Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

10 No-Bake Desserts


Our favorite desserts are no bake, no fuss and a major joy.  We put 10 of them together for The Daily Meal today.  And, yes, this is what our job looks like.  (Some days at least).

If you’re worried about not putting in the extra effort to make dessert, remember our cardinal rules of entertaining: one course should be entirely store-bought.

Next time you’re hosting buy a few good-quality ingredients and assemble dessert. No one will notice, or if you have friends who care then reconsider the friendship.

Enjoy!  We did.



1. Strawberries mixed with lemon whipped cream (add zest to cream before whipping)

2. Strawberries dipped in lemon curd- yogurt sauce (make just the lemon-yogurt sauce from this recipe)

3. Italian-style affogato–espresso and whipped cream over gelato



4. Root beer floats in tall chilled glasses with striped straws

5. Fresh fruit and decadent chocolate bars



6. Store-bought angel food cake, toasted with a smear of Nutella and and a sprinkle of toasted almonds, hazelnuts or sea salt



7. Ice cream sandwiches made with good bakery cookies, Haagen-Daz ice cream and sprinkle of sea salt



8. Fresh berries tossed with good balsamic vinegar, chopped basil and a dollop of sweetened mascarpone

9. Biscotti al Vin Santo:  Store-bought biscotti with Vin Santo and seasonal fruit

10. Baklava and mint tea

Any favorites we forgot?


Brown Butter Brownies


Our wonderful part-time chef Elan made these for our clients on Friday.  Our immediate reaction? Meh.  Browning the butter seemed a special step but left us with a basic brownie when we’d hoped for fireworks.

So let’s rename this recipe Next Day Brown Butter Brownies, shall we?  That’s what it takes for these slow burners to develop a brown butter nuttiness and sink into a velvety smooth fudge so dense that you’ll leave nearly intact bite marks.  All that and a crackly top layer.

What a difference a day makes.

I recommend using walnut halves instead of pieces, heaping your 1/4 teaspoon of salt and making them them 1-2 days before you invite pals for dinner.  Then add this to your list of easy do-ahead recipes.  I made them Saturday and they remained perfect through Tuesday.


Brown Butter Brownies

from Alice Medrich via Bon Appétit

Yield: 12 brownies


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, chilled

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup walnut pieces


Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies.  Store airtight at room temperature.

Service on a Silver Tray


By Sarah Lagrotteria

French macaroons on a silver tray

Here’s a great hostessing technique courtesy of my friend Aerin.  She and her boyfriend hosted a barbecue last weekend and as the evening progressed and we abandoned the grill for small group conversations here and there about the yard, Aerin emerged from the house carrying a silver tray stacked high with chocolate, hazelnut and coffee-flavored French macaroons (my favorite!).  She personally offered them up to each and every guest which was an adorable way to make us all feel special.  I love the surprise of a chic dessert served so elegantly after burgers and beer.  Wouldn’t it also be fun to serve a simple homemade dessert–like these classic cookies or these ice-cream sandwiches— at an elegant cocktail party?

Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes


By Sarah Lagrotteria

This New Year’s Eve I want to share with you one of my favorite recipes from times gone past: my mom’s chocolate cake with buttermilk frosting.  Actually, it’s my mom’s friend Fern’s recipe and I’m sure Fern (don’t you love her name?) got it from a friend who probably got it from a classic cookbook, but to me it’s my mom’s cake and simply the best, most versatile chocolate cake recipe. My mom used it to make our birthday cakes and I used it just a few weeks ago to make Lydia’s birthday cupcakes.  It’s also the last recipe featured in this cookbook under the name “Recipe 66.”

You can use the recipe below to make one 9-inch round cake, a square 8×8, a rectangular 8×13 (for a very thin but rich cake) or to fill 2 cupcake or mini-cupcake tins.  It is equally delicious gluten-free, which is how I make it for Lydia’s FIANCEE (!!), dear Drew.

What you’re looking at are the cupcakes from Lydia’s birthday which I gilded and silvered because it was fun and unlike how I normally handle foodstuffs.  I usually like my food to look like food, not mini spaceships.  Lydia’s birthday had a chic Mad Men theme and so I decided to turn these cupcakes into homemade Hostess Cupcakes, complete with a mascarpone cream stuffed center.  I got the idea from Sarah Magid’s charming Organic and Chic.  Her baked goodies are beautiful and whimsical and fun and her voice is thoughtful and loving and kind.  And she likes to use paints, such as these.  So I went for it and the cakes sparkled and shone and tasted extra special.

Had I remembered to take a shot before I began painting, you’d see the a shiny, crackly buttermilk frosting that is, quite simply, the bomb, and a definite upgrade from the original Hostess Cupcake glaze.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Buttermilk Frosting from Sarah’s Mom’s friend Fern*


2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

1 cup water

2 cups AP flour (or gluten-free equivalent)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for the gluten-free version, I use 2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a tablespoon of espresso to cover the chickpea flavor of the gluten-free flour.  You can add espresso to the traditional recipe as well)


1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

you can also add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts to the frosting if desired.

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour the cake pan of your choice or line your cupcake tins.

2. Make the cake.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and water.  Bring to a boil them remove from the heat.  Let cool.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.   Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Blend well using a hand held mixer or a strong hand and whisk.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture, stirring until just combined. The batter will be thinner than regular cake batters, but this only means you are on your way to making a great cake.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 20-25 minutes for large cakes, about 12-15 for cupcakes and 8-10 for minis.  Let cool completely  before frosting.

4.  Make the frosting.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour into a large mixing bowl.

5.  Using a handheld mixer, beat the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and walnuts into the cocoa mixer.  Mix until thoroughly combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Pour or spread over cooled cake.  The frosting will set into a shiny glaze that crackles like thin ice when you cut into it.  Beautiful.

6. The secret step.  Wrap the cooled and frosted cake loosely in cling wrap and refrigerate it, even if only for an hour or so before serving.   Whereas refrigerating tends to dry out baked goods, it dampens this cake so that it’s amazingly dark, dense and moist, just how I envisioned mud pies when I was little.

Enjoy and best wishes for a happy, healthy 2010.


* Fern gave Angus and I a beautiful pewter cake server as a wedding present-little does she know how perfectly appropriate a gift it was.