.

Congratulations, you’ve just made Italian Meringue!!

Now, in order to make it into a buttercream, you start adding in butter. And more butter. And more butter. Adding small chunks and incorporating them until the buttercream “breaks” (like shown above). You’ll know that the buttercrea has broken because one second it’ll be nice and smooth and the next second it’s all choppy. Turn off your mixer baby, because you’re done!!

At this point, we learned how to assemble our cake! Michelle demonstrated how to cut off the top of your cake (and I volunteered to cut the second!). Basically you want to plant your hand on top of the cake, and glue your elbow to your side (the one holding the knife). Try not to move your hand that is holding the knife, but guide the knife all the way around the cake. By keeping your elbow as close to you as possible, the more straight the cut will be!

At this point we were running out of time, but she gave us a quick overview about the crumb coat. Basically you need to a) use an off set spatula b) never put your spatula into the frosting if it is covered in crumbs! Use a regular spatula to plop the frosting on c) use an edge to get as close to the cake as possible and get rid of excess frosting and d) refrigerate for a couple of hours before putting on the second coat. We didn’t have enough time for that so she went onto the next stage!

At this point she slathered on more and more frosting and evened it off until it looked pretty. Then she took some crushed candy bars and added them to the side of the cake. Hurray! Finished! And it was of course, delicious!

I definitely learned A TON from this class and I’m quite certain that my next foray into cake baking will be more successful. The BCAE is so wonderful and I’ve really enjoyed all the classes I’ve taken. In fact, I’ve just signed up for their bread baking class in June and I’m very excited! Can’t wait to report on that class as well!

Daring Baker’s: Meringue Coffee Cake

27 Mar

This was another Daring Baker/Cook’s Challenge that was done at the last possible minute. Last night at around 11:30PM to be exact. And photos were taken this morning. How’s THAT for procrastination? Just call me the Queen.

I’m always trying to enhance my knowledge of baking with yeast. And this Challenge was no exception. I was extremely happy with the rise on the bread, and even happier with the addition of the meringues (I’ve finally conquered meringues and their fickleness! Hooray!). Now I just need to work on making it look….pretty.

See what I’m saying? Ah well, as long as it tastes good right?

Hubby thought it tastes more like a babka and not a traditional coffee cake a la Entenmman’s. I gave him the side eye for it. While it’s not traditional coffee cake by any means, it’s still delicious.

 

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Recipe from Life’s a Feast

Coffee Cake Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dried yeast
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment combine 1.5 cups of  flour, sugar and yeast. Mix together then add the salt.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, milk and water and stir until the butter has melted. Add to the flour mixture and mix on low speed until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs and another cup of flour and beat an additional 2 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and using a wooden spoon add as much of the remaining flour in order to form a cohesive ball. Dump the mixture onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding the remaining flour until it forms a soft and smooth ball.

Place into a lightly greased bowl and make sure the ball is covered with oil on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

Meringue & Filling

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

In a VERY clean stand mixer with the beater attachment, add the egg whites and beat on low for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to as high as your stand mixer will go. Once the egg mixture begins to bubble and foam slightly add the vanilla extract. 1 tbsp at a time add the sugar until incorporated and stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set both aside

When the dough is ready punch it down a little and dump onto a floured surface and divide into 2 mounds. Roll each mound into about a 10×20″ rectangle. For each roll, dump half of the meringue mixture, followed by half the cinnamon sugar, and half of the chopped chocolate. Roll it up the long way until it forms a long roll and pinch the ends.

Gently transfer to a lined baking sheet and join the two ends to form a circle, making sure the pinched side is facing down. Using scissors, cut deeply into the roll every inch or so. The deeper you snip the better! I don’t think I snipped mine nearly as deep as I should have!

Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise an additional 45-60 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350. Mix up an egg wash (I didn’t have any whole eggs left so I combined 2 leftover egg yolks and some water. Worked out beautifully!) and slather it onto the rolls. Sprinkle additional cinnamon sugar if you wish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once, until the top is golden brown.

 

 

Daring Baker’s: Panna Cotta & Florentine Cookies

27 Feb

As you are reading this I am probably having a fabulous time in San Francisco (And getting ready to head to Lake Tahoe for snowboarding and snow tubing and other fun stuff!), so I’d like to make you feel better by showing you this fabulous panna cotta I made for Daring Baker’s.

When I tasted this panna cotta, it tasted EXACTLY like a melted vanilla milkshake. You can really taste when you are using vanilla beans and vanilla extract, there’s just that extra OMPH of vanilla flavor. Now, if you don’t like melted vanilla milkshake then there is probably something wrong with you.

To be honest, the panna cotta was a little on the extra jiggly side, but I think it was still a success for it being my first time! If you want your panna cotta to be extra creamy, substitute the half and half with heavy cream.

Then, pairing the panna with these beautiful florentine cookies? Oh man, that’s just way too much. I originally wanted to make these into round cookies, however the cookie dough was a little too runny and basically turned into one big sheet by the time I took it out of the oven. Oops? Well, the important thing is that they still tasted fabulous.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Florentine Cookies

As seen on Food Network

  • 2.5oz sliced, blanched almonds
  • 1.5 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp half and half
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor add the almonds and pulse until finely chopped. Stir together the nuts, flour, orange zest and salt in another mixing bowl.

Put the sugar, half and half, honey and butter in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it comes to a roiling boil. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour into the almond mixture and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake 10-11 minutes, turning pan once, until golden brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, cut into about 15 pieces. If some of them break, that’s ok!

While they are cooling, fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Combine the chocolates and melt until smooth. Once the cookies are cool, place about 1-2 tsp of chocolate on every other cookie and then sandwich them with the other plain cookie. If you want, drizzle more chocolate on top and on any broken pieces. Let them dry completely on a wire rack.

Panna Cotta

As seen on Food & Wine

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, insides scraped
  • 1 1/8 tsp gelatin
  • 1/5 tbsp water

In a small saucepan, combine the half and half, sugar and vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to just a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until evenly moistened, about 5 minutes.

Uncover the cream mixture, and reheat over medium high heat to just a simmer again. Remove from heat, and stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean. Pour the mixture into ramekins and let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

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