Browsing Tag

chocolate

Food & Recipes

A Wine + Chocolate Girls NIght

January 28, 2016

*This post was sponsored by Ghirardelli. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make E&C possible. 

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January is a long month in the Midwest. I mean, after New Year’s there is a long stretch filled with cold days without much to celebrate. So what’s a girl to do? My answer was to get the girls together for a wine and chocolate party. It was the perfect way to break up the weekday routine and host friends in our newly renovated house for the first time. Although the house isn’t finished quite yet, we have a few finished rooms and that calls for a party!

The good thing about not having much on our walls right now was that I had a nice open wall to set up the spread of wine, chocolate, fruit, cupcakes and chocolate-dipped marshmallows. I was aiming to keep things on the simpler side so it wasn’t too hard to pull together on a busy weeknight but I tried to get a lot of “wow” for my minimal effort.

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Because it was a weeknight and our kitchen isn’t yet finished, I used boxed dark chocolate cupcake mix in these pretty pink foil liners I got from Walmart. The frosting was also purchased, but piping it on with either a piping bag or a zip top bag with the end snipped off makes it look a little more homemade. I topped each cupcake with a Ghirardelli Valentine’s Day chocolate and I think they turned out pretty cute!

The marshmallows were dipped in melted milk chocolate and once the chocolate hardened I used paper pop sticks and ribbon to finish off the look. And I added some fresh fruit to the mix for a lighter option and the fact that fresh fruit feels like such a luxury in the middle of a Midwest winter, doesn’t it?

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When we moved back to Iowa from Minneapolis I was a little worried we would have a tough time finding good wine locally. Growing up I remember the options being seriously limited, but I was happy to discover that has changed. Small-town Iowa has upped their game in recent years. The night’s wines were a selection of red wines (pinot nior, merlot and cab) from Josh Cellars, which has always been a favorite.

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Sometimes life feels so busy and hectic that I feel as if I don’t have the time during the week to do fun things like girls night. It can be hard to coordinate child care, the busy schedules of others, food and drink, etc. But I was reminded last night that it’s absolutely worth it, and maybe even necessary, to take time to build and maintain relationships with the women in our lives. As everyone left, we all agreed that we should make it a regular thing. Thanks, ladies, for taking the time out of your schedules to make this happen!

Madison

Food & Recipes

From the Archives: Fritos Scotcheroos

October 30, 2015
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Today, just in time for Saturday football games and Halloween, I’m dusting off a recipe from the archives. Joe had a work potluck today and specifically requested that I make these Fritos Scotcheroos. And who am I to deny Joe and his co-workers these amazing bars?

Before we get too far, let’s be clear: These are not healthy in any way. In fact, I think I remarked yesterday while making them that they might be the least healthy recipe on the site. But there is a time and place for over-the-top decadence, and when you’re looking to indulge, I think these bars are a pretty good option. They are the prefect mix of sweet and salty! Just be sure to cut them small to avoid going over-the-top.

You can find the recipe HERE

Fritos_Scotcheroos

 

Food & Recipes

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

September 22, 2015

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Joe recently celebrated his 28th birthday. I can’t believe that we’ve been celebrating birthdays together for the last 6 years. Where in the world has the time gone? This husband of mine, well I have to say that I think he’s the best. The nearly 4+ years we’ve been married and the years we dated before that (including a little while in high school, too!) have been some of the most wonderful, heartbreaking, difficult, joy-filled years of my life. Isn’t that what doing life with someone else is all about? It’s a study in contrasts, it’s work and elbow grease and it’s always, absolutely worth it.

So, my love, this year and every year I celebrate you. Your go-get-em attitude, your stubborn nature, your zest for life, toughness and compassion all rolled into one. You’re the best dad for Ainsley and the best husband for me. We couldn’t be more thankful for your presence in our life and I pray for many, many more birthdays to come. Here’s to making 28 our best year yet!

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Also: I made yellow cake with chocolate sour cream frosting for Joe’s birthday. And, gasp!, I used a boxed mix. Because I love Betty Crocker and because sometimes it’s really all about the frosting anyway. 🙂 The recipe below is just for the frosting, because I’m sure you don’t need me to repeat the instructions for making cake from a box!

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, if necessary to reach spreading consistency
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate chips and butter, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. In a large stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter-chocolate mixture, sour cream, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and well-combined. If necessary, add a little milk to reach a firm but spreadable consistency. Store frosted cake or frosting in the refrigerator.

 

Uncategorized

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies

July 31, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies | Espresso and Cream
Hello, strangers! It feels like forever when in reality it’s only been about a week since I last checked in with you. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen more than enough photos of our vacation, but I’ll be sharing a full update of our time in Boston and Maine very soon. It was such a wonderful trip and even the rainy weather couldn’t get us down. A huge highlight? We happened to be in Kennebunkport at the same time as Natalie and Dan, so we grabbed ice cream together and chatted. So fun!

Now that we’re back home, I’m really looking forward to eating a little more normally. Don’t get me wrong, we ate really well on our trip, but probably a little too well! Today it’s been really nice to have a plain bowl of oatmeal with almond butter for breakfast and a sandwich with fruit for lunch. I think there’s a good reason vacation doesn’t last forever.

Surprisingly, we didn’t eat many sweets on our trip at all. We loaded up on savory items like lobster rolls, fried fish, and the most indulgent egg dishes for breakfast. When I got home the craving for a little something sweet hit right away, so I raided the bulk bins at Whole Foods on my grocery trip this morning and got to work.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

 

These cookies really do have it all. They’re packed with coconut, cashews, dried tart cherries and dark chocolate. And somehow, these cookies manage to feel a little bit healthy, which I’m sure is just an illusion since they also have plenty of brown sugar and butter, too. I made them on the smaller size, which means I can totally justify eating more than one.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (such as a Silpat). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until sugars are combined and mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined Add in the cashews, cherries, chocolate and coconut and beat until combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour. Use a small metal cookie scoop to scoop dough onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

 

Uncategorized

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake

January 28, 2014

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Maybe you’re already thinking about Valentine’s Day? Maybe, if you’re like me, you think Valentine’s Day could be done a little better. I like Valentine’s Day, but I really don’t like the chiche roses and pressure to do something grand or give the perfect gift. A couple years back, Joe and I agree to never go out to eat on Valentine’s Day. We usually go out to eat a couple weeks before or a week after the actual day, avoiding the crowds and the craziness and the fixed menus.

This year, with the incredibly cold weather we’ve been having, I think my idea Valentine’s Day date goes something like this: watch a movie in our pajamas, drink red wine, eat this Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s pretty simple, really.

I don’t have a clue why it took me so long to make a flourless chocolate cake, but I’m a little embarrassed. I think I’ve always associated flourless chocolate cake with restaurant menus and sophistication and difficulty. In reality, it’s a no-brainer! I frequently find myself out of flour, but I almost always have cocoa powder and some semi-sweet chocolate and eggs, meaning I’m never more than a few ingredients away from a delicious, easy and impressive cake.

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If you’re like me and have been putting off making one of these cakes, delay no more! Grab some high-quality chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar and eggs and get to baking something sweet for your sweetheart. And don’t feel the need to wait for Valentine’s Day. This cake is easy enough to make even on a weeknight, but I can’t guarantee it will last longer than a day.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake for Two
Adapted from Epicurious.com

Ingredients
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s brand unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder)

Directions
Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment. Set aside.

In small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar until well combined. Add eggs, whisking after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and cocoa powder until just combined.

Transfer batter into cake pan and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until edges have set and formed a crust. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert onto plate or platter. Cut into wedges to serve.

Happy Baking!
Madison

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