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Cherry and Cacao Nibs Brownies

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownie-a-sublime-bite~Yes,-more-please!One of Ian’s greatest discoveries at my little Sunday Farmers Market, at Muller here in Austin, it’s Kiskadee Chocolates. Ian was wandering around the market and ran into this amazing hot cocoa drink. He got a sample for me and when I drank it! Immediately I was deeply in love with the chocolate elixir drink. So the next weekend I walked to the market and I had the opportunity to meet the owner, Laura Atlas, who happens to be my neighbor as well! That’s what I call luck!. We went for a walk and she told me her story.

She started her business after tasting handcrafted chocolate truffles given to her by her husband on their anniversary; that’s how her chocolate making journey began. She handcrafts chocolate bars, cacao nibs, and her recent addition to her fantastic quality chocolate collection: “The Baking Chocolate Bar” of 85% cacao and uses very little sugar. Her chocolate is organic, from single-sourced cacao from the Dominican Republic. The variety is called “La Red”. The farmers who grow the beans are part of a co-op called Guaconejo. If you would like to know more about the co-op:
http://www.raakachocolate.com/pages/cacao-origin-profile-la-red-guaconejo-dominican-republic.

Laura shows a great passion for her chocolate and you can taste the fantastic chocolate products at the Cedar Park and Mueller Market, In.gredients, Frofoyo…I totally recommend you to meet her at the farmers market, she can tell you all about her journey and you can taste and learn how to make a delicious chocolate drink.

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies~Kiskadee-Baking-Chocolate-cherry-brownies-guaconejo~Yes,-more-please!Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies

As you can tell I really loved the chocolate. I been working on this recipe for about two weeks now.
I wanted to create a great a brownie bite showcasing the flavor profile of this unique chocolate baking bar. The results…Kiskadee chocolate is on my top favorites on my chocolate list. The chocolate profile flavor its remarkable, it’s a dark chocolate that has intensity and great aroma. It finishes clean and feathery light, with a fruity natural sweetness. What to do with this lingot of chocolate gold?… Brownies.

I love brownies in small doses (yeah, right). I made these decadent little Cherry and Cacao nibs brownie bites pairing the chocolate with fresh cherries, to bringing out the fruity natural notes on the kiskadee baking chocolate. I added some cocoa nibs for extra crunch and texture contrast. These brownies are right in the middle, not overly fudg-y not too cake-y. I baked them in a mini-cupcake pan, they bake so beautifully, if you are a brownie edge lover, you are gonna  love this mini brownies, they get a nice crust all around, and a soft fudge center. I find they have a great balance and 2 or 3 bites will beyond satisfy your chocolate craving. You are gonna love them.

Remember when baking use the best ingredients, good organic eggs, great butter and if you can not have access to this chocolate, search what is your best possible option beyond the supermarket limitations. (A few of my favorite suggestions for amazing baking chocolate will be: El Rey, Cacao Barry, Valor, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger. in that order.)

I hope you enjoy them as much as Ian and I did…they are gone now, sharing with friends was great. Enjoy!

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies--whant-a-bite--Yes,-more-please!

Cherry and Cacao Nibs Brownies

Makes 24 brownie bites.

24 Fresh red Cherries pitted and steams on
1 large metal paper clip (see the super easy instruction photos below)
¼ cup Dark Rum *optional

½ cup unsalted butter= 1 stick of butter
6 oz. bitter sweet baking chocolate (El Rey, or Valrhona would be in my top favorites.)
1 tablespoon of ground cacao nibs
½ cup turbinado sugar
½ cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
5-6 drops almond extract
½ cup unbleached-all purpose flour, sifted after measuring.
2 pinches of sea salt.

1-2 tablespoons cacao nibs

Preparation method:

How to Pitt a cherry?

It is extremely easy, you just need a paper clip, yes you read well a large paper clip, unfolded, cut a little cross on the back of the cherry, insert the clip hook, gently twist, and the pit is out!no need of a fancy equipment…unless you own a cherry tree then buy one.

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies~Cherry-pitting-technique

 Soak the pitted cherries in a little dark rum or kirsch, while you prepare the brownie batter.

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies~SOAKING-CHERRIES-IN-DARK-RUM~YES,-MORE-PLEASE!Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies-INGREDIENTS~-Yes,-more-please!

Preheat oven at:
325F/165C  if is a dark metal non stick pan, if you have a light metal pan bake at 350F/175C

In a metal bowl over a double boiler melt butter and chopped baking chocolate. Be carefully, that the metal bowl do not touch the water, to prevent scorching the chocolate.
Once the chocolate and butter are almost melted remove from heat and stir until smooth.
Add both kinds of sugars into the chocolate mixture, vanilla and almond extract. With the help of a spatula mix well.
Add eggs one a at a time until well incorporated.
At last add the sifted flour and salt in folding movements until well incorporated, do not over mix.

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies~Mixing-the-brownies~Yes,-more-please!

Grease pan with soft butter and dust with cocoa powder, to prevent brownies from sticking.
Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop 1 load of the brownie batter into each mold.
Top with cherry pressing half way through the batter. (See photo below) Sprinkle some cacao nibs.

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies-scooping,-cherring-and-cacao-nibs-sprinkles~Yes,-more-please!

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few sticky cooked crumbs.

Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes in the pan. Once they have cool down slightly, remove carefully from pan with the help of a small spatula, press and twist to release them intact.
Cool them in a wire rack. Serve room temperature or slightly warm. Dust with confectioners sugar.
Enjoy!

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies-out-of-the-oven~YES,-MORE-PLEASE!

Notes: If you are more into brownie squares, this recipe will make an 8×8 square, use a ceramic or glass dish for best results, lining the bottom with parchment paper and living enough parchment paper hanging on the sides for easy pulling. Bake time: 22-25 minutes check the center, if is not done give it another 2-3 minutes.

Cacao-Nibs-and-Cherry-Brownies-have-you-had-your-chocolate-today-~Yes,-more-please!

Sinfully delicious!

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Devil’s Chocolate and Ganache Cake…get happy!

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_close up delight

Chocolate, One of the most beautiful words in the world!… Just to say the word makes me happy, and reminds me of the Judy Garland song… when I’m making this Devil’s Chocolate and Ganache Cake. I always think positive thoughts. When it comes out of the oven, Hallelujah!.. get happy… forget your troubles…you better chase all you cares away… Oh yeah! That’s how happy this chocolate cake makes me. And well what else is there to say about the comfort that brings you when you bake your own cake?. The whole house smells like warm endorphins that activate your happy brain cells.
It’s a simple batter. You’ll need one bowl or two, and the best quality butter and cocoa powder you can get. The better your ingredients, the better results you will get.
That’s one of the keys when you are baking: always use good quality ingredients (from the eggs to the vanilla extract). If you care about them, it will be fantastic!. All ingredients when you are baking MUST be at room temperature. Read the recipe twice. Measure everything correctly using measuring cups for dry ingredients and a larger liquid measuring cup for wet ingredients. Get in the baking groove, nice music, enjoy yourself…
Here is some music link that will set your baking mood…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGk3tY4yP7k

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_Coseup slice

Devil’s Dark Chocolate Cake… get happy!

Makes 1 -12 cup bundt cake

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped *
½ cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ – ¾ cup dutch Process cocoa Powder (Valrhona, Cocoa Barry)
1 tablespoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee -not hot just warm.(I used Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso powder)
1 cup of butter milk ( or 1 cup of whole milk + 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat the oven 350F / 176C
Butter and dust with cocoa a 12 cup bundt pan.
Melt the bitter sweet chocolate, using a double boiler on low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the melted chocolate into a medium size bowl and let cool slightly.
Whisk in the melted butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and mix.
In a small bowl, Mix the dry ingredients, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt.
Start by combining half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with ½ cup of the coffee and ½ a cup of the butter milk. Whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and butter milk and whisk. until smooth.
Poor the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for about 10-15 minutes, then turn it out and let it cool completely.

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_baking chocolate

* My favorites: 70% Cacao Bittersweet Scharffen Berger, 72% bitter-sweet Michael Cluizel, El Rey Venezuelan chocolate, 70%- 80% Callebaut.

Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream
10 oz. Semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate finely chopped.
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of brandy or cognac or any liquor of your preference. ( omit this ingredient if cooking for kids)

Method:

In a small pot heat the heavy cream until small bubbles form around the pan ( do not let it boil)
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium size bowl, pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate let it stand for 3-4 minutes so the chocolate warms through. Whisk gently until the mixture is smooth, add butter mix until is melted, add the liquor mix. Add the agave nectar for a shiny finish.

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_How to make Ganache

Spoon the Ganache over the cake… save extra for plating.. for when you want a little more …

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_spreading ganache
Sprinkle cayenne pepper or cinnamon for a little  accent on the cake…

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_Cayenne

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_ with cayenne

Get happy, Chocolate cake!

Music Pairing:Judy Garland “Get Happy”

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