Two big holidays are next week: Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day? What the H.E.double hockey sticks is Galentine’s Day? It’s a relatively new phenomenon where girls get together the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th, and celebrate. You know, a girls’ night. I mean, why should you miss out on wine and chocolate just because there’s no significant other in the picture? You shouldn’t.
I’m a strong believer in the fact that chocolate shouldn’t just be for those in relationships. It should be for everyone, whether you’re blissfully happy in coupledom or blissfully happy in singledom, whether you’re hanging out with the girls or snuggling up in your favorite pajamas with a good book… or that special someone… or both.
But if you think chocolates should only come in a box for either of these events, you’re wrong. Chocolate comes in all different shapes and sizes which is why I’m such a fan. Sure, you could enjoy a pound of your favorite chocolates, or you could have it in ice cream form or as a cake or even as a cookie. While I love a box of really good chocolates, I won’t turn down the ice cream, cake or cookies, which is why I’m such a fan of these cute little thumbprints from Dorie Greenspan.
These cookies are great because they aren’t too sweet. The chocolate cookie is made of unsweetened cocoa powder and a touch of sugar, while the filling is made of pure raspberry jam. It’s those little red circles that bring the whole cookie together and add just the right amount of sweetness. And since they’re bright red, they’re prefect for this red and pink holiday, no matter if you’re sharing them with that special someone or adding them to a girls’ night table full of cookies and cakes.
Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints (adapted from Dorie’s Cookies)
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Sift the flour and cocoa together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Beat the butter, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.
- Reduce the mixer speed to to low and add the egg whites and vanilla.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, scoop out the dough. Roll each scoop into round balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball, it’s probably going to crack a little, but that’s okay. Fill the indentation to the top with jam and repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the jam is bubbling, rotating halfway through. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.
I know strawberry season might be over (or at least the peak season is) but as long as there are strawberries at the farmer’s market, I consider it to be strawberry season. And I’m not alone. Three weeks ago we had our monthly Food Bloggers of Los Angeles meeting and the topic was strawberries and Snapchat.
See, every month we get together to discuss a different topic in the blogging world. But since we’re all foodies, we can’t just get together and talk. There needs to be some food involved. As I mentioned this month was all about strawberries. At first I thought about making something savory, but when push comes to shove, I love desserts, especially when they’re made with fresh fruit.
Fruit desserts in the summer are the best. They just taste so fresh and so… well summer. I love all kinds of fruit desserts from peach to every kind of berry. But strawberry desserts are still some of my favorites. Another favorite of mine? Banana bread.
I make a lot of banana bread because while my boys are huge fans of bananas, there are plenty of weeks when those bananas are neglected and end up a little too ripe for us to eat straight. It’s on those occasions that I make banana bread. I’ve made all kinds: plain, chocolate, I’ve even made a chocolate chip version. (Hmmm… maybe I should post one of those one of these days.) Anyway, when I saw this strawberry version, I knew I had to try it.
Plain bananas and strawberries weren’t enough, though. If there’s one thing that pairs well with strawberries it’s chocolate. So, I thought about making a chocolate banana bread with strawberries, but I didn’t want it to be that rich. It was a hot day after all and I don’t like rich desserts when it’s hot. So instead of the standard half cup of cocoa powder, I used a couple tablespoons. That way you got a hint of chocolate without the heavy, richness that usually comes with a chocolate banana bread. The end result was a delightful summer dessert that’s not only perfect for a food blogger meeting, but makes a great brunch option as well as a nice picnic choice.
Strawberry Banana Bread (adapted from the Recipe Critic)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Mix in the mashed bananas.
- Slowly add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix until flour is just combined. Don’t overmix! Fold in the strawberries.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake at 375°F for 15 minutes. REDUCE heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the edges are golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from the pan.
If there’s one thing I love about the farmer’s market, it’s the constant discoveries I make each and every time I go. We’re in the middle of cherry season and I love cherries. Every year I count the days from the moment the stone fruit season ends until it starts up again and it always starts with cherries.
If you’re a cherry fan you know the classics like Bing and Rainier, but did you know there are several other kinds that all have slightly different tastes? There are Lamberts, Minnie Royals, Royal Anns and Stellas just to name a few. I’ve enjoyed both the Bings and Minnie Royals as well as the Rainiers, but last year I experienced a new cherry that absolutely blew my mind. They’re called Tartarians and they’re AH-MAZING!
I don’t even know how to describe these awesome little red spheres. They’re rich and sweet and have such a powerful burst of cherry flavor. You only need to taste one before you’re craving them all year long. I’m not kidding. After I sampled these delectable stone fruits last year, I couldn’t get enough. And then like Keyser Soze, they were gone. Seriously. One week later I couldn’t find them anywhere. So, I waited. And waited. And waited for the season to come back around. As soon as cherries started popping up at the farmer’s market this year I searched and scoured for those Tartarians. No one had them. But then last week, the vendor I bought the Tartarians from last year appeared, and he had them. Of course I bought a few baskets, and just like last year I came right home and created something sweet.
Last year I made some Cherry Peach Yogurt Pops. This year I decided to go for something a little richer. Something that would last on a platter or could be taken to a picnic or potluck. Something that you could eat with your hands and enjoy with either an after-dinner drink or a simple glass of milk. These cookies do all that and more. They’re sinful, decadent and definitely worth a taste. I know I’ll be making another batch. But it’s gotta be soon because just like last year, I only have one more week before these cherries are gone. So, I’m grabbing a few more baskets because there’s just no way I can wait another 11 months for that spectacular cherry flavor… or these cookies.
Chocolate Cherry Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp dark corn syrup
- 1 cup cherries, stemmed, pitted and chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Melt 1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat. Cool for 15 minutes.
- Sift together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
- Beat together the sugar, eggs and corn syrup in a medium bowl until thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the melted chocolate, then the dry ingredients.
- Fold in the remaining chocolate chips and cherries. Freeze cookie dough for 15 minutes.
- Drop heaping spoonfuls of batter onto each prepared baking sheet, spacing the cookies apart (they’ll spread as they cook). Bake until cookies are softly set, 15-20 minutes.
- Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.
Valentine’s Day is Sunday and if you’re anything like me, you want to make something chocolate to serve your sweetie for dessert on this most romantic of evenings. But if you’re also like me, you don’t really want to spend too much time making it. After all there are much more important things to get to after dinner. Well, thanks to the folks at Melissa’s Produce, I have a dessert that doesn’t take too long to make and is absolutely delicious.
Melissa’s was nice enough to send me a package of their won ton wrappers in anticipation of Monday’s Chinese New Year. But I didn’t want to make your standard won ton filled with shrimp or cream cheese. Instead I’d recently seen a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens that stuffed the wrappers with chocolate! I thought it was such a neat idea, I decided to do the same thing.
They were sooooo yummy. These little pockets are crunchy on the outside and filled with hot, melted dark chocolate on the inside. While each pillow takes a little time to put together, it only takes about a minute to cook them. But don’t let the effort involved dissuade you from making this dessert. Maybe instead of going out to an overpriced dinner, you stay in and have a cooking date. Making dinner and dessert together is way more satisfying than simply buying it, and you get to enjoy the process as well as the finished product. For my money that’s a win win and a really fun night in.
- 1/2 cup port
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup dried bing cherries
- 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 14 wonton wrappers
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- Powdered sugar
- In a small saucepan bring the port to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes or until reduced to by half. Whisk in the sugar and cook for another minute. Add cherries and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 350°.
- While the oil heats, lightly brush the edges of one wonton with the egg. Place a handful of chocolate chips (I used 9) in the center of the wonton wrapper. Place another wonton wrapper on top and press the edges together to seal.
- Cook the filled wontons in the oil, one at a time, for 1 minute or until golden brown, flipping at least once so they brown evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining won ton wrappers and chocolate until you have 14 chocolate pillows.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve with the cherry port sauce.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s provided me with the won ton wrappers for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.
A few years ago I made marshmallows. Yes, made them. From scratch! I’d heard about other foodies I know making those soft, sweet, white pillows, so I wanted to give it a try. They were surprisingly easy and soooooo much better than the ones you buy at the supermarket. They were soft and sweet and pure bliss. But plain marshmallows weren’t enough for me. I wanted to up my game. I wanted to make chocolate or peppermint or oooh, boozy marshmallows. So since we’re right in the middle of December and peppermint is the candy of the month, I decided to make Peppermint Schnapps marshmallows. Yum!
I know they sound complicated, but just like plain marshmallows, they’re super easy. As a matter of fact the only difference between these and vanilla marshmallows is the 5 tablespoons of Peppermint Schnapps… and a little pink food coloring. But that’s it. So, since they were that easy and because I’m a super overachiever, I decided to dip the marshmallows in chocolate. I mean, let’s face it, nothing goes better with peppermint than chocolate. The end result: awesome! Just like the previous batch, these marshmallows were light, fluffy blissfulness. But now with the peppermint and chocolate they were the perfect candy to serve during the holidays. So, that’s just what I did.
This past weekend the Foodbloggers of Los Angeles (FBLA) had their annual cookie swap. So, instead of making cookies I made these Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallows. Although sweeter than most cookies, they’re perfect for cookie swaps because they’re single serving squares of deliciousness; just like all those cookies and bars you often find at cookie swaps. But you don’t have to save them for the swaps, they also make sweet gifts for friends and neighbors.
So, whether you choose to make these fluffy pink clouds for yourself, your neighbors or your friends, no one will be disappointed. As a matter of fact, they may come caroling for more.
Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallows
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4 (1/4 oz.) packets unflavored gelatin
- 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 5 tablespoons Peppermint Schnapps, divided
- 3 egg whites
- 3 drops pink food coloring.
- 1 – 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
- Whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a little bowl and set aside.
- Generously coat a 9 x 13 pan with Crisco and then sprinkle 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar mixture all over the bottom of the pan, dumping any of the excess back in the bowl.
- Pour 3/4 cup of cold water into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it, whisking until there are no lumps, set aside.
- Pour a 1/2 cup of water into a large sauce pan. Stir in the granulated sugar, corn syrup and 3 tablespoons of peppermint Schnapps until just combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to boil until 240°F.
- While the sugar boils, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed on the mixer to low and gradually add the sugar syrup. While the mixer continues to run, break up the gelatin and add it to the mixer one piece at a time. Add the remaining Schnapps and increase the speed of the mixer. Continue mixing until the marshmallow is thick and almost triple in volume. Add the food coloring and mix until uniform in color.
- Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sift 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar mixture on top and let set for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the marshmallow and invert the pan onto a cutting board. The marshmallow should fall out, if not gently pull on one corner. Chop the marshmallow into 1-inch squares and then toss in the remaining powdered sugar mixture.
- Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan. Dip each marshmallow into the melted chocolate and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let sit until chocolate hardens and serve or enjoy on your own.