Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

Happy Easter

April 4, 2010

May your day be as sweet as this.

Available, with many other yummies, at Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield, Mass.

Thanks, Easter Bunny!


Who knew two-year-olds could sit still?

November 29, 2008


Not me!

This little love is Henry’s pal, and Henry could learn a lot about SITTING STILL FOR A MINUTE from his friend.

Just a sneak preview from today for his family.

Shannon, you all are up next, haven’t forgotten about you! 🙂


In other news, I’m roasting a giant turkey right now. Because who can get enough of Thanksgiving and turkey? Oh, and for Thanksgiving dessert?

Completely deviated from your suggestions and tradition and went with Smitten Kitchen’s Silky Chocolate Pudding with whipped cream. Try it, you will NOT be disappointed. I think we might have started a new tradition.

Hope you are having a wonderful post-holiday weekend.

Food Friday: A Roundup of Summer Birthday Cupcakes for Kids

June 13, 2008

Poor Henry—he’s been two for a few days and we haven’t yet given him any chocolate cake to shove in his face yet. (I did make good on my chocolate promise and gave him a few chocolate chips before bed on his birthday. “YUMMY!” he reported.)

We celebrated with ice cream and presents this week, and he had cupcakes at school, but we’re focused on Sunday for a combined birthday/Father’s Day celebration and I HAVE BEEN BUSY, mostly just drooling over the choices out there in kid heaven on the web.

Will had a cake full of sea creatures that we made here at home when he turned two, but with Henry, I’m going simple and doing cupcakes. I was leaning towards dogs and cats, but then I turned to the glorious Internet and have you SEEN what’s out there?

Butterfly cupcakes
(We had these beauties at an April birthday party, and creative mom used white yogurt-covered pretzels, very pretty.)

Hedgehog Cupcakes

Should you ever need to know how, here are instructions for making a HEDGEHOG cupcake. Someone, someday will google that and I will BE HERE READY with that handy information.

Flag Cupcakes
Perfect for a birthday anywhere near Memorial Day, Flag Day or July 4.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Though even as a child this struck me as being a little redundant (cake inside a cone), they sure are cute.

Clown Cupcakes

If there are any kids out there who don’t think clowns are creepy. These cupcakes, however, are not creepy.

Shark & Beach Cupcakes

I’m so making these. Probably for MY summer birthday.

Froggy Fun Cupcakes

If only I had known about these when Will, dubbed Froggy in utero, turned one. I just couldn’t visualize a frog-green cake, so I opted for the safe, white haven of piped organic cream cheese frosting with egg-free, milk-free organic carrot cake baked into a sheep mold. Hey, we take our food allergies seriously in our family.

Lollipop Cupcakes

These are too sweet for words. Literally. I can think of lots of little ones who would love these.

Fishy Cupcakes

What kid ISN’T a fish fanatic?

Bug Cupcakes

LOVE these. I wish I could make these for Henry, but I don’t want to traumatize him. He runs from flies and bees, saying, “Scary!”

Okay, I need to figure out which ones I’m making and get cracking! Oh, how I love cakes and cupcakes. This was so much fun I think I need to make this a regular event. In the meantime, I have a date with some chocolate buttercream.

Two years already!

June 11, 2008

June 2008, Henry at 23 months

Dear Sweet Baby Henry,

Is this the last time I get to call you that, now that you are a big two-year-old-boy? Your nurses tagged you with that title as soon as we named you, but I’m not sure if the laughing, mischievous toddler that you are today can will tolerate that much longer.

Henry’s hospital name tag

Holding you last night before bed, I was overwhelmed at how far you’ve come in just two years. I love to hear you say your name (Haan-reee!) so I asked, “Where’s Henry?” You foiled me on that one, by laughing, patting my arm and saying, “Right here, Mama!”

You sing with a repertoire ranging from “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Wiggle, Wiggle” from music class to “ABCs” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” When you begin the spider song, you put your hands in spider position and then wait expectantly for the rest of us to follow your example before beginning the song.

When one of us sneezes, coughs or blows our nose, you interrupt whatever you are doing to say, “Blesh you, Mama!” Or Daddy or Wo-Wo. Your sweet voice makes us laugh as you earnestly repeat everything around you.

You are such an early bird! You wake up, usually before 6 a.m., and insist on going “d’stairs!” Then, nestled in one of our laps and reading books on the couch, you’ll yawn, rub your eyes and say, “TIRED!” (Us too, Henry, us too.) All this from the boy who slept through his first six months of life.

Henry, six weeks old

All of a sudden, you love to eat. The boy who once only ate frozen peas, blueberries and raisins now has a startling affinity for food and lots of it. Your list of favorites are wide ranging, too—pancakes, waffles, vanilla soy milk, black olives, pizza, broccoli, boiled eggs, applesauce, oh, and pork, of all things. Pork tenderloin, breakfast sausage from the local butcher, sliced ham—it disappears when we place it in front of you. You, like your brother, can’t get enough fruit, and you can eat as much of it, if not more, than he can.

After outgrowing a trinity of food allergies (milk, soy and egg), you’ve only been denied nuts and chocolate. Since Easter you’ve been well aware of “CHOCOLATE CANDY, PLEASE, HAVE SOME, WANT SOME, PLEASE, CANDY!” Just the possibility of chocolate inspired your longest sentence to date and guess what—you get to have some for the first time today. Life is good, Henry, and about to get even better.

You love to walk up and down the stairs by yourself, saying “I do it!” if anyone tries to carry you. You’re a skilled climber, and although you can swing your leg up over the rail of your crib, your contented personality seems to mean that you haven’t decided to climb out of it yet, THANK YOU, ALL THINGS HOLY. If we get even another week in the crib before you shimmy over the rail, I’ll owe something HYUGE in the cosmic sense.

Henry, 23 months

You broke my heart a little when you recently stopped calling banjos “banga-boes,” but calling your daily dose of yogurt and blueberries “gogurk and babies” makes my heart sing, and your insistence that applesauce is called “OSS” is fine with me.

When you were a newborn you sometimes got “accidentally” bumped by your brother. And when you began to play together, your brother often thought it was fair game to snatch your toys. I would whisper in your ear, “Henry, the first time you swat him, I will look the other way.” And look away I did, but now I sometimes have to rescue Will. Guess you really are a tough guy—one who is awfully cute when he says, oh-so-contritely, “Sorry, Wo-wo!”

I look at your sturdy body—your round toddler belly, the face smeared with blueberries and oatmeal, your impossibly long legs, your scratched and scuffed knees and the blue play dough under your fingernails—and wonder how any part of you could ever have been so delicate as to fail you. Visiting with one of your NICU nurses a few weeks ago, it took us both a minute or two to find your sole remaining badge of courage—the small white scar near your armpit, leftover from your chest tube so long ago. You were laughing as we turned you upside down and tickled you while looking for it.

Henry, 16 days old

Just recently I updated my notes on the computer for your teachers as you moved up to a new classroom in your child care center. I reread last year’s file in amazement—words like critically ill, respiratory distress, ventilator and preemie swam in front of my eyes and seemed entirely displaced on these notes about a perfectly healthy almost-two-year-old boy.

I deleted all of them.

Henry, 23 months old

Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby Henry. We love you!

And you are not going to believe how good chocolate is.



Food Friday: The Antidote for Sleep Deprivation

March 28, 2008


For those of you following along at home, you might recall that I have 3.5-year-old and a 1.5-year-old here. If you do the math and include the pregnancies, the teething, the ear infections, the things that go bump in the night and the internal springs that jolt them out of bed at unspeakably early hours of the morning, you’ll come to the same conclusion that I have today.

I’m tired.

It hasn’t really been so bad all this time. Will didn’t nap much, so he was a pretty good sleeper at night from a very early age. (Through the night, even, for his four-week birthday.) And Henry is his father’s son when it comes to sleep, so he actually can be counted on to nap AND go to sleep at night (early!) with a smile.

But here’s the thing no one ever told me about parenting.

You don’t become well rested just because your former newborn now sleeps through the night.

Even if my children are sleeping, which they do most nights, the precious hours left in the day after they land in bed are hard to sacrifice to sleep. Even when I know I should be sleeping, I’m either up too late or up too early trying to accomplish the things that make me happy, keep me fit, keep us fed, keep our house clean (my husband is laughing at that) or just keep me sane. And while you can keep that up for a while, I think my body, the one that has never needed much sleep, is starting to rebel after the years of sleep deprivation from 2003 to now.

I haven’t figured out the answer to more hours in a day so I can concede a few more of them to sleep. But I have discovered the antidote for a particularly brief night of sleep. It’s simple, but completely effective. It works much better than tea, or coffee or a coke, especially on days when my head aches and too much caffeine would just make me feel jittery and sick to my stomach on top of tired. It’s HOT CHOCOLATE, folks.

This gentle punch of sugar, protein, caffeine and fat works wonders, and has the magic element of chocolate, the thing that can elevate a mood and pysche that you thought was beyond repair, while waking you up and chasing that headache away.

(And yes, I know it is officially spring, but it is cold and rainy here today, and I am thoroughly enjoying my decadent, steamy mug of hot chocolate. And I think I might go to bed early tonight for once. Maybe.)

REAL Hot Chocolate or

Hank & Willie’s Antidote for Sleep Deprivation

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process

1 1/2 cup milk, divided (choose your fat percentage. When I’m doing the kind of damage control I need today, I mix Henry’s whole milk with my skim milk.)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Mix sugar, cocoa and 2 tablespoons cold milk in a mug until smooth. Heat the remaining milk in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in a glass measuring cup in the microwave until steaming hot but not boiling. Stir in the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
To froth the hot chocolate without a frother, whirl a whisk in it by rubbing your hands back and forth. Pour it back into the mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Sip and recover.
And try to get a good night’s sleep tonight!

Food Friday: King Arthur’s Flour, The Baker’s Store and Shortbread

March 7, 2008

I know it’s been a little thin around here on Food Fridays (ha! not that thin, really) but believe me, if you think the writing about food has been sparse in the last few weeks, you should try eating here. I heart Trader Joe’s Roasted Vegetable Pizzas!

But anyway. Spring is on the verge of springing here, with daffodils in the front yard up now to about four inches, so it is high time that I posted these wintery photos from snowy Vermont and my most recent pilgrimage to The Baker’s Store. Yum.

Abandon hope (of not eating excessive amounts of baked goods) ye who enter here.
My partner in crime. He was the one who spilled the scone crumbs on the diaper bag, not me!
More kinds of flour than you can imagine.

Something for  absolutely all your cake and cookie decorating needs.

Mmm, beignets.
Sara, remember eating these at Cafe Dumond in New Orleans?

If there is a flavoring, oil or extract out there, they have it.

Part of the Great Wall of Chocolate.

My favorite. Just used these last weekend to make Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding.
I’m running low, send reinforcements!

So, I would recommend a visit, if you haven’t guessed by now. Excellent coffee and baked goods, too, of course. And since it is Food Friday, you’ll need a recipe, this one courtesy of King Arthur’s own test kitchen. I owe my friend Amy a shortbread recipe, and while this isn’t my Scottish grandmother’s recipe, it is VERY good. Notes below are not my own, but come from the bakers at King Arthur’s.


Shortbread Gone Wild

Shortbread is a wonderful starting point for all kinds of sweet adventures: top it (nuts, chocolate, jam, cinnamon); flavor it (lemon, chocolate, ginger); or do both (cappuccino with a mocha ganache drizzle, anyone?). Then again, if you’re a “make mine vanilla, please” kind of guy or gal, leave it alone; it can stand on its own in perfect simplicity.

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (9 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two round 9″ cake pans; or two 8″ patterned shortbread pans; or a combination of the two.

In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in the flour. Divide the dough in half (each half will weigh about 12 ounces), and press it into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers. The dough will feel stiff, but just keep pressing on it until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork in an attractive pattern. You can use a fork to prick shortbread dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry.

Bake the shortbread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden brown around the edges. Remove it from the oven, and loosen the edges with a heat-resistant plastic knife or table knife. Wait 5 minutes, then carefully turn the shortbread, all in one piece, onto a clean work surface.

Using a pizza wheel, baker’s bench knife, or sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it’s cool, it won’t cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool. Once shortbread is cool, go wild!

  • Drizzle with melted caramel;
  • Spread with melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts;
  • Set aside two shortbread cookies, and spread the remainder of the cookies with a thick layer of jam or preserves. Crumble the reserved cookies, and sprinkle the crumbs lightly over the jam.

Yield: 2 dozen shortbread wedges.

Food Friday: Some “leftovers” from 2007

January 4, 2008

Food Fridays are back, after some serious slacking in the blogging department from me, or perhaps we can just call it a RESEARCH sabbatical. Which was very productive—oh, the research I did. Thus, before we move into the realm of new recipes for 2008, let’s review a few outstanding points from 2007.

Warm Croissant Chocolate Pudding

After my snide question to the universe—who has stale croissants?—my sister, married to the man who gave me the recipe for this sweet dish, provided me with two boxes of bakery fresh croissants for the express purpose of letting them go stale. And since I had plenty of other holiday things to eat, I looked at them longingly for a moment and then stuffed them in my bread drawer and let them grow stale. And made it last night. DEAR GOD. It is that good.

I did modify it a bit. I couldn’t bear the thought of using FIVE cups of cream, and I didn’t have eight ramekins, so I used Henry’s whole milk and put it all in a casserole dish, baking it for an extra ten minutes or so. I used double-strength Madagascar vanilla from Penzey’s (thanks, S, S & T!) and Guittard’s bittersweet chocolate wafers from King Arthur’s (thanks Santa!). When it is this cold out, these calories go straight to your brain to think of creative ways to survive, so don’t even worry about the calories sticking to your thighs. TRY IT!

Oh, and the brownies

I stand before you a humbled baker. (And like a true PR person, I’m getting out ahead of this story, breaking it on my own terms and on a Friday after the morning news cycle and during a busy news period. That’s just a little joke for my PR friends.)

A third recipe has emerged, and has possibly edged out Hank & Willie’s Triple Chocolate Brownies, according to the data I compiled from my testers at Christmas. My friend Sarah, a Bryn Mawr graduate, has shared with me the brownie recipe of one of her fellow alumnae, the late Katherine Hepburn, and darn if it isn’t good. REALLY good.

It isn’t quite as oozy and gooey as the H & W brownies—which perhaps should just get out of the brownie business and be rechristened as flourless chocolate cake and served in slender wedges with a raspberry and a sprig of mint—but the new brownie is a darn good brownie with the perfect amount of chewiness and a great papery crust. And so easy, I SWEAR, this is as easy as a mix (no melting of chocolate) and they are better. AND I hope you realize the personal growth it takes to crow about brownies OTHER THAN MY OWN.

Without further ado I present to you:

Kate Hepburn’s Brownies

Note: I skipped the nuts, because they interfere with my chocolate experience, and only baked them for 37 minutes because I was so nervous about overbaking. I recommend both.

1/2 cup cocoa

1 stick butter

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 cup broken-up walnuts or pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add sugar, flour, nuts, vanilla and salt. Pour into a greased 8×8 square pan. Bake 40 minutes. “Don’t overbake!” says the late Kate. They should be gooey. Let cool (an essential step) and cut into bars.

(Click here for the letter in the NY Times about the recipe and how it came to circulate among the unwashed masses. Best read while eating said brownies.)

And with that, we can finally move on to things that aren’t constructed solely of butter, sugar and dreams. I wouldn’t want you all to get scurvy or anything, and plus, SIGH, it is January and we ought to back off the butterfat for at least a few weeks. Next week, something SAVORY and good for you, I PROMISE.

For the love of Christmas cookies

December 15, 2007

So, I love Christmas cookies. LOVE them. And I plan to enjoy them wholeheartedly this year, because last year? Was Christmas with no egg, no dairy and no soy. And while my family came through with AMAZING substitutions (email me if you need help in that department), I still will be enjoying a healthy, if you will, dose of butterfat this year.

But anyway, that is where you come in, dear readers. I want your cookie recipes.

Please post a favorite Christmas cookie recipe in the comments, or on your site and post the link or if you scavenged it from out there in the interwebs, then share the love and post a link to that. PLEASE.

Consider it your little Christmas present to Hank & Willie, and think of the amazing cookie resource we can create. Bakers of cookies like Granny Annie’s Bourbon Balls, Jayne’s Toffee and Shannon’s Rum Balls, I’m talking to you.

Because I NEED those recipes this year.

Here’s a few on my list:


Photo by Smitten Kitchen

Homemade Oreos from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve had the exquisite priveledge of enjoying these baked by TWO Hank & Willie readers, Clink and Lorraine. Send ’em along if you want me to taste YOUR version. I’m a very appreciative audience.


Photo by Milk & Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies, originally by Martha, as adapted over at the delicious food blog, Milk & Cookies. I agree with the adaptation, because I don’t find much call for milk chocolate in my life.


Peppermint Checkerboards by Julie, via Cookies Unlimited.

Peppermint Checkerboards, as seen in Cookies Unlimited. Version here made by Julie at A Little Pregnant who says, “I modified Malgieri’s vanilla sablĂ© recipe by replacing half of the vanilla with peppermint extract, and then dyeing the holy Christmas shit out of half of the dough.”

And then finally, the mother lode of Christmas cookies, here at Food Blogga — a collection of Christmas cookies from readers around the world, updated daily. You even have a chance to win a dessert cookbook, Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard. So AFTER you post your recipe here, head over to Christmas Cookies Around the World to post yours and enter to win this yummy-looking cookbook. Mmmm….

Here’s what I’m entering over there:


(Recipe and illustration by Susan Branch, Christmas from the Heart of Home)

I’ve been making these delicious, easy butter cookies for YEARS, and if you make no other cookie, make this one. It can be anything—twist this dough into candy canes, roll it out (chill it mercilessly first) and use your cookie cutters, put it in a pastry bag and squirt it through a # 2 star tip, or roll it all into one giant snake, roll it in sprinkles or mini chips or coconut and slice and bake into perfect rounds….you get the idea. The dough does need to be really well chilled to work with, though. All that butter, you know.

Annie Hall’s Butter Cookies

2 cups unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. With an electric mixer, even the hand-held kind, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla, mix well. Suft flour and salt together and beat into butter mixture until well mixed.

When ready to bake use an ungreased cookie sheet (I use my Silpat liners, but not required.) and place cookies about one inch apart. Bake for about ten minutes, but do not brown them. Remove cookies from cookie sheet while still warm and cool on sheets of waxed paper.

Get thee to a kitchen and start baking, folks! But not before you post what you’re baking here.

Food Friday: Chocolate Croissant Pudding

December 7, 2007

Since I, apparently, am still recovering from a month of daily posts, my sister and her husband have taken matters into their own hands to be sure you all get what you come here for, whatever that is.

So today I bring to you a few historical Christmas tidbits and a recipe for Warm Chocolate Croissant Pudding, four words you and your thighs NEVER KNEW could be used in the same sentence.

And a few more Food Friday details: Shannon has asked for some input on pot roast, and I have a line on that, but need to do some cooking to check it out first, and besides, HELLO, this is December and our chance to ingest as much butterfat as possible. So Shan, we’ll do that in January.

Also, in the brownie department, I have tested the third recipe, and it will be revealed to the H&W readers in due time. Once I see what Casey comes up with to mentor me into making her brownies the right way. We’ll be testing them all at Christmas time at Casa Hank & Willie, so hold off on those January 1 diets for a little bit.

So here you go, from the historians in my family, a few Christmas dinner suggestions from the person who brought Christmas trees into fashion. (Queen Victoria, not my sister).

It is interesting to note that in 1899, Her Majesty Queen Victoria had the following amongst other items for her Christmas buffet:

Baron of beef

Boar’s head

Game pie

Woodcock pie

Brawn roast fowl



And now to wipe that from your palate, without further ado, I present to you Comfort in a Ramekin, also known as


8 stale croissants, cut into cubes
8 squares (1 ounce each) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 cups heavy cream
1 ÂĽ cups sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Vanilla ice cream

Grease eight 10-oz glass or ceramic ramekins and place on rimmed baking sheet. Divide cubed croissants among prepared ramekins. Sprinkle chopped chocolate over and around croissants. In a large bowl whisk cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Divide egg mixture among the ramekins, using a rubber spatula to push croissant pieces into liquid so they absorb the mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking sheet on the top rack and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top of the puddings are browned and puffed. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Supposed to serve 8 people, but they better be very, very hungry!

What I really want to know is: who has stale croissants? There might be a fatal flaw in this recipe, but I’m willing to try and make this work.

See you next week for Christmas candy and cookies, yum!



How about some brownies and pie?

November 27, 2007


So about the Great Brownie Smackdown.

To complete the fall-themed pies already on the menu, I was invited to make brownies for Thanksgiving dinner this year. But, of course!

But recently I spotted a recipe over at Moosh in Indy nonchalantly called The Best Damn Brownies You’ll Ever Have.

The gauntlet? It was thrown down, as far as I was concerned.

When the brownie encouragement came at Thanksgiving I leapt at the opportunity to make Hank & Willie’s Triple Chocolate Brownies and lay them side by side with these so-called Best Damn Brownies. In front of an impartial audience, of course.

So I made them. The only alteration I made was to take them out of the oven five minutes ahead of schedule, because they were starting to look a little dry, and I was pacing in front of the oven like an expectant father in the maternity wing, circa 1955. Except without the cigars.


Casey, I SWEAR I did nothing to bias my family, but 4 out of 5 people surveyed (or something like that) preferred the H & W brownies. Even though your brownies were VERY VERY good.
Let me describe Casey’s brownies for you. Chocolately like a chocolate bar on steroids, but in a good way. And rich, oh so rich. But they were a little firmer than I would like, and had a little less je ne sais qua than I am accustomed to with my favorite brownie recipe. I’m just saying.

However, on the second day, they matured into something even richer, and gained some ground on the H & W brownies. Very interesting.

My father-in-law said he was more than willing to try them both again at Christmas, and suggested I throw a third recipe in there as a true test. I’ll consider it—anyone got a recipe for me to try?

And then? There was the pie.

I wanted to try this dessert from Smitten Kitchen, and baked it on Saturday night. If any of us make it to heaven, I can assure you archangels will feed us this on a cloud using golden forks while winged cherubs rub our feet and peel us grapes.

However, I remain hopeful that in heaven, MY Nutmeg Maple Pie will look like this:


Photo by Smitten Kitchen

and not like this.



Photo by me


I sure hope those archangels know how to bake.