Dessert: Chocolate Mousse

Father’s Day was almost a week ago and its taken me this long to get this going. Mostly because I misplaced the recipe. These things happen and I’m able to share it now. Full disclosure that a few years back, I did attempt to make Chocolate Mousse and it was a failure to say the least. Something along the lines of a chocolate liquid. Although, apparently, it still was a delicious chocolate-y drink. With more kitchen tools and more experience, we decided to give this a second shot and with a new recipe.

This time, I’m working with Food Network Magazine’s Chocolate Lover’s Handbook, called Chocolate-Chestnut Mousse but modified it to not use chestnut puree. We did end up using a replacement for it to give it a thicker consistency. We used a roasted nut chocolate spread and it worked really well. Here’s how it look. (Sorry for bad presentation)

Chocolate Mousse

Serves: 4 (halved from the original 8)

Ingredients

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate spread
1/8 tsp pure almond extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted, about 2 minutes. Blend the chocolate spread, almond extract, salt and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in half of the melted chocolate.
  2. Beat the heavy cream and the remaining 1 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until soft peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup for topping. Fold one-quarter of the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate spread mixture, then fold in the rest. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Divide the mousse among dessert glasses. Top with the reserved whipped cream. Remelt the remaining chocolate in the microwave, if necessary, then drizzle on top.

Surprisingly, chocolate mousse is pretty easy to make, although very hard to get the right consistency. This recipe worked really well. I’d venture to say that if you don’t have fancy chocolate spread that Nutella might work also or peanut butter even. It probably would still have similar results. I did this one the night before I had to go over to my in-laws and bring this over and that also helps. However, ours didn’t have the drizzle because I did make a mistake and put too much confectioners’ sugar so had probably instead of the 1 tablespoon for the whipped cream mix, I had two because I read it wrong.

Of course, if you do want to do the actual recipe, it serves 8. Double all the ingredients from the list above and replace the chocolate spread with chestnut puree.

Despite the mistake in the ingredients, I think not putting the drizzle worked to balance the taste. My in-laws liked it a lot and said the sweetness was just enough. My husband also liked it a lot. Unfortunately, because of the heavy cream and the semi-sweet chocolate, it had milk so I couldn’t try it out for myself.

Have you made Chocolate Mousse? What recipe do you use?

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Dessert: Classic Brownies

Mother’s Day was this past weekend. My husband made a request to bake some brownies for my mother-in-law.

Last year’s Food Network magazine came incredibly handy as it was all about chocolatey desserts. This is the recipe that I used. Do note that this is the full recipe that they had and I halved most of the ingredients as I used a square pan which was maybe 8 by 8 inch or so.

CLASSIC BROWNIES
(from Food Network magazine Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook)

Brownies

Makes: 36

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil with cooking spray. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat; let cool slightly. Stir in sugar and eggs. Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  2. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then cut into bars.

The only substitute used here was the semisweet chocolate was instead semisweet chocolate chips. Also, I forgot to set low heat when melting the butter and chocolate so not sure if that changed the consistency. It might have since I felt like the recipe didn’t make as thick as I’d like but it did rise a little in the oven.

However, we did leave before my in-laws had a chance to try this out. My husband told me they said it was delicious and liked it. My only concern was not that it wouldn’t taste good but that while adjusting the recipe to a lesser portion, it would change the consistency. It did look like it had a decent consistency if not thinner than usual brownies.

 Do you like making brownies?
My next project is to make vegan brownies. Hopefully I’ll work on that soon! 🙂

Baking: “Giant” Chocolate Sugar Cookies

This year for the holidays, I did something a little different.  For the first time, one of my really great friends and I got together for a baking date.  Both of our recipes are from one of the cookbooks she has which is Martha Stewart’s Cookies.  Today we will start with the first one we chose: Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Except ours are many times smaller because this recipe should make 8 but we ended up with 28 (approximately).

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Makes 8

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter), melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
2. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Mix in melted shortening (or butter).  Add egg and vanilla extract; mix until creamy.  Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
3. Using a 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 4 inches apart.  Bake until edges are firm, 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

I had been thinking about chocolate sugar cookies since forever.  The best part is that because its made with cocoa powder, it has no milk meaning that I can eat it.  If you aren’t aware, I used to not be able to even digest cocoa but somehow in the past few months, I gave it shot and its all good now.  I don’t abuse the privilege my stomach has given me but these cookies are delicious! For sugar cookies, the balance of the chocolate taste and the sugar level is pretty awesome.  They were a little chewy with a little crunch on the edges.  It reminds me of why I love making cookies so much.

Plus, my friend has this fantastic standing mixer from Kitchenaid that has totally convinced me of why I should dish out the money to invest into one 🙂 And, the fact that I need those lovely ice cream scoops so that I make these perfectly sized cookies.

Baking is fun but baking with friends is even better! 🙂

Do you like sugar cookies? What types of cookies are your favorite?

Pinterest Therapy: Christmas Meals Inspirations!

We’re at the last weekend before Christmas everyone! Panic mode is setting in!

Star Wars Weekend, grocery runs to prep for the holidays, Zumba, getting posts drafted and ready, freaking out about how to make a turkey.  This all takes time away from the fact that we’re hosting Christmas this year and the house is a giant mess with storage to put away, kitchens and dining rooms to clean and the endless amount of cat hair (and mostly my hair) to vacuum.  Suddenly all those little chores we span out and do sporadically becomes magnified in importance.  Regardless, these are my problems.  Point is: Stress! On top of that, I just got news that there’s a pretty big hiccup with the piano practice exam preparation which could mean some change in plans for next year. Its never good to procrastinate, yet I never learn…

So yes, a pinterest therapy session is much needed and you know it, its all about Christmas! 🙂 Last time we did a full day meal and what better way than to make an epic food day out of Christmas!

Breakfast

bacon and egg puff pastry

Bacon and Egg Puff Pastry

I’ve always wanted to do something with puff pastry.  I actually even have some in my freezer and I never used it.  This recipe looks relatively easy and that’s the most important point of any breakfast recipe for me.  I used to be a morning person but these days, I go through difficulty in catching those Zzzs.  So, in the morning, when its gloomy and rainy (where is the snow?!?), I just sit in bed and my eyes refuse to open. Forget complicated, I go with omelets or anything that takes really little preparation.

Lunch

Mini Frittata Brunch Bar

Mini Frittata Brunch Bar

Christmas dinner usually is extravagant or Christmas Eve dinner was crazy heavy so the following day, I take it easy.  These ones are super easy.  I remember making one of these with zucchini and eggs and turned out really good. This looks absolutely scrumptious 🙂

Afternoon Refreshments

Christmas Lemonade

Christmas Lemonade

I rarely make lemonade in summers but this past one I’ve fallen in love with this.  Christmas one looks cool.  It’ll be a boost of vitamin C to help.

Dinner

Turkey

Turkey

This is an actual worry.  My dish this year is turkey. The first year I will be attempting the actual turkey.  I’ve done turkey drumsticks and wings and breast but the entire turkey.  This is stressing me out. At least, its comforting to know Betty Crocker always has a simple solution to everything 😉 Wish me luck that it turns out good.

Dinner Drinks

Christmas Drinks

Blackberry Ombre Sparkler

Blackberry Ombre Sparkler looks so classy.  I doubt we’ll be giving this a go since I don’t usually have champagne in the house but thats because we’re into white wine and I always have some ice winer/cider.

Dessert

Snowflake Peppermint Bark

Snowflake Peppermint Bark

Yule Log

Yule Log (Gluten-free)

Let’s double it up! I’ve made bark before and I remember it being kind of time consuming.  This one looks fabulous.  I always wanted to do it again.  Although, between us, I plan on making some snowflake cupcakes for this year along with the second choice here.  Same with the turkey, I want to do a test run for a swiss roll to just get an idea of how to get that log done. I want to make a beautiful Christmas log for this year.  I just hope that it turns out good.  If you check back, you’ll see if I actually go through with it (which I will) and how it turns out 😉

Talking about that! That’s a full day of meals on a dream Christmas day I’d have with some realistic choices! And time for that swiss roll test run! 🙂

What do you have for Christmas? Any tricks for making turkey or Christmas yule logs? What have you been pinning lately?

My Weekly Adventures: Christmas Prep and Decorations (plus a new DIY skill)

C’mon! You knew this weekly adventures was all about Christmas 😉

What other time would I be able to, right? This year, I actually got my house decorated earlier than two days before Christmas.  Last year, we took so much time looking for decorations and ribbons and beads to decorate the tree that it took us 3 weeks to get it all done. This year, I did my shopping on Black Friday weekend and took care of mostly everything.  We did the outdoor decorations just this past weekend and its also the reason why I only did the update now.  Plus, we’re right on track! Remember 1st and 15th from last post where I was going to attempt this new schedule for Weekly Adventures segment? Right on time! 😉

Its these little achievements that make me happy!

I’ve rambled enough! Let’s talk Christmas! 🙂

1) Christmas decorations around Montreal!

Le Atrium

Le Atrium @ 1000 de la Gauchetiere West

Christmas

Place Ville Marie

Christmas

Restaurant Costa Del Sole

I know I know…its so little.  I haven’t really had a lot of wandering adventures yet. At least not a lot of new decorations so I’ve already talked about it in previous years.

2) Salon des Metiers d’arts de Montreal (aka Montreal Arts and Crafts Show)

Salon des metiers d'art Montreal

I go to this show every year. I’ve probably talked about it before and showed you my purchases.  The show seems to be getting smaller and smaller but this year, there was quite a few new vendors and they had some rather awesome new products.  We usually go for the foods, snacks, wines and ice cider varieties. Mostly because those are great for parties and gifts for family and friends. This year, I had set a budget and it got me this loot right here (plus a co-gift for my chiropractor which is not shown here).Salon des metiers d'art Montreal

Starting from the top left to right and next row, here are the items:

Ice Cider is kind of a Montreal thing.  Quebec has a ton of apple orchards and a bunch of them will also produce ice ciders.  As of last year, Fire Ciders came onto the market from Union Libre and I just loved it.  That’s why it was on my hit list for this year’s show.  Much to my surprise though, Domain Labranche is a new vendor and has this product too except they chose to give us a second option of trying it heated it.  He described it like drinking Sake.  Now, I’m not a fan of sake because its too strong for me but this one tastes absolutely fantastic.  As I drank it, I could picture heating this up, stirring it with a sprig of rosemary or thyme or cinnamon stick (as he suggested to us), and sitting by the fireplace while watching an awesome movie.  Look, if your product can give me a vivid image like that, I just couldn’t refuse getting it. Blink Chocolate is dark chocolate and lactose free and it taste so good.  Its good for little tastes of dessert. As for La Nougaterie, I just love their products.  Last year, I was introduced to Coach House Shortbread and I gave all of them away.  This year, its going to be also a little dessert with tea or coffee or something like that.  It’ll be so awesome.

I’m loving my purchases so far.  This year, there’s not so much about gifts but thinking about how to be a great host for the Christmas party.  I think I’m set! 😉

3) Christmas decorations at my place!

Last year, we just bought the house and I hadn’t moved in yet so all we did was put up a Christmas tree.  This year, since I’m around, I stepped it up.  We took two weekends or so to decorate.  The first to go up was the Christmas tree and some little decorations, then I made a new wreath (I’ve already shown you my other wreath last year so I’ll skip that), and finally some outdoors decorations we set up this past weekend!

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Berry Sprigs with Color Lights in a Vase

Christmas decorations

New Wreath: Blue and White theme

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Inflatable Santa with his little companions, Polar Bear and Snowman

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Its always nice when plans happen to work out. I still have one more garland to put along my inside stairwell.  I also showed that last year. I have a little bit of rearranging for that one before putting it up.  We’re still debating whether to wrap a ribbon around the Christmas tree.  Those outdoor setup looks really nice. Our area is all about side entrances so no one uses their front doors.  Its a little weird but hey, Santa’s guarding it for me 😉 And my fave goes to my husbands idea of having a few layers of lights on the bay window: clear lights surrounded with a backdrop of blue lights.  I love it! 🙂

As for the last minute addition right before sitting down to draft this post, its the book shelf.  Its newly installed and I just arranged all the TBR books that I own, so the bookworm in me felt like it deserved a little decoration. I guess its also a sneak peek of next year’s reading list, if you can see the titles 😉

4) Making Ribbons the FIRST TIME! 🙂

As you can see that I made a new wreath up there, I had to learn how to make a ribbon.  Last year, I was super lucky and one of my girl friends made it for me.  Hers was much more complex and its on my older wreath thats also hung up somewhere else.  But, I just had to make one this year so I chose that simpler model and found a link on Pinterest that I followed.

Here’s the zoomed in version of the bow:

DIY Bow for Wreaths

DIY Bows for Wreath

Pinterest instructions: http://lizoncall.com/2014/09/17/how-to-make-a-big-bow/

Its not perfect, but its my first shot and took me like 20 minutes or something to get it looking fairly balanced.  I’m starting to think it looks a little oversized for my little wreath.  But hey, for a first time, I think I did decent. I’ll give it another shot next year and maybe change to another ribbon if I have to 🙂

5) What is going on with the Weather!?!?!

Its more of a thought than an adventure but I don’t know about all of your whereabouts since I’m guessing it varies but we had one little sprinkle of snow so far and all we’ve gotten was rain.  Last Friday, it was 15 degrees Celsius! That’s a little crazy for being in winter and all.  For my guests sake, I really don’t want to have a storm on Christmas day but I would like to see some snow on the ground by then.  Maybe its just me being Canadian…

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The best part however is that the mild weather gave me a chance to go out this past weekend and clear out the rest of my pots on my patio that I didn’t get a chance to do before.  And guess what I found: mint growing in my garden…. Its December and my mint thinks its still okay to grow.  Yikes! Mojito anyone?

6) Upcoming: CHRISTMAS!

You know what? Its Christmas month pretty much with a few days of like after Christmas posts and before New Year’s wrapping up the year posts for that last week.  That’s what you’ll be expecting here.  I wrapped up the first round of Netflix.  The Random Chat Show also kicked off our Christmas Show. I have a few movies planned but this year, I want to get back to DIY crafts and baking so it’ll be a mixed bag.  I’ll have a few really overdue book reviews and extra posts going up that I promised I’d do. My guess is the next weekly adventures I’ll get to talking about plans for next year and 2015 recap and all that good stuff. I still can’t believe there’s only 16 days and 2015 ends! Its a little crazy!

FINALLY…

To wrap it all up, an adorable and somewhat hilarious video of NHL Montreal Canadiens doing a rendition of Frozen’s “Let It Go”.

Happy Tuesday, my lovelies! 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day: Oops! There It Is! Chocolate Cake

Cute name, right? This is the actual title of this recipe that I did for yesterday’s early visit to my boyfriend’s place to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.  Along with dessert, I bought her some nice yellow and pink bouquet 🙂

I don’t usually make a lot of desserts completely chocolate unless its for special occasions.  After developing some sensitivity to chocolate, it not always my first choice because then I don’t get to join in the fun but I realized that sometimes baking is really about seeing how happy others are when they like what I make! Whats a better time than making people I care about something they’d love, right?

Here’s how this came out:

P1210903

Doesn’t it look delicious? When I was mixing this, it started smelling so chocolatey and awesome.  Imagine what happened while it was baking then when it came out? 😉

The recipe is from Looneyspoons Collection from Janet and Greta Podelski.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

3 tbsp high quality vegetable oil

1 cup light (5%) sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Right out of the oven :)

Right out of the oven 🙂

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2) In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, beat together brown sugar, eggs, and oil using an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add sour cream, vanilla and almond extract.  Beat on low speed until well blended.

4) Gradually add flour mixture to sour cream mixture, beating on medium speed.  Fold in chocolate chips.

5) Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Cut into 12 squares.  For maximum moistness, store at room temperature in an airtight container.

P1210901

Its a pretty simple cake to make and if you follow their ingredients, it should be quite healthy.  I followed it for the most part.  However I removed the almond extract and sour cream and replaced it with 1/2 cup almond milk.  Also, I used white chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet because I ran out of the latter.

Still, the moistness was right on.  My boyfriend and his parents thought it was delicious 🙂 That always makes me happy! I didn’t try it so I can’t comment much on that. It did smell extremely yummy!

It was definitely a success and its worth a try! Especially worthy for Mother’s Day (or probably any day)

Have an awesome Mother’s Day!!!

Happy Mother’s Day

*Almost* Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies!

Have you ever heard of these cookies? Kitchen Sink Cookies for short apparently…

These ones came up in my search when I was digging up recipes based on another blogger’s comment for Coconut Cloud Cake post. Brian at Hard Ticket to Home Video commented that “mixes coconut, toffee and dark chocolate”.  I have never baked with toffee so I had to run off and look for that.  Of course, the trusty Walmart Superstore here has everything and I managed to pick up a pack of toffee bits on Saturday.

I changed it around a bit to match the tastes of my boyfriend and his family, which will be delivered to them tonight 🙂

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I found this recipe on Martha Stewart`s site.  The link to the original recipe that inspired it is: http://www.marthastewart.com/332894/everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-cookie

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These cookies are quite easy to make as its pretty much mixing the wet ingredients then in another bowl the dry ingredients. After that putting it together and after having the cookies dough done.  Its time to add all the contents: dark chocolate, toffee bits, coconut shreds, dried cherries, pecans, oats and pretzels.  Point is, its supposed to have EVERYTHING…

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My version doesn`t change much for the dough.  I did remove the salted pretzels and dried cherries.  Its not hit in their families and then swapped almonds to replace the pecans.  Also, I didn`t have any dark chocolate on hand so I used some semi sweet chocolate chunks.  Plus, the intended recipients aren`t big fans of dark chocolate and more semi-sweet.

P1210782

 

Obviously, this one fits in all my nono`s. So I couldnt`t try it out.  However, what they do feel and look like are Oatmeal cookies with Chocolate chunks, coconut, toffee bits, and almonds.  Now that sounds like a winner combination right. My mom did help me out to taste it and she said that it was a bit too sweet (but she always thinks that) however, she did say the taste was pretty good.  The texture of it was not too hard and all the ingredient choices matched up to a good taste.

If you don`t like any ingredients or you want to swap things in and out, as long as you know the end result taste works for you, then go for it.  It should work out fine. 🙂

Seeing as I`m a beginner with toffee bits, what else do you recommend I do with it? Any other great recipes or types of cookies or cakes that it would work well in? I was thinking maybe fudge might be a good option? I don’t know.  I’m not experienced with fudge either..Give me some suggestions.  I’d love to hear all about it 🙂