Aug 27, 2014

Are You A DARK CHOCOLATE LOVER?

Dark Chocolate Brownies, Hawaiian-style!
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My wife and I agree on most things, but when it comes to chocolate we don't agree at all. She likes milk chocolate and I love dark chocolate. It doesn't matter if you live on an island in Hawaii or in Lubec Maine, I know that there are a lot of people out there that feel the same way, so here are a few dark chocolate morsels for you to try.


Dark Chocolate Brownies Hawaiian-style!
Everyone loves brownies, but you don't need to buy the boxed kind when you can make these easy brownies from scratch. I have added coconut and macadamia nuts to make them even more decadent and delicious. These brownies are very rich, so I would advise cutting them into small pieces, nahh, it's ok, eat a big piece. 

Ingredients:
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Butter a 9x13 baking pan and line the bottom with buttered parchment paper.

Place butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until everything is just melted (about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. Stir in coconut and macadamias and pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the brownies are shiny and are beginning to crack on top. Cool completely in pan, on rack, before cutting. Serve with a big glass of milk, or a small glass of Maker's Mark bourbon on the rocks. Makes 16 large or 24 small brownies.

Cooks Note: If using salted butter, cut the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. I have found that these brownies are better if they sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. They harden up, and their flavors have a chance to meld.

Dark Chocolate-Coconut Buttercream Bars
If you are like me, you are hooked already. Sort of like finding out the secret to making Mounds Bars, dark chocolate, covered in creamy coconut buttercream.

Ingredients:
2/3 pound of 70% dark chocolate, crushed
3/4 cup icing sugar 
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk 
3 1/3 cups grated coconut

Procedure:
Melt gently the chocolate in a double boiler. Pour melted chocolate in a small square or rectangular pan (lined with parchment paper) and let set in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile combine softened butter and sugar. Add the condensed milk and coconut and mix well. Spread the coconut mixture over the chocolate. Make an even layer using a spatula or frosting knife and place the dish back into the fridge for a minimum of 5 hours. 5. When ready to serve, gently lift the chocolate bar off the pan using a spatula or knife, place on a large cutting board, and slice with your biggest and sharpest knife. Makes as many as you want to cut.

Dark Chocolate Hula Cake
This is a beautiful one layer dark chocolate cake that is laced with nuts. You could use pecans or walnuts, but if you want a more Hawaiian cake, use crushed macadamia nuts, then this cake will make you want to get up and do the hula.

Ingredients for the cake:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup ground macadamia nuts (measure them after grinding, not before)

Ingredients for the icing:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
a few tablespoons buttermilk, as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla
ground macadamia nuts for garnish

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.

Melt the chocolate on the defrost setting, or 50% power of your microwave. (Or over a bowl of simmering water). Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a small bowl along with the ground macadamia nuts. Cream the butter using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla, then melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread the batter into the pan and bake until a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack.

For the icing, melt the chocolate as above and set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter and add in the sugar and cocoa powder, beating until smooth. Beat in 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and the vanilla. Beat in the melted chocolate. Thin with buttermilk if it’s too stiff to spread nicely. This makes enough frosting to cover the cake with a thick layer. Sprinkle the top of the icing with ground macadamia nuts. Makes 6 servings.

Dark Chocolate-Ginger Bundt Cake
with Bourbon Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bourbon Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup good-quality bourbon (I use Maker's Mark brand)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Butter a 9-inch Bundt pan. Dust with cocoa powder, and tap out excess; set aside. Put butter, molasses, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter has melted. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Let cool 5 minutes.

Add eggs, milk, and grated ginger to the molasses mixture; whisk to combine. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined. (There should be lumps remaining.) Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

To make the bourbon sauce, put butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture registers 160˚F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes. Makes 1 1/4 cups of sauce.

When the cake is cool, invert, and un-mold onto a cake stand or a large serving platter. Using a spoon, drizzle the warm bourbon sauce over the cake in a back-and-forth motion. Serve immediately. Makes 10 servings.

Dark Chocolate Expresso Pie
OMG, this pie is to die for if you are a dark chocolate lover like me. Plus you get that hit of espresso in the ganache center topped off with a glossy pool of more dark chocolate that makes this recipe killer.

Ingredients for the crust:
I cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs (I used Nabisco's Famous Wafers, chocolate graham crackers, or any plain chocolate cookie)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons espresso powder (instant espresso)
10 ounce bag of good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the glaze:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon warm water

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine the crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Stir until all the crumbs are moistened and everything is well combined. Press evenly into a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. (You can also use a 9" pie pan) Cover the bottom and up the sides, using your hands to smooth and pack it firmly. Bake for about 10 minutes, then cool on a rack for about 20 minutes.

To make the filling, bring the cream just to a boil, take off the heat and stir in the espresso powder. Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Stir together until smooth. Combine the eggs, salt and vanilla in another small bowl, and then add to the chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Pour the filling into the cool crust. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the filling is set along the edges but still a bit loose in the very center. The filling will firm as it cools.
Cool the tart on a rack for an hour.

To make the glaze, bring the cream just to a boil (I did this in the microwave) and add the chocolate. Stir until completely smooth. Add in the corn syrup and the warm water and stir again until smooth and glossy. Pour over the tart, swirling it around so it coats the top evenly. Let set for an hour before cutting. If you refrigerate the tart, let it sit out a bit before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Note: You can top each slice with sweetened whipped cream if you like, but I like it just plain.

Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
This easy-to-make recipe is perfect for the holidays, served after a meal with a cup of coffee. A lot of people give cookies as gifts, but I give these to myself.

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Cream the butter, cocoa powder and sugar together until completely combined and smooth. Add in the vanilla. Mix in the flour, and finish with a wooden spoon. Don't over mix.
Stir in the chocolate chips and turn the dough out onto a board and form into an smooth 8" log. The dough will be sticky.

Wrap it in waxed or parchment paper and twist both ends to secure, shaping the log as you roll. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. You can also freeze the dough for later use. 

Slice the log into 1/3" slices with a sharp knife. Put on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. They will feel slightly soft, don't over bake them. Cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to a rack. If you're going to give them away make sure they are completely cool before you package them. Makes 12 cookies.

Dark Chocolate Gelato
You will need an ice-cream maker to make this rich dark chocolate gelato.

Ingredients:
2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup minus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg yolks

Procedure:
Coarsely chop chocolate. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan bring milk, cream, and about half of sugar just to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add cocoa powder and chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Add hot chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into saucepan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.) Pour custard through a sieve into a metal bowl set in ice and cold water and cool. Chill custard, covered, until cold.

Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, 1 to 3 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels
Ingredients:
1 large navel orange
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Procedure:
Using a vegetable peeler, cut the orange part of the peel from the stem end of the orange down to the navel end, forming long 3/4 to 1-inch-wide strips. Bring a heavy small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peels and cook for 1 minute. Drain and then rinse the peels under cold water. Repeat cooking the peels in the saucepan with fresh boiling water and rinsing under cold water.

Stir the sugar and 1/2 cup of fresh water in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Add the orange peels and simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the peels to a sheet of parchment paper to dry slightly, about 1 hour.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the chocolate in a small bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Dip 1 1/2-inches of each candied orange peel into the chocolate then place them on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes. Makes 12 pieces.

Chocolate Lover's Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup honey
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
zest from one large orange

Procedure:
Place first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and orange zest. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 2 cups.

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