Hot chocolate is a staple around here, but we sometimes get tired of the usual cocoa mix (cocoa + icing sugar) swirled into warmed milk. Since we’re all fans of peanut butter and chocolate, years ago I tried swirling a spoonful of creamy peanut butter into hot chocolate, and it was a hit. Rich and delicious, it’s enough of an energy boost to take with you in a Thermos to the ski hill, skating, or when you come inside after some snow shovelling or snowman-building.
Elizabeth and Julie appeared on Your Morning in Toronto on Friday, talking about desserts you can make in your slow cooker – recipes from the new Family Slow Cooker cookbook, which is in stores now! We made coffee pots de creme, using the slow cooker in place of the usual bain marie (hot water bath), to ensure a moist, gentle heat, but we also had our Chocolate Caramel Pecan Upside Down Cake on display – a gooey treat that bakes up perfectly in the slow cooker – and slides right out, after it’s done!
The edges of the pecan layer will get chewy, the center stays softer. This cake will make a lot of people happy!
Ever tried blue cheese paired with dark chocolate? It’s divine! These fudge-like squares are deliciously different, and can be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them – perfect for summer nibbling.
This recipe features the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winner in the Blue cheese and Organic cheese categories – Bleu D’Élizabeth, a beautiful organic semi-soft cheese from Quebec. But any blue will do – I like to support our local farmers and producers by choosing Canadian cheeses – some of the best in the world!
I’m a huge fan of brownies – and chocolate chip cookies – and Oreos. What if the three of them got together and morphed into the best of both brownie and cookie worlds? These brownies have a chocolate chip cookie dough base, sandwich cookies in the middle, and a fudgy chocolate brownie top. This is how to win friends and influence people.
Earlier this month, Mary, Julie and Elizabeth gathered at the Cookbook Company Cooks with a few dozen Best of Bridge fans for an epic baking party to raise money for the Calgary Food Bank. (Huge thanks to Gail for letting us use her space, and to Calgary Co-op for donating all the ingredients we needed!) We put a pot of mulled wine on the stove and had a blast of an afternoon baking together. Among old classics and new favourites, this was a new discovery we came up with that’s sure to stay in our holiday baking repertoire.
Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. peppermint extract (or substitute vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
extra sugar, for rolling
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cracked and set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
A guaranteed hit – easy and absolutely decadent! Prepare and freeze these serving-sized desserts ahead of the time, then cook them while you enjoy your dinner.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. instant espresso granules (or instant coffee granules)
- 1 Tbsp. boiling water
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 6 – 1 oz. squares semisweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 10 1/2 oz. pkg. frozen raspberries, thawed
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier liqueur (orange juice is a good substitute)
- To Make Volcanoes: Dissolve coffee granules in boiling water. Set aside to cool. Grease 6 – 4 oz. ramekins. Using a whisk, combine flour, cocoa and baking powder in a small bowl. Reserve. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add butter and sugar and stir until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Using as electric mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time on medium speed. Add dissolved coffee and flour mixture and continue beating until fully mixed. Raise mixer speed to high and beat for 6 more minutes (there must be something good on TV!). Pour batter into ramekins and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight or up to 2 weeks..
- To make raspberry coulis: Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a sieve (or a clean j-cloth) to remove seeds. Add liqueur and store in refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Take ramekins out of freezer and remove plastic wrap. Bake volcanoes for 18 minutes – no longer! Cool on rack for 5 minutes. The outsides will be crusty and the centers will be gooey – sort of like your average volcano. To serve, drizzle individual plates with raspberry coulis. Invert each ramekin onto a plate and add a small scoop of ice cream.
Midlife crisis: when the only thing you retain is water.