Icelandic Chocolate

While on my trip, kept seeing these Traditional Icelandic Chocolate bars by Nói Síríus. There were several options, from Milk to Mint to Dark. Of course I opted for the Dark. What was interesting is that the Dark was only 45% Dark Chocolate. There was no dairy in it, fortunately. Finally broke down and bought one.

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It had a unique taste to it, and after reading over the ingredient list again, it has bourbon vanilla in it. It tasted similar to chicory to me though. Worth trying, not my favorite dark chocolate, however. Fairly sweet for dark chocolate. And still not sure what makes it Icelandic. And much prefer something that’s 73% dark.

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1oz…unwrap or snap?

*I will forewarn that I am leaning towards one side on my comments in this post.

I have baked a good amount of times that I have frequently reached for unsweetened chocolate.  The convenient, perfectly measured, individually wrapped pieces of goodness that are added with a variety of ingredients for a delicious end product.  I was making some brownies last night and had to pick up some of the chocolate.  I open it up and am taken aback.  I don’t get a 1 oz. piece.  I get a bar.

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I flip the box over to be sure I purchased the right thing.  Yes, I did.  But they are advertising this great new phenom!  4 oz Easy Break Bar.

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Grrr…I wanted my 1 oz wrapped piece(s) of chocolate so I didn’t have to break anything/put forth any more labor.  And, easy break is not the word.  I could not snap it easily.  I had to get the knife out.  I needed 2 oz for the recipe and the first cut barely made it along the line.  On the second, most of the bar split.  *Again, can you tell my bias.*

So, as nice as changes are and innovation is, sometimes sticking to the old stuff is good.  I rest my case.  Would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve used the new ‘cut’ of the product.

Bake on, bake on.

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

I have a cookie recipe in my recipe binders that I’ve relied upon for years.  I never really get to enjoy the goods because of the butter in them but when people try them I hear rave, amazing, sometimes censor-needing (in a good way) reviews.  It’s Epicurious’ Chocolate Toffee Cookies recipe.  An amazing combo of chocolate, Heath bar…and dark rum.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dark rum — I always throw a bit more in there
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate-covered English toffee (such as Heath bar; about 7 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped almonds

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy.

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Add egg, rum and vanilla and beat until well blended.

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Sift (or in my case I just add/drop in) flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into small bowl. (and then mix in with the power of KitchenAid) Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.

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Mix in toffee and chopped almonds. (Ditto on the last KitchenAid statement — that’s what it’s there for!)

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Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto heavy large ungreased baking sheet (I still use Silpat mats), spacing 2 inches apart.

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Bake until cookies puff slightly and crack on top but are still soft to touch, about 11 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet 1 minute. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely (cookies will become crisp).  And then heavenly bliss arrives.

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Repeat shaping and baking with remaining batter. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

 

Paleo Brownie Bliss

I make birthday cookies for all my friends.  The friend on the roster last week is gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant, so it always makes it even more fun to bake something using gluten-free flour, xantham gum and/or other random goodies and no butter, milk, etc.  Well she told me she’s on the Paleo diet now and asked if I could make something based on that and mentioned there are good brownie recipes out there.  To the search engines I go…what I ended up deciding on were some Paleo Brownie Bites (aka bliss, heaven, death by chocolate), which I found from a great food blog, The Lucky Penny Blog.  They don’t require baking, have no crazy ingredients.  The only thing you need is to think a little bit ahead (for refrigeration).  And based on my tastes and the folks I knew they were going to, I made very few changes.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup raw walnut halves and pieces
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping cup soft medjool dates, pitted (about 17 – 20 medium sized dates — I bought the small tub at Safeway)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut milk OR any liquid sweetener, like honey, agave, or maple syrup if you want your brownie bites to be sweeter — I used Maple Agave Syrup from Trader Joe’s
2/3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut to roll them in (I’m not a fan of coconut so I rolled half of them in crushed walnuts, the others half I left plain)

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Directions:

Place pitted dates in a bowl of warm water for a minute to soften

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Add unsweetened cocoa powder and walnuts to food processor, blend until walnuts become fine crumbs.

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Drain dates and place in the food processor with the cocoa walnut crumbs. Add vanilla. Process until mixture starts to combine. It may not fully combine until liquid is added. Add coconut milk or liquid sweetener (if desired) half a tablespoon at a time. Pulse. You will know the consistency is right when the dough combines into a ball in the middle of the food processor.  If dough is too runny add a tablespoon or more cocoa powder to bring it back to a dough like state.

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Transfer dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I cooled mine overnight, you could also freeze it for faster results.

Once dough is cold, put coconut crumbs (or in my case, walnut crumbs) from earlier into a shallow bowl. I used the great Pampered Chef Chopper to get them nice and finely chopped.
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Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and roll them between hands to form balls. Roll balls in crumbs, pressing the crumbs gently into the ball. Continue until all dough is gone. You can moisten your hands with water if the dough begins to stick to your palms as you roll.

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I made some smaller balls and bigger ones.  When done, kept them in the fridge.  Took them to my friend the next night for the party.  They were a huge hit!  Amazing!!  None left.  I might add a bit of flavor kick next time with a little spiced rum (as long as Paleo followers don’t mind) or hint of cinnamon.  But, I am so glad my friend requested something like this because it was an awesome recipe for me to find.  I also love that this recipe has no dairy in it so those who are lactose intolerant can easily enjoy some brownies.  Heaven, bliss, chocolate.

Simple (Dark Chocolate & PB) Pleasures

Simple things for simple minds?  Or simple, old school favorites tweaked to make lactose intolerant people thrilled?  Maybe they go hand in hand.  When I was at the store the other day there were some (unfortunate?) free samples of peanut butter cups.  Normally I just walk by them because they are the typically milk chocolate.  But, these looked a bit darker than usual.  Then I saw the display bag — dark chocolate.  I did some investigative work by reading the label because (too) many companies say their product is dark chocolate and have milk, lactose, cream, etc in them.  Oh, no, heaven be thy name.  There is no dairy in these things!  Thank you Justin’s.  You have brought me to eternal peanut better cup bliss!  And, aside from the little sample pieces, the store was giving away full size treats.  Simple things…

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Chocolat et moutarde

I’m in this French kick for some reason.   I spoke the language all through elementary school and it has correlated to my posts, so it’s not totally out of left field.

Anyway, a couple friends were recently in Paris and brought me back some treats from the well-known city in France.  They know me quite well and are fully aware of my lactose intolerance.  They did some good, deep digging over there to find some non-dairy-containing chocolate (considering the dairy loving area), along with some mustard.  The latter was not one I would expect.

The chocolate was super dark and had sesame seeds.  Wow — what a finishing taste.  For the mustard(s) — I received a pack of four Dijons, all with different flavors.  Talk about potency (in a good way)!  Absolutely amazing.  It’s great when people you know go away and bring edible souvenirs.

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