Nutella Hot Chocolate Brownie Bites

Have your hot chocolate and eat it too. Nutella hot chocolate brownie bites combine a creamy filling, rich ganache, and swirls of marshmallow frosting.
Nutella hot chocolate brownie bites

I made these for you.

Well, just kidding.  I made these for a party last Friday.  Although…were you at the party??  If so, I made these for you.

If you are part of that “you” that I made these for, well, lucky you indeed.

What are “these,” “you” ask?  Why, they are Nutella hot chocolate brownie bites.

Let me explain.  I really wanted to bake something reminiscent of hot chocolate, because that’s something I crave regularly in the winter.  And it may be 80 degrees here in Houston, but no matter, it’s winter and I want hot chocolate.  But how to create a solid that’s based on a liquid?  You average it all out and go with…Nutella.  And ganache.  Oh and frosting.

That’s actually a surprising amount of items straddling a couple states of matter.  End result? A miniature brownie that reminds you of a cup of hot cocoa when you eat it.  Ummmmm yes please.  Please?  Now.

Nutelle hot chocolate brownie bite

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Hot Toddy

The ultimate hot toddy recipe: sweet and soothing and not to be shared.

Hot toddyI’m told hot toddies are helpful for relieving cold symptoms.  I’ve discovered they’re much more multi-purpose than that.

Bad day?  Chilly day?  Long day?  The kind of day where you literally cannot even?

Drink this toddy and I guarantee.  You CAN even.

…Can curl up in a blanket and drift away on a wave of happiness, that is.

True story: one time I did drink a hot toddy when I had a cold.  It was marvelous.  It was also a new drink to me, one which Ross whipped up when I came home and said, pathetically, “By dose iz stuffee.”  He had happened to see the recipe in Fine Cooking not long before, and thought it would be a great time to try it out.  So I put on my PJs, sat on the couch, and held out my hands expectantly.

Hot Toddy

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Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cream Cheese and Lemon Curd Filling

Ginger sandwich cookies with cream cheese and lemon curdAll my soft-and-chewy cookie people, raise your hands.

Wow, there are SO MANY OF YOU!
Just kidding, I can’t see you from this side of the computer.  Yet I feel confident that there really would be many hands waving if I asked this question of a large group in real life.  And for all those folks, this cookie’s for you.

I actually love this cookie for many good reasons.  In addition to the chewiness, there’s the deliciously spicy ginger and molasses flavor.  There’s the fact that it’s a SANDWICH COOKIE, which is always fun, and which means you get to eat cookies in multiples of two without any judgment.  And then there’s the filling.  The original recipe pairs the ginger molasses cookies with a sweet cream cheese filling, which is delightful on its own.  Cream cheese is an excellent friend to spiced baked goods.  And heaven knows I’ll smear it on anything.

But then I got another idea.  It’s just slightly crazy, I know….but it’s crazy enough to work.  

Ginger sandwich cookies with cream cheese and lemon curd (more…)

Homemade Stock

Homemade stockThe week after Thanksgiving seems like an appropriate time to share a recipe for stock.  If you’re like me, your turkey meat went faster than expected (I mean, c’mon, I was planning to avoid cooking again for AT LEAST a week), but you’ve hung onto some leftover turkey bones, just waiting for the opportunity to make your kitchen smell like joy and happiness.  This recipe will work equally well with either a turkey or chicken carcass, and I suspect it would be pretty delicious with any other variety of bones as well.

The first time I made stock from scratch, I was living in a tiny apartment in New York City.

I’ll digress for a moment to emphasize just how small this apartment was.  Because unless you’ve lived in Manhattan, you may not understand what “tiny apartment” means.  

It was 180 square feet.  

Technically, it didn’t even have a kitchen.  It was called a “kitchenette.”  I had a mini-fridge, a mini-oven, a couple burners, and maybe two feet of counter space.  Literally.  (Archer voice: “Wait.  Yeah, literally.”)  But it was in my student budget, and it’s amazing what you can tolerate when you just tell yourself, hey, it’s basically a dorm, and that’s fine.  

In spite of its size, I cooked regularly.  It was cheaper than eating out, and it gave me a nice break from the law school books.  I quickly learned that normal-sized cookie sheets didn’t fit in the oven.  Luckily K-Mart carried some mini sheets that got the job done.  I also rolled out what I still consider my best pie crust ever on those two feet of counter space.  Let me tell you, it’s difficult to overwork the dough when you’ve got a sink crowding your right, a microwave bumping your left, and using the rolling pin is almost impossible so you just make a couple passes and say, ehhhh, good enough.  That crust was so incredibly flaky that I haven’t been able to replicate it since.

This apartment was also the first place I made chicken stock from scratch.  Turns out, it was one of my greatest ideas ever.  Before I gave it a shot, I assumed chicken stock was one of those things that’s too time-consuming to be worthwhile when you can just buy a can at the grocery store.  I mean, was it really that much better homemade?

It is.  Oh trust me.  It is.  Not to mention, “time-consuming” is a gross overstatement.  Active time is negligible, and while it will simmer for hours, it’s not only hands-off, but it’s also a wonderful wonderful thing to have going on in the background on any given day.  This is why…

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Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all

Happy Thanksgiving

No recipe today, just the genuine wish that all of you out there, on the other side of the computer screen, find some moments of joy on this holiday.  Whether your table bears turkey, tofurkey, or turkey sandwiches, whether your group is large, small, or a party of one, whether you’re enjoying a football game or fighting with your relatives, take a minute to remember your blessings.

The Yumble household is full of family today, but we were thisclose to missing a key member. On Tuesday, Ross was informed that he would have to catch a flight at 7 AM on Thursday morning for work.  Thursday meaning Thanksgiving.  (He works for a French company – apparently they don’t “get” Thanksgiving.)  The one year we thought we didn’t have to travel, yet here we were…I would still be hosting six  people, and somehow we were still planning to drive to the airport Thanksgiving morning.  Life sure is full of twists.  We were a teensy bit bummed.

Then, on Wednesday, the plan changed again.  His project had a delay, and his company canceled his Thursday flight.  We’re still on pins and needles, and he could get a call anytime that he has to get on a flight asap.  But for now, we are counting our blessings that we will, in fact, get our very first Thanksgiving hosted together, in our home.  Not to get all sappy on ya, but the close call makes us appreciate it all the more.

I mention all this to point out that (1) holidays are never ever perfect, and (2) somehow we  can still appreciate and remember the good parts.  I’m very grateful to have family members celebrating with me today, and now I’m 10000% more grateful to have Ross with us as well.

And if you have a kitchen disaster today, I leave you with this to make you feel better:

Sad pecan pie

Remember how I talked about my pecan pie disaster last year?  Here’s a picture.  I used a pie plate with holes in the bottom, which theoretically help circulate air and make a crispy crust…but in my case, they allowed all the shortening, butter, corn syrup, etc., to leak onto the bottom of the oven.  There were fire alarms, there was copious amounts of smoke, and there was left in the pie plate a sad little patch of rock-hard crust and pecans.  I salvaged it and took a picture because, let’s be honest, as long as no one’s hurt, kitchen disasters make pretty funny stories.  And now I’m sharing it with you, so you can be comforted if you have a similar tale of woe.  Thanksgiving is not ruined.  Everyone will be just fine.

So pass the bourbon (and the pie), and let’s raise a glass to our own crazy, messed up, imperfect holidays, and everything we still find to enjoy in them.  Happy Thanksgiving!