Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies

It never even occurred to me that someone might not like shortbread cookies. They’ve always been a favorite of mine for the reason I suppose a lot of people don’t like them — there isn’t a lot going on there, and the flavors aren’t bold. In fact, the primary flavor is butter, so you do have to use the good stuff. But Darcie came up with a fantastic spin on shortbread cookies with this recipe, adding macadamia nuts, chocolate ganache and — what really sets these apart — freeze dried raspberries crushed to bits. The flavors marry beautifully, and the raspberries give it an unexpected zing, plus make them look adorable and festive.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Macadamia Shortbread Cookies

Allergy Egg, Milk, Tree Nuts, Wheat
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly
Flavorful shortbread cookies? I know it sounds unusual, but adding macadamia nuts, chocolate ganache and freeze dried raspberries to the mix really takes this one over the top.

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts (finely chopped)
  • 1 Large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache Icing

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried raspberries (crushed)

Directions

Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add the flour and mix until just combined. Add the macadamia nuts to the mixture. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to roughly 1/4-1/2 inch thick, then cut into squares or desired shapes. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for about 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
Ganache Icing
This is the a “cheat" method of making ganache, but I find it works well for cookie icing. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate and cream in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring between microwave sessions.
Dip one end of each cookie in the ganache, then sprinkle with raspberry powder. Place on wax paper and allow to cool and set. This is not a very hard icing when dry, so take care not to stack cookies on top of each other, or do so with caution.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Dump-It Cake

This cake. Oh, man. THIS CAKE. I really dislike baking, but love This Cake so much that I’ve made it many times over the course of this year — and no one ever knows it’s gluten-free! When something this special comes along, I just have to share it with you, and Sweets Week seemed like the perfect spot for it. The original recipe at the New York Times (by Amanda Hesser of Food52) is wonderful, I’ve no doubt, but I turned to Cup4Cup Flour to make it gluten-free, as I have so many times in the past. The selling point for this blend is that it can be substituted cup-for-cup (See what they did there?) for AP flour without any additions, but I keep coming back to it because those claims are actually true and it doesn’t have an odd taste the way so many other GF blends do.

I also incorporated quite a few suggestions from the comments section of the Times article, so I thought it would be easier to communicate everything to you in the form of a recipe here rather than a bunch of notes about substitutions you’d have to figure out on your own, so enjoy! I didn’t use the original frosting recipe because I found it much too heavy on the sour cream, but use it if you like that flavor, or try your favorite frosting, or just open up a container from the baking aisle of the grocery store – I promise I won’t tell a soul. And please let me (and the original poster) know what you think if you try it! Check out Darcie’s post here for more about this amazing, rich, delight of a cake.

Chocolate Cake Slice | Amy Roth Photo

 

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Chocolate Dump-It Cake

Allergy Egg, Milk
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
This gluten-free chocolate cake is everything you want in any chocolate cake — rich, moist, and thoroughly chocolate-y.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar (plus more for dusting cake pans)
  • 5oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (plus more for greasing cake pans)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (or 1 cup water + 1 teaspoon espresso powder)
  • 2 cups Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Note

I adapted the original New York Times recipe to make this cake gluten-free, plus incorporated several of the helpful notes in the comments section.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack to catch any drips as the cake bakes on the middle rack. In a 2- to 3-quart pot, mix together the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, and coffee. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease the paper as well. Use extra sugar to dust the pan as you would with flour; this results in a crispy exterior and adds a nice little bit of sweetness.
When the chocolate in the pot has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions, and without over-mixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice to blend. Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in the pan, run knife around the edges of pan, then turn cakes over onto cake plate. Carefully remove parchment paper, then frost.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

The weather’s been topsy-turvy here in the Northeast this fall, but a couple of days ago, Old Man Winter pulled into town. If that’s the case where you are, today’s recipe is really going to hit the spot, though cold temperatures are in No Way a requirement for something as delicious as this Nutella Hot Chocolate. You can top it with whipped cream the way we did or with a big marshmallow or two and take a torch to it for something reminiscent of drinkable s’mores. You’ll thank me. And I thank Darcie for this scrumptious recipe – be sure to check out her post at the link.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Nutella Hot Chocolate 2 | Amy Roth Photo

Nutella Hot Chocolate | Amy Roth Photo

Nutella Hot Chocolate

Serves 1
Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Beverage
Nutella Hot Chocolate — for those days when you need a little something extra to take the chill away.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella
  • pinch salt

Optional

  • 1 shot Frangelico

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat the milk. Whisk in the Nutella and salt, stirring until well combined. Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows, then serve.
For a grown up twist on this hot cocoa, a shot of Frangelico would intensify the hazelnut flavor, or stir in some whiskey or other alcohol as desired.

Day 18, Chocolate Chunkers

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 18

These chocolate chunkers may not be the most attractive cookies ever to grace a blog, but they surely rank among the most delicious. And why wouldn’t they? Dorie Greenspan developed the recipe. ’nuff said.

I’m a batter eater from way back and honestly had a hard time convincing myself to cook these at all, but after resting for 10 minutes out of the oven they somehow improved upon what I thought was perfection. As we nibbled in the following days, Gil and I took to microwaving the cookies for 15 seconds or so to melt the chocolate a tiny bit, which was a great idea; they’re rich, and one is perfectly satisfying when they’re ever so slightly gooey.

Did you know that you can click on any image and it’ll take you to its flickr page? I only bring that up because, unless you’re using the biggest of monitors, the following behemoth will be tough to view in one window. Sorry ’bout that, but these cookies merited an ingredient shot. Plus, I’d just bought that chocolate spear, which is AWESOME and makes chunking chocolate from a big bar so much easier than doing it with a knife.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 18

Get the recipe here. The only changes I made were to substitute equal parts dried bing cherries and chopped apricots for the raisins, and Cup4Cup flour for the AP flour.

Day 12, Churros & Chocolate

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

When Gil and I visited Madrid for a week in October (it was for work! really!), I fell head over heels in love with the city. It wasn’t just the beautiful scenery (though it was a feast for the eyes), or that there seemed to be one restaurant per resident (though dining establishments were numerous and mostly quite good) or the flirtatious old men (though they were wonderfully, shamelessly mischievous). No, my friends, it was the churros.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

We needed a pick-me-up the day of our arrival, and I insisted upon visiting Chocolateria San Ginés, where I discovered the wonders of the churro. You may wonder why a gluten-free blogger went straight for fried dough. A fair question! When I travel, I throw aside gluten-free considerations and indulge, knowing I’ll pay the price. And while my joints got progressively worse, it was tolerable — nothing like the hobbling I’d experience here if I’d eaten even a fraction of that wheat. So yay, lucky me.

Now, these weren’t the thick, doughy churros sold at subway stops around NYC, but long, thin, crispy batons served with a cup of chocolate that fell somewhere between hot chocolate and pudding in consistency. I returned daily and probably could’ve ordered “the usual” by the end of the week. After a couple of days, I realized I much prefer to dunk them in café con leche than in chocolate, but that’s probably because I grew up eating beignets, for which café au lait is the preferred dunking medium.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

Another fun part of the trip was catching up with our friend Jessica, who flew in from Naples to visit with us for a few days. She played tourist with me while Gil was at his conference and graciously worked my daily visit to CSG into her schedule. One day, while the three of us were getting our nosh on, we noticed a few churros at an empty table next to us and thought it was funny that anyone would leave without finishing. Just then an older woman swooped in from down the street to pick up the leftovers and bounced back to her group of friends, proudly waving the churros before her like a prize. I ask you, when was the last time you ate something so delicious that people will steal it from a stranger’s plate? Never, I’ll bet.

I can’t say I was itching to recreate them when I got home because 1) I was a little over the experience and 2) I have a definite fear of frying. But with the reality of those churros fading from memory and Hanukkah in full swing (festival of fried dough!), I thought this might be the perfect time to try them out for myself.

And, well, they were not the biggest success I’ve ever had in the kitchen, which was entirely my fault. The dough is quite thick, and combined with my small pastry tips and low-rent pastry bag (a Ziploc, of freezer thickness, even), I had a blowout immediately:

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

One good thing about this experiment is that mistakes are totally edible, even if they don’t appear cookbook-worthy. So I regrouped and rebagged with my largest pastry tip (still far too small) gaffer taped for reinforcement and set about frying in earnest. By the time I was done, the bag was so patched up with black tape that it couldn’t have looked more Frankenstein’s monster-like if it had bolts and big shoes attached. Still, I think the churros turned out pretty swell, all things considered. And look, I randomly pulled a few interesting shapes from the oil:

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

The churros canes are very seasonal! The knot isn’t something I could reproduce if I spent a month trying! Overall, the churros were much crisper with less give than the authentic ones, but really good, especially after they’d been coated with cinnamon-sugar.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

Fried dough + sugar + chocolate = amazing, no matter the trials and tribulations.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 12, Churros & Chocolate”

Two-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

I’ve had this chocolate mousse bookmarked since Food52 first posted it, but I’ve never had a great excuse (not that I needed any, I suppose) to make it until now. Gil was out of town for our sixth anniversary earlier this week, so I wanted to make something special for the weekend. I mean, there’s a beef heart thawing in the sink, but that’s maybe just a tiny bit less romantic than chocolate mousse.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

This an incredibly easy and forgiving recipe with only two ingredients — chocolate and water — so how can you mess that up? Just be sure to use the best chocolate you can, since it really shines here.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

My first batch didn’t really set (which is where the forgiving part of the recipe comes in), so I added a little more chocolate to the mixture then put the pot back over a low burner to melt. Starting over gave me the opportunity to test old-fashioned whisking vs. a hand blender vs. an immersion blender. I have to say that the immersion blender was BY FAR the easiest and least messy of the three methods. Oh, the things I do for you.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

Once the mousse has thickened (which happens very quickly with the immersion blender), it sets almost immediately, so be prepared to spoon it into cups right away.

Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse | Minimally Invasive

I sprinkled the mousse with chocolate shavings, but you can add a dollop of whipped cream or just leave it plain for full-on chocolate sensation.

Get the recipe here.

Chocolate Cake!

gluten-free chocolate cake

I saw this chocolate-sour cream cake on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn last week and simply could not get it out of my mind. A two-layer chocolate-sour cream cake! I had to make it. HAD TO. Because Gil’s birthday was just a few days ago, it gave me the great excuse I didn’t really need (because I have this here blog, you see). I used Jules Gluten-Free Flour in place of the AP flour in the original recipe.

gluten-free chocolate cake

So I got to work as soon as Gil left for for the office this morning, and it still took most of the day because I’m not much of a baker. Nor am I much of an icer, from the evidence presented above. Still, a crumb coat must be applied, no matter how messily.

gluten-free chocolate cake

I think it looked pretty nice once I was finished. And even though powdered sugar-based frostings aren’t really my thing, I couldn’t stop sampling. I think it was the sour cream that made it so irresistible.

Just to be safe, though, I decided to add a layer of poured ganache. What could it hurt?

gluten-free chocolate cake

You really should’ve seen my absurd setup for this shot: Seated on the floor, camera balanced on my right knee with auto focus engaged (I hoped), while my left hand stretched as far as possible to get the ganache close to the center of the cake. Oh, and let’s not forget the big reflector balanced on my left shoulder. It’s a wonder I ever get anything in focus at all. The things I do for you!

gluten-free

Naturally, I allowed the ganache to cool just long enough lose the completely smooth surface I made it for IN THE FIRST PLACE, so I rummaged around in the fridge till I found a visual distraction — pecans. PECAAAAANS! (Have I mentioned that I’m not much of a baker? Because I’m not. At all.)

gluten-free

See? All you notice is the pecans, right?

I Have Two Words For You

Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate | Minimally Invasive

OK: “Nutella” pudding.

Gluten-free treat with chocolate and hazelnuts | Minimally Invasive

Strictly speaking, it’s a gianduja pudding because there’s no Nutella product in there, but that doesn’t matter — if you love hazelnuts and chocolate, you’ll fall hard for this dessert.

Hazelnuts | Minimally Invasive

I was perusing Food52 a few days ago and noticed a little “We Think You’ll Like” section in the corner with this recipe leaping from the screen. Oh, Food52, you know me so well.

Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate | Minimally Invasive

Oh, and the recipe taught me something new — Dorie Greenspan’s method of aerating the pudding before it chills to get an even silkier texture.

Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate | Minimally Invasive

Because of that little step, this pudding is light and airy, while Nutella is dense and perhaps too rich to eat much of in one sitting. Not a problem here.

Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate

In fact, it’s gone far too soon. Get the recipe here and see if you can’t manage to scrounge up more will power than we did.

Note: I changed only one small thing in this perfect recipe, and topped the pudding with chocolate shavings just before serving. Not a crucial step by any means, more along the lines of eye candy than anything.

Holiday Treats, Part the First

Hi, everyone. For the second year in a row, I’m afraid my schedule won’t allow for an annual Advent Calendar. (For honestly annual Advent Calendars past, see the 2007 & 2008 installments.) Part of the craziness is just my day job, which always astounds me with its busy-ness — you’d think I’d get used to holiday madness after working for a clothing retailer for 10 years, wouldn’t you? — but also

< < < < BIG ANNOUNCEMENT > > > >

I have a photo assignment! I’ll be shooting photos for a cookbook (not my own) starting next weekend!!!! It’s really just a dream come true, as clichéd and silly as that sounds, especially because I’ve toyed with giving up on this blog so many times. But without it I certainly never would have learned enough about photography to even consider doing this for a living. (Just putting it out there, universe…)

Anyway, instead of the Advent Calendar, I’m hoping to squeeze in a few posts on easy-to-make treats that might be nice for the holiday season. These little chocolate & pomegranate nibbles were inspired by something I saw in a comments section somewhere, but I just can’t remember the site. (If they look familiar, please leave a comment and I’ll give credit where it’s due.) Just melt chocolate in a double boiler, add pomegranate arils to achieve a chunky consistency, spoon onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and top with more arils, then chill until ready to serve. The juicy, tart arils really are a delicious foil to the smooth, bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate of your choice). I used only the two ingredients that were suggested, but I’d imagine they’d be delicious with the addition of chopped nuts, warm spices or a little liqueur.

And a little housecleaning:
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I didn’t make latkes this year for my husband because we’d much rather eat McDonald’s fries than any fried potato that comes out of my kitchen, but we did get the dogs to dress up for another portrait session. (One of the really, truly annual things on this blog. 2009 edition. 2008 edition.) Poor guys.

Happy Hanukkah!

not thrilled with this Hanukkah thing
Otis, rakish

Will there be treats?
Rufus, dubious

Stay tuned for Christmas photos next week.