Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

With fall officially in session, a dessert chock full of the season’s finest ingredient is in order. What could be more fall than pumpkin? Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient because it can be savory or sweet, decadent or light. Pumpkins are native to North America and have been a staple in North and South American diets for centuries. Because of their various uses and mild flavor, pumpkins are the perfect ingredient to add a little pizazz to your seasonal desserts.

While most desserts that call for pumpkin conjure up images of custards or pies, these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are unexpected and delicious. With just the right amount of cinnamon to make them spicy and enough chocolate to make them rich, pumpkin is the perfect accompaniment to make these cookies extraordinary. These cookies are just one of the ways to incorporate pumpkin into your fall baking repertoire and are sure to please. Try them warm from the oven served with a steaming mug of cider and welcome the official start of the season. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, milk and egg.

2. In a separate bowl, mix, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture.

4. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir well.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Puddings seem to have become a forgotten dessert. With the ease of whipping up the instant stuff, making pudding from scratch seems so antiquated and unnecessary to the modern cook. Puddings have been around for hundreds of years but haven’t always been considered desserts. The first sweet puddings date back to the Middle Ages and were made by boiling ingredients together until a thick, custardy mixture was formed. The same process is used today to make creamy, rich pudding.

Before instant pudding hit the grocery store shelves, pudding was typically a dessert reserved for holiday meals and special occasions. The pudding making process can be tedious and labor intensive. Many recipes call for double boilers, water baths and many other complicated steps. This recipe is so simple and easy but yields the most decadent chocolate pudding far surpassing any instant variety. With the whole process taking approximately ten minutes and using readily available ingredients, why not serve this dish at your next dinner party and wow your guests with an old fashioned dessert that couldn’t be any simpler. Or delicious.

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
3 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 3/4 cups milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Combine sugar, cocoa powder, salt and cornstarch in medium saucepan.

2. Add the milk and stir until well combined.

3. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to stick to the back of a metal spoon.

4. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Stir. Serve warm or chill in the refrigerator.

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

I love a dessert that does double duty as a sweet treat and an energy food. Creating a cookie that is both decadent and hearty is not difficult. All you need is rich chocolate, some hearty oats, energy laden peanut butter along with some other ingredients and you have a delicious treat that you won’t feel guilty about eating on a walk or before a bike ride. Very few desserts can satisfy both your sweet tooth and fuel your body at the same time. But don’t be deceived, these cookies are not light. They are rich, dense and delightfully nourishing. In other words, if you eat more than a few and attempt that bike ride, you may regret it!

The yummy chocolate and oats are not the best part about this dessert. The best part is that these are no-bake cookies. They are boiled and spooned onto wax paper and cooled into cookies instead of baked in the oven like their traditional counterparts. Substitute crunchy peanut butter for a heartier dessert or stick with the smooth variety. Either way, this cookie is sure to please everyone.

Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cup quick oats

Directions

1. Combine milk, butter, sugar and cocoa in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook for a minute and a half.

2. Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter and oats. Stir well.

3. Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto wax paper and cool.

4. Gently peel off of wax paper when cookies are completely cooled.

Food Network Says Gail Ambrosius is One of “America’s Best”

We have great news today from Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier. Check this out:

09.08.2010 – MADISON, Wis. – The editors of Food Network Magazine have declared that Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier makes “the best little box of chocolates” in the nation. Gail is featured in the magazine’s September issue in an article called “America’s Best: Top Ten Sweets.”

Ambrosius will also appear on an accompanying show, “America’s Best,” on the Food Network. The four-part series, hosted by Alton Brown of “Good Eats” and “Iron Chef America,” will focus on the top ten food destinations, comfort foods, regional classics and sweets and then name winners in each category. The series will air at 8 p.m., CST, September 20-23. Ambrosius will appear on the “Sweets” episode, airing at 8 p.m. CST, on Thursday, September 23.

Gail Ambrosius
photo courtesy of GailAmbrosius.com

“I’m still pinching myself,” Ambrosius said. “We’re so excited to be selected. For me, it’s about creating the richest chocolate experience. Seeing the happiness of my customers when they bite into my chocolate is the greatest reward. Getting national recognition is icing on the cake.”

For a preview of the sweets finalists, visit: www.foodnetwork.com/about-us/americas-best-top-ten-sweets/index.html .

###

About Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier

Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, 2086 Atwood Avenue, Madison, Wis., makes deliciously exotic dark chocolates in her shop daily for legions of loyal fans in the area and around the country. Taking inspiration from the unique flavors of the finest single-origin chocolates, Gail and her staff are constantly tasting, adjusting and concocting new signature truffles and treats to create the ultimate chocolate experience. Visit www.gailambrosius.com.

P.R. Contact:
Joan Neeno
joan@gailambrosius.com
608-577-8508

Have you tried their chocolate yet? Yum!

Sweet Treats for Coffee Lovers

If you’re a coffee lover, it’s only natural to gravitate to desserts that offer a tasty jolt of caffeine. From hard candy to an oven full of espresso-laced cookies, consider the following suggestions when looking for sweet treats that please the coffee connoisseur in you.

Cookies

From Triple Chocolate Espresso Cookies to adding a bit of espresso powder to your favorite recipes, don’t be afraid to slip into your apron and put your oven to good use. The Internet is swarming with cookie recipes that incorporate coffee as one of the ingredients. Other ideas include Espresso Brownies and coffee-flavored biscotti.

Hard Candy

Hard candies come in many different forms and flavors. Some melt in your mouth, while others soften in your hand. Looking for a few ideas?  Bali’s Best Coffee Candy offers flavors such as espresso and latte. Also, don’t forget to take a walk on the wild side and explore international delights, such as the Kasugai Sumiyaki Roasted Coffee Candy, which is very popular in Japan. Other types of hard candy may include coffee-flavored chocolate discs (similar to plain M&Ms) – encased in colored sugary shells.

Chocolate Candy

Consider satisfying your sweet tooth with chocolate bars offering added coffee flavor or beans. For example, Charles Chocolates (at Chocolate.com) makes a Mocha Java Baricon that combines mocha java pieces and 65% bittersweet chocolate. Other candy options include coffee-flavored truffles and coffee liqueur-filled chocolates.

Espresso Beans

Chocolate covered espresso beans are a popular sweet treat for coffee lovers, which come in many different varieties, including dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and even mint chocolate.

Coffee Spoons

Similar to the concept of honey spoons for tea drinkers, coffee spoons offer a little something extra for a regular cup of Joe. Butterscotch, mocha, chocolate, whiskey, and cocoa are just some of the flavors and ingredients a coffee spoon can add to your favorite beverage.

Dessert Coffees

Whether you add a hint of Irish Cream to your java or top with fresh whipped cream, it’s simple to enjoy a dessert coffee. Sometimes, it’s as easy as purchasing a bag of dessert-flavored coffee, such as Chocolate Fudge Brownie Coffee.

International Hot Chocolate Recipes

With a dollop of whipped cream or simmered over a hot stove using semi-sweet cocoa chips, hot chocolate is one of the most popular drinks in America. The history of the beverage runs deep. For thousands of years, chocolate has been transformed into beverages – starting with the Olmecs, who are considered the oldest civilization of the Americas (1500-400 BC).

The Mayans hailing from the Chontalpa region also consumed drinks made with cacao beans. Interestingly, their form of currency made quite a tasty drink. Roasted cocoa beans, water, and a little spice made what was known as ‘chocolatl’.

Spaniards drank a mix of ground cocoa beans, water, wine, and peppers. After heating the ingredients, they started to add sugar. When the hot chocolate recipe made its way to England, milk became a part of the beverage and it was consumed as an after dinner treat.

Hundreds of years later, the powdered version hit market shelves and now anyone can make hot chocolate using milk or water. If you’re interested in trying out a few international variations, consider the following hot chocolate recipes:

Italian Hot Chocolate

Also known as Cioccolato Caldo, this beverage becomes wildly popular during the fall and winter season. Some people make the drink so thick that it is the same consistency as pudding and has to be eaten with a spoon. The key to making Cioccolato Caldo is to use high-quality chocolate.

Ingredients: 5 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 6 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao solids), and 2 cups milk

Instructions: Over low heat, add cocoa powder, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of milk into a small saucepan. Heat the mixture until the sugar melts and there are no lumps. Stir well. Bring to a low boil while stirring constantly. Add the remaining milk. Turn off the heat and add chopped chocolate – stirring until smooth. Pour into cups.

Irish Hot Chocolate

Ingredients: 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 6 ounces very finely chopped semisweet chocolate, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 2 teaspoons whiskey

Instructions: Combine milk, cream and cocoa powder in a medium heavy saucepan. Warm over medium heat while stirring to dissolve cocoa. Add chopped chocolate and stir until it is completely melted. Bring ingredients to simmer (but do not boil). Increase heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes – stirring occasionally. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla. Continue to stir to allow it to cool before pouring into cups. Each cup receives 1 teaspoon of whiskey (stirred in).

Mayan Hot Chocolate

Ingredients: 2 cups boiling water, 1 chile pepper (cut in half with seeds removed), 5 cups light cream (or whole or nonfat milk), 1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise), 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks, 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or 3 tablets Mexican Chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces), 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or honey, and 1 tablespoon grounded extra fine almonds or hazelnuts

Instructions: Over medium-heat heat, add chile pepper to boiling water in a large saucepan. Cook until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chile pepper to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove the chile pepper and strain water. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick over medium heat – until bubbles form around the edge.

Reduce the heat to low and add chocolate and sugar (or honey). Occasionally whisk until the chocolate melts and sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Next, add the chile-infused water (small amounts at a time). Taste-test along the way to make sure the flavor isn’t too strong. If chocolate is too thick, use a little more milk to thin out. Serve in small cups with grounded nuts and whipped cream on the side.

5 Ideas for Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

Chocolate covered pretzels offer a delicious marriage between sweet and salty sensations. When you’re not purchasing the decadent selections at Chocolate.comicon, you can create homemade pretzels dipped in chocolate with your own creative decorations. From simple embellishments to elaborate treats gift-wrapped for loved ones, consider the following ways to decorate chocolate-covered pretzels.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Recipe

Before you get started on decorating your sweet treats, you may need an easy recipe to follow. Gather 1 package chocolate chips, 1 tablespoon shortening, and pretzels (mini, regular, or rods). Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir the mixture until smooth. Some people prefer to use a microwave to melt the chips – just make sure not to overheat and stir every 30 seconds. Allow the chocolate to slightly cool. Dip pretzels in chocolate and place on trays covered with waxed paper. Chill if needed.

Decorating Ideas

Spice up your chocolate covered pretzels with the following suggestions:

1. Chocolate Variety: Alternate the kinds of chocolate on your pretzels by drizzling white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. Not only does this make an inviting display of sweetness, but also offers a variety of flavors for your taste buds.

2. Nuts: Try plunging your chocolate covered pretzels in a bowl of crushed nuts or sprinkle on after a dip. A couple of suggestions include almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts.

3. Coconut: Add a bit of extra crunch by rolling dipped pretzels in toasted, shredded coconut.

4. Peanut Butter: Chocolate and peanut butter go together well. Before dipping your pretzels in chocolate, spread on a thin layer of peanut butter.

5. Sprinkles: Before the chocolate sets on your pretzels, get colorful with a rainbow of sprinkles. Use red, white and blue sprinkles to celebrate Fourth of July in style. Red and green make fabulous Christmas treats. Pastel-colored sprinkles make delightful Easter pretzels.

After decorating your chocolate covered pretzels, store them in an airtight container. Place layers of waxed paper between the pretzels to keep from sticking to one another.

Bittersweet Origins – Valentine’s Day Chocolate Gifts

Chocolate gifts for Valentine’s Day are a  traditional sign of love and affection, and this year Bittersweet Café, the Bay Area’s bean-to-bar Bittersweet Origins chocolate maker and chocolate cafés, has a full array of its own chocolate collections and special gift packaging ready for your special Valentine sweetheart.
Bittersweet’s three Bay Area locations are a Valentine gift central with delicious, high quality chocolate gifts ranging from $4.95 to $34.95.

Valentine tins, Share the Love tins and Big Love Pails are popular Bittersweet signature gifts.  The Mint Tin includes Dark Chocolate Holland Mints and Dark Chocolate Peppermint Shortbreads while the Fruit and Nut Tin features Dark Chocolate Dried Strawberries, Dark Chocolate Cherries and Dark Chocolate Pistachios.

The Share the Love Tin provides a quarter pound each of Mint Mix (Dark Chocolate Holland Mints, Dark Chocolate Peppermint Shortbreads) and Fruit and Nut Mix (Dark Chocolate Dried Strawberries, Dark Chocolate Cherries, and Dark Chocolate Pistachios), Solid Milk Hearts and Solid Dark Chocolate Hearts.

Fabulous handmade Bittersweet truffles are available in a variety of flavors, from hand-rolled dark, Fleur de Sel, raspberry liquor-spiked Framboise, and the scintillating Spicy, to the elegant finish of heart-shaped Blood Orange, Passion fruit and Cinnamon.

Other unique Bittersweet Valentine offerings are the Love Letter and the Tasting Tins.  The Love Letter is a modern-retro envelope, enclosing a note card, one New Tree Alpha Disc (an unusual and incredibly delicious bar -flax seeds give it an unusual crunch and make it rich in anti-oxidants) one of their best-selling Vosges Mini Bars and a $10.00 Bittersweet Gift Card.

Tasting Tins include How Many Ways Do I Love Thee (a wide selection of small bits of some of the world’s most delectable chocolates) and the popular Heart of Darkness Collection.   The collection also includes an outline of the most recent findings about the health benefits of chocolate with high cacao content.

And, for those quick and inexpensive gift needs, Bittersweet is offering Chinese Take-Away Valentine Boxes with Solid Dark and Milk chocolate hearts, along with Raspberry Cream, Caramel and Mint Crunch Hearts.

About Bittersweet  Origins and Café
Bittersweet Origins is a manufacturing and retailing company which creates craft chocolate and coffee in handmade, micro-batches to engage the senses and the mind.  Bittersweet Café retail stores’ ambience and furnishings reflect the one-of-a-kind nature of its chocolate bars, chocolate drinks and coffees.  The warm and welcoming spaces furnished with unique tables, benches, carts and artwork from local craftspeople and artists create a gathering place for the community to savor locally made chocolate delicacies, coffee and tea.  The Bittersweet Cafes are located in San Francisco on Fillmore Street, College Avenue in Oakland and the Rose Garden Shopping Center in Danville.  For more information, visit www.bittersweetcafe.com/ or call 510-705-1860.