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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

When we got married, hubby and I were on the young side – me especially.  I was 23, and hubby was 27.  Now we’ve been married for over 6 years and it’s safe to say we’re just as obsessed with each other now as we were then.  Possibly more so.  Of course, being married for 6 years doesn’t make us an authority on marriage, by any stretch of the imagination.  My grandparents have been married for 60 years.  If anyone’s the authority on how to make a marriage work, it’s them.  But as many friends and colleagues have gotten married, I as the “already married girl” tend to get asked for marriage advice.  While I think every marriage is obviously different and what has worked so far for hubby and myself doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, there are a couple of things that I will tell people if they ask for my advice.

One thing that I think is extremely important in marriage is this: make the other person’s happiness your business.  Of course, I think that each person alone is ultimately responsible for his or her own happiness.  To make my happiness my husband’s responsibility would be to put a massive, unfair burden on him.  My happiness is not my husband’s responsibility, and his happiness is not mine.  But is my happiness his business, and is his happiness my business?  I would argue that it absolutely is.  I believe that when I promised to love and cherish hubby forever, an implicit part of that promise was that I would do everything in my power to make him happy.  So one thing I encourage to-be-marrieds to aim for is to know what makes your partner happy, and consciously strive to create those conditions in your life.  Maybe it makes your partner happy to have you cook for him or her.  So do that.  Or maybe your partner needs you to sit on the couch and listen about his or her day each evening.  So do that.  Striving for your partner’s happiness doesn’t have to be a particularly time-consuming or expensive undertaking, either.  It’s all about knowing your partner and consciously choosing to do those things that will bring him or her joy.

One of the things that I have done for hubby was to give him a third anniversary gift that included, as part of it, “coupons” that he could redeem once a year at specific times.  One coupon, for instance, was for his favorite chocolate chip cookies.  Another was for a fun weekend date planned by me.  And another coupon was for one of his favorite desserts, chocolate silk pie.  Hubby is a chocolate person and he loooooooves chocolate pie.  (Me?  I’d rather have key lime pie, thankyouverymuch.  But this isn’t a gift for me.)  So whenever this coupon comes up in the rotation, hubby gets a huge smile on his face and “redeems” it almost immediately.  Anything to make my hubby happy.  After all, that’s my business.  (Especially this time of year.  And this would be a great dessert to make for Valentine’s Day… wink wink, nudge nudge.)

Frozen Dark Chocolate Silk Pie

1 unbaked pie crust
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
9 squares Green & Black’s Organic 85% dark chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
7 ounces marshmallow creme*
2 tablespoons coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
chocolate curls or cocoa powder for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare pie crust as follows: cover with two layers of aluminum foil.  Press foil down and add pie weights or dried kidney beans.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove pie weights and discard foil.  Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.  Allow to cool on wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips and dark chocolate squares together with the butter, marshmallow creme, coffee and vanilla extract.  Allow mixture to come to room temperature.
  • Beat one cup of heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks.
  • Transfer chocolate mixture into mixing bowl and fold in whipped cream.  Scoop into cooled pie crust.  Transfer pie crust to freezer and allow to chill for at least 3 hours.
  • When you have about an hour left before you are ready to serve, beat the remaning cup of cream with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.  Spread whipped cream over frozen chocolate and refrigerate.  Just before serving, garnish with chocolate curls or a dusting of cocoa powder.

*I used Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme, which is vegan.  However, you could always use the classic marshmallow creme.

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

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Pretzel Turtles

One of my favorite places to visit in the DC area is Old Town Alexandria.  I first discovered Old Town as a 1L.  I really, really needed to get out of DC and away from law school for a few hours one day, so I rode the Metro down to King Street and walked up and down, checking out the shops, watching the boats cruise by on the Potomac, and enjoying some frozen custard.  I felt like I was on vacation.  Since then, I have jumped on the Metro (or more recently, into the car) many times when I needed a quick getaway for an afternoon.  It’s one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon, and hubby loves Old Town as much as I do.  Some time ago, as we wandered through some side streets, we happened upon The Sugar Cube, quite possibly the best confectionary EVER.  They sell a mix of old-timey retro treats and gourmet sweets.  Last time we stopped by, I bought a “turtle” style truffle made with crushed pretzels.  Salty and sweet, this goodie represented everything that I love about chocolate-covered pretzels in a compact, bite-sized package.  YUM!  I love experimenting with different kinds of candy, so I knew that this would have to be on the menu for my next party… and these little beauties went over famously, as chocolate always does with my friends.

Pretzel Turtles

2 cups crushed pretzels
1 package milk-chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 package dark-chocolate chips
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Maldon sea salt, for garnishing (optional)

  • In a double-boiler, melt the milk chocolate chips and cream together until they form a smooth mixture.  Stir in the crushed pretzels.
  • Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on a counter.  Using a teaspoon, portion out the truffles on the parchment paper and allow to dry.
  • Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate chips and corn syrup together until smooth.  Pour over the truffles to create a ganache-style topping.
  • If desired, sprinkle truffles with Maldon sea salt.  Allow truffles to dry before serving.

Source: Inspired by The Sugar Cube.

Yield: approximately 24 truffles.

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Cinnamon-Chocolate Fudge

Hubby had just one request for the Superbowl: fudge.  We saw Giada make this cinnamon-chocolate fudge as part of her football snacks episode on “Giada At Home,” and ever since then, hubby has been wondering how he made it through so many football games without fudge.  Now, I like chocolate fudge just fine – generally, it’s not what I would choose, but it’s fine – but I had never tried making it before.  But seeing as this was ridiculously easy to make, and it made hubby oh-so-happy, I’ll probably be making it again.  Not for awhile, though… we’ve got quite a bit left.  To hubby’s coworkers, if you’re reading this… bring your appetites to work tomorrow (or whenever we dig out from “Snowmageddon” and actually see our offices again).

Cinnamon-Chocolate Fudge

2 cups milk chocolate chips (preferably Ghirardelli)*
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon**
3 tablespoons butter
Maldon sea salt (about a tablespoon)

  • Prepare an 8×8 baking pan by buttering the sides and bottom, then lining with parchment – leaving an overhang – and buttering the parchment.
  • In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate, condensed milk, cinnamon and butter until smooth.
  • Pour the chocolate-cinnamon mixture into the buttered baking pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle over the Maldon sea salt to your taste (I like to be a bit generous with the salt).
  • Place the fudge in the refrigerator and allow to set, at least 2 hours.  Slice into small pieces and serve cold.

*The original recipe called for dark chocolate, but I generally prefer milk chocolate – and my picked-over grocery store was all out of dark chocolate.  (It’s good to see where people’s priorities lie when a blizzard is coming.)  Feel free to substitute dark chocolate of whatever percentage you prefer – the recipe recommends 60%, but I could see up to 72% being good if you are a dark chocolate fan.

**I stuck with the original recipe’s recommendation and used cinnamon, and it did give the chocolate a nice depth of flavor.  Hubby really liked the combination of chocolate and cinnamon, but I was less keen on it.  Objectively, they did work well together, but I just don’t care for the combination, apparently.  I think that next time I make this fudge, I’ll do it with a teaspoon of coffee-flavored extract or raspberry-flavored extract for a bit of a different spin.  You could also leave out the flavoring altogether, and stir in some chopped nuts instead.  This fudge recipe leaves lots of room for creativity.  Go nuts!

Source: Adapted from Giada At Home.

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How’s this for a contradiction?  I love to bake, but I also value healthy eating.  Baked goods and healthy foods don’t always seem to go hand-in-hand.  Usually, I bake according to the principle that everyone needs a little indulgence (and you can always run it off), and I’ll have just one serving of whatever it is I bake and then give the rest away.  But I do like the challenge of taking baked goods and making them healthy… or at least healthier than they would otherwise be.   This weekend, I challenged myself to come up with a healthy alternative chocolate zucchini muffin.  I swapped out the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat and most of the sugar with agave nectar.  Just with those two steps, I incorporated whole grains and lowered the glycemic index of what would have otherwise been delicious, but pretty unhealthy, muffins.  They also have zucchini in them – obviously – so there’s a vegetable for ya.  And I cut the fat by substituting organic applesauce for butter.  You’d never know.  So there you have it – a delicious muffin recipe that’s heavy on the chocolate, light on the guilt.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 eggs (preferably organic)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup blue agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cup organic applesauce
1/4 cup skim milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (such as Green&Black’s Organic)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the sugar, agave nectar, vanilla extract and milk, and stir to combine.  Mix in the grated zucchini and the applesauce.  Sprinkle the salt and baking powder over the top, and stir that in too.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and Chinese five-spice powder and whisk to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches.  Stir until combined.  The batter will be thick, but if it gets too difficult to stir, add a bit more milk to loosen it up.
  • Prepare a muffin tin with liners, or spray it with a baking spray that contains flour (such as PAM for Baking).  Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the muffin wells until you run out of batter.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of one muffin comes out clean.  Allow to cool.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Loosely adapted from Simply Recipes

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