Posts tagged ‘chocolate’

History + chocolate

Combining two of my loves.  Two great Berlin monuments, on display in chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch.

Brandenburg Gate

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church 


February 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm 3 comments

European hot chocolate

70% cacao at Fassbender & Rausch in Berlin

Hot chocolate in Europe  is unlike anything in the United States.   It is creamy, velvety, and thick.   Chocolate in liquid form.  The thought of asking for “skim milk, no whipped cream” didn’t even cross my mind, as it would have desecrated the tasty drink.  Not to mention the request was beyond my language capabilities (except in France where I’m pretty sure they would have refused anyway).

I got into a routine where I would have a hot chocolate almost every afternoon during my trip.  And a coffee every morning of course.  I love the café culture in Europe where you can sit down and order only a coffee or hot chocolate and stay all afternoon.  “To go” orders are practically non-existent.  Taking a break from the cold and enjoying a liquid dessert was one of the highlights of my trip.

Wondering where to find these life-changing hot chocolates?  In Paris, I’d recommend Angelina or Café de Flore.  In Budapest we went to Aztek Choxolat Café, which had several different kinds of hot chocolates, including sour cherry and ginger.  I absolutely loved Café Savoy in Prague–definitely try the “double” chocolate (pictured below).  The above picture is of my hot chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch in Berlin.

“Double” deliciousness at Café Savoy in Prague

February 7, 2010 at 7:32 pm 5 comments

10 Best Halloween Treats


Happy Halloween weekend everyone!  Halloween is one of the best holidays for people who love sweets.

I definitely prefer homemade baked goods over processed candy bars any day, but I do enjoy a few of the classic candies around Halloween.  And apparently the fun doesn’t have to stop once you’re above the age of 10.  Yesterday, my professors brought candy in all of my classes, it felt like fifth grade again!

I came across a few articles on the best Halloween candies and I decided to compile my own list.  You can check out the other lists here and here.   So here goes….please let me know if I’ve left out any of your favorites!

1. Anything full-size, or better than that, JUMBO size! When I was older, I helped my parents answer the door for trick-or-treaters.  My dad and I had a special surprise for the kid with the best joke and the best costume: a JUMBO sized Hershey’s bar.  The look on the little kid’s face when we pulled out the huge candy bar was priceless.  The kid would just stare at us and would say “really? really?” while the parents in the background would prod them, “can you say thank you?”   Some years, no one had a joke or a costume that made them worthy of the giant Hershey’s bar, so we didn’t give out the special prize.  For this reason, my mom accused us of staging the entire contest just so we could keep the giant chocolate bar for ourselves.  Can you believe that?!?

2. Whoppers. I love malted milk balls, yum!

3. Peanut M&Ms. Or regular M&Ms if you prefer.

4. Kit Kats.  According to Hershey’s, these “light crispy wafers covered in creamy milk chocolate are a simple and sweet treat that complements your light-hearted, positive approach to life.”  WOW, enough said.

5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. A classic. 

6 . Candy Corn. Delicious and festive.  Beware, it is very easy to go into a candy corn coma when you consume more than 10 of them!

7.  Pop Rocks. I still don’t understand how these work but they are pure fun.

8.  Snickers. These are even better when they’re frozen.

9. Mr. Goodbar. I may be the only person who likes this Hershey’s mini.  With a combination of milk chocolate and peanuts, it is creamy AND crunchy.  Delish.

10.  Twix. The cookie provides an excellent crunch.

Making this list made me think back on all of my trick-or-treating years.  I distinctly remember a few candies still being at the bottom of my bag in January, long after I had devoured my favorites.  Here it is, my list of the 5 Worst Halloween Treats.

1.  Almond Joy or Mounds.  What 5 year old really likes coconut?

2.  Raisinets.  Same thing goes with raisins.  They may have been the only things covered in chocolate that I wouldn’t eat as a kid.

3.  Smarties.  They taste like chalk!

4.  Dots.  These gummy candies are a dentist’s nightmare!  They stick to your teeth for two weeks after eating them.

5.  Circus Peanuts.  I’ve mentioned my dislike of these bizarre candies.  Their strange ability to look like cheese when shredded is about the only thing they have going for them.

October 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm 13 comments

Birthday Cake!


I just got back from a great weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I helped Sean celebrate his birthday and enjoyed the amazing weather.  (Remind me again why I chose to go to school in frigid Michigan?!)  As for the birthday cake, drumroll please……… the winner is RED STRIPE CAKE!  Sean’s favorite beer is Red Stripe so the cake decision seemed quite obvious.  The cake itself was yellow cake with chocolate frosting topped with fondant.

First, I allowed the cake to cool completely and then cut it into a bottle shape.  From here, I frosted it with the chocolate frosting.  Generously, I must add.  YUM.  Next is the hard part, the fondant.  Because this was my first time using fondant I decided to buy it pre-made.   I used chocolate fondant to cover the entire cake.  Rolling the fondant was difficult so I enlisted the help of Sean’s roommate, Daniel.  Either I’m really weak or rolling fondant truly is a two-person job.  I bought a “fondant roller” which I would HIGHLY recommend getting.  The fondant must be super thin to spread over the cake so you have to roll it out completely and evenly.

From here, I draped the cake with the fondant and cute the edges around the cake.  The result is a perfectly smooth surface to decorate—just what I needed to make it look like a Red Stripe bottle!  I then cut out a square of the white fondant for the label.  The “red stripes” on the cake are pieces of red fondant.  I used red and white frosting along with silver luster dust to write on the cake.  The bottle cap is white fondant covered with silver luster dust.

All in all, I was really happy with how the cake turned out.  I had never used fondant before and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  I will definitely be experimenting more with fondant and luster dust in the future!

Click here for more pictures!

October 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm 17 comments

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookie dough

YUM.  I’m reminiscing about the cookies as I write this.

Last week I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to take to Iowa City.  I doubled the recipe to have enough for the 7 hour road trip and to last the entire weekend.  The cookies were a big hit.   Despite the Michigan loss, the weekend was incredible!  I had a very fun time with great friends.  Thanks to my fabulous hostesses for showing me a great time in Iowa City and to my road-trip buddy for entertaining me on the long drive.

Click here for the recipe

October 13, 2009 at 9:36 pm 9 comments

Best Chocolate Frosting. Ever.

updated cupcake

Yes, I am bragging about the chocolate frosting I made last week.  I made these cupcakes in honor of my dear friend Jenny’s 22nd birthday.  Happy birthday JCam!

The frosting was sweet and creamy without being so sweet that it hurt to eat.  Yes, believe it or not, I think some frostings are too sweet to be enjoyed.  To decorate, I put a generous amount of frosting on each cupcake and spread it out to the edges.  From here, just play around with rainbow sprinkles however you desire.  My favorite decor involves rolling the edge of the cupcake in the sprinkles.  Enjoy, decorating is the best part!  Well, besides eating of course.

Best Chocolate Frosting:

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, June 2009.

Makes enough to frost ~24 cupcakes.

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 4 tbsp. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, gradually add cocoa mixture, scraping down side of bowl as necessary.

3. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla.  Beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.

4.  If you prefer a thicker frosting, continue to add confectioners’ sugar to your liking.  Add more milk if you prefer a thinner frosting.

unfrosted cupcakes

For the cake,  I made Martha Stewart’s  Yellow Buttermilk cupcakes.   They were also good but the frosting completely overshadowed the cake this time.  Warning:  Be very careful not to overcook these or they will be dry…and nobody likes a dry cupcake!

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Yield: According to Martha, it makes 36.  I got about 30 regular-sized cupcakes.

  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2)  Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to medium and add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

3) Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined.  Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.  Beat in vanilla.  Be careful not to over-mix or the cupcakes will be tough and bread-like instead of light and airy.

4)  Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and toothpicks inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature (or frozen up to 2 months) in airtight containers.



October 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm 14 comments

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