Today, I want to talk about one of the most delicious and versatile ingredients known to man: chocolate! I am a chocoholic. Now some chocoholics want it plain and plenty; I want it tasty and timely. I don’t need chocolate every second of the day, but when I want it, I want it done well. I’ll admit to being a bit of a snob; I prefer medium-dark European chocolates to your average chocolate bar, but I do enjoy things that are made with basic chocolate. I definitely enjoy chocolate by itself, but I also enjoy chocolate when it’s paired with some friends. Today’s recipes are all about chocolate and it’s best friends.
Let’s start with a classic combo: chocolate, caramel, and cream cheese. I actually made this delicious treat earlier in the summer. Before you rail on me for not sharing this treat sooner, let me tell you my reasoning. Though it melts in your mouth with a not-too-rich, creamy, buttery flavor, I wasn’t able to get any pictures of it! It was for my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s birthday, and we devoured it all in one sitting. So for months now I’ve been debating with myself, do I post it or don’t I? I finally decided that, picture or no picture, you deserve to know about this amazing treat. Without further adieu, I give you….
Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake (from the fabulous Smitten Kitchen)
For the crust:
1 1/2 c. (about 5 oz.) chocolate cookie crumbs (Like Deb, I like to use chocolate teddy grahams.)
5 tbsp. melted butter
1/3 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
For the cheesecake:
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
8 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c. sour cream
3 8 oz. packages softened cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Stir together the crust ingredients and press the crust onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a buttered 9 1/2 inch springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook the sugar in a dry, heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork til melted and pale golden. Cook the caramel without stirring (you can swirl the pan, but do not stir) til deeply golden. Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully add the cream to it. (The mixture will vigorously steam and the caramel will harden.) Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, til the caramel is dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate til smooth. Stir in the sour cream.
3. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese til fluffy, then beat in the chocolate mix on low. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla, beating on low til each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down the bowl between additions.
4. Put the springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the middle of the oven for 55 minutes or til the cake is set 3 inches from the edge. (The center will still be slightly wobbly.)
5. Run a knife around the top edge of the cake and let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill the cake, loosely covered, for at least 6 hours.
I know it sounds like a bit of work, but none of the steps are very hard and the results are INCREDIBLE!!!
This next dish is probably THE most classic pairing: chocolate and peanut butter. My husband was (not-so recently) given a little doughnut maker as a gift. I never really knew what to do with it, so it just languished on the back of a shelf in a corner of the kitchen. Then something finally hit me, people buy doughnut pans (that I also don’t have room for) and create wonderful baked doughnuts with them. Why couldn’t I make that same recipe but cook it in this little cooker? (I know, sometimes it take me a while.) So I searched my favorite blogs for baked doughnut recipes, I found this one, I made it, and we devoured it. Though I would like a little stronger peanut butter flavor (I’d pretty much always like more peanut butter flavor.), you could definitely taste it, and it was amazing! I especially loved the glaze. When I was making it, I didn’t think it would turn out, but it was just the right consistency. (As usual, mine is black because of my extra dark cocoa.) Even though our doughnuts were teeny (think slightly larger than a doughnut hole), I really only needed a few of them to satisfy me. Now maybe you haven’t been given a teeny doughnut cooker and you don’t have room in your kitchen for a single-use pan, I think you could get really similar results from cooking the dough in your mini muffin pan. This was super easy to whip up and made a really nice treat for the weekend. I got almost 2 dozen, but the yield will vary depending on the size of your pan.
Baked Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze (from Fake Ginger)
For the doughnuts:
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. + 1 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
For the glaze:
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 c. cocoa
2 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease your doughnut pan. In a small bowl, beat the peanut butter and sugar together til fluffy. Add in the 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp. milk, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and egg; mix. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the peanut butter mix and blend just til combined. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag that’s fitted with a large round tip and pipe in the pan. Bake 8-10 minutes til the doughnuts are golden brown and spring back when touched. Move the doughnuts to a wire rack and let cool for a few minutes.
2. In another small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and cocoa. Once they’re well mixed, add the 2 tbsp. milk, corn syrup, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar. If necessary, adjust the texture by adding more liquid (if too thick) or confectioner’s sugar (if too thin). Dip the doughnuts in the glaze and let set for 30 minutes.
The last recipe I wanted to share combines so many wonderful things with chocolate. We start with a salty pretzel crust, top it with peanut butter, caramel sauce, peanuts, and chocolate. We had a pie fellowship at church last month and this was my sweet contribution. And let me tell you, it disappeared! It is very rich, so be sure that you start with a small slice. Though I’m giving you the recipe as it was on the blog I got it from, you’ll see from my comments that I tweaked it to fit my tastes.
Take Five Bar Pie (from the Brown Eyed Baker)
For the crust:
4 oz. finely ground pretzel sticks
1/2 c. melted butter
2 tbsp. sugar
For the caramel sauce: (This caramel is easy and tasty, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use bottled caramel sauce if you wanted to save a step.)
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. cubed butter
For the pie:
1/2 c. melted peanut butter (I definitely used more than 1/2 c., but you can start with this and add more.)
1/4 c. chopped peanuts
10 oz. melted semisweet chocolate (I really differed here. I probably only used 8 oz., and I added some cream to make it more like a ganache. I still felt the chocolate layer was too thick and overpowering, so next time I’d probably use 4-5 oz. chocolate with 1/4 c. cream.)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the crust ingredients and press the firmly on the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes then remove and chill til firm, 45-60 minutes.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk the 3/4 c. sugar, water, and corn syrup til well combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, til it becomes a rich caramel color, 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream til smooth (the mix will bubble up). Whisk in the cubed butter and set aside.
3. Smooth the peanut butter over the bottom of the crust; chill 10 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce (Or more!) over the peanut butter and spread gently. (You’ll have extra yummy caramel sauce!!!) Sprinkle the caramel with the nuts and chill 10 more minutes. Top off the pie with the melted chocolate and chill til firm, 30 minutes.
Are you drooling yet? Do you need to run to the pantry and start whipping one of these up? I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post; stop by later and let me know what your favorite chocolate treat is.