Category Archives: Chocolate

TWD: Tiger Cakes

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for tigers.  Everyone seems to have some animal that they almost have a special attachment too.  Tigers are mine.  I find them very regal but yet adorable.  Yes, I know that sounds odd.  But for someone who was raised with cats her entire life, I always see tigers as great big cats.  So, in my mind tigers are both adorable and dangerous.  And that is exactly how my husband described these little cakes.  “These are dangerous.” he said after taking his first bite.  Then I ate one.  I would have to agree.  These little Tiger Cakes are both adorable and dangerous.


They are adorable in the way that every mini cake is adorable, but dangerous in that they are unsuspecting in their taste.  Just like a tiger, they sneak up on you.  We ate our first ones while they were still warm from the oven.  They were as good as warm chocolate chip cookies in my mind.  They were so good that when I asked my husband (the chocoholic of the house) if I should dip them in chocolate like Dorie suggests, he actually said no.


Since these cakes were so easy to make, which again, makes them dangerous in another way, my husband brought them to work to share with his co-workers.  I even received an e-mail asking for the recipe.  My only additional note on the recipe is that make sure you grease the muffin tin very, very well.  All of my cakes stuck to the bottom.  It didn’t seem to impact their flavor, but it did impact their appearance.  So, please excuse the not so beautiful cakes, but realize that no everything is as it seems in a picture.

Please go see how other TWD baker’s enjoyed their Tiger Cakes.  And if you want the recipe, please purchase the book.




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TWD: Bubble Eclairs

Wisconsin is a funny place in some regards.  There is a very French heritage in the state that is present in the name of its cities and towns (e.g. La Crosse, Eau Claire).  The French heritage is quite old and mostly forgotten now.  It came with the French fur traders.  Then there is the German heritage which everyone is more familiar with.  I’ve been told many times that Wisconsin has so many Germans because the landscape reminded the German immigrants of Germany, so they stayed.  That is where some of the most familiar Wisconsin things come from (e.g. beer and sausage).

Even though most of the French heritage has been forgotten in all but names, there is one thing that remains.  While other states boast of “fried everything on a stick” at their state fairs, Wisconsin’s most popular state fair item isn’t fried at all.  It’s a cream puff.  A humongous, delicious cream puff piles with tons of fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar.  They even have a drive thru outside the fairgrounds for cream puffs!  Whenever I go to the Wisconsin State Fair I always make sure to see the pig races and then there are two things I always eat, a corn on the cob and the other is a cream puff.  That’s all I need.


The cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair are made out of the same dough that this week’s TWD recipe for Bubble Eclairs is made out of, a pate de choux.  This recipe comes from Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook, which is a lovely compilation of French inspired desserts.  I’ve never made a pate de choux before, but I have to say that it came together quite quickly and easily.  I made it all in one pot and with one utensils, a wooden spoon.

For the filling for my Bubble Éclairs, I choose to go with Dorie’s chocolate pastry cream.  This pastry cream also only required one pot, and it pretty much just like chocolate pudding.  My éclairs baked up beautifully.  Instead of brushing mine with egg though, I did milk since I didn’t want to waste an egg.  They still browned nicely.  Once assembled, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and we dug in.


All four of us enjoyed these.  I would love to say what we said about them, but instead of talking it was mostly silent at the table.  In my mind, that is a better response than words.  They did remind me of the Wisconsin State Fair, which sadly, we didn’t make it to this year for my annual cream puff.  These éclairs will hold me over though.

Please go over to the TWD site to see how other people filled and enjoyed their Bubble Éclairs.  And if you want the recipe, please buy the book.




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TWD: Chocolate Cherry Brownies

I’ve been following the Tuesdays with Dorie group for some time now.  I used to do this with the other book, although I never did finish all of the recipes.  I probably finished about 3/4 of them.  I have been wavering on whether or not to join the group, but here I am.  I took quite a large break from baking after having my kids, but I can no longer ignore my desire to get back in the kitchen.  I’m hoping that this will also give my kids a chance to join me.


This was a great recipe for my “official” (I did make the rhubarb upside down cake a few weeks ago) start again.  It was easy and delicious.  While my husband swears that he doesn’t like anything in his brownies except for chocolate, he ate a quarter of these in less than a day.  Next time I would probably bake them a little longer.  I kept it on the short side at 27minutes, like the recipe recommended, but they are super gooey.  And while I prefer my brownies gooey, these were a bit too gooey.  It didn’t stop us from enjoying them though.  I used a mixture of dried cranberries and cherries since I didn’t have enough dried cherries, but I could barely tell the difference.  If anything, the tartness from the cranberries were nice.





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America’s Test Kitchen’s Wacky Cake

America’s Test Kitchen is hosting a “journey” through the 1900’s where you cook one recipe from each decade.  This week’s recipe is from 1945, during the heart of World War II when food was being rationed.  This week’s recipe is Wacky Cake, which is a basic chocolate cake that requires no milk or eggs.  The leavening is from the chemical reaction that occurs between baking soda and vinegar.  Overall, the cake was very easy to put together.  It only required 1 pan and only 5 minutes to put together.  Also, I already had all the ingredients on hand.  It’s also delicious.  For the recipe, please see  America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe here.

Also, in order to show my spirit of the 1940’s and wartime rationing I thought I would include a photo of all of my canning work.  It includes strawberry, raspberry, and apricot jams, applesauce, tomatoes, pickles, beets, salsa, and vegetable soup.

My husband and I have quite the garden, so any extra crops end up either being canned or frozen for the winter.  While beets are good canned, green beans and peas are frozen.  Nothing tastes as good as homemade in the middle of winter!



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TWD: Honey Nut Brownies

I know it’s a little late, but that’s better than never right?  That’s how this nesting thing seems to work.  Some days I do nothing but sit on the couch, but other days I am as busy as a bee.  That’s what happened tonight.  I made dinner, cleaned up after dinner, made these brownies, did the dishes from the brownies and then proceeded to clean both the microwave and sink while these were baking.  I think the nesting thing is only popular as a way to keep pregnant women from going completely crazy.  When nesting at least you feel like you are doing something.  Otherwise I feel like I am just sitting around waiting to pop.  This way, it keeps my mind occupied.

This week’s TWD recipe was Honey Nut Brownies chosen by Suzy of Suzy Homemaker.  At first I was very uncertain about these “brownies”.  There isn’t much chocolate at all in them.  In fact, there is more nuts and honey than chocolate.  In the end though these brownies came together very nicely.  I only made a half batch and I substituted chocolate chips in place of the nuts since I don’t really care for nuts in my brownies to begin with.  These turned out to be very good though.  They are rather cake-like, and I have to say that I really like the chocolate chips in them.  I don’t know if I would make them over traditional brownies, but it they were worth trying.  If you want the recipe, please go over to Suzy’s blog.  Enjoy!

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TWD: Chocolate Pots de Creme

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it is finally my time to pick a recipe!  I have been baking with the group since almost the beginning, but I didn’t have a blog for the first couple years.  You see, my good friend Caitlin of Engineer Baker introduced me to the group when she first started in it, and if you look at the member list, she is one of the originals.  When I first met Caitlin, my baking repertoire pretty much consisted of chocolate chip cookies and boxed cake/brownie mixes.  Now I’ve baked over 150 of the recipes from Dorie’s cookbook!  Wow…it’s hard to believe how far I’ve come.  I’m no longer scared of pies and I can actually make pie dough from scratch.  Something I had never done finding this group.  Caitlin and this group have really helped me overcome my fear of modifying recipes and of messing up.  I’ve learned that not every recipe turns out as expected, some for the better and some for the worse.

Now onto the recipe I have chosen for the week, Chocolate Pots de Creme.  When I originally calculated when I was going to pick my recipe for the week it looked like it was going to be in late spring or early summer.  Then I was planning on picking one of my stand-by recipes, the Strawberry-Rhubarb Double Crisp.  With this being late winter/early spring though and so good strawberries and rhubarb are harder to find for us living in the north, I had to change my mind.  For the past few years I have been playing around with different recipes for chocolate creme brulee.  Two years ago, my husband took me out to a nice dinner for my birthday at one of my favorite restaurants, the Water City Grille.  The restaurant’s dessert special that evening was chocolate creme brulee.  I had never had that, so I ordered it and it was amazing.  A week later, the restaurant closed it’s doors in anticipation of losing a lot of its patrons when the theater next by also closed its doors.  It was a very sad day for me and that then set me on my quest for a recipe for chocolate creme brulee.  I’ve come across quite a few recipes, most of which though are rather strange and include things like corn starch or chocolate syrup.  These did not make the cut.  I did eventually develop my own recipe after modifying Dorie’s regular creme brulee recipe.  It’s good, but it doesn’t always come out as it should.  So, I’ve been meaning to try this recipe and seeing how it compares to creme brulee.

This recipe has all the same ingredients and techniques used when making creme brulee, except that you do not carmelize sugar on top (we’ll discuss this later).  The recipe comes together very easily and I did not have any trouble.  The pots de creme came out beautiful and creamy.  They taste deceptively light, although after eating one ramekin one feels rather full.  It is hard to put your spoon down after one bite.  I also decided to carmelize some sugar on the top of some of them and make them into a creme brulee style dessert.  They were delicious.  I think I am going to throw my long sought after recipe for chocolate creme brulee out the window and just make these next time.  They seem so sophisticated, but they are so simple.  I really hope that you do try them.  The recipe is below if you so desire.

Chocolate Pots de Creme (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours, pg. 390-391)


4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 large egg

5 large egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300degrees F.  Line a large roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels, then put eight 4-oz custard cups, ramekins, espresso or pot de creme cups in the pan.  Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Put the chopped chocolate in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or a large heat-proof bowl.  Bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a boil.  When the cream is just at a boil, pour it over the chocolate and wait for 1 minute.  Using a rubber spatula and starting in the center of the bowl, gently stir the cream and chocolate in ever-widening concentric circles until the ganache is smooth; set aside.

Stir the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk the egg, yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and slightly thickened.  Still whisking, drizzle in a little of the hot liquid – this will temper, or warm, th eggs so they won’t curdle.  Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid.  Finally, slowly whisk the egg mixture into the ganache, stirring gently to incorporate.

With a spoon, skim the foam off the top of the custard, then pour the custard into the cups.  Pour enough hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups.  Cover the top of the pan snugly with plastic wrap, poke two holes in two opposite corners and very carefully and steadily slide the setup in the oven. (Personal note: the plastic wrap melted in the oven for me, so cover with something more heat proof like a lid or foil.)

Bake the custards for 35-40minutes, or until the tops darken and the custards jiggle a little only in the center when tapped or lightly shaken.  Gingerly remove the roasting pan from the oven and place it on a cooking rack.  Allow the custards to rest in their warm bath for 10 minutes, then peel off the plastic wrap and transfer the cups from the water (careful – they’re still hot) to a cooling rack.  Refrigerate when they reach room temperature.  When the pots de creme are cool, cover them tightly with plastic wrap or their little lids.

(Personal note: When serving time came, I carmelized a little sugar on the top of them in the same fashion as creme brulee.)


And finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without a cat update.  This past week my husband and I decided it was time to try to figure out the car seat.  So, when Rosie wasn’t expecting it we grabbed her and quickly put her in it.  Here’s a picture of it before she realized what had happened.  I think we can handle getting a baby in the seat if we can handle a cat.

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TWD: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops & Great Grain Muffins

I have so much going on, yet I am at a loss for words.  My brain is just moving too fast to think of something witty or for a story today.  It could also be caused by the spaciness that pregnancy has given me.  I swear I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body right now.  I have lists everywhere so I don’t forget what I’m supposed to do.  Oh well, only 6 weeks to go.  Oh my gosh…ONLY 6 WEEKS TO GO!  I’m not ready.  At least the odds are with me right now that I’ll probably be a little late being that most first pregnancies are, but watch, since I’m not ready my little one will decide to make  its debut early.  Isn’t that how it works?  You aren’t ready, but they are.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. 

Onto the recipe of the week, Chocolate Oatmeal Drops.  I’ve been wanting to make these cookies for quite some time.  They sound really good.  They are like an oatmeal brownie almost.  I don’t think I did something wrong, but I probably should have refrigerated the dough before baking them.  My dough was really runny, so my cookies spread out really far.  So, instead of normal sized cookies that have a decent thickness, mine are like brittle crepes.  They are very thin and fragile.   At least they taste good though.  If I make these again I’ll have to try refrigerating the dough for a while before baking.  If you would like the recipe please check out Caroline and Claire’s blog at Bake with us

I also want to do a quick post of the Great Grain muffins, which was the recipe of the week two weeks ago.  I did make these, I just didn’t manage to post about them.  I liked them, although they are slightly bland.  They are not as substantial as I was expecting, which was nice.  I didn’t really want a very dense muffin.  They go well with jam though and make a very nice mid-morning snack.  Mine turned out very much like the picture for a change. 

And on a final note, Bonkers is not taking to the nursery very well.  She is trying to claim anything she can.  The bedroom used to be her room, and now she is barely allowed in it.  So, here’s a picture of her trying to claim the little swing before we swiftly kicked her out of it.  She’s been moping around now.  I think this transition is going to be very difficult on her.  Hopefully she does okay though, she is such a sweet kitty.

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