hot chocolate on a stick

DSC_7795edit

We recently had a cold snap here, which I hear is in store for the rest of the country as well.  (I don’t know what that means, because I’m pretty sure it’s actually “winter” for the rest of you, but that’s what the weather man said.)  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to warm up than a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Not just any hot chocolate, but THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN ALL THE LAND!

I know this because I was told so by my co-worker when she had some.  And also from those who received it in their Christmas baskets.

Oh, and it’s way more fun than regular hot chocolate, because it’s on a stick!  How fun is that?  Just stir it into hot milk (note: really hot milk, unless you want to eat the fudgey leftovers like I some people do).

It’s so good it’ll warm you right up.  It will warm your tummy and your heart.  Especially when served in an adorable, heart-warming penguin cup.  (BF took this pic with his iPad)


penger

This is nice to enjoy while warming your toes with your loved one, or as quietly as possible standing in front of the fridge.  I store mine in the fridge because I think it stands to reason they should last longer that way.  In the event that they hang around long enough that their shelf-life becomes a concern.

Did I mention that it’s also delicious on its own as a fudge-pop?  Like a lollipop made of fudge.  Fudge on a lollipop stick.  Whatever.  Or, ya know, as a cube of not-hot chocolate.

You should always taste for quality-control.  You wouldn’t want to gift a sub-par product, would you?

DSC_7789edit

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or extract of your choice)
  • Marshmallows
  • Lollipop sticks

1. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Heat the cream and condensed milk over low heat until steaming.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.  Set aside for 10 minutes while the chocolate melts.

3. After your 10 minutes have passed, return the pan to the burner and whisk over low heat until the chocolate has completely melted.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny.  This is where you can add extract, if you wish.   I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, you could make peppermint hot chocolate with peppermint extract, or hazelnut with hazelnut extract… you get the picture.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan and shake the pan to level.  Set aside overnight (I stored mine in the microwave… with the microwave off, of course).

5. Remove your chocolate from the pan by pulling your foil handles (if you covered the pan in foil), or you can turn it upside down if you like.  If you didn’t line your pan (aka – didn’t follow step #1), gently go around the edges of the pan with a butter knife to loosen the chocolate, then remove it from the pan.

6.  Slice into 1″ to 1-1/2″ cubes (I actually tried to size mine to the diameter of my marshmallows).  Heat a knife in hot water and wipe dry before each cut, for smoothest cuts.  Stick a lollipop stick into the center of the marshmallow, then the center of each chocolate block.  I wrapped mine in cellophane bags that were made for “cake pops” (the bags and sticks actually came together as a cake pop kit, but the sticks were a little shorter than I’d have liked.)

7. When you are ready to consume your hot chocolate, just stir it into 8 ounces of hot milk -plus or minus a couple ounces, depending on how chocolatey you want your hot chocolate.

graham crackers

m4s0n501

graham crackers

I know they’re not technically “cookies”, but I don’t think you can really call them “crackers” either.  Either way, I’ve been following smitten kitchen for years now, and finally got around to making her home-made grahams.  I intended to use these to make s’mores, but none of them survived.  Funny, because I don’t remember putting crack in them…

These are magical, with a nice crunch and an added depth of flavor from the dark brown sugar.  Probably too crisp for s’mores, unfortunately.  I am pretty sure you would make a huge mess and squish marshmallow everywhere before you made it through the graham.  Crunchy.  Very, very crunchy.

But I loved these anyway, and couldn’t stop eating them.  They are a far cry from your grocery stores graham crackers, so I think I will need to try a few more recipes before I find one that is s’more appropriate.

Ha, “s’more appropriate,” I didn’t even do that on purpose! :)

Graham Crackers -Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
  • 2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Topping (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Make the dough:

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using (I didn’t), by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

Roll out the crackers:

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary.

Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. You can make them smaller if you like.

Place the crackers on parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Decorate the crackers:

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough and using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

*If you don’t have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.

*You can make these ahead of time, cut and freeze in layers of parchment for up to 2 months

 

[ adapted from smitten kitchen who adapted it from 101 Cookbooks ]

asiago croutons

crouton main

Croutons, as you may or may not know, are extremely easy to make. Have bread? How bout an oven? Well then, you can have croutons! Technically you don’t even need the oven, but it’s my preferred method for turning old bread into croutons, since pans don’t always cook them as evenly as I’d like, plus then I have a pan to wash.

When you use the oven for croutons, all you need is a sheet of parchment (and maybe some foil, depending on how much fat you’re using) … yay, no dishes!

well, except this one…

For these croutons, I used day old asiago bread that I had already sliced, then buttered (you can drizzle or spray with oil if you prefer – buttering each slice can be a little laborious) the slices and cut them into cubes. Evenly distribute the cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in a 425 for about 15 minutes, or until evenly browned, tossing halfway through.

These were enjoyed atop roasted red pepper soup, but you could add them to any number of soups or salads. Of course, you don’t have to use asiago bread, you can use any bread you like, cut into any size cube you prefer, tossed with any additional spices you might be looking for. The general process will always be the same. Cut, add fat (spread butter, drizzle or toss with oil), toast @ 425 F for 15(ish) minutes tossing halfway through. Done!

DIY Croutons

  • 1 loaf day-old bread (this was asiago)
  • butter or oil
  • any seasonings you may want

Preheat oven to 425F

If using butter, slice bread then butter the slices and cut into cubes. If using oil, cube bread then mist or toss in oil.

Pour into even layer on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven 15 – 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown.

Sprinkle with any additional seasonings when you take them out of the oven.

DIY roasted peppers

dsc_5302-e1326737962210Ah yes, ye olde bell pepper. This post may seem a little random at the moment, but this skill is necessary to complete my next post. So today, I give you a tutorial on how to roast red peppers. Don’t worry, it’s easy :)

Preheat your broiler or grill to high heat. If you’re using your oven, place a sheet of foil on the rack below the one you’ll be placing your pepper on. If you want the process to be faster, place it closer to the broiler. My short attention span tends to favor having the rack lower in the oven, so that my pepper doesn’t just turn into flames and smoke.

Take one (or more) beautiful red pepper(s) (or whatever kind of pepper you wish to use). Washed and patted dry. Then, rub said pepper with oil. I used olive oil. Place this now oiled pepper into your oven or onto your grill and cook until the skin starts to blister and char, rotating as necessary until all sides are done.

Remove the pepper and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, uncover and peel the skin off. Don’t worry, it’ll come right off. Slice or dice into desired pieces and,  Voila – you now have roasted peppers!

Too lazy? Of course you could always purchase the pre-roasted peppers in a jar, but where’s the fun in that?

“BUT WHAT WILL I USE THEM ON????”

Um, everything? Inside sandwiches, atop pizzas, blended into soups, added to pasta or tacos or as part of an antipasti… the possibilities are pretty much endless here. You can even use any kind of pepper you want, here I used red peppers, but I’ve used poblanos in the past, hatch chiles, etc…