Indoor S’Mores

Love s’mores but don’t have a fire handy? Want something a little more…portable?

Behold, the indoor s’more:

These are super easy — albeit a bit messy — to make. It helps to have another pair of hands; setting up an assembly line cuts down on the melty marshmallow you’ll have to clean up later.

The Recipe: Indoor S’Mores

Yield: approximately two dozen
Time: 90 minutes, including cooling

1 bag mini-marshmallows
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 graham cracker halves (as close to squares as you get)

Do This
Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Arrange the graham cracker halves on the sheet with about half an inch between each.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat. Add in the mini-marshmallows, a handful at a time, and stir until melted. Mix in the vanilla, and remove from heat.

Carefully spoon marshmallow onto each graham cracker. If you can do this without it spilling over the sides, you’ll have a much easier time. Let the crackers set until the marshmallow has firmed up (this should take about 10-15 minutes).

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or the microwave).

Spoon a generous amount of chocolate over each graham cracker, and return to the baking sheet to set. If you’re short on time, slide the finished cookies into the fridge for a few minutes.

They’re not quite real s’mores, but they’re just as tasty, and perfect for bringing to a holiday party!

Have Some Coffee With That Coffee

So, remember those fancy little Starbucks VIA samples? They were delicious and awesome, and I almost drank all of the coffee before I was able to make anything fun with it. This is good for Starbucks, but bad for this blog, so I kept a few of those samples and turned them into…Orange-Mocha Biscotti!

Yep, there’s coffee in the biscotti, so you get to dip coffee in your coffee. It’s really kind of meta.

Orange zest, dark cocoa, and almonds round these out quite nicely. And, well, give the biscotti a flavor other than coffee. So you can distinguish them, of course.

The Recipe: Orange-Mocha Biscotti
(inspired by Starbucks VIA and Martha Stewart’s Almond-Ginger Biscotti)

Yield: several dozen, depending on slice thickness
Time: 4 hours (including 2 hours cooling)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons grated orange zest (one large orange)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almonds
2 packets VIA Colombia microground coffee
2 tbsp dark cocoa
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Do This
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, cocoa powder, and VIA.
In another (smaller) bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Fold this into the dry ingredient mixture, and mix into a dough. Incorporate the almonds once the dough is workable — it’s likely to be dry and crumbly at first, then suddenly sticky and messy, so I suggest running some water in the sink before you get your hands in the dough.
Shape the dough into two logs, and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Aim for logs that are 1″ high and 3″ wide, but don’t feel bad if the dough won’t play nice — just try to get a consistent shape. You can work wonders with clever slicing after the dough is baked.
Sprinkle sugar on the logs, and slide them into the oven for half an hour. The biscotti logs should puff out and firm up (and may crack a bit). Pull them from the oven after 30 minutes, and cool on wire racks for two hours. Don’t throw away the parchment paper; you’re going to need it again for the second baking.
Once the logs are cooled, grab the biggest serrated knife you have, and start slicing. Turn the logs to a diagonal, and start slicing off 1/4″ biscotti. Lay these slices flat on that parchment-lined baking sheet from earlier, and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes on each side.
Cool the biscotti completely before serving and storing. In an airtight container, these babies will be good for several weeks…if you still have any left.

My favorite thing about these biscotti is that they’re not overly sweet — I leave the sweet/bitter ratio of coffee up to the drinker, because there’s such a range. I enjoy my coffee with zero additions, but sugar and cream are totally welcome complements to your coffee & biscotti.

And yes, that is a Starbucks mug. It seemed right.

Date Night

Oops, I mean Date-Nut. As in, Date-Nut Bread.

Dates and pecans? Go really well together. I’m a fan. This is like banana bread, but better (shh…don’t tell B!). And as much as I hate processed “butter” spreads, it tastes really good slathered with Country Crock.

I snagged the recipe from Good Housekeeping. I fully endorse it.

Also: go with fresh dates. Canned ones are for lazy people :)

I Can’t Post Yet Because It’s In The Mail And I Don’t Want To Ruin Any Surprises

A fabulous pal from Starbucks sent me some VIA samples, and I’ve been having fun incorporating them into some sweet treats.

There’s a batch of my favorites on its way back to her office, so I won’t ruin the surprise, but here are some gratuitous teaser photos :)

And one more hint, inspired by the VIA packets. These treats are best enjoyed:

Cherry, Walnut, and Lots of Chocolate

I remixed my Toll House Remix cookies. This time, cherry extract and chopped walnuts share the stage with all of that chocolate. I also topped the cookies with walnuts, but that was mainly to distinguish them from the other batches of chocolate-y cookies I was making.

Not surprisingly, these are delicious dunked in ice cold milk.

I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

I love cookies that look like coffee beans.

Coffee-flavored shortbread cookies (made with Intelligentsia coffee), shaped like coffee beans because that’s just cute. And also because that’s how Martha Stewart makes her (very similar) espresso shortbread cookies.

Update: the recipe! I do have to admit that I’ve only made these once, so I can’t vouch for the reliability of the recipe, but they were delicious when I made them! I’m definitely planning on making these again, so I’ll post edits if there are any.

The Recipe: Coffee Bean Shortbread, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Espresso-Bean Shortbread, featured in Holiday Party Foods 2003

Yield: 4-5 dozen
Time: 5-6 hours, including chilling time

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp ground coffee (I used Intelligentsia’s El Gallo Breakfast Blend)
2 tbsp hot water
3 cups + 2 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp salt

Do This
Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir the coffee grounds into the hot water until it forms a nice, coffee-smelling paste. Scoop the coffee paste into the butter/sugar/vanilla mix, and blend well.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients, and combine into the dough. Once everything is well-blended, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours (the dough might be sticky, but chilling it will firm things up).

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 325. While the oven is preheating, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and shape the dough into small ovals. Use a butterknife or skewer to etch a line into the center of each oval — magic! It’s a coffee bean!

Bake your coffee bean cookies until golden brown at the edges, around 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then serve with your beverage of choice.

Incidentally, they go well with both coffee and tea.

Sloppy Tiramisu Is Still Tiramisu

Let’s talk about the two things I messed up with this tiramisu:

1) I may have put a bit too much rum in the cream, preventing it from completely solidifying. I am not sorry about this.
2) I was led astray by the sales lady at Williams-Sonoma, and made the tiramisu in a trifle dish instead of the 9x12x2 dish Amber told me to use.

Okay, enough about that. It still tasted fantastic, and the only thing I really couldn’t do with this tiramisu was slice it into neat, pretty blocks.

Here’s the recipe, as emailed to me by the lovely Amber:

6 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup good dark rum, divided
1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, divided (I used intelligensia)
16 to 17 ounces mascarpone cheese
30 italian ladyfingers, or savoiardi (I finally found these at World Market)
Bittersweet chocolate, shaved or grated
confectioners’ suger (optional)

Whisk the egg yolks and suger in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until very thick and light yellow. Lower the speed to medium and add 1/4 cup rum, 1/4 cup espresso and the mascarpone. Whisk until smooth.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup rum and 1 1/4 cups espresso in a shallow bowl. Dip one side of each ladyfinger in the espresso/rum mixture and line the bottom of a 9x12x2 inch dish. Pour half the espresso cream mixture evenly on top. Dip one side of the remaining ladyfingers in the espresso/rum mixture and place them in a second layer in the dish. Pour the rest of the espresso cream over the top. Smooth the top and cover in plastic wrap. Refridgerate overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with shaved chocolate and dust lightly with confectioners’ suger if desired.

More pictures coming soon. I have a trifle dish full of tiramisu to consume.