Dark Chocolate Vanilla Liqueur

A couple of years ago, someone gave me Cacao Liqueur as a Christmas gift.  It was so delicious that I wanted to learn to make it.

Fast forward to the present and I think I have the liqueur that I adoringly love!  I’d been experimenting and, in fact, last Christmas, I made a batch and gave them away as gifts.  The liqueur was made with cocoa powder and they were delicious (as the recipients attest) but it was not (yet) perfect for me.

I wanted a rich, dark, deep chocolate-y flavor and a thick, creamy texture.

This time I think I got it after a few experiments.

My secret?  No cocoa, but bittersweet chocolate, thinned with milk!

(I re-used the nice decorative bottle of the Cacao Liqueur.)

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Chocolate Hazelnut Liqueur

The first batch I made was technically what they call “Nutellino“, which is essentially Nutella liqueur.  It was fast and easy to make and the recepients (friend S and brother E) proclaimed the drink “super yummy”.

But I suppose I wanted a bit of a challenge, so I went on to look for a “from-scratch” recipe… and this is what i found.  It was not exactly what I had in mind – I was looking for something creamy… a consistency similar to Irish cream… so I started to experiment a little.

First I did away with using cocoa powder.  I melted bittersweet chocolate (62%) with milk and a bit of cream.  After cooling, I added toasted hazelnuts and vodka and steeped everything for a month, after which I strained the mixture and used a decorative bottle.

I loved the texture – it was creamy, sweet, nutty, chocolate-y!

The picture shows the third batch I made, which was intended for hubby’s friends.  The bottle is actually a plastic water bottle which hubby preferred to a decorative glass bottle, saying that after drinking the liqueur, the water bottle can be reused as a carry-on water bottle by his friends!

 

 

Super Fudgy 5 Chocolate Red Wine Brownies

I am discovering that I like red wine.  It started with a gift of Sangria (a particular brand which I will not mention for now) earlier this year.  I know friend T says bottled sangria is an abomination (her homemade one is simply fantastic) but not knowing how to make sangria (and not wishing to start anyway), this specific bottled one is good enough for me.

Anyway, hubby and I recently discovered moscato red wine!  How we got a taste of it?  Well, someone gave us a Christmas gift of moscato red wine… it was actually a regift (we know because the giver neglected to check the wine bottle and there was an inscription that was addressed to – NOT US! hahahaha)

Anyway, I was still experimenting with brownie recipes… and I figured, why not go for broke?  Use whatever chocolate I have ( 1-unsweetened baking chocolate, 2-bittersweet chocolate, 3-cocoa, 4-dark choco chips, and 5-semisweet choco chips) and why not the red wine too?

So here they are!  They are the fudgiest, most chocolatiest brownies I have ever made!  That it had a crinkly, cracked top was a delicious bonus!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding

The easy way to do this is to use a boxed chocolate cake mix and a boxed chocolate pudding mix.

But it is just as easy to use a favorite one-bowl chocolate cake and an easy from-scratch pudding recipe such as Hershey’s Quick Creamy Chocolate Pudding, which was what I did, except that I used half a recipe (for both cake and pudding) because I wanted a small cake.  But I also wanted a little oommph for the pudding, so I made a few changes…

Prepare the chocolate cake and bake as usual.  When the cake is done, remove from the oven and poke holes in it using the handle of a wooden spoon.  Start cooking the pudding.  When the pudding is done, pour over the hole-ridden cake.  Press plastic wrap on the pudding and chill until set.

My Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding –

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur

Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt and milk in a thick saucepan.  Cook until thick and boiling.  Simmer at boiling for about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla and Irish Cream, mix well.

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Healthy Brownies

I don’t remember anymore who gave me the recipe but it had been languishing in my “box of recipes that i plan to make”. Finally, finally, i made them… in my little electric oven, too!

1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

The procedure is easy too! Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the yogurt and egss. Mix well. Stir in the chips. Put the batter in a lined 8-inch square pan, then bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 25 minutes or so. Do not over bake.

Done.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

For a quick fix, nothing beats a cupcake.  And, if you are in a hurry, mini cupcakes bake up even faster!

The chocolate fudge cupcake recipe I used (slightly varied to suit my personal taste and style) is from this site:  http://yourfoodtube.com/easy-italian-cupcakes-nutella-buttercream-tasty-dessert/

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon golden rum
1/2 cup hot water

Combine the dry ingredients together.  Add melted butter, eggs and rum.  Stir to mix.  Add hot water; stir.

Spoon the batter into 24 mini cupcake tins (lined with paper liners).  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for about 14 to 16 minutes.  Cool in pans for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, I used an American-style Cocoa Buttercream.

Fast, easy, delicious!  Even if I barely had time!

 

Tablea Chocolate Cake

Tablea is what we call our locally produced, pure cacao tablet.  Recently, a friend gave me a pack of tablea that she claimed was the renowned one in her province…

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And while I could use them to make sikwate – a hot chocolate beverage made with locally produced tablea, I decided I wanted to make something else… a chocolate cake using tablea!

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The basis for my cake is from the local Yummy magazine – http://www.yummy.ph/recipe/chocolate-tablea-cake-a185-20120319.  I used about 100 grams of tablea.

So how does the tablea chocolate cake compare with the regular chocolate cake?  Well, there is a different dimension to the the tablea choco cake and a slight tang but it was delicious in its own special way!

 

 

 

Midnight B

When I meet people I know from my teenage days, they always tell me that they remember my brownies and how good they are.  And I was quite proud of those brownies – I can never forget how I stayed up night after night, making one batch of brownies after another.  My initial goal was a fast and easy recipe without sacrificing taste and quality.  I never did reach that goal because while the recipe was relatively simple, it was not fast… the process was rather delicate and a mis-step meant getting a different texture.

But these days, I have a slightly different goal for my baked goods.  While texture still ranks high up, what has become more important to me is producing a (slightly) healthier version.  Of course I cannot eliminate butter or sugar completely but at least I can try as much as possible to reduce them.

So, while I no longer stay up night after night, I still bake batch after batch (with long pauses in between) to experiment and tweak my brownie recipe to perfection!  Yesterday’s experiment turns out to be the best one so far…

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Unoriginal as I am, I initially named this Black Brownies.  This morning, though, I thought it better to call it Midnight B.

It is essentially the same recipe from 30-odd years ago except that I no longer use granulated (highly processed) sugar, instead I use raw sugar or one that has minimal processing (as best as I could find, that is).  I also substituted part of the chocolate with black cocoa because I wanted a super dark brownie (and got a dark-as-midnight color!)… and (!) I added a secret ingredient (which hubby instantly recognized, but not quite on the mark (?????)

Overall, I just looooooooove these!

As for hubby, this is what he had to say…

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(I still have one final experiment to do… if my theory is correct then I will have the ultimate, as well as perfect, brownies!

 

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Earlier this week, one of hubby’s friends asked me if I had a good chocolate cake recipe.  Of course I did!  In fact, I have more than a few!  Here is one for an old-fashioned chocolate cake.

2¼ cups cake flour
1 cup Dutch-style cocoa
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups brown sugar
1 cup soft butter
3 eggs
¾ cup sour cream
1⅓ cups 2% milk
½ tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350℉.  Butter and line 3 8 or 9-in layer pans.

Combine dry ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Spoon into prepared pans.  Bake 22 to 28 minutes.

Fill with dulce de leche.  Frost with ganache.

The original recipe had a custard filling but I prefer dulce de leche!