S’mores Pizza

by Jennifer

This recipe is from Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe with Dianne Jacob, and it is unbelievably good.  Truly.  I can’t emphasize enough how GOOD this dessert is.  Needless to say my kids went nuts, but I was right there with them!  Makes one 12” pizza.

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 9 full graham crackers or 3 cups graham sticks, divided
  • 11 oz. pizza dough
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter, melted
  • 7-oz. jar marshmallow fluff
  • Cornmeal for pizza paddle

(It rained the night I made this so I used a preheated pizza stone in the oven at 450 degrees, but if you do grill it, you’re going to grill the first side of the crust, flip it over, then brush with the melted butter and proceed, sliding it back on the grill after you top it.)

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips on HI for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.  Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and set aside.

Place 2/3 of the graham crackers in a ziplock bag and crush the best you can without breaking the bag (I used the condensed milk can;  you could also use a rolling pin).  Break the remaining graham crackers into small pieces.

Roll out the dough into a 12” circle and transfer to a pizza paddle sprinkled with cornmeal.  Brush with melted butter.

Spread the crushed graham crackers on top.

Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture and fluff over the graham cracker layer, then sprinkle with remaining broken graham crackers.  Slide pizza onto hot pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes,

or until underside of crust is golden and fluff is puffed and golden.

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Chocolate Strawberry Layer Cake

by Jennifer

This was the cake my son and I made to help Ira celebrate her birthday, and to celebrate the appearance of local strawberries.  The cake recipe comes directly from the King Arthur Flour Unbleached Cake Flour box.  The strawberry jam in the middle brightens the cake and cuts the sweetness of the frosting.  This is my favorite chocolate frosting recipe, adapted from Cooking Light.

Cake:

  • 2 cups King Arthur Flour Unbleached Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup cooled brewed coffee
  • 4 large eggs
  •  generous 1/2 cup fresh strawberry jam

Frosting:

  • 6 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 TBS milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Fresh whole strawberries, washed and well-dried
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

For cake:

Prepare two 8” or 9” cake pans by spraying them with cooking spray, lining them with parchment paper and then spraying the paper (to line with the paper, trace the pan on the paper, then cut it out).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour through sugar.  Place butter in the bowl and, using an electric mixer on low speed, blend the butter into the flour mixture for 1 minute.

With the mixer running, pour in the oil and mix for 1 – 2 minutes, until the mixture looks like wet sand.

Add in vanilla, skim milk and coffee, and mix well.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Divide the batter (it will be thin) between the pans, and rap each pan once against the counter to pop any air bubbles.  Bake for 24 – 28 minutes, depending on pan size, checking with a toothpick to make sure

the cakes are done (toothpick will come out clean).  Let cool on a wire rack, then turn out.  If you make them ahead, wrap well in plastic wrap, then foil, to freeze.

For frosting:

Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth.

Add cocoa, milk and salt, and beat until well combined.  If the powdered sugar is particularly lumpy, sift it or stir it through a fine-mesh sieve,

then add the it to the cream cheese/butter mixture and beat at low speed until it all comes together;  then beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

To make chocolate-dipped strawberries, simply heat some chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl on HI for 1 minute, then stir until melted and smooth.  Dip strawberries into chocolate, then place on parchment or waxed paper and let cool (or place in fridge for faster results).

To assemble cake, place one layer of cake on a serving dish, cover with the strawberry jam,

top with second layer of cake, and frost (sides first, then top).

Decorate top with chocolate-dipped strawberries.  (If you place strips of waxed paper under the edges of the cake while you frost it, you can remove them when you’re finished and keep the serving platter clean.)

Mocha Pudding

by Jennifer

Homemade pudding is easy to make and so different from store-bought:  silky, smooth, with true flavors.  This recipe, from Cooking Light, serves 6 generously, and is especially tasty with a little freshly whipped cream on top!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups 1% milk
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • 2 TBS instant espresso granules
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

In a heavy pot, whisk together the sugar and eggs.

Add the milk through salt and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat

until the mixture is thick and bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate chips, butter and vanilla.

Let the pudding cool for 10 minutes, then ladle into 6 wineglasses.  You can serve it warm, immediately, or let it cool in the refrigerator until

you’re ready for mocha heaven.

Best Easy Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

by Jennifer

This cake really is easy, and it’s incredibly moist and chocolate-y;  you can make it without the glaze, but honestly, if you’re going to do it, just do it!  Serve alone, with whipped cream, with ice cream….pick your poison.  The cake recipe is an adaptation of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, and I’ll say it serves 9.

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat an 8” square pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together, in a large bowl, the flour through salt.

In a smaller bowl, combine the cocoa, chocolate and hot coffee, stirring until smooth.

When it’s cooled down a bit, stir in the mayonnaise, egg and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the flour mixture and still just until combined.

Pour batter into the pan (you can give the pan a good rap against the counter to get rid of air bubbles) and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (okay if a few crumbs stick to it).

Let cool on a cooling rack.

Glaze:

  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or a generous 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • 3 TBS coffee
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into tablespoons

Combine chocolate and coffee in a microwave-safe bowl;  microwave on HI for 30 seconds or so, then stir until the chocolate is melted.

Stir in the butter, one TBS at a time;  reheat the bowl for 20 seconds or so if the mixture cools down to much for the butter to melt.

When all the butter has been mixed in and the mixture is smooth,

pour it over the cooled cake.

Refrigerate until the glaze sets.

Mississippi Mud Cake

by Jennifer

This cake, adapted from Cooking Light, is easy to put together, pleases children to no end, and is pretty yummy to most adults, too.  It calls for mini-marshmallows but I only had large ones, which I cut into smaller pieces.

Cake:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 1/2 cups mini-marshmallows

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk (nonfat or reduced-fat)
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a measuring cup, combine the boiling water and 1/2 cup cocoa and stir well;  set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla;

add the cocoa mixture and eggs and beat at medium speed until combined.

In a separate, smaller, bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat just until combined, then add the buttermilk, again beating just until combined,

and then the rest of the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Transfer the batter to a 9” x 13” pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Scatter the marshmallows on top and put back in the oven, for 2 – 3 minutes, until the marshmallows soften.

To make the frosting, combine the cocoa, evaporated milk, butter and salt in a small, heavy saucepan.  Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently,

until butter melts, then for about 4 minutes more.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Drizzle frosting over the cake.  Let cool, then dig in.

Chocolate Buns

by Jennifer

This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, is one of my family’s favorite breakfast treats;  I make them every couple months, though honestly, they are so wonderful you may want to make them more often.  They need to rise in the refrigerator overnight, which makes the morning baking much easier.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp yeast (two packages)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 TBS melted coconut oil
  • 1 large egg plus an egg for brushing
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips

In a large bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  In a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and water and heat on HI for 1 minute.

Stir warm liquids into the flour mixture, along with the coconut oil, until smooth.  Stir in one egg until smooth.

Add the bread flour and stir until a soft dough forms.  Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes;

place dough in a clean bowl coated with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and

divide into 16 (roughly) equal pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a ball with your hands, then roll out using a rolling pin into a roughly 5” circle.

Sprinkle 1/2 TBS mini-chocolate chips over the dough.

Roll the dough towards you, pressing down gently so the chips stay in place,

then tuck the ends under.  Place the bun on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper,

and continue with the rest of the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled.  (This is a good time to read some of the paper with a hot cup of coffee.)

If some of the buns have tilted on their side while rising, don’t worry, they’ll still be beautiful and delicious.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly beat one egg and gently brush the buns.

Bake for 17 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool as long as you can.

Last-Minute Chocolate Cake

by Jennifer

This recipe is adapted from Ruth Reichl’s recipe in Garlic and Sapphires.

  • 4 oz. good-quality unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup strong black coffee
  • 2 TBS Kahlua
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

Combine the chocolate, butter and coffee in a medium-size heavy saucepan;  place over medium-low heat and melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves.

Let cool for a bit before stirring in the Kahlua, vanilla and egg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt;

pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir well to combine.

Pour batter into loaf pan;

bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with your favorite ice cream.