Ricotta Nutella Dessert Cups

Both Amanda and I had a rough go of our most recent round of recipes. We were feeling something sweet and indulgent, but our ambitious recipe ideas fell a bit short this time. While I still have faith that our original visions will someday come to fruition, you know what they say: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Scientific accuracy of that phrase aside, these dessert cups were a happy accident when I was forced to improvise. Between having used up many of my ingredients on a failed casing for my nutella ricotta, I made this press in crust with the few essentials I still had on hand. The result was a savory complement to the sweetness of the chocolate hazlenut flavors in the filling.

At the end of the day, Amanda and I wanted to put our baking urges to good use and make something delicious. These little dessert cups, while not my original plan, did just that. They would be excellent for parties since they are bite sized, and would be sure to catch the attention of your guests (plus they can be assembled in advance–you know how I love that). However, you don’t need to wait for a party to enjoy this yummy treat.

Crust Cup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup of canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water if needed
  • A few drops of optional red food coloring

Ricotta Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz container of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnut chocolate spread, like Nutella
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish if desired

Instructions:

Make the Filling:

  1. If your ricotta cheese looks a little runny, it may be helpful to set the cheese over a strainer lined with cheesecloth, sitting on top of a bowl for drainage. Wrap the cheese in any leftover cheesecloth falling over the sides of the strainer and put something heavy on top. Allow to rest for 6 hours up to overnight in the fridge and allow it to drain.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  3. In another bowl, combine the ricotta, chocolate spread, powdered sugar and vanilla and stir until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Carefully fold in the whipped cream and chill the filling for at least 2 hours or until you are ready to use. Can be made at least 2 days in advance (but be careful because you might eat it all before it makes it to assembly).

Make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Whisk together the flour and the salt and make a well in the middle. Drizzle in the oil and combine with a fork until a dough forms. If it looks dry, add water, one tsp at a time until it comes together.  If you wanted to use the red food coloring, you can add it with the oil before adding to the flour to help it distribute evenly or you can add at the end to make a marbly pattern like mine pictured.
  3. Divide the dough into 12 balls in and press each one into a muffin tin so that it lines the bottoms and sides, like a cup.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is dry. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before popping out of the muffin tins.
  5. If the top edges look a little rough, a microplane can help file off any craggly bits if that is something that might bother you, but otherwise you are ready to fill once the crust cups are fully cooled.

Assembly:

  1. Add the chocolate filling to a piping bag or plastic zip top bag with a bottom corner snipped off and pipe in to your cups.
  2. Top with shaved chocolate if desired or maybe even some chopped strawberry if you want to get fancy and enjoy! Keep chilled if not eating right away.

Cannoli Main

 

Wine Pairing: Maybe it’s because I made these around Valentines day (hence the red food dye), but I’m feeling a dryish Rose with this one. Something Maybe with berry undertones, but more on the tart side, that chocolate spread is sweet! 

 

 

Chocolate Ganache Truffles

I just recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas so naturally I had lavish and over-the-top themes running through my head because of it. I had the opportunity to taste so many delicious meals and I wanted to bring back those feelings of relaxation and luxury back home to my own kitchen after the vacation was ended. Amanda also had a free weekend and was in the mood to treat herself, so we were both wanting to make something that truly felt like we were chilling in the lap of luxury. Still getting over the jet lag though, I didn’t want to spend my whole day making my “treat,” and ganache truffles were the perfect mix of fancy and elegant, but still not too labor intensive. With Valentine’s Day approaching as well, these make a great homemade gift for your sweetie if you’re up for whipping up a batch. Otherwise, they make a great afternoon treat any day you want to feel a little fancy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions: 

  1. For coatings: 1/2 cup crushed oreos, crushed peanut butter cookies or cocoa powder (or all 3!).
  2. Over medium heat in a small saucepan, heat the cream until just simmering.
  3. Remove from the heat and add your chocolate chips, butter and bourbon and stir until the chips are melted and everything is combined. Transfer the chocolate to a stand mixer bowl and fit your mixer with a whisk attachment.
  4. Whisk the ganache mixture for 3 minutes on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined. Transfer the bowl to the fridge and let chill overnight or at least for 3 hours until set.
  5. Once set (if too firm, remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes), use a dough scooper to portion one inch balls and roll quickly between your hands to smooth. It does help to wear gloves at this step. You will also want to move quickly and not overwork the ganache to keep it from melting.
  6. Roll your ganache balls through the coating of your choice and place in a mini-cupcake liner for easy snacking later. Store your truffles in the fridge until ready to eat or give to your valentine. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I personally would probably want something peppery to complement the sweetness of the truffles like a zinfandel. However you could go with a dessert wine as well and savor everything. It’s hard to go wrong with wine and chocolate!

Truffles 2 pic

Chocolate Cheesecake with Potato Chip Crust

As the final course of the “Single ingredient: 3 courses” dinner that Amanda and I planned, dessert was the most difficult to plan. Again, flavor boredom was a big concern and while I had kept it a little different between the Potato and Mushroom Galette and the Curried Potato Dumplings, I didn’t want to get potato fatigue. As you know, I am a fan of chocolate and remembering how surprisingly delicious the salty-sweetness of chocolate chip potato chips are, I knew I wanted to put my own spin on that combination for this dessert.

This can, and probably should be made in advance so I made these desserts a day ahead of times since those dumplings were time consuming. This gave them enough time to chill and tempt me every time I opened the fridge. These are absolutely worth a try.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 family sized bag of potato chips(about 2-2/12 cups when crushed)
  • melted chocolate and potato chips for garnish
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1 pkg cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar for cheesecake
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Butter the inside of six 3″ baking rings and place on wax paper, all on a baking sheet.
  2. Pour your potato chips into a smaller bag or into a bowl and crush with your hands until you have small but 1/4″ pieces. Once crushed you should have around 2 or 2 1/2 cups of chips.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
  4. Still over the heat, stir the butter and sugar mixture until the sugar is no longer grainy and the mixture begins bubbling (about 3-5 minutes). Continually stir for 1 additional minute and remove from heat.
  5. Add the potato chips to the caramel mixture and stir until all the chips are coated and everything is well incorporated.
  6. Spread this potato chip caramel into the bottom of each of the rings and chill for at least 1 hour.
  7. Melt the chocolate by microwaving in a heat proof bowl for 30 second intervals and stirring in between each interval until chocolate is smooth.
  8. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and sugar on on medium speed until smooth.
  9. Add the melted chocolate and mix on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  10. Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the tops of your cooled bases and chill for an additional hour.
  11. At this point you can remove the rings (a knife run around the edges can help separate them) and top with chocolate covered potato chips if desired. Enjoy!

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Amanda’s Cinnamon Pie, Inspired by Psych

Merideth and I watched Psych in college together, and now it’s BACK!! Well, for one night only, but we’re still excited. Cinnamon pie, featured in it’s Twin Peaks episode, sounded delicious and, without too many recipes online, mysterious. Here is my version  (Merideth’s is here). I’ve heard it both ways.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust, thawed
  • 2/3 brown sugar, lightly packes
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 2tbs flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine sugars, flour, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add cream and extracts and gently stir until combined.
  4. Pour cream mixture into the crust.
  5. Cook for 40-45 minutes, turning halfway through.
  6. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Mer’s Cinnamon Pie Inspired by “Psych”

“Are you a fan of delicious flavor?” Because you guys, something wonderful is happening this week! You hear about Pluto? That’s messed up, but what’s not messed up is the much anticipated return of my favorite TV show of all time for one night only this Thursday (Dec 7). Psych is a pretty important show to Amanda and me as you can probably tell from our pineapple theming and the Shawn and Gus duo can always help us unwind after a long day. I can never go too long without a Psych binge which is why we wanted to go all out for the Psych movie airing this week.

Since food centers so prevalently in Shawn and Gus’ lives as well as ours, our natural response is to get cooking for that premier. One of the many dishes that intrigued us the most was the Cinnamon Pie from the “Dual Spires” episode. In this Twin Peaks themed episode, Shawn and Gus are lured to a tiny town with promise of a Cinnamon Festival where they try cinnamon pie so gould “it could bring tears.”. I mean, how could we not try to make that, right? Amanda and I both have different interpretations, and honestly I’ve heard it both ways. Now, don’t be exactly half of an eleven pound Black Forest ham and try this pie for yourself.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Pie crust to fit a 9″ pie pan (you can go store bought or I used this recipe, which was a nice savory complement to this sweet pie)
  • 1/2 cup of butter-softened (1 stick)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup flour

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F
  2. Press your pie crust into your 9″ pie pan and crimp the edges. Fill the crust with some kind of weight 2/3 of the way to the top of the pan. You can use dry beans, actual pie weights or I used a layer of foil filled with sugar.
  3. Bake the weighted pie crust for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Reduce oven to 350°F while you prepare your filling.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until resembling wet sand, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until fully incorporated after each addition. Add the cinnamon, bourbon, vanilla and salt at this point as well.
  6. Stir in the buttermilk with a wooden spoon until all the elements are incorporated and then sift in your flour. Give everything a stir and pour into your prepared pie crust.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the middle is no longer jiggly and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If the pie crust starts to look a little dark on the outsides while baking, cover the edges with foil. Allow to cool for 1 hour and then chill if desired before serving. Maybe watch some Psych while you enjoy the cinnamon aromas (you don’t even need the super-smeller to appreciate). Top with powdered sugar or whipped cream and enjoy!

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Wine pairing: Since this is such a sweet pie, I’d say a full-bodied red would be a nice choice to go with it. Something like a spicy Malbec would be nice, and pretend it’s from Mira’s vineyard to add to the experience. See you on Dec 7 for “Psych: The Movie”

 

 

 

“PB&J” Cookie Tart

As Amanda mentioned last week with her amazing Scallops with Strawberry Spinach Salad, we are big fans of Masterchef and Gordon Ramsay in general. For this date, we wanted to make something that would fit the “me-on-a-plate” guidance that the judges often give to competitors to inspire them to cook their very best that is close to their heart. I was a bit stumped on this one, but I knew that baking is my first love and it had to be a dessert.

Anyone who knows me knows that trying new food was a bit of a challenge for me for most of my life. Unfortunately do not have a classic, romantic story about how the perfect bouillabaisse in France touched my lips and changed my life, or how I’d grown up eating new flavors that inspired my love of cooking. There were a lot of chicken nuggets and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in my life and I liked it that way just fine. There still are a lot but, you know,  I space it out now.

Instead I was always eager to whip up a batch of cookies or brownies, and dinner was just a formality to make it through to dessert. So, for this challenge, I wanted to bring the classic flavors any kid would love, that PB&J, and combine it with my love of baking into something remotely masterchef worthy.

Would Chef Ramsay throw it back in my face if he took a bite? Not sure…
Did it all disappear into our tummies by the end of the weekend because we thought it was so delicious? You know that’s right!

Almond Butter Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients until fully mixed.
  3. Press the dough into a 9-inch pie plate or spring-form pan in an even layer across the bottom and slightly up the sides if able.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until crust looks dry and has risen slightly.
  5. Remove from oven and using a heat resistant, flat bottomed cup, press gently into the center of the crust to flatten. Press against the sides to form the edges so that you have what resembles a tart crust.
  6. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan, and save for assembly. Note: This crust is very chewy and delicate so it might help to chill in the fridge before removing from the pan. 

 

Strawberry Puree Whip

  • 1 Packet of gelatin
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1 Pint strawberries, greens removed and roughly chopped (can also use frozen, but definitely get some fresh ones for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream

Instructions: 

  1. Bloom the gelatin in the boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Over medium heat, heat the strawberries and sugar. Add the gelatin and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the strawberries release their moisture and become mushy.
  3. Strain the puree through a mesh sieve to filter out the seeds and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Reserve about 1/3 of the puree for assembly and chill.
  5. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy cream and the remaining cooled puree. Whip the mixture until there are stiff peaks.
  6. Chill for at least 30 minutes until ready to use.

 

Almond Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions: 

  1. In a stand mixer, mix together all frosting ingredients until smooth.
  2. Chill until ready to use or you can use immediately. Transfer to a piping bag whenever ready for assembly.

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Assembly: 

  1. Make sure the crust is properly cooled before beginning assembly. Spread a thin layer of the reserved strawberry puree over the center of the cookie.
  2. Spread an even layer of the strawberry whip over the puree so that it is level and even with the sides of the crust.
  3. Pipe the almond butter frosting on top of the and top garnish with strawberries as desired.
  4. Chill for at least 2 hours before enjoying.

Wine Pairing: You could go with a sweet dessert wine if you wanted, although that’s a bit too much for me. So I went for a Zinfandel. You still get that PB&J feel, but without wanting to brush your teeth right after!

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Lemon Basil Petit-Fours with Strawberry-Red Wine Filling

As Amanda mentioned in her amazing Guava Cake recipe, the prodigal return of the Great British Baking Show to Netflix has taken us by storm. This show has an amazing ability to make me crave baking like no other, and many a Saturday have been surrendered to bread proofing and pie making after even a small binge Baking Show session. As you have probably seen, Amanda also caught the bug. So, for this Distance Dishes date, we wanted to try a bake we’d never done, and play with some techniques we might not have tried.

I’ve been wanting to try petit-fours for a long time, and when I had my first taste one earlier in 2016, I knew I wanted to try to make it for myself. This was the perfect excuse to do it! I also had a basil plant growing out of control and wanted to incorporate it with complementary flavors and now here we are.

The cake is tart and fresh, the strawberries and wine add berry notes which are all to be tamed by the added sweetness of the pourable fondant. Since this was my first attempt, I did not want to invest in a special cutter, but thankfully with a sharp knife and a ruler, we can still achieve some cute little cakes.

Lemon Basil Pound Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, shredded and chopped finely
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, either with a stand or hand mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, and eggs, first on low speed until everything comes together, then on high speed for 5 minutes. Incorporate the milk and lemon juice into the sugar mixture, then add your flour mixture slowly. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in basil leaves.
  4. Spread your cake batter thinly and evenly over the lined baking sheets with an offset spatula.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until springy when touched.
  6. Allow cake to cool completely before assembly.

Strawberry-Red Wine Filling:

  • 8 oz strawberries, roughly chopped and greens removed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup fruit forward red wine (I used a red blend with mentions of notes of berries on the label)
  • Pinch of lemon zest, if available

Instructions: 

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat all ingredients over low heat until the sugar granules are dissolved. Increase to medium heat so that the mixture is simmering.
  2. Stir over the heat for about 10 minutes until the strawberries lose their shape and the mixture thickens. The temperature should be around 220°F when finished.
  3. Strain through a sieve to help remove the seeds from the jam mixture.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to use for the cake. Can be stored without canning procedures in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or frozen for up to a year.

Pourable Fondant Icing Ingredients:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup hot water (I used plantation lemonade tea for something different, but not necessary)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • food coloring if desired
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions: 

  • Melt the white chocolate chips over low heat in a saucepan or in 10-20 second increments in the microwave stirring in between each session until very smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar, corn syrup, and hot water into a large bowl and stir gently until smooth. You can also use a stand mixer on low if you have one.
  • Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla and stir until smooth. If you’re using food coloring, this is also the time to add until you get the desired effect.
  • It is important to make sure this is still warm when you’re ready to use so make this immediately before you’re ready to dip your cakes (see assembly).

Assembly

  1. Once your cakes have cooled, trim the crust-type edges from the cakes so that you have clean sides.
  2. Portion and cut the remaining cake rectangle into three equal sections as these will make your three layers.
  3. Spread a layer of jam onto one of the new portions. Place another one of the portions on top, and top with additional jam. Top with the final cake portion.
  4. Repeat the trimming, portioning and layering with your other sheet of cake and then freeze all newly layered cake portions for 30 minutes.
  5. Once the cakes have hardened a bit, get out your ruler and a sharp knife and cut the cakes into equal, bite-size squares. I aimed for about 1.25″x1.25″ but however you’re able to portion these equally and what looked right to you will work.
  6. Freeze the cut cakes for another 15-30 minutes and make your pourable fondant just before you are ready to remove them from the freezer.
  7. Once you have your fondant ready, using a fork, slowly lower the mini-cakes into the fondant until submerged and shake off the excess. Carefully lower onto a cooling rack (with liner underneath) to harden. Repeat with all your cakes.
  8. You can decorate your new petit-fours with more melted chocolate drizzled over, sprinkles, or get crazy with traditional fondant if you’d like. Whatever makes you happy!
  9. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: The obvious choice for this would be to suggest the rest of the bottle you used to make the jam. However, if you’re like me and that bottle is looking a little low because you needed something to do while waiting for the jam, cakes and fondants to harden, then I’d suggest checking out Amanda’s Giggle Water Recipe since it’s a light, refreshing beverage perfect for an afternoon treat. 

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Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse Eclairs

When Amanda and I had this Distance Dishes date, Valentines Day was just around the corner so we wanted to make some recipes that were insanely decadent. To me, that meant something incredibly chocolatey. While an eclair might not seem like the logical first choice, I had some leftover raw cacao paste kicking around my pantry and I thought this might be the perfect vehicle to incorporate some.  I also wanted to do something a little different with the filling, so an avocado mousse seemed like a great experiment.

The result was this celebration of dark chocolate that was so rich, and had a chocolate flavor more pure than I’d experienced in a pastry before. The topping and the filling themselves seemed like they might be too much when combined in one bite, but the buttery pastry breaks it up perfectly and adds in another dimension of flavor. If you have some time to make these, I highly recommend it.

Pate a Choux

I used this recipe without the extra salt: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sweet-or-savory-pate-a-choux-recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (for sweet)
  • 5 3/4 ounces flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 4 large eggs and 2 whites

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, boil the water, butter, salt and sugar.
  3. Add the flour and remove from the heat. Stir until a ball forms and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ball to a stand mixer and turn on to the lowest stir setting.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time making sure each one is fully incorporated before moving on to the next.
  6. Once all the eggs are added you can check to make sure your dough is the right consistency by checking if it falls off the paddle to your mixer in v-like sheets. If it is too thick, you may need an additional egg white.
  7. Transfer dough to a piping bag or a plastic zip top bag with a hole cut in one corner, and pipe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper into lines about 3-4 inches long, 2 inches apart.
  8. Turn the oven down to 35o and cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Once they are cooked, upon removing them from the oven, pierce the sides with a small knife to release steam. This will help them not to collapse in on themselves.
  10. Allow to cool fully and they will be ready for assembly.

Avocado Mousse Filling

Ingredients: 

  • 3 Ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup of raw cacao paste broken into chunks or cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup of agave syrup or maple syrup (granulated sugar will also work)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions: 

  1. Peel and mash the avocados in a food processor or blender.
  2. If using cacao paste, heat it over low-medium heat until the chunks are melted. Be careful to keep stirring so that the chocolate does not burn. Add in your sweetener of choice and stir. If using cocoa powder add it and the sweetener directly to the food processor.
  3. Add the cacao mixture to the food processor along with the vanilla extract and salt and pulse until everything is blended.
  4. If the mousse is too bitter for you, feel free to add more sweetener as needed. This can be enjoyed by itself as a tasty dessert treat, or can be the delicious filling for our eclairs.

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Dark Chocolate Ganache Icing

Note: You can find a more traditional recipe for ganache from my previous Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie post–this is an alternative using raw cacao paste, but feel free to substitute the other recipe as it may be easier to acquire the ingredients. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cup of raw cacao paste, broken into chunks or cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup or maple syrup (granulated sugar will also work)
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions: 

  1. Heat the heavy cream over medium low heat so that it is close to but does not boil. Be sure to stir frequently to ensure that it does not burn.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and add the cacao and sweetener to the pan and stir frequently until all the chunks are melted and the mixture is fully incorporated.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Keep warm for eclair assembly.

Assembly: 

  1. Transfer the avocado mousse to a piping bag or something with a piping tip.
  2. Using the side you pierced with a knife already, pipe the mousse into the end of the choux pastry. Be sure to full them as much as you can without overfilling them.
  3. Once all are filled with the mousse, dip the tops into the ganache and allow to cool in the fridge.
  4. After all your hard work, these are ready to be enjoyed! To save yourself one long stint in the kitchen, the choux shells freeze well when they are unfilled so you can make them in advance. In addition, the mousse can also be made one day in advance, but just make sure you don’t eat it all if you want to save some for piping. Enjoy!

 

Wine pairing: With this ode to dark chocolate, you definitely want something bold with notes of chocolate and cherry to go with this decadent dessert. I’d recommend a Zinfandel with those undertones if you can find one, but an Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon are good choices as well ( I mean it’s wine an chocolate–hard to go wrong right?) Happy snacking!

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie

As Halloween is nearly upon us, we wanted to mix things up a bit with deviation from our traditional “dinner” dishes. With this holiday inspiring stores to construct aisles upon aisles of sweets for the grabbing, we wanted to share a few sweets of our own. We wanted to share a few dishes so sinfully indulgent (while still accessible, no one has time for a souffle), that even any lingering spirits on this All Hallows Eve might be envious. While Amanda shared her deliciously tempting, and grown up milkshake last week, I wanted to share a tribute to my favorite dessert combination: peanut butter and chocolate.

A week long children’s pie baking class at the local upscale grocery store was one of my first real cooking experiences. This class ignited my love of baking which has now expanded as I’ve grown older to learning as many new cooking skills as I can. Thus, pie has always been special to me whether it be fruit, vegetable or custard based. Chocolate pies in particular have always been a favorite of mine and peanut butter cups were always the Halloween haul top prize in my candy bucket. Naturally, since these flavors all bring happy feelings, why not combine them into one unbelievably tasty dessert?

While this pie does not require any actual baking, can be a bit time consuming as you wait for the steps to chill. If you need to break into that wine pairing while you’re waiting, I won’t tell.

Peanut Butter Cookie Crust:

  • 16 peanut butter sandwich cookies
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (could use the chocolate darkness you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Peanut Butter Pie Filling:

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream*
  • 1 tablespoon sugar*
  • Peanut Butter cups and melted chocolate for garnishing

*If you’re feeling lazy, frozen whipped topping will also work for this and might actually make for a more stable pie (because of processing). Remove these two ingredients in lieu of one 8 ounce tub; but if you walked past that aisle like me, we’ll make our own whipped cream below–and no hydrogenated oils here. 

Peanut Butter Cookie Crust:

  • Crush the peanut butter cookies into crumbs using either a food processor or putting the cookies in a zip top bag and going medieval on it with a meat tenderizer.
  • Dumb the crumbs into a 9″ pie pan and drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs. Mix with your hands to make sure the butter is incorporated (but, you know, don’t burn yourself so use a spoon if you prefer).
  • Press the crumbs into the sides and bottom of the pan to form a crust. I like to take a smaller pie pan and push it down on top for even coverage.
  • Chill the crust in the fridge while you make the ganache.
  • Also, I know this is a three step pie and if you don’t feel like doing this step and would prefer a store bought crumb crust, I’m not judging. However, I’m not sure if peanut butter cookie crusts are available so you might have to make some graham cracker or chocolate crumb compromises, but you do you–probably can’t go wrong with any kind of crumb crust.

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Chocolate Ganache

  • Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until almost but not boiling.
  • Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and butter, stirring until the chocolate is melted and ingredients are well mixed.
  • Pour ganache into the bottom of the pie crust we made earlier and allow to chill in fridge for at least one hour.

Peanut Butter Pie Filling:

  • If you’re making your own whipped cream, you can make it before or after the rest of the ingredients are mixed together (I’ll let you decide on which logistics work for you). If you’re opting for store bought, skip this bullet and lets meet up in the next step. To make simple whipped cream: using a stand mixer bowl and the whisk attachment or a hand mixer and a large bowl, mix the sugar and heavy cream on medium to high speed for about 5-10 minutes until stiff peaks form. Make sure to not leave this unattended or you will quickly have butter on your hands instead of whipped cream. Set aside.
  • In a large stand mixer, mix together on low speed the peanut butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk until all is incorporated (you can also stir together with a wooden spoon instead if you’re feeling strong).
  • Using a spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture in 3-4 portions until incorporated, but be sure not to over mix and lose the lightness of the cream.
  • Gently spread the peanut butter filling over the top of the ganache and over the rest of the pie with the spatula.
  • Top with melted chocolate drizzled over the top and chopped peanut butter cups as desired.
  • Allow whole pie to chill for at least 1.5 hours before consuming (I know it’s going to be difficult).
  • Enjoy your sinful dessert and don’t feel the need to share if you don’t want 🙂

Wine Pairing: Since this dish is already so sweet, some boldness would match well with this so I think a nice Zinfandel with chocolate notes is a good match that would pair with the chocolate but not overload on sugar. Now go kick your feet up with a glass of wine and a slice of pie. You deserve it.

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Brandy Alexander Milkshake

Long training runs for our next half marathon has left me so hungry at the end of the day- and feeling like I’ve earned a treat (not that I ever need an excuse)! I bought some brandy a month or two ago for a braised chicken recipe, and have been looking around for more uses. Add a craving for some homemade ice cream, and I came up with a boozy, creamy milkshake! I chose to use a vanilla custard base for a richer flavor, but traditional ice cream will work too! 

Other cocktail combos I’m thinking of trying:

  • Pumpkin spice liqueur and cinnamon whiskey
  • Creme de menthe and white creme de cacao  (a grasshopper)
  • Bailey’s and creme de cacao
  • Horchata liqueur and cinnamon whiskey

Any other favorite drinks that might benefit from some added ice cream?

Instructions

  • 1 pint ice cream or custard
  • 1/2 cup milk (or to taste)
  • 1 shot (1-1.5 oz, to taste) of brandy or cognac 
  • 1 shot (1-1.5 oz, to taste) of creme de cacao 
  • Chocolate syrup, sprinkles or cacao nibs for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Blend ingredients in blender, adding milk last to desired consistency.
  2. Enjoy (responsibly)!