Showing posts with label cayenne pepper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cayenne pepper. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Crisp and Chocolate and Cinnamon

One of the joys of being a long time baker is playing with a recipe. This past weekend we helped with a move and our neighbors across the street helped, too. While we were between loads, G mentioned that he liked Mexican chocolate. Since his birthday was coming up, this was music to my ears. I knew I could bake something with those flavors to surprise him. He really appreciates baked goods. His wife baked him the most awesome orange tart I've ever had for his birthday meal, so he knows good baking.

One of the things I've been doing this winter is going through old magazines and throwing lots of them out. Every now and then I do spot a recipe that needs to be saved. One of them recently was a recipe for Peppermint White Chocolate Cookie Brittle. Still haven't made that version of it, but I knew I could change a few things and make a delicious Mexican Chocolate Cookie Brittle for G's birthday.

A little dark cocoa was an easy addition. Subbing chocolate chips for the white chocolate was also easy, although I did include some hand-chunked ScharffenBerger bittersweet chocolate to replace the peppermint chunks on top. I added cinnamon and just a touch of cayenne pepper for the Mexican chocolate flavors. A sprinkle of red and yellow sanding sugars added a bit of crunch and sparkle, plus color on the top.

If I make this again I'll make sure to roll the cookie dough out a bit thinner, but otherwise I'm happy with the way it turned out. Chocolate is the first flavor you notice, but then you taste the cinnamon and a hit of pepper. So good with a cup of coffee, but I bet some hot chocolate would be great, too. I only had a taste since chocolate is not a recommended food for me, but Sweetie had a hard time stopping his tastes. Since he continues to lose weight, we gave all the rest to G and his Sweetie to enjoy.

Mexican Chocolate Cookie Brittle
adapted from a recipe in the Dec. 2004 Bon App├ętit magazine
A giant cookie is topped with chunked dark chocolate and melted chocolate chips and sparkling sugars, then broken into irregular pieces.
Makes about 24 pieces
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper (or use more if you like more of a kick)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided
1 tablespoon shortening
1/2 cup chunks dark chocolate (I used ScharffenBerger bittersweet chocolate)
red and yellow sanding sugar, or colors of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, cinnamon and cayenne in a medium bowl.
Whisk melted butter, both sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips until well distributed in dough.
Transfer dough to prepared sheet. Press dough into 14 x 8-inch rectangle, about 3/8 inch thick. Bake cookie until top is firm and darkening at edges, about 30 minutes. Check at 25 minutes since chocolate tends to scorch.
Cool on sheet 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

Stir remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips and shortening in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle about half of melted chocolate in think lines over cooled cookie.  Sprinkle chocolate chunks and sugars over melted chocolate. Drizzle remaining melted chocolate over top, especially over the chocolate chunks (to help adhere them). Let stand until melted chocolate sets, about 1 hour. 

Break cookie into irregular 2 - to  3 inch pieces. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Savory and Blueberry

Although strawberries continue to be a daily fruit that brings so much enjoyment, let's hear it for blueberries, just now finding their way to market at a reasonable price.

Lately we hear a lot about the wonderful health benefits of blueberries, but, really, isn't it the intense and sweet tart flavor that brings us back for more?

When I was a kid the usual way to enjoy blueberries was with cream, with cereal and milk, in pancakes and muffins and in pies. These days people are more willing to experiment with this versatile fruit.

I saw a recipe a while back in Bon Appetit magazine (winter of 2007) for game hens cooked with a cranberry sauce. It was very appealing but I never actually made the recipe. Today I decided to see if I could change it up so that I could use fresh blueberries instead, plus other things that I already had in my freezer and pantry. As usual I made a lot of changes...whoever created their recipe wouldn't even recognize it if they look at mine.

Since I am very comfortable with recipe substitutions in baking and less so in cooking when it is this sort of recipe (a savory recipe with fruit is still pretty new territory for me) I'm declaring this one of my High Five recipes.

I felt a bit of trepidation that this would be icky sweet or too fruity for dinner or something, but after I added the pinch of cayenne, it all came together and was wonderful!

The combination of lemon thyme, lemon and blueberry flavors worked so well with the chicken. The brown sugar and jam and lemonade were sweet, but the broth, thyme, and chicken were savory and the hint of heat from the cayenne kept them all friendly. I found that the lemon thyme was less assertive than regular thyme, so I added some dried thyme to reinforce that flavor note. It was great to bite into the warm chicken with sauce and feel the warm blueberry release its juices in my mouth, too. Sort of startling, too because usually that blueberry burst comes with muffin or pancake sweetness as well. Blueberry and savory go together well. I'll be making this recipe again.

Chicken Thighs with Double Blueberry Lemon Thyme Sauce

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided (I used lemon thyme)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (but OK to use ones with skin on if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
½ cup lemonade
zest of one lemon – yellow part only
juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons blueberry jam or fruit spread
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, not thawed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil and have a matching piece ready to cover everything with.

Blend 2 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme in a bowl. Sprinkle chicken thighs with pepper. (I rinsed and dried the chicken thighs first.) Spread some of the butter mixture over each thigh on one side only.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thighs, butter side down. Let cook for 4 minutes, then turn and sear for one more minute. Remove to the prepared baking sheet. Retain the mixture in the skillet and set aside. Cover the baking pan with the extra piece of foil and bake the chicken thighs in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until juice run clear when pierced with a fork.

While the chicken is cooking prepare the sauce. In a small bowl blend the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the 1 tablespoon of flour to make a paste. Set aside.

Add the broth, lemonade, lemon zest and juice blueberry jam , the rest of the thyme, the dried thyme and the cayenne pepper to the skillet with the browned bits still in it. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits and mix them with the other sauce ingredients. Stir over high heat and boil until the sauce is reduced by 1/3. Whisk in the flour mixture and cook for 2 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Add the blueberries and stir to combine with sauce. Lower heat and simmer for a few minutes to warm the berries. Taste and correct for seasonings with salt and pepper.

When the chicken is finished cooking, remove from the baking sheet and place each piece in the sauce, turning over to nap both sides with the sauce. Repeat until all chicken pieces are in the skillet. Serve while hot, making sure to include some of the sauce and berries in each serving.

I served mine with mixed vegetables and orzo pasta. Delicious!
Serves 3-6