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Entries in cocoa (6)

Thursday
Jun132013

Double Chocolate Muffins

Double Chocolate Muffins

Summer is here. The sun is out, shining brightly, heating the earth and the air with a pleasant warmth. The grass is a vivid green, the flowers are in bloom, and the perfumed scent of lilacs floats up in the air and down the paved sidewalks. Children are running and playing, making makeshift soccer goals out of park benches, and young women are sunbathing, soaking up the sun's rays. By all accounts, the weather is lovely—the view outside my window could be an illustration from a children's book.

But for now that's all it is: a view.

Double Chocolate Muffins Double Chocolate Muffins

I have been indoors quite a bit lately, tethered to an electrical outlet, typing away at the computer while writing essays and finishing assignments as I wrap up my degree. As a parade of t-shirts and shorts pass my second-story window, I wear pants and wrap myself in sweatshirts, struggling to keep warm in the air-conditioned building. I feel like I am at the end of two separate extremes, my wishes and duties tugged in opposite directions.

Soon, I tell myself, soon you can take a break and go outside.

Double Chocolate Muffins

I made these muffins last weekend, when the weather was miserable and as cold as my air-conditioned building. It was one of those mornings made for socks and warm breakfasts. Growing up, I was a fan of double chocolate anything but, after eating too many platters of double chocolate chocolate chip pancakes at the local breakfast diner at few years ago, my excitement for the combination has waned. Even so, I felt enough time had passed to give the combination of chocolate and chocolate another chance.

As a self-proclaimed chocolate addict, I could never stray away for too long.

Double Chocolate Muffins

Double Chocolate Muffins are defined by a measuring cup full of cocoa powder and a handful of chocolate chips. The muffins have brown sugar for depth of flavor and ground flaxseeds for health. Before baking, the muffin tops are sprinkled with granulated sugar and miniature chocolate chips for a tasty appearance and extra sweetness. The muffins stay surprisingly moist for a couple days and make for a bright breakfast or afternoon snack.

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Thursday
Feb142013

Hot Cocoa Popsicles

Hot Cocoa Popsicles

This weekend brought about a furious blizzard, with flakes falling wildly from the heavens and a fierce wind blowing snow into drifts tall enough to bury cars beneath walls of snow. I spent Sunday with a cup of hot tea between my palms, watching Mother Nature roar outside my window. There is a peacefulness in being in the warmth of indoors, safe and snug, while the elements play outside, just out of reach. The world outside quietly shuts down and responsibilities are forgotten as the front door stays closed.

I think sometimes we all need a snow day.

Hot Cocoa Popsicles

Even though it goes against all reason, on the coldest days of the year I crave frozen treats. Throughout the winter season, it seems there is only so much tea that can be sipped and soup that can be ladled. In order to satisfy my cravings for something cool, I often beg family or friends to accompany me to the nearest frozen yogurt shop. Bundled up in winter jackets, scarves, and over-sized mittens, we trudge through the frosted doors and eat until our insides turn delightfully cold. When the cold ice cream finally brings about a case of the goosebumps, we wrap ourselves back up and head out into the winter air.

Though this small tradition may seem misunderstood, there is something restorative about spending time in an empty yogurt shop on a chilled February evening.

Hot Cocoa Popsicles

After the blizzard struck (and the obligatory mug of hot tea had been consumed), I found my taste for cold treats begin to seep into my bones. With no choice but to stay in the warmth and safety of the indoors, I decided to create my own winter delight with the food already in my kitchen. A few minutes on the stove is all it takes to whip up a quick cocoa. After I waited for it to cool down, I married it with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips in a popsicle mold to produce a frozen treat that closely mimics its namesake.

While hot cocoa is a winter favorite, I have found that "cold" cocoa can be just as gratifying.

Hot Cocoa Popsicles

Hot Cocoa Popsicles combine the flavors of the beloved winter drink and turn it into a treat that can be enjoyed whether the weather is warm or cold. A rich hot cocoa is layered in a popsicle mold with mini chocolate chips and marshmallows. The popsicles are frozen in two parts to evenly spread out the mix-ins, which keeps all of the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom and all of the marshmallows from rising to the top. Once frozen, the popsicles can be enjoyed over the course of a couple weeks, reached for whenever a craving may strike.

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Thursday
Nov082012

Marbled Butternut Squash Bread

Marbled Butternut Squash Bread

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to put pen to paper and release a story from somewhere deep within me. To give the mumbled, uncertain emotions swirling in my head a channel with which to escape. I wanted to release words from my fingertips with as much energy as the release of balloons into a deep blue sky.

Perhaps it may come as a surprise to you, but I've always been a little reserved. My tongue holds my thoughts prisoner, fighting against the rattling brain in my head that is eager to share them with the world. It's a personal, quiet battle I struggle with in slowly conquering that stubborn tongue of mine. In a way, writing has become an outlet to free the thoughts in my head. To give a voice to the words I cannot seem to speak aloud.

Marbled Butternut Squash Bread

Even so, some days I have a love-hate relationship with writing. Writing is hard. More often than not, I end up staring at a blank computer screen when I sit down to write, the blinking of the cursor reminding me how much time is passing, my mind seeming to wipe itself clean. Though I love the process of writing once I begin, the process can be difficult to start. I have been known to avoid writing like it is a chore, pandering myself by visiting webpages or taking care of household business instead, trying to ignore the call of the white blank screen.

Yet, I cannot ignore the call forever. I eventually find myself in front of that same blank screen, discovering the determination to cover it with black ink. The need to write outweighs whatever feelings I may have about it. Perhaps, in many ways, that is the true mark of writer.

Marbled Butternut Squash Bread

Even though I love sharing my thoughts and stories with you, I have always written for myself. I struggle to write for anyone else. When I settle down in front of the computer screen, I must forget that thousands of you may stumble across my words and read them—the thought is enough to stop even the bravest of writers mid-sentence. I can't write while I feel like someone is watching me; I'm afraid that person will read my words and find a way to judge me for them.

Even so, I wonder if I can truly be called a writer. The term is enigmatic, ascribing a certain measure of success and failure. If I am to be called a writer, I like to imagine that any eight year old girl with a head full of ideas and dull pencil in hand can be called by the same name too.

Writer or not, the need to write never changes. I plan on slicing myself another piece of this bread for inspiration when I find myself facing the next blank screen.

Marbled Butternut Squash Bread

Marbled Butternut Squash Bread has a subtle sweetness with striking tones of color. Butternut squash meets the classic fall spices—cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves—creating a moist and pleasantly dense loaf of bread. A third of the batter is mixed with cocoa before swirling into the rest, creating not only a marbled appearance, but a marbled flavor. The bread works well served with a simple butter spread but, if you are feeling a little adventurous, a bit of chocolate spread certainly wouldn't be amiss.

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