chocolate

chocolate whiskey bundt cake [love and olive oil]

In honor of This Day in Which Americans Cook and/or Consume Too Much Food, I bring to you one of my all-time favorite cake recipes: Love and Olive Oil’s chocolate whiskey bundt cake with whiskey caramel sauce. This cake is easy top 5 cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’ve made it or twists on it for four different birthdays over as many years, and at least twice more outside of that for fun or for dinner parties, because it is just that good.

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You can skip the caramel, if you’d like. It’s a wonderful caramel and a perfect pair for a dark chocolate cake, but I can understand that it’s not the best pick for every occasion. Vanilla frosting with funfetti sprinkles instead for a celebration? Yep, that’s excellent. I’ve done that. How about as the base of a layer cake that you then wrap in matcha buttercream and top with sparkling gold candles? I’ve done that, too, though I should warn you that’s it’s a very fluffy cake, and won’t be happy if you tower it too high without extra support. Do you just really, really love plain chocolate cake with none of the frou-frou? This cake will rise to that occasion as well.

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This cake is the ideal midpoint of dense yet fluffy, rich yet eat-a-second-slice light, fudgy and chocolatey and complex. The edges crisp up in a deeply satisfying way in the bundt pan, offering a nice contrast to the much softer center. It’ll dry out quickly if you leave it uncovered on your counter in the winter (trust me on this), but a bit of foil to cover it or a pop in the fridge after day 2, and it’ll last an easy 4-5 days, which is about as long as anyone in its proximity will be willing to let it sit.

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The one thing you should not do is skip the whiskey in the cake. The alcohol will bake off, but the whiskey itself lends a bite and a depth that coffee does not adequately reproduce.

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I have no modifications to offer on this recipe. Nothing. Zero. Lindsay 100% nailed it, so just click the link and follow her every word.

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This cake didn’t make it to our menu this year, but you should go ahead and bring it to your family’s/friends’/coworkers’ tables this weekend, or next week, or at any time, really. It’s always been a show-stopper at my table, and I’m sure it’ll be a nice standout against the many pies around yours.

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Until next time, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

chocolate-dunked pistachio shortbread [food52]

Winter is a cookie season.

December, yes, with its holiday cookies and cookie swaps and neat little DIY boxes tied with ribbon and full of festivity–but winter, as a whole, is a season for warm cookies fresh out of the oven, paired with a piping hot cup of black tea with milk. Even though Chicago can’t decide whether or not winter is actually happening this year, I dream of gooey, melting chocolate chunks and sugar-dusted buttery crumble.

Then again, maybe this is just me developing a shortbread obsession this season.

Over winter break, I made a grand total of seven different kinds of cookies, five of which were variations of shortbread. I have zero regrets about this, for the record, and I doubt any of my friends and family do, either.

One was a repeat recipe: chewy coconut lime sugar cookies, enhanced this time by rubbing lime zest into the sugar I used for rolling. The remaining six, however, were all new ventures. I didn’t properly photograph all of them, but I’ll be unrolling the ones I did, hopefully in time for you all to try them out before spring starts appearing.

We start the lineup with easily my favorite of them all: chocolate-dunked pistachio shortbread, recipe courtesy of Food52.

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These rich cookies are shockingly easy to make, yet bursting with flavor. Melt-in-your-mouth, crumbs-on-your shirt shortbread is made even better with the bright green, buttery crunch of fresh chopped pistachios and a smooth and generous coating of semisweet chocolate.

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Ever since my stay in Turkey, I’ve been craving a good pistachio dessert. Pistachio ice cream, pistachio-and-cream-filled pastry, and even pure pistachio paste–Turkey just knows how to turn these little nuts into an intense and luxurious experience.

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And let me tell you: with nearly a full cup of chopped nuts, these cookies do not skimp on the pistachio experience.

If you buy your nuts in small packages at a standard grocery store, this recipe could get expensive. I highly recommend trying something like Costco or a South Asian/Middle Eastern grocery store to buy nuts in bulk. Much more affordable, and who doesn’t want a bag of leftover pistachios to munch on?

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As for the chocolate-dipped part: you don’t need a double boiler, and you don’t need super high-quality chocolate for these to be absolutely delicious. I melted dark chocolate chunks (not chips!) in the microwave in 15-second bursts, and that was perfect for coating half of each cookie in a thick, smooth layer of chocolate that hardened nicely after a few hours.

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I sent some of these home with the boyfriend after he visited, but to be honest, I mostly ate them myself. Like I said: zero regrets.

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To my UChicago friends, happy 8th week! And to everyone else, happy last week of February! May the remainder of your winter be crisp and cookie-worthy.

 

chocolate-dunked pistachio shortbread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1/2 cup butter
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 plus 1/3 cups raw unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped, divided
  7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in 1/2 cup pistachios and vanilla extract.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
  5. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into logs 2-3 inches long (~20 of them). Place on lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake until just golden around the edges, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely.
  7. Melt chocolate (in a double boiler or in the microwave, carefully), stirring until smooth. Place remaining 1/3 cup pistachios in a shallow bowl.
  8. Dip one end of each cooled cookie into the melted chocolate, covering about 1/3 of the cookie. Let excess chocolate drip off.
  9. Roll chocolate-covered end in chopped pistachios, then place on a clean sheet of wax paper or a cooling rack.
  10. Repeat with remaining cookies. Let stand until chocolate has hardened--at least one hour.
  11. Cookies will keep in an airtight container up to 1 week (if you can make them last that long).
Adapted from Food52
Adapted from Food52
tlc. | tender love and cupcakes. http://tenderloveandcupcakes.com/

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt [ambitious kitchen]

(Originally posted: March 2, 2014)

I hate hard pretzels. I have always hated hard pretzels. There’s something about their weird saltiness but not-quite-bread-ness that I can’t handle. I think they’re dry and gross and I do not like them.

BUT. I love chocolate-covered pretzels.

I’m convinced that the salty-sweet combination is pure magic. Salted caramel, chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels, dark chocolate with sea salt, a bowl of popcorn sprinkled with M&M’s–I’m in love with all of it.

Enter these obscenely delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen.

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Warm, melty chocolate. Creamy peanut butter. The sudden crunch of sea salt every couple of bites. Perfect with a glass of cold milk, and definitely too good to eat just one. Mine did not turn out as thick as the ones in the recipe, but they were still wonderfully chewy, even long after they cooled down. 

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The batch was surprisingly large, and even in my apartment of four (with the frequent visiting friends), these lasted a while, still calling to me from the kitchen counter at 2 am nearly a week after they came out of the oven.

If you’ve ever found yourself studying late into the night anywhere near homemade baked goods, you understand this call that cannot be ignored, no matter how much your stomach may make you regret the decision soon after.

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Seeing Greek yogurt and honey in a recipe can almost fool you into thinking it’s healthy.
Almost.
At the very least, it serves as an (admittedly shaky) excuse to eat more than one when they come out the oven.
If there is a problem with this, I cannot see it.

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Obviously, there is science behind the unbelievable appeal of this salty-sweet combination, and being the nerd that I am, I started googling to find out the truth behind my deep, deep love of those dark chocolate/sea salt Lindt bars.

FUN FACT TIME!

There are a handful of studies that delve into the curious effects of salt on sweet treats. Our taste buds can experience five different categories of tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, which translates loosely from Japanese as savory. In general, our whole tongue is capable of tasting all five types, but there are different receptors for each one. Many studies suggest that the presence of sodium–half of what we use as common table salt, which is sodium chloride–affects more than just the salty taste receptors and in fact removes inhibitors that exist in other ones, allowing the sweetness of the food to be tasted more intensely than it would’ve been otherwise. In fact, this characteristic is what makes salt such a good flavor enhancer in the first place.

However, there is, of course, a limit. Please don’t go emptying your bottle of sea salt into your next chocolate cake. That is not something that will end pleasantly for you or anyone else.

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All science aside, whether you’re curious about the functions of your taste buds or not, these cookies are delicious and are bound to satisfy some craving of yours.

Stay safe, stay warm, and stir up a batch of these if you find yourself bored at home tonight.

Happy Saturday! 😀