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Entries in chocolate (110)


Double Chocolate Brownies

Double Chocolate Brownies

This elusive brownie is finally, finally a reality. I began the search for the perfect brownie a little over three years ago. Born and bred on the box mix brownie, it became my goal to find a homemade brownie to rival the rich chocolate tone and chewy texture of the powdered mix. It seemed an easy enough task at the time, but as time passed—and batch after batch didn’t meet my expectations—the challenge became more than I bargained.

There were great brownies along the way, alternating between dense and fudgy and light and cakey, but they were not the box mix brownie I so coveted. The search continued.

Double Chocolate Brownies Double Chocolate Brownies

I stumbled across this particular recipe on accident. I would like to say that, after making dozens of batches, intuition guided me here, but sometimes kitchen accidents lead to the best surprises. Playing around with my recipe for brownie cookies one tired morning, I messed up the math when doubling the recipe and realized the ratios were off halfway through. What was another failed batch? I thought, and baked up the brownies anyway. When they came out of the oven with a crackly top (something I have never been able to achieve with a brownie before), I knew that these might be something special.

I made these brownies three more times afterwards, verifying that the recipe was as consistent and delicious each and every time.

Double Chocolate Brownies

Over the course of my brownie search, I discovered the “right” ingredients to lead me to these brownies. Brown sugar is what truly gives a brownie the chewy texture you know and love—and these brownies are certainly chewy. However, it is the addition of a few tablespoons of granulated sugar which gives the brownie its crackled top. When baking, the granulated sugar forms a thin layer on the top, crystallizing and eventually cracking to give it that covered layer. Oil tends to give brownies a more “rubbery” texture versus the clean finish produced by melted butter.

In terms of the chocolate, this is where you can customize the brownie more to your taste. For a richer, less sweet brownie, use dark or bittersweet chocolate. For a sweeter brownie, use a semi-sweet or milk chocolate. The choice is all yours.

Double Chocolate Brownies

And so, dear reader, this Double Chocolate Brownie recipe is yours. The brownies are chewy, dense, and, most importantly, full of a rich chocolate flavor. As three of my taste testers separately told me, These taste like box mix brownies, only better! I hope you will feel the same. The search for the perfect brownie has finally come to a delicious end.

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Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Marshmallows

The past two weeks have been dreadfully cold, as winter fully sets in up here in the North. The air is so chilled that it seems to take one's breath away, burning down the windpipe fiercely. Everyone scurries around from place to place to do last minute shopping, bundled up from head to toe in coats and scarves and mittens until nothing but red cheeks are showing. Fashion has given way to practicality. Though the wind is fierce, the earth's thick coat of white is beautiful enough to make up for winter's ferocity, at least in part.

A few degrees of warmth might make the ice and snow a bit more tolerable.

Peppermint Marshmallows Peppermint Marshmallows Peppermint Marshmallows

With all of the below zero temperatures, I have spent my time indoors, cuddled up with a hot cup of tea and an overdone holiday movie. When I have a spare bit of time, I like to find an excuse to turn on the oven, whether making a batch of my boyfriend's favorite cookies or finding an excuse to treat my coworkers.

Last weekend, I had it in my head that I would make a batch of gourmet peppermint marshmallows for the holidays. Midway through the recipe, as the sugar was wildly boiling, I came to the unfortunate realization that my candy thermometer was broken. After trying to salvage the recipe, with the sugar certainly overcooked, I ended up throwing it entirely into the trash bin.

Peppermint Marshmallows

I have never come across a recipe for marshmallows that did not require a candy thermometer. In fact, the vanilla bean marshmallows I shared with you earlier this year is one of the few recipes where I insisted you needed one. However, suddenly candy thermometer-less and with no less of a desire to make marshmallows, I began the search for a recipe that didn't require one. And find one, I did.

With a red swirl and drizzle of dark chocolate, these Peppermint Marshmallows exceeded my expectations. While they are glorious on their own, I wholeheartedly suggest adding them to a mug of hot chocolate for a moment of divinity.

Peppermint Marshmallows

These Peppermint Marshmallows are easier to prepare and less fussy than other marshmallow recipes. The addition of extra gelatin ensures that the marshmallows will set without the worry of boiling sugar to a specific temperature (as there is with traditional marshmallows). Red food coloring is dropped on top and swirled with a toothpick before the marshmallows have a chance to set. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes, the marshmallows are elevated so that they could be given as a holiday gift or served at a holiday party.

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Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

When I was wheeled into surgery six weeks ago, I knew I would have a road ahead of me, but I didn't realize it would be unpaved and stretch so far into the distance that I wouldn't begin to see the end for a month. I held strong in the days before, reassuring everyone I was tougher than I looked, a smile on my face. I even felt lucky, gown and hospital bracelet in hand, knowing that I wouldn't have to endure the fear and anxiety as my loved ones would in the waiting room, wringing their hands as the hours ticked by on the clock. I suppressed the nervousness, for family, for myself, only allowing it to surface when I found myself on the table, counting backwards from ten.

When I awoke, my mind cloudy with medication, all I could feel was pain—an endless, enduring pain that threatened to consume me.

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Recovery is hard. It is harder than I ever gave it credit for. After a handful of days in the hospital, after four sleepless nights, after being poked and prodded until I lost my ability to care, I was released. I was weak and exhausted and in pain, but the worst had passed. I went home with my parents. I spent time on the couch. I picked at my food, appetite gone. I watched countless of hours of Full House, my angel and saving grace from three until six in the morning. With a foggy head and a cabinet of pain medications, I felt as fragile and vulnerable as a leaf fluttering in the wind.

My strength came back slowly. Each day was a little better than the last, but I could never pinpoint how or why. I walked like an old woman, hunched over from too much life experience. My spine gradually straightened. The milk carton felt like a 50 pound weight. It grew lighter. The fog in my brain began to lift. I could stand for more than an hour, then three. The process was slow, encompassing the next month. Eventually it grew comical, as I struggled to pack up and move while under 5 pound weight restrictions.

Even so, I was healing, my body gently finding a way to put itself back together.

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Scars have always been a part of me, surface remnants from surgeries I was too young to remember. I cannot imagine myself without them, my eyes glancing over them as if they were never there. With my new scars, my eyes linger, pausing at the unfamiliar scene laid out before me. The map of my chest has changed, as angry red lines cross my abdomen and travel around my side in one big swoop. In all, there are eight—five old, three new. I wonder how long it will be before I forget they are there.

While some people view scars as flaws or disfigurements, I view them as a symbol of strength, a badge of honor, a sign that I have lived. These scars hold my imperfect body together. Standing naked in front of the mirror after a shower, I traced a finger over my permanent lines. I imagined my muscles weaving themselves back together. I imagined being able to stretch and bend as I did before. I imagined these lines fading into the background of life.

I can put on a shirt and cover up my experiences, hiding them from the people I meet. Sometimes I forget they are just beneath the thin cloth, this part of me that few people get to see. When the fabric is lifted, the secret exposed, I don't feel self-conscious or ashamed. These scars tell my story. These scars have made me whole.

Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

I have long held the belief that warm cookies, fresh from the oven, can heal both emotionally and physically. These Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies allow both flavors to shine in this chewy cookie. Banana chips are processed into fine pieces before mixing into the cookies, giving them a pronounced banana flavor without the softness or cake-like texture that comes from using fresh fruit. Combined with chocolate chips, these cookies become the cure to whatever ails you, whether it be a broken heart, broken body, or afternoon sweet tooth.

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