Friday, May 4, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Muffins

(Ancient, Powerful, Spicy, Sought-After. Those are some of the things that come to mind when I think about mexican chocolate.

And because chocolate is so deeply rooted in the history and culture of Mexico, it seemed like the perfect thing to wrap up my Cinco de Mayo posts this year.

It's the delicate and unique blend of sweet and spicy that transforms the typical chocolate we all know and love into something mysterious. I really wanted to replicate those flavors in a muffin. It was my first experiment with this recipe, and they came out good, but I'm not entirely happy with it yet.

Since they were good I'll post it anyway- I just think with some tweaking they'll probably get better.

Mexican Chocolate Muffins:

1 1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Coco Powder
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
Half Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Chipotle Powder
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Egg
Half Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
Half Cup Milk (I use nonfat)
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (60% cacao)

Mix all the ingredients except for chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Melt 2 oz of the dark chocolate and mix into batter. Chop the other half of the bar into chunks and mix into batter.

Don't over-stir. The batter will be very thick, light and airy. Almost like a mousse.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to make 6 large muffins.

(Recipe would yield 12 regular muffins or 24 minis. Reduce baking time.)

Update: I've bene nibbling at one of these all morning and I think there are two things I'd change. First I'd use bigger or different chocolate chunks. Most of them melted during baking, but anywhere they were large enough to stay intact they provide a nice bite of actual chocolate which tastes fantastic! I intended there to be chunks of chocolate and it definitely makes a difference so next time larger chunks (or I'd just use chocolate chips instead). The second change is to maybe try a little less cinnamon. I'm not entirely sure about this change though! Some bites I think yes definitely less cinnamon, other bites I'm ok with whats in there.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pinata Candy Filled Cookie

I'm really having some fun with Cinco de Mayo this year!

The latest is this Pinata cookie that's actually filled with candy.

I was inspired by the Dala horse cookie cutter my good friend Pam over at Gingerbread Snowflakes gave me for Christmas in July. (Thanks again Pam!) It makes the perfect pinata horse shape. The only modification I had to made was to cut the bottoms of the feet off so the cookies would be able to stand up after I sandwiched them together. (I did that after baking with a sharp knife.)

I decorated two cookies (each one facing opposite directions) with various colors of frosting. I used a grass tip on the pastry bag to get the "crepe paper" texture . Once they were covered with frosting I set them aside to dry.

When the cookies were dry and could be handled (carefully). I sandwiched them together with more frosting (decorated sides facing out).

But before I put the top cookie on, I filled the space in the middle with chocolate candies.

Then covered the sandwich seams with more of the grass tip texture.

When everything is dry the pinata can stand up. You can even shake it and here the candy wiggle around inside!

And just like a real pinata... the fun is smashing it open.

Fair warning- if you find decorated cookie destruction disturbing, avert your eyes.

Super fun to make, smash, and share with friends! Yum!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Faux Margaritas- Jello and Lime Wedge Cookies

Cinco de Mayo is this week and these margarita desserts are a quick and easy way to celebrate.

Plus, there's always room for.... margaritas? Well in this case, fake-out margaritas made with Jello and accented with lime wedge cookies.

To make the gelatin I used a box of lemon jello and replaced half the water called for with limeade and a few tablespoons of pure lime juice. These are non-alcholic... but you could add your own "adult beverage" twist on this recipe if you wanted.

While my gelatin was setting up in the fridge, I made the cookies using store bought sugar cookie dough.

To get the wedge shape I cut a circle of dough in half. Since the cookies were now smaller I baked them for a few minutes less than the time stated on the package.

When the cookies were out of the oven but still hot I used a pairing knife to cut a notch into the flat edge of each cookie so they would be able to perch on the edge of a glass.

Once the the cookies were cool I piped out white lines for the pith (the stuff between the segments of fruit and the peel). Then flood iced the edge with a dark green for the peel, and filled the segment spaced with a lighter green to represent the fruit.

Since I bought the cookie dough I decided to make my own lime flavored frosting. I was surprised at just how strong a lime taste I could get by replacing half the water in my royal icing recipe with lime juice. Incidentally, the combination of sugar cookie and citrus frosting was SO good I think I'm going to have to make citrus slice cookies more often!

And what's a margarita without "salt" around the edge of the glass. But, since this is a dessert I opted for sanding sugar instead of salt... although I swear it looks exactly the same (and really adds a nice authentic touch to this food trickery).

When the gelatin was set I ran a lime wedge around the rim of each glass, turned them over (while holding my breath and hoping the jello defied gravity, which it did without fail) and dipped them into some sanding sugar I had spread out on a large plate.

Last but not least, place a lime wedge cookie on each glass. 

And if margaritas aren't your thing, you could always make them "tequila shots" instead.

If you missed my tutorial for the mini pinata favors shown in some of the pictures you can find it here!
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