We’ve all been there before: you ring the bell; the relatives open the door. “Happy Thanksgiving!” they cry, as all eyes turn toward the pumpkin pie you offer with outstretched arms. Faces fall, and you just know your hosts are thinking, Not another one! They graciously receive your pumpkin pie and place it among four others.
No one wants to be the fifth-pumpkin-pie guy. That’s why this year I’m reworking my Thanksgiving dessert repertoire. From straightforward to show-stopper, there are plenty of alternative desserts that taste just as sweet. For example, there’s Cranberry Walnut Tart, a trusty little number that comes together much like a pecan pie. Just press the crust into a fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pre-bake, and plop in the filling, a heady mix of brown sugar, corn syrup, cranberries and walnuts. The cranberries and nuts rise to the top during baking, offering tart and earthy counterpoints to the sticky sweet filling. For a more vibrant variation, try Cranberry Eggnog Tart (above), topped with slick cranberry jam. The truly ambitious can make a candied-orange and cranberry compote accompaniment.
What about chocolate? It’s often crowded out of a holiday pie lineup. Bring it back to the table in Twelve-Layer Mocha Cake. This cake is like an elegant cousin of tiramisù, dressed up for the holiday in its coffee and mocha buttercream best. With a chocolate curl on top, when it’s good it’s very, very good—and it can never be bad.
In my cookbook, a trifle is no simple thing. Why wait for Santa’s sleigh when you can enjoy a stunning Almond Sherry Christmas Trifle right away? The best part is you’ll be enjoying an apéritif on the couch while the turkey tenders run around like you-know-whats. This trifle is always best when made ahead, which gives the cake layers (and you) time to soak up the Sherry.
What are you bringing for Thanksgiving dessert?
Warm, gooey, a little sweet or plenty savory, bread pudding is a luscious and incredibly decadent food. But why stop there? This week I have bread pudding on the brain and I cannot wait to whip up a few fabulous recipes.
My fridge is always stockpiled with quality bacon and fresh organic eggs—a breakfast staple. When this recipe for Arugula, Bacon, and Gruyere Bread Pudding recently crossed my path, I knew that bacon and eggs were about to lose their breakfast spotlight. I cannot wait to fold crisp bacon, sturdy Gruyere, eggs, and sharp arugula into hunks of crusty white bread.
I’m also baking up a robust loaf of Irish Soda Bread, which means leftovers are going straight into Farmhouse Cheese and Caraway Soda Bread Puddings. Baked in individual portions, this recipe is dinner party-perfect. And I do love a solid seasonal specialty, so this year I plan to cash in on pumpkins in their autumnal prime. Pumpkin pie is a classic and my grandmother, Rita, makes the best. But I know of a recipe that just may be able to compete: Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The only ingredient capable of ousting pumpkin from the spotlight is chocolate, especially when it’s starring in Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding.What’s your favorite sweet or savory bread pudding recipe?
People around the world will be indulging in their favorite cocoa-based foods to celebrate this sweet occasion. With chocolate-filled favorites like truffles, cookies, candy bars, cake, chocolate chips, ice cream, pudding, fudge, and brownies, there is no shortage of ways to satisfy a sweet tooth.
What’s your favorite chocolaty treat?
Name: Jamie Schler
Blog: Life’s a Feast
Location: Nantes, France
What is the first meal you ever cooked?
We always cooked dishes here and there, but the first complete meal for company I can remember cooking was a Thanksgiving feast I prepared with my brother when we were both living in Brooklyn: a roast turkey with homemade cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, homebaked breads, apple and pumpkin pies, cakes, and cookies.
I will never eat:
Brains, kidneys, and hearts.
Who would you love to have over for dinner?
The entire Hazan family: Marcella and Victor, Lael and Giuliano, and their daughters. Passionate, knowledgeable cooks and passionate eaters who obviously enjoy sharing great food.
If you had to blog about one ingredient every day for a year, what food it be?
Chocolate. I am a passionate baker and most of my blog recipes are for sweets; chocolate is so diverse of an ingredient, marrying perfectly with a multitude of fabulous flavors. It’s also an ingredient that allows for the creation of desserts and snacks in so many forms: cakes, cookies, puddings, creams, mousses, and soufflés to name just a few.
If marking National Gingerbread Day on June 5th seemed weird, whoever is in charge of food days got things back on track by today, June 7th, because it’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, and there’s nothing I’d rather eat in the summer—or pretty much any day of the year—than a bowl of chocolate ice cream.
When I was a kid, a carton of chocolate ice cream meant something pale and wimpy inside. You had to drown it in Bosco or Hershey’s syrup to get the kick you so craved. Not so today.
The most chocolaty ice creams use a combination of unsweetened cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate sporting a minimum of 60% cacao. Many use a custard base, thickening the milk and cream mixture by cooking it with egg yolks, while others don’t. Jeni Bauer, in her book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home, skips the yolks altogether and simmers a mixture of milk, heavy cream, and evaporated milk to eliminate as much water as possible (think future ice crystals), then thickens the mixture with cornstarch.
If you want to make the richest chocolate ice cream I’ve ever sampled (see the photograph above), try the version Gourmet magazine ran in April 2005. Most ice cream bases benefit from chilling overnight, but not this one. It’s so rich that chilling first will make it too thick to churn. In all honesty, the end product was too rich for me.
What I much prefer is chocolate sorbet. When made by caramelizing sugar, then adding water and cocoa to turn it into a chocolate syrup before freezing it, you end up with something that not only looks like dark chocolate ice cream, but also delivers the creamy mouth feel of ice cream without the cloying richness. One great flavor delivered in two different frozen vehicles: Which do you prefer?
It’s hard to beat the wafting aromas of chocolatey cookies straight from the oven, and 52 Kitchen Adventures kicks the cocoa up a notch with Chocolate Macarons with Nutella Mousse. Delicate chocolate wafers are the perfect pairing of sweet taste and chewy, crisp texture. The only way to make them even better is by sandwiching them together with fluffy Nutella mousse.
Brownies have the ability to satisfy all types of cocoa yearnings, whether you crave a cake-like or chewy consistency. For a bittersweet bite, turn to Heart-Shaped Brownies from Diamonds for Dessert. The moist, dense crumb provides the perfect texture for cutting out adorable shapes, like hearts or shamrocks.
Everyday Occasions brings the bakeshop into the home with Chocolate Glazed Donuts, however, the goal is not professional perfection. Misshapen dough dripping with a heavy-handed laddle of chocolate sauce yields only the most delicious results: a batch of donut merrymaking.
I faithfully return every morning to my favorite coffee shop, but occasionally I’m inspired to consume my espresso in inventive ways. Although I’m eternally grateful to my barista, the lure of incorporating coffee into baked goods for a deep and sophisticated element is too hard to resist.
In these Cappuccino Brownies, coffee is paired, not surprisingly, with chocolate for a rich, harmonious flavor. The fudgy, espresso-infused brownies are layered with a cream cheese frosting and coffee ganache. But my next shot of espresso is going in Coffee Toffee “Pie” made with a crispy caramel crust, chocolate espresso filling, and topped with rum-spiked whipped cream for a look that is reminiscent of a frothy latté.
For an adult take on the classic root beer float, I’m trying the Caramel Espresso Float that ditches the soda for sweetened espresso and is finished with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and chopped nuts.
What’s your favorite way to cook or bake with coffee?
From bittersweet to semisweet and every taste in between, curb your cocoa craving with our Chocolate Lover’s Delight collection, now available in the Gourmet Live Store.
Jump-start your sweet splurge with our classic Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting, and then add a kick of coffee to your dessert spread with Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme. A final bite of Double Chocolate Mocha Brownies is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Download the free Gourmet Live app then head to the Library to access the Store for our Chocolate Lover’s Delight collection.
There are lots of foods that can just make your heart melt. A few of our favorites include: chocolates, oysters, wine, honey, caviar, cheese fondue, and strawberries with whipped cream. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner we want to know:
What do you think is the most romantic food?
I tend to avoid any activity that’s catered to couples, including (but not limited to) spa services for two, sharing food, and anything in the skating, blading, or go-carting department. Keeping that in mind, when I agreed to go to a “Valentine’s Day Cooking Experience” sponsored by Godiva Spirits, I was a bit hesitant. However, given that it is the month of Amor, I figured at the very least, my fiancée would learn how to put a nice sear on a sirloin (he did), and best case scenario, I’d meet some couples with a good sense of irony.Continue reading
Chocolate is one of the most delicious, rich, and indulgent foods people hunger for. From white to semi-sweet, dark to baker’s, and milk to bittersweet, this cocoa confection has is a wide range of chocolately sensations to suit your mood.
What do you eat to satisfy a serious chocolate craving?
- Annie’s Eats’ DIY Flavored Syrups come in delicious flavors like eggnog, peppermint, gingerbread, and toffee and are the ultimate way to dress up holiday cocktails at your party (pictured above).
- Give the gift of spice with BDG’s Lori Brock’s Mediterranean Rub Recipe that’s perfect for meats and veggies.
- Candied Orange Peels from Playin With My Food are a seriously sweet snack that taste as good as they look.
- Donal Skehan’s Chicken Liver Pâté Jars are the ultimate rich and creamy spread for crackers and toast.
- BraveTart’s Hot Cocoa Mix combines the perfect mix of white chocolate, cocoa power, dark chocolate, and a touch of coffee.
- Love, Veggies and Yoga’s White Chocolate Vanilla Peanut Butter Puppy Chow is an addictive treat to give or get.
- Things for Boys remembers our furry friends this holiday season with Peanut Butter-Flavored Dog Biscuits.
Despite what you see in stores, the true chocolate truffle is not a fancy-schmancy bonbon. The classic French confections are nothing more than irregular mounds of ganache—a mixture of chocolate and cream—that when coated with unsweetened cocoa, look remarkably like their exorbitantly expensive namesake fungi, freshly dug up from the earth.
When I need a quick homemade food gift, I go straight to the chocolate truffles Robert Linxe, founder of Maison du Chocolat, showed me how to make. Finely chop 8 ounces of Valrhona 56% cacao semisweet chocolate and put it in a metal bowl. Bring 2/3 cup heavy cream to a simmer, and pour it over the chocolate. Let it stand 1 minute, then stir slowly until the ganache is smooth. Cool it at cool room temperature, stirring occasionally, until thickened, but still squirtable. Continue reading
Turn a good morning into a great morning with a sky-high stack of Becky Bakes’ Double Chocolate Pancakes. Although the traditional take on these kicked up ‘cakes has chocolate chips mixed into the batter, this sweet griddled version swirls in cocoa powder and chocolate chips for double the dose of chocolate. Stack them high and up the decadence factor with a drizzle of hot maple syrup.
It was one of my favorite things about the month of December as a kid: waking up each morning and ticking off another day on the Advent Calendar. Of course, being one of four, I only got to eat the treat that waited inside once every four days, but still. It was magic.
Fun as it may be, we all know there’s got to be a story behind the tradition. So what is it?Continue reading