Coffee Pecan Brownies

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  I have a confession to make.  Our usual dessert here in the Nombudsman household is cookie dough — we have a standard recipe (from the Joy of Cooking, of course) memorized and we have each made it so many times that we can probably throw it together in 5 minutes, tops, at this point.  More often than not, we don’t have the patience to bake anything and we just end up nibbling on the dough.  But, the other night, we were feeling a little bored with our standard, so we tried to think of something else we could make.  Something not too complicated but delicious and, of course, chocolatey.

just the ticket

Brownies seemed an obvious choice, particularly because neither of us had made them in ages.  We’d recently made an entrée that involved toasted pecans (don’t worry, it’ll be up soon), and I was still remembering the mouthwatering smell those nuts gave off while they were toasting, so another obvious option presented itself in the form of toasting more pecans and adding them.  And, for the final touch, we threw in some instant coffee, because come on, chocolate, nuts, and coffee?  Match made in heaven. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Rombauer Chocolate Cheescake

September 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

E: Pretty much every year for the last 3 or 4, I’ve used the same recipe for my birthday cake. It’s a newspaper recipe I got from some friends of mine, and really makes the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I promise it will be on here some day. (We made one over the winter holidays last year as a New Year’s cake, but we didn’t get pictures of anything but the finished product.) But this year, I wanted to switch things up for my birthday. I wanted cheesecake. And so cheesecake we made!

delicious, smooth, and chocolate flavored!

I’ve baked this cheesecake at least twice before, and every time it manages to blow me away. This time we started pretty late at night and cut some corners with the crust, so as you’ll see it isn’t the finest nor the neatest crumb crust known to man. I’m convinced I’ve got the right method, because the last time I made one of these I got a perfectly neat, beautifully even crumb crust. So bear with me. And even if you overcook it a little and it cracks (ours did, though again last time we got it just right and it was perfect) it will still be absolutely delicious. If you are really worried about it you can always bake it bain marie style, though you certainly don’t have to. If you decide to do this, I certainly recommend pre-baking the crust to make sure it gets crispy.

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Cocoa-Chipotle Tacos

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

E: At this very moment, sitting here writing this, I am five days away from receiving my college diploma. And, truth be told, it is and isn’t exciting. I always sort of figured I would get here, and so it isn’t exciting in an “I made it!” kind of way (though it is a relief to have made it through this semester alive). But I’m ready to either have the chance to go back in time and do it all again, or to be done and move on. And I am certainly ready to do that. As much as I’d like to put this week in stasis, before everyone goes their separate ways for a while or for ever, I’m truly ready to have some free time to do the things I want to do with my life.

One of those things is most certainly to get better at cooking, which is a big part of why Joanna and I do this blog thing anyway, rather than just making tasty food and consuming it in obscurity. Photographing and publishing about food forces you to be more critical of things that you make, to try them again and attempt to get them just right (I still have some gingerbread photos from Thanksgiving that haven’t gone up because the result was just so unpalatable to me that I have to find a successful recipe to post beside it, or I will feel like I’ve failed in my duties). And it also gives you a sort of reward, beyond the immediate gustatory satisfaction of preparing an excellent meal:  you get to share it with friends and strangers alike. Successes and failures alike will endure.

I wish I'd had time to make my own tortillas

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Devil’s Food Cupcakes

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  Erik found this recipe on The Wednesday Chef, and as soon as I saw it I needed no convincing to make these delicious cupcakes.  I’ve actually not made cupcakes since I started on my foodie journey, so this was a fun little deviation from the usual desserts in the form of various types of cookies or brownies.  It’s kind of a long process, just because there’s a fair bit of waiting between steps to let the cupcakes cool and then do various sinfully delicious things to them (because clearly they weren’t already sinful enough).  But it’s so worth it!  These have such an absurdly rich chocolate flavor.  The cream filling is really a must; when they were finished, they kind of reminded me of Hostess cupcakes, being cream-filled and all, but they are worlds better, both in taste and in ingredients (not that either of these things would be terribly hard to achieve).

not as delicate as it looks! these things get messy

So, in case the description and photo weren’t enough to convince you, read on: once you get to the end of this recipe, I’m pretty positive that you’ll want to make these as much as I did.

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Chocolate Idiot Cake

April 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

J:  This is the second time I’ve made this cake.  The first time was back in the days before Nombudsman existed, and while I think there were some things that worked better the first time and some that worked better the second time, both times the cake was pretty indisputably delicious.  It is called the “chocolate idiot cake” because, according to its creator David Lebovitz, it is so easy to make that only an idiot could mess it up.  And seriously it’s true; as long as you follow the directions and bake it for some amount of time it will be ridiculously tasty.

The first time I made this cake, it set completely.  This time around I was making it for a Seder (yay for flourless cakes!) and was in a rush to get there on time, so it did not set entirely — I literally pulled it out of the oven as soon as the top was set (which took way longer than Mr. Lebovitz said it would!), wrapped it in dish towels, and bolted out the door. But according to the people who ate it, it was still “disgusting” (in a good way) and “one of the best things I’ve ever tasted” and “the uncooked part was the best!”  So, yeah, I didn’t get many complaints.

so. much. chocolate.

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Homemade Oreo Cookies

April 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

E: Oreo cookies are one of the great embarrassments for the foodie that I’ve become in the time since I first realized that cooking was not only easy but fun. They are a guilty pleasure for me, a taste of my childhood despite the fact they were never allowed in the house. Oreos were one of those things that made it more exciting to go to friends’ houses, or to stop at gas stations during long road trips. And to this day, if someone nearby opens a package, I am almost guaranteed to consume a dreadful number of them. I have a sixth-sense for where they are, and once I find them I can’t stop at one or two or three (or six . . .). It is a strange thing for me, because I usually don’t over-eat, but after stopping at the eighth oreo I find myself unable to look their Nutrition Facts in the face for several days.

not the prettiest, but tasty all the same

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Real Mint Chocolate Cookies

March 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

E: Alright, today we have more adventures in cookies made with real ingredients. Last time it was these cookies made with brewed espresso instead of instant coffee. Today it is mint chocolate cookies, made with real mint. Joanna and I had some mint left over from another recipe, and so we decided to go out on a limb and try something daring. She’s not really a fan of mint, but I love it. And oddly enough I think she liked these cookies a little more than I did. For once I felt they needed more sugar, when she felt they were sweet enough. So I’ll present the recipe just as we made them, and you can decide for yourself if you want more sugar in them. You could probably go up to 1/2 cup of each without having to make any other changes.

you don't often see green in cookies

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