I've been making variations of this brownie recipe for so long that I don't even remember when I first found the original version. It featured white chocolate chips in the batter with dark chips on top.
I'm not a big fan of white chocolate so, instead, I put loads of the dark stuff right in the batter. I've also reduced the amount of batter sugar, in favor of more dark chocolate bits. Here is my current Ultra Fudge Brownies recipe, just in time for National Chocolate Day (October 28) :)
Ultra Fudge Brownies
Makes 2-2 ½ dozen
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter + 3 tablespoons mild olive oil or safflower oil
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler (or microwave the chocolate
and butter in a large microwaveable bowl at HIGH, until butter and chocolate have completely melted).
Mix in sugar and vanilla thoroughly, and then stir in eggs, one at a time.
Incorporate flour and blend well.
Mix in chocolate chips (and nuts). Spread in greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool completely before cutting.
If you’re already a fan of chocolate-nut flavored spreads, consider making this healthier version that allows you to control the amount of sugar and salt. As always, I’ve tinkered with this recipe since I encountered it in a magazine, many years ago. Although I have reduced the amount of sugar from the original, this recipe readily accommodates more, if you simply must have sweeter results.
Not planning to eat your hummus within about four days? It will freeze and thaw beautifully, for your next chocolate fix.
Makes 24 servings
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I recommend using the low salt variety)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar, with more, to taste)
3 ounces peanut butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt, with more, to taste
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)
5 to 8 tablespoons water (I used 6 tablespoons for this batch)
1. Put chickpeas, peanut butter, olive oil, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, coffee powder and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse, scraping down the sides; continue mixing until well blended. While the processor is running slowly add water by the tablespoon and check frequently until you reach the desired texture.
2. Refrigerate and use within 4-5 days and/or freeze until ready to defrost. Use as a dip/spread for toast, fruit, or graham crackers.
I've always appreciated well-made truffles. Rich flavor and soft ganache create the ultimate sweet bite. But that sweet bite is also typically full of (delicious!) saturated fat, from heavy cream. So I decided to adjust an existing truffle recipe a bit, by substituting avocado for half of the cream.
Because avocado deserves to play with spicy flavors, I also added cinnamon and chile powder to the ganache and coating powder. The results are delicious and not quite as decadent as the original. In fact, after a friend of our daughter's tasted one of these delicious treats, she asked if I would make them for the dessert buffet at her wedding. What an honor!
A word of 'warning' before you start. This is a lengthy process, including the wait time between individual steps. So set aside about three hours, find your favorite movie, and hit pause as each step begins. It's worth the effort.
Avocado Chile Pepper Truffles
Makes 18-24 truffles
3/8 cup avocado
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
8 ounces dark chocolate chips
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp. ancho chile powder
1. Puree avocado in food processor. In a saucepan, combine it with cream,
chile powder, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.
Cover and let steep for one hour.
2. Reheat the mixture over medium heat until it just comes to a boil, stirring
occasionally. Pour mixture over the chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir until the
chocolate is completely melted, and the mixture is smooth.
3. Pour mixture into a shallow glass pie pan. Chill for two hours, until firm.
With a 1-inch scoop or tablespoon, scoop out chocolate and roll in the palm
of your hand to create a rough ball. Shape and place on a sheet pan covered
with wax paper. Chill for 5-10 minutes.
4. In a shallow dish, combine the coating ingredients. Roll balls in mixture
until coated, place the truffles back on the sheet pan with the wax paper.
Chill until ready to serve.
5. If chilled longer than 2 hours let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature
before serving. Store truffles in a tightly covered container for up to 2 weeks.
Although the calendar says this is fall, October temperatures in the Kansas City area can still fluctuate wildly, from the 40s to the upper 70s. With this crazy weather in mind, here’s a cold, sweet treat for you to enjoy on those days when you don’t even need to wear a jacket.
This inaugural blog recipe is a riff on a very old L.A. Times recipe, called Mayan Chocolate Pops. The original recipe featured espresso or espresso powder, plus two cups of half-and-half. But my husband isn't a coffee fan so I nixed that ingredient, and reduced the amount of half-and-half slightly, to help with freezing.
The L.A. Times version did include cinnamon, but I increased the amount for my cinnamon-loving family. Finally, I added chile powder, another family favorite and quite appropriate for cuisine from this part of the world. Please enjoy my:
Spiced Mexican Popsicles
Makes 6, 3-ounce servings
¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon chile powder (I use Ancho chile powder)
¾ cup sugar
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Combine the cocoa, chile powder, cinnamon, and sugar, in a saucepan. Whisk in enough of the half-and-half to make a paste, then gradually whisk in the rest of the half-and-half. Gently bring to a boil, stirring often.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature; you can pour the mixture from the hot pan into a bowl, to reduce cooling time. Then use a ladle to gently pour the mixture into and freeze in molds (I use 3-ounce Dixie cups as my molds).
3. Add wooden/popsicle sticks when mixture is slushy, after about 1 ½-2 hours. Freeze for at least two hours more, before serving.
How to Fully Experience Chocolate
As mentioned in my previous post, Gail Ambrosius (owner of Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, in Madison, Wisconsin) has created an information sheet regarding how to judge every piece of chocolate that you encounter. I’ve summarized her terrific tips here:
Is the chocolate shiny or dull? Mahogany, dark brown or even black? These characteristics reflect the type of beans used to create the chocolate, plus their source and processing.
When slightly warmed between your fingers, is the aroma delicate or potent? This will give you a ‘tip’ regarding potential flavor.
Does the chocolate you are tasting ‘snap’ as you bite into it? That’s a sign of proper chocolate tempering.
About tempering: https://www.ecolechocolat.com/en/chocolate-tempering.html
As the chocolate melts on your tongue what flavors do you think of and how does that change over time? When you exhale through your nose, how does the flavor shift and linger?
Notice the chocolate texture in your mouth. Is it sandy/grainy or smooth/silky?
Chocolate Production and Climate Change
The previous post also mentioned Ambrosius’s concern about her company’s carbon footprint. To learn more about climate change and cocoa production, visit http://www.confectionerynews.com/Commodities/Climate-change-and-cocoa-Chocolate-firms-action-to-temperature-rise/?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=30-Apr-2015&c=OquP9o9q%2B29WTWa2qvZGiJTc6C3zptEU& .
Definitions Associated with Ethical Chocolate-Making
SINGLE ORIGIN CHOCOLATE: Cacao beans in a chocolate product that came from only one location, whether from the same country or the same individual property.
ORGANIC CHOCOLATE: This chocolate variety must feature certified organic ingredients, with no pesticides or genetically modified elements included.
FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED: Farmers who grow the cacao used to make chocolate receive a 'living wage'
A Little Chocolate History
Father of modern-day taxonomic plant classification, Carolus Linnaeus named cacao ‘theobroma.’ From ancient Greek, it means ‘Food of the Gods.’
Cacao is a Mayan word the Spanish colonizers of Mesoamerica retained to describe the tree and its produce. This plant grows around the world in a band spreading 20 degrees north and south of the Equator.
As the nineteenth century began technology made it possible to transform chocolate into bars and other sweets. Developed by Rodolphe Lindt, his ‘conching’ technique allowed chocolatiers to create smooth melted chocolate from cacao.
Learn more chocolate history here: http://blog.oup.com/2016/07/chocolate-facts/
Dark Chocolate’s Health Benefits
A fermented edible, cacao is also considered a health-promoting super food. And this article, 7 Heart-Healthy Perks of Dark Chocolate, details how cacao:
-Prevents Heart Disease
-Powers Heart and Blood Vessel Cells
-Boosts Blood Circulation
-Calms Blood Pressure
-Lowers Stroke Risk
-Helps You Meet Cholesterol Goals
-Relieves Stress on Your Heart
Welcome to Visual Traveler.
I love crafting stories about fantastic food & beverages, must-visit destinations & eco-friendly topics. I wrote a 350+ page book about Kansas. And I've worked with dozens of additional clients - from Fodors.com & AAA magazines to USAToday.com & WanderWithWonder.
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In summer 2021 I shut down several old blogs after retrieving some favorite posts. Then I reclaimed my favorite name - Visual Traveler.
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Archived posts featuring Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico & chocolate