You Can Have My Mini Offset Spatula
When you pry it out of my freakishly strong, heat-resistant fingers! Or you can leave a comment on this post and Lissa will put your name in the hat to win one for your very own. J
Welcome to the kitchen! It’s always been one of my favorite places to be, even before I met my husband in culinary school. Since then, I’ve done more baking than cooking and I always have a mini offset spatula close at hand. Anything you can do with a butter knife or a spoon, you can do better with a mini offset: frost cupcakes, mix color into icing, spread melted chocolate on a crust, fix decorating mistakes, spread batter in a pan, etc. At the moment, I have four in my toolbox and one in my purse. You never know when a baking emergency might crop up!
I often have baking emergencies, although they usually take the form of needing something impressive and fast for a function that I forgot to write down on the calendar. When this happens, I usually make brownies. Serious brownies. Hardcore brownies. Brownies that inspire the NEED for a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. Sometimes both. My brownies can be whipped up in an hour, including baking time, but I never feel like I’ve “lamed out” when I make them. This recipe offers two excellent opportunities to use your mini offset spatula: when you spread them in the pan and when you frost them. Bonus! J
Soooo good, they are worth every calorie. Every. Single. One.
Oven temperature: 325
Bake time: 40 minutes
2 sticks unsalted butter
18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
a serious pinch of salt
Optional: 1 cup nuts or dried fruit
Also optional: Powdered sugar, store-bought frosting
Spray your pan with pan-spray or, if you want to cut them beautifully, line the pan with parchment, making sure the parchment extends over opposing edges by at least 2 inches.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolates with the butter.
Stir in the sugar.
Stir in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the vanilla.
Then add the flour.
Mix vigorously for one minute.
Scrape into the pan. Smooth the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, until they feel set in the center.
Let cool. If you used parchment, pull them out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into portions.
Easy Finish: sprinkle with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
The Extra Mile: Frost these bad boys with store-bought chocolate fudge frosting or make chocolate ganache and glaze them. It makes cutting the brownies a hair more challenging, but in the best possible way.
Never Let Them See You Sweat: Pipe a rosette of frosting on top of each brownie and garnish with anything that strikes your fancy. I’ve use gummi candies, pieces of candy bars, bouncy balls and chocolate covered coffee beans. Yum!
What’s your favorite last minute dessert? Or do you have a kitchen tool you can’t live without? What is it? I’m always looking for great recipes and useful gadgets! Leave us a comment and Lissa will pick one lucky winner of a mini offset spatula. Happy baking!
Joe Rafferty is just as mouthwatering as the food he cooks. But if he thinks he’s going to waltz in and take over her kitchen, he’s denser than a thick slice of chocolate ripple cheesecake. Marly has invested too much of her life in Chameleon to hand off the restaurant to someone else—especially a cocky-as-all-get-out superstar chef. But there’s no denying the man knows how to light her fire. Question is: Can she have the sizzle without feeling the burn?
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About Amanda Usen
Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own scrumptious husband. Visit her at http://www.amandausen.com if you’d like to chat about romance, writing or recipes.
Coffee. I love coffee. We all know that. I also like my coffee sweet. I’ve tried it black, straight, strong, weak, medium, fresh ground, pre-ground, cheap, and not so much… No matter what the brand, the price… I don’t like straight black coffee.
When I started drinking coffee, I started out on the sweet kind and well, you know how it goes.
My preferred coffee of choice now is cold-brewed iced coffee, but I drink my fair share of hot coffee. I drink flavored lattes only on rare occasions now, because frankly they’re too sweet and too heavy. I like a good mocha and my favorite is from Caribou Coffee. They have a dark chocolate campfire mocha that’s amazing. It’s the only mocha I like really and I only have one of those every now and then. They are rich and sweet and so yummy that I can’t have them very often.
I have found in my drinking of and experimenting with coffee that different sweeteners work better in hot coffee than in iced coffee. Some don’t really work in either one because, if you like your coffee sweet, you’d have to use so much more than the suggested serving size of 1-2 tablespoons.
When I would get iced coffee from the coffee shops, I’d get a shot of vanilla or caramel syrup followed by milk. Sometimes soy, sometimes almond, sometimes regular. When I started moving away from refined sugars, I stopped buying iced coffees already prepped behind the counter. I’d instead use sugar in the raw and half and half. That one works in hot coffee too and isn’t too bad. It wasn’t enough though, I still needed to play and try things out.
My favorite store bought creamer was Bailey’s. Their caramel was my favorite, their French vanilla, a close second. And unlike most of the other coffee creamers on the market, there was no partially hydrogenated oil in it. And at the time, I wasn’t concerned with the fact there was sugar AND corn syrup AND artificial flavors. Eventually, I did become interested and stopped using them. That was a very sad day. I tried Coffee Mate’s new Bliss creamers and they were very good, only sugar, cream, and milk. Still though, one needed to use more than the recommended serving size if one was going to be able to taste it. For a small cup of coffee, 6oz, 2 tablespoons was good for me. In a large cup, 10oz or more and we’re talking 4 maybe 5 tablespoons depending on the strength of the coffee.
All this aside, I do understand why there are serving sizes and my coffee seems to be the one area I have the biggest portion dilemma in.
For the time being, I am using So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut creamer. It is great in hot coffee. It is awful in iced coffee.
I’ve tried Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer and I don’t like it in either hot or iced. Almond milk and regular soy milk? Same thing. Rice milk? Ick!
The flavored coffee creamers in the stores are delicious. But I don’t know how much sugar is in them, what kind of cream, or milk. I don’t want artificial flavors, oil, water, corn syrup. So Delicious has organic coconut milk, and does have sugar in the form of dried cane syrup. I don’t use a lot of it at one time. It doesn’t have an over the top coconut taste either and that’s great considering I don’t really like the taste of coconut.
One of the things I love for iced coffee now now is homemade coffee creamer. I’ve used three different recipes… And the one with Sweetened Condensed Milk (Organic), Milk (Organic), and homemade vanilla extract is my favorite for iced coffee. I’ve used Eagle Brand Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk too and nothing in the flavor is compromised. It’s a very thick creamer and I measure it out to my tastes.
For this kind:
1 1/2 cups milk (2% for me)
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 T pure vanilla extract
Put in a glass bottle or jar and shake vigorously. Keep refrigerated and shake before use.
I’ve made it with evaporated milk as well and didn’t care for it as much, but it’s still good and I may try it again…
12 oz can evaporated milk
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 T pure vanilla extract
Put in a glass bottle or jar and shake vigorously. Refrigerate. Shake before use.
The other that I’ve tried is from one of my favorite food blogs… Deliciously Organic. She has a ton of flavors and even an organic dairy-free, sugar-free recipe. This is the recipe, I’ve used before and it’s excellent.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 vanilla bean
Whisk together milk, cream and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cut vanilla bean in half, and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla bean to milk mixture. Turn off heat, cover the pot and steep for 30 minutes. After mixture has steeped, strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator. (If you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand, simply replace it with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)
This a thin creamer but it’s delicious.
And here’s the sugar-free/dairy-free recipe from Deliciously Organic… (she even has an Almond Joy flavor)
French Vanilla Coffee Creamer
For the creamer:
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons date paste (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Will store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for one week.
Here’s the recipe she uses for the date paste:
For the syrup:
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1 cup hot water
Place dates in a blender or food processor. Turn blender or processor on and slowly add in hot water. Leave the machine on for about 1 minute, until smooth. Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
I haven’t tried the sugar-free/dairy-free recipe yet, but one of these days, I will. I’m always up for trying new things.
If you’re so inclined, give some of the homemade creamers a try…I haven’t yet tried to make homemade sweetened condensed milk. It’s on my list though. I do make my own homemade vanilla extract.
What do you use for creaming and sweetening your coffee? I want all the details…grins.
I made a cake over the weekend. It was one of those to-die-for cakes. It was chocolate, coffee, whipped cream, cream cheese, buttermilk, and it melted in my mouth. It was one of the best chocolate cake recipes I’ve ever made and I will be making at least the cake part of it again. Soon. Like next week.
Cappuccino Cake. Just the name brings to mind all sorts of yumminess. I mean, really, how could I, Lissa Matthews, be expected to resist the temptation of a concoction of such a delicious thing? It was gone by the next day and NO, not because I ate it all. My daughter’s friends came over and they had some, my son had a slice, I took several slices to the girls at the dental office, and I had a slice. And we aren’t going to discuss the 4 cupcakes the leftover batter made. Nope. We aren’t.
Before I give you the recipe, I will say I did modify things a little. The cake called for 2 extra large eggs, I used 2 large. I used Olive Oil instead of vegetable oil, and I used 2 cups of Sucanat instead of white granulated sugar. I love the way it works with chocolate recipes.
For the whipped cream cream cheese frosting, it called for frozen whipped topping, thawed of course. I made my own whipped cream for it. It took a little extra work and the end result was a little softer and than had I used the frozen kind. My reasoning was simple…the frozen kind is made from water, corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and high fructose corn syrup. Those are the main ingredients. Mine was made with organic heavy cream, two tablespoons of organic powdered sugar, and real vanilla extract (homemade).
Either way, the cake had to be refrigerated. And was better the next day after making it.
For the chocolate cake:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups Dutch cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment paper and sides of pan with butter or cooking spray.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
With mixer still on low, add the hot coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans from oven to cooling racks.
After cakes have cooled, carefully turn one layer out onto cake plate.
For the frosting:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup strongly brewed coffee, at room temp
1 (8oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
cinnamon and chocolate chips for garnish
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffly.
Mix in coffee until well combined.
Fold in whipped topping.
Refrigerate frosting for 30 minutes before spreading on cake.
To Frost Cake:
Turn one cake layer onto serving platter.
Spread 1/2 the frosting over cake.
Top with remaining cake layer and remaining frosting.
Sprinkle cinnamon over top of cake.
Sprinkle chocolate chips around outer edge of cake.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before slicing.
Store in refrigerator.
It really is a divine and delicious cake. For the coffee parts, I actually brewed K-cups. LOL… This was a recipe that made this author incredibly happy with every bite!
I cook all the time. I love cooking and baking and trying new things in the kitchen. New products, new foods, new appliances. I love trying to substitute ingredients in recipes that might be more flavorful or healthier than what was originally called for.
And I only hate going grocery shopping if I don’t have the money to splurge on anything different or new. Because it’s such a big passion of mine, being in the kitchen, I always try to shift funds around to make sure I can get a few things I am curious about trying.
I’m the one who views food and recipes and cookbooks and appliances and food stores the way some women view shoes, clothes, and jewelry…
Do you try new things? New ingredients? Switch out favorites?
A few of my newest finds that I’d read about or wanted to try on my own lately, or that I have tried and found I wanted more of, have been:
Larry’s Beans… whole bean coffee in awesome varietal names such as Cowboy, Bad Kitty, Mightier Mocha Java
So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Coffee Creamer... now, because of my coffee love, I try different creamers all the time. I have made my own, I have used half and half plus sugar/flavored syrups (until I stopped using the syrups unless I can make my own), Organic Valley French Vanilla Half and Half (my fave, honestly, but high in carbs and sugars and calories), Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss, Bailey’s non-alcoholic, Silk, etc… I decided to try this product when I saw it in Earth Fare the other day. I’m not a fan of coconut unless it’s straight out of the shell, but there are a few products with coconut or made with coconut that I do love (coconut oil, homemade granola). The coconut creamer is good. Very good. I’ll be using it more often. It’s light on coconut flavor, but creamy and full of vanilla flavor.
Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions… frozen peppers and onions, but I use these in all recipes calling for fresh onions and peppers. They give an excellent flavor to everything.
Trader Joe’s Sprouted 7-Grain Bread… I don’t like sprouted grains very much. I’m not big on nutty texture in food and I’ve tried sprouted grain breads before like Ezekiel brand, but couldn’t get beyond the price and texture. But the Trader Joe’s brand…delicious and the texture is just right for me.
Sucanat… I use this in place of white and brown sugars. It’s a deeper flavor and I love it.
Coconut Palm Sugar… It smells like graham crackers, but has a different taste. It can be used in place of other sugars as well and it’s low on the Glycemic Index.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour… I use this in muffin recipes, have used it in chocolate chip cookie recipes, waffles, pancakes, etc… It’s wonderful in place of all-purpose white flour. Harder to find (I buy mine from Earth Fare in the bulk bins), costs more, but it’s worth it to me.
Quinoa… I’m still getting used to this super grain that is high in essential amino acids. It’s got an odd taste, I can’t quite describe it. An odd texture, not unlike couscous. I don’t like couscous, but I’m able to eat the quinoa, especially mixed with other foods like chicken, vegetables…
I am always up for trying new things, eating different foods, researching foods that may be more flavorful, healthful, etc… Do you try new foods and ingredients? If so, what have you found lately that you have grown to love?
Jane is the resident candy maker around here. She makes truffles. Dark chocolate truffles infused with peppers. She was looking for a hobby when she signed up for a candy making class, but ended up with a new best friend, Edward, and a new business.
You might remember Jane. Her book was called Sugar Rush. She had a really hot affair with a really hot Cowboy Surfer by the name of Graham. Well, the title has been changed back to its original, Melting Jane and it’s being revised for re-release.
Being that it’s the week of Easter, and being that I’ve been working on Jane’s book this week, she kind of put it into my head that we should share a truffle recipe with you. But, I’m going to do one better and share two.
First, Chocolate Chili Almond Truffles from The Spice House
1 Pound Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
2 Tablespoons Unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons Corn syrup
1 teaspoon Arrowroot
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons New Mexican Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 Cup Heavy whipping Cream
4 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa Powder
1/4 Cup Toasted almonds
Serves / Yields
about 3 dozen truffles
Take 9 ounces of the chocolate and chop it into small pieces. Place in a bowl with the butter, corn syrup, arrowroot, baking soda, chili powder and extract. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil, and slowly pour over the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until all the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Chill the chocolate overnight (or in the freezer for a few hours) until it is the consistency of a thick frosting.
Cut the remaining chocolate into small pieces and melt it over a double boiler. While this is melting, scoop the refrigerated chocolate mixture into little balls and roll until even. Quickly dip the balls into the melted chocolate to coat, and return to the refrigerator.
Place the dutched cocoa and almonds in a food processor and pulse together until blended. Remove truffles from the fridge and roll in the cocoa-almond mix.
Chocolate melts if manhandled too much, so if it’s taking a long time to prepare, work with only part chocolate at a time. Keep the remainder cold in the fridge.
(I love chili spiced truffles. They are rich and the kick of chili… Delicious!)
I think sometimes I view the chili truffles as a grown up candy, so I thought I’d sneak in a yummy truffle treat you could make for anyone. It’s easy and oh my goodness… They are so good. My daughter and her friends made two batches of these a couple of weeks ago and sold them all. With the profits, they all went to the zoo. Loved their ingenuity!
Second, Easy Oreo Truffles from Kraft Recipes
What You Need
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (15.5 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups), divided
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
MIX cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.
SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
Kraft Kitchens Tips
How to Melt Chocolate: Place unwrapped chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.
How to Easily Dip Truffles: To easily coat truffles with the melted chocolate, add truffles, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove truffles with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place truffles on prepared baking sheet; let stand until firm.
How to Store: Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
Give some thought to homemade candy for Easter this year. I am… And be on the look out for Melting Jane’s cover and re-release in the next few weeks.
P.S. Don’t tell Jane I shared another truffle with you. She might get a bit peeved… 😉