Tag Archives: dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Seed “No Nuts Nutella”

Might I tear you away from Pinterest for a few moments so you can read this post?  I know you are getting ready to french braid your hair (sideways) and need to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients for those bacon and cinnamon roll muffins and are in the middle of building that new wrapping paper storage system, but take a few moments to look elsewhere.  No.  Don’t click “See More Pins.”   I realize you need to print out that 30 day training regimen — because who wouldn’t want an ass like that?  But trust me, you don’t know what a burpee is.  Nor do you want to.  I did them.

And the boots.  I need those boots and those jeans and that sweater. And I want to have only matching accessories that show a little pop of coordinated color.  I want to think about what I wear before I put it on, instead of throwing on jeans, a turtleneck, and clogs as I run out the door to pick up the children.

It’s like a dream world, isn’t it?  It’s the world without problems.  It’s all exotic vacations and beautiful food and lovely bodies without back fat.  It’s houses where the piles of school papers have a logical home that isn’t the front seat of your car.  It’s houses with style and matching interiors with themes — rather than a mishmash of your parents’ furniture and stuff you bought from IKEA.  It’s backyards with fireplaces, rather than snow or weeds or neighbors with annoying dogs.  It’s thinking about life using inspirational sayings and being strong in who you are, rather than being small and weak and petty and insecure.

And I guess that’s why it is a tremendous escape.  Life isn’t nearly as pretty.  It has bad weather and cancer diagnoses and health scares and employees who are inspired by the petty rather than the positive.  It has crime and moral failings and budget cuts and terrifying thoughts.  It has self destructive behavior and asses with cellulite.  And waistlines with stretch marks and closets that aren’t dedicated to crafting.   It has kids who puke in the car on those same school papers — that were supposed to be returned last week.

Can we all just cut the crap with the need to have perfection? None of us live it.  Even the people who you think do.  They don’t.  The “strongest” among us are insecure.  The most “beautiful” among us feel ugly. And those people who you think serve only beautiful food (maybe me?) also make instant Jell-O Pudding.  I did just last week.  And you know what? It’s freaking easy.

And sometimes the world around you requires easy in the times of ugly.

But yesterday I took a little time and made this homemade “Nutella” (driven mostly by the fact that I felt guilty that I haven’t posted anything here in a long time … and we can’t have the real stuff due to my daughter’s severe nut allergies).  While on my no carb eating plan, I had a big dollop on a piece of toast.  I licked the spatula multiple times and ate a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.  It is as delicious as I remember it.  And then I served leftovers for dinner, had two glasses of wine, and passed out on the couch playing Words with Friends.  My husband and I talked for a long time about some intense situations he is dealing with.  We came up with no answers — but a lot more worry.  I later realized that we forgot to pay an important bill.  And my kids didn’t go to sleep until almost 9:30.  I woke up this morning feeling anxious for no good reason.

Or maybe it was for a lot of good reasons.  Reasons that come from not only the ugly of the world, but the ugly that we put upon ourselves.

Enjoy the “Nutella.”

Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Seed “Nutella”

Makes about one pint

1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted and cooled (you could also use sunflower seeds, or a mix)
2 T vegetable oil
4 ounces dark chocolate
4 T butter
2 t vanilla extract
3-4 T sweetened condensed milk
1/8 cup of milk, warmed
1/2 salt

1.  Place toasted pumpkin seeds in the food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add 2 T vegetable oil in a steady stream while machine is still running.  Continue to process the seeds for about 3 or 4 minutes — until they become like a nut butter consistency.  You should scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything gets incorporated.

2.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter together.  Add in the vanilla extract.

3.  Add the chocolate mixture to the pumpkin seed mixture along with 3 T condensed milk and salt.  Process for a few seconds.  Taste and add more condensed milk if you like it a little sweeter.  It may become very thick at this point.  That’s OK.

4.  Remove to a bowl and whisk in warmed milk, a tablespoon or so at a time until your “Nutella” is the desired consistency.  Store in the refrigerator.  Serve on toast, use for baking, or melt to top ice cream.

 

 

Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies

Recently, my brother in law who works for a chocolate company (unnamed, of course — that’s how we do it here) asked me if I would ever have any interest in getting my hands on cocoa butter or chocolate liquor. Thinking that maybe I could give myself a massage and get drunk on chocolate, I said yes of course.  I really have never known cocoa butter to be anything more than a remedy for pregnant belly stretch marks — but I thought it might be interesting to fool around with it.

So I commenced with The Google and found out that it was used pretty infrequently in mainstream cooking and baking. Cocoa butter was used to make chocolate and sometimes in truffles or the like, but I rarely saw it used in anything else.  I’m guessing the main reason is that it is hard to find and more expensive — but given the interest in plant-based, vegan fats, it seems like it might catch on.  It is a bit harder at room temperature than coconut oil, but it softens up or melts quite nicely.  And, of course, it imparts a wonderful essence of chocolate — which is great when you want a non-animal fat and aren’t in the mood for essence of coconut in all of your baked goods.

Beyond, it seems purely luxurious, doesn’t it?  The idea of pure cocoa butter in a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert seems, well, pretty awesome.  And then if you stuff that cookie full of melted dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chunks, and white chocolate chunks?  Well, send me to my room and draw the blinds.  These cookies will not disappoint.  And while I tried to stay sane (I used a bit of whole wheat flour), I didn’t cut back on the sugar because I knew I would lose the amazing brownie chewiness if I did.  Feel free to experiment with less — but this is the one time (OK, maybe one of four or five times) of the year that you need to eat a cookie the way it was meant to be eaten.

Commence with the drooling.  And if you want a source for food grade cocoa butter (and don’t have a brother in law), try here.  The cocoa nibs are generally available in a chocolate store, a good grocery store, or gourmet store.  I should add that if you can’t find cocoa butter, I am sure regular butter would be a perfectly delicious substitute.  It just wouldn’t be cocoa butter.  And on Valentine’s Day, how fun would that be?

Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate, chopped
6 T cocoa butter (regular butter or coconut oil would work also), softened
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 t instant espresso powder
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a double boiler, melt together 8 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and cocoa butter until completely smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2.  In a bowl, sift and mix together white whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl with a mixer, mix together espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs until just combined.  Add white and brown sugar and mix for about two minutes until the mixture is very thick and ribbony.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in melted chocolate mixture.  Add in flour mixture and fold until just combined.

4.  Stir in cocoa nibs and chocolate chunks.  After a minute of two, the mixture will stiffen up considerably and will seem almost like the texture of fudge.

5.  Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto parchment lined baking sheets.  I would not put more than six cookies on one sheet because they spread.  Bake for 15-16 minutes until just done on top with a crackly crust.  If you use more than one cookie sheet at a time, I would recommend switching the sheets midway through the baking time.

(BTW, Valentines pictured are courtesy of my daughter who was busy at work assembling them during our snow day today.)